Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: madrid

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 😛

Advertisements

Short travel reflection: Revisiting Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona

I’m currently in the middle of a week-long trip in Portugal and Spain (Madrid at the moment), visiting a friend who is studying in Madrid and joined by some other friends coming all the way from Canada and the USA. I’ve previously visited the three main destinations of our trip – Lisbon and Barcelona in 2011, and Madrid (and Lisbon again) in 2013. Lisbon was definitely my favourite out of the three, but revisiting all three of these major cities one after another will give me a whole new perspective, especially after so many years already.

Alfama district, Lisbon, Portugal in March, 2016 – Looking down onto an alley leading up to São Jorge Castle.

We left Lisbon this morning and arrived in Madrid, and in three days we’ll be in Barcelona. In Lisbon, we got to see some of the places that I missed during the previous two trips, including the Alfama district and the areas around Sintra. For Barcelona, one of my greatest regrets was not entering the Sagrada Familia when I was there five years ago, and now I finally have a chance to make it happen. So, while I don’t get to visit new cities during this trip (except for Córdoba as a day trip in two days), I do get to have the new experience of travelling with buddies with whom I’ve never travelled before, and going back to the places that I’ve missed in the cities previously explored. I do hope to write about these experiences when I return to Glasgow – that is, if I don’t get swamped with work. Oh well, let’s not think about work at the moment – let the travels continue!

Day trip in little Toledo

When I travel to one place for a sufficiently long period of time (typically more than 3 days), I like to look for small cities or towns nearby my main destination and make that a day trip. During a week-long trip to Barcelona, my friend LS and I took a half-day trip to the nearby Girona. A 4-day getaway in northwestern France brought me to Pornic, an unexpected little corner of the country where I spent two hours. Of course, when I went searching for Mr.DS in Lisbon in April, I visited the medieval town of Óbidos for a day.

For Madrid, the detour was made in Toledo, a little medieval town 70 km to the south of Madrid. I had decided that I would definitely go for a visit, whether anyone came with me or not, after my oral presentation at the conference. After all, I finished it on the first day, and had nothing to worry about, woot!

So to Toledo I went, ultimately with some of my conference buddies and we unfortunately missed the train that we were originally going to take because it ran out of seats as we were making reservations. Boo 😦 So then we waited two hours for the next one. The trip was quite short, taking only 33 minutes from central Madrid. We arrived and took a shuttle bus that took us from the train station to the city centre, which is situated on top of a gigantic hill. I would have loved to take the walk, but with a baby and a stroller in our party, the bus was a much more practical alternative on a hot day.

On the way to the city centre, we saw the Alcázar of Toledo in a distance on top of the hill. The wheels on the bus went round and round, and up and up we went 🙂

Continue reading

Madrid, end of summer

Last week I was at the annual European Society for Biomaterials conference which took place in Madrid, Spain. This would be my last conference before the PhD defense, or shall I say, conference/vacation. Since the thesis rush began in May, I haven’t been travelling much during the summer. That was why I decided that I should make the best out of this conference and take some time to relax before the defense creeps in.

And yes, I have finished writing my thesis, the preliminary draft, at least. Copies have been sent out to the jury and now I am just waiting for October 14, doomsday AKA the pre-defense in Belgium. (I won’t go into detail about the pre-defense and public defense, but just know that the pre-defense is much much much harder than the public defense.) I really should start preparing, but after sending out the thesis, I was hit with a feeling of “now what?” It almost feels like I’m denying the fact that the defense is coming up so soon, sort of like how I was in denial of ever having to write a thesis. Let’s hope this denial phase disappears soon.

Anyway, about the conference, this was my third time in Spain in three years. As it turns out, it was not only an academic experience, but I met new friends and more than anything, this was an unexpected trip of gastronomic indulgence, as you will soon see.

We started our sightseeing around Puerta del Sol, an area in the Madrid city centre. Nearby Sol was the gigantic Royal Palace of Madrid, one of the city’s most recognized landmarks.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: