July 30, 2018

Amsterdam - The Kissing Couple XXXL

If you love Nederlands as I do, you probably already know the iconic Delft ceramic kissing couple a beloved Dutch souvenir along with the wooden clogs and tulip bulbs. But today I'm going to tell you about a tourist attraction away from the beaten track, a giant statue.

The giant Kissing Couple was erected along the Zaanstad to Amsterdam cycle lane in an lesser known area of the Dutch capital and its aim is to encourage locals to cycle more. I've read that somewhere and apparently the local municipality thinks the Dutch people don't cycle enough, despite the fact that they cycle more than any nation I know.

I think you can reach the Kissing Couple XXXL just by bike and car as I have not seen any public transportation nearby so don't just plan your Amsterdam visiting trip around that statue, but if you happen to have a couple of spare hours rent a bike and cycle to Zaanstad and on your way there you will spot it.

Here are our pictures:

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July 23, 2018

Belgium - Kayaking on river Ourthe

On a short distance from Luxembourg, but in Belgium, you can go kayaking on the river Ourthe. The adventure starts in Durbuy (which is a very medieval looking small town, worth a visit) and you have to paddle for 8 kilometres. There are busses that take you back from the finish point to Durbuy and the whole experience is 17 euros per person. There are of course longer journeys, of 12 and 23 kilometres, but at the time we went kayaking they were closed.
 Needless to say, that if you are an inexperienced kayaker, 8 kilometres are more than enough. We did the journey in little more than three hours, but for us it was a Sunday fun experience, as there were people already trained, or at least people with a lot more experience in kayaking on the Ourthe. They had swimsuits and some buckets and they were ready for speed. We bumped into a few groups of those and let me tell you it was not a fun experience.
 This was my third time kayaking on the same route and every time it was different to the point when this time it was not funny anymore.

When we first did it, I think it was in 2013, there was a shack where it looked like a few friends opened a friendly business renting kayaks. It was laid back, we had time for pictures and we relaxed, people were stopping by the shores of the river to have picnics, the whole atmosphere was very friendly and familiar.
 The second time, two years ago, the shack was turned into a massive house and they were selling other activities, such as wall climbing and zip line, but the atmosphere on the river was still very friendly and we had a lot of fun.
 The thing is this time, Luxembourg and this whole region is under a heat wave and after a torrid week we wanted to do something involving a little bit of water and shade. Apparently we were not the only ones. The rules have changed, now you pay 7 euros for parking and the bus takes you from their office to the river. I have no idea of the timetable of the busses, but rest assured we made the journey in a crowded bus backed against the doors, because of course we did not want to hustle, but by the third bus we missed because of that, we concluded that crowding and hustling was the norm.

Then, there was no one helping us getting in and out of the boat (as they did last time), we had to actually fight for a life jacket and a kayak as they did not have any concept of a queue, the water was crowded, people were really speeding, talking loudly, throwing things in the water, smoking on the water, a lot of small children on their own boats not knowing what to do when the water was shallow, hitting other people with their paddle, the familiar/friendly picnics on the side of the river turned into screaming families, overall not a relaxed experience.
 As a result I now have a massive muscle soreness on both hands and my legs from paddling I guess, I lost one of my earrings, and I really loved those earrings, so this is a sign that we have to look for our relaxed adventures elsewhere.
The pictures are decent, though. I was afraid to get my phone out all the time so we have pictures from the beginning of the kayaking time when we were still in Durbuy or very close to it.

If you fancy such an experience good for you, I can DM you the details although there are clues in the text about the name of the thing. Also, if you know a nice, friendly, calm, place to do kayaking in this area, do let me know.

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.


July 16, 2018

Nederlands - Things that matter exhibition in Amsterdam

We are surrounded by signs, if we choose to read them is another thing. One sign that I chose to follow was that in the exact day when one of my best friends told me that she is coming to Amsterdam for a short trip, I found out about this exhibition. Unknown are internet's ways, but it knowing my interests and finding out that I was in search for an accommodation near Amsterdam, pointed me to Things that matter.
I was intrigued by the title, in an era of minimalism, of de-cluttering, of freeing ourselves of possessions, here is an exhibition with objects, but not any objects, the ones that have sentimental value above anything else.

What people choose to take with them when they left their home, being forced to do that, or leaving willingly? More interesting than any Instagram story and more true than any Facebook post, what people consider worth keeping and sometimes protecting? A small window into a moment's reality, how could I say no?

First of all the exhibition is on the ground floor of Troopeen Muuseeum or in other words the Ethnographic Museum of Amsterdam. If you are interested in Ethnography, please do take a look at it as the whole museum is worth a visit.
The exhibition is divided up in 10 (I think) boxes, each of them curated by a different artist and with a different topic. I have to admit that the one with What do clothes say about you? and When is culture yours? got my interest. So in true spoiler fashion I will not write much about the exhibition, cause you have to see it for yourselves.

The When is culture yours? box spoke to me in different ways, as I am much involved in promoting the Romanian culture, but I sanction cultural appropriation. When is that border crossed? When promoting parts of a culture, becomes cultural appropriation? And as we are on the topic, what is culture?

Are clothes culture? Are dreadlocks culture? Are symbols culture? What about movies? Live shows? Books? Food? What is culture? and what as an European am I allowed to borrow from other continents?

I love wearing Romanian blouses. Should I be offended if someone from Asia loves them too? When is it OK for the big fashion labels to take inspiration from local culture and when that inspiration becomes profit?

You see, all sort of questions arose from this exhibition and if you are passionate about this topics you should visit it, too.

Just a word of advice, maybe plan your visit in the coming months, I've understood that the exhibition will become permanent, as they don't have yet any leaflets about it, or any books and I am positive that there are books about those topics.
Just to recap, the exhibition is in the Ethnographic Museum in Amsterdam, which is called Troopeen Muuseeum. If you travelled to Amsterdam by car, parking as a little bit of a hassle, but we did find a parking spot on a small street opposite to the museum. It is opened daily except Mondays. Have fun!

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July 2, 2018

June 24th, the Day of the Romanian Blouse in Luxembourg

You all know by now my passion for Romanian Blouses, but I've never wrote in English a post about the Day of the Romanian Blouse which is June 24th and how we celebrate it here in Luxembourg, almost 2000 kilometres from our country.

The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse was first celebrated in 2013 when in Romania people became interested in the traditional Romanian attire and started looking for old blouses, researching the patterns and eventually recreating them. It started online, a Facebook page called La Blouse Roumaine had the idea that on June 24th to celebrate the blouse all the women should change their profile picture with one in which they were wearing a Romanian Blouse.
It went even further and even in 2013 women wanted to meet and small events were organised all over the world, so much so that over 50 countries celebrated that day. Luxembourg was one of them. It was my first year living in the Grand Duchy and it was a good way to meet the people that later became my friends.
A year later I wanted to get involved in organising this celebration and that is how I've met my good friend Elena. I remember we chose to meet in the centre and I only had time to stay for an hour. Five hours later we were still talking and planning and that is how this year we celebrate five editions of The day of the Romanian blouse in Luxembourg organised together.
In 2015 organising the Day of the Romanian Blouse was a little bit intense, there were conflicts with some persons who thought that maybe we will stop organising something nice and free, so that they can earn some money from a payed event. When that did not happen a lady in particular started spreading rumours about me and my friends. Nonetheless, I was unaware of that and managed to have a lovely celebration. By that time, my hobby related to Romanian Blouses evolved into passion, I've started dreaming of maybe one day organising an exhibition... It was also the first time I was wearing an old Romanian Blouse from Muscel region. If you don't recognise me, I'm the one in blue on the left.
2016 was a busy year. In the morning I had the defence for my masters thesis and in the afternoon the celebration of the Romanian Blouse. I choose to wear a new blouse which brought me a lot of luck. I've passed the defence, I had my masters degree and the celebration was full of surprises. I found out that my colleague from high school was living in Germany, an hour away from Luxembourg. She came to the celebration with her family and that for me meant a lot. Also, I hope you can see Luna in the picture. After a depressing time we decided to have another dog and that is how Luna came into our lives.
In 2017 we decided to introduce some of the trademarks of the celebration, the hashtag in online, the lavender and a picture frame. There are still people who have a profile picture on social media done on that day.
I was wearing a blouse which is so dear to me. I found it at a fair in the Village Museum in Bucharest. It was so cheap for its value so I bought it on a spot and loved it ever since. It is a Romanian Blouse from Mehedinți region.
And that brings us to this year, the sixth of celebrating the Romanian Blouse in Luxembourg. I was looking at the pictures and I saw familiar faces. Some of the participants were there every year, celebrating with us. If you look closely you can see how the children grew and transformed and every year new children are introduced to our beautiful Romanian traditions. The lovely people of Romania for whom it is worth to sacrifice a few hours to put together an event. To them I say a big THANK YOU!
In the past year I've made new friendships, organised conferences and organised that exhibition in Luxembourg. I've met the people that I've followed for years on social media and learned a lot about the Romanian Blouse. This year I had a Romanian Blouse with "ram's horns" a strong and ancient symbol. I was passing through a rough time and needed some support when I spotted this blouse online. Although I now am able to tell that it has a lot of mistakes, I love its flaws. It's said that ram's horns when they are opposite means the fight for supremacy, well there is a fight all right, to stay strong, to stay me.

As you can see the Day of the Romanian Blouse is a very personal celebration. Despite organising an event for everyone to enjoy, it has personal meanings. This year I wanted to celebrate it in Romania, but faith brought me home earlier in time for June 24th. I was here and I was somehow happy. I'll leave you with some of the pictures from that day.

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