Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: summer

The hills are alive…on the misty Isle of Skye!

The Isle of Skye is perhaps the most widely recognized destination in the Scottish highlands and a hotspot for tourism, and it’s easy to see why. Before I had even stepped foot on Scottish soil, my friend has already recommended it as the number one place that I have to visit in Scotland because it was just so beautiful. His claim was supported by multiple other friends, and I finally had a chance to make a trip up north to the Misty Isle (Skye means “mist” in Norse) in July this year – with 12 other people!

We hired a minibus from Misty Isle Tours and were very fortunate to have the adorable Stuart as our driver and guide for the day. I think Skye probably deserves way more than one simple post, but for this first introductory post I’ll show you some of the stunning landscape that we were able to see around the island, courtesy of Stuart. Maybe it would convince you that Skye is indeed the place that dreams are made of.

Skye is a photographer’s heaven and there is no shortage of good photo opportunities. The Fairy Pools are one of the most visited attractions of Skye, and while I’ll be completely honest and say I was a little underwhelmed by the actual pools themselves, the Black Cuillins that served as the backdrop were simply magnificent and awe-inspiring!

Speaking of fairy, you can’t miss the Fairy Glen, reachable via a nice scenic hike close to the guesthouse where we stayed in Uig (which was excellent, by the way). This is the kind of place where you’d expect elves to magically appear and fairies to dance in the lush green – a place worthy of its name!

The Sligachan Bridge is something you’d expect to see on a postcard. This shot was captured hastily as we passed by the bridge on the bus from Glasgow to Uig, but I was glad that Stuart took us back to Sligachan during our day tour of Skye to take a closer look at the bridge!

Another view of the Sligachan Bridge, this time from the other side with the Red Cuillin hills in the back. The perfect symmetry of Glamaig adds to the aesthetic feeling of the picture!

And here we come to the “bald” hills on the way to Elgol, a perfect backdrop against the clear, dark blue waters. After searching on Google Maps and checking the corresponding time that the photo was taken, I have reasons to believe that the hills seen here are known as Beinn na Caillich, the “red hills” of the Cuillin mountain ranges.

Elgol is the departure point of the ferry to Loch Coruisk. I’d heard of Elgol from a random stranger I met during a hike and was keen to visit, especially since it is where Stuart grew up! What a tranquil little village!

With a bus we had a lot of flexibility in terms of where we could go, and Stuart also brought us to Quiraing, a location with stunning landscape and rock formations. The BFG was also filmed here, apparently!

Passing by a lone house by the shore, surrounded by nothing but grassy fields, calm waters, roaming sheep, and sheer serenity. I wouldn’t mind moving here when I retire…

Of course, Skye had to show us why it was named the “Misty Isle”. We were lucky that most of the day was rain-free but there were short intervals where rain hit us hard, and you wondered if it would ever stop. Still Skye looked gorgeous in the rain and mist and before you know it, the sky opened up again and we forgot that rain was ever with us!

Back at Uig, the group stayed in glamping pods on top of a hill, where we were able to get a nice view of the main village across the bay. These pods were so cosy and comfortable that I wouldn’t hesitate going back here the next time I visit Skye! Oh, and this photo was taken at around 11:30pm in early July. I think the sky was still slightly blue well past midnight – definitely the ideal timing for our stay!

Finally, I present you with a greeting (or a goodbye) from the Skye Dragon…breathing fire! OK, just clouds, but aren’t they amazing! You could probably tell that my first Skye experience was absolutely mesmerizing and memorable, and I hope it won’t be the last!

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The four seasons of Glasgow

When people ask me what time of the year is Glasgow’s rainy season, I tell them that every season is a rainy season in Glasgow. At least that’s what it felt like during my one year as a resident of Glasgow.

Nevertheless, the city is still beautiful in every season, even though it sometimes seems as if summer doesn’t exist. Aside from the rain, which is a constant in every season, we do manage to see different colours at various times of the year – a green spring, a blue summer, a red autumn, and a white winter. If you mix everything, the overall impression might still be “gray”, and any rainless day is a cause for celebration 😉

Spring

Spring is the time of the year when life begins to revive after having been asleep for a few months. Blooming flowers are to be seen everywhere, painting Glasgow in vibrant colours and the hope of warmth. Ditch not your umbrellas and rain jackets, however! Rain is aplenty and will wash the city at any given moment, but a forecast of sun for five days in a row (!) reminds me that the toughest months of November to February are over. Weekends can now be spent outdoors, hah!!

Summer

Ah, summer. It is rarely warmer than 25 degrees Celsius in Glasgow, and I’ve heard that the Scots consider it a heat wave if the temperature rises above 24 – is that true, my Scottish friends? Daylight is abundant, and the first rays of sunshine through the window often wake me up at 4am while the sun does not set until 11pm. How awesome is that! Then again, it is easier to lose track of time during the summer – you think it’s only 7pm but all of a sudden it’s midnight. Wasn’t it still bright half an hour ago?!

Autumn

While autumn is my favourite season in Toronto, I’m not sure if I feel the same way in Glasgow. The temperature begins to drop, and the transition into winter is especially difficult to adapt to as gray skies and drizzling rain dominate the atmosphere. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The sun becomes especially scarce and precious during this period of time, and we really do learn to appreciate every moment of sunlight. We do have some gorgeous red leaves, though, which is a source of consolation and at least adds some colour to my walk to work.

Winter

As a Canadian, I’m raised to believe that winter is incomplete without snow. Luckily (for me, perhaps unluckily for others) that there had been snow during the two Glaswegian winters that I’ve experienced, and I definitely prefer snow over rain! When I heard from my friends and family that the temperature went down to -15 degrees Celsius in January, I was quite glad to have avoided the bone-chilling shivers and thankful to be here with this gentle snow. This year, it really “snowed” only on one day, but that was enough to get me quite excited! Although the snow only lasted one day and pretty much melted away by the next afternoon, I was satisfied to say that it was a REAL winter, hehe.

And now, it is the beginning of February. Yesterday was Groundhog Day but I think the groundhog in Glasgow would have been pretty pissed off when he emerged from his burrow to see another rainy day. I’m not sure if spring is coming soon, but I’m happy to see that the sky is gradually getting brighter when I step out of the office at 5:30pm. And today was an entirely sunny day! What a gift! 😀

The question is not “Do you see my shadow?” but “Where’s my umbrella?” 😦 😦 😦

Ely, a detour from Cambridge

A very brief post on my trip to Ely, a city in England that is 20 minutes away from Cambridge by train, making it a perfect (half-)day weekend trip. Ely is known as a “cathedral city”, but it wasn’t only the cathedral that made the visit more than pleasant. It was here that my love for smaller cities and communities was accentuated, as you will see 🙂

There are things that don’t interest me much anymore when I travel (castles, for example) and other things that I don’t think I can ever get enough of (nature, high places, etc.), and cathedrals are one of the rare things that I’m undecided about. Sometimes I feel like every cathedral is the same, but the grandness of some of the ones I’ve seen has truly and genuinely amazed me. Of course, the primary motivation of going to Ely was to see its gigantic cathedral, which was the symbol of the city. And magnificent it was – I must admit that I was impressed.

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Summerlicious @ Ouzeri

My sister and I recently started a new blog – check it out! We’ll be blogging about anything and everything related to fun things we do, including outings, food adventures, random tidbits at home, and so much more. Last week, I added a post about our first Summerlicious experience. I thought I’d “steal” the post from that blog and share it here with you 😉


When I came back to Toronto in January from my 3-year study period in Europe, Sherry and I decided that we would do all sorts of fun things in Toronto (before I leave again, probably, possibly, eventually), including all the food festivals. Taste of Lawrence (we actually missed that 😦 ), Taste of Asia, Night It Up, Waterfront Festival, Rib Fest, Taste of Toronto…you name it!

Of course, we wouldn’t miss Summerlicious, an annual event involving over 200 restaurants all over Toronto. We began planning about a month ago, looking through the list of restaurants and trying to decide which type of cuisine we wanted to try. After much debate and a lot of menu-reading, we settled on GREEK FOOD, and what better place to experience it than in Toronto’s very own Greektown on the Danforth? Sherry has been wanting to try Greek food for a long while anyway but never got the chance, alas we picked Ouzeri as the restaurant for our very first experience with Greek cuisine together.

The sis is lookin’ pretty but also pretty hungry. And I was quite hungry as well. I actually didn’t expect the portions to be very filling for Summerlicious (after a previous Winterlicious experience) but I was very surprised with the portions at Ouzeri. With the arrival of our first appetizer we both gasped – that was A LOT of dip and A LOT of pita bread! Seems like we didn’t even have to order the extra appetizer…

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La fête de la musique à Bordeaux

There is something about music that touches the depths of your soul, that harmonizes with every electrical pulse that runs through your body, that makes you want to jump or dance or scream or cry. Music is the universal language of expression, a ubiquitous medium that transcends through time and space, race and culture. That is why we celebrate it…with la fête de la musique!

The music festival is an annual event that takes place in France. In almost every city, from the afternoon till well past midnight, there are concerts, performances, and dances everywhere. According to a French ex-colleague, it is THE biggest event of the year. Coming from an authentic local, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I experienced the hype in Bordeaux two years ago but wasn’t here last year as I was in Belgium, but this year, the timing was perfect as June 21st fell on a Friday! Most of the fun happened around downtown, and since I live in downtown Bordeaux anyway, I figured I’d take full advantage of the walkable distance and spend the night immersing myself in the musical scenes of Bordeaux.

Oh, bonus: it didn’t rain! I totally expected the rain to continue, as it had been raining almost all week in Bordeaux – quite violently too! But God had been nice with us and sent us the sun to accompany our music. Let the magic begin.

I left the house at around 8:30pm and started at Place Pey Berland, going towards Rue Sainte-Catherine and towards the quai. Even the restaurants had their own events going on. Literally, there was something taking place in every corner of downtown. You just had to follow your ear and as soon as the previous sound of music faded away, another welcomed you. Who knows what concert you’d stumble upon next? 😉

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