Luxembourg in the Spring

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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg – April 2013

I wander the cobblestone paths of the old city, urged along by a vicious, cold wind. Spring is late this year in Europe. Blossoms have managed to appear on the trees. They hold their ground defiantly against the gray.

The owner of my chambre d’hôte in Brussels snickered when I told him that I wanted to take a day trip to Luxembourg. It’s a boring city, he said. The people are odd. I shrugged and said that I’d heard good things about it. I usually take long day trips when I travel. It’s one of the few European countries that I haven’t been to. He nodded politely, but the amused expression remained. My defense was weak, and my resolve wavered.

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I come from a land of strip malls, tract homes, and one language.  A vast expanse of uniformity. Ever since I’ve lived in Europe, I’ve felt like a kid in a candy store.   In just a couple of hours, and often less, one can be immersed in a different culture. Different cuisine, architecture, language, history. Even tiny Luxembourg has its own language.

I have the opportunity to see it all, so why shouldn’t I?

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Luxembourg is the richest country in Europe, and one of the richest in the world. In spite of this, the streets are free of Porsches and Rolls Royces. The local people flash no bling. The architecture is austere and uniform. The locals are not quick to smile, but it seems more of a protective barrier than hostility. An instinctive response to being surrounded by more intimidating forces. I suppose that one could say that the city doesn’t have much character. I’ve always been more intrigued by reserve than exuberance.

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During my meanderings, I cross the paths of quite a few tourists. In spite of the wind and gray, we are all smiling. I linger for a while in a tiny park that overlooks Grund, the lower town. Sounds of the street fair below drift up on the wind. The whole country must be down there, judging by the number of people in the streets. I sit on a bench and rest my aching feet. I’ll head back to the ornate, friendly realm of Brussels in an hour or so. For now, I enjoy the blossoms.

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68 thoughts on “Luxembourg in the Spring

  1. I have grey skies here too in Krakow. It seems universal. But blossom and magnolias are fighting back.
    Luxembourg looks my kind of interesting. (you can put me most places with a river running through) 🙂

  2. Having spent too much of my working life in Brussels I find it amusing that a Belgian should accuse others of being odd and boring. An interesting post, makes me want to go to Luxembourg (if only to upset the Belgians :-))

    • Hahaha. I get what you mean. The owner of the guesthouse seemed unconvinced that I didn’t regret going. He even seemed a little betrayed!

  3. Hi Julie, Thanks for your post. It brought back memories of a visit my wife and I had to Luxembourg in 1972 as part of a Eurail trip to Europe from London. I remember it as being a compact place with an understated character of its own. The cliffs and the tall railway viaduct are also a lasting memory of our brief but sunny visit, before leaving for Trier and a journey down the Mosel River. Chris G (NZ)

    • Hi Chris – I’m happy that I could deliver some nostalgia. I imagine that in ’72 Luxembourg was an even more interesting little enclave without the fast food and retail franchises that now line the streets of the old town. The cliff and viaduct are indeed lasting images. Cheers! – Julie

  4. “I’ve felt like a kid in a candy store. In just a couple of hours, and often less, one can be immersed in a different culture.”

    That is the beauty of diversity. Another wonderful post to inspire us to look at the world differently….

    • The more I travel, the more I realize the importance of keeping individual cultures alive. I used to think that it would be a good thing if everyone were the same and “one world citizens”. Now I’m not so sure. I find it sad that one day, because of vanishing borders and globalism, everyone might share one single worldview.

      • your last thought was just mine today as I was speaking with some friends…we were speaking how sad it is that we Americans have no unique identity–and my thought is–except for materialism, consumerism, drone-attacks, war machinery that we seem to be known for abroad—–so sad that we have turned our country away from the ideal…
        I love the uniqueness of each culture…and I think your writing, the writings of the poets, the artists of each country, will take the gauntlet up to keep culture alive…

        • If you go by the anthropological definition of culture- “everything that comes out of daily life” – America does have a culture. However, nowadays it’s lost much of its vibrancy and uniqueness, as you said, thanks to constant marketing in the consumer realm as well as the “artistic” – music, movies, books. The sad thing is that it’s being exported and much of the world is adopting it. I could go on and on about this. It’s up to those of us who are independent to try and hold it off. Thanks for such an insightful comment!

  5. After reading this, I wish I would have spent more than a few hours in Luxembourg. It obviously deserves more. About a fourth of my ancestors came from Luxembourg, so I should have paid more attention to it. Others came from Belgium. They could argue over which country was the most boring, but it looks like both are lovely.

    • I felt like I could have spent more time there. There was more to see than i expected. Belgium is beautiful and interesting and different as well. I’ll let them decide which is the more boring. I’d rather spend my time enjoying the atmosphere. 🙂

  6. Are those cherry trees? I am moving to a more southernly climate and I need to landscape. Your prose is as lovely as a Spring day to a man coming out of a 2-year coma. Where every you roam, never lose your center. And, if you are in the neighborhood, be sure to see this show. Mr. Anderson never fails to charm his audience with his obscene ad-libs and hints that he never wants to see his fans again.

    Wednesday 06 November 2013

    Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull

    Venue

    Wiener StadthalleHütteldorferstraße 2F1150Vienna, Austria
    Venue info and map

    • Thanks, Chuck. So glad you enjoy my writing.

      I’m not sure if those are cherry trees. The blossoms look a little different, but maybe it’s a different type.

  7. I saw your name on a new blog I visited and was intrigued because my blog is also called Vagabonde, well it is Recollections of a Vagabonde. I guess you must be French citizen like me since you use the article “la”? I don’t use it because my blog is in English even though many of my friends are French speakers, and I live in the US (suburb of Atlanta.) When did your start your blog? I started mine in 2009 as Vagabonde too and did not know you had used that name or would have chosen something else, sorry.

    I have been to Luxembourg several times as it is close to Paris where I grew up. I see you traveled a lot, maybe more than me, as I have only been to 58 countries so far. Of course some I visited many times, for example since my family lived in France I traveled there twice a years for decades (maybe 50 times?) and England at least 13 times, Africa also more than a dozen times but I always count each place as one trip, as I am sure you do too. I certainly love traveling – anywhere. Je reviendrai pour lire vos autres posts car je suis sûre que vous avez visité des pays que je ne connais pas. Amicalement, Vagabonde.

    • Hello and thank you for visiting. “Vagabonde” is a very common name and I’m sure that there are many others using that name as an internet alias. I’ve used it with my WordPress avatar, but my blog name is Wish I Were Here as you can see at the top along with my actual author name. I took “LaVagabonde” from the novel by Colette. Je suis née aux USA mais maintenant je suis citoyenne française. Merci encore pour votre visite et bon voyage!

      • Thank you for replying to me. I did not realize that vagabonde was common in English, franchement. Quand je cherchais un nom pour mon blog, avec ma fille, on a eu du mal pour trouver un nom pour mon blog. I read many of Colette’s books and have La Vagabonde, but I have not read it yet. I looked at some of your back posts. You show some lovely pictures. I always dreamed of going to New Caledonia – I heard it is so beautiful there. You write in an engaging style and it makes for very interesting reading – I wish my English was good but it is my 3rd language. Merci pour le bon voyage, mais en ce moment, malheureusement, on ne va pas loin, juste ou habitent nos filles, à Memphis et à Nashville et on ira aussi à San Francisco. Amicalement, VB.

  8. ciao! lovely post and extraordinary shots. we will definitely experience globalization in varied degrees but no fears of a world that shat shares a singular perspective. best we continue to respect and appreciate cultural difference. your perspective is inspiring.
    thebestdressup

  9. I want to go there. And my bf wants to run there from Frankfurt (now that’s a totally different story.)

  10. I been waiting for this post, love the pictures and what your wrote of course, I did not find it boring at all, I am glad you went anyway even if they tell you is boring, maybe this guy has an old flame there 😉 or had a bad experience, you can tell you have travel everywhere now you embrace each place differently. Like this “I’ve always been more intrigued by reserve than exuberance.” So true when we think of the richest place on earth there is no fancy cars and bling they really do not matter at all, just like ending of this post, just sit back and relax and enjoy the simple beauty, your post always makes me travel.

    P.S. if I was in Living in Europe I would feel the same way “like a kid in a candy store” I probably would travel but would not have any money.

    • Hi Doris – yes, finally the Luxembourg post! I remember your fabulous photos that made me want to go. I would have gone no matter what anyone said. I think it was city/country pride that prompted the negative reaction.

      It’s very easy to travel around Europe, even if you don’t have a lot of money. I certainly don’t, but I still manage to go somewhere a couple of times a year. I stay in guesthouses or hostels (if they’ve got private rooms) instead of hotels and take trains and busses if possible. Not only is it less expensive, you also meet more interesting people, in my opinion. Hotels are so impersonal and isolating.

      • Hello Julie,
        you travel just like me, a hotel is just not worth it at all sometimes you are not even there most of the time. The more you travel the more you learn, when I went to Europe we decided to travel in any type of transportation and it was much fun and it was cheaper, people often think is about money but it really not about that, it’s about courage. I will talk about that in my next post in travel category (and I think you know a thing or two about that, you travel since so young and all kinds of situations)

        When I was in Europe I did not bring any money back lol I spend every scent I had, I am not big with souvenirs, but brought cheese, wine and all kinds of stuff from each country I am all about the culture and food, of course I brought things they let me bring, some stayed there.

        P.S. If you decide to go to Oaxaca some day, I stayed in a Guesthouse it was so simple, clean and cheap will tell you all kinds of tips. Also, I went to Oaxaca and Chiapas and did not spend lots of money either, bought lots of things mostly from the locals indigenous things and had money when I came back ;). Mexico is not expensive at all you can even eat at streets (I did not get sick and even drank water from the tap nothing happen to me).

        • Hi Doris – I’m really looking forward to your post! I agree that it takes more courage to move around on your own instead of with an organized tour. Navigating public transport in a strange city can be intimidating. I also buy food, drink, and other useful things rather than souvenirs. I brought some waffles and kriek (cherry beer) back from my recent trip to Belgium. 😉
          Thanks a lot for the tips on Oaxaca. It will be a long time before I get there, but I will definitely hit you up for ideas when I do!
          –Julie

  11. Nice photo and narrative. When we lived there we also noticed the lack of bling, except for in January when there were a LOT of serious fur coats to be seen. But all in all, a lovely city. You got some nice photos of the Grund!

  12. It’s totally a bland country… 🙂 but the beautiful flowers here in your photo adds beauty. Have a nice day J!

  13. This is on my list. I do agree with you as well with the day trips. That’s what I like about Europe as well, each country has its own uniqueness. Sometimes, even one country will have so many different things to offer you. France for example, the north and the south so different from each other – climate, food, people, everything! I thought I’m the only weird one who does the day trips. 🙂

    P.S. your photos are amazing!

    • Thanks! Actually most cities have tour companies that do organized day trips. I always look for at least one to do. I prefer to travel on my own, if possible, because sometimes the other tourists are obnoxious and spoil the trip for everyone. I could have taken an organized trip from Brussels, stopping at a couple of places in the Ardennes region, and ending up in Luxembourg City. But there was a direct train so I chose that instead.

  14. Hi Jules, I’m starting my day with you this morning over a cup of really strong coffee. As always, I’m entranced by the grace and precision of your details. I particularly love this quiet, contemplative piece. Hope all is well? xo Viv

    • Hey Viv – Nice to hear from you! Blog reading is best with strong coffee. All is well here. Thanks, as always, for stopping by. 🙂 –Julie

  15. Lovely photos. It’s a long time since I’ve been to Luxembourg (I was living in Trier at the time – a city I’d recommend if you’ve not been), but I always loved the ravine that ran down it. Looks lovely with the spring blossom.

  16. I am happy that you kept your resolve and made the trip…you see what others do not see…”I’ve always been more intrigued by reserve than exuberance”…you go for the inner quality, perhaps…Lovely post!

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