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Luxembourg report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-23 08:01:52
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Posh restaurants and free clubbing in the party city

Luxembourg City may not be an obvious weekend break destination, but with free entry to clubs and an all-night party bus, it's letting its hair down. I was sitting, hangover, in a sauna full of naked men and women taking part in a Japanese ritual, while a guy clad only in a towel banged gongs, sprayed water and burned incense. It was the morning after a protracted night of drinking, walking and discovering and as I sweated off the alcohol in this stylish Asian-themed sauna in a sprawling spa resort. This wouldn't be unusual in Bangkok, or even Berlin, but my hedonistic destination of choice was one of Europe's least-known capitals, Luxembourg City. The tiny independent sovereign state is quietly attempting to join the list of European short-break destinations. And why not? It has more Michelin stars per head than any other European country, and the high proportion of foreign residents and visitors ensures a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

There are a surprising number of stylish places to stay, eat and party and the compact city of less than 90,000 people is gently nudging things along with a new policy of free entry to its nightclubs and bars. There is also a novel way of getting home at the end of the night: a minibus that serves as a cross between a bus and taxi, Nightrider operates from 6pm till 5am on Friday and Saturday nights and will pick you up and drop you to your door for a fraction of the price of a taxi (from €3 a head for a party of four). You can also still smoke indoors, which may be enough of a draw for some – it certainly creates a decadent atmosphere in these strait-laced times.

The heart of Luxembourg City is essentially a giant old fortress, a plateau protected by sheer cliffs. Much of it is pedestrianised and Place d'Armes, the square in the heart of town, is a good place to orient yourself. The old town is chocolate boxy and upscale, and the main square is overlooked by a new, staggeringly opulent, designer hotel – Hotel Le Place d'Armes . But I was really visiting the city to test what the nightlife has to offer. The old town was the obvious place to start, and I persuaded Brian, an Irish journalist and long-time resident, to show me around. Urban City is a popular drinking spot near the Ducal palace, crammed with multilingual natives and work-hard-play-hard expats. After a pint or two, we left in search of more space and quiet. We eschewed the old town's glitzy clubs and bars and headed for the Grund, a warren of narrow streets on the banks of the Alzette river. With the old town and the cliffs illuminated, it was as atmospheric as Prague with a hint of Paris's Left Bank.


Works of 8 Iranian cartoonists selected for Luxembourg exhibit

The works of eight Iranian cartoonists were selected for the International Contest of Caricature and Cartoon of Vianden, which will be held in Luxembourg in the near future. Cartoons by Alieh Mazaheri, Mohsen Zarifian, Shirin Qolipur, Saman Torabi, Masud Azadnia, Ali Shafiei, and Mohsen Asadi have been selected for the exhibit. The artworks will go on display during an exhibition organized by the festival.
Works by artists from many countries, including Australia, Cuba, Switzerland, Ukraine, China, and Turkey, will also be displayed at the event. The event is being cosponsored by the Museum of Caricature and Cartoon of Vianden with the cooperation of Les Amis du Château de Vianden.
The festival will be held in two categories: cartoons, category one, which is on the theme of art; and category two, caricatures, on the theme of French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885) and British cartoonist Ronald Searle (1920-2011).

EP turns down diesel price hike

A proposal to raise the price of diesel across the EU – three cents per litre in Malta’s case – was thrown out by MEPs due to the current record prices at the pumps. The European Commission’s proposal, which is still up for discussion at Council level, wants member states to eliminate the current tax advantage on diesel, which is keeping it a lower price than petrol. Luxembourg EPP rapporteur Astrid Lulling agreed with the logic behind the plan, which shifts taxation on to environmental criteria to favour climate change policy, instead of the current system based on minimum charges on volume.

But she said it was impossible for the EU’s public to accept another hike in fuel prices in the current climate. “The principle is right but risks having concrete consequences for consumers. Diesel prices will rise in all member states. How could our citizens understand this?” Ms Lulling asked. The Commission’s proposals, tabled last year under the Energy Taxation Directive, aimed to change how the EU taxes fossil fuels. Fuels would be charged a minimum of €20 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emitted, as well as on their energy content, according to an index of energy efficiency. The more polluting and less energetic types of fuel would be taxed the most under the new system.

Although the proposal makes environmental sense, it was criticised by various member states because of the impact it would have on drivers’ pockets. Malta currently charges €0.38 per litre on diesel (EU minimum – €0.33 cents per litre) and €0.46 per litre on unleaded petrol (EU minimum – €0.359 cents per litre). This means the price of diesel would need adjusting upwards to reach the new minimum indicated – €0.41 per litre. The current price of excise duty on petrol is already in line. The discussion will now continue at member state level. Unanimous agreement is necessary for the proposal to be approved.

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