Sunday, May 25, 2014

Luxembourg Part 2: 5/12 - 14

Read Part 1 here. With our jet lag behind us (but not our colds) we move onto day 5 of our vacation.

Monday 5/12 - While the boys were back in school, Rich, Susee, Jesse, Riley and I headed into the city. Rich and Susee live right out of the city so it's a short drive in and a place we went to on several occasions. We still weren't feeling our best so we were taking it pretty slow plus Rich had to go into work that afternoon so we were saving one of the trips to the surrounding countries for a day he had off. We hoped to check out the museum, but it happened to be closed on Mondays along with a bunch of random stores. Instead we headed into the Grund quarter of Luxembourg which is known for it's picturesque surroundings and it's nightlife.

Parks everywhere

The side entrance to the Duke's residence.

Love how walkable this city is.

Before we went to Luxembourg we debated about bringing a stroller. We didn't want to haul one with us so we asked Rich about it. He already planned to pick up a car seat which he would then give to another family they know (this was so awesome that they did this so we didn't have to bring ours). But when it came to a stroller we decided against it because it would be hard to push over all the cobblestones (although we saw some that had super tires on them when we were there). Plus, Riley's 4 so she would still be walking a lot and then we'd just be hauling a stroller with us. In the end there was a lot of carrying - more than I think there normally would be since she wasn't feeling well. Rich and Susee held her a lot which was incredibly helpful for Jesse and I since we were dragging. Later in the week Riley would tell me that my cough was so bad from all the walking we did. Even with a few whiny moments from her I still think she did stellar for all the walking we expected out of her.

Jesse and I expected to see a lot more two wheeled travel: bikes, motorcycles, and scooters. There wasn't all that much, but we did see a couple of these fold up bikes, and rentable bikes were all over the city. It was rainy off and on this week so perhaps that was the reason, or maybe they just don't ride bikes all that much.

Again with the holding, and the parent taking never ending pictures of his kid (see below of a parent taking a picture of a parent taking a picture of a kid - we are out of control). Here we are walking down into the Grund. It's in a valley of sorts so there is an elevator in the cliff that you can use as well. We walked down and then took the elevator up. 

After checking out the Grund we stopped for lunch at Charles, a sandwich shop in Luxembourg's up town. I had the simply bacon which was simply delicious, but I hear their roast beef is really good as well. 

Always with the eyes that say "don't you dare take a picture of me".

After lunch we had to make a stop at the Chocolate House. Even though I was stuffed from my sandwich I agreed to split some chocolate cake with Riley and a chocolate milk with Jesse. I'm giving like that.

The building was built in the 1500's and once housed Orval monks. It still amazes me how old the buildings are in Europe. Or I should say, it amazes me that they are still standing and that no one decided to tear them down and plant something new in it's place. 

The chocolate milk here was outstanding. You picked out a spoon and chocolate flavor and they brought you a cup of hot steaming milk to melt your chunk of chocolate in. Super rich and creamy and definitely a good choice to split with someone else. 

It was also here that I took Riley to the bathroom with me and while I was doing my business we decided to play a game where she yelled "you aren't my mother, let me go!" while someone was in the stall next to us. Ok kid, this really isn't the time to be doing this - I don't need to be reported to the authorities while in a foreign country.

In the afternoon, after Rich went to work, we went down to the neighborhood park again to play hide and seek and found a secret pathway to an open field.

I want to move here just so I would have this field nearby.

The hedges on the left were not the norm - most were well trimmed like on the right.

I think it was about this time that Riley was starting to emerge from the worst of her illness, but Jesse and I headed into a low point. At least we were able to see Riley move through the different stages so we knew when we might expect to feel better. After the park we headed back to the house and had a rather mellow evening.

Also, loved the window coverings on all the houses. They weren't the prettiest, but they were great when you really wanted to black out your room for a good night's sleep. I would love to have them on our bedroom windows at home.

Tuesday 5/13 - We got up in the morning, but Jesse was really not feeling well so he went back to bed while Susee and Riley made cupcakes. We brought a number of food items from home that they cannot find in Luxembourg and this funfetti cake mix was one of them. Apparently, my sister in law loves to mix it up and eat it uncooked. Once Riley saw that we were bringing this cake mix to Auntie Susee she was all over it. She took it to show and tell at school and kept talking about the cupcakes we were going to eat for Susee's birthday. So we bought a second box knowing that we would be making cupcakes while in Luxembourg. At any rate, I attempted to help make the cupcakes, but felt so drained I laid down for awhile too.

Oh, I should note that this is the day that Jesse and I woke with crusty, red eyes. Jesse insisted we did not have pink eye, but I think we had a mild version. My eyes would not totally clear up until a couple days after we returned to Minnesota.

Riley provided multiple art pieces for all of their doors on the main floor.

After a short rest I felt better and decided we needed to get out of the house. Rich again had the morning free and planned to go into work in the afternoon so we decided to check out a nearby park while Jesse continued to sleep. Bambesch Park is near the city center, but feels a bit like you are in the middle of a forest. It has a huge open playground with tons of areas to explore, and a path you can walk/run that has 'stations' where you can stop and stretch during your run. So cool.

Still tuns of stuff to the left (like the castle) and a soccer field to the right.

The above structure was a favorite along with the zip line. I'm not sure what to call this thing, but it was like a huge teeter totter (watch the video to see how it worked). I totally want to build this in my back yard - it's a great work out too.

Uncle Richie and Auntie Susee really were our lifesavers this week. When we just didn't have the energy to entertain our kid like we would have wanted to they totally stepped in. It's no wonder she adores them so much. They totally deserve aunt and uncle of the year.

On the way home from the park we stopped at another grocery store and picked up some items for lunch. It was hard feeding Riley this week because she didn't have the best appetite, but also because she's a bit of a picky eater. She had been living on tortillas, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and plain noodles so it was wonderful when I suggested a salami sandwich and she got beyond excited about it. We even offered some regular old white bread for her, but she wanted the french bread and plowed through that like it was her favorite sandwich ever.

Once Rich went into work we decided to head back into the city with Jesse. The day before we came across a store that sold elephant sculptures as part of the Elephant Parade. The Elephant Parade is a movement to attract awareness and support for elephant conservation. Since Jesse has recently started a collection of elephants he knew he had to get one.

These aren't the best pictures, but the blue elephant is the one he bought. The others are from Colorado and a local garage sale. This one doesn't quite 'fit' in with the others, but we love it and the purpose behind the Elephant Parade.

Also, the weather was mostly chilly with the high's around 50 or mid 50's with most days having some sort of rain. Luckily, we didn't get caught in much bad weather and this day is a good example of how it was sunny earlier in the day and then stormy that evening.

Princess Riley got a lot of things while on this trip, but I think the one true thing she wanted was some jewelry like a proper princess would wear. Here she is asking (for not the first time or the last) if she could have some jewels. 

I'll take that one.

Just a pretty wall of flowers in Luxembourg City

I have to admit that some of these days were a little foggy, but I am pretty sure this was another mellow night. We had hoped to go out for a night or two on our own, but were too beat most nights. We watched more TV and movies than when we are at home which was actually nice since it meant we were hanging out on the couch together and not so tied to our computers. 

Wednesday  5/14 -  Rich had to work so Susee took us to Belgium to see the Orval Abbey where the monks are known for making Orval beer and cheese. I never got to try the beer, but the cheese was really good. I totally recommend checking this place out.

Cool 'house' on the road to Orval. Can I live here please?

A large part of Orval is not open to the public (such as the above), but you can explore the ruins, under the church, the herb garden, and a building that documents their beer making. 

'Pods' that you could step into and watch a video about the beer making process.


And more arches

Monk sighting

Saw this little guy slowly creeping along as we left Orval.

From Orval, Susee suggested we head to Bouillian, Belgium to get a bite to eat and explore the town. Bouillian also has a castle that we didn't go in to explore, but it looks like it would be a good one to do so (it was built in the 8th century!!!). Apparently, you can also go for a creepy night time tour. This town also looks like it lights up when the weather is a little warmer. There were paddle boats and kayaks to be rented and all sorts of restaurants and stores to explore.

Fish was a little greasy, but that salad was mighty tasty.

That evening Mason and Cade watched Riley while the adults went out to eat at Caves Goumandes. Apparently, the restaurant is set inside a cave, but when we arrived we were taken upstairs. It was quite cozy and the food was fantastic so I can't really complain that we didn't sit in the cave, but that just would have turned it up a notch.

Overall, we were starting to feel better, even though I still had a nasty cough (I coughed throughout the day, but I know everyone in the house appreciated when I would wake in the middle of the night and hack for an hour - including the always fun gag cough). Next up: Germany and our final days in Luxembourg.

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