Hello friends and Happy Friday! Welcome to our last Vicarious Vacation. I know the previous destinations have been off the beaten path but I couldn't resist taking you here. Like many girls, I have a soft place in my heart for fairytale castles. So far...the only one I've ever seen, is the one in Disney World and frankly, I don't think that counts. So, I decided to take you to the a land where fairytales castles were born - we are headed to gorgeous Luxembourg.
When you are surrounded by three of Europe's most beautiful countries - Germany, France and Belgium - it's hard not to be amazing! Map - here. The history of Luxembourg dates back to the year 963. Over the centuries, its territory may have diminished but it still stands as the richest country in the world and is often referred to as the "Green heart" of Europe. Beyond material wealth and banking success, Luxembourg offers a culturally diverse population, fantastic food and wine, breathtaking landscapes and an impressive art and theater scene. Oh, and then there are the castles...did I mention that already? Yes...there are over a dozen castles in this magical land. It makes my heart skip a little beat...
So where shall we stay you ask? We came here for fairy tales and I intend to deliver...Welcome to Chateau d'Urspelt. A castle fit for a princess right? This romantic castle has a 300 year old history and was terribly damaged in World War II. In 2005, Mr. Freddy Lodomez came across this diamond in the rough, instantly fell in love and committed to having the Chateau restored to its original beauty. Thank you Freddy! What a prince!
Images via Chateau d'Urspelt
Lovely isn't it? That claw-foot tub will be a fabulous treat later on. I will try and contain the girlish squeals...but isn't this place to die for!
Let's go for a stroll...
Ahh...here we are at the Place d'Armes or as the locals refer to it - Plëss. It is truly the city's living room and a fantastic place to people watch, listen to some live music and grab lunch at one of the numerous outdoor cafes. I've got the perfect one in mind...
Play to listen to the sounds of the plaza...
Here we are at Le Cafe Francais, one of the oldest brasseries' in the city. Are you ready for some delicious food? They prepare a mix of French and Luxembourg style dishes here. Luxembourg's food is inevitably influenced by neighboring France and Germany, resulting in a rich blend - the delicacies of French cuisine artfully entwined with the robust, heartiness of Germanic dishes. More recently the cultural influence of Luxembourg's Portuguese immigrants is also emerging within many of Luxembourg's recipes. You won't leave the table hungry, that's for sure. So let's have a taste...
To pair with our meal, I have selected a lovely dry white wine, typical of the region or if you feel like bubbles, we can toast to our adventure with the local sparkling wine, Crémant de Luxembourg! Cheers!
Let's start with a classic Luxembourg dish: Nettle Soup. Ever had this? I haven't! Often served in the Spring, Nettle soup has a subtle, grassy taste, sweet and mild made rich with lovely cream and potatoes.
On to our next course...oooh...I don't know about you but I am a total sucker for mussels!! So succulent, with all that buttery, wine sauce to sop up. Here in Luxembourg (in the French tradition) it is often served with pomme frites! Yum! This wildly popular dish is served in the months that have an "r". October works, lucky for us. Here's a recipe straight from the region. Recipe. Make sure you use a German or French Riesling for your sauce to make it truly Luxembourg style.
Okay dessert anyone? You know we can't leave that out. How about some Questscheflued? aka Plum Tart - a local favorite. And no, I don't know how to pronounce it. Dig in! It looks delightful and it's heart shaped! Too cute. Recipe.
Now that our tummies are full, I think it's time to tour a real castle! We are heading to Vianden. It's about an hour north of the city and is a beautiful medieval town, famous for its stunning castle and charming village. Let's hop on the bus, I for one, can't get into that castle quick enough!
*squeal* - sorry I couldn't help it! Look the castle is up ahead!!
Isn't it simply amazing? Straight from a storybook! A little history: The castle was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and became the seat of the counts of Vianden. It was further developed until the 18th century but with the departure of the Counts of Luxembourg to the Netherlands combined with the effects of fire and an earthquake, it slowly deteriorated. The final blow came in 1820 when William I of the Netherlands sold it to a local merchant who in turn sold off its contents and masonry piecemeal, reducing it to a ruin. There were several attempts at restoration but these were hampered by problems of ownership. Victor Hugo lived in the castle for three months in 1871.Not until 1977, when Grand Duke Jean ceded the castle to the State, was it possible to undertake large-scale work, most of which has now been completed. - Wikipedia
Let's go take the tour!
Can you imagine cooking up a feast in this kitchen?
What shall we wish for? World peace? A castle of our very own? How about free plane tickets to anywhere in the world? hmmm...
Alright my friends, I think I will have to leave you here. While you ponder over your wish, I want to wish all of you the best and thank you for coming along with me on these Vicarious Vacations. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know I have. Thanks to Flickr for being a wellspring of beautiful images and talented photographers. In the future, I will be doing more travel pieces. As you may have noticed, Grace and Ivy is in a state of evolution. Lots of changes are to come and I hope you will stick with me. I promise to continue bringing you beautiful posts that hopefully give you some inspiration. Thank you for all your input. I love reading your comments. Till our next adventure...
Have a gorgeous weekend.
Audio via freesound.org