Micro states of Europe travel blog

Coat of arms of the duchy of Luxembourg

View from 'the balcony'

Salt and pepper holder displayed in the morning's museum

General Patton's grave at the American Military Cemetery

The Chateau de Vianden

The Chapel of St Anthony in the chateau

Stained glass in Notre Dame Cathedral

It was bad enough that LL got up at 0430 for something and I could not fall back to sleep. Worse was the 0530 alarm call. The phone was near my bed so I let him get up to answer it. He goes into the shower and his alarm then goes off...at 0545. Some people are anal re a hotel wake up call to begin with. There hasn't been a day when we have not been up by 0600, frankly well before. LL has this nightmare of being at a buffet after someone else has sampled first. His list of foibles is long.

The hotel has a bit of an art gallery, albeit modern stuff. Brekkie oddity was just knives on the table. Anything hot had to be ordered but enough there otherwise for a good brekkie. Had suggested to LL how dumb the Sergeant Major was re the number on the parking lot sign. He thought it referenced a highway! SS comes down and asks where is the java? I said if you don't see it maybe that might mean something? He did not like the inference. Getting old seems to go hand in hand with losing a sense of humour, something LL agreed with, oblivious to the fact my comment was broader in scope. SS then signals to the waiter about more coffee. I said what a pig to have more than two cups. He said he only had one. The second was in the little coffee pot we all got. Dumb de dumb dumb.

Back up to the room for a bit and then a half hour walk before the 0900 tour. Took a walk across the bridge to the Bank of Luxembourg offices. What a sense of relief to be walking at my pace, nobody needing a loo break, nobody needing to sit down. There is a bit of coolness about.

Peter was in the lobby with the soon to be introduced guide Diane, the Moocher sitting there smiling like a jackass eating thistles and undoubtedly waiting to pounce for an opportunity to bore the guide with one of the adventures that only the Moocher has experienced in life [like a double lobotomy].

Our first stop was the neoclassical City Hall in the Square of William II. Luxembourg used to be a prize for its location at the confluence of two rivers and its enormous fortifications. By treaty, the country became neutral so the walls had to come down. The present ducal palace is the old city hall. Texas aunt was almost a pancake as the BB fell in her direction. Would have been lots of paperwork for Peter. The Constance Fontaine Plaza was our next stop. In the midst of the guide's talk about succession, LL pops up 'What's the story' about the naming of a street after FDR. Irrelevant things should be saved when we are walking.

The 'balcony' is a viewing point that the locals of course contend is the best in Europe. Ancient monasteries were below, including the 15th c Pont Stierchen. We walked past the Church of St Michael, the oldest in the country, its roots dating from the 10th c.

The balance of the morning was spent at the National Museum of History and Art. It had nice displays, quality over quantity. Areas covered included coins, coats of arms, furniture, etc. The museum is not old but it quickly outgrew its offerings so patrician homes were added, incorporated and used for displays. Following behind [so to speak] BB up stairs is not a pretty--or fast--sight.

We split at 1145 at the Place d'Armes. Heard an orchestral version of 'Wonderful World'. Wasn't interested in following LL's postcard and stamps' routine so went for a meander. Did the British Columbia sisters really go into McDonald's for lunch. Grabbed some roasted/carmelized peanuts and returned to do the morning's blog. We were delayed 5M as BB needed a sweater. How is that even possible?

Our first stop was an add-on, the American Military Cemetery and Memorial outside the city. It is known as the burial site of General Patton but more than 5,000 souls rest here. See the white crosses row after row makes you wonder why old men send young men to die. The markers of those of the Jewish faith bore the Star of David.

Leaving the cemetery, Diane gave a short overview of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's last offensive. Those on tour have been seeing a battle of the bulge on a daily basis.

We were headed to Vianden Castle or the Chateau de Vianden. Diane advised tourism accounts for 6.5% of the country's GDP. There are three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German.

We took narrow roads to Bourglinster and Larochette, the surrounding farmlands of equal interest. As Diane droned on, I was a tired puppy.

Cobblestone streets in Vianden took us toward the chateau with its imposing setting above the present town. The castle had been a ruin before a major renovation that started in the second half of last century. Nothing in it is original but you get a proper sense of medieval times with the armour, bedroom, kitchen, dining room, the chapel [dedicated to St Anthony] and several rooms of state. The tapestries were my favourite artifacts.

We headed back around 1610. Luxembourg had four Holy Roman Emperors. The steel industry made the country prosperous late last century. Arcelor-Mittal, the world's largest steel producer, is based in the country. Even approaching the city, Diane carried on, describing almost every building of note on both sides of the streets. Her enthusiasm was evident. Peter said '7 o'clock in the lobby'. Stan asked if that was for dinner. No, Stan, we're going to the art gallery; sheesh!

Went for a quick look inside the cathedral. Another choir was holding court. A few pix of stained glass windows had to suffice.

Back for the usual stuff before dinner. Got the blog and pix up to date; perfect! The Moocher was yapping away as LL and I got downstairs. It was a short walk past the ducal palace to Goethe Stuff. Ordered a warm bacon salad but got something else; no big deal. The pig's knuckle was huge, as expected. It came with a salad and very hot horseradish. Peter finished his while I probably got thru 70% of mine. Felt like a coffee so since A-B was paying for dessert there was an Alsatian coffee which had brandy in it; bonus. There was better banter over dinner. BB was chiming in re Aeroplan points [something only Canucks need worry about]. The Sergeant Major and the Moocher were sitting opposite and barely said a word to each other. A quiet Moocher is always a good thing.

Walked back and a bit of computer time. Blog done and good night.

UNESCO blurb

"City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications

Because of its strategic position, Luxembourg was, from the 16th century until 1867, when its walls were dismantled, one of Europe's greatest fortified sites. It was repeatedly reinforced as it passed from one great European power to another: the Holy Roman Emperors, the House of Burgundy, the Habsburgs, the French and Spanish kings, and finally the Prussians. Until their partial demolition, the fortifications were a fine example of military architecture spanning several centuries."

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