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.
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.
and Zurich too! Yea, it was a lot for one week. My main purpose for this trip was to visit family and check out some spots along the way. My favorite aunt and uncle (who is Austrian), were spending a few weeks in Austria, and I wanted to see them since I was so close. The last time I saw them was 9 years ago in Beijing, right after I graduated high school. My uncle currently works for the Austrian embassy in Lima, Peru. In the past, they have lived in Beijing, Vietnam, Slovenia, New York, and other places, with a home base in Vienna.
My aunt and uncle live in the 21st district of Vienna called Floridsdorf, in the northernmost part of the city limits. They are for sure an interesting pair! My uncle started learning Mandarin at university, and he went to Shanghai in the early 80s to continue studying Chinese. Back then, he was probably the only Western looking guy for miles around, much less one that could speak the language. He found a job at the Austrian embassy in Beijing, and then met my aunt shortly after. My mom (her sister) had moved to the US with my dad around that time. After marrying him, my aunt moved to Austria without knowing a lick of German, and now she and my uncle speak a combination of Mandarin and German with some English and Spanish thrown in for good measure. It’s quite confusing at times!
So this was my rough and rushed itinerary: Vienna > Bratislava > Vienna > Feldkirch > Liechtenstein > Feldkirch > Zurich > Luxembourg. Given how quick each stop was, I’ll just share pics with a few notes.
Vienna / Wien
I did a free walking tour and then ate schnitzel at the 3rd gen Figlmüller because the OG and 2nd gen locations were full or closed (respectively). Was delicious but slightly touristy.
I waited in line to have the Sachertorte at the Sacher Hotel Cafe. Was very delicious, but very touristy and not worth the wait in the hot sun.
St Stephen’s Cathedral: lovely square, beautiful roof, crowded
St Peter’s Church: gilded and ornate interior, not as crowded as St Stephen’s
Austrian National Library: pretty interesting Free Mason exhibit, beautiful old globes, statues, and painted ceilings
Belvedere Palace and museum: looove Gustav Klimt, paid €15 for just the Upper Belvedere, then took a stroll around the palace grounds for free
Moien! So it’s been 60 days since I moved to Luxembourg. It’s flown by so quickly! Here’s the lowdown of what it’s been like so far.
Luxembourg Fast Facts
Official languages are French, German, and Luxemourgish, but most people speak English, as they learn all four in schools
Luxembourg is one of the founding members of the EU and the world’s only Grand Duchy, but wait, what is that? According to Wikipedia, “a grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.” So there you go. Meet Henri.
Yes, Luxembourg has an airport AND its own airline. Luxair flies to 64 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East with a fleet size of just 17. That’s efficiency.
Things aren’t as expensive as I thought it would be, what with Lux having the highest GDP per capita in the world. I think it’s quite comparable to Austin, except that on every corner, there are Ferraris, Maseratis, and other fancy cars that I don’t know the names of.