Luxembourg is verrrrrrrry fancy.
While in southern Belgium, we decided to spend some time in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (the other tiny ‘L’ country of Europe, like our visit to Liechtenstein) and boy are we ever glad we did. This place is super fancy.
It all started off with our arrival in what we thought would be a quite average hotel on the outskirts of Luxembourg City. Since hotels within the city center were over $300, we found a great Hotwire rate on a hotel further outside the center. While trying to find a parking spot at the hotel, we immediately noticed rows and rows of Porches (with an Aston Martin here and there). It just so happened that the Porsche club of Luxembourg was having a meeting here… of course Luxembourg would have a Porsche Club. We squeezed in our beautiful Nissan Note right in between and enjoyed the luxuries of our “basic” hotel.
Once we hit the city centre we couldn’t help but notice its cleanliness, all the people dressed to the nines (particularly men in suits – single ladies take note), and designer boutiques. We wandered the city impressed of how pristine everything was. It helped that in the center square, instead of the usual solo saxophone-playing man hoping for a few coins in his hat, there was a whole orchestra set up. We felt very regal.
We couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a country we stepped into. What makes it this way? Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world (with the highest GDP per capita after Quatar). It also happens to be the only remaining Grand Duchy in the world. All of this boils down to a small country with lots of disposable income.
Where does the money come from? Luxembourg is a tax haven, so much of their money comes from investment banking. It is in ranks with the Cayman Islands and Switzerland in that sense. Rumour has it that even Kim Jong-Il’s 4 billion dollar fortune is in Luxembourg. Ooh-La-La.
Either way, we loved wandering around the country’s capital, Luxembourg City. The city is still outlined by old town fortifications that date all the way back to 900 AD, including grandiose town walls, watchtowers and intricate tunnel systems. You can walk these walls all the way around the city center, much like in Dubrovnik.
The city is located at a bend in the river (like many Ardennes towns) with a big castle on the hill, tall bridges, and a more modern European center overlooking it all. This all makes it quite a fairy-tale place to visit! The only ‘problem’ is that it seemed not many people spoke English – but instead spoke Luxembourgish mixed with a little French and German.
If you want to explore the Casemates du Bock be sure to show up earlier in the day before it closes (we missed it). There is a small entrance fee, but it would likely be worth it as there are many viewpoints from within the fortifications.
Luxembourg City is small enough to walk around so you don’t have to worry as much about location of accommodations. There is also a well run public transit system if you happen to be farther away from the city center.