Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: boat

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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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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