Have you ever met an internet friend in person?
Back in the iffy days (as in over ten years ago in the dark ages when Facebook didn’t exist and you couldn’t just look up about anyone on the planet), I took a chance and got to know two people online who turned into wonderful, real-life friends (hi, Jen! hi, Aaron!).
I’ve since met a handful more, none of whom have turned out to be criminally inclined. It seems that what used to be weird with a hint of creepy, or a chance of freaky is now… well, normal.
Results (not?) typical. Do (not?) try this at home.
A few weeks ago, one of my readers here at TTM and I started emailing back and forth, excited to discover a long list of things we had in common. And then, she went out on a limb and invited our family to stay with hers, ya know, because it would thrifty and require travel.
And, so we found ourselves driving to Luxembourg to meet Rosie and her family (you can check out her blog here). The kids had a blast together, and we felt as if our new friends were already old friends.
Despite it’s bad rap, the Internet really can bring people closer together.
Rosie suggested we spend part of the weekend visiting the Luxlait Vitarium, a milk museum about 30 minutes north of Luxembourg‘s capital. I had wanted to make a stop here back in March, but we chose to continue on to the castle at Vianden instead. A few phone calls later, we were all set to drag five kids along on a dairy tour.
Now, we travel a lot more than most families, and I spend an enormous amount of time researching kid-friendly activities at our various destinations (time I could be spent doing things like, uh, sleeping). I end up chucking most of the suggestions I come across – museums, zoos, theme parks, blah, blah, blah.
Often these attractions are expensive and rather unextraordinary. I mean, a zebra is a zebra whether the zoo is in New York or New Zealand. But, a milk museum? With interactive exhibits? And taste testing? Now, that’s something I haven’t heard of before.
In case you aren’t up on your national milk brands (I’m not), Luxlait is the official dairy product brand in Luxembourg. The Vitarium is a visitor center of sorts (an interactive experience, really) that’s attached to a ginormous factory that turns a gazillion liters of raw milk every day into ready-to-sell dairy products.
The entrance fee to the Luxlait Vitarium is rather steep, so our two cheapskate families visited on the weekend when tickets are less expensive. Also, we booked an English tour to make us feel like we were getting more for our money. And, boy did we ever!
After securing our jackets in the free lockers, a staff member instructed us to don on some rather spiffy 3D glasses and a stark white lab coat. Fully costumed, we were then treated to a hokey but entertaining welcome video. The two characters in the film served as guides for the next hour, contrasting new and old methods of manufacturing Luxembourgish milk products while leading us through the gigantic factory.
The kids were fascinated by the robots and machines used to fill, package, and collect the dairy products. The adults were amazed at the spankin’ new facilities, extensive areas we were permitted to peruse, and that the whole shindig held five kids’ interest for an entire hour.
That alone is worth the price of admission, right?
When the tour ended, our (human) guide allowed each person to select a Luxlait product to sample. We gorged ourselves on chocolate milk, eggnog, milkshakes, and Luxembourgish cooked cheese (slimy and spreadable yet somewhat solid.. very strange).
Of course, we needed to work off all those whole milk calories, so we moseyed on over to the interactive stations. Racing, biking, stomping, jumping, balancing, listening, pulling, lifting, weighing… We were huffing and puffing long before we ran out of activities to try!
All of the forty-plus, hands-on exhibits emphasized healthy eating and exercise… and, of course, how dairy is at the heart of both of those things.
To be honest, the whole experience felt like one continuous commercial for Luxlait products. But, it was FUN. Plus, the products are of a high quality and really do taste great. Well, except for the cooked cheese.
I think the marketing genius behind the Vitarium just received a raise…
In short, if you’re looking for a uniquely Luxembourgish experience that you won’t find replicated in Sydney or San Jose, make a beeline for the Luxlait Vitarium the next time you find yourself in the Grand Duchy.
For Rosie’s take on our milk museum visit or to simply stop by and say hello, click here.
Practical tips for visiting the Luxlait Vitarium with your family:
- You can get to the Vitarium by bus or car. Bus schedule here. Parking is plentiful and free.
- Try to visit on the weekend when tickets are cheaper. Kids under 6 are free. Current ticket prices here.
- Book a tour (included in the admission price) in your preferred language at least a few days in advance. Make a reservation online here.
- Take kids potty before joining the tour because it lasts one hour and you’ll need to walk a LONG way back to the loo.
- We brought a pram with us for Big Foot, so I can personally certify the tour is stroller-friendly.
- Pack a picnic lunch because the cafe and restaurant are expensive.
More Luxembourg with Kids! Read about our frigid morning in the city of Luxembourg here and an afternoon spent at Vianden Castle here.