No Berlin post from me since some time for the simple reason that I have been in Luxembourg since the beginning of last week.
The country of Luxembourg is where I come from and where part of my family still lives. Whenever I meet people in Berlin or elsewhere outside of my country, and they ask me where I am from, their response to my answer usually varies between: “what, do you mean Liechtenstein?” or “oh, you are the first person from Luxembourg I have ever met”. And hardly anyone knows anything about Luxembourg. Maybe that there are a lot of banks and that petrol is cheap.
So allow me to give you a few facts about my country:
Yes, it is tiny. The longest length is about 83 km, the widest part about 56 km. The population is around 400.000 for the entire country (and, no, it is not only one city). Approximately one third of the population are foreigners, mainly from Portuguese and Italian origin and many people from France and Germany cross the border every day to go to work in Luxembourg city.
This means, that when you walk through the city you will hear a mix of languages that makes it difficult to know where you are.
Talking about languages, yes, we have our own: Luxembourgish. And, no, it is not a dialect, and, yes, every Luxembourgish person speaks Luxembourgish. The other two official languages are French and German, used in administrative and legal language.
What else can I tell you that you will not find in the CIA fact book? Maybe that Luxembourgish people are in their personalities neither French nor German, not Belgian, that there is a Luxembourgish identity, even though (or because) there are so few of them and the country, wedged between Germany, Belgium and France is tiny.
The nature is quite beautiful, no sea, and no mountains, but lots of forests and hills and rivers. The city has a very international flair, with an awful amount of banks but, also, since a couple of years, interesting museums and art spaces. The Casino Luxembourg, which is not a casino, but an art institute, usually has very interesting contemporary art exhibitions, and works a lot with art institutes abroad. The Museum of the history of Luxembourg is a fantastic building built into the fortress of the city and is worth a visit for the architecture alone. The new concert hall apparently has one of the best acoustics there are ( I have never been there, I have to admit).
But, as I said, Luxembourg is small, and as it happens in small countries, people know each other, living in semi-anonymity is impossible, even in some tiny village in the forests up north. you have to adapt to a certain Luxembourgish life style if you want to survive here. I always wanted to leave, already as a kid I felt the urge to go and see something else. I like coming back to see my family once in a while and I have been away long enough not to be able to appreciate Luxembourg as a visitor, but still, after a couple of days I can feel it again, the urge to get out, back into the real world …
I will be back in Berlin in a couple of days …