Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: flag

Incredible Iceland #5 – Miscellaneous stuff

One final post about Iceland…for now. It’ll be short and simple. I am sure I can write on and on about this beautiful country but five posts in this series is pretty good for the moment. This one will be about some miscellaneous fun stuff that I encountered in Reykjavik that I haven’t written about previously.

When I saw the back of the white polar bear from afar, I thought it was a huge dog…my eyes must be really bad 😦 Anyway, the focus of this photo is on the Icelandic flag, which like the flags of all other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway) has a cross on it. The three colours on the flag each represents one defining natural feature of the country: red for the volcanoes, white for the glaciers, and blue for the sea surrounding the island (source: bus guide Erlingur).

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The Swiss Escape, part 1: Basel

The reason why the previous entry was so short was because I didn’t have enough time to write, and I was preparing for my trip to…Switzerland! Yes, the Swiss trip has finally happened! I came back thinking I was the happiest girl alive 😀

Oh, I didn’t tell you I was going to Switzerland, did I? Well, last weekend I took two days off to embark on a journey to Switzerland, the land of chocolate, fondue, and army knives. What more, I had good company. My “chef” happened to be visiting me in Belgium during his summer vacation, so we figured, why not take a trip down to Switzerland? With a direct train from Ottignies to Basel, it really couldn’t get any more convenient.

So we went for four days. The point of entry was, as just mentioned, Basel, which borders France. The train trip from Ottignies to Basel was six hours, passing through Namur, Luxembourg, Metz, Strasbourg, and Colmar, among other cities. Actually, my original plan was just to visit Strasbourg and Colmar for a short weekend trip, but since chef was here and willing to travel with me, who could resist going to dreamy Switzerland? And it’s been my dream to travel to Interlaken with chef – more on that later – since early February, so it was really a blessing that it came true already, so unexpected too.

Back on topic, I didn’t know much about Basel before going there, but it was a mandatory stop from Belgium to Switzerland, for us at least. So then Basel became our first – and last – destination, and off we went into our Swiss escape.

Green trams in Basel. The hostel that chef and I stayed at gave us a card for free public transport during our stay, but unfortunately we checked in too late to fully take advantage of that. It was alright though, the Basel city centre was small enough to navigate on foot and probably more enjoyable on foot as well. Plus, it wasn’t smothered with tourists like Amsterdam, which made our walk so much more relaxing and pleasant.

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Portugal part 2: Lisbon

If you haven’t read part I about Sesimbra yet, read it here.

Portugal has held a special place in my heart for a very long time, because one of the most influential teachers in my life was a Portuguese man. In grades 7 and 8, Mr. DaSilva taught extended French. He was a silly man, always telling corny jokes and life stories in class, yet for some reason I just liked him. I can honestly say that he played a big part in getting me here today. He inspired me greatly during those two short years, when I was still a youngster, and he encouraged me to continue my French studies. I’m glad I did, because knowing French certainly contributes to my survival in France – go figure.

That was why I was so excited that the first training school is in Portugal. I had told myself that I would definitely visit Mr. DS’s hometown one day and see the place where the old man came from, and so I did, thanks to IDS-FunMat.

So the schedule said that we had an “excursion” to Lisbon on Thursday. Now, the word “excursion” reminds me of elementary school field trips, and to be quite honest, I think most of us were looking forward most to Thursday for obvious reasons. In fact, I think I had the mentality of a little kid that day, excited to go out with a bunch of friends and curious about the unknown city beyond the visible.

The wheels on the bus went round and round and took us from Sesimbra all the way back to Lisbon, our first point of contact in Portugal. We didn’t know that we’d be getting a Portuguese tour guide, so instead of just sightseeing, the whole trip was a bit of a history lesson for most of us, since I’d imagine that not many were familiar with the country of Portugal. First fact: the Portuguese pronounce their capital city as “Lish-boa”, even though it is written Lisboa. One more thing to remember, if you forget anything else I say: the 1755 Lisbon earthquake defined the history of the city. More on that later.

As before, mouseover the small pictures to read a brief description and click to see the full version.

I always find it super annoying that these cranes manage to destroy an entirely beautiful landscape, but without these cranes, the houses and bridges wouldn’t be built. The gigantic crane right outside of our hotel also bothered me. It just seemed so out of place on a peaceful beach…

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