Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: river

I got very sick in Newcastle

Newcastle has never been on my travel list, and I probably would never have visited if it weren’t for a training course that took place there in mid-February. I spent four days in Newcastle, the majority of the time in a classroom but with some time to spare after the course ended every evening. But what’d you know…I was ridiculously ill with the flu the entire time I was there – what a bummer! As a result I didn’t enjoy my time as much as I would have if I were perfectly healthy. To my lack of enthusiasm, noted by my colleague, I could only say that I got sick IN Newcastle but I wasn’t sick OF Newcastle, trust me.

I knew nothing about Newcastle before the visit apart from hearing that it’s got the best parties and nightlife in the UK, something that I wasn’t all that interested in, healthy or sick. With the colleague who attended the course with me, I did some exploration of the city in the time that I wasn’t coughing my lungs out…

Getting off the train and walking toward the hotel, I passed by the Newcastle Castle, a rather imposing structure that is difficult to miss. Yes, there is actually a castle in Newcastle and not just in its name! So if this is an old castle…does it mean that it is the Old Newcastle Castle?!

Searching for “Newcastle” on the Internet would inevitably lead you to information about the “vampire rabbit”, which I went on a slight detour to find. The vampire rabbit was perched on top of a beautiful door right next to St Nicholas Cathedral, seemingly observing every move of the passersby oblivious of its existence.

From the train station to the hotel, there is a street on a downward slope where there is a row of buildings that look like pretty little doll houses.

The Newcastle harbour is rather similar to the Glasgow harbour and there are several buildings/structures that look alike. First is the Sage Gateshead, which is a concert hall located on the south side of the River Tyne and is said to look like an armadillo. Hmm…doesn’t it remind you of the SECC in Glasgow?

Back to the harbour at night, here’s a view of the Sage lit up. I gotta say that here it looks better than the SECC, which is lit only in a single colour at night. It’s so much more interesting with more colours!

And not far from the Sage, we find the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which…coincidentally looks very much like the Millennium Bridge in Glasgow? One would wonder if there is some unknown connection between the two cities.

The Millennium Bridge in daylight, not as interesting as it is during the night. Our hotel was a two-minute walk from the harbour but a half-hour walk from the University of Newcastle, where our training course took place.

Near our hotel is a sculpture of a…giant peach?! Actually I don’t know what it is, but from a distance it sort of looks like a giant peach to me. Maybe James and his little (giant?) buddies live there…

In the city centre of Newcastle stood the Goldsmiths building, reminiscent of the exterior of a royal theatre.

Back at the Newcastle Castle when night has fallen, we stood in front of the “Black Gate”, which was lit with a haunting aura of mystery. I wonder what stories hide behind these doors…

Finally, here’s an anti-Trump protest that we happened to come across while walking through the city centre.

I really had hoped that I would have gotten better from my flu earlier on in the week so that I could at least enjoy some more time outside, but my flu got WORSE even after I returned to Glasgow and persisted for another week. What’s more, on my last day in Newcastle, there was a giant thunderstorm that delayed every bus and train by hours…ugh. Despite all of this, there were some nice sights and fun encounters to be had in Newcastle, but I’m sure glad to be back in Glasgow and illness-free! Now for the delayed Scottish rain season to arrive…

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Budapest, Pearl of the Danube

Just a note before the actual post begins: Almost a whole month without a blog entry… 😦 Seems like the new life in Glasgow has kept Annie quite busy. As a result, I’ve decided to try a different way of blogging, focusing more on imagery than on words, which often take more time to formulate than I could afford. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. I do want to keep up with the blog, but it simply takes too much time to write, and so I will compromise. There will still be text, but the descriptions won’t be as elaborate as those in previous entries. Of course you can click on the images for the full view and a short caption of each. I hope you will still enjoy the photos 😉


Budapest, another city whose name begins with the letter “B”. If you didn’t know, I tend to end up liking cities beginning with “B”, for the most part – Bordeaux, Bologna, Brussels, Bratislava, BarcelonaBruges is the exception. Though it is all coincidence, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that Budapest deserved to be visited with high expectations. Aside from the fact that it is yet another city beginning with the letter “B”, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Hungarian city from my friends who have been there. (Come to think of it, it was the same with Barcelona.) So then, this was Budapest…

Budapest by night

Prague had a castle; Budapest had a castle. Prague had bridges; Budapest had bridges. Tell me then – how could I not compare the two cities when I had just travelled from Prague to Budapest? Sorry to fans of Prague but Budapest beats Prague in night scene, hands down. Charles Bridge, you have nothing on the Chain Bridge in Budapest ❤ And the parliament building – need I say more other than that it was one of the most stunning structures I've seen?

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Incredible Iceland #2 – The Golden Circle

To illustrate why Iceland is my favourite place ever, this post is absolutely necessary. I loved Reykjavik already after one night of staying there, but I loved Iceland even more after immersing myself in the boundless realms of nature that it promised to offer. And it did not disappoint.

You see, when I planned my stay Iceland, I knew I wanted to see some nature. Maybe a lot of nature. A trip to such an exotic destination wouldn’t be complete without seeing its most defining features outside of the urban center – the waterfalls, the geysers, the national parks. I didn’t have a car to take me around the country, but that wasn’t an issue as there was a myriad of tour companies operating day-tours along the most popular tourist routes. One of the classic tours is the Golden Circle tour, a route that takes you around South Iceland and stops at several cultural and natural sites. The description seemed to suit me perfectly, and after signing up with one of the tours, I was on my way to see the other side of Iceland. And boy, that beauty…it was unfathomable.

We set out at around 8:30 in the morning, when the sky was still pitch black. The sun rises at around 10:30 in January, so that’d be another couple of hours before we’d see daylight 😛 On the bus, I saw some dedicated runners doing their morning runs in the dark, an interesting sight as I had never experienced a morning that was still dark at 8:30 am. The bus took us out of Reykjavik onto the “Ring Road”, beginning our tour around the Golden Circle, passing by the “greenhouse town” of Hveragerði. Yep, those rows of illuminated houses are indeed greenhouses, and they looked stunning in the dark, even from the bus, prompting a friend to say, “How can a greenhouse be this beautiful!”

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The humble Swiss capital

The capital of one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, Switzerland, is not its largest city Zurich nor the internationally renowned Geneva. It is Bern, comfortably and humbly tucked behind other more popular Swiss tourist destinations. It’s true. One doesn’t usually make a stop in Bern aside from making a transfer, and I guess…that was exactly why I went. I mean, there has to be SOME reason why it’s the capital of such a magical country, no?

It would also be the final stop in my week-long trip in mid-January and the final Swiss city I visit before I leave Europe. The night I arrived, it rain. It rained hard, and it was the first time that I saw rain during the entire week of travel, thank God.

Instead of staying at a hotel or hostel, I decided to go for Air BNB after hearing great things from several friends. As I was arriving in Bern rather late, Air BNB seemed to be the most convenient and budget-friendly option. I found my host Slawek’s place, after getting slightly lost around the train station, soaked all over. Thankfully my host provided a very warm and cozy night’s accommodation, especially as I was exhausted near the end of the trip. In the morning, I felt well-rested and ready to tackle the last day, exploring the humble Swiss capital.

The old town of Bern is very compact and could be easily navigated on foot. There were light drizzles in the morning and no snow as predicted in the weather forecast, but that didn’t dampen my mood. I started out down the main street in the old town and followed a map on a fountain hunt (which I will talk about in the next post), passing by the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) on the way.

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I left my heart in Bratislava

One coincidence that I have noticed these years is that my favourite destinations in Europe and some of the most memorable ones all start with the letter “B” – Bordeaux, Brussels, Barcelona, Bologna…and now, I arrive in Bratislava. From Vienna, it was a choice between Bratislava, Prague, and Budapest as a day trip, but it was not much a choice at all as Bratislava is the closest one and doesn’t take too much time to reach. An hour by bus and you jump conveniently from Austria to Slovakia.

It took a while to get to this post, but I’m glad I’m finally writing about Bratislava three months after the visit. Somehow, unexpectedly, I left a piece of my heart in this blue, melancholic city.

Slovakia is perhaps the second most mysterious (if not the most mysterious) country I’ve visited, next to Latvia. First impression of the old town: some areas were tattered with an air of sorrow, and strangely, it attracted me. A friend once told me that I gave off a strong aura of pensiveness with a touch of sadness surrounding me. Is this my “style”?

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