Money Diary – Lux Edition

What’s it like to live and work in Luxembourg?  I got inspiration from reading Refinery29’s Money Diaries, which I think is a great way to expand on the sometimes taboo topic of money.  I decided to write my own money diary for a week and present it here, excluding my salary information.  Everything that was in Euros has been converted to USD at a rate of 1.23, which is where it’s been around for the last 3 months.

Occupation: Business Analyst
Industry: Operations and Transportation
Age: 28
Location: Luxembourg

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $879.45  (Monthly total of €1,430 including water, trash, and heating is split in half with my boyfriend)
Student Loan Payment: $0  (I am extremely lucky to have generous parents)
Cell Phone Bill: $40.58
Internet: $23.92  (Monthly total of $47.85, split in half with my boyfriend)
Electricity: $19.47  (Monthly total of $38.94, split in half with my boyfriend)
Public Transportation: $22.79  (My company subsidizes roughly 50% of an annual pass that allows for unlimited travel throughout the country)
Spotify, Netflix, Adobe, iCloud: $26.41
Gym: $25.82
Charity: ~$50, to various organizations

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Italy – A Winter Weekend in Piedmont

Living in a tiny country has gotten me used to frequent traveling, so after my ACL reconstruction, I felt like I was grounded in Luxembourg.  Although I did a fair bit around the city, I didn’t go anywhere else for over 2 months.  I had actually booked my flight to Turin the day after my surgery in anticipation.  However, I always equated Italy with warm weather (yes, I know the Alps are there, but that’s in a high elevation right?), so I wasn’t happy when I checked the forecast and it was colder than Luxembourg…  The good food more than made up for it though 🙂

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Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi

Day 1 – Torino

Working in an international environment really has its perks.  Nico and I got several recommendations for where to eat and what to do from people who are either from Turin or had lived there before.  First up was to get some bicerin.  It’s a drink from Turin that is basically thick hot chocolate with espresso and milk.  We went to the popular Cafe Al Bicerin, est. 1763, where the decor is reminiscent of an old timey candy or coffee shop.  We had to wait in line outside because the space only fits about 15 people cozily.  If you’re in the mood for anything savory, you’re out of luck, but damn was the bicerin a perfect start for a cold day.

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Turino Advent Calendar

After we finished filling ourselves up with sugar, we took a stroll around the centro and then ducked into some indoor sites when it started raining.  We visited the Turin Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where the Shroud of Turin is stored.  It sits in a closed off area in a box, behind a curtain, behind glass.  Super exclusive.  They pull back the curtains once a day (?), and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the box.  Afterwards, we checked out the Royal Library, Sabauda Art Gallery, and the Armory Museum.

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Sabauda Gallery

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Luxembourg – 1 Year & Counting

I cannot believe that it’s already been a year since I moved to Luxembourg!  I came with a heart full of hope, love, and excitement for things to come, and none of that has diminished.

How It All Started

My first blog entry was about how I met Nico and wound up in Luxembourg, but it was very personal and I was hesitant to publish it publicly until now.  In short, I met him at a hostel in Peru while I was solo traveling after a breakup.  We spent a year cross-Atlantic long distance dating, until we moved to Luxembourg together.

Reflecting on that first post, I’m baffled by the amount of time that has flown by.  I still miss Austin here and there, but I’m really enjoying being in Luxembourg.  As part of that, and cause now I’m an “expert”, I’ll be posting more about what life is like here, as well as what to do around these parts 🙂

Ireland – Doolin, Limerick, Galway, & Whiskey

In September, Nico and I went to Newport, RI for his cousin’s wedding.  We were there for barely 48 hours, but it was my first time back in the US in 6 months, and this is what I realized that I missed the most (besides my friends and family, of course!): the ease and incredible selection when shopping for anything, the way restaurants give you a huge, free glass of water filled with ice without you even having to ask for it, and how friendly and chatty strangers are.

We flew from Dublin to Providence with Norwegian Air, which usually has really great deals between Europe and North America (I paid around $250 round trip, which was cheaper than my flight from Lux to Dublin lol).  As neither of us had been to Ireland before, of course we made a holiday out of it.

Day 1 – Doolin

We landed in Dublin jet lagged at 8am, picked up our rental car, and made it about 15 minutes before we had to stop at the nearest coffee shop to gather our wits.  Our ambitious plan was to drive 3 hours to a hostel in Doolin and then check out the Cliffs of Moher.  I’m lucky enough to be able to sleep on flights relatively easily, so I drove while tried to catch some Zs.

From our hotel in Doolin, we headed off on the Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail, but there is also a Hop On Hop Off bus that takes you straight to the visitor center and popular view points.

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So windy

Holy crap, it was so windy.  It’s a beautiful little hike, a bit muddy, and the waves crashing into the cliffs are awesome.  That day, it was so windy that the mist from the waves down below were being blown straight up.  The wind also literally blew me off my feet, and I tweaked my injured knee and didn’t get to finish the hike.

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Cliffs of Moher

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Slovakia – Banská Štiavnica, High Tatra Mountains, Gerlachovský štít

I’m alive!  I suppose this is what happens when I work too much…  It’s been 3 months since my last post, so let’s get on with it, continuing from this post on my trip in the Czech Republic.

Day 6 – Banská Štiavnica

This whole trip involved a lot of driving and exploring and hiking, which are all things that I love.  Banská Štiavnica is a cute little medieval mining town about a 2.5 hour drive from Bratislava, with a population of about 10,000 people.  We even had lunch at a restaurant with an old mining shaft in it.  The town crest is decorated with a gold and a silver lizard, referring to the legend that says these lizards first led a shepherd to discover gold and silver ores.

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Banská Štiavnica
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Štôlňa Glanzenberg mining tunnel

We were hoping to get a massage to recover from our Sněžka hike, but were a bit deterred by this sign…

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ouch

Day 7 – High Tatras

The goal of this trip was to climb the highest point in Slovakia, which is located in the High Tatras Mountains.  We had driven in the night before to Štrbské Pleso, a little ski resort at the foot of the mountain range, where we spent the day relaxing and finally getting that massage.  For some reason, we opted for a “local special” as part of the massage, which involved getting strapped into a contraption and being flipped upside down and just hanging out for 15 minutes upside down.  Did not like.  Do not recommend.  Will never willingly do that again.

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Czech Republic – Prague, Bohemian Switzerland, Krkonoše National Park

Since my surgery, I’ve pretty much been grounded: limited walking, no running, no flights.  However, there were a few trips that I went on beforehand that I haven’t written about yet, so enjoy 🙂

N and I went on a long trip in August while he had some time off, and we did it in an N kind of fashion.  I usually like to do a little research before I go anywhere, and I almost always book my lodging ahead of time because as a woman traveling in a foreign place, I at least want to know where I will be sleeping.  N is way more chill and enjoys having the flexibility of staying longer in a place that he likes.  I tried his method of traveling this time, and it was pretty cool.  We did see a lot of places I knew nothing about, however, it does require decent internet access to look things up or book lodging on the fly (as we had difficulty with while driving through the land without cell towers, otherwise known as Slovakia).

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Vltava River

Day 1 & 2 – Prague

We got to our Praha 8 AirBnb late in the afternoon, visited the very educational Museum of Communism, took a nice stroll through the Old Town Square, and had a nice hearty dinner.  Prague is a gorgeous and lively city, separated into districts with the beautiful old town in Praha 1.  It’s very busy, filled with tourists and families during the day and party goers at night.  Our AirBnb was in a much quieter, more residential district that had several hipster restaurants and cafes.  We went to Můj šálek kávy for breakfast both mornings we were there.  Don’t ask me to pronounce it; I spent nearly the whole trip trying to get “thank you” (Děkuji) down…  During the day, we walked across the Charles Bridge (Karlův most), up to the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), and then to the modern art Museum Kampa.

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Pretty Praha

Day 3 – Bohemian Switzerland

We rented a car from Prague in the morning and drove 2 hours north to the České Švýcarsko National Park in Bohemian Switzerland for a short hike.  The forest is full of boulders, like Fontainebleau in France or Mullerthal in Luxembourg, and the occasional large rock formation jutting out above the trees.  There’s an iconic formation, Pravčická brána, the largest sandstone arch in Europe.  We hiked to the touristy spot, but holy crap the spot smells like sewage due to the inn located there, and the guy running the ticket booth was so rude and the least helpful person ever.  My recommendation is to view the arch from the hiking trail and don’t bother going up to it.

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Smelly inn and the Pravčická brána arch
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České Švýcarsko National Park

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Luxembourg – 6 Month Recap & ACL Surgery

It’s been a little over 6 months since I moved across the pond.  I had a blast being unemployed for most of that time, as you can probably tell from all my previous travel posts 🙂  But now I’m settling back into being a real adult.

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The Alzette River in the Grund

Did I do anything other than travel during my time off?

I took an intensive French class.  I’m still terrible at French.  As a native English speaker, there is not enough incentive to learn French, German, or Luxembourgish because most people in the city speak English as a second (or third or fourth or fifth!) language.  Even if I attempt to speak French, I either leave the conversation not quite understanding everything that was said, or I end up slipping back into English.  Thankfully, everyone is usually quite friendly, and they accommodate my lacking language skills.  Here, English is the lingua franca where 47% of residents in the country and 70% of residents in the capital city are foreign nationals coming from 170 different countries.

I learned how to drive stick.  In Europe, most people drive stick.  If you want to rent a car, it’s at least twice as expensive to rent an automatic car than a manual car.  And that’s if they even have an automatic available.  I know like 4 people total in the US who own a manual car.  Poor N had been responsible for driving both of us everywhere we went, until I rented a car for a week and asked him to teach me.  That wasn’t fun either.  I might have cried after stalling in the middle of an intersection and getting honked at by a bus driver…   Aaanyway, it took me a good few days to get the hang of it, but now I’m capable of driving stick on the left as well!  I still stall here and there, but at least I don’t freak out anymore.

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Hints of fall in the Grand Duchy

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