As the worlds only Grand Duchy, Luxembourg is a tiny nation sandwiched between France, Germany and Belgium. The small nation of less than half a million people was not a country that jumped out at us as a tourist hotspot, nor was it on our original itinerary for Europe.
Our goal was simple. We needed to get from the Mosel Valley in Germany to Paris France. The train journey seemed pretty straight forward - we would board a train in Bullay that would take us to Luxembourg City, where we would later transfer on one of several direct trains to Paris.
The necessary transfer in Luxembourg presented us with a great opportunity to explore the capital city. So it was decided to shift our plans and get an early start to our departure. We said our goodbyes to our distant family and swung our heavy backpacks over our shoulders.
Our time in Germany was fantastic and memorable but we needed to keep moving.
The trip to Luxembourg was uneventful. At least it was until we arrived at the central railway station. When we approached the reservations window we got an unwelcomed surprise - all of the direct trains to Paris were completely reserved, including first class! The day got interesting fast.
The relentless snowfall that we experienced in Germany over the previous few days had also made transportation in France dreadful. Trains were canceled all across Western Europe, including the widely used link between Paris and London. We hadn't seen the news or heard of any trouble so the cancellations and subsequent congestion threw us for a loop. France was experiencing abnormal weather that was severely disrupting holiday plans across the nation. We weren't pleased.
Our first reaction was instant panic. It was quickly followed by speculation and curiousity.
What were we to do? What were our options?
The big problem was that we only had three train segments left on our Eurail pass. We needed one to get to Paris, one to get from Paris to the French Alps and finally one to return to Paris. If we had to wait a day we would have to purchase an extra train ticket in France.
To put it into perspective, because a new ticket purchase would be last minute, the cost of the ticket would have been equal to almost half of the entire cost of our rail pass. And that was if there were even tickets available. On top of that, we had made a hotel reservation in Paris that had our credit card - cancelations would be costly.
Being budget conscious and near the end of our adventure, we were not happy with the latest turn of events and needed better options.
I'll spare you the back and forth dialogue that we had with the already overloaded ticket agent. The story ends with us finding a seat on a train that went south to a city named Metz. From there we would catch an immediate transfer to Paris. It was a painless solution that conveniently still allowed us three hours to explore Luxembourg City. Yet another disaster averted (we must have good karma!).
With our reservations in hand, we locked up our tiring backpacks and started exploring. Thick and wet snow continued to fall, blanketing the city with white roofs and treacherous streets. The photos will do a better job at completing the story. It's a picturesque city with castles, cathedrals and much history.
We would have loved more time but our visit to Luxembourg mimicked the country - short and sweet.
December 21st, 2009