Saturday, August 22, 2020


August 14 was a holiday in Luxembourg, so R and I took an extra day and headed out to Amsterdam for a long weekend. We were able to find a nice hotel last minute (the Banks Mansion - definitely recommend!) and we drove the four hours there on Thursday.

It's a delightful city and, thank you COVID, was not crowded. We secured tickets online for the Reijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and a canal tour. Those were our only plans - beyond that we visited Zaanse Schans (a recreated Dutch village with wind mills) and just walked around the city.

Reproduction windmills - but still interesting to learn they were used for making paint and sawing lumber!

And of course they make wooden shoes!

So I couldn't help singing the Doobie Brothers' "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" for the rest of the day.

Amsterdam street scene - completely devoid of tourists.

And did you know Amsterdam was known for rubber ducks?

I do love Vermeer.

In the Reijksmuseum.

This was in the Reijksmuseum - Rembrandt.


I loved the Van Gogh museum - so interesting and well laid out.

Also painted by Van Gogh - I love this one.

Also painted by Van Gogh - lovers in a garden.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Taking a Break

Best laid plans....

R and I had planned to take a long weekend in Switzerland - we'd made hotel reservations, bought the requisite sticker that allowed us to drive in the country, got the suitcases down from the attic. But the night before our planned departure, Switzerland announced it was closing its borders to those coming from Luxembourg and any travelers would have to quarantine for 10 days. Well, okay then.

It's true that Luxembourg's COVID cases are on the rise. It's probably a combination of very aggressive testing and the population's general weariness with not being able to live their lives leading them to become more relaxed in following the preventative guidelines set forth by the Luxembourg government. Whatever the cause, other countries are alarmed and are making it harder for those who have been living in Luxembourg to travel. Case in point: Switzerland.

I had already requested the leave - just three work days - so I decided to go ahead and take them anyway. R and I stayed at home, but went to Strasbourg, France one day, and hiked in Luxembourg on the two days remaining. While disappointed that we didn't get to experience Switzerland, I did enjoy just being out of the office, and Luxembourg is always great.

A few photos:

A panorama of Bourscheid, with its castle. Hike #1!

It was really a beautiful view.

A little perspective.

Dorks having fun storming the castle.

My knight in shining armor ... took this photo.

The hike was a bit over six miles.

We went through forests and fields.

St. Martin's Church in Septfontaines. Hike #2!

These were lovely life-sized statues dating from the 13th century.

Forest bathing.

Septfontaines and its castle-on-the-hill.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Hike Near Beaufort

Luxembourg has about a million hiking trails. Okay, maybe a few less than a million, but still a lot. And they sell great books that show all of the trails - round trip trails, rail station to rail station trails. The books divide the country into segments and then provide details, complete with photos, of every single path. It's the greatest!

Last weekend, R and I drove about 30 minutes to the Beaufort area, parked in a designated area, and then hiked about four miles in a round trip loop. After we hiked we drove into town to check out the castle - we were surprised at how many people were milling about, so we decided not to go in. I took a few photos of the outside and we went on our merry way. We plan to do many more in the next two years (there are 200 round trip trails in the book).

Very peaceful and not many people about.

Each trail that I've been on has been a mix between forest and farmland.

All the roads not taken!
Beaufort Castle - built about a thousand years ago.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Domrémy - The Birthplace of Joan of Arc

Hurray for three-day weekends. I would happily work until I'm 70 if every weekend could be three whole days.

R and I split the days between Germany, France, and Luxembourg, and it was awesome. On Friday we went into Trier, Germany - just browsing through antique shops, walking around, and having lunch. On Saturday, we made a day of it and went to Domrémy, France to see Joan of Arc's birthplace, and then on to the Montsec WWI Memorial, and finally to lunch in the little town of Commercy, France - where Madeleine cookies were invented. The day was a perfect combination of history, scenery, and food.

The parish church of Saint-Remy, where Joan was baptized.

Inside the house - looking in to the room of Joan's sister. You can see the church through the small window.

The exterior of the house. Joan was born in 1412, so it's held up remarkably well.

In the church. The stained glass is not original to the church, but was created in 1955 to replace those destroyed in 1940.

Another bit of stained glass in the church.

"Jehanne" was the name she went by in her lifetime. 

The countryside near the Basilica.

Outside the Basilica.

Construction began on the Basilica in 1881, and it was dedicated in 1926. Joan of Arc was canonized in 1920.

This is the ceiling of one of the outside porticos.

Inside the Basilica.

Inside the Basilica.

A painting in the Basilica.

The Montsec American Monument - WWI.
Really beautiful.

R looking over the map of the area.

A little hiking trail through the woods near the monument.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A trip to Bruges and Ypres

While a constant threat, COVID-19 is subsiding enough in Europe that borders are open between EU countries and travel is allowed. After non-stop work for months, R and I decided we needed a wee break and headed to Belgium last weekend. You've heard of the John McCrae poem, "In Flanders Fields"? Ypres is literally in Flanders Fields. Bruges is a beautiful medieval city about an hour from Ypres. As a quick reminder, here's the poem:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

We learned in Ypres that the war itself - the nitrogen in the explosives, the lime in the ruined buildings, the blood and bone of the fallen soldiers (900,000 British alone) and animals - created a perfect environment for poppies to flourish. There weren't all that many poppies before the war, but during and after? A lot. The poppy became a symbol of WWI, and of remembering veterans.

We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather, and the weekend was full of history, scenery, and quiet reflection. It was perfect.  A few photos:

In a British cemetery in Ypres.

It makes me cry.

The ramparts that surround Ypres.

The passageway between the Cloth House and the Cathedral in Ypres.

The Cloth Guild House in Ypres - completely destroyed in WWI and subsequently rebuilt.

We stayed in a hotel right on the square in Ypres - this was the view from our window.

Another view as the sun was setting.

This is the Menin Gate - a monument to the 54,000+ fallen British war dead. There is a ceremony there every night.

The cathedral in Bruges.

One of the many bridges that straddle the canals in Bruges.

Couple selfie!

Taken right after we explored the city through a canal boat trip!

Our canal trip starting point.

A quintessential Flemish-style building. We were told you can tell this building is authentic because the windows are large on the bottom and get progressively smaller the higher you go. The large windows were to allow maximum viewing when the inhabitants were showing off their wealth by having fabulous parties.

Another view - gorgeous!