Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luxembourg City

Our final stop on our Mosel Valley weekend was in Luxembourg City. This tiny country is right next to Belgium and seems like we should visit if only just to say we did. But Luxembourg was more than merely a 'check it off and say you've been there' kind of place. It had history, marvelous views, and loads of beating sun on the day we were there.We first came across this wedding dress shop. Needless to say the gowns certainly caught my eye. One vintage and straight out of The Great Gatsby and the other adorned with black lace!In another city shop the window displays had me oooh-ing and aaah-ing. It was too bad it was closed. The animal plates were enough to draw me in, but my very favorite was the Little Prince china set. I would have definitely gotten a few pieces if it had been open. Aren't they charming?
Luxembourg had a palace and still has royalty. I think it is called the Grand Duchy. The 'Red Bridge' is also considered a notable sight.
The best Luxembourg activity is walking along the fortifications and ramparts of the city. The views are wonderful and really showcase the unique texture of Luxembourg.
We toured the city center and headed into the hills to see the nearby American Military Cemetery at Hamm. This is the final resting place of 5,076 of the 10,000 American troops who fell in Luxembourg during WWII, in the course of liberating the Grand Duchy and fighting the Battle of the Bulge (1944-45). We have made a loose commitment to check these out when we are nearby. Something about being American abroad and needing to pay respect to other Americans so far from home. Connor enjoys these visits and we tell her all about the men who served our country for her freedom. Connor now darts directly into a cemetery seeking "my flag, my flag, my flag"!
There are 101 graves of unknown soldiers and airmen, and 22 sets of brothers buried side by side. The identical graves are arranged without regard to rank, religion, race or place of origin, the only exception being the grave of Gen. George S. Patton (because of the many visitors to his gravesite).
When Connor locates the American flag (her flag) she gets right under and cranes her neck up. It certainly makes us all feel a little closer to home.
Kirk and I have talked about what it is that draws us to these cemeteries. He points out that if it weren't for these sacrifices our world would be quite different. And we certainly would not have the opportunity for this type of abroad experience. These men directly impact our day to day, moment to moment life. We thank them every chance we can.
We also stopped at the National Museum of Military History in Ettelbruck. The lifelike dioramas were moving and the tales of war very touching. It is easy to forget the terrors of war. And it is good to be reminded.
These stats made us swallow hard. 75,552 Americans lost in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and Luxembourg. How is that possible? Seventy Five Thousand! So far from home. Yikes.
Finally we drove through the Valley of the Seven Castles on the Eisch River Valley. Supposedly the scenic little area holds one of Europe's finest concentration of castles... I am not sure if it was just us, but we drove the winding roads and barely saw ONE castle. We looked and we looked and seemingly missed the other SIX! But a gorgeous detour, nonetheless!
Luxembourg made for a happy, thoughtful, learning Sunday. And the Orval/Mosel Valley/Luxembourg region a terrific and fulfilling road trip!

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