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“Luxembourg, a country that exists solely as the World’s financial dialysis machine”
– Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, August 7th, 2012

Luxembourg is a small country nestled between Germany, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. It is the Door to Europe and indeed, Mr. Stewart, a financial capital. Sixty percent of its daytime population come from other countries and there are only a few hundred thousand people residing permanently in Luxembourg. From what I can tell, these people were engineered carefully and intelligently programmed for maximum awesomeness.

I flew in from Montreal on Friday to attend a garden party to celebrate the reunion of a group of techies active on international network FidoNet in the late eighties and early nineties. Back then I was the only chick in the bunch cramming out annual yearbooks with pictures of the users who had mailed me 5 bucks (1992 | 1993). We had fun throwing derelict hard drives reclaimed from various I.T. services.

However, all my hipster couch surfing planning fell through I wound up stranded in the Gründ alone and penniless at 2am on Sunday morning. As a longtime student of Systema, I had been training for this moment for a few years. I continued on my journey. Interestingly enough, I found a taxi driver in the MacDonald’s who accepted my fare negotiation. So I paid 50 Euros for a 10.4km taxi ride back to my fallback couch option (That’s exactly 61.31 US dollars for 6.45 miles). I am not saying a taxi ride at 3am in Luxembourg is not worth the price they charge for it especially given that the taxi driver was super nice and dressed better than your average limo driver. In fact everything in Luxembourg is a little more LUXE than one would expect.

Other than the stirring of world money in the massive financial district cauldron, everything else in Luxembourg is real and the best that it can be. Middle class people enjoy the quality of life of millionaires in my city and minimum wage is close to 2k euros per month! Imagine for a moment a place where very few people have back neighbors… That is Luxembourg. There is no crappy option for anything in Luxembourg, the beer is heavenly and the food never tastes like preservatives of HFCS. In Luxembourg, people seem healthy and happy.

When I saw Brave I thought that the first time I can access a perfectly manicured universe such as that for a moment, I would probably not want to leave… Luxembourg is just like that, natural beauty dialed up to 11 all the time.

Not only did he have the museum open for me but he had the attendant fix the novelty kids passport printer and sell me a souvenir pin for 1 euro. (yes, just one euro!)

Upon hearing that I had flown in all the way from Montreal just for a garden party, a neighbour in Oetrange I who had stopped by for a beer offered to show me around the next day. Xavier is a connector and likely the best companion to accomplish efficient sightseeing in the Grand Duché area. I had a wonderful time visiting so many sites that it now feels like I was there for 5 days! We ate Moutforter sausages, visited the old city of Luxembourg, stopped by his fireman house to see the trucks and equipment, drove through the new financial district, caught some birds for his research project, visited a museum that was opened just for me, rode through the wine region and looked at the guys bottling this year’s award winning crémants, drove to France and Germany just for the heck and had a home cooked meal made up mostly of just picked garden vegetables before going to see ‘Fuck Yeah Jason Statham’ in a mostly empty theatre. And in the middle of all this running around I had time to spend 14 hours alone in my host family’s guest room with a migraine, intermittently crying as I discovered for the first time what Jetlag feels like.

Tagging birds

See the whole slideshow on flickr.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157630970364004″]

In Luxembourg all lines are, at most, 1 person deep. In Luxembourg, nobody will let you leave until they are convinced that they were helpful to you. In Luxembourg, no asshat in a thumping car will pull up next to you while listening to Hip Hop and that rare guy listening to dubstep CANNOT pull up next to you because 99% of roads in Luxembourg, have only one lane each way. In fact, in a country of astonishingly beautiful pastoral villages, the winding roads are the only bottleneck. If you are unlucky enough to run into a slow car, good luck in overtaking them because there is no way to see who is coming in the opposite direction. Chances are, nobody is coming in the other direction but would you chance it?

Xavier says he has road rage. I TOTALLY understand how this bottleneck can be frustrating for someone who is used to people getting out of his fucking way when he is in the fire truck!

Luxembourg is a country where people are very connected through a multitude of interest clubs focused on developing useful skills. Luxembourgers are very much involved in the quality of life of the entire commune. If you like interacting with real things, love nature and do not mind the ever-changing weather, Luxembourg is like being at a really cool 24/7 scout camp.

So if you have the universe and life hacking skills (and only if) and want to quickly unlock the “Unexpected Adventure in Luxembourg with Awesome Cute Fireman” level try this code: All black with a red left pinky.

On August 1, 2012 two days before my still unsure departure I had to suffer the style judgement of the manicurist when I insisted that she paint my nails black. I had to ask for the red pinky THREE times before she got the bottle! I then immediately got all material support, okay from my doctor and aggressive encouragement to go on my trip within 5 hours. There are variations to this code. Try a blue ring finger (cute policeman) or a green middle finger (rich banker… I presume) and tell me how it works out for you. Are you brave enough to combine all three codes?!