Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: event

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2014

I went to Nuit Blanche, an annual arts festival in downtown Toronto, for the first time this year. I’ve previously heard a lot about the all-night event (“Nuit Blanche” is literally “white night” in French, but actually means “all-nighter”), which happens one day in October from dusk till dawn, where various forms of art displays (sculptures, live performances, light installations, etc.) are scattered all around downtown Toronto and open for audiences to see. Yet, I’ve never had a chance to experience it (well, it would have been hard to go to the one in Toronto since I was in Europe for the past three Octobers).

This year, the event began in the evening on October 4 and continued until sunrise on October 5, and I went for the first time. Actually, it was completely unplanned, but somehow on the afternoon of October 4, my sister talked me into going downtown for food and walking around for Nuit Blanche for a few hours afterwards. Why not, I thought, take advantage of the chance when I’m still in Toronto?

I really ought to have planned better for the event, as it was pretty cold that night and both my sister and I did not dress warmly enough. If we were aware of how cold it would have been and prepared for it, we definitely would have stayed longer. As a result we ended up only attending the actual event for three hours, which wasn’t all that bad. I had been skeptical about Nuit Blanche because I’ve never known how to properly appreciate art, so I treated this first time as an experiment, just to know what to expect for the next time. With a map and a pamphlet in our hands, we set off from City Hall and made our way through Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue, ending the night down by the lakeshore at Fort York. There were quite a few works that I had wanted to see but missed because of the bad planning, but the ones that I did get to see were rather interesting, to say the least.

The sky was still bright when we finished dinner at 7pm, and people were just starting to rush into the downtown core for the beginning of the event (the official start time was 6:53pm). From City Hall, my sister and I walked along Queen Street West towards the west, encountering this installation named “Gap Ecology”. Featuring several cherry pickers filled with palm trees, this installation explored the urban and environmental issues present in our society.

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La fête de la musique à Bordeaux

There is something about music that touches the depths of your soul, that harmonizes with every electrical pulse that runs through your body, that makes you want to jump or dance or scream or cry. Music is the universal language of expression, a ubiquitous medium that transcends through time and space, race and culture. That is why we celebrate it…with la fête de la musique!

The music festival is an annual event that takes place in France. In almost every city, from the afternoon till well past midnight, there are concerts, performances, and dances everywhere. According to a French ex-colleague, it is THE biggest event of the year. Coming from an authentic local, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I experienced the hype in Bordeaux two years ago but wasn’t here last year as I was in Belgium, but this year, the timing was perfect as June 21st fell on a Friday! Most of the fun happened around downtown, and since I live in downtown Bordeaux anyway, I figured I’d take full advantage of the walkable distance and spend the night immersing myself in the musical scenes of Bordeaux.

Oh, bonus: it didn’t rain! I totally expected the rain to continue, as it had been raining almost all week in Bordeaux – quite violently too! But God had been nice with us and sent us the sun to accompany our music. Let the magic begin.

I left the house at around 8:30pm and started at Place Pey Berland, going towards Rue Sainte-Catherine and towards the quai. Even the restaurants had their own events going on. Literally, there was something taking place in every corner of downtown. You just had to follow your ear and as soon as the previous sound of music faded away, another welcomed you. Who knows what concert you’d stumble upon next? 😉

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Black, yellow, and red – Happy birthday Belgium!

July 21st was the Belgian National Day – happy birthday, dear host country #2! I didn’t even say happy birthday to France, who celebrated a week before Belgium.

I did some very brief research on the history of the independence of Belgium. The day was July 21st, 1831, when Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands. That makes this year the 181st birthday of this small yet diverse country that may even be considered a little bizarre. Almost two years in Europe and I’ve spent close to half of my time here – wow.

(Completely unrelated side note: It seems like most of the countries that have held some significance to me at some point in my life has their nation days in July. Canada, July 1st. The USA, July 4th. France, July 14th. Belgium, July 21st. Coincidence?)

There were some events in Brussels for national day, and I decided that instead of staying in Louvain-la-Neuve, I’d head to the capital and spend some time around the city with two friends I met at the church in Brussels. We walked around a bit before deciding that there were way too many people and that we’d never squeeze through the crowd – the police wouldn’t even let us try. Since none of us are actually from Brussels and knew the city well, we wandered away from the parades and shows and crowds to do some exploring of our own.

Most of the events took place around Parc de Bruxelles, where the royal palace was situated. Here is one of the entrances, greeting us with two of the foody symbols of Belgium, beer and “French” fries. Yes, the Belgians invented the fries, not the French. There were other delicious goodness scattered throughout the park, including of course chocolate, mussels, and Brussels sprouts. I was surprised that I couldn’t find a waffle though 😦 For more pictures, click here to see them on Facebook.

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