Last Stop, Luxembourg
We couldn’t be this close to Luxembourg and not visit!
Luxembourg was our 9th country to visit on our travels. We really didn’t know much about this tiny country, so we didn’t know what to expect. We found a nice campground outside of the city (aptly named Luxembourg City), set up camp, then drove into the city to explore.
First thing’s first: food. We were really hungry, so we looked up highly recommended food in Luxembourg and found Lux’Burgers. We were in. It’s a small place and their menu consists of burgers named after political leaders—Obama, Léopold, Yamamoto, Thorvald.
The burgers were fantastic, but we realized we were the only ones eating our burgers with our hands. Sure, it was messy, but I will not disrespect a burger by delicately dismantling it with a fork and knife.
With full bellies, we headed out to see the sights.
Luxembourg City is, as you may have guessed, the capital. It is known for its Roman-era fortifications and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Luxembourg’s history goes all the way back to 963 (!) and today is one of the richest countries in the world.
The view over the city from the top of the fortification was beautiful. It was unlike any place we had seen so far.
We ended our day trip with a ride in the (free!) panoramic elevator, the Pfaffenthal Lift. The view over the valley was breathtaking, and it was definitely the coolest elevator ride I had ever been on.
We stopped by a market to purchase some Lëtzebéier, a craft beer from Luxembourg, and headed back to our camping spot. Though Luxembourg was a bit pricey for a backpacker budget, it was totally worth the visit. It’s a beautiful country with a very rich history.
This was the last night of our road trip, which was bittersweet. We loved the freedom of driving, and we saw and learned so much and made some great memories.
BUT our sleeping pads were leaky beyond repair and the cooler, rainy weather was not ideal for sleeping in a tent. Back to hostels and Airbnbs as we continued our travels across Europe.
Beer, Beer, and More Beer
From Luxembourg, we drove to Paris. Our road trip was officially over, so we returned our rental car, crossing our fingers and holding our breath as the rental company employee glanced over the car. Luckily, they didn’t notice the (very minor) damage from the French woman who backed into us. Then, we hopped on a bus to Brussels.
We found our Airbnb and settled in to spend a few days seeing the sights and drinking as much Belgian beer as we could.
One of the famous icons of Brussels is the peeing boy, Manneken Pis. When we were in Brussels earlier in our trip, I was delighted to see the peeing girl, Jeanneke Pis. Then I learned that there was one more member of the peeing family, Zinneke Pis.
We sought him out and took a picture, completing our collection.
We learned that “Zinneke” is a slang term meaning “bastard dog”. The locals embrace the term, celebrating the cultural diversity and mixed origins of the city.
One of the few stops we made on our previous layover was to the Delirium Village to have some of our favorite beer straight from the tap. Of course, we had to visit again for a couple of pints of Delirium Red.
After our visit to the Delirium Village, we saw the town square, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the statue of Don Quixote and Sancho near the Spanish Plaza and the Pro Patria monument and crypt marking the sacrifice of the 466 people who died in the fight for Belgium’s independence in 1830.
We passed the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries—a commercial area constructed of glass and steel, lined with boutiques, shops, and cafes.
We saw this rad mural and passed the Église Notre-Dame de Laeken, where one of Rodin’s Thinker sculptures resides in the cemetery.
Finally, we made our way to the Atomium. For being such a huge structure, it sure took some seeking to finally find it in the park.
We walked a lot of miles that day, so we hopped on a train to get us back to the center of town. The bad news is the transport passes we got didn’t work on the trains in Brussels. The good news is, the train conductor didn’t give us a huge fine—just a small one.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
When we got back to the center of town, we got to witness one of the best street performances of all our travels. These young teenage boys were playing pop music hits on an accordion and a drum. We weren’t the only ones drawn in.
It was at this moment that the accordion cover of “Havana” became our all-time favorite. All their covers were great but “Havana” and “Despacito” (didn’t catch all of it on video) won it all. Who knew the accordion could be so cool?
The dance moves were pretty great, too. The guy who enters the frame to the right on the first video was getting pretty obnoxious with the main guy, so the older woman in the next frame and another woman jumped in on the next song to make sure things didn’t get ugly.
God Bless the Trappist Monk
What better way to kick off the best month of the year (October) than a trip to a Trappist brewery?
If you don’t know a lot about Trappist beer, there are only about thirteen Trappist monasteries in the world who brew Trappist beer. Six of these monasteries are in Belgium, which explains why they have so much excellent beer.
Monks started brewing beer as a way of serving their community. Trappist beers are beers that are brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by a Trappist monk or supervised by one. The quality standards are high and production is tightly controlled.
As great as the beers are, true Trappist beers are not allowed to be sold for profit. The sales from the beer support the monastery and upkeep of the abbey, and any remaining profits go to charitable causes and social work.
We rented a tiny car (it had ONE windshield wiper) and set out for Westvleteren, a Trappist monastery where monks have been brewing beer since 1838. The beer here is not sold commercially, so the only way to try them is to go to the monastery or to obtain some from someone who visited the brewery and purchased a case.
We don’t know many people who travel here often, so we figured we might as well try it for ourselves.
We tried all three kinds and decided:
• this was totally worth the day trip 🍻
• it very well might be some of the best beer (and one of the rarest) in the world 🍻
• beer-brewing monks are precious gifts from God 🍻
I can’t imagine a more perfect final day in Belgium