Sopot and Gdansk

Sopot and Gdansk are two of three cities on the Baltic seaside of Poland, often known as Tricity. They are all very different. Sopot is situated by the long stretched beach, being a popular place for relaxing and retreat. The old Hanseatic town Gdansk is larger, with the old town packed with the lovely colourful houses I just can’t seem to get enough of. In addition, it is known for the many shipyards. Gdynia is a more industrialized city, and also the place where our boat to Karlskrona will leave from. All in all, they complete each other.

We decided to stay in Sopot, as I really needed to be able to swim in the sea! Finding a cheap apartment centrally located in the main street Monte Cassino, was just perfect. At least that is what I thought in the beginning. Monte Cassino 50 apartment was situated in a backyard, so we luckily got away from the party in the street. Both the young and the old we met later seemed to have had way too much to drink. To be honest, I was quite disappointed. I have been here before, both in winter and spring, and the atmosphere was so much nicer then. By all means, if you are after a place to hang out on the beach during the day, and party hard at night, this is definitely an alternative. Damn I feel old writing this!

We, on the other hand, just wanted to find some nice bars with people sitting talking, while enjoying a beer. It appeared to be much harder than expected, but finally we discovered the small beer house Małe Piwko with nice atmosphere.

In the morning, I at least got to feel the sea water on my skin. Finally!
Finally swimming in the ocean again! In Sopot Poland Sopot Beach
Sopot beach. Sopot Monte Cassino
Leaving our bags in the car at the guarded car park, we took the train to Gdansk. It runs very frequently, and from Sopot to Gdańsk Główny (the end station), it takes about 20 minutes. It is also possible to take a boat between the two cities, but there are limited departures, so check in advance.

Gdansk old town was just as pretty as I remembered, only a bit more crowed as it is high season, but not too much. But I must admit; after travelling through Europe, seeing so many stunning places, we were both quite filled with impressions. A bit sad, and unfear to beautiful Gdansk.
The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 8 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 7 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 5 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 4 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 6 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 3 The old Hanseatic town Gdansk in Poland 2 Gdansk in Poland

Pretty Polish Poznan

Poznan is a pretty city with so many things to see and do, that you should not make the same mistake as we did; spending only one night. The historic buildings in renaissance style will make your jaw drop and already start planning your next visit.

Through a friend of a friend, I had made an appointment to meet with a local. Arriving quite late, she met us upon arrival and took us for a walk around the city. With various stops for both eating, drinking and even some history, we got a great overview of this magnificent city.
Poznan Old Market Square by night Poznan Old Market Square by night 3 Poznan Old Market Square by night 4 Poznan Old Market Square by night 2
Aneta took us to Basilium a small, cozy bar with a huge beer collection from all over Poland. The bottles were lined up on the wall behind the bar, and also in an additional shelf covering one of the others. The lighting was dimmed, with soft light to brighten up the dark walls. To divide one of the rooms, they had used melted and flattened glass bottles. A great place to go with both your friends or your loved one.

Basilium bar in Poznan 2 Basilium bar in Poznan 3 Basilium bar in Poznan
The next place we went, I must say I had my doubts just for a second. Entering Dragon, it was almost like walking in to a dragon’s cave. The place actually looked kind of tacky, and packed with loud, partying people. Luckily, Aneta walked determent through the horde, and out in the backyard. Better, but still the same crowd. But she went on, and opened a door that seemed to lead to a private house. Walking up the stairs, we passed two small rooms with bars, before coming out on a nice terrace. The perfect hidden gem! Apparently, there are several more rooms, and there are often concerts played there.
Secret stairs to heaven at Dragon Bar in Poznan
The heart of the city, the old market square, is surrounded by so many colourful houses, beautifully decorated with family shields and other decorative ornaments. Needless to say, I (again…) took too many photos…
Poznan market square 3 Poznan market square 4 Poznan market square Poznan market square 2
In the middle of the square, you find the high raised renaissance Town Hall from the 13-14th century. The beautiful decorated belfry is place for one of the city’s’ main attractions. Every day at noon, two mechanical goats appear, and butt their heads together twelve times. Legend has it that the clock master Bartlomiej Wollf in 1551 decided to present his finished work to the city council and the citizens of Poznan. For the special opening ceremony, all the nobles were invited as well as the citizens. The meat prepared for the ceremony unfortunately was burned, and the assistant chef was told to find new meat immediately, as the supper was about to be served. It was late and all the butchers were closed, so he could not buy it anywhere. At the last moment, he saw two goats playing on the fields nearby. He grabbed them and took them to the kitchen. The goat understood what was happening, and as they did not want to end up as food, they ran up the stairs to the high clock tower. Everybody was laughing, the goats were spared, and supper was served without meat.
Goats in the Town Hall in Poznan market square. Goats in the Town Hall in Poznan market square
Right next to the Town Hall, a group of narrow houses are lined up like pearls on a string, one more colourful than the other. These were the craftsmen houses, where articles like fish, candles and salt were sold.
Craftmen houses and the high raised renaissance Town Hall in Poznan market square Craftmen houses  in Poznan market square
When we were in Krakow, we were told that if we went to Poznan, we could not leave without trying the traditional St. Martin Croissant. We took their word for it! There is actually a museum for this, telling the interesting story and show how it is done. The light version, that is. To make a real St. Martin Croissant, you actually have to have a license, and it has to be renewed each year to prove that you make it the right way. Among other things, this means making the dough into many thin layers before it is cut into stretched out triangles. The filling is made by almond and poppy seeds. Mmmm!
Rogalowe museum in Poznan Making traditional St. Martin Croissant in Rogalowe museum in Poznan Traditional St. Martin Croissant in Rogalowe museum in Poznan
St. Martin is often described as a knight on a white horse, giving his coat to a beggar. The legend has it that a confectioner once found a horseshoe belonging to St. Martin’s horse. He gave the dough a similar shape, and decorated it with almonds. As a sign of his appreciation for the goodness of St. Martin, the confectioner gave them away to the poor.

And the bonus when visiting the Rogalowe museum; their windows face the Town Hall at the old market square and the demonstration finishes at noon, so you can watch the goats from there.

The cathedral is situated just across the bridge, on Cathedral Island. Dating back to the tenth century, it was actually the first built in Poland. In front of the cathedral is the gothic Holy Virgin Mary Church.
The Cathedral and the gothic Holy Virgin Mary Church on Cathedral Island in Poznan
Sadly, we had to rush back and get going, as we had a long drive ahead of us. But as the sun was finally shining, we had to make time to stop for ice cream. Lodziarnia (Wroniecka 17) make their ice cream from scratch, and frequently change their flavors, varying from traditional taste like caramel and chocolate to different fruits. Delicious!!
Ice cream at Lodziarnia in Poznan Ice cream at Lodziarnia in Poznan.
Poznan, I promise, I will be back!

Where to stay:
We went for the budget version, and booked an ensuite double room at Hostel Frolic Goats. It is very centrally located, only a few hundred meters from the old market square. I can imagine it being a bit noisier during the weekends, but in that case, the room came with earplugs as accessories. The room was tiny, but we only needed a bed to sleep in, so it was ok. It has a rather large kitchen and common room if you want to hang out there, but as we had minimum time, we were outside all the time.

Read my other posts from Poland and the road trip through Europe.

Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau – A day for reflections

Auschwitz Arbeit macht frei
Auschwitz
main camp house different exhibitions including war history, explanation about the extermination, evidences of crime, collection of personal belongings and photos of prisoners. Living- and sanitary conditions are also shown. Moreover, there are several places of special interest, such as the Death Wall and gas chamber and crematorium 1. In addition, there are national exhibitions going in depth of the fate of the prisoners from different countries. Auschwitz II – Birkenau, show the living conditions of the prisoners in original barracks, as well as the railroad tracks leading directly into the camp, stopping by the unloading ramp.
Death Wall in Auschwitz
Auschwitz prisoners
Auschwitz II Birkenau 11
When I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau 13 years ago, it was as a part of a school trip. The previous years, classes had went on this trip during spring, but the teachers had now decided they wanted to go in winter instead as the site looked quite idyllic when the trees were blooming. I totally get there point! The trees along the path between the houses in Auschwitz were bursting with green leafs, and the grass among the barracks in Birkenau were packed with colourful flowers.

Don’t get me wrong, it is hard enough to imagine the cruelty that found place in the concentration camps anyway, but the more idyllic scenery does not help.
Auschwitz
Auschwitz II Birkenau 6
I was actually surprised that the entrance to the area was free, but at the same time I am very glad, so that all that want do visit can do that. The only thing you have to pay for is if you want to have a guide.

Since both of us had been here before, we decided to walk around by ourselves. On my previous visit, a time witness that had been a prisoner in a concentration camp accompanied us. The stories of Eskild Jensen made such a big impression that I could still remember details from the stories he told us 13 years ago. He was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen that we also visited back then. It was obviously a totally different experience now, but at the same time it was also good to be able to take some more time to soak in the impressions. However, I think it could be useful to get the small guide book that give the brief description what the different barracks exhibit to be able to select what to focus on.

Auschwitz was established I 1940 for Polish political prisoners, but it did not take long before the Nazis deported people from all over Europe. They were mainly Jews, or others the Nazis considered less worthy as humans.

The choice of location was not by coincidence. Located just far enough outside the town Oswiecim for the inhabitants there not to intervene, and also being close to an important railway junction.

Auschwitz originally counted 20 buildings, but as the number of inmates continued to rise, they first built an additional floor, before they had to build eight new buildings. All this was done by the prisoners. In 1941 they constructed a second camp, called Auschwitz II – Birkenau.

One of the first things you notice when entering the area, is the barbed wire fences. Above the main gate at Auschwitz you see the inscription “Arbeit facht frei” (Work brings freedom). The prisoners would pass this gate every day on their way to work, with an orchestra playing to make them march so the SS could more easily count them.

From 1942 Auschwitz became the largest center for mass extermination of European Jews. The majority of the Jews deported here were killed in gas chambers immediately after arrival. As many of these were never registered, it is hard to know exactly how many persons were murdered here, but it is believed to be 1,5 million victims!

Most Jews coming to Auschwitz and Birkenau were convinced that they had been deported for resettlement. This also made them bring their most valuable belongings. Once unloaded from the trains, a physician from SS examined the new arrivals, determining who was capable for work, and who would be sent strait to death in the gas chambers. They did off course not know that this was their destiny, as they were told they would have a shower. The large bathroom was indeed filled with lots of showers, but they were never even connected with water. After locking and securing the doors, the chamber were filled with Cyclon B gas, killing the ones trapped inside. Their possessions were removed, including jewelries and gold fillings in their teeth.

Photo: Aschwitz II – Birkenau

Photo: Aschwitz II – Birkenau

One of the things making most impression, are the rooms filled with the victims belongings. Especially the piles of shoes in all sizes, knowing that every pair represent a person. And this is just a small part of the ones they collected. Suitcases, glasses and tons of hair are also displayed. Much of the victims’ hair was also used to make clothing.

Shoes in Auschwitz
Glasses in Auschwitz
Suitcases in Auschwitz
Countless prisoners were also undergoing medical experiments, and Dr. Joseph Mengele especially used twins for this matter.

The Death Wall between block 10 and 11 was the scene where thousands of prisoners were executed, by either shooting or hanging.

Aschwitz II – Birkenau is situated 3 km from the main camp. Coming through the gate, the first thing you notice is the railroad tracks leading directly to the center of the camp. After getting the background information from the main camp, you can vision the hordes of people at the unloading ramp, waiting for their fate to be determined.
Auschwitz II Birkenau 2
Auschwitz II Birkenau
The large area once contained over 300 buildings. Of these, 45 made of brick and 22 wooden have survived almost intact. The outlines of the previous other houses are clearly visible.
Auschwitz II Birkenau 7
At the end of the unloading ramp, there are remains of two crematoria and gas chambers. When SS had to retreat, they tried to blow up many of the buildings to conceal their criminal actions.

One of the things that I remember best from my last visit is the barrack for the children. The drawings on the walls made it all a little bit more alive, and made such a big impression on me.
Auschwitz II Birkenau 9
Auschwitz II Birkenau 10
Auschwitz II Birkenau 8
You should allow at least half a day for the visit, preferably even more, as time runs quicker than expected. The sun was setting for an emotional day at the concentration camps.
Auschwitz II Birkenau 4

How to get there:
There are several bus companies leaving from Krakow. We bought a one way ticket from the bus/train station by the local bus company PKSiS. The price was 14 PLN per person. This was a local bus stopping quite a few places along the way, letting off and picking up new passengers.

There is a free shuttle bus running between Auschwitz and Birkenau.

When returning to Krakow, we used another bus company, Lajkonik Bus. It started from the parking lot just across the street from the main building at Auschwitz. The standard was much better, it did not stop that many times along the way, and the price was even better, so I would absolutely choose this company instead. At least on the way back. I would still consider the other bus one way, to get the local experience.

Read my other posts from Poland and the road trip through Europe.

Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter, through the eyes of a local.

I am fortunate enough to have a friend from Krakow. I really love to experience the city through the eyes of a local. This time was definitely no exception!

Location: Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter. Said to be one of the coolest areas in Krakow, with many bars of different themes.

First, we went to Komisariat, a bar made as a former police station. The interior included a wall for, and with, mug-shots, TV screens with old news broadcasts. On one was there is a sheet with the police stations opening hours (not very long…), but with the address of the nearest working police officer!

Komisariat bar

Komisariat bar

A little food was needed before we went on. The polygonal house in the middle of the market square Plac Nowy, is known for the typical polish snack zapiekanka. It is kind of a mix between a half baguette and pizza. All of them serve more or less the same, but the queue in front of some makes it obvious that they are more popular than others. We ordered from the booth called Endzior, that the locals state have the best zapiekanka in Krakow. Even in the whole of Poland! We chose to share one with peperoni and mountain cheese, actually from the Tatra area! Tasted very delicious!

Enjoying the traditional snack zapiekanka.

Enjoying the traditional snack zapiekanka.

The second bar, Klub Piękny Pies, was situated in a side street to the main square. It has two different rooms, the one in the back often plays concerts. This bar is usually packed, but as it was Sunday it was quite quiet. But we enjoyed a few local Polish beers before we continued.

A very interesting concept is small bars offering small meals and vodka. It is popular in post-soviet countries to drink a shot of pure vodka with some local snack. Very fascinated! One of them, Zakąski i wódka, was situated right by the market square, so we went there and ordered Bigos, soup/stew with meat and cabbage. And vodka, since that was the way to do it. Perfect bar snack! Zakaski literally mean “something to bite after”, or simply snack after a shot of vodka. It would be a great idea to go out for dinner just eating one dish at each place. There are many to choose from!

Zakąski i wódka with a few pots in the corner for cooking.

Zakąski i wódka with a few pots in the corner for cooking.

Bigos and vodka at Zakąski i wódka.

Bigos and vodka at Zakąski i wódka.

We also had a beer at Alchemia, one of the most popular bars in the area. The bar has several rooms, decorated quite cozy with old-fashioned furniture. In the middle of the room, there was a large wardrobe, made as a door to the next room. Just like in the movie (and series) The Chronicles of Narnia. And the resemblance continues. Getting out on the other side, it was misty. In Lucy’s case in the movie, the mist came from the frost. In my case, it was smoke. The door lead to the smoking room.

One of the rooms at Alchemia.

One of the rooms at Alchemia.

Even though we walked from bar to bar, it was also time for some history. The Jewish Quarter Kazimierz is situated on an island and was originally granted from king Casimir III the Great (Kazimierz III Wielki in Polish) as a gratitude in the 1300s. During Holocaust, most of the Jews from the area were sent to Auschwitz, Birkenau or other concentration camps. The area still has a few synagogues, the only ones remaining in Krakow today. The fence in the park has obvious signs from the Jewish belief, shaped as many menorahs.

Although this was a night out to enjoy, it was good to get some perspective and realize the area has a lot of history dating back to ancient times, wartime and also present time.

Read my other posts from Poland and the road trip through Europe.

The brewery behind the stained glass

I have seemed to have a thing for breweries lately. Or, it is actually not that unusual, but it has been remarkable the last few days.

Arriving quite late in Trencin, we just checked in at Grand Hotel and went out for some food and drinks. The hotel is centrally located just in front of the central square, and since it was heavy rain, we hoped to find a place nearby. And there it was. The sign saying brewery. Or, actually more a stained glass window. Anyway; I was sold!
Stained glass window at Trenčiansky pivovar Lanius in Trencin
Trenčiansky pivovar Lanius
is situated in an old townsman’s house from the 10th or 12th century. The brewery is named after Thomas Lanius (meaning butcher in latin), that owned the house and used it as a butchery.

The minute you enter the house with the bricked walls and dimmed light, you get a feel of the great atmosphere. The brass brew tanks adorn the first floor, and old chairs in grandma style accompany the tiled tables on the various ledges. We went up the stairs, where several groups of friends enjoyed the food, beer and their company.
Trenčiansky pivovar Lanius in Trencin
Local food was off course our first pick, and we tried a little bit of everything from the starters. Their beer selection was nice and varied, and included American Wheat and India Pale Ale.
Tasty beer at Trenčiansky pivovar Lanius in Trencin

The drive through Austrian landscape

We had already decided we wanted to drive through Austria, and went for the scenic route along Donau in the area known as Wachau.

From Cesky Krumlov we headed east in direction Slovakia. Our first challenge was almost crashing with two deers, suddenly jumping across the road. A reminder always to be on guard. Right after, we heard the sirens of an emergency vehicle. We looked out for it, drove slowly as far out on the side of the road as possible, but it was no other sign it. It took several minutes before the fire truck finally passed us. It appeared to be so old and slow running, that it actually made a queue! Just hope the fire was not serious!

Our first stop was in Enns. Founded in 1212, it is considered the oldest town in Austria. The first thing you notice in the main square is the tall tower. This is the town’s main tourist attraction, and apparently has a beautiful view from the top.
Enns, the oldest town in Austria
The tower on the main square in Enns, the oldest town in Austria
The scenic route start from Melk, via Spitz, going along the Danube, or Donau River with vineyards and lush green hills on both sides. The tourist boat running on the river seemed quite popular and crowded as we drove past.
By Weissenkirchen between Spitz and Krems in the Wachau area, Austria Wachau, Austria By Weissenkirchen between Spitz and Krems in the Wachau area, Austria 2 A village by Donau in the Wachau area, Austria
There were roadwork’s ahead, so we had to make a detour by Weissenkirchen over the mountain to Krems an der Donau. When taking off, we drove uphill through the charming village. When the houses stopped, the vineyards took over. The landscape was simply beautiful, with a few farms spread along the way. The farmers were living their everyday life, taking the tractor for a spin on the fields. I felt really calm, and for a moment I wished I could live up here among the farms. But deep down inside, I know I would get restless easily.
View when driving over the mountain from Weissenkirchen to Krems in Wachau, Austria
Nice to know:
To drive on the highways in Austria, you need to pay a fee. At the gas stations you can buy a sticker to place in the front window, stating the duration. The lowest value is 8,5 Euros, valid for 9 days.

Lovely Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov! I am in love! Again… After Colmar I thought I had found the highlight of the trip, but now I am really torn between these two…

When visiting the beer country Czech Republic, what better way to start the day then a tour at the local brewery?!
Ready for brewery tour at Eggenberg brewery in Cesky Krumlov
Dating back to 1560, the Eggenberg brewery it is one of the oldest breweries still operating. The guide walked us through the history and gave us thorough insight in the different stages of the beer production.
Eggenberg brewery in Cesky Krumlov
Eggenberg brewery in Cesky Krumlov 3
Eggenberg brewery in Cesky Krumlov 2
In the brewery garden, they were preparing for the upcoming beer festival, bringing the breweries from the close by area together. Too bad we have already left again then…
Brewery garden of Eggenberg brewery in Cesky Krumlov
Beer tasting was off course also a part of our tour, so we finished off on the terrace at the brewery restaurant. We joined the Canadian couple that also went on the tour with us, and tried a few of the tasting beers.

When entering the brewery, I had noticed a boat rental, and we decided to check that out. The Canadians were keen on joining us, so the four of us rented a raft to go down the river. It was not at all heavy white water rafting, but more paddling, or even floating in a peaceful pace. Moving quietly along the riverside, we noticed that several of the restaurants and bars along the way had created parking for the rafts, so we could stop and buy food or drinks. And toilet stops. Brilliant!
Happy rafters on the river in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov 5
Cesky Krumlov 6
Cesky Krumlov 7
Going down the most advanced streak of the river in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov 9
Castle bridge in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov 10
Rafting break in Cesky Krumlov
The sun was shining, the company fun, surroundings beautiful and the beer tasted great, so what not to like about this fabulous way of sightseeing!?

The streak we chose was 1,5 km and supposed to take about 30 minutes, but obviously took us much longer. They also offer much longer excursions if you want to spend the day on the water. Check out Malecek rafting & canoe for details.

From down on the water, we went up to the heights of the castle tower. This point gave a 360° view, but we later found out that the view from the castle bridge was just as nice. At least for the side towards the river and the old town.

Tower view of Cesky Krumlov.

Tower view of Cesky Krumlov.

View from the castle bridge.

View from the castle bridge.

Time goes by fast when you are having fun, so we continued walking through the cosy streets, just looking around us, soaking in the impressions. So my best recommendation is to do exactly that. And off course; do the rafting trip. With or without the beer stops.
Cesky Krumlov 3
Cesky Krumlov 4
Square in Cesky Krumlov old town
Cesky Krumlov castle by night
Cesky Krumlov by night

Charming Colmar!

I immediately fell in love when we entered the old town and saw the colourful half-timbered houses.
Colmar by nightWeekly folklore music and dancing in the street in Colmar
Stumbling upon the weekly folklore music and dancing in the street also gave a lively feel to the atmosphere.

During daytime the city appeared a little more touristy, but definitely still very beautiful. Wandering around just soaking in the mood while looking at the beautiful colourful houses, every single one with their own details.
The tourist information provide a map with a suggested route. We followed that to a certain extent, including our own detours and pit-stops.
Charming Colmar 1
Charming Colmar 2Charming Colmar 3
Charming Colmar 5
Charming Colmar 6
Seeking shelter from the rain, we went for a snack and a beer in the covered market. It could easily have been a very touristy, but it was still ok.

Right behind the market we came to the highlight of the exploring; the area called “little Venice”. Yes, it is probably the most visited area in the city, but I really also understand why! The half-timbered houses, all in different bright colours were mirrored in the river passing by. And the flowers planted on the railing by the waterfront, made it even more lively.
Little Venice in charming Colmar 1
Little Venice in charming Colmar 2
Little Venice in charming Colmar 3
Little Venice in charming Colmar 4
If you wish to see the houses from the water, there are small boats that can take you. We figured it was just as nice not doing that.

Finishing off with a fun fact; the creator of New York’s Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, is from Colmar, and the house he was born is turned into a museum. One of the highlights is a full-size plaster model of the statue’s left ear!

20 hours in Luxembourg

Ever wondered what you could do if you only have a short time to spend in Luxembourg? Well, here you go!

19.58 Crossed the border from France to Luxembourg, of course much later than planned…

20.16 Getting lost trying to find the camping we intended to say.

20.39 Found an alternative.

20.45 Checked in at Luxembourg Youthhostel and were very happy we ended up there. We got a four-bedded en-suite room to ourselves.

21.01 Got tips where to eat and drink (and what to drink) from the very helpful man in the reception.

21.11 Walked up the steep pedestrian path, continuing towards the old city center.

21.30 Walked a narrow back alley leading to a small square. Arrived at Am Tiirmschen restaurant just in time to order. The restaurant was located in a stone building with wooden beamed ceiling, dimmed lightning and a great atmosphere.
Am Tiirmschen restaurant in Luxembourg
21.38 Got the local beer Battin Blonde and the house pâté with bread served.

21.44 The local specialty for Luxembourg, Kniddele, was served. They refer to it as a kind of pasta. They had three types, I chose the one with roquefort and walnuts.
Kniddele at Am Tiirmschen restaurant in Luxembourg
22.15 Walked around the old town, including the William Square. Since it was a weekday, the streets were more or less deserted, except outside the different bars that came up every now and then.
William Square in Luxembourg
22.38 Stopped at Konrad for an Okult beer (one of the recommended). The interior was a mix of cozy old-fashioned chairs and tables, and one of the walls was papered with floral pattern.Konrad bar in Luxembourg1 Konrad bar in Luxembourg2
23.25 Returned back and made some plans for the next day.

00.09 Turned off the light to get some sleep.

08.40 Woke up and went for breakfast (included). Talked to the other travelers at our table in the breakfast room.

09.19 Took a shower. Due to the low water pressure, it took a bit longer than expected.

10.02 Checked out after repacking and organizing.

10.29 Stumbled upon the brewery in Clausen, regretting we did not see that yesterday.
Clausen area in Luxembourg
10.55 Walked passed Neumünster Abbey and Robert Krieps hall, continuing to Alzette bridge. Got amazed by the beauty along river down in Grund. The lovely houses, trees and flowers were reflected on the calm water, making it even more picture perfect! Took (according to my friend too) many photos. Walked further along the river.
Walking towards Neumünster Abbey and Robert Krieps hall in Luxembourg
Lovely houses and trees were reflected on the calm water in Grund in Luxembourg
Lovely houses, trees and flowers were reflected on the calm water in Grund in Luxembourg
Houses in Grund in Luxembourg

11.14 Took the elevator from Grund up to the upper town. Genius!
Overview of Grund in Luxembourg
Overview of Grund in Luxembourg2
11.39 Visited the tourist information, asking for one more place to see in Luxembourg. Getting great help from a very nice and informative woman.

11.52 Making our way back to the car, including some detours.
The area we stayed in Luxembourg
12.29 Driving towards Vianden.

13.22 Parked the car in Vianden and walked up to the castle. We bought a ticket and went in, but unless you have never been inside a castle before, or are especially interested in this one, the beautiful outside is enough.
Vianden in Luxembourg
House and castle in Viaden in Luxembourg
One of the rooms in the castle in Viaden in Luxembourg
Beer cellar in the castle in Viaden in Luxembourg

14.04 Walked down to the village with beautiful houses on both sides. Needless to say that a few photos were taken.
Viaden streets, Luxembourg2
Viaden streets, Luxembourg1
Viaden streets, Luxembourg3
Viaden streets, Luxembourg4
15.10 Left Vianden, absolutely happy that we did the detour.

15.58 Working our way through traffic out of Luxembourg.

If you have more time and want to experience more, see www.visitluxembourg.com. 

When in Champagne…

Enjoy the view of the vineyards and visit one of the many champagne houses and their well-filled cellars.

Vineyards in Champagne.

Vineyards in Champagne.

Möet&Chandon in Champagne 1
We went for the traditional tour at Möet&Chandon, dating back to 1743. The start of the tour gave an introduction to the Möet family history. After a short film, we went underground to the wine cellar. There are three types of grapes used to make the champagne; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, grown in 34.000 hectare all together.

To have a good field, the ground has to be deserted for two years to make the minerals work their magic. The vines then grow for three years before the grapes are harvested. By hand! Depending on that year’s climate, the grapes are picked during two weeks from mid September to the start of October. This takes a lot of man-craft, about 100.000 men, to be exact.

The wine cellar spans 28 km and was made by hand. The limestone make it humid and the temperature steady at 10-12°C.

Maaaaaaany bottles in Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar.

Maaaaaaany bottles in Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar.

Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar 2
In order to keep the taste more or less the same every year, 20-30 % of the wines are from the year before. One champagne can consist of hundred different wines!

The process of making champagne is thorough and very time consuming. First of all, the wines are made in tanks of stainless steel to keep the fruitiness. By adding yeast and sugar to the pressed grapes, the fermentation starts. The wine is bottled, and left for six weeks. The carbon dioxide inside make natural bubbles. During 5-6 weeks, the bottles are turned several times, to make the sediments descend to the bottleneck. An experienced person can turn 52.000 bottles per day! By quickly opening the bottle, the pressure will shoot out the sediments. The bottle is then closed again, and rest for 2-3 months. Nowadays this process is made easier and more effective with machines. The champagne at Möet&Chandon is aged for at least two years, even though the requirement is 1,5 years.

Learning about the process and seeing all the bottles in the cellar was quite fascinating. We also learned about the vintage champagne Dom Pérignon, named after the Benedictine monk. At the end of the tour, we off course got a glass of champagne. The regular one, that is.
Tasting Möet&Chandon Champagne
Dom Perignon at Möet&Chandon in Champagne

Village in Champagne.

Village in Champagne.