Component of our small states series of stories
The Benelux. This expression refers to the bunch of 3 countries in the northwestern corner of continental Europe. You probably already know about Belgium and the Netherlands. Think about the previous part, the “lux” part? Can it be luxe as the word indicates?
Well, Yes and No.
Depends on whether you are in the money or not we assume. For Luxembourg isn’t only one of the world’s greatest per capita GDP country, but in addition, it has a rather high standard AND cost of living. So luxe can be found here but definitely with a cost.
Due to its location, the nation lies in the manner of our journeys to the eastern side of France. You see, it is practically a straight line to push south from Amsterdam through Belgium and Luxembourg for to Lorraine. Plus it out of there that we make a feint to the southeast towards Alsace. So Luxembourg was a stopover for us.
Another capital of Europe?
But the couple of days we drove we did stop by a few spots in the nation, least of all of the capital with the same name as the nation. We have never been so confused. There’s an EU parliament. Plus they’re in Brussels and in Strasbourg. But there was one in Luxembourg. That we described to be other EU institutions. Can you envision the traveling circus of folks just to get to a meeting? Perhaps they may wish to think about video conferencing… may help them save some money and mother earth too since they tell everybody else to do so.
Anyway, there is NO capital of the EU, but Luxembourg city counts as 1 place where a lot of its institutions are located. And never a location that is poor too. For town is beautiful really. We parked nearby Allee Scheffer (Glacis) which as free on Sundays and it was a fair walking distances to the areas of town. Now that has been a long time you best check for yourself if complimentary parking exist in town.
Built in the late 10th century, the fortress from which town developed is undoubtedly a place to stop at. The Casemates are the remains of the fortress that ringed town. Take a stroll over its walls because you can observe the low-lying suburbs of town. Along with the little canal together with the bridges appeared pretty on a sunny and bright day. If you’ve got a scarcity of time and there was only place to move, then this would be it.
The old city centre is very small and easy to cover on foot and on a Sunday it was rather active. There has been a long line in front of the Ducal palace, so we skipped. Okay perhaps we could return at a future date. There are plenty of stores and restaurants needless to say, so decisions about how to splurge are wide. They revolve after all the bureaucrats of the EU… But as we mentioned early in this short article, it is an expensive city (country) to live in since the cost of McDonalds is higher!
There’s a nation outside of town too
So off we went driving throughout the nation, to enjoy views of the rolling hills of woods and yellowish blossom areas. These yellow flowers could have been rapeseeds or Narcissus…we were not sure. But they sure looked beautiful!
And we were searching… for castles which has been.
First stop was at the grand chateau of Ansembourg. And what a pity. Because it isn’t available to the general public whatsoever… and from all sides that the luscious foliage made sure nobody was getting any opinions except to the pointed roofs. Sigh, distraught because we were this was part of the ‘match’ or hunt.
A brief drive away though we spied a signal that is small. Schoenfels it said. Maybe not on our record and for good reason. Since this too was not available to the general public. But we have been determined. We drove a bit since there were no barriers. And it was. There the sweet small castle was waiting for us to salivate over it. Said to have been built in the 1290s, the castle’s defense walls have been destroyed by the French 1690. It changed hands several times and finally ended being sold to the State. When we were there we did not observe any signs of restoration although literature on the web suggest that was the plan. However we succeeded. One in the bag!
Hollenfels was the next goal for us and only a brief drive away. There are 7 of these castles in the middle portion of Luxembourg and this can be one that is available to the general public. And especially the nation has given its use for activities catering to the younger folks. And that is the boon for us since it made easy our quest to bring another castle to our group. Like its peers, the castle has been fought over and changed hands several times over the decades. Finally falling into disrepair and being obtained by the state.
So you see. Owning real estate isn’t an easy enterprise. Think about the taxes and upkeep. Thus inheriting a crumbling castle could therefore be a poison gift too. Such was the destiny of those and several of those 130 castles that dot this small country of just 2500 km². Wow. However, it is because of this concentration of castles, which makes for an extremely exciting destination to us. One which if we could return would definitely be a place to spend more than only 2 days. Almost like trying to capture butterflies.
Now the family which gave its name to the nation has already gone extinct. Actually for almost 600 years! But the nation continues to exist in part due to its location but also the dexterity of how it has maneuvered its way in larger powers. Much like any other European states that we’ve written about, this one is just another survivor. It’s hard for a little fish to dwell at a pond with several other large fishes which may easily swallow up you!
Drove through a Few times, eventually remained for two weeks in April 2004