We travelled our way to Luxembourg this weekend. Luxembourg is south of Belgium and is landlocked between France, Belgium and Germany. I remember when I was in school I always got Luxembourg and Lichtenstein messed up on geography tests. Both are tiny, both in Europe and both start with “Ls”. From now on, thanks to our visit, I will never get them confused.
It is a teeny country, 998 square miles. To give my Texas readers a relative idea, Houston is 2/3s the size of the whole country of Luxembourg. However, the beauty of Luxembourg has NOTHING on anything Texas. They speak Luxembourgish officially (their signs etc are in Luxembourgish) but everyone speaks French and German in practicality.
The landscape consists of the Ardennes mountains with rolling, rolling, rolling, hills after hills. Every time we would turn around a bend in our car, it was met with, “WOW and Are you kidding me!?” No wonder people of years ago wrote romantic fairy tales in lands such as this.
Our first stop was all the way to the south of Luxembourg to Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg city is made of many sections but the average tourist needs to know only two, the high city and the low city. We started our day in The High City that is much like many European cities, squares, markets, tiny streets, McDonalds etc. We probably didn’t give it a fair chance but since we were only there for one day, we quickly exited The High City and headed for The Low City. The Low City is full of history and beauty. If you only have a limited time to spend in Luxembourg City, I’d visit the Ville Basse (Low City).
The Low City (down below the drop off and bridge there) consists of many sections as well but of particular interest is “The Grund.” If you have the time, take the Wenzel Walking tour. It is a self guided tour and boasts 1000 years of history in 100 minutes. The Grund is one of the oldest parts of the city and it’s inhabitants survived tons of atrocities that reigned down upon such a small city (floods, German invasion etc.). Notice the Luxembourg flag, Red, White & Blue in a horizontal pattern, someday that trivia will come up for you, I know it.
^^ This picture is not my photograph. It was taken via Wikipedia ^^
We did NOT get to visit the Luxembourg American Memorial and Cemetery on our visit because we ran out of time. This cemetery is where General George S Patton is buried.
Following Normandy and landings in southern France the Allied Forces marched across the land and advanced into southeast Belgium/Northwest Luxembourg. Most of the interred at this cemetery died during The Battle of the Bulge which took place in the Ardennes involving areas of Belgium and Luxembourg. The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and the bloodiest battle from World War II.
We arrived at our hotel, The Dirbach Plage and instantly fell in love. The drive to get to the hotel is woody and thick, when you finally reach the bottom of the mountain where the river is, you are there. Dirbach Plage was such a terrific find. After searching all week to find a place for us to stay, this one had a vacancy out of pure luck. It is owned by a married couple who do everything they can possibly do to make you feel welcomed. They also run a bar and a restaurant on the first floor that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and it was even mentioned in The Guide Michelin.
See the room on the top corner there with the terrace? That’s our room, number 10 of 10!
Our dinner was fantastic and the service so personal. They even made homemade chicken fingers for the kids to eat. For dessert we had The Grandmothers Cake which is made fresh daily from the owner’s grandmother’s cookbook.
We left Dirbach the next morning and headed to Vianden on the east side of Luxembourg, bordering Germany. Our morning started out with a thick fog which made driving an adventure. Zane and Lily were too busy fighting with one another in the backseat to notice how beautiful the drive was.
The city of Vianden was one of the last cities to be liberated in World War II. After Luxembourg was liberated in September of 1944, German troops retreated back to Germany but not without a fight. Here at the border, German troops tried to capture Vianden Castle on their way back.
The Battle for Vianden Castle took place on November 15-19, 1944. The Allied forces helped the Luxembourgish militia win back the castle and recapture this important post used for spying into Germany.
This monument is where a large machine gun stood (in the “U shaped” stone border there) used by Allied Forces helped defend the castle from the Germans.
We took a self-guided tour through the castle (Sidenote: We love self-guided tours. I think we have pretty much decided that until the kids are older (like 10) we will no longer take guided tours. We saw the whole castle in 30 minutes versus what would have been a 2 hour LONG tour for 4 year olds).
After the castle trip we went down into the village to grab some lunch. We had a rude encounter with the waiter, that I will not go into much detail with but we will definitely never ever go back to that place to eat.
Another fun fact about Luxembourg. Luxembourg has 201 walking trails, 25 national walking trails (meaning they span the whole length of the country), and 575 kilometers of bicycle paths! Each trail is marked with it’s own symbols and you simply follow your trail markers of choice. How great is that! Perhaps when we have someone who can watch our kids for a few days, Jason and I will take on some of these trails. Anyone want to come over for this job??
We had a great time in Luxembourg and we now know why many people who have been there don’t just visit it once. It is so beautiful and full of so many hidden natural wonders, you can’t wait to go back.