Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Luxembourg : rain, cafes and a duke

A few weekends ago was another time for a little escape from the busy city of Paris. As Brussels two months ago, me and my friends, we packed our bags in order to take the train to… the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg! It is my 23rd country (24 and 25 will actually follow this summer) and although weather was pretty rain-intensive and cold, I very much liked the medieval, hilly and multicultural city in the middle of the Ardennes.

The Grund
Restaurants
  • Coming from Paris we expected to be confronted with comparable prices but were positively surprised that the price level was below the one we are used to. In order to avoid any touristic place, we went to Mama loves you near the station, a young and funky open kitchen with great burgers, pizzas and other dishes (like Chili con Carne on a tortilla nest or these oh-my-god-this-is-so-well-flavoured chips). It is a real secret tip and I will certainly head there again when in the city.
  • The Aal Eechternoach is the restaurant that we tried and loved in Echternach (see below). The portion size is huge, so if you are going for a salad, a small one is by far enough.

Bars & Nightlife
  • While strolling through the city, I didn’t have the feeling that a lot of young people lived there. It was only until midnight when we went to the Epic that I finally was surrounded by a generation my age. The Epic is for free with a good mix of top dance music and again vaults create this very special Luxembourgian style.
  • Some of my friends continued their night in the district of Clausen. Here you find about 7 clubs next to each other, so that club hopping is a great opportunity. Their favourite were the Verso and Sins City (I don’t want to know what happened there…)

Cafes
  • Since it rained pretty much 48 hours, cafes were the spot to hang out. I loved the Cafe Konrad with its young and hip atmosphere where especially bio products are sold. Even if it’s crowded upstairs, don't forget to check out the vault with its comfy armchairs and jazz music.
  • If you love cakes as much as I do, I must send you to the Chocolate House in front of the Duke’s Palace. A-MA-ZING. In fact, the 4-Euro cake parts (I went for a chocolate explosion) are so big that you easily can share them in order to combine them with one of their 20 different hot chocolate flavours: orange, coconut, black & white, cookie, lemon, chili… no limits are set.
  • Since my stomach was already full, I couldn’t try another cafe which is the Oberweis. Nevertheless I had a glimpse inside when I saw these decorative sweet treats that are apparently as tasty as they look. Though, the atmosphere is a lot more modern and cleaner than in the Chocolat House.

Activities & Shopping
  • Even if Luxembourg is cute, we talk about a quite small city. Therefore I strongly advise you to not spend more than a day in the city when a tourist. Instead visit the beautiful countryside of the little (oh sorry, I mean, Grand) Duchy.
  • Casemates: The perfect activity being in Luxembourg City when it rains. The Casemates are holes in the medieval city wall where soldiers defended the city centre from. You actually can get lost since there are narrow and steep steps that eventually end in a labyrinth.
  • Kirchberg: The business part of Luxembourg where a lot of banks and holdings have their offices. If you are up for shopping, the Auchan Shopping Centre invites you to do so.
  • Müllerthal: If you like hiking, the Müllerthal, 30 minutes away from Luxembourg City, is the escape for friends and family. Little rivers and green forests represent the perfect environment to go hiking, picnicking and spending time with mother nature.
  • Echternach: A stone throw away from the German border, this picturesque village is strongly influenced by its big neighbour. While in Luxembourg city most people speak French, Echternach is home to German speakers (and German specialities with small prices). There is no better that having a good Bitburger beer on the market place while the old Basilica keeps ringing its bells.

Personal recommendation
  • My friend who lives in Luxembourg was very unhappy about the bad weather since he planned some great outdoor activities like wild river rafting (or canoe)  and a high ropes course. I assume that if I had done it, I would probably recommend it here. Sniff.

Personal Data
  • Visiting Date: Weekend May 2014
  • Accomodation: Private stay at some friends’ place
  • Highlight: The walk through the Grund (the trench in Luxembourg City) while being surrounded by high city walls, breathing this fresh air and stopping every two minutes in order to take photos because everything is so picturesque!
Mirror
Cake in the Chocolate House
Casemate holes
Pretty windows
View on Kirchberg
Luxembourg language


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Coincidence

Passenger!

Happy Sunday! 

I hope your weather is by far better than it is in Paris at the moment since I spent the last week as well as the weekend in indoor places. What a shame. Yet, I don't want to complain because Paris in rain has also its charm.

Coincidences are a great part of our lives. Not expecting something and then it happens - the feeling of happiness inside my body is every time an unforgettable experience. 

So happened yesterday: it rained and rained and rained and I started to become disappointed that I couldn't stick to my original plans (usually running wildly around Paris) when I saw Passenger's announcement on his facebook page - free concert in 2 hours in the 15th district. Two hours later my friend and me were in a shopping center with some hundreds of others visitors and listened to his great Folk music. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, especially with a funny and sympathetic guy whose lyrics deal with daily stuff that drives me crazy, like living in an online world, being superficial, forgetting about politeness and other.

Speaking of coincidences I want to further name "Heures heureuses" (= Happy Hours) on Friday night. In was the same morning that I read about this event in the metro and thought that this might be a great way to spend the night with my girls. After work I therefore met with two good friends in order to pick up our "passport", a little book with 200 participating restaurants all over Paris. In every restaurant you could get a glass of wine for 2 Euros and an "amuse-gueule" (= Appetizer) for another 2 Euros. For three hours we hopped from one restaurant to the next, tasting delicious appetizers and starting the weekend with great wine selections. What I adored even more about the event was that I kept my passport and now have 200 great restaurant tips that are not only offering great food but which aren't overloaded by tourists. 


video

I wish you an amazing week and can't wait to share another post with you very soon!


Heures Heureuses: Codfish with sweet carrots - Salmon burger - Melon Gazpacho with Serrano Bacon - Parisian Pizza

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Grand Steeple Chase

Who will be the champion?

 Hello my dears,

In my last post, I have already mentioned that I went to a special event last weekend: The GRAND STEEPLE CHASE in Paris. It is the richest and most prestigious horse jump race in France of 6000 meters.

I have never been a girl that absolutely adored horses when I was younger but if I have to choose my favourite animal, I certainly would go for horses. Their grace and grandeur always impress me and having witnessed my first horse race on Sunday, I can easily add speed to their matchless qualities. If I had more time, I would probably go riding from time to time.

Anyway, this event on Sunday was splendid. It was the first time that I could wear shorts since temperatures rose to 25°C. My cousin and me, we fully enjoyed our little trip that ended successful: A horse race without a bet is slightly boring: we decided to bet twice although we didn't have a clue what was to be considered. Therefore we once chose the only German horse in the competition and another time we gave a shot for the horse with the prettiest name – yep, a really valid argument. While we missed a win for the first bet, our the-horse-with-the-prettiest-name-strategy turned out to be a lucrative one! « Fleur d’Ainay » won the race and we therefore were 30 € richer!

Finally, I want to share my outfit of the day: a colourful light blouse in order to prevent sunburns and some simple classic shorts. One of my favourite combinations for summer!

Blouse (Pull & Bear) - Shorts (H&M) - Shoes (Vietnamese Market) -
Bag (Michael Kors) - Watch (Tissot) - Bracelet (H&M) - Wayfarer Sunglasses (Ray Ban)
Ok... I keep working on my photogenic qualities.
I've just won!
In front of the Eiffel Tower


Monday, 19 May 2014

A goddamn perfect week

A week as sweet as cupcakes

Ohlala, it's Monday and there was no post yesterday - again! But you know that there are only few reasons that hold me back from blogging at my usual time: family, hangovers or far way travelling. This time it's been my cousin that has visited me for 2 days and her visit concluded a truly eventful week for me.

On Monday I had three good friends over in order to cook Mexican wraps. It's been ages that I had a tasty filled burrito, a glass of wine and such a good conversation until late the night. I usually go for a run on Tuesday but this week it rained cats and dogs. Hence my jogging partner and I stayed home, cooking (again!) and compensated the Spaghetti Carbonara with a good run a day later.

Then on Thursday we went to the "Nuits aux Invalides" which is a light event at night telling French history at the Army Museum. Being a passionate for history, I really enjoyed the content and its environment. For those of you who have the chance to pass by Paris this week, I recommend to go there in order to soak up a little bit of French pride and a stunning light show in an historical courtyard.

With all these activities, you might be asking yourself whether I still work, but yes I do. Except on Friday afternoon when I took a train to Reims (this place where I normally study) in order to attend the semester's last party. As a member of the future club organizing these kinds of events, we were dedicated to stay until the end (6 AM) and to clean the place afterwards. I kind of sacrifice myself for my school. And it got worse when I - after only having slept four hours - sat on the market place and caught my first sun burn this year (reminder: there is something like sun screen!!!)

Finally, on Saturday night I met up with my cousin whose first time in Paris it was. Therefore, I spent my last two days at a lot of touristic places such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc the Triumph and and and. As weather was phenomenal we had picnics in parks, macarons at the river and enjoyed Starbucks happy hour (until 24th of May: Frappucino 50% off 3-5 PM). We took bikes, talked for hours, had drinks at the top of Montmartre and went to a special event that I will post about during the week (smart readers and followers on instragram @svenjacole know what I am talking about).

Recapitulating such a week is pretty hard though. Imagine now, how I sit in front of my laptop, writing this and eating a full package of crisps because this week was so goddamn perfect. May the next week be as great!

Dinner at Montmartre at La Maison Rose
No Paris sightseeing without delicious macarons
Always stunning. And do you see this blue sky?
From top of the Galeries Lafayette
Mango Passion Frappucino (based on tea)
Les Nuits aux Invalides

Sunday, 11 May 2014

She is very ambitious


Happy Sunday!

I am in Luxembourg today, so I prepared a little – maybe revolutionary? – post for you. Let me know if you like those kinds of ideas and what you think about the topic. Enjoy your weekend!

"She is very ambitious" is not a compliment in our culture.

In all job interviews I have taken so far, my interlocutor asked me at one point what I consider as my strengths. Without hesitating, I generally stated "I am pretty ambitious", always thinking that it had a pretty positive connotation. After having read "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg lately, I keep re-thinking some of her assumptions. Let me stick to this quote that concerned me the most: I am ambitious. Since my early childhood, I have been playing tennis in a competitive environment, had to deal alone with victories and defeats. In school I always wanted to get the best grades and this behaviour hasn’t changed during college. Yes, ambition is certainly one of my values that I especially inherited from my Dad who was a competitive athlete. But it was thanks to my mother and my so-relaxed brother that I always could lean on an antipole that avoided me slipping into an abnormal ambition.
Since I met one of my best friends, I consider myself as moderately ambitious because she truly is. Many people in our university don’t understand why she now completes an internship in an investment bank, sleeps only a couple of hours a night and even goes to the office on weekends. They always say ‘She is very ambitious’ or even ‘She is too ambitious’ – and don’t mean it in a positive way. I am not saying that I would have chosen the same path as she did but I admire her will, her ambition. Let me even say that she will be a CEO one day.
Let’s now take a guy who would do his internship in the same company – he also would be considered as very ambitious. But a man being ambitious, that sounds great, doesn’t it? He knows what he wants to reach in his life, he knows where he wants to go.

You see the ambiguity. My friend – or let’s take even me to a lesser extent -, we also know where we want to go and therefore we work hard, keep being ambitious and endure in order to reach our goals. And I keep stating it as one of my strenghts since it is one.

Although I don’t agree with all statements given in Sandberg’s book (we can discuss about it openely if you’d wish), I – as a young female business student – see the choice to either stick to rigid role models or to change the perception. I chose the last one and hope that a lot of others, you for instance, will do the same. You don’t necessarily have to read Sandberg’s book to be aware of issues that (business) woman still face, but speaking of myself I needed the kick, something written black on white, although I face the fact every day while working on a storey with 75% of men.

Have some of you read the book? What to you think of this gender discussion?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Macaron Workshop

Alain Ducasse Macaron Book

Hello my dears,

A lot of my favourite bloggers like Kristina, Emily or Caro declare Macarons to be their favourite sweet treat. I don’t share their excitement to such an extent but a good macaron from time to time makes my heart beats faster as well.

Less because of their taste but more because of their photogenic quality (hello instagram!) I then head to Ladurée or another neighbourhood bakery in order to indulge myself this typically French dessert. But it was only until last weekend, that I met with a (let's call her macaron experienced) friend to rise the challenge: my first self-made macarons.

We followed the standard recipe (or here) and added some pink colour to make them look even prettier. I quickly realized how important it is to have the necessary equipment like a baking mat (you can also take parchment paper) and a piping bag - and enough time and patience. Instead of the typical white chocolate filling that is generally mixed with all kinds of flavours, we went for berry jam or salmon-goat cheese. Yes, you read correctly: We mixed the sweet with the salty with an extremely satisfying result. Last but not least, we started playing with the macaron forms as we added little ears and finished by painting cat, bear and pig faces on our macarons. This workshop was so much fun and I definitely will include macarons into my baking days!

The right equipment helps a lot!
Strawberry jam macaron
Salmon, apple, coriander, chives, lemon, goat cheese and whipped cream (not in the picture)
Cats love the salty version!
And Paddington bear is a jamoholic!

P.S.: The leave on the last picture is a mint leave, dipped into egg white and sugar, then baked in the oven at 50°C for about 2 hours. A nice and tasty decoration trick that you cannot only add to your macarons.

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Flower Woman

The long walk for a bouquet of flowers

After two days in rain, Paris brightened up yesterday. Every time it is amazing to see how the Parisians and tourists then change: Parisian girls roll up their jeans and pair them with some chic flats. Tourists leave their jackets in the hotel, take out their shorts and enjoy a sandwich along the Seine River. I also changed since along with the sunshine, my mood increased instantly and I urged for a new bouquet of flowers to transport the positives vibes into my apartment.

But it occurs that the perfect bouquet of flowers can be a quite challenging plan, especially when the flower market is not around the corner. So I walked around for more than half an hour in my neighbourhood, through unknown streets, to little supermarkets – just to find a nice bouquet. Eventually I ended up at the same place where I bought a bouquet some weeks ago. Though, this wasn’t my intention at all as the florist was very unfriendly. After a couple of minutes in front of all the different colours, scents and sizes I grabbed for a bouquet when the exactly same woman came outside to put some new arranged bouquets into the buckets. No, she didn’t put them. She threw them. With this bitter face from the last time that didn’t want me to came back.

Immediately, I gently put down my flowers and went off. Not only that she seems to be a pretty unfriendly person, but she also has no love for her flowers. It might seem totally snobbish but I won’t buy flowers at her place.

Again, I stood there, at the bottom of Montmarte, with empty hands and the drive to find my flowers. I continued walking, wanted to just head back home, took another direction that I have never taken before and ended up in a beautiful street: little restaurants, small boutiques, nice handicraft shops and – finally a florist. After more than an hour of intensive searching (and walking), I held my new bouquet in my hands. Well, before I actually bought the flowers, I asked the flower woman - this is the name she deserves - what she loved about her job, still thinking of my earlier encounter: “About my job? I love to watch the people passing by my boutique who stop in order to inhale the scents of my flowers. Even the most grumpy persons begin to feel the power of flowers. I can share my passion with everyone, and no, they don’t even have to buy anything. Still I am happy.”

The view on Sacre Coeur

Buttes Chaumont - my all time favourite
Père Lachaise
Métro