Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: museum

Italy 2.2 – All roads lead to Rome

“Seule Paris est digne de Rome; seule Rome est digne de Paris.”
“Solo Parigi è degna di Roma; solo Roma è degna di Parigi.”
“Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.”

That’s quite a bold thing to say. Paris and Rome are reciprocally and EXCLUSIVELY twinned to each other, meaning each city has no other twin cities (there are still “sister” cities and friendship cities). Voilà, after Venice, Rome was next on the list as my dad and I continued our Italian holiday. So Rome, huh. Aside from Paris, Rome is probably considered the other “big shot” in European travel. Yet, after my experiences with Paris and other big, popular cities like Amsterdam, I honestly didn’t hold much high expectation for Rome, though I did give it the benefit of the doubt seeing that I loved the other Italian cities I’ve visited so far. We’ll see if Rome is really that “worthy” of Paris…

Dad and I arrived in Rome as the sun was setting, and after having settled down in the hotel, we set out for a leisurely stroll. The purpose was to get an overall orientation of the city and to figure out where we were with respect to the places we planned to see. It seemed like Rome was quite compact and we’d be able to walk everywhere. The first destination was the Colosseum, which was a mere 20-minute walk from Termini station in the city centre. The Colosseum was accompanied by a beautiful full moon that night. Of course, it was too late to go inside – that would be for another day. I’m gonna go ahead and say that the Colosseum didn’t seem TOO impressive upon first look, but I liked the way that it stood quietly there and didn’t scream for attention…*ahem* Paris. I’m totally going to get hated for being a “Paris-hater”…

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Paris, take 7

7th trip to Paris was accomplished with SF as a visitor in October. The only reason I would go to Paris now is to take visiting friends around in the emblem of France, and at this point, only with friends would I find this city any interesting. I’m not going to continue with my “Paris bash” or else everyone would start throwing darts at me…

So this trip to Paris actually brought me to some places I hadn’t yet been to or had passed by but never entered. SF sure made an awesome companion, even though I was quite horrible at navigation and got us lost a few times…oops. I think I made up for it by being able to ask for directions in French. We’re even then, SF?

SF and I decided to meet in front of the pyramid of the Louvre after he finished with the exploration inside, but of course, I forgot that the central pyramid is HUGE and that there were many sides where we could have met. Thankfully he did exit from the pyramid as I stood there browsing the faces of the tourists. Bienvenue en France!

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March getaway part 3, Toulouse

I’ll finish this post before heading back to Bordeaux from Annecy, as I will have A LOT to write next week about this training school I’m attending that is nearing the end.

In the last part of my March getaway with LY, we arrived in Toulouse, a relatively big city in France. Toulouse is between Bordeaux and Carcassonne, so after our little stop in Carcassonne, LY and I took the train back to Toulouse and stayed there for the night before heading back to Bordeaux on Sunday night.

The first thing we did after we dropped off our stuff at the hotel was find food and head to the riverside for some night views of the city. On our way, we passed by many areas where nightlife was thriving and crowds and crowds of drunk students were partying. Ha, it was a Saturday night, what else did we expect! We arrived by the Garonne river, the same that traverses Bordeaux, to a gorgeous view of the Pont Neuf and the quais, yet in my opinion, still not as gorgeous as that of Bordeaux 😉

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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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Sax and the City

Dinant is a town that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Ever since I saw pictures of this place, I was mesmerized by its grace and charm. I don’t know what took me so long to finally visit, but being only an hour away from Louvain-la-Neuve, there was no reason not to go yesterday, especially when rare sunshine showered over my part of Belgium and the weather couldn’t be any better!

As the train pulled into Dinant slowly along the Meuse, I woke up from my semi-nap, rubbed my eyes, and looked out the window. I gasped. I was still in sleeping mode and I wondered myself why I gasped, but I remember thinking in my mind, “Wow, so this is Dinant, huh. It is SO pretty.” I was already impressed before the train even made a full stop, and so the anticipation to start exploring grew exponentially and chased away any remaining traces of fatigue. I hopped off the train and off I went into the unknown.

After the visit, I could seriously look into your eyes and tell you affirmatively that Dinant is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen in Europe and I enjoyed every nanosecond spent in this enchanting little place.

Two things prompted me to go and explore Dinant: the citadel and the caves. Well, count the Meuse River as the third, because I’ve always thought that bodies of river add richness and appeal to a city, but to see the Meuse, I didn’t have to go to Dinant specifically. Anyway, I wanted to go up to the citadel and view Dinant from way up high. It’s one of my favourite things to do in any new city, to see it from above, whether from a belfry or a building or in this case, a cliff. Next, I wanted to plunge into the Grotte la Merveilleuse, a series of underground caves in Dinant.

Wandering around these sites and simply strolling through the narrow streets of Dinant made me realize that this town reminded me of Luxembourg City. Watching Dinant from the citadel was like staring into the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg, and the Grotte in Dinant was certainly similar to the casemates in Luxembourg. I particularly liked the authentic atmosphere in Dinant. It was busier than I expected for a Sunday (I was surprised that many shops were open), but it wasn’t saturated with tourists like Bruges. One thing that bothered me slightly, though, was the sheer amount of cars for a small town. I often found it hard to cross the street because of non-stop traversing traffic, especially with the lack of traffic lights. Nothing too traumatizing though; enjoyment of the town wasn’t too much compromised.

I know this is a super typical picture of Dinant. You can Google Dinant and find 5000 pictures that look the same, but c’mon, it’s gorgeous. It was the first sight I encountered as soon as I exited the train station; how could I resist? As Sharon said, it looks like it came right out of a fairy tale, or more like an undiscovered civilization hidden in a secret valley. The Notre-Dame de Dinant stands guard by the cute little houses by the Meuse (which is the same river that traverses Liege), backed up by the mighty citadel on a cliff. Just stunning.

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