January 13, 2021

Luxembourg - Corona Times - Christmas lights in the city

Christmas is long gone now, but as I haven't written anything here yet, I thought to show you some of the pictures from Luxembourg City. Because of Corona Times, this year the Christmas Markets in Luxembourg were canceled and rules were imposed as to the number of people a family is allowed to meed inside during the holidays, so for us Christmas was a bit sad this year.

Normally, by Christmas Time we would have already made our way to Romania to see family and friends and sometimes they would come to us during the Holiday season, we would go once or twice to the Christmas Markets and spend the New Years Celebrations with our friends. This year we were not allowed to receive in the house more than two people from outside the household. So as we are now three, we had to stay home or see our friends in open spaces where a gathering of up to 10 people was legal.

So that was exactly what we did. We've met our friends before Christmas and between Christmas and New Years and we had walks in the forests and went to see the lights in the city centre and that was it. 

Because the markets were closed, the authorities tried to at least decorate nicely the city with a few instagramable spots. The one with the tree at the Gelle Fra was all over social media. The huge Christmas Tree was usually in the middle of the Christmas Market, now it stood alone. The did another big tree in front of Cercle Cite as they would normally do and of course the lovely stars were hanged on the trees near the Cathedral and the blue artificial tree was placed near the City Hall and also the square Knuedler was nicely decorated with lights on all the trees. Those are the spots in the photos.

I hope these pictures brought you a smile and that the new year has found you healthy and happy and that you are safe. As for Corona Times the end is in sight so hold on tight! As usual I am on Instagram if you need me @mademoiselle.ralu 

December 8, 2020

Corona Times - Ornaments for Christmas 2020

 I don't know about you, but for me 2020 was not that bad. Yes there was a lockdown, yes we cannot travel as we used to, yes covid is very serious and people have died and yes it was a depressing year. But, it is the year Ilinca was born, the first year of her life and for that one thing for me 2020 is a great year.

So much so I have nothing against Corona themed Christmas ornaments. Working in communication meant that since September if not earlier we cooked up the Christmas strategy for this year and we adapted it to reflect the events of this year. Let's face it, our life has changed dramatically and we spend a lot of time at home, with our family, in cozy clothes, dreaming of the vaccine and a vacation. So even if you want this year forgotten, here are some small tokens to hang up in the tree, or give to your co-workers once you are back in the office cafeteria :)

Forgot to say they are all on Etsy, my partner in crime when Amazon was not enough :)
As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu drop a line there if you want to talk.

November 16, 2020

Luxembourg - Castle Brandenburg - The castle that doesn't want to be visited

We came across Castle Brandenburg a couple of years ago on our way to another visiting sight and we put it on our mind-list for things to visit. So three years have passed, I've heard that the castle was sort of restored and could be visited. 

With a history going back to the 9th century, the ruin of Castle Brandenburg is located just above the village with the same name. So if you enter the village the same way we did, you will spot the castle easily. What is not so easily found is the entrance. We circled the castle by car and turned around and the only way we found to get to the castle was a hill above some houses. So we parked the car near a pompiers (fireman) station and form there we went on foot.

After a not so steep hill through a forest we reached the castle gates only to find out that indeed the castle can be visited, but just till the end of October. We were already at the beginning of November... just a few days back... well, no matter, we will come back, especially now that we have the confirmation that the castle can be visited. It says so on a billboard in front of the gate, that the castle was set up for visitors by the Monuments Service in Luxembourg.

According to Wikipedia the castle was a wooden castle in the 9th and 10th century and the first stone castle dates to the 13th century. A century later a chapel was added to the castle, then a bailey, two towers, cellars and curtain walls. So for us it was only left to the imagination the grandeur of the castle we could only spot through the gates.

The castle was inhabited till the 18th century and then was left in ruin until the 80's when restauration and consolidation works were carried by the state. So, let's hope that in the Spring we will be able to visit this castle and who knows maybe by then the Monuments Service in Luxembourg will bother to add some signs pointing us to the entrance and maybe a parking. 

I hope you liked my post about yet another castle, but as the weather is getting fussy in this little Grand Duchy we only have a limited number of sunny days when we feel like visiting sights and discovering new places.  As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu drop a line there if you want to talk.


September 29, 2020

The Netherlands - Castle Haar

Could we go on a holiday without visiting a castle? Don't think so.

Our history with this castle is not a new one, we wanted to visit it once, but it was during the Elf Fantasy Fair or Elfia and the entrance fee was preposterous. So we almost forgot about it until this visit to the seaside.

Facts about the castle that might interest you: it was built in 1391, burned and rebuild in 1892, it has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, it is the largest castle in the Netherlands and it was inhabited up to 2001 and opened to the public in 2011, its rooms were once inhabited by the celebrities of those times such as Brigitte Bardot, Coco Chanel, Elisabeth Taylor or Michael Cane.

We went there on a Sunday, so be advised if you want to visit it during the pandemic you have to book your tickets in advance. What I found interesting about the castle is that it doesn't look the same from all angles, it's almost like if you step one foot in any direction the castle changes its appearance. I've tried to capture that in pictures, but I don't know if you can notice.

Also for the people traveling with their dogs, as we do, you cannot visit the castle with your dog, but your friend can go in the gardens of the castle, but please, please be civilized, as there are less and less places one can travel to with their pets because of the people that misbehave.

As everything touristic in the Netherlands, the Haar Castle is on the expensive side, but I would not consider it a rip off, as you do see a castle and if you are patient enough I think you can spend hours touring the gardens, visiting the castle, having a coffee at the restaurant, so you can consider it a day out, but it's still a castle. For two people and a child with the parking and gardens we payed 40 euros. 

I will not post many pictures of the interiors because once you have to see it for yourselves, it's decorated in a shabby chic style which I'm not a fan of, with a lot of rose tones and ladylike furniture. BUT, it has a big entrance hall, which reminded me of the entrance hall at the Peles Castle in Romania, well I guess all the royals in Europe are relatives of some sort. If you do visit the castle and you are Romanian you might spot the figure of Queen Marie of Romania in one of the videos running in some of the rooms.

As the castle was inhabited up to 2001 it has contemporary items such as newspapers, so I was trying to pose next to a pink bed, but in fact I was checking the news on the paper left there.

The castle is richly decorated so even on the staircases pay attention to the details

I hope you liked my post and once in the area you will visit the Haar Castle and also Utrecht is a nice city with a lovely old town. As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 21, 2020

Belgium - Le Tombeau du Geant

Do you still believe in stories? I've found out that I do. When I moved to Ireland I embraced all their folktales about fairies and giants and leprechauns, they have this way of protecting a tree which stands alone on a field by calling it Fairies Tree, some weird looking rooks? the Pass of the Giants and don't get me started with every rainbow... but as I've said it got me hooked and I will love and yearn for Ireland forever, even more than for Romania.

So this being the background, imagine how much I've wanted to go and see this Tombeau especially as it is only a 40 minute drive from Arlon, an hour from Luxembourg. Tombeau even in my rustic French is tomb, so who was the giant, why does it have that shape, why did he died?

Turns out that this loop that the river Semois is making is classified as an "exceptional heritage of Wallonia" and is one of "the most photographed places" in this French speaking part of the country. It took me only eight years to find about it, but ok. As an advice, since the staycation, the tourist information centers in Belgium and the Walloon region have become very active on Facebook. If you are interested give them a like and from time to time a gem like this will pop up.

The Giant, which is nameless was from Trier (Treves) so you will see it mentioned in some sources as Treviso, but we don't know his name. Legend says he fought at the battle of Sabis (57 BC between the Romans and the Belgian tribes) and was captured by Romans (weird as Trier was built by the Romans) and decided to take his life rather than being made to fight at the Colosseum in Rome, so he threw himself in this valley. Let's embrace the legend and not try to explain it as I've just did. 

The Tombeau du Geant is also called "Le point de vue Botassart" so if your GPS is not into legends than try to find it this way. It has a large parking space and a place from where you can buy drinks and also it is the starting point to a lot of trails, some accessible even with a pram.

These days I am a bit all over the place as Ilinca started going to the creche. No doubt you will have a post about that, too. As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu