October 30, 2017

Belgium - Binche and Mons - Discovering Belgian towns one at a time

I really should travel more. I know compared to a normal person, I do travel a lot, but I live in the middle of Europe, if I don't make it an effort to get out of the house and see new stuff, what is the point of living here?

And believe me the effort is not that great, basically in every direction there is something new and interesting to discover. My point, I went to Charleroi in Belgium to get someone to the airport and we were left with half a day. We could have gone back to Luxembourg or search the area. Ever since we moved to Belgium and I've started researching Belgian traditions, I've wanted to go to Binche. There is nothing special about the town, except that it is a town wrapped around the Binche carnival. The Gille is a specific character who resides in Binche and you maybe spotted him at carnivals in the area. He is the one throwing oranges at people.

The Gille intrigued me since my first carnival in Arlon (I've wrote about carnivals in Arlon, here, here and here). Why is he giving oranges and not candies like everyone else? Is he preoccupied with children's health? And why oranges? Why not something traditional to the area, like apples?

I've wanted an answer to these questions for a long time and a trip to Binche seemed like a good idea to get them. Although everywhere you look in Binche the Gille is mentioned, the answers were not easy to find, I did learn a lot about  Belgian traditions and I promise to write a special post about the Gille and his friends later this week.

Overall the town was nice, the centre was small and picturesque as you can see it from my pictures. I would not recommend to go especially to Binche if you arrive in Belgium, but maybe visit it together with another town, as we did.

After Binche we went to Mons. This small Belgian town was an European Cultural Capital last year and I wanted to see if it was something special. Turns out it wasn't. If you live in Belgium and you are used with Belgian towns, Mons is no different. I would say that the European money helped it a lot, cause it's cleaner than others, it had a lot more museums and tourist attractions and better roads, but other than that, Arlon could be an European Cultural Capital no problem. It was an interesting town though and it was worth a visit, but again Mons was not one of the towns for which one would come especially to Belgium. If you live in the area and you happen to pass it on the motorway, yes, but don't go out of your way just to visit Mons. That is my opinion.

I'll leave you with pictures:
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October 23, 2017

Luxembourg - The bridge under the bridge - New Pont Adolphe

Pont Adolphe is in the heart of Luxembourg. It connects the railway area with the city centre and is one of the oldest bridges in Luxembourg. It is an ached bridge, it was constructed between 1900 and 1903 and it bares the name of Grand Duke Adolphe. In latest years it has become some sort of a symbol of Luxembourg and one could see it on most postcards and is always photographed by tourists, mainly because you can see it better from Place de la Constitution or Golden Lady Square. 

When we arrived in Luxembourg the bridge was about to go under reconstruction and reinforcement stage because the Luxembourgers decided to introduce or reintroduce trams in the city. The bridge caught my attention because one of my colleagues made a presentation about the linguistic landscape related to the bridge. From them on, I've observed more the fuss that went around the bridge. 

This year the reconstruction was finished and the Adolphe Bridge had not one bridge but two, one on top of the other. The under-bridge was designed for cyclists and pedestrians, but the bloggers and journalists discovered the great pictures one could take from the under-bridge to the Petrusse valley. 

As a new tourist attraction and photo opportunity I made it my purpose to take the same pictures on a sunny day and that's what I did last week. As it happened I kinda caught the golden hour on my way from the centre to the railway station.

So here are my pictures of the bridge. One thing though, i think someone should install some speed bumpers for cyclists cause in one or two instances it was kinda dangerous to be a pedestrian on the under-bridge.
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October 19, 2017

CinEast is happening right now in Luxembourg

Somehow this year I did not have as much time as I would have liked to go to the movies for CinEast. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is the link.

CinEast is the festival of Central and Eastern European Movies and is happening every year in Luxembourg and every year is getting better. I think (I hope I'm not mistaken) this year is the 10th edition.
Last year I was bothered that Romanian Cinema was not so much into focus, but this year I'm impressed. The Romanian movies are great and there is one Romanian evening, a meeting with the actor Adrian Titieni which if you are Romanian or you are into Romanian movies you might have spotted him in most of the recent ones. The meeting is actually tonight and if all goes well, I hope to be there.
To my shame (Romanian expression translated ad litteram), I only managed to see one movie, "Marița". I would not say I've loved it, because I didn't. One hour and a half with a lot of long and useless scenes for me was a little bit too much. Somehow Romanian cinema still things it is ok to do that, hoping probably that the audience won't be bored. We were. But it was a Romanian movie, the only comedy in the festival, I had to see it. And overall the movie was ok. I've liked the jokes placed here and there, I've liked the actors and actually Titieni was great. I hope I'm not wrong, it was the cinema debut of the director, Cristi Iftime. He will definitely know next time.
Later edit:
I managed to go to the meeting with the Romanian actor and it was ok. I've learned a few things about this job and about the preparations that happen before the movie is even filmed. The talk was with a young Romanian actress who lives in Luxembourg or something, Larisa Faber. Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay and watch another Romanian movie and I think today already the movie screening section of the festival is over. Next year!

So, I think there are three more days packed with good movies, go and see them!
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October 16, 2017

Luxembourg - Visit a castle with your dog - Petopia event

I won't stop admitting how fast things change in Luxembourg. Five years ago with English you would end up staying at home on a Saturday evening, not because of the lack of events, but because you had no idea about them. Social media accounts in English were just few and almost no one would bother do to fb events for an actual event. So you were left with the occasional poster on the side of the road or finding events and fun things to do from friends.

It's totally different right now and for a Saturday evening one can choose from a wide range of events.

The expat online communities are bigger and stronger and there are even specific Facebook groups, such as the one of pet owners. In one of these groups I found my pet sitter and recently I've discovered something that I thought I had to try.

This online community, Petopia, organises a lot of events where you can bring your dog. There are places where one couldn't normally bring their pooch. So for examples, they had a visit to the cider producing farm in Luxembourg, another event was with pet detectives, in the escape room. Unfortunately places do go fast and if you are not on fb. at the right time you might miss them.

Fortunately for us, I've spotted an event which was right up our alley, a castle visit with your dog. Of course by the time I found out about the event it was sold out, but we were lucky. The day before the event two places became available. Of course I've grabbed them, not even asking my husband because I knew he was a fan of castles and we did visit that particular castle, but never with Luna.

The next day we had to actually rush (fingers crossed we did not grab a ticket) the 45 km from Arlon to Bourscheid, a little town in Northern Luxembourg. We were there on time and the visit started.

It was a normal visit, just that our group had 20 people and about 8 dogs. We had a private, guided tour of the castle and it was funny to see how the different breads would cope with steep staircases and narrow pathways.

Luna had the time of her life, she got to meet a little bit the other dogs before the visit and they all payed attention to the guide, just like humans. Even more she got to smell walls dating from the medieval times and not just stay outside with me while Alin would visit the castle, as we would normally do.

It was a fun event and I am glad we took the chance and went. Let's hope I would spot in time the next events so we would have more fun doing things together.

Groups such as this fill in a need. If it was up to me I would take Luna everywhere with me, but unfortunately, even thou Luxembourg is more open to dogs than Romania, Luna is still not allowed in most places. I guess if you have a well behaved dog, taking it with you shouldn't be a problem.

I'll leave you with some pictures:

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October 12, 2017

Luxembourg discovered the Romanian Blouse

English below

Peste 30 de oameni au răspuns provocării adresate de trei românce stabilite în Luxemburg, de a cunoaște cămașa românească.

Marți seara (10 octombrie 2017), într-o casă cu valoare istorică din centrul Luxemburgului, Clubul Munster, doritorii au descoperit IA românească. Raluca Caranfil și Stefania Atanasiu au prezentat celor interesați istoria cămășii, au descifrat simbolurile aflate pe cămăși și au militat pentru protejarea acestor obiecte prin introducerea lor în patrimoniul UNESCO.

Desfășurat la inițiativa antreprenoarei, Clara Moraru, evenimentul și-a dorit să promoveze cămașa românească, în micul ducat de Luxemburg, dar și să educe publicul conferinței în a face diferența între autentic și kitsch, dintre valoare și preț. Răspunsul publicului a fost peste așteptări, cei prezenți promițând să sprijine inițiativele celor trei și să pună umărul la promovarea cămășii românești, cel puțin în Luxemburg.
Cei interesați au asistat la prezentarea oferită de Raluca Caranfil și Stefania Atanasiu, dar au avut ocazia și să admire pe viu cămăși autentice, au putut consulta cărți în engleză și franceză despre ii, au văzut materialele din care se face o ie și au realizat, sperăm, câtă muncă de documentare și cât efort intră în realizarea unei ii autentice. Ba mai mult, româncele aflate la conferință s-au arătat interesate să își coasă propriile cămăși și au promis că vor participa săptămânal la șezătoarea organizată în Luxemburg.

Tot cu această ocazie, luxemburghezii care au asistat la conferință, au pus întrebări legate de simbolurile aflate pe ii și au promis că vor intermedia o legătură între pasionații de costume autentice luxemburgheze și româncele pasionate de ii. Cu atât mai mult cu cât, s-ar părea că în Luxemburg, semnificația costumului autentic tradițional a fost pierdută și ar putea fi recuperată cu ajutorul costumelor săsești aflate încă în România.

Organizarea unei conferințe în Luxemburg despre IA românească nu e întâmplătoare. Şi asta pentru că bluza tradițională românească are strânse legături cu Luxemburgul! Multe dintre româncele stabilite aici au adus cu ele cămășile moștenite de la bunici și împreună organizează din 2013 Ziua Iei, pe 24 iunie. De asemenea, în fiecare miercuri, în centrul Luxemburgului, se organizează o șezătoare, „Povesti cusute la Luxemburg”, unde cei interesați pot învăța tehnici de cusut, pot vedea pe viu ii românești autentice, şi pot povesti despre tradițiile românești.
Totodată, cele trei prietene au subliniat că acest eveniment este primul dintr-o serie, ce va cuprinde conferințe, o expoziție de ii și o expoziție comună de costume românești, săsești și luxemburgheze. Deja data viitoarei conferințe a fost stabilita pe 13 februarie, iar până atunci cele trei prietene vor gândi noi surprize pentru cei interesați să descopere cămașa autentic românească.

De asemenea, Raluca Caranfil şi Ştefania Atanasiu fac demersurile pentru aducerea în Luxemburg a Expoziţiei IA Aidoma, rezultatul unei acţiuni de recuperare de patrimoniu al Asociaţiei Semne Cusute. Membrele asociaţiei au cusut 43 de cămăşi-replici ale cămăşilor româneşti aflate în marile muzee ale lumii: MET NY, Horniman UK, Muzeul de textile din Lyon, Geneva, Cernauti si Sankt Petersburg, pornind de la fotografiile aflate pe site-urile acestor muzee. Dorinţa de a prezenta aceste comori publicului din Luxemburg este cu atât mai mare cu cât Ştefania Atanasiu a cusut o cămaşă aflată în expoziţie!

Deja participanții la conferință au venit cu noi idei de promovare a cămășilor autentice românești, a tradițiilor și mâncărurilor noastre, asa că acțiunile de acest fel vor continua în Luxemburg.


OK so that was the text in Romanian which I wrote for newspapers in Romania, now to get on to my story. 

You've seen me wearing Romanian blouses a lot and I always wanted to present this pieces of art to the Luxembourgish audience. The right occasion came after I ranted on Facebook about people promoting embroidered blouses as authentic Romanian Blouses and my friend Clara said to promote ourselves the blouses and explain why there is a difference and why it is important to wear the right blouse. And that was it.

Clara took care of the location, a very beautiful and historic one in the centre of Luxembourg. I hope you ever went inside Cercle Munster in Grund, cause it is a gorgeous location, a place very much in tune with what we were promoting.

Then, me and Stefania worked on the presentation and imagined the whole setting. I was a little bit nervous, cause I had to prepare for another presentation on a similar topic, Cultural Identity, and I really did not want to mix the two together.
But it all went great. It was a very relaxed and nice evening, I felt great and thanked each and every person who came to our conference. I feel that after that evening I made new friends and made stronger the friendships I've already build up here in Luxembourg.

And what was even more amazing was the Luxembourgers reaction. They asked questions and they promised to help us further. When they found out that traditional Transylvanian Saxons costumes still exist in Romania, they were speechless. I loved their feedback and I hope we will do more great things here in Luxembourg related to the Romanian Blouse.

I'll live you with some pictures:

I am aware that this is a boring kilometric post, but if you made it this far, I thank you! If you liked my post and find it interesting please do share it on social media. You can find me at my fb. page: