LUXEMBOURG at Christmas


Luxembourg – After a long day of travel on the 1st of December, I finally arrived in Luxembourg. The first week here was spent working at my new job, and not much time for anything else. Up at 6am, out the door by 7:30am, and at the office by 8:30. The new job is intense since I am playing the catch up to speed game. It was a week of work, eating and sleeping and not much more, until the weekend when I decided to go out and explore this incredibly beautiful city.


Luxembourg was founded in 963 A.D. by Sigefroi (Siegfried), the Count of Ardennes who laid the foundation of what would become the Luxembourg Capital and would become part of the Holy Roman Empire under successive leaders.

Later, in 1354 it became an independent duchy. Wenceslas I (the origin of the Christmas Carol “Good King Wenceslas”), the son of John the Blind, expanded the duchy’s lands, incorporating lands to the north and to the south, which made the land’s position in Europe very strategic, militarily speaking. It was later controlled by Belgium.


In 1815, Luxembourg became an independent Grand Duchy, ceded to King William I, the ruler of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands who became the first Grand Duke, and considered it (Luxembourg) his personal property. It remained the personal property of the Dutch Monarchy until 1890. Because there was no male heir, the crown of Luxembourg passed the Duke Adolph of Nassau, whose descendants rule to this day.


So, that is the brief history of Luxembourg. My adventure here began when I walked nearly 5km from my neighborhood, into the old city center and discovered the Christmas Festival and Market. “Winterlights,” the festival of lights and animation that turns this ancient city into a magical, wonderful and romantic Christmas market, with street entertainment, exhibitions, shows and concerts.


The entire City of Luxembourg is decorated with Christmas lights…according to the Luxembourg City guidebook, more than 1,600m of lights, with thousands of light bulbs decorate the streets, trees and squares of the city.


The City’s markets are teeming with multicultural flavor, a blending of French, Belgian, English, Dutch and German. Fires burn throughout the marketplace to keep visitors warm as Christmas Carols sung in the Luxembourgish language fill the air. But, on the day of my particular visit, there was a choir singing something a little more familiar to me…Southern Gospel Music for the holidays.


The audio system in the square also blasted out American Christmas classics from Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney and, of all things, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I happily walked around the square inspecting all the wonderful traditional Christmas treasures, food and drinks as I listened to White Christmas, Silent Night, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and The Little Drummer Boy in my own language. The atmosphere was energetic and happy.


After walking around the market for about an hour, I was getting cold, so I decided to try a local cold weather warmer…Feuerzanganbowle.


This is a tasty concoction made from Rhum, Red Wine, some other unidentified alcohol, fruit juice, and a flaming sugar cube, served piping hot. One of these little mugs of alcoholic goodness and I was feeing pretty good, and very warm inside.

Luxembourg Rowhouses

“The mixture of languages spoken highlights and defines the cosmopolitan nature of Luxembourg, a haven of human peace. Old and young alike will be delighted by the range of products on sale – handcrafted candles, heart-shaped gingerbread, toys, various Christmas tree decorations, greetings cards, CDs of Luxembourg Christmas carols and many charming gift ideas. And of course you can also try the tasty dishes and mulled wine (“Glühwein”) which are on offer.”



Read more:


So, once again this American Traveler takes to the road on a new adventure. This time, the destination…LUXEMBOURG and other interesting places I’ve never been! Stay tuned for updates! COMING SOON!

In the weeks and months to come, I will begin to highlight the experiences I have as I learn about the world as an American Traveler.

A few years ago I decided to begin traveling abroad to see life in other lands for the thrill of discovery, as I had never traveled abroad until 2004. So, within these pages you will discover what I discover, You will see what I see, and you will experience to some degree, what I experience. I hope you find it as interesting as I do to learn of new cultures and new customs.

My Journey began in 2004 as I embarked on my first trip to Europe to see Paris. I’d never had the pleasure of traveling abroad and I was excited by the opportunity to see firsthand, the places where so much history has happened.

At that time my life in Los Angeles, CA revolved around my career at the Museum of Tolerance, which was teaching the history of WWII and the Holocaust, as well as Human Rights and the effects of history on mankind. I was, and still am, fascinated by the effects of history on our present day life. So, through pictures, video (when possible), and narrative prose I will explain my feelings and thoughts to the best of my ability as I discover history and culture in other lands.

It is time to see it for myself…and so my journey begins, again!


This is the second in a series of videos documenting the American Anti-War Movement in France. LEAVE A VIDEO RESPONSE with your thoughts and reactions to the protests (Answer the questions posted in the video! Do you support the movement? Are you against the movement? All video comments are welcome)… let’s get the DEBATE STARTED!

Spread the word…tell your friends to come to YouTube and get involved in the debate!


This is the first in a series of videos documenting the American Anti-War Movement in France. LEAVE A VIDEO RESPONSE with your thoughts and reactions to the protests (Answer the questions posted in the video! Do you support the movement? Are you against the movement? All video comments are welcome)… let’s get the DEBATE STARTED!

Spread the word…tell your friends to come to YouTube and get involved in the debate!
(click on "ONCE UPON A TIME ON PLANET EARTH" to learn more)

A Journey of Discovery

Dear Readers,
Since I have not been in Morocco for a while, I have not written
much about life in this beautiful country. Therefore, I have decided
to repost an article I wrote for the International Press Association
in honor of the holiest of Muslim holidays, Ramadan.
This year Ramadan coincides with the Jewish High Holidays,
so to all of my Jewish and Muslim friends and readers around
the globe…BONNE FETE! I am thinking about all of
you during this blessed month.  PEACE!

Ron Modro
International Press Association
copyright 2006

What is Ramadan? That is a question I had asked myself many times
in the last year. Due to the somewhat closed nature of the Islamic religion,
very few Americans actually know what this most holy of Muslim holidays
is really about. So I decided to make the 35 kilometer trip from the
Ourika Valley into the City of Marrakech, to spend some time there
and really get to know the place.
I must admit, I have not had an easy time of adjusting to the slower
and sometimes frustrating way of business in Morocco. I needed to
be in this city to figure out my place in it. The thought that kept coming
to my mind as I strolled through the
streets; "What is this journey really all about for me?"
I had walked through the tiny streets with all of their colorful trinkets,
rugs and blankets, not really focusing on anything in particular, but lost
in a world of thought. All the while, I was interacting and seeing things
in a different light. It was a strange moment of revelation that I was
here and this was my new world. I had left behind all the trappings
of a modern western life. In a way, America will always be my home,
but I am now in a new place where everything I knew has changed.
I would not say that my mood was melancholy, but rather it was a mood
of atonishment. I had actually left my world behind. I decided then, to
stop at a cafe to have a strong cup of Moroccan coffee.
As I sat there remembering why I had come here, a man slid his chair up
next to me. He began:
"Hello." He said in English.
"Bonjour." I replied.
"Oh, you are French?"
"Non, American."
"American? We do not get many Americans here anymore!"
"Oui, Je sais (I know)."
"Bienvenue (welcome) American! We are happy to have you here in
Morocco. You look like you could use some company."
"Non, Merci." I replied, thinking I was being picked up as a tourist
looking for a guide.
"Non, Monsieur – I can tell you need a friend. Let us have some tea
and, let us talk."
"Oui, d’accord (ok) – Sidi! Encore de The, s’il vous plait." I called to
the waiter.
"Shuhkran (thank you). May I join you?" he said to me.
Oui, bien sur (of course)."
He twirled his chair around and sat with both elbows resting on the table
and said to me, his tongue twisting his "R’s" like corkscrew macaroni: "So,
tell me my friend, what you are thinking about over here all by yourself."
"Just getting used to Morocco. It is very different than what I am
accustomed to."
"You do not like Morocco, my friend?"
"Oh no. I love Morocco. It is just different from the way I grew up. I
used to live in Los Angeles before I moved here."
"You live in Morocco?" he said with complete astonishment. "You are
"Oui, maintenant! (yes, now)"
"Why you move to Morocco, my friend?"
"Just to do something different, I guess. Needed a change."
I was not giving any hints to my life here. I suppose, I was still having
trouble letting this world in. It is a part of life in Los Angeles
(and the States in general), that everyone is suspect until you get to
know him or her well. It is a hard habit to break once it has been
instilled in you. However, I was willing to talk to this man, who told me
his name is Karim.
Karim is a man of medium height, dark, jet-black hair, drawn face with
a serious dental issue, nevertheless, he seemed nice enough, so I was
actually grateful for the company.
We discussed life in Los Angeles, New York and Morocco.
Finally, I said; “Karim let me ask you something.”

“Yes, my friend, anything.”

Mind you, this conversation is happening in three different languages.

Neither of us speaks the others language well, so we were piecing this
entire conversation together in French, Arabic, and American English.

“What do you think of all the changes happening in Morocco?”

“I understand, my friend. The western influence. You are wondering if we

accept it. Insha’llah (If God wills it!)”


“America is a great country, non? We do not get many American’s here.

Why?” He inquired honestly.

I thought for a moment and finally all I could really think to say was;

“They are afraid of Islam I suppose. What is happening in the world today, Karim?
My country is at war with what they believe to be radical Islam. I have to tell you,
I was a little worried about coming here – but I wanted to see for myself. Now I
see differently, but it is a bit hard for me at times. Everything I knew has

“Yes, I understand, my friend.”

‘It is taking me time to let go of the ways of my old life, and embrace this new life.

How do I fit in here?” I said, feeling a bit apologetic for dropping that little
nutcracker on him. “Sorry, you asked what was on my mind.”

‘Non, Non! Mon ami! I am glad you asked that question.” He paused a moment to

collect his thoughts, I suppose. Then continued; “Let me tell you, my friend.
You are my friend, right? (I nodded politely) Good. Good. Islam is about faith.
There is no difference between you and me, the tourist and the Moroccan, there
is no difference, between those born here and those who choose to call it home.
There is only religion that makes us different. We do not have to be this way.
We can live together. True Islam teaches hospitality to everyone. Therefore,
my friend, you are welcome here. It does not matter if you are American.
You are here. You must adapt to our ways of thinking……..yes, and with that,
you bring something new to us as well. It will take time, but it will happen
for you. You will find your place”       “Insha’llah! (If God wills it).”

I thought to myself for a moment……….Then it dawned on me; “Is that what

Islam is really about (from a strictly outsiders point of view)? There is one God.
He is Almighty. He created the Heavens and the Earth, and if you trust in God,
everything is in his/her hands (being PC for you folks out there) to
provide…….in a word; Insha’llah!"

“Exactly, my friend!” Karim replied with great enthusiasm. “You will find your

place here, not to worry.

Karim and I sat for a while longer, just content to sit and watch as life in

Marrakech passed before us. I am not sure how long we sat there. We finished
our tea and after a while Karim said to me; “Well, thank you my friend. It is
time for me to go, but I hope I will see you again very soon. Morocco is
your home now. S’lama! (Good-bye)”

We shook hands and parted ways. I paid my bill and began the long walk back

to the car, with plenty of time to think about our conversation.

It hit me about two streets away from the café; “In God We Trust” the motto of

the United States, which is emblazoned across all of our currency, is exactly the
same idea as Islam……giving over control to divine providence. “Insha’llah!”

Which if you really think about it, all comes from the same source. Nearly

every single religion on this planet follows this idea, philosophy, or theology.
However, do we trust God…. that he/she is right (if God is either
Masculine or Feminine)? So, if we all trust in God, why are we fighting – Over
whose god is the right God? What if we are all right about God, and he/she
is all of those things that we share in common – and it is a lot more than
many people may think.

What if God “IS” the unbelievable diversity that we have on this planet?


I learned that Ramadan is about getting closer to the creator. One must try

harder not to sin against God and against his fellow man, reflecting on all
that is good, and the blessings we have in our lives.

It is much like Easter for Christians, or Yom Kippur for Jews. Getting closer

to God to see the blessings that have been given to us.

I realized that I have been blessed with the opportunity to see the world

and to share that experience with those around me. Even with all of the
difficulties in adjusting, the truth remains. I am blessed to be here and to see
the world that the Creator has given to us. I may not always handle the
changes or differences well, but the fact that I am here, tells me I am supposed
to be right where I am at this moment in time.

This is what Ramadan has come to mean to me.

The blessing for me is………… Knowledge. Insha’llah!


(for more information click project title)
August 6, 2007 at 8:15 AM in Paris, France. I awoke this dreary Monday morning, still not knowing what my photo would be. I had thought about it for months, but to no avail. At 7:00 AM, I left my apartment and began walking the streets of Paris hoping to find an inspiration, as a light rain began to fall. While I walked, the motto of France; “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite,” kept running through my mind.

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” are principals that are dear to every human being on this planet, but are denied to so many, whether they are Black, White, Asian, Indian, American, European, African, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, etc…they have been denied to one group or another throughout the course of human history. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion in the long history of humanity? How many wars have been fought over the belief that one group is more superior to another? How many people have died for the cause of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” or the lack thereof, thoughout time?

On this rainy morning, I found myself standing on an island in the middle of the Seine River, in the heart of this beautiful city. Standing face to face with the very symbol of my own country’s struggle, for these same principals…The Statue of Liberty, which was a gift to the United States of America from the people of France in 1886, as a gesture of goodwill between our peoples. I sat there at the feet of this incredible model of Peace and Justice, remembering the history of the world. It was frightening to think of the numbers of people who have died in the past 150 years alone, in the name of power and control.

In the United States, 618,000 men died during the Civil War, from 1860 to 1865, in order to secure the the rights and freedoms we hold dear. During World War II, more than 50 million people died for the cause of freedom, 6 million Jews deliberately murdered, 5 million others slaughtered for the sake of supremacy over humanity. An estimated 80,000 people were killed in a single blast of an Atomic Bomb, designed purely for destruction. Some 60,000 more people perished from its after-effects. However, this was not enough, again, 3 days after Hiroshima, another bomb was dropped on the City of Nagasaki where an additional 73, 884 people were killed in a momentary flash of light, 17,358 more from radiation poisoning…and the list goes on.

Is this the cause of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity?” Brother fighting brother, country fighting country, nations killing nations, have we not learned from the lessons of history? Here I sat, at the feet of the beacon of liberty and freedom, and I thought of the poem enscribed at her feet…

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.

From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

I took a few test shots of the statue, then looked around the serene setting I found myself in, and there, across the Seine, on the far banks of the river, I saw the tired, poor and huddled mass of “Diego,” sleeping. I gathered my camera pack and headed across the bridge. It was now 8:00 AM; I had only 15 minutes to get my shot.

I reached my destination with a few minutes to spare and woke the sleeping Diego. I explained, in my broken French, what I was doing there and asked if he would allow me to take his photograph…he agreed. While we waited for the time of the photo shoot, Diego explained his story to me…

Diego is from Germany, born to Spanish parents who left Spain during the fall of the “FRANCO REGIME.” After the war, life was very difficult for Diego’s family in Germany. When he became an adult, he left for France to begin a new life, trying to make a living with what little resources he had at his disposal. Now, some 30 years later, he found himself living under a bridge in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities on earth; his view from his living space…the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, on the waterfront near a busy freeway. His life as a homeless person has been hard, being chased from one location to another by the police, to keep him from becoming a nuisance to the population of the city.

This quiet and reserved man, who was willing to sit and chat with me, a complete stranger, seemed to be a respectable human being in a very bad situation. My heart went out to him. I had stumbled upon the perfect subject for my photo, lying in the shadow of “Lady Liberty.”

At 8:15 AM, Diego sat up and looked across the river to the Statue of Liberty, and the distant look of despair, mingled with the twinkle of hope, entered his eyes, searching for an answer to his situtation, hoping for a resolution to a life of hardship. It was then that I snapped my photo.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is the legacy of humankind; “Love thy Neighbor as thy self, for if you do unto one, you do unto mankind.”

Ron Modro

Paris, France






It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of my
Mr. Louis Morin on July 15, 2007
Mr. Morin was 95 years old and was witness to the most tumultuous periods of the 20th Century.
The following entry is a reposting in his honor, recounting his years as a witness to history.
1912 – 2007

The Ghosts of War
Bretagne, France
"There is nothing more chilling than to walk amongst the ghosts of the past."
When I started writing this blog nearly 2 years ago, I did so with the desire to seek new cultures and new customs through the eyes of an inexperienced traveler, while moving forward into my new life, and to share those experiences with you.
However, since my arrival in France, I have learned that in order to look forward to the future, it is important to look to the past. The mistakes of our forefathers are numerous, and unfortunately, we have been destined to follow in their footsteps.
Upon arriving in Europe, I began searching through international message boards (online) hoping to find information on living abroad, but what I found there was disturbing beyond belief. The level of hateful and intolerant nationalism, and racism I discovered was something I had never really experienced "FIRSTHAND" even though I had worked in Human Rights Education for more than 6 years, teaching the history of war and the effects of hatred. What disturbed me the most……….is that it was coming from my own countryman.
Please don’t misunderstand dear reader, as I am sure I will receive many negative comments, I am a PROUD AMERICAN and I believe in the Freedom of Speech, but most of the postings I found were just ill-informed rantings.
Many were downright childish, like renaming "FRENCH FRIES" to "FREEDOM FRIES." Other comments were outright bigotry and hatred of cultures these people obviously knew nothing about, with comments like: "All French are ass-f***king faggots (Usually mispelled "fagits")," "All Ni**ers are uneducated, violent criminals," "All Muslims are terrorists, and the Middle East should be NUKED" as well as numerous references to the "Dirty Jews."  These dear reader are just the mild comments. I would be censored by the editors of MSN if I were to publish the other comments I found.
I became fearful that this was the beginning of a new era of intolerance that would once again lead us down the path of destruction.
I had to ask myself, and now I am asking you:
With all of this in mind, I took a trip with Michel to see his parents in Bretagne (Brittany), France. What I found there affected me more than I could have ever imagined.
Michel’s parents, Louis and Josephine (pictured above), are delightful people. "Josephine" is 90 years old and is from a line of nobility that descends from the time of Napoleon (hence the name Josephine). She is a lovely woman with a sharp wit and a strong character. I found her to be warm and giving, as well as opinionated. But, at 90 years of age, she has earned that right. The world she grew up in was a very different place from the world we live in today.
‘Louis" was a treasure. At ninety-five years old, he was energetic and alert. What I found most interesting about Louis was the history he had witnessed, and that he generously chose to share it with me.
Born in 1912, he grew up in Bretagne, and by 1914 he had watched as the world descended into the darkest period mankind had ever known. He watched as neighbors and friends died at the hands of the invading German forces, as they took over the land of his birth and dragged the world to the depths of hell never before imagined. However, even after the horrors he had witnessed, he was warm and loving beyond explanation.
World War I ended in 1918, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. I have walked the halls of that historic palace, and stood on the very spot where one of the worst wars man has ever known came to an end (I recommend a trip to Versailles to everyone). It was the "WAR TO END ALL WARS" ………or so they believed.
But, the ghosts of man’s past are easily forgotten. Less than a generation later, the world would once again stand on the precipice of hell. Descending further than man has ever known.
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Regime came to power in 1933, and by 1940 had taken control over most of Europe by threat and intimidation, promising to wage a war on a scale never before seen. For a battle weary Europe, the thought of another war was incomprehensible.
Most of Europe fell to Nazi control without much of a struggle. Countries like France and Poland appeared to be weak and unable to defend themselves. But, it was people like Louis who were the true heroes of the war.
At the beginning of World War II, with the memory of THE GREAT WAR still fresh in his mind, Louis and many others joined the Underground (French) Resisitance movement. He was living behind enemy lines, working to free his country from a terror never known to mankind. Through sabotage and espionage, they were able to strike a terrible blow to the Nazi War Machine with the help of the Jewish Resistance, and the Communist Resistance, which led to the ultimate invasion by the Allied Forces of America, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Belgium and yes, France. Without the help of the resistance movements, "The Allied Forces" might have failed in their attempt to liberate Europe.
French resistance groups known as the "Maquis" operated in the rural mountainous regions of Brittany and southern France, harassing Vichy France Milice and German occupation troops.
The Maquis aided the escape of downed Allied airmen, Jews and others pursued by the Vichy and German Authorities.
The resistance movements successfully destroyed water towers, and telephone lines, as well as roads and railways, all in preperation of the Allied invasion. Captured Maquis faced torture, being shot, or being deported to Nazi concentration camps, where very few survived.
During the Allied invasion, the Maquis and other groups played a major role in delaying the German mobilisation. As the Allies advanced, the French Resistance rose against the Nazi occupation forces and their garrisons. Some Maquis groups took no prisoners and German soldiers often preferred to surrender to Allied soldiers rather than face the wrath of the Maquis.
I hate to admit it, but unfortunately, more than a few young Americans (and some not so young) are under the impression that the United States liberated Europe all by itself. This has led to a belief by some, that America is "SUPERIOR" to all other nations.
It was that kind of thinking in Germany that led us into two World Wars. The Nazis believed they were a race of super-humans destined to rule the world, by force if necessary. This thinking is not unlike many of the postings I’ve read, which have been written by Americans. 
Again, I am a proud American and these postings made me angry that we were being portrayed in this way. So, I felt I needed to answer these postings in an educated and creative way.
It is a sad testament to the education of our youth that they have been taught to believe they are SUPERIOR to all other nations, when they themselves are the descendants of those very nations.
Everyone in America, with the exception of Native Americans (this is a subject for another article), came from somewhere else. Therefore, when we preach hatred for the people of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Israel, etc.  we really hate ourselves, because they are us, and we are them. One Planet……..One World……..One People.
I apologize dear reader for climbing onto my soap-box. But, after meeting Louis and hearing his perspective about the war as a behind the lines veteran, and with what I have read in these postings, and as an educator of WWII history, and after seeing the monuments to our violent past, I can come to only one conclusion……that, "Somewhere in the middle, lies the truth."
Since I have found myself in the very place where so much of World War I and World War II were fought, I went on a trip through history. Michel took me to the beaches of Bretagne where the Nazis built countless bunkers and gun turrets during the occupation of France. It was a chilling experience to walk amongst the rubble of the past, and to feel the desolation that war can bring.
The people of this beautiful countryside still remember the horrors brought by war, and the horrible mistakes that were made. It is a history that haunts them everyday.
People want to point fingers and say: ‘They did this!" or ‘They did that!"
The truth is, we are all guilty of these crimes and until we "as a world" are able to admit these mistakes, we are destined to repeat them.
The short video essay currently on this site, was shot when Michel and I explored the ruins of a Nazi stronghold on the shores of Bretagne, France on Christmas Eve, 2005. It is a chilling reminder of the costs of waging war.
Rest In Peace Dear Louis
Your Legacy is not Forgotten

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