With much of the city built on top of a hill and an even smaller village built into the valley called Pfaffenthal, it is a beautiful city of both contrasting buildings but also height. I overheard a tour guide say that back in the days where there was a castle and envied fortress on top of the plateau, the rich people (those who lived “uptown”) lived overlooking the valley below where the poor people lived (who lived “downtown”). The poor lived in what is now a more beautiful part of the city, but back then was more susceptible to overland attack and flooding by the river. So those down in the valley were downtown folk.
Yesterday we visited Vianden Castle which was built back in the 11th century and expanded over the next three hundred years to become a huge castle of regional importance. It wasn’t covered in gold leaf and had grand chandeliers that you might find in other fancy castles, but you could tell this was a working castle.
Kind of like a castle you’d see in Outlander. We had our first “Rich sets the timer for a family photo” and was barely successful with a 30s timer. I set it and didn’t know it was a long run to where Deb and the kids were. Dodging other tourists and banging my knee on stone blocks just for a picture. Call me crazy. Here is the ensuing photo.
There were these cool moving statues everywhere around Luxemburg as well. Put them in any position you want, and then mimic them. We headed back to Luxomberg for a nice meal and play in the park and then home to our place for the night.
Today, Deb and I started off the day with our first “Run Around The World” with nice runs into the city core. Deb ran uptown. I ran downtown in the valley. It was nice to get out for some exercise after a lot of sitting on our butts on various forms of transportation. It was so nice to get out and move.
Running through somewhere where the history dates back to the 10th century is pretty cool. Not that I can relate, but pretty cool. Deb ran first, while I oversaw the first real go at school work, which was english and literature. And then I ran and she continued. Then we went to the park just down the street where we had gym class and did zip lining (yes, ziplining in a public park…Huntsville, take note!) and pursuit obstacle course around the many structures that made up the park.
After cooling down a bit, we headed into the city centre where we headed to the Castmates (pronounced casta-mays) for a bit of underground adventure. But on the way, we came across Eglise St Michel which stands at the location of the original fortress, and there was an amazing organist putting on a concert. Wilson and I went in, and I was in awe but Wilson had enough after 10 minutes and headed outside again. Oh well, got to enjoy a bit of music.
Originally, this series of undergound tunnels (the castmates) were used for storage for food and equipment for the castle that was built on the top of a three sided cliff back in the 9th century. After a number of attacks on the castle that were successful, eventually King Louis XIV in 1684 made use of the castmates as a place for defense as he rebuilt the castle to be bigger and more fortified to withstand the attacks coming at it. Holes were punched out of the side walls of the cliffs and 25 cannons were placed, as well as holes for archers and snipers to take aim at incoming armies. After this addition, the fort was undefeatable, and was called the Gibraltar of the North.
Being underground was a nice break from the 30C heat of the day, but we were in search of the famous pirate ship playground which was pretty cool, albeit hot with the metal slides that were two stories high! We surrendered to the heat of the day and headed back to the city park where there was water dancing out of the ground and shooting up randomly. The kids played in it the day before and got soaked, but were cooled off….this time I joined in as it was too hot to care about the on lookers.
Laughing and chasing each other around, we finally headed home to get changed to go out for dinner and meet up with Madeline who was a Rotary exchange student in Huntsville this past year. The kids, Madeline, and I were in Oliver together so it was fun to hook up again and share some memories and laughs as well. Her dad and her sister came down from a small town in Belgium (don’t ask me what it is), which was super nice for them to make the trek just to see us for a night.
Probably one of the best tourist attractions, and cheap (aka free, one of my favorite words) was the transit system, especially the Pfaffenthal glass elevator. We must have gone up and down that 20 times. An elevator is necessary as the town is on three tiers…not three levels with a sloped hill between…but tiers. So there is an elevator and a furnicular to go up and down. At the top of the elevator there is a glass floor. $20 to see the one at the CN Tower, free for Luxemberg.
Well, we are off to Germany today, the land of big beers, big sausages, and big….whatever…you fill in the blank. Onward and upward!