Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: beer

Reflections

It’s been a while.

In fact, it’s been too long.

I kept telling myself to update, but life has been so abundant and exciting lately that it feels surreal. So much has happened, yet it feels like no time has passed at all. All too fast, too sudden.

This is going to be somewhat of a personal entry. I haven’t done much travelling since I came back to Bordeaux (other than St. Emilion again, twice actually), but when you’re in a place that feels like a true home, even wanderlust can’t pull you away. And this is exactly how I had been feeling for the past month or so. Bordeaux – and the people I’ve met here – has already become such a part of my identity. I feel happy here. No embellishing adjective needed, just happy.

The following set of pictures has no particular theme, and are selected from the 32084092384 photos that had been taken within the last month and a half to represent my everyday life. Each picture is accompanied by a small blurb of personal thoughts with regards to my experiences in Bordeaux so far. I apologize if this entry seems scattered; I just want to reorganize my thoughts a little, and share with you something that is more “real” life, for once.

Outside my little studio, we see the mighty St. Andrew’s cathedral and the Pey Berland tower to its right. It still awes me that I am in France, living in such an elegant city. There’s that word again, elegant. I used it to describe Bordeaux when I first arrived in the autumn season, and during the summer, this gem is elegant as ever. It’s so different than the Toronto that I know, and though I’d like to believe that my heart will always remain first in Toronto, Bordeaux is slowing stealing it away from that land that feels so far, far away…

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Don’t underestimate the German portions

Germany, the land that holds a prominent place in history…

Germany, the land of Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen…

Germany, the land of spargel, eisbein, currywurst, and beer…

The capital of Germany, Berlin, is a place where you wouldn’t want to rush through. A huge city similar to Toronto, one day would definitely be pushing it if I wanted to see all that Berlin has to offer, not to mention I’d get totally lost as it isn’t really a city where you could explore on foot, like Luxembourg or Bruges. Luckily I have a friend in Berlin who was able to show me around last weekend, not an easy task for a city filled with so much history!

What are spargel, eisbein, and currywurst? You’d have to read on to find out!

Even though the city has been reunited in 1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall, we still referred to parts of the city as part of West Berlin or East Berlin. Perhaps it is still easier for locals to identify landmarks based on the location, and for most, the historical significance of the Berlin Wall is deeply engraved in their minds. After all, the fall of the wall only happened 22 years ago, quite the recent history!

This is a condensed collection of pictures taken in Berlin. For the full gallery, see Facebook. Mouseover the smaller photos for a description of each, and click for full version.

Day 1: West Berlin

The tour of the city of Berlin started on the west side, with my friend Tin and her boyfriend Robert as the friendly tour guides. Robert was born and raised in Berlin, so he was the perfect source of information about the city and German culture and history itself. Our first stop was at the Reichstag, a building housing the German parliament.

Inside the Reichstag Dome, a large glass dome on top of the Reichstag itself. Below the dome in the parliament, important decisions are made by government officials, and sometimes the parliament is open to the public during certain events. The dome itself houses a gallery of past photos depicting the history of the original Reichstag, its destruction, and its reconstruction over the years.

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Liège, among other things

This entry contains no pictures.

After that bit about travel fatigue, I immediately heeded some friends’ advice (not before re-visiting France, though) to kind of “take it easy” just for a day. Hence, on Sunday, I stopped by Liège to visit some friends and vowed to make it as relaxing a trip as possible. Unlike other trips, this one was purely intended to be a chance for me to say hi and reconnect with the buddies I met in Portugal. I like networking with my “classmates”, if I may call it that, especially over a couple of beers.

Yup, beer was one of the reasons I chose to go to Liège in the first place. It wasn’t that Liège was particularly known for beer, but one of the friends there seemed to be quite a beer fanatic, so I was sure that he’d know of some great Belgian beers. People who know me will probably be surprised that I was the one who proposed having a drink, since I almost never initiate any type of drinking activity, but I figured, we’re in Belgium, why the heck not? Then again, I can’t tell a good beer from a bad one, so even if my friend told me that the worst beer in the world is amazing, I’d probably have believed him.

Do I even like beer? I can honest say that at the moment I still prefer beer over red wine. I guess that’s one aspect where Belgium wins over France.

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Bruges, or is it Brugge?

Some thoughts before the actual entry: After May, when I head back to Bordeaux, it’ll be time to stay in one place and cease travelling for a bit. Sometimes travelling too much makes me forget to appreciate the mere prospect of being able to travel. I see one place in Europe, and then another, and then another. Then I begin to compare, and I see that many aspects of European cities are similar. Then I lose the desire to explore, that wanderlust that so strongly captured me when I started travelling. I don’t want that to happen. I want to retain that curiosity and that “kick” that makes me want to see more of the world. That’s precisely why I need to slow down for a bit, to rest, to get some weekend sleep-in time back and enjoy the relaxation of just being in one city where I feel I belong, the place where I can call home, albeit temporarily. I cannot be back in Toronto every weekend, so Bordeaux is the next most logical place to call home for the time being. Bordeaux, how I miss you.

After the weekend getaway to the Netherlands, my weekly city explorations continued with Bruges, a good ol’ city in Belgium located in the Flemish region of the country. If there was one city in Belgium I wanted to visit besides Brussels, it was Bruges.

I had been struggling with the name of the city throughout my research of what to do once I got there. Should I just go by the English name of Bruges, where the “g” is pronounced as in “gentle” and the “s” is silent, or the Dutch version of Brugge, where the “g” is pronounced as in “girl”? I decided that Bruges sounded more pleasing to the ears – personal preference, no offence to the Dutch language – and so, unlike Den Haag where I chose to keep using the Dutch name, I am sticking with Bruges, even though they say Brugge everywhere in the actual city anyway.

What is Bruges known for? Like Amsterdam, it is called “Venice of the North” because of the water canals that traverse the city. (I really gotta visit the real Venice sometime.) Bruges is also a chocolate city, selling some of the finest chocolate in Belgium, which itself is the chocolate capital of the world. So expectations were definitely high.

I only took 199 photos during this short day trip, one short of 200. After sorting them out, I picked the ones that seemed most representative of the city of Bruges. Without further ado, let’s go on to the pictures, and I’ll talk about some afterthoughts a little later on.

First impression of Bruges, within 5 minutes of getting off the train. This is near the Beguinage of Bruges, which is supposedly a peaceful and quiet area away from the city centre where you’d hope to take a nice stroll away from the crowds. Unfortunately, Bruges is so infested with tourists and travellers (like me) that it’s almost impossible to find any corner of the city without a large crowd.

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Mussels in Brussels

The plan of “one different city per weekend” is working out so far, and only so because Brussels is such a convenient hub of transportation with easy access to many cities. To get to Brussels from Louvain-la-Neuve only takes about 45 minutes by train, and once you get there, the entire Europe is yours to discover.

Before going any further, I decided I should explore Brussels itself, the capital city of the country I currently reside in, and the capital of the European Union, by default. It was rather long overdue. Brussels has been calling for me ever since I stepped into Belgium, as if saying, “Hey, I’m right here.” So on Saturday, I set out for a first day trip in Brussels. It’s a big city, alright, but I figured I can always make short trips back if I feel like getting to know the place better.

Moreover, the weather this weekend couldn’t be any more perfect. It was raining on Friday and it was predicted to rain again on Sunday (and it did), but on Saturday, it was a glorious 21 degrees Celsius, with a gentle breeze that hinted the presence of spring. There was almost no reason NOT to go somewhere.

A weekend return ticket bought on the internet costs 5.60 Euros. With the Louvain-la-Neuve train station situated 7 minutes from my house by walking, I set out at 9:45 in the morning for the 10 o’clock train, arriving at Bruxelles-Midi station at around 11:50. I would start my itinerary there, after picking up my Eurostar tickets for London in May.

The first point of interest is, of course, the number one destination in Brussels, the Grand Place. I promptly purchased a metro day pass for 4.50 Euros and found my way to Central Station, where the Grand Place is located, and my search began.

This is the first thing I saw when I exited Central Station, a gigantic purple bunny. I doubt this has anything explicitly to do with Brussels, but at least it reminds us, Easter is coming in three weeks!

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