Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: bridge

Day trip to Stirling

A collection of photos from a spontaneous day trip to Stirling, Scotland in July, 2016 – enjoy!

I got very sick in Newcastle

Newcastle has never been on my travel list, and I probably would never have visited if it weren’t for a training course that took place there in mid-February. I spent four days in Newcastle, the majority of the time in a classroom but with some time to spare after the course ended every evening. But what’d you know…I was ridiculously ill with the flu the entire time I was there – what a bummer! As a result I didn’t enjoy my time as much as I would have if I were perfectly healthy. To my lack of enthusiasm, noted by my colleague, I could only say that I got sick IN Newcastle but I wasn’t sick OF Newcastle, trust me.

I knew nothing about Newcastle before the visit apart from hearing that it’s got the best parties and nightlife in the UK, something that I wasn’t all that interested in, healthy or sick. With the colleague who attended the course with me, I did some exploration of the city in the time that I wasn’t coughing my lungs out…

Getting off the train and walking toward the hotel, I passed by the Newcastle Castle, a rather imposing structure that is difficult to miss. Yes, there is actually a castle in Newcastle and not just in its name! So if this is an old castle…does it mean that it is the Old Newcastle Castle?!

Searching for “Newcastle” on the Internet would inevitably lead you to information about the “vampire rabbit”, which I went on a slight detour to find. The vampire rabbit was perched on top of a beautiful door right next to St Nicholas Cathedral, seemingly observing every move of the passersby oblivious of its existence.

From the train station to the hotel, there is a street on a downward slope where there is a row of buildings that look like pretty little doll houses.

The Newcastle harbour is rather similar to the Glasgow harbour and there are several buildings/structures that look alike. First is the Sage Gateshead, which is a concert hall located on the south side of the River Tyne and is said to look like an armadillo. Hmm…doesn’t it remind you of the SECC in Glasgow?

Back to the harbour at night, here’s a view of the Sage lit up. I gotta say that here it looks better than the SECC, which is lit only in a single colour at night. It’s so much more interesting with more colours!

And not far from the Sage, we find the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which…coincidentally looks very much like the Millennium Bridge in Glasgow? One would wonder if there is some unknown connection between the two cities.

The Millennium Bridge in daylight, not as interesting as it is during the night. Our hotel was a two-minute walk from the harbour but a half-hour walk from the University of Newcastle, where our training course took place.

Near our hotel is a sculpture of a…giant peach?! Actually I don’t know what it is, but from a distance it sort of looks like a giant peach to me. Maybe James and his little (giant?) buddies live there…

In the city centre of Newcastle stood the Goldsmiths building, reminiscent of the exterior of a royal theatre.

Back at the Newcastle Castle when night has fallen, we stood in front of the “Black Gate”, which was lit with a haunting aura of mystery. I wonder what stories hide behind these doors…

Finally, here’s an anti-Trump protest that we happened to come across while walking through the city centre.

I really had hoped that I would have gotten better from my flu earlier on in the week so that I could at least enjoy some more time outside, but my flu got WORSE even after I returned to Glasgow and persisted for another week. What’s more, on my last day in Newcastle, there was a giant thunderstorm that delayed every bus and train by hours…ugh. Despite all of this, there were some nice sights and fun encounters to be had in Newcastle, but I’m sure glad to be back in Glasgow and illness-free! Now for the delayed Scottish rain season to arrive…

Around Macau in 12 hours, part 1

Macau (or Macao, depending on preference) is one of the two special administrative regions of China, the other being Hong Kong. It is one of those places that is relatively close to Hong Kong, being only 70 minutes away by ferry. Yet, it never occurred to me to take a day trip to Macau when I stay in Hong Kong, until I met a friend in Glasgow who is a Macanese native, born and raised there. I had one day to spare in Hong Kong before I headed to Southeast Asia for the Christmas holidays, and not knowing what I would do in Hong Kong (again), I thought that it would finally be time for me to head over to Macau for a look. What’d you know, my friend was back in Macau for the holidays at the same time…eh! She gladly agreed to be my local guide – with a car! – and I was spared from having to look into the places that I would be able to visit in one day, hooray! So I hopped onto a ferry in the morning and sailed away from Hong Kong – off to Macau we go!

Once a Portuguese colony, Macau has preserved many cultural characteristics of Portugal, which can be seen by traits such as architecture and cuisine (and the fact that Portuguese remains as one of the official languages, in addition to Cantonese). However, if Macau is known for one thing internationally, it would be its gambling scene with revenues far exceeding those of Las Vegas – perhaps not surprisingly as it is so close to China, which is by far the largest source of its market. With only one day in Macau, I was only able to get a first taste of Macanese culture guided by my Macanese friend, and we were lucky enough to stumble across a few special events in light of the Christmas season. I certainly did visit at the perfect time!

Macau – the old and the new

One thing I noticed immediately about Macau – it was crowded! Though, somehow I felt like it was a different kind of “crowded” compared with Hong Kong, the kind that didn’t suffocate me (sorry Hong Kong). It was later that I realized that the region of Macau has the highest population density in the world (I actually read that somewhere before, but it didn’t occur to me when I was IN Macau) – WHAT! Certainly not quite expected for a small place but precisely because it is small and has a big population, the density is so high. It wasn’t so obvious when you walk through Taipa or Coloane in the far south, but when you head to the main attractions in the Macau Peninsula, such as the ruins of St. Paul’s, the crowds suddenly hit you and you’re easily lost in a sea of people.

Macau does have a new side and an old side, as apparent in its streets and façades. Understandably, the Portuguese colonization had a big influence on Macanese culture, and many remains of Portuguese rule can be seen in the European-style architecture in Macau. Additionally, the rise of the gambling scene in Macau contributed to its rapid modernization, with high-rise buildings and shiny exteriors. However, if you explore the region as a whole, you will see that there are signs of age and history – abandoned shipyards, tattered roofs, unseen alleys…

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St John’s College, University of Cambridge

In highschool, my dream university was Oxford, without good reason other than its prestige. I had seriously contemplated applying to Oxford before nanotechnology at Waterloo won me over…whaaaa? Perhaps the whole “going to Oxford” thought was just a constant mindset in a clueless highschool student (who was doing relatively well academically and regarded as “smart”) who thought she’d aim for the best of the best. Why I chose Waterloo (with no regrets)…is a long story for a sunnier day.

Having been in the UK for almost 3/4 of a year, I still haven’t paid a visit to my ex-dream school. Instead I visited its biggest rival – yep, Cambridge. Perhaps I really should have considered Cambridge in the first place since it’s much more renowned for science and engineering while Oxford is for the politically and humanities-oriented minds. Anyway, the reason why I went to Cambridge was simple – it was convenient. From Stansted airport, at least, which was where I arrived from Glasgow. If I wanted to get to Oxford, I’d first have to head to central London and take a train from there, which would take way longer than if I just went to Cambridge from Stansted in a less-than-one-hour train ride. Oxford, I’ll get to you eventually.

Cambridge felt more like a tourist attraction than an academic institution, but let’s be fair – I was only there for a day and a half. To visit the various famous colleges, there’s an entrance fee to be paid – £8 for King’s College, £7.50 for St John’s College, £3 for Queens College, £2 for Trinity College, etc. I understand the high entrance fee for King’s College as it is the most well-known landmark of Cambridge, but apparently the entrance fee for St John spiked because some scenes from the movie “The Theory of Everything” were filmed there. Great. And that was the one I wanted to see. So let’s go inside for a quick look.

The entire reason why I wanted to visit St John’s College and chose it out of the many college with entrance fees was to see the “Bridge of Sighs”, which I’ll get to later. Only the name itself got me curious and costed me £7.50. Oh well. Here’s a frontal view of the New Court at St. John’s College, a photo made possible by my handy-dandy phone which has a panoramic mode (I still suck at taking panoramic photos though). Sorry, Mr.Nikon, you lose this time.

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Budapest, Pearl of the Danube

Just a note before the actual post begins: Almost a whole month without a blog entry… 😦 Seems like the new life in Glasgow has kept Annie quite busy. As a result, I’ve decided to try a different way of blogging, focusing more on imagery than on words, which often take more time to formulate than I could afford. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. I do want to keep up with the blog, but it simply takes too much time to write, and so I will compromise. There will still be text, but the descriptions won’t be as elaborate as those in previous entries. Of course you can click on the images for the full view and a short caption of each. I hope you will still enjoy the photos 😉


Budapest, another city whose name begins with the letter “B”. If you didn’t know, I tend to end up liking cities beginning with “B”, for the most part – Bordeaux, Bologna, Brussels, Bratislava, BarcelonaBruges is the exception. Though it is all coincidence, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that Budapest deserved to be visited with high expectations. Aside from the fact that it is yet another city beginning with the letter “B”, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Hungarian city from my friends who have been there. (Come to think of it, it was the same with Barcelona.) So then, this was Budapest…

Budapest by night

Prague had a castle; Budapest had a castle. Prague had bridges; Budapest had bridges. Tell me then – how could I not compare the two cities when I had just travelled from Prague to Budapest? Sorry to fans of Prague but Budapest beats Prague in night scene, hands down. Charles Bridge, you have nothing on the Chain Bridge in Budapest ❤ And the parliament building – need I say more other than that it was one of the most stunning structures I've seen?

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