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).

Acropolis, Athens

Posted by on June 17, 2009

World Heritage Site #67: Acropolis, Athens

Acropolis, Athens: My 67th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Acropolis, Athens:

The Acropolis of Athens is the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex still existing in our times. It is situated on a hill of average height (156m) that rises in the basin of Athens. Its overall dimensions are approximately 170 by 350m. The hill is rocky and steep on all sides except for the western side, and has an extensive, nearly flat top. Strong fortification walls have surrounded the summit of the Acropolis for more than 3,300 years. The first fortification wall was built during the 13th century BC, and surrounded the residence of the local Mycenaean ruler. In the 8th century BC, the Acropolis gradually acquired a religious character with the establishment of the cult of Athena, the city’s patron goddess. The sanctuary reached its peak in the archaic period (mid-6th century to early 5th century BC). In the 5th century BC, the Athenians, empowered from their victory over the Persians, carried out an ambitious building programme under the leadership of the great statesman Perikles, comprising a large number of monuments including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia and the temple of Athena Nike. The monuments were developed by an exceptional group of architects (such as Iktinos, Kallikrates, Mnesikles) and sculptors (such as Pheidias, Alkamenes, Agorakritos), who transformed the rocky hill into a unique complex, which heralded the emergence of classical Greek thought and art. On this hill were born Democracy, Philosophy, Theatre, Freedom of Expression and Speech, which provide to this day the intellectual and spiritual foundation for the contemporary world and its values. The Acropolis’ monuments, having survived for almost twenty-five centuries through wars, explosions, bombardments, fires, earthquakes, sackings, interventions and alterations, have adapted to different uses and the civilizations, myths, and religions that flourished in Greece through time.

I had an eight hour layover in Athens, Greece 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 Parthenon 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.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

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