July 4th through July 8th.

Map of Luxembourg
Map Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

We left London on the afternoon of Thurs, July 4th. True to form, we were running across the airport late for the flight. You see British Airways has self check in computers, where you can just insert your ticket and it churns for a minute and then spits it back out at you. Well we inserted my ticket and it took it just fine. Then we inserted Dave's ticket and it said that we were no longer within the approved time frame and had to check in at the desk! Evidentally it cuts off 30 mins before the flight. If we had each taken a different machine to check in at the same time, we would have been fine....... Well anyway, Dave goes to wait in line and I go to check out the security clearance line which is quite lengthy too! So I decide to wait in that line while Dave waits in the other. Of course I get up to the front of that line before Dave gets back with his ticket. So I figure I may as well go through and make sure they don't close the gate. About the time I'm putting my bag on the x-ray, Dave makes his way through. Evidentally, Dave asked the guy at the ticket counter if he had to wait in the long security line and the guy tells him "Well if I wanted to make the flight I'd figure out some way to get to the front". Again, as luck would have it the gate we leave out of is miles away. We had to run through about three different hallways and gate areas (with our bags I remind you) to get to our final destination!!! We are the last two people on board, but the flight attendants don't really seem rushed. Oh well, what a start to the trip!

Luxembourg Landscape

Friday, our first full day in Luxembourg, was spent sightseeing. It's interesting how your first look at a new place isn't ever quite like you imagined it! Let me see if I can describe it and do it justice... The "old city" part of Luxembourg towers high above everything else with big fortress like walls. Then there is a steep (I mean steep) drop down to a little valley area below which has a sleepy little stream running through it. On the other side of the valley, the terrain again rises up and fans out into the rest of the country side. When we first got there I got a map which shows a lift (elevator) at the edge of the old town. I thought, that's silly why have a lift labeled on a map, until I saw how huge the drop over the wall. The only other way down is to wind around on streets or take a lot of stairs.
Luxembourg Landscape Luxembourg Landscape Luxembourg Landscape Luxembourg Landscape

Luxembourg Outside Casemate A little history from the tourist brochure.... "As far back as 963, Count Siegfried chose the Bock promontory to build his fortress surrounded by a simple fortification. In the course of the years a second and a third fortification were set up on the west side, whereas the rocks of the Petrusse Valley and of the Alzette Valley constituted a safe natural defense. The Burgundians took the city by surprise in 1443 and it developed into a strategic position in Europe. After more then four centuries, the best military engineers of the Burgundians, French, Spaniards, Austrians, and Germanic Confederation ended up transforming the city into the "Gibraltar of the North". Three girdles of battlements provided its defense: the inner one was fortified with bastions; the second included fifteen forts and the third was composed of an exterior wall, counting nine forts, all hewn into the rock. A network of 23 km of underground tunnels, called casemates, and bombproof rooms provided for thousands of defenders with their equipment, horses, workshops, and kitchens. The strategic stronghold was closed in 1867 when Luxembourg signed an act of neutrality, but was used during WWII to shelter more then 35,000 people. Only about 10% of the bulwarks still remain visible today."

Luxembourg Outside Casemate Luxembourg Outside Casemate

We took two tours: one through the Bock Casemates and one through the Petrusse Casemates. Since almost all of it was dismantled or closed up in 1867 (they couldn't blow up all of the casemates because it was so vast it would have demolished the city) we only got a glimpse of a small part or what it used to be. I can't imagine living life like that underground! Besides the two casemates, we saw two old churchs and walked up and down the city streets.
Luxembourg Casemate Luxembourg Casemate Luxembourg Casemate

Finally, exhausted after a day of sightseeing, we found a nice little Italian restaurant in the middle of the main square with great wine and pizza (outside seating of course).
Lux main square

After dinner as we meandered back to our hotel we ran into "The Cycle Circus". It was about 20 bicycles (and I use the work loosely) of all different variations. Some where the really tall ones that you can barely get onto from the ground (I had to use the table). Some of them were powered by pushing on the seat with your butt! Some had different axis of rotation. A couple where the ones where you can recline back and pedal. Finally, my favorite was one that looked like a tricycle but you peddle from the side! You could try out any of them that you wanted. Little kids and grownups alike were all pedaling around laughing and having a great time. And of course, we had to try them all!!! (Got a few pictures too so we can work out a deal to blackmail Dave!)
Luxembourg Bicycle Circus Luxembourg Bicycle Circus Luxembourg Bicycle Circus Luxembourg Bicycle Circus

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