Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: united kingdom

Day trip to Stirling

A collection of photos from a spontaneous day trip to Stirling, Scotland in July, 2016 – enjoy!

Advertisements

I got very sick in Newcastle

Newcastle has never been on my travel list, and I probably would never have visited if it weren’t for a training course that took place there in mid-February. I spent four days in Newcastle, the majority of the time in a classroom but with some time to spare after the course ended every evening. But what’d you know…I was ridiculously ill with the flu the entire time I was there – what a bummer! As a result I didn’t enjoy my time as much as I would have if I were perfectly healthy. To my lack of enthusiasm, noted by my colleague, I could only say that I got sick IN Newcastle but I wasn’t sick OF Newcastle, trust me.

I knew nothing about Newcastle before the visit apart from hearing that it’s got the best parties and nightlife in the UK, something that I wasn’t all that interested in, healthy or sick. With the colleague who attended the course with me, I did some exploration of the city in the time that I wasn’t coughing my lungs out…

Getting off the train and walking toward the hotel, I passed by the Newcastle Castle, a rather imposing structure that is difficult to miss. Yes, there is actually a castle in Newcastle and not just in its name! So if this is an old castle…does it mean that it is the Old Newcastle Castle?!

Searching for “Newcastle” on the Internet would inevitably lead you to information about the “vampire rabbit”, which I went on a slight detour to find. The vampire rabbit was perched on top of a beautiful door right next to St Nicholas Cathedral, seemingly observing every move of the passersby oblivious of its existence.

From the train station to the hotel, there is a street on a downward slope where there is a row of buildings that look like pretty little doll houses.

The Newcastle harbour is rather similar to the Glasgow harbour and there are several buildings/structures that look alike. First is the Sage Gateshead, which is a concert hall located on the south side of the River Tyne and is said to look like an armadillo. Hmm…doesn’t it remind you of the SECC in Glasgow?

Back to the harbour at night, here’s a view of the Sage lit up. I gotta say that here it looks better than the SECC, which is lit only in a single colour at night. It’s so much more interesting with more colours!

And not far from the Sage, we find the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which…coincidentally looks very much like the Millennium Bridge in Glasgow? One would wonder if there is some unknown connection between the two cities.

The Millennium Bridge in daylight, not as interesting as it is during the night. Our hotel was a two-minute walk from the harbour but a half-hour walk from the University of Newcastle, where our training course took place.

Near our hotel is a sculpture of a…giant peach?! Actually I don’t know what it is, but from a distance it sort of looks like a giant peach to me. Maybe James and his little (giant?) buddies live there…

In the city centre of Newcastle stood the Goldsmiths building, reminiscent of the exterior of a royal theatre.

Back at the Newcastle Castle when night has fallen, we stood in front of the “Black Gate”, which was lit with a haunting aura of mystery. I wonder what stories hide behind these doors…

Finally, here’s an anti-Trump protest that we happened to come across while walking through the city centre.

I really had hoped that I would have gotten better from my flu earlier on in the week so that I could at least enjoy some more time outside, but my flu got WORSE even after I returned to Glasgow and persisted for another week. What’s more, on my last day in Newcastle, there was a giant thunderstorm that delayed every bus and train by hours…ugh. Despite all of this, there were some nice sights and fun encounters to be had in Newcastle, but I’m sure glad to be back in Glasgow and illness-free! Now for the delayed Scottish rain season to arrive…

The hills are alive…on the Isle of Mull! (Part 2)

Because of of the abundant series of events that happened on the Isle of Mull, I wrote a 3000+ word recount of the experience, which you can read here. However, most people will probably find it TL;DR, and so if you just want the summary and the photos, read on! A complete series of photos of this trip can also be found on Facebook 😉


If you haven’t read my first post about the recent trip to the Isle of Mull (the cycling adventure), I suggest you read that first as this post continues from the previous one 🙂 Of course, one post isn’t nearly sufficient to cover the incredible experience, so let’s move on with part 2!

Tobermory and its harbour

As I had mentioned in the previous post, one of the reasons for visiting Mull was to go to the original Tobermory. There is a little place named Tobermory in Canada, which I visited as part of a road trip with my friends four years ago. After finding out the name Tobermory came from a town on Mull, steps away from where I am situated, I had to seize the summer opportunity to go see it for my own. Canadian Tobermory and Scottish Tobermory are quite different, each unique in its own rights. While Canadian Tobermory entertained us with its surrounding attractions like Flowerpot Island and the Grotto, Scottish Tobermory is the only sizeable town on the Isle of Mull and stood out with its vibrant colours and serene air. After my 8-hour biking session, I had Saturday evening and Sunday morning to stroll around the small town, enjoying my walk along the harbour with all remaining strength in my legs, browsing the delicate gift shops on Main Street, and even attending part of a church service on Sunday. Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it all – the city, the friends, the noise, the familiarity – and to recharge for a bit with a change in scenery 🙂

Continue reading

The hills are alive…on the Isle of Mull! (Part 1)

Because of of the abundant series of events that happened on the Isle of Mull, I wrote a 3000+ word recount of the experience, which you can read here. However, most people will probably find it TL;DR, and so if you just want the summary and the photos, read on! A complete series of photos of this trip can also be found on Facebook 😉


Summer is short in Scotland, and there are only a small handful of rainless weekends during the summer months suitable for travelling. Knowing this, I had to take advantage of every sunny weekend, because very soon, we’ll be back to 5 degrees and the sun will be setting at 4 pm. After Perth, I decided to continue my discovery of Scotland by visiting some of the islands in the west, starting with…the Isle of Mull!

My main motivation of going to Mull was to go to the original Tobermory and Calgary. Tobermory is a town 300 km north of Toronto, and Calgary, as you probably know, is one of the largest cities in Canada, located in the province of Alberta. It so happened that the names of both of these places were derived from places that exist…on the Isle of Mull in Scotland! Feeling like an adventure, I was ready to roam around Mull (or well, at least half of Mull), all by myself.

Getting to Mull

Being a ferry ride away from Oban, which is 3 hours away from Glasgow by train, Mull made a perfect weekend trip. As the train headed toward Oban, which began to appear soon after it reached the outskirts of Glasgow, I began to be amazed at the number of mountains (and sheep, elaborated in the next post) in the country. How intriguing you are, Scotland.

As transport on Mull would be problematic without a car and with very limited public transit available, I decided on a method of transportation that is quite new to me – cycling! And it wasn’t normal cycling either – I rented an electric bike on the island, knowing that I would have conquer some tedious hill. Not being the fittest person out there, I definitely needed the extra power boost provided by the battery and in retrospect, I couldn’t have done it without the electric bike! My route is illustrated below (map obtained here):

I began at Tobermory, going down to Dervaig, Calgary, then south and east to Salen and finally back up to Tobermory. Evidently, this was only the top part of the island. I wasn’t even going to get close to Ben More, one of only two island Munros (a Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3000 ft, the other island Munro being on Skye) slightly to the south of the loop. The route consisted of several toiling climbs, but also segments of fantastic freewheeling after the climbs, for a grand total of 42 miles – that is 68 kilometres! Was I ready for this? Did I really know what I was getting myself into?

Continue reading

The hills are alive…with the sound of a Scottish spring in Perth!

It’s my eighth month in Scotland and only recently have I begun exploring this land. What do you expect, it’s summer! Well, still spring when I visited Perth at the end of May, and summer seems to be over already as we’re back to gray and rain. Hopefully July and August will be better…?

So yes, Perth. The one in Scotland, that is, not the one in Australia (though I think Australian Perth was named after Scottish Perth). That weekend, I felt like going on a hike somewhere not too far away from Glasgow, with gentle hills and hopefully spring-like weather. I had a choice between Dumyat Hill near Stirling, and Kinnoull Hill near Perth, and I opted for the latter. The train ride was only about an hour, a quick runaway, and the weather happened to be gorgeous. I’d be a fool if I missed this chance!

On the train, as I passed by the mountains on the way to Perth, the song “The Hills Are Alive” from The Sound of Music began playing in my head. Yes, those hills ARE alive! Even a 10-minute ride from Glasgow brings you into the countryside and reveals and whole new side of Scotland, outside of its largest city. There were sheep – lots and lots of sheep. And of course random castles just popped up here and there, no big deal. I hadn’t even gotten to Perth yet, but the ride itself was half the enjoyment.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: