2006-09-30

Using French Keyboards and Getting a PrePaid Card

I really dislike French Keyboards, sorry... I learnt blind writing about ten years ago and got used to it. On my first working day I had a French keyboard at my place. Therewith blind writing is impossible!
QWERTY keyboards are better than ZERTYs, at least for me. Not only that you have to learn A Z W M and N at different positions, you are forced to press Shift to reach the number keys!

Sorry guys, but this invention...


Prepaid-Card from Tango
In Luxembourg City you might need a Luxembourgish mobile phone number without contract but as prepaid. I went into a kiosk and there I could buy it easily. They offered me Tango, the only Luxembourgish provider?

On their website the tariffs are not easy to find, here you go: http://tango.lu/formules/index.php?c=tarifs

Prices (Sep/Oct 2006):
SMS for 0,12 €
Calls heures pleines 0,24 €
Calls heures creuses 0,12 €

# Heures pleines: Monday to Friday 7.00 - 19.00
# Heures creuses: Monday to Friday 19.00 - 7.00, weekends and holidays

International Calls within Europe cost between 0,1239 and 0,1360 €/min


* I just like to mention that I have got a little problem with the activation of the sim-card: If you enter the *125*12345678# do not forget the # at the end of the number. The brochure is a bit irritating because there is written: "*125*8-digital refill code# send".

PS: You should get used to such weather in the morning:


call it froggy... I mean foggy :)

2006-09-29

The Kirchberg and the close Airport



Map of Kirchberg and Official Website

Kirchberg
is a quarter in north-eastern Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg. It consists of a plateau situated to the east of the city centre. In 2001, the quarter had a population of 3,534 people. Its most notable features are the various European Union institutions, including the European Court of Justice, parts of the European Commission, the Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank, and the European School of Luxembourg. The plateau also has a number of residential areas, as well as the D'Coque Centre National Sportif & Culturel, an expansion of the Olympic Swimming Pool.
quoted from Wikipedia

By the way it is mostly confusing for foreigners that Luxembourg can be meant as town or as the whole country. That is why you should always write "Luxembourg City".

** If you do not like to get lost in Kirchberg, I advise you to look to Google Maps before you go there.


Additional Information to the Airport:
Now I have found out why the planes always fly over my flat:


Fore more information about the airport, go here to its website.

Should you like to observe what is going on at the airport, use the webcam that's installed there.

And you can check the arrivals and departures at Luxair's website.
There you have to click on >Information...

2006-09-27

Several Things you should know

The tap water is drinkable.

The phone number of Luxembourg's police is 113. For the emergency it is 112.
Police cars are white and look actually like delivery cars :)

Weather
Never dare to take a long walk if you see clouds at the horizon!
I made the mistake and got completely wet. Later I was told that it rains incredibly much in Luxembourg, just one of six days is without rain...
Remember: Don't trust the weather!

Everywhere you can see new and expensive cars in the streets.

It is all about Orientation!
If you use a map always think of heights and depths. The direct line from my room to my place of work is circa 2 km. But indeed I have to walk 40 minutes!
The reason is that Luxembourg is not plain but hilly. And somehow there are ways on the map you cannot find immediately. It is a bit pain in the back. But I assume that will improve the longer you live here.

The Traffic is unbelievable high in Luxembourg City.
The highway is in use 24 hours a day. The air planes land and take off till midnight and early the next morning; and I have got the feeling that they start in the east and fly mostly direction west, across the whole city. Meaning always just over my flat.
Bicycles are seldom due to the hilly landscape.

Jobs
Luxembourg is one of the last countries in Europe where you can choose your job! That is indeed unreal compared to Germany. There are many banks and financial institutes in the center. Moreover the construction sector seems to be stable.

Supermarkets
I have never discovered such a damned situation before! In the center I could find one supermarket today. Nice that I also encountered Schlecker! that exists two times in the main street (Rue de Liberté) that leads to the "Gare".



Just One Supermarket but fortunately two times Schlecker

2006-09-25

What I learned the First Day in Luxembourg City

Train to the Center and Bus to Kirchberg
I work as a trainee (I prefer the term "intern") for the European Parliament that is in Kirchberg (North-East of Luxembourg City) where all the European Institutions are situated. And as I live near the Station Cents Hamm I decided to take the most comfortable way: the train to the center (la Gare / the train station). It takes 4 to 5 minutes to go there. And afterwards one of the buses from Quai 1 where all of them go to Kirchberg. That takes further 10 to 15 minutes.

What does KAD mean?
If you ever find something written down as KAD you will find no answer in the Internet. Now I give you the solution, yes, it is easy: Konrad ADenauer Building...

Shopping in Luxembourg
Forget it if it is after 5.30 pm. This is the usual closing time for the shops. There are some exceptions as I have heard. It might be that I will add them to the blog if I find them.

Prices in the Supermarkets
Goods are quite expensive here. If you compare it to Germany I would say it is about 30 to 50 % higher priced!
But there are strange exceptions: The petrol costs just 0`98 Euro, in Germany it is about 1`30 Euro. Or Red Bull costs just 0`99 Euros - much cheaper than in Germany.
Wines are particular expensive. Furthermore I have also seen booze for 120 Euros!
But to be honest I have to check more supermarkets... to give you better information. I will do that later.

Internationality
No doubt: Luxembourg City is one of the most international places I have ever been. I guess you can meet nearly every nationality here, that exists on the planet.

Ticket for a certain area
Already mentioned, I live in Cents Hamm and I have to go to Kirchberg every morning. For that area I needed a ticket, and there is a special one that costs only 22`50 euros per month. Therewith I can also pass the center.
@Thanks to Milena Vladimirova (Bulgaria) who introduced and helped me a lot!

By the way one single ticket costs 1`50 euro and is valid for 1 hour for Buses and for Trains!!

2006-09-24

Travel, Arrival and First Experiences

The travel by train was quite nice and relaxing. It is always pleasant to 'fly' over the land and to view the countryside. That also let your thoughts go on a flight.

The Deutsche Bahn trains were on time. No delays. From Berlin Hauptbahnhof I got on the train. Here you have to look for the right waggon. There is an information board called "Wagenstandsanzeiger" on every station. The word means "waggon - position - shower". Quite easy: Take your ticket, check the waggon number and look for the position A or B or C ... and walk there.
During the trip they serve coffee, but just tell you the price if you order some. 2`70 € each.

So we passed Wolfsburg - Hannover - Bielefeld - Hagen - Wuppertal - Colonia (Köln).

By the way, do not be irritated by the train number ICE 942 and 952. They will declutch the waggons later on the track. Then, the first part of the train goes direction Colonia/Bonn Airport and the second part to Colonia Main station "Köln Hauptbahnhof". I must use the 2nd, n. 952.

In Colonia I could change the train vis-a-vis (n. IC 434), very comfortable, especially because of the luggage.

The stations I passed from Colonia: Bonn - Remagen - Andernach - Koblenz - Cochem - Bullay - Wittlich - Trier - Wasserbillig (already Luxembourg) - Luxembourg Ville.

A funny thing is that in Trier more than 90 % of the passengers leave the train and just a few get on. You might feel alone the last half an hour!

And then I was standing in Luxembourg City!

There is not a too big station. After a couple of meters you are already outside of the building. And you see on your right hand side the quais for the buses but also on your left ;)
I asked a taxi driver, he commanded me to a wrong quai what I found out by talking to the very friendly bus driver. He recommended me the tourist information inside the station building. There, you get worthwhile help and support!
I was told to take bus number 18 to my destination and that was right. All went well.
There you can get a map of the centre which additionally shows you some parts of the surrounding.

I have to praise the people in Luxembourg because nobody refused to help. Everyone tried his/her best. And I surely talked to more than five people. Okay, I spoke French with 80 % of them. But I suppose they would also help if it would be English or German.

Besides their own language (that belongs to the Western Central German language group) the Luxembourgish people speak German, French, and English very well. You will find your way, don't worry!

Some of the people I saw at the train station seemed to be strange. Some of them looked like criminals, and I recognized some drug addicts. Another difference I realised was that there were many black people (from Portuguese and its colonies as I found out later).


After arriving at my destination in the East of the City (Cents / Hamm) I settled all contractual things with my landlord. Signing the contract and paying 400 Euros deposit as well as the first rent. Now I have got one room out of a that rooms, which sizes about 15 m². The rent is 400 Euros a month.

I organised the flat using a list that the European Parliament kindly sent me in advance - whereon some landlords were noted.

As I was starving after my arrival I had to eat something. It was after 8 pm and there were no shops or takeaways where I lived. There is only one Italian Restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo. So I was forced to go there... the pizza costs 9`20 Euros. Normal meals were about 15 Euros. Quite high prices for me, student.

I went home again and that was the end of my long journey.

Organising the Travel from Berlin to Luxembourg City

The pre-organisation was not as easy as I thought. At first I tried to find a cheap flight thinking of easyjet, ryanair, airberlin... but it was disappointing. Nothing below 200 €.

Then I checked further possibilities. The coach companies... but there does not exist a direct connection between Luxembourg and Berlin. Even a connection to go to another German town and then to Luxembourg City did not promise success.
Okay, I found something from Trier to Luxembourg City (AirPortLiner) but the question was: how should I get to Trier.

The alternative I considered was to find someone who is driving by car from Berlin to Luxembourg. The famous German "Mitfahrzentrale" got into my focus http://www.mitfahrzentrale.de/ or http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de/. But there was only one person driving to Luxembourg and also living next to me, and that was in Dresden. He had taken 40 € one-way... but I did not take the offer avoiding to rely on somebody that I do not know.

After spending a lot of time for searching flights, buses, and drivers, I decided to do it the easy way. So I visited the Deutsche Bahn website and did my inquiry online.

The result:
Berlin - Colonia 09:49h - 14:11h (ICE - InterCityExpress*)
Colonia - Luxembourg 14:18h - 18:45h (by InterCity)
* goes every hour!

For 122,00 € plus 1,50 € for the reservation of a seat.

I booked these trains and was happy in the end.

*************

Addition 2006-09-27:

For people who plan to go to Luxembourg City and have the opportunity to fly from their destination to Frankfurt Hahn I can recommend the following coach company that offers cheap prices for about 5 - 15 Euros.

http://www.easybycoach.com/

2006-09-23

Goal of this Blog

A nice Welcome to everybody!


Goal of this Blog
When I started to search the Internet for information about Luxembourg I found out that they are very few to find. This fact disturbed me a lot as Luxembourg is quite important, especially as it is the domicile of some European Institutions.

Thus, I have decided to start this blog which is supposed to be a gathering of information you may need if you plan to come to Luxembourg City.

Furthermore to mention that I will not only post general information about the town but also some details that you just get to know during your stay.

Get inside!

Kai Kajus Noack