Luxembourg is a tiny land locked country that is squished between Germany, France, and Belgium. It is one of the last countries that is a grand duchy. They don't have a king or a president. Luxembourg is ruled by a grand duke! They speak French, German, and Luxembourgish. Don't worry, I had never heard of the language of Luxembourgish either. Its a High German language. But mostly walking around Luxembourg City, we heard French. Luxembourg's cuisine and culture, however, are the perfect mix of Romance and Germanic Europe.
We started our day at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. Interred here are American soldiers who died fighting in World War II. Most of those buried here died in the Battle of the Bulge which was fought nearby in the winter of 1944-1945.
The cemetery holds the remains 5,076 American service members, 101 which are unknown.
General Patton is interred here, per his request to "be buried with his men."
Near the American cemetery sits the German cemetery which holds the remains of the German soldiers that died during the same time period.
This is the Sandweiler German war cemetery. The cemetery was started by the American War Graves Service during the war. It holds the remains of 10,913 members of the German military.
As we left the German cemetery, I felt a quietness descend over me.
I thought about the two cemeteries. But I didn't think about "Americans" and "Germans." I didn't think about the good side or bad side, or soldiers or Nazis. I thought about sons. I thought about brothers, and uncles, and fathers, and grandfathers. I thought about WWII which shaped my family and Matt's (both my grandfathers were American soldiers in WWII and both of Matt's parents grew up in Germany during and after the war.) The youngest birthdate I saw in the German cemetery put the German soldier at the tender age of 17. That is only two years older than my son, Alexander.
I looked at this peaceful grove of trees and thought the words that Patton said right before the car accident that led to his death. "How awful war is. Think of the waste..." - Gen. George S. Patton.
After the cemeteries we headed to Luxembourg City, the capital of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a very rich country that deals with banking.
Here is a view of Luxembourg Castle which was the first settlement here. The city and eventually the whole country of Luxembourg sprang up around it.
The city is built on a gorge where two small rivers (Alzette and Pétrusse) meet. The gorge is quite deep in places, up to 70 meters (230 feet).
This is part of the old town which dates back to the 1500's situated down in one of the gorges.
All over the city of Luxembourg there were these elephant statues. They are there as part of an art exhibit to support saving the Asian elephant. Seemed kind of strange.
You could buy small copies of the elephants as souvenirs to take home. When I think of elephants the small country of Luxembourg really doesn't pop to my mind. But it probably will now!
The view from one side of the gorge over to the clock tower.
This is the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg, and the only cathedral in Luxembourg.
As Luxembourg has a heavy French influence, we knew we could get our favorite French thing. Pastry!
But apparently the difference between French pastry and Luxembourgish pastry is that French pastry lacks bees. Mmmm... Luxembourgish Bee pastry is good. I pointed it out to one of the girls working at the pastry counter and she said "Eh, it is dead. It won't hurt anybody now." Seems those Luxembourgers are pretty lax about bugs in their food.
Here is one of the many bridges that connect the two sides of the gorge. This is the Adolph Bridge.
If I couldn't see the buildings in the back ground I would think this picture was taken way out in the country side with all the trees in this city.
We hiked down to the bottom where the sides of the gorge walls were lined with little caves from years of flooding rivers running through them. Remember, this is right in the middle of city. Amazing.
Plenty of buildings, like this little church, are built right into the sides of the rock walls.
More of the old town of Luxembourg.
Something that I found quite funny about Luxembourg was that their gas and cigarettes were much cheaper than the neighboring countries of France, Germany, and Belgium. Luxembourg had all these little convenience stores situated close to the borders where it would seem every European in a 200 kilometer radius went to fill up gas and buy cigarettes by the kilo. So the next time you are in Luxembourg, remember you can drive and smoke to your hearts content.
We walked around old town Luxembourg (not smoking or driving, we really wasted our opportunity to stock up on cheap Luxembourgish gas and cigarettes) and just enjoyed the views and the people.
Luxembourg may be small, but it is unique and if you are in the area, it should definitely be on your travel list.
Travel on my friends!