This past weekend we headed to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, specifically, Luxembourg City. The weather was in the low 80's, bright and sunny - a lovely weekend. The country is probably a third of the size of Belgium, with influences from all of its border countries. We found Luxembourg City to be beautiful and best discovered on foot with a walking map in hand. Luxembourg City was essentially a reinforced fort/castle and is strategically located at the top of an escarpment, with views all around. I guess it's like building a city on a plateau, then enclosing it in with magnificent walls. Modern day Luxembourg City has the remains of these walls, but gorgeous views of bridges that connect different parts of the city together. I found this to be the most enjoyable part of the city.
From the train station, the city center is a 20 minute walk, and is easily reachable by bus. I have come to rely on Tourist Offices to answer the most practical questions and set you up with as many maps and guides as needed. While I had done some researching (where to eat, drink the best beer, and see the best things) and we had a travel book with us, we found that our plans totally changed. At the Tourist Office we picked up a City promenade map which featured walks (between 1 and 4 hours) all through the city. The map we were given featured all the major sites and allowed us to walk on the ramparts of the city. It took us towards the city center, then down through the winding Petrusse Valley (which is a lovely green part of the city, with trails, views of the bridges from below, and random stairs to various "overlook" points). From there we came out into the lower Grund area. If you can imagine a castle, with moats and drawbridges, we were basically where the moats would be. The Alzette River flows through here and you can meander back up towards The Bock (castle and casemates) to stunning views. There are plenty of places to stop for a drink or snack.
That evening, we explored the old town, but found the areas along the walks to be much more enjoyable. In the old town, the restaurants have large open terraces and overpriced menus. This city was easily explored on foot, reachable by train, and has moderately priced hotels. Their are trains that run hourly from Brussels Midi to Luxembourg - they take 3 hours one-way.
On our 2-day trek, we booked a train from Lux City to Grevenmacher (first through Wasserbillig, then bus to Grevenmacher), a city along the Moselle region of Luxembourg. In a tour guide magazine, this area had vineyards along the Moselle (with options to walk or bike through the vineyards) and visit some of the area vineyards. We asked for the Kelsbaach trails at the Tourist Office, and came away with several walking guides. Before heading off on our walk, we stopped through the Caves Bernard-Massard, and signed up for a tasting and tour (and later a visit to the winery's butterfly exhibit). At around 4 pm, we headed off on our walk, but came back pretty soon because we had to still catch the bus, then train, then another train back to Brussels. Three days would have been just perfect.
3 travel tips:
1. We have also learned that on Sundays - you should expect most of the things you want to see or do to be closed. Keep Sundays for exploring major cities, where most things are still open.
2. At most major train stations, there is always a grocery store outlet nearby where you can purchase foods at reasonable prices (fruits, breads, ready-prepared foods, cheeses, beverages etc)
3. Tourist offices are always helpful.