Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: canal

Italy 2.1 – Getting lost in Venice

I’m back in Canada…! That means it’s time to catch up on the blog posts for all the travel done within the past two months, starting with…Italy with dad! So if you’ve been reading the (not so) recent posts, you’d realize that my dad visited me in France for a few weeks, mainly to attend my thesis defense. Of course, since him being in Europe is a rarity and I was leaving soon, we had to take the opportunity to travel around a little. We had several choices in destinations, including eastern Europe (Prague, Budapest, Vienna, etc.), Switzerland (one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to), and Italy (lots of places worth seeing still on my list). After lots of contemplation and weighing pros and cons, we decided on the classic Italian route: Venice-Rome-Florence-Pisa over a course of 5 days. And so the first stop was…Venice!

For a long time I had wanted to visit Venice and I didn’t really know why. In my mind, Venice was a city built on water and when I first heard of it, I really had no idea what it would look like. I did get to visit a few European cities deemed “Venice of the North”, namely Bruges and Amsterdam. I’ve been to both of these cities twice and strangely both appeared on my list of “cities that didn’t quite appeal to me too much”. Yet, the real Venice was too elusive and I hadn’t had a chance to visit until this time around. So my dad and I hopped onto a Volotea flight directly from Bordeaux to Venice to find out what’s so special about this place.

First impression of Venice: lotsa canals and bridges! Well duh, that was expected, but they were more numerous and more beautiful than I had imagined. My dad and I actually got lost for about half an hour trying to navigate the narrow streets while looking for our hotel. Google maps didn’t help at all! (Well, I was mostly at fault because I followed the wrong signs…teehee!) A lot of frustration later, I happened to look up at the street signs and saw…our street! Ehhhhhh??? What are the chances! So without any systematic directions, we ended up finding the hotel (bed and breakfast) by luck 😉 Oh dear, the joys of getting lost. At least now we have a home-base…we think!

Pretty much as soon as we checked in, we headed out to explore as the days were short and daylight was precious. I was totally ready to get lost again, which was in fact the most enjoyable part of the trip. Turn a corner here to find a random little courtyard, or follow the really confusing and sometimes contradictory signs to discover a hidden church – surprises are everywhere waiting to be found. We did the wise thing to get a map and I would be lying if I said we didn’t consult it almost every five minutes. While getting lost is fun, it is good to know where you are headed to sometimes!

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Holland part 3: Amsterdam and Den Haag

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2. If you just want to see pictures, click here. If you’re actually interested in a bit of narration, please carry on.

While nature brought us flowers and history gave us windmills, our journey wouldn’t be complete without a visit (albeit short) to a Dutch city or two. Now, the only knowledge I had of the Netherlands before the trip was Amsterdam, but my colleague, much more prepared than I was, suggested a brief trip to Den Haag, since it was on the way back to Brussels. I know the English name of the city is The Hague, but the original Dutch name of Den Haag is now stuck since it was all I saw on the road anyway.

After Keukenhof, the group of 5 set out on a venture to find our “hostel”, which was literally situated in the middle of nowhere. It would be more appropriate to call it a “campsite” rather than a hostel, because what we rented was a little cabin with 5 beds and no heating. Oh boy. Then again, with low cost being our main priority, the place seemed pretty reasonable.

The ride to the campsite was quite amusing. Apparently Ms. GPS decided to lead us into the wrong destination when we entered our coordinates for the first time, resulting in me going on tiny, winded one-lane roads accommodating two-way traffic, bike lanes that were wider than the car lane, and frustrated drivers passing me frequently because I was slow. Hey, cut me some slack, I didn’t want to fall into the river on my right, and it was entirely possible what with the narrow space we had on the road.

So then after a bit of wandering and finally entering the address of the place instead of the coordinates, we found ourselves parked outside our hostel. Hooray, no passengers have been hurt in the process.

Enjoying life in the wild, are we? Well, the place was adequate for the most part, except for the lack of heating which was more of a problem than I had expected. I had not heeded the advice to bring extra blankets, and so I was stuck with the default ones that came with the cabin. At least there was SOMETHING, right?

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