Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: road trip

Sneem, a knot in the Ring of Kerry

Of the four days I spent in Ireland in June with two friends, the little village of Sneem, situated on the Ring of Kerry on the west coast of Ireland, left the deepest impression in my mind. The word “Sneem” means “knot” in Irish. On that rather grey day, Sneem was a dash of colour in the mist. We stopped for a short break during the long drive around the Ring of Kerry, spending perhaps no more than two hours in Sneem, yet its modest charm was what made it such a unique part of the Irish experience!

It was a rainy morning as we drove on the Ring of Kerry but as we approached Sneem, the rain subsided! The welcoming colours of the village invited us to stop, park our car, and get off for a walk around.

The village was very quiet when we arrived at 11am. We spotted a church not far from where we parked and promptly headed in its direction. It was a Sunday morning and that was when we realized that most, if not all, of the villagers were attending worship service at the church, which would end at 11:30am.

We walked to the area behind the church to the main attraction of Sneem – some mysterious structures of pyramids! There was a block of stone with the words “The Way the Fairies Went” inscribed on it, so this must be…the home of the fairies?! I quite liked this place. It was serene and the fairy bit added a touch of mysticism to the entire surrounding.

Walking past the pyramids…

…keep going to reach this tranquil place where we stayed awhile.

Back in the village, we stopped by the bridge with rapids running under it.

At around 11:30 we returned to the place where we parked, which was right outside of an information centre/gift shop that we had intended to enter but was closed until 11:30. We figured that the villagers probably all went to church and would be back at 11:30, and we were right! The little shop opened and in we went.

The people you unexpected meet along the road often leave the deepest impressions. Here we met John, the shop owner. Upon hearing him speak French with some ladies, I asked, “D’òu venez-vous?” (“Where are you from?”) He told us that he was born in Normandy in France and moved to Sneem many years ago with his Austrian wife. He is a deacon at the village church and is now studying Greek because he wants to better understand the Bible, and he finds much peace in running this small shop in this quiet village. We chatted for around 10 minutes before I bought something and left, but not before we took a photo with him! It’s always so interesting to listen to a local share his stories, and if there was one part of our visit that would make me remember Sneem, it was John. Such a short conversation but so delightful!

And that ended our visit to the little village of Sneem, the knot in the Ring of Kerry, my favourite place in the Ring! ❤

Advertisements

Venture into the Kawartha Lakes

Five days before my friend Florence’s wedding, the two of us went on a trip to Lindsay, Ontario, a small region in the city of Kawartha Lakes. Aside from being actual lakes themselves, Kawartha Lakes is an agglomeration of quiet communities approximately an hour and a half east of Toronto by driving. Florence and I had planned this trip a few months ago, where we figured we’d go somewhere to relax and calm any last-minute wedding panics. So no, I was not kidnapping the bride, if you were wondering.

In Lindsay we stayed at a local motel for two nights, and it became our mini bachlorette party. For our hike, we headed to the nearby Ken Reid Conservation Area, where we ventured deep into the woods on a hiking trail on a nice Tuesday afternoon.

Why Kawartha Lakes? Well, after last year’s trip to Tobermory, Florence and I wanted to find somewhere similar, something close to nature where we could enjoy a nice hike near the waters. A little bit of research led us to Kawartha Lakes. Of course, none of our friends had been there before, but we figured, let’s give it a try. Nothing can be so bad with each other’s company, right?

RAWR! Get away from mah territory! This little chipmunk was the first thing we saw after we parked the car. It was making itself comfortable in the pile of wild fruits, munching some here and there and scurrying around. Chipmunks are really the cutest things ever, and look at this one! The fierce look in its eyes, the fiery grasp of its claws, and the flaming flick of its tail…the BADASSERY!

Continue reading

Tobermory road trip with my ladies

Today’s post is about…Tobermory! Did Annie head back to Canada already? Nope, not a chance, not until September, at least. I was stuck in a gray, melancholic Louvain-la-Neuve this weekend, where the sun has disappeared for no less than a week. Yesterday, I saw sunshine for about five minutes before the dark clouds devoured the light hastily. I was going to go to Maastricht yesterday, and was glad that I didn’t, as the weather would have completely killed the mood. Oh, and I had to go to the lab, that would be the main reason.

So I thought, why don’t I dig out and organize some photos from previous trips that I hadn’t written about? (I still haven’t gotten to Cherbourg and don’t know if I ever will write about it.) I was surprised to find that I actually never wrote about Tobermory, which happened last August during my vacation back home in Canada.

The trip was planned long before I arrived in Canada with the intention of spending a relaxing weekend with my dear ladies Florence and Candy. We chose Tobermory, a tiny place right at tip of the point between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, 273 kilometres north of Toronto. It was far enough to be away from the bustling of the city while close enough to be reached by car in a relatively short amount of time. It would be two fun days of hiking, exploration, mad photo-snapping, girl talks, and generally being in touch with nature.

Setting out from Mississauga at 7 in the morning, we got to Tobermory about two and a half hours later and there began our adventures into the wild.

As soon as we parked the car, we embarked on a journey to Flowerpot Island, a couple of kilometres off the coast of Tobermory in Georgian Bay. Flowerpot Island got its name from the two gigantic rock formations on the island, both of which look like flower pots. We passed by this cute lighthouse during the boat ride to the island.

Continue reading

Holland part 1: Stop to smell the roses

This is part 1 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 2 and here for part 3. If you just want to see pictures, click here. If you’re actually interested in a bit of narration, please carry on.

Keukenhof.

I have dreamt of going to this place ever since I saw my friend’s pictures on Facebook a few years back. Now, this is reality.

What beautiful weather we had! Unfortunately, there weren’t any roses. What I’d give to be in a garden of 5000 roses (TLP reference)! They’d be there in two weeks, but really, I can’t complain when there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of TYPES of flowers in bloom all around me. The fragrant smell, the endless waves of colours, so vibrant and so INTENSE…can you just say, breathtaking?

Some colleagues and I rented a car for the weekend road trip, and as I was the only one with a valid driver’s license, I drove the entire 650 kilometers in total (including getting lost, returning the car, etc.) It is surprising that the distance from Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium to Lisse in Holland, where Keukenhof is located, is shorter than the distance from Toronto to Kingston. There’s Europe for you in a relatively understandable scale.

The trip was smooth for the most part, thanks to handy dandy Ms. GPS. The only small stretch of traffic occurred interesting right at the Belgium-Holland border, just before we crossed the invisible frontier. It was strange because we were stuck there for a good 40 minutes, but there were no “slow down” signs, border patrols, collisions, or anything that visibly caused the jam. A colleague’s hypothesis is that leaving Belgium is an emotional event for many drivers and they took their time to slow down and say goodbye before entering another country. Personally I think it’s some sort of force field. Just sayin’.

From this point on I’m not even going to write bother writing long paragraphs. Just let the colours refresh your eyes and enjoy the beauty of Keukenhof, starting with the gallery of macros (click for full size).

The MACROS

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: