Saturday dawned wet and windy, though perfect for exploring the 1.000 year old Bock Casemates. Long story short: in 963 a mighty Count built a fortified castle atop Bock promontory, and thus Luxembourg was born. By the by, the Burgundians, the Spaniards, the French, the Austrians and the Germans added their signatures to create the, “Gibraltar of the North” with 3 fortified rings of 24 forts and a 23km tunnel city-like network. Because much of the casemates could not be demolished without destroying parts of the city once Europe was “settled,” they remain, with several kilometers open for independent touring. In a word, amazing!
The remainder of our time in Luxembourg was spent idly shopping and lunching before heading to the performance. The city’s Farmer’s Market was an exercise in foreign languages: Luxembourgian students are schooled first in Luxembourgish, then French and German as they progress through school. Most, if not all, Luxembourgians also speak English. And to think that in my own home country some people grouse about seeing signs in languages other than English.
The Luxembourgish language bears striking overlaps with German, but has the spoken romanticism of French, a combination which totally messed with us. In German this sign would be written, “Frisch und Gesund Luxembourger Obst.”
A few more beautiful market scenes, but only one jar of EU-protected Miel de Marque Nationale Luxembourgeois came home with us. Luxembourg honeys are made by more than 180 local producers, and since 1948 are certified to be of 100% Luxembourgian origin. Keeping all the bees in the country in order to keep the honey “pure” must be quite a challenge. 😉
This stall stopped us in our tracks. Rotisserie Chicken. Real. Rotisserie. Chicken. Almost always our first, and final meal, from a traiteur in Paris’ 6eme whenever we visit. Here in Vienna we have had intermittent success finding reasonable surrogates, but even the best we have found still falls short of having that certain je ne sais quoi. Quite literally we spent 10 full minutes strategizing on whether we could ask the hotel concierge if 1) they might reheat this for us for dinner; and 2) throw in some dinnerware so that we could enjoy it in our suite after the performance. In the end we decided the plan was not viable.
Speaking of my favorite topic, we wandered into Luxembourg’s best-known patisserie, Oberweiss. Tarte au Citron Amalfi? Please.
The patisserie is also noted for its prepared items, like pate wrapped in a buttery crust. My, my.
Saucisse Feuillette sounds so much more appetizing than, Pigs in a Blanket, doesn’t it?
To my delight I found several French stores in the city and browsed among them, bringing home a few lovely spring pieces to update my wardrobe. I also simply had to drop into Monoprix, a French retailer offering upmarket and traditional foods alongside household items. Let’s just say I used every bit of my 20kg checked baggage allotment to bring home some favorite French goodies.
These two items, not a part of my loot, made me laugh. White wine in a sippy-box and “official” Luxembourgian condiments.
To close out this short series on Luxembourg, a few words about our hotel. Room reviews were a little mixed, but the “weekend package” on offer for their top room sounded compelling, so I crossed my fingers and made the reservation. Turns out that The Grand Budapest Hotel has a twin! The hotel had a faded elegance, with slight worn edges here and there. The staff, as well, could have been cast in a Wes Anderson movie, and would have made Mssr. Gustav proud with their exceptional attention given to their guests.
The lobby was exceptional, and where we idled away time on our arrival afternoon with thirst-quenching custom-made cocktails that the bartender refused payment for.
Each lift was its own work of art.
Proudly displayed in the lobby is the signed photograph from General Omar Bradley, thanking the hotel for housing him and the troops of the Ninth Air Force.
Thirty-six hours flies quickly when you’re having fun, and before we knew it we were boarding our little Bombadier Turbo Prop for the return home. Äddi, Luxembourg!