Friday, May 21, 2010

Can I Get a Venti, Please?

Last Sunday we took the train from Brussels to Luxembourg City – the capital of one of the smallest countries in the world. A lot of time and effort was put into trying to think of something exciting to write for the blog about our short stay in Luxembourg, but frankly, we just couldn’t think of anything. To be blunt, the city is just kind of boring. Everything closes early in the evening, there aren’t really any great places to eat, and the people are not all that friendly. With that said though, the “old town” historic city center is very charming and much of it looks like it is right out of a storybook.

The best part of our visit to Luxembourg was spent at the Casemates du Bock – a vast network of underground military passageways built in the mid 1600s. It was really cool to explore (and get lost in at times) one of the city’s most popular attractions. We spent the rest of our visit roaming around the city and enjoying the huge parks that surround the city center (see picture below). We’re definitely glad we decided to make a quick stop in Luxembourg, but also very happy we didn’t schedule more than one day there!

On Tuesday afternoon we took the train to Paris. Initially, we weren’t going to stop in Paris on this trip since we’ve both been before, but we eventually decided on a short layover there before heading to Spain. However, our quick (and wonderful) visit to “the city of lights” definitely made us wish we had allocated more time for it on our itinerary!

Since we’ve collectively already visited most of the major museums and sites, we decided to instead focus our time on strolling through the city, shopping, and eating wonderful food. However, we did devote a bit of time on Tuesday afternoon to taking pictures at some major landmarks (as you can see above at Notre Dame and below at the Eiffel Tower).

We also made a stop Tuesday afternoon at Heather’s new favorite bookstore, Shakespeare and Company (see picture below). The place has an entire floor of books that are just for browsing and reading, but not for purchase. Anyone can come in and spend the entire day reading without a salesperson pressuring them to buy anything. There’s also space for writing workshops, and even couches/cots available for struggling writers. Instead of charging for them to stay, the owner just asks the writers to write a one-pager on their background for his collection. We would definitely recommend a stop here!

We happened upon a fantastic French restaurant for our first dinner in Paris – Les Fines Gueules. This was our favorite meal of the entire trip so far! Everything was delicious, but Jonathan’s steak tartare was just beyond amazing – and neither of us really like tartare! The staff was also incredibly welcoming and helpful, which made the experience even better. Here is a picture of Heather at the restaurant – they don’t have printed menus in the place, so the waiters just lug a big board around.

We started Wednesday with a classic croissant and the “huge” coffee pictured with Jonathan above. Somehow, we keep ordering coffee and ending up with espresso. We devoted the entire day to just exploring Paris, shopping, and eating lots of pastries. As you can see from the picture below, it is FINALLY getting warm! Despite a thorough application of sunscreen, we did get the first (certainly not the last) sunburn of the trip!

Yesterday we only had half a day in Paris, so we just shopped a little more and grabbed crepes for lunch. We took a late afternoon flight to Madrid where we were where warmly greeted by our good friend Paige who is graciously hosting us while we are here. Paige has spent a lot of time traveling and knows the extreme shortage of good Mexican food in Europe, so she cooked a delicious Mexican meal for our first night in Spain (including cheese dip and chips of course). We are very excited about what she has in store for us over the weekend, and also really looking forward to using her washer and dryer!

Beer List:
• Diekirch (a Luxembourgian pale lager)
• Kronenbourg 1664 (a French pale lager)
• Grimbergen Blonde (a Belgian pale ale)

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