THE KEY TO self-confidence is mastering the art of small talk. It’s easy. Fill your head with inane tit-bits of information and use them during slow or struggling conversation.
After all, it’s impossible to speak knowledgeably on every subject without being very, very clever. But, by arming yourself with enough trivial information, you’ll be surprised how often you can pick your way through a conversational minefield and sound informed.
This shallow social tactic has served me well for years, but every so often, subjects come up offering no hope for the hopeless blagger because they are just too dull. As a result, they’ve never made it onto your radar. That means no anecdotes, no friends who have done it, owned one, been there or eaten it.
And until today, Luxembourg was just such a subject. If you’d dropped this perfectly pleasant European capital into a conversation, I’d have had nothing to come back with. Luxembourg city could end a conservation and expose me as a terrible bluff in one fell swoop.
A touch of Lux
All of which is a bit harsh on Luxembourg city. We were so near by at the start of our second day that we just had to pop by. It was a mere nine-minute bus ride from the Camping Kockelshier campsite we were staying at, which was in a semi-rural location. That should give you some indication that it’s not a massive city. In fact, Bill Bryson describes it as being ‘as compact as it is charming’ which sums it up rather nicely.
Elevated views across the city mean it feels more model village than capital city
It is not very big at all but the centre of it resembles a model village. A gorge pierces the centre of the town but both sides are built up meaning you have elevated views of the centre that give everything a slightly ‘Legoland’ appearance.
The biggest tourist attraction in town is the Casements, a series of caves built into the fortifications that protected the town and ensured it changed hands relatively few times, despite its central European location.
The Casements are the city’s big attraction – not for the claustrophobic though
We wandered around this UNESCO World Hertiage site at a cost of €6 for the two of us and it was very enjoyable. Be aware however that one of the cave chamber is much like another and there are an awful lot of them, some down perilous spiral staircases or down very narrow corridors. That said, the whole complex was once 14 miles in length. It’s easy enough to get lost in there now, thanks to economical signage and the fact each cavern looks like the last. When it was sprawled over 14 miles, you could have lost people for weeks at a time.
Once you’ve wandered past the Grand Ducal Palace, crossed the impressive Pont de Adolphe and stopped in one of the many pavement cafes or bars for some refreshment, you’ve covered the city’s main bases, although as you might expect, there are plenty of gardens, museums and church sites to extend your visit. It’s a lively, buzzy little place to spend a day.
And as another plus, thanks to a nice day wandering about in the sunshine, I’ll no longer be stuck for something to say about Luxembourg should that tricky conversation ever arise.