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.

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.