So last week I wrote a sombre post about the earthquake in Italy.
But you know what?
Quite the opposite!
We don’t let little things like natural disasters or terrorist acts, keep us down.
We don’t give up on life.
We get up. Dust ourselves down, and carry on!
One way to do this, is to help each other, and to keep an open mind.
Don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.
Europe is wonderful!
Is it any wonder that I decided to organise Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!
I mean, wouldn’t you?
Oh, the summer!
My challenge was to visit a European city. Every weekend, through the summer holidays.
For six (6) weeks!
And only to travel.
So let’s see how we’re doing.
Is Copenhagen a European city?
Did I travel only by train?
Well, I booked my train with Deutsche Bahn – German Rail – and received a paid ticket for my seat on a German train, and was sent to….
Er….a coach – bus.
Organised by Deutsche Bahn.
Which took us through Northern Germany, on a ferry across the Baltic Sea!
So, sort of a tick!
Copenhagen was great and you can read all about it below:
- How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
- Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn’t just smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs, but can be awfully tasty!
Is Lucerne a European city?
Did I travel only by train?
Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern was brilliant, and you can read all about it just below:
- How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!
- Why you should visit Switzerland, and eat cheese!
So let’s go to the next destination.
The next country that I went to was Luxembourg.
LUXEMBOURG: A SMART GUIDE to the GRAND DUCHY of one of EUROPE’S SMALLEST COUNTRIES!
Luxembourg, otherwise known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a country in Western Europe.
Its capital – Luxembourg City, together with Brussels and Strasbourg, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union, and the seat of the European Court of Justice, which is the highest judicial seat in the EU!
The culture, people, and languages of Luxembourg’s are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of German and French!
With an area of just 2,586 square kilometres or 998 square miles, it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, and about the same size as the state of Rhode Island in the US, or the county of Northamptonshire in England!
Luxembourg City has a population of just 110,49 people while Luxembourg – the country, has a population of 562,958, making it one of the tiniest countries in Europe.
If not the world!
It is a democracy with a constitutional monarch, headed by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg – HRH Grand Duke Henri – and is the only remaining grand duchy in the world!
Not only that, but Luxembourg is considered to have the world’s highest GDP per capita!
Once again, my task?
To visit Luxembourg. Sleep in Luxembourg. Eat in Luxembourg. And survive the incredible prices. With young boy tween in tow.
Here we go.
TAKE ME THERE?
Luxembourg is a really small country, near to everywhere!
We came in by train.
In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!
The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!
The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!
Last year, I bought a twelve-hour direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! My child was free of charge!
I bought a five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin. In August for just €29.00! And don’t forget, on the German inter-city Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!
Our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00!
For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July was just €98.00. My child was free!
For Luxembourg, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, again, and the twelve (12) return ticket journey from Berlin – Luxembourg via Cologne and Koblenz – Berlin, including reserved seating in August was €116.00. My child was free!
In a future post, I’ll be giving you tips as to how to prepare yourself when travelling on a European train!
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
We went to Luxembourg in August.
Luxembourg isn’t your typical holiday destination, so it was hardly crowded at all!
WHAT IS LUXEMBOURG LIKE?
Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but I nevertheless, found Luxembourg intriguing!
Like Switzerland, Luxembourg is immensely clean, tidy, and orderly.
The Luxembourgers were friendly, relaxed, helpful, and full of smiles. We saw many people taking picnics in the park, or watching the various programmes and festivities in the public square, or around the palaces and historical buildings.
At one point, quite a few people were just snoozing or relaxing in deck chairs, outside an art gallery and museum. It was tempting to join them let me tell you!
Luxembourg has an annual summer programme called Summer in the City, which is organised by the Luxembourg City Tourist Office (LCTO). This programme offers a series of summer events which turn pavements and public squares into open-air stages of cultural festivities.
The festivities are mainly free of charge and consist of open-air concerts, urban music festivals with international artists, street theatre, street art, outdoor cinema, exhibitions, markets, and feasts.
We really felt a part of the Luxembourg summer spirit!
I DON’T SPEAK LUXEMBOURGISH!
Not a problem. Everyone pretty much speaks English, with many of the locals speaking German, French or Belgian!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Nope! Luxembourg is one of the richest and most advanced nations in the world, so it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Not a lot I’m afraid.
Luxembourg is exorbitant.
All of these nations are awfully expensive, and regretfully, there’s no avoiding it!
However, have no fear, there are hostels that cater to the more budget conscious traveller such as the AJ Luxembourg Youth Hostel, with prices as low as €50.00 per day for a family room!
I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?
Yes, there certainly is!
I was all geared up to settling into the above hostel, when the Visit Luxembourg Tourism Board very kindly offered to book us a complimentary stay at the luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel, and provide us with Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards.
And boy were we grateful!
Taking only the night train / bus, and eating only sandwiches, salad and fruit juice, soon begins to take its toll, and so when the call came, both “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I, were bouncing up and down with joy!
Thank you so much!
Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.
This time around, we went for the indulgence of a newly built luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!
The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel is a cutting-edge hotel with an innovative design, modern rooms, and beautiful views of Place de l’ Europe, which we were able to see from our very wide windows!
There was a bit of construction going on further down the road, but you should be able to get views of the Philharmonia, the Museum of Modern Art, the financial district, or Luxembourg itself!
The hotel is quite easy to get to from “town,” as it’s only a 15 minute walk from the historical centre near the park, and the Place d’Armes, or you could take a 10 minute bus ride.
We were upgraded into a Level Room on the 7th floor which was huge!
As was the King Size DREAMAX double bed!
My tween son was horrified!
Luckily, European double rooms usually have two single beds pushed together, so we were able to sleep together, without having to push each other off!
Every room on the Level Room floor are outward facing so that you always get a lovely visual view of something nice.
Our room was spacious, elegant and bright, had a large glass work space table with a cream leather chair located near the window, two rather nice relaxing comfy armchairs, a long wide side-board shelf that you could put stuff or books on, a very large flat screen TV, a few lamps dotted around, a very large wardrobe, and lots of plug holes.
Our room also had an AC unit, a mini-bar, coffee and tea making facilities, and as many teabags as I wanted, being that I’m not a coffee person, so do ask….!
Our very nice en-suite bathroom was fitted out with very, very, nice Loewe beauty products which I liked very much indeed, along with plenty of fluffy towels and slippers, the bathtub, shower, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith sinks!
The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel included very fast free wi-fi, a fitness center, sauna and a hammam free of charge.
European saunas and fear of the unknown always brings me out in a sweat!
For breakfast, we had a marvellous hot food section which consisted of bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, and made-to-order scrambled eggs, as well as a variety of cold cuts, pate, vegetables, sauces, pickles, cream, cereal, fruit, bread, cake, pastries, pots of tea, coffee and juices.
There was also a bottle of champagne hidden away on the back table where the juices were. Just help yourself!
I don’t mind if I do!
We both really liked this hotel!
Luxembourg is one of the richest cities in Europe so it isn’t going to be cheap, but then if you were that stingy, you wouldn’t be in Luxembourg in the first place lol!
Standard room prices are from €400.00 per night, but if you book with the hotel directly and feel like a splurge, they could be as low as €100!
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO LUXEMBOURG?
We only went for two (2) days so this was a a bit of a whirlwind cultural family trip. We were kindly given complimentary Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards for the weekend, which at €20.00 per person or €48.00 per family (up to 5 people!), greatly reduced the cost of having to pay individually.
Thanks so much!
There is plenty to do in Luxembourg. You can:
- Make your own independent walking tour. Go to the Luxembourg City Tourist Office, and pick up maps, and as many booklets as you need, then take off!
- Explore the history and architecture of Luxembourg
- Marvel at the ancient city and the many palaces
- Book yourself a guided 45 minutes visit at the splendid Palace of the Grand Dukes. So worth it!
- Imagine how it would have been to be a member of the European aristocracy
- Take photographs of the splendid buildings in Luxembourg
- Wander round the cobbled streets and markets of William Square, otherwise known as Place Guillaume II!
- Visit the neo-classical 1830 Town Hall
- Check out superb views of the Petrusse Valley from the Constitutional Square
- Visit the beautiful Pétrusse Valley Park and tour the valley using the Petrusse Express toy train!
- Take note of the Gëlle Fra which was dismantled and taken away during WWII, only to be found a few years ago, hidden in the city stadium!
- Relax and take a break at the leafy Parlour of the City, otherwise known as the Place d’Armes!
- Walk by the riverside and walk on the grand 1903 Adolphe Bridge that was the largest arch stone in the world, and take as many selfie photographs as you like!
- Pass beneath the Viaduct Bridge, otherwise known as the Passerelle, built in 1859, and with 24 arches!
- Check out the ancient 1613 Notre-Dame Cathedral and Jesuit College, as well as the other the lovely churches and places of worship, just bursting to be visited!
- Use the Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards.
- Go to the National Museum of History and Art and learn the background of the people from Luxembourg
- Visit the very enjoyable Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, otherwise known as the The Luxembourg City History Museum
- While you’re there, you might as well stroll through the highly interesting Villa Vauban Art Museum paintings too!
- Discover the Fishmarket
- Spend a day running through the restored remains of the 1732 Fort Thüngen hosted by the Musée Dräi Eechelen
- Stroll freely through the cobbled side streets in the historic Old City
- Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
- Join in the summer celebrations
- Go people-watching inside the flea market and the farmers market
- Merely ramble along the historical streets
- Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants for a quick bite and a few rounds of very nice expensive French wine!
- Go shopping
- Or don’t do anything at all, but enjoy the moment!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Luxembourg is tiny. Everywhere is walkable, but local trains and buses are simple to use. And while we were there, free of charge!
I’m not entirely sure why, but something to do with it being a weekend lol!
You can also use your bicycle or rent a car, but whatever you do, we were warned, don’t take a taxi!
Now, let’s be realistic. Everywhere in Luxembourg is utterly expensive.
Prepare for really high prices, and either suck it up or go to Thailand!
There’s also free city wifi in Luxembourg. I wasn’t able to access it, but you might have better luck!
I was excited to go to Luxembourg.
It’s small. It’s aristocratic. It’s got history, art and culture, and is fantastically green. It’s not your average budget destination or any other destination for that matter, but if you plan carefully, you can make it work!
If you’ve been trying to find a reason to visit Luxembourg, you’ve got it right there!
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
I intend to do just that and can’t wait to visit again.
Let’s do it!
LUXEMBOURG: A SMART GUIDE to the GRAND DUCHY of one of EUROPE’S SMALLEST COUNTRIES!
This article is part sponsored, and even though Visit Luxembourg Tourism Board very kindly offered to book us a complimentary stay at the luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel, and provide us with Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards, all opinions and the wonderful arch of the Viaduct Bridge that we wove in and out of, are my very own!
Berlin Art Week will take place from 13.09.16 – 18.09.16, so if you like contemporary art, this is the place for it!
The Down Under Berlin Australian & New Zealand Film Festival, will also take place from 14.09.16 – 18.09.16, which is the largest film festival in Europe dedicated to Australian and New Zealand film!
Save the Date!
September is going to be crammed with art and film!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in August, what are you waiting for?!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to Luxembourg? Which small country do you know? Have your say!
See you in Berlin.