Sunday, February 28, 2010

Burning the Cross

Last Sunday on the way home from Bruges, we got to see a burning of the cross.  It seems to have worked; it is warmer this week.
From wikipedia:
The Burning Castle (Luxembourgish Buergbrennen) is a tradition in Luxembourg and the adjoining German borderlands, where the first Sunday (after Carnival the first Sunday of Lent) to make a big fire. It symbolically represents the burning of the winter away.

Friday, February 26, 2010


In Bruges, we saw:
Church of Our Lady – Michelangelo's Madonna and Child – absolutely stunning.  It is such a great honor to see such a sculpture.
Basilica of the Holy Blood – Christian relics are everywhere in Europe
Groeninge Museum which contains many works by the Flemish masters.  One I found most interesting was Bosch’s Last Judgment:
BoschLastJudgement Apocalyptic themes were popular, but the freaky symbolism fascinated me – and we think modern art can be weird.
We stayed at the B & B Marieke.  A few pics from our room:
 STA72533 Lace toilet paper holder – Lace is big in Bruges. STA72531 A tiny robe hanging on a peg.
At the Bistro De Schaar I had a dom blanche (chocolate sundae) which was beautiful.  The waiter said “you can take a picture.”  But I didn’t – it was delicious, though.
We will be returning in March to see many more museums, monuments and churches.  We already have our reservations at the Marieke.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ice cream

Checking out the aftermath of the parade in Diekirch, I discovered an ice cream shop.  So I stopped and had an ice cream creation.  Took me a while to decide what I thought I wanted from the Luxembourgish menu with pictures.  Then I ordered something, but they were thankfully out of the coconut ice cream – didn’t see that one coming.  So I opted for chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate syrup & whipped cream.  And creme de menthe.  And 3 wafer thin candies – like peppermint patties but very thin – sticking out of the whipped cream.  All in a sundae bowl that looked like a fancy martini glass – only five times bigger.  It was really to die for.  Really.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Diekirch carnival parade

A parade should have floats, bands, baton twirling, candy and beer.  Huge double decker floats being pulled by giant tractors.  Bands of friends – not high school bands.  One baton twirling group.  Candy throwing…and passing out cups of beer from the floats.  Yes – every parade should have that.  And everyone in costume, mostly cow costumes.  And the floats should have huge speakers mounted on them playing the latest hugely popular pop songs and big cannons that shoot out confetti and a theme and be able to be rocked back and forth without overturning crushing the crowd below.
Diekirch parade Diekirch parade  DSC_0736 DSC_0759
Diekirch paradeDSC_0767

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tips for Packing

Having gone a few places for various amounts of time I have a short list of things to pack:

Sunglasses – because you will have to buy them if you really need them if you don’t bring them.

Sunscreen – no matter what the weather, a sunburn hurts and will ruin your trip.

Tylenol – or whatever you take for soreness, headache, toothache, cramps, etc.

Binoculars – I always forget these and am always sorry.  Even a small cheap pair would do.

Very good walking shoes.

Comfy clothing – do not pack items that are fancy, that you’ve never worn or are not practical.  If you think you’ll need something nice, bring a dress or slacks and nice top.  The problem I always have with this is shoes – now I have to pack dress shoes – and in the end, don’t wear any of it.  Think of items like coats and computers on the bus, plane and anywhere you will have to carry them around for any period of time.  Lugging crap around sucks.  I wish I would have brought stuff I wear at home all the time – the sleep shirt or jammy pants, the worn jeans, warm slippers and old sweatshirt.

Most times we try to travel light – meaning carry-on only so we never have to go to the baggage claim or lug crap around (see above).  This means one each: walking shoes, jeans, pants (eg. dress or khakis), sweater or sweatshirt.  Two short sleeve t-shirts.  Three pair undies and socks.  Medicine, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, contacts/glasses.  Hotels and the like usually have soap, shampoo and lotion.  Optional: long sleeve t-shirt, a couple coffee or tea bags, camera, small collapsible umbrella, pen or pencil .

Now – pack and then take out 1/2 the stuff you packed.   Remember some of the clothes you are taking, you are wearing.  Things that seem like a good idea sometimes aren’t.  Ask yourself if you could do without it in a pinch.

Disclaimer:  these tips may not be complete or fit your situation.  They are not for specialty trips such as business, backpacking or long-term travel.  Try to think about things that may wriggle open and spill on your clothes.

Have fun!

The market debacle

So the bus ride was timed for a leisurely coffee until the Tourist Office opened.  They directed me to the post office practically across the street from where I had my coffee.  In my defense, no big post office sign was visible.  Postcard stamps to the US are .90 Euros (over a dollar each)  Now to the market with my list!  A clerk spoke enough English to answer my question: “Do you take American Express?”  and weigh a few pieces of fruit.  Into the basket went spaghetti & sauce, applesauce, yoghurt, lemon tea, orange juice, a few other things and of course, a baguette!  Checking out, I whip out my ecologically correct bag just as she asks if I have one.  Ah – hah!  Aren’t I clever – less than a week and I’m almost in the groove.  But wait!  The market DOES NOT take American Express and I am shamed into spending all my Euros on only the fruit and baguette.  Certain that I was a few Euros short, I am thankful the clerk took what I had.  Hey – wait a minute!  Wasn’t she the one that said they took American Express?? 

Of course, the bus that stops is not the right one, but I hop on then off at the next stop so I can hop on the correct bus.  The driver & another driver buddy were making fun of me (I think). 

Living and learning in Luxembourg.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The wallet incident

This morning I wash some clothes and hang them around the radiators to dry (no dryer) then head into Vianden to get a few groceries.  Vianden is 3 K from Bettel and takes 5 minutes on the bus, so I will be going there often.  I spied a market there yesterday and want to stop and the butcher shop.  Of course, the store is closed from 12-2 like all the businesses except for the restaurants.  And of course I am there at 12:05 so I go to have lunch at the Pizzeria.  The Hawaiian pizza sounds good since this is the kind Rob got earlier this week at lunchtime.  And a coffee, of course (which comes with a little cookie wafer thing).  For good measure, I order a dame blanche (hot fudge sundae).  I haven’t had ice cream since we left “the states.” 

Since I still have at least an hour before the market opens, I write out postcards and then get my wallet out for ….. omg! Where the hell is my wallet!!  I had it to get on the bus with my bus pass showing through the handy clear pocket in the front.  The waitress said they took American Express – the first thing I asked so as to make sure.  Sooo…I look in my coat pockets, my bag, my seat – my coat pockets again, empty my bag, go to the door to look out to the street.  It is gone and now I have to tell the waitress.  The embarrassment!  What do they do to people here who can’t pay their bill?  How am I going to get back without a bus pass?  It takes me an hour to: explain to the waitress, call Rob’s cell from the owner’s cell to get his Amex card # hoping I can pay with that – oops wrong code have to call back for the other code.  In the meantime, Rob is calling me the same time I’m calling him.  He is able to call the bus station and see if my wallet is on bus 570 – and it is!!  I call my landlady here on the farm and she can come get me!  Still no credit card resolution and they take my word that I will be back later to pay.  Chantel (landlady) speaks fluently to them and I feel better even if they could be making fun of me and I wouldn’t know it. 

Pointing out that I’m having a bad day so early in the trip, Chantel drops me off at the apartment and goes back to her son’s school where they are having a Halloween type costume/candy parade since it is the beginning of Carnival (Lent).  Rob comes home with my wallet that they went to the bus station to get and a box of chocolates for Chantel.  We now have no food for dinner and go out to a convenient store after going to pay at the resteraunt.  We have a bit of food now – and beer.  One beer down…

On the farm

The apartment is one bedroom, a nice size kitchen/dining area, a living room with a nice sized TV and a bathroom.  There is a bed that comes down from a cupboard and an extra cot, so if we have guests visit, there will be room.  It is dark when we arrive about 7 pm and we snack on a baguette with cheese with a couple Diekirch beers.  Betten, the village where we are staying is a couple miles from Diekirch, which has a brewery.  Most people in the area drink Diekirch in order to support this local business.  The owners of the farm have arranged to the wi-fi to be moved closer to the apartment, but we cannot get online and will need to wait for Monday.  So much for calling the kids to say we’ve arrived safely.
When it is light out the next morning, I step out for a smoke and look around.  One of the herding dogs was laying outside the door and went off when I came out.  Looking around, the only modern items in sight are a kids Little Tikes style slide, a small tractor with a load of firewood on the trailer, and a basketball hoop in the driveway.  That must be for the two school aged boys that live here.  On the farm. 
Looking around, it reminds me of The Princess Bride when the farm boy would say “as you wish”.  Or Everafter with Cinderella walking down the lane and being noticed by the prince.  If it weren’t for the slide, tractor and hoop – it would be so.  In Bettel or Diekirch it is easy to picture Belle shopping for books. 
We slept for 14 hours after our 24 hour+ day of travel.  Ready to settle in!  On the farm.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Up before the rooster crowed

The rooster on the farm across the road started crowing as I was drinking my first cup of coffee this morning.  The temperature here is not freezing cold.  There is no frost on the windows or snow on the ground.  The sky is grey, which is typical.  Today I will see about buying a pass for the public transportation which will allow me to ride the bus and the train anywhere in the country.  I hope to walk into town (over the hill and around the bend) after checking out the farm.   The wi-fi hopefully gets working today.  I hope the kids are not worried about our arrival. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And a baguette

Having only water to drink and trail mix left from snacking on the plane, we have to go out for lunch and groceries.  We have omelets with ham and cheese, frites (fries) and small salad.  Coffee comes with a small candy or cookie here.  We get caramel on a thin cookie wafer covered in white chocolate.  I think it would be nice to save these to take home to share since they can have different treats at each cafe.  Of course that would be impossible, but it’s a nice thought.  Rob didn’t care for his, so gave it to me(bonus!).  If I wouldn’t have already eaten mine that could have been the extra to take home.  Or not.  Hey – it’s still a nice thought.  Now the search for an open grocery store.  It is Sunday and having been told by our friend which one may be open we find they are all closed  Luckily the shop at the gas station has enough and we get eggs, cream, sugar, coffee, cheese, bread and of course, a baguette.  Tomorrow will be a trip to pick up what other things we made need from the grocery store.  I will most likely find a market to pick up dinner every day or so.  And a baguette. 
I’m also going to try to find a baking or pastry class.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Day of Travel

We left from our local airport late in the afternoon on Friday.  A big storm was coming through and our flight was delayed for de-icing.  It looked like we were getting out of town just in time.  Already people were unable to get to their destinations because of the weather.  We changed flights in Detroit with a 3-4 hour layover.  By the time we got a meal that would have been a lot better had it been warmer at Chili’s, went to the bathroom and got to our gate, the plane was already boarding.  That is perfect timing.  As is common on some international flights, the plane was not full and so we were able to take turns laying down in the center 4-seat wide section to sleep.  Before my turn I was able to watch the movie Up.  Well, actually I saw the little 7 or 8-year old girl across the aisle from me watching it, so brought it up on my TV unit.  I noticed a bit later that the young woman behind the little girl had started to watch Up also!  I wonder if the Up-idemic spread.  Another 4 hour layover in Amsterdam one gate down from the smoking area.  Now it is late in the afternoon in Europe.  After a city-hopper flight to Luxembourg, we arrive!  A co-worker was kind enough to pick us up on a Saturday afternoon and take us to pick up the company car.  Oh my!  A Mercedes!  I don’t think I’ve ever been in one!  We then followed him to our apartment in a farmhouse.  On a farm.