Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: village

Sneem, a knot in the Ring of Kerry

Of the four days I spent in Ireland in June with two friends, the little village of Sneem, situated on the Ring of Kerry on the west coast of Ireland, left the deepest impression in my mind. The word “Sneem” means “knot” in Irish. On that rather grey day, Sneem was a dash of colour in the mist. We stopped for a short break during the long drive around the Ring of Kerry, spending perhaps no more than two hours in Sneem, yet its modest charm was what made it such a unique part of the Irish experience!

It was a rainy morning as we drove on the Ring of Kerry but as we approached Sneem, the rain subsided! The welcoming colours of the village invited us to stop, park our car, and get off for a walk around.

The village was very quiet when we arrived at 11am. We spotted a church not far from where we parked and promptly headed in its direction. It was a Sunday morning and that was when we realized that most, if not all, of the villagers were attending worship service at the church, which would end at 11:30am.

We walked to the area behind the church to the main attraction of Sneem – some mysterious structures of pyramids! There was a block of stone with the words “The Way the Fairies Went” inscribed on it, so this must be…the home of the fairies?! I quite liked this place. It was serene and the fairy bit added a touch of mysticism to the entire surrounding.

Walking past the pyramids…

…keep going to reach this tranquil place where we stayed awhile.

Back in the village, we stopped by the bridge with rapids running under it.

At around 11:30 we returned to the place where we parked, which was right outside of an information centre/gift shop that we had intended to enter but was closed until 11:30. We figured that the villagers probably all went to church and would be back at 11:30, and we were right! The little shop opened and in we went.

The people you unexpected meet along the road often leave the deepest impressions. Here we met John, the shop owner. Upon hearing him speak French with some ladies, I asked, “D’òu venez-vous?” (“Where are you from?”) He told us that he was born in Normandy in France and moved to Sneem many years ago with his Austrian wife. He is a deacon at the village church and is now studying Greek because he wants to better understand the Bible, and he finds much peace in running this small shop in this quiet village. We chatted for around 10 minutes before I bought something and left, but not before we took a photo with him! It’s always so interesting to listen to a local share his stories, and if there was one part of our visit that would make me remember Sneem, it was John. Such a short conversation but so delightful!

And that ended our visit to the little village of Sneem, the knot in the Ring of Kerry, my favourite place in the Ring! ❤

Llanfairpwll…you know, that village with the really long name

The place with the longest name in the UK (in Europe as well, I believe) is a small village on the island of Anglesey in northwest Wales, named Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch. There was actually nothing there to see other than signs near the train station with the long name written, but as I was taking the train from Conwy to Holyhead and Llanfairpwll (the name of the village known to locals, but some call it LlanfairPG) was on the way, I thought I’d stop by for a short while to see this village and its claim to fame…

First impression of Llanfairpwll: just like any other small, quiet village. There was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the long name was created as a publicity stunt to attract visitors – and it worked! I was a walking example of the power of the success of this ploy.

Walking down the main street I was rather surprised to see…a Chinese take-out place?! Then again, where there is a community, you’re bound to find one or two Chinese restaurants. Whether it is run by Chinese people is another story.

My favourite thing about Llanfairpwll would have to be this huge red dragon on the wall. The Welsh love their dragon, which appears on their national flag, almost every Welsh souvenir or paraphernalia, and decorations here and there. I gotta say that it’s quite a badass-looking symbol!

And here we come to the real thing…one of the many times I’d see the name that has tested many brave ones who dared to try to spell or pronounce it, and of course I was one of them.

Another appearance of the name, and this time it was kind enough to tell us what it meant! So Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch is not just one word, but a group of words with the following meaning: The Church Of St. Mary In The Hollow Of White Hazel Trees Near The Rapid Whirlpool By St. Tysilio’s Of The Red Cave”…phew, that was a mouthful! Not sure if I’d rather say this or Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch…

Here it is again, in case you missed the last one. I’m actually quite curious where this Church of St. Mary is and the red cave are.

Sooooooooooooooooooo long that I probably wouldn’t even be able to take a selfie with the sign that would fit the entire thing.

Final one on the platform at the train station – and finally here it teaches you how to pronounce the name! Now I can say it fluently…or not! Maybe this, this, or this would help if you’d like to give it a try. I think I’ll just stick with good ol’ names like Glasgow or Toronto, thank you very much!

Cheung Chau, the dumbbell island

The “dumbbell” island of Cheung Chau, so nicknamed because of its shape on a map, is one of the many tourist attractions near Hong Kong. By ferry, it takes about 40 minutes (an hour by slow boat) to reach from Hong Kong island, making it a perfect day trip. When my friend suggested it, she caught my interest by telling me that Cheung Chau would be a food lover’s heaven. In addition to an island breakaway, it’d also be a food hunt! Of course I more than gladly accepted because HEY, who wouldn’t want some super-sized mango mochi and giant curry fish balls?

Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, we realized that clearly we weren’t the only ones who were going after the mango mochi and curry fish balls, as the crowd waiting the board the ferry was huge! OK, they’re probably not all tourists, but I do wonder if this mass exodus from Hong Kong to Cheung Chau occurs on a daily basis. On the way to the island, my friend and I took the slower ferry with a travel time of one hour.

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Hidden in Paris – Le Village Saint-Paul

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.

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