Thursday, September 22, 2016

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

>>> Hello Luxembourg <<<

You beautiful little country, you...

My Portuguese girlfriends and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, and it was such a nice overnight trip! Friends in Strasbourg warned us that since it's such a small city (slash country) there would not be much to see, but we're all super satisfied with our choice to visit anyway. It was also nice because in two days we were able to see everything we wanted to see without feeling exhausted afterward from racing to get to everything. I think I slept more Saturday night than I've slept in a night the whole time I've been in Europe. Nine and a half hours, whoa. 

Saturday during the day...

We explored the city, its cathedral (I'm noticing many European cities have a Notre-Dame Cathedral), and followed the 'Wenzel Circular Walk', which led us through some of the city's ancient ruins. We also visited the History Museum of Luxembourg, 'Musée d'histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg'. (Bonus: entry was free for students) I was surprised to learn a country as small as Luxembourg has such a rich history! I guess it doesn't surprise me that I knew nothing about it since my knowledge of European history is lacking on most fronts, but I was very interested to learn about how Luxembourg has transformed over centuries.

Again, a special thanks goes out to Ana and her photography skills.

Oh, and thanks to Francisca for the GoPro pictures, which will be really fun to have, also!

Saturday evening...

The girls and I swung by a Fischer's Market grocery store and picked up personal pizzas to eat back at our Airbnb for dinner on Saturday; it was so nice to have a real oven to use for once! We had such a fun, relaxing evening just hanging out together... It's so interesting to sit and talk about our lives and learn how similar we are even though we've grown up in different countries. When I'm hanging out with the Portuguese girls, or my close friends from La Marne (my building) who are Brazilian or Spanish, it always feels just like I'm hanging out with my best friends back home. I'm constantly reminded how fortunate I am to have such dear friends here already. 

Oh, and I'm constantly reminded how weird they think Americans are... Or maybe it's just how weird they think I am... Pizza apparently isn't something you should eat while drinking coffee... Who knew?

Sunday breakfast...

Special thanks to my old friend Olivia for suggesting we visit Nathalie Bonn's Chocolate House

Friends in Strasbourg also recommended this stop, and I'm so glad they all did. For 10 euro each we enjoyed an amazing Sunday 'French Breakfast' of personalized hot chocolate, fresh squeezed orange juice (reminded me of Florida<3), brioche, and croissants, as well as all of the jams, butters, and chocolate sauces to go on fresh white and brown bread. I think we all smiled for an hour straight as we ate... We couldn't finish the food we were served even though it was delectable. 

10/10 would recommend this pit stop if anyone is traveling to or through Luxembourg anytime soon. 

Here are more pictures of one of the best, most unhealthy breakfasts of my life. (Worth the absurd caloric intake)
These were all of the hot chocolate spoons
we could choose from!

This one is for Mom to laugh at.

Sunday afternoon to wind down our trip...

After approximately an hour of adventuring around Luxembourg City (read: after an hour of wrong turns due to bad directions and my poor sense of orientation in new cities), we managed to find the entrance to the Casemates du Bock. Exploring the casemates was probably my favorite part of our trip to Luxembourg. This complex city wall and tunnel system was originally built as a defense structure for Luxembourg in the 1600's, and construction continued into the 1700's and beyond.  Centuries later the casemates were used in World War II; check the link below for more information. 
On both sides of the road you can see the casemates, and the bridge in between was built to connect the tunnel systems.

'Casemates du Bock' according to good old Wikipedia :

"The first tunnels for the underground defences below the old castle were dug out during the Spanish period in 1644. Extensions were made by the French engineer Vauban under Louis XIV in 1684 but it was from 1737 to 1746 that the Austrians completed the extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries known as the casemates. With a total length of 23 km (14 mi) and depths of up to 40 m (130 ft), they accommodated 50 cannons and a garrison of 1,200 men. 
When the surface fortifications were dismantled in 1875, most of the underground defences remained largely untouched, 17 km (11 mi) of passageways remaining. In 1994, the casemates were added to the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites, attracting some 100,000 visitors a year.[8] 
In 1933, the Bock casemates were opened to the public.[3] During the Second World War, they were used as a bomb shelter able to accommodate up to 35,000 people. Renovation work and repairs were undertaken in 2008–2009 including the opening up of the mine galleries which contained explosives able to blow up part of the Bock in case of need.[8]"  

After wandering through the casemates, we spent some time in the park before gathering our bags back at the Airbnb to head to the train station. It's so nice to have friends I'm so comfortable with for trips like this, but I must say this weekend (and all of the travel recently) made me miss my friend Chelsie a lot. Last year she and I spent most of the fall wandering around the country together for Mediation Competitions and Honors Scholars trips, so whenever I'm exploring new places I still feel like she should be by my side (or holding my hand as the plane takes off and lands). 

Sidenote of huge thanks to the Portuguese girls for speaking English for me all weekend, and for just being the nicest human beings ever. It's funny to wake up from a nap and cause the conversation to change languages, but I appreciate their accommodation so much. I downloaded Portuguese on Duolingo (language learning app) this weekend, so maybe one day I'll be able to understand them.

I have a lot to share about classes and life in Strasbourg and future travel plans; bear with me as I get used to updating my blog...

In synopsis, everything is perfect and I love it here more than I ever imagined I would... And I'll be completely honest that I boarded my plane with unnaturally high expectations...
I realized today that I've been in France for 26 days. In total I'll be here for 247 days. Already, more than 10% of my time here is gone... And more than 20% of my time with Francisca and the dear friends I've made who are only here one semester.... That's sad.  
Mmkay, back to happy thoughts of French baguettes, wine, pretty flowers & making the most of my time here! 

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" -Tyler Knott Gregson


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