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July 15, 2019

Holidays by train from Luxembourg

Summer is upon us whether we like it or not, and everyone seems to only talk about holidays. One of the benefits of living in Luxembourg, so basically in the middle of Europe, is that we are well connected by plane to all the major destinations in Europe and not only. Not to mention that by car you can organise city breaks or entire vacations and this time of year the campers populate the motorways in this part of Europe.
But there is another means of transport from Luxembourg, the train. I remember when I was little, the train was the most reliable way of getting from one place to another and I've listened to countess stories of gap years spent "in Europe" travelling by train. So what are the train connections from Luxembourg?

CFL (Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois) is the national railway company with a reliable website in French, German and English. From that website one can purchase tickets or search the timetables for national and international trains. For European destinations I used the international website, travel.b-europe.com. There is also an app which you can download and manage your tickets from there.

For the purpose of this article, I've looked up tickets for direct trains or trips with one change of trains. I did my research on a Friday and looked up the tickets for the next Monday. I do not know if the price of the train tickets has the same logic as the plane tickets, meaning the closer to the travel date the more expensive they are, you will have to look up that for yourself. Also the prices are for one way, if you want a return trip the prices change. Use the link I've provided to search an entire trip to your liking!

Luxembourg to Brussels

The neighbouring country is well connected to Luxembourg mainly because they both host European capitals, meaning that the European Institutions found a home in Brussels and in Luxembourg and there are a lot of people travelling between them. Not to mention that once per month the European Parliament has a session in Strasbourg and all the trans that connect Brussels to Strasbourg pass by Luxembourg. So one can travel to Brussels every hour from Luxembourg. The trip should take up to 3 hours and the train is direct. A train ticket for the second class is 42 euros and for the first class is 65 euros. Again, I've searched the prices on a Friday for the next Monday so the prices may vary.

From Brussels one can continue travelling to Amsterdam, London and Paris or just visit the Belgian capital. Try the frittes, the wafers or the chocolate and of course the Trappist beer, Belgians are famous for. Brussels has a lot of interesting museum and in general is a lively capital city with a lot of options for spending time.

Luxembourg to Amsterdam

As mentioned, from Luxembourg one can travel to Amsterdam through Brussels. Including the changing times, the trip is about 5 hours and 34 minutes and to my knowledge the tickets are very easy to read. You are given the starting hour, the stop where you have to change and even the platform and the time you have in between the trains. So no stress! A one way ticket for the second class is 124 euros and for the first class is 160 euros.

What you can do in Amsterdam? There is no secret that out of all the cities around Luxembourg, Amsterdam is my favourite. Try the little museums on the canals and the bigger ones, try the countless shows, the night life, the amazing decoration stores and organic fashion.

Luxembourg to London

This would be the first trip I will book by train from Luxembourg. I've been to London a lot, but only by plane. I think the train trip has that something, that smell of holiday, of leisure. I can only dream. So to go to London from Luxembourg one has two options, through Brussels or through Paris. Luxembourg-London via Brussels takes almost 7 hours and a ticket for the second class for a one way trip is 266 euros and for the first class is 301 euros.

The second option, Luxembourg -London via Paris, the trip is 6 hours and 3 minutes and a one way ticket is 340 for the second class and 497 euros for the first class. I have no idea if the difference of price is worth it, I only know that the carts on the Belgian trains differ slightly from one class to the next. I think you only have a little more leg room and the cart is carpeted on the first class.

Luxembourg to Paris

There is a direct train connecting the two European capitals and if I'm not mistaken is a TGV. I remember the stories about travelling at a high speed, by train, in Europe, so the TGV would be my first option if put in a situation of choosing. The trip to Paris is only 2 hours and a one way ticket for the second class is 104 euros and for the first class is 148 euros.

Paris is well advertised in all the guiding books, but if it were up to me I would visit again the Pompidou Centre and the Brancusi workplace, I would enjoy a very tasty meal followed by a reach dessert and I will marvel at the Parisian life from a small terrace with an eclair and a coffee.

Luxembourg to Berlin

This is a long trip and you have to love to travel by train to endure almost 9 hours of travel including a change in Cologne. There is always the plane option, but if travelling by train is your fix, then know that a one way ticket at the second class is 172 euros and for the first class is 273 euros.

In Berlin I would check a museum or two, I would have a walk on the Unter den Linden boulevard, smelling the linden trees that so remind me of home and coming lunch time, I will go to the terraces close to the university and enjoy a full meal with just a couple of euros, so, so different from Luxembourg.

Luxembourg to Vienna

If night travel is something you might consider, CFL even advertises the trip to Vienna as "arrive at your destination well rested" and ready (I might add) to visit this beautiful city. The trip is 11 hours and you have to change in Koblentz. One way trip to Vienna on the second class is 123 euros and on the first class is 199 euros.

In Vienna I would have the schnitzel for breakfast. I could never manage to make a schnitzel the Vienna size, not to mention I could never finish one in one go. Ah, Vienna! I would just walk the streets up to the Hundertwasser House and just stare at it for hours.

Luxembourg to Zurich

Again, there isn't a direct train and you have to change at Mulhouse in France. The trip lasts 4 hours and a one way ticket at second class is 107 euros and on first class is 137 euros.

I would not know what to tell you about Zurich, as I've only passed it a couple of times and visited just Bern in Switzerland. The Internet shows it as a nice town, with a lot of museums to check out. A must try has to be raclette or fondue cheese.

These are the European train destinations available from Luxembourg. I've only tried European Capitals on the logic that from there you can continue your travel to anywhere in Europe. Of course you can reach other cities in Europe by train from Luxembourg, but for now that was the topic of the article.

I hope you enjoy reading my article and maybe it sparkled the idea of a train trip from Luxembourg. As always you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu



July 8, 2019

France - How Donald Trump ended up in the river Moselle, in Metz

Following last week's article, here is another one, this time about an art installation displayed not far from Luxembourg in the beautiful French town of Metz. We are experiencing abnormal weather for Luxembourg mainly because of climate changes we should no longer ignore.
"Everything is fine" is an installation by the artist Jacques Rival and includes the inflatable half submerged head of the US president Donald Trump together with the right hand held up in the OK sign.

It is related to the president's 2017 speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord plays. The soundtrack of Trump's speech can be played by the public pressing on a buzzer on Pont des Roches. The sound is distorted as if the president gave the speech from under the water on a sinking ship and bubbles arise from the mouth of the inflatable Trump.
"The idea was to gag Trump, to silence him, but he continues to speak, very sure of himself," Jacques Rival told AFP.

The 47-year-old artist is a veteran in building large, satirical works, all over Europe in both public and private places. He has arranged that at night the art installation would lit up to create "a safe atmosphere with dynamic lighting" AFP.

The installation is part of 14 works that make up the Constellations de Metz digital arts festival, an event open until September 7th.

Nevertheless, this isn't the first inflatable Trump that was made. The Baby Trump inflatable balloon made history since it was first introduced to the public on July, 13th, 2018 in London. The balloon depicts Trump as an angry orange baby holding a smartphone.

One of the organisers, Max Wakefield, described the balloon protest as being in response to "the rise of far-right politics that dehumanises people in order to get into power", and saw it as an attempt to introduce some "good British humour" into the political discourse surrounding Trump's visit, wiki.
Since then the balloon was flown numerous times in US last year, then it travelled to France where the balloon appeared on November, 11th, at a march protesting about Trump's visit to attend the ceremonies of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Then it was seen in Argentina, at the G20 Buenos Aires Summit and again in Europe, this year in Dublin at the "STOP Trump Ireland" protest on June 6th. It again made its way to London in preview of this year Trump state visit in June 2019.

Museums, such as British Museum and Museum of London, expressed interest in acquiring or at lest displaying the original Trump Baby Balloon.

So here you have it, my article about an art installation you should not miss if you live in or around Luxembourg. As usual let's get the conversation going on Instagram where you can find me @mademoiselle.ralu

July 1, 2019

Luxembourg - Heatwave related stories

I've been absent from the blog and social media entirely because I don't do heatwave well. I am allergic to the sun, or so I am told, so I had to wake up really early every morning to do my job before the heat hit Luxembourg, brave the sun from the railway station to my home, vomit several hour after and mostly barricade myself behind the shutters. I was a mole all this time. Thankfully today they said there will be only 28 degrees Celsius so I should be fine.

But all my fuss about the heatwave sparkled the idea for this article so all is well. In the true journalistic/ethnographic fashion, here are the facts.

RTL Today is a relatively new media outlet in Luxembourg and being a news journalist I love to take my daily dosage of news from them. They can sometimes jump the horse and write about car crushes and such, but most of the time I find their news to my liking. So Meteolux predicted the heatwave and issued an orange alert on high temperatures. I think this was the second alert they made, as the heat was visibly present since the beginning of the week.
Because Luxembourg is not equipped to deal with the heat, bad things happened. I've read about cars taking fire and garbage beans and hay ballots as well and I can only assume that people were careless with their cigarettes or it was just pure bad luck. Nevertheless, firefighters had to beat fires a lot this week.
Then this happened. Again, Luxembourgish summer is more of a rainy spring, so of course they are not prepared to deal with the high temperatures. Most of the office buildings don't have AC, or at leas the ones build close to three years ago, most if not all of the homes are also not equipped with AC units, the busses rarely have some sort of AC. And that is not all. Because hot summers are not a regular thing in Luxembourg and rain is plenty, they do not have water reserves. I am positive they will deal with that because summers like this one will for sure be in the future, but for this Summer, they are not prepared. So water consumption was limited all over this area.
Again another related news. I call this a big deal and for me this is hard news.
During the weekend the traffic towards supermarkets and stores across the border is heavy at certain hours, so this happened. I'm glad we only limited ourselves to one fruit and vegetables market and that was it on Saturday, but I am glad that the authorities were present to protect and serve the population.
Thankfully, today is better with only 28 degrees, I can breathe in my home, the train this morning was a breeze, so was having my coffee on my terrace.
Another English media outlet, Delano, reported as well about the heatwave. But Delano, being Delano, made it classy giving advice on dealing with the heat.
And pointing out places where one could hide from the heat or other measures to combat the heat. You see the picture is of a relaxed person, everything is under control, a lot different from RTL Today. No need, I hope, to tell you which one I'm more drown to.
I have no idea how the real Luxembourgish people must have felt, but on the expat groups the topic was trending. Take this one for example on Luxembourg Expats where someone says one cannot die of heat so "relax people!". Another advised us to just "open a window". It was pointless to explain that is not just a whim, people are not complaining because they are bored or something.
The opinions were mixed. It was funny to read them. As I've said these are expats to Luxembourg, so people used maybe to different climates, but all together people who have no idea that a country can not just turn from a rainy climate to a heatwave one overnight.
Of course Romanian expats had something to say in the matter, the first one send all to complainers to just "sue the sun", the other shared a story from Cyprus. I have to just say, 40 degrees in the Summer in Romania is not normal, at least it wasn't when I grew up. Yes the Summer is torrid, but over 35 degrees the heat measures are in place, water is distributed, working hours are shortened, schools are closed, not to mention that in Romania every home, every building is equipped with AC. So you basically have AC at home, AC in the car, AC at work and you are exposed to the sun only in between those places. Not to mention that water supplies in the forms of lakes are present close to all the major cities, Romania has a lot of small and big rivers, it has the Danube and exit to a sea, a lot of places where one could escape the heat, Luxembourg doesn't. But for the sake of feeling mighty on an expat forum, why not just make fun of all the complainers and send them to Romania.
Last, but not least the Internet reacted and the memes kept flowing. Being an LOTR fan I enjoyed and understood this one.
This was also good.
This one I saw a lot within my bubble. 
And this one to finish this article on a positive note.
As I've said for me the heatwave was hard to handle. I've lived for the past 10 years now in rainy climates and I am not so used to the heat anymore. I wasn't actually used to the heat in Romania either and during the summers it was hard for me to function. Yes, I am one of the complainers related to white rainy skies holding for weeks on end and now I complain about the heat. My position is justified in my eyes for all the reasons I've explained in the article. Don't get me wrong, I like the sun, but from a distance. I enjoy sitting on my terrace in the morning and evening, drinking my coffee or maybe handle some work, but last week it was not possible. We could only stay outside from 9 p.m. in the evenings and everything had to be done behind the shutters. 
I can only hope the temperatures will stay as today, the wind will blow a little and all the heatwave consequences will pass.
As usual you can find me on my Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu. See you there!
Raluca

Sources:

June 13, 2019

Celebrate the Romanian Blouse in Luxembourg on 24th of June 2019

IA Day Celebrations at Place Clairefontaine in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2016
As every year, the Romanian community in Luxembourg and the Greater Region will celebrate the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse - “IA” - on the 24th of June. 

In keeping with tradition, launched globally by the online community La Blouse Roumaine in 2013, this year’s local celebrations will take place from 18:30 onward at Place Clairefontaine, right in the heart of Luxembourg City. 

Wearing a story


We encourage women who have Romanian Blouses to wear them on the day, take selfies and upload them on our Facebook event page before heading to Place Clairefontaine in the evening to share stories about the blouses, meet new people and take pictures together. 

IA Day Celebrations in Parc Kinnekswiss in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2018
Different from previous years, this year’s celebration will see the launch of storyteller stickers. Because we believe that every Romanian Blouse has a story, we invite people wearing the blouses to tell their stories. 

Some blouses are very old, others are family heirlooms, some were found at a little car boot sale somewhere in Romania, while others were saved from the trash. Some of them have even been bought from traders on social media and sent all the way to Luxembourg. Whether Romanian women inherited traditional blouses from their grandmothers or found them at a local market, they found a place for their blouses in their expat suitcases. The story of each blouse, irrespective of its past, is worth telling!

Therefore, we invite and encourage everyone to come along on the June, 24th. Join us at Place Clairefontaine and don’t hesitate to approach all the women wearing stickers on their blouses. This is your chance to explore the fascinating tales behind the beautiful Romanian garments found in Luxembourg. Join us and be part of a new story! 

A piece of Romanian folklore


The Romanian Peasant Blouse is a representative piece of our folklore. With everything being done manually, from the fabric to the thread and embroidery, a single blouse was created during the Winter season.

Lavender and Sewn Sighs on a Romanian Blouse at IA Day Celebrations in Luxembourg - June 24th, 2018
The structure of the Romanian blouse has remained unchanged over the centuries.

In 1940, the famous French painter, Henri Matisse, created an important series of paintings which portrayed women in Romanian blouses. Since then our garment inspired several designers, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford and John Galliano, but the Romanian Blouse is the original.

Global celebrations


The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse was launched in 2013 by the La Blouse Roumaine Facebook community and soon became a global event, currently being celebrated in more than 60 countries, across 6 continents.

The organisers of IA Day Celebrations in Luxembourg - Roxana, Elena and Raluca - June 24th, 2017
The event has been held locally for seven consecutive years, thanks to the joint efforts and dedication of three Romanian friends Elena Afemei, Raluca Caranfil and Roxana Mironescu.

Would like you to be part of our story this year? Visit our Facebook event for the full programme.

“RomânIA” Vernissage

If interested, before the public celebrations scheduled in Place Clarefontaine you can also attend a vernissage showcasing several blouses from private collections. The event named “RomânIA” will be hosted by the Luxembourg-Romania Association on the 24th of June from 5 p.m. onward at Cercle Cité. More information about the vernissage is available here.

May 27, 2019

Best places for Spring blooms around Luxembourg

When I came up with this idea Spring was almost over for this year, but I still wanted to write this post for the years to come. I have so many pictures with Spring flowers that I never published, and I feel this post will serve them justice. So in a nutshell, these are the places where you can enjoy the Spring blooms in and around Luxembourg.
1. First one has to be the tulip fields in the Nederlands. If you live in this area you are only three hours away from a bucket list item many travellers only dream on, Amsterdam and Keukenhof Garden, but most importantly you are a couple of hours away from the fields. It is no secret that I prefer to visit the fields more than the garden, so much so that I even wrote a post about tips and tricks to find the fields. I promise I will update it as it was written in 2017, but some if not all of the facts are still valid. One extra tip, though, since the tulip farmers have complained about the uncivilised tourists, please do not pick the flowers and try not to step on them either, on that race to the best Instagram post.
2. The tulips of Brussels. As the Nederlands can be expensive especially during the tulip season, one local and a little less expensive is Floralia Brussels, an exhibition of flowers around a castle. The entrance fee can be a little bit pricey (14 euros) and there are hoards of tourists visiting the garden at any given time, but somehow it is not crowded and you can Instagram your way into the garden without much effort. Bear in mind that the exhibition is opened just a month a year, from mid April to mid May.
3. The Sakura of Arlon. If you are not a Japan aficionado, sakura is nothing but the cherry blossom. If you are on Instagram for sure your feed got flooded of this word enough to make you dream or plan a trip to Japan in Spring. No need to spend that money though, when you can enjoy the cherry blossoms right under your nose or 15 km from the border in Belgium, in Arlon. The old church in Arlon is Saint-Donat with that gorgeous Belvedere, it is where the antiques market takes place every month in the Spring and Summer, but it is also the place where they planted cherry trees. So you have the green of the grass, you have the pink of the blossoms and you have the grey of the old walls, what can be more Instagram perfect than that? It is also not crowded at all, except when the local residents decide to have a picnic or a bbq on the walls, but even than you can snap quietly and have as many pictures as you want.
4. Wild daffodils of Via Botanica. It is a recent discovery for me, but Via Botanica is something you have to check at least once if you live in the area. Be respectful though, but enjoy this wild yellow experience! Via Botanica is seven and a half km trail through a forest adorned with daffodils. Need I say more? It is Instagram perfect, it is fresh air perfect, it is a nice walk in the nature perfect, it is friendly with dogs, it is pure bliss. I was so impressed with it, I even wrote a post about it, here.
5. The Magnolia tree in the city centre. It is a Spring landmark by now and I've seen it on social media this year more than ever. It is on the opposite side of the road from Gëlle Fra and I think it is the most photographed tree in whole Luxembourg City. Still, you can find Magnolia trees if you walk on the Avenue Marie-Thérèse or in Limbertsberg or Merl, but it is not the tree.
6. The crocus flowers in the central parks. I never know the actual name of the parks, but there are three of them, they start at Fondation Pescatore and go to Adolphe Bridge. During Spring, but just for a couple of weeks, these parks are filled with crocus flowers, which sound much better in Romanian, Brândușe. You can also find them on the slopes of Grund, under the Adolphe Bridge, but in the parks are more spread and easier to photograph.
7. Wisteria in Kirchberg. How to explain this as I'm not familiar to the area passed the PE towers? Opposite side of the road from Auchan, there is a man-made esplanade with some arches filled with wisteria. My friend took me on a stroll one day and I've spotted the wisteria, but we were so busy talking and checking up, I forgot to take a picture. Yes I'm old school like that. There is also wisteria on the Glacis Tram Station, but the area is so crowded, I never got to take a decent picture. Still, you can find wisteria all around Luxembourg, so it is almost impossible not to have one near you.
8. Rapeseed fields. Oh I just love them and for me, in this area, Spring has arrived when the rapeseed is in bloom. I never got to take a decent picture in a field, but I have tons of pictures with the fields. They are always in different places, but you most definitely spotted them. They are the yellow flowers gorgeous fields and I think they are used to make oil and paint, but during Spring in this area there is no shortage of rapeseed fields waiting for your Insta Moment.
9. The giant poppies in Sterpenish. They are not exactly a Spring flower, but I love poppies so much I would have put them on top of this list. I don't know who planted them and it is just a round patch close to a very busy intersection, but they are lovely. They bloom late May and they only last two weeks.
10. The Hallerbos Forest in Belgium. I've only seen it on Instagram, but I promise next year I will check it out. Seems like there is a a forest close to Brussels where wild bluebell hyacinth flowers grow. I can only imagine the smell of it all! There are a lot of information about this forest on the Internet so I hope next year I can enjoy and maybe Instagram this beauty. As it is only two hours away from Luxembourg it can nicely be a day trip.

So there you have it, an almost top 10, except it is not a top. I love all these experiences equally, well maybe more the poppies one, but I hope reading this post brought some colour to your day and I hope you will enjoy the Spring blooms next year more knowledgeable. As usual I'm waiting for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

Raluca

May 23, 2019

Luxembourg - Je peux voter / This time I'm voting - European Elections May 2019

As Europe has already started the voting process for the 2019 European Elections, I come to you with a post about those elections, a bit of history and facts and at the end an exhibition. So here we go.

When is Europe voting?

The people in Great Britain and the ones in the Nederlands have already started voting on the morning of May 23rd and it is estimated that 427 million electors will cast their ballot today. Although the Brits have already voted to get out of the EU, since Brexit was postponed they had to organise elections. One thing though, although voting today the final results will be public on the evening of May 26th when all the European countries will have finished their electoral process.

Tomorrow, on May 24th the Irish will go to the voting stations and on Saturday, May 25th, Slovakia, Latvia and Malta will express their political preferences in these European elections. Czechia will vote on two days, Friday and Saturday, so May 24th and 25th. 

The rest of 21 European Countries (out of 28) will vote in these European elections on Sunday, May 26th, and the first results will be made public on Sunday.

An elections related exhibition in Luxembourg 

Europe is voting to elect the future Members of the European Parliament for 40 years, the first European Election took place on June 7th, 1979. I wasn't even born that day, but I've started voting for the EP in 2009 when Romanians voted for the first time and ever since I vote.
I don't know much about politics, but I do know that regular citizens have just one or two ways of controlling the politics, the vote once every four or five years and the protests when something out of place happens. Some countries in the EU protest a lot and some not at all, but they all vote. And we vote for the European elections once every five years, so in '79, '84, '89, '94...you get the point. 

In Luxembourg there was an ample campaign asking people over 18 years old to register to vote. I even took part in one or two events on the theme, but I was already convinced. I did not register to vote in Belgium, though, because I know nothing about the Belgian politic system and I also feel my vote is worth more if I vote for my home country, Romania.

I won't go into details, because I refer from making politics on this space, but I feel that this year more than ever Romania needs a fresh perspective, it needs to realise it is part of this great thing which is European Union and it should fight for its rights.

But I've digressed, along with the events to promote the European elections, at the House of Europe in the Luxembourg City Centre there is an exhibition with posters from all over Europe. It is free to visit and I wanted to take this exact picture, when we visited the exhibition, standing next to the first UK poster for the European Elections in 1979. As the Brits chose to exit the EU, in 2019 they vote for the last time in this elections. 

The exhibition will be open until May 26th so if you are interested in a little bit of visual history please do go and check it out.

A bit of history

As I've said Europeans voted for the first time to elect the MEP in 1979. Back then only Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Nederlands, United Kingdom and West Germany voted. In 1984 Greece joined the elections and four years later Spain and Portugal. In 1999 Austria, Finland and Sweden voted for the first time to elect their MEP's. In 2004 the largest extension of the EU took place and that meant that 10 more countries joined the European Elections, Cyprus, the then Czech Republic turned Czechia in the meantime, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Then, in 2009 it was our turn as Romanians together with our neighbours, the Bulgarians voted for the first time. In 2014 Croatia voted for EP for the first time and this year no new country joined the EU, but it will be the last time that these exact 28 countries will vote as this year Brexit will happen.

As long and complicated as this seems, know that around these dates the new countries who entered the EU after 1979, hold their own country elections to send members to the parliament. Greece in 1981, Portugal in 1997, Spain in the same year, Sweden 1995, Austria 1997, Bulgaria and Romania 2007, Croatia in 2013.

Some logistics

Once you have read all that, you might wonder how the places in the European Parliament are distributed. Well, know that it depends on the population of member states and follows the principle of degressive proportionality. That means that countries that are smaller in terms of population should have fewer MEPs than bigger countries. At the same time, MEPs from larger countries should represent more people than MEPs from smaller countries. As a rule there are no less than 6 seats per country and no more then 96. Germany as the largest member of EU in terms of population has 96 seats, followed by France with 79 and Spain with 59 seats. On the opposite, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus have only 6 seats in the European Parliament. Romania currently holds 33 seats.

According to the Treaty of the European Union, no more than 750 MEP plus a president will be elected on May 26th. Out of this number in the event of Brexit the 73 places that UK currently holds will be distributed as follows, 5 to France and Spain, 3 to Italy and the Nederlands, 2 to Ireland and 1 to Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia, Poland and Romania. No member state will lose any seats.

Now that you made it this far, I have a big thank you for you! I really enjoyed documenting this article and as hard as it was I know that it is interesting. All of the facts are on the European Parliament website, I just made a tough selection of them all.

I will leave you with a few posters and remind you can still visit the exhibition at the House of Europe in Luxembourg.
"Do not just follow the heard. Choose your path for Europe", Luxembourg 2004 

"European elections, you decide!", Romania 2009 
UK 1979
I hope you enjoyed reading this long article as much as I loved putting it together. As usual I'll wait for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

May 9, 2019

Luxembourg - What do we actually celebrate on May 9th?

Following a lively argument with my friends, I've decided to look into this day and give you the answers, because as usual not everything is clear as water. So what do we, as Europeans, celebrate on May 9th, also called Europe Day?

If you are a little bit older than me, you might remember that on May 9th we used to celebrate "Victory day" that was the day in which in 1945 the Germans surrendered and the WWII was over. It was celebrated mostly in the former soviet republics and the countries in the Eastern Block and particularly in Romania replaced the May 10th, King's Day. Celebrated, but not declared a public holiday (i.e. you had to go to work that day).

That was then, but now on May 9th we celebrate "Europe Day" or the "Schuman Day". On May 9th, 1950, the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman proposed to place German and French coal and steel production under one common authority. It was after the WWII ended and quickly the West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer agreed to the proposal. Four other states adhered to the same document, Nederlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy and on April 18th, 1951 the Treaty of Paris was signed creating the European Coal and Steel Community.

This first organisation paved the way to what we today call European Union. So on short on May 9th we celebrate the European Union, hence Europe Day, which we started celebrating in 1964.

What makes me celebrate Europe day?

Well believe it or not, Romania is a European Country and since 2007 is a member of the European Union. My tone of disbelieve comes from the fact that people in Luxembourg still don't know Romania is EU. It does not have euro yet (but only 19 out of 28 member states are part of Eurozone) and is not part of the Schengen Area.

None the less as a Romanian and a European I enjoy certain benefits. Let me explain:

1. Free movement. Basically every time I want to go on holiday in Europe, I don't have to bother with visas and other papers. I can only pack my bags and have my passport and that's it. Not only that, but within the EU the same rules apply and if let's say the plane is late, I can benefit from at least a sandwich if not a payed room in a hotel.

2. The ability to work anywhere I want within the EU. We enjoy this sunny life in Luxembourg, because without that much effort we relocated here. True, that only in 2011 Romania enjoyed this freedom (remember we are EU since 2007), but nonetheless now if I want to apply for a job in let's say Amsterdam, I can move there within 6 months. Believe me, I've done it, moving from Ireland to Luxembourg and from Romania to Ireland.

3. The benefit of Erasmus. I am a little bit older for it, but nonetheless Erasmus exists and it is that time in which students choose to spent a semester in another country. Not only that, but recently students over 18 benefit from pre-payed train tickets to travel in Europe, cool no?

4. Protection from unfair treatment at workplace. Apparently under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights if I choose to move to Amsterdam and someone chooses to discriminate me on that, EU will protect me. I am lucky that never happened to me, but know you have that right.

5. Using phone and Internet at the same cost within the EU or no roaming charges. This is fairly new (2017) so let me explain. Before June 15th, 2017 when you would be on holiday in Luxembourg and phoned home to see what the dog was doing, you would have payed a charge on top of what a regular phone call would cost. Also your personal data is protected under EU law.

6. Returning products within 30 days. Also EU is responsible for that, because within EU if you buy a product in Belgium and decide you don't like it, you can ship it and get your money back. It works not only if you buy something from another EU country, but also within your country.

7. Same high standards for food. There is a trend within the Influencers world, where they test the same products in different countries and although on some examples Eastern Europe countries fall short, you as a European citizen can complain to EU authorities.

8. Peace and security. This is the most important one. I can guarantee you we could live without all of the above, but we absolutely need peace. We as Europeans would always find something to fight about and if you google the number of wars that happen in Europe you will be shocked. We enjoy the longest period without war and that makes EU the most successful peace project in human history.

What happens in Luxembourg?

Well Luxembourg is big on celebrating Europe Day being in the middle of it all. In Luxembourg May 9th is as of this year a public holiday, which means you have all the time in the world to tend to your business or to come to Place d'Armes and visit the European Village, where all of the EU countries have a stall and present their country. If you are not a big fan of crowds and noise, I suggest you head to Schengen on the Moselle River and have a nice family day on the banks of the river, visit the museum and find out more about why we should celebrate Europe.

What about Schengen?

Well Schengen is the best example of how peaceful and well made is the European Union, as it is a small village spread between three countries, Luxembourg, Germany and France. It was there that in 1985 the five first countries within the EU, Luxembourg, Belgium, Nederlands, France and West Germany signed a treaty on a boat sailing on the Moselle River. It is said that the windows were covered so the people signing the treaty do not know in which country it was signed. The Schengen Agreement is the founding act of the Schengen Area, where there are no borders and no passport controls. The Schengen Area comprises of 22 countries out of 28, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are legally obliged to join the area once the meet certain criteria, Ireland and Great Britain opted out of the Schengen Area, by their own will and there are 4 states which are not member of the EU, but are part of Schengen, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

I do think this is a long and a sort of tl;dr post, but if you made it this far, pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and while you sip it in silence enjoy it! As long and as complicated the history of Europe has been, now we are enjoying the most peaceful age yet.

As usual if you would like to say something to complete this post or if you just like to stay in touch, I'm on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu.

May 6, 2019

Belgium - Floralia Brussels 2019

If you live in Luxembourg you should keep an eye on what is happening across the border in Belgium, France or Germany, as many times I've found interesting events in the neighbouring countries which are easy to reach even by public transport, if you own a car, even better.

And one of these traditional events is Floralia, Spring Flowers Exhibition which takes place every year in Brussels. I consider it a good alternative for the years when we don't get to plan a trip to Holland to see the tulip fields.

More than one million flower bulbs were planted for this year's Floralia Exhibition, which takes place for about a month every year at the Groot-Bijgaarden Castle on the outskirts of the Belgian capital city. The property has 14 hectares and includes an indoor exhibition on a 1000 square metres green-house, an orchids show in the chapel and a tower.

This year the exhibition was opened for a month, between April 6th and May 5th and if you did not get a chance to go, here are some photos.










If you are interested, they have a website and a Fb page so just keep an eye out for next year. As usual I will wait for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

May 3, 2019

Fashion Revolution Luxembourg - Be sustainable when it comes to clothes

The talk about sustainable fashion as opposed to fast fashion (what we experience in our days with the abundance of clothing stores each one with their own collection that you have to have) has amplified, so much so it created the need to celebrate it and in return the Fashion Revolution week was born. In Luxembourg they organised a lot of interesting events, all under the slogan "who made my clothes?". A valid question, but not sufficient.
Almost always when it comes to sustainable fashion, the talk about pricing follows, cause someone pays a price, either is you the buyer, or the manufacturer. That is why fast fashion is on a trend right now, because clothes have become a commodity, something you buy cheap and it is supposed to last you just one season. We live in the age when we follow trends more than our common sense and that, unfortunately, doesn't refer only to fashion. That is why we live with influencers, people capable of disseminating the information for you and giving you the results. We only consume what we see others consuming and long is gone the era in which everyone wanted to be unique, when women would innovate in the way they dressed, wanted to be different from their neighbour even wearing the same dress.

In this era when the abundance of clothes is on our threshold, talking about sustainability seems pointless, but still there is a conversation we should have. Here is what you can do to be a little more sustainable.

1. The most sustainable clothes are the ones you already have. Go to your wardrobe and instead of thinking "I have nothing to wear" or "what sparks joy", think "what I could do to the clothes I already have, so I could be unique". There are a lot of possibilities of revamping your wardrobe. Try patches, try dying your clothes, try customising what you already have.

2. Mend your clothes. When was the last time you stitched a button or patched your jeans or even shorten your jeans? Even in Luxembourg there are stores from where you could buy buttons if you haven't kept the extra ones that came with your clothes. You don't have to be a perfectionist, be an artist! Craft your clothes.

3. Learn to love your clothes. You know the wardrobe essentials, the white shirt, the little black dress, a decent skirt, some casual pants, there are even people who preach living with just 5 items of clothing, I'm not that drastic, but learn to love your wardrobe essentials. Mine are, the red blouse I bought in Dublin and I love it to bits, the pants that fit in that certain way I like, the blouse with blue stripes, the not so little black dress, which I love wearing. They are pieces that make me feel good wearing them, pieces attached to a certain memory.

4. Learn to smart shop. Go shopping for clothes when you really need something, or when some piece has become unwearable. The stores are strategically placed for you to go inside and never leave empty-handed. They all call your name, don't they? Well they don't, because you don't need them. This year yellow is trendy and the clothing stores are full of mustard yellow items. I can almost bet that you have at least one item of clothing that is mustard yellow. Find it and wear it. Shop inside your wardrobe if you want, discover forgotten, but loved items.

5. Invest in clothes. Another part of smart shopping is investing in clothes. Spend a little more on a piece of clothing, but buy something that would last at least two seasons. Create those essentials you can go to and you know you look good in them and feel comfortable. Instead of buying three t-shirts at a small price, buy one of a good quality. Buy good quality accessories, they should transition from one season to the next. Invest in that bag you always wanted.

6. Read the labels. Try buying natural fabrics, plastic is no longer fantastic, plus it makes you sweat. Most if not all the fast fashion stores have organic cotton, linen, wool or even hemp lines. Buy those! Even though they are a little more expensive, they are sustainable on the long run. You know my collection of Romanian blouses? Most of them are more then 50 years old and they lasted so long because they are made from natural fabrics.

7. Be unique, be you! Fashion is there for you to choose and adapt it to your style, to your needs, to your figure AND not the other way around. We talked about mustard yellow, but maybe you are white as snow, you will loose yourself in that yellow. Buy red, buy whatever makes you happy. You like flowers, but they are not trendy? Wear flowers. You will start your own trend and most definitely you will not be lost in the crowd of mustard yellow.

And that ladies are my two cents about sustainable fashion. As always I'll wait for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu