Sunday, April 28, 2013


With only 2 more days in Luxembourg, I thought it was time to show you where I've walked and give you a bit of trivia about the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

This is a small country, #20 in size among the 194 independent countries of the world, at only 998 square miles in area. Quick, which U.S. state is closest in size?  At 1,051 sq. mi., that would be Rhode Island. Luxembourg, as the EU's least populated country with only half a million residents, has a population density of 500 per sq. mi., less than Rhode Island's (1,051,302 people=866 per sq. mi.).

It is bordered by three countries:  France, Germany and Belgium.

Economically, you don't have to worry about this country. Its GDP per capita is the highest in the world, almost three times the EU average.  Compare its legal minimum monthly wage (highest in EU) of €1874 ($2442) to the lowest, that of Romania, at €157 ($205).  Ouch. And the price of living here isn't crazy high, at #5 in the EU.  I have found my touristic costs to be equal to those in France.

Three languages are spoken, usually more. German and French are the official languages, and  Luxembourgian is spoken at home and on the street. The host at one of my hotels said they also learn English and Dutch, and he wishes he had also learned Spanish or Italian. Impressive.

As for my rest day, it started with time at a neighboring hotel's indoor pool, which I luckily had all to myself. Leisurely swimming, napping on a chaise lounge and finishing reading "The Diary of A Young Girl" by Anne Frank made it a good morning, although also sad, given my reading material. The book is slightly different than the one I read years ago, with the addition of new material that had previously been omitted. I definitely recommend reading it again. She really was a good writer, and it so reflects the anguished emotions of a young teen living through a hellish situation. I look forward to touring the Secret Annex in Amsterdam after my hike is done.

Then onward and upward to tour the Chateau de Vianden. Quite a place!  This is one of the most visited sites in this country.  This edifice began as a Roman garrison in the 6th century, was developed more through the ages, but then ended being sold as scrap and building materials later in its life. Luckily, a major restoration project in the 1980's resulted in a castle true to its previous best self. The following photos are of the "derelict ruin," as French poet Victor Hugo saw it, and the restored beauty.

Do you know where the term "Throw down the gauntlet" comes from?  To issue a challenge for a duel, a knight would throw his gauntlet (armored glove) down to the ground. When his opposer picked it up, the challenge was accepted.

Several movies have been filmed here, including "George and the Dragon" with Patrick Swayze, in 2004 (it sounds  silly), and the horror movie ""Shadow of the Vampire" in 2000, with John Malchovitz (sounds creepy).

My next stop was the Victor Hugo museum. He visited this town several times, staying in one particular house right by the bridge over the Our River, with a great view of the castle. Below you'll find the model of Hugo at his desk in his writing room, as well as a painting he made of the castle.

That was my day. I'm now feeling refreshed and ready to hit the trail again tomorrow,  although I must admit that I miss Bill back home a great deal. Getting back on the trail will help me get closer to home. And there are still plenty of things to see and people to meet before I board that flight, U.S. bound.

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