Posted by: Stevie D | August 24, 2012

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Neither of us quite knew what to expect when we entered the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
We camped for a couple of nights in the border city of Esch-sur-Alzette, the 2nd city of Luxembourg.The campsite was in a thick wood and on the evening of our arrival it rained, heavily. So we spent the evening in the campsite bar, trying to speak either French or German to our fellow shelterers. I’d never found the language situation to be so confusing as in Luxembourg.Most residents speak French or German, as well as their own, native Luxembourgisch. Some also speak a little English, which helps no end, but not knowing whether I would need French, German or whatever when speaking to
someone new, made getting into a ‘language groove’ very difficult.It became easier as the evening passed and the beer flowed of course.
Next day we stayed in the van until quite late as all around was wet and muddy. Finally, I ventured into Esch to get some supplies and found to my surprise, once I’d left the confines of our wood, the sun was shining and it was a lovely day. I walked down to the city centre and bought our necessaries. I was surprised at the quantity of Portuguese goods I found around the place, a fact which was later explained when I learned that there was a high proportion of Portuguese living and working in Luxembourg.
Our main reason for coming to one of Europe’s smallest countries though, was to visit it’s capital, Luxembourg City. So we left next morning and camped in Hesperange on the city’s south side. That evening we took a ride into the centre to check it out. Although evening, it was still busy, and like many capital cities around the world, everyone seemed to be in a hurry. They also used a strange system where drivers on the main road had to give way to drivers joining from side roads. Fortunately, I found this out when someone stopped to let me out of a side road, rather than me ramming some hapless local who happened to pull out on me. I found all this rather discouraging however, and we (wisely I think) decided to take a bus into the city to look around next day and leave driving in Luxembourg city to those who knew how to do it.
Next morning, we took a busride into the city.It seemed to have, in some of it’s buildings, an almost fairytale quality.
But in many other respects, it was bang up to date and buzzing. Built around two deep river gorges, it seems to sprout buildings from many levels, giving visitors views of the city from all possible angles.

Looking down and across the various levels of Luxembourg City.

It has a really unusual layout, on the sides of the gorges.

The cityscape combines both the natural and the man-made.

The city’s War Memorial is indeed memorable.

Between the two gorges is a vertical sided promontory of rock which people long ago realised would be very easy to defend. So they dug a labyrinth of tunnels throughout this promontory, a feature of the city now known as the Casemates and a big tourist attraction. These tunnels provided safety to 35,000 Luxembourgers during bombardment in the 2nd World War.

You could spend hours walking around the caves, but that would seem a little pointless.

Luxembourg is not just a city however, it’s also a country. A very small one perhaps, but none the less lovely for that. In fact, it adds to it’s charm because it seems the people cram all you find in a big country into their tiny one. You have cities, villages, woodland, agriculture. All crammed together like sardines in a tin. It really is great to ride around. You can’t go too far because you’ll fall off the edge, but you don’t have to, because it’s all there, close by.
We had a full day exploring on the bike.

The roads around Luxembourg’s countryside are great. Constantly changing and really well maintained.

Echternach was just one of many small towns and villages we passed through.

The buildings have their own feeling of ‘Luxembourgness’.

Lovely place for a lunch break. My best girly making the sandwiches. Sun glinting through the trees. What more can one ask?

I think I used to know the old guy who used to live here. Count something or other I think it was.

Finally, a word about our campsite at Hesperange. One of the best we’ve stayed in and it was hard to leave. But on we go, to one of Europe’s biggest countries where, I’m led to believe, there are more breweries than the rest of the universe combined.

The campsite’s residents were very interested in the Harley.

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Responses

  1. Lovely photos again Steve. Passed through Luxembourg on the bikes a couple of years back on the way from the Rhine, very pretty (and very cheap petrol!!). Off to the Cornish Cream this afternoon, will drink your health once or twice… Enjoy Germany

    • Really liked Luxy Ian. Relaxed and, like you say, cheap fuel, although maybe not as cheap as you remember it. Enjoy the ‘Cornish Cream’. Hope the weather stays fine and give our best to all my buddies back there.

  2. Great pictures and post! Been awhile since last post, was getting worried you joined a circus and gave up riding and writing, LOL. Ride safe my friend.

    • All will be explained in the next post BM. Just glad you had the patience to stick with it. By the way, one day I may quit writing but riding???? LOL 🙂

      • Seems like I have been writing a lot more than riding lately myself! Then again, it ain’t so much fun in 110 degree heat

      • Nuthin’s much fun in that kinda heat BM, except lazin’ in a nice cool pool with a cold beer on the side. Nice to ride at night though, when the days are too hot.

  3. What a beautiful place! Country side is gorgeous and the buildings are fascinating! Top that off with a great camp sight and picnic area, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
    I’m thinking I may have visited Luxembourg while living in Germany as a kid. I’ll have to ask Mom and Dad… 🙂

    • I don’t know how I’ve missed it myself in the past Shadowrun. I guess it’s so small, it’s easy to pass by on either side.Really lovely place though.


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