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Luxembourg, Brussels, and Trier- Oh my! May 26, 2013

Posted by karayogi in Travel Log.
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Where do I begin!?

The first of my adventures was spent traveling to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, and Brussels, Belgium.  We decided to hop over there (it’s a free train ride with a Eurail pass), for Pentecost weekend.  Because both cities have large Catholic populations, (as denoted by their GORGEOUS cathedrals), both cities were especially festive.  Arriving in Luxembourg, we were met with gorgeous weather and a stunning view of the city.  Split into two levels, one part of the city lies in a valley and the other, larger part on top of a hill.  We found our way to a pastry shop, and wound up stumbling into a farmer’s market.  Tens of vendors were lined up in the town square selling all kinds of meats and cheeses and fresh produce.  The smell was like no other; ripe fruits and vegetables made the cool air even crisper- in a good way.  The best part was that most of the vendors had samples!  I have never tasted a more delicious cantaloupe nor a more interesting pistachio flavored cheese. Farmer’s market aside, we continued to explore the city, and found the royal palace of Luxembourg.  It was pretty cool to see a royal palace, guarded by a stoic royal guard whose focus never wavers.  Next we found ourselves in the Natural History museum.  It was filled with beautiful Roman artifacts, and beautiful dioramas of ancient life.  It was pretty cool to see Roman jewelry and carvings, and even Roman games!  Following our venture into the museum, we found ourselves in the middle of another town square, this time filled with a sort of flea market, except much, much cooler.  There were musicians playing all sorts of music- from popular hits (I seem to remember the Macarena), to more traditional music (Greensleeves), it was incredible.  We ate lunch there, and wandered the market some, and my goodness was it a lively atmosphere.  Just being in that square made me smile.   I really don’t think words could do the atmosphere justice.  So I’ll post pictures!

Luxembourg Farmer’s Market

Delicious fruits in Luxembourg!

After an awesome lunch in the square, we headed to our hostel and then out that night to a small, family-owned cafe.  This was super cool; the family that owned the cafe was incredibly friendly, and the food was delicious; (I had a mixed vegetable soup– it was fantastic).  My favorite part was the DJ- a friend of the family’s, he was playing classic hits and streaming a Pearl Jam concert from Sao Paolo.  His name was Oscar, and above him hung a framed picture of Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, because when he’s DJ-ing, the owner of the restaurant thought he smiled a lot like the puppet.  Needless to say, it was really fun discussing music, and a love of Pearl Jam, with him.

 

 

Next on the list was Brussels- the famous site of the statue of the peeing little boy… And boy are they proud of him!  Many sites, souvenirs, and even the shuttle bear him as the logo (it’s incredibly amusing.  Google “Brussels city shuttle logo” if you get a chance.).  It was an Awesome city!  Once again, we ran into another open market here; and it was incredibly busy and huge- walking through the area was intimidating due to the sheer number of people.  We made our way over to our hotel to drop off our backpacks before continuing into the heart of the city.  Our hotel made the graphic designer inside of me incredibly happy– we stayed at the Pantone hotel! (Pantone as in the international color chip system).  Each floor was themed after a different color, and each room had placards indicating the exact pantone color codes of each color used in the decorating scheme.  Even the toilet paper was pantone matched!!!  The lobby was done beautifully in a Pantone scheme, and bore a huge “painting” (more like a large color chip), of the color of the year- emerald.  According to the Pantone color horoscope, my “color” is Grapeade- PANTONE 18-3211. That was fun.

Color astrology aside, exploring Brussels was wonderful.  The two biggest things we noticed were Chocolate and Waffles, and Chocolate Waffles.  Waffle vendors drove around in waffle trucks, and would stop to prepare you a fresh Belgian waffle. (yum!!)  The waffle truck definitely trumps the ice cream truck.  Also, walking around, there were numerous squares filled with chocolate boutiques, each selling Belgian chocolate.  For breakfast we had Belgian waffles– mine was topped with ice cream and Belgian chocolate.  Best breakfast ever.

Belgian Waffle Breakfast!

The waffle truck appears!

Also, while traversing the craft market, I met a woman whose husband makes ceramic flutes and whistles.  They live in the mountains, and he built his own kiln to fire his wares, and even mixes his own glazes for the ceramics,  The coolest thing he made were bird calling whistles– they are made using centuries-old techniques, and produce very very accurate bird calls.  You fill the whistle with water, and then blow into it, creating the call.  Having done ceramics back home, I was incredibly impressed– making and tuning ceramic whistles, let alone specific bird calling whistles- is incredibly difficult.  Talking to his wife was absolutely incredible.  She taught me how to make a bird call using the whistle- something I will be proud to test out once I get back home!

 

And finally, Trier!  The oldest city in Germany, Trier is covered in history- most notably, in Roman runes.  Once again we traveled on the perfect weekend- a giant farmer’s market and flea market was going on, as well as a celebration of the local police.  On the night we arrived, we went to an amazing German restaurant whose specialty was potatoes. I was in heaven.  The potatoes were delicious, and the traditional German-prepared meats were incredible to say the least- pork stuffed with sausage and a blend of spices.  It was incredible.  Also, the caramelized onions were amazing- which, coming from me, is a big statement.  I usually don’t eat onions, but these ones were just too good to resist.

We then headed to the hotel, where we checked in and were met with a cocktail reception and a stunningly gorgeous hotel.   Owned by a woman from Atlanta (go figure!) and her husband, the hotel is absolutely stunning, and the service was amazing.  I highly recommend that anyone traveling to Trier stay there- the Hotel Astoria.  The owners were fantastic, and the eclectic decorations were amazing- pink, sparkly, and elegant.  They served a beautiful breakfast every morning, and our table was even labeled as the Gebara Family, after Christine, who made the reservation.  While we were eating breakfast each morning, the owners of the hotel placed a huge tray of chopped bread in their garden for the birds, who, upon hearing the bell, swarmed in for the bread.  It was adorable and quaint and fantastic.  The hotel was a total treat compared to staying in Hostels.

Exploring Trier, we spent a lot of time exploring the Roman runes, and learning the history of Karl Marx.  Marx was born in Trier, and there were smallish, red and orange Marx statues all over town, and hundreds of them surrounding the Porta Nigra- the entrance to Roman Trier.  We actually got to go up into the gate, and the runes were remarkably well preserved; with beautiful and elaborate wall carvings throughout the entire building.  It was absolutely phenomenal.  We also explored a Roman amphitheater in Trier, as well as the Imperial and normal Baths.  They were all amazing, but the heating systems present in the Baths as well as the amphitheater took the cake.  The amphitheater was stunning, due to its use when Trier was the capital of the Western Roman Empire.  You could explore the holding cells where they stored the animals and prisoners who were to compete in the arena, as well as visiting the hold underneath the arena, which was equally fascinating.  The wood there was from 300 AD, and still held up the weight of the amphitheater.   The whole arena was marvelous in its ability to magnify sound; anything said within the arena was amplified due to the mountains surrounding it, and reverberated throughout the whole complex.  Standing inside the cells to take shelter from the rain, it became apparent that we were standing where hundreds may have stood throughout the course of centuries.  That was a cool feeling.

Next on the list is Barcelona, and I can’t wait.

 

Au revoir!

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