Oh, Luxembourg. I don’t think I will ever be over my beautiful, beautiful Luxembourg. As we all know, Brussels was a bit of a dud for many reasons, and I really needed Luxembourg to pull through. Our adventure had already gone from some pretty delicious highs (see: waffles in Brugge) to some rather muggy lows (see: third floor walk-up in Brussels) and it was only week one. On top of that, I was still getting over my minor freak out in Brugge about the reality of this trip. We were going around Europe for over 80 days, and my delayed dissertation deadline had seriously cut into my travel prep time.
I didn’t want to be defeated before Dev and I made it out of our first country. I mentioned earlier how Devon advised me to streamline the schedule of destinations in order to make the whole trip-planning process less overwhelming. I ended up extending our time in Luxembourg to five nights. I was worried that we would get bored in such a small city for almost a week, so I had a few day trips up my sleeve. Turns out, we didn’t really need them.
Devon and I departed bright and early from Brussels, eager to reach our next destination. The arrival itself was made slightly more complicated by construction on the main train line between Brussels and Luxembourg City, so we needed to catch a replacement bus for the last 40 minutes of our journey. Now, back in the UK, having any sort of train journey replaced by a bus is usually a death sentence for a peaceful day. At least, that is the case in my personal experience. This however, was not a typical day.
Apparently you have to be young and attractive in order to be a bus driver in Luxembourg. I’m serious. At least 85% of the bus drivers we saw over the course of five days were young, well-groomed men that did not look like they belonged at the front of a bus. I’m just saying. We transferred to the bus in the border town of Arlon. Arlon looked cute from what we could see, and they had a great statue at the main intersection of the town, but we didn’t get much more than a passing glance. All I can remember is being in an incredibly good mood and giggling the whole way to the bus. We made it through the first obstacle of the day (get to Luxembourg in one piece) unscathed.
Upon arrival in Luxembourg, we were confronted with our second challenge: getting to the hostel. Now, as far as ‘getting to the hostel’ goes, we were 0/2 for easy journeys. I was nervous getting off the coach, but I was determined to succeed this time around. I struck out from the train station walking over to (what I hoped was) the bus station. I managed to locate the correct line after some guess-work, and we stepped on board.
I went up to the conductor and confidently asked for ‘two tickets please’ in flawless* French, to which he responded something I didn’t quite understand (*grammatically flawless yes, phonetically flawless…not so much). I asked him to repeat when he shook his head at my coins. ‘It’s free’ he said in French. Confused, I responded ‘Free?’ in English, just to make sure I understood correctly. ‘Yes, free’ he said, with no visible annoyance at my language switch. Coming from the east coast, the idea of a free bus was beyond me. ‘Why?’ was the only response I could think of. ‘It’s Saturday’, the driver replied, ‘The buses are always free’.
So, with four euros safely tucked in my pocket, Devon and I took our seats and waited for the bus to depart. I always hate going on buses in new places because you are never quite sure when to get off. But bless Luxembourg’s transit system, because they had little screens displaying the bus’s route. There was no confusion of when to push the ‘stop’ bell. It was amazing. And did I mention it was free?
After we got off the bus, our hostel was only a two-minute walk down a footpath through a bit of forest. It was shady and cool, a relief from the 80°F/27°C degree heat. We schlepped up to our rooms with relatively little effort (there was an elevator), and collapsed. We had made it. And it wasn’t that bad.
Energised by our morning success, we freshened up and headed out to explore our new city. I looked up a café for us to hang out in that wasn’t too far from the hostel, and we were off. The walk back up the footpath was a bit of effort, but we were greeted with quite the view once we got up to the city. If I learned anything during my time in Luxembourg, it is that Luxembourg is basically Genovia from Princess Diaries. A small European country with a royal family (ish – they have a Grand Duke) and a thing for pears – I’m calling it.
We barely made it 100 meters into the city before we found our new favourite spot – Vintage Coffee. We sat at one of the little converted cast iron sewing tables outside and ordered some sandwiches and hot chocolate. Everything was working out so well. I felt like we were on top of the world. Things were so easy in this city even though it was hot well beyond my levels of comfort. Our waiter was so sweet as well. A relatively short man with a bit of a lisp, he asked us about New York and our travels and how we liked Luxembourg so far.
Already I could tell this place was going to be great. No one had judged me on my bad French accent, the hot chocolate was delicious, and we were both in good moods. A full afternoon of exploring was ahead of us, and we had a whole week to get to know our new favourite city. Things were looking up.