Little Switzerland…………Luxembourg

   “Mercy Killing” and “Assisted suicide” and Schengen .

It was first week of August, 2018,When I travelled for Luxembourg.  Mine was first ever visit to this tiny country. I flew from Karachi to Munich where I Had to change flight for my final destination by Lux air line. When I reached at Munich air port, I had only 50 minutes left to check in for next flight but there was a long queue in front of immigration desk and for a moment I felt I cannot catch the flight. Then suddenly I left the queue and ran to immigration desk.I narrated my short time problem to Immigration officer who was kind enough to allow me to over pass the queue and he took only 5 minutes to check my documents and allowed me to leave. After that I ran to air line counter for boarding card and then I went for Security checking. After putting  my hand bag which was without any lock, at scanner belt, I stood stand before full body scanner  ( perhaps it is called  alternate-wavelength image) When scanning was completed, I rushed to scanner belt to take my hand bag .I was astonished  to see that my hand back was open and my Camera, My new Jacket(which I had brought for final approval of my buyer)my USB,my health insurance cover note and copy of my return ticket were missing. I asked the lady who was on duty at scanning belt as who has opened and taken my above mentioned goods but she refused to understand English. Then I contacted another German officer who was supervisor on security but he advised to lodge written complaint  with complaint office which was located  at the end of Munich air port. As the time was very short and I had only few minutes left for check in, I left the idea of lodging complaint and ran to the gate for check in. I was the last person to check in for lux air line. I stayed in Luxembourg for only 3-4 days and then by a shared car I went to  Koln(Germany) to attend IAW trade fair. The remaining 6 days I remained in Koln (Germany) with a business friend who was very kind to take me to several worth seeing places. So in the first visit I had no idea about Luxembourg.

In september,2019 , I along with my wife again went to Luxembourg  but now we planned to travel  from Lahore to Brussels  by Ettehad air line. At about 8.00AM our plane landed at Brussels air port where my younger daughter and her husband received us and from Belgium we travelled to Luxembourg by road. We stayed 10 days in Luxembourg  and in Paris. My this visit was very relaxing  and informative, so I thought it proper to write a blog on Luxembourg. . But before I get to the details of that, this note is for us all who know little about this tiny country. A lot of people assume it’s a city in Germany. Nope. Read on. Here  upon a time. Luxembourg lies nestled amongst  three countries – France,Belgium and Germany .below is one cool spot , it’s called Drai Lanner Eck (3 country corner) – were  Belgium ,Luxembourg  and Germany nestle together. I can start with my appreciation and awe of the beauty of “open borders” of the EU but that’s a post for another day. Luxembourg is one the smallest sovereign states in Europe. The country’s name is Luxembourg and the capital is also called Luxembourg City. It is not a city in Germany – but yes it was under Germany’s rule, once .

Luxembourg is also the world’s only Grand Duchy. Duchy is a state that is governed by a Duke. The dude’s name is Henri and Duchies can also have prime ministers – that dude’s name is Xavier Bettel. He is openly gay – the world’s 3rd openly gay Prime minister. Same-sex marriage is also legal in  this country. Luxembourg is as big as Lahore and Islamabad combined. The country’s population is 5,76,000, it is so less I don’t even know what to compare it with. I presume that a single residential area in Lahore or Karachi (like DHA, for example) probably has a higher population than this country. Just to put things into context, the population of the entire city of Karachi is 24 million and that of Lahore is 10 million. Pakistan’s population is 200 million. So yes. Only 500,000 people live in Luxembourg.

Of these few people, the biggest chunk lives in Luxembourg City – that’s where the civilization is. More than 50% of these people are expats like my daughter and son in law. Primarily Catholics but all religions exist. The country itself is a secular state and I also remember reading somewhere that it is illegal for the government to collect statistics on religious beliefs or practices because – well – they don’t care. Just be a good person. Follow the law and you’re good to go. Fun fact: people who live here are called “Luxembourgers”. Yeah. Burgers. There’s also a place called “Little Switzerland” in Luxembourg – that, trust me, looks nothing like Switzerland. Luxembourgers find a lot of pride and joy in boasting about this “little switzerland” of theirs and all the “lovely parks” the city has. It’s amusing. Switzerland is prettier. HOWEVER. Luxembourg is richer. The weather is not so perfect. It’s grey, gloomy, rainy and cold. Gets warmer in the summer but also brings a lot of pollen allergies with it. Half of Luxembourg is covered in forests . – So if you have pollen allergies – well – keep your inhaler with you in summer. This country was ruled by multiple states in the past. Germans, Dutch, French. All of this mayhem has contributed to the “borrowed” culture this country has from its mommy-countries. Languages, Food, Culture is largely influenced by the neighboring countries. . It’s also very common for people to live in a bordering country but work in Luxembourg. Someone told me  that during a work-week . Why do people do that? Well – open borders! All hail to the EU. Its population triples due to daily inflow from bordering countries.

There are 17km of underground tunnels under Luxembourg City. So the story goes that there were two very important roman towns – during the roman civilization – one in France and the other in Germany – I think it was Metz and Trier – and there was this road between these towns called the “Spanish road”. Now why would the road between Germany and France be called Spanish road – I don’t know. Anyway, so this roman emperor dude thought, hey, this is such a long never ending road – I need to build a place where I can rest and eat and pee. And change horses (As the Luxembourgish tell the tale) – so this dude made this huge fortress / wall and that laid the foundations of Luxembourg City. This fortress is a fascinating place to visit and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Luxembourg is the seat of the European court of Justice – the highest juridical authority in the EU. This court has 28 judges – one per EU country. The main job of this very important body is ensuring that the every EU law is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries – and also ensuring that all countries follow it. Well there are 28 countries – each with its own language and infrastructure, so that’s a tough job even though I make it sound pretty simple. This court also fixes disputes between EU countries. The golden towers below are where the European Court of Justice is housed. The annual budget these towers regulations, disputes for EU. It all happens in there. use is 290 million GBP. Laws, Almost opposite these golden towers are two silver towers – which is the European Parliament. All the translators and interpreters of EU sit here (more than 1000 translators) and every European document is translated in there. These buildings house other departments of the EU parliament as well. The main job of the European parliament is to pass EU laws, decide on international agreements, democratic scrutiny of all other EU institutions, develop the EU budget and discuss monetary policies. Legend has it that the golden towers are built just to be a wee bit higher than the EU parliament towers to signify that Justice is above everything else. Walk by the parking areas around these two buildings and you will see the world’s most expensive cars parked here.

Last two fun facts about Luxembourg, since I need to call it a day. Luxembourg has the highest rate of car ownership in the world. Volkswagen is the bestselling car here. “Mercy Killing” and “Assisted suicide” is legal in the country. So if you ever want to kill yourself, hop on a plane and come over!

Many of Luxembourg’s top traditional foods reflect the Grand Duchy’s farming heritage as well as its geography sandwiched between Germany, France and Belgium.

Luxembourg is landlocked, so traditional fish dishes are based on what swims in fresh water rather than in the sea. Pike,Trout and crayfish are some of the most common fish you’ll find in Luxembourg’s restaurants. If you plan to eat national dish of Luxembourg which is called JUDD, go with large appetite as its portions are huge comprised on  smocked neck of pork with beans placed on a creamy sauce and serve with potatoes

The famous word “Schengen” – the visa we all want so that we can travel around Europe – is actually the name of a town in Luxembourg where the treaty itself was signed. I did not know that before coming here. It’s a small village where Luxembourg, Germany and France meet.

66 thoughts on “Little Switzerland…………Luxembourg

  1. Luxembourg…..I thought it was a part of Germany but now I have come to know it is an independent country.Good information.

  2. The only place worth living in Europe is Luxembourg.
    Very few people wrote something about this tiny state.
    Very good information and excellent style of writing.

  3. I have read your 3 previous blogs.I am impressed now once again you have written some thing about Luxembourg. Good information,I would dare to point out that pictures in your blog are properly placed.

  4. Luxembourg is a very small country and it is very neat and clean.
    I visited luxembourg once.The author of this blog has provided many amazing information.

  5. We don’t get to hear much about this wonderful place as this article describes it is. Another amazing account of what must be a wonderful trip.

  6. You never hear about Luxembourg in the news, so I didn’t know that much about it. Interesting historical and geographical information.

  7. Recently I read in some news paper that Govt.of Luxembourg has launched free public transport.
    The author of this blog must add this information in his blog.

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