Explore the German town of Bernkastel-Kues along the Mosel river

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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018

Last Sunday I wandered around the charming streets of German town Bernkastel-Kues for the very first time. Despite knowing the German Mosel valley relatively well, I have never visited this twin town called the heart of the Middle Mosel and one of the most popular places to visit in the area.

Located nearly 75 km away from Luxembourg City, Bernkastel-Kues is most famous for its vineyards, amongst the oldest in Germany, and boasts a truly rich history spanning over several centuries.

Its colourful half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages, the historic market square or the Landshut castle ruins overlooking the town give you the perfect excuse to stroll around and explore their history.

While winter can be cold and windy, also due to the proximy of the Mosel river, summer is the perfect season to try over 40 hiking trails around the town and across the region.

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The Advent Calendar on the Market Square / © Roxana Mironescu December 2018

But if you do love winter and enjoy the weeks running up to Christmas, it might be worth visiting Bernkastel-Kues in December. The town is home to the largest Advent calendar in the region , which is displayed on the windows of a beautiful medieval building housing the Adler pharmany, located on the market square. Every evening, at 17:30, marks the opening of one door (or rather window), leading to the exhibit of both classic and more recent Disney cartoon characters alike.

Without further ado, I would like to present you the charming town of Bernkastel-Kues with a series of pictures taken by me on 16 December 2018. Enjoy and thanks for reaching this point. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018
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© Roxana Mironescu December 2018

Get your skates on: outdoor ice rink in Luxembourg

Photo: Roxana Mironescu

Photo: Roxana Mironescu

According to winterlights.lu, around the ice rink visitors and skaters will discover several Christmas trees that were decorated in the colors of this year’s guest, Alsace, as well as two Alsatian cribs. In addition, light sculptures and some 20,000 LED bulbs will illuminate the rink’s ceiling, offering the public a truly unique spectacle.

The ice rink was officially opened on December 6 and will welcome ice skate enthusiasts until February 1, 2015. For those who would rather watch the action around, organisers have prepared a special spectator area and a heated space with six chalets offering hot drinks and snacks.

The rink will be also be open on 24th, 25th and 26th December and on December 31st, while on New Year’s Eve visitors are invited to a special evening, filled with animations and music from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m.

Strasbourg – Capitale de Noël

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Some 200 km away from Luxembourg, Strasbourg lies on the western bank of the Rhine river, close to the French border with Germany.
Capital of the Alsace region, with a history spanning many centuries, with strong Germanic as well as Gallic influences, Strasbourg means the Fortress on the Crossroads, due to its proximity to many countries such as Germany, Luxembourg and even Switzerland.
Strasbourg has played a major role in the history of Christmas celebrations for centuries. The city is one of the oldest places in France to hold a Christmas market as early as 1570. Ever since, locals have been celebrating Christmas to a larger, greater and more ambitious extent every year, which has gradually turned the place into the Capital City of Christmas.

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Today, millions of people buy and decorate a fir tree for Christmas, without even thinking of how this tradition might have started. Well, legend has it that the Christmas tree as we know it, originates from the region of Alsace. Back in the Middle-Age, people used to gather outside churches and tell the Creation Story in front of a Fir Tree which was thought to be the Tree of Paradise. Then, in 1521, the municipal council allowed people to cut small fir trees and decorate them for Christmas Day.
At that time people were using flowers, apples, sweets and biscuits to decorate their Christmas tree, apples being most popular in the area. However, one year the apple harvest was very low in Alsace, so people were faced with the need to improvise.

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The local glass-workers, therefore, fashioned apples out of blown glass, and that is how Christmas baubles were born thanks to the shortage of apples. The tradition was quickly adopted by people in France, and later implemented in Europe. So, if it weren’t for the low apple harvest in Alsace one year, today we might have not used Christmas bubbles to decorate our trees, but rather fresh red apples, coming straight from our local supermarkets.

The Christmas market in Strasbourg is still on this year until the 31st of December, so whether I have just aroused your curiosity or you simply have no other plans for New Year’s Eve, go along to this magical place which is rightly called la Capitale de Noël.

If you are still not convinced, carry on reading:

Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Île, where the Christmas markets are usually held, was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre.

Strasbourg is also the birthplace of printing as Gutenberg printed the first bible in the city, and today, authorities are highly committed to encouraging reading amongst people. If you are an avid reader, the local booksellers and their collectors are there to help you discover their finest works devoted especially to Strasbourg, Alsace, and the traditions of Christmas. Old post cards and engravings are also available.
For more information on Strasbourg and its Christmas markets click here.

The City of Strasbourg is a must-see if you live nearby, or better, if you are traveling across Europe. A hot spot all year round, make sure you don’t miss it.

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International Bazar

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December is that time of the year when people start reflecting on how much life has given them compared to others. Well, it is at this time that many people feel the urge to help others around, making the life of the less fortunate a bit easier in a way or another.

Luxembourg makes no exception really, and it shouldn’t, by all means. Every year, just weeks before Christmas a large group of compassionate people organise the ‘International Bazar’, a charity event aimed at raising funds for those who face all sorts of hardship across the world.
As you may know, Luxembourg is a small country where many cultures and languages alike come together to form an internationally-oriented and culturally enriched place. This small country may not be the place of birth of many individuals, but has certainly become a second home for a considerably large population.

Therefore, when it comes to the ‘International Bazar’ the initiative is valuable for everyone in Luxembourg, both locals and expatriates.

Romanian traditional dish 'Sarmale' was served at the event Romanian traditional dish ‘Sarmale’ was served at the event.

Here’s the deal, over two days – this year it took place on the 1th and 2nd of December – members of the international community, people of many ethnicities and cultures prepare traditional food recipes and sell goods produced in their native countries. For the locals, it is a great opportunity to explore the authentic culture and cuisine of countries such as Turkey, Japan, Romania, Hungary, El Salvador, Kenya or Brazil, while still being 10 minutes away from home. On the other side, people originating from these countries who have settled down in Luxembourg finally get the chance to portray and promote their ethnic/cultural identity.

On display at the German stand.

On display at the German stand.

At the end of the 2 days, the success of the event was achieved through the cultural exchange that took place, but most importantly by raising valuable amounts of money later allocated to registered charities in all participating countries.

The ‘International Bazar’ now at its 52nd edition brought together over 50 countries and it surely promises to grew larger and larger every year. And by far, the highlight of this year’s edition was the performance of a belly dancer from Azerbaijan 🙂

If you read these words, thank you very much for getting this far. Also, if I aroused your curiosity, find out the full story of the ‘International Bazar’ here.

Belly dancer from Azerbaijan.

Belly dancer from Azerbaijan.

Indian hand painting was also on offer.

Indian hand painting was also on offer.

 Lichtenstein's stand

Lichtenstein’s stand

Home-made delicatessens from Cyprus

Home-made delicatessens from Cyprus

France set up a large stand.

France set up a large stand.

Christmas gifts on sale!

Christmas gifts on sale!