During our trip of Western Europe by car, there were many things and places that we specifically wanted to see. Of some of the more important places, Luxembourg and Trier, Germany were pretty high on our list. No matter where you go in Europe, you will find unbelievable historic sites and here we will begin with Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a very small country that, today, borders Germany, France and Belgium. Today most people living here are living in the south of the country near the border with France. After his conquest of the area, in 50 BC this area became on of the three main provinces of Gaul which incorporated what are known today as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Of course there have been many finds in the area proving that people inhabited the area in pre-history at least as far back as the 13th century BC. There are many old fortresses still in the area today that started out as Roman fortresses and as the years rolled by were refurbished for use by the then ruling families, countries or parties but, the first real mention of Luxembourg is from Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War in 58 to 51 BC when he mentions the Treveri people who were cooperative with the Romans and adapted more readily to Roman civilization. Since that time, this area has been passed down, won over, or given to so many different rulers that someone could spend weeks sifting through its complicated past.
In any event, Luxembourg today is something to behold with its mix of quiet neighbourhoods, colourful buildings, busy main streets and squares. Its bridges and valleys of green are wondrous treasures for the eyes and mind. We started our real tour in the area of the train station where we found ample parking for reasonable prices. We walked up from the parking area and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a big city. There are many streets in the area that are lined on both sides with shops and restaurants as far as the eye can see, of which, you will find great prices on everything that you could want or need.
As far as entertainment in the area goes, the sky is the limit. There are museums of every kind, guided tours of the mines, archaeological tours, nature tours, food and wine tours, castle tours, hiking tours in the area and tours of the neighbouring towns. You can take in a movie at the local cinema, find a pub in a quiet area and listen to some live music, go to an art opening or a local discotheque and get your groove on. As far as the prices go, as long as you are doing as the locals do, you will save money so, make sure to do your research on places to go and things to see.
There are many ways to save money on accommodations in the area. One is to look for an apartment to rent outside of the city and use the local buses to get around the area. With this option you will either have to eat out or, you can save money in that regard by shopping for your own food and drinks and do much of the cooking yourselves.
Another option is to look for a B&B in the area, eat your breakfast there, take some snacks for your excursions and do research for local restaurants in the area with good prices. As an example, we found a “Dinea” buffet style cafeteria in the top floor of a local store shopping mall where they had an excellent selection of food and drinks and the prices were very decent for the amount of food you get and I will say that everything was absolutely delicious. Other than these two options, you are looking at paying hotel prices ranging from Thirty-two Euros per person, per night – up to Two Hundred Euros per person, per night where breakfasts may or may not be included.
LUXEMBOURG AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL
We really wanted to come and pay our respects to all of the American soldiers who died in this area during WWII. We found it an easy drive from Luxembourg City into the beautiful countryside where we found the American Cemetery. Here we found a large parking area and a guarded entry. Upon entering you will find the offices on the left in case you are looking for assistance. To the right you will find a building that has the cleanest public bathrooms in all of Europe. As you walk through the path between these two you will find the actual memorial that is surrounded by a well kept lawn, pruned bushes and lush trees. In the center of the memorial is the Chapel where you can either take the steps or the sloped ramp.
On our visit there was a family who had brought their Grandfather who was a Veteran of that war. This man was not able to walk well and with assistance from the person in charge he was taken on a respectful personal tour in a golf cart. It was very humbling to see this man returning here just so he could pay his respects to the men he fought along side of who had not returned home to their families. While in the Chapel, I could hear this man telling his guide and his listening family his memories of the war and in one of those memories I became overwhelmed and overcome with grief for all of those who died fighting and their families who never saw them again. When I finally regained my composure, I said a few prayers there and went outside to finish looking around. We walked one of the main paths going down through all of the graves, I explained to my son why we were there and why it was so important for us to remember all of these men and pay our respects to them. While we were there we experienced so many emotions and we had this feeling that in that place the air was much heavier and the ambience was really palpable.
We left the cemetery and headed for Trier, Germany. Trier is a mere thirty minutes from this area and we thought we should show our son some of what it has to offer. Trier is a city that is divided by the Moselle River which runs through the region. Down by the water you can find some lovely restaurants and shops, places where you can rent a boat or pay for ferry rides. To get to the main part of the city you have to drive down a long winding road and drive across a very long bridge. Parking fees here are relatively inexpensive and there is ample parking throughout the city. Once you cross the bridge, if you take a right onto the first main street, you will be able to find the historic center of town where you can find the Porta Nigra. The Porta Nigra was built in 170 AD by the Romans who occupied this and many other areas at that time. It was the North Gate of the city and the most pristine example of Roman architecture that exists in all of Europe today. At the time it was built, it was one of four gates and together with walls between them, kept the occupants of the city safe from invaders or others who would do them harm. The other gates along with most of the outside walls were all dismantled in the middle ages with the stones and metal bits being reused for other buildings within the city. During the middle ages, the Porta Nigra was home to a hermit monk named Simeon who cared for the building and helped the locals. When Simeon died, the locals decided to turn the majority of the gate into a church and build a monastery next to it. It was kept like that for many hundreds of years until Napoleon decided to close both and wanted to tear it all down. The locals played on his love for his Roman ancestry and he made sure to restore the Porta Nigra to its original form, thus ensuring it would survive for generations to come.
Just a short walk from this area you will find a brand new statue dedicated to Karl Marx, the famous communist philosopher, who was born in Trier two hundred years ago. As of the time of this article, just up the street from the statue is a large museum where you we found a Karl Marx Exhibit on display. It is also possible to take a tour of the house where he grew up.
One minute from the Marx Statue, is the pedestrian area of the city where you will find hundreds of shops and many restaurants and cafes. In the middle of the pedestrian zone is a very nice mall called the Galleria Kaufhauf. There you can find every item a person could possibly need for themselves, others or their home. The prices and quality of everything here are very good and they reflect well on what you would find in a typical German household. At the very top level of this store you will find a great cafeteria with excellent prices and public bathrooms.
This area of Europe is fantastic for those who want to frugally explore historic events and sites. No matter where you go, you will find beautiful scenery, friendly locals and excellent deals for those who like to shop.