© iStock / J.P. Gomez
In addition to guided visits of the casemates, ramparts, and other sad ruins, Luxembourg City will now offer guided tours of what were once known as “restaurants.”
“Much like today’s McDonald’s drive-thrus and bakeries where you enter one at a time and get out as quickly as possible, these restaurants also served food,” explained VDL historian Sandy Thill. “The big difference is that you would actually eat inside, usually while sitting at a table.”
“A person known as a ‘server’ would provide you with drinks while you ate,” Thill continued. “It might seem weird, but according to historical evidence, you could ask them to bring you napkins, bread, or mayonnaise.”
“Some records indicate you could ask them to take your photo or give your kids colored pencils to play with,” she added. “Perhaps strangest of all is that when you wanted to pay, you would raise your hand and sign your name in the air.”
The tour will meander through the narrow streets and alleyways of the city center where many of the so-called restaurants operated, Thill says. It will conclude in Place d’Armes, which once upon a time contained dozens of these unusual communal dining establishments.
While anyone is welcome to join a tour as long as they wear a mask, stay two meters from everyone else, cover their hands in antibacterial gel, and provide their vaccination passport, Thill says that visitors who are easily frightened should probably stay home.
“What you will learn, and this might be disturbing to some visitors, is that in olden times, people would spend hours in these restaurants, in groups of four, five, or ten people who didn’t even live together,” she said. “This was part of a dangerous ritual called ‘socializing,’ which is similar to having a Zoom meeting or a WhatsApp chat but without the safety of a screen.”
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