July 31, 2014
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Paris is not all glamour and romance. And if I liked Paris at all, it wasn’t the glamour and the so-called “romance” that I liked, but the simple, unseen aspects of everyday life. A friend who was living in Paris told me about a little area in the city, hidden from the hustle of the urban center and away from the touristic crowds. In her words, it was “A village within a city, an enclosure of its own, sort of like connected courtyards behind a secret door, hiding a world of art and antiques.” But she didn’t tell me how to find it. According to my friend, she stumbled upon the place through a treasure hunt of some sort, carefully following instructions while not really knowing where she was going. And by the time she reached this “village”, she didn’t remember how she got there or how she got out. Intrigued, I decided to look for this mysterious place one afternoon as I had a few hours to kill in Paris before heading back to Bordeaux. I thought a good place to start would be the area around the metro station “Saint-Paul”, as the village itself is named, of course, Le Village Saint-Paul.
Usually, many signs point to prominent tourist landmarks, and you could be sure to reach these landmarks by following signs alone. Not the case with Saint-Paul. I suppose it wasn’t a place foreigners visited often, and while there were one or two signs around the metro station pointing to the direction of the “village”, they were vague and misleading, to say the least. I was prepared to enter a maze of quiet alleys in a quest to find Saint-Paul. And it did take a while. I was frustrated, turning corners obliviously without knowing where I was and where I was going, but at the same time, without knowing that what I was looking for could be closer to me than I had anticipated.
July 17, 2014
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One final post about Iceland…for now. It’ll be short and simple. I am sure I can write on and on about this beautiful country but five posts in this series is pretty good for the moment. This one will be about some miscellaneous fun stuff that I encountered in Reykjavik that I haven’t written about previously.
When I saw the back of the white polar bear from afar, I thought it was a huge dog…my eyes must be really bad 😦 Anyway, the focus of this photo is on the Icelandic flag, which like the flags of all other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway) has a cross on it. The three colours on the flag each represents one defining natural feature of the country: red for the volcanoes, white for the glaciers, and blue for the sea surrounding the island (source: bus guide Erlingur).
November 24, 2013
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Speaking of extremes, I’ve been to a few “extreme” places in Europe: Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on mainland Europe, and Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands (debated by Maastricht). For this post: the world’s smallest town – Durbuy, Belgium.
HOLD ON. I think Hum, Croatia would kindly like to disagree. Perhaps ex-Buford in Wyoming, USA would disagree as well. There really isn’t much factual evidence that Durbuy, Belgium is indeed the smallest town in the world, although that is the small Belgian town’s claim to fame. Maybe it USED to be the smallest town in the world, once upon a time, but not anymore? Who knows?
Just how small is the “smallest” town in the world? A car ride into the hidden little place (thanks to Yi-Shiang & co.) would show us what it’s all about!
Durbuy is literally hidden in the forests. I think we were driving for some 20 minutes between rows of trees surrounded by tiny creeks and rivers, as if we were venturing into an unknown existence deep into the innermost parts of the woods. And suddenly, out of nowhere at all, the town emerged from behind the trees. I felt like we found the entrance to Narnia or something. First impression of Durbuy: it reminded me of another small town that I’ve visited, but I can’t remember which one… >_<
November 17, 2012
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I’ve been back in Bordeaux for three weeks and while it is nice to be back in the city I love, I’ve gotta admit that I kinda miss Louvain-la-Neuve.
Hmm, how did this happen? Louvain-la-Neuve, not just a campus, but barely a real city. I didn’t like it much when I first stepped into Louvain-la-Neuve, that much was certain. The place felt more like a trap than a comfortable place to live.
It took a while to discover the charm hidden within, a process that required living there for a few months at a time and frequent absence. Gradually I found myself starting to like Louvain-la-Neuve more and more as I found ways to enjoy the “city”, as I took delight in the small, unique things that surprise me.
So, after having written about the streets of Bordeaux, I feel that it is only fair to dedicate a post to the streets of Louvain-la-Neuve 😉
On an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon, if I am not out and about travelling to nearby cities, I like to take slow strolls around Louvain-la-Neuve. Although the area of the place itself is not big, there are so many hidden corners that I seem to have missed during my walks that I slowly discover one by one. It’s always fun to get lost, then find my way again.