As it is my birthday mid-May, the Hobbit treated me to a weekend away in Luxembourg. We had been to Luxembourg once before, but we really like the atmosphere there. I had never done it by train yet, so I was curious to see the scenery as I heard it’s very beautiful 3 country train ride.
We had to change trains twice: one time in Maastricht, in the South of NL, and one time in Liege, Belgium. The first bit through NL to Maastricht is not very special to me as I have done this quite a few times in my life. The 2nd bit, from Maastricht to Liege isn’t very nice and it feels like you are going back 20 years in time. The trains are outdated, and the scenery up to Liege is rather awful, quite honestly. However, The 3rd bit, from Liege to Luxembourg, makes up for it all; the scenery is just breathtaking; the train journey offers a variety of stunning views over green fields, picturesque rivers, lush valleys and hills, and stops at tiny stations in tiny villages.
Luxembourg City itself is the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; it’s a very old city, and with just over 100.000 inhabitants fairly small for a capital city as well. One of the unique things is the dramatic height differences throughout the city: when looking at a map, never assume something is very close by, as you might be surprised by a steep climb or descent. The city is rather compact though and if you are not shy of a climb every now and then, it’s very walkable. There are some lovely parks and green areas, and the old city walls and buildings provide a dramatic backdrop; Luxembourg is very, very photogenic.
Tip: If you are at the lower level (Grund) and you want to go up to the higher level without getting tired, you could consider taking the free lift that departs from Rue Munster and will get you to ‘Haute Ville’ Place du Saint-Esprit. From the higher level you will get amazing views over the city. Here, you will also find the main areas for shopping and nightlife.
We didn’t want to do too much shopping as that’s not what we came for, but I couldn’t resist a cheeky stop at Karen Millen where the hobbit got me a lovely black dress for my birthday, on top of our weekend away. I got spoiled! When walking back to the hotel, we found a really nice shop with great atmosphere and interior design, so we had a look in there too. It was called Honey/Mustard and its on 11 r. du Marché-aux-Herbes.
Luxembourg has a big expat community, a lot of whom return home over the weekend. Therefore, a lot of good quality restaurants are closed on Saturday and Sunday. In general, we were not overly impressed with food and drinks, or with the price level; at one point I paid 17,50 Euro for a cocktail. Ouch. We had two meals that were heavily overpriced too and were poor quality.
One little gem we did find was a Wine bar called Dipso on Rue de la Loge. Not very big, but lovely atmosphere and wines in various price ranges by the glass. They also do a ‘planchette’ with food; a sharing platter basically, tapas style; this looked amazing, but we did not get to try one, as we went here after dinner. Definitely a place to go for a glass of wine if you are in Luxembourg though!
On Saturday, we went to a place called Vinoteca. As the name suggest, this too is a wine bar. We preferred Dipso, but Vinoteca has something Dipso has not: a nice roof terrace and outside area with great views over the city. In summer, this must be a great place; we were unlucky as it had just started to rain, so we couldn’t sit outside.
Our dinner on Saturday was going to be something special at Le Bouquet Garni, a Michelin star restaurant, one of the few that was open. It has a nice, intimate, rustic atmosphere and we had a great meal, the food was indeed amazing here, but again; heavily overpriced.
Our hotel was the Sofitel Grand Ducal; conveniently located within walking distance of the main area’s overlooking the old city. The restaurant and bar on the 8th floor give a unique view of the city. The very bright lit up cocktail bar reflects in the windows though; so much so that the stunning views are not visible at all. This was a real shame and not a very smart move. The rooms are size-able, but the bath did not withstand the tall people test; if you are 6’2 or up, you will have cold shoulders or cold knees! 🙂
All in all we had a great weekend, and we will definitely go back to this lovely old city.