Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: flower

April 2019

It’s almost the end of May and I am only getting to the April 2019 post…very late, I know. During the past weeks I’ve been contemplating ending the blog for a variety of reasons, but perhaps not just yet. I might write a post about it – I say that about a lot of topics and never got to them, which is one of the reasons why I want to stop blogging altogether – but before that, let’s recap the month of April, the final reasonably comfortable month in Wuhan in terms of weather…

During the Qingming holiday (early April), J and I went back to his hometown in the countryside and enjoyed breathing fresh air away from the big city. We encountered a cat who seemed to be contemplating its own existence and pondering the meaning of life at a neighbour’s house…or maybe it was just in a daze and waiting for food.

One of the items on my bucket list was to fly a kite and it was achieved during this trip! Well, I’ve flown a kite before this, but not successfully. I was really young and only remember that the kite somehow didn’t work properly – in hindsight we probably just didn’t know how to handle it. This time, I was super ready! J and I reached an open area and the early April weather was just perfect, breezy but not cold! See that kite fly! Higher up, up, and up!

It’s nice to get away from the city once in a while, especially one with so much distraction like Wuhan. Going back to the countryside allowed us to spend some peaceful time where the only thing we heard was the wind in the air and carefree birds chirping.

But of course we had to come back to the city. April was getting warm but not so hot that it was unbearable to go for a walk outside after lunch. The area around my workplace offered some beautiful nature, though the types of flowers weren’t as diverse as those that I saw in March.

Oh hey, almost didn’t see you there, little thing.

This was taken near the station where I usually take the subway to go home after work, capturing the final moments of daylight emitting from the golden globe.

During a random walk on the HUST campus, J and I encountered an event held by a department celebrating their 20th (I think) year of establishment. Naval engineering, I think? There were performances and a small party in the pavilion in the middle of the small lake. I remember very clearly that I got angry at J that evening, though I can’t for the life of me remember why O_O

On the last day of April, I arrived in Nanjing before the entire nation went traveling for the Labour Day mini-holiday. It was definitely a good call because most people didn’t begin their travels until May 1, and so the crowds in the tourist areas of Nanjing were quite bearable. I especially enjoyed hanging around the Qinhuai River, which has quite a lovely atmosphere when it wasn’t smothered by people!

And in Nanjing, of course I didn’t hesitate going to the Fuzi Temple tourist area for the famous street food! Wow there were so many goodies that I couldn’t resist even though I was suffering from a bad cold. I realize that a lot of these typically tourist areas were remodeled to resemble an old town and are heavily commercialized, but even knowing that, I rather enjoyed Nanjing. Then again, that might be because I would rather be anywhere else than Wuhan…

It seems like I can’t write a post without dissing Wuhan or expressing my strong dislike for it, and I don’t think my feelings toward this city will change any time soon. May is also the month that marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Wuhan so hey, at least it hasn’t defeated me yet – or has it already defeated me by changing me into someone that even I dislike?

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Powered by nature

I fell in love with Secret Garden’s song Powered by Nature as soon as I heard it (lyrics here). It makes me remember the times nature has touched my heart and once again reminded me of the greatness of God’s creations. “I’m powered by mountains, they make me feel so small, so I can seize the wonder and the greatness of it all…I know I’m a part of God’s great universe!” Often throughout my travels, I like to pause and just let the serenity of nature surround me. Then I am thankful that God granted me this big big world to explore, to experience, to enjoy.

No lavenders in Provence nor tulips in Keukenhof this year, but what a blessing it was to see the sunflower fields last week, row on row, stretching without end towards the blue sky, beyond the vast horizon. To be in touch with nature in its purest form, to listen to the voice of the truest beauty speaking through the wind – such marvel and awe. This was in the midst of a trip to the Royan zoo, two hours away from Bordeaux. If anything was worth the trouble of going all the way, this was it. (By the way, I almost fainted from this indescribable beauty…it was way beyond anything words can hope to convey.)

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Bois de Lauzelle, love at first hike

Last year I discovered the beauty of autumn in Louvain-la-Neuve, and I am glad to have spent most of October here this year as well, to see the beginning of the end of fall. What a mesmerizing season filled with grace, vibrance, and dynamics.

There is a forest nearby my campus called “Bois de Lauzelle”, a great place for a nice afternoon hike. From the centre of Louvain-la-Neuve, it’s about a 15-minute walk. Not too far, huh. One would think I would have gone there already during my previous stays in Louvain-la-Neuve. Nope. Due to my laziness, I’ve never visited the woods, even though I knew of its existence since the beginning of the year. It’s like Antwerp and Maastricht. I didn’t make the effort to visit until this time around, when my departure from Belgium at the end of the month may be for a good 6 months.

So, on a cloudy Sunday morning after a rainy day (the day I went to Antwerp), I ventured into the woods for my first autumn hike. Laziness had to be conquered, yes, but I was not going to let this opportunity escape me again. After Tobermory and Kawartha Lakes, I was determined to discover Bois de Lauzelle, on my own.

As I started my hike from the centre of Louvain-la-Neuve to the outer parts of the city, I passed by the Parc de la Source where this gorgeous bird was chilling among the branches. I think it was a swallow…I could never be sure of bird names. The leaves were still very much green, but traces of yellow and orange have begun to appear everywhere.

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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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Tobermory road trip with my ladies

Today’s post is about…Tobermory! Did Annie head back to Canada already? Nope, not a chance, not until September, at least. I was stuck in a gray, melancholic Louvain-la-Neuve this weekend, where the sun has disappeared for no less than a week. Yesterday, I saw sunshine for about five minutes before the dark clouds devoured the light hastily. I was going to go to Maastricht yesterday, and was glad that I didn’t, as the weather would have completely killed the mood. Oh, and I had to go to the lab, that would be the main reason.

So I thought, why don’t I dig out and organize some photos from previous trips that I hadn’t written about? (I still haven’t gotten to Cherbourg and don’t know if I ever will write about it.) I was surprised to find that I actually never wrote about Tobermory, which happened last August during my vacation back home in Canada.

The trip was planned long before I arrived in Canada with the intention of spending a relaxing weekend with my dear ladies Florence and Candy. We chose Tobermory, a tiny place right at tip of the point between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, 273 kilometres north of Toronto. It was far enough to be away from the bustling of the city while close enough to be reached by car in a relatively short amount of time. It would be two fun days of hiking, exploration, mad photo-snapping, girl talks, and generally being in touch with nature.

Setting out from Mississauga at 7 in the morning, we got to Tobermory about two and a half hours later and there began our adventures into the wild.

As soon as we parked the car, we embarked on a journey to Flowerpot Island, a couple of kilometres off the coast of Tobermory in Georgian Bay. Flowerpot Island got its name from the two gigantic rock formations on the island, both of which look like flower pots. We passed by this cute lighthouse during the boat ride to the island.

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