Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: chocolate

A mission in Portugal, part 2 – Óbidos

The second part of the Portuguese mission took place in a little place called Óbidos some 80 kilometres north of Lisbon. I wanted to visit Sintra, but some of the IDS-FunMates have already been there (5 times for Carole!) So we decided to go somewhere that nobody had been to, and Óbidos it was! Originally it was supposed to be only Carole and me, but Tomin, Lo, and Tuyen joined after a little bit of convincing (or none at all). The more the merrier!

Óbidos is a medieval town that was once a wedding gift from a king to her queen, marked by a castle and surrounded by aged city walls. It was similar to other medieval towns I’ve been to, like Carcassonne and Saint-Émilion, and a fun place to spend a relaxing Sunday 😉

A sign at the entrance gate of Óbidos for the medieval market that takes place in July and August. Óbidos has been a national monument since 1951. Another sign says, “It shelters the oratory dedicated to the patroness of Óbidos, Our Lady of Piety, concluded in the 17th century, with remarkable tile covering from 1740-45.”

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IDS 2013 part 3 – Annecy, post-training school

Ever since I saw the photo of Annecy in LC’s post, I’ve wanted to visit this little city in the east of France. Well, I didn’t even have to plan it, because the training school took place in Annecy this year. While we weren’t in the city center during the week, the training ended on a Friday afternoon, so it only made sense to stay one more night in (the real) Annecy to see what it truly has to offer. I had heard so many great thing about Annecy, and I was more than a bit excited to finally visit!

This time around, there were 10 people in the group, including me. And that’s only in my “official” group. Others who weren’t part of my planning joined in later, and we even bumped into some unexpected friends at the hostel! It seemed like the Annecy hostel was mostly IDS-filled that Friday night, ha!

To see the full Annecy photo album, click here.

I rarely start off the post with a photo of me, but this is my favourite photo taken of me during the entire training school trip, by the Thiou canal in Annecy. It had been such a fulfilling week and I was just so…happy! So happy to be surrounded by fun, lovely people, so happy to be in touch with nature, so happy to get the chance to explore, so happy to feel like I’m doing what I love again.

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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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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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Beyond V-Day

I had been contemplating the idea of investing in a better camera for a long time. At one point in time I was seriously looking into a purchase within the next three months. This week, I gave it a little more thought. My final decision is that I will not be buying any fancy camera any time soon (that probably means at least not this year). I will stick to my basic Canon A2000 (and my Sony Ericsson K770i cell phone camera, if I don’t have my Canon) for my day-to-day photography.

Many friends have encouraged me to get a DSLR for my adventures in Europe, and I do admit it’s going to be quite a loss if I were to insist on getting the perfect images, but really, anything beyond a pocket camera is simply impractical for me at the moment. Not to mention the cost of getting one of these babies, but having to carry a large camera around everywhere I go would be a hassle in the first place. I don’t think a DSLR would be on my list of things-I-bring-to-work-in-my-backpack-every-day, and it certainly is not something I’d like to lug around my neck most of the day. (Maybe I just need to be convinced that they’re not all as inconvenient as I imagine them to be.) My little A2000, however, conveniently fits into my coat pocket and I can draw it out any time when I see anything interesting that catches my attention (examples to follow).

I have no intention of becoming anything near a professional any time soon, although I have definitely developed a strong interest in photography after observing the works of my peers. However, I think I have also underestimated the amount of time that is needed to dive into the field and truly experience the essence of professional photography. I realize that this is time that I am unable to afford at this stage, and so I will remain as an outsider and retain this interest until much later, when I feel that I have the time to take on the challenge.

In the end, my purpose for taking photos is not to have gorgeous colours and effects, though that would be an added bonus. Photographing daily life is a pleasure in itself and does not require any extensive equipment beyond a small camera for an amateur. Of course, travel photography is much more thrilling, but to get a DSLR just for this purpose – with the constraints of budget and time in mind – is not worth it, in my opinion.

Enough about cameras and on with the photos 😛 By the way, happy Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, whichever one applies to you. Personally I think V-Day is immensely overrated anyway.

 
We start off this post with some adorable animals that I’ve encountered in Bordeaux. The first two photos are of a cat that happened to be staying at a friend’s house for a couple of weeks when I was visiting. It was a shy fellow, always hiding in the corner like a spy observing our every move. It has such sharp and beautiful eyes though, and no, it is not dead in the second picture. Next, friend and I met a small puppy during a walk. This little guy was tricky; I was never able to capture a picture of it from the front, but it was cute, nevertheless. (Click on photos for full-sized version.)

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