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Story from Antwerpen
Belgium, Destinations, Europe

Paying it forward – Story from Antwerp

« So you’re travelling in Belgium. I mean, only in Belgium? You’re not going to Amsterdam or Paris? », the man asked in French. In the train to Antwerp, this man seemed surprised that we spent our whole vacation in Belgium. Usually, people are just passing through the country going somewhere else. Well, this time, I felt like slow travelling, which means for me to visit a new town everyday, but to stay in a 100km area, and Belgium was the perfect match. Distance in Belgium are ridiculously short when we are used to travelling in Canada. Crossing the country is the same distance than going from Montreal to Quebec city. I understand better now why Europeans are unable to evaluate travelling time appropriately in America. « Let’s go to Montreal and then New York and then Miami, shall we? » As short as it can be, the train ride from Brussels to Antwerp was enough to time travel. Old buildings in Europe have nothing to do with old buildings in Quebec. I always feel like we lie to ourselves when we call something « old » here in Canada. It’s a bit forced, like a kid calling me Mrs. I don’t know if I can qualify Antwerp of […]

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I'm going to Greece, crisis or not.
Destinations, Europe, Greece

I’m Going to Greece. Should You?

To be honest, I was supposed to go to Turkey. I even announced it to everybody I know, but I chose to postponed my trip for the second time. The first time, my vacation were during the Ramadan, and even if I know it wouldn’t have been a problem for a none-muslim tourist, I didn’t want to disturb a tradition that is not mine. This time, flights to Istanbul for a trip in September are insanely expensive from Montreal. Even if I really want to see the Blue Mosque and explore the markets, there’s no way that I’m gonna pay 1400$ for a flight to go there. So Turkey, when you’re ready, raise your hand, because I’m waiting for you! Then, I spent a day shopping for an alternative destination. Did I choose to go to Greece because it was the cheapest flights? No. I could go to Central America. Did I choose Greece because of the crisis? Yes and no. I mainly chose Greece because it’s beautiful, and despite the fact that there’s a crisis, I won’t deny it, its sun, its beaches, its culture are not in crisis. For tourists, I am confident that it will be business as usual, and I am […]

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10 Things You Should Know About Iceland
Destinations, Europe, Iceland

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Iceland

There’s more original things in Iceland than the cohabitation of fire and ice. I never stop studying this country and here are 10 things I learned recently about Iceland. 1. There’s no mosquitoes Iceland is the only country in the world where there’s no mosquitoes. The climate there is just not compatible with their reproductive cycle. Maybe this fact is a reason for the second point… 2. Nudity is something normal If you go to public pools, you’ll have to take a shower completely naked in front of everybody. No swimming suit. While it is certainly not common in other countries, it’s totally normal in Iceland and nobody will even look at you. If you go to a hot pound in the country-side, chances are high that people will just bath in their Adam’s and Eve’s clothes. 3. Family names don’t exist People have a first name, and their « family name » is made of the name of their father followed by the word « son » or « dottir » (daughter). For example, my father is named Serge, so I’ll be Annie Sergedottir. My brother is named Marc so he would be Marc Sergeson. Everybody refers to other by their first named. It applies for the […]

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5 Reasons to visit Ghent, Belgium
Belgium, Destinations, Europe

5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Ghent

In the shadow of the well-known Bruges, the city of Ghent doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. With more than 30 trains per day from Brussels and only around one hour ride, there’s no reason to exclude Ghent from your next trip to Belgium. Situated in the Flemish part of the country, Ghent is one of the five most populated cities of Belgium. Still small enough to feel authentic, Gent (in Dutch) or Gand (in French) is a well-hidden european city that you don’t want to miss. I can’t thank enough people who recommended me to visit this town. Here’s why you’ll fall in love with Ghent too. 1. Avoid tourists herds If you’re like me, you prefer to avoid buses full of tourists travelling by herds. I’ve been to Brugge and it was chaos. Saying this town is not beautiful would be a lie, but the problem is that you cannot really appreciate it since there’s always people rushing you to walk faster and pushing you at touristic sites. Brugge is known to be a place to take great pictures, but you’ll get old waiting for people to let you take the perfect shots. In Ghent, you’ll see the […]

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Mons 2015 - European Capital of Culture
Belgium, Destinations, Europe

Street Art in Mons – 2015 European Capital of Culture

Updated on December 20, 2017: Even if the majority of the art expos in this posts are ended, Mons is still very active culturally. Take a look at VisitMons to see the full schedule. Each year since 1985, one or more towns a designated as European Capitals of Culture by the European Union. Countries that will host the Capital of culture are chosen in advance and cities post their candidature. This year, both Belgium and Czech Republic were chosen. In Belgium, Mons and Liege raised their hands to be candidates. So why did Mons win? … because on the due date, Liege didn’t present any project. Did people from Mons know they were alone in the run? No. Thinking they were fighting against a much bigger town, they did their best and work together to find the best ideas to present a program that will blow people’s mind. They decided to open during the same year a new concert hall, 5 new museums and to set up 15 urban installations. What did you do in a year? I was probably catching up on Game of Thrones…. What to do in Mons? Tons of activities! Museums, music shows, expos, theatre, dance, name […]

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Gent, Flanders, Belgium | Annie Anywhere
Belgium, Destinations, Europe

How I Feel at Home Abroad

Would you live here? It’s a question I always ask my travel partner after a couple of days in a new destination. Would you deliberately leave all your belongings behind, pack the irreplaceable, choose the most important souvenirs, and let go of everything else? Does this new place here worth it? How do we choose if a place is worthy of us living there? Belgium made me think about it more than any other destinations. My Own Little Chaos I realized that to feel home, I need a place I can find in the same state I left it. Nothing annoyed me much than room attendants making my bed every morning and putting everything in well-organized piles. It kills creativity and personality. I like to create my own little chaos.  I guess that’s a reason why I always choose friend’s apartments and Airbnb over hotel rooms. I cannot recommend any hotels in Brussels, since I had a friend generous enough to host me during my whole trip. Honestly, I felt like I was living in an apartment in Montreal. Same kind of divisions, same kind of decor, everything at the place where I left it. Our Common Conflicts It may sound […]

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Brussels, city of Comic Strips
Belgium, Destinations, Europe

Treasure Hunt in Brussels, Capital of Comic Strips

– Do you think the font on the station signs look like they’re from a comic book?, I asked Claude as soon as we arrived in Brussels. – Yeah, maybe a little. – Hum, maybe I think about it just because I know I’m in the Comic Strips Capital. Like many of you, I thought of beers and chocolate at first when planning my trip to Belgium, and it is fun indeed to taste so many different beers and shop in chocolate factories that look like jewelry store. But to have been in Brussels for a week, I noticed there are more than food and drinks standing out in the city. If you look wisely, you’ll see all the characters hidden at every corner, giving the city its unique soul. We then had a goal: to discover the comic strips in Brussels. Comic strip trail The best way to discover a town is by walking down its streets and wander around. In Brussels, the tourism board created a map locating the comic strip frescoes around town, and that takes walking to another level. During my first day in Brussels, I had the pleasure to have Pascale from the blog Scouich (in French) and […]

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Belgium, Destinations, Europe

Annoncing My Next Destination: Belgium!

I announced it on Facebook and Twitter a long time ago so probably a lot of you already know that I’m going to Belgium with my travel partner Claude! Reading my blog, you may have noticed that I sometimes « write with an accent », and if you have read my About Page, you know I’m a French Canadian. It will be my first trip in a French speaking country and I must say that I can’t wait to speak my native language with people there. It will be a short one week trip in Belgium, but I think this country is perfect for this length. Just enough time to explore more than Brussels, and not too much time to gain 10 lbs eating all the chocolate. Ahah! Here’s the list of towns I’ll explore in Belgium: 1. Brussels Brussels will be my base camp since I have a friend who live there and he’s kind enough to let us stay at his apartment in exchange of maple sirop, caramel grenache and Tim Bits. Yeah, that’s what he’s missing from Quebec! So, no need to find accommodations, which is a huge budget relief. Of course, I’ll visit the Grande Place, the Atomium and the Manneken […]

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Visit Iceland for less than 1000$
Destinations, Europe, Iceland

How to Visit Iceland For Less Than 1000$

Iceland is a country like no other to visit. It is a land of glaciers and volcanos, hot springs and freezing wind gusts. More people would probably visit this small island of 325 000 inhabitants if it wasn’t of its reputation of being such an expensive place. But… Though it is true that it can be one of the most expensive countries to visit, it recently became accessible for budget vacation, given you’re ready to do some compromise. Budget travel in Iceland are not for everyone. Namely, you have to fit in those four categories : 1. You like winter To get the lowest price, you need to travel off-season, so roughly between mid-september to the end of April. That means winter, cold, snow, icy roads, but also awesome winter landscapes and possibly some northern lights. You better have warm clothes and be good to drive in winter conditions. 2. You can travel light The cheapest flights you’re gonna find include only 5kg (12lbs) of hand luggage. You better choose wisely what you want to bring with you. The tips? Search for flight on Skyscanner to find the best deal. That’s how I found a flight for 300$. 3. You love hiking Hiking will be your main occupation […]

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Beautiful Porto - 12 Days to discover Portugal
Destinations, Europe, Portugal

12 Days to Visit Portugal – My Itinerary

Pour l’article en français, cliquez-ici. While many travel blogs focus on long-term travel, I think it is absolutely possible to discover the world one bit at a time, with short vacations. In only 12 days, we went to the best places in Portugal. Being one of the most affordable country to visit in Europe, it seduced me with its delicious food, its history, and its beaches. Here’s my complete itinerary to visit Portugal, without a car! *Because round-trip were less expensive, we decided to arrive and quit from Lisbon. If you have a little more budget, I would suggest to arrive in Lisbon, and quit from Porto, or vice versa, to avoid back and forth. I almost exclusively used Airbnb for my accommodation during this trip. Sign up to Airbnb with this link and get a $25 credit towards your first stay! Day 1 – Getting to Lisbon We arrived in Lisbon after a direct flight from Montreal and took the subway to Chiado, where we rented a room on AirBnb. I can count on one hand the number of direct flights I took during my life and I can’t say how grateful I was about that one. I always try to pick the less expensive […]

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Destinations, Europe, Portugal

Why You Need to Visit Óbidos in Portugal

The ultimate reason to visit Obidos in Portugal is just because it’s adorable. This small village is build within castle walls, and going there is like a time-travel in middle ages. Going there from the train station is a good walk (I wish I had a horse) but the view of the castle at the top of the hill is magical and it just motivated me to keep walking to discover what was inside. On your way between Lisbon and Porto, you may want to skip the stop to Obidos, but please, please don’t! It is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a good meal, and take a break. Castle Walls First, it is a very small town so you can do everything by foot. Stop by the Tourist Office before entering the main entrance to get the map of the Historical Center. You can also find one online. I’d recommend to start by walking on the castle walls to have a general view of the town and surrounding landscapes. It’s only a 1,5k walk, but watch your steps as there’s no fence to prevent falls. …it’s not dangerous, but just don’t look at your phone while walking, you know. Unfortunately, […]

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I saw puffin in Montreal. Annieanywhere.com
Destinations, Europe, Iceland

I Saw Puffins in Montreal… and That’s Why I’m Going to Rio

I’m gonna tell you another love story…involving puffins. Why is there always animal involved in my love stories!? In Iceland, I passed an incredible amount of time chasing puffins. Ask Claude, my travel partner, how many kilometers I made her walked to see the famous birds. She was desperate with my obsession to see puffins. We climbed hills, we took ferries, we flirted with cliffs… there was no puffins. I started to think the emblematic bird of Iceland was like our emblematic moose in Canada and that I would never see it. Seriously, fellow Canadians, who of you often see moose, uh? Yeah. Exactly. No one! …Or maybe it’s my face that scared puffins and moose. So, I passed 14 days in Iceland chasing puffins everywhere my Lonely Planet told me there could be some, and I came back to Canada without the glorious picture. I must admit I didn’t take part in any Puffin Observation Tours. I wanted it to be unexpected. Picture by naggobot (Creative Commons) Last summer, a Brazilian friend I’ve met on Couch Surfing made me the surprise to come to Montreal. And as a very good host, I walked him around town and showed him some interesting […]

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