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Gudde Moien, translated as “Good Morning” in Luxembourgish, is a language as uncommon as the Grand Duchy on an intrepid explorer’s ultimate travel bucket list. Traditionally just spoken at home and rarely outside the Grand Duchy, it is no wonder that Luxembourgish has been Unesco’s list of endangered languages since 2010.
Ranked as the second richest country in the world, Luxembourg’s reputation as a wealthy nation needs no introduction. A landlocked country in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy (a territory whose head of state is a grand duke or grand duchess) in the entire world and one of three European cities (alongside Brussels and Strasbourg) hosting the most important European institutions such as the Court of Justice of the European Union, European Investment Bank and the General Secretariat of the European Parliament, to name a few.
Luxembourg City At a Glance
Justin and I have been staying in Belgium for a month and thanks to its proximity to this tiny but prosperous nation, it makes sense that we hopped over the border for the weekend. Despite its small population (602,005 residents as of 1 Jan, 2018) of which nearly half are foreigners, we were pleasantly surprised to discover one of three amazing cultural sites, all of which are on the Unesco World Heritage list. Hailed as some of the most impressive in Europe, the fortifications of the Old City of Luxembourg and its ancient quarters boast of military architecture spanning several centuries and have been part of the Unesco Cultural World Heritage since 1994. Built in the middles ages, Luxembourg City is a beautiful cliff top capital overlooking the Alzette River of the Grand Duchy. Get lost in the maze of fascinating network of underground tunnels, for a glimpse into the city’s past as a fortress.
Growing up in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual society, I enjoy the cosmopolitanism that defines Luxembourg City – a capital of more than 100,000 in population comprising of almost 170 different nationalities! I speak three languages (plus a dialect) and it isn’t often that one comes across a country that recognizes three official languages: French, German and the national language Luxembourgish. So fear not, language won’t get in the way of flummoxed travellers navigating this captivating city.
Owing to its affluence and one of the best wine regions in the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Luxembourg boasts the most Michelin restaurants per capita of any city in the world – a grand total of 16 Michelin restaurants! Forget about exuberant nightlife as Luxembourg is known for being notoriously ‘boring’ as there is very little foot traffic after work hours – because residents either stay indoor or they embark on massive daily cross border commute (France, Belgium and Germany) to live somewhere cheaper.
Most shops were closed over the New Year holiday so we spent the day exploring the capital sans crowd. Unfortunately, we did not get to explore the enchanting landscape that lies beyond the charming capital – forested hills, wine country and stunning medieval castles. If you are not sure whether a trip to Luxembourg is worth your time, there is good news for fans of two common vices – lower tax on cigarettes and alcohol (not to mention petrol too!) might pique your interest, if nothing else. There are several transportation options – flying into Luxembourg Findel Airport or other low cost alternative in neighbouring countries, rail or bus.