LUXEMBOURG ~ What I Took Away From Visiting This Tiny Nation

August 3rd ~ Luxembourg

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City

Our morning was spent cruising along the Moselle River. Some enjoyed spa treatments or attended a mid-morning demonstration on how to make Apple Strudel put on by our Pastry Chef Alex and Executive Chef Ioan.

Tim and I chose to relax, visit with some of our fellow passengers, enjoy the passing scenery and had an early lunch. 

Arriving in Trier, Germany just before 1:00, we readied ourselves for our afternoon tour that would take us into Luxembourg. This was my first time to this country and I was excited to see the highlights.

Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small country. In fact it is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is ranked 179th out of all the 194 independent countries in the world. Being landlocked, they have no navy, no air force and a pitifully small army of around 800.

Tiny Luxembourg shown on a map of western Europe

Tiny Luxembourg shown on a map of Western Europe

The country is surrounded with Germany to the east, France to the south and Belgium to the west. From top to bottom Luxembourg is about 51 miles (82 km) long and only 35 miles (57 km) wide.

And being small, you would be right to assume that the country has been bounced around several times over the year being incorporated into France, Belgium, the Netherland, Prussia and Germany.

In 1839, the First Treaty of London, established Luxembourg’s full independence. Sadly this did not end the ping-pong of both France and Germany vying for control or use of their railroad rights.

After the outbreak of WWII in 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg. With their government in exile in London, they supported the allies, sending a small group of volunteers to participate in the Normandy landing. The city of Luxembourg served as headquarters for Gen. George S. Patton’s U.S. Third Army.

They were formally liberated in September 1944.

Map

Map of war against Germany

This introduction brings us to our first stop on the outskirts of Luxembourg City:

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Entrance to the cemetery

Entrance to the cemetery

The 50 acre cemetery holds the remains of 5,076 American service members, most of whom lost their lives at the Battle of the Bulge, which was fought nearby during the winter of 1944-45.

The most well-known grave is that of General Patton.

Grave of General George S Patton, Jr

Grave of General George S Patton, Jr

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Although the country of Luxembourg is small, they have a healthy economy developing into a banking and administrative center. Here are a few interesting facts from ratings done in 2011: (I realize this is several years old, but still quite eye-opening)

  1. With a GDP of $80,119 per person, they were ranked number two in the world
  2. Out of 221 cities compared by the Mercer worldwide survey, they were ranked number one for personal safety.
  3. In the same survey, they placed number 19 for overall quality of living.

Pretty impressive for a county that is FIVE TIMES SMALLER than Puerto Rico! Rhode Island is 1.2 times larger than Luxembourg.

The flag of Luxembourg

The flag of Luxembourg

How does their record stack up against the USA? I found a fascinating web site call “If it were my home“. They have an incredible data base where you can compare your home country with another at the click of a button

If Luxembourg were your home instead of The United States you would…

  •  be 32.88% less likely to be unemployed
  • make 47.54% more money
  • consume 99.49% more oil
  • be 81.66% less likely to be in prison
  • have 8.83% more free time
  • be 94.74% less likely to be murdered
  • and the list goes on…

Next came a walking tour of Luxembourg City.

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OK, I know that I am easily amused, but these pipe sculptures made me laugh out loud. When I first walked by, I noticed the face was looking at me:

Looking right at me

Looking right at me

Then as I moved past, the eyes followed:

Watching me as I passed by

Watching me as I passed by

I got such a kick out of it, I had to go back the other direction:

Still following me...

Still following me…

But the kicker came when it winked at me:

Yep, it winked

Yep, it winked

Looking down from "The Bock"

Looking down from “The Bock”

The Fortress of Luxembourg, which sat upon a large stone cliff known as the Bock, was mostly dismantled in 1867, helped earn the city the nickname “Gibraltar of the North”. Although little of the original massive structure and underground tunnels still remain, in 1994, the fortress and the city’s old quarter were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UNESCO designation, sadly covered in graffiti

UNESCO designation, sadly covered in graffiti

View from the former fortress walls

View from the former fortress walls

St. Michael’s Church

St Michael's Catholic Church

St Michael’s Catholic Church

The first church that was built on this location in 987, was the chapel for the castle. Having been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years, the current building, a combination of Romanesque and Baroque architecture dates back to 1688.

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Still with a little free time on our hands, we indulged in some sweet treats from a local bakery. And YES, they were yummy.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Always, always grateful to have been born in the United States. We have so many blessings and freedoms here that others can only dream of. We have seen and experienced first hand the squalor, lack of health care, little or no education available, no clean water and a severe shortage of food, plus the struggle for basic housing in several third world countries. But sadly that also does not mean that we are the best in every category. The more we travel, the more we learn about how other countries handle things such as reasonable (or free) advanced health care, free or affordable cost of upper education, national security and reduction of crime rates, family leave and more vacation time. Luxembourg, tiny but thriving, was a pleasure to visit and has much to teach us, if we are open and willing to learn.

And whether or not you were a fan, (and believe me when I say that I am NOT trying to politicize this) these words seem to sum this all up:

“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples – while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.

But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit – by shared commitments to common ideals.”― George W. Bush

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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18 Responses to LUXEMBOURG ~ What I Took Away From Visiting This Tiny Nation

  1. Terry says:

    Very nice post, l have been around that area but never made it into Luxembourg, I must get back there.

    Like

  2. Marie says:

    Love the pipe sculptures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. roninjax says:

    Thanks for sharing. It has been a few years since I was there and your resurrected some memories. I was impressed with the friendliness, cleanliness and the beauty of Luxembourg. It was a special time making a visit to the American Cemetery. It warms your heart to read about their appreciation of the U.S. military.

    Like

  4. It was wonderful to visit Luxembourg with you. I’ve never been there though always wanted to. I’m drawn to the soft light and clarity in your photos – the one looking down from the Bok, and the view from the former fortress walls, and the church interiors. Beautiful photos.
    Alison

    Like

    • Thank you Alison for your nice compliment on our pictures. It is both fun and a challenge at the end of each day’s excursions to weed through a ton of shots to pick out a “few” (haha, I use that word very loosely) photos that tell a story or will at least help me remember the highlights of our day and hopefully bring some light for others who may not otherwise get to travel there. I certainly appreciate you letting me know your favorites 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  5. mvbattelle says:

    I really enjoy your blogs – you weave in a lot of history with the personal experience. Thanks for sharing your travels.

    Like

  6. Your gratitude moment was special, today Joanne. Thanks. –Curt

    Like

  7. mactildan says:

    I liked this post’s gratitude moment. I’m not a fan but that speech is a good one.

    Like

  8. mommermom says:

    This was a great post. Is good to appreciate what we have but it is also important to realize that it’s not perfect and that we can learn from others. I guess this could be said on a personal level as well.

    Like

  9. Trish Hatcher says:

    Amen, sister!! I love the quote that you chose!
    I always tell my girls that there are two important things to remember as you travel abroad. Be the person that dispels the “ugly American” vision in someone’s mind. And, learn from other communities. The US may do some things well, and so may other countries. We can only improve if we gather and use the best ideas.

    Like

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