Top 5 scary things in Luxembourg
Luxembourg scary? I hear you say, and you’d be right to scoff. This picture postcard, bitesize Duchy is possibly the least scary place in Europe.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to drone on about the Gare district. I lived in a London suburb where muggings, car thefts and burglaries were par for the course. It played a significant part in my decision to relocate here.
Ten years on, I’ve lost my bullet-proof walk, regularly forget to lock my car, and probably am a little anxious when walking the streets of Gare. But it's not the most scary thing here. This is my countdown of the top five most frightening things in Luxembourg:
5. Glacis car park at night
Who doesn’t appreciate a city car park that’s free at night? But at this time of the year, Glacis changes into an assault course of water-filled potholes, designed to trip up ladies of a certain age. Then there's the hide-and-seek game I play in the almost pitch dark, trying to find my grey VW in a sea of similarly shaded cars. Agitated, I wildly point and click my key fob in every direction waiting for some lights to go on.
Then because Glacis' car spaces are so narrow, I have to squeeze myself in - another challenge for a lady of my age and girth. Finally, it's like joining the Wacky Races with the random driving rules used to exit this car park. By the time I reach route d'Arlon, my nerves are in tatters.
4. The waterfall slide at YoYos
It’s been years since I sat atop this sheer vertical drop with my young children and felt the panic rise, but the memory has traumatised me forever.
Who sends their child down a giant plastic slide, positively sizzling with static and sure to burn the skin off any elbow? Hundreds of parents, drinking coffee and chatting, that’s who. I used to be one of these.
All that I can say with hindsight, is that any child who makes it to the bottom in one piece is a hell of a risk-taker, and will probably go on to set up their own successful global business.
3. Dark local legends
Luxembourg legends are littered with very dark characters.
There’s Houseker, Saint Nicolas’ mean side-kick, who carries a switch to punish naughty children. Then there’s Kropemann, who drags children into rivers, and looks in serious need of some moisturising and a haircut. What about the white cat of Ettelbruck that follows you home and scratches your face to shreds? Or the werewolf of Bettembourg, only marginally nastier than the Macaque monkeys at Parc Merveilleux.
Even the beautiful Valley of the Seven Castles is so called because the Devil was taking a stroll through Luxembourg, and dropped several seeds from his sack, from which sprouted some fairly sinister castles – would you ever want to spend a night locked inside the ominous-looking Schoenfels Castle?
2. Code-switching languages on the bus
I like to think I am quite adept at this, but really it’s down to my lack of language skills that I begin most sentences in Luxembourgish, switch to French, then resort to English.
It’s beyond scary (particularly if you’re new to Luxembourg) to hear the local population code-switch between Luxembourgish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and, of course, everyone speaks pretty good English.
It’s even more scary how many year’s I’ve been attempting to learn just two of these languages and still fail to complete a single sentence in one of them.
1. House prices
Yep, I’d take the skin off both elbows on the waterfall slide and sell my soul to the devil, if I could buy a house for less than a million Euros. House prices are seriously scary in Luxembourg.
Forget that they’re mostly white boxes, and there’s something very Stepford Wives about the street I live on. Forget that the main road in my quaint village seems to be permanently blocked due to building work that sees new developments crowbarred into every last inch of green space. Forget that to build new places we’re often destroying buildings of historical value and heritage.
When Jessie J wrote the song price tag, she had never attempted to enter the Luxembourg real estate market, where to buy almost any family dwelling, you’ll need to sell a kidney, inherit a fortune, or know a local farmer intimately.
Perhaps it's time to invite the Devil back to Luxembourg and give him a sack of grain with a hole in it. So long as those castles come at a reduced rate due to the reputation of their previous owner.
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