They say that the best adventures are unplanned. I disagree.
I believe that the best adventures are those with a bare skeleton of a plan: something concrete enough to include at least one clear goal or objective, yet vague enough to allow spontaneity to thrive and flexibility to reign.
Take scooters and cupcakes, for example. Don’t ask why, but I figured that an urban micro-scooter adventure with the kids might be a rather pleasant thing to do on this sunny winter’s day. Simultaneously, I (somewhat randomly) remembered a delicious cupcake given to me a couple of weeks ago.
The seeds of a plan had been unwittingly sown: explore Luxembourg City on our micro-scooters and find a place selling cupcakes. Well, why not?
Parking at the huge “Glacis” car park on the northern fringes of Luxembourg City centre, we stacked on layers of warm clothing and scootered into the frozen expanses of the city park. Situated on what was once the north-west corner of Luxembourg’s formidable defensive fortifications, the park now serves as a welcome haven of tranquility in the centre of the bustling capital. Plus, to my kids’ enormous delight, it is home to one of the best playgrounds in the country:
Yes, that’s a full-size pirate ship. But it’s also a full-size pirate ship with swings, slides and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Dragging the kids away from it wasn’t easy, but their curiosity was piqued when I told them we’d be scootering under the Pont Adolphe bridge.
“You mean over the bridge, right Dad?”
Nope, I meant under it.
In one of the coolest additions to Luxembourg City centre in years (and, as you will see, there have been plenty of cool additions), a cycle path has been suspended under the main carriageway of this venerable old bridge, yet still soaring some 40 metres above the valley floor below. It’s a rather unique experience, and the views are quite something…
Of course, once we got to the other side of the bridge we immediately turned around and scootered under it again. And again. But eventually the cupcakes began to call us, and we headed towards the less-fashionable “gare” (station) district of town. There, in an unassuming side street only metres from the usual gaggle of chain stores, we discovered a real gem: Kathy’s Cupcakery. Mission accomplished!
Back on the streets with our tummies full of buttercream, we headed back towards the old town once again. However, before crossing the Pétrusse valley, we ducked down a succession of icy staircases towards another hidden jewel of this fascinating city.
A relatively new addition to Luxembourg City’s growing roster of kid-friendly attractions, the biggest single challenge awaiting visitors to the Pétrusse Skatepark is figuring out how to actually get there. Lurking in the shadows of the impressive Pétrusse Viaduct, the skatepark lies a good 40-50 metres BELOW the main city centre and isolated from the throngs of tourists, businessmen and shoppers by towering cliffs of imposing sandstone. Still, for those who do manage to find it (and happen to have a skateboard or micro-scooter with them), it is an incomparable source of joy:
Now, time for a small confession. I wanted to return to our car by means of another of Luxembourg City’s modern-day technical wonders: the Pfaffenthal lift. This remarkable real-life great glass elevator connects the bottom of the Pfaffenthal valley to the “Pescadore” section of the city park: a vertigo-inducing 71 metre altitude difference covered in a mere 25 seconds.
But there was a problem: Ash was sick.
He had spent the previous day in bed with fever, hadn’t fully recovered, and was now feeling the effects of over 6km of scootering in sub-zero temperatures. So… we took a shorter way back to the car instead. But here is Ash “riding” the lift in better health last summer, with an over-excited Poppy providing the apt background commentary. (“Are we nearly in the sky?”)
For poor old Ash the sugar rush of the cupcakes had finally subsided to a numb emptiness. Upon arrival at our car, he promptly slumped into his seat, gave one last heroic thumbs-up and closed his eyes for a well-earned rest. But – hey! – if you are going to expend all your energy, it might as well be on top-notch micro (scooter) adventures like this one.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT OUR CUPCAKE ADVENTURES
- Parking on the Glacis (Allée Scheffer) costs €1 per hour, and there are usually spots available. The exception is mid-August to mid-September, when the entire car park is closed for the annual “Schueberfoeur” fairground.
- The “Pirate Ship” playground is found just off Avenue Monterey, on the western fringes of the city centre. For more information on Luxembourg City’s astonishing playgrounds, check out this article.
- The Pont Adolphe is kind of hard to miss. By the way, the fairytale turreted building on the opposite side isn’t a castle at all, but actually – in true Luxembourg style – the headquarters of a local bank (!).
- Kathy’s Cupcakery is located at 9 rue de Strasbourg, just a short hop from Luxembourg’s main train station. Cupcakes cost around €3.25 each and are truly delicious. It is very kid-friendly: when we visited, the staff made special (smaller, cooler) hot chocolates for the kids – always appreciated! They do take-aways too.
- To get to the Pétrusse Skatepark (free) from the old city centre, descend on the lift from “Plateau St. Esprit” to “Grund”. When you come out, turn right along Rue Saint-Ulric, then right again into the park. Don’t forget to bring your own skateboard / micro-scooter / BMX since there is nowhere to hire one on-site.
- The upper section of the Pfaffenthal Lift is found at the eastern corner of the city park, near the “Pescatore” building. The (much) lower entrance is just off Rue Laurent Ménager. It is free of charge, operating from 6am to 1am daily.
Daisy the bus (and four scooters and a very small bicycle) visited Luxembourg City in February 2018.
(c) 2018 Jonathan Orr