Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: beach

Sherry’s European adventures: Belgium, Paris, and Bordeaux

Well, after months of planning and anticipation, the sister is finally here to visit. I meticulously planned this trip so that when she arrived, she would be visiting Belgium when I was still there. Then we’d head to Bordeaux with a short stay in Paris, and in the end, we’ll fly back to Canada together, for MY vacations. This way, she would get the benefit of experiencing a little bit of both countries while I’d have some company for the long trans-Atlantic flight 😉

It’s been almost three weeks of hopping between cities, most of which I’ve been to already, and I wanted my sister to get the best out of her first European adventure. It certainly wasn’t easy for her to be away from home for so long, all by herself, and it wasn’t easy to plan a feasible route for her, but I enjoyed the process of showing some of the places I loved and exploring new places with her. Of course, food was a big part of our adventure, as you’ll see later! So let’s start with…

Belgium

I was finishing my 4th session in Louvain-la-Neuve when my sister arrived, and she got to stay with me there for a full week. I brought her to Bruges, a popular tourist destination that I didn’t like when I first visited, Ghent, like Bruges but much more lovely, at least to me, and of course, Brussels, the European capital. Chef tagged along as well, triple the fun!

Sista time! Sherry is 9 years younger than me – quite a huge difference, no? Almost everyone told us that we don’t look alike, and most would agree that I am more like my dad while my sister is more like my mom, both in terms of physical appearance and personality. Do you think we look anything like each other at all? 😉

Continue reading

Advertisements

Basque Country part 4: Biarritz

Last but not least, Biarritz! It’s been more than two weeks, but Biarritz will be the concluding post in the Basque Country series.

Training school finished at around noon on a Saturday. While most people either headed back to Bordeaux with the school shuttle buses or left for their flights back to their host universities, a small group of us had some time to spare. Mariel and I would be taking the 18h45 bus in Biarritz to San Sebastián, while Nhi, Naresh, and Ragu had a train to catch in Bayonne at 18h30. That gave us five hours of free time from 13h00, after lunch. Hmm. Mini-Biarritz exploration team, anyone?

Of course, we decided that the little we saw on the bus to the excursion was definitely not enough, and since we had the time, we took a taxi to the Biarritz town centre to walk around a bit until it was time to go. We were joined by Diana, whose flight was at around 17h00 and who would leave Biarritz at 15h00. A cozy group of six, off we went!

The taxi dropped us off at the Biarritz town centre, and before going anywhere, I needed to head to the tourist information centre to make sure that there was actually a bus later that day that would take Mariel and me to San Sebastián. Biarritz has a very cute tourist information centre – it looks like a noble castle! I would have thought this was a tourist attraction itself, hehe 😉

Continue reading

Basque Country part 2: San Sebastián

This series on the Basque Country is not in chronological order. I wanted to write the San Sebastián post before La Rhune and Biarritz, while it is still relatively fresh in my mind, since it was such an interesting trip.

So, San Sebastián. It is a city on the Spanish side of the Basque Country known for its lovely beaches. I am truly willing to say that I liked it more than Barcelona, the only other big city in Spain that I have visited so far. Before going to San Sebastián, I got the impression that it was a small, touristy city that would require no more than one day to experience. In fact, I was going to stay only one night and head back to Bordeaux the next day before Mariel suggested staying two nights. I’m glad I took her advice, as San Sebastián had much more to offer than I had anticipated!

From Biarritz, Mariel and I hopped onto the PESA bus that took us directly to San Sebastián. The ride itself wasn’t particularly pleasant – it was the first time after a very long time that I got carsick (or…bus-sick, if there is such a term?) I believe it must have been due to the rough roads from Biarritz to San Sebastián, though I couldn’t be sure because I was half asleep during most of the trip.

We arrived at night, found our hostel, dropped off our belongings, and headed out to dinner right away. The real exploration started the next morning, when we decided to stroll along the riverside and head up Monte Urgull, a hill right in the midst of the city between the two beaches, Zurriola and La Concha.

We climbed up Monte Urgull at a very leisurely pace, occasionally stopping to enjoy the view of San Sebastián. From Monte Urgull, the entire crescent of the Bay of La Concha could be viewed, and all of San Sebastián was laid out right in front of your eyes.

Continue reading

Basque Country part 1: 2nd IDS-FunMat training school in Anglet

IDS-FunMat (International Doctoral School in Functional Materials) training week is perhaps the only time of the year when I look forward to a Monday. It is an annual training week in my PhD program where all the PhD candidates meet at one place to undergo lectures, workshops, and discussions. Of course that means a lot of interaction and socializing, and what better place to do it than right beside the Atlantic Ocean? The destination this year…Anglet!

When I told friends that I was going to Anglet, no one knew where that was. Then I said Biarritz…still doesn’t sound familiar until I popped out the name Bayonne. Turns out the three places are actually one big community, kinda like Bordeaux and Pessac and Mérignac, I suppose.

Last year, the first training school took place in Portugal. Yes, it was also by the Atlantic, but one can never get too much of the ocean. I met my colleagues – or classmates – for the first time last year and had a blast getting to know everyone, coming from all over the world ranging from the Philippines, Mexico, Nepal, Canada (yes there was another Canadian aside from me!) etc. This year, in addition to my class, there was the new class of 2011 that has joined the program. The nationalities were as diverse as before, if not more diverse – Turkey, Singapore, Ukraine, Italy…you name it! Double the people, double the fun!

The people – I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with everyone in the IDS-FunMat program, and I was so excited to see the people in my class, some of which whom I haven’t seen since Portugal last year! It’s a marvelous thing, bonding with people. Nature nourishes us, but human interaction keeps us alive.

Seems like Mariel from the Philippines (left) and Daniel from Australia (right) are having an intense scientific discussion on the beach! From photovoltaics to biomaterials to solar cells, PhD candidates from all areas of functional materials met during this training week to discuss our progress, problems, and prospects.

Continue reading

Spain part 2 – Girona and Vilanova

While roaming in Europe, travellers realize that many gems are hidden in small, lesser-known towns and municipalities. Whether it’s in terms of food, culture, or atmosphere, it’s a completely different experience visiting big tourist cities while compared to quieter, less popular destinations. That was why aside from Barcelona, friend LS-san and I decided to visit a random city nearby on days 2 and 3 of our trip.

First, it was a choice between Tarragona, Zaragoza, and Girona. Taking into consideration travel time and cost, we decided to venture to Girona on day 2, a Spanish town north of Barcelona approximately an hour and a half away by train.

As for day 3, we headed to Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small town which took us about 40 minutes to get to from Barcelona. It was an accidental discovery, actually. The moment I saw Vilanova i la Geltrú on the map, I knew there was something familiar about it. Later I remembered seeing its name on the trams of Bordeaux, thus realizing that it is in fact twinned with Merignac, a suburb of Bordeaux. So naturally, we figured we’d go take a look.

The town of Girona, with houses along the Onyar river as seen from the old bridge. The colours of Girona remind me slightly of Lisbon, bright and pastel.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: