Hidden Tourist spots – Luxembourg City, Vianden, Echternach | The small country of Luxembourg is not known as a major tourist destination. But the old town of Luxembourg City can be quite charming. It got a number of pedestrianized streets for tourists to wander through. Top attractions: Notre Dame Cathedral, Barrio Ground, Palace of the Grand Dukes and Casemates du Bock – the formerly fortified inner city of Luxembourg.
From Luxembourg’s Capital it’s just 60 minutes by car to reach Vianden Castle, which may remind you a bit of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. By now you have already reached the Northern region of Luxembourg. It only takes approx. 1 hour to cross this tiny landlocked country in the middle of Europe from east to west and 2 hours from north to south.
Half way between Luxembourg City and Vianden you will pass thru Echternach, the oldest city around here. It grew around the walls of the Abbey of Echternach, which was founded in 698 by St Willibrord, an English monk. The picturesque town, still surrounded by its medieval walls with towers, was badly damaged in World War II but was subsequently thoroughly restored.
By covering these three spots easily within a day you can tick off the country of Luxembourg from your bucket list. Best time to travel: May – September.
Underrated tourist spots, hidden gems. While some tourist locations are simply loved to death, others still give you room to breathe. Starting today eleven blog posts introduce you to hidden tourist spots a bit off the beaten path, still very much worth a visit. We start with Dinant in Belgium …
Hidden Tourist spots – Dinant, Belgium | Dinant counts 14,000 inhabitants and is located at the Meuse River, at a point where the river cuts its way deep into the western Condroz plateau. Sited in a steep sided valley between rock and river, Dinant had little space to grow, and it therefore developed into a long thin town along the river shore. Why is it worth a stopover? Nice about Dinant is the city’s landmark Church of Notre Dame de Dinant and the fortified Citadel on top of a cliff. For certain jazz lovers Dinant has some kind of extra magnitude, too. The house of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, can be found in the street of the same name.
And if your wife does not want to miss out on cheap French pharmacy products: from Dinant it’s just a 20 km ride to neighboring Givet in France.
Disappointing travel destination: Petra, Jordan | Our last disappointing travel destination is Petra in Jordan. Petra, the mysterious city of the Nabataeans, came to prominence as a powerful trading post on the Silk Route, reaching its zenith around the 1st century AD before disappearing into the mists of legend. Known only to local Bedouin, it was kind of “rediscovered” by a Swiss traveler in 1812.
Petra is a huge let down, simply because of extremely high prices charged. The entrance fee to Petra per person per day is US$70 (50 Jordanian Dinar). Most tourists travel to Jordan primarily to see Petra and its Treasury (-> greetings from Indian Jones). On average Petra visitors only stay for 2.5 hours. But hold on. The ticket also includes a map and a horse ride! Yey! until you find out that the horse ride is not really for free, because you definitely end up negotiating an extra tip with the driver. And even after having successfully negotiated that tip, you might be held hostage on the top of the horse until you agree to pay more. Last not least: don’t google information about the treatment of the animals. It will leave you very unhappy.
No wonder that tourists feel on the defensive the entire time at Petra. Seeing the Treasury might be fun, and taking the obligatory Petra selfie is a must. But all that is not worth the money. “Attempts” by the Jordanian government to ease the pain for tourists only made matters worse. Earlier this year a so-called “Jordan Pass”. The idea of this pass: combining the country’s via fee of 40 JD with the notoriously costly Petra entrance fee as well as giving access some additional sites within Jordan. However users have reported problems making use of the Jordan Pass because local staff at some tourist attractions and border points were unaware of its existence.
Disappointing travel destination: Los Angeles | You’ve dreamt of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame for your whole life. You booked your ticket. Then you get there and it’s by far not what you expected. Hollywood Boulevard turns out to be run-down, dangerous and dirty piece of concrete with roughly 60,000 homeless people sleeping almost everywhere on the streets. Finding that Los Angeles is not even remotely like described in travel brochures might be an experience you share with many other tourists. But too late. Now that you are no longer able to avoid this pitfall, try to make the best out of your stay in L.A. Here are some recommendations.
Car Rental | Under all circumstances rent a car! There is almost no public transportation available that carries you comfortably between the tourist sites, spread all over the region in great distances. And don’t forget: you are not in Europe. There are no car-free streets or pedestrian zones anywhere.
Getty Center | Once you took care of a car, you may start with the Getty Center in the morning at 10:00am when crowds are still limited and parking lots are plenty. The Getty Center itself is for free. You will only pay a parking fee. The Getty Center’s core purpose is to show off the art collection of a guy called J. Paul Getty. He was a super-rich American industrialist (1892 – 1976). While traveling around the globe and taking care of his oil business he also purchased art – in large amounts. Example: In 1983, his Getty Museum acquired 144 illuminated medieval manuscripts from the Ludwig Collection in Aachen, Germany. At least his foundation paid for it. So nobody can ever compare him with colonial-style art robbery a la France or Great Britain.
Hollywood Walk of Fame | Roughly check the position of your favorite artist online before you hit Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Go straight there, take your snapshot and escape this place as fast as you can.
Hollywood Sign | Since there is no major road leading you close to this famous landmark, instead of annoying local residents you might just hang out at the 4th floor viewing platform of the Hollywood and Highland mall. The view is okayish. If this is not enough, I recommend driving up to Canyon Lake Dr through Beachhead. It routes you through some nice winding streets. You end up at the top of Ledgewood, that is quite cool and free of ice cream trucks, tourist shops, beggars and other BS.
Lakers and Clippers | For basketball fans all the above will not matter much. L.A. remains a magnet for NBA event tourists. There is no more Kobe Bryant on the court. But guys like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan compensate fans when slam dunking over you and both your parents combined.
Disappointing Travel Destination Four Corners Monument, United States | The Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint in the Southwestern U.S. where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. This location is – hold your breath! – the only point in the United States shared by four states. Now this must be something, somebody thought. And the idea of a tourist attraction was born. Using hands and legs one can step into all four states at once. But that’s pretty much it. There is nothing else to do. So move on. And by the way: In 2009 a spokesperson for the U.S. National Geodetic Survey admitted the monument is placed 1,807 feet (551 m) east of where modern surveyors would mark the point. However, he defended the accuracy of the original survey, stating surveyors “nailed it” considering the primitive tools they used in the 1912.