Thursday, 13/07/2023: London to Luxembourg

St Pancras boarding for Amsterdam

Our trip started with the early Eurostar to Brussels (the train actually goes to Amsterdam, but stops in Brussels and The Hague too).

Travelling on a Wednesday meant we did not have to experience the busyness of the departures lounge on a week-end. Highly recommended. I still think the lounge is way too small for the amounts of people that use the train…

Devvers wanted to treat ourselves so we got Standard Premier, which had breakfast included. It was a lot of carbs 😂, and the coffee was of the sort that tasted of airports. Though it did get us fuelled until late.

Eurostar standard premier breakfast

The arrival and changing at Brussels Midi was fairly smooth.

All we had to do was go through “customs” (a bunch of serious officers looking seriously at incoming passengers), then emerge into the station proper, and find where our next train would be departing from.

The train to Luxembourg was not luxury, although it was perfectly fine—it reminded me to the regional trains in Spain. The only thing that annoyed me was that the floor was very sticky; I suspect some sweet fizzy drink had been spilled and spread along the length of the carriage. I spent the trip with my feet up in the foot rest because I didn’t want to touch the floor, lest I get stuck to it forever!

Train to Namur / Luxembourg

It actually took us a long time to actually leave the metropolitan area of Brussels, as there are three or four “Brussel XYZ” stations.

I liked the typography of Centraal:

Brussel Centraal

After that, the journey was decently long (4h?), but there were the interesting moving sights outside, such as these pastoral images…

Belgian countryside, from the train

… and we were also prepared with books and music, and when everything else failed, you could always take a nap!

We also witnessed this really confusing sign at a station:

O'tacos - the original french tacos

Since when are tacos an “original French” thing? Or does it mean the original tacos made by Frenchies? But we were in Belgium… so was this a French chain in Belgium? I did not have very good mobile reception at the time so I didn’t look for it, and now I choose not to search for it at all, and remain full of questions forever.

Luxembourg train station

The arrival to Luxembourg made us think this was to be a really modern city, but as we walked towards the older area we were staying in, the perception changed.

It was full of hills, bridges, quaint streets, pretty roofs and spires!

Later, we had some beers with an old work friend of Devvers, and somehow I kickstarted an impromptu exercise consisting in me trying out various cherry beers while in Luxembourg and Belgium:

Cherry Chouffe from Brasserie d'Achou
Cherry Chouffe from Brasserie d’Achou

It hadn’t even occured to me to seek this style of beer in this trip, and it was actually quite a while since the last time I had drank it. As of lately I have only only had some fruit beers at Sam Smith’s pubs, and they tend to be more on the “medicine syrup” quadrant than this one which was less sweet, and tarter, but yet balanced.

It was really enjoyable, specially as the weather was extremely fine and summery (i.e., hot enough that you want something to drink, but not so hot that you just want to pour the drink on your head to cool yourself, rather than actually drink it).

The irony was we were having these beers in a place called “Tube”. To go all the way from London and end up in a pub called like that…! But yet it felt very civilised, and again… nice.

The Tube
8 Rue Sigefroi
2536 Luxembourg

We had booked dinner at a place called Um Plateau, thanks to a recommendation from Devvers’ friend too.

I had perused their wine list while on the train, and identified which of the wines were local, so half of the work was already done by the time we arrived: we only had to order and hope things were available!

We had Crémants from Domaine Schmit-Fol (the white) and Domaine Alice Hartmann (the rosé), both from “Moselles” (i.e. the Mosel), both organic. Then we continued with other wines from these wineries; the Pinot Noir was extremely nice.

Same as with Germany, it hadn’t quite crossed my mind that wines could be made in Luxembourg, but this was probably rather due to my simplistic idea of the city as a business center where companies like eBay can set up shop in Europe and then go on to pay as little tax as possible, so any other economic activity was dismissed in my imagination.

I was very happy to have been wrong. It made the contrast with reality way more like a ⚡️JOLT⚡️: Surprise! Here’s this wonderful wine you couldn’t even conceive of! Drink it!

Sparkling wine at Um plateau

The food was an intriguing mix of styles; everything reminded me to something else somehow, and it was also very nice—perhaps even more so after having just eaten our packed lunch and a few snacks on the train since that carby breakfast!

Some highlights: the veal was the tenderest piece of meat I have eaten in a very long time, the local cheeses were GREAT, and I really enjoyed the strawberries with cream. Simple but great! And as usual, the pretty crockery distracted me…

Um Plateau
6, Plateau Altmünster
L-1123 Luxembourg

Bock Casemates at dusk
Bock Casemates at dusk

Full and satisfied, we walked back to our hotel, past the ruins of the Bock, up various slopes (our posterior chain was engaged, I can tell you that), and admiring the streets getting quieter and preparing for a good night of sleep.

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