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July 15, 2019

Holidays by train from Luxembourg

Summer is upon us whether we like it or not, and everyone seems to only talk about holidays. One of the benefits of living in Luxembourg, so basically in the middle of Europe, is that we are well connected by plane to all the major destinations in Europe and not only. Not to mention that by car you can organise city breaks or entire vacations and this time of year the campers populate the motorways in this part of Europe.
But there is another means of transport from Luxembourg, the train. I remember when I was little, the train was the most reliable way of getting from one place to another and I've listened to countess stories of gap years spent "in Europe" travelling by train. So what are the train connections from Luxembourg?

CFL (Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois) is the national railway company with a reliable website in French, German and English. From that website one can purchase tickets or search the timetables for national and international trains. For European destinations I used the international website, travel.b-europe.com. There is also an app which you can download and manage your tickets from there.

For the purpose of this article, I've looked up tickets for direct trains or trips with one change of trains. I did my research on a Friday and looked up the tickets for the next Monday. I do not know if the price of the train tickets has the same logic as the plane tickets, meaning the closer to the travel date the more expensive they are, you will have to look up that for yourself. Also the prices are for one way, if you want a return trip the prices change. Use the link I've provided to search an entire trip to your liking!

Luxembourg to Brussels

The neighbouring country is well connected to Luxembourg mainly because they both host European capitals, meaning that the European Institutions found a home in Brussels and in Luxembourg and there are a lot of people travelling between them. Not to mention that once per month the European Parliament has a session in Strasbourg and all the trans that connect Brussels to Strasbourg pass by Luxembourg. So one can travel to Brussels every hour from Luxembourg. The trip should take up to 3 hours and the train is direct. A train ticket for the second class is 42 euros and for the first class is 65 euros. Again, I've searched the prices on a Friday for the next Monday so the prices may vary.

From Brussels one can continue travelling to Amsterdam, London and Paris or just visit the Belgian capital. Try the frittes, the wafers or the chocolate and of course the Trappist beer, Belgians are famous for. Brussels has a lot of interesting museum and in general is a lively capital city with a lot of options for spending time.

Luxembourg to Amsterdam

As mentioned, from Luxembourg one can travel to Amsterdam through Brussels. Including the changing times, the trip is about 5 hours and 34 minutes and to my knowledge the tickets are very easy to read. You are given the starting hour, the stop where you have to change and even the platform and the time you have in between the trains. So no stress! A one way ticket for the second class is 124 euros and for the first class is 160 euros.

What you can do in Amsterdam? There is no secret that out of all the cities around Luxembourg, Amsterdam is my favourite. Try the little museums on the canals and the bigger ones, try the countless shows, the night life, the amazing decoration stores and organic fashion.

Luxembourg to London

This would be the first trip I will book by train from Luxembourg. I've been to London a lot, but only by plane. I think the train trip has that something, that smell of holiday, of leisure. I can only dream. So to go to London from Luxembourg one has two options, through Brussels or through Paris. Luxembourg-London via Brussels takes almost 7 hours and a ticket for the second class for a one way trip is 266 euros and for the first class is 301 euros.

The second option, Luxembourg -London via Paris, the trip is 6 hours and 3 minutes and a one way ticket is 340 for the second class and 497 euros for the first class. I have no idea if the difference of price is worth it, I only know that the carts on the Belgian trains differ slightly from one class to the next. I think you only have a little more leg room and the cart is carpeted on the first class.

Luxembourg to Paris

There is a direct train connecting the two European capitals and if I'm not mistaken is a TGV. I remember the stories about travelling at a high speed, by train, in Europe, so the TGV would be my first option if put in a situation of choosing. The trip to Paris is only 2 hours and a one way ticket for the second class is 104 euros and for the first class is 148 euros.

Paris is well advertised in all the guiding books, but if it were up to me I would visit again the Pompidou Centre and the Brancusi workplace, I would enjoy a very tasty meal followed by a reach dessert and I will marvel at the Parisian life from a small terrace with an eclair and a coffee.

Luxembourg to Berlin

This is a long trip and you have to love to travel by train to endure almost 9 hours of travel including a change in Cologne. There is always the plane option, but if travelling by train is your fix, then know that a one way ticket at the second class is 172 euros and for the first class is 273 euros.

In Berlin I would check a museum or two, I would have a walk on the Unter den Linden boulevard, smelling the linden trees that so remind me of home and coming lunch time, I will go to the terraces close to the university and enjoy a full meal with just a couple of euros, so, so different from Luxembourg.

Luxembourg to Vienna

If night travel is something you might consider, CFL even advertises the trip to Vienna as "arrive at your destination well rested" and ready (I might add) to visit this beautiful city. The trip is 11 hours and you have to change in Koblentz. One way trip to Vienna on the second class is 123 euros and on the first class is 199 euros.

In Vienna I would have the schnitzel for breakfast. I could never manage to make a schnitzel the Vienna size, not to mention I could never finish one in one go. Ah, Vienna! I would just walk the streets up to the Hundertwasser House and just stare at it for hours.

Luxembourg to Zurich

Again, there isn't a direct train and you have to change at Mulhouse in France. The trip lasts 4 hours and a one way ticket at second class is 107 euros and on first class is 137 euros.

I would not know what to tell you about Zurich, as I've only passed it a couple of times and visited just Bern in Switzerland. The Internet shows it as a nice town, with a lot of museums to check out. A must try has to be raclette or fondue cheese.

These are the European train destinations available from Luxembourg. I've only tried European Capitals on the logic that from there you can continue your travel to anywhere in Europe. Of course you can reach other cities in Europe by train from Luxembourg, but for now that was the topic of the article.

I hope you enjoy reading my article and maybe it sparkled the idea of a train trip from Luxembourg. As always you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu



July 8, 2019

France - How Donald Trump ended up in the river Moselle, in Metz

Following last week's article, here is another one, this time about an art installation displayed not far from Luxembourg in the beautiful French town of Metz. We are experiencing abnormal weather for Luxembourg mainly because of climate changes we should no longer ignore.
"Everything is fine" is an installation by the artist Jacques Rival and includes the inflatable half submerged head of the US president Donald Trump together with the right hand held up in the OK sign.

It is related to the president's 2017 speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord plays. The soundtrack of Trump's speech can be played by the public pressing on a buzzer on Pont des Roches. The sound is distorted as if the president gave the speech from under the water on a sinking ship and bubbles arise from the mouth of the inflatable Trump.
"The idea was to gag Trump, to silence him, but he continues to speak, very sure of himself," Jacques Rival told AFP.

The 47-year-old artist is a veteran in building large, satirical works, all over Europe in both public and private places. He has arranged that at night the art installation would lit up to create "a safe atmosphere with dynamic lighting" AFP.

The installation is part of 14 works that make up the Constellations de Metz digital arts festival, an event open until September 7th.

Nevertheless, this isn't the first inflatable Trump that was made. The Baby Trump inflatable balloon made history since it was first introduced to the public on July, 13th, 2018 in London. The balloon depicts Trump as an angry orange baby holding a smartphone.

One of the organisers, Max Wakefield, described the balloon protest as being in response to "the rise of far-right politics that dehumanises people in order to get into power", and saw it as an attempt to introduce some "good British humour" into the political discourse surrounding Trump's visit, wiki.
Since then the balloon was flown numerous times in US last year, then it travelled to France where the balloon appeared on November, 11th, at a march protesting about Trump's visit to attend the ceremonies of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Then it was seen in Argentina, at the G20 Buenos Aires Summit and again in Europe, this year in Dublin at the "STOP Trump Ireland" protest on June 6th. It again made its way to London in preview of this year Trump state visit in June 2019.

Museums, such as British Museum and Museum of London, expressed interest in acquiring or at lest displaying the original Trump Baby Balloon.

So here you have it, my article about an art installation you should not miss if you live in or around Luxembourg. As usual let's get the conversation going on Instagram where you can find me @mademoiselle.ralu

July 1, 2019

Luxembourg - Heatwave related stories

I've been absent from the blog and social media entirely because I don't do heatwave well. I am allergic to the sun, or so I am told, so I had to wake up really early every morning to do my job before the heat hit Luxembourg, brave the sun from the railway station to my home, vomit several hour after and mostly barricade myself behind the shutters. I was a mole all this time. Thankfully today they said there will be only 28 degrees Celsius so I should be fine.

But all my fuss about the heatwave sparkled the idea for this article so all is well. In the true journalistic/ethnographic fashion, here are the facts.

RTL Today is a relatively new media outlet in Luxembourg and being a news journalist I love to take my daily dosage of news from them. They can sometimes jump the horse and write about car crushes and such, but most of the time I find their news to my liking. So Meteolux predicted the heatwave and issued an orange alert on high temperatures. I think this was the second alert they made, as the heat was visibly present since the beginning of the week.
Because Luxembourg is not equipped to deal with the heat, bad things happened. I've read about cars taking fire and garbage beans and hay ballots as well and I can only assume that people were careless with their cigarettes or it was just pure bad luck. Nevertheless, firefighters had to beat fires a lot this week.
Then this happened. Again, Luxembourgish summer is more of a rainy spring, so of course they are not prepared to deal with the high temperatures. Most of the office buildings don't have AC, or at leas the ones build close to three years ago, most if not all of the homes are also not equipped with AC units, the busses rarely have some sort of AC. And that is not all. Because hot summers are not a regular thing in Luxembourg and rain is plenty, they do not have water reserves. I am positive they will deal with that because summers like this one will for sure be in the future, but for this Summer, they are not prepared. So water consumption was limited all over this area.
Again another related news. I call this a big deal and for me this is hard news.
During the weekend the traffic towards supermarkets and stores across the border is heavy at certain hours, so this happened. I'm glad we only limited ourselves to one fruit and vegetables market and that was it on Saturday, but I am glad that the authorities were present to protect and serve the population.
Thankfully, today is better with only 28 degrees, I can breathe in my home, the train this morning was a breeze, so was having my coffee on my terrace.
Another English media outlet, Delano, reported as well about the heatwave. But Delano, being Delano, made it classy giving advice on dealing with the heat.
And pointing out places where one could hide from the heat or other measures to combat the heat. You see the picture is of a relaxed person, everything is under control, a lot different from RTL Today. No need, I hope, to tell you which one I'm more drown to.
I have no idea how the real Luxembourgish people must have felt, but on the expat groups the topic was trending. Take this one for example on Luxembourg Expats where someone says one cannot die of heat so "relax people!". Another advised us to just "open a window". It was pointless to explain that is not just a whim, people are not complaining because they are bored or something.
The opinions were mixed. It was funny to read them. As I've said these are expats to Luxembourg, so people used maybe to different climates, but all together people who have no idea that a country can not just turn from a rainy climate to a heatwave one overnight.
Of course Romanian expats had something to say in the matter, the first one send all to complainers to just "sue the sun", the other shared a story from Cyprus. I have to just say, 40 degrees in the Summer in Romania is not normal, at least it wasn't when I grew up. Yes the Summer is torrid, but over 35 degrees the heat measures are in place, water is distributed, working hours are shortened, schools are closed, not to mention that in Romania every home, every building is equipped with AC. So you basically have AC at home, AC in the car, AC at work and you are exposed to the sun only in between those places. Not to mention that water supplies in the forms of lakes are present close to all the major cities, Romania has a lot of small and big rivers, it has the Danube and exit to a sea, a lot of places where one could escape the heat, Luxembourg doesn't. But for the sake of feeling mighty on an expat forum, why not just make fun of all the complainers and send them to Romania.
Last, but not least the Internet reacted and the memes kept flowing. Being an LOTR fan I enjoyed and understood this one.
This was also good.
This one I saw a lot within my bubble. 
And this one to finish this article on a positive note.
As I've said for me the heatwave was hard to handle. I've lived for the past 10 years now in rainy climates and I am not so used to the heat anymore. I wasn't actually used to the heat in Romania either and during the summers it was hard for me to function. Yes, I am one of the complainers related to white rainy skies holding for weeks on end and now I complain about the heat. My position is justified in my eyes for all the reasons I've explained in the article. Don't get me wrong, I like the sun, but from a distance. I enjoy sitting on my terrace in the morning and evening, drinking my coffee or maybe handle some work, but last week it was not possible. We could only stay outside from 9 p.m. in the evenings and everything had to be done behind the shutters. 
I can only hope the temperatures will stay as today, the wind will blow a little and all the heatwave consequences will pass.
As usual you can find me on my Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu. See you there!
Raluca

Sources:

June 13, 2019

Celebrate the Romanian Blouse in Luxembourg on 24th of June 2019

IA Day Celebrations at Place Clairefontaine in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2016
As every year, the Romanian community in Luxembourg and the Greater Region will celebrate the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse - “IA” - on the 24th of June. 

In keeping with tradition, launched globally by the online community La Blouse Roumaine in 2013, this year’s local celebrations will take place from 18:30 onward at Place Clairefontaine, right in the heart of Luxembourg City. 

Wearing a story


We encourage women who have Romanian Blouses to wear them on the day, take selfies and upload them on our Facebook event page before heading to Place Clairefontaine in the evening to share stories about the blouses, meet new people and take pictures together. 

IA Day Celebrations in Parc Kinnekswiss in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2018
Different from previous years, this year’s celebration will see the launch of storyteller stickers. Because we believe that every Romanian Blouse has a story, we invite people wearing the blouses to tell their stories. 

Some blouses are very old, others are family heirlooms, some were found at a little car boot sale somewhere in Romania, while others were saved from the trash. Some of them have even been bought from traders on social media and sent all the way to Luxembourg. Whether Romanian women inherited traditional blouses from their grandmothers or found them at a local market, they found a place for their blouses in their expat suitcases. The story of each blouse, irrespective of its past, is worth telling!

Therefore, we invite and encourage everyone to come along on the June, 24th. Join us at Place Clairefontaine and don’t hesitate to approach all the women wearing stickers on their blouses. This is your chance to explore the fascinating tales behind the beautiful Romanian garments found in Luxembourg. Join us and be part of a new story! 

A piece of Romanian folklore


The Romanian Peasant Blouse is a representative piece of our folklore. With everything being done manually, from the fabric to the thread and embroidery, a single blouse was created during the Winter season.

Lavender and Sewn Sighs on a Romanian Blouse at IA Day Celebrations in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2018
The structure of the Romanian blouse has remained unchanged over the centuries.

In 1940, the famous French painter, Henri Matisse, created an important series of paintings which portrayed women in Romanian blouses. Since then our garment inspired several designers, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford and John Galliano, but the Romanian Blouse is the original.

Global celebrations


The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse was launched in 2013 by the La Blouse Roumaine Facebook community and soon became a global event, currently being celebrated in more than 60 countries, across 6 continents.

The organisers of IA Day Celebrations in Luxembourg - Roxana, Elena and Raluca - June 24th, 2017
The event has been held locally for seven consecutive years, thanks to the joint efforts and dedication of three Romanian friends Elena Afemei, Raluca Caranfil and Roxana Mironescu.

Would like you to be part of our story this year? Visit our Facebook event for the full programme.

“RomânIA” Vernissage

If interested, before the public celebrations scheduled in Place Clarefontaine you can also attend a vernissage showcasing several blouses from private collections. The event named “RomânIA” will be hosted by the Luxembourg-Romania Association on the 24th of June from 5 p.m. onward at Cercle Cité. More information about the vernissage is available here.

May 27, 2019

Best places for Spring blooms around Luxembourg

When I came up with this idea Spring was almost over for this year, but I still wanted to write this post for the years to come. I have so many pictures with Spring flowers that I never published, and I feel this post will serve them justice. So in a nutshell, these are the places where you can enjoy the Spring blooms in and around Luxembourg.
1. First one has to be the tulip fields in the Nederlands. If you live in this area you are only three hours away from a bucket list item many travellers only dream on, Amsterdam and Keukenhof Garden, but most importantly you are a couple of hours away from the fields. It is no secret that I prefer to visit the fields more than the garden, so much so that I even wrote a post about tips and tricks to find the fields. I promise I will update it as it was written in 2017, but some if not all of the facts are still valid. One extra tip, though, since the tulip farmers have complained about the uncivilised tourists, please do not pick the flowers and try not to step on them either, on that race to the best Instagram post.
2. The tulips of Brussels. As the Nederlands can be expensive especially during the tulip season, one local and a little less expensive is Floralia Brussels, an exhibition of flowers around a castle. The entrance fee can be a little bit pricey (14 euros) and there are hoards of tourists visiting the garden at any given time, but somehow it is not crowded and you can Instagram your way into the garden without much effort. Bear in mind that the exhibition is opened just a month a year, from mid April to mid May.
3. The Sakura of Arlon. If you are not a Japan aficionado, sakura is nothing but the cherry blossom. If you are on Instagram for sure your feed got flooded of this word enough to make you dream or plan a trip to Japan in Spring. No need to spend that money though, when you can enjoy the cherry blossoms right under your nose or 15 km from the border in Belgium, in Arlon. The old church in Arlon is Saint-Donat with that gorgeous Belvedere, it is where the antiques market takes place every month in the Spring and Summer, but it is also the place where they planted cherry trees. So you have the green of the grass, you have the pink of the blossoms and you have the grey of the old walls, what can be more Instagram perfect than that? It is also not crowded at all, except when the local residents decide to have a picnic or a bbq on the walls, but even than you can snap quietly and have as many pictures as you want.
4. Wild daffodils of Via Botanica. It is a recent discovery for me, but Via Botanica is something you have to check at least once if you live in the area. Be respectful though, but enjoy this wild yellow experience! Via Botanica is seven and a half km trail through a forest adorned with daffodils. Need I say more? It is Instagram perfect, it is fresh air perfect, it is a nice walk in the nature perfect, it is friendly with dogs, it is pure bliss. I was so impressed with it, I even wrote a post about it, here.
5. The Magnolia tree in the city centre. It is a Spring landmark by now and I've seen it on social media this year more than ever. It is on the opposite side of the road from Gëlle Fra and I think it is the most photographed tree in whole Luxembourg City. Still, you can find Magnolia trees if you walk on the Avenue Marie-Thérèse or in Limbertsberg or Merl, but it is not the tree.
6. The crocus flowers in the central parks. I never know the actual name of the parks, but there are three of them, they start at Fondation Pescatore and go to Adolphe Bridge. During Spring, but just for a couple of weeks, these parks are filled with crocus flowers, which sound much better in Romanian, Brândușe. You can also find them on the slopes of Grund, under the Adolphe Bridge, but in the parks are more spread and easier to photograph.
7. Wisteria in Kirchberg. How to explain this as I'm not familiar to the area passed the PE towers? Opposite side of the road from Auchan, there is a man-made esplanade with some arches filled with wisteria. My friend took me on a stroll one day and I've spotted the wisteria, but we were so busy talking and checking up, I forgot to take a picture. Yes I'm old school like that. There is also wisteria on the Glacis Tram Station, but the area is so crowded, I never got to take a decent picture. Still, you can find wisteria all around Luxembourg, so it is almost impossible not to have one near you.
8. Rapeseed fields. Oh I just love them and for me, in this area, Spring has arrived when the rapeseed is in bloom. I never got to take a decent picture in a field, but I have tons of pictures with the fields. They are always in different places, but you most definitely spotted them. They are the yellow flowers gorgeous fields and I think they are used to make oil and paint, but during Spring in this area there is no shortage of rapeseed fields waiting for your Insta Moment.
9. The giant poppies in Sterpenish. They are not exactly a Spring flower, but I love poppies so much I would have put them on top of this list. I don't know who planted them and it is just a round patch close to a very busy intersection, but they are lovely. They bloom late May and they only last two weeks.
10. The Hallerbos Forest in Belgium. I've only seen it on Instagram, but I promise next year I will check it out. Seems like there is a a forest close to Brussels where wild bluebell hyacinth flowers grow. I can only imagine the smell of it all! There are a lot of information about this forest on the Internet so I hope next year I can enjoy and maybe Instagram this beauty. As it is only two hours away from Luxembourg it can nicely be a day trip.

So there you have it, an almost top 10, except it is not a top. I love all these experiences equally, well maybe more the poppies one, but I hope reading this post brought some colour to your day and I hope you will enjoy the Spring blooms next year more knowledgeable. As usual I'm waiting for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

Raluca