Sunday, 23 October 2011

It's All Very Luxembourgish

Getting up early on a Saturday sucks...getting to the train station when it's still dark is even worse. Still being en route to a free weekend away makes it OK.

Back in July I won a 2 night 2 person break to Luxembourg. Admittedly not one of the must go places on my list..but who turns down a free holiday?

We were flying Luxair. I've never been with them before, neither have I flown from city airport. The airport and the plane? Both tiny. Being a small airport (and the ungodly hour) we were through security in no time and at the bar for eggs and smoked salmon before we noticed it was final call...whoops. We went down to the holding pen/gate and noticed the tiny plane. It had propellers. There was also only about a dozen people taking this flight which meant we got to spread out. It was also a nice treat to get complimentary drinks, breakfast and a sweet for landing...small touches that legacy and low cost have dropped. Such a shame.

On arrival in Luxembourg it was really sunny, but there was a definite chill. Taxiing to the hotel there wasn't loads to see, but when is there when you don't know what you're looking out for? Our destination was the 4 star Parc Belair in the 'centre' of Luxembourg. Always a nice treat when you check in, get to the room and realise you've been upgraded to a junior suite, complete with balcony overlooking the park. Luckily however I was with someone who it doesn't matter if we share a bed, but considering I won this at a corporate function and it was a trip for 2, the king size could have caused some problems...

View from the balcony
After unpacking and identifying the local areas of interest we set out to aim for the shopping centre via the national museum and presidents gardens. We didn't find either of those was however a relief to find the shopping centre 'city concorde'. We were thirsty and starving so lunch was the first port of call. On our long walk we had noticed lots of bars and restaurants advertising bofferding, the local beer which is actually very nice. It is of course customary wherever you go to try the local beer! Happily all the menus were in French so I could brush up on my ever improving language skills. I opted for the duck and my freebie holiday companion the chicken. On arrival of the meals it was evident cantine cuisine was the dish du jour. we swapped as the duck was utterly swimming in black pepper and the chicken was less offensive to me, the duck however was palatable to my pepper loving compadre.

After lunch we found the most exciting shop to be Cora, the local supermarket (yes this does say a lot about the centre). I was particularly excited to be able to buy a bottle of Get 27, the digestif I first fell in love with in Paris. We also stocked up on pre-game drinks for the hotel and some snacks (the minibar would not be ransacked!). It was then time for the long walk home, literally the road was called 'longway'. I was also wearing a sensible but not entirely practical 2-3 inch heel. Ouch.

After a power nap the cocktails and snacks were devoured before heading to the lovely looking bistro affiliated with the hotel. An instant affection for this place was formed when we were greeted with champagne by our wonderfully camp French waiter Jeremy. The table cloths were also topped with brown paper accompanied by a pot of crayons. Oh the child in me would be thoroughly satisfied this weekend.
I had looked on the menu for this place before we came and had taken the Luxembourgish specialty of cooking cheese to be fondue, it wasn't. We shared a platter of cured meats with a ramekin of melted cheese that was pungent but not in a good way. Luckily there were also fries...this would have to suffice for the night ahead...

We had also done some research on the nightlife of Luxembourg. The secret garden had come up very highly on review sites and also features on the 'best bars in the world' website. Expectations were also high. Once we arrived and noticed the queue the realisation hit, we were a good 10 years older than everyone else there. Depressing. When the doorman checked our ID he laughed, apparently acknowledging this fact.

On entering we noticed the pots of florescent paint waiting for the children to cover themselves in. Great- we'd be steering well clear of that. Saving grace, the music was good. We were worried how time warped Luxembourg would be, turns out not at all.

Buoyed by the decent music and staring at disbelief at the teens covered in fluorescent explicit language we deduced it was time to leave. On leaving the club we heard the positive noises of something going on nearby and discovered Urban, another of the three bars identified on best bars in the world. The crowd was thankfully more mature but the music not as good-if only we could transport this crowd to the decent music.

It was at the bar here (drinks unimaginably cheap after the prices in secret garden) I was taking a photo when I accidentally smashed a vodka and cranberry-which was splashed all over my nude Louboutins. Whoops. If this happened in London you would expect to have to pay for another drink, this is what I was expecting to do. However there was instantly someone cleaning my mess up and telling me to hold on while they made another one! Amazing. This is when we decided the Luxembourgish people really are very nice.

The remainder of our trip was made up of walking (and a but of playing) in the parks, browsing the closed shops and napping. Bliss

It is a quaint and pretty place, and we were very lucky with the weather...even managing to sit outside with an ice cream. Would I go back? Maybe with children. The short flight and vast array of parks make it great for somewhere to go with kids. There are some nice sites to see and lots of cheese and cure meats to be eaten...

The Barbour and Hunteres - essential Autumn park wear

We were confused by the lights - does amber and green mean walk or stay?!

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