Hello again! This is part two of my (long) post about our Fall Break. For part one, click here.
Since we spent the first day and a half in our base city of Cologne, it wasn’t until day three that we headed to Luxembourg. Why Luxembourg? Good question. Pretty much because, in order to do all the traveling we wanted, the easiest/cheapest thing was to get a Eurail pass. These things are amazing. You can choose a 2, 4, or 24 bordering countries in the EU and the number of days you want the pass, and then you can travel unlimited between and around those countries within 2 months, for however many days your pass is good for (they don’t have to be consecutive). We paid £175 for a 5 day pass to 4 countries, since we wanted to do more than 2. We were in the northwest part of Germany, so Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands were the closest bordering countries to visit, each about a 3-4 hour train ride away. So that’s how we ended up in Luxembourg! Considering a return (or, round trip in American) ticket to Amsterdam was about £135, it’s definitely a great deal!
We arrived in Luxembourg in early afternoon. The center of the city was a short walk from the train station, and we enjoyed exploring some of the streets. You cross over a bridge that spans a forested park which divides the city in half, providing some wonderful views.
From there, we stopped at their WWII memorial, which looms over the city, since they don’t have skyscrapers or anything, so it dominates the skyline.
Our next goal was to find food. We ended up eating at a random Turkish food restaurant, which was really good. From there we went to find Rue (Street) Philippe II, where there was supposed to be a fun installation of 1200 umbrellas suspended over the street. Unfortunately, it turns out it had been taken down already, so we instead made our way to the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Luxembourg City. We stopped briefly so Rae and I could get “gelato on a stick”–why we wanted a cold snack when it was already rainy and cold, I’ll never know, but it was delicious!
Then we arrived at the Cathedral. A beautiful Gothic building with splashes of Renaissance elements, it is the only cathedral in the city and began life as a Jesuit church. We thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the adornment inside and sat inside for awhile.
From here, we decided to find the Grand Palace. This led to quite the adventure. First, we assumed the tower looming in the distance across the forest was the palace and headed that way, exploring the park along the way.
We arrived at the building, and it looked very palatial.
Then, upon further reading, we realized this was not a palace, but a very ornate bank. So we tried again, wandering toward the center of the city and attempting to follow signs (the language of Luxembourg is a mix of French and German called Luxembourgish. I kid you not.) We then found an even grander building, with a lovely garden in front of it. Excited, we again took numerous pictures.
It then occurred to us that the palace would probably have better security, and we wouldn’t have been able to waltz up to the front door. That’s when we discovered it was a museum. Finally, we went into a coffee shop nearby and asked where the palace was. Turns out, we had been right around the corner of it when we were still at the cathedral. Whoops! So we headed back towards the center of the city. After asking directions (and getting them in broken English and some German), following vague maps, and misguided tourism information, we finally managed to find the palace!
Okay, it was slightly underwhelming, having seen other castles and palaces, and having spent so long looking for it. But nonetheless, we were excited to finally find it and see what the Grand Palace of Luxembourg looked like! Then we decided to meander back towards the train station, looking for a souvenir shop and a place to buy hot chocolate (it had been cold and drizzly since lunchtime).
Fun fact: In Luxembourg (on Sunday, at least) EVERYTHING closes at 6. It was 6:30. We couldn’t find anything open, so finally we headed back to the train station, where thankfully they had both a place to buy hot chocolate and souvenirs (I’m collecting magnets from everywhere we go, so I was going to be quite disappointed if I broke the record on the first day of fall break!) Then we caught our train back and arrived in Cologne around 10. We were able to get dinner from basically the only shop still open in the train station and headed back to the hostel.
What do you think of Luxembourg–had you even heard of it before? Would you like to visit? Comment below!
Thanks for reading! See our next day in Cochem, Germany here.