January 28, 2019

UK - Scotland - Edinburgh in a nutshell - National Museum of Scotland

This is no travel blog so don't expect advises or points to check. We decided to do a city break in Edinburgh on November, we bought the plane tickets and booked a hotel and forgot about it over the holidays. Having a collie (Scottish Shepherd Dog) I always wondered how Scotland might look like. I somehow imagined it to be similar to Ireland and Edinburgh similar to Dublin. I was wrong.

Edinburgh is more stony than Dublin, you feel like you are constantly near a church, Edinburgh is grey even when it's not raining and I don't know why but Edinburgh reminded me of Luxembourg with that massive slope dividing the old and the new town. To me Edinburgh is more like Belfast than Dublin, but maybe I'm just confusing things right now.

So we had three full days in Edinburgh and the first thing we (read my husband) wanted to do was to visit the castle. You can't avoid it if you are a tourist in Edinburgh. Only after I've read about an interesting exhibition at the Scottish National Museum, we left the castle for the second day and we went there first. The museum is free and it has one or two temporary exhibitions which cost 10 euro. But be prepared to spent a whole day there. Organised on three floors and five sections, you have plenty of things to see whatever your interests are.
I of course went to the fashion section, which is called Art, Design and Fashion, but I've enjoyed also the World Cultures and Scottish History sections. There were also Science and Technology and Natural Sciences, but I only passed through them in a rush. 

The Fashion section introduced me to the Scottish Fashion through the ages. I got to touch the fabrics, listen to stories, see and photograph all the exhibited items. I think I've spent most of the time there. I was drawn to the temporary exhibition and I really want to talk more about that.
In every country I've visited when talking about embroidery, every pupil would produce a sample. I only saw them collected, documented and exhibited in Scotland, in Edinburgh. It is fascinating to see that those apparent unimportant pieces of fabric hold so many stories. Initially I thought that the samplers were made by young girls when they learned to do embroidery, but it turned out that they were also used to copy patterns and also to prove the girl's skills in an event of a marriage. They were framed and exhibited around the house and that lead me to something we call "p─âretare" they are pieces of fabric embroidered with sayings which mostly the Romanians in Transylvania used to decorate their home (mainly the kitchen). I think they were inspired by the Transylvanian Saxons, but I'm not sure.

Going back to the Scottish Samplers, I found the exhibition fascinating. So much dedication to date and trace them, so much care in placing them in frames and exhibit them and mostly in finding their story. They had samplers that belonged to the whole family, they had samplers made by boys, they knew the explanations of the buildings embroidered and of the patterns and animals. If you are just a little bit interested in embroidery, you will love the exhibition. Though a temporary one, we were told that the samplers will be donated to the museum, so who knows?
I also liked the room with Fabric of life, I think it was part of the World Cultures exhibition, but it showed textiles from around the world and their role in that specific place. It also had touching samples of fabric and interesting stories relating one part of the world with another through fashion. I loved the care and the connections made and I also think I've spent there a lot of time reading and studying all.
At the science and technology section I've discovered the cloned sheep, Dolly. I had no idea she was Scottish, but she was and after her death she was exhibited at the museum.
The museum has a cafe and two floors and I simply did not feel the time passing as I've marvelled at all the exhibits. It is an ethnographic museum, a history museum, a science museum all rolled into one and I can almost guaranty that you will like it.

I have to say that from Luxembourg, in January 2019, you can go to Edinburgh only by stopping in Amsterdam first, but I've heard that they plan a direct flight from Luxembourg to Edinburgh in the near future.

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January 25, 2019

UK - Scotland - Edinburgh - The sad story of Greyfriars Bobby

When I think about Scotland I think about collies, I can't help it, after spending my last twenty years with three of them. So imagine my disappointment when we went to Edinburgh and the only dogs existent on magnets, postcards and souvenirs were Scottish Terriers and Westies. Where are the collies?

Well, I have to hope they are on the magnets in the Highlands and also that someday I will brace myself and head there, but I found in Edinburgh something way more interesting. I knew about the statue ever since my interest in dogs was more than sharing my life with one. There was a time when I've dreamed of owning a dog farm, breeding collies, I went to dog shows...happy times. Back then the Internet was not present in our lives and I remember I found a book titled "Dog statues around the world" and Bobby's was one of them.
The tale is simple, Bobby was the dog of John Gray the farmer. Bobby was a terrier. When John died Bobby guarded his grave for fourteen years until his own death. In that time he became known by the local community and cared for and after his death (in 1872) an aristocrat erected the fountain and statue we see today. Bobby's grave is a few metres from his friend's and can be seen in the Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh.
There is a pub between the cemetery and the statue so I think that during the day Bobby was well taken care for, but what I found strange was that the graves in the cemetery were next to the houses surrounding it, but not a few metres away, they were stuck to the houses, some on them part of the house. To me that is strange.
The statue and fountain are a well known attraction in Edinburgh and on the souvenir shops you can find the book with Bobby's story. I found it touching. I do know about a dog's devotion to his human friend, but fourteen years it's a lot. It's a dog's life. How old was Bobby when John died? Was he old enough for the bound to form? I better not check it and leave you with this beautiful and touching story.

Have a great weekend, my friends!

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.

January 18, 2019

Luxembourg - The 10 years challenge on Instagram

From time to time on social media these challenges take place, such the ice bucket challenge, no makeup challenge and so on. Usually I consider them a little childish, but this one I've liked and as a result took part in it.

Somehow throwing buckets of iced water on my head didn't seem like a sane thing to do at that time, I don't wear so much makeup so every day is a no makeup day for me and maybe I took part in other challenges, but I simply don't remember.

Essentially what is this challenge? Well, you take a trip down memory lane or down your social media feed and find a picture from 10 years ago, stick a more recent one next to it and then you publish it on social media with the #10yearschallenge.

For me this was a little more emotional, because a lot has changed in ten years, we moved, we started different career paths, we travelled a lot, we improved ourselves, we are more close to each other now, more like a team, we faced small tragedies, we lost some loved ones along the way, so ten years is a lot. I tend to say we and not me, because I haven't done anything by myself, well I've finished a masters, I've learned two new languages, I've discovered my passion for Romanian blouses, I've challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and organised events, including public speaking and exhibitions, I was a teacher, I did a lot by myself, but I'm not alone in this one. I am fortunate enough to have a supporting husband, who said yes to anything I propose and together we made everything happen.

2009 for me was a turning point, we decided to move to Ireland, and I don't know if it was a consequence of that decision, but we travelled a lot within Romania and outside it. I remember making the decision to go to Istanbul on a Monday and on Friday evening we were there and what a good decision that was as Istanbul is still one of my favourite cities ever. So the picture I've choose from 2009 is from Istanbul, close to Galata Tower.

I remember that in 2009 I did not like to be in the pictures. I had that stupid idea that I had to photograph buildings and places and not me in front of buildings. Well it is stupid, because now you can find tons of pictures of buildings, but no picture that encapsulates your memories. So I've decided that if I want to photograph buildings I would do that, if I feel like taking a selfie I will do it, if I feel like posing so my husband could take a picture of me, I will also do that. No one should judge anyone's decisions. Also in 2009 I smiled more on pictures, I have somehow to relearn that.

I found out that I am constant in my clothing, in the 2009 picture I'm wearing an embroidered linen blouse with jeans and a cross-body bag, I think four or five years ago I've discovered the cotton trousers (chinos) so in the more recent picture I'm wearing almost the same combo, but I do still wear boot-cut jeans. I also like to have a splash of colour, so in both pictures that was a red bag (well dark pink in the 2019 one). I still don't think about red as one of my favourite colours, but I guess it is.

Speaking of colours, I'm pretty sure that in 2009 orange was my favourite colour, and it still is, but in 2011, maybe because of the move to the coastal city Dublin, maybe because of the weather, I started to favour more navy. So my wardrobe is filled with navy items, a lot of stripes and navy and ochre combinations. I still prefer natural fibres, though and last year I've discovered hemp and I love it.

Well, I think that was it, my 10 years challenge. I do encourage you to look through your pictures this weekend and reflect on what has happened in the past 10 years and if you feel like it post a picture on Instagram and tag me in the comments. I would love to flip through your pictures and read your experiences. My Instagram feed is in the right part of your screens if you read this post on a desktop, if not you can find me by searching @mademoiselle.ralu on Instagram.

Have a lovely weekend!

January 14, 2019

Netherlands - Leiden - Ethnography Museum

If you happen to be by the seaside and hit a rainy day, or you want to visit just one museum in Leiden, visit Volkenkunde Museum!
You don't even have to be passionate about ethnography like I am, the museum is so interesting and fun, that I am sure you are going to like it.

First thing, don't be discouraged by the entrance fee. Like many things in Nederlands the price of the museum is somewhat expensive, 14 euros, but well worth it. The museum is alive and tells a story, it isn't just a dead collection of objects. Although the collection today contains objects from Africa, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Latin America, North America, Oceania, and Asia. I mean, if you haven't planned your trips in those areas, it would not hurt to just visit the museum. Who knows, maybe it gives you new trip ideas.

When I visited the museum, bear in mind that this post spent more than six months in the making, there was a temporary exhibition of jewellery and it was amazing. I'm not much of a jewellery gal, but I'm always fascinated by the ethnic pieces as they are not only beautiful, they usually bear a meaning.
And of course a visit at an ethnographic museum would not be complete for me if I don't examine the textiles. And in this small museum, I wasn't disappointed.

All in all a nice and colourful way to spent a rainy day at the seaside and learn some useful stuff along the way. The museum has a coffee place and a shop and one interesting feature, although I don't know if is a temporary or a permanent feature, they had workshops in making your own necklaces, but the method was unique. You had to operate a machine which would pop an egg with all the materials. You had thread and some beads on the working tables, but essentially with the materials in the egg you had to create your unique necklace. The results were interesting. I remember two ladies with identical or very similar materials created two unique and personalised peaces, very different one from another.

That being said, 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.

January 7, 2019

Belgium - Durbuy - First trip of 2019

First trip of 2019 was a short one to the "Smallest Town in the World" which it happens to be in Belgium very close to Luxembourg. Its name is Durbuy and to me it is a lovely town no matter which season you happen to visit. Its stone houses, cobbled streets and of course the castle make Durbuy some sort of a small fairytale town.

We went to Durbuy on January, 5th because I've read on the Internet that it still had its Christmas Market and this time the Internet was right. You see, we had almost two weeks of holiday between Christmas and New Year and all we did was eat, sleep, binge on Netflix and take short walks. I really, really wanted a trip day.

We didn't do much, as there isn't much to do in Durbuy anyway, but it was a nice change of scenery. Enjoy the photos:

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