Monday, July 29, 2013

Clervaux, Luxembourg: the Church and the Castle

So, after seeing that incredible, painted church in Eschfeld, Germany (last post), we drove 9 miles (15 km) to Clervaux, Luxembourg.  It was the last day of our long weekend and we just wanted to see some highlights on our way home.

In those 9 miles we drove through the forest and open fields, like the rest of the trip.
We always set the Tom-Tom to the back roads so that we can see the real countryside.
You know how much I love to catch the churches...and the weathervanes!

As we drove into Clervaux, there she sat:  the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, from 1910.
Can you imagine that as the parish church for a town of 2000 inhabitants?

 You can imagine the thrill of anticipation after getting out of the car and walking up to it.

Once inside, it was actually much plainer than we expected.
Is that possible?

But's only 100 years old!
See how spoiled we've become by the centuries of art attached to the huge, old cathedrals!

As we walked out of the church, straight ahead of us stood the nearby Clervaux Castle from the 12th century:

 Because the sun was shining on the front of the church, we first saw the castle in shadow.
But as we walked around it, it, too, caught the sun on such a gorgeous day.
It stands 365 meters (approx. 1200 ft), overlooking the town.

It was destroyed by fire in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII,
but has been completly rebuilt.

Speaking of WWII, there's a war museum there full of wartime memorabilia.
The only piece I took a picture of was the WHY? poster.
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?????  A gazillion WHYs.

Outside in the courtyard stands this US Sherman tank.
Did you know that the German tanks had more destructive power
but these Sherman tanks were so much faster, they somehow were able to elude the Germans.
Still, there was much loss of life, including the Americans.

Everywhere you go in Europe where these war memorials exist,
the Americans are thanked profusely.  It's actually very touching.

Did I tell you it was HOT HOT HOT?  The hottest day of our summer to date at 30 ºC (86º F).
So we really splurged!  Normally we're satisfied with one scoop of ice cream on a cone.
But not that day.  As Astrid says, I'm making a beer drinker of her.  HA!
The thing is, how can you live in Europe and NOT drink beer, especially on a hot day!
Did you know that beer glasses match the beer you're drinking?  Yup.
Bofferding beer from Luxembourg since 1764!

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Switch gears now till my next Luxembourg post to catch up on my newest Vision and Verb about Dutch idioms:

"It's like an angel peeing on my tongue!"
If that doesn't pique your curiosity, what will?!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eschfeld, Germany: the St. Luzia Parish Church

Did I mention that Astrid and I drove to the Luxembourg area (country and city) 2 weekends ago for a 4-day long weekend?  I didn't think so.

It was 1000 km (621 miles) of "short of eyes" in four different countries:  the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.  But not to worry because I'll be giving you the trip in bits-n-pieces.  Easier to swallow...and in no particular order.

Let's start with a teeny-tiny town on the western border of Germany, before entering Belgium (on our way home, actually).  When I say teeny-tiny, I mean all of about 200 people!  Eschfeld.

We stopped there because of the St. Luzia Parish Church, which we had seen in a travel brochure at our B&B.  OMG.  Did we ever hit the jackpot!

 It was built in 1869 and can be seen for "riles and riles amound."

And this is its treasure!
Christoph März was the painter-pastor who created these paintings between 1906-21.
If you didn't know how to read, you could tell the Bible stories from their pictures.

How can you not be short of eyes!

Everywhere you look there is another painting, another story.
Oh, and all the popes up till then, as well as pastors of the church!

I found my   there...and isn't that Jeanne d'Arc?

There's even his signature from 1916:  Ghr. März.
And, yes, we signed the guest book, with generous praise...especially for keeping the doors unlocked.
We were there on a Tuesday morning.

We love the cemeteries outside these wee churches.
One section was for the WWII soldiers...even the unknown ones.
"Blessed Mary, Mother of God."  I can hear all the prayers.

Speaking of Mother Mary...just 2 km from the church was this roadside chapel/shrine.

Astrid gives you some scale.

Big enough for two chairs and an altar...and candles for prayers.
Such roadside chapels are all over parts of Europe with heavy Roman Catholic presence.
You'll be seeing more in the days to come....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gorcums Hippie Festival 2013

In case you thought Gorinchem, NL...where we live...couldn't get any better, look at this:  Gorcums Hippie Festival 2013.

BTW, Gorcum (2 syllables) is the shortened version of Gor-in-chem.  True Dutch say it in 2 syllables:  GOR-cum.  That beginning 'G' is not hard.  It's a guteral 'g' much more like an 'h' sound.

Now that we've settled that, this was the first year Astrid and I decided to go down to the waterfront of our Merwede River to take a look.  Buiten de waterpoort is outside the water port, which specifies exactly where we're talking about.

What do YOU think of when you hear "hippie?"

They actually camped out there for the entire weekend, yes!

There were plenty of porta johns available, of course, as well as urinals.
Guys are so lucky!  And they have no shame!  Four of them can do their business at the same time!

It so happens the weekend of July 5-7 was glorious, weatherwise.
And when the sun is out, the DUTCH are out, young and old alike.

I bet you think of Smurfs and snails when you think of hippies, right?
You definitely think of mushrooms, I'm sure!

Did I mention they had a concert stage with scads of gigs all weekend long?
Oh, yes.  I bet some of you want to be hippies again?!

And if the crowds get to you, go jump in the lake river!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Budapest: Great Market Hall and New Public Cemetery

By now it is the Tuesday after Easter, April 2, 2013, our last full day in Budapest before returning home.  And true to form, we once again packed it full...but with only two venues.

First, we went to the Great Market Hall, Budapest's largest and oldest indoor market, from 1897.  Some of our cruise mates had visited it the previous Friday but since that day was rainy, we knew we could catch it later.

To give us an appetizer before going, I went to our hotel's gift shop to get the flavor of everything Hungarian:

The lady who operated the gift shop was most kind and generous...and proud of her shop.
And rightly so.  Proud to be Hungarian.

And it gave us a sense of what we'd expect at the Great Market least on some level.

THIS is the Great Market Hall on the Pest side of the city.
All 10,000 square meters (30,000+ square feet)!

 And on 3 different floors/levels!  It's like Grand Central Station!

The first floor is produce...fruits and veggies.

If you like variety and choice, you've come to the right place.

Also on the first floor are meat delicacies, especially sausage.
And that reminds me of the potato-sausage soup recipe I got from Bill's Hungarian relatives back in the day!

And that reminds me of the chicken paprikash recipe...from the same relatives!
Did you know there could possibly be so many paprika choices?
And clearly paprika and garlic go together, right?
(btw, we bought a packet of HOT paprika, which I will use next time)

Other odds-n-ends on that first floor...and Astrid buying the paprika!
(oh, and we also bought one of those slim 0,04 l bottles of liquor, top-right, for our kitchen window collection)

That was the first, main floor!

The basement floor was much smaller and had mainly fish....

...and a select variety of prepared foods.
See how everyone is smiling!

Short and sweet, and then back up the stairs to the second floor....

...for all the textiles, eateries...

...and souvenirs.

So, after all that, do you now have a sense for what Hungary is all about?!

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And if all that doesn't make you hungry, what will!  So we stopped for our late morning break.... Charlotte's Cake Shop for a piece of Hungarian cake.
When in Rome, do as the Romans our motto!

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Newly energized, we were ready for the second mission of our day:  the New Public Cemetery, Budapest's largest (also one of Europe's largest) at 2.07 km² and 3 million burials since its opening in 1886.  To be honest, our plan was to visit the adjacent largest Jewish cemetery, but it was closed (like the synagogue the previous day).  

It's not Budapest's most famous cemetery but it's bell tower welcomed us.
It's also near the airport and in its flight pattern...half an hour by tram from Pest's city center.

Outside the cemetery you see many shops selling gravestones.
But once inside, flower stalls are lined up near the entrance.

What I immediately loved more than anything was the woods.
Can you imagine visiting such a place, especially during spring, summer and fall!

Notice the Olympic Rings, bottom-center.  Several Hungarian Olympians are buried there.

The snowflake necklace reminded me a bit of...Mardi Gras?!
I assume these are shrines since they're by the side of the many criss-crossing roads.

How many gravestones have you seen with portraits on them?

Or with shelters covering them?

The trees were loaded with mistletoe, as the planes flew in overhead.
The resident cat was so nonchalant about it all.

Oh, yes...and there were cremation crypts.


They reminded me of beehives.  Don't you wonder....!

And while we were disappointed the Jewish cemetery was closed, we were very glad to get our education at this very public cemetery.  I think cemeteries have a lot to tell us about life as well as death, don't you?

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On our way to and from the cemetery, while on the 30-minute tram ride...

...we saw a different part of Budapest, off the tourist path.

It was a good way to end our extended stay in this capital city.

And once off the tram to catch the metro back to our hotel,
we said Good-Bye to what had become familiar to us in just a few short days.
The next day we packed up, fiddled with our laptops, and flew home.

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Guess what, Folks!  This is IT!  The last post of our Viking Grand European River Cruise with extended Budapest stay!  With this post today, 3 months after returning home, it's done.  You've seen enough to give you a sense of why this really was a trip of a lifetime!