Thursday, August 29, 2013

Luxembourg City

Of all the places we visited on our Luxembourg trip in July, celebrating our two birthdays, Luxembourg City was at the top of the list.  I had wanted to visit that wee country and its capital since...well, since about forever.

So, we did it on our second full day, after Trier, Germany (which is yet to come here)!  I had already Googled it beforehand and discovered it is a city of bridges.  Who would have known.

It so happens that where we parked for the day, near the Gëlla Fra monument (upper-right),
was the absolute luckiest of all places to start our day:  right above the Chemin de la Corniche,
lovingly referred to as "Europe's most beautiful balcony."

 Actually, we parked at Judiciary City, where all the judicial buildings/offices are consolidated.
But it was a balcony of its own.  What a way to start our day!

 The Aldophe Bridge from 1900 is the most famous of Luxembourg City, its unofficial symbol.
 But though it was a beautiful, sunny day, I never got it in good light.

The Passerelle bridge from 1859, however, was cooperative, 
as was the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge (right-center) from 1966.
Sadly, the Grand Duchess is known as the suicide bridge, with 100 jumping-deaths since it opened.

How can you not love views like this.  We were not disappointed!
You know me and towers...

...and spires!
The Notre Dame Cathedral nearby, from 1613 (Luxembourg's only cathedral), had plenty of them.

But first, just outside the church walls we entered this courtyard with statue, bell and sundials.
I have no clue about any of them and am still Googling....

But as we walked around the church, we found this entrance...
one of two, which we later found out.
Across the street from this apparent side entrance was consrtruction with hanging murals on the fence.

Worth the entire trip!  I just wish I had checked on who the artist was of this one.
One of the artists was Joris van der Haagen, a Dutch Golden Age painter.
What is it they say...we're never far from home!

Inside the cathedral.

As Notre-Dame cathedrals go, I 'spect this ranks high on the list.

Later in the day, after we had done other things, returning to our car,
we discovered this entrance to the cathedral, which appears to be the main/front entrance.
We didn't realize it was the same church till we went inside!

Then we started wandering around to get impressions, you know....

See the elephants?  I just Googled and see there's an Elephant Parade until October 18,
attracting public awareness and support for Asian elephant conservation.

We came upon a military band performing out on the plaza that Sunday
(letting the sleeping dog lie!)

We kept walking, through the Place du Théâtre, heading towards those steeples... the St. Alphonse Church, founded in 1856, where services are held in
English, French, German, and Portugese.

Look at that floor!  We were mesmerized.

And speaking of St. Alphonse, there he is, bottom-right.

At that point we headed back to our car, where we found the other/main entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral (remember?) and decided we had seen enough.  We always smile because at a certain point in our photo hunts, we both say to each other "I'm done for now!"  And we were.  :)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For those of you who pay attention to Vision & Verb, it was my turn there this past Monday:

 It was on The Language of Windmills, following the recent death
of the Dutch Prince Friso....

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

One day is left of the Luxembourg trip, which happens to be Trier...Germany's oldest city.  But first, I'll be making a quick 3-day, 2-night trip to Dubin this Sunday-Tuesday, to hook up with 2 Vision & Verb friends, while Astrid holds down the fort at home (no free vacation days to join me, sadly). 

How is it possible that Life never stops...and is so Good?!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Nicholas Joseph Grannan

Did I mention that my only grandchild became a TEENAGER in July!

So, I just had to figure out something to honor this huge milestone for him and his mom in particular.  All 110 pages and 1,000 images of Shutterfly's maximum in a 12x12-inch book!  A gift from me to him to her.

I'm sure you get the picture...HA!

Once the book opens, please switch to the Full Screen option in the top-right corner in order to view the book properly (the font is skewed in the smaller option).

That's my boy!  Enjoy....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Germany and Luxembourg Border Skirmish

HA!  Well, not exactly a skirmish but we wound back and forth between Germany and Luxembourg so many times, it was hard to keep up with ourselves.

It was the third day of our long weekend to Luxembourg and because our B&B was over the border in Germany, we started out that day in Neuerburg...Germany.  With a population of only 1500, we knew it would whet our appetite for the rest of the day.

What a delightful little town in the Eifel with something for everyone!

We parked right outside the old Gothic parish church of St. Nikolaus, from 1492 (top-left).
Its free-standing tower sits next to it (bottom-left and center)...both not open, sadly.
The Castle Neuerburg (left-center) is the city's symbol, from the 9th century, now a youth hostel.
The look-out tower (top-center) from the 16th century was open for climbing.
Which we did.  And that was our overview!

See what I mean about whetting our appetite!  A nice YouTube here gives more of what we didn't see.
But we didn't need any more than that while on our way to...Vianden, 20 km away.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Vianden, Luxembourg, was our main goal of the day.  At circa 1800 inhabitants, it's not much bigger than Neuerburg but much more well-known.

What is it about European signs!  
Not much different than going from one city or state to another in America, right?

So, another charming town, with lots to see...

...and wonder about.
Victor Hugo, for instance, was a famous French author who stayed in Vianden often between 1862-71.
Oh, yes, and the Our river runs through it.

In the city center is this precious little church of St. Nicholas, from 1256.

It was the first church where I've seen an "ALARM" sign before the altar.
Perhaps that's why they can keep it open all the time?

But it's the Vianden Castle that is its main attraction, as you'll soon see.
It's one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine, built in the 11th-14th centuries.
And you can see it from all over town, as well as the Hockelstuerm tower nearby.

Lucky for tourists, there's a chair lift that will take you to the top to see it all better!

Look at that!  It was a perfect day to be there, though hot.
An iced coffee was just what the doctor ordered at the café with a view.

Going down was even better because we could see the castle without obstruction of the chair lift.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And just like that, we were on the road again!  Still on a mission...

...and always with something for which to stop at a moment's notice.
Talk about older than dirt.

As I recall, this old DDR firetruck was on sale for €1,000.
You'd think a museum would want it, right?

Which reminds me...we're now back in Germany.

And this is Bollendorf, a town of circa 1600 inhabitants.
A river runs through it, of course...the Sauer, with the Bollendorf Castle/hotel at the bend.
Did I mention it was a hot day!

St. Michael's Church, built in the 1830s, stands tall not far from the river banks.

I love that so many of these churches are open during the week at odd hours.

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And at that point we went searching for the Irrel waterfalls where we ate our picnic supper before heading back to our B&B!

I told you I was going backwards!  
Next up...Luxembourg City.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

LUXEMBOURG: Echternach

As an example of how spontaneous we were that Luxembourg long weekend a month ago, the day we did our photo hunt in Luxembourg City (not yet posted!) ended soon enough for us to visit Luxembourg's oldest city, Echternach, on our way to that evening's B&B in Germany.

It so happen's that Echternach is on the border between these two countries.

 In fact, the river Sauer that passes through this city of approximately 5000 inhabitants is the border.
Look one way on the bridge and you're welcomed to Germany.
Look the other way and it's Luxembourg.

And since we're standing on the bridge, 
look towards the Germany side and see all the campers at the river's edge.
It was really hot that day, so I can just imagine how good that river felt.
(click any collage to enlarge)

A short walk back into town took us to the open market on the main square that Sunday.
I LOVE these market squares all over Europe, with their town halls.

 And that's where we stopped to eat our main meal of the day.
This was our first pizza ordered in my 3+ years here in the Netherlands.
It was very hard to resist, along with the wonderful salad, on which we went halvsies, like usual.
The Diekirch beer is brewed not far away in Diekirch, Luxembourg, so it was a must on a hot day.

And see that little blue-n-white train?
Every day we saw one in almost every city, taking tourists around town to see the sights.

Of the two churches in Echternach, this Basilica is the largest...what was the former abbey.
Remember when I said Echternach is Luxembourg's oldest city?
It grew up around the abbey that was built by St. Willibrord in 698.

Besides the present modern interior from 1953 (6 churches have been built on the site since 698!)... has a museum where you can see artifacts dating back many centuries.

The other church in Echternach is the parish church of St. Peter and Paul from the 10th century,
and is believed to be the oldest Christian church in the country.
Too bad it wasn't open!

What a delightful little town...the size of the town where I grew up in Michigan...

...but nothing at all like what I knew back in my day!

To be continued....

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Luxembourg-Trip Picnics

Many of you know how planning a vacation is sometimes half the fun.  Watch Astrid and you'll see how true this is for her!

Our 4-day-long weekend trip to Luxembourg a month ago was a planned trip with lots of leeway for spontaneous exploration.  That's why Astrid was dreaming how the cool-box could be used optimally for at least 2 picnics while we were out-n-about.

After our first day in Trier, Germany, with an overnight nearby, and then our second day in Luxembourg City (2 posts yet to be done!), we drove to our B&B in Jucken, Germany, just north of the Luxembourg border.

It's one of those places where if you blink you've already passed through it.
2.39 sq. miles with less than 200 inhabitants.
But the B&B stays busy because it's only 65 km from Luxembourg City.
The church across the street reminded me of an old one-room school house.

Speaking of inhabitants, here's one of them.  And one who used to be, I assume.

And just a short walk from her our first morning, life was already in full swing.

But I digress...because that first evening in Jucken, after a long day in Luxembourg City (with a nice noon meal in that delightful capital), we decided to have our first picnic.  But where?  We were in the middle of farm country!

We hopped in the car, after checking in at our B&B, and drove a mile or so to this spot off a dirt road.
See the blue cool-box?  I had never seen one before moving here, though I assume they're "old hat" now.
You hook them up to your car's cigarette lighter to keep the contents cool while you travel.
And see the picnic basket?  €5 at one of our first open-harbor flea markets here.  HA!

At the golden-hour time of the evening, this was as close to heaven as it gets.
We had purchased the loaf of bread at a superb bakery in Luxembourg City earlier.
Anyone could have lived on it alone!
And did you notice how our fold-up chairs match Granny Towanda.  :)

Picnic #2 happened the next late afternoon when we were out-n-about, going from here to there, and wanting to find the waterfalls of Irrel, Germany.  Like the painted church in Eschfeld we had seen on our B&B brochure, we had also seen a blurb about the Irrel waterfalls and covered bridge.

With all the signs we saw, you'd think it'd be easy-peasy to find!
But, NO, it wasn't.  We had to stop and ask!
When we finally saw 500m, we knew we were there.

As waterfalls go, this one is teeny-tiny...but in such a spectacular location.
When water levels are high, it's a popular spot for canoe sporting events.

And the covered bridge is the best seat in the house to see the cascading rapids over the boulders below.

Astrid and I crossed over the bridge to the other side to find a picnic spot, if possible,
not knowing if/what was available.

When we found this vacant bench, I stayed to "hold" it while Astrid walked back to the car for our supplies.
What a trooper!  And 2 old geezers in the middle of the woods with a river running through it!
Did I ever say this was as close to heaven as it gets?  

So, as you see, Astrid's pre-trip planning and dreaming really paid off.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Totally changing gears...

We spent 2 lovely hours this past Saturday in nearby Arkel sharing koffie with dear friends Thelma and Siem, something we try to do at least once or twice a year.

 It so happens granddaugher Sophia, age 1 1/2, was visiting while her older sister and mommy 
were at swimming lessons...something all Dutch kids "have" to take.
OMG.  A D O R A B L E.

And then BOTH of my camera batteries were dead.  What the?

But not to worry.  Astrid's camera was working just fine, with her images above.
Thelma, who recently turned 76, was telling me all about her iPad.
She's Indonesian and moved here when she was 18...and then married Dutchman Siem, 77.
Almost 50 years of wonderfulness, with 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

 They have a HUGE yard and garden area.
These are Astrid's images (and collage) of Thelma's craftiness.

You learn a lot about someone by what they make, don't you!

So, with that added inspiration, I'm off to process more of the Luxembourg trip....