The “Ardennes Luxembourgeoises”, or Luxembourg Ardennes, are what we quite simply refer to as a “magical landscape”. “What elements distinguish our best travel memories? A sense of romance. Great landscapes. A feeling of happiness, and bliss …”, I recently learned from the two international travel journalists Audrey Scott & Daniel Noll, of Uncornered Market. And so it is, that here in the far north of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, I am repeatedly reminded of my very own homeland in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel, what with its gently undulating hills, interspersed with crystal-clear rivers, romantic castles and majestic towers. It is quite a compliment, of course, as those of you who follow me around Austria will know.
Laurie sits next to me and smiles. On the occasion of the first ever Creative Tourism Festival “Be Creative in the Ardennes”, she wears her brightest smile and dress. Pride shines in her eyes, as she talks to me about the long preparations for the ten-day festival here in the Luxembourg Ardennes: “More than 30 creative artists skilled in the most diverse arts & crafts of our own country have gathered here to give visitors the opportunity for close-up, interactive learning experiences. In the next few days, we will make a tour with a professional landscape photographer, take part in a culinary wine tasting (yesss 😀 ), visit a felt & flowers workshop, learn to harvest & cook nettle leaves in a variety of ways and make our own slate jewelry.” Luxembourg is very rich, after all. A far cry from the classic stereotype of the letter-box companies in Luxembourg City, this time I choose to travel along the lines of a very different wealth in Luxembourg: The wealth of the people, their skills and fine arts.
Our first creative workshop during the festival “Be Creative in the Ardennes” bears the beautiful French name “Ortie, mon amie!” …
… which literally translates into something like: “Nettle, my friend!” And that is exactly what it is, a “friendly” plant with healing powers that apparently grows everywhere – and about which there is still a lot to learn. Right on the border with Germany, in a romantic little place called Untereisenbach, we meet with locals hosts Michel and Agnes in the creative bistro & restaurant “KultOUR Deppen”. Agnes is originally from Italy and speaks, as she now lives in Luxembourg, at least five different languages - as well as the language of plants. She teaches us the differences in various stinging nettle plants, of how to distinguish which parts of the plant are good for our vegetarian cooking class and lots more useful tips and facts about nettles. We then proceed eating nettles as a pesto, an omelette, even a risotto – and an ice cream! A perfect meal during summer time, don’t you think?
The Luxembourg Slate Museum offers regular courses for designing your own jewelry made from the beautiful, gray-mottled stone.
On the occasion of the first ever “Be Creative” Festival in the Luxembourg Ardennes, Laurie and I visit an easy afternoon class learning how to make jewelry out of slate. Easy, because we both end up wearing a formidable piece of jewelry from the dark gray stone in less than an hour’s time! I choose mine to have the shape of a heart, while Laurie decides on a star. Inspired by the many children around us, who teach us the “simple doing and non-thinking”-approach to becoming creative, we soon enjoy the first feelings of happiness from our own creative enthusiasm.
Oh the sweet scent of flowers! “Just pick & choose those you like”, Martina laughs merrily, already plucking the first great flowers to form her unique arrangement.
Do you know one of the greatest things about creative travel? Sometimes, many times actually, you do not need a plan, not even a idea, no know-how, nothing else than the openness of your mind, of your very own inspiration & creativity. I did not know what my flower arrangement was going to look like. In fact, I have never ever done one before. And yet, it has just happened to me. Just like that. A most beautiful flower arrangement, one that florists might become jealous about. I am touched; Laurie gives hers to her dear mother-in-law who is simply delighted. The happiness of creativity, just saying. Such are our amazing travel experiences here in Luxembourg!
Disclaimer: Thank you, dear Laurie, for inviting me to experience a good part of the 1st “Be Creative” Festival in the Ardennes Luxembourgeoises. All opinions are my own.