01.01.2009 - 02.01.2009
I began the year relatively late and went down to find that sleepins were surprisingly popular today. The breakfast was typical French fare and I loaded up for a big day of walking. The city was a ghost town and I had most streets to myself. As everything was shut I decided to see the old fortress and city walls. The old town part of Luxembourg is basically a big rock surrounded by a river down below. This provided many slippery paths and roads to navigate due to the frozen rain on the ground, sometimes with the help of railings. It was amusing seeing a dog attempt the same route. I found some nice lookouts to soak up the tranquil sleepy town. I stumbled upon the Wenzel (Wencelas) Walk which was interesting and well signed for tourists. This eventually took me up to the main square in the old town where I did come across a few other people for the first time. I then explored the parks down by the river and competed my circuit going back to the hotel via the rear. Public transport here consists exclusively of buses and like everything in this tiny country, is more expensive than in its neighbours. I popped out to Quick for a Supreme Cheese ordered in my best Franglish (sooprem shez), which was running on skeleton staff. On the way back to the hotel I stopped by the station to pick up my ticket purchased online (for use the following day), which was a struggle finding a working SNCF machine and then the only one that was working was having difficulty picking up my touches due to the cold weather (poor design); I eventually got it and then went to bed.
The following day I checked out of the hotel and headed for the modern art museum (MUDAM) on the edge of EU district, to arrive just after it opened. I got a youth ticket and began checking out the works on offer. All the works were part of temporary exhibitions and there was a good mix of pieces from different mediums. However, due to the low visitor numbers the gallery guards followed annoyingly close, which is a pet hate of mine in art galleries. The section for artists currently working in Luxembourg (which apparently is at a record high) contained the best stuff. There was a doco featuring Luxembourgish content which was interesting to finally hear, as people I had heard in the street spoke French or occaisionally German. I exited and decided to explore the old Grund (semi castle/fort) located just below the museum and again stumbled (literally, I slipped on an icy descending path) onto a tourist trail which I followed for a while before making my way across the river back to the main part of the old town. I headed for the Casino Luxembourg, which now has no gambling and is a contemporary art gallery. The works here we much more avant-garde with some too in your face lefty political for my taste. However, there were some great installations here, mostly videos. I found myself the only person to stay long at any of the exhibits as most we heavily reliant on english to meaningfully interact with them. There was a also a nice video lounge (bean bags and tv's) in a glass enclosure with nice views of the river below. The small boutique here sold its books by the kilo. I had a Quick stop on my way to collect my bags from the hotel and then I went to station and waited in the warm waiting room for a short while before my EC (Corail) train arrived. I boarded and plonked myself in a mostly empty compartment and watched the sun set over the countryside before arriving in Strasbourg (where most people got off) a couple of hours later. My lodgings were this time even closer to the station than the last, so I didn't get too cold on the walk from the station, which thankfully this time was proper sized. During checkin I was given a free Mars bar and bottle of water which was a nice touch from this newish 'boutique' chain. It was also pleasing to have an english tv channel in addition to CNN for the first time in the trip, in this case BBC World. I was tired after walking a considerable amount in the cold again and crashed early.