We arrived back in Luxembourg City 27 December, eager to relax but also to allow my parents to experience the city where we actually live. The Christmas Market was still active in City Center, we wanted to try another bus tour, my parents wanted to see some of the old churches, and we wanted to check out the Museum of Art and History. We were disappointed that the Casemates du Bock were not open to the public in the winter, but ended up stumbling upon them anyway. The next week was considerably more laid back and less frenetic, but just as enjoyable as the trips to London and Paris.
The photos above are some random shots about town as we toured through on yet another hop on/hop off bus. For the first time, I have to say that this tour was really rather a waste. Luxembourg City is not terribly big, and all of the interesting things to see are within a relatively short walking distance, so the bus isn’t entirely necessary. The perplexing thing about the tour bus we used is that it ventures out into the Kirchberg area. This area is quite a distance out and requires some public transit or a car, but there is nothing really out there to see. It is a newer part of the city with no real architectural or historical significance. There are some EU offices out there and an art museum, but those could be seen separately without the need for a tour bus. If you need a way to get around, be my guest, but city bus fair is only 2 Euros. That is considerably cheaper than the cost of the tour bus.
I had not yet ventured into the Place de Guillaume, which is a beautiful square just off city center. There is a farmers market there on weekends, I found out on another trip past it, but it was vacant the day we were there. There are some cozy shops and restaurants lining the square, and the royal palace is just down the street. We also encountered a few churches, including Luxembourg’s Notre Dame. I am not currently able to locate the photos that were taken, but may edit and add them back in later.
Given the extensive traveling we had done, we opted to stay indoors for a quiet, family New Years Eve. I made a cassoulet and some chocolate mousse, we had champagne, and played Doctor Who Yahtzee. Yes, that is how dorky/cool we are. As midnight approached, however, we were a bit startled by the cacophany of fireworks. Everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, we expected fireworks, but not at this level. In the US, fireworks sales are tightly regulated (puzzling, since any crazy person can get an assault rifle, but I digress) and the displays are in controlled settings. Not in Luxembourg City. They were going off everywhere. All around us. It was really rather cool. We opened up our living room windows (as it was a tad nippy outside) to view from indoors, and ushered in 2013.
We spent our last full day touring the National Museum of History and Art, which is considerably larger on the inside than it seems from outdoors. The lowest floors begin with prehistoric relics, and as the guest weaves their way up through the museum, they are propelled forward in time. The top floor housed a fine selection of the crown jewels and an impressive collection of Japanese art. However, it was disappointing that a couple of floors were closed for renovation. These happened to be the floors covering the period I was most interested in (the Roman Empire up to the 20th Century), but we took it in stride. And we sort of stumbled upon something unexpected and wonderful as we began our journey back home.
Perhaps the most impressive “can’t miss” tourist attraction in Luxembourg City are the Casemates de Bock. It was near this natural fortification that what would become Luxembourg City was born in 963 AD. Reinforced several times by various nations over the centuries (it was a stratiegic location from medievel times all the way up to World War II), the main structure is about 500 years old; it includes underground tunnels carved from rock, gorgeous external structures, and breathtaking views.
Unfortunately, the underground passages were closed for winter, so we did not get to go inside. But we all agreed we would return, and my suggestion for any tourist is to come in Spring or Summer and put this at the top of their priority list. Some shots on and around the area: