The motto of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the stubborn ‘Mir Wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn.’ We want to remain as we are.
They have certainly achieved this. Surrounded by the languages powerhouse countries of Germany and France, they maintain their Luxembourgish language even though there are only about 400,000 speakers worldwide. Stepping into Luxembourg city on a daytrip from Brussels was like stepping into another time. Exploring the cobblestone pedestrian streets, the massive ravine park and viewing the fairytale buildings made for an exciting day in this laid-back city.
My daytrip to Luxembourg wasn’t planned. I requested to stay with a CouchSurfer near Brussels but he wasn’t able to host me. He was, however, planning to go to Luxembourg for a day and offered to drop me in the city center while he was working nearby. It was a perfect way to get to know someone as Luxembourg City is about 3 hours drive from the center of Brussels, but I was still able to explore the city on my own.
After the long drive, I made my way through the city and into the beautiful ravine park that divides the old city from the more modern city. From the valley floor, you couldn’t tell you were in the middle of a capital city until you looked up and noticed the bridges spanning the lush park. The trails meandered over the river and eventually, I made my up to the modern side of the city. Traipsing back across the massive bridge, I continued on to explore the old city. The pedestrian streets were lined with sleepy cafes and eateries and the squares inhabited by a few old women on an afternoon stroll. There wasn’t much going on in Luxembourg from what I could see, but that was just what I wanted that day.
The excitement came after my CouchSurfing friend picked me up to head back to Belgium. In the madness of trying to find the road back to Brussels, we managed to get in a small car accident. We pulled over and spoke with the man in the other vehicle and called the traffic police. Now, if you are ever in Luxembourg, I suggest the coolest cultural experience you can have is to see, meet or interact with the Luxembourgish police. They have the most stylish police uniforms ever! Imagine Harley-Davidson meets police uniform with a touch of 80’s awesomeness. And, since they speak Luxembourgish as their official language, they are also required to speak several other languages. I learned this first hand in perhaps the most impressive lingual situation I’ve ever witnessed. My friend was Belgian, but driving his Dutch work car. The other man was German in his German work car. We were in a Luxembourgish speaking country, so the common language? English. Being able to understand everything that was going on in a foreign country with three different countries and languages represented was quite awesome and an experience I’ll never forget. And, luckily it was just a small accident so there wasn’t much damage to us or to the cars, but I imagine the runaround with the insurance companies in different countries was not fun for anyone involved! If Luxembourg really wants to remain as they are, their police uniforms are remaining completely awesome.
Luxembourg is a beautiful country and it’s not completely overrun with tourists so it’s held on to its charm. I was there in August and I didn’t notice any tourists. Actually, I didn’t notice many locals, either in the sleep old city center. Had there been more people, the pedestrian streets would make for superb people-watching. On a warm summer day, the park would be a splendid place to sit and read a book. The relaxing Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was a place I wasn’t planning on visiting, but it turned into an experience I will never forget and the Luxembourgish police uniforms will forever be ingrained in my memory.