Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bretzelesonndeg (Pretzel Sunday) - April 3

It’s time for another pastry post!

Those of you who live here will have seen some mouthwatering, giant almond-coated pretzels filling the windows at pâtisseries across the country. Those of you who don’t live in Luxembourg (...yet): from the looks of it alone, this pastry is a good enough reason to move here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Grillwurst That Got Me

A little over a month ago, I rolled out of bed, threw on the warmest layers of clothing within reach and scrambled out the door to get in line for tickets to the Luxembourg v. France football match. It was a big game: a qualifier for next summer’s Euro 2012 championship. Tickets were to go on sale at 9am that morning, and knowing how popular the match would be, I wanted to be in line early. There were just over 8,000 tickets available that would be on sale at several locations throughout Luxembourg.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

User's Guide: Reading List

Destination weddings rock. For the last week, Nick and I have been enjoying a ridiculous amount of fun in Canada, where we attended a beautiful wedding in Whistler, B.C. In addition to toasting and celebrating our friends’ marriage – and gettin’ down with our bad selves on the dance floor – we ate our way around town, did a little skiing on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and had a blast on a guided snowshoe hike where we tasted a few natural forest delights like tree sap and an edible moss called “grandfather’s beard” (as our guide promised, both tasted like tree), and learned about bear scratches…including tips on how to I.D. the scratches that mean you need to run. It was a great final taste of winter.

But this morning, as I rolled my jet-lagged self out of bed to the sound of birds outside our window (which had cruelly been chirping at me to wake up since just before 5am), I realized that I had a lot of Luxembourg news to catch up on. While away, I scanned a few headlines here and there, but being such a long distance and so many time zones behind definitely takes a toll on staying caught up on the goings-on around town.

So, as I’ve been flipping through my favorite English language local news sources, I thought it might be helpful to those of you who are new to town to take a look at my reading list. Then you, too, can stay caught up on all of Luxembourg’s news, from the crazy (e.g. the swan that was shot in Diekirch, or the recent would-be muggers in the Grund escaping to freedom via elevator); to the helpful (e.g. this weekend, there’s a job fair at Luxcongrès; also this weekend, museums around the country are offering free entry).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Please Help

If you are reading this post, I think it’s a safe gamble that you have a roof over your head, you’ve had a hot meal within the last day and probably a refreshing glass of water to wash it down; you’re likely able to enjoy the comforts of electricity and central heating, and you probably know exactly how to get in touch with your mother, your grandfather, or your best friend. At this moment, there are millions of people in Japan who wish they could do even one thing on that list.

On Friday, March 11, the world forever changed for millions when Japan endured a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes recorded, ever. And that wasn’t the only horrible, cruel hand they were dealt that day; they then faced a powerful tsunami and then, as a result of the sheer force of the tsunami and earthquake, now have radiation exposure to contend with.

News outlets are writing that this crisis could be the most expensive in history, totaling $100 billion (71.5 billion euros), probably more. And, so far, funds raised toward aid and rebuilding efforts are pitiful. The NonProfit Times wrote today that five days later, only $25 million (17.9 million euros) had been raised in America: an embarrassing one-tenth of fundraising seen for other recent natural disasters. I wish I could find a global statistic to refer to, but I’m afraid the trend would be the same.

I know we can do better than that, and we can start right here in Luxembourg. Here’s how:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stréimännchen 2011: The Video Recap

Every year on Ash Wednesday, the town of Remich holds an event called Stréimännchen. It’s a celebration that marks the end of the Carnival season, but is also a ritual held to chase away the winter and welcome in the spring. Stréimännchen is Luxembourgish for “straw man” (in leap years it’s a Stréifrächen, a straw woman), which is what Remichers carry through the streets of town and to the top of the bridge that crosses the Moselle River and connects Luxembourg with Germany, where the straw man is then lit ablaze.

It’s a celebration that is unique to Remich and was very cool to be part of; I highly recommend adding it to your calendar for next year if you’ve never been. But in the meantime, here’s a show-and-tell to give you a feel for the event:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buergbrennen This Sunday

The long list of winter’s end celebrations in Luxembourg continues this Sunday, March 13 - rain or shine - with Buergbrennen, a ritual that is uniquely Luxembourgish. Traditionally held on the first Sunday after Carnival, Buergbrennen is a giant bonfire that is lit in order to chase away the winter, so the spring can arrive. And aren’t we all ready for that?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Beer for Confetti Victims

Yesterday, Nick and I began our afternoon by squeezing onto a train from Ettelbruck to Diekirch, squished between a green bug, a pirate, a mushroom lady and a giant ape (which was wisely sans head for the stuffy ride). We were on our way to the 32nd annual Diekirch Cavalcade, a parade of floats, marching bands and majorettes that would wind through the streets of town to celebrate Carnival season.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

User’s Guide: Getting Around

The Luxembourg public transit network is hands-down the absolute, very best deal in the country. For a mere 1,50€ – slightly more than the cost of a croissant – you can ride any bus or train within Luxembourg for two hours. Actually, I’ll clarify: you can ride any combination of buses and trains within Luxembourg, as many times as you want, for two hours. You just need to arrive at your final destination before your time is up.

Riding a city bus to the end of the line is a great way to get your bearings if you’re new to town. And long distance buses and trains are a great way to take in the Luxembourg countryside on the cheap.

So, whether you’re new to town or visiting on vacation, here’s what you need to know:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You Say Carnival, I Say Fuesent

Everywhere I turn, it’s Carnival. On a quick overnight trip to Cologne a few weekends ago, costumed revelers were already out on the streets making merry with local kölsch beer. In Luxembourg, storefront windows are dressed in Carnival themes; costumes have filled the aisles of Auchan and other stores all over town, students just returned to classes this Monday after a week away for Carnival vacation, and I’ve spotted the occasional poster for a Carnival ball, in addition to eyeing tasty Carnival treats that have been on display in windows of bakeries in town.

In Luxembourg, Carnival is actually called Fuesent. Fuesent season in Luxembourg begins on February 2 with the Liichtmessdag/Candlemas Day holidays that I’ve blogged about here, and continues until Aschermëttwoch (Ash Wednesday), which falls this year on March 9. If there’s a holiday in Europe, you know that there are special pastries to accompany the celebration, which I’ve written about here

If you’re interested in attending a Fuesent/Carnival event in Luxembourg and you’re an out-of-the-loop American like me: read on. I’ve been busy investigating leads on upcoming can’t-miss events, and have compiled my findings for you here: