Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts


Berlin Diary II

CheckPoint Charlie

Freshened up to kick start our day and decided to go through past of Germany. Took metro and got off at Potsdamer platz. Had coffee at Starbucks just outside the metro exit as it was too cold.

From here we walked to Checkpoint Charlie - a crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War and Berlin Wall Memorial. The scenes blur as present dissolves into the past. Images flash through our mind of 1989 when news flashed with headlines of demolition of Berlin wall. The wall no longer divides east and west instead the city straddles past and future.

As this is close to Friedrichstrasse known for upmarket shopping area like Lafayette; strolled there on our return towards metro station of postdamer platz we visited Helmut john’s Sony centre - skyline is a mixture of buildings marked by WWII shrapnel and glass-steel giants - a symbol of new Berlin office-cum–shopping centre.

In Berlin, the past is everywhere like Gendarmenmarkt - a classical square in Berlin whose name dates back when city was occupied by Napoleon. This square is bordered by two cathedrals - the French Cathedral and German Cathedral with Konzerthaus (Concert Hall) - home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra between the two cathedrals.

Then we visited darling of berlin - bust of Nefertiti which was adorned at the Exhibition Hall of Kulturforum (culture forum - This museum often houses temporary exhibitions during which the permanent collection is usually not on display) near to Potsdamer Platz as Egyptian museum was closed.

On way to Brandenburg we went to see Siegessäule (Victory Column) close to Tiergarten which stands in centre where five roads meet.


After having late light meal, we once again set off to see the past which expresses the euphoria and great hopes for a better future for all people of the world. This city’s divider was also the world’s longest canvas that stretched for miles covered with graffiti painted on east side - open air Gallery close to station Ostbahnhof.

Came back to Zoologischer Garten took some night mode shots of Kaiser Wilhelm church and after all sight seeing it was time to eat; had awesome Portuguese dinner at one small restaurant nearby and then headed towards our hotel.


Milan shopping - trip came to end

Time to say Ciao, a presto (bye, see u soon) to Venice!!! Although we knew it might never be soon again. With happy mood we left for Milan from where we started our memorable journey. We boarded Euro-star for which we had to make advance reservation. Indisputably it was the best train we boarded in last seven days. On reaching Milan kept our luggage in lock room and set off to explore the business city as well fashion center of Italy.

Starting with Milan’s cathedral, the city’s centerpiece and third-largest church in Europe is worth visiting. Next to Cathedral Square “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele” – Milan’s great four-story-high, glass-domed arcade- place to shop for rich and famous. Milan’s famous opera house was closed for renovation. We skipped Leonardo’s “Last-supper” and his bronze horse which he never built.

We had pasta at lunch in small store which was really ambrosial - no doubt. Late afternoon, wandered through big brand stores for clothes and ultimately I bought one wrist watch for myself as souvenir which cost me dear.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Early evening, we headed towards a restaurant recommended by guide book in the business district which was very deserted being Sunday. Unexpectedly, we found the place and it was big restaurant with white table cloths. We were received with great affection and hospitality by owners which we can never forget. Service was excellent along with food. We started with Pasta and had fish as second serving oh! That was big fish as they served us; Pamela missed all those bones and head as they took away that trolley (as she is a big human cat who loves to chew bones be it fish or chicken). Well, slowly clock was ticking off giving us a reminder to say Ciao to Italy. Train to Paris came from Venice and we had a good night sleep after a long strenuous day.

Epilogue: Writing travelogue after 3 years was not easy. Had to refer various web site to get the details right. But the only person made it finish is Pamela as she wrote each pages and I just added few lines here and there. Yes, its worth remembering those eight days. This was great to immerse oneself with recollections of those lazy afternoon or vigorous morning for sure as I know I am not going to have this kind of break soon in my present life.


Remembering Belgium

While categorizing our old travelogs I found there was no post on Belgium which values a lot for me. As I go down the memory lane......year 2003, within 2 ½ months of marriage we have to move to Paris from US which was a big change for me. Apart from the cultural shock, language was immense barrier for day today life as well to mingle up with people around. Not only that, in Indian arrange marriage, it takes time to understand each other with each one's weaknesses and failings. So, quite an adjustment in every way. Somehow, in milieu of all this I lost embedded stone from my wedding ring given from Santanu’s family. Because of which I couldn’t wear for long. And everyone use to consider me Mademoiselle even in presence of Santanu (thinking him to be mon ami) which I use to enjoy a lot.

Well, it triggered Santanu and he asked me to wear something in replacement but since I didn’t had any extra ornament with me that time I couldn’t. So, I asked him casually one day why don’t you gift me one diamond ring which he accepted easily. Very surprising to me in contrary to other married people (men) but I never took that very seriously. And it never came in our conversation. But somehow it got rooted in his sweet heart.

In our very first trip to Amsterdam he came up with this topic on diamond ring seeing diamond shops around but somehow we could not make-up our mind. And it became like “raat gayi baat gayi”.


Then one fine morning while checking the accounts I found that some money has been withdrawn for buying rail ticket – bit surprising which I was never told. I gave call to Santanu to figure out for which he hesitated at first. On repenting said “a wife should not be told about bank account no.” and said it was surprise to you for your b’daya trip to Belgium.

And at same evening after returning from his office he said to do research on Antwerp – for diamond. My GOD I was really taken a back for a minute that he took things so seriously. Thus, we planned for one night, two day stay at Belgium.


Train ticket was too cheap; we left early morning train by Thalys - bullet train and on reaching Brussels checked-in our pre-booked hotel. And immediately after break-fast left for Antwerp which is a hour ride by train. Antwerp’s diamond district is close to the Central Station. It’s said that Antwerp is famous for trading, cutting and polishing diamonds. We strolled from store to store then finally decided to buy one.

Then we walked towards down-town which was quite animated considered as heart of city. Grote Markt is beautifully surrounded by the Town Hall and decorative guild houses dating from the 16th and 17th century. In the middle of the 'Grote Markt' stands the Brabo fountain. One of the most pleasant squares in the city as traffic has been banned in this part. Being small place nothing much to explore. So, by evening we returned to Brussels.

On reaching Brussels, we walked towards magnificent central square, Grand Palace which boasts the country's finest baroque guildhalls, popular pavement cafes and intimate restaurants. Hidden at the core of the old town, it's only revealed as you enter the narrow side alleys surrounding the square. Had dinner in near-by Indian restaurant where food was too blend to make locals happy.

Day: 2


Next day, we were ready to explore Brussels. So first went to Atomium which represents molecules with 9 atoms. This huge 9 balls are interconnected with escalators.

TIP: Worth only if you want a panoramic view of Brussels.

Close to it is Mini Europe with models of main highlights of all European countries like Eiffel tower, acropolis etc which we skipped as we already had a plan to explore other European countries during our stay at Paris.

From here we went to Comic Strip Art museum which houses famous Tintin and Smurfs where we spent quite a time as Santanu being one of the admirer of Tintin. Then we went towards Galeries St Hubert lined with cafes, theatres and luxury stores. It has gorgeous glass roofed arcade worth to see if only this is the first place of trip in Europe. Then we walked towards little boy peeing “Manneken Pis" - one of the Brussels landmark with different stories behind it. It seems it has around 800 costumes displayed at Brussels museum. Town hall (hotel de ville) was our next spot with needle-like crooked spire close to Grand place which is very vibrant.


TIP: If you intend to do any other shopping remember Brussels is known for lace boutiques and chocolates.

For us enough of shopping…now time to pack up. I wish there was some way to show my gratitude to my beloved hubby for this trip and expensive gift on PERFECT event which I cherish even after 4 years.


Exploring…bits n bites II

Sea-food Starter

Continuing from my last post I like to share a great experience I had. It was a sudden plan and I was tagged along with my instructor who in-turn was invited by a local Singaporean colleague after work for dinner. It was buffet for a fixed price at Marina Bay Shopping Mall. The crowd was very young far-eastern or North-Asians. Sorry guys, I could not figure out who is Chinese, Japanese, Koreans or just Singaporeans…as they all looked alike and age-wise they looked like high school or college students to me. Thankfully, our local guy made a reservation otherwise we might had to wait in long queue.

I started with some sea foods; I tried Oysterr for the first time. It was OK but did not found the delicacy as it is said in France - a key component of fruit-de-la-mer (fruits of the sea or sea food - in this except shrimps and prawns rest all like oysters, clams, mussels, whelks, and periwinkles come raw). If I am not wrong the concept is same in Kerala (south-most state in India) where any fish is treated almost the same. Being a Bong- I am a lover offresh river fish.

Sushi and Sashimi

In the second round, I opted for Japanese sushi and sashimi which I love and can have a lot. For many, it is raw fish (actually firm but melt-in-your-mouth when you bite it). To me it tastes delicious when dipped in Shoyu (Soya sauce), speck of Wasabi (very strong, hot flavoured green mustard) and with gari (thin-sliced sweet pickeled ginger). Ocassionally at end it is accompanied by sake-japanese liquor.

While I was enjoying the same my colleague’s girlfriend had turtle skin soup. It seems that it is very good for female skin according to Chinese belief. Well well… all big cats of Asia are almost extinct due to high demand from such Chinese myth. But I kept my WWF conservation “fundas” with me while my colleague enjoyed fish-head which has same realm of myth.


To conclude, I think I beat every one when it comes to desserts which were really yum. Unfortunately, I did not had enough room left for ice-creams which they had so many varieties to choose from. But, indeed it was a great dinner.




A four letter word of our modern consumerism; like all other 4 letters words this is very commonly used.

The first time I was introduced to this was back in USA on Labor Day weekend (1st week of September-’98). In US, every long weekend brings a SALE. Size of weekend supplement of news-paper increases with advertisement from cars to toys. Not only that even you get constant reminder from Macy’s to Wal-mart on your radio while you drive your car.

In France or continental Europe, it is different; the retail store only has two sales in a year normally for cloths. In July, it is to clear spring and summer collections and get ready for autumn and winter while in February to make room for summer. But never happen to notice for car or computer; may be I was not looking for car.

Now, when I reached Singapore, two weeks before big summer sale was going on. One such place is Orchard Road which is known for its retail and entertainment centre. This Orchard Road is flanked by malls (houses brand boutiques), restaurants, cafe, nightclubs and hotels This picture was taken inside of Takashimaya -the famous Japanese super store.

Footpath mark

Reading the article in Wikipedia it became clear why there are so many sign on the side-walk with fruits it seems it used to be fruit orchards in 1800s. Well, people say the same about bay area where there was Orchard once -around 1960ies before it became Silicon Valley.


Shop till you drop

Shop till you drop

I took this picture last Sunday; when I tried to kill my boring rainy afternoon with a cup of coffee at Starbucks. There is a big project to make Singapore full with Hot-Spots; currently it is in BETA testing mode and all you need to do is sign-up with Sing-Tel or StarHub or M1(not sure) the three main Wireless provider ; the back-end services is provided by iCell and Qmax networks.

As Singapore is famous for its shopping center. This picture I took to capture shopping weariness of this guy as he drops on sofa at Starbucks after shopping at Mustafa Centre. It is a shopping paradise open for 24hrs. in Little-India area of Singapore which is very famous among locals as well Indian tourists alike. They even claim at weekend the store is packed with more then 15,000 customers of all nationalities. Well, while his lady partner was quite busy on her mobile phone, it allowed me to take this picture (invasion of sleep if not privacy). Personally, I do always complain about my feet hurting and headache whenever I am in a shopping mall but never dropped yet this way.


Rainy Sunday


This picture was taken from my phone camera when I went to do our weekly vegetable shopping in APMC [Agro Product Market] close to Vashi. Prices for every vegetables went up. Due to lack of infrastructure it was a shame to see so much wastage due to heavy rain. From the posture of the seller it was quite clear he was not looking for lot of customers as he stretches his back. There are protest against big retail chains as they started selling Agro products in India. Although, with the entry of big retail players it will take away lively hood of lots of small businessmen and prices will shoot up but may be with time they will help us in saving the products from calamity like this with better infrastructure.


Le Marche

The open markets in Paris have been in existence since ages. It's here that you find freshly picked fruit and vegetables, fresh fish from Brittany and Normandy, meat, flowers, farmhouses cheeses, breads – you name it ... its there. Food controls are very strict in France and be assured of their quality and cleanliness of preparation. French understands the quality in life and nothing demonstrates this better than the wonderful food markets in Paris. It is very lively all together different adventure to explore.

Parisians of all walks of life love to shop and browse among the open-air stalls as merchants cheerfully trumpet - often with humor - the quality of their goods. Rain or shine, the markets start early in the morning and close around 1:30 p.m. So, its best to go early in the morning as they do become crowded with Parisians doing their weekly shopping.

One at Boulogne we came to know recently after our 3 years stay at Paris. Here, you get every thing in cheap price….and also fresh items seems like just from garden. Freshness of the raw products itself increases the appetite of one. Not only food items even beaded jewelries to clothes, utensils to electronic kitchen wares are available. While taking these photos I was asked from which journal I belong …..whether I am from Pakistan, even one said for taking photos its 10 euros. So, it's truly a delight to visit these markets, whether to wander the aisles and savor the sights and smells, or to buy the veggies. You don't have to be a gourmet cook or spend hours slaving over the stove, as many vendors even sell fully prepared dishes, from Turkish food to rotisserie (roasted chickens).


Lisbon - Portugal

Second day at Lisbon, as we had covered most of the top attractions on day one we started our day in ease, but I am sure lot of people might not agree with us ;) on easy going part.
We headed towards Colombo Shopping Mall which is one of the largest shopping mall in Europe and built very recently. After being mall rats for a while we bought some and had lunch there in one fast food Mexican place. Depositing those shopping bags to hotel we went to Baixa again. We walked more in Baixa streets and then headed towards Belem. The weather in Lisbon being till far was with overcast all the time and temperature much lower than Spain, we took a long walk along the river side.

Before going back to Lisbon we entered the famous Paties House dating back to 1837. Oh! Those paties they are so good and mouth watering I feel like tasting them now as I am writing. Resturant is really big inside and with very reasonable prices. It should top the list for going to Belem.
For dinner we had some fusion food which had Indian spices with Portugal taste in Chaido. The restaurants are too small and packed so there is always someone waiting near the door.


Stockholm (Aug 14th - 17th)

While browsing through web sites for summer travel deals I found there was a very attractive deal by Ryan Air to Stockholm.We went there middle of August when Paris was burning with summer heat. It was a great escape to Scandinavia. Stockholm was very clean and very beautiful. Although, the weather was not at its best as it rained for first two days.

We stayed in the centre of Stockholm (Drottninggatan) one side of this pedestrian street with full of shops.Our first day, highlight was Old town of Gamla Stan, Skansen and Vasa museum. We walked all day and it was a great way to get feel of Stockholm.

Second day we spent most of the time on boat seeing archipelago; it is very unique to see all those tiny islands so near by and ended with bit shopping for Sweden glass work at City center. All these glassworks are so nice but expensive too I wish, I had more money for them.

Third day the weather was all clear with very blue sky. We visited Mills garden and around - it was great!

Air tickets were only around 19 Euros. But when two of us calculated later we spend much more than that including the Shuttle and Airport Taxes. Sitting on those long shuttles it seemed like we spent more time in bus compared to flying time. But one thing for sure Ryan air was very punctual and their services were good for the price. I may fly again with all these known complain for the price.

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...