Sunday, December 27, 2015

There's No Place like Home for the Holidays

Sonndeg, 27 Dezember.

I had a wonderful December in Luxembourg. From exploring Luxembourg City and watching the Luxembourg Light Nights spectacle with my roommates to visiting Christmas markets in Metz, Trier, and Brussels, it was truly an amazing month. However, I am so thankful that I was able to head back home for Christmas. I got to see family and some of my best friends, go to Target (more times than I'm proud to admit), and eat as much chips and queso as my stomach could handle.

I guess they're right -- there's no place like home for the holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"That's So Luxembourg!" at Luxembourg Light Nights

Samschdeg, 19 Dezember.

This weekend, Luxembourg held its first ever holiday light show. The spectacle son et lumière (doesn't everything sound ten times more dramatic in French?) was hosted in the Cité Judiciaire on Friday and Saturday night.

Equal parts circus, holiday party, and display of national pride, the light show was certainly ... well ... something!


Want to get a better sense of what it was really like? Check this out!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Enjoying "Les Plaisirs d'Hiver" in Brussels

Sonndeg, 13 Dezember.

Just got back from a truly whirlwind trip to Brussels! I left my house at 8:00 a.m. and was back in Esch-sur-Alzette by 11:00 p.m. In between? Seven hours of sitting on a train, four hours of exploring Brussels, and two hours of a Fulbright "Cookies & Carols" event (aka the primary reason for the trip).

As you can imagine, American-sized amounts of caffeine were necessary.

I hadn't been to Brussels since my last visit in October and I was really looking forward to seeing the city decorated for Christmas. I popped in to mass at the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula and then met up with a fellow Fulbrighter to explore the "Plaisirs d'Hiver."

Ultimately, I didn't take too many photos. It was cold and rainy and I spent most of my time trying to avoid puddles rather than taking pictures! But I hope that you enjoy these snapshots of Christmas in Brussels.

Just your average gothic cathedral!

Apparently this building is lit up year-round. How festive!

I enjoyed seeing Brussels at Christmas and was so glad to see my fellow Fulbrighters one last time before the holidays ... but BOY OH BOY was I happy to get back to Luxembourg at the end of it all. It's strange that although Luxembourg can at times feel foreign and overwhelming, it also has begun to feel a whole lot like home. After a long day of chitchatting and dodging crowds in Brussels, nothing could have felt better than walking into the quiet familiarity of the Gare de Luxembourg. Well, nothing except for crawling into bed ... which is next on the agenda!

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Frohe Weihnachten!" from Trier

Méindeg, 7 Dezember.

As promised yesterday, some snapshots from our afternoon at the Trierer Weihnachtsmarkt!

The entire city was decorated for the holidays, but we spent most of our time at the markets located in the Hauptmarkt (the Main Market, featured above) and the Domfreihof (Cathedral Square, depicted below). Although shops were closed and the majority of the city seemed to be enjoying a quiet afternoon in, the Christmas markets were full to bursting with people.

Recognize the Trierer Dom from yesterday's post?

Of course, what's a Christmas market without food?! I snacked on gebrannte mandeln, my all-time favorite weihnachtsmärkte treat of sugar-roasted almonds, and we warmed up with hot chocolate in souvenir mugs. (Because when it comes down to it, do you REALLY want glühwein when you could be drinking hot chocolate covered in whipped cream?)


For lunch, we stopped for flammkuchen, a traditional dish from Alsace that I had only tried once before while exploring the marchés de Noël in Strasbourg during my semester abroad. Unlike Alsatian flammekueche, made with a pizza-thin crust and a (surely unhealthy) dose of crème fraîche, this was made with thick, doughy bread covered in potatoes, cheese, and little bits of ham and ... oh, what's that? Sorry, I was daydreaming about eating flammkuchen for the rest of my life.

Until next time, Trier! In the meantime, wishing you all an early Frohe Weihnachten from the oldest city in Germany.

An Afternoon in Germany's Oldest City

Sonndeg, 6 Dezember.

Today I went to Trier! Or, if you are Luxembourgish, to Tréier. Or, if you are French, to Trèves. Or, if you are an ancient Roman living in the first century BCE, Augusta Treverorum. Do you get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this city has an interesting history?!

One of the most interesting things about Trier for this temporary Luxembourger is how easy -- and inexpensive -- it is to go there! Trains run frequently between Luxembourg City and Trier and the entire trip takes about an hour. If you have a transport pass or have already bought a ticket for in-country travel, you can buy a round-trip ticket from Wasserbillig (the last stop in Luxembourg) and get to Trier for around eight euros. So when you have a free Sunday afternoon and a handful of enthusiastic housemates ... why not go?!

Fun fact: the red house is called "Rotes Haus" (three guesses what that means) and was built in 1684.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Day Trip to Metz

Samschdeg, 5 Dezember.

One of the great things about being a Fulbright E.T.A. is having a relatively flexible schedule. After having to work on my birthday (#grownupproblems), I decided to take advantage of a free day on Wednesday and hopped across the border to check out my neighbor, Metz!

Closer to the Luxembourg border than Strasbourg or Brussels but not quiiite as close as Trier, Metz is an ancient French city with a fascinating history. The city is stunning (check out this YouTube video for proof) -- full of everything from Roman ruins to modern art museums, from classically French cathedrals to undeniably German houses. And a seriously fancy train station.

A shot of the Moselle River, which flows through Metz.

The Porte Serpenoise in downtown Metz.