Visiting Flatducks (1) – Lucy & Luxembourg

If you don’t know The Flatducks, read my Last Week in Sheffield

I had the privilege to be the first in our group to visit Lucy, while she and her family were also the first I visited. The memory of our first encounter was still vivid, although the encounter itself wasn’t too exciting. I was hanging out in her flat and I asked generic questions to this girl with glasses sitting quietly at the table drinking her tea. She said her name is Lucy and she is from Luxembourg. We never talked so much ever since until we went to York together. On the bus trip back to Sheffield, she asked me so many questions about Hong Kong and the legal system (she studies law). Then I knew behind her modesty there lives a sincere heart genuinely curious about the world.

IMG-20150720-WA0001edited
Lucy and me in Luxembourg City

I hopped onto the bus to Luxembourg one weekend while I was in Strasbourg, France. Then we took the train back to her town. I had to say LUX trains were one of the best I have ever taken – clean, comfortable, fast, and relatively cheap. And of course, absolutely no nonsense passengers who annoy others.

Lucy’s family warmly welcomed me. I hadn’t had the feeling of living in a family or anyone taking care of me in a while (as I was travelling and studying alone), so it was particularly touching to stay in a home again, needless to say the home of a dear friend. I know it seems like I am taking advantage of my friends when I visit them because they host me and show me around the city (sorry…). However visiting Flatducks is a bit different. We all met as exchange students and we lived a short but “new” life together. If I liked the Lucy in Sheffield, I should also like the Lucy in her home place. And because I like my Flatducks friends so much, I had decided to find out what were the things that shaped them and made them the wonderful people I met when I was living my exchange life. In order to do so, there is only one way – to visit them, and stay with their family. (And in other words, I also hope my Flatducks friends to visit me in Hong Kong if they can, so they will like me even more. Haha)

Nevertheless, I was touched by great food, including plates of very aromatic Cape Verdi rice, some Luxembourgian sausages and beer. Surprisingly, they go very well together. I even got the recipe from Lucy’s mother so I could make the rice when I am back home.

IMG-20150720-WA0006edited
It’s easy to see who is the mum and who is the daughter – they have the same dress code

Talking about my short but enriching stay in Luxembourg, we have actually done a lot of things ! We visited three museums, Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art (MNHA) and Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM); we walked around Luxembourg City under perfect weather and enjoyed the scenery around the Alzette River and Casemates; We also went to Pétange and Belval, two towns in south-western Luxembourg.

The museums were absolutely luxurious in terms of architecture. One thing I loved about the History Museum was that it conserved the Middle Age structures and combined with modern materials. The glass facades show the conserved stone walls as one whole piece while the gigantic panoramic lift allows you to enjoy a great view. It was both exciting and ironic to take the lift because it was the biggest I have ever taken (not gonna lie) and it’s probably bigger than some sub-divided flats in HK.

12544837_10206909268428156_344597817_o
I was amazed in the lift
20150718_125312
Currency converter for the public when Euro cash replaces LUX Franc in 2002
20150718_133127
World’s best toilet
20150718_135051(0)
Me living the journalist dream …

I also enjoyed the MUDAM, when we visited they had an exhibition about visual illusions and we had fun from the installations. It is also a family friendly museum, because the children’s play hall was so nicely decorated it makes us feel like we are learning and playing under the sky in a green house. I didn’t take a photo of it with my phone but I did with my Fuji 210. The photo journals will be published later. I love the museum also because in the store they sell products from HAY.

20150718_164650
This is a Zen level physics installation
20150718_165610
Playing with glasses/ mirrors

 

And a photo of the Bock Casemates is necessary: 20150719_123932 edited

The very last day of my stay we went to other two towns in south-western Luxembourg. One of them, Belval, presents an alternative side of this rich, bank-dominated, tiny landlocked country. Belval used to be the major site of steel production of Luxembourg so we saw the industrial “remains” – the factory, the plants, the large smoke pipes. Blast Furnace Belval is a museum that represents the industrial heritage of Belval. Next to it is the science faculty of the University of Luxembourg Belval Campus but since we went in summer, it was very quiet. It gives a whole new image because every building was designed with the “future” theme, incorporating elements of geometry, subtle colours and large area of open spaces. 20150719_17165520150719_171637

We walked a bit further and arrived at the Belval plaza which was huge, very modern and with glamorous glass walls. It is supposed to look like this:

From http://www.belval.lu
From http://www.visitluxembourg.com

but since we went on a Sunday, the shops were closed.

Nevertheless, it was a great experience walking around Belval. Luxembourg no longer run on steel production and this very small town is in the crucial process of renovation and development. There are so many possibilities and I hope in 5-10 years’ time it will become a hub (academic, cultural, whatever) of Luxembourg. This hope itself makes me feel excited to come again because tourists often visit well-developed cities which don’t give people this feeling that you are witnessing the growth of a place. I admit that I am a city girl and I take big cities like Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Paris etc for granted. However visit to Belval overturned this mindset and now I get it why my parents like to talk about their past impression when we visit a place, “This place used to be this and that”, “Here there used to be …” etc. One day if I visit the well developed Belval again, I can tell people what I have seen today.

To conclude the short weekend stay, it was joyous and eye-opening. I owe Lucy and her lovely family for hosting me and some fun – Lucy’s brother is actually a Pokemon trainer he told me. I hope to visit again soon, or show Lucy around Hong Kong if she visits. Merci Lucy et famille 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s