Luxembourg with the Otepka’s!

Last week for the first half of Spring Break I spent Sunday-Friday up in Luxembourg with Matt and Sara who used to share a house with my mom and I when I was in high school and their two kids Rudy who is 3 and a half, and Josie who is 7 months. Let me tell you, I was in domestic bliss for 5 days. It was so nice to rise and fall with a real schedule but not truly have anything to do other than enjoy myself and wander. Matt made the best food and was a fantastic tour guide, Sara was a superstar with all of her info on health, food, life, and also where to go in Lux, Rudy was hilarious with his hatred of being photographed (which turned into a game) and obsession with Curious George, and Josie is just about the cutest damn baby I have ever seen. And I’m not just saying this because you guys might be reading this. I mean it. You set a great example.

The train to Luxembourg took 2 hours and was super simple- other than that part where I didn’t realize that you’re assigned a seat on the train… I just sat down and THEN realized I was two cars up and had to squeeze through my yoga mat tied to my Timbuktu bag. Anyways, a few hours later I hopped off, and Matty and Rudy met me at the train for a walk through the Gare to their cute blue house on a hill into the Grund (ground neighborhood).

Later in the afternoon we all went on a walk and they showed me the city- which felt a great parallel to Seattle in European form- minus all the athletic gear- seriously I miss the right to walk around in yoga pants without getting looks (as does Sara Queen Runner). Then Matty made some incredible pasta, GF for me, with olives and tomatoes. Thennn we walked down to the cross burning. Yes, cross burning. It’s an annual tradition to build a cross out of Christmas trees and then burn it to fend of winter and welcome spring. Like many European celebrations it’s another reason to eat sausage, drink beer, and burn shit.  Then, after the 4 hours of sleep I had the night before, I slept like a champion in the top room on their ridiculously big and comfy bed. I forgot how easy it is to be impacted by your surroundings; a view, a desk, drawings by the kids all made my seratonin levels soar. I miss that kind of energy and normalcy (the good kind) not to mention rising and falling on a better schedule (with a healthy amount of sleeping in a few days).

On Monday we took a trip to a healthfood store to stock up plus I love going to natural markets in different countries. There are a few in Paris but they tend to have the same things so I was stoked to get a handful of new finds with some comforting staple (like soy yogurt, really they just know how to make it over here so it tastes like regular yogurt, not soupy spackle.) Then after lunch we took Rudy to his Kresh and then Matty showed me the American cemetery, a 50-acre site where George Patton is buried. That night we had beef lettuce wraps with rice noodles and sauteed peppers- so good.

On Tuesday I went to the Museum of Natural Arts which was basically 5 floors of artifacts with captions only in French. Then I swung by Laduree and got a Cinnamon-Raisin Macaron, my last for a longtime because I’m just kind of over them but by far their best flavor if you go. Then I was going to meet Sara and walk up to the Museum of Modern art but it was closed so instead took a big walk around hte nearby fortress, where I got trapped and had to go through a tunnel to get to a path leading down. There are so many tunnels and scary dark hallways in Luxembourg, not to mention the cavemates in and under the city. I didn’t get to see those though, maybe next time. Dinner: Shrimp stew-fay with cornmeal crusted eggplant. I have to include the meals because each one blew my mind. Matt Otepka can cook.

On Wednesday we went to the farmers Market and loaded up. Lots of apples. The market is in the Place Guillame and is every Wednesday and Saturday. LOTS of organic- which is really nice. Matt and Rudy knew lots of vendors including the apple man, the garlic/honey man, the olives and dried fruit guy, and the people who sell chocolate bread. Luxembourg just feels so safe, even when the people are kind of strange and stare and avoid interactions, it was nice to just relax. The city center kind of feels like a European…University Village? Don’t hate me for saying that. Then the boys headed back and I explored some more after picking up some dried fruit, pink ranunculus, and a jar of honey. Then I just meandered and got a coffee at this place Konrads (suggested by Matt) where they have a daily quiche that is often curry with lemongrass and thai spices since their cook is Thai. No curried quiche so I stuck to an overpriced Americano 🙂 Then, I came back and picked up a book of Sara’s I started to rip through on the trip (and need to buy now!) called The Dirty Life about a woman from NYC who decided to leave her journalism position to marry a farmer and grow foods. Soooo good and lots of similarities after living in NYC. Also, it was a huge feat for me to sit down and read because I don’t read for pleasure much anymore and if I do it’s all a.d.d. and some article instead of a book. I actually took it down to the park and just read. Then I came back for some baking and made chocolate chip cookies and gluten and dairy free cornbread (thank you rice flour and coconut oil). Dinner: Roasted chicken with carrots and parsnips, cauliflower mash with leeks, braised radishes, and cornbread.

On Thursday I finally hit MUDAM- the modern art museum, which was kind of strange. Half was really cool and innovative and half was, well, modern art. At least there wasn’t too much conceptual art but it was still very much there. Then I went to the museum of natural history which was pretty sick because in Europe, they don’t put glass between you and the taxidermy animals. I was 2 inches from a lion thinking, what will they do if I just reach out and start petting it? How can they keep little kids off of it? Overall it’s hard to compare it with places like the Museum of Natural History in New York or the Seattle Science Center BUT I really enjoyed it, especially the top floor where each room had a different color focus. Then I walked along the river to the abby at St. John where a Black Madonna made out of walnut wood during the 14th century is. She is quite notorious because, well, she’s black. That night, we went out for Portugese food and Sara and I split cod seared in olive oil and we had a grilled shrimp appetizer.

The ride back started off promising, but went downhill fast with a 2-hour delay ON  the train then a swap to buses which was a total free for all. I met a nice couple who helped me the whole way and we all found seats on the bus then again on the train we took from Metz, in France. It took 5 hours to get home instead of 2 but that’s life, right?

I wasn’t anticipating being so sad when I came back but I had such a fun, loving time up there that big dirty Paris was not what I wanted to welcome me back with open arms. But I had a fun weekend, partied hard at this fashion week party called Don’t Tell My Booker at the Grand Plaza Hotel, and now am on the straight and narrow for 2 weeks grinding away at my thesis and going to Bikram yoga before flying to Barcelona next weekend to meet Larken for Fallas in Valencia.

Now get ready because there are almost 200 photos up!

*That was a long gap in between posts and probably won’t happen again





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