Guest Post : Return of the Traveller

If you haven’t read the first 2 parts; you can read them here and here.

I had precisely 2 months left to return to the motherland. Also, 2 days left for Oktober fest .What does one do? Yeah! Exactly my point! πŸ™‚

Munich – I survived the Oktober fest  and lived to tell the tales of 1 liter beer mugs , roasted chicken plates, hurried waiters , dancing on tables, lines for entry in tents and empty pockets in the end .This one just got checked off from the bucket list.

Fussen – Neuschwanstein castle –  It is called fairy tale castle for a reason. Once I went there, I just nodded in affirmation . It is  awe inspiring, surrounded by a forest, waterfall and crystal clear blue lake. Heaven must look something like this.


Heidelberg –  Philosophenweg translated unto philosophers’ walk . It is a steep hike of about 1 Km up the
mountain besides a flowing river and famous castle. It really tests your stamina .With the beer belly it was all the more tough. But I managed to conquer it and got the best landscape shots which I think I can sell for wallpapers. Yup…they are that good!

Black Forest–  I went to place which is famous for making cuckoo clocks – Neustadt Titisee.The clocks’ prices start from 50 € and go up to as expensive as 1000$ . One of the craziest thing I did was to rent a cycle and drove into the black forest even as there was a mild drizzle. And I think this is the best way to discover nature if you are not time bound. I drove about 20 km inside out and had their famous alcoholic black forest pastry to end the day.

Barcelona – Hands down this beats all the beaches and sea food one can see or have in a lifetime. My
wonderful moments were the dip in the Mediterranean sea, and watching Barcelona soccer match which was completely coincidental.One of the local markets had huge crabs,lobster,sea urchins,eels, jumbo prawns and whatever lies beneath the sea! Terrifying experience to see but a wonderful one to eat them πŸ˜‰

Istanbul – It is  true that it is a melting pot of cultures . With sea, sand, majestic mosques, rich history and
bright markets covered with spices, earthen lamps, jewelry and baklavas (a Turkish sweet) this has to be a  special mention and a befitting end to my Euro trip.My favourite moments are actually more than one – a walk down the spice market , Topkapi palace tour , Hagia Sophia  and Medussa head . The food was very spicy like in India . Their local food is a must try. I had kokorech (pronounced as cockroach), which is nothing but a simple grilled meat sandwich. I also tried their Menemen (omlette cooked in onion gravy with breads).
TIP-exchange currency at spice market with best value and no commission.

Belgrade –  This was a stop over while returning to Germany from Istanbul. 10 hours was a decent time and so I visited the lesser known tourist destinations. It is one of the few countries which have their prime attractions open 24 hours and  have free entry. The first stop was Belgrade Fort . This is a huge fort with exhibitions and tanks, anti –aircraft guns, torpedos kept for display from WW-1 times. Plus it hosts a man made Jurassic park theme restaurant and kids play area. It boasts of a bohemian street – Skarlidkja . It has some overpriced restaurants but food generally tastes good even though different.

And with this, my seemingly never ending journey came to an end, and now seems like a beautiful dream.
8 countries – a total of 22 cities – pretty much sum up my Euro travel tales .Some good memories to live with – until we make the next one! πŸ™‚

Thank you reading the posts . Signing off with lines from Robert frost – Miles to go before I sleep …..

Trip to Paris – part 2!

Continued from here..

Next morning, we had to visit the Eiffel as the next day we were flying back to Dusseldorf. The rain played spoiltsport again. It was raining by the time we left the hotel. When we reached,it was pouring. Since S wouldn’t sit in the pram, H held her in one hand and an umbrella in the other. I pushed the pram around soaking in the rain (while also searching for someone selling a raincoat). No raincoat found, and reached the foot of the tower soaking wet. God finally had some mercy on us and the sun came around from behind the clouds.  And so, the mandatory Eiffel tower family pictures were taken. The trip to the summit needed tickets for which there was a long long queue. We decided to chuck the summit tour, and instead spent time sitting there, enjoying the magnificent view.

The Eiffel tower on a cloudy morning!

In the evening, we visited Sacre-coeur, also known as the Sacred Heart Basilica. It is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church built on the top of a hill. At the top, it gives a beautiful view of the city. You can climb up the stairs to the top or take a paid small cable car train. Of course, we took the train ride to the top. The church and the view from the top  was beautiful. The way to the Basilica compound is a small street that is like a climb to the hill. It is dotted with a lot of small and coffee shops and confectioners. We had some of the finest cookies there.

The sacred heart basilica πŸ™‚

Oh yes, and while going back to the airport, we took a taxi πŸ˜‰

Some points that stand out for me from this trip-

1) No lifts /platforms in the metro stations – not happening at all, considering it is such a big tourist destination and all.

2) I think Paris has more souvenir shops than people and the tourists combined. I mean, every little space in the city is covered by a shop or a guy selling Eiffel replicas. I got so sick of them during the 3 days that I didn’t buy a single one.

Imitations! Imitations!

3) Some of the metro stations in the city even have people selling wares on the floor. Pretty much reminded me of Delhi πŸ˜‰

4) Paris has become more like a tossed salad. You will find fewer French people there,and more of immigrants from Afro Asian countries.

5) We had some of the best French crossiants there.

6) The old world architecture around the main city, with the river Seine flowing through, lends it a very old world look.  Pretty much feels like being in Disneyland with castles all around !

7) Paris, the Fashion Capital! Yes. Almost everyone on the street is carrying a Louis Vitton or Chanel or Fendi. Even if they are rip offs, you cannot really tell.

8) We saw a lot of the original “French kiss” πŸ˜‰

In all, Paris was an experience. Good or bad, I cannot decide. But something that I will always look back at and laugh about.

 

Trip to Paris – part 1

The trip to Paris started very uneventfully as we had an afternoon flight. So even though we got up late in the morning, we made it in time to the airport. But that was in no way suggestive of the eventful trip that was to happen.

We reached Paris on time and then began the adventure. The airport was huge and the little one refused to sit in the pram. We tried bribing her with her favorite toys, our beloved phones and as a last resort, to let her eat paper, an activity she enjoys the most! But she had her heart set on standing. So while I carried her, H pushed all our luggage and the empty pram around. After much walking and asking around for directions, we reached the metro station. Here was the surprise. Paris’ metro stations only have stairs and some of them have escalators, albeit very narrow ones. No lifts or platforms for people in wheel chairs or kids in strollers. Since we didn’t know this, we carried our super heavy pram over the stairs thinking that the next metro station might have one. We reached our hotel after changing, mind you, 4 mteros, going up and down their platforms with the pram and luggage and the little one in our arms. It took us one hour from Dusseldorf to Paris, and 2 hours from the airport to the hotel. Needless to say, we were dead tired by the time we reached our hotel.

Then, the room we had booked was not available and we were requested to make do in a smaller room just for the night. At that moment, all we wanted was a place to dump our luggage and the pram πŸ˜‰ but we should have bargained better. The room was a matchbox. No baby cot. A small bed. We didn’t have the energy to go down till the reception again. So we just crashed. Also crashed were our dreams of visiting the Eiffel tower that evening as the thought of taking the metro again was nothing short of a nightmare.

The next day, with renewed energy,we decided to hit Paris. And then came the rain. The first stop of the day was Mueseum Louvre. The architecture of the building is beautiful. Carvings and sculptures everywhere. The mueseum inside is HUGE. You cannot, by any means cover it in a day. The best way to enjoy it is to choose the galleries you think you’d enjoy and cover those. Art and time management don’t go together πŸ˜›

Musee’ De Louvre !

The next stop was the Notre Dame church. It was raining heavily by this time and we reached the church all drenched. I am not much into European history, but the church was beautiful. Please don’t ask me who built it and why!

An inside view of the Notre Dame church!

 By the way, in the morning we had travelled by bus and intended to take the same route while going back. But. When we got out of the church, there was a procession going on due to which some streets had been closed. And so we kept walking andwalking ,trying to avoid those streets and reach our bus stand. After a really long walk,we reached our bus stand only to find out that the bus service had been suspended. Great! And so, we walked and walked again,mind you, with a diaper bag, a baby and the pram! We reached the metro station, changed 3 metros and reached the hotel. Phew! The good part of the evening was that our room was ready. It was bigger, had a cot and a king size bed. We crashed again!!

To be continued….

I am.not dead. Yet!

There was a time when I had a lot of time to write.  But then I didn’t write enough because I was just lazy sometimes. Or didn’t really have anything to say. Now that I have so much to say, there is never a free time. The little one is 9 months old. Yes, already!  Phew!  And she talks more, crawls all over the place, gets inside places she shouldn’t and doesn’t sleep as much as she should.  I had planned to write a good deal about my stay in Germany but all thanks to her, all I have done in the past fortnight is a single post πŸ™

Today I am foregoing my bath time as she is asleep right now and this is the only time I can get my act together.  Lol.  The last 15 days I have been here, we have visited a couple of places in and near dusseldorf (where we stay). But the highlight of the trip so far has been Paris and Switzerland. I plan to write detailed posts about the place and our experiences,  more so interesting because of the hyperactive little S πŸ™‚

Stay tuned!  And please pray for more sleep for her !! I want to come back and write before I forget the little details πŸ˜‰