Where I live is about two hours away from Luxembourg. That includes traversing through another country. First of all, the idea of traveling two hours through one country to get to another is mind blowing. I’m from the US. The US is a big-ass country bordered by only two other big-ass countries.
As a person with itchy feet and total wanderlust, I like to visit wherever I can. So another country I haven’t seen yet being only two hours away is enticing. Luxembourg is fascinating to Americans because of its tiny size.
Americans cannot conceive of a nation so small existing between two nations which had global empires. Look at it! How did it not get conquered by somebody else!
The thought that Luxembourg has a unique language and culture is also stymieing. To be fair, I had people in the US who were incredulous that the Netherlands had its own language. To Americans, all countries in Europe speak either English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, or Scandinavian (never mind that it’s not a language). The history of Luxembourg (something not taught in American schools, I learned it on my own) is equally mystifying. How does a country become independent because its ruling monarch was the wrong gender? That’s crazy talk. And it’s not even a tiny kingdom? It’s a Grand Duchy? What the fuck is a Duchy? How do you pronounce that anyway? Is it like doo-chee? Or dookie? Or duck-ee? Or dutch-ee?
Needless to say, Luxembourg has piqued my curiosity. I have begun researching excursions to the wee nation, and as part of my endeavors, I have asked some of my classmates and instructors if they’ve been to Luxembourg and have any advice. The answer I get inevitably sounds like this: “I drove through once, all I remember is that gas was cheap. I didn’t stop for anything else.”
Apparently, because Luxembourg has low taxes, people deliberately pass through to nab discount gas and cigarettes. No one goes there for the sake of visiting. No one in Europe gets off the highway in Luxembourg. I asked Dutch people, Italians, Germans, Serbs, everyone I could get a hold of, and they all said the same thing. One of my Dutch instructors said that Luxembourg’s gas station industry must be booming, because that’s the only kind of business any Dutch person uses there.
So what’s the deal? It sounds like a nice place. Half the country is covered by the Ardennes forest. They have 5000km of hiking trails. They have castles! This attitude towards Luxembourg is so baffling, especially when I see photos of this:
Just look at that! Remember, we have nothing like this in the US. It honestly looks like such a cheery, fairy tale place.
I think it has to do with being in everyone’s backyard and having no destinations or attractions truly unique to it. Paris has the Eiffel tower. Amsterdam has the famous Canals. Berlin has the Brandenburg Gate. Munich has the Neuschwanstein. Rome has the Colosseum. Venice has the canals and little gondolas. Luxembourg has…..nothing? Nothing that’s so amazing you can’t find something equally as nice in an easier to get place?
Maybe Luxembourg is like the Delaware of Europe. In the US, Delaware is a pretty small state famous for having low taxes and not much else. Delaware actually has a lot of beautiful beaches, but it’s right next to 2 or 3 other places famous for their beaches. That doesn’t mean Delaware isn’t a nice place to visit. You just won’t see too many travel guides devoted to it. Americans don’t visit Delaware. They drive the extra 2 hours to Maryland, or a little further to Virginia. Go ahead, do a search of “Delaware is boring,” you’ll find all kinds of links about the topic.
I wonder if Europeans feel the same way about Luxembourg. Maybe it’s just overshadowed by its glitzier neighbors. Anyways, I want to see it. I want to see Europe’s Delaware.