Most of my travels while living in Germany have been solo because I enjoy traveling alone, and because it can be hard to plan a trip with another person here. It isn’t a guarantee that all parties interested will get the time off approved, so it’s best to take advantage of time off when it happens. Often that means traveling solo.
Despite my solo preference, I requested some time off for a trip to Norway with one of the girls I arrived in Germany with. When we received our approvals, we realized our days were staggered and the overlap only gave us four days off together. We then realized four days in Norway is not enough time, so it was back to the drawing board.
After throwing around a few other possible places to visit, we decided to play travel roulette and book a Lufthansa Surprise. The way this works is you first choose from a handful of categories consisting of: Go East, Arts & Sights, The Great Outdoors, Follow the Sun, Go With the Bro, Urban Adventures, Party On, For the Lovers, and Shoes and Shops.
I’ll give you one guess which category I chose.
Each category then has subcategories consisting of 7-9 countries that you could possibly go to, as well as a price attached to it. The price starts at a flat rate ranging from 69-99 euro for a round trip plane ticket, and the price goes up by 5 euro for each subcategory country that you deselect. The idea is that the more flexible you are for where they might send you, the cheaper your flight will be.
The Lufthansa Surprise only works for travel to and from two airports – Munich and Frankfurt.
Once you’ve chosen your category, and deselected any subcategories that you reallllyy don’t want to visit – you book your ticket. The kicker is you don’t find out where you are being sent until after you pay – hence the surprise. We chose the category The Great Outdoors which consisted of: Copenhagen, Gdansk, Gothenburg, Larnaca, Luxembourg, Oslo, and Stockholm.
We deselected Gdansk and Larnaka because she didn’t want to go to Poland, and I didn’t want to go to the beach.
We would have been content with any of the other locations, but our last choice was Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a small country that is sandwiched between Germany, France, and Belgium. It’s not a big tourist destination, and I honestly knew nothing about it. After a snap, crackle, and pop the computer screen showed us we were being sent to……Luxembourg! HA.
Initially I was indifferent about this destination, but after spending a couple days in Luxembourg City I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is. It’s small, and you don’t need much more than two days there (we also spent some time in France, which will be my next post) but I am so glad that I was able to visit this city. I would have never gone to Luxembourg had it not been for the Lufthansa surprise.
Most activities in the city are free, the bus system is fantastic (4 euro gets you a pass for all public transportation for the entire day), and the city was SO GREEN.
The city is very walkable, and while there aren’t any huge tourist attractions I loved the parks that are smack dab in the middle of the city. The above four photos are from the central park area where they had layers of areas to walk, a playground area, and an outdoor exercise area. I didn’t realize how much I missed the idea of a simple park until visiting Luxembourg.
We arrived our first day in the city around 3pm, and spent a good four hours just walking around and seeing all the beauty. The only “museum” thing we did in the city was walking the Casemates du Bock, which is basically a series of tunnel forts in a cliff wall dating back to 1443.
We stayed at the Luxembourg City Hostel, which was great, and one of the guys at the front desk told us to ride up the Pfaffenthal Lift, which is a glass bottom elevator giving a lift from the bottom of the city to the upper part and provides a great view. The lift is free and worth every penny.
I also spent some time inside the Norte Dame Cathedral, listening to a mass take place in French. The language in Luxembourg is predominately French which was surprising to me. I assumed because it was close to Germany that German would be their language, alas I was wrong.
The rest of day one in the city was spent wandering and seeing the beautiful architecture. We were blessed with great weather, which wasn’t the case for the majority of our trip. Day two and half of day three were spent in France, but the second half of day three and day four were spent back in Luxembourg.
Day four was dedicated to a trip just outside of the city, north in Luxembourg to a town called Vianden. Here I had my heart set on visiting the Vianden Castle aka Chateau de Vianden. This castle is considered one of the largest and most majestic feudal manors dating from Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe.
To get to the castle we took a train to Ettelbruck, and from Ettelbruck took a bus to Vianden – all for four euro (round trip!) thanks to Luxembourg’s cheap transportation system. We spent a few hours in Vianden, admiring the 10th century castle, walking along the river, and riding on a ski lift. The ski lift took us up to a wooded area where we then walked towards the castle.
We ended our Vianden adventure at a fancy schmancy restaurant where I had a delicious salad, and an older gentleman next to me looked at my meal and said “bon appétit” and it was legit cause he spoke French.
Luxembourg was indeed an outdoor lover’s destination and I felt I spent the perfect amount of time there. Overall I had about two days to explore the city center and Vianden. Don’t mark this tiny country off the list just yet, it has some hidden beauty not many tourists get to see! Up next is the other half of this trip, a day and a half spent in Metz, France.
Q: Would you ever book a Lufthansa Surprise?