Saturday, April 30, 2011


Welcome to another installment of 'Luxembourgish festivals I can't pronounce.'

Let's see: there was February celebration of burning crosses and the early April Sunday dedicated to pretzels. The newest event to add to my repertoire of la vie luxembourgouise is Emaischen, a.k.a. the day of clay bird whistles.

Another day that happens just once a year (Easter Monday to be exact), this festival is characterized by stand after stand of vendors selling their version of peckvillercher, clay birds of varying sizes, shapes and colors.

Making my way to the center of town on Monday afternoon, my concerns that I might not find the market instantly vanished. The cadences of the bird whistles grew louder and louder as I neared the old church. While with Bretzelsonndeg you could follow your nose, with this festival, you definitely followed your ears.

And there, stand after stand, filled with (clay) birds, vendors demonstrating the whistles, children trying out their new toys, mixed with keen collectors examining this year's 'flock' - it was equal parts strange and magical.

It was Luxembourgish.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Adventures

So, I had a conversation, not too long ago, where the question was asked: Would you rather have a life filled with little adventures that happen daily, or one characterized by big, soul-inspiring adventures that happen only a few times?

 I love the adrenalin rush of exploration. Going boldly into the unknown - a new city, a new culture - not knowing what you'll find around each corner, who you'll meet, and what could happen. It's a thrill that I yearn for - attacking the buffet that life of what the world has to offer with gusto! You could say I'm a junkie...

But the small adventures. Those cannot be forgotten or appreciated with any less vigor than those big life changing moments.

There was a moment this week that made me pause a bit, to realize, as if it were a sign in big flashing neon letters, that life is beautiful and short.

And so often, it's those little adventures, those tiny moments, that make me breath deep the joy of living.

The smell of spring lilacs, junky flea markets, 1 euro yogurt gelato, a surprise piece of cake with my coffee at work, an unexpected conversation, a forty minute train ride through Luxembourg, with only me, my thoughts, and a really good book...I guess you could say I'm also a junkie for that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Traveling Scotsman

This European adventure has been lovely and fulfilling in so many ways, but if I had to choose one thing that I'll cherish always (other than pain-au-chocolat being readily available and accessible around every corner) it would be the people I've met.

Before I headed out for two weeks of study tours and the Camino, I was reunited with one of my favorite people, the Scotsman from my blissful sojourn at another Chateau near Paris. Our little band of followers (six in total) drank whisky on old stone steps, harvested buckets of spinach from the kitchen garden and debated politics and religion during our afternoon gouter on the gravel path.

Two whole years later, the Scotsman and I finally had our long discussed reunion. And when I saw this crazy guy standing in the courtyard, kilt and all, it was like no time had passed.

After a few days, it was time to part ways again, but not before lots of catching up, a few walks in the woods, and maybe a sip or two of whisky.

One piece of advice: if you are ever driving though Europe and you see someone standing on the side of the road, in a kilt, their hitching thumb out, stop, give him a lift. Even if it's for five minutes I promise you, you won't regret it.

Safe travels dear friend. Come back again soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Camino de Santiago

"With scarce belongings on your back
And enormous heritage in sour soul. 
Free from material things,
You greet many people
And love even more,
Free from material things,
You smile to all
And give away good wishes.
This is how you will climb and climb.
Feet firmly on the ground
Walking to your dream.
Pilgram, walk in freedom,
Walk without your belongings.
Pilgram, always towards your destination,
But never alone;
You encounter many in your way
And they remain in forever your heart.
You carry them in your rose-scented hands,
With which you give not only objects
But also joy.
Pilgram, may God remain forever
Wherever you transit."
:from a small spanish Church, on the way of St. James. 

With a seashell on my backpack, I joined centuries of men and women on the spanish path towards Santiago de Compostela.  Words cannot describe that week on the trail: the rain, the people, the landscape, the struggle, the joy. 

I feel so incredibly humbled to be a small speck in this tapestry of stories, of pilgrams, who have been making this journey for hundreds of years. 

God is good. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turkish Lights

Lamps at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Les Petits Riens

This weekend I found myself with that all too familiar urge to go on a little adventure. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of adventures to be found in Luxembourg, but I wanted to get out of my apartment, out of Differdange, heck, even out of the country.

Now, something you need to know (if you didn't already) is that I love thrifting. There's something about sifting through piles of junk for that one little treasure that thrills me. The wonderful Cate introduced me to the realm of second hand in high school, while Laura and I found ourselves in some pretty funky shops during our European adventures. In Luxembourg there's really no 'thrifting scene' so I did a little research about Brussels.

And I hit the jackpot.

Allow me to introduce to to Les Petits Riens, a warehouse of everything located just outside of Brussels' centre-ville. A social project (think Salvation Army), employing the unemployed and donating the proceeds to local homeless initiatives, it was like walking into a different world.

Each of the four (four!!) floors was filled with piles of clothes, mounds of dishes sold by the kilo, luggage, speakers, frames, furniture. There were vhs tapes, fake flowers, records, record players - an amazing collection of the obscure and archaic mixed in with the quirky and intriguing.

 If you visit, chances are you'll also find scores of artsy-looking students scavenging through piles. A fashion show is hosted every year comprised only of things found at Les Petits Riens. Standing there, I could imagine infinite possibilities for project-runway-esque challenges (complete with Tim Gunn).

I came back to Luxembourg with a small trash bag filled with scarves, a crazy looking dress, and striped sweaters. The next task will be figuring out how to wash, wash and wash again my new finds made of knits, wools and some kind of shiny fabric I can't identify. And thus, the adventure continues...

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Today is quite possibly one of my favorite days in Luxembourg.

It's  bretzelsonndeg a.k.a. pretzel sunday.

Now, the concept of this day is that a nice gentleman will present his lady love with a beautiful pretzel on bretzelsonndeg. She might say thanks, and even give him a little kiss, but the true indicator of requited love comes weeks later on Easter Sunday. If she feels the same way (and really, if anyone gave me a pretzel, I'd probably love them forever), she presents the pretzel-giver with an Easter egg.

I knew I wouldn't be receiving a pretzel today (unless logistically insane shipping was involved), but how could I just sit in my apartment knowing that the bakeries were filled with pretzels? And we're not just talking the soft pretzel variety you find at the carnival, but sweet pretzels covered in chocolate and almonds.

So I rolled out of bed in time to make it to the bakery before it closed at noon and ordered a delicious pretzel and a cafe a emporter before I strolled around my sleepy Luxembourgish town taking in the morning.

I wondered, as I stood in front of the pastry case, if ordering myself a pretzel on pretzel Sunday was the equivalent of buying yourself chocolates on Valentine's Day but figured for this? For this day, I'm willing to look desperate if it means I can eat this: