Archive for October, 2012

Malaga (4 to 8 October)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

From 4 to 8 October, we went to see my brother in Malaga – he is currently doing a three-months exchange to the local university as part of his PhD program in Berlin. On the way there, we stopped in Madrid for half a day – I had never been there before and so it was a great opportunity to visit the Spanish capital. I really liked it – other than it being much warmer than in Fontainebleau, it also had a very nice atmosphere. In addition, we got to visit two art museums for free: The Caixa Forum (which is small, has changing exhibitions, and is always free) and the Prado (which has the best collection of classical art in Madrid, and is free for the last two hours every day).

Malaga itself also turned out to be really nice. A couple of classmates we had spoken to before our trip had said that the city itself wasn’t that interesting, but in fact the old town is quite picturesque with marble streets, and an unfinished cathedral (one of the towers is not as high as the other one).

Unfortunately, I got sick for one and a half days and needed to go to the hospital to get medication, but thankfully we had enough time to still do some trips into the countryside on the weekend. On Saturday, we went to Cómpeta, a nice white village in the hills to the east of Malaga. On Sunday, we ventured westwards and took a round trip to Zahara de la Sierra, Ronda and back.

Zahara de la Sierra is an impressive town, overshadowed by a fortress towering upon a rocky mountaintop. From the city, you have great view on the surrounding scenery including a big artificial lake. The town itself is also very nice, with white houses and pretty little streets and squares.

Ronda is a town dominated by a high bridge over the El Tajo canyon, which splits the city into two and runs next to one of the central squares. This square and canyon have supposedly been the basis for a vivid description of the execution of fascists in the Spanish Civil War in Earnest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, which coincidentally I had just read over the summer – making for an interesting comparison of the actual setup with the imagination I had formed while reading the book.

Some pictures follow.

Belgium Trip (14-16 September)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Over the weekend of 14 to 16 September, I went to Belgium. The trip was organized by three Belgian classmates and was an awesome experience – as comprehensive as you could get over the two days, with lots of interesting activities, but never to stressful.

The trip started on Friday evening after people had finished the last classes. A bus picked us (~45 students) up at INSEAD in Fontainebleau and took us to Namur in Wallonia, where we arrived late at night. We still went out after arriving, since the Fête de Wallonie was in full swing in the city – plenty of opportunity to try local beers and Peket, which is a local spirit that is served in various fruit flavors.

On the next morning, after the last participants had managed to lift themselves out of their beds, we went on to Brussels. There, we got a guided tour of an hour through the Magritte Museum, which opened three years ago and is revered as one of the best museums in Belgium. Afterwards, we did a short walking tour through Brussels and had lunch at de Nordzee/Mer du Nord, which is an awesome outdoor seafood restaurant (more of a food stall to be honest, but with excellent food).

Then, we went further into Flanders and visited the Timmermans brewery close to Brussels. We got a tour of the brewery and got to taste some of the beers they make there. Their beers are of the Lambic type and therefore quite sour, but can be processed further to produce the fruity Kriek, or double-fermented Gueuze.

Thereafter, we went on to Bruges. We had dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying lots and lots of the Belgian staple dish mussels with fries – a rather unusual combination, but quite a feast! The evening we spent visiting some local bars (and checking out more Belgian beers).

Sunday morning was free of any fixed activities, so I (like many other students) spent the time walking around the city and checking out the historic buildings. Bruges is indeed a pretty city, and the weather was quite nice so it was a really nice way to spend a Sunday morning. In the afternoon, we had a boat tour through the Bruges canals, and then visited another brewery in the city, namely the De Halve Maan brewery, which brews ales. Given that the brewing process and the beers themselves were quite different from the first brewery, the tour was also enjoyable (and we had a very nice view over the city from the brewery roof). After the brewery, we went back to Fontainebleau by bus.

All in all, the weekend was fantastic, especially thanks to the great organization by my classmates. Some pictures follow.

© 2012 – 2018 JF Goetzmann — Impress