The 23rd of April was another day for doing not a whole pile of very much for a very good and ultimately very depressing reason. When I had been walking the previous day, I had noticed a strange slapping noise every time I took a step and upon checking it turned out that the sole of my right walking boot had detached itself from the upper.
This was quite a problem as they were my only outdoor footwear although I had bought a pair of flip-flops (thongs / slippers) for hostel use on the way. I had attempted running repairs with no less than four tubes of very strong adhesive but that had lasted about three hours and as many miles by which time all the shops were shut. The 23rd was a Sunday and the whole area was effectively closed down.
It was freezing cold so the flip-flops were definitely not an option and therefore I was effectively confined to about a three or four hundred yard radius of the hotel. Not only were none of the shops open but most of the pubs were shut as well although I eventually found one or two and also discovered a new beer which is always pleasing to me. It is called Diekirch, is a pils and is brewed in the town of that name which is a few miles North of Luxembourg City. It is really rather good and I unsurprisingly developed quite a taste for it.
I did take a few images to show what type of area it is which is a touch seedy as I have mentioned before. I quite enjoyed it there though.
As I hope you have read in previous instalments I had taken myself on several evening rambles and visited several great little bars where I had certainly had some interesting experiences but for some reason I had managed to miss the Cafe 2000. This was unusual as it was literally across the road from my hotel door. Truth be told, I could have thrown a stone from my hotel room and probably smashed the bar window it was that close. Well, my omission needed to be rectified and it was.
I took myself in there after a well deserved lie-in and it really was situation normal for bars in the Low Countries which this journal started off being although it gets a bit silly later. I walked past four guys outside smoking and into a completely empty bar. Certainly, I had to retreat outside for a smoke later on and had a bit of a friendly word with them but what was most apparent was that none of them were what I would have described as indigenous Luxembourgois. This really is an immigrant area with people from the Eastern Mediterranean and central Africa predominant. Doesn’t bother me, I travel a bit and I had long since sussed the sort of area I was in.
I went up to the bar and ordered a Diekirch beer. I had noted that bars in Luxembourg were divided into two camps, Diekirch and Bofferding. I am by inclination a cider drinker and lagers all taste much the same to me but if you put a gun to my head I would have to say that I marginally prefer the Bofferding although there is little to choose between them. I suppose the choice depends upon whatever brewery they are “tied” to as UK landlords refer to it.
There really is little to say about the bar. It is modern, functional, spotlessly clean, has great service, immaculate facilities and well-kept and served beer. What more would a man want? Well, a little atmosphere would have been nice but it was early afternoon on a very chilly April Sunday and the football (soccer) which is so popular here was not on until the evening. I suspect it got a lot busier later on. The server was charm personified and even put up with my totally execrable French which was almost unbelievably getting a bit better but still nowhere up to par.
Like the nearby Bar 2000 the Brasserie Marionette was another cafe / bar which I had managed to miss thus far and was close enough to my hotel to make it viable with my dodgy footwear. Believe me, I was trying very hard to visit them all but there were rather a lot to get through and I had remarkably only got here on my penultimate day despite it being literally three minutes walk from my hotel. For those in transit, I should mention that it is no more than two minutes walk from the main railway station and infinitely more pleasant than the type of overpriced soulless watering holes you find in transport hubs the world over.
Other than it’s excellent location there is little to say about the Marionette that I haven’t said already in numerous pieces about the bars in the Low Countries as they seem to be of a uniformly high standard. It was perhaps a bit more upmarket than many of the other local establishments but certainly not pretentious. It was empty when I visited on a Sunday early afternoon which slightly surprised me as I thought the locals would be out enjoying a drink on a day off work but at least it led to prompt and friendly service. The server even humoured me by talking to me in the schoolboy French I had ventured. It is the norm here that servers suss you immediately and switch straight to English but I got to practice a little bit here which I most certainly needed.
I have mentioned before that bars in Luxembourg fall into two beer camps, either Diekriek or Bofferding and this one was in the Diekirch camp. Certainly, there were other beers, both draught and a good selection of bottled, on offer but my draught Diekirch was well kept and served as always in this region. There is little more to say about this place really other than it is yet another very decent clean and tidy little bar in an area that certainly has more than it’s fair share.
It will be no secret to those who know me and possibly those who have read my admittedly meagre offerings on this site that I have the appetite of a very small bird. Looking back as I wrote this I reckoned I had consumed one appalling burger and one excellent panzerotti (look up my previous instalment if you don’t know what it is, I didn’t) over a period of about four or five days. I was therefore taken a bit peckish on this Sunday evening and so what to eat? There were certainly no shortage of choices in the area I was staying in but I have mentioned that my rather pleasant hotel was Turkish run and had it’s own restaurant on the ground floor so that looked like a fairly obvious choice especially as precariously shod as I was.
Having glanced in the window on various occasions I knew it was very much set up as a takeaway sort of operation but there was a pretty large area of tables as well, nothing special but certainly tidy and comfortable enough. I went to the counter and asked, in fairly dog rough French, if I could sit for a meal. Certainly, “pas un problem” and so I ordered myself a beer and picked a table where I could watch the football (soccer) on TV. I already knew it was a Turkish place and this was confirmed by the fact that they had Turkish football on the telly although that was somewhat marred by the fact that the satellite kept dropping out every five minutes as you can hopefully see in one of the attached images. If you are intent on watching Galatasaray vs. Fenerbache then forget it as you will be sorely disappointed.
I could not stand the thought of another burger after my previous debacle in Luxembourg and, much as I love a well made one, the thought of a kebab did not appeal so I thought I would have a “proper” meal and had ordered a chop with chips (fries) which came up within about ten minutes. I know it was freshly cooked as they would not have had a chop sitting about under the lights and the chips nearly burnt the mouth off me, obviously straight out of the fryer. The whole was completed by a good slaw portion of predominantly red cabbage and not swimming in dressing which is just how I like.
I have not been to Turkey which is an omission I intend to rectify soon but I have spent a lot of time in the Eastern Meditteranean where the cuisine is much the same and I can tell the reader that this was very good. A good dollop of tomato ketchup for the chips completed the thing nicely. No, no fancy sauces, no veloutes, no jus, nothing like that. It was just a meal of good simple food well prepared and I devoured the lot including picking up and gnawing on the bone. Impolite I know but there was nobody else there and it was gorgeous.
I know that my eating habits are fairly odd but for those with a normal appetite and who like that type of cuisine, this place is a winner. Apart from the usual burger / kebab menu they have a fairly extensive range of other dishes on offer. The surroundings are comfortable without being flash, the prices are good as is the friendly service. What more do you need?
After dinner, it was time for a few more local beers and I even managed to make yet another “new best friend” whose sense of fun was in completely inverse proportion to her size. She was tiny but a great laugh and yet again I amazed myself by conducting the whole conversation in French. It really was all coming back to me, whatever small vocabulary I may have had in the first place.
And so to bed, as they say, to await the morrow and the opening of the shoe shop. To discover if I end up barefoot in Luxembourg stay tuned and spread the word!