Tag Archives: travel

Vianden

La route préférée pour se rendre à Vianden est de prendre le train jusqu’à Ettelbruck, et ensuite l’autobus № 570. Avant de monter dans le train, il faut acheter un billet de €4 euros (billet longue durée). Ce billet est valable sur tout le réseau national pendant une journée entière! Si vous montez dans un train express, le voyage à Ettelbruck durera environ 30 minutes. Si vous montez dans un train régulier, le voyage durera environ une soixantaine de minutes. Je n’ai pas bien examiné l’écran dans la gare à Luxembourg, donc j’ai pris un train régulier… Le voyage lui-même est beau. Si tu t’asseois à côté d’une fenêtre, (selon moi) le voyage est beaucoup plus agréable.

Le village de Vianden n’est pas grand. Il y a une rivière, l’Our (qui se jette finalement dans la Sûre), qui traverse le village. Il y a un chemin le long de la rive qui permet de prendre des belles photos du château. Si vous vous promenez sur la rue de Sanitorium jusqu’au numéro 39, vous trouveriez un télésiège qui monte une colline voisine. Le télésiège grimpe lentement la colline, donc c’est aussi un chance pour prendre plus de photos du village et de la vallée. J’ai acheté un billet aller simple, parce qu’il y a un chemin qui descend jusqu’au château. Le Château de Vianden fut construit du 11e au 14e siècle. Au cours des années, le château était laissé à l’abandon jusqu’en 1977 où il devint propriété de l’État du Luxembourg. Il est maintenant restauré et considéré comme un monument célèbre du Luxembourg. Le prix d’entrée ne coût pas cher, il faut absolument découvrir l’histoire de ce château!

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Echternach

Le village d’Echternach se trouve sur la frontière allemande. Le voyage de la ville de Luxembourg dure environ une heure en autobus (№110 ou 110) de la Gare Centrale. Le réseau national de Luxembourg est très utile, la fréquence des autobus est très élévée et le prix pour un billet est bas (€2 billet court durée, €4 billet longue durée). Les billets longue durée sont valable sur tout le réseau national pour une journée entière tandis que les billet court durée sont valable que sur les routes dans la ville de Luxembourg pendant deux heures.

Le paysage entre la ville de Luxembourg et Echternach est très beau, mais il faut s’asseoir dans la partie avant de l’autobus car ils roulent très vite et la route serpente dans une manière qui peut donner la nausée! La “gare” d’Echternach se trouve à côté de la rivière Sûre, qui signale la frontière. Ce village est aussi le point de départ de plusieurs randonnées dans la région “Petite Suisse Luxembourgeoise.” J’ai décidé d’abord de suivre un chemin vers Rosport, mais je me suis enfin rendu au village de Steinheim, et puis retourné à Echternach à pieds, un voyage d’environ dix kilomètres. Ce n’est pas facile de faire la randonnée quand on n’est pas habitué au nouveau fuseau horaire. Cependant, la randonnée était très belle. Il y avait beaucoup de formations rocheuses dans le forêt, et le chemin est signalé par plusieurs chevrons et lettres “M” stylisées (qui désigne la région Mullerthal?) peinturés sur le tronc des arbres, donc facile à suivre!

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Luxembourg

Moien! C’est comment on dit “salut” ici en luxembourgeois (Lëtzebuergesch), une des trois langues officielles au Luxembourg (y compris le français et l’allemand), mais c’est la seule qui a le statut de langue nationale. En fait si tu souhaites devenir citoyen du Luxembourg, il faut au moins réussir un examen du niveau B2 en luxembourgeois. C’est une bonne façon de s’assurer la préservation de la langue!

J’étais dans ce pays pendant une semaine, mais les premiers jours étaient complètement annulés grâce à la fatigue due au décalage horaire. C’est un vol de 9h 20min de Calgary à Zürich et une autre heure (après l’escale) jusqu’à la ville de Luxembourg. Car le vol s’éloigne de l’équateur afin de réduire au maximum la durée du vol, c’était toujours de la lumière naturelle qui traversait les fenêtres. Elle nuit à la capacité de dormir…

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J’ai fait une randonnée dans les bois le long de la Pétrusse, rivière et affluent de l’Alzette, jusqu’au quartier Grund, où elle rejoint cette dernière, avec l’abbaye de Neumünster. En marchant à côté de la rivière, j’ai passé au-dessous du Pont Adolphe, pont à voûtes d’une longueur de 153 mètres, actuellement un symbole important de la ville. Puis j’ai grimpé à la falaise jusqu’au centre-ville. La vue était superbe, il y avait même un viaduc qui traversait la vallée. Le centre-ville lui-même était aussi magnifique. Les vieux édifices parmi le palais, l’hôtel de ville se mélangeaient avec les nouveaux édifices. Le centre-ville piétonnier avait un air européen, rues pavées et rempli de boutiques de mode. Le soir, j’ai commandé des crêpes délectables dans un restaurant avec un auvent bleu.

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Avant de terminer, je veux aussi dire que les autobus sont remarquables. Tous les autobus sont flexibles, c’est-à-dire articulé. La capacité écrit sur la vignette affichée dans ces autobus est plus de 100 passagers ou passagères… C’est époustouflant que les autobus d’une telle longueur peuvent rouler dans les routes étroites dans la ville, les chauffeurs sachent comment conduire!

Trip to Portland

Sorry about the dearth of posts recently (and the lack of photos in this one—my camera was in for repair during this trip). I have been rather busy with my job. In fact, I spent three weeks of March in Leduc for business. Leduc is a small town of about 30,000 people just south of Edmonton. If you fly in to Edmonton International Airport, you actually fly in to Leduc, and then have a twenty minute drive into the city.

But I digress, I visited the US for four days this past month to attend the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference hosted in Portland, Oregon. I’ve never visited the city before, though I did skirt it about ten years ago en-route to Grants Pass (near the border with California). Portland is a really easy city to get around, thanks to its excellent public transit system. It costs $2.50 for a ticket and there is a train that goes directly to the city centre from the airport. The city centre is quite nice too, very green in comparison to Calgary. Even after the rain that we’ve been having in April, it was still much greener back in March in Portland. I suppose they have a much more moderate climate because they are closer to the sea and at a much lower elevation than we are in Calgary.

The conference itself was alright. There weren’t very many presentations that were particularly enticing to me, but I did get lots of interest in my project, which is excellent! Next time, I’ll have to progress to a proper paper presentation instead of doing a poster presentation. But, it is nice to get a feel of how conferences are run, and how much pressure you feel before jumping in to a proper presentation.

Unfortunately, the weather was not particularly good for the entirety of my visit. It rained every day save one. As a result, I spent a lot of time in restaurants with my supervisor. We did manage to find a couple of nice restaurants: Bijou Café at 132 SW 3rd Ave, and Murata Restaurant at 200 SW Market St. The former is an excellent breakfast place, and the latter is a more expensive Japanese establishment, but both had very good food.

All in all, it was a very nice trip. In the past, I haven’t had good experiences with US Customs, but this time they were actually friendly! It was nice to escape the routine of work for a few days and get out of Calgary. It is important to take time for yourself (even if you are presenting) away from the daily norms as it really is quite rejuvenating!

One last note: as I was preparing to leave Calgary, I did my usual thing of checking in online about 24 hours before departure only to find that I couldn’t. I thought that was kind of strange, but I just gave up eventually and said I would do it at the airport instead. When I got to the airport the day of my flight, I printed off my boarding pass from a kiosk and noticed that there were four characters printed under Remarks: SSSS (see the photo below). Having never encountered that before, I just proceeded to security, where I was informed that I would have to undergo a more thorough screening than usual because the airline had “randomly chosen me to undergo secondary inspection). All that really entailed was me having to go through the body scanner (which I am used to from traveling through Schiphol airport) and having my shoes go through the x-ray machine. I suppose that this may have been caused by a late ticket change (about three weeks prior to traveling), where I changed my departure airport from Toronto Pearson to Calgary. I suppose there probably aren’t too many people who do that… and may have aroused suspicion… The important thing is to get the CATSA stamps on your boarding pass (if in Canada), otherwise I was told at the gate that I would have been denied boarding.

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A proper English Christmas

Soon after my little excursion to Germany, I made the small hop from the Netherlands back over to England for the Christmas holidays. As Schiphol is such a well-connected airport, I was able to fly in to London City Airport. I thought it would be great to see a bit of London on the final approach as you follow the Thames right to the airport. However, I was foiled by the poor visibility which meant that I could only see the runway just before touchdown. Ah well, next time perhaps! It was convenient to hop on the Tube at the airport and travel to London Bridge station (£4.90), where I did a little walk around a little to see the Tower Bridge, the Shard, HMS Belfast moored in the Thames, and the Tower of London. I even found a bus going to Edmonton Green! Kind of neat for me at least… Although none of the photos turned out as nicely as I would’ve liked because of the darkness.

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The wonderful thing about London is that admission to museums tends to be free of charge. So the following day, I decided that I would go and visit the Imperial War Museum (near Elephant & Castle), and the RAF Museum (near Colindale). I know there were lots of other museums that I could’ve visited, but I like learning about war history and seeing aeroplanes. The War Museum was very well done, there are exhibitions on both World War I & II, the Cold War, Afghanistan, and even an exhibit about the British intelligence, namely, MI5 and MI6 (James Bond stuff!!). Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone visiting London with a vague interest in the subject. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos inside the museum, even though I intended to, so here is the facade so you know what to look for!

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After the War Museum, I hopped back on the Tube and headed to Charing Cross station. One of the exits leads to Trafalgar Square, so named in memory of the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish Navies in 1805. Nelson’s Column, a 52-metre tall pillar erected in 1843, commemorates Admiral Nelson who was killed during the battle. There are other points of interest in the surrounding area too, like the National Gallery, St Martin-in-the-Fields church, the Canadian High Commission, and South African High Commission among many other embassies. It is just a few minutes walk through the Admiralty Arch and along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Park, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, the House of Commons, Big Ben… the list goes on.

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Following Trafalgar, I got back on the Tube and headed to Hendon Central. Because Colindale is located in Zone 4, it would have cost much more to take the Tube all the way there, and so instead I walked from Hendon Central. It is a bit of a walk… 2.7km, but it is doable, and the RAF Museum is fantastic! Though I did neglect to take many photos. I could’ve spent all day in there… Definitely recommended as well!! They have a few that are quite special for me, like the Gloster Meteor, deHavilland Chipmunk, Harvard, Vampire and so on… You’ll also see German aircraft painted in the original colours from the war (something you won’t see in Germany).

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That concludes the London portion of my trip. I went up to the Midlands to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas Eve, we went off to Midnight Mass at St Mary’s in Warwick. I can’t even remember the last time I attended a service at a church, so it was quite a novel experience for me. Lots of singing, and standing up, and sitting down, and a lovely choir. We had Christmas dinner on Christmas Day and the meal was absolutely succulent. Afterwards there was Christmas pudding (with rum that was lit on fire), Christmas cake, and a trifle… so much good food!

A few days after Christmas, we went up to Loughborough in Leicestershire to have a ride on a train. Our train was pulled by locomotive №45305, which is a 4-6-0 engine built in 1937. The train ride takes you from the train station in Loughborough to Leicester North and back, calling at Quorn and Woodhouse, and Rothley. At Leicester North, they unhook the engine and drive it around behind the train, re-attach it, and then drive backwards all the way back. There isn’t a turntable… When it gets back to Loughborough, they take it to a water tower, where they fill it up with water, and then hook it up to the train, ready for the next departure to Leicester North. It was very exciting! You can even purchase breakfast which is brought to your seat! Behind the station in Loughborough, there is a shed where they rebuild old engines, and that was really neat to look at. They had a few boilers sitting outside, so you can really appreciate just how big they are. We also saw spanners that were about as big as a man’s leg!!

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Munich – Part 2

*Note: BMW Museum photos have been added to the preceding post*

The next day, I went to visit Schloß Nymphenburg, which is a summer palace that was finished in 1675 for the nobility. Of course, because it was December, the gardens were not in full bloom and the statues outside had been boarded up. I also didn’t fancy paying the €5 euro entry price to see the couple of rooms that were open to visitors inside the palace. I figured, after Russia, there wasn’t really much I hadn’t seen. Some of the photos from the garden are really reminiscent of the Peterhof palace near St. Petersburg. The grounds are extensive, sitting on 200 hectares of land criss-crossed with paths and littered with pavilions. Quite like the tsar’s palaces…

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After the palace, I went to the Deutsches Museum, which is conveniently located at the opposite end of the tram 16. The Deutsches Museum is actually more of a science centre; don’t expect anything about German history, it’s all about explaining how certain scientific concepts work, and I think its aimed more towards children than it is adults. There are still plenty of exhibits for adults though. I enjoyed looking through their astronomy section, although a lot of the information was only written in German, which was a little bit disappointing. Or maybe I just have to learn to read German in time for my next visit! Once, I had exhausted myself in the museum, I went to a little café where I had some stollen, which is a kind of German fruit cake that we normally have at home around Christmas time. I’m not too sure though if it is specifically a Christmas cake…

Sunday was my final day, and I decided that I wanted to visit the branch of the Deutsches Museum that looks at aviation. There are actually three “branch” museums in total, one of them is on aviation, another on “transportation technology,” and one in Bonn that looks at German science and technology. The transport museum is located in Munich centre, but I wasn’t sure if I would have time to visit both of them before I had to catch my flight, so I went to the aviation one only. You have to take the S1 towards Freising and alight at Oberschleißheim. From the station, you walk all the way along Mittenheimerstraße, across one major road whereafter it turns into Effnerstraße, past Schloß Oberschleißheim and then there will be a sign welcoming you to the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleißheim. Once again, admission prices are very reasonable for students, just €3 euros. This museum was fabulous! There are two large hangars jam-packed with wonders. The first one is a smaller than the second, and only has small aircraft and gliders, but the second one is massive and has a lot of inventory to admire. You could easily spend the entire day in the museum, though your legs might get a little tired… The airfield was taken over by the Americans following the second world war, and there is an exhibition that talks about the planes that were based there at the time. They have a Messerschmitt Me 163 B which was a rocket-propelled plane that was flown towards the end of WWII. It has a stubby nose but looks really neat. They also have a Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a which was the world’s first jet fighter. There is a sample Messerschmitt Bf 109 which was the aircraft used by Germany that more often than not were involved in dogfights with the British Spitfires. A Heinkel He 111 bomber, usually accompanied by Bf 109s for protection during the Battle of Britain. They have a VFW (Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke) VAK 191 B, which is a single seat VTOL aircraft developed in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it was only ever an experimental aircraft and just three were built. Another impressive German VTOL aircraft from the 1960s in the museum is the Dornier Do 31, a transport aircraft. Again, it never progressed past the experimental stage, which is understandable given its range of 200km. Of course, it was designed to carry a 3-ton truck in the hold, and as a result, it has ten engines giving a total thrust of 300kN. It has eight engines used exclusively for VTOL mounted on the wing tips, alongside two proper VTOL engines mounted under the wings. They have an Orenda 14 jet engine, a Canadian-designed and built engine from the 1950s on display. The engine powered Canadair Sabre and the CF-100 “Canuck” aircraft. One last aircraft that I thought was particularly interesting is the MiG-21 in East German colours.

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Munich – Part 1

Just before Christmas, I embarked on a quick little trip to Munich, Germany. The city really gave me the feel of traditional Europe. Lots of churches, magnificent architecture, the smells of the food, the Christmas markets, and so on.

I arrived on a Saturday morning, and after figuring out how to purchase a ticket to hop on the S-bahn train to Marienplatz (€12,80), I hopped on said train and settled in for the ride. The scenery between the airport and the city is actually quite scenic, if you can be bothered to look. Lots of nice farms, and pretty villages, and even hills! Hills are quite nice to see because the Netherlands is really flat and Calgary is in the foothills of the Rockies and so I like hills. Marienplatz is where the new and old city hall (rathaus) is located. There is also a whole swag of churches in the vicinity, and a small Christmas market where you can get German food, Christmas ornaments, special wine, and so on. My wanderings took me north towards Brienner Straße, which I walked down all the way to Königsplatz, past Odeonsplatz and Karolinenplatz.

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On my way back from Königsplatz, I spotted a building with the words München und der Nationalsozialismus and NS-Dokumentationszentrum München. That piqued my interest, and I found that it was a museum about the rise and fall of the Nazi Party and the role that Munich played. It was actually very interesting, lots of reading to do and not a lot of artefacts, but really looking into the years immediately following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 all the way up to the end of the Second World War in 1945. It also isn’t graphic, so good for those like me who can easily feel queasy. And its very affordable, especially if you are a student, just €2,50! The area around the museum, near Königsplatz was all used in one way or another by the party. Some of the buildings have been knocked down, but others have just been repurposed. You wouldn’t really be able to tell without knowing beforehand their former uses, because there are no plaques outside or anything.

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After the museum, I hopped back on the metro and headed to Olympiazentrum station. This is the site where the Olympic Games were held in 1972. The facilities seem to still be in really good nick despite the 44 years that have passed.

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The main reason why I went there though was to visit the BMW Welt and Museum. The BMW Welt seems to be just a large showroom where anyone can walk in and have a sit in any of the cars they have there. There is even a section for both Mini and Rolls-Royce (who are both owned by BMW), though you can’t sit in the Rolls. The BMW Museum is just across the road, and costs €7 euros for students. The museum is really interesting. It takes you through the very beginnings of BMW as a motorcycle manufacturer all the way up to present day. BMW even made aircraft engines, and marine engines over the course of its hundred years of being in business. Lots of motorsport and technical innovations, though nothing that seems quite as revolutionary to me as the Variomatic transmission that DAF developed in 1958. Still very impressive though, lots of information about the racing history, including BMWs two stints in F1. I’ll let the photos do the rest! The first five are from the BMW Welt, and beyond that… the museum.

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