Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caves de Rauzan

Went on another "chateau" visit. This one is actually more of an industrial wine plant. Many farmers from the area send their grapes here, to Caves de Rauzan, for processing into wine. The tour was in French and incredibly long! But some of the wine was wonderful!

Entrance to the Rauzan shop.

The tour guide, sampling the wine as well. 

My favorite was the white wine with the flower on it in the middle. 
It costs about 3.85 euro! But I didn't buy one. 

Wine cozies, so freakin' cute!!

Celebration & Siberia

Siberian Ballet, that is. 

One of my friends from the English church in Bordeaux headed back to London. Before she left, we had a small get-together to celebrate her time here. 

We went to Pizza Pino, just three blocks from where I live, very close to Place Gambetta: 

The waiter was kind enough to take our picture. 

Wonderful pasta. 

Italian dessert with coffee. 

This is the women in the Siberian "Ballet". It was more of a strange dancing style. 
The women were creepy. Their dresses were floor-length and they walked on the balls of their feet in a way that made them look like they were dolls floating around. 

The men were super impressive with their athleticism. 
They could do so many cool things, whereas the women just walked around the stage. 

If you ever get the chance to see a Siberian Ballet, I recommend checking it out!

Luxembourg, Day 1, 2 & 3

Luxembourg City was great! To travel around and see everything there is to see in the city, it only takes one day. Well, I had two and a half days there. So I had some vacation/relaxation time for just reading a book and such. Unfortunately, my books are on my iPad, and I had left my iPad charger in Bordeaux (by accident). I noticed it was missing on the train ride to Paris Montparnasse.

And as the day progressed, things stayed pretty interesting. I realized at Montparnasse that my ticket to Luxembourg said departing from Paris Est. Which is definitely not the same as where I arrived. With a man at the information desk, who didn't speak any English, I was able to figure out that I needed to take Metro line 4 to Paris Est to catch my train, which would leave in an hour.

Thank goodness, more likely thank God, that I glanced at my train tickets before sitting down to wait in Montparnasse for my train to arrive.

I made it to Luxembourg on a beautiful day. There was some sort of protest outside the train station that confused the bus system slightly. Someone official looking, who didn't speak English, told me to wait on a different platform for Bus 9 than where the signs said Bus 9 would come to. I walked to where he said because he yelled pretty angrily. But Bus 9 went to the platform I had left so I ran over to catch it.

I arrived at my hostel after a few minutes of being lost when I got off the bus. Unfortunately, they didn't have an Apple charger for my iPad. But each night I had someone in the room (a six bedroom mixed dorm) that was willing to lend me their Apple charger for a little while! So I was able to read my books!

The next day I headed to the tourist office, a ten minute walk uphill from the hostel, to find out some information about the city and what the attractions were. I found out that there would be a walking tour the next day and that the museums were all great. I also bought a ticket to the opera house for a show about Tezuka, the creator of manga.

Place Guillaume II
This is the square the tourism office was in. It's very close to the palace. 

Because the guided tour wasn't until my second day, I spent my first full day exploring on my own.

Palais Grand-Ducal. 
The Palace.

The view from Bock Montee (a street/bridge)

The other side of the bridge. 

This well is inside the Casemates. 
The well is 47 meters deep. The myth says you might catch a glimpse of the lovely Melusine who will greet you with a mischievous wink and an elegant beating of her fish's tail. 

The story goes (quoted from the pamphlet):
According to legend, Melusine was the wife of Sigefroy, 1st count of Luxembourg, living in his castle on the rocky promontory of the Bock. On their marriage, Melusine required her husband never to see her during a particular day and night of the week. One fine day, unable to resist his curiosity, Sigefroy spied her in her bath through the keyhole of her room's door and discovered her fish's tail. Melusine, noting that her husband was watching her, then vanished forever into the torrents of the Alzette river. 
Casemate is derived etymologically from the Greek "chasma(ta)" meaning "chasm". This is a "bomb-proof" vaulted room situated in the actual body of the works leading to one or more embrasures or intended to accommodate troops and equipment.

Inside the Casemate. 
The Bock Casemates could accommodate some 50 canons and 1,200 soldiers. 

At Historisches Museum der Stadt Luxembourg. 
Just thought this was pretty. The family seals are circled in the branches of the tree. 

This glove is from the Reinhard glove factory in Grund

Quoted from the plaque at the museum:
Starting in the 1840s the entry of the Grand Duchy into the customs union and the modest labor costs of those working from home fueled the industrialization of the city of Luxembourg. 
The Reinhard glove factory, founded in the Rue Plaetis in Grund in 1882, had up to 1,000 workers and sewing women, and was for a while the city's largest industrial site.  
Often all the members of families living in the suburbs worked in the glove industry. Adult men and male youth worked in the tannery, where dog excrement was processed to tan the popular Glace gloves, or in the dying works, where colors were made from human urine. 
So yes, the glove above was dyed with human pee. Fascinating, eh?

Well, with that wonderful thought, let's talk about dinner in Luxembourg! It was surprisingly inexpensive, after I had looked around for cheaper restaurants.

A glass of Luxembourg wine (excellent), salad, and half a margerite pizza was just 11,90 euro at Restaurant Belucci. 

Traditional Luxembourg dessert from Oberweis, called Bamkuch. 

Quote from tag:
Traditional confectioner's specialty, the Bamkuch owes its name to its structure, which is similar to a tree and its growth rings. Consisting of an almond-based moist biscuit, bitter almonds, spices, lemon and apricot glaze, this traditional recipe is on of the specialties of Maison Oberweis. 

Half-eaten Bamkuch. So yummy!

This is in Konstitutionsplatz and is called Mahnmal "Gelle Fra" (Mahnmal = Memorial)
It was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War, today it symbolizes freedom and resistance for the Luxembourg people. 

The tour guide said that the gold monument at the top was removed and hidden in the casemates during the second world war. It was forgotten and subsequently rediscovered in 1980. It was placed on its perch again in 1983.

Grand Duchess Charlotte Memorial in Clairefontaine Square
This statue was erected in honor of the Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985) and designed by the Parisian sculptor Jean Cardot. 

To the right is Petrusse Valley which forms a natural dividing line between the Upper Town and Plateau Bourbon, the Louis (1685) and Beck Bastion (1644 and 1685) on the right-hand side. 

Apparently, the upper side on the left was only for the rich and for those in high government positions. The poor lived in the valley to the right. Today no one lives in the upper section, it is for businesses and government buildings. Young couples without children and single people tend to live in the valley to the right now.

Um, best thing ever?! I think so!
It is a chunk of chocolate, this one is praline nugget, formed around the bottom of a wooden spoon. 
They bring out some steamed milk and you add the chocolate for the best hot chocolate EVER!

The chef's choice offered a huge slice of brownie with your choice of hot chocolate for just 7 euro!

I mentioned earlier that I bought tickets to the opera house. The only show that was playing while I was there was TeZukA -- but I was in no means disappointed by the show!

The view of Grand Theatre from my seat, which cost about 6 euro because I'm a student under 26. 

I loved Luxembourg. The city really only takes one day to explore, so I had about one day of relaxation after the tourist stuff was finished.