Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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 :)

I love the Quote from the movie “ 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 ;) 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! :P

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 :-D

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 ;)

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 …..

Thursday, October 2, 2014

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 :-P

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 :)

Yes, the gondola has it written in Hindi, considering how much we Indians contribute to Swiss tourism :-P

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 :)

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 :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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 :-P

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 Z├╝rich 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...