Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: island

Cheung Chau, the dumbbell island

The “dumbbell” island of Cheung Chau, so nicknamed because of its shape on a map, is one of the many tourist attractions near Hong Kong. By ferry, it takes about 40 minutes (an hour by slow boat) to reach from Hong Kong island, making it a perfect day trip. When my friend suggested it, she caught my interest by telling me that Cheung Chau would be a food lover’s heaven. In addition to an island breakaway, it’d also be a food hunt! Of course I more than gladly accepted because HEY, who wouldn’t want some super-sized mango mochi and giant curry fish balls?

Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, we realized that clearly we weren’t the only ones who were going after the mango mochi and curry fish balls, as the crowd waiting the board the ferry was huge! OK, they’re probably not all tourists, but I do wonder if this mass exodus from Hong Kong to Cheung Chau occurs on a daily basis. On the way to the island, my friend and I took the slower ferry with a travel time of one hour.

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The hills are alive…on the Isle of Mull! (Part 2)

Because of of the abundant series of events that happened on the Isle of Mull, I wrote a 3000+ word recount of the experience, which you can read here. However, most people will probably find it TL;DR, and so if you just want the summary and the photos, read on! A complete series of photos of this trip can also be found on Facebook 😉


If you haven’t read my first post about the recent trip to the Isle of Mull (the cycling adventure), I suggest you read that first as this post continues from the previous one 🙂 Of course, one post isn’t nearly sufficient to cover the incredible experience, so let’s move on with part 2!

Tobermory and its harbour

As I had mentioned in the previous post, one of the reasons for visiting Mull was to go to the original Tobermory. There is a little place named Tobermory in Canada, which I visited as part of a road trip with my friends four years ago. After finding out the name Tobermory came from a town on Mull, steps away from where I am situated, I had to seize the summer opportunity to go see it for my own. Canadian Tobermory and Scottish Tobermory are quite different, each unique in its own rights. While Canadian Tobermory entertained us with its surrounding attractions like Flowerpot Island and the Grotto, Scottish Tobermory is the only sizeable town on the Isle of Mull and stood out with its vibrant colours and serene air. After my 8-hour biking session, I had Saturday evening and Sunday morning to stroll around the small town, enjoying my walk along the harbour with all remaining strength in my legs, browsing the delicate gift shops on Main Street, and even attending part of a church service on Sunday. Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it all – the city, the friends, the noise, the familiarity – and to recharge for a bit with a change in scenery 🙂

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The hills are alive…on the Isle of Mull! (Part 1)

Because of of the abundant series of events that happened on the Isle of Mull, I wrote a 3000+ word recount of the experience, which you can read here. However, most people will probably find it TL;DR, and so if you just want the summary and the photos, read on! A complete series of photos of this trip can also be found on Facebook 😉


Summer is short in Scotland, and there are only a small handful of rainless weekends during the summer months suitable for travelling. Knowing this, I had to take advantage of every sunny weekend, because very soon, we’ll be back to 5 degrees and the sun will be setting at 4 pm. After Perth, I decided to continue my discovery of Scotland by visiting some of the islands in the west, starting with…the Isle of Mull!

My main motivation of going to Mull was to go to the original Tobermory and Calgary. Tobermory is a town 300 km north of Toronto, and Calgary, as you probably know, is one of the largest cities in Canada, located in the province of Alberta. It so happened that the names of both of these places were derived from places that exist…on the Isle of Mull in Scotland! Feeling like an adventure, I was ready to roam around Mull (or well, at least half of Mull), all by myself.

Getting to Mull

Being a ferry ride away from Oban, which is 3 hours away from Glasgow by train, Mull made a perfect weekend trip. As the train headed toward Oban, which began to appear soon after it reached the outskirts of Glasgow, I began to be amazed at the number of mountains (and sheep, elaborated in the next post) in the country. How intriguing you are, Scotland.

As transport on Mull would be problematic without a car and with very limited public transit available, I decided on a method of transportation that is quite new to me – cycling! And it wasn’t normal cycling either – I rented an electric bike on the island, knowing that I would have conquer some tedious hill. Not being the fittest person out there, I definitely needed the extra power boost provided by the battery and in retrospect, I couldn’t have done it without the electric bike! My route is illustrated below (map obtained here):

I began at Tobermory, going down to Dervaig, Calgary, then south and east to Salen and finally back up to Tobermory. Evidently, this was only the top part of the island. I wasn’t even going to get close to Ben More, one of only two island Munros (a Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3000 ft, the other island Munro being on Skye) slightly to the south of the loop. The route consisted of several toiling climbs, but also segments of fantastic freewheeling after the climbs, for a grand total of 42 miles – that is 68 kilometres! Was I ready for this? Did I really know what I was getting myself into?

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Italy 2.1 – Getting lost in Venice

I’m back in Canada…! That means it’s time to catch up on the blog posts for all the travel done within the past two months, starting with…Italy with dad! So if you’ve been reading the (not so) recent posts, you’d realize that my dad visited me in France for a few weeks, mainly to attend my thesis defense. Of course, since him being in Europe is a rarity and I was leaving soon, we had to take the opportunity to travel around a little. We had several choices in destinations, including eastern Europe (Prague, Budapest, Vienna, etc.), Switzerland (one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to), and Italy (lots of places worth seeing still on my list). After lots of contemplation and weighing pros and cons, we decided on the classic Italian route: Venice-Rome-Florence-Pisa over a course of 5 days. And so the first stop was…Venice!

For a long time I had wanted to visit Venice and I didn’t really know why. In my mind, Venice was a city built on water and when I first heard of it, I really had no idea what it would look like. I did get to visit a few European cities deemed “Venice of the North”, namely Bruges and Amsterdam. I’ve been to both of these cities twice and strangely both appeared on my list of “cities that didn’t quite appeal to me too much”. Yet, the real Venice was too elusive and I hadn’t had a chance to visit until this time around. So my dad and I hopped onto a Volotea flight directly from Bordeaux to Venice to find out what’s so special about this place.

First impression of Venice: lotsa canals and bridges! Well duh, that was expected, but they were more numerous and more beautiful than I had imagined. My dad and I actually got lost for about half an hour trying to navigate the narrow streets while looking for our hotel. Google maps didn’t help at all! (Well, I was mostly at fault because I followed the wrong signs…teehee!) A lot of frustration later, I happened to look up at the street signs and saw…our street! Ehhhhhh??? What are the chances! So without any systematic directions, we ended up finding the hotel (bed and breakfast) by luck 😉 Oh dear, the joys of getting lost. At least now we have a home-base…we think!

Pretty much as soon as we checked in, we headed out to explore as the days were short and daylight was precious. I was totally ready to get lost again, which was in fact the most enjoyable part of the trip. Turn a corner here to find a random little courtyard, or follow the really confusing and sometimes contradictory signs to discover a hidden church – surprises are everywhere waiting to be found. We did the wise thing to get a map and I would be lying if I said we didn’t consult it almost every five minutes. While getting lost is fun, it is good to know where you are headed to sometimes!

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Northwestern France, days 3 and 4

On day 3 of my Christmas escape from Bordeaux, I visited the famous Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy…or is it part of Brittany? I’m not sure. The bus ride was a little less than an hour and a half from Rennes, perfect for a day trip. I figured since I was in Rennes, why not drop by to see what’s the big deal?

Day 4 was an unplanned but interesting detour…you’ll see. (See all photos.)

Obligatory front shot of Mont Saint-Michel upon arrival. Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island that is connected to the mainland via a causeway. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the entire “town” of Mont Saint-Michel is enclosed by a fortress, with a gigantic abbey at the very top in the centre.

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