December 28, 2017

Luxembourg - The Christmas Market from Adolphe Bridge

I'll warn you, this is going to be a sad little post, because what can you say about the topic? Some pictures from a bridge. I've told you all I know about the Place de la Constitution Christmas Market and all about the Adolphe Bridge and these are just pictures I've snapped on my way to the railway station one evening when the busses were running late and when walking seemed like a good idea. I am positive that there are somewhere out there better pictures on the same subject, because there were two photographers with proper cameras and tripods and all shebang on the bridge.

I'm definitely waiting for Spring to come, for the sun to rise and the warm weather to be here cause in this weather Luxembourg is not that great. That's it boys and girls. I hope you liked my little article and if you did please do share it on social media and if you want to drop a line, you can find me at:

December 22, 2017

Luxembourg - Some Christmas window shopping

I was walking to meet some friends in town and I noticed the windows of all the big and expensive brands that have shops in Luxembourg centre. Agreed, it's not London or New York but they are festive in their own way. It wasn't raining and I've considered it a sign to get my camera out and take some pictures.

I did not go inside the stores, I just took a photo of their display windows. I hope you like it and maybe feel inspired to do one last expensive Christmas shopping before the big man comes to town.

That's it boys and girls. I hope you liked my little article and if you did please do share it on social media and if you want to drop a line, you can find me at:

December 21, 2017

Luxembourg - Useldange - Christmas Market in a Castle

Lately I felt under the weather and I do blame the weather for this, because for the last three weeks I've seen the sun just once or twice and one of those times was during the week-end which we spent in Alsace.

If there is something I truly hate in this region is the lack of sun for weeks on end during winter. That being said, cause I needed to vent out, this region compensates with unique things to do and see and the one I'm just writing about is one of those things; a Christmas Market in a Castle. Ain't that interesting?

It lasted for just two days and to be fair the castle is more of a ruin, on which they build the town hall. If you do get the chance to check out Useldange, please do, cause you will see what a lot of money can do to an old castle. I found out about this local event by pure chance and I think I was the only one, because clearly this market was for locals. But it was fun.

I assume it is the tradition here, because all the month of December in all the small towns in Luxembourg they organise these Christmas Markets. They last a weekend or the whole month or more weekends in a row and usually they have local sellers and the events are organised by the local community and they raise money for different charities.

For us it was the novelty of it all. Imagine a Christmas Market inside a Castle, even a ruined one. We had mulled wine and listened to local songs, toured the castle and went home. It is nice to experience these local, rural, events, because they are so different from the Luxembourg city ones, people are more of a community, and although you get a stare or two and people wonder who are you and what are you doing there, it's nice to feel like you are part of something.

This is still me under the weather talking, so I better leave you with some pictures. Enjoy!

That's it boys and girls. I hope you liked my little article. I was meant to do 12 blogs of Christmas, but I don't think I have the energy for it. We shall see! If you liked this article please do share it on social media and if you want to drop a line, you can find me at:

December 18, 2017

BeNeLux - Christmas beers from around here

I admit, I don't drink, like ever. To me drinking is a waste, because I don't like any of the drinks and to drink just because it's a social norm, I think it's stupid. I am the single one sober at a party, I would be the designated driver, if I would have a drivers's licence, I am the one drinking Cola when everyone enjoys Cremant. That's who I am.

I'm also the person who buys drinks after their label. So, probably I'm not the right person to write this post, but since I've came up with the idea... and on top of that, the Christmas labels are really inspired.

If you joined the discussion a little bit later, I live in BeNeLux, a very fortunate region when it comes to drinks. We have Belgian beers, we have Luxembourgish wines and we have a lot of duty free shops where we can buy other sorts of drinks. We are also very close to France and Germany so to conclude we have access to a lot of alcoholic beverages.

As you can see I have a great selection of beers from Luxembourg, Belgium and one from France. I did not find a German Christmas beer, but that does not mean it doesn't not exist. What I did and what you can do if you live in Luxembourg or you shop in Luxembourg, I went to the supermarket, the biggest and the most Luxembourgish one and bought all the Christmas beers I could find.
For me Christmas is always white so I was fortunate enough to write this post during a snow and pop outside to take a few pictures. 
I don't know about Luxembourgish beers, but usually Belgian, abbey beers (or Trappist) are associated with abbey cheese. 
Let's start with the Luxembourgish ones, I have here, Diekirch, Bofferding, Simon and Battin, I know for sure that there is also Fox beer, but I did not find their Xmas beer, if they even have one. As I can't actually judge the taste, because they all taste fine to me, I would say that by the labels they are indeed multicultural. If I were to do a little bit of linguistic landscaping, I've noticed that the beers have labels in three languages, English, French and Luxembourgish. Diekirch, Bofferding and Battin have the word "Christmas" wrote as in English, the description in French and some slogans or the logo in Luxembourgish. 
Simon is the only one that doesn't use English on their label, the word for "Christmas" is in French and it is "Noel" and the beer description is also in French. They have something which to me looks like Luxembourgish and I assume is the motto and out of the four Luxembourgish beers only Simon has the crest on the bottle.
Passing to the only French beer I found and I'm not even sure it is a Christmas beer, but I bought it because it has sort of a Christmas label and it is with marrons (chestnuts) which I associate with Christmas. The label is all written in French, (no surprise there) and to me the beer tastes funny, but maybe it's from the chestnuts. It tastes funny, but good. 
I was surprised to find, Belgian Christmas beers,  not because they can't be usually found in Luxembourg, but because I've imagined the Belgians as being serious about their beers and not surrender to this Christmas commercial stuff. But as you can see all these beers are not actually, truly Trappist beers, they are mass produced and I hope I am right, they lost the Trappist qualification if they ever had one. Nonetheless, they are Belgian and they are good and they do have a lot more alcohol than the other ones. As Belgium is a trilingual country, too, their labels are written in the two main languages of the country, which are French and Dutch. The labels have that Christmassy feel and the beer is ok.

And that's about it with my post about Christmas beers from the region. If you found the post interesting please like and share it. You can find me at:

December 8, 2017

Luxembourg - Friday evening at the Christmas Market

The weekend is just around the corner and I thought that you might be tempted to follow my example and just have fun at the Christmas Markets in Luxembourg. Yes guys there are at least three Christmas Markets and you can walk from one to the next and tick different activities.

This is by no means a guide to Christmas Markets in Luxembourg, it's just to give you some pointers, some ideas of what you can do. If you are reading this from Luxembourg, I am talking about the Christmas Markets in Place d'Armes, Knuedler and Place de la Constitution.

1. First, stop by this very nice decorated tree in front of the Cathedral and take some pictures to amaze Instagram with or for your family's photo album

2. Fuel yourself with a boot cup of mulled wine or as we call it here in Luxembourg and in the region, glühwein and some chestnuts 

3. Buy some wood Christmas tree decoration from Place d'Armes and marvel at this wooden Nativity Scene

4. While you are there look for the Winter Lights photo-booths and take a picture to remember 

5. Pass to the Knuedler Market and try on some skating

6. If skating is not your thing have a wurst and admire the place

7. For me, the vibe of the Knuedler Market is closer to what I have in my mind as what a Christmas Market should be like

8. Take Instagramable pictures in front of the Town Hall and use the city free WiFi to post them, then and there

9. Drink a second glühwein, it is cheaper at the Knuedler Market ;)

10. Pass on to the Golden Lady Market (Place de la Constitution), but stop to take another picture

11. Admire for a second the Christmas Pyramide

12. Buy some more decorations

13. And maybe some gingerbread 

14. Enjoy the salmon! I've tried it for the fist time this year and it was ok

15. Ride the carousel

16. Delight yourself with some Romanian sweets

17. And pair them with another glass of glühwein

I'll leave you with some movies, the quality is not that great, but the feeling is there

Last, but by no means least, please don't drink and drive. The glühwein can go to your head :)
If you enjoyed my little Christmassy post, please be advised that more posts like this are coming your way. I'm in the Christmas spirit more this year and I have big plans. Hope to accomplish them :) As usual if you liked the post please share it with your friends. You can find me here:

December 1, 2017

Povestea IEI - The tale of the Romanian Blouse

Today, is Romania's national day, it is December 1st and the first snow already fell over Arlon. First snow of Winter 2017-2018, that is. I did not plan this and I don't even know if this will be published today, but my friend, Ștefania, wrote a text about the Romanian Blouse. It is so amazing to hear her tell the story, that I've dared to translate it into English. So for English, scroll down!

Cămașă de Breaza din a doua jumătate a secolului al XIX-lea ce se află în colecția Muzeului Metropolitan de Artă din New York / Breaza shirt from the second half of the XIX century from the Metropolitan Art Museum's collection

Povestea IEI

Dacă știm să o ascultam, IA ne vorbește. Femeile noastre au utilizat din cele mai vechi timpuri acul și ața pentru a scrie pe pânză povești. Modelele cusute nu sunt simple ornamente, ci reprezintă simboluri și idei ce pot fi citite de către cei care cunosc acest limbaj vizual.

Odinioară, fetele începeau să coasă în jurul vârstei de 5 ani. Ele stăteau pe lângă mamele și bunicile lor și începeau să lucreze alături de ele, de mici, astfel încât timp de multe generații, semnele cusute, culorile și regulile s-au transmis. În fiecare familie, mamele aveau și rolul de a transmite fiicelor lor secretele cusăturilor și tâlcul motivelor cusute, iar bunicile erau reperul cel mai înalt de calitate datorita experienței acumulate în decursul anilor.

Femeile își produceau singure în trecut acasă tot ce le era necesar pentru a-și îmbrăca familia, de la pânză și până la produsul finit. Ele cultivau în jurul casei inul și cânepa din care făceau apoi cămășile de sărbătoare (iile) și pe cele de lucru. Cele de sărbătoare erau din pânza de in, recunoscută pentru calitățile ei termoizolante, iar cele de lucru erau din pânza de cânepa, care rezistă mai mult în timp.

Lâna cu care erau cusute s-a aflat dintotdeauna în jurul gospodăriilor, mătasea a venit mai târziu, iar bumbacul abia în timpurile moderne. Pregătirea acestor materiale și țeserea lor erau migăloase, necesitau efort și timp, de aceea fiecare bucată de material era chibzuită cum se cuvine.

Croiala iei are la bază bucăți dreptunghiulare de material, îmbinate în funcție de nevoi și încrețite la gat. Datorită acestei croieli, nici o bucățică de material nu este risipită, cămașa poate fi adaptată astfel încât femeia să devină mamă, să alăpteze, și în tot acest timp să-și ajusteze silueta. Cămășile erau compuse pentru a fi ușor descompuse la nevoie, iar părțile care se uzau mai repede să poată fi înlocuite.

Așa cum bărbații aveau rolul de a-și apăra familia de relele și pericolele văzute, rolul femeilor era acela de a o apăra de relele nevăzute (deochiul și duhurile necurate, de pildă). Astfel, cusăturile au apărut pe cămăși în primul rând în zonele considerate vulnerabile: umăr, gât, cot, încheietura mâinii, gura cămășii, zonele în care pânza era tăiata sau îmbinată.

Prima cusătură care a apărut pe IE a fost cea de la umăr, acolo unde mâneca se unea de restul cămășii și avea forma unei benzi decorative care sublinia îmbinarea mânecii, într-un loc considerat vulnerabil. Ulterior, această bandă decorativă a fost repetată de câteva ori și astfel a devenit ALTIȚĂ.

Altița este în credința populară reprezentarea cerului. În altiță, pe umeri așadar, regăsim elementele cerului: SOARELE, care ne dă căldura, lumină, viață, fără el nu am exista, STELE, CONSTELAȚIILE care ne călăuzesc drumurile în viață, PASĂRILE, FLUTURII șamd. Altița se făcea de cele mai multe ori dintr-o bucată separată de pânza, mai îngustă decât restul mânecii, pentru că presupunea multă muncă (deoarece cusătura altiței era cea mai bogata), iar la nevoie putea fi refolosita la o alta cămașa, după ce cea veche se uza.

Sub altiță se află ÎNCREȚUL: el reprezintă PĂMÂNTUL. Realizat printr-o tehnică specială de cusut, unică, el poartă motive specifice, feminine, legate de fertilitate, în special romburi și variații de romburi, unghiuri. Încrețul a fost cusut în nuanțe de la alb la negru, trecând prin galben, ocru și brun.

Încrețul a apărut tot din considerente practice: în trecut nu exista elastic, iar el are un rol asemănător acestuia, legând altița care era mai îngusta de restul mânecii, croită mai larg pentru a fi mai comodă.

Din încreț /pământ curg la vale RÂURII de pe mâneci cu motive vegetale: spice, vrejuri, ramuri cu boboci, cu flori, pomul vieții șamd. Femeile se jucau cu proporția modelelor, cu densitatea râurilor și culorile folosite astfel încât să obțină silueta care le avantaja.

Pe pieptul cămășilor se găsesc alți râuri, care sunt mai bogați la iile de vara și la cele din sudul țării noastre, pentru că în nordul țării, acolo unde este mai frig, femeile purtau bundița care acoperea cămașa pe piept și pe spate.

Fiecare ie era unică, precum scrisul de mană: aceleași motive cusute vor arăta diferit pe două cămăși, fiecare mână își pune amprenta altfel asupra pânzei și a semnelor cusute pe ea. Femeile coseau cămășile iarna, când muncile câmpului se încheiau și le scoteau în lume primăvara, de Paști, când toată natura se înnoia. Atunci se înnoiau și ele și își doreau să fie cât mai deosebite de restul, așa că se străduiau, jonglând cu modele și culori, să fie unice.

În perioada modernă, în special în ultimii 100 de ani, povestea scrisă pe IE s-a pierdut încet-încet, motivele și-au pierdut înțelesul, vechile reguli de compoziție au fost încălcate, uitate, aproape pierdute. A fost o perioada (anii 1930-1950) în care, pierzându-se povestea, s-a insistat pe materiale scumpe și noi, pe tehnici migăloase, iar compoziția s-a orientat către noutățile vremii. Apar iile cu ornamente bogate, dar sărace în sensuri.

Cea mai tristă însă este bluza de inspirație tradițională, cusută în perioada comunistă, dar de care nu am scăpat nici acum, cusută în centrele de meșteșuguri care le-au continuat pe cele interbelice înființate de reginele noastre sau de marile doamne ale acelei epoci. Ele sunt produse de serie, optimizate pentru a fi lucrate repede, spornic și ieftin. Aceleași modele se repeta peste tot, sunt cusute mare și lăbărțat, apare mâneca scurtă, răscroiala, cromatica stridentă. Dispare unicitatea, specificul regional, creativitatea, amprenta fiecărei femei și rezultă un fel de « uniformă » cum era cea de șoim al patriei și cea de pionier…

Acestea sunt « iile » pe care le găsiți astăzi în artizanat, în centrele tradiționale precum cel de la Breaza, le găsiți vândute în Aeroportul Henri Coandă ca fiind « tradiționale », le vedeți promovate de ansamblurile folclorice. Argumentul suprem este că sunt cusute manual. Nu, nu orice lucru cusut manual este valoros, nu orice bluziță cusută manual se poate numi IE.

Ar fi păcat ca această poveste transmisă și îmbogățită timp de sute de generații să se piardă tocmai acum. Este atât de important să o recuperăm, să o respectam și să o transmitem mai departe. Iile noastre și-au câștigat locul binemeritat în marile muzee de textile și etnografice ale lumii, putem să mergem să le vizitam, putem să vedem fotografiile lor, putem să le comparam cu ceea ce ne propune în zilele noastre artizanatul. Și cel mai important, putem pune mana pe ac și pe ață ca să lăsam scrisă mai departe această poveste.

Ștefania Atanasiu


The tale of the Romanian Blouse

If we stop to listen, IA talks to us. Since ancient times, our women have used the needle and thread to write stories. Stitched patterns are not simple ornaments, but symbols and ideas that can be read by those who know this visual language. 

A long time ago, girls would begin to learn the craft of sticking around the age of five. They stood beside their mothers and grandmothers and began to work with them, so that for many generations, sewn signs, colours, and rules were inherited. In each family, mothers also had the role of transmitting their secrets to the daughters and the sewing of the stitched motifs was transmitted from one generation to the next, grandmothers had the highest quality level, due to their experience, gained in years.

Women were making, around home, all the materials they needed to garb the family, from the cloth to the final product. They grew around the house flax and hemp, from which they then made the celebration shirts and the working shirts. The celebrations shirts were made of linen, recognised for its thermo-insulating qualities, and the working ones were made of hemp cloth, which lasts longer.

The wool was always around, the silk came later, and the cotton was imported to Romania only in modern times. The preparation of these materials and their weaving were meticulous, they needed effort and time, so every piece of material was properly thought out.

The blouse is made from rectangular pieces of material, joined around the neck. Thanks to this cut, no piece of material was scattered, the shirt could be adapted so that when the woman becomes a mother, nursing, the shirt could be adjusted to her silhouette. The shirts were composed so they could be easily decomposed if needed, and the parts that were damaged to be easily replaced.

Just as the men had the role of protecting their family from the seen evils and dangers, the role of women was to protect it from the unseen evil (the evil eye, for example). Thus, the stitches appeared on the shirts primarily in areas considered vulnerable: the shoulder, the neck, the elbow, the wrist, the mouth of the shirts, the areas where the cloth was cut or merged.

The first stitch that appeared on the IE was that of the shoulder, where the sleeve joined the rest of the shirt and was in the shape of a decorative strip that emphasized the sleeve, at a place considered vulnerable. Subsequently, this decorative strip was repeated several times and thus became ALTIȚĂ.

Altița is in the popular belief the representation of the sky. On altiță, so on the shoulders, we find the elements of the sky: THE SUN, which warmth us, lights us, gives life, without it, we would not exist, STARS, CONSTELLATIONS that guide our paths in life, BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES and so on. Altița was made of a separate piece of cloth, narrower than the rest of the sleeve, because it involved a lot of work (since on the altiță the stitch was the richest) it could be reused on another shirt if needed.

After the altiță, we have the ÎNCREȚ, it is the EARTH. Made with a unique sewing technique, it has specific, female, fertility-related motifs, especially diamonds and variations of diamonds, angles. Încrețul was stitched in shades from white to black, passing through yellow, ochre and brown.

Încrețul emerged for practical reasons: in the past the elastic was not invented, and the încreț had a similar role, linking the narrower part (altița) with the rest of the sleeve, which was wider to be more comfortable.

From the încreț flow to the valley the RIVERS (RĂURII) with vegetal motifs: wheat, stalks, branches with buds, flowers, the tree of life. Women played with the proportion of patterns, the density of the rivers and the colours used so to obtain the silhouette that suited them.

On the chest of the shirts are other rivers, which are richer in the summer and in the south of our country, because in the north of the country, where it is colder, the women wore a vest that covered the shirt on the chest and on the back.

Each IE is unique, as handwriting is: the same stitched motifs would look different on two shirts, each hand puts its mark differently on the cloth and the patterns stitched on it. The women were making IA during winter, when the work on the fields ended and the shirts were paraded out in spring for the whole world to see, during Easter, when all nature was renewed. Wearing a new shirt made them feel young and special, and they wanted to feel special, so they played with patterns and colours, and each shirt made them unique.

In the modern times, especially in the last 100 years, the story written on IE slowly was lost, it lost its meaning, the old rules of composition were broken, forgotten, almost lost. It was a period (1930-1950), when losing the story meant that expensive and new materials were used, new techniques were invented, and the composition of the Romanian blouse was adapted to fit the times. So, the blouses had richer ornaments, but they had lost the story, they had lost the meaning.

The saddest, however, is the traditional inspirational shirt, sewn during the communist times, but which still exist even now, embroidered in craft centres that continued the ones established by our queens and the high-class ladies between the two world wars. They were mass produced, optimised to be easy made and cheap. The same patterns are repeated everywhere, the sewing step was bigger, the sleeves were short and in neon colours. The uniqueness of each blouse was gone, the regional patterns were gone, the creativity and the impact disappeared, and a kind of "uniform" was created.

These are the "blouses" you find today in hand craft stores, in the traditional centres such as Breaza, you find them sold in Henri Coandă Airport as "traditional," you see promoted by folk ensembles. The supreme argument is that they are handmade, but not every handmade thing is valuable, not any handmade blouse is a IE.

It would be a pity if we were to lose the story, transmitted and enriched for hundreds of generations. It is so important that we recover it, respect it, and pass it on. Our Romanian blouses have earned their well-deserved place in the world's major textiles and ethnographic museums, we can go and visit them, we can see their photos, we can compare them with what the craft stores are selling today. And most importantly, we can take a needle and thread and write on the story further.

Bluză de Breaza brodată în 2017 cu model ”Creastă de cocoș” de pe magazinul / Shirt made in Breaza in 2017 with the pattern "Rooster's comb" form the store

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November 27, 2017

Luxembourg - Visit at RTL City

I am a journalist and no matter how my career path has derailed now, I will always be a journalist. I can't put it in words, but I guess it's like any other job. There was a saying that if you wake up a surgeon he will know how to perform a surgery or something like that. For me, wherever I will be in life and whatever I will do, I can always read the news, know exactly what deserves to be breaking news, what is the order in a news bulletin and how the mixing console (I'm sorry I don't know other term, we called it mixer) works. A little self promotion, never  hurt anyone!

Unfortunately in Luxembourg because of the language problem, I can be just a communicator, but of course that once I've moved here I've researched possible working places, especially in radio. RTL was of course on the list, but because it would take me ages to learn Luxembourgish at such a level as to freely speak it on the radio I've given up. So when my friend invited me to visit the new RTL City in Luxembourg with her MBA colleagues I did not hesitate for a second.

I was eager to grasp it all, I've liked the Luxembourgish radio history and the presentation of the RTL Group offered to us by one of the CEO's and was sad that little by little radio is dying, although the new RTL City in Luxembourg has 18 radio studios and only 3 TV studios. We visited three or four studios and we had the opportunity to take pictures and ask questions and we had a very nice dinner so all in all a good evening in Luxembourg City. For a moment I was back in time and I was where I was supposed to be, in a radio studio.

If nothing happened after this visit, I know now that journalism has to be back in my life. I miss it so much and no matter how much knowledge I've accumulated in the past few years, my heart will forever be in radio.

That being said, thank you so, so much, Clara for this opportunity! I don't know if you will ever read this, but it really helped.

I'll leave you with some pictures.

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