Entries in Luxembourg (3)

Wednesday
Jul172013

Mullerthal {Luxembourg's Little Switzerland}

I've made it to MAY 1 in my blogging back-log. Just 2.5 months behind!
So, there was a Belgian holiday on a Wednesday (May 1) & we wanted to do something adventurous for the day as a family. A friend had sent me a link, touting the Mullerthal region of Luxemboug as being like a little "Little Switzerland" that had great biking and hiking trails. So we packed some snacks and the water bottles and headed southwest! 

For my geographically challenged friends, here's a quick map of where Luxembourg is compared to Brussels.
It's in the western part of Luxembourg and takes about 2.5 hours from Brussels.
This next map is really for my local friends that would like to do this hike.. so bear with me if you're reading this on another continent and have no immediate plans to hike in Luxembourg anytime soon :)
Here's what we did: Plugged Mullerthal into our GPS.
There was an information office at the campground...town is small enough you can't miss it.  Popped in and grabbed a trail map (4 euro). Totally worth it! Then we drove back and parked at the parking lot for Schiessentumpel waterfall.  We hiked across the street on the "route 2" trail to Eileburg, Goldfralay, and Goldkaul.  We decided to go a little further and return via loop on the C5/C6 trail (thru Schelmelay and Rammelay to Mullerthall) which was pretty but not as spectacular as the first half.  Was about a 4 hour hike for us playing, taking pics, eating snacks, etc.  The map will have a dozen or so points of interest with photos, so you could easily spend an entire day (or weekend) exploring..  There are some pretty areas North of Mullerthal that we are wanting to go back and hike another day.

SO without further ado.. the photos! Enjoy!
It's fun to look back at these pics (May 1) and notice the little green leaves on the trees at the "beginning" of spring here in Northern Europe. I can imagine it will be FULL green now and gorgeous!
at the first part of the hike, there were these "narrow" cliffs that were stunning! Reminded us a bit of the "Narrows" in Utah (sans frigid water up to our shoulders!?)
shorts and a sweatshirt weather... gotta love it :)
and of course, you'd expect to run into one of these puppies on the way home :)
Voila! Hiking in "Little Switzerland" complete! We HIGHLY recommend it and hope if you go, you'll share back with us if you did anything new that we need to add to our wish list. This post is getting me excited for one of our next adventures coming up in August: Hiking in the REAL Switzerland!
Thanks for looking and check back since i'm apparantly on a roll :) Next up: Madrid and Lisbon/Sintra!

Monday
Nov262012

1000 years of history, 3 countries, 2 days.. 

Are you ready for a whirlwind tour of all things war and European destruction? That's what you do when you've got 3 boys, ages 10 - 15 to entertain for a couple of days :)

Our good friends from Paris came for a couple of days at the beginning of our fall break. She's got 2 boys, ages 11 and 15, and her youngest is a war buff (as is my son), so we decided it would be good to hit a couple of key sites within 2 hours or less from Brussels.

First up was Waterloo. We've climbed the "Butte de Lion" but haven't watched the movies there or visited the museum in downtown Waterloo that we've passed dozens of times. The movies were really well done and helped us to better understand the Battle of Waterloo and it's key players. And after witnessing all that Napolean has destroyed in the last year all over Europe, I was happy to finally re-learn the history of this battle that was his ultimate defeat. Gold stars for the Bristish and Prussians!
The museum was less impressive. It was informative, but just not as interactive and "new" as some of our favorite museums that we've visited. It was fun creaking around in the actual house that Wellington stayed in though..


The next day, we'd planned a marathon route. First stop was Luxembourg where we toured the "casemates", which are tunnels in the original rock/wall which have been used in over 1000 years of the defense of the city. They close for the winter, so we'd missed them on our last trip. However, as you can tell, it was cold and rainy and we feel like we need to go ONE more time in the summer to really enjoy this little gem of a country.. so don't be surpised if you see Luxembourg one more time before we leave Europe!

Anyway.. the kids had a blast in the tunnels and could have stayed much longer.
All the while, I was taking in the fall view!

The bulk of the day, however, was spent in Verdun, France. Verdun was the site of a 10 month battle between the Germans and French in 1916 (WWI). Almost ONE MILLION were killed or wounded during those 10 months, more than twice the amount of US killed in all of WWII on all fronts. There were 116,000 unnamed soldiers whose bodies were buried or whose bones are under the monument (Which you can view thru small windows). It is very moving and overwhelming to say the least. We drove for miles around the battlefields and passed markers of villages that were decimated and never rebuilt. There are trenches, bunkers and bombed hills that still remain almost 100 years later. We visited the Verdun Memorial Museum, and it kept the kids interest, explaining and bringing together all that we'd seen outside that afternoon.

Our history-buff boys really enjoyed the day. And while my geeky history inner nerd was fascinated as well, I must say my mom instincts kick in when I see so many graves, so many young lives lost. Especially during WWI, there was a huge amount of nationalism and pride and these boys without a clue of the conditions that awaited them. And that is why we go. To remember and pay homage. And for our kids to see that it's not just fun holes to run around in, but vast graveyards scattered with the blood of someone's son, dad, brother.


Whew. So there you have it. 1000 years of history, 3 countries and 2 sobering days.
We enjoyed spending time with our Parisian friends and look forward to happier reunions in the future!
Speaking of happier.. 2 things.
1. someone is turning ELEVEN in my house tomorrow. His first birthday in Belgium and our first foray into having a tween in the house. Eek!
2. The whole family has decided that 2013 will be less touring of death and destruction and more European adventure, outdoors and culture, SO, stay tuned...   :)

Saturday
Jan282012

the way I figure it, we have 2 choices: 

1. Stay indoors and hibernate until the grey, chilly weather has passed.. OR
2. Hit the ground running, since our time here is limited and if we wait around for blue skies, we may never see anything!?

Guess which one I will choose?
#2 all the time ;)

SO, we celebrated being {mostly} settled in the house, by going on a road trip with my favorite Brussels family, who are soon to be my favorite Prague family :( Yay for visiting them in Prague... boo for no more soup lunch dates and weekend adventure trips.

They've lived here for 18 months and have done a lot of the local fun day trips: Ghent, Brugge, Amsterdam, Antwerp.. so we decided to go somewhere they haven't been and headed for Luxembourg! I'd been briefly YEARS ago, and remembered absolutely nada, so it was like my first time too. It's a lovely little country, with a medieval wall and old village by the river that is actually on the Unesco Wolrd Heritage List. It would have been lovely to have gone in the summer when everything is lush and green, and perhaps we'll be able to return on our way to other regions in the future. But we certainly enjoyed our day, especially with friends.. so here's some of my faves from our adventure TODAY. Yes, folks, my sweet friend Jenn already has her pics on Facebook and I've been working furiously since we got home an hour ago to get these up as my little gift to her. A warm smile and conversatation is  food for the soul, and I've so appreciated her Texas warmth in my life. She will sorely be missed!! And thanks so much, Jenn, for allowing ME to be behind the camera with my own family!

So without further ado... Luxembourg!