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September 21, 2020

Belgium - Le Tombeau du Geant

Do you still believe in stories? I've found out that I do. When I moved to Ireland I embraced all their folktales about fairies and giants and leprechauns, they have this way of protecting a tree which stands alone on a field by calling it Fairies Tree, some weird looking rooks? the Pass of the Giants and don't get me started with every rainbow... but as I've said it got me hooked and I will love and yearn for Ireland forever, even more than for Romania.

So this being the background, imagine how much I've wanted to go and see this Tombeau especially as it is only a 40 minute drive from Arlon, an hour from Luxembourg. Tombeau even in my rustic French is tomb, so who was the giant, why does it have that shape, why did he died?

Turns out that this loop that the river Semois is making is classified as an "exceptional heritage of Wallonia" and is one of "the most photographed places" in this French speaking part of the country. It took me only eight years to find about it, but ok. As an advice, since the staycation, the tourist information centers in Belgium and the Walloon region have become very active on Facebook. If you are interested give them a like and from time to time a gem like this will pop up.

The Giant, which is nameless was from Trier (Treves) so you will see it mentioned in some sources as Treviso, but we don't know his name. Legend says he fought at the battle of Sabis (57 BC between the Romans and the Belgian tribes) and was captured by Romans (weird as Trier was built by the Romans) and decided to take his life rather than being made to fight at the Colosseum in Rome, so he threw himself in this valley. Let's embrace the legend and not try to explain it as I've just did. 

The Tombeau du Geant is also called "Le point de vue Botassart" so if your GPS is not into legends than try to find it this way. It has a large parking space and a place from where you can buy drinks and also it is the starting point to a lot of trails, some accessible even with a pram.




These days I am a bit all over the place as Ilinca started going to the creche. No doubt you will have a post about that, too. As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 14, 2020

France - First holiday with Ilinca

 If you know me/us, you know we are really fond of travelling, for a day or a city-break or longer periods, we like to travel, to discover new places. So when Ilinca came into our lives it was only natural that we would make her a traveler as well. BUT then a global pandemic came and all the traveling was put to a halt. Fortunately little by little I face my fear of getting contaminated if we travel out of the safety of our cocoon, and this blog is a silent witness of our small or big trips.

So we looked around and everybody was at the seaside enjoying life and we were stuck at home because of our fears. So we decided we will travel locally so no planes for now and that meant we would either go to the seaside in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK or France. We choose France because we wanted to rent an entire house if it was possible all to ourselves, so we would limit the risk of contamination, and in France this was cheaper. So I left aside my dream of touring the seaside in UK with a caravan, for another year, because the train to cross the canal has the same price as an entire week in the south of France.

So despite my love-hate relationship with France, we decided to go in a small and lovely town called Martigues, very close to Marseille. We found a sandy and empty beach which allowed dogs in Fos-sur-Mer and discovered its lovely church/fortress. So overall it was a nice found gem and we hope we would go back there next year, that is how much we loved it.

We all tend to only focus on Corona and forget about any other dangers. So even though ideal, the holiday was not without stress. We booked the house and a couple of weeks before the holiday they told us the booking was canceled because the camping burned out. I quickly did my research and it was true and we passed by the site and it was horrible. They gave our money back but not in time to book something else. So we looked online and found that in that area the camping sites are more popular than hotels. It was ok for me as I would have preferred something secluded anyway so we went for a house in camping suggested to me by another blogger (Blogul Larisei), go and check her stories if you know Romanian or use Translate and I'm sure you will love it. She lives in the Loire Valley so imagine what stories with castles she writes about.

The house (I'm saying house because it has all the things you would need in a house, it has two bedrooms, an equipped kitchen, a toilet, a shower, a terrace with chaise-longs, just that it is smaller than a normal house) was empty when we arrived, so that is maybe a downside, you have to bring your own bedding and things to cook with such as salt or oil, your own towels and of course the food. The camping has a restaurant and we ordered that each morning we would have croissants (cause what is a holiday in France without croissants?) and the neighboring camping have restaurants as well so if you choose so you could eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, but in Corona Times we said we would limit our eating out. We cooked very light meals, a BBQ and salad most of the times.

But our chalet was in a camping which was over a cliff so I would start each morning drinking my coffee there watching the sea while walking Luna. The Tamaris small harbor was easily reachable and that was another route we would take when walking Luna. 

This was the view on the evening we arrived from the cliffs. 

  

And this was in the morning

Luna was delighted with the morning walk

Another view

And from the evening walk as well

On the highway, Alin saw we are very close (an hour) to Avignon. So guess what we visited first?

While he was visiting the pope palace (I think) we looked for the Avignon Bridge. If it sounds familiar is because of a little children song which goes a bit like this: 
Sur le pont d'Avignon,
L'on y danse, l'on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tout en rond.

We did not dance and in fact no one was dancing, but the bridge allowed us all to go up and both our girls were excited.

A blue corner of Avignon 

A road, I don't know where I took the photo, but it looked so nice


Martigues
Photos similar to this one got me in love with this town. 
This is called "Miroir aux Oiseaux" the Bird's Mirror and is not the only nice place in town as I thought from the Internet as everyone was taking pictures of only this spot.

Us three on an evening on the cliffs

If you are wondering, Luna was always with us, it's just she is become a fussy toddler who doesn't want to be in the pictures all the time.

The small harbor of Martigues

The bigger harbor

As we were so close to Marseille on a cold a dump day we decided to check it out and also visit a museum if we could not visit the city because of the combination rain+small child. 

We went for MUCEM - The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, an ethnographic museum located very close to the old city and harbor. 

The main temporary exhibition was of clothes which at the beginning were used by workers or athletes and then passed into fashion, such as the espadrilles, the blue dungarees, the stripped t-shirt, the clogs, the yellow rain jacket, the kilt. So to my surprise at the shop I found Romanian Blouses, old, but not very authentic. Still the sellers were not sure what they were selling, there was no poster as there were for other items of clothing indicating the origin and story of the clothes... Sad.

The next day, because we had a lazy start we decided to visit a small town, one of the most beautiful towns in France, called Roussillion 

Us on one of the belvedere spots
The town is also famous for the ochre quarries and red hills.

It is a lovely little town with colored houses
This is the Town Hall
As I've said the closest beach to us that allowed dogs was at Fos-sur-Mer and the town had a similar look as Roussillon meaning it stood on a hill and on top of that hill was this picture taken.
It seems that Ilinca loves to discover new places as much as we do.
It is a church
and a former fortress
Luna at the beach
At first we did not know why Luna was barking on the beach, but then we figured out that she wanted to go swimming with us.
Ilinca discovering seashells
About Ilinca and the water, initially we planned to get her in the water, with proper pampers and swimsuit, but in none of the days the water was warm enough for her. You know when the water is cold until you are fully submerged and when you go our is very cold? Well, it was like that. So we tried the first day, with just the feet and it took her half an hour to warm up under two towels and under the sun. So we decided it was best that this year would skip the water. But she liked it nonetheless. 
Her tiny feet
On another day we went to Nice. A three hours drive from our position. My objectives were the Matisse Museum and Promenades des Anglais. This is me in front of Hotel Negresco
And this is me at the Matisse Museum
It was the first museum I've visited with Ilinca, just the two of us. So initially I've done a quick walk around the museum and was prepared to exit as soon as she would have becomed fussy, but she liked the museum as much as I did and when I saw she was calm and smiling, I toured the museum slowly explaining to her the paintings or the sculptures. Hopefully I will write a separate post about all the places we visited and I've liked, so stay tuned :)
This picture was taken by one of the security guards at the museum
It was too hot for me to wear my Matisse Romanian Blouse and also small children are very dirty, but I've put it on outside for pictures and also as I was standing in line to buy the tickets.
Nice is lovely and I do hope we would get the chance to visit it some other time and enjoy the old town and harbor and its beaches. Some other time...
This is again us one evening on the cliffs
Martigues harbor

Martigues old town

That was it folks
We stayed there for 10 nights, initially we wanted to stay 7, but it was too beautiful and quiet and we felt safe to stay three more nights.

My biggest concern was the 8 hours driving to Martigues from Luxembourg, but Ilinca was an angel, she slept the whole way there, we took a lot of breaks and although we were prepared to spend a night at a hotel on the highway, it wasn't necessary. Also she adapted very well to the small house and we bought a travel bed for her so overall the nice and calm holiday. I'm glad we dodged the bullet and went there as the staycation was clearly not for us. We took all the necessary precautions during Corona Times and as a result I'm writing this post covid-19 free.

As usual you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu