Travel theme: Deep

Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is Deep, which is a perfect description of the huge gorge that divides Luxembourg.

Luxembourg bridge

Cheating a little, with a photo I’ve used before, but the River Tyne is pretty deep…

Bridges of Newcastle
The River Tyne and bridges of Newcastle

… as is the River Rhine:

The Rhine in Koblenz
The Rhine in Koblenz

… and the Irish Sea at Bray:

Bray

But enough water. Other things can be deep too… like this writing that forms part of the East Side Gallery on the remains of the Berlin Wall:

Viele kleine Leute

Those Africans are very profound!

To join in with the travel theme and see other interpretations of deep, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

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Travel theme: Light

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today, but then I saw that this week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack is Light and my Sunday blog post was saved! Considering my obsession with taking photos of lanterns, this theme is absolutely perfect for me!

So, without further ado, let there be light!

I’ll start with my most recent trip, simply because the uploader is still in that folder. Here’s a rather elaborate lamp post on the Gendarmen Markt in Berlin:

Berlin lanterns

This light source in Luxembourg is rather fun:

Luxembourg face

There are three or four columns in front of the palace with these faces on, and when you pass them, they seem to turn and follow you. Creepy, but kind of cool!

A different source of light now… the photo below was taken in a cathedral in Brussels, Belgium:

Candles

Returning to lanterns (I swear, I could post literally hundreds of pictures of those! This one is attached to the side of a building in Heidelberg – I love all the colours!

Colourful lantern

My next lantern is in Bad Dürkheim.

Lantern Bad Dürkheim

I loooove this dragon light that I spotted in Ettlingen. So cool!! (Have I ever mentioned that I like dragons? No? Well, consider it mentioned…)

Dragon lamp

And finally, something a little different. The next few photos were taken at the Lichterfest (Festival of Lights) that took place in the Karlsruhe zoo/gardens in 2011. I’ve heard the Lichterfest is on every two years, so there should be another one this year…

Elephant lights

Bird lights

Swans lights

Pyramid lights

The final one represents the pyramid that stands on Karlsruhe Market Place. Here’s the real thing:

Karlsruhe Pyramid

The pyramid photo was taken by my ex-housemate when he came to visit me last year. All my pyramid photos seem to involve somebody posing in front of the pyramid, and I don’t like to post photos of people without their permission (especially considering I only post photos of myself in exceptional circumstances. I would consider that a little hypocritical…)

That’s all from me. For more photos on the theme of light or to join in yourself (you have until Thursday, after that there will be a new travel theme), go here.

This is the third travel theme I’ve taken part in. For those who missed them, my previous ones were Time and Bridges (click the words to view the posts).

My 2012

I have seen a few blog posts reviewing 2012 and since the last few days haven’t exactly been filled with exciting things to blog about (all I’ve done is purchase and wrap gifts for the first few birthdays of the year – I have my sister’s, dad’s, grandma’s and two friend’s birthdays all in January – it’s like Christmas present shopping all over again!) I thought I would do one too. Because I have no mind of my own imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So here is my 2012 in a nutshell.

January

I started the year in Salzburg, Austria, which made me very happy. I think Austria may be my favourite country ever (sorry Germany!). It was sleeting on New Year’s Eve but we stood on a hillside and watched the fireworks anyway:

Salzburg fireworks
Salzburg fireworks

The rest of January was pretty uneventful. I finally completed a birth announcement cross stitch intended for the baby of a good friend – right in time as it turned out. The baby came two weeks later! Right at the end of the month there was some bad news – Barney, my family’s Yorkshre Terrier, had been ill for a while and on 30 January I received a message from my sister telling me mum had had to have him put down that morning. RIP little fellow. We still miss you!

Barney in 2009
Barney in 2009

February

February saw Jan and I celebrating 8 years together along with the birth of my friend’s baby boy he missed out on being a Valentine’s baby by one day, much to his mother’s relief!
At the end of the month I finally managed to visit my friend in the Netherlands – a mere 2 and a half years after she moved there! She has since returned to her home country (America) so it was about time we visited! We saw Delft (where she was living), Leiden and the Hague.

Delft from above
Delft from above

March

Jan had his birthday on 1st March, but we didn’t celebrate due to him being ill. On St. Patrick’s Day, Jan was away but I went to the Irish pub with some friends. Then work sent me to Göttingen for a seminar. Other than that, I don’t think anything happened that month.

April

In April, I finally paid off the overdraft on my English bank account – a relic from my student days. Easter fell in April last year and on the Saturday Jan and I took a trip to Würzburg.

Würzburg, River Main
Würzburg, River Main

A few days later our relationship hit probably its lowest point, with me telling Jan that if things didn’t start improving I would move out at the end of the year.  I was encouraged to have a little hope though as Jan actually listened to me and seemed to be able to see my point of view. As you may have noticed, the end of the year has now been and gone and I’m still here. We still don’t have the perfect relationship (but honestly who does?), but things have improved.

May

1 May is always a public holiday in Germany – it’s not moved the the nearest Monday like in England – so in 2012 it was a Tuesday. I went to the theatre with some colleagues to see an English play. The advantage of working with translators is that they’re always willing to watch things in English! This was followed by two more public holidays: Ascension Day on 17 May and Pentecost Monday on 28 May.
Jan was away with work for most of the month, first in Munich then in America, so I was left to entertain myself  On Pentecost Monday (or Whit Monday if you prefer) I went to the annual Hoepfner Burgfest –  a beer festival at a local brewery – and, through a complete coincidence, met someone who has since become my friend. Not bad for someone who really doesn’t make friends easily!

June

In June I had visitors! Two of my housemates from when I was at uni came to see me. We caught up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives for the past seven years(!!) and I got to show them around my adopted home town.

Karlsruhe Marktplatz
Karlsruhe Marktplatz

For the rest of the month I watched a lot of football (European Cup!) and worked way too much, resulting in me feeling the need to get out of Karlsruhe for the day. So Jan drove me to the beautiful Calw, birth place of Hermann Hesse.

July

July brought another round of visitors – my sister and her boyfriend came so we could watch cars speeding round in circles at Hockenheim. Oh alright, there’s more to Formula 1 than that, but not much 😉 We also went to Heidelberg, saw Maximo Park at Das Fest and took a trip to Europapark, a theme park about an hour and a half from here which I had never been to! Guests are good for something, it seems 😉

Rollercoaster at Europapark
Rollercoaster at Europapark

August

August was my birthday month – the last one in which my age will have a 2 at the beginning. This year I’ll be turning 30 (help!!). I insisted on going out for cake, but other than that we didn’t do a great deal because we had to leave for Stockholm early the next morning. I adored Stockholm, but I’m not sure I could live there all year round – I hear it gets stupidly cold in winter! I could definitely have a summer residence there though.

Stockholm
Stockholm

September

September brought with it a personal record for me as I realised it had been six whole years since I moved back to Karlsruhe. This also marked the month in which Jan actually started letting me know when he wasn’t going to make it home in time for dinner. About a month later this then became texting me at a reasonable time to say he was on his way – meaning we’ve actually been able to eat together for the past few months! A genuine breakthrough in our relationship (and part of the reason I did end up deciding to stay).

Towards the end of the month we went to England, the first time in over a year that I had been back! I spent my time seeing family, eating way too much and also got to meet three of the babies that various friends had given birth to in 2012. Also it rained a lot. The stereotype would say that this is normal in the UK, but believe me this amount of rain was far from normal!

York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.
York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.

October

In October I joined in with the Friday’s letters linkup for the very first time, went to see the wonderful Tina Dico in concert and, of course, celebrated Halloween. I went as a bat in a homemade costume.

November

All Saints Day (1 November) was yet another public holiday in my part of Germany, so I took 2 November off work, giving me a four day weekend to start the month with. Hurrah! We took advantage of the bridge day to go to Schwäbisch Hall. I then came down with the evil cold from hell, spent most of the rest of my four-day weekend in bed and even ended up working from home later that week because I just could not stop coughing. So much for November! I did manage to go to a Wise Guys concert on 17 November, but I wasn’t fully over my cold until a few days after that. I always went to Mosbach to see a friend perform with her choir and got slightly overexcited about Primark opening in Karlsruhe.

Primark fox scarf
Primark fox scarf

December

I won’t go into too much detail about the final month of 2012 seeing as it’s only just happened and I’m sure you can all remember exactly what it consisted of. If I were to sum up December in just a few words I think I would have to say Glühwein, baking, gift wrapping and way too much time spent at the post office!

The year ended the same way as it began – with fireworks. This time they were in Luxembourg, the second new country I visited in 2012 after Sweden.

Fireworks in Luxembourg
Fireworks in Luxembourg

2012 had its low points, but overall it wasn’t such a bad year. I made a new friend, travelled a lot more than I had expected and was able to spend time with people who I hadn’t seen for a very long time. Put in context like this, I can actually see that I had a pretty amazing year. Now let’s see what 2013 brings!

Luxembourg and Metz

First impression of Luxembourg (or Lëtzebuerg in Luxembourgish), it has a very nice train station:

Luxembourg train station
Luxembourg train station

This photo was taken while waiting for a bus to my friend’s house to drop our stuff off. Afterwards we came back into town, found the Christmas market (which was still on for some reason) and had some Glühwein. Then we went for a walk and attempted to take photos of Luxembourg by night, such as this one:

Hmm...
Hmm…

As you can see, my camera is not made for taking photos in the dark!

The next day, we took a trip to Metz, which sounds German but is actually in France. It probably was German at one point though. Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region of France and home to the University of Lorraine.

The sun was shining when we arrived, and I was actually able to get some photos of the Cathedral with blue sky behind it:

The name of the cathedral, Saint Étienne de Metz, means Saint Stephen of Metz. Who knew? I would certainly never have guessed that Étienne is French for Stephen!

Inside the cathedral were many stained glass windows, as Catholic churches tend to have:

A stained glass window inside Saint Étienne de Metz Cathedral
A stained glass window inside Saint Étienne de Metz Cathedral

Here is the St Marcel bridge. This would have made a much prettier picture in summer!

St Marcel bridge, Metz
St Marcel bridge, Metz

Metz is 49° North, as this tower so kindly informed me:

Metz - 49°N
Metz – 49°N

There is a bridge castle in Metz called the German’s gate (Porte des Allemands) and being there with two Germans I obviously wanted to find it. Here it is:

Porte des Allemands, Metz
Porte des Allemands, Metz

The street you can see through the gate is the Rue des Allemands. Naturally – because what else would you call a road leading to the gate of Allemands?

The next day, New Year’s Eve, we headed up to the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg, which is where many of the EU buildings are located. From there, you can look down on Luxembourg City:

Luxembourg viewed from the Kirchberg
Luxembourg viewed from the Kirchberg

No, I don’t have a clue what any of the stuff down there is…
On the Kirchberg, there is also a reconstructed fort: Fort Thüngen. There’s a museum inside, which is pretty interesting. We got in for free, but we’re not sure whether that was because it was New Year’s Eve and half an hour before closing time or it’s always free. Interesting nonetheless, and there are old maps of Luxembourg in there. We spent a while checking each one to see whether we could find the area of Luxembourg that my friend lives in.

Fort Thüngen
Fort Thüngen

At midnight we obviously wanted to see the New Year’s fireworks, so we went and stood on a bridge.

FireworksFrom there we could see the fireworks going off all over the place, some more professional than others. These ones seemed slightly more professional (although there was no “official” fireworks display from the town – apparantly they did one when the prince got married earlier in the year and one official fireworks display is enough!).

Luxembourg fireworks
Luxembourg fireworks

On New Year’s Day we slept late, had a long drawn out breakfast (or “brunch”) then spent the rest of the day watching TV and playing board games.

We weren’t leaving ’til around 4pm on the 2 January, so we dropped our luggage off at the train station and went to take a look at Luxembourg in daylight – or what passes for daylight in the middle of winter. The sky was rather grey…

“Daylight” in Luxembourg

We decided to go for a walk in the giant gorge that basically splits Luxembourg city in two. It’s incredibly quiet down there, away from all the traffic that thunders along the bridges that span the gorge, and you get to walk along pretty paths and down steps that look like this:

In the Luxembourg gorge
In the Luxembourg gorge

The walls of the gorge are made up of sandstone cliffs, like this:

Sandstone cliff
Sandstone cliff

And there is also a really cool church/chapel thing built into the cliff:

Church in a cliff, Luxembourg
Church in a cliff, Luxembourg

We then walked into the aptly-named Grund quarter of Luxembourg, which is located down in the valley below the main centre of Luxembourg city on the banks of the Alzette River.

River Alzette, Grund, Luxembourg City
River Alzette, Grund, Luxembourg City

I found this yellow cow outside a museum and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it:

Moo!
Moo!

After our walk around Grund (very pretty by the way – but go in summer when you might have a chance of blue skies!), we took the lift up through the cliffs back to the main part of town where we went for a late lunch before heading back to the train station.

A spot of lunch at Cafe Konrad
A spot of lunch at Cafe Konrad

And that was how I started 2013. I hope the new year began just as well for you!

Happy New Year!

Hello!

If you can read this then it’s worked – my first ever scheduled post!
I’m not actually on the computer right now, but somewhere in Luxembourg. Probably watching fireworks with a glass of sparkling wine in my hand.

A very happy New Year to you all! May 2013 be everything you hope for and more!

Fireworks in Edinburgh, New Year 2011
Fireworks in Edinburgh, New Year’s Eve 2010