Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: alps

Rigi, out of this world

In mid-January, I took my final long, solo backpacking trip. The main motivation was to see Rhine Falls in Switzerland since I missed it due to bad planning in 2012. I contemplated asking for company, but after much thought, I decided to set out all by myself. I needed to get away from people for a week and spend some final moments in Europe with memories that belong only to myself. I needed to roam indulgently through endless beauties without restricting myself with anything. I needed to know that I could be lost and not afraid.

(Of course, that final line came from the lyrics of “Trip the Light” from the Where the Hell is Matt video, 2012 version.)

So I went. In the midst of packing my luggage for Canada, selling everything that I was leaving behind, and finishing off administrative procedures in France, I stopped doing everything and flew to Basel, where the week-long travel began. This trip has been in planning for about 3 months, and even though it was meant to be more or less spontaneous, I needed to know roughly where I was going as I would be visiting 3 countries and 6+ cities in 7 days. I knew Rhine Falls had to be one of the destinations, and since I was in Switzerland again, why not spend some more time in this gorgeous country? I also missed Lucerne during my two previous visits, so that was added to the itinerary. I would later go on to add Schaffhausen, Bern, Vienna, Hallstatt, and Bratislava to the route, and thus began my final elaborate solo journey.

That feeling of taking flight without a burden in my mind and without a worry in the world – it was exactly what I had been missing as the aircraft took me from Bordeaux to Basel. Switzerland again – it had been my favourite European country to visit, until not much later when it would be replaced by Iceland. Yet, I could never get tired of visiting Switzerland. The greenest grass, the bluest skies, the whitest snow, and the clearest waters are found here, and perfection is too perfect that it became eerie. Eerily attractive.

Basel was in fact just a transfer point (I had already visited Basel with chef) to my first destination, Lucerne. Then it turned out that Lucerne itself wasn’t even the first destination. Before I headed out, as I was planning my trip, I saw my friend’s photos of a place in the Swiss Alps called Mount Titlis…not so far from Lucerne. I was instantly taken over by the gorgeousness of it all – I HAD TO GO. Looking into half-day trips from Lucerne led me to a choice between Mount Titlis, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Rigi, all of which were easily reachable from Lucerne. After taking into consideration various factors including time required, cost, modes of transportation, and reviews, my choice was clear. Instead of following my initial urge for Mount Titlis, I decided to go for the “Queen of the Mountains” – Mount Rigi.

The trip between Lucerne and Mount Rigi involved 3 modes of transportation – on the way there, I’d take the boat from Lucerne, cross Lake Lucerne to Vitznau, and then take a cogwheel train from Vitznau to the top of Rigi. On the way down, I’d take the same cogwheel train down only halfway to Rigi Kaltbad, and from there I’d take a gondola/cable car down to the town of Weggis, where a boat would take me back to Lucerne. I was surprised that in mid-January, the number of tourists was anything but few. Seems like Rigi does have its reputation for a reason. On the morning of departure, Lucerne was hit with the thickest fog I’ve ever seen. The entire city was a smokey gray – you could not see any further than 10 metres in front of you. As the boat left the docks of Lucerne, I felt that we were venturing into a space warp as visibility around the boat was literally zero. The winds were chilly on Lake Lucerne, and most passengers were smart enough to hide in the warmth of the interior of the boat. Few brave ones, including me, sat outside. It would probably have been a good idea if we were able to see something, but clearly (or not so clearly…) that was out of the question. I soon came to regret the idea and like the wise passengers, went back inside before the winds froze me.

Continue reading

Advertisements

IDS 2013 part 3 – Annecy, post-training school

Ever since I saw the photo of Annecy in LC’s post, I’ve wanted to visit this little city in the east of France. Well, I didn’t even have to plan it, because the training school took place in Annecy this year. While we weren’t in the city center during the week, the training ended on a Friday afternoon, so it only made sense to stay one more night in (the real) Annecy to see what it truly has to offer. I had heard so many great thing about Annecy, and I was more than a bit excited to finally visit!

This time around, there were 10 people in the group, including me. And that’s only in my “official” group. Others who weren’t part of my planning joined in later, and we even bumped into some unexpected friends at the hostel! It seemed like the Annecy hostel was mostly IDS-filled that Friday night, ha!

To see the full Annecy photo album, click here.

I rarely start off the post with a photo of me, but this is my favourite photo taken of me during the entire training school trip, by the Thiou canal in Annecy. It had been such a fulfilling week and I was just so…happy! So happy to be surrounded by fun, lovely people, so happy to be in touch with nature, so happy to get the chance to explore, so happy to feel like I’m doing what I love again.

Continue reading

IDS 2013 part 2 – Training time

Hmm…I didn’t think I’d be too busy to update, but I underestimated this mission to Belgium. Third day back at the lab and I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things I have to accomplish by the end of the month. Bring it on.

The blog posts must continue. It’s been almost two weeks since the training school in Annecy – wow? I left the IDS-FunMates in Bordeaux – lots of them, including Yi-Shiang, Jiang, Xuesong, An, Vusala, Edgar, Mathilde, Hanbin, Camille – and joined the ones in Louvain-la-Neuve again – Diana, Alina, Victor (I think), and Naresh who is arriving soon.

These are only some of the 60 or so students in IDS-FunMat. Now in its third year, the program has approximately 20 students per class, meeting annually in March for a training school where everyone gets to meet and mingle. Yeah, “training” school. Of course we have lectures and seminars and presentations and workshops, but all of us know that we don’t see some of our colleagues except during this event, and so we take full advantage of the week.

Especially me. I ❤ my IDS-FunMates so much. (Photo album here.)

I arrived in Annecy on a Sunday afternoon, roots and branches still visible, but on Monday morning I awoke to a big surprise – snow! Big snow! I think it was a present from the people who arrived from Canada or Belgium. I mean, I did request snow maybe two months ago, but c’mon, it’s the end of March. Some spring, please? Well to be fair, the snow was lovely, and I didn’t mind it, especially with the Alps as the background for our training school the entire week 😉

Continue reading

IDS 2013 part 1 – Pre-training school trip to Lausanne

I am finally writing about the 2013 IDS-FunMat training school almost one week after it has happened. Forgive me, I had been busy with work and moving to Belgium again and whatnot.

The annual IDS-FunMat training school is the event I look forward to the most each year because I get to meet new colleagues and reunite with some people I ONLY get to see once a year at the training school. It took place in Sesimbra 2011 with an excursion to Lisbon. Last year, the training school was in Anglet and side trips included San Sebastian, La Rhune, and Biarritz.

For my 3rd and final training school, we went to Annecy near the French-Swiss border. Hmm. This had to mean Switzerland all over again. Since I was to fly from Bordeaux to Geneva first, I figured, why not make a detour to Lausanne before the training school started, and spend some time in Geneva afterwards?

Well apparently aside from me, a lot of my colleagues from Bordeaux liked that idea. 10 of them, in fact, decided to join me for Lausanne. So I started planning, and I became the coordinator for our pre- and post-training school Swiss trips. Big task, booking accommodations and creating a detailed itinerary and all. I love planning trips, but it was the first time ever that I was travelling in a group of 11 people, so it was certainly challenging, but worth every effort because of how much fun we ended up having 😉 (See all photos here.)

Mumu cow welcomes you to Switzerland, the land of the Alps, cheese fondue, watches, Swiss army knives, and expensive everything. Without really having a goal, our group grabbed a city map from the hostel and headed into the old town for some exploration.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: