Christmas in Luxembourg- 18/48

Luxembourg is a country and city of hills and valleys, brutal on the thighs but easy on the eyes. Perhaps too big to be called quaint, its charming Christmas Market is an excellent place to get into a festive, holiday mood.

As I’ve written about probably too many times, I love Christmas Markets. The food, music, games, drinks, and festive feelings of these markets are the only things that get me through the chilly northern European winters. Luxembourg’s was my first market actually on Christmas. The city shuts down a bit on the actual holiday as locals have family dinners and gatherings. For stranded expatriates the Christmas season can be a bit difficult, but the markets offer plenty of Gluhwein to help you forget your loneliness.

Luxembourg’s market boasted many festively lit decorations and rides. The most prominent was the Luxembourger Pyramide, a showcase in multilingual naming convenience. I was unable to determine its exact function, but it is pretty.

In the background, you can see the Gelle Fra, the Monument of Remembrance, the city’s most photogenic monument 90% of the year.

Luxembourg is a low-mountain country of hills and ravines. The capital city of the same name offers excellent views down valleys and thankfully, an elevator back up. From here you get great views of Luxembourg’s colorful architecture as well.

Because of its political and physical geography, Luxembourg has been a consistent fixture in European history. A particularly good spot to see history and geography blend is from the Old Quarters and Fortifications, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 10th century.

Lastly, in addition to the ones that geographically spilled over from France and Germany, Luxembourg has its own language, a fellow member of the West Germanic family, creatively named Luxembourgish. All year you can wish people a merry Christmas in a language fewer than 400,000 people know.

Schéi Chrëschtdeeg!

 

Birthday in Budapest- Hungary 17/48

Actually two cities astraddle the famous Danube, Budapest is a perfect place for a cheap weekend celebration.

I went in November so it was quite blustery, but the sky was still the deep, bright blue of autumn (when it wasn’t raining). The city is split into two sides, Buda being the “prettier” side, and Pest being more practical, but also more fun.

Budapest is home to Hungary’s largest church: St. Stephen’s Basilica. There you can see the Holy Dexter, the mummified right hand of the first Hungarian king and the cathedral’s namesake.

The Great Market Hall is great for buying hot or sweet red pepper. Or at the least just admire it drying. Also gawk at beautiful handicrafts and maybe get lucky enough to see a master in action.

A walk along the river offers views of much of the city including the parliament building, the Liberty Statue and Citadella, and Buda Castle. You can take in the views from the top of the hill where the statue and Citadel rest, or from one of the many bridges. Or both if you’re feeling up to it.

 

And since it was November, I got a little early taste of one of my favorite European traditions: the Christmas Market.

Also, I know everyone loves the baths in Budapest, but I just cannot stand being wet. Especially in public.