An August Bank Holiday trip to Luxembourg was yet another holiday which we had originally booked for 2020. The reasons for doing this are a bit hazy in my mind, but I think it was partly because we were already going to Monaco and Liechtenstein for the bank holidays in May, so 2020 was going to be the year of small countries. Unlike with Monaco and Liechtenstein, we have actually visited Luxembourg before so it isn't a new country for us to add to our list. But our visit was a very brief one - a day trip during an Esperanto event we attended in Saarbrücken in 2009/10 - so we don't remember it very well and we haven't got particularly good photos. I think I thought it would be nice to see Luxembourg again, this time with better cameras
Obviously our 2020 flights got cancelled, but we've had some issues with booking the 2022 variant of the trip too. I'd initially booked a flight out to Luxembourg on Saturday morning, coming back on Monday evening, which is our ideal for a bank holiday weekend away. At some point the Saturday morning flight got changed to a Friday evening flight. Then that got changed to a Friday morning flight and the Monday evening flight became a Monday morning flight! And with all the problems that Heathrow seems to have been having with limiting passenger numbers recently, I've spent most of August expecting these flights to be cancelled. But - surprisingly - they weren't, and so last night we had the excitement of setting our alarms for 3am to make an early start to Heathrow!
The journey all went remarkably smoothly. Heathrow didn't seem particularly crowded at all and we would have got through security in record time if my liquids hadn't got selected for random testing. The airport Wetherspoons was one of the quietest we've ever been on and our flight was called for boarding so promptly that we barely made it to the gate before it closed. The flight would have taken off on time if one family hadn't failed to make it, so we had to wait while their bags were taken off board. Even with that, we only landed in Luxembourg with something like a 15-minutes delay, which must make this one of the most punctual flights we've taken this year
First impressions when we got off the plane in Luxembourg was that it looked rather cloudy. It definitely wasn't going to be a sunny day. But when we stepped outside we did find it was still quite warm, so that was something. Public transport in Luxembourg is completely free, so once we'd got through passport control we were able to walk out of the airport and onto a bus without having to worry about buying a ticket. After a journey of around 20 minutes or so, we arrived in the city centre.
Luxembourg City is a rather unusual capital in that it's built around a river gorge. So part of the city is high up at the top of the gorge, while part of it is down at river level. We got off the bus in the upper town, with the intention of exploring that and then walking downwards.
First impressions were that the upper town was very pretty
Some of the streets had beautiful decorations. We found butterflies...
...and even leaves!
The upper town is quite compact, so it wasn't difficult to walk around.
Although we didn't have a blue sky for our photos, it was still a very picturesque place.
We walked through a lovely little square...
...and found the Grand Ducal Palace, which is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
It was a very ornate building.
Around the corner from there we found a square with a row of Luxembourg flags.
We got a glimpse of Luxembourg's cathedral, although we didn't manage to get any closer to it than this.
We walked down some little side streets, this time decorated with Chinese lanterns...
...before emerging at the edge of the upper town.
We were able to follow a panoramic walkway here, alongside the city's fortifications.
We could see down to the river Alzette below.
And it really did look a long way down!
The yellow building in the photos is Neumünster Abbey. Formerly a Benedictine abbey, it's now an art gallery and cultural centre.
We made it down to the bottom of the ramparts and had a stroll through the lower town.
It was pretty here too by the river but we couldn't find much in the way of restaurants, so we decided we'd better head back up to the upper town if we wanted lunch.
The good news was that this didn't involve climbing all the way back up the ramparts; we found a lift that took us back to the upper town in a matter of seconds
We found a French restaurant in one of the main squares, where we were able to sit outside eating steak and chips The language situation in Luxembourg seems quite confusing; a lot of the official signs seem to be in French, but we have seen a few instances of what we assume is Luxembourgish.
After lunch our main objective was to get to our hotel for a nap. We'd been up since 3am and it was now approaching 3pm, the time at which we were allowed to check in. I'd rebooked the same hotel that I'd originally had booked for 2020. But when I booked in 2020 I don't think I'd had much appreciation of the geography of Luxembourg! Although the hotel didn't look too far on the map, unfortunately it was on the opposite side of the river gorge.
We walked back down the ramparts again.
There were some lovely views as we descended.
Unfortunately for us, our hotel was in the modern part of town, which you can just get a glimpse of at the top of the opposite side of the gorge in the photo below.
It wasn't the easiest walk we've ever had to a hotel; probably for the best that we didn't bring suitcases
Never mind, we made it in the end and the hotel room is fine
Tomorrow I think we might try to make use of Luxembourg's free public transport to get back into town!