Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: sea

Skies, seas, and Cherbourg

I’ve been to Cherbourg in Normandy twice, each time was a three-day stay. Yet, I’ve never written about it. For a period of time, the circumstances under which I made these visits bore too much burden on my heart and my mind. After almost three years, I dug out these memories and looked back at those very peaceful days that I spent in Cherbourg, and there was nothing to regret.

Cherbourg is a port city at the tip of northwestern France, part of the department of Lower Normandy, where the sea seemed to be an indispensable part of the people’s lives in Cherbourg

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Enfin, La Rochelle

It’s summertime, so that means it’s time to go to La La La La La…Rochelle!

I had wanted to visit this seaside city since last year because a lot of my friends have studied there, but we always failed to coordinate the timing. This year, our own little IDS group from Bordeaux finally got a chance to do a weekend trip to La Rochelle, courtesy of Mathilde whose family lives there.

You’d expect that by the end of June, summer would already be in full swing but NO. Summer decided to hide from us during that one weekend that we planned an outing. Not only that, but rain invaded most of our trip, as if it was jealous that we were having fun. Not cool, mother nature, not cool. (Full photo album on Facebook.)

Here we are at the old port, or vieux port, of La Rochelle. Yep, those are gray skies you see, and you it may not be apparent, but it was raining like mad. Everyone (except for me) was prepared with an umbrella, so I had to sneak under one or just rely on the hood on my jacket most of the time. Didn’t matter though, the group was in high spirits most of the time because nothing takes away the FUN when the IDS-FunMates are together. Take that, rainy weather!

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Basque Country part 4: Biarritz

Last but not least, Biarritz! It’s been more than two weeks, but Biarritz will be the concluding post in the Basque Country series.

Training school finished at around noon on a Saturday. While most people either headed back to Bordeaux with the school shuttle buses or left for their flights back to their host universities, a small group of us had some time to spare. Mariel and I would be taking the 18h45 bus in Biarritz to San Sebastián, while Nhi, Naresh, and Ragu had a train to catch in Bayonne at 18h30. That gave us five hours of free time from 13h00, after lunch. Hmm. Mini-Biarritz exploration team, anyone?

Of course, we decided that the little we saw on the bus to the excursion was definitely not enough, and since we had the time, we took a taxi to the Biarritz town centre to walk around a bit until it was time to go. We were joined by Diana, whose flight was at around 17h00 and who would leave Biarritz at 15h00. A cozy group of six, off we went!

The taxi dropped us off at the Biarritz town centre, and before going anywhere, I needed to head to the tourist information centre to make sure that there was actually a bus later that day that would take Mariel and me to San Sebastián. Biarritz has a very cute tourist information centre – it looks like a noble castle! I would have thought this was a tourist attraction itself, hehe 😉

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Portugal part 1: Sesimbra

The first annual IDS-FunMat Training School took place in Sesimbra, Portugal from March 13 to March 18, 2011. This was my first “sort of” conference, and I can’t really compare because I’ve never been to a real conference before. However, it’s Portugal, and c’mon, you’ve gotta treat it as a mini-vacation.

The IDS-FunMat program, short for International Doctoral School in Functional Materials, is a joint program between the European Commission and Canada – a bit weird, I know – that offers a 3- or 4-year doctorate where each candidate is affiliated with two universities and an industry partner. The two universities must be in separate countries, hence mobility is mandatory. 9 cities are involved: Bordeaux, Caen, Grenoble, and Paris in France, Louvain-la-Neuve and Liege in Belgium, Darmstadt in Germany, Lisbon in Portugal, and Waterloo in Canada. As you know, my PhD is joint between Bordeaux and Louvain-la-Neuve, and I have already made my first move at the beginning of March.

Where is Sesimbra? It’s a little fishing village approximately 50 kilometers from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. The thing I was looking forward to the most, aside from the sunny weather and the beach, was meeting all the other PhD candidates in my program. There were 22 of us, coming from all around the world and now scattered throughout Europe due to our mobility schemes.

Enough about my program and onto the week! The schedule was jam packed with plenary lectures and presentations and workshops, but even in the midst of it all, the students were able to squeeze out every bit of free time to spend networking with and getting to know each other. Let’s take a look day by day. Mouseover the small pictures to read a brief description and click to see the full version.

Day 1: Arrival

Upon landing, I saw a magnificent view of Lisbon. Unfortunately I did not capture the moments before landing as I didn’t get a window seat, and that would have to wait until departure from Lisbon. Nevertheless, Lisbon definitely gave me an extremely good first impression.

The school arranged a shuttle bus to get us from the Lisbon airport to Sesimbra, which took around 45 minutes. We went through Lisbon city and the first thing I noticed was that the landscape of Lisbon is extremely hilly. Houses in Lisbon are built in layers of increasing height, and it was a rather unique overall design. More about Lisbon on day 5, where we had a little excursion around the city. For now, the scenes from the bus suffice to add some anticipation to the excursion.

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