2004-12-18

Happy Holidays




Happy Holidays!!!

Well year 2004 is almost over; wish you all the best for the year 2005 and next. This year we did not traveled like last year. But we did traveled to Italy and Greece for one week each, other than some of few short trips. You will find them in pictures for 2004.
In the month of November we framed few pictures and cross-stitch work of Pamela. Here are the pictures of the same. The two flower pictures are from Keukenhof trip. This is the first time we enlarged our pictures for framing.

2004-11-22

Loire Valley


River Loire is one of the four major rivers of France. It had always major importance to France. In the Medieval time or the best time of French civilization French Rules and noble men of that time had built lot of Chateau (castles) along this river. It is very close to Paris, which is one of the reasons to built their weekend home for hunting and relaxation here.

We only visited three castles that Sunday. We started with Blois, this castle was built by four generation in four different style. It started with Gothic style but later the Renaissance and other part were added. This castle is not very big compared to other castles witch was lived by the kings. But it always had special importance in terms of the power.

From Blois we went to Chenonceau, this one is famous for its garden. It is also known as ladies castle as it was construction works were supervised by ladies. It was build by Briaonnet family but later used by Catherine de Medici widow of King Henry II. This castle is built on the top of river Cher. The history about this chateau is very long and interesting. If you get some time please read the same at www.chenonceau.com

For that day, the last castle was Chambord. It was built by the young king Francois-I. He really loved this one for his hunting pleasure. But out of his 32 years as king, he just stayed 42 days in this place. It has more than 300 chimneys. The double spiral staircase is at the center of the Greek crossed Chateau. The plan was designed and supervised by Leonardo de Vinci.

2004-11-12

Chateau de Versailles

I have a fascination for the colour of autumn, mat be the reason is I never experienced them before while in India and California. You can enjoy the same in Paris where trees along the big boulevards changes it colour. Around Paris particularly the Bois de Boulogne is very nice that time. We went to Versailles just to take pictures. It was not a very sunny day that Sunday, sun was playing around clouds. But it was nice for a Sunday afternoon.

2004-10-18

Greece

After coming back from Italy we were looking for a week long vacation and the obvious choice was Greece but waited till Olympics 2004 to finish. We figured out from all the guidebooks and Internet that all the major historical sites are quite far from each others. As we had no plan for renting and driving we opted a guided tour for the main attractions. We were very skeptical initially but at the end it turned to be very good meeting new people and quality of service was very good. After finishing our 5-day trip we went back to Athens and from there we went to Santorini. The most famous Cycladic island in the Aegean Sea where I realized I got one more year older. We started from Paris Friday evening and reached at midnight.

Day-1

We started our day early as the tour bus picked us at 7:20AM. After getting transferred to another bus we headed out of Athens on Saturday morning. The first we made was at Corinth Canal 80 KM south of Athens.

This is a manmade canal 6 kilometer long which connects Gulf of Corinth in northwest and Sardonic Gulf in the southeast. Ancient Greeks knew the importance of this location. Journey between Aegean and Adriatic was other wise longer around Peloponnese. The canal was built in 1890.

Before the canal was build the old Greeks started using a unique technique in the years of 600 BC. They made a stone road and then transferred the ships from one side to the other over a wheeled platform known as `diolkos`.

From there we went to visit the remains of Mycenae civilization. This site is one of oldest site in Greek civilization. The first was around 4000BC but the peak was around 1200 BC late Bronze Age. Next to it is Mycenaean tholos tomb, it consists of circular burial chamber with a long passage. The keystone is at the center of dome. And it used to place very delicately fearing the structure will collapse in itself if the pressure was too much.


After lunch we vised Epidaurus. Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus has the best natural accosting where the sound is heard all over the theater with same volume and clarity. The factors are the oval shape, the stones that are used and most of the air that is blowing from stage to audience.

From there we went to Nafplion we spent the evening and night there. Nafplion was the capital for Greece when it was getting out of Ottoman rules before capital was moved to Athens.

2004-08-26

Opera - Alcina

Going to opera for the first time was a very eye-opening experience. It was really fabulous and all the thanks goes to Francois for the same. He gave us the recording in CD and printed storyline before. That really helped us to enjoy and understand the musical drama. We went to the Opera Garnier the old one in Paris. He got us one of the best seats in the beautiful opera house as the TV camera was in our next box. We got a very good view and sound. Although, the tickets were the most expensive one but for the same price you might not get the best unless you know the floor plan well. The architecture of this building is really very beautiful and it is so decorative that it is very hard to explain in my words. The break rooms for refreshments were so nicely designed and that too with appropriate themes. The staging was very modern of Handle's one of the best work ALCINA. If you get opportunity to experience this form of art and music please do so. Now looking forward to visit to Opera Bastille (the modern one) sometime soon with Francois.

2004-08-22

Paris in night mode

I wanted to take pictures of Paris famous landmarks in the twilight with a tripod. We started with Sacre-coeur Basilica. And the picture we got from there was really great as we were there on the right time. The sky color was perfect for the camera and it was just lighted.

From there we went to Moulin-Rouge; the famous cabaret of Paris then to Assembly National the French Parliament. We crossed Seine and came to Concord. From there we went to Invalids, the military museum and resting place for Napoleon.
The night ended after 5 hours when we took the picture of Eiffel tower from the Pont de Garigliano the nearest bridge on Seine from our place.
We went to Arc-de-Triomph another evening soon to finish this series of pictures. It is always beautiful to capture the lights in city of lights

2004-08-17

DisneyLand - Paris



This place which is most visited by tourist in Paris. I really didnot wanted to visit this one as I have been to Disney land twice in California. Pamela wanted to visit this place last summer but some how I was able to save myself from that trip. This year I could not escape. OK, enough of cursing and all. At end I have to say, that I did enjoyed my time there like every other time at Disneyland. We went with Asha, she was studying French for 3 months that time in Paris at Alliance Francais. As usual, she beat us on time, we were only 5 minutes late this time at the Metro Station before starting for Disneyland. The day was over-cast so it was not that warm as we expected in the morning. Our day started with one of the roller coaster, which was not bad for me, not enough for Pamela and it was first roller coaster for Asha. She was doing OK after few minutes after that we waited long to see the Loin King Show. It was nice. At evening, Asha left after few other rides of roller coasters and late afternoon parade. We continued with dinner and evening Parade and fireworks. This evening Parade was new for me. It was very nicely done with lights and all. At the end Pamela agreed not to visit this place soon so next might be -- Astrix Park

2004-06-12

Musee Guimet

This Museum is an extension of Louvre Museum-collection of objects from Asia. Mostly the objects are from south Asia and far east Asia, if you been to London British Museum and visited Asian sections you will feel deja vu. It is located in 16th arrondissement of Paris next to Metro Station of Iena.
We visited the same with Francois; it was only Francois who told us about this museum. He had been here before few times. This place not very big but takes half day at least or more depending your likes or dislikes. As you can see from our pictures that there are Buddha which comes from Pakistan to China. There are lots of collections from Japan,China and Tibet which is very beautiful and hard to explain for me. The porcelain pieces from far-east is also very beautiful and they are quite big.

2004-06-05

Itlay revisited

We have been to Rome for 4 days in 2003 but we wanted to visit the other parts of Italy but could not do that due to time constrain. We were planning for trip to Florence, Venice etc old classic route for long time.

Krovi and Vidya went to Italy on their paper honeymoon which was 3 weeks earlier than us and they did provided us with lots of good tips. Then we too spent a lot of time on Internet especially on Rick Steve's site and talking to other friends about the same.

We found a very good deal on train via SNCF to Milan for to and fro in 1st class which we opted. We booked almost all our hotels via venere after planning our itinerary.

Our itinerary was:
Day1 : Arrive Milan, after check-in leave for Pleasure day-trip to Lake Como and back to Milan.
Day2: Train to Cinque Terre (hiking to an extraordinary old villages set in rugged coastal mountains )
Day3: Pisa (Picture stop at the Leaning Tower) and continue further for Florence
Day4: Day trip to Sienna and back to Florence
Day5: Explore renaissance city Florence
Day6: Half day at Florence and leave for Venice
Day7: Venice at leisure
Day8: Back to Milan and at same night journey to home via rail.

2004-05-10

Provence - South of France

We have been thinking to visit South of France for a long time. Writing the dairy for this trip is very unique as it had so many vivid events one after another. We took a packaged deal with one of the travel agency (Hotel and Bus with Sleeping-Berth)

After the event-full after-noon at Cite Perfecture we started at 9 P.M from Paris. It was not a bad start till the first stop. Then, the inside of the bus got converted to allow people to sleep; this is quite unique unless you have traveled once in any of those I am not sure how to explain. We did not know what it is either and tried to be polite when people pushed us to go first. But when we got in we found almost all the spaces were taken and there was no place left for us together.
There was one typical old French lady who occupied the place for two & did not wanted to adjust as there was one more place where another lady also occupied for two and who called themselves sick and lucky (as they came first). Few co-passengers did not like this and were vocal about the same. Some suggested me to get down from the bus to show my protest. Any way after the afternoon episode I was not much left to fight with. So, we slept separately somehow and the night ended after all.

Day-I

We reached Marseille on time; after keeping our bags in hotel we left for exploring the second largest city of France. Marseille is a very big ugly city; it does not care for your visit. We went to near by island on a boat and a very great view of Marseille and Mediterranean Sea, we visited Notre-Dam and Cathedral followed by a lunch.

We were told to meet at hotel at 4:30 for our next destination. But when we reached hotel there was no one and hotel guy gave a key for our room. After freshen up I asked them where are the rest of the passengers from our group. He said coolly  -- Oh! They left. What!!!!!

So I rushed back to room - told Pamela about the same. So, now after several questions of her we realized that we were supposed to stay in this Hotel for next 2 nights and the bus will come back. This was highlight of Day two when after having a good time in Marseille we missed the trip to "Aix en Provence"

Day-II

After a good sleep we did make sure we do not miss any thing today. The day was great, we saw "Gorges du Verdon" which cannot be compared to Grand Canyon but it is great in its own. The bus ride to the same was really great. On the way back we stopped at the lake and a small tourist village.

Dinner on Easter Sunday: most of the restaurants were closed and the open ones were very crowded. We got in to one place to try the Fish Soup (Bouillabaisee) speciality of Marseille. So, after waiting a long time waiter took the order and then after a big pause we got the starter; and then again started the eternal wait for main course. There was another couple right to us, who were also waiting for their turn just like us. On left another couple was also bored to wait after drinking their water and eating the bread pieces, as there was no one to take their order. It almost took us an hour to get the main course. The scenario was even much worst in the right table; the husband finished his meal with out any bread and there was no food for the wife L till then. As French menu consists of 4 courses so after main course it was to be followed by salad ? but seeing their delay I decided to skip that & thought dessert would be better to opt for ? but no luck; it was just the same. Lastly, I decided to leave without taking my dessert. And, they were very prompt while presenting the bill ? charged for the complete menu no concession on their poor service and incomplete meal.

DAY-III


We visited Arles, a place famous for its Roman Arena. There was bullfight in the arena that we did not watched but there was Bull race on the road before that which was quite memorable.

Then we moved to Baux-de-Provene a ruin castle visited by too many tourists each year. But it was really worth going to the top. The panoramic view of Provence rolling hills is great!
From there we went to Avignon where Pope was moved for few centuries before going back to Vatican. It has the big church an old bridge that is broken in the middle.

Rest of the trip to Paris after dinner was event-less this time as we were given the Premier Entry to the bus and was made sure by well wishers that we sleep together that night.Well, Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM the journey ended which just reminded us to go back to Cite for our long term visa.

Barcelona

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, located on the north-east coast of Spain. City is well connected with five metro lines other then public transports like city railway and buses.

We started for Barcelona on early morning of Feb.28. It?s a city with charming streets, busy with people and full of life. There is nowhere better to make Barcelona's acquaintance than La Rambla, the bustling avenue, famous for the vivid colors of its flower stalls ? is a perfect place for a stroll. It?s the place where we had our hotel.

Barcelona being city of marvels comprising Gothic Quarter, the Ribera and Raval districts, and famed for its historical monuments, narrow streets and bohemian atmosphere. A wander through the maze of streets is essential in order to understand the different periods in the history of Barcelona and to admire its finest monuments: traces of the Roman wall glimpsed between well-preserved Gothic buildings, the remains of the Jewish Quarter. To explore this city more you need to walk a lot or walking is best way - which we did on our first day of trip.

Second day, we went to Montjuic - the place where Olympic Games were held in 1992. Pla?a d?espanya, MNAC, montjuic fountains?etc were worth visiting. And it takes complete one day to visit that area.
In the Eixample district (heart of the city) most of the buildings, built in unique style wereplanned in 1860, which constitutes a unique model of European urbanplanning. The Sagrada Fam?lia, the Casa Batll?, Casa Calvet and the Casa Mil? (also known as La Pedrera) are some examples of this, which was work of Antoni Gaudi. Other then that there are Casa lle? Morera, the Casa Amatller, Casa Serra, Casa Comalat, Casa Thomas. Along with all these it was worth going to (Park G?ell) Gaudi?s Park-, which we completed on 3rd day of our trip.

On our last day at Barcelona we visited monastery, Palau de la m?sica Catalana in Ribera district that is magnificent work of Lluis and world?s one of the most beautiful concert hall. For which advance booking is necessary as its 2 hrs. guided tour and no photography are allowed insideL. And after lunch we went to Olympic village, which is lined by a series of beaches and covers 4kms of a city where you can enjoy the most modern amenities, these beaches are not very far form Barcelona's historical and cultural landmarks - walkable distance.

Although trip was quite tiring because we walked a lot these 4 days in order to explore as much as we can, but we enjoyed our stay there.

2004-05-08

LA HOLLANDE, ALLEZ-Y MAINTENANT!

Seeing one of friend's photographs we were so excited to visit that place. That, in our last trip to Amsterdam (May 2003) we tried to visit that - but alas! Local people told us that Tulip season is already over. But deep down in our heart we wanted to visit that place particularly Keukenhof thinking -maybe next year.
Then we were in touch with Holland tourism in-order to know more about Keukenhof. We tried twice, booking with a travel agency as it would have been economic & hassle free for us compared to self-trip- but no luck. Luck at last smiled on us when Krovi & Vidya asked us to join them to Keukenhof.
We started on April 3rd and reached around late afternoon after 5hrs of driving. Roads to Keukenhof park being well marked in town of Lisse (very close to Amsterdam) we didn?t had any problem to reach there
No other flower heralds spring like a tulip, especially after months of dreary, not to mention cold and bleak, weather. Like a river of clear, cool water on a hot summer day, our mind's eye feasts on the color and shape of tulips in early spring. Millions of tulips and other bulb flowers are then in bloom. As soon as we entered the park there were too many flowers other then Tulip to catch our attention. It was really magnificent view & worth going
After spending 3- 4hrs.at Keukenhof garden we went to Amsterdam where we spent that evening & Sunday there.

2004-03-08

Got an IPOD


Requested my brother to send me one I-pod from USA with Hitesh as he was coming to Paris on a business trip. It was very nice to catch up with Hitesh, Neetu and Simran after moving out of CA. We met them at their hotel in Latin quarter and had dinner with them. It was almost 2 in the morning when we returned home in the cold night of February. But that did not stopped me to open the box start playing with the new gadget.
On a secondary note - I started liking Paris but some time French system and people makes me mad. Yet, I am enjoying my stay here as much as I can. Now a days I am trying to run more regularly - ran two Half-marathon so far this year and recently started taking tennis class.

2004-02-20

A year in Paris

We moved to Paris almost a year back from US. We try to travel around at least once a month outside of Paris. This year so far we have been to Zurich, Mt. Saint Michel and Barcelona.

I like Paris but some time French system and people makes me mad. I am going to run Paris Half marathon in March first week. Now a days I am trying to run more regularly. Got an I-Pod recently, its cool to enjoy music while commuting on public transport to work. Pamela is studying French more and keeping herself busy with that.

That is all keep in touch.

2004-02-14

St. Michel

Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany (on the north coast of France) stand the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style abbey dedicated to the Archangel St Michael
It was built in 8th century, the buildings of Mont St. Michel were constructed of granite which were carried from near-by island but some limestone were also used in the cloister. Its arrogant location along with abbey's church, cloister, gardens, the north-facing, Gothic buildings of "La Merveille" (The Marvel), the narrow town streets, and the ramparts combine to make Mont-Saint-Michel one of France's most impressive sites. Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site
We went to Mont St. Michel on Feb.14th for two-day trip with one travel agency. The day was quite bright but with chilled wind blowing across. After spending 4 hrs at St.Michel we were shifted to hotel where we had our early French dinner & proper night sleep so that we are fresh enough to start for next day?s trip to Cancale on the way to St.Malo.
Cancale has made its reputation as a fishing port, famous for its oysters. It?s the place from where granite rocks for St.Michel were taken. St.Malo a walled town made its reputation as a world port thanks to its sailors, merchants, and corsair ship owners and to it?s trading with India, China, Africa and America. Other then its port, miles long beach attracts visitors for sunbath in summer. The best view of St.Malo is from its ramparts.

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...