Tag Archives: history

Remembering Rouen

Hello there. Hope all is well with you. It’s been a long while since I got the chance to sit down and go over my pics from Paris but when my parents were here I got to do just that! Accompanied by a large mug of tea and my kitty cat on my lap, I perused the hundreds of shots from my adventure in France. Oh, Paris…there is such a sweet spot in my heart for you. Reliving those amazing days made me feel so grateful for the experience.

I wanted to share with you some of the images I captured while in the medieval city of Rouen. We caught the train from Paris in the wee hours of the morning and arrived in Rouen at 8 am to shop a flea market on the outskirts of town. After unearthing some fabulously priced French treasures, we wandered back into the city center. To our immense delight, it was absolutely beautiful and charming! A time-warp to another century with stunning architecture and wonderful boutiques and cafes.

This is the majestic Cathedral Notre-Dame, which was under restoration when we were there…such amazing Gothic architecture!

It doesn’t get much more French than this lovely bakery…

As we strolled through the main square, accordion music filled the air…thanks to this lovely lady.  We stopped a moment to listen to her robust voice and added to the euros in her hat.

Rouen is famous for it’s hand painted Faience ceramic ware that dates back to the 1600′s. This is a tradition that is still seen today…can you see the artist in the background painting away?

Here is a shot of the Gros Horlage, an astronomical clock that dates back to the 16th century.

As you can see, Rouen was a magical experience. So different to Paris, with its own history and character!

Okay, so here’s something I love…serendipity! Let me explain – a couple of months ago, I happened by a garage sale in my neighborhood. Nothing looked that interesting but then a small framed print caught my eye…it looked so familiar to me. I bought it for $2.00 and put it fondly on my desk.

I was so drawn to it, obviously it looked French but there was something else. I decided to do a little research and discovered this is in fact an etching from Rouen, depicting one of the very streets I walked down and the Church of St. Ouen in the background! It was like I was meant to have this little piece of art. Now it hangs in our entryway, so I see it everyday and remember Rouen.

Have a beautiful weekend!

xo,

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Filed under Art, Paris, photography, Stories, Travel, vintage

Let’s Bring Back…

Hello friends. I hope your week has been good to you. Just a quick post today…I just found this book and I’m thoroughly intrigued and delighted…

The whole concept of bringing back things like tea time, typewriters, fountain pens, calling cards and white gloves seems so romantic. I’m a sucker for nostalgia. There was such a sense of decorum and etiquette in the past. Now it sometimes seems there are no rules that can’t be broken, lines that won’t be crossed. Sometimes our world is just a little too extreme for me. I can’t help but dream of days gone by when there was a proper way to do everything. A ritual to follow and a clear part to play. When gentlemen opened doors and asked permission to court you. I know that there were some negatives too, of course. But still…there is something nice about tradition.

Check out the video below for a sneak peek into this book’s playful and whimsical pages, honoring the best of the past…

It’s published by Chronicle Books. Click here to buy your own copy. I just got one! Here’s to the three martini lunch!

xo,

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Vicarious Vacations # 4: Luxembourg

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.

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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…

This is the Grand Ducal Palace and official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg – Henri and his lovely wife,  the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

A fairytale destination would not be complete without some Royalty, after all. As for Henri’s heir – Guillaume (William)…

well he fits the Prince bill rather nicely…don’t you think? Okay, enough Royal gawking…let’s keep exploring…

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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.

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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!

Check out the view overlooking the town of Vianden…gorgeous…

Can you imagine cooking up a feast in this kitchen?

Here is the castle’s chapel.

Oh, is that a wishing well?

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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.

xo,

Audio via freesound.org

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Filed under Food, photography, Recipes, Stories, Travel

Vicarious Vacations #2: Ronda, Spain

Happy Friday! Ready for our next fabulous trip? I am! Today we are headed to Ronda, an ancient city in the Spanish province of Málaga. Map here. Spending time with you in Tuscany last week was simply amazing but we have much to look forward to today.  Strolling through this historic town, we are sure to encounter breathtaking views, sip Spanish wines and munch on traditional delights. A dash of culture and a little history are on the agenda too. We have to be well-rounded travelers right? Okay, enough chit chat…let’s go!

Image via flexijourney.com

Let me introduce you to Ronda. No, it’s not the girl from accounting but rather an incredible city dating back to Neo-lithic times. Yes, I’m talking cave paintings and they have real ones here seen in the Cueva de la Pileta. From the Celts, to the Romans and the Moors, this city has a long standing in the history books.  Perched 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the El Tajo canyon it offers majestic views of the surrounding valley.

Now that you have been formally introduced, let’s check into our hotel…

I searched and searched to find us the perfect haven. Just outside of town I found this jewel – Hotel la Fuente de la Higuera! Expensive? Of course, but if you are going to vicariously travel you have to go BIG!  Isn’t it gorgeous?

Listen to the beautiful sounds of the Spanish countryside…(this is an actual recording from this area in Spain)

We must come back here to watch the sun set over the valley and delight in a large glass of wine…

The grounds are simply divine…let’s go inside and check out our room!

Oh my…

Images via hotellafuente.com

I hope this will do! Now, come on let’s head back into town and explore. I’m getting hungry, as usual.

To cross into Ronda we will traverse one of its three impressive bridges.

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Let’s go exploring…

Listen to the sounds of the city…

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Oooh…look at this beautiful, hand painted pottery! All the gorgeous colors of Spain…might have to get some of these. Shop for them here.

Speaking of dishes…I’m getting a tad peckish… and I just happen to know that Don Miguel is the place to eat!

Images via DonMiguel

Perched along the cliff side this dramatic hotel and restaurant are famous for the fantastic views and traditional cuisine. Let’s try some local dishes! Are you game?

Let’s start with gazpacho. Mmm…a lovely cold tomato soup that got its start right here in Southern Spain. Recipe here.

We simply must have the Paella! It’s quite famous here! A sumptuous mix of seafood, spiced sausage and meats, fresh herbs and rice, get ready to seriously eat your fill!  Recipe.Let’s wash it all down with a fine bottle of Spanish wine. In Ronda, wine is a serious business with a 6000 year old history. They even have a Museum of Wine! This is my kind of place.

What’s that? Your sweet tooth is complaining…no worries, let’s feast on some Churros con Chocolate!

Translation: Fried dough dipped in warm, rich, chocolate…sigh…drool. Recipe.

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What’s next? Oh right…we have to get our culture/history fix.

Did you know that modern bullfighting originated here? Ronda’s bullring is the oldest and most ornate in the country. In the 18th century bullfighters went from horseback to the pedestrian matador that we think of today. Ronda’s own famous fighter was Pedro Romero, who apparently slayed many thousands of bulls without injury. You may think that this bullring sees regular use but today, the sport is more of an annual event. I’m sure the bulls appreciate this.

Every girl likes a spa but how about an ancient bath house? Sound intriguing? Let’s take a little walk and head below the city to the Arab Baths dating back to the 11th century.

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These bath ruins are some of the best preserved in Europe. Amazing aren’t they? It’s no coincidence that the baths are at the entrance to the city, since Ronda was the gateway to a large Muslim population who believed that one must purify themselves upon entering.  It’s fascinating to understand what it took to heat the waters. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to anything anthropological, so if you are curious and want to learn more watch this video.

Okay all that eating, drinking and learning has made me rather tired. Let’s head back to the hotel and nap, poolside.

Ahhh…that was a lovely trip wasn’t it? I so enjoyed learning about this incredible town. So full of history!

What did you like on our trip? Have you ever actually been to Spain?

Thank you for joining me. Next week we will be headed to beautiful Greece! Don’t miss it!

xo,

p.s. If you are wondering why I didn’t take us to the big cities of Spain or Italy, it is because I am trying to focus on the more hidden spots…the not so obvious destinations. I feel like it gives us more of a sense of discovery…finding secret places to explore. Make sense?

Audio via freesound.org

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