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 …..

Guest Post : The Two and a Half Travellers!

Continued from

here

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Since my stay had been extended, I just relaxed for the first weeks. Also since the family was expected to visit me in a few months, I decided to save some money πŸ˜› But! I didn’t save all of it. I did visit a few places before the Ms. and Mrs. arrived. Talk about the wanderlust bug!

Duisberg,Wuppertal – hanging train ride in schwebebahn.  It is a beautiful ride over the river. Apart from the train ride, there is nothing much to see here. It is majorly a time kill.

Nuremberg-is mainly about forts. It has a central square and all international brands store that one can only window shop from. But I liked the forts as they made up a major chunk of the to-visit-places and was good with guided tour.

Erlangen – It is a small town near Nuremberg mainly famous for hosting mini Oktober fest in month of July. I  had to get acquainted before the real deal , so here I tried the famous 10% vol BEER πŸ˜›

Mettman – It is small town an hour away from Dusseldorf .It is built on a
mountain and forest. Neanderthal museum was the highlight of this trip. Walk to the museum from metro station is WILD and unforgettable. It is almost 1 Β½ KM among dense forest and directly opens to the entrance of the museum. Museum itself is a walk down the science class and shows history of man . 2 hours inside and I had existential crisis.The Neanderthals also had their own beer. But bad taste, don’t buy it πŸ˜‰

Frankfurt – Senckenberg Museum – I am big fan of Jurassic park and this museum has a lot of prehistoric
era fossils of dinosaurs shown in the movie plus pretty bad ass stuff like fossils of fishes, reptiles,
animals and men. Big fan, bought a t-shirt as souvenir. And Frankfurt is famous for Applewine .A must try though I wouldn’t recommend it much.

Rudeshiem/Geisenhiem – Vineyards. This region is famous for its wines. Since my client owns a wine
making machine, I got complete knowledge of wine making process ,different types of wine and also went to a local wine and cheese tasting festival. It also has round trip with walk into the forest mountain , coming down on on open chair lift and back to starting point from a cruise. The food was good and wine delicious on Drosselgasse lane. One of the less discovered places in Germany. Highly recommended.

And then my lovelies arrived and we planned our expeditions to rest of the Europe starting with Swisss.

Zurich – It definitely has to be Mt Titlis .With the little one tightly cupped in arms I climbed about 20
meters up and down in 2 feet deep snow. It was dangerous and daring – I was like SnowCrusher! But
when everybody else was trying to walk straight in the snow I did the complete round with my arms
full. I might sound arrogant but it is the craziest thing and I am proud of it. Coming to food, Swiss chocolates were to be found everywhere (no points for guessing that). I gorged on a full box of Macaroons from Luxemburgerli, one of their oldest confectioneries. And their local wine – Appenzeller is a delicacy worth tasting!

Paris – Louvre ! Louvre ! Louvre . I would like to spend a week looking at each and every painting, art, carved rocks , listening to a guide and gorging on the croissants and coffee. I spent only half a day but it
was mesmerizing .

Amsterdam (with family) – This was second visit to Amsterdam, the one with the family. Of it, I have everlasting memories of the Anne Frank house and Nemo science center. My daughter fell asleep while entering Anne Frank house and I covered the whole trip in about 2 hours carrying her in my arms. It was both emotionally and physically tiring. Nemo science center is so advanced that I felt like raising my child in that country which gives such good exposure and learning.

Berlin – Berlin has history unfolding in every corner of the city. You have to be with a guide to know and
appreciate it. It is for culture vultures. I liked The Berlin Zoo and specially feeding time for lions. We were
there at the perfect moment when a pair was fed with meat and they growled and scratched at it. They were just being defensive but we got our doubts cleared – Why they are called king of jungle.

And that’s how 45 days ended and 2 Β½ travelers got richer or poorer however you want to take it.The week when my family was leaving was definitely making me home sick. And so I booked a trip which
would make me feel at home πŸ˜›

 To be continued…..

Guest post : Fellowship of travelling!

I have missing in action for almost a month now. And I am not liking it AT ALL! There have been so many things to tell, half of my Euro tales still untold, and the exciting travel back home. But the office has been super hectic post vacation and combined with the festivals, it has left with no time to write.

 

So, the other day, I jokingly told the husband to ghost write my blog for me since I don’t have the time to do it these days. Also, considering that he, being the travel junkie that he is, has been on a Euro trip for almost 7 months now, he has SO much to tell. And so he agreed to do a guest post for my blog. This is the first post of a three part series of the husband’s Europe travel experience. He is as excited about seeing this in words as much as he’s been on the trips πŸ™‚
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I love the Quote from the movie β€œ UP(2009) ” which goes #Let the wilderness be explored , and I got a fair chance to apply this quote on my first onsite assignment . Modesty be damned,  I made sure no weekends got wasted in the comfy service apartment.

We all know how onsite assignments come our way. It is combination of being at right place at the right time and most importantly saying the right thing ! And voila, my company decided to send me to Germany , Dusseldorf in the month of April for strictly 30 days.

I landed in Dusseldorf on Saturday and so obviously, Sunday was wisely used πŸ˜‰ The nearest happening city is Koln(Cologne)- city from where EAU DE COLOGNE originated. I can go writing about my crazy experiences but I will keep it short to 1 special thing I liked about each of the destinations and may be about their food and beer.

Koln is all about Churches – they are magnificent and I have a lasting impression of all the churches I visited.It is also famous for Kolsch beer. I could tell it was different from the ones I had before . It had to be good. After all its coming from Germany, the land of beer! πŸ˜›

 

Koln’s oldest church….still under construction. Irony?

Amsterdam <Holland>– Heineken brewery experience – Being a beer fan I could relate to Darwin’s theory of origin. Food is about big French fries called Pommes Frites . In the chilly summer it was a perfect snack. I’d prefer to write about the (in)famous Amsterdam nightlife in an anonymous blog πŸ˜€

The Heinken brewery in Amsterdam!
Brussels <Belgium> Autoworld – Most comprehensive and live models of cars from 1800 . I could relate to most of models as I have played them in NFS and midtown madness video games. “When in Belgium, do the chocolate”, and so that’s the first thing I had when I landed there – Chocolate waffle beside Mannekan Piss. That boy was pissing and I was gorging hot Belgium chocolate πŸ˜‰
With THE cars!
 
Hamburg<Germany> – 1 hour ferry ride by Hamburg docking station. Amazing view of gigantic ships,city and sunset on far side of the river. 
 
 
Dusseldorf <Germany>– Visiting the Alstadt old town and Uerige brewery which over 150 years old .And ordering food by the Rhine river marks the day complete. Been staying in this city for 6 months now, and there is nothing much to do except have beer with locals and admire Germany’s weather and their perfection of trains, metro and clean roads. 
 
Snack served with the local beer- a piece of meat, loaf of bread, onion rings and spicy mustard sauce!
And that’s how a month got over – sweating it out in office 5 days and wandering endlessly on weekends. I returned to India with chocolates for colleagues and stories for family. My assignment got extended for next 3 months and I flew back to Germany again in May .This time determined to explore more than the natives have done. 

To be continued …..

The Swiss bliss – part 2!

Continued from here….

Mt. Titlis is one of the highest mountains of Switzerland. Permanent ice and snow all through the year. We reached the foot of the mountain after a breath taking beautiful view of the country side on the way to Lucerne. Our guide asked us to look up. The mountain was so high up, you couldn’t even see the top. Yeah, we had to go there. First there is a cable car ride that covers a major part of the altitude. You can imagine the steep climb given the height we had to cover. The view as you ascend is like nothing you have ever seen before. I cannot express enough how beautiful everything was. Miles of greenery, snow laden mountains partially covered with clouds and the famed swiss cows quietly grazing. It also meant a lot of anxiety and fear for someone like me who has altitude phobia. I was torn between the desire to take in the view or to just keep my eyes closed and pretend nothing was happening πŸ˜›

see the angle of ascend here?
Isn’t this view breath taking?

Once we could start seeing some of the peaks surrounding the mountain, we had to alight. The trip to the top of the mountain was even more interesting. A gondola that spins 360 degrees takes around 30 people to the top, at once. So as it ascends, it also spins so everyone can have a look around the mountain and its peaks and the snow. This one was even scarier and yet, incredulous. The top is blinding white. There is snow and clouds everywhere. That is one place you just can’t do without your goggles. I fell down quite a few times going up and down the snow mounds. Even though it sounds funny now, at that time, I had my heart in my throat for the fear of just sliding down and going off the mountain edge. It was so cold at that height and I was also petrified for the little one. But she did well πŸ™‚

Yes, the gondola has it written in Hindi, considering how much we Indians contribute to Swiss tourism πŸ˜›

 

Blinding white!

The husband was as usual his excited adventurous self. I fought with him and accused him of trying to kill me when he tried to take me to the other side of the mountain via the sky bridge. Now that bridge is the highest suspension bridge in Europe at a height of 10000 ft. And as soon as I would walk a little, he would start shaking the bridge vigorously. Imagine the plight of  an already petrified altitude phobic. Anyway, once we had a screaming match right there, we both decided to behave. We held hands and crossed the bridge. Don’t even ask me how my legs were shaking with fear.

After all the adventure, we had some nice and very hot “hot chocolate” at the restaurant also located at 10000 ft. Trust me, it has never tasted better. The ride back to earth felt much less scary after the extreme weather and sights πŸ™‚

We also visited the Rhine falls in Switzerland, which are actually the source of Rhine river that flows in Germany. Since it rained heavily that day, we couldn’t stay at the falls for a very long time but it was beautiful as well.

Did you know that in all of the cities that we visited in Europe during the last one month, we came across the most number of Indians in Switzerland. No surprises there, yeah? I mean everywhere we went, we would find people – couples, families speaking in Hindi. And would you believe,at the foot of the mountain (Mt. Titlis), there is a chai ki shop, run by an Indian family who sell samosas and vada pavs and masala tea. You wouldn’t believe the rush. Felt like mini India. And having hot samosas and masala tea after a freezing rendezvous was definitely the next best thing.

The little one also made a lot of friends during our visit to Mt. Titlis as she was the youngest child there. Some people even sent “looks” our way. Irresponsible parents waale! I don’t blame them though. I had no idea the weather and surroundings would be so extreme. But she thoroughly enjoyed herself – laughing and waving to everyone. So many people took her pictures and posed with her and also promised us of sending us those. We are still waiting :

I know this post is getting excruciatingly long but Swiss deseves that, trust me. Swiss chocolates were had at every oportunity we got. Melting in the mouth and oh-so-yummy! The only thing that pinched were the prices. Swiss is very expensive, even by European standards. The food, travel everything. But I guess, best deserves the best! Swiss lived up to eery bit the hype it is πŸ™‚

The Swiss bliss – Part 1!

The Swiss is a dream destination for travelers. Especially Indians. Blame it on our movies showing the beautiful Swiss Alps in the background with the hero romancing a chiffon clad heroine in the front. Which one of us hasn’t imagined ourselves in their shoes?

Our Swiss trip started soon after coming back from Paris. We were quite skeptical of traveling again, because of how the little one had completely refused to sit in her pram. We had been so tired of carrying her and her pram up and down the stairs all the time in Paris. Thankfully Swiss was way better in that regard. Only.

We had an early morning flight so that we could utilize a half day for sight seeing. So we boarded with the little one just having woken up. She decided to poop as soon as we had the seat belts on for the take off. And you would know that the use of lavatories is not allowed until the plane is safely in the air. So there. H and I sat with our noses crinkled up and just waiting for the damn plane to get in the air. Fast. But the runway was not clear. We waited a full 15 minutes before I ran with the little one for a diaper change. And no, the adventure didn’t end there. While I laid her on the table, removed the soiled diaper and was beginning to take out a tissue to wipe her bottom, she decided it was completely OK to get her hands on the soiled diaper and fling it around. Don’t ask me what happened next.

After reaching the hotel, we immediately set off for a city tour. On foot. We took a map which had the city metro and tram stations’ directions with the must visit places marked out. Zurich is beautiful. There were beautiful old churches with clock towers and domes that touched the sky. The roads meandered into narrower by lanes and suddenly opened up into a vast road with the river flowing on two sides. The weather was just perfect. The little one still didn’t cooperate with the pram, but we didn’t mind. I think we had developed enough muscles in Paris πŸ˜›

 

The next day we decided to cover Mt. Titlis. We booked a guided tour since it involved traveling to Lucerne which is a good 1.5 hours away from Zurich and then the hike from the foot of the mountain to the top (10,000 ft)  is another journey altogether. The journey from ZΓΌrich to Lucerne via the city outskirts has breathtaking views. You can literally see the mountains up so close. And you are already at high sea level, so the clouds are all over the mountain peaks. The sky is so clear and blue, covered with pristine white clouds, it is like a scenery out of a painting.

To be continued…