Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: belem

When the river awakes

Every year, the city of Bordeaux celebrates one of two things. Since 2011 is an odd number year, it was the time for…Fête le Fleuve! On June 18 and 19, the quays of Bordeaux awoke to the call of the river as the celebration began with dances, concerts, and of course, a spectacular firework at the end of both days. It rained a little during the afternoon on Saturday, but thank God the skies were clear the rest of the time, especially during the fireworks!

(If you were wondering, wine is celebrated in even number years, as if you hadn’t already guessed that.)

The great thing about Bordeaux during the summer is its many festivals that fill the city with music and animation; the bad thing is that transit workers tend to strike on those days. Yup, services from 6h30 till 20h00 with a frequency of 10 to 12 minutes per train (20 to 25 minutes on Sunday) certainly didn’t sound very convenient for an event that was supposed to last all night long. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. Perhaps they want to party as well. This of course makes it difficult for people who live outside the city center to gain access to where most of the activities are, since public transit is rather vital in Bordeaux. I am lucky to be living right in the center of downtown, so Fête le Fleuve was the perfect time for me to get out and immerse fully in the festivities.

The festival was grand. The entire downtown area from Quinconces to la Bourse was filled with people out to enjoy the entry to summer. Never have I seen so many people all at once in Bordeaux before. And never has the Garonne seemed so gorgeous before, so elegant, so OURS.

Welcome to Bordeaux, the beautiful land of wine!

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Portugal part 2: Lisbon

If you haven’t read part I about Sesimbra yet, read it here.

Portugal has held a special place in my heart for a very long time, because one of the most influential teachers in my life was a Portuguese man. In grades 7 and 8, Mr. DaSilva taught extended French. He was a silly man, always telling corny jokes and life stories in class, yet for some reason I just liked him. I can honestly say that he played a big part in getting me here today. He inspired me greatly during those two short years, when I was still a youngster, and he encouraged me to continue my French studies. I’m glad I did, because knowing French certainly contributes to my survival in France – go figure.

That was why I was so excited that the first training school is in Portugal. I had told myself that I would definitely visit Mr. DS’s hometown one day and see the place where the old man came from, and so I did, thanks to IDS-FunMat.

So the schedule said that we had an “excursion” to Lisbon on Thursday. Now, the word “excursion” reminds me of elementary school field trips, and to be quite honest, I think most of us were looking forward most to Thursday for obvious reasons. In fact, I think I had the mentality of a little kid that day, excited to go out with a bunch of friends and curious about the unknown city beyond the visible.

The wheels on the bus went round and round and took us from Sesimbra all the way back to Lisbon, our first point of contact in Portugal. We didn’t know that we’d be getting a Portuguese tour guide, so instead of just sightseeing, the whole trip was a bit of a history lesson for most of us, since I’d imagine that not many were familiar with the country of Portugal. First fact: the Portuguese pronounce their capital city as “Lish-boa”, even though it is written Lisboa. One more thing to remember, if you forget anything else I say: the 1755 Lisbon earthquake defined the history of the city. More on that later.

As before, mouseover the small pictures to read a brief description and click to see the full version.

I always find it super annoying that these cranes manage to destroy an entirely beautiful landscape, but without these cranes, the houses and bridges wouldn’t be built. The gigantic crane right outside of our hotel also bothered me. It just seemed so out of place on a peaceful beach…

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