We had breakfast at our hotel in Karlsruhe, but unfortunately we didn’t have any time to explore the city as we headed to a small town in Luxembourg called Rumelange where a mining museum Musée National des Mines de Fer was located. There are guided tours every two hours and the tour takes two hours. It was about three-hour drive from Karlsruhe and we managed to arrive perfectly – about 20 min before the next tour, which started at 2 p.m.
We were a bit confused how the tours are arranged, but it turned out that the tour guide speaks the language of the majority of people on the tour as long as it’s French, German, English, or Luxembourgish. In our case it was German. The people who didn’t speak any German were given an audio guide. The guide seemed to be very good and kept telling the group different stories long after our audioguide stopped. Unfortunately my German isn’t that great, so while I tried to understand, I think I only got about 50%.
The tour started with a ride in a small train into the mine, which was very cool.
The mine itself was actually pretty interesting and had a lot of impressively large machines. The downside was that the tour took two hours and the audio guide tour only about one hour, so we just hung around most of the time trying to understand what the guide was explaining. It would’ve been better if the tour would be one hour or one hour and a half max. There wasn’t a lot of walking, mostly hanging out in +10°C temperature, so despite us being dressed pretty well, we still got cold towards the end.
After the tour, we drove into Luxembourg City. I don’t know what was the issue, but most of the hotels were fully booked and we had to book a pretty expensive Park Inn Luxembourg City, which I think cost around 180€ making it absolutely the most expensive hotel during our trip. It was supposed to have parking, but when we arrived it was a horrible rush hour and there wasn’t any possibility to stop in front of the hotel and ask where the parking is. So my friend ended up jumping out of the car and going to the reception while I made another round in traffic in the car. It turned out that the access to the parking garage was from the back street, but luckily they had parking spots available. It would’ve been a horror trying to find parking in this area of the city while it takes 15 min just to circle the block.
We went out to eat at a restaurant called Grec Athena and we figured out that we would do some sightseeing if it would stop raining after our dinner. The food was actually pretty good, but the dessert was really bad, so I would recommend to skip it if you eat here.
When we got out of the restaurant it was still pouring rain, so we decided against exploring the city and headed back to our hotel.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and headed out to see a bit of Luxembourg and Bock Casemates. Luckily it was Sunday, so parking was free even though we needed to walk a little bit.
First we walked around the area to catch some Luxembourg views because the weather was finally great.
After that we headed to Bock Casemates, which is the network of underground tunnels in the fortress, which are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were pretty cool, but some parts are not for those, who are uncomfortable in tight spaces. In some parts it feels that the air is stale and to me all the corridors looked pretty much the same. Luckily my friend is much better at reading maps. 🙂
After the visit we headed towards Vianden Castle, which is located near the German border. It is one of the largest castles in Luxembourg and dates to 10th century. It was allowed to get to a really bad condition, but it has been restored recently and we liked it a lot.
After this our final stop was Waterloo in Belgium, which was almost exactly on our way back to Brussels. The Waterloo site has a really good museum and a mound with a lion statue on top of it. The site is surrounded by the fields and some parts of them have changed since the battle in 1815.
The Lion’s Mound was constructed using 300 000 cubic meters of earth taken from the ridge at the centre of the British line, but everything else remains quite unchanged since the battle.
As we’re not great Napoleon enthusiasts, we were just curious to see what was there in the first place. The combination tickets cost something like 20€ per person, but the museum was actually very good especially if you’re Napoleon enthusiast. Here you can find additional information on everything that Waterloo has to offer.
And the of course there is the mound. 226 steps up for a great view of the surroundings. For somebody who’s not in a good shape it is a pain in the ass to climb those, but the view is worth it.
The climb down was easier and we headed back to Brussels. When we got near Brussels we were wondering why all the highway exits we needed to take were blocked. We tried three or four exits and then we had to stop and google what the hell is going on. It turned out that it was a Car Free Sunday, which in Brussels means that all the entryways into the city are blocked until 7 p.m. The clock was around six. We had just filled the car with gas that we could return it easily back to the car rental agency, so we didn’t want to drive around aimlessly, so we decided to park the car and read a book for an hour. Then we headed back into the city as did everyone else, so we spent next 40 minutes waiting for city workers to come and unblock the entryway into the city. I drive something like a couple of weeks per year and this really pissed me off. I was really happy though that I haven’t booked my flight back for Sunday, because I would’ve been in trouble.
We had made a reservation in a restaurant Le Wine Bar des Marolles for 8 p.m. and we barely made it due to the incident with Car Free Sunday. Our plan was to return the car before that, but obviously we didn’t manage to do that. Luckily the restaurant was great and the food and wine simply amazing. We really loved this place! The only thing I would’ve wanted is to enjoy a bit more of the wine, but because we had a car I had to stick with one glass.
After the restaurant we drove our suitcases and champagne boxes back to my friend’s place and went to return the car back to the car rental agency. We could drive into the parking garage and there was one last spot left for Sixt cars. It was such a pain to park it there. I think I was just tired after driving all day, it was late, raining, and as last final thing the turn we needed to take was also blocked due to renovations, so roadblocks became the official scourge of this trip.
In the parking garage I turned the wheel and managed to hit the car in the next parking space. I thought that now I was screwed as I hit my car, the car next to me, and the side mirror on my car was bent. I got out and it turned out that there was not a scratch either on my car or on the car I hit and even the mirror popped back without a hitch (thanks to modern car technology). I gave up on parking straight, just fit the car into the spot somehow, squeezed myself out, and trusted the Sixt people will figure it out. 😀 Luckily I haven’t heard anything from them, so all is well that ends well.