After the World Cup season ended, Zach and I traveled around Western Europe for two weeks. While it wasn't the most restful post-season rest, it was still a lot of time away from climbing, which we desperately needed.
Neither of us had been on a real "vacation" in years; I can only remember a trip to Florida when I was ten or so and a trip to Germany when I was 8. Zach and I have certainly traveled a lot, but it's typically on official climbing business, not leisure. With the season behind us and absolutely no desire to climb, we did it - we went on a true vacation.
I planned a twelve-day, four-country European tour through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Our first stop was Metz, France. I chose Metz for the incredible Airbnb I found. It’s common to find charming, cheap Airbnbs when you look outside of the major cities, so Metz was where we found the steal.
There wasn't much sightseeing in Metz; we just ate croissants, went out for dinner, and watched movies. In hindsight, Metz was certainly the most uneventful leg of the trip, which isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves! In the grand scheme of our travels, we had definitely spent the least amount of time in France, so taking in the architecture and culture was exciting.
Next, we ventured to Luxembourg’s capital. I wanted to go to Luxembourg because it was right there - just an hour north of Metz. Neither of us had been to Luxembourg (the country), so we had no idea what to expect. Luxembourg is a small nation with a population of less than a million people, and yet it's a major state for European Union governance. It was intriguing.
After a quiet week in France, we put the pedal to the metal with tourism. We only had two nights in Luxembourg, so it was essentially a stop on the way to our next location. We arrived at the Luxembourg station in the morning and took a tram from the to the downtown core.
We fell in love with Luxembourg almost immediately. It was so lively, so clean, and so beautiful. The restaurants looked like they were in competition with one another over who had the best atmosphere.
We ate out for every meal in Luxembourg simply because we wanted to visit as many beautiful restaurants as possible. Luxembourg has a great variety of European foods, with an emphasis on Italian and French. We ended up eating Greek, Mexican, French, Thai, Japanese, and Italian, and there wasn't a single disappointing meal.
Our Airbnb was situated at the bottom of a hill, which was the only less-than-ideal part of the trip. The hill was a trade-off, though, because Luxembourg’s famous Alzette Valley puts the nail in the coffin in the competition for my favorite city in Europe. We simply couldn't stop staring at the beautiful town surrounded by rivers, trees, and mountains.
It's often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of Europe”. There are dozens of angles to look out at the valley, including an incredible 71-foot glass elevator that connects to a glass lookout hallway, which is completely free and open nearly 24 hours a day.
We happened to be in Luxembourg during their national holiday on June 23rd. It actually celebrates the Grand Duke of Luxembourg’s birthday. His palace is situated in the middle of the city across the street from the Chocolate House, a house we frequented.