Our day in Luxembourg was my absolute favorite day of the entire trip. When we were trying to decide where to go for this vacation, Brandon suggested Luxembourg, because it is close to Belgium, and one more country we could add to the list of places we've been. I'm so glad we decided to do it!
The train ride from Brussels to Luxembourg was only three hours, and again, the ride was beautiful, so it wasn't bad at all. When we got there, we walked from the train station to the car rental place, and picked up our little car. It fit all our luggage perfectly, thankfully. We left the city and headed immediately for the countryside, winding around and around little neighborhoods and going through tunnels. I will never be able to explain this well enough, but it was like all of a sudden, we were somewhere completely different. We entered the valley of seven chateaus, and it was just perfect. Rolling green hills, houses scatted on the hillside, and these little yellow flowers (called rapeseed) everywhere. I know I'll be hunted down for this, but I really don't love being so close to mountains, and I think that's why I enjoyed the drive through Luxembourg so much. There were hills that we drove over, but everything outside the little towns was so flat and wonderful. I love being able to see for miles. And it doesn't help when everything is green and flowery and literally perfect.
Our first stop was in the little town of Vianden. We drove up a narrow (and I mean really narrow) cobblestone street and parked up closer to the castle before walking back down to find some lunch. Everything I had read said that most people spoke Luxembourgish or English, but everyone we talked to was French! It was especially surprising to me, because we were like, twenty minutes away from the border of Germany. But anyway, we stopped at this little cafe for lunch, and the lady that worked there was so cute and French. Brandon loved the hat she was wearing, he said "it's not even a costume, it's just what she wears to work!" It was hard not to order one of every dessert; we really like our French pastries!
The Vianden Castle was really neat. It has been restored, so we were able to walk through it and see what it used to be like in its glory days. Mostly it is just so big. And every detail was ornate and beautiful. We were in one room that still had some of its original coloring, and even though it had faded a bit, it is still very bold and bright! From one of the castle windows, we could see where Victor Hugo lived, so that was pretty cool too. We had planned to ride the chairlift all the way up the mountain, but it didn't open for three days, so we hopped back in the car and left for the next castle.
The whole time we were walking through Vianden, to lunch, to the castle, and all around the grounds, Brandon kept singing "little town, it's a quiet village" from Beauty and the Beast. Every time I almost had it out of my head, he would start singing it again, and I kept getting so mad at him! But then when we were walking to the car, Candis said "does this remind anyone else of Beauty and the Beast?" Brandon acted really sad and said "no" with a giant pout on his face. But all the way from Vianden to Bourscheid, we listened to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack, and it might have been my favorite part of the whole vacation haha.
We drove through Germany on our way to Bourscheid, which was uneventful but still really exciting. Literally, we drove in, and then the road took us right back out. But I got a picture of the welcome sign (at least I think that's what it says), so it counts!
The Bourscheid Castle was different from the Vianden Castle in that it was all completely in ruins. There are only a few walls still standing, but most everything has crumbled. We had an audioguide though (led by Victor Hugo, kind of) that walked us through the ruins and explained what used to be there. So it was a different experience than the first castle, but we enjoyed it! Let me tell you though, the view from the castle....so good. You're going to see a lot of pictures of just hills and towns, and they are mostly from Bourscheid castle.
We left that castle and drove through more country to the Larochette Castle. We weren't able to tour it, but it was on our way back to Luxembourg, so we stopped for a quick picture. Can you imagine just casually living below a castle? Every day you would walk out of your house, and that's what you'd get to see. I'd live in one of the little towns just because they are so quaint and perfect, but living by a castle would be a pretty big bonus!
After driving back to Luxembourg and checking in at the hotel, we dropped the car off and then went on a hunt for dinner. The area of town we ended up in was right by the royal palace, and was super pretty. It was a Thursday, but there were suits everywhere, so I guess that's the after-work hangout for literally everyone in Luxembourg. We had Mexican food for dinner, then went to tour the Bock Casemates. The casemates are tunnels that were built for underground defense beneath the Bock Castle. After the Bock fortifications were flattened, they dug out the casemates, and they are now tunnels that overlook the lower part of Luxembourg. During World War II, the casemates were used as a bomb shelter and held 35,000 people! It was really strange to be underground, but not. Like, some areas were completely dark except for the installed lighting, and some were lined with windows that looked out. It was weird, but way cool!
After the casemates, we wandered around Luxembourg a bit more, then went back to the hotel for dessert. We couldn't find an open dessert place anywhere near where we were that wasn't sit-down, so hats off again to Brussels for making sweets so accessible!
But guess what! That's basically the end of our trip. We took the train back to Amsterdam the next morning and got to our hotel around 2:00 that afternoon. Rather than staying in the city again, we stayed out by the airport. We were all so worn out that afternoon that we just laid around until about 8:00, then found dinner, and went back to the hotel to go to bed.
It was a fun trip, and I definitely would recommend Amsterdam, Brussels, and Luxembourg to anyone! I was pretty ready to come home by the end of it, but three days later I was at the dentist, and he was telling me all these other places in France and Belgium that we need to visit, and it brought that travel bug right back!