Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: germany

From high places, part 5

Almost a year and a half have passed since the last “From high places” post was published. Since then, I’ve been back in Europe – specifically the UK – and certainly have visited more high places throughout my travels. I think it’s time for a part 5 😉 (List in alphabetical – not chronological – order as usual. Check out the previous posts on the “Series” page.)

Budapest (read about it)

The “Pearl of the Danube” is a place that made me feel something special. Budapest is one of those places that is not only exciting for travel, but one of the few cities I’ve been to where I think I’d actually enjoy living. The view of Budapest from Gellert Hill exposed the grandeur of the Hungarian capital, and the winter chill embellished the beauty hidden within its sad histories.

Český Krumlov (read about it)

Český Krumlov is the stuff that fairytales are made of. Thanks to a suggestion on my travel checklist, the little Czech town has been on my list of destinations to visit for years before I finally got to it in the winter of 2014, just in time for the first snowfall of the winter! The little town glistened in the snow and exposed its beauty flawlessly – how exquisite!

Edinburgh (read about it)

As one of the many cities with the name “City of Seven Hills”, there is no shortage of high points from which to gaze upon Edinburgh, the lovely Scottish capital. So far I’ve only climbed Arthur’s Seat (where the above photo was taken) and strolled around Castle Rock, though Calton Hill is definitely to be visited soon.

Königswinter

I left my group of friends and took a spontaneous detour from Cologne last year and headed to Königswinter. From there I ascended Drachenfels, a hill at a height of ~300 metres. It was a hiking break from a mostly city-oriented trip. From the top of the hill, the town of Königswinter was clearly visible along the Rhine river.

Leipzig

In Leipzig, my friends and I stayed in an apartment on the 4th (or 5th?) floor, high enough to get a good view of the city from the windows (the only location in this list that was indoors).

Lisbon

Another “City of Seven Hills” is Lisbon, a city that has a special place in my heart because one of the most influential teachers in my life came from Lisbon. Third visit to Lisbon recently, and the city was still as charming as ever with vibrant colours dotting its prominent hills. The many “miradouros”, or viewpoints, required a lot of legwork through winding streets and up steep steps to reach, but these views were worthy of the sweat!

Madrid

I went to Madrid this year to see a friend who was studying there. This would be my second visit, but my first time seeing the city from a high place – Cybele Palace, which is also the city hall and my favourite building in Madrid. Looking west (I think it was west), I saw snow-capped mountain ranges in a distance and wondered where that was. Could they be the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain ranges?

Oxford

Oxford used to be my dream university in high school for no valid reason at all, other than the reputation that attracted me when I was still a teenager. Well, I never got to study in Oxford, but at least I finally got to see what it’s all about during a visit two weeks ago. I constantly compared Oxford to Cambridge during my walk around the city mostly because of the well-known rivalry between the two universities and the fact that I had already visited Cambridge. Still, to me both places are just tourist destinations – let their rivalries entertain themselves 😉

Prague (read about it)

I had high expectations for Prague and while it was a lovely destination, it felt a bit underwhelming after the visit to Budapest a few days later. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Prague – I just liked Budapest a lot more 😛 What’s undeniable is that the view of Prague’s old town from the Petrin tower (where this photo was taken, if I remember correctly) was nothing short of spectacular!

Note: This post didn’t include hiking destinations in Scotland, such as Callander Crags, Kinnoull Hill, Conic Hill, and so on. Obviously hills are high places, but most hiking adventures have already had their own dedicated posts, deservingly so 😛

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From high places, part 2

At the end of 2011, I wrote “From high places” where I counted the cities I’ve been to around the world where I had a view from “high” places, whether it’s a hill, a mountain, the top of a tower or building…and so on.

I figured I’d put together a part 2 because since the first part was written, I’ve been to many more “high” places. Again, this list is in alphabetical order. Let’s fly!

Biarritz (read about it)

This is a view of Biarritz from the lighthouse in Anglet, where the 2012 IDS-FunMat training school took place. I don’t think I would have found this place unless I met that random photographer dude by the beach as I was watching the sunset. He told me if I followed the trail to the lighthouse, Biarritz is just on the other side of the cliff, and the view is spectacular. So then, the IDS-FunMates formed a little “lighthouse exploration team” to find the lighthouse. Thanks, photographer dude!

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Cologne part 2: Christmas edition

Happy new year!

It feels strange to be filling in the second Cologne entry in the new year, especially since it’s been almost a month since the trip has happened, AND Christmas is over. That’s alright though. Everyone loves a bit of Christmas no matter what time of the year it is, right?

I suppose I should explain the lack of updates lately. During my last two weeks in Belgium (for now), my PhD work caught up to me and I was striving for space to breathe. When the winter holidays came, I hurried back to Bordeaux to participate in our annual Christmas Eve church evangelistic event, which by the way was a huge success. Then right after, without any break or rest, I headed to Nouans-le-Fuzelier (a little village south of Paris) with the Bordeaux Chinese Christian Fellowship for a 4-day Christian winter camp. We returned to Paris on December 29th and stayed there for two days, and finally headed back to Bordeaux on December 31st. Between the re-settling down and tidying up and year-end reflections, I haven’t had any time to sit down and write until now.

Oh, what an end of the year. If I’m not too overwhelmed by the end of the week, maybe I’ll do a summary entry. For now, let’s get back to Cologne.

So, Germany is the land of Christmas markets, because that’s where they originated. There were at least 5 Christmas markets within walking distance in downtown Cologne, and this is market #1, right outside the Cologne Dom by the central train station. Of course, this was the first one that I explored since it was right by my hostel. As soon as I dropped off my stuff I rushed to the market hoping that it’d still be open, seeing that it was 10pm. Well, although most of the booths were closed, there were still lots of people out and about – certainly not a lack of Christmas spirit in Germany!

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Cologne part 1: Around the city

Hello, Germany! It’s been a whole 7 months since I’ve last seen you. How have you been?

Yup, leaving hectic lab work behind for a few days, I was on my way to Deutschland again. As I boarded the InterCity Express (ICE) train from Brussels to Cologne a few days ago, my heart was filled with the same excitement and anticipation that I felt when I travelled alone for the first time. I think that was Paris last year during Christmas, and much has changed, definitely, between the two trips.

With that said, the visit to Cologne was nothing short of eventful. In between getting lost for an hour before finding my hostel, meeting a friend studying in Essen, almost losing my bank card due to my own stupidity, pushing and shoving through more Christmas markets than I’ve ever been to, and overdosing on food that resulted in pimple surge, I had fun. In fact, I haven’t had this much fun in a long while!

The recount on Cologne will be split into two posts. This one will be a more general overview of the fabulous city while a special Christmas edition will follow shortly.

So why Cologne? Two very simple reasons: distance and price. From Brussels, it took less than two hours to get to Cologne with ICE, well within my acceptable range for a weekend train trip. And it wasn’t expensive; if booked ahead of time, you could get round-trip tickets for well under 50 Euros. Score.

Let’s start with a few brief facts about Cologne (Köln in German). The fourth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich, Cologne is traversed by the Rhine river. Within the city, seven bridges cross the river, and five of them are easily visible from the city center. As much as Hamburg is known for the hamburger, Cologne is known for well…Eau de Cologne, which originated, of course, in Cologne. What did you expect?

Time for some photo spam (full album here)!

Perhaps the most well-known landmark in Cologne is the Dom, or the cathedral. That might be because…oh, I don’t know, because it’s RIGHT outside the central train station? You simply don’t “miss” the Dom; the first thing you see upon taking the main exit of the station is literally this massive structure. And massive is by no means an understatement. According to Wikipedia, the Cologne Dom “[was] tallest building in the world from 1880 to 1884; [is the] largest Gothic church in Germany; [is the] tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world”. Certainly rather impressive.

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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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