“The Christmas Market Season“
Another quick weekend getaway just up the road from us. An overnight trip, one extra pair of clothes and some toiletries packed in our travel backpacks. We cashed in one of our hotel.com free nights and will get to stay in a nice single room for next to nothing, with breakfast included for Sunday morning of course. The drive from our house to the hotel took just over an hour, next to nothing after what we have been experiencing these last few trips. Passing over the border, we were just minutes or so from our destination.
As we arrive we find out that our hotel does not have a designated parking area. We have two options, we can either park in a nearby parking garage for 30 Euro, or we can feed the meter on the street parking 2 hours at a time until 6 o’clock, then that area will become a free space for the rest of the night and through Sunday, costing 10 Euro in total. We chose the latter, the only catch being that we have to return to the car every 2 hours, so we won’t be wandering far until dinner time.
After checking in we wander the outside of the hotel, 2 hours is plenty of time to track down some lunch, in the distance you can see a Ferris wheel and we can practically smell the gluhwein and sugary waffles with all of their toppings. Like a family of moths to the flame, we can’t resist strolling that direction. Our idea of sitting down for lunch turned into our first introduction the Christmas markets, walking into the highly decorated little vendor cart village we are instantly surrounded by the smells of sugary treats, warm wine, beer and brats. Christmas music is playing in the background of each and every vendors hut.
The boys first stop is for a salted pretzel, of course. My wife is anxious to get herself a gluhwein, any length car ride with the boys will do that to you. I am interested in getting some brat’s and one of those waffles in my belly. Everyone’s head is on a swivel, there are Christmas tree shaped rides and a Santa Claus train, a talking animatronic moose adorns the entrance to a food hall and I believe I mentioned the Ferris wheel already. Huts are selling ornaments, candles, jewelry, hats, gloves, socks…if you can put a Santa Claus on it, they did it and they are willing to sell it to you. Food vendors are hawking roasted nuts, candy, chocolate covered everything, soups, popcorn, any kind of food you can imagine.
Luxembourg is set up with 3 or 4 different small Christmas markets, as you near the end of one you can see the next in the distance, and if you don’t see it just follow the crowd and the next one will appear after a short stint through the city streets. We passed through an amazing library and church courtyard as we wander between markets, we crossed over a bridge with great cityscapes and we wander towards another one. Looking at the time, we only have 6 minutes to get back to the car to feed the meter, we won’t make it in time but unless someone is waiting next to the car with a ticket in hand, we should be fine.
Once we pass the magical 6 p.m. and parking becomes free we head back out for dinner and to witness the same magical markets. This time basking in all the glory of their Christmas lights. We found a restaurant neighboring the market, with all the food available in the markets the restaurants seem to have a decent amount of tables open to just walk in and sit down.
With our bellies full, we decided to pick up right where we left off. The next little area has one of the main attractions, an ice rink. The courtyard between the buildings have had a pretty large ice rink set up and it is packed to the gills with laughing children and adults alike. We don’t join them this time, perhaps another time. More food, shopping and music fill the area, not a single area was neglected when it comes to the decorations. After another hour of wandering, and a couple mugs of hot chocolate we decide to head back for the night.
The markets open back up at 11 a.m., but the boys don’t know the meaning of sleeping in, so we are up and ready for breakfast by 8. After breakfast we pack all of our things back up, check out of the hotel and put the bags in the car. Since parking on Sunday is free, we have no need to move the car and we head back out on foot.
This time, instead of heading over the bridge towards the markets, we take a side road that leads down to the valley below the bridge. We pass by an old church built into the side of the mountain wall that we never would have noticed had we not decided to come down this road. It is all locked up, but looking through the gate there are still a few dust covered pews and an altar set up in the otherwise abandoned area. We travel down a little further and cross over a small stream and into a play and exercise park. A few people are using the gym equipment and random joggers and bikers are passing by regularly. After the boys spend 20 minutes or so exploring the park, we follow the path a little further along and under the bridge that we had walked over twice the night before. There is a good size skate park on the other size with a handful of kids and teenagers riding scooters and skateboards over the jumps and ramps.
Continuing on down this nature path through the valley under the bridge we find a stone stairway winding up the other side of the valley wall that looks like it leads up to where the Ferris wheel is sitting.
We arrived back at the markets just as they are opening up for the day, it is perfect. Compared to the crowds of the night before, it feels almost as if we have the place to ourselves. We take this opportunity to have the boys try out a couple of the rides, then we have some more bratwursts and a steak sandwich for lunch. After the obligatory ride on the Ferris wheel we shop around for road snacks to enjoy on the drive back home. We gathered candy coated peanuts, popcorn, yard long licorice ropes and some roasted chestnuts, nothing but good healthy responsible food choices.
For our walk back toward the car we decide to take a different route, we see a bridge behind the markets that has a walking/biking only bridge just underneath it. We take in all the sights on our slow stroll across this bridge, and pop out next to some older city buildings. It’s a little bit more of a circuitous route, but well worth it.
Luxembourg City has quickly become one of my favorite walking cities, if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend that you do. So much great architecture, lots of good vantage points and interesting designs offer so many photo opportunities. The area is mainly French speaking but we also heard plenty of German and English as well. I hope you get to enjoy this city one day as I have.