Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: sun

Sunset from Mount Lycabettus

Sometimes a city doesn’t have to be super glamorous or impressive to earn a ★ on my travel checklist – perhaps a simple yet stunning sunset will do, and that was the case with Athens. It was a fulfilling week in the Greek capital with the annual European Society of Biomaterials conference, and certainly the most memorable part, aside from the conference itself and my amazing companion, was the sunset on Mount Lycabettus tonight, the highest point in Athens. I want to say that all sunsets are beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others. To expect clouds to add some more colours at this time of the year might be wishful thinking, but I gotta say – sorry Santorini, you have nothing on Lycabettus. It was a magical dusk, not a moment too late to marvel at God’s spectacular creations. The cradle of western civilization, the birthplace of philosophy, democracy, the Olympics, and more – good night, Athens.

Sunset from Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, on September 7, 2017.

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Incredible Iceland #4 – Winter sunrise

On my final morning in Iceland, I decided not to explore anymore, in case I didn’t want to leave. Then the tears on the plane would be for Iceland, not Bordeaux…

…but I was going to see a sunrise on top of the Hallgrímskirkja. Sunrises don’t have to be painful ordeals at 5am. Head to Iceland in the winter months where the sun rises at 10am. Wake up bright (or not) and early (9am is barely early), eat a nice breakfast, drink a cup of coffee or two, and head up the Hallgrímskirkja for a grand spectacle. But…BRRRRRRRRRRRR!! It was COLD! Getting ready for Canada, yeah! Made me wonder why I missed the cold, and how I survived 14 Canadian winters.

The day before the sunset watch, I saw this beautiful scene by the Hallgrímskirkja in the morning. I wondered what it would be like to be at the very top of the tower, observing the rising of the sun as it happens.

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Powered by nature

I fell in love with Secret Garden’s song Powered by Nature as soon as I heard it (lyrics here). It makes me remember the times nature has touched my heart and once again reminded me of the greatness of God’s creations. “I’m powered by mountains, they make me feel so small, so I can seize the wonder and the greatness of it all…I know I’m a part of God’s great universe!” Often throughout my travels, I like to pause and just let the serenity of nature surround me. Then I am thankful that God granted me this big big world to explore, to experience, to enjoy.

No lavenders in Provence nor tulips in Keukenhof this year, but what a blessing it was to see the sunflower fields last week, row on row, stretching without end towards the blue sky, beyond the vast horizon. To be in touch with nature in its purest form, to listen to the voice of the truest beauty speaking through the wind – such marvel and awe. This was in the midst of a trip to the Royan zoo, two hours away from Bordeaux. If anything was worth the trouble of going all the way, this was it. (By the way, I almost fainted from this indescribable beauty…it was way beyond anything words can hope to convey.)

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Streets of Louvain-la-Neuve

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.

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Basque Country part 1: 2nd IDS-FunMat training school in Anglet

IDS-FunMat (International Doctoral School in Functional Materials) training week is perhaps the only time of the year when I look forward to a Monday. It is an annual training week in my PhD program where all the PhD candidates meet at one place to undergo lectures, workshops, and discussions. Of course that means a lot of interaction and socializing, and what better place to do it than right beside the Atlantic Ocean? The destination this year…Anglet!

When I told friends that I was going to Anglet, no one knew where that was. Then I said Biarritz…still doesn’t sound familiar until I popped out the name Bayonne. Turns out the three places are actually one big community, kinda like Bordeaux and Pessac and Mérignac, I suppose.

Last year, the first training school took place in Portugal. Yes, it was also by the Atlantic, but one can never get too much of the ocean. I met my colleagues – or classmates – for the first time last year and had a blast getting to know everyone, coming from all over the world ranging from the Philippines, Mexico, Nepal, Canada (yes there was another Canadian aside from me!) etc. This year, in addition to my class, there was the new class of 2011 that has joined the program. The nationalities were as diverse as before, if not more diverse – Turkey, Singapore, Ukraine, Italy…you name it! Double the people, double the fun!

The people – I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with everyone in the IDS-FunMat program, and I was so excited to see the people in my class, some of which whom I haven’t seen since Portugal last year! It’s a marvelous thing, bonding with people. Nature nourishes us, but human interaction keeps us alive.

Seems like Mariel from the Philippines (left) and Daniel from Australia (right) are having an intense scientific discussion on the beach! From photovoltaics to biomaterials to solar cells, PhD candidates from all areas of functional materials met during this training week to discuss our progress, problems, and prospects.

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