Monday, October 31, 2011

Vive la France!

I can't help myself, I love France. The minute (and that is all of a 10 minutes drive from Lux) you cross the border it just feels different, looks different, tastes different. It has that distinct personality about it that instantly feels comfortable and stands on its own in a way that isn't really so apparent in Luxembourg. Lux is just a big melting pot and it is wonderful and interesting for it, yet when you cross one of the three very close borders, Germany, Belgium or France, everything feels more defined.

Our latest family outing was to Metz. We went on a Sunday afternoon for just a few hours to have a little preview. Most everything is closed here on Sundays except for museums and cafes and churches. The cathedral in Metz is primarily where we were headed, so we parked in the central city gare and emerged from underneath. Wouldn't you know, we came smack-dab, face-to-face with another marathon! Poor Jorrit, another one missed, but it keeps the motivation going. We will see him run yet.

After watching the runners hobble into the city square, we wandered up the main street just checking out storefronts and eventually turning into the old town. We quickly came upon the old center with the cathedral, St. Etienne de Metz, looming as an enormously beautiful Gothic masterpiece. Construction on this church began in 1220 and was completed three centuries later. The 10th highest of all the cathedrals in the world and third highest in France, its nave measures 41.41 meters and it is filled with the largest number of the most amazing stained glass windows. The windows were designed over years and years by various masters, including Marc Chagall. It was breathtaking, even my kids thought so! It is nicknamed "the Good Lord's lantern" due to this extraordinary expanse of glass and despite my less than adequate pictures, it is easy to see why.

After a cocoa and coffee, and in the fading sun, we walked back to the car and I secretly wished we were living there instead. Good news is, the trip is about a 35 minute drive door to door and I know already we will visit often. In fact, we missed the Georges Pompidou (or branch of) visit due to excess homework waiting at home. There is a lot left to explore in Metz, including next year's marathon. Vive Jorrit!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Miscellaneous Noteables from Lux Deluxe

Thought I'd just share a few scenes from life here in Lux deluxe.

We use the Veloh! system here until our bikes arrive. Jorrit on his way to work.

Our first visitor and very old family friend, Jim Haven. He had Friday night  dinner  with the whole family and then, lucky him, watch the latest episode of "The Office". 

Jorrit was a real trooper and rose early-bird to go to a little village in France to attend this flea market/vide-grenier. Not many treasures were found until after we left.

We found these.

And we found this. Not only treasures because they are so delicious, but it was a Sunday. Can't find a bakery open in Lux on Sunday!

This is one of the grocery stores I shop at, complete with enormous wine section and five sommeliers.

These next photos probably deserve a posting all their own but probably on Window Darlings not here. Going to the big grocery, Auchan, is a bit like Disneyland for me. Lots and lots of interesting packaging and in quantity, which you don't often see here. I think often it is just that repetition of design that gets me but I couldn't resist snapping a few.

I must say one thing about these chips -- they are the BEST! Better than Kettle in my humble opinion, some strange flavors though. I haven't gathered the courage to try their roasted chicken variety.

Love this, "Avoid Embarrassment, Buy Tyrrells". 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vianden Nut Festival

This was an early outing one Sunday, the day after we spent in Brussels. Only Jorrit, Carmela and I went to visit this little border town close to Germany complete with castle and charming architecture. Vianden holds this nut festival every year but don't  expect your order of salted peanuts and cashews to be filled, as Nico had hoped, because they only serve walnuts. Walnut and lots of them, in everything you can imagine -- sausage, bread, cakes, pesto, the list goes on. It was a beautiful day to celebrate nuts of any sort, no complaints.

We finally found the best looking sausages. We ate our lunch and then ordered six more to go.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Desperately Seeking Lacrosse (and Tintin!)

Maybe it is Tintin and the Captain that seek lacrosse too? Who knows, but what we now know is "les belges" have found the love in lacrosse. We spent a day in the car, first just north of Brussels to watch and check out lacrosse abroad, and then later to explore this most fabulous city called Brussels. 

Tintin, Snowy and  Captain Haddock were all there waiting as we attended The Red Rhinos tournament hosted for teams from far and wide -- Holland, Italy, Germany, France and Belgium. We enjoyed a few games, Nico was even invited to wear some German guy's sweaty pads and jersey and join in the fun (he passed), on what was a beautifully sunny September Saturday. It was fun to see the enthusiasm for lacrosse but it possibly made Nico miss it all the more. The Italians, I am happy to report, were holding their own and seeing lacrosse played in French was of course, my favorite part! Everything is better in French, non?

On to the city. We drove into Brussels primarily to see an exhibit at the Wiels Museum that was recommended to me by a friend who lives in Marrakech. This photographic exhibit was made by her friend who lives in Tangiers and documents the "unseen" Morocco. It was a beautiful museum in a bohemian neighborhood that took us quite a while to find. Driving through the city (and it is quite a big city) was crazy, we were lost yet everyone hung in there until we found it. It was worth it and in addition to the photographs, there was also a show of a Polish sculptor whose work was reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois. Small enough, digestible for all. 

On we moved to the center of town, again feeling our way there, and finally we parked and began walking. It was a warm afternoon that quickly turned to evening and I think we were all enchanted! The buzz of everyone on the street, in the cafes and the beautiful architecture were more than what we had  anticipated. Even the kids loved it, I think they are missing city life. Jorrit was dejected because they were preparing for the marathon for the next day and he would not be amongst the runners. This is a recurring theme for him.

It was a very short tour and we needed to go back, but we did sit outside and have dinner before returning to the car (not quite like these city-dwellers, but I loved their commitment) and realizing we could have been using our GPS system built into our car to navigate this lovely city. And so we did and drove right on home without one wrong turn. Imagine that?