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We spent a nice fall day seeing the sights of Northern Luxembourg on our way to a weekend trip in Eastern Belgium.  This region is a two hour drive for us, so it worked out nicely being able to see it enroute to another destination, as it was a bit too far for a day trip.

I did not know much about Luxembourg prior to moving to Europe other than it was a small country with a capital of the same name.  At about 1,000 square miles it is small, just smaller than Rhode Island, but it is not a microstate like Lichtenstein which you can see most of in one day.  Luxembourg would take a few days or more to see the highlights.  It is a hilly and scenic country, with deep river canyons of the Mosel and Sure Rivers, lush forests (including an area known as “Little Switzerland”), a thriving capital city,  castles and historic sites, and lots and lots of history.

En route to our first destination in Luxembourg we crossed the river Sure at Echternach, the oldest city in Luxembourg, and home to heavy fighting in WWII.  From Echternach we took a left hand turn towards the town of Berdorf and headed straight up into the area known as Little Switzerland.  The road was quite interesting, passing large rock formations hanging out over the road, large trees, and deep gorges.  There is parking for Perekop rock which overhangs the road by almost 130 feet – we didn’t climb the steps, but some others were parked there and were making the trek to the top!  We connected back with the main route along the River Sure towards Diekirch, coming inland eventually and passing through Bettendorf.

Our first destination was the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch.  This museum was recommended to us by a co-worker in the states who said “you have to see it!”.  The museum did not disappoint!  At over 3,000 square meters over 4 stories, the museum contains countless exhibits from the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg from the winter 1944–45 primarily. There are some newer items and other collections that also cover Korea, but we will need to make a separate trip back to cover all of those.  The exhibits are in multiple languages including English which was very nice for us.  Many of the scenes have life-size reproductions of the event, some are based on actual photos which are then reproduced near to the display for reference, and some contain letters from people in the scene!

Thanksgiving 1944, Luxembourg

Thanksgiving 1944, Luxembourg

The history of the area is so interesting, and you get a sense of how difficult life was here during WWII.  Luxembourg City was liberated on September 11th, 1944 (in fact they have a street with that date ironically), but Vianden was not liberated until February, 1945.  This is only a distance of less than 30 miles but yet took that much longer.

The museum cost was 5 Euros per adult and certainly worth it!  The one downside is that it is not stroller friendly going between floors, but there is plenty of room to move a stroller within a given floor. For more information on the museum visit you can visit their website!

From Diekirch we were excited to see Vianden Castle after reading about it and hearing about the castle from others. (It is the castle used on a lot of the tourist brochures for Luxembourg so we really had to see it.)  Heading north on the 17, we took a left turn on the 322 after seeing signs for a Restaruant with a terrace.  With the narrow city streets in the towns in this area our qualification was that they have parking and hopefully a view- and this did!  The Hotel Restaurant Belvedere was situated on a hill overlooking the castle, just outside the town of Viadien.  Lunch was a bit pricy but certainly worth it for the view! Across the street from the hotel was a nice overlook to view the castle as well as another small monument to the US forces. We skipped the tour as we had heard it isn’t stroller friendly and our less than 2-year-old is not a huge fan of castle tours.

Great view of Vianden castle!

Great view of Vianden castle!

From Vianden, we headed northwest and then north towards Belgium, passing over high plateaus and farms.  There were great views out in the distance along the way.   We also found it interesting, this area had a large number of huge furniture stores. Some even advertising “American Furniture”. We didn’t stop in any but should the need arise this little corner of the world seems to be the place to go. You can see evidence that this small country has the highest GDP per capita in the world!  After 30 minutes or so we saw the onslaught of gas stations at the border with Belgium, complete with a shopping mall that was advertising 7 day a week shopping.  Luxembourg has the cheapest gas of any country around, around 1.30 Euros per liter, which is still about 40% – 50% more than Americans pay but about 25% less than in Germany.

Until next time, Luxembourg, it is always a nice visit!