Did you know Luxembourgish is a real language? I guess it says a lot about my blundering approach to travel that I didn’t even research what language they speak in our weekend destination; but aside from the fact that the official language is not French as I had assumed, doesn’t it seem like it should be called Luxembourgese or Luxemburger or something instead?
Anyway, so here’s poor Grant, just off the plane from Ohio having been in and out of airports since the previous afternoon. I meet him at Strasbourg Entzheim and guide him back to my tiny room, where we nap for a few hours before I rouse him to make our way back out to the station for our train.
Two hours later in Luxembourg, our bus fails to show and we wait 40 minutes for the next one; on arrival at the hostel we realise we have no towels and have to pay 5€ to rent one the size of a hand towel for two nights; the showers are of that stupid design where the shelf for your clothes is almost directly in the water flow; there is no kitchen, only a restaurant, so we have to ask the chef nicely to microwave our instant meals for us… and we share our room with two obnoxious Canadian guys who have chosen the two bottom bunks, so we both have to sleep above them, on opposite sides of the room. You can see why I still feel pretty bad about getting mad at Grant for his negative attitude towards all of this because it was ‘bringing me down’. Sorry, honey – I kind of forgot how much rougher your day had been than mine :S
Grant may have been seeing the worst in the hostel for obvious reasons, but in the interest of fairness to the hostel itself, let me say that my impression of it was much sunnier. It was part of the Hostelling International group, so you got that comfort you get from chains, even if that detracted from the personal aspect of what a hostel really is. In fact, apart from the dorms and the showers, this place really felt much more like a hotel, with its restaurant, formal reception, common room with bulging bookshelves and a flat-screen tv, and even a ping-pong table on the front patio! This place was much pricier than your average hostel and if there had been a lower-grade option available we would’ve taken it; but we definitely got our money’s worth (apart from the towel, that is…).
So our first evening consisted of our microwave meals, and lots of sleep for Grant. On Friday we awoke to the realisation that we had no idea what we wanted to achieve during our stay, so we did what seemed natural: grabbed our cameras and walked.
First, up the hill next to our hostel, which ended up leading to the casemates, a military stronghold dug into the rocky cliffs whose history dates back more than a thousand years. From here we spied a small river and descended towards it until we found a sign indicating the guided Wenzel Walk, which we followed for a while before returning to our own devices.
So excited to be back together, to be exploring somewhere new, we had the best day just messing around in this weird little city, taking silly photos and window shopping. We didn’t really know much about what was on in Luxembourg, or how to go about doing it – the sweet castles we’d dreamed of visiting seemed to be inaccessible except by professional tour or rented car – but we had a grand old time just walking and seeing the town. Even on a budget, it’s a treat to see all its natural beauty and unique buildings.
Luxembourg is such a cool, calm, confident country: or at least its capital is, since we never got to see any of the rest of it. Hopefully, we’ll make it out to those castles some day; in the meantime, I have more stories waiting for you in the episodes to come :)
Best wishes to you all!