December 31, 2014

A Happy New Year to You All!

I haven´t blogged over the holidays - I have been standing a lot in the kitchen, we´ve had guests in the house, and unfortunately, we have had to spend much time in the hospital. Luckily, the mum-in-law was with us on Christmas Eve and we are heading to her place this evening, to make a New Year´s dinner. Hopefully, she will get better and be more stable going into the new year, her 96th.

We were lucky with the Christmas weather, the snow finally fell, and the temperatures were as low as -26 degrees. It was my Swiss brother-in-law´s first visit this far north, and my sister (who lived here for five years, going to university) really wanted it to be proper winter weather, which it was. The moment they stepped on the plane back south, the temperatures rose, a whopping 30 degrees in two days! It´s all melting away now. Talk about answered prayers...

I had all sorts of plans to draw, to take photograps, to make sweets, to take long walks, to read good books, see good films, but nothing came of most of that. Still, I am happy the way everything turned out, and happy that we managed to gather so many, even though the mum-in-law´s bad health put a damper on the Christmas spirit.

I have a feeling that 2015 will be an exciting year, with many positive changes. I ended a lot of projects in 2014, dealt with a lot of personal issues, and now I am ready to - in some respects - start over. It feels like I´m pretty much ready for anything.

Hope you are all well and that you feel good about the year to come. My best wishes to everyone!

December 23, 2014

Christmas Ghost

I found this very cute little film on youtube, about Laban, the Little Ghost, who is afraid of Santa.

(on youtube by Lilla spöket Laban)

December 22, 2014

Angel Song

I am really too busy and stressed out (yes, tried to deny it, but I really am, haven´t even put up Christmas decorations yet) to post, but I decided to sit down and find my favourite Christmas song ever, all categories (it´s actually a psalm). This is a lovely version from Swedish Television a few years back with Sofia Karlsson looking like an angel, singing "Frid på jorden" (= peace on earth) and then "Gläns över sjö och strand" (= glitter over lake and shore). Enjoy!

(on youtube by Kaare K Johnsen)

December 17, 2014

Big Talker

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary, and we have been almost as bad at celebrating it as usual. I am in the middle of Christmas cleaning and the husband has spent all his evening in the supermarket, hunting for the perfect ham and salmon and such indispensables. Our meal came from the new deli at the large Coop. Well, at least we didn´t forget.

We married in Paris, it was a private affair at the embassy, just the two of us. We exchanged our vows in a library, actually, as they were renovating the proper wedding room. I am particularly pleased about that. I don´t exactly remember when I told my relatives, but I suppose I did when I got home - not that it was a big thing, we had lived together for more than thirteen years. However, we did make an attempt to call the mum-in-law from a street corner in Paris. She was in Spain at the time, with her partner Ove.

My mum-in-law is a good talker, imagine a big tank running over you. She is also of the generation who had to pay much for phone calls, particularly international calls. Well, the husband called her, said hi, listened and was then hung up on.
"You didn´t tell her," I said.
"Damn," said he. "I´ll tell her when we get home."
"You better, or I will accidentaly give it away when I talk to her." I did think it should come from him.

Well, we got home and everything was as it always had been, except that I had a name change, which hardly anybody noticed (no, we don´t have rings). I reminded him, he forgot, and in May, I happened to let the cat out of the bag, as the mum-in-law and I were discussing my sister´s wedding plans.
"They are thinking of eloping abroad, like we did," I said. She was silent, and I realized.

It never seemed like she minded awfully, she has never been one to keep track of birthdays and such, and she had an un-announced war wedding herself with only two friends for witnesses. A few weeks later, when we had them over for dinner, they gave us a wedding present from that whole side of the family. It has been very useful, every day, and still works. It reminds me of Ove (who I´m sure came up with the idea), who passed on almost eight years ago now.

Yesterday, the mum-in-law called me to tell me she had to go to the hospital just for the day to get some more blood (they are so good at treating her now, we hardly have to do anything), bla bla, and then she said: "But I´m just going on and on, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
"Öh," I said, "it was you who called me."
"Oh? Well, bye then."

December 15, 2014

Ice Hotel

It´s a bit embarrassing that I live only hours away, yet have never been to see the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi. I have been to an ice bar, though, and had a glass of whisky in an ice glass, some twenty years ago when they built one in the southern harbour here in Luleå. After seeing these photos of this year´s version of the hotel, I think I should try to get there... More info on the hotel here.

December 12, 2014

Progress Report

I am starting to feel a bit bad vis-à-vis the Notebook. Can´t remember when I last put in a proper post - whatever that is. Something personal and thought out, I guess; something communicative that I´m happy with. I am not very communicative at the moment, my focus is on work and my drawing course, which is wrapping up next week. Then I have blocked out two whole days in my calendar for Christmas cleaning and tidying up. At least I got the gifts for the nephews and the niece sent off. The husband is occupied at work night and day, having one of his PhD students defending his thesis today. I hope it all went well.

In the middle of all this we should be celebrating our tenth (!) wedding anniversary, which is at this awkward time of year simply because we decided to go to Paris ten years ago and the embassy was so busy with couples wanting to get married that we had to wait until the 17th of December and the very last slot of the year (if we had waited any longer we would have had to renew our wedding licence...). I don´t think we have celebrated "properly" one single time - I mean, what are we supposed to do? I´m allergic to flowers and fancy food is pretty wasted on me. A visit with a friend to one of the more upscale eating places last week made my tummy rumble for the entire week afterwards. Considering I paid more for my single meal than we usually do for both of us, I really am not eager to return there. I simply don´t know how to party any more, that´s what it is. Besides, we are pretty good at creating a celebratory mood without having any particular reason to, every day. I really appreciate the husband, I do. I don´t know who else would put up with me and he always makes me laugh.

Also, it is dark out. Like the inside of a sack, more or less. We have maybe one or two hours of almost daylight, when I am fast asleep after having worked through the night. This photo is taken at four o´clock this afternoon. As you can see, there is no snow, only water on top of a treacherous layer of ice. It´s a bad idea to walk anywhere without spikes attached to one´s shoes.

I am looking forward to having people over for Christmas. My nephew-in-law is coming to stay for a couple of weeks, and we haven´t seen him for a whole year, so that will be wonderful. My Swiss sister and her husband are also making an appearance for a few days and for the brother-in-law it´s the first visit anywhere this close to the Polar circle. I hope we´ll have a bit more snow by then. 

The cute snowman/santa is a gift from the mum-in-law´s
neighbours, it is battery-powered and changes colours
every few seconds. It amuses her greatly.
The mum-in-law is stable and in a good mood, she and I did the Christmas baking this Sunday last, which really made her happy. (She was the overseer, I did all the kneading and rolling.) Particularly as we managed to get the dough for lussekatterna to rise perfectly! I didn´t bring my camera, but I did make a sketch (on yellow paper, very fitting) of the enire batch cooling on an oven rack as we had a well-deserved dinner and fika later in the evening.

We didn´t make gingerbread biscuits as those can be bought everywhere, but rather a star-shaped almond cookie that the mum-in-law has been making since she was 13 and got her first cookbook as a gift from the Rumford company, who makes baking powder. That book is now in shreads, literally, but the recipe is part of the family tradition and will continue to be made for as long as I am around, at least. My Swiss sister loves them too, and took lessons from the mum-in-law years ago, which the mum-in-law remembers fondly, that is why these cookies were especially important this year.

So, that´s what´s going on. I should - I mean, I will - put up some recipes on the Kitchen blog later. I have a stack of books to read during the quiet days between Christmas and New Year, and I have some books read but not yet blogged. I supposed it is as it should be; for a while there, blogging started feeling like work, and I still have a twitch of that, but not nearly as much.

Life is good. I hope that it is for you, too.

December 9, 2014


I passed the art gallery in the Culture House last week and looked at the latest exhibitions. There was one thing that stuck with me more than the others, and that was Kari Steihaug´s installation "Det rummet du säger vi inte har" (= the room you say we don´t have). She also exhibits part of an ongoing project called "De Ofullbordade" (= the uncompleted), which is a number of photos of unfinished textile craft projects that she has asked people to send to her, with a note on who, where, and why. She started it in 1998 and now has 150 unfinished objects in her collection. (I could certainly have contributed one or ten in the past, but I have come to the point where such objects are unravelled and re-designed or sent to a thrift shop.)

But it´s the installation is what really caught my eye, and my heart. She has taken a number of knitted objects and unravelled, knit together, positioned them in relation to each other, and has made this poignant weave of hand-made clothes and yarns that you would associate perhaps with your grandmother, mother or sister spending hours and hours making things for you and other loved ones. Yes, the materials invoke feelings of family, kinship, solicitude and love.

I also find myself reminded of the transience of the objects, their wearers, and the relationships that exist between them. Perhaps these days it doesn´t take much to remind me of death, to enjoy each day and make the most of it. And what of the title? "The room you say we don´t have"? Is it a call for hospitality? To "open our hearts", as the retiring leader of the conservative party (and our former Prime Minister) keep saying (regarding sheltering refugees from Syria and other places)? I´m not sure, but it is something to consider.


You must check this out: the Monster Project! Sounds like some dedicated artists - dedicated to teaching and inspiring the very young.

December 8, 2014

Swedish Composer - Wilhelm Peterson-Berger

There is no way one can try to map out the Swedish national sound and pass by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, I didn´t even have to consult the husband to figure this one out. Peterson-Berger belongs to the national-romantic tradition, a visit to Jämtland in the 1880´s so influenced him that he built a house on Frösö, where he lived in his retirement. He was also for many years a music critic at Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish national newspaper.

Here is Frösöblomster (= Flowers at Frösö):

(on youtube by PalmideArtaserse)

December 4, 2014

Swedish Composer - Hilding Rosenberg

Hilding Rosenberg is considered the first modernist composer in Sweden, and composed, among other things, seven symphonies, seven operas, and seven ballets. He was the son of a gardener and able to study at the Royal College of Music thanks to a scholarship. He took private lessons from Wilhelm Stenhammar.

This is the ballet "Orpeus in Town" (I´m not sure why the film is numbered 1/2, it seems to be the whole ballet), inspired by the Orpeus statue by Carl Milles that stands in front of Stockholm Concert Hall.

(on youtube by bartje11)

December 1, 2014

Swedish Composer - Wilhelm Stenhammar

Not only was he very handsome - I have become quite obsessed with drawing his wonderful, aristocratic features (really, his mother was a countess) - but Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871 - 1927) is one of our greats, with many symphonies to choose from. He also composed for the theatre, wrote chamber music, choir works, and piano pieces.

I asked the husband for a "hitsong" by Stenhammar, but he couldn´t really name one. So I have listened through some of his repertoire on youtube and came up with this: Petter Mattei´s and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra´s performance, conducted by Manfred Honeck, of "Ithaka", a poem by Oscar Levertin, set to music by Stenhammar in 1904.

It is particularly apt right now, since it was only a few weeks ago that Peter Mattei recieved an honorary doctorate at our local university. Yes, he is one or ours! When I moved to town, he was just starting out, and was known as the guy working for the local sewage cleaning company, who had one heck of a voice...

(on youtube by Канал пользователя aoidedioa)

Jag drömt som främling på en främmad strand (as a stranger on a strange shore I have dreamed)
Gud vet hur många år.                                   (God knows how many years)
Nu vill jag hem. Jag redan lagt från land,          (now I want to go home. I have already left the shore)
i silkesseglet stormen slår.                             (my silk sail flaps in the wind.)

Framåt mot obefarna vattendrag                     (towards unchartered waters)
förbi Herakles' stoder                                     (past the pillars of Heracles)
mot fjärran ö i blå arkipelag                             (towards a faraway island in a blue archipelago)
jag vridit skeppets roder.                                (I have turned my ship´s rudder.)

Där ligger solskenslyst i havets mitt                (there, lit by the sun in the middle of the sea)
mitt Ithaka, den ö,                                         (is Ithaka, my island)
där fruktträdsvalven evigt lysa vitt                     (where the fruit trees arch, ever white)
och dyningarna dö                                          (where the swell dies.)

i säven som en mattad aftonsång                    (In the rush, as a muted evensong)
från kärleksdomnad lyra,                                 (from a love numb lyre)
dit, vore färden än så hård och lång,                 (there, even if the journey is hard and long)
vill jag min farkost styra.                                 (I want to steer my vessel.)

Där stå det vita, marmorsvala hus,                   (there stands the white, marble cool house)
i vilket jag vill bo.                                            (in which I want to live)
Där silverpoppeln har det högtidssus,                (where the silver poplar sings to feast)
som hägnar med sin ro.                                  (enticing me to rest)

Ack, världens vägar, jag är trött på dem!            (oh, how tired I am of the world´s roads)
Jag hör det dunkla kravet                                  (I hear the vague demand)
mot längtans Ithaka, mitt hjärtats hem,              (fromthe Ithaka of my longing, the home of my heart)
min vita ö i havet.                                             (my white island in the sea)

På hemfärd stadd jag lyssnar så förstrött            (going home, I listen absent-mindedly)
på livets lust och larm                                        (to the noise and joy of life)
som på en man, som av en slump mig mött         (as at a man I have met by coincidence)
och håller fast min arm.                                     (who holds my arm)

I bröder, än jag går som en bland er,                   (you brothers, still I walk among you)
men ren mot slag som smekning                        (but numb to both slap and caress)
med avskedsstundens gåtfullhet jag ler.               (I smile the enigmatic smile of parting)
Jag har gjort upp min räkning.                             (I have settled my debts)

Blott starkare förnimmer jag var dag                    (I percieve stronger by the day)
den manande musik,                                         (the calling music)
som eko är av kvällens böljeslag                         (as echoes of the evening waves)
emot min hemös vik.                                         (towards my island´s bay)

Jag drömmer lutad över skeppets toft.                 (I dream, leaning on my ship´s thwart)
I skum delfiner skalkas,                                     (dolphins are playing in the waves)
än syns ej ön, men luftens mandeldoft                (the island is not yet sighted, but the scent of almonds)
förtäljer, att jag nalkas.                                       (tell me that I am near)

Så vill jag bära allt, vad än en man                       (so I want to carry all, that a man)
kan bära utav ve,                                                (can carry of woes)
ty ett jag vet, ej evigt räcka kan                            (because I know this: not forever can this)
mitt hjärtas odyssé.                                             (journey of my heart go on)

Min sorgs, min glädjes skiljemynt--allt glöms         (my grief, the token of my joy, is all forgotten)
som mull i mull begravet,                                     (as earth buried in earth)
när skeppet når sitt Ithaka, sin dröms                   (when the ship reaches its Ithaka, its dream´s)
vårvita ö i havet.                                                  (spring white island in the sea)

(my own quick&dirty translation)

November 30, 2014

Swedish Composer - Lars-Erik Larsson

I love this! Actually, if the husband and I have anything to call "our song" it´s "Förklädd gud" (= God in Disguise) by Lars-Erik Larsson. Lyrics are by Hjalmar Gullberg, a Swedish poet that really deserves a long post over at the Bookshelf blog. When we met, the husband had just done a recording of this work for radio, and he gave me a cassette with it and other recordings he had made. I was charmed, of course. Since then I have seen it performed several times. It is a very popular piece to perform in churches.

The poem - based on a mythological story of Apollo living as a mortal for a year, working as a farm hand, but alluding to Christ - was written in the early 30´s and set to music in 1939, performed for the first time in 1940. Gullberg added a few lines to it, as a comment to the Nazi aggressions:

Ej för de starka i världen, men för de svaga.
Ej för krigare, men för bönder som plöjt
sin jordlott utan att klaga, spelar en gud på flöjt.
Det är en grekisk saga.

Not for the strong in the world but for the feeble. 
Not for the warlike, but for the humble 
who till the soil without a grumble 
a god plays on a flute. 
It is a Grecian fable.

You can find a pdf with the entire lyric in English here.  

This is a very classy performance by The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Choir, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. If this doesn´t melt your heart, I don´t know what would. If you want more Larsson, I can recommend his "Pastoralsvit" (= Pastoral Suite), another classic.

(on youtube by Classical Music)

November 28, 2014

I See Stars

Images of a galaxy far, far away? No, this is what happens when you look too deep into your whiskey glass! Amazing photos from Ernie Button.

November 27, 2014

Swedish Composer - Hugo Alfvén

Hugo Alfvén is probably a lot more internationally known than the previous composers I have played for you. He even has a long Wikipedia entry in English. This is a name most Swedes know, he is one of those who created the Swedish soundtrack, as it were. He also wrote and painted, and I found one of his watercolours from Anacapri, Italy, on Swedish Radio´s website. Pretty.

His most famous work internationally - or so the husband thinks - is a work called "Midsommarvaka" (= midsummer wake), also known as "Swedish Rhapsody". But I have chosen this one, "Vallflickans dans" (= the shepherd-girl´s dance), which is also charming.

(on youtube by miljkmi)

November 25, 2014

Swedish Composer - August Söderman

This composer is earlier than the others, August Söderman lived from 1832 - 1876 and was very productive during his short life. This was the Romantic age and many of his works are about boys and girls dancing in the moonlight, pretty flowers, heartbreak, and magnificent weddings.

This is one of his most played works, the wedding march from the theatrical drama "Bröllop på Ulvåsa" (= the wedding on Ulvåsa) that was written by the dramatist Frans Hedberg. I could only find amateur recordings on youtube, and this is the best one; kind of charming.

(on youtube by Mikael Högström)

November 24, 2014

Swedish Composer - Sven Sköld

Just listening to what the husband is playing over in his corner and then googling it on youtube (easy blogging!). Found this charming little film from St Gertrud´s church in Västervik (no info on the performers) where they are playing Sven Sköld´s "Summer", a piece I think most Swedes have heard, but perhaps can not say where. He seems to have mostly done music for films, according to Wikipedia; this is probably his most played piece.

(on youtube by piamorex)

Swedish Composer - Dag Wirén

This weekend, the husband played a lot of music for us (through his computer, it´s been a long while since he played any of his instruments, or even the record player) and it occured to me that I should do a series on Swedish composers. Not that I know much about music, rarely listen to it these days (I so appreciate silence, which is probably an age thing), but when I do, classical symphonic music gives me the most joy. I love the complexity of it, I think - there is so much going on with orchestral pieces.

This is Dag Wirén´s Serenade for Strings, or a piece of it, played by Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. I am not going to repeat what Wikipedia says about him; in case you are interested, go there. Enjoy!

(on youtube by stravinsky91)

November 21, 2014

Luxemburg - the Alzette

Grand Duchess Charlotte, who was also
second-cousin of my favourite Swedish
King, Gustav VI Adolf. 
The first count of Luxemburg was Sigefroy, or Siegfried, formerly of the Ardennes. According to the legend, he once visited the old Roman fort that was situated on the hill where Luxemburg is today, and found a beautiful girl among the ruins. She agreed to marry him, but she could never leave the cliffs, she said, and she had to be alone every Saturday. Sigefroy agreed, exchanged his land in Ettelbrück for the cliff over and the valley of the Alzette river, and settled down with the girl, Melusina, in a brand new castle.

Of course, he one day had to peek through the keyhole, to see what she was doing alone in her chamber on Saturdays, and what he saw horrified him: she was in her bath, and instead of legs, she had a fishtail! Turns out, pretty Melusina was a mermaid. When he had realized that, the spell was broken and Melusina disappeared into the Alzette river forever. Or not exactly forever; it is said that she returns every seven years in an attempt to find a new lover who can free her from the river.

Some say the old name of Sigefroy´s castle, "Lucilinburhuc", alludes to him having had to sell his soul to the devil (Lucifer) in order to get Melusina. I doubt that the current Grand Duke counts his lineage that far back (we are talking 900´s), but it would be kind of cool to claim a mermaid as one´s foremother, wouldn´t it?

The Grand-Ducal Palace to the right.
The current Grand Duke is Henri, and he is the grandson of the very popular and loved Grand Duchess Charlotte, who has a very nice statue erected for her in the middle of the city. She was actually elected head of state after her older sister, who had been ruling Luxemburg during the First World War, was forced to abdicate. The sister´s politics was not appreciated by her people (she supported the German occupation).

During the Second World War, Charlotte led an exile government in London, and remained loyal to her people, opposing the Germans (I also imagine this would have been easier for her than for her sister as Germany was no longer a kingdom but a republic, thus there being no royal kinships to consider). Her son Jean, the next Grand Duke, took part in the Normandy landing, the battle of Caen and the liberation of Brussels, as a volunteer officer in the Irish Guards.

This little girl decided to join the guards and march up
and down in front of the palace gate. 
We had a lovely day walking along the river, we and many others out for a holiday stroll. There was even a bit of sun! Really, this is a wonderful place for a little getaway, if you prefer holidaying in a city, but one that is not quite as buzzing as say, London or Paris.

It occured to me, as we were walking along the river, looking up at the city, that the Melusina legend is a wonderful allegory for that fragile balance of interdependence between a ruler/protector and his people, the knights in the castle and the folks below, living off the Alzette river. It is a small country, and I imagine a large part of the population is acquainted first hand with the royals. A tight and fond relationship, or so it seemed to me.

View over the Red Bridge, or Grand Duchess Charlotte´s Bridge.

There is an interesting mix of old architecture and some very modern, good
architecture that really looks wonderful.

A bit of lëtzebuergesch: keep our city clean.

Really, there is so little water in the Alzette that it´s quite hard to believe any mermaids still reside here. I suspect Melusina has moved on. 

We found a pub in precisely the right location to slake our thirsts.

A real fire, no less, and the mantlepiece says "Rest in Peace" -
we suspect it was made from a discarded gravestone... Fitting, though!

This is the state of the Petrusse river - barely more than a ditch.

This fancy building is often mistaken for the Grand-Ducal Palace, we were told. However, it is a bank. 

November 17, 2014

Ella & Pitr

This is just too cool! I thought it was someone painting on a photo at first, but it´s not, it´s real life paintings made to look, well, I don´t know what to say! Can´t find much more about the artists than this. Amazing.

I wouldn´t see as much great art as I do if I didn´t subscribe to Faith is Torment.

November 14, 2014

Art on Nature

I passed the art gallery the other day and popped in to have a look. Two artists were on display, and they were so very different. On the one hand, Janolof Bengtsson with an exhibition called "Rent måleri" (= pure painting), abstract images with titles like "Forest today", "Beyond the hills" and "Mercy". It feels like landscapes to me, and remind me much of Monet´s paintings of his pond and flower garden.

Bengtsson says on a website for Kvirr (an association of artists from northern Bohuslän, which is in the south of Sweden) that he processes his impressions of nature in his art. The landscapes on the canvas are inner landscapes, but they have their origin in the outer landscapes. It seems to me that this is as close to the Swedish soul as one can get. It is lovely, really. A lot of these paintings had been sold, and I don´t wonder.

The other artist on display was Aron Rantatalo, a local artist whose exhitibion is called "Transition". It´s a mix of painting, collage and sculpture, and the most eery thing is this life-size cast/doll where he has turned himself into a Monchichi. Remember Monchichis? They were little dolls that were all the rage when my youngest sister was little. Perhaps Rantatalo is the same age, 40 or thereabouts.

The overall theme here is man and animal, and he says in this article he is interested in "animalisering", which leads me to a Wikipedia article in Dutch (I think) that defines it as the creation of figures that are a bit of both, like mermaids. Personally, I think of the Germanic pagan belief that each person had his or her own fylgja, which was a kind of totem, an alter ego in the animal world, as it were. An animalisation of one´s soul, perhaps.

Sorry about the photos being so crappy, I just had my phone camera on hand and it really isn´t very good. I can´t find that any of these artists have their own websites.

November 13, 2014

Animationals, or what?

You just have to take a look at what Sarah DeRemer is doing. Those animals she has dreamed up are too real, too spooky. The dogsnake is probably my favourite. Or maybe this birdwhatever.

November 10, 2014

Excursion into the Ardennes

One nationality seem more welcome in Luxemburg than any other: the Americans. We saw so many memorials to the victims and the heros of the Second World War, and the Americans are celebrated as the liberators.

Since we are very interested in the history of this particular period, we decided to go north, to the Ardennes and its capital Wiltz, where there is a museum dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge, or the Ardennes Counteroffensive, as we usually think of it.

Unfortunately it wasn´t clear from the website that the museum was closed, so we travelled for an hour by train to be met by a locked door. Not that it got us down much. Heck, we were on vacation, and we got to see the Ardennes! We even saw an Ardennes horse from the train - which was too fast for us to get a snap of it, but if you don´t know them, they look like this.

We ended up taking a walk around the small town of Wiltz, lit a few candles in the church, walked back to the train and returned to the capital, where we had - of all things - a Mexican meal with a Belgian beer, a mix of beer and blackberry juice. Odd, but so good I drank two.

The monument on Constitution Square.

The Ardennes from the train window. We followed the valley and the river, what a wonderful landscape - even the mist felt just right!

The houses are typically plastered and topped with slate roofs from local quarries. The roofs often covers the top two stories on larger houses, and the shape of that church tower roof you see, a rather flat slope that surrounds a steep needle-like spire, was everywhere.

The war monument in Wiltz. 

This is in honor of general Eisenhower, who personally liberated Wiltz.

My favourite memorial: to Richard Brookins, American GI who decided to be St Nick to the children of Wiltz at Christmas 1944. He was made honorary citizen of Wiltz; he died in 2009. 

Memorial to the Battle of the Bulge.

The Town Hall.

The castle of Wiltz, now a cultural centre and our destination, the museum that turned out to be closed.

The city centre.

The local church.

Wiltz on the other side of the tracks. The houses are rather colourful, don´t you think?

November 9, 2014

Luxemburg - the Location.

The city is so well captured on this stained-glass window
at the Central Station.
The first impression one gets from Luxemburg (the city, that is, Luxemburg is also the name of the country, which can be a bit confusing) is that it´s situated in a quite awkward place, for a modern city. Of course, it must have totally made sense in the very beginning: two rivers meet here, the Alzette and the Petrusse, and if you consider the spectacularly deep valleys they have dug into the ground, they must once have been pretty much more impressive than they are today and this must have been a natural place to meet and trade. The Petrusse is today barely more than a ditch.

Above the river valleys is the old town, with what is left from the old fortress that defended this place. When the Spanish ruled here in the 17th Century, they started digging into the sandstone cliffside to make casemates, which is basically caves with guns in them. This work was continued by the subsequent rulers like the French, Preussians, Habsburgers, and in total there is 23 kilometers of tunnel under the city, most of which is closed off now. Some, however, is open to the public and naturally, we had to take a look.

This is the Passerelle, or the Old Bridge, or the Luxembourg Viaduct (must be loved, with so many names), which we had to cross to get into the city centre - our hotel was only a stone´s throw from the Central Station, on Rue de la Gare.

Constitution Square is built on top of old fortifications.
There are casemates underneath, but they only let you in on guided tours.

The Pont Adolphe from 1903 is a quite famous bridge (not that I had ever heard of it...), but it was being renovated. It looks like this underneath the bandages.

This part of town is called Grund, a German word that means foundation.
This is below the fortress, where the rivers meet,
probably the whole reason for Luxemburg being where it is, so the name is apt.

The casemates from outside.

The casemates from inside.

The red bridge, or The Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge, viewed from the casemates. One has to cross it to get to the airport and Kirchberg, which is the location of the EU institutions of Luxemburg. 

The railway bridge. The bridges really have a profound impact on the landscape .