I have this stupid goal of visiting 50 countries before I turn 30. At the beginning of 2020 I was at 46 and I thought I would achieve that goal in that same year, but then you know what happened… the pandemic came, borders were closing and I ended the year with the same 46! It wasn’t until July 2021 that I managed to add a new country to the count, Malta. But there were still three missing and meanwhile I turned 29, the clock was ticking… Another “problem” arises: where it’s easier to travel right now is within Europe, and I already know almost all of it. Almost, not all! I was inside momondo‘s flight explorer one day and I find a flight to Luxembourg at a very nice price. It was a country I had never been to, I have friends who live in Metz, an hour by train from Luxembourg City, where they work, and who could host me, and I had just met two very nice Luxembourgish girls, through Couchsurfing, who wanted to tell me all the tips and more about their country.
So I left Portugal before the sunrise and at 10:30 am I was leaving my suitcase at the architecture studio where Antoine works so that I could go for a walk with no extra needed weight. I would see him and Sofia at the end of the day for dinner. I took the same bus that had brought me free from the airport back to the central station. I loved the fact that public transport in Luxembourg is all free!
I went along Avenue de la Liberté towards Pont Adolphe, passing a small square that had some craft stalls, one of them with only Portuguese products, I say “Bom Dia” and continue. I pass by Place des Martyrs where I stop to take some pictures, two old men pass by, also speaking Portuguese. Then I arrive at Pont Adolphe, with beautiful views over the Parcs de la Petrusse, below, and the Cathedral above, and continue to a small cafe, for breakfast.
There was a terrace outside, but it was too cold, I go in but I don’t understand where I can sit, a man comes in behind me, somewhat confused, and starts speaking Portuguese, one of the maids answers him in our language, telling him he could go up and sit. I followed him, that’s where the tables were. Another maid appears and starts talking to him in French, nothing, German, nothing, English, he asks if she spoke Portuguese. Of course, she did! Does everyone speaks Portuguese here?!
Luxembourg City has two centres, the upper city and the lower city. My visit started at Notre-Dame Cathedral, in the upper city. I was especially impressed by the stained glass windows, the light that enters through them from behind the altar and the ceilings that separate those closest to the altar from those further away.
I continued to wander around the upper city, along Place Guillaume II, Place d’Armes until the Palais Grand-Ducal, with one of the most beautiful facades in the city and its guards at the door, with their always amusing military choreographies. But I wasn’t falling in love with the city, something was missing, I didn’t know what…
I just had to arrive at the Chemin de la Corniche and see the view to the lower city (or Basse-Ville / Grund) to fall in love! From the Pont du Château we have views of both valleys: to the north is Pfaffenthal and on the other side of the valley is Kirchberg and all the modern architecture, to the south the Neimënster Cultural Center, in the former Abbey of the same name. In the ruins of the Casemates du Bock I discovered that there were two routes that could be explored, the Vauban route and the Wenzel route. I opted for the second, which would go down the Chemin de la Corniche to the valley to the south, that of the river Alzette, and walk along the city walls. The entire route is extremely well marked and we find interesting information about what we are seeing along the way.
Already at the bottom, I took the opportunity to visit the Cultural Center, free to enter, with very interesting exhibitions in the closed cloister. I then continued the Wenzel route up to the Ravelin du Rham, passing the Jacob Tower and descending again through gardens and over the walls back to the river, always with spectacular views and landscapes!
I took the elevator back to the upper city and a bus to the Rotondes Cultural Center, where I set to meet with my hosts. I met Sofia, Italian, and Antoine, French, in Florence, during my Erasmus, eight years ago. I had a course in common with her, whose only work was a group one, and Sofia and her friends adopted me as if they’d known me forever. Antoine was also there in Erasmus and the two fell madly in love! The following year Sofia went to Nancy in Erasmus, where Antoine was studying, and never returned to Italy. In the meantime, they bought a house in Metz, closer to Luxembourg, where they have both been working for several years, and as the architects they are, they are renovating the house with their own hands. That’s where they received me!
That night we took the train to Metz and I only returned to Luxembourg four days later, taking the opportunity to visit Nancy, Metz, and even to go to Germany and visit my host family (from when I did the AFS program, for the more distracted ones).
This second day in Luxembourg City started badly, with a lost train, when the next one was just an hour later, and with a small “fine” for having bought the ticket online and not having exchanged it for a paper one, which I had no idea that was needed. Arriving at Gare Central, I took another train to Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg.
At the station I could take the elevator up or down and I chose to go down, to have a quick look at that part of the lower city, and also because I wanted to ride the Panoramic Elevator of Pfaffenthal, something that would make easier the climb and then go to Kirchberg, via the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge. Still down in the valley, I did a small part of the Vauban route.
Kirchberg is one of the most modern neighborhoods in Luxembourg City, with lots of quality contemporary architecture and many offices. My visit to this neighborhood had two objectives, the first was to visit the incredible Philharmonic, designed by Christian de Portzamparc. Unfortunately, there were no guided tours that day, so I had to stick to the outside, marked by the cadence of the slender pillars that hide the interior.
The second objective was to visit the even more incredible MUDAM, the Museum of Modern Art, designed by I.M. Pei (who also designed the Louvre in Paris). The design of this museum fits and adapts to the design of the walls of the former Fort Thüngen, which also houses the Dräi Eechelen Museum.
I entered the museum, they pointed me to the ticket office. – I would like to visit the museum, please. – Sure, where are you from? – Portugal. – 7€ por favor. Another Portuguese, of course! The museum has different temporary exhibitions, which change throughout the year, but I must say that I liked everything I saw, especially the building!
The visit to the museum was longer than I anticipated and the day was beginning to draw to a close. I went down through Fort Obergrünewald back to Pfaffenthal, climbed the Panoramic Elevator again and walked to the Chemin de la Corniche to say goodbye to my favorite view of Luxembourg. Also there, there were groups of teenagers speaking Portuguese. I passed the Grand Ducal Palace again, sat on a terrace for a very late lunch (and an expensive one, after all we are in Luxembourg) and bought a few last souvenirs on the way to the station. A last dinner with my friends was waiting for me in Metz, we were going to make self-made gnocchi!
The next day I explored Metz in the morning and then calmly took the train to Luxembourg and the bus to the airport. After I was confiscated an entire brie cheese, which I had bought that morning, as it was considered liquid, I was entitled to a window seat overlooking Luxembourg City. Goodbye country nº48, only two to go!
If you liked this post and want to read more about my trip, also in France, you can visit the following posts: