Category Archives: Luxembourg

Cold days in December

Today I added yet another sport to the list of sports I have tried. Today I tried curling.

Now, to be honest, when I woke this morning, I did not say “I must try curling”. I said “Where is all that bleeding snow MeteoLux has promised and why am I not seeing a blizzard”.  But life turns out interestingly, and somehow, I accidentally wound up trying curling.

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The new transport system went into operation in Luxembourg today – this means a brand new tram, a brand new funicular and all sorts of changes to the buses and rail system. The current changes don’t suit me at the moment – I’m moving from a direct bus to a bus and change to tram which is ludicrous for a 2km journey but sometime next year the tram will extend to where I live and I will have a direct tram journey to work which will be handy if somewhat sweaty for the height of summer. Today it was somewhere approximating the depths of winter as it snowed all morning and this evening, we’ve got gales to look forward to.

Anyway, here’s the funicular. It takes a minute to go from top to bottom and vice versa.

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And here’s a video of the trip up with some arty out of focus sections.

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I had trouble getting the video to work on the way down.

The tram was running, and to be frank, was packed but I suspect in part that’s because all of the useful buses have been re-routed.

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Tram in the winter sun.

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As part of their celebration stuff, they set up Luxembourg Curling club with a temporary (plastic) curling rink and you could have a go, if you were so inclined. I had a go. I had several goes. I have looked up the Olympic curling set up to see if I could like, compete for Ireland and it transpires I need four other Irish people with an interest in curling.

That might be a tall order. My options for Olympic greatness continue to be limited.

But curling is compelling.  It’s basically simple. Stand here, and give this circular stone thing an almighty shove up the rink and hope for the best that you get it into the circles. It took me 4 goes to shove it hard enough but so what. It was fun. In fact, I don’t know why it was fun given how simple it is. But it’s more fun than Candy Crush, that is for sure.

There is a curling club in Luxembourg. I’m going to join as the bunch who were there this afternoon were great fun, mad supportive and dead helpful. And they let me have quite a few goes.

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CFL, Luxembourg National Railways, also had an ice sculptor in.

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After all that excitement, I went off to Auchan (on the tram) (which was packed) to do my my grocery shopping in a shopping centre which was not that busy so I was in and out quickly. I also bought one Christmas present and looked at a watch which I want but will have to save up for.

Luxembourg International Motor show

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It’s been a while since I carried a real camera and now, if I want to take Photographs, I have to do so within the limits of my phone camera. I never cease to be amazed at how much they have to offer and with a little judicious Photoshop.

I kind of like taking photographs of cars, and I don’t get the opportunity to photograph supercars very often. If you’d asked me before today what supercar I’d buy if I ever had the choice, I’d have said, with a lot of regret, a McLaren F1. The car is more than 20 years old and there aren’t a whole lot of them around so that’s never going to be anything other than a pipe dreak.

But this Honda NSX is rather attractive. I wouldn’t buy it in white – it’s not really my colour. I think a car like this deserves a brooding grey metallic paint job.

I was marginally disappointed with the shortage of supercars on show. There were a couple of Lamborghinis, and some Ferraris but nothing which really excited me beyond this one Honda.

November Urban Sketching

November 5 was a cold, cold day in Luxembourg. This I know because I went urban sketching. ONe of the key contributors to “why did you go out drawing” question was we were around Limpertsberg, about 200m from chez Treasa to be honest. So I couldn’t “not” go. It’s not like I had any excuses.

We spent 90 minutes in the graveyard which as befits a graveyard with the graves of some fairly wealthy people, has some very attractive grave sculptures. I’ve seen a fair few of them. I was drawn to something different though because I knew there was some kind of a monument at the far end of the graveyard that I hadn’t been able to find out what it was. So I walked to it.

It’s one of two major monuments (that I found) in the graveyard. It is a memorial to members of the Resistance in Luxembourg during the second world war. There are two primary features; a plain cross with no adornment. Before you reach the cross, to your right there is a sculpture. I didn’t see a name for it but as I was describing it to someone later, it’s like a supplicant with their hands bound behind their back. It is a very modern piece of sculpture, totally at odds with the ornamental angels and virgins which litter some of the other graves. At its base someone had placed a white rose.

I didn’t have a particularly successful day drawing and painting. For one thing, it was so freezing cold and damp, I just couldn’t get paint to dry and wrecked the ink drawing of the cross with undried paint from the entirely separate piece I did of the statue. I drew a section of a wall which I assume is set aside for ashes.

And then I went for a walk and found the second monument, which I hadn’t known existed. It is where the tomb of the unknown Luxembourg Legionary lies, and it is more specifically, a monument in memory of the men of France who died on Luxembourg soil during the period 1915-1918. All of the named soldiers on it had died in the last quarter of 1914, One of them had come from Ajaccio in Corsica and one of them from Douarnenez in the west of Brittany. It seemed an awful long way to come to die for the folly of greater men.

St Nicolas is coming.

I arrived in Luxembourg at the start of December and got side tracked by the Christmas markets. This means I missed the Christmas section in Auchan where I do about half my grocery shopping. Also I was living in Bonnevoie at the time and did all my shopping in the Cactus over there. No recollection at all of whether they had much chocolate at all but then I was dealing with sleepless nights caused by endless drum and base from one of my then housemates.

As Halloween is gone, the supermarkets have decided The Time Has Come. I walked into Chocolate Wonderland today.

I have never seen ANYthing like it. I didn’t know Lindt had so many product lines. I cannot tell you how many different brands of marron glacées are to be acquired. There are selection boxes the like of which would put our paltry options to shame.

The only thing they really didn’t have was a tin of Roses.

Coat Sunday

Today is Mantelsondag. This is a local thing which never came up in any of the cross cultural workshops I did either in Dublin or London when I was studying translation and interpreting. I suppose I can understand London – they sort of expected you to have the language side of things sorted by the time you got to them.

Anyway, Mantelsondag which I may have spelt wrong is Luxembourgish for Coat Sunday and it is the Sunday on which, traditionally, the locals have bought their winter coats. Quite a few of the shops in the main shopping areas were open as a a result.

I suppose the closest that we have, or had, in Ireland is the 8th of December the day traditionally on which all the people from the country came to the nearest city to do a bit of Christmas related shopping. That often involved Christmas finery. It’s not quite the same thing but it’s a tradition which is broadly dying because to be fair the shops are open most Sundays in Ireland except on St Patrick’s Day and Christmas Day if they fall on Sundays. And New Year’s Day is problematic as well but I’d like to hope you’ve sorted a winter coat by then.

Pool review: Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

I’m currently without a real home pool at the moment which makes the building of a swimming habit somewhat difficult. My would be home, dCoque, which is Luxembourg’s National Sports Centre, is currently closed for renovations until 1 October which is a nice chunk of the year. I’ll be honest and say I have not really managed to get a swim habit. No swimming till October is  pushing it a bit though. The next replacement, which I haven’t managed to check out yet, Badanstalt, about a 10 minute walk from home, is also closed. The pool 5 minutes from home isn’t open to the public. And so on and so forth

Next on the list is Bonnevoie. Bonnevoie is not too far from the railway station in Luxembourg, and public transport wise it is served by buses 3/30. You need to get off at Leon XIII. It is open every day except Wednesdays, and weekdays, it tends to close at 20.30. On Sunday it is open from 8.00 to 12.00.

There are two pools in the swimming centre in Bonnevoie; what they call the large pool, and the small pool. The large pool is 25m long, and ranges in depth from 1.8m to 3.8m at the deep end. There is a shelf at around 1.5m around the edge under water. The steps are set into the pool wall. Temperature wise it is reasonable – it is cool enough to swim comfortably in, but not so cold that you fight against going into it. When I was there, 2 lanes were separated off for lane swimming. The rest of the pool was occupied by people swimming lengths anyway so basically the choice was yours.

The small pool is about 10 by 10 meters, and at its deepest is 1.25m. One side consists of steps rather than some ladders, and at one end, there is a barrier to hold onto when getting into the pool. There is a small slide as well. I understand the pool is also used for things like aquaerobics. Temperature wise it is around the same as the big pool.

Entry to the pool without discounts for an adult is currently 3.80E and the ticket is in the form of a chipped band which I wore on my wrist and which also serves as a key for the lockers. In my view, there are not a lot of dressing rooms, but they work okay. The lockers are tall and narrow, and while you did not have to fumble for a euro or a coin of some description to lock them. I did not like them. I struggled to get my clothes bag into them and eventually pulled stuff out. My personal preference would have been for wider but shorter lockers and they could have increased the number of lockers available had they done this.

From a layout point of view, the lockers are a distance from the showers which means that really, it’s wise to have a bag to carry towels and shampoo or whatever you want in the showers afterwards. I tend not to like this because it’s just another thing to remember. That being said, one item of design in Bonnevoie recognises the needs for that, and as a result, there are shelves poolside to store stuff, like small swimming bags with towels for example. I liked that touch because typically, in other places, to find somewhere to leave a bottle of water and flipflops or on other occasions, everything can be a hassle.

The other thing which the pool in Bonnevoie has which is not a common feature in pools in my experience is a fine big readable digital clock. This makes it handy to plan around bus services and dates and the like.

Given that currently, dCoque and Badanstalt are closed, it is likely that I will default to Bonnevoie as the alternatives are a) rarely open (Bel Air) or b) expensive (Les Thermes). I’d be happier if it were open for 30 minutes longer during the week and maybe a few hours more on Sunday but then the world does not revolve around me.

Bonnevoie Swimming pool
30 rue Sigismond

Bus 3/30, Place Leon XIII

Monday: 08.00-20.30
Tuesday: 06.45-20.30
Wednesday: CLOSED – although apparently open 8-17.30 while Badanstalt is closed until 1 September – I cannot check this myself.
Thursday: 06.45-20.30
Friday: 08.00-20.30
Saturday: 08.00-20.30
Sunday: 08.00-12.00

Cost of a swim: €3.40

Website: Ville de Luxembourg

Treasa’s Map of Pools

 

 

Feierdag

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Luxembourg rather sensibly has its national big party event in the middle of summer. I was thinking of this as I considered the absolute novelty of standing outside in the warmth of 30 degrees to watch a fireworks display rather than standing out in the freezing cold waiting for the rain in March.

23 June is Bonfire Night in Cork. When the Independent Republic of Cork is declared, make that the Independence Day festival. Trust me. You’ll wonder how you tolerated marching bands in March. There is no comparison.

In Luxembourg, the whole national celebration thing starts the day before the National Day. This includes turning the place into a giant street party. It is unbelievable.

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This is from the Ville Haute near the main expensive shopping district. Just around from this the party starts.

Bar after bar after bar has DJs playing sets on the street.

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including dry ice machines

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and like 20 metres away from all these club on a streets you have gigs on a street.

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These were the headliners on Place d’Armes. Around the corner in front of the Hotel de Ville there was this lot.

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That gives just a bit of a taste of the atmosphere there was in that square last night. This was their audience by the way.

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This here was the main stage where the Military Band were lined up to accompany the fireworks.

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They were brilliant. You can here them in the following videos.

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Jupiter Bringer of Joy

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Jupiter Bringer of Joy

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Bolero

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Bolero

Here are some stills of the fireworks.

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This was me at one of the gigs.

I have to say last night was great fun. There were food stalls everywhere. In the Knuedelplatz, where the guy with the fiddle and the girl on the accordion were rocking out, you went and exchanged cash for tokens. There were stalls over the place selling light sabres and light up hairbands. The buses were rerouted for the evening and free – seriously, they are dead serious about getting people to get buses. Three routes were added to support park and ride. Bunch more photos and weirdly aligned videos (don’t look at me – this happened automatically) to be found here.

Natural Born Stragglers

The great mass of runners participating in the ING Luxembourg Night Marathon started passing my front door at around twenty to eight this evening. My apartment was just shy of the 12 kilometer mark, so well over half way if you were doing the half marathon, but a good bit short of half way if you had signed up for the full lot.

I don’t know how many people signed up to do this; but this I do know: they are all better people than me.

Luxembourg City had a weather warning in force for both today, and also for tomorrow, for high temperatures. When the runners set off at 7pm this evening, it was 29 degrees. It was still 29 degrees when they passed my door at 7.40 and now, at 20 past 9, it has fallen all the way to 28 degrees.

It will be a warm evening.

I stood outside when the first runners passed, and I watched them. And I stayed until the last runners passed and I cheered them. It is the great mass of people who do stuff that is hard, that they know they may fail to complete and who still do it anyway, who are heroes in my book. As I write, some of them will still be working their way around the route to get them to the finish line, be it 30 km away, be it 9 km away.

Not many people do this, I noticed. By the time the last five or six runners passed, the last of the stragglers, followed only by the police and a pick up bus, there was near no one left cheering them on. No one still shaking the cheap tambourines that ING appear to have handed out along with their orange straw hats. The only blue giant balloons to be seen were being dragged along by a runner wearing Luxair team gear.

By the time the main body of runners has passed, there are still a few groups, here and there 5 and 6 runners, or 3 or 4 having a conversation, trying to calculate how far they have left to go.

I “did” the Women’s Mini Marathon in Dublin once. I didn’t run it. I wound up middle of the walking field which is a fairly big field in that race. I don’t know if there are stragglers catching up in it. But I never ran it and my own personal interest in running is for solo trail stuff. I will almost certainly never sign up for the Night Marathon in Luxembourg.

There’s a pin floating around pinterest along the lines of “no matter how slow you are going, you’re still people the people on their sofas.

Runners at the Night Marathon. 2017.

Is this a trolley I see before me

I bought a trolley yesterday. It had been the subject of a couple of discussions on FaceBook and much was made of the grannyness of such an idea.

I am not a granny.

When I moved to Dublin in 1999, I realised very quickly that as a city, it sucked to try and do anything without a car, so I bought a car and drove around Dublin, specifically to and from Marks & Spencers and Tesco. A girl must eat now and again.

One of the many things that grew to irritate me about Dublin was that it got hard to get around. Where I lived wasn’t handy to a decent shopping centre by foot, for example and it seemed to be a palaver to go grocery shopping at any time other than 8am on a Saturday morning. I had my own parking space next to the M&S collection point in the Jervis Street Shopping Centre.

In 2016 I moved to Luxembourg. The car got sold. I’m probably the only member of my family and extended family without a car at the moment. Actually that’s a lie. My niece in London is likewise carless. She has gone before me. She too has a trolley.

Now that I have a trolley, I am seeing that everyone has trolleys. In Ireland, only old people, old ladies usually, have shopping trolleys. Often they feature tartan. That is not the case here.

When I came here, one of the key contributions to the decision was a desire to live somewhere that it was possible to live very successfully without a car. In a European city, it tends to be. Luxembourg is a bit of a nuisance on the IKEA front but there’s Conforama as a useful substitute. Apart from that, I can walk most places. There is a grocery store around a 5 minute walk away where I can get the essentials. I got a shopping trolley because I also liked shopping in the big – some might say utterly ginormous – hypermarket in Kirchberg.

I think Owen Keegan, the city manager for Dublin, should consider what could happen to his city if every one had shopping trolleys and the bus system ran efficiently, and there were decent hypermarkets (there aren’t. We do not know what a decent hypermarket is in Dublin).