April 29, 2017

Travel music?

First of all hit the music button!

I've got for you one of my latest discoveries, Justin Timberlake with Can't stop this feeling, which I call I got sunshine in my pocket. I know it's from 2015, but I got to love it now.

Here in Luxembourg we do a lot of travelling, for work, for fun, for the weekend, mostly by car, but even if you take the plane or the train, you need some music.

With me is another thing. For example, this weekend May 1st is coming. I'm planning the trip since February, cause if you ever wanted to get a decent price in Holland in tulip season, that's what you have to do. Booked a room and researched a little what to do in the area besides watching the tulips grow. A month ago I've started researching hard (another article about tips and tricks is on it's way) and two or three days before the actual trip it was like I've already been there, I wasn't excited anymore about it. I usually do that, so to get my moral up again I listen to music, or I plan a drive stick (on my time we would burn a CD or make a tape, now it's with music on a flash drive) with of course, drive music.

What is drive music?

Well to put it short is the music that makes you happy, that get's you up the chair, dancing. I was a Metallica girl, I dressed in black and wore boots winter and summer, but when I got a car I realised that Metallica, Bon Jovi or Berry White (the music I was listening at that moment) have little or no drive songs. It's a proved fact that I've learned at my first radio job that there are what they call "drive music" with a certain beat, fortunately I forgot all about it, it was a dark time in my career :) cause mixing songs on Winamp was not what I've learned at Journalism school. It was a good job, but I was going in another direction. Still the drive music thing stuck to my brain and even now when I have to plan a list of songs to last from Luxembourg to Amsterdam I arrange songs by their beat :)

So what would you put on a drive stick?

It's so weird for me to call it drive stick (I know that the shifting gear stick in a car is also called drive stick), list of drive songs sounds better? Whatever. There is a reason why on the radio you hear certain songs from an artist and not the whole album, so pick from the songs you hear on the radio. In Luxembourg I listen to ARA, so for me it's a little bit complicated to reproduce their playlist, because they air a certain type of songs, good for the radio, not to my taste, though. So I pick the hit songs, such as "Can't stop this feeling", Uptown funk - Bruno Mars"

Mixed with a little bit of Adele, you have to have Adele. I like One and only
It's a heavy song so next goes Maroon 5 with "Sugar"
You get the picture. 
I mix something from Ed Sheeran and some Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and at some point I introduce Queen and I listen to the whole Greatest Hits album :)
At this point, my husband wants his music and we listen to some jazz, which is opposite to drive music, but he is the driver, so...
This is just a list with my drive music, you can listen to whatever makes you happy and gets you off the chair and sing out loud especially when you wait in a queue around a big city. 
Friends, enjoy your long weekend and if you go to Holland for the tulips drop me a line to tell me how it was.
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April 24, 2017

Luxembourg - Photos from my phone

I take a lot of pictures and since I have a phone with a decent camera, I take even more. Of course I like them all and of course I would like to exhibit them somewhere, but usually they end up saved on my hard drive and that's it. Some of them are published on my Instagram, but I cannot post there as many as I would like, so what better platform to make them famous, than my blog?
Actually, it was an old habit of mine, to take pictures with my phone and publish them here, back when I was capturing what was in my mind an interesting moment, or a funny thing I would discover on a wall, you know, those instances when taking a picture would remind me of something. Now, I use my phone as a camera and my actual camera sits somewhere and I only use it when I need a good quality for my pictures, as for this blog or sometimes for my job. I hope to change that with this series of posts.
There must be more than 15 years since I last used a phone booth, but they do exist and in Luxembourg they are functional. They are so well integrated in our urban landscape, that we don't even notice them. This picture is from Luxembourg.
In March, I went back home, to Romania and although I stayed there for two days, I took a lot of photos. This is the Palace of Culture, a collection of museums, in Iasi, the capital of Moldova region in Romania.
In Luxembourg (and anywhere for that matter) I always look up. Sometimes I discover interesting buildings that are right in front of our eyes and we pass by them daily, but we don't notice. This one is on the city centre and I think it hosts an expensive store or something. The building looks nice, though.
Last, but not least, a selfie. It reminded me of our trip to Heidelberg, e few weeks back. We arrived and parked the car and the first thing I saw was this gorgeous tree. As I went to take a picture, my husband found out that the parking was residential and we had to move the car and we never went back to the same spot to photograph the tree. So that was it. An instance :)
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April 19, 2017

Luxembourg - Emaischen, keeping a Luxembourgish tradition

There are many beautiful, rural traditions still alive in Luxembourg, but for me Emaischen is special, because I found it on a very difficult year of my life, the first time we spent Easter alone in Luxembourg. We basically went into town to see if something was on and discovered a ceramic market, one of my passions. That is Emaischen for me, an occasion to discover new and talented ceramists working in Luxembourg and around and if that coincides with an ancient Luxembourgish tradition, all the better.
Emaischen, is celebrated on the Easter Monday and evolved around the whistle in a shape of a bird, called Peckveiller. On that particular day the people living in Luxembourg buy this bird shaped whistles to give to the loved ones. Children are especially enchanted by this celebration and one could hear the sound of the whistle from dusk till dawn in the old town.
To be fair, it all started in a town north of Luxembourg City called Nospelt, which was the centre of ceramic manufacturing in Luxembourg, it was there they made the first bird shaped whistles. Also in Nospelt they organise Emaischen, the ceramic market, and I discovered that the whistle manufacturers invent new shapes and new designs every year. There is also a ceramic museum in Nospelt, so if you do take the trip from Luxembourg, you will not be disappointed.
This year Easter passed so fast, I didn't even had time to enjoy it, so although we planned to go to Nospelt for Emaischen, we woke up late, it was raining so we changed plans and went to Luxembourg City instead. I have to say it wasn't as traditional as I expected, but I found good ceramists and even bought a coffee cup. Here are the photos:

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April 17, 2017

10x6 Expat Women, Networking event in Luxembourg

As an expat woman I am interested in stories of other women that made it in Luxembourg. I will not hide it, for me adapting to Luxembourg was and it still is hard. I still don't feel like Luxembourg will be my forever home, but a transit location and it's up to me to evolve and gather as much experience as possible and focus on the positive stuff, but Luxembourg is not for me.

I know it's mine and no one else's fault, I know it's all in my head, but these kind of social events help me find a group that I belong to, because I am not the only one English speaking woman who could not adapt to Luxembourg, despite English being more and more influential every year.

To put it short, the event, 10x6 Expat Women Conference was a networking event besides a conference. If you are familiar with TED conferences, this was sort of similar. There were 10 women who had 6 minutes to tell their success story in Luxembourg. Some of them were really high in multinational businesses hierarchy, some were freelancers, but their common point was that they all felt that Luxembourg is now their home. They adapted to Luxembourg and they raised valid points or pointers for someone who might want to do the same.

After the 10 speeches I was left with the hope that I could someday consider Luxembourg home, that it is possible, that Luxembourg has some advantages and most important that I am not alone in this.
As usual I never get a decent photo of myself. This is the best one, still you can't see my amazing shoes :)
After the whole shebang I'm left with a lot of advice and three magazines and a picture made at the photo-booth provided by the organisers.
Here is my tag, which I had to give back to the organisers. 
I was so surprised by this, that I didn't even keep the tag, cause I don't think they had much use for it. I wonder if at the next 45 euro a place event they will distribute the sweaty cords of this event to the participants. I hope they do wash them :)
On Instagram I've said that hopefully in 5 years time, I will be on a similar stage telling my success story in Luxembourg. Now I'm not that confident :)
If you made it here and you are still wondering what I am talking about, here are some useful links related to the event.
And I do encourage you to follow this link: You will find the interesting tale of a Russian woman who had to change to fit in her very restrictive business sector, but still managed to keep part of her native culture. I loved her!
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April 14, 2017

Germany - Travelling with a dog to Koblenz from Luxembourg

Travelling with a dog is sometimes challenging, but when we travel to Germany or Nederland I feel our stress is reduced by their friendliness towards dogs.

Let's start from the beginning. Even for one day trips that we often take from Luxembourg to the neighbouring countries, Luna has a proper luggage. We have to prepare a muzzle for her (Luna is a collie so by definition a friendly dog and she is even more friendlier than Dea, but still she is a dog and I do understand that in public transport, for example, I have to have a muzzle for her), a foldable water ball, some treats, fresh water, a toy, poop bags and a long leash. Usually we manage not to forget anything, but there are exceptions. It happen that we took all from home and we forgot them in the car, for example.

Once we have a destination and we pack all those things for her, Luna is ready to go. Still, she likes to travel, but she hates the car. So even though she doesn't associate the car with negative destinations, such as the vet, she still cries a lot until she finds her place. Just to give you an idea, on a trip of two hours, such as the one to Koblenz, Luna cried for maybe half an hour.

So after a "stressful" journey by car for her, I love to end up in a green city as Koblenz is. She is automatically relaxed and she is ready to see it all. And if the city is one that is friendly towards dogs, I know I will love it, too.

What I mean by a dog friendly city?

To sum all the components in one paragraph, a dog friendly city is: a city with a lot of parks or green areas, a city where Luna has access inside big shops (that happens a lot in Germany and Nederlands, sometimes in Belgium), a city where Luna has access in restaurants or terraces, a city where Luna has access in the major tourist attractions, a city where you find poop bags close to green areas and of course you find garbage bins, a city where in crowded areas you happen to spot a boll with fresh water or even treats for the dog.

All those points were met in Koblenz and that made our experience as tourists even more pleasant. I hope I will make a travel blog about Koblenz someday, but until then here are some pictures:

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April 7, 2017

Belgium - Arlon Carnaval

Arlon Carnaval was actually a few weeks ago, but my busy schedule didn't allow me to focus on a proper post about it on the blog.

Here in this region once we burn winter the Carnival Season starts and we have carnivals in Germany, in Luxembourg and of course in Belgium. This year I managed to go only to the carnival in Arlon. It seems that every year that passes I am more busy or less interested in the "traditional" events in this region. I know four years ago I went to three carnivals, but this year I was glad I made it to the carnival in my town, cause for the past two years I missed it.

For Arlon, the carnival is one of the two or three major events that take place in a year, besides Maitrank and Christmas so it's a good reason to come and see it from Luxembourg. Most of the participants are small business associations or enterprises in the area, but there are participants that are more "traditional" than commercial.

There is the car of the Harlequins of Arlon an association of clowns, then some weird looking animals which are supposed to be "sangliers", boars, also an association based in Arlon. I don't know if these associations actually do something besides touring the carnivals in the region, but it was fun to watch them. Then there are the traditional Gilles. This year they were the highlight of the parade as they came in last. I didn't know much about them, except that they throw oranges sometimes at the crowd. The first year I came to Arlon I didn't pay attention and one of the oranges hit me in the head. Let me tell you that is not a pleasant experience. I've learned my lesson and now I pay attention to the oranges being thrown.

Another association I particularly waited for were the Arlon Giants. I like them because I assume they wear the traditional Belgian clothes and as I am interested in the traditional costumes of each country, I like taking pictures and finding more about that. As their name suggests there are three or maybe four giant dolls moved on wheels dressed in the traditional folk Belgian costumes and also the people that manipulate those dolls are wearing the traditional folk costumes.

Carnival is a season of laughter and joy and people are genuinely happy to come together and watch the procession. Children gather candy thrown by the participants of the cavalcade, adults enjoy a refreshment or two and everyone is happy.
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April 5, 2017

Buergbrennen Luxembourg - Saying good-bye to Winter in style!

We burned the winter exactly one month ago and it seems to have worked. For about two weeks we have sunny, warm weather and I even got my summer t-shirts out from the winter closet and started wearing them. I am still afraid and each morning I look circumspectly out the window to greet the sun, but up till now I saw it daily. Fingers crossed!

Now, what is with the burning cross, you ask? Well it's an old Luxembourgish tradition, coming back from the times when Luxembourgers were more preoccupied with working their lands than banking. Buergbrennen is celebrated on the first Sunday of the Lent, not just in Luxembourg, but also in Belgium and Germany. In the recent years over 75% of the small towns in Luxembourg are celebrating this tradition on the same day so no matter where you live in Luxembourg you are always close to a Buergbrennen.

Traditionally this Buergbrennen is a bonfire made in the shape of a man, I honestly couldn't find out where they came with the cross from, but in Bonnevoie neighbourhood in Luxembourg city this was Buergbrennen's shape. The burning of the Buergbrennen is preceded by a torch-lit procession from the nearby church to the place where they will burn the fire. It is believed that the fire will chase out the spirits of the cold season figuratively burning the winter away.

Last year, the day after we lit the bonfire in Luxembourg there was a week of snow and wind and cold weather, but this year, as I said, it seems to have worked. I guess you just have to believe it :)

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