A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about spring

A SUNNY DAY IN LUXEMBOURG

sunny 5 °C

A 2 hour train ride aboard the Eurorail from Paris brings you to the small but incredibly picturesque country called Luxembourg City. Luxembourg City shares the title of 'Capital of Europe' with Brussels and Strasbourg. The population is incredible diverse with the foreigner population making up 70%.

A must visit part of this small city/country is the Grund. A 15 minute walk from the Centrale and a swift 65 meters elevator ride down, brings you to an area that is quieter, beautiful and much more charming than the city. The Grund offers breathtaking views of picturesque stone cottages, a small church, a peaceful little river bordered by the outer fortifications of the castle and loads of eye-catching patches of green. A local in fact told me "Dont worry dearie, you're never going to get lost here. Just follow the Azlette".

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The best way to explore the OLD TOWN was by the Wenzel Walk, which leads you around a walking trail through the oldest foundations of Luxembourg-City and encompassing almost all the best sights in the Old Town. The tour covers approximately 5 kilometers weaving up and down through different levels of the city. The Old Town exhibits the perfect example of military architecture and there are layers of walls built for defense of the city. Each level according to the guide was built by a different empire and at different times in Luxembourg’s history. As a result, the levels of fortification are not an even level but it makes for brilliant views from different vantage points. The casemates which are passageways carved into the mountainside are quite eerie to walk through especially if you are alone. I even saw part of the old aqueduct.

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The City Centre of Luxembourg is a shoppers delight considering it is in fact, it is the richest country in Europe! With shopping streets filled with upscale designers, charming boutiques and street side cafes.

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Once you're done seeing the sights, a nice place to spend time is the PLACE d’ARMES. A pretty tree-lined and music-filled square at the edge of the Old Town bordered with open air restaurants and space for exhibitions and concerts. During my visit on the eve of Easter, the place was filled with Easter markets and chocolatiers.
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The Luxembourg Centrale which is the central train station is an architectural treat by itself. You can for a price of 4 Euros buy a day ticket that allows you to navigate through the length and breadth of this small charming country making use of its extensive public transport system comprising of metro trains, trams and buses.

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Until next time

Posted by Ceej 08:45 Archived in Luxembourg Tagged spring luxembourg easter Comments (1)

Paris in spring

C'est Magnifique!

overcast 4 °C

There’s nothing quite like Paris on a day in spring. As I walked down cobbled streets looking at beautiful buildings dotted with a terrace here - a balcony there sporting beautiful flowers in bloom, I found myself falling in love with what is arguably called the most beautiful city in the world.

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As I sat on park benches in the warm sunlight that was still attempting to pierce through the last remnants of winter, watching the parade of Parisian life go by - it dawned on me that the only way to truly discover this city was by walk. I made it a point to stroll over the bridges that cut through the Seine especially at dusk most evening. I loved the sight of the wrought-iron lamps flicker to light and the way the streets look in that golden glow. Every single time I have gone for a walk back home after this holiday, and I mean EVERY TIME - the joy I felt walking on the cobblestone streets keeps coming back to me in waves. It never ceased to amaze me that everywhere you turn in gay Paree, there are two things in abundance - ART and BEAUTY. It is said that it will take several lifetimes to unravel all the things this city has to offer. I'm taking a shot by compiling some of the most famous places I visited during my stay at the City of Lights and the most beautiful sights I saw.

Louvre Museum

Standing in the courtyard you already get a sense of what to expect inside.

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If anyone ever wanted to understand the meaning of the term "a wealth of history", they need to just step into the Musee de Louvre. There are 3 wings at the Louvre - Richelieu , Denon and Sully. Denon (where the most expensive and famous residents are housed is easily the most visited). The description under all the works of art is written in French, so the Nintendo audio guide in English that we procured at the information counter was very helpful. I'm sure there are works of art and artefacts in this museum to keep any historian happy for years.

Most people have a tendency to make a bee-line to visit the Louvre's most famous resident - THE SMILING LADY, but in my opinion - there are so many other works of art displayed within the same walls which are breathtaking, especially in the French and the Italian Renaissance sections. Throughout my childhood I've been obsessed with Greek mythology and still remember reading about "Nike" and learning to my surprise that it is not only the name of a famous shoe brand but the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory. I believe the day I laid eyes on “The Winged Victory” was almost a moment that brought me a full circle.

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Before we move forward, let me describe my visit to the smiling lady's chamber. The Mona Lisa is tucked away in a distant corner of the Denon wing past the Da Vinci paintings in the Renaissance wing. My reaction upon seeing her for the first time was how small the painting is (atleast in comparison to all the other works of art housed at the Louvre). The section is partially cordoned off and the painting is housed behind enforced bullet proof glass.
A small bit of caution - You will never have a moment alone in peace with this famous lady. The Mona Lisa will always be crowded regardless of whatever time you choose to visit and you will definitely be pushed around.

After spending entire day wandering around the Denon wing we decided to spend the evening being Parisians, sipping wine accompanied by cheese and crackers and conversation. When we could absorb no more art, we left the Louvre and found ourselves at the closest Monoprix where we proceeded to pick up by some wine(bad!) and some cheese(yum!). We wandered back towards the Louvre and found ourselves a nice sunny spot in the Tuileries Gardens in front of the museum(yes sunny even at 8:30 PM!). Even here we could not escape ‘art’ as there are numerous statues and decorative touches throughout the garden and later in the evening we were treated to the sight of a distant Eiffel Tower flickering to light as we sat on the compound surrounding the Louvre which was also by then lit up and immediately reminded me of the setting from Dan Brown's DaVinci Code.

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Arc de triomphe

When you see this magnificent monument up close, you can only then fully appreciate its beauty and begin to understand why it has such a significant place in French history. The ornate carvings that adorn the walls and ceilings are intricate and makes one wonder at the depths of the artists talents who created this monument. It takes 284 steps to get to the top but I’ve heard that views over Paris are breathtaking from the top. It also forms the perfect setting for the most exclusive shopping destination in the world - Champs Elysées. Oh one walk through this entire street is enough to make you feel that there is not enough money in the world to buy everything that you little heart might desire.

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Notre-Dame

I finally found the peace to immerse myself in prayer at this 800 year old chapel. No matter what religion you follow, I'm sure at this cathedral you will experience emotions that touch the core of your being. The architecture of this cathedral is truly marvellous and the stained glassed windows are absolutely beautiful. Sitting in the courtyard listening to the church bells was an experience like no other and the memory of which I will carry in my heart for the rest of my days. We wanted to go up the tower to visit the famous gargoyles, but were told that it is only allowed at certain times before 4 PM.

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After long days spent on foot, I still found enough strength in my legs to explore these beautiful stalls filled with old books(most of them in French), near Pont Neuf on the banks of the Seine. There are postcards along with books and posters for sale. Some of them are used postcards and letters with addresses written in the most beautiful handwriting and posted decades earlier.

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Eiffel Tower

What can I say that’s not been said before about the Eiffel tower? It is afterall Paris's signature monument :) . I would highly recommend going here in the evening when there is still sunlight and have a small picnic on the lawns of the Eiffel tower and make pretty pictures. If you stay long enough, you get to see the lights come on "twinkling" and light up this beautiful monument.

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Right from the first day I was hit by this idea that all of this is normal for Parisians! That awe I felt when I heard the bells tolling at the Notre Dame at dusk, the joy I felt walking along the Seine, all those lampposts lighting up cobblestone paths. Al these treasures are simply a part of the fabric of a Parisians lives and since their face doesnt wreath into smiles while passing by it I'm somehow certain they might even be used to them being in the background! What would that be like, to live in a place where you could expect to see so much beauty on a day to day basis?

À tout à l'heure Paree!!! Looking forward to be back meandering around your cobblestone streets along the Seine to sit on the lawns of the Eiffel, laying in the grass, sharing a kiss, sipping some wine and reading a book. Hopefully to stay and explore whatever you have to offer for a full year :)

Wish You Safe Travels
Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 14:28 Archived in France Tagged paris eiffel spring path cafe seine notre lamps cobblestone paree Comments (2)

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