Oio, Osteria con Cucina, Clausen, Luxembourg

Opening a restaurant during a pandemic. It looks like possibly the craziest idea ever, indeed someone is doing it. That “someone” is Leonardo De Paoli, 15 years astonishing experience in Michelin stars restaurants, last but not least with Ilario Mosconi, at his restaurant in Grund. Leonardo is launching this week-end his first restaurant, “Oio – Osteria con Cucina“, located down the Rives de Clausen, overlooking the Alzette, where the former “La Biblioteca” had a short life despite the picturesque scenery.

We met Leonardo on the eve of the launch of “Oio” street food week-end, visibly excited, a bit tired, but never loosing his smile. Leonardo told us that the plan was to put to sea “Oio” with the anticipated opening in March and that the further stop of Horesca didn’t discourage his team. They decided to go ahead proposing a double format of take-away for the week-end of March 5th (Friday to Sunday, from 12 pm to 6 pm) in order to start welcoming the first clients as well as take advantage of the good weather. We said double format as you will have two possibilities: you can pick up some street food  (savory and sweet) and eat it around – likely on the bridge or the walk on the river. If you are not much adventurous, Oio proposes as well a meal kit which can be refreshed at home and you can as well pre-order online. Kit will be provided together with detailed instructions and link of videos to prepare them at home.

But what about Oio? What should we expect from this restaurant? Did we really need another Italian restaurant in Luxembourg city?

Leonardo replied to all our questions. The name “Oio“, literally, means oil in dialect, but its real substance stays in the idea behind: “Oio“, as the last trickle of olive oil to complete a dish, like a dash of oil and its lightness.

Leonardo describes his cuisine as tasty and easily recognizable, created starting from outstanding quality of material, worked as less as possible. The menu of Oio will be the same for lunch and dinner, without tasting menu and without the classic amuse-bouche from the chef, but with a price accessible to everyone – the kind of place you can come for lunch and in the same day also for dinner. The idea is to have a menu which will change continuously, based on seasonal products – Leonardo will work, for example, with Le Panier de Sandrine with seasonal vegetables which will be used to create the menu – rather than ordering raw materials starting from a pre-packaged menu.

Leonardo wants to create a direct connection with the client, who will be able then to check daily the dishes offered on their Instagram page. The menu card will be short but focused on quality as well as for beverage: a reduced Italian wine list, with prices in a range from 35 to 95 Eur, including some niche local wines. A bar cocktail card based on 5 / 6 cocktails – revisited: a Negroni with rhubarbs, a cocktail with olive oil, a cocktail with thym… Cocktails will be also available for take-away this week-end.

We asked Leonardo which is the target of his restaurant. He said Oio will welcome everyone but will definitely give a nod to people who are tired of the usual Italian restaurants in Luxembourg and to those who wants to feel on a vacation in Italy even at home in Luxembourg.

To complete the lovely dining room, minimal, elegant, warm and bright, the restaurant has a unique view on the river, where the idea is to have clients taking advantage not only of the dining option, but as well as of a “aperitivo” – sharing few apero dishes with a cocktail or a bottle or wine, without the need to go for the full meal choice.

Lastly, at the floor, a huge tasting room will welcome Italian cooking classes held by Leonardo.

Finally, we asked Leonardo which will be his signature dish. He replied that two dishes will mainly represent his style among the others: the “pappa al pomodoro”, prepared with fresh burrata and olive oil, and the “tortelli di ossobuco”, served with a parmesan fondue and a saffron sauce. Few ingredients, worked as less as possible, for an unpretentious modern Italian cuisine which is not much represented in Luxembourg.

We look forward to try “Oio” as soon as it will be open for dining, but for the moment, we recommend you to visit their street food stand this week-end, from Friday to Sunday, 12 pm to 6 pm.

 

A coffee with…. CheckQ

Angela interviews Mike Sebban and Kim Bliksas, CEO of CheckQ, the real time restaurant reservations app among the winners of the contest launched by the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy.

Last minute bookers, hurry up!

So, imagine being at home and being very hungry, wanting to eat out, being tired and not wanting to travel too many miles. Or even if you are still in the office about to leave, panicking about an empty fridge and sad pantry, the supermarkets around you are closed and, obviously, you have not booked anywhere.
A gray cloud with a fast food sign in the center looms before your eyes. At best, you start frantically phoning all the restaurants in the area in search of a free table… luxury item in this crazy period of social distancing.
What a sad after work!

And now imagined being hungry, the fridge empty, the supermarkets closed, not having booked, not wanting to travel miles etc. To pick up your phone, open an app and quickly find the restaurant nearby, which still has a free table. Click, booked! Without queues and without waiting … Ah the rainbow!
Well, this is just reality. Forget the gray cloud, there’s CheckQ.

And since Corie is always on the alert and what happens in Luxembourg and does not miss much, when she asked me to interview the founders of this genial app, she had already tried it, of course!
While me, as usual, I go to eat, I do things, I see people … but I fall from the sky about news!

The interview with Mike Sebban and Kim Bliksas, founder of CheckQ, is held at the House of Startup, where their office in coworking with other startups is based. Cool, right near home. I had never entered it even though I pass it every day, looking up at the mirrored façade.
The interior décor is just like a collective of designers and creatives, with a slightly retro pop touch. Instead of staying in their office, we sit in the House cafeteria … with a coffee in hand, ça va sans dire.

 

 

Angy: Mike, Kim, you won a very important competition here in Luxembourg, which was attended by Startups from all over the world. I would like to know what the winning key was. But first I’m curious about your story. Where did you start from?

MIKE: Both Kim and I have traveled extensively in many countries around the world, taking inspiration and we are passionate about new technologies and innovative solutions that bring a plus to our daily life. You know? On vit à 100 à l’heure nous and so as much as the technology allows us to make the most of our time as we pleased! The two of us walked the same path. I lived in Paris for 6 years before arriving in Luxembourg in 2012 for professional reasons.
Kim: I was also in Paris and arrived in Luxembourg in 2013. We were colleagues until 2017, then we created Shawbe (Shiny, Awesome & Beautiful).

Angy: What was it about?

Mike: We realized that Luxembourg had a lot to offer in terms of local trade, but big brands obfuscated it and so we had ideas to give it visibility. We ran competitions on Facebook and gave away products or services in the various partner stores. The winners, going on site to collect the prize, discovered new places previously ignored, and contributed to increase their business thanks to other purchases and thanks to word of mouth. It worked well, but we had little financial capacity and we stopped this adventure. We then dedicated ourselves to other projects and training courses, always with the aim of increasing local trade.
Kim: Unfortunately, Covid 19 arrived in February 2020 and our business faltered. Just at that moment, the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy launched the Startup versus Covid 2019 competition with the aim of finding solutions to relaunch the country’s economy at a time when it was being tested. Startups from all over the world were involved.

Angy: Did you decide to participate at that point? With what idea? I mean, what did you bet on to win?

Mike: The protagonists of the Luxembourg ecosystem told us: “you who know the local trade operators well will find something interesting to boost business”. We made an analysis to identify the sector most impacted by the crisis. The result was: the restaurants.
At that time, we were in post lockdown.

Angy: What was the primary problem with restaurants after the opening in May?

Mike: The social distancing that for restaurants translates into a reduction in the number of tables: here is enemy number one. Let’s assume that from 50 tables we had reached 20 or sometimes even less. We asked ourselves: what can we do to increase the turnover of those 20 tables? They must be never empty, must que the few available are always busy. So, to stimulate turnover, we developed a virtual waiting list system, a remote queue, so if the customer had arrived at the restaurant and found it complete, he would have inserted himself in a virtual list, waiting quietly at home, for the its comfort and the safety of all.

Angy: But here you are talking to me about the virtual waiting list. It seems to me that this is not the only focus of CheckQ or am I wrong?

Kim: You’re not wrong. In fact, having entered the first test phase of the App, we realized that restaurants in Luxembourg are not always complete. Our mission needed to change a little. It had to become that of “attracting” customers to the restaurant.
Mike: We all usually use classic booking systems or call the restaurant in advance, or use digital platforms. And all the walking restaurants? Or is it the passing customers? Or those who book at the last minute? For them, we told ourselves, digital can be a salvation. Rather than making dozens of phone calls looking for a table, in our App they can find a marketplace where they can see the available seats in real time and book instantly.

Angy: Fantastic and useful for all last minutes like me. Was this the winning idea that allowed you to beat all competing international startups?

Mike : Yes, because CheckQ is a concrete help for restaurateurs. All together in the same virtual place are a major force. What’s more, becoming a CheckQ partner has no cost to them. They only pay a fixed fee for each customer if the mission is done. On the other hand, the goal is to give them visibility. This first. Lots of advertising for our partners (restaurants) and very little commitment. Those who live nearby benefit from it and the restaurants as a result.

Angy: How exactly does it work? Do your partners have to continually update the system to announce the number of seats available?

Kim: When the service starts, the restaurateurs report the number of unreserved tables and then the system works alone. Once the user books through CheckQ, he has 15 minutes to go to the restaurant. Just the time to get rid and sanitize (for the restaurant) and just the time to arrive (for the customer). The concept always remains to never let a table be free.

Angy: I haven’t used it yet. Can you show me how it works?

Kim: It’s super simple. The App opens, click on TROUVER UN RESTAURANT, enter the number of people to eat with and immediately appear the list of restaurants with places available within a range of 5 km, from the closest to the most distant. At that point, after the choice, click MANGER MAINTENONS. In addition to the booking button appear: the address, the map and the description of the specialties. Done! The restaurateur receives a notification and at that moment the available places indicated on the app decrease.
Upon reaching your destination, we inform you that you have a reservation with CheckQ.

Angy: Are you liking the concept? Do you have many memberships?

Kim: The app launched on October 5th and the download numbers are encouraging. Even those of the partners. Now 35 restaurants have joined CheckQ and can be viewed during that famous last minute when we remember being hungry.

Angy: Do you use it?

Mike : Every day at noon we are forced to have lunch out and we are always many, in order to compare ourselves with colleagues from other startups (an incubator is a bit like a big company , only we are all entrepreneurs) and every time le mene souci : we are many and we need to find a place without wasting time. CheckQ c’est top pour ça , not only do you discover new restaurants , but in 2 clicks on bloque une table et on va direct manger .

Angy: What is the order of appearance on the list?

Mike: Among the partners there are several high-quality ones. But in the first interfaces of the app it is not clear. They can also be starred, awarded, famous. We wanted the selection by the user was viewing. You eat first with your eyes… And in fact, we asked the managers to send us uniform photos, which show a dish that enhances them. Let’s not forget that the goal is to lead people to restaurants. Only after the choice the description is discovered. The first criterion of appearance, on the other hand, is proximity to the customer.

Angy: What if all the tables were booked and there was no room? No chance for hardened last minute?

Kim: I sure do. We specify that the App has a double functionality. In addition to booking in real time, it also allows you to queue with an estimate of the waiting time.

Angy: So let’s say the hardened last minute is me, can I book at the last minute, find it full, queue up and still have the luxury of doing it while sitting on my sofa?

Kim: Or taking a shower … hahaha

Angy: Ahahaha
Thanks Mike and thanks Kim for the time you have dedicated to me.
Would you like to add something before greeting the readers of Barefoot in Luxembourg (who are both users and restaurateurs)?

Mike : Yes . The Covid situation is shaking the signs again. So right now we are launching the news: until March 31, 2021 the restaurateurs who join CheckQ, in addition to having no listing costs, will not even pay the fixed price for each customer conveyed by the App. The crisis is too hard, we must listen to them.

Angy: Genius and with a heart of gold!
Come on now I’ll let you go, I know you have a lot to do.
Let’s take a picture? Don’t be shy and smile. Say Cheese!

 

Mani D’Oro, Gasperich, Luxembourg

We kicked off the week with a place which used to be (and I discovered it is still!) my favorite and we will continue today with a review of a brand new restaurant!

Mani D’Oro (translated: Golden Hands, an idiomatic expression used in Italian to define someone who is gifted in doing manual works) has been opened for less than one month on route d’Esch, just before getting to Cloche D’Or.

Their core is the preparation of fresh pasta: you can eat sur place or take it away, together with pizza, sandwiches and salads. As Mani D’Oro is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11 to 8 pm (Saturday till 3 pm), we decided to visit it for Saturday lunch, which, since I am getting old and I am not partying anymore all night long, has became a very pleasant ritual.

As said, Mani d’Oro is located on the main street and has a lovely terrace on the front side – I am already looking forward to summer apero, I know!
The décor and the atmosphere are sophisticated and refreshing: a big counter as soon as you get in, where you can order or pick up your take away, tall tables on one side and table booths on the others, with a line of chairs in front of the windows with the view on the outside – very much street food feeling. On the back of the booths, the kitchen and laboratory, with bright windows on the main room – so you can see all the preparations.

The menu has a choice of pasta to match: you choose your format and you choose the sauce (including several vegan and vegetarian options), plus pizza in three sizes, sandwiches and salads. Some daily suggestions are also available.

I ordered a pizza La Piccante (ventricina sausage and nduja sauce) in the smallest format while E. went for one of the daily suggestions (home made ravioli with porcini mushrooms and truffle).
We concluded with a tiramisu to share and we were offered two shots of limoncello.

Total bills reads 49 Euro, 24,5 Eur each (for 3 beers, 1 bottle of water, 1 portion of pizza, 1 portion of truffle pasta, 1 tiramisu, as said limoncello was offered).

Pictures of our lunch are followed, as usual, by my impressions about Mani d’Oro.

What I loved about Mani d’Oro:

  • I definitely loved the concept of the restaurant and the decorations: honestly lunch places I have tried so far are going in-between extremely cheap eatery and posh restaurants offering pricey lunch options. Mani d’Oro offers you a very affordable Italian experience in a captivating atmosphere. Also – the restaurant has a great selections of cocktails, Gin and other drinks, so it is not your usual lunchtime place.
  • I loved the pizza and I cannot wait to come back to try more of that: crunchy, not greasy at all, light in the dough and with first quality ingredients. The small portion (12 Euro for the topping I have chosen) was definitely more than enough for just one person and I have found myself imagining there sharing a large size with several friends and a Campari (or Aperol Spritz, depending what you like). E. also said his pasta was delicious, even if slightly smaller in size: the pasta with truffle is the most expensive one (20 Eur – and it is very reasonable as they came to shave the truffle at the table), but other pasta dishes are around 12 Eur, like salads, 6.5 Eur for sandwiches). Again, ingredients are top quality and you can definitely taste it.
  • Service was friendly, with detailed explanations and very present despite the place was very busy during Saturday lunch (better to book during peak hours). I also appreciate very much the take-away and delivery option. I am a fan of pizza al taglio (don’t blame me, I like it more than your typical round pizza) so I would definitely prefer ordering it at home to share with friends.

What I liked a bit less about Mani d’Oro:

  • At the moment, as the place is open until 8 pm during the week, it is perfect for lunch or late lunch, after-work or a very early dinner. If you fancy their dishes after 8 pm, you will need definitely to wait for next day.
In conclusion: I loved Mani d’Oro and as it is not far from where I live, it is going to be my place to go for Saturday lunch and after-work with friends. Their pizza is delicious and they offer a great selection of pasta, sandwiches and salads – together with drinks, also alcoholic – for a very fair price in a charming location. 

Kay, the new restaurant of Casino Luxembourg, City Centre

As promised on Monday, we got another “new place” on the radar which we tried this week. Kay, the new restaurant of the Casino Luxembourg, open its door last Thursday. The idea, this time, compared to the previous catering experiences at Casino, is to have a “real” restaurant, which is kind of independent from the museum – hence the entrance on Boulevard Roosevelt which allowed the access also in the evening.

The restaurant, from the press communication, proposes a creative Peruvian cuisine about natural ingredients. Ca va sans dire, I was very curious to try it and I booked a table with A. for Monday night.

The welcome was extremely kind. It was Monday and the weather was everything but nice, so the restaurant looks pretty empty. The décor has not significantly changed compared to before – at least for what I can remember – and table are left pretty minimal and naked. This completes a bright look of the main room, with the huge windows on the bridge, which should definitely give a suggestive view during less rainy evenings.

Our jackets and umbrellas were taken to the wardrobe and we were accommodated to our table.
First of all, we were given the cocktail list, which is pretty original – starting from cocktails’ names – and has alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices. We decided to go classic and ordered a pisco sour.

Together with two slices of tasty bread, we were given and presented the menu card: 6 choices for cold starters and around the same number for hot starters (meat, fish and vegan). Three choices for main: burger (beef or vegetarian), T-Bone and duck. We were explained in details the concept behind the dishes and the accent on natural elements – fermentation, probiotics, tastes.

We ordered 4 starters to share, 2 cold and 2 hot: the marinated nikkei, the “surprise dish” (osez! was the description), the vegan tiradito and roast-beef/peanuts butter potatoes balls. Three dishes out of the starter menu were not available (including octopus and razor clams), so we were offered a mini portion of clams to try.

We concluded with dessert: I had the Pan Comido (bread ice cream, honey, coffee, dates cake and tomatoes) while Angela had Ying and Yang, with chocolate and ginger sorbet.

The total bill reads 101 Euro which included: two cocktails, 4 starters to share, 1 bottle of water and 2 dessert (50 Euro each roughly). Pictures of the dinner followed by my impressions of Kay Restaurant.

What I liked about Kay Restaurant:

  • The concept behind and the idea of cuisine, for what we tried, is very interesting: in particular, I liked very much the marinated Nikkei and both desserts were surprisingly innovative and tasty.
  • The explanation of the dishes is made in details and the lady who is taking main care of the service is extremely sweet and polite.
  • I like the idea of having dinner in a museum and I am sure during sunny days the view would be amazing as well.

What I liked a bit less about Kay Restaurant:

  • Not all the dishes convinced us: the razor clams we tasted missed something and the vegan ceviche was a dish to forget. What confused me most, was the menu: while the starter section is well assorted, the mains look totally out of the contest and are very limited regarding choice – only one vegetarian dish, not even one fish one. The Pisco as well was not memorable.
  • While the main lady was very professional, the rest of the service was a bit shy and not very attentive. The restaurant was empty so small mistakes were immediately corrected, but we had the impression if the restaurant was full, the issues would have been more.
  • Finally: we felt we slightly overpaid for our dinner and this is my main blocking point to come back. It was Monday night, so a cocktail was fine for us and we were feeling sharing, so we had only two starters. But we made a quick calculation that with a main course (30 – 38 Eur) and a bottle of wine, the bill would have been scandalously higher for the feeling we had about the dinner.

In conclusion: the new Kay restaurant proposes a creative Peruvian kitchen in a very special atmosphere, the one of the Casino Luxembourg museum, in the city center. The restaurant has recently opened, so has definitely room for improvement service wise and in regards to the variety of the choices of the menu. I would definitely recommend it for a night out dinner or an after-shopping lunch with your girlfriends. Be careful: it might not be the place for you if you are on a budget.

Where to: have a night out with friends in Luxembourg (Summer Edition)

It is Wednesday and, like Ulysse, I feel the voice of the Sirens calling me. I try to resist, after a week like last one, that has been the happiest one of my year (my best friend was visiting from Italy) but also, most probably, the most destructive one. I am seated down at my desk, overlooking a sad, orange landscape of offices and I am just dreaming about having a drink. So I decided to trick the waiting with another summary post, this time to include a question that I often find in the Google search related to my blog. I have friends visiting – someone to take out, where do I go for an easy night out?

If you have been living in Luxembourg for more than a while, you definitely know a day of the week can change everything about one place or another. With few exceptions (Paname, Urban, Goten, Tube, you name them), at most of the bars, you have been there last week on a Wednesday and it was the most amazing place ever, now on a Friday night it is creepy and boring.

Here some of my favorite – and as usual, feel free to comment with your own , I am always very happy to discover or revaluate locations:

On a Monday Evening: Come a La Maison

This is the saddest day of the week. First of all, because your friends have been drinking all the week end and now they are full of healthy life good purposes – which will last till tomorrow – and run away from whatever invitation (you have been drinking as well, but you never had good purposes to start with). Second, because most of the cool places are closed on Mondays. But it might be the case you have a friend visiting only for the night (in Italian, I would say “che culo”), that your boss is off on Tuesday morning or you want to celebrate something special (like just being Monday) and you want to go out. Not many options, but my “to go” place is Come a La Maison. Even if you might remember from here, I am not very much fan of the restaurant, on Monday night they have the Italian after-work from 6 pm to 9 pm, really Italian style, meaning with a free buffet of food. Nice Italian food, like charcuterie, suppli’, meaballs, fresh marinated fish, pizza, cheese. It is not overcrowded, above all on the terrace during cloudy days, but yet at the third bottle of prosecco you might forget it is only still Monday – I know someone around here which occurred to be exactly in the same situation last Monday.
So, to sum up: you pay for your drinks, you eat (or nibble) how much you want (for free), you have music, pleasant atmosphere (as always at Come a la Maison) and a nice surrounding of business people who are escaping Mondays like you are doing – or at least trying. If you feel your stomach is still empty (or too full of alcohol), you can even stop by for dinner.

(Pics from Come a La Maison website)

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On a Tuesday Evening: Tempo Bar

Becoming old, I started loving places where you don’t go for meeting new people but just for being around your own friends and enjoying it. Consequently, I also appreciate places where the music is not that loud and you can feel a bit “off the beaten tracks” (even if it is quite difficult in Luxembourg, but still). There is a place I love during the warm season and I always find underrated under the pure “night out” point of view and it is Tempo Bar, in Kirchberg. We start from saying that the interior design is lovely and the food is generally delicious, so I appreciate coming here as well for a business lunch or dinner. But the terrace has an amazing potential that is, to me, mostly unexpressed. This is one of the place I tend not to talk too much about as I am feeling afraid to find it completely packed next time I am coming back.
What does Tempo offer you? A unique, enchanting terrace. Overlooking Mudam, with the Philharmonie and its white shape at your back. A valid drink menu for a pre-dinner or long-afterwork drink, with fair prices – among which, my favorite, is definitely Alice Hartmann Cremant. Aside from the dinner menu, a variegate, interesting “appetizer” menu to share, including classic like oysters, charcuterie and cheese platters , but with some creative twists, – I recommend you to try the mini burgers – to die for!. It does not come like an extremely cheap place regarding food – and I am happy it is not – but it is definitely worth a try, above all during sunny days and if you are with someone who is new in Luxembourg.


On a Wednesday Evening: Lady Jane

As most of the cool nights during the week are now happening on Thursdays, I tend to save myself on Wednesday night and to give my preference, in case I (really) (have to) go out, to more intimate places. At the moment, my favorite among them is Lady Jane, in the city center.
Now – you love it or hate it. The place is a speakeasy: so, the entrance is hidden, you need to book as they have service only at the table and you need a password to get in – not too complicated to obtain, but I cannot unveil you all the secrets, rights?
What I need to tell you: getting into Lady Jane, not with some difficulties if you, like me, totally miss balance, is like getting into the living room of an old aunt. A crazy one, who is hanging lamps upside down. The cocktail menu, which is changing on a regular basis and until end of summer will be just orally decanted, is amazing. Amazing meaning something you might have not regularly seen in other places around (a more polished and calmer Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown). For alcohol combinations and presentations. Smoke, flowers, bamboo straws are on the menu. Next to the drinks and the quiet atmosphere (when there are no DJs on the agenda), you have a nice and unexpected menu for appetizers – to share or to eat alone. Portions are fair as well as prices. A special note to the service, that still, more than one year after the place opened, it is still to me one of the best in town. The only downside? No terrace, so to smoke you have, again, to roll down the stairs.

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On a Thursday Evening: Briscolino or Project LuX

On Thursday you normally would be difficult to go wrong. If you don’t want to go to your “usual bar”,  there are several nights around town in which my favorite is definitely Briscolino, the Italian after-work (here we go, again), at La Briscola. The crowd is mostly composed by young professional, you have a DJ set which intensity is going up with the night and a delicious Italian buffet.

Another similar option is proposed by Project LuX: while Briscolino, the name says it all, is always happening at La Briscola, Project LuX parties are always changing location – and sometimes also day of the week. Ikki, Skybar, Boos Café, Le Sud. Follow their page and you will be updated on a regular basis on their parties. The concept is the same, replicated at different venues: dj set, finger food, drinks, cool people. The place to see and to be seen.

On a Friday Evening: This is your free night, I leave the choice with you – my favorite list is too long, from L’Avenue to Tender, from Paname to Llama.

On a Saturday Evening: Metropolitan

Saturday is generally too packed everywhere – so if you want a cool place where you don’t have to wait ages to drink and you can also nibble something, my suggestion would definitely be Metropolitan, in Place de Paris. You will not miss a thing: you will have the “people watching” component, you will have a nice list of drinks (including a very good Bloody Mary and a lovely Sicilian red wine), you will have an appetizers (or dinner) menu served till late – go for the sliders, they are yummy! The place is always full, but, differently from some others around, you will always find a table – and I love their white benches, they are so comfortable you can forget to leave.

(Pics from Editus)

On a Sunday Evening: Scott’s Pub, Soho and B13

Here I will close our week long drinking and eating around Luxembourg with three suggestions. If you want to let your hair down, Scott’s Pub. This place does not need any presentation on my side, but I would like introducing it here again as, since they changed their menu card, I feel the urge to visit them at least once per week. My personal favorite are their Truffle Fries and their Unfiltered beer. Bonus point: the unbeatable view.

Second place, if you still feel like partying, at Soho they organize cool Sunday parties – check out their FB page to be sure you are on the right Sunday! The atmosphere is pretty on the young and fashion side, but if you go with your friends early you will get into the party mood immediately. Outside bar, nice list of cocktails (a very good Aperol Spritz indeed) and normally a food corner if you feel hungry – last time I have been there they had a pasta corner and shisha was available to smoke.
(Pics from FB)

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Third place, if you are with your in-laws or if you are looking for some peace after a week-end of alcohol overindulgence – B13 in Bertrange pedestrian area – you can easily get there with bus 5/6 that are stopping just in front. This is again one of my favorite terrace in Luxembourg, they do nice cocktails, have a good choice of wine and have a pretty wide selection of dishes also to share – and if you don’t want to share, go for vitello tonnato. It does not come as very cheap, but you will start saving from Monday right?

(Pictures are mine, if not stated differently)

Where to: Eat Vegetarian for Lunch in Luxembourg

If you remember, two years ago we had a series that was pretty followed on the blog that was called “Where to” and was including suggestions per areas of Luxembourg – our most read was definitely the Bonnevoie one.
This year, I have decided to create something similar, but with a different focus.

I will test restaurants in the same range and compare them. Because some kind of visits are too short to write a proper review, but it is worth of having indications about where to… We will start today with Vegetarian Lunch in Luxembourg.

Where do you have vegetarian lunch in the city?

Definitely the situation is better than when I arrived 13 years ago – I definitely know it, as at that time I was vegan and it was almost impossible to eat out. Now little by little new vegetarian spots are opening in town and, even if not fully vegetarian, restaurants offer a tasty and wide selection of no-meat no-fish dishes that are not plain salads. I have included those places in my list that does not want to be fully inclusive, therefore feel free to suggest with your favorite vegetarian lunch eatery or the one you want us to test!

(A special thanks to Sana for having been part of the test).

Flowers Kitchen

Area: Station

What I had: Super Bowl and Ginger Lemonade

What I spent: 18,20 Eur

What you have: The place is rather small, so it you better reserve in advance. They have a weekly menu, plus a super bowl, a super dish and a savory cake (“quiche”). Choice of drink is also rather various and starts from infused water to smoothies. They are a fully vegan restaurant, so don’t serve meat or fish.

What I think: I liked the food proposal, my dish was big and I was very full after. Ginger lemonade was very tasty. If you eat in, you have service at the table and it is lovely. Downside: it did not come out as very cheap and they don’t take lunch vouchers.

Side note: They have just opened a bigger restaurant in Cloche D’Or, definitely worth to try.

Ekxi

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Area: Kirchberg (but there also others in the city center and station area)

What I had: pumpkins soup, Shanti sandwich (with hummus) and Rivella Green Tea

What I spent: 9.20 Euro

What you have: You don’t have service at the table and you basically help yourself among what it is available (in Kirchberg you have to get there around 12 to be able to have full choice). The menu includes 1 soup or 1 small salad, 1 sandwich and 1 drink. You have also salads, warm dishes and dessert. They have a rather healthy food choice (indicating as well the number of calories on the product) and they serve also fish / meat. The vegetarian menu is pretty wide anyway.

What I think: I like Ekxi as I can take away really quickly at the office or bring a salad at home at the evening when I don’t feel like cooking. Menu changes seasonally. Products are a bit on the commercial side and not very appealing in the presentation, but still tasty. If you take the menu, the price is very competitive. Quite different if you start taking separate random products. Perfect if you are on a budget and in a hurry.

Side note: I love their freshly made Mint Iced Tea.

Dean & David

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Area: Kirchberg (but there is also one in the city center)

What I had: Avocado Bowl (Small) and Lemonade

What I spent: 14 Euro

What you have: You get served at the counter and the order is freshly prepared. They have a quite various menu, including as well fish and meat, starting from salad, bowl, wrap and sandwich. You have at least two vegetarian items for each category. The “small” bowl was still quite big for me and was very tasty.

What I think: As products are prepared at the moment, the wait at lunch time might be quite long and to me this is the only negative point. I love the selection of products and I love the fact that portions are large enough to fill full but not to fall asleep.

Side note: during summer, in Kircherberg the terrace is small but lovely.

Oak

Area: Place de Paris / Place de Martyr

What I had: Dish of the day (Salad, Hummus, Rice Balls and Veggies), Fairy Tale Tea and a Slice of Raw Black Forest Cake

What I spent: 23 Euro

What you have: Service is at the table – very polite – and dishes are prepared in a kitchen on display. The menu is relatively small (dish of the day, dish of the week, in combo with soup and salad, two types of cakes). The place is very cozy and relaxed. I loved their tea pot.

What I think: The main dish was good but I was not extremely impressed (it was a bit too salty for me). The cake was to die for – I would definitely have another (or another 10!) slices. They have a great selection of loose tea, but on cold drink the choice is limited.

Side note: the place is perfect if you want a central location, but very quiet.

Glow

Area: Bonnevoie

What I had: Risotto and Nuts Cake, coffee

What I spent: 24 Eur

What you have: Service at the table – definitely one of the best service I had in Luxembourg, very kind and smiley, even when the place is full. Location is not big, therefore reservation is strongly recommended. They have a daily menu, salad and soup of the day. They are open all day, so you can also pop in also just for a coffee or a piece of cake.

What I think: The only downside at Glow is that you should be lucky with the daily menu. As the choice is limited, if you are not a fan of what it is proposed (but that you can check ahead online), it might not be worth it. For the rest, the place is lovely.

Side note: They organize a monthly brunch.

 

Naturalia – A new Organic Grocery Store

For a long time, Luxembourg Gare area has been a very shady one but recently there have been a lot of improvements and new businesses have opened up. In the end of September, I attended at the opening of Naturalia at Luxembourg Gare. Originally from France, Naturalia is a  specialized in selling organic food items  such as vegetables and fruits but also cheese, wine, bread, rice and pasta. They also have a big selection of hygienic products, vitamins and food supplements.

Their new store is quite small but very bright and attractive. Presentation of fresh veggies and fruits at the entrance is lovely and the store even makes fresh “smoothies to go” in the morning. At the event, I had a possibility to try some of the different combinations they make and also some vegan raw cakes and other appetizers. I also liked the idea of them selling seeds, nuts and cereals from plastic containers from which you could choose the amount of each item you want to have  without additional waste or packaging.


The proximity to the train station certainly attracts many clients, especially because there are no other organic stores with a similar concept nearby and they have long opening hours. Even on Sundays. As ecological lifestyle is starting to be a growing trend in Luxembourg, I’m sure that once the possibilities for buying organic gets easier, people will also be more interested in green eating.

Naturalia Luxembourg
Address:
12-18 rue Joseph Junck

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 8.00-20.00
Friday: 8.00-21.00
Saturday: 8.00-19.00
Sunday: 9.00-19.00

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Jalo

It is time for a new interview on the blog: today Corie talk with Jacopo, aka Jalo Sounds, a talented musician – and much more as you will discover –  who you can meet often on the Luxembourg nightlife scene.

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Good Evening and welcome at Barefoot in Luxembourg for a new episode of our series “Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people”, thank you for joining. So, let’s introduce yourself first!

Jalo: It’s me who thank you for your time and the opportunity. I’m a 3-in-1 restless Italian having the time of his life (of his 3 lives) in this little known amazing country. My 3 lives are: making music, teaching music, creating music events. My mission is to make more of all 3 for more people to know, enjoy & share. Not necessarily for all the people. But for the right people. That’s why Luxembourg is fantastic for me.

3 LIVES? CAN YOU TELL OUR READERS MORE, AND WHY?

1. making music: I play guitar since over 28 years ago (I love making my one guitar versions of timeless classic tunes – I sometime add vocals, or play with selected duo partners). Luxembourg has lots of great locations perfect sized for single / duo performers.
I am having lots more chances here than those I would have had in Italy, like playing live on Luxembourg Radios.
2. teaching music: since I left classic training (over 22 years ago) I have developed what I believe the fastest, easiest and most personalized system to learn guitar. 22 years ago I discovered that practically all people regardless of age, tastes and nationality they all love music but no one really wants to study an instrument, to be schooled, or to be constrained in time & space. So I took action. I know it sounds like a big claim, that’s why even after over 80 people trying my method, I still let people try me risk free.
3. creating music events: based on a great examples like the one in Konrad, I started an Open Mic Group for people to share listening / playing music on small scenes to friendly audiences all around the city. It is slowly growing and the right people are making it better every time. There is lots of musical talent and loving to share music in Luxembourg. Both for locals and for expats that may have just arrived in Luxembourg.

WHICH OF THESE LIVES DO YOU BELIEVE TO BE MOST INTERESTING?

Oh well, I find them equally interesting to work on, but the most transformational for me and others is probably the teaching music. I have seen what great change can occur in people of all age / nationalities / when enabled to play music they like.

WHY TEACHING? WHAT’S IN IT, FOR YOU? AND FOR OTHERS?

I believe there is something special with teaching that it makes it close to a divine thing, not really in the sense of some teaching-god with some sort of infinite god-like knowledge pushing information some passive-mortal-being that is just to execute repeatedly. Teaching means most to me in the sense of finding the most effective, understandable, enabling & energizing way to share mutually interesting information between human beings so that this information can build up in form of knowledge, action & sense of purpose in the mind of more humans than before it happened. This is what I see in it, for me and for all others I have the privilege to meet.

HEY, SO MUCH? A SOMEWHAT RELIGIOUS THING?

Things do not change themselves, nor anything else. People can change themselves, and can change things. Teaching can change people. Both the teaching people, and the people who are taught. And we are the people. It’s just so endlessly fascinating. It also take great effort and genuine will to help. When teaching means oppression, or manipulation of the unaware, it’s not teaching. We all know what that is, instead.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

I would say the most tragic consequence of bad teaching is when the wrong-minded teacher becomes a representation of the subject taught, in the eye of the unaware, so people end up quitting to learn that skill, thinking they anyway cannot make it so why trying in the first place, whereas instead people should be thinking of quitting to learn that skill they love with that bad teacher. This I believe is the tragic heritage, vocational wasteland and countless body count left by bad teaching and bad teachers. I try not to sound too theatrical and rhetorical, but I do see it as a genuine tragic loss of human capital through history. And a perfect mass murder with well paid responsible still at large. With good teachers in every school we might have flying cars running on water, for what I know….

YOU SHOULD BE THE PERFECT TEACHER, THEN?

Perfect teacher? Me? Not at all, but after 28 years of playing guitar, I surely have things to say to anyone wishing to play on guitar songs in a very simple and accurate way. It’s the same method I wish it was offered to me when I started. Thanks to modern technology I have a way to make my physical presence as minimal as possible, so I can reach in different ways with my guitar training into even the busiest agendas. I had also very interesting experiences helping songwriters with new ideas and music, and arranging for guitar some great songs that have no guitar in their original versions. Sure, any of these things I say can and should be tested! Just send me an email ( to : contact@simply-songs.com ) and schedule your 1h risk free trial.

Yes! Promotion, here! But how else and how best to check about what I can really do?

AND THE OTHERS? ALL BAD TEACHERS? SURE?

I am not accusing anyone. But I can surely share what I think about 2 categories of my – so to say – teaching competitors. Let me say some about Long Established Music School & Independent Teachers.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE MUSIC SCHOOLS CAN DO WRONG? WHY?

About Schools, those with the “maison fondèe en 18..” ….. I believe in lots of non-musical subjects, and for classical music too, conventional teaching might still be the best. But about guitar all I want is to provide another method to people that are in the most vulnerable position of being passionate of music and unaware of alternative methods, especially as they say “you don’t know what you don’t know”. And I am not in a position (nor I want to be) where I tell people that I am The School, I have The Method, therefore I want them to Join My School on My Terms, applying My Program, adapt to My Schedule, buying My Books, paying in advance My Fees for a Full Trimester / Semester / Year… and if people dare not finding it such a Good Deal and end up dropping out, they are the failures, surely not My School. I believe most of these terms are unacceptable to anyone older than, say, 8 years old!

AND INDEPENDENT TEACHERS? WRONG TOO?

About Independent Teachers, I believe these are those who apply the above teaching methods to people, as a sort of karma circle of Oppressive Teaching that never asks what interests the students. Never asking is practical. Asking the students is much less practical. Asking the students, requires acknowledging their Musical Rights, their Musical Ideas, their Needs, and requires probably working harder on finding new, relevant and meaningful answers. But some Teachers use oppression and a false authority to unilaterally impose their one-size-fits-all approach to all people they come in contact with. But learning guitar, like music, means very different things to different people. Having the willingness to ask students, and the knowledge to provide relevant and motivating answers to very different people, is for me a better way of teaching. And I do not mean that I have something meaningful for every guitar player every time! That’s why I offer risk free trial time. As if I can’t provide musical value and motivation, I can’t accept wasting anyone’s time & money.

Some other Independent Teachers are for me mainly performers (sometimes very high level performers) who try their best to take care of students that in reality do not want to take care of, or do not know how to listen to, how to motivate them, how to awaken the musician in them. Teaching is way way beyond getting people listening to their Teachers’ level performances, that can be nice to listen to, but of very little educational value.

SO THERE IS NO BETTER WAY THAN YOU FOR GUITAR SONGS LOVERS?

Oh, if the arguments I made are still so controversial and unacceptable?

Sure there are still other ways! That at this point might still be better, way better than me! If you are up to 5 years old, you should go for a big plastic thing with fun shaped buttons, called Guitar Hero video-game.

BUT AREN’T GUITAR EXPENSIVE?

Nowadays, you can get a fair quality acoustic or a classical guitar mailed to your doorstep for 100€ or less. Never been a better time to invest in music and in guitar.

Or if you don’t want to invest a cent in your guitar, but still play in front of lots of people, go & learn to play the invisible Air Guitar! There is even a Festival for that!

WHY YOU ALSO PLAY LIVE MUSIC? ISN’T TEACHING ENOUGH?

I am such an incredible player that I absolutely want the world to listen to my live greatness!!! Jokes aside, I believe teaching cannot be “full time”. Every teacher should test its value and relevance vs what the outside audience likes (or not!). In other words, good teachers should perform (as much as good performers should teach too!) even if it’s very true that being a good performer does not make you a good teacher automatically. I was taught by a good performer, who was not a good teacher to me. But this pushed me to go beyond his method and classical guitar so I do still thank him a lot, as here I am!

WHY YOU ALSO ORGANIZE LIVE EVENTS? ON TOP OF TEACHING & PLAYING LIVE?

I also create monthly events where all sort of amateur players (not only my students) can play some music to small audiences so they can get some live results & feedback from their hard work practicing. Or they can even end up winning a live paid gig. Sure, anyone can come to listen only! The reasons I do this is because I see this as a better monthly alternative of what some music schools offer only once a year, a closed doors End Of Course Performance. Hence, missing the contact and the feedback of a real audience. Here’s my Live Events Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/openmicgroup.lu

WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING, FROM YOUR 3 LIVES?

From playing live? I learned the need to constantly question my music knowledge, to get better and to be more respectful to listeners’ Fundamental Right to Good Music.

From teaching guitar? How big of a change can make to offer the possibility to make music. We humans are not only social animals, but very, very, very musical animals.

From organizing music events? I learned how much interesting music hides inside many people with very ordinary life that for too many reason are rarely offered occasions to participate and make something very ordinary, very human and very of their own like making live music and/or listening to live music together. And most importantly, what is mostly valued in participants is not the fact of sounding like a professional level musician, but instead being authentic and showing respect to the ears of the audience.

WAS THERE A LIFE OF YOURS BEFORE THESE 3 LIVES CAME ABOUT?

Ah, there was. I came here, like many expats, called in by the financial sector. Yes, suit, ties and stuff.

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LUXEMBOURG?

Very good! Natural landscape is smaller than, say, France or Brazil, but the human landscape is enormous, interesting and never ending! And being from the industrial North of Italy, I value mostly the human landscape over the natural landscape. But I do understand those who come from, say, Barcelona and miss the seaside.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING IN LUXEMBOURG?

13 years, of which the last four particularly interesting and unexpected!

WHAT IS YOUR MOST BELOVED PLACE IN THE CITY?

Something non musical here! Any of the many beach volley courts in the city, on a sunny day. This country has incredible sport facilities all around.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY?

I love the great position, the kind service, and the reliable quality of a good tartare in the super central La Boucherie. I love the passion and the hard work of people around the simply great food of a few more places like Matelots, Brooklyn Bar & Bay of Bengal. I sure know I am missing lots more nice places.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NIGHTLIFE SPOT?

No real favorite one. I like, depending on occasions, places like The Tube Bar, Rocas, Oscar’s, UpDown, Urban, Konrad, and Brasserie Neumunster.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADJECTIVE TO DESCRIBE LUXEMBOURG?

Unexpected, and great in spite of size!

WHAT ARE YOUR PROJECTS FOR THIS YEAR?

Live better my 3 lives, make more and better music, and something secret I cannot tell you right now, but I will someday!

HOW TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

Message me on Facebook! I always respond.
Here’s my FB Pages where you can write to me.

My live music FB Page: www.facebook.com/jalo.sounds
My teaching method FB Page: www.facebook.com/contact.simplysongs
My music events FB Page: www.facebook.com/openmicgroup.lu

LET’S FINISH WITH A FEW OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music
(William Shakespeare)

The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple
(Albert Einstein)

Studying without desire spoils the memory and retains nothing that it takes in […] Learning is the only thing the mind never fears, never exhausts and never regrets […] Knowing is not enough, we must apply!
(Leonardo da Vinci)

Without music, life would be a mistake
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel
(Louise Veronica Ciccone)

I SAID “FINISH”! AND I ASKED FOR JUST “A FEW” QUOTES!

As you’ve just seen, I tend to talk a lot, write a lot, play a lot… 🙂
Thanks again for your patience & understanding 😉

A FINAL WORD FROM YOU?

Thanks so much! To you, and to Luxembourg

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Marina

Wednesday is the day of Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People once again. Today we get the chance to learn more about Marina, a creative radio presenter.

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Good Morning Marina and welcome on Barefoot in Luxembourg, glad to have you on board for this episode.

Can you introduce you briefly: Who are you?  What are you doing here?

Hi! So, I was born and raised in London, I then moved to Shanghai for a job opportunity when I graduated University. I spent 3 years living as an expat there, where I met my now fiance who is Luxembourgish. Since then, we’ve both moved to Luxembourg and I work as a freelance journalist and radio presenter for ARA City Radio.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your work at the radio?

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about radio is the connection that you make with people. There’s no preconceived notion of who or what someone is, because you cannot see the other person. When people text or call into my show, I get so excited, it’s like we’re connecting over the airwaves! Another aspect of my job which I really enjoy is my podcast series called How I Got Here, where I interview successful people in Luxembourg about their stories.

What are the three things you are enjoying most this project?

Probably the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. From the start, I had stated that success is defined so differently for everyone so I’ve interviewed people from Grammy award winner Gast Waltzing to a lovely girl named Silla who has grown up as an orphan in Tanzania.

When we record the podcasts, I’m alone with them in the recording studio. It’s very intimate and also very real. It’s a genuine conversation. As we start to talk the interviewees start to relax and before you know it we are going into topics which they perhaps wouldn’t have thought they would be sharing! The most interesting part is that I get to make the connection between all these successful people. What is it that has made them all successful? Is it something that they all have or has it been different things that led them all to success? That’s what drives my work.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, you told us already you have been here for a bit more than one year. What is your most beloved place in the city?

There’s a second-hand bookshop next to the Bourglinster castle. It’s one of my favorite hidden gems. They still charge books by weight, it’s the perfect Sunday afternoon activity!

What is your favorite restaurant in Luxembourg?

The food here in Luxembourg is so delicious, it’s really quite hard to choose just one!! Toit pour toi if there’s a nice occasion. But I must tell you a funny story about my favorite restaurant. When I first came to Luxembourg, my fiance had been abroad for over 15 years so he didn’t know many restaurants. So he kept taking me to Brideler Stuff every Sunday. I used to complain every week, it was so dated and the average age of the customers was around 75. But now, when I’ve had a long week and I need to relax, I think to go there. Somehow the combination of the chalet style decor and the traditional Luxembourgish food has become my kind of ‘comfort’ too.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

I like catching up with friends over a few glasses of wine at Barrels.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

I think it pushes you. It’s less developed than London so there’s a lot of opportunity to create many things and to really innovate. There are so many opportunities to explore things that you enjoy and discover new people too. It’s small enough that you can spread the word quickly and big enough that you will have many people interested. In other words, it requires you to step outside of yourself and what you know to go and discover. If you come to Luxembourg and complain that it is boring, I think that says more about you than the country.

What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?

I must say, I miss decent customer service. That’s something that I would love to see improve over the next few years. We like to connect with people when we buy something from their shop, otherwise I would have stayed at home and shopped online. I hope we can recognize this and do something about it. I love to support local businesses and physical stores but we need them to provide us with the advantage that online retailers can’t, that’s physical customer service.

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?

I really enjoyed visiting the lake in the North of the country, in the summer.  It’s a beautiful place to escape to.

What is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?

Quaint.

You can follow Marina on a regular basis on Radio Ara podcasts.

 

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Back from holidays: Barefoot in Frangokastello

As you have probably noted from my Instagram feeds, I spent the last two weeks in Greece. My sister was getting married in Frangokastello, in the region of Sfakia, Crete, and I took the occasion for visiting (and eating!) around.

I have to say I was truly surprised by the place: I was anticipated Sfakia is a very rural region and I did not have to expect much. This is true – forget about Malia, Benindorm or Magaluf, and this time for a good reason!

Going out very often – as you see! – in Luxembourg, when I am travelling for my annual vacations, I rather prefer enjoying some relax. I love good food and wine, but I don’t look for posh places – those you have to dress up for getting in o queuing hours for a watered down (and pricey!) cocktail.

I landed in Chania airport with Ryanair from Franfkfurth Hahn and I spent my first night in the airport surroundings, at Areti Suites hotel. It has been a very comfortable solution as I had a late night flight and I was very tired. The hotel is just 5 minutes driving from the airport, rooms are conditioned and huge, and I was offered some local sweets and drinks and water. I had a typical Greek breakfast with calzoni and spanakopita the day after and then I was ready for my trip!

Frangokastello is about one hour and a half from Chania, of which only first 30 km are on the national road and the following part is on mountain roads with some sharp turns and breathtaking views – nothing too scary, I have to say, just be aware of goats travelling on your same way 🙂

The landscape, getting out from Chania, takes soon a different perspective. You find tiny villages in the middle of nowhere, with their colorful taverns and local people chatting on the doors.

Click this link!

Frangokastello is a small village on the beach, well known for its castle and with some intense touristic affluence over summer. The temperature was still comfortably hot, above all compared to Luxembourg. A mild marine wind was making it more pleasant during the warmest hours.

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I stayed at Fata Morgana Studio and Apartments, a lovely complex situated 1 km outside the main village, on a cliff. My accommodation was perfect: I had a studio room with air-conditioning and fan, a terrace in the middle of a romantic garden and sea view.

If you prefer a more “central” accommodation – even if, I admit, this might be funny in terms of the village -, my parents were staying at Milos apartment, that have more or less the same facilities and a direct access to the beach. There you can also rent small stones mill in the old harbor!

From Fata Morgana, to get to the main part of the village, you can either walk along the coast toward the castle or take the car from the main road – parking was definitely not an issue, but in the morning I preferred having my power walk before staring my day.

Just nearby, there are two main beaches: Orthi Ammos – that is very natural and suggestive, and the main beach in the village, where you can find also sunbeds and umbrellas (one day, 5 euro).

Beaches are calm and children friendly and taverns to get your drinks and food are few steps away.

The village in fact does not lack of places to enjoy the local cuisine: in the morning, I usually took my breakfast at Maria’s bakery, just next to the castle, where you can have local snacks or croissant, together with fresh juices and the usual freddo espresso or frappe’ (an ice drink prepared with Nestcafe that is apparently very popular in Crete).

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For lunch, my favorite place was Kali Kardia, with its covered terrace and home made food. The average spent for a meal there is around 10 euro per person, including beer or wine, Greek appetizers, fruit and raki. You just have to remember you are on holidays and you have to relax. People are taking it very slowly and this was one of the things I enjoyed most.

For dinner, we usually went to Mylos Taverna, located in the small harbor of the village, or to Fata Morgana, on the cliff opposite my apartment. In both food was authentic, portions big and atmosphere characteristic.

For a romantic dinner, the perfect place was Taverna Ammos, located at the edge of the village.

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My favorite dishes during the vacation included “fava”, a mashed fava beans appetizer similar to hummus prepared with olive oil and onions, “Cretan salad”, a Greek salad plus some rusk bread, potatoes and Mizithra cheese and “Bifteki”, minced meat filled with cheese.

I have to say, we eat quite often at Greek restaurants in Luxembourg and even at the good ones, the quality of the food is far from the one I had in Crete. In particular, there are some foods I don’t normally eat in Luxembourg – first among them, the wine leaves stuffed with rice, dolmades, that indeed in Frangokastelllo were delicious.

With the food, we had plenty of raki, typical Retsina wine and Mythos beer.

I visited a bit around, including a scary trip down from Kallikatris village on one of the most dangerous road of the region – but I survived! – and to Rethymno, that is the third largest town in Crete and it is famous for its Venetian fortress – go there in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the warmest hours.

We  also spent some days in Chania, a vivid city, quite touristic, with a romantic harbor, a picturesque old Town and some nice shops. We stayed in front of Neo Chora beach, just off the main city center, and we were quite satisfied, but I have to say, if I could change my plans, I would have spent more days in Frangokastello, as it was ways more relaxing, typical and authentic.

I was busy for the wedding, so I had to limit my daily trips, but the region offers much more to see, including Samaria and Imbros gorges, if you are up for some trekking, Ellafonissi beach, Chora Sfakion village – from where you can arrange some nice boat trips.

My vacations in Frangokastello were extremely pleasant and we are planning to come back next year already. The summer is very long in Crete, so don’t be afraid to book there from May to October!

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