November 19, 2018

Luxembourg - Visit the beer museum inside Wiltz Castle with your dog - Petopia event

On a cold Autumn day we embarked on another Petopia Event, which I could not recommend more, to taste some local Luxembourgish beers and visit a castle with Luna. As you may already know from their previous events (here, here and here) this was also great fun, it was very well organised and we got to visit the last castle in Luxembourg we did not check out from our list, Wiltz Castle. So, we got to be tourists in our country, together with our dog, Luna, we tasted local beers and visited a castle/beer museum. Could we ask for more? Don't think so.

There is a reason as to why we haven't visited Wiltz Castle until now and that is, most of the castle is rented to some University so inside one could find class rooms and not medieval halls. We did go to an event which happened in the castle's garden a year ago so pretty much we visited then what was to be visited from the castle.

Situated in the northern part of Luxembourg, Wiltz Castle was dated in the late 12th century. Of course the original castle was destroyed by the French in 1388 (if you've seen my latest post about Burg Cochem it too was destroyed by the French, I did not know the French were so bad, I guess I have to read a little bit of history first), they set fire to the castle so what you can see today is a reconstruction. The oldest towers date from 1573. Now beside the university the castle hosts three museums, the National Brewery Museum, the Tannery Museum and the Battle of the Bulge Museum.

We visited the National Museum of the Art of Brewing and at the end sampled the local beers. As avid beer drinkers, we previously visited the Bofferding Brewery, but had no idea about the existence of this museum. Turns out that it was actually opened in 1999 at the initiative of the Brotherhood of Gambrinus and at the end of the tour one can taste the beers produced in Wiltz: Simon, Ourdaller and Okult.

I think at the end we tasted six or even seven beers, so contrary to my knowledge, they produce a lot of types of beer. They are somehow (my opinion) influenced by the Belgian beers across the border, as they are similar in taste, but less alcoholic. I'm no expert in beers, so don't take my word for it, just go and taste them yourself.

The brewery museum is small but with a lot of memorabilia from all the Luxembourgish beers. You will see old taps, old glasses, old posters, old promotional is interesting to see the changes in Luxembourgish history reflected in these small beer related objects. I think even Luna liked the museum and she was surprisingly well behaved while we sampled the beers. It was nice to interact with other dogs and dog friends and like minded people. Overall a very nice event.

I hope you loved reading this post as much as I loved putting it together! Also, if you fancy keeping in contact with me, drop a line at on Facebook. Raluca

November 12, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review

Boys and girls I don't know if you knew this about me, but I was (I still am) a big Queen fan, so much so I still know all the lyrics of the songs even to the disco album.

I was in Ireland when journalist Lesley-Ann Jones a member of Queen's inner circle launched the biography of Freddie Mercury when again their music was in heavy rotation on the radio, so this movie was something not to be missed.


Still, I live in trilingual Luxembourg now, where most of the movies in the cinema are dubbed if the original is in English, and this is not a movie to watch in French, it simply isn't. Also, I wanted to see it at the cinema and not at home on Netflix in the future years or on DVD, I wanted the experience my friends in Ireland told me about. About singing in the cinema, about Bohemian Rhapsody merch being sold at the entrance, about people taking pictures with the cast members of at least with some very big posters, that's what I've imagined.

Again, I live in trilingual Luxembourg, in boring Luxembourg I might say. In one of the most well known cinemas in the Grand Duchy, Kinepolis in Kirchberg I had as a bad experience I could get. The only fast food there is Mc Donalds and the fancy restaurants around the cinema don't serve food fast, which is what you kinda want when you head to the movies after work. Something to grab on the go. No way.

I had to queue for 15 minutes in Mc, gobble a burger with chicken (so they say), had a big Sprite I had to throw away because I was not allowed inside the cinema with drinks from Mc, although they also sell drinks and Mc is literally 2 metres away from the entrance, inside we had to queue again for popcorn and rush to the theatre to be on time only to wait another 20 minutes because guess what, if they say on the ticket that the movie starts at 19.15, it will actually start at 19.45 and not only that, once the movie started they still let people inside, rude people with their flashlight on their phones on, to find their place. Guess what you dick, your flashlight was in everyone's eyes!

That's a great movie experience in the Grand Duchy, everywhere else a very shitty one, but let's continue. I had to rant about that here, cause if not here, where?


For me, the movie was great. I even cried at some point. The lead actor did an excellent job and overall I liked the movie. Was there room for improvement? Of course there was and from my part the more biopics about Queen (to set the truth strait) the better.
I did not get why the teeth? Rami Malek has a similar bone structure to Freddie Mercury so I felt the teeth in some scenes were unnecessary. Why blue eyes? I mean you went as far as to create some false teeth and forgot about coloured eye contacts?

The other actors were also well chosen and in some ways made similar to Queen's band members. I thought Joseph Mazzello in particular was one on one with John Deacon. Here I have to ask why his part was somehow minimised in the movie? Is it maybe because Bryan May and Roger Taylor were executive producers or something and John Deacon wasn't.

I've liked the subtle jokes in the dialogue, the ones made especially because former band members were involved in making the movie, in particular the one about Bryan May's hair or Roger Taylor family life.

I would have liked to see more about their creative process in making the songs and the albums, in choosing the songs to be played at Live Aid and their order, and less about Freddie Mercury's personal life. Also it did not sit well to see that Freddie was the one splitting the band when in fact it was not him, as other band members (Roger Taylor) had solo projects before Freddie.

I don't know much about Freddie's relationship with Mary Austin, except that she maybe was the love of his life, she surely was a good friend, a special one in fact, but I think the movie puts her in a place she did not have. Also I would have liked to see more the interaction Freddie had with other singers of those times, such as David Bowie, Elton John, Michael Jackson. I don't know if it's true but in the first scenes of the movie you could see Bono and the U2 band members exiting the Live Aid scene, at least something like that if not real scenes. As I've said I would have liked to see more of Freddie's professional life and less of the personal. But that's just me.

I think also it was an amazing effort to squeeze most of Queen's career into a single movie, so I understand some of the aspects had to be left out.

I loved their wardrobe, the lizard jacket in particular, I hope someone gets the idea to reproduce it and I hope the movie would do well enough as Primark to create a clothing line inspired by it or something similar. I dream about the yellow leather jacket since I was a kid.
Here I have to point out (as some of you asked) in the scene where Freddie tells Mary he is bisexual, that is not a Romanian Blouse. The correct term would be an embroidered t-shirt inspired by a Romanian Blouse. There is a well known photo of Freddie and Mary in which she wears a short sleeve Hungarian blouse and maybe the one in the movie was the next best thing. I've seen the pattern on one of the shops selling similar blouses on Facebook, but it disappeared and I for one hope it stays that way, cause that is not a Romanian Blouse. In the 70's and early 80's those blouses were very popular, were indeed inspired by Romanian Blouses but were to say the least, the commercial (read cheap) version of the authentic ones. So it makes sense one to be in the movie as young women would often wear them.

Going back to the movie, as a fan of Queen I consider it to be an OK one. My regret is not living in Ireland right now and having to settle with Luxembourg. Still I have to say that the movie theatre was almost 90% full (despite of the lack of promotion of the movie in the Grand Duchy) and that most of the people stayed in their seats until the last credits rolled out of the screen. As I am that weird one who reads the credits. The movie had German (I think) subtitles and it was in English and to be fair all of the people around my seat were English speakers, so that was reassuring :)
At the exist I've spotted a poster of the movie and started taking pictures with it and there were also 10 or more people who followed my example. So why Kinepolis you did not invest in a cardboard with Queen or something to take pictures with?

Overall, I hope the movie would bring back Queen on the radio (of course not the ones in Luxembourg, I talk about real radios) and make them known to the younger generations. They really need to listen to real music (lyrics and all) and not what I'm hearing now played by my adolescent neighbour. And I hope in this day and age we can talk freely about what happened and remember Freddie for what he left behind. Did you know that he recorded until the day he died?

I hope you loved reading this post as much as I loved putting it together! Also, if you fancy keeping in contact with me, drop a line at on Facebook.

November 5, 2018

Germany - Burg Cochem - The castle you can visit with your dog

Also known as Reichsburg Cochem, the castle and the lovely town above are fairly close to Luxembourg, an hour and half drive. Although we've been to Cochem many times it was only this Autumn that I got to visit the castle and believe me it was worth it. 

Surrounded by the vineyards of the Moselle Valley, the Castle has a history of more then a thousand years, but what you could see today is a reconstruction of the original castle destroyed by the French in 1689. Only two towers remain from the original castle, this information and many others are given to you by a lovely guide. We took the English tour and I have to say it was one of the best tours I ever had while visiting a castle. Not only the dogs (the well behaved ones) are allowed inside the castle, but you are encouraged to take pictures, to touch the objects and the furniture and to ask questions.
What you have to know about the experience:
- the ticket is 6 euro for an adult and 3 euro for children, dogs go for free;
- be advised that inside the castle there are cats, so if you know your dog doesn't like cats, maybe keep him/her on a short leash;
- there is a free parking near the castle and there are some shuttles from the city to the castle;
- if you want to make it to the castle's parking, put your GPS to take you to the castle and not the town, from Luxembourg you will make it to the town, pass it, go round it somehow, pass through a forest and a gymnasium and then reach the castle, even though from the town you can climb to the castle on foot;
- the castle is guided tour only, the tours are in German and English;
- photography is not only allowed, but encouraged within the castle, the guide gives long breaks in each room for the ones who want to take pictures;
- during the weekend the castle has a lot more visitors than during the week, somehow normal, but be advised it can get a little bit crowded at times;
- there is a restaurant/coffee house inside the castle, but there are so many restaurants in town, so if you can't find a place in the castle's restaurant do not despair;
- you can also pay your ticket by card, I don't know about the restaurant, but I assume it's the same;
- there is a gift store inside the castle where you can buy postcards, magnets and other souvenirs, but also water or juices.
What I liked (besides visiting the castle with dogs :D) was the attention to details. It reminded me of being a tourist in Ireland, where once you decide to visit an attraction (castle, town, museum), you find everything at the tip of your fingers, in this case parking, toilets, souvenir shop, coffee shop, friendly guides and overall a nice experience. I hope I've encouraged you to travel even during the weekends, even close to home. Here are my pictures:

Picture taken from one of the castle's terraces. If it wasn't surrounded by vineyards, I could have easily mistaken it for Dinant in Belgium.

The fireplace reminded me of the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle in Alsace, France, a castle we should revisit soon.
This mermaid with stag antlers as wings is said to grant you one wish, the tour guide swore by it, so one by one we touched its belly and started wishing

He is a Labradoodle, a newish breed of dogs created by mixing a Labrador and a Poodle, and he was visiting the castle with us. I have to say that Luna would not be so calm and silent, but I still want to bring her to this castle.

Visiting the castle in Autumn was a plus with all the colours the nature prepared for us. It was a clear sunny day, which made the visit even more pleasant as the castle has a lot of balconies and terraces from where you can take amazing pictures.

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October 22, 2018

Be yourself, everyone else is taken!

I've noticed a trend on social media for acting as if you are always happy, surrounded by good looking food, spending your holidays in gorgeous places, wearing only brands and opulent jewellery, and for my sanity I have to think that not everyone's life is this way. In no shape or form I would want that life, but I'm already out of their demographic.

Scientists call this "living the best day" on social media, when people embellish their life and make it something that it isn't, in the process influencing others to aspire to that life and when they can't it leads to depression, anxiety and overall not trusting people.

As I've "studied" (I'm embellishing myself, only wrote a paper about it for a class) this phenomenon, I've searched for genuine people on social media and to be honest I've kinda migrated towards Instagram in the memory of what was once Facebook.

But being an Instagrammer lured me into this web of the perfect life, the perfect profile, of taking thousands of pictures and posting only 1, of studying my look, applying makeup :), searching for perfect locations to photograph and then I snapped. Now on my profile you see a copy of myself, of the mess that is life, of the things I love, places I travel and people I meet. I'm an expat and I chose to focus on the things expats do, instead of desperately trying to mingle with Luxembourgers.

If it worked, I don't know, I'm still experimenting with my profile, I still do things "one should not do", posting wrong hashtags and not tagging profiles which I want to notice me, still using Instagram filters and not altering the photos I take with Facetune and (the horror) still taking pictures with my phone :D. I know the theory, I stay up with the trends, but on my profile I still want to be myself.

Also trendy right now are the memes and you must have encounter the ones "Instagram vs. real life". The following pictures are memes wanna be. Enjoy!

Guess each ones made it to my Instagram profile?
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October 8, 2018

Morocco - Things I've liked in Marrakech

Let's get down to business. It was my first time in Africa and although I do know that Morocco is not the entire Africa as much as Luxembourg is not the whole Europe, I might from time to time make this confusion. I do apologise.
The first thing I've liked and I'm sure you will like too if you decide to take a trip to Morocco are the people. I've read that there are people who show you a path within the souk, you get lost and then they ask you for money to get you to a known place. I've read that the sellers pull you brutally into their shops. I've read that in Jemaa El Fnaa you will surely get pick-pocketed. All of those are untrue and very wrong. Every time we looked like we were lost (which rarely happens these days because GPS has made it to the souks) someone would jump to our rescue and reading all the guides, as stupid Europeans, the first times we brutally ignored the advice. We were wrong all the time. To the point when we started trusting the local people and they never led us wrong, they never asked for money and we never ended up in shops we did not want to enter.

On the contrary, the shop owners were very informative, they explained all their goods to us even if we showed no intention of buying anything, every time I've asked for direction people would go out of their way to help and refused our money, nothing bad happened in Jemaa El Fnaa as much as nothing bad would happen to you going around Gëlle Fra in Luxembourg.

So the people are the biggest resource of Morocco, I think. Seen from the plane, Morocco is a brown country, not a single patch of green, their fields look like what you would see in a demolition site in Europe and still these people managed to survive, to be good, helpful, to have a culture (and oh such a culture!), to have customs, in essence to be good people, to be an example.
Second, those amazing buildings. The riad where we've stayed, the museums, even some of the restaurants looked amazing. Such attention for detail! Such craftsmanship! Imagine combining on a single wall, sculpted wood, nicely coloured cast and tile mosaic without any dent, without anything hurting the eye. From what I've gathered, within the Medina (old town) people chose to richly decorate the interior of their houses, leaving the exterior in a shade of light pink which gave the name Pink City to Marrakech. As most of the museums, riads (B&B or small hotel build in an old traditional Moroccan house with courtyards or gardens) and restaurants within the Medina are in old houses, imagine the abundance of colours and architectural design! So although from the distance or even from within the Medina looks light, dirty pink, inside the houses a whole universe unravels.
Third would be the food. Bare in mind that we spent two days inside our hotel room because of the food poisoning and I still say the food was great. I've eaten before tajine and couscous as there are a lot of Moroccan people in this region, but the dishes there have another taste. I'm usually not the person who likes weird combinations of sweet and sour, but the ginger chicken with figs was amazing! So much so that I've looked for and bought a cook book with Moroccan recipes, in French and even ventured to buy condiments from the spice market.
Forth would be Marrakech as an ensemble. I believe that if you wanted to, you could stay awake for a week straight and do things day and night and never be bored. Coming from sleepy Luxembourg, it was a treat to always have something to do, see or admire. Still, although I thought I would make thousands upon thousands of pictures, I came home with only eight hundred. I believe that in this lifetime I will go back to Marrakech, so I will have time for pictures, but for now I wanted to experience everything and to talk to everyone. Do you believe that in Marrakech I was fluent in French? I even knew all the words and my husband says I even arranged them all in the right order within a phrase, thing that never, ever happened in Luxembourg as much as I wanted to talk with someone.
Fifth, because it needs to be an odd number, are the crafts. Or should that be second? The carpets, the leather goods, the jewellery, the pottery, the raffia crafts, the argan oil, everything was hand made and everything was amazing! I wanted to take everything home and my shopping list got bigger and bigger each day. I did not like the haggling, but turns out that I was good at it when I wanted to. One can still find little treasures within the souk, but that someone should research a lot what they wanted to buy. I admit, I did not do my research, so I mostly chose by appearance and not the quality.
There is one thing I did not like though, that Morocco is not in EU. My 24 euro top-up of my phone lasted me exactly 8 minutes of my mother describing the weather, my data left open for 10 minutes costs 40 euros, but every coffee shop and restaurant had WiFi, I've instructed everyone to not call me and the problem was solved.

Overall Morocco is a place to visit and although I've only been to Marrakech and Essaouira, I want to go back and visit more, experience more and of course buy more crafts :)

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