|Welcome to Luxembourg!|
Alas, the time came for us to leave beautiful Brugge and after one last delicious pastry breakfast, we headed towards the tiny country of Luxembourg. We drove across most of Belgium, which doesn’t take long, and entered Luxembourg in the mid afternoon. The funny thing about going from country to county here in Europe is that you often don’t even realize you’ve passed into another country. I was expecting lots of fanfare, big welcome signs, and I thought maybe you would get stopped at the border for a passport check. Nope – none of the above. You have to keep your eyes peeled for a little sign that simply says Luxembourg, except it will be in the native language so it’s easy to miss. Take Belgium for example. They speak Dutch, German and French, depending on where you are in the country, so the welcome to Belgium sign will say “Belgique” (French) or maybe “Belgie” (Dutch). Easy to miss.
|Driving across Luxembourg.|
Luxembourg may be tiny, but it is also extremely tidy. My new friend Garmin (the GPS system) decided to take us on a sightseeing tour of the little country via the cow paths as Eric likes to say. However, these weren’t just any old cow paths. These were the nicest, smoothest paved, beautifully tree lined cow paths I have ever seen. The little town we were heading for, Vianden, was on the other side of the country, so we drove right across the middle of the country, over rolling hills, through cutesy little villages and fairytale like forests. Everything, and I mean everything, is spic-n-span clean! Every house in every village we went through was in pristine condition. The yards were perfectly manicured. Every road we went on, single lane or double, was perfectly smooth with nary a pothole to be seen. As we neared the town of Vianden, we entered an enchanting forest with huge boulders that looked as if they had been perfectly painted with moss, and each leaf on the forest floor looked like it had been strategically placed in the perfect position. It wouldn’t have surprised me if we had seen fairies dancing on the road in front of us. What a beautiful country to drive across.
We chose to stay in the small town of Vianden for one simply reason – the Cinderella like castle that’s perched on the bluff overlooking the town. As we were nearing Vianden, I had no sooner told the girls to start watching for the Castle when we came around a bend in the road and there it was. Wow! What A Sight! The girls squealed in delight and Eric found the first place he could to pull over so we could all get out and get a better look. The Castle stood on the bluff across the valley from us, and down below, nestled in between the wooded hills was the town of Vianden, with it’s cobblestone streets and the River Our snaking through the center of it.
|Hotel Victor Hugo|
We spent three nights in this lovely village, staying at the Hotel Victor Hugo, named for the famous French author who spent a lot of time in Vianden. We had the only room on the top floor of the small Hotel and from it we had a beautiful view of the river and the main road through town out one window, and a stunning view of the Castle high up on it’s perch out the other window. The view of the Castle is even more spectacular at night when it’s lit up with lights.
|View of the Castle at night from our hotel room.|
|Enjoying croissants after a hard hike uphill.|
The first thing we did on our first full day in Vianden was visit the Castle of course. You can drive up to the Castle, but we decided to make the trek on foot and followed a path through the forest. It really wasn’t that long of a hike, but given that the Castle is sitting above the village, you can guess the general direction of the trail - up, up and up! I was fully prepared for some whining from the girls, but instead, much to my surprise, I had to walk fast just to keep up with them. Now Eric and I know these two really do belong to us. They love to hike as much as we do (maybe a week long hiking trek through the Swiss Alps is an option after all). When we reached the top, after a short break to enjoy the chocolate croissants we had picked up before our hike at the local bakery, we toured the Castle.
|Inside the Castle.|
|Dining room in the Castle.|
At the end of the day, we found a cozy local restaurant with a wood-fired pizza oven and wonderful Apple Strudel dessert. And Eric drank his evening beer out of a mug, just like the locals.
|They know how to do Apple Strudel in Luxembourg!|
Our second full day in Luxembourg, we decided to drive down to Luxembourg City, but first we stopped in the Mullerthal region to do some hiking. We followed a crystal clear river through an enchanted forest, hiking past some amazing rock formations and ended up at a picturesque waterfall. The trails through this area go on and on, and after hiking to the waterfall, we were tempted to bag our idea of heading to the City and keep hiking, but alas, when would we have the chance to visit Luxembourg City again. We headed back to the car and continued on our way.
|Hiking through the forest.|
|I swear fairies created this beautiful mushroom display.|
|The waterfall at the end of the hike.|
Luxembourg City is quite beautiful. Lots of ornate old buildings, a cathedral, outdoor cafes, very cosmopolitan with lots of high end stores and boutiques. But the most amazing thing about this city is the huge valley that runs right through the middle of it. There is a path that runs along the top of the valley on one side called the Chemin de la Corniche, often referred to as “Europe’s most beautiful balcony.” Sitting down in the valley below is an area call the Grund. We hiked down to the bottom and walked around the Grund for a bit. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay long as we had arrived late in the day and wanted to get back to Vianden for dinner, and the good weather we had experienced on our trip so far finally gave way to cold and rain. And unfortunately, because of the rain, we just didn't get very many pictures of the City.In the end, Luxembourg was a very pleasant surprise to us. We knew little about the country going into this trip and haven’t had anyone mention it to us as a must see destination in Europe. But with it’s picturesque villages, rolling hills, river valleys, enchanting forests, fairytale castles and the beautiful Luxembourg City, why wouldn’t you want to visit!
|The bridge over the waterfall on our hike in the forest.|
|You may see this photo again - as our Christmas card!|
|The Castle at sunrise.|
|Hiking to the Castle.|