Daily Archives: June 17, 2009

First and probably last thoughts on Luxembourg

Posted by on June 17, 2009

I’ve left France and arrived in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Despite its size, Luxembourg isn’t even close to the smallest country I’ve visited on my trip. The Vatican, Monaco, San Marnio, Nauru, Macau, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tonga, Guam, CNMI, Micronesia, Bahrian, Singapore, Kiribati, and Hong Kong are all smaller. In fact, I was amazed to find out that that Samoa was larger than Luxembourg. One of the oddities of my trip so far is that because I’ve visited so many small countries, if you look at a map of where I’ve been it doesn’t look like I’ve been to many places at all.

I’m not staying in the City of Luxembourg. I’m staying about 10km out of town which sounded like a good idea based on the price, but getting into town is sort of a pain. There is a village about 1km away which has a bus that is cheap, but the schedule isn’t very good. Taxis here are very expensive. That 10km trip (6mi) is about 22 Euros. The area immediately surrounding my hotel is very serene; all farm land with gently rolling hills.

Beyond its small size and the fact that it is the world’s only remaining grand duchy, what makes Luxembourg odd is the way languages are used. Officially Luxembourg has three languages: French, German and Luxembourgish. Most of the signs I’ve seen appear to be in French and most people seem to be speaking in French. Somethings appear to be in German and as I understand, Luxembourgish is an offshoot of German with French influences. I’m not sure I could tell the difference if I were to hear it. Everyone seems to be fluent in both French and German and both French and German TV stations are shown.

Tomorrow I’m off to Belgium (the other motherland) for a few days before moving on to Amsterdam. The ride from Luxembourg to Brussels should be short but expensive (just like everything else here).

UNESCO World Heritage Site #67: Acropolis, Athens

Posted by on June 17, 2009

World Heritage Site #67: Acropolis, Athens

World Heritage Site #67: Acropolis, Athens

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the fifth century bc, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age that followed, as thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and, under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. The most important monuments were built during that time: the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and the small temple Athena Nike.

I had an eight hour layover in Athens during my flight from Tel Aviv to Rome. I raced from the Airport with the one objective of visiting the Acropolis. The Acropolis is a small rocky hill in the center of Athens where the Parthanon and other temple buildings are located. There has been extensive restoration there during the 20th century. It is almost impossible to take a photo of any part of the ancient structures without having a modern bit of machinery or support in the photo. Despite the crowds, it turned out that two hours at the Acropolis was more than enough time to visit the site. You are restricted to only walking around the perimeter of the hill because of how old and fragile the ruins are. The Acropolis will also give you the best view of the city of Athens.