Thursday, June 26, 2008
June 25, 2008
Mike, Cat, Maeve, Keya, Joseph, Diya, Chandana
We went to Luxembourg yesterday to visit Joseph Joy, Chandana Surlu and their kids Diya and Keya. They were in Europe for a conference and travel, and we drove the hour to Luxembourg to visit for the day. Our first time there, and great to see friends for the morning.
We learned several things on the trip there. First, Luxembourg has rush-hour traffic, especially on the 2 K of highway that turns into 1 lane about 20 K from the city and then into 2 lanes 18 K from the city. Who designed this highway?
Second, Maeve gets carsick. This is the 4th car trip of around 1 hour we've taken in Germany, and the third time Maeve has barfed. We usually feed her breakfast in the car as a time saver, but this will change. I'd brought a change of clothes, which we put on her after she ralfed up her blueberry muffin. Then we gave her a bit of drinkable yougurt, which she ralfed up as we were coming into Luxembourg City. Hmm, no more clean clothes. We washed out and luckily the day was warm (although rainy) and Maeve's T-shirt dried on her.
Joseph and Chandana were staying near the Place Des Armes, the main square in the center of town. We were walking that way, crossing the Market square, and ran into Chandana. Mike was busy trying to text her to figure out where she was and walked right past her. There was a fruit and veggie market on the market square, as well as a small playground that all the kids loved. We spent the morning walking around the city ramparts, past the ducal palace, into St. Michel for a bit, and across to look at the walls. The old city is built on a promontory about the river Alzette, and there's quite a cliff. The lookout was full of people sketching. Below there was a formal looking vegetable garden, all the plots laid out very neatly.
We then walked over a small bridge to wander around the foundations of the first fortress built by the Luxembourg Dukes on the Bock Promontory. Underneath were the Casemates, kilometers of tunnels and rooms that were dug out under the fortifications to house cannon and people. These rooms held over 30,000 people during the shelling of the world wars. We ducked into these just in time, as it started pouring and we spent the downpour underground. Diya (aged 8) especially liked exploring all the tunnels, stairways and openings. Apparently, there used to be over 20 K of casemates, most of which were destroyed or bricked up as a condition of peace treaties.
(View of fortifications from the Casemates)
The city fortifications (natural and man-made) are truely impressive and it makes it clear what kind of protection was necessary for such a small Dutchy to stay mostly independent in the heart of Europe with larger powers always prowling around.