Welcome to Luxembourg

Welcome to Luxembourg

Luxembourg City, founded in 963, was once one of the strongest fortresses in Europe and you can still walk through the Casemates a 14 mile long network of underground passages hewn out of solid rock. The city has 91 bridges, the newest being the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge, 178 feet high, which limks the city with the Kirchberg Plateau.

The Ducal Palace, built 1580 and renovated in the 19th century, is not open to public. One of the oldest parts of the City is the Marche aux Poissons (fish market). Here are the Museum of History and Art, and the Natural History Museum while in Luxembourg Park is the J P Pescatore Museum.

Children will enjoy a trip to Bettembourg, seven miles to the south of Luxembourg City, where the Parc Merveilleux has a miniature zoo and farm, a fairy wood and a mini train and boats. Not far to the North East is Walferdange, which also has a children’s park, and Senningen where is a zoo.

Luxembourg Culture

Luxembourg has been overshadowed by the culture of its neighbours. It retains a number of folk traditions, having been for much of its history a profoundly rural country. There are several notable museums, located mostly in the capital. These include the National Museum of History and Art (NMHA), the Luxembourg City History Museum, and the new Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (Mudam). The National Museum of Military History (MNHM) in Diekirch is especially known for its representations of the Battle of the Bulge. The city of Luxembourg itself is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, on account of the historical importance of its fortifications.

The country has produced some internationally-known artists, including the painters Théo Kerg, Joseph Kutter and Michel Majerus, and photographer Edward Steichen, whose The Family of Man exhibition has been placed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World register, and is now permanently housed in Clervaux. Movie star Loretta Young was of Luxembourgish descent.

Luxembourg was the first city to be named European Capital of Culture twice. The first time was in 1995. In 2007, the European Capital of Culture[132] was to be a cross-border area consisting of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland in Germany, the Walloon Region and the German-speaking part of Belgium, and the Lorraine area in France. The event was an attempt to promote mobility and the exchange of ideas, crossing borders physically, psychologically, artistically and emotionally.

Luxembourg was represented at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, from 1 May to 31 October 2010 with its own pavilion. The pavilion was based on the transliteration of the word Luxembourg into Chinese, “Lu Sen Bao”, which means “Forest and Fortress”. It represented Luxembourg as the “Green Heart in Europe”.

All About Finnish Sauna with Beer

All About Finnish Sauna with Beer

The Sauna, the world famous Finnish bath, is a part of every Finnish home. To be nvited a sauna party is to meet the Finn at his most hospitable.

Finnish beer comes in light or stronger grades. Next to beer the national drink is Finnish Vodka, drunk as Schnapps and like the Finnish berry liquers Mesimarja (Arctic bramble) and Lakka (Cloudberry) is usually served ice cold with meals. Scotch and American whiskies are available. Restaurants (mostly licensed) and bars open until 1 am or 2 am; night clubs open until 4 am.

The Finnish sauna is a substantial part of Finnish culture. There are five million inhabitants and over three million saunas in Finland – an average of one per household. For Finnish people the sauna is a place to relax with friends and family, and a place for physical and mental relaxation as well. Finns think of saunas not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Before the rise of public health care and nursery facilities, almost all Finnish mothers gave birth in saunas.

Many different types of sauna can be found in Finland. They can be classified either by the sauna building itself or by what kind of stove it uses.

The main division of saunas is between once warmed and continuously warmed stoves. All smoke saunas are once warmed, but there are also other type of ovens that are once warmed.

Once warmed stoves have larger amount of stones that are warmed up before the bathing. This can be done by burning wood, with or without chimney, oil or natural gas. Continuously warmed stoves have lower amount of stones that are heated during the bathing. The warming can be done burning wood, oil or natural gas, or electrically.

The temperature in Finnish saunas is 60 to 100 °C (140 to 212 °F), usually 70–80 °C (158–176 °F), and is kept clearly above the dewpoint despite the vaporization of löyly water, so that visible condensation of steam does not occur as in a Turkish sauna.

Amsterdam: A Quick Orientation

Amsterdam: A Quick Orientation

Amsterdam, in its physical aspect, is almost entirely a product of the so-called “Golden Age” of the Netherlands-that period in the 17th century when Holland surged to the near-pinnacle of world power, after its victory over Spain in the brutal Eighty Years War. It was during this period that the merchants of Amsterdam-then the dominant element in the city-laid out a pattern of gently-curving, concentric canals that occupy the central section of Amsterdam and constitute the city’s particular glory today. Amsterdam performs an essentially capital city service function for the rest of the Dutch economy.

The canals run in a fairly regular pattern that makes it quite easy to orient yourself. Starting at the Central Station, the first of the canals is the Singel. Then comes the Herengracht (“Gentlemen’s Canal”), then the Keizersgracht (“Emperor’s Canal”), and finally the Prinsengracht (“Prince’s Canal”). Along these canals the merchants of 17th-century Amsterdam then constructed what seem today like endless lines of gilded, patrician mansions and homes. These have, in recent years, been occupied by business firms, but their façades are absolutely untouched-and it is in this most beautiful centuries-old setting that you’ll want to spend most of your time in Amsterdam.

Crossing through this pattern of parallel, concentric canals, like the spokes of a wheel, are avenues, the most important of which is the Damrak, which starts at the Central Station and heads straight to the Dam Square, site of the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), and National Monument. From the Dam Square, this street becomes the Rokin, and veers a bit as it heads to the Mint Square (Muntplein), where the famous old Mint Tower Amsterdam stands, and where the Amstel River begins.

Near the Mint Square is the Rembrandtsplein (Rembrandt’s Square), one of the two major entertainment areas of Amsterdam; a bit further out, and to the west, is the Leidseplein (Leidse Square), the other entertainment section of Amsterdam, and the site of the Stadsschouw-burg (Municipal Theatre). And beyond this central area is a slightly more modern section where you’ll find the two great art museums of Amsterdam-the renowned Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum- as well as the famous home of its much-acclaimed orchestra, the Concertgebouw.

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Americans go to London for social triumph, to Rome for art’s sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American.

Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months’ rest before it can read just itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards is “the greatest place on earth,” and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home.

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs’, and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine.

While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson’s, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish goodnature of the place and of the people after the same mariner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness.

The big surprise in European menu translations

The big surprise in European menu translations

Somehow, there are few words to describe the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach caused by a Barcelona menu that lists “alcachofas, angulas y lletados can acelgas” as the choice you face for supper. Absent a translation of these exotic phrases, dinner becomes The Big Surprise. You stab blindly at the bill of fare, hope for the best, and usually end up with Octopus Soup or some similar delicacy.

Obviously, you’ll need translations of European menus. They follow below, arranged for seven European languages in the same food groupings that you’d find on a menu: soups, meats, vegetables, desserts, and so forth. Pronunciations are omitted; in this area, it usually pays simply to point to what you want.

A preliminary warning: in using these lists, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly large number of menu terms that you won’t find listed in them. Your bewilderment results from the common practice in European restaurants of adorning menus with fanciful, but totally meaningless, adjectives.

Thus, a simple “wienerschnitzel” (breaded veal cutlet) is rarely described as such in a Munich restaurant; it’s called a “wienerschnitzel Münchner Art” (breaded veal cutlet Munich style), but at heart, it’s a simple breaded veal cutlet. The same literary touches are of ten indulged in by American restaurants, whose menus offer “Shenandoah County Tomato Juice” or “Special Prime-Tested Kansas City Steaks.” Just look for the basic root of the menu term, which is all you’re getting, in any event. Bon Appetit!

Flying into Macau

Flying into Macau

Flying into Macau these days and arriving in its brand-new airport, you see at a glance how small it is: a low, rocky peninsula connected to China by a sandspit three hundred yards wide, and two even smaller islands, Taipa and Coloane, which are linked by a bridge and a causeway.

Macau’s whole area comes to less than seven square miles, one quarter the size of Manhattan. it has no natural resources and no agriculture, apart from some quiet public gardens and lovingly tended flowerpots. Of its half a million people, fifteen thousand are Portuguese, ten thousand are “other,” and the rest, thronging the busy streets, savoring the breezes off the South China Sea, chattering into portable phones, and very occasionally creating small traffic jams, are Chinese.

Collectively, however, they all call themselves Macanese and live together in obvious harmony. The road signs and shop windows are in Portuguese and Chinese, but everyone-or at least everyone employed in gambling, tourism, or religion, Macau’s essential industries-speaks English.

Flying into Macau

From the air, Macau is a small, slow, inviting place. The approach I like better is from the sea, best of all toward dusk, in foggy weather (the ferries and hydrofoils from Hong Kong all carry radar, and often need it). The estuary of the Pearl River, forty miles wide, looks as vast and empty as the open ocean, with the next landfall at Saigon or Singapore.

Suddenly the engines slow, a row of buoys slides alongside, and through the mist looms a bump of land crowned by the fortress and hermitage of Our Lady of Guia, a pair of ancient cannons, and the winking lantern of the first lighthouse ever built on the China coast-a very Portuguese mix of faith, antique firepower, and maritime know-how.

So, too, is the way Macau clings to the outermost edge of China, as Portugal itself does to the far end of Europe, with nowhere to go but to sea. A loose grip on the wheel, you feel, and you might miss Macau altogether. Yet at this hour, when night veils the casinos, the horse- and dog-racing tracks, the bank towers, and the other schemes Macau has had to adopt to stay afloat, the fort and the church beside it remind us what a mighty monument to human perseverance this brave little out-post has been-and still is.

The Supremacy of Paris

The Supremacy of Paris

One of the most distinctive features of France is the great importance of Paris in the life of the country as a whole. The location of Paris is almost ideal. Orleans alone among the cities is more central, but it lacks the waterways of Paris and the surrounding fertile soil.

Located originally on an island where it is easy to cross the Seine River, Paris has become not only the capital of France, but also one of the world’s greatest cities. The term “greatest” applies not so much to the number of inhabitants as to cultural influence. In this respect no other city rises to such a level, and no other city attracts so many visitors, temporary as well as permanent, to enjoy that culture.

Paris exerts an almost mystical attraction not only on Europe but on the rest of the world as well. Its architecture may be rather oldfashioned, its general appearance far from clean, and its entertainments not always of the highest, but the visitor forgets all this.

The Supremacy of Paris

The wide tree-bordered boulevards with their sidewalk cafes, the crooked streets of the Montmarte, and the Latin Quarter, where little shops offer all sorts of products from paintings to bad-smelling cheese, the quiet border of the Seine River where open-air bookstalls invite the literary enthusiast, the public gardens and parks where children, guarded by uniformed nurses, sail tiny boats on the grass-bordered ponds, all this is the Paris which one learns to love.

Nevertheless, the educational, social, and political attraction of Paris has been a tremendous drain on the rest of France. No other city has had a chance to become even locally a cultural center. Today, as for many centuries, Paris is the focus of all ambitions, the magnet attracting the country’s brains and energy.

Granada with smelling of jasmin, in Spain

Granada with smelling of jasmin, in Spain

The spectacular Alhambra Palace is a poignant epitaph to the tirumph of the Catholic Monarchs and the despair of the defeated Moors who still mourn its loss. With imposing towers and halls, rooms decorated with lacy carvings, colored tiles and gold mosaics, courtyards with fountains and hidden gardens smelling of jasmin, it is unparalalled in Europe.

In Granada’s cathedral the victors lie beneath tombs in the Royal Mausoleum. Hotels are Alhambra palace Hotel (Pena Partida), Luz Granada Hotel (Avenida Calvo Sotelo 34), Melia Granada (Angel Ganivet 5), and Washington Irving Hotel (Bosque de la Alhambra).

Iconic Red Bus Services in London

Iconic Red Bus Services in London

The London Bus is one of London’s principal icons, the archetypal red rear-entrance Routemaster being recognized worldwide. Although the Routemaster has now been largely phased out of service, with only two heritage routes still using the vehicles, the majority of buses in London are still red and therefore the red double-decker bus remains a widely recognised symbol of the city.

From the early days of motor bus operation by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) in the 1900s (decade) until the 1960s, London went its own way, designing its own vehicles specially for London use rather than using the bus manufacturers’ standard products used elsewhere. The Associated Equipment Company (AEC) was created as a subsidiary of the LGOC in 1912 to build buses and other equipment for its parent company, and continued in the ownership of LGOC and its successors until 1962. Many of London’s local service buses over this period were built by AEC, although other manufacturers also built buses to London designs, or modified their own designs for use in London.

The last bus specifically designed for London was the AEC Routemaster, built between 1956 and 1968. Since then, buses built for London’s local services have all been variants of models built for general use elsewhere, although bus manufacturers would routinely offer a ‘London specification’ to meet specific London requirements. Some manufacturers even went so far as to build new models with London in mind, such as the DMS class Daimler Fleetline, and the T class Leyland Titan (B15).

London did see the introduction of several of the newly emerging minibus and midibus models in the 1980s and 1990s, in a bid to up the frequency on routes, although the use of these buses dropped off to the level of niche operation on routes not suitable for full size buses.

With the move to tendered contracts for TfL routes, the ‘London specification’ was further enforced as being part of tender proposals, invariably specifying new buses. The major difference for London is the usage of dual doors on central routes.

London was one of the earliest major users of low-floor buses. From 2000, the mainstay of fleet, double-decker buses, were augmented with a fleet of articulated buses, rising to a peak fleet size of 393 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaros. A small fleet of hybrid buses is also operated.

Moscow presents too many options for travelers

Moscow presents too many options for travelers

The country of Russia is very large, and stretches out of a large portion of both Western Europe and Northern Asia. Russia is in fact, the largest country in the world, and covers twice as much area, as the second largest country, which is Canada.

After December of 1991, Russia was no longer the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after it finally broke free of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, becoming instead, the Russian Federation, and to most of us, known simply as Russia. The Russian culture, having been around for many, many centuries, is rich in struggles, and history. Travelers coming to Russia to experience the vivid, and culturally colorful atmosphere, will not be disappointed with what they find in this incredible country.

Russia is also not just a frozen wasteland, the winters may be cruel, or even bleak in some regions of the country, but in others, there are still beautiful summer days, and green grass growing. Travelers interested in coming to Russia for a leisurely stay have many options; the summer for the warmth, traveling north for the cold, winter activities, or traveling in the off seasons to South Russia, for smaller crowds, and colder weather. There are many popular destination cities in Russia, but the three best known and most popularly traveled are Moscow, Russia’s capital city, St. Petersburg, known as The City of Tsars, and Pskov, one of the oldest cities in Russia.

Moscow presents too many options for travelers

Moscow, being Russia’s capital city, covers a large area; there’s something for every vacation palate there. If tourists want to explore the city, go hiking, or lounge in a luxurious hotel, they can. St. Petersburg, contains several points of interest, such as the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Mikhail Castle, the Summer Garden, the St. Isaac and the Kazan cathedrals. And as for Pskov, as far as it being said to be old, it recently, in 2003 celebrated its eleven-hundred year anniversary. Although it’s a bustling city, full of new developments, and stylish, trendy places and people, travelers will still be able to feel how ancient the city around them is.

Soups and stews are very popular in Russia, because centuries ago, it was mainly a peasant meal, and hundreds of years later, traditions amongst the Russian people still thrive. Soups in Russia go from several different variations, in both hot and cold. Borscht, is a popular traditional Russian soup, that should definitely be sampled by visitors.

Meats in Russia are served either as large boiled cuts, in soups or porridges, or cold, as a snack. Fish was an important part of Russian cuisine, when most were still Russian Orthodox, as it was similar to the Catholic religion, where families would eat fish on Fridays, instead of other meats. Most of the traditional drinks in Russia are no longer in use, but when they were, the drinks were original to their region, and not used anywhere else; such as sbiten’, kvas, medok, mors, curdle with raisins, and boiled cabbage juice. Sbiten was later replaced by tea, a similar drink.

Hotels and accommodation in Russia are varied; namely it depends on what cities you plan to visit; for example, in St. Petersburg, one very attractive alternative to hotels is actually staying in temporary apartments. They are much, much cheaper than a luxury hotel, and provide a more homey atmosphere, and welcoming environment, for those who prefer that to hotel accommodations.