A wee report of our recent trip to Luxembourg to play a school ceilidh.
When Iron Broo was asked to play a ceilidh dance in Luxembourg, I drew a blank. It was a place I knew very little of, except that it was probably an advanced European country and had something to do with the creation of the European parliament. I wasn’t sure if it would be warm or cold. It was December, after all. Surely it can’t be that cold? We are going south, I thought. Turned oot…It was colder than Aberdeen.
When you think of a city, you usually have a picture in your mind associated with it. In Paris, you might imagine the Eiffel Tower perhaps, Rome – the Colosseum, China – the Great Wall, London, Big Ben, London Underground cabs and Westminster. I didn’t have a picture of what Luxembourg looked like.
Here’s fit Luxembourg looks like… in the Gruund.
On planning the journey, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that public transport was free, and this was clearly a civilised and advanced country. I wasn’t wrong, and we weren’t disappointed.
After landing at the airport, you can hop on any free buses heading into town. Google Maps will help you find the right bus. You won’t have long to wait, and there are plenty of them. Almost everyone is multi-lingual, speaking Luxembourgish, French and German as official languages, but also I heard lots of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. 18% of the population are Portuguese. Luxembourg looks very clean, modern and way ahead of a Scottish or UK city in terms of facilities and standard of life. They have clean public toilets that are free to use. I felt a little like I was from a third-world colony walking among the well-dressed people in the city centre. I saw a few homeless people, as you get used to in big cities but not as many. One used an iPhone with google translate to communicate to ask me for money. That’s a new one for me. I would imagine there would be a social program to help those in poverty. But I gave what I could without needing to be asked. I am a soft touch, some say.
It’s sad to say this, but it certainly feels like Scotland and the UK are going backwards while some European countries are advancing way ahead of us. It’s clear this is the case when you visit a place like Luxembourg. In 2022, Luxembourg was ranked as having the first-highest per capita GDP in the world at $137,950(PPP)
Not bad for a small independent country with 600,000 people.
We were playing in a school for an S3 ceilidh. I thought there might be a problem communicating when we were asked to call the dances, but the children all understood our ‘English’ calling, and maybe the odd word of doric that we dropped in. Some of the words and names you see around the city sound like the doric words. Gruund, for ground, Kierch for Kirk. The settlement of Luxembourg began with Celtic tribes some 35,000 years ago. Must be some common thread there somewhere.
A Bonnie Place
Luxembourg city is a beautiful place. It has a lot of medieval fortressing still evident and is built across a gorge created by two rivers, the Alzette and the Petrusse, in a dramatic canyon landscape.
It reminded me of Edinburgh, in some ways, as a city in different layers. The high part on the plateau, and the low part in The Gruund. Similar but different to Edinburgh with The Royal Mile, Princes Street, Dean Village and Cowgate.
The food is richt fine.
One of the crucial things you should do when travelling is trying out the food and have a wee tipple. Soak in the ambience of a new place. Taste the flavour and smell the air. I found the prices in many restaurants out of my reach on a Scottish accordion player’s budget, but we researched and found some nice wee places. We also scored because of the Christmas season; there were at least two Christmas Markets in the city centre selling top-notch street food from across Europe and local delicacies. Glühwäin was something special. With a shot of Rum or amaretto added to it …wow!
The prices were reasonable in the Christmas market, some things the same or cheaper than the ones in Aberdeen! And it was top-class cuisine. Unbelievable!
We enjoyed a fine tipple with local beer and cognac in the Hamstuff Bar and Cafe. A busy local bar with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
We visited the famous Mousel’s Cantine, a Luxembourg bar restaurant that served traditional Luxembourg food and their own homemade beer. It was about the best beer I had tasted anywhere.
Luxembourg is beautiful, and I hope they’d like more Scottish ceilidh music. We can’t wait to be back.