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.
Today while leafing through the pages of our album found yet another trip waiting to be jotted down before it gets erased from our memory. A trip to Berlin where present and past are in sync once again.
We went there for 3days- 2 nights stay by train on Easter weekend when sky was gloomy and mercury dropped to almost freezing point but didn’t deter our enthu to explore city as much possible. We took overnight train from Paris which reached at very early hours. We bought metro (u – Bahn) day pass tickets before going to our pre-booked Novotel hotel.
After taking our room key we left to meet Berliners, no longer East or West Berliners but just Berliners. Had a takeaway breakfast on a way from one of the bakery shop at metro station and got off at Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof to visit Kudamm. It is here that the KaDeWe the largest departmental store in all of continental Europe stands. If you don't have a lot of time to browse the whole store at least pay a visit to the top floor which is Mecca for foodies. We also checked both BMW and Mercedes showrooms where you find designer items other than car designed by those famous engineering and designer with perfections.
We walked to Berlin’s famous landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche rebuild itself but not at the cost of wiping its past. The ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church stand as reminder of the suffering of the war, right next to its hexagonal bell tower very much building of the present. The church is a reinforced concrete structure with blue-colored glass bricks while Memorial hall has still some of the mosaic decoration that survived the bombing.
From here we hopped onto double-decker bus line no 100 famous among tourists as it crosses most of historic Berlin.
Tip: Sit at top as it's easier to get a view of most top sights like Reichstag, as well as the many other historic buildings on Unter den Linden.
Got down at Alexanderplatz to see Berlin’s 365 metre high TV tower. Next to the TV tower is located the gothic Marienkirche, the second oldest church (built in late 13th century) of the historical centre of Berlin. It is close to river spree and surrounded by few notable buildings with red-brick roof and right across the street was Starbucks – had coffee there. I do not drink coffee but those chilly winds outside we took shelters few times where Santanu tried to give quick dégustation class on coffee. From here we walked to Berlin Cathedral built between 1895 and 1905. We even climbed to the top of dome to take panoramic view. It faces the Lustgarten (pleasure garden) and the Berliner Stadtschloss (berlin city palace). Lustgarten is a park on Museum Island. It houses Altes museum (old museum) which we visited later.
It was dusk when we were waiting in a long queue to visit Reichstag - German parliament near the Brandenburg gate building with large glass dome and access to top with a great view of Berlin. Although free entrance but extensive security check and at same time its worth visiting.
Then, we went to see Germany’s iconic landmark Brandenburg Gate at historical center and nucleus of former East Berlin district Mitte. This is where it’s all happening. It’s numéro one place to be seen and to see. Cafes, bars restaurants, theatres, designer shops selling everything from shoes to scarves; day or night places along with many other sites of historic interest are teeming with people. It is new hangout for young and restless. In the very heart of Berlin is a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe which we didn’t visited as it was already dark.
Lastly, went to house of world culture centre for non European art whose floor was superbly decorated… no doubt. Had dinner at one of Chinese restaurant near Zoologischer Garten and left for our hotel.
Next day, when we woke up, were very happy to see blue sky after two days of grey sky. Around 9.00 AM we came by boat to hot-spot St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's Basilica which is Byzantine influenced was too crowded to visit that time and unfortunately in evening we ran out of time and could not make it so satisfied ourselves from outside only. Doge's Palace is a gothic palace with bridge of sighs at rear end which is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace and last view point of Venice that convicts use to see before their imprisonment. Campanile bell tower is worth for city view only but we did not take the flight of stairs as we have lot more to explore. Visiting museum was big NO as we had enough (time was another constraint).
Did enjoyed trip along the Grand Canal with hopping on-off. Countless bridges lace together the neighborhoods of Venice. Amazed to see many historical buildings is slowly sinking into the marshy ground…getting tilted?
At afternoon after lunch we took a cruise to one of islands in the Venetian lagoon. We went to Murano where one gets chance to watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects known for glassware, lamps, chandeliers and glass jewelry. We started with glass museum and visited few glass factories, they show you the art, but for them it is just part of work. We got few souvenirs for friends and family.
At evening we came back to Rialto Bridge. Rialto Bridge is famous for its shops. There are three bridges joined together which makes it special. Wandered around saw many taking gondola ride – it’s ‘expensive’. Best if you are a group of four to split the cost for those twenty minutes. Any way, we could not found another couple to share and decided against it. The route from the Rialto to the Academia (one of the famous museum) and back to piazza San Marco winds through ornate squares and is quite interesting.
TIPS: Get a travel pass to ride the elusive water bus – else single tickets are less economical if you plan to spend days touring in order to explore every nook and cranny. We missed few things at Venice; we did not visit the famous Opera house which underwent renovation. We stayed in Lido but we did not explore its beaches. Last but not least we missed to pick up those carnival masks for wall hanging.
It seems Venice is not the place for pasta. Rather, Cichetti (chee-keht-tee) are small portions of food served in bars all over the city, with small glass of wine. You eat while standing in a crowded room. Certain bars display all the Cichetti before you; Sorry, couldn’t enjoy that as I am not a wine-lover.
Sunset with blue sky of late October seems “magnifique” along with open space of Navi Mumbai as viewed from local train (picture taken through window)
This one I clicked last Saturday when I was stuck in middle of JJ Flyover - the longest flyover in Mumbai (2.3 KM). It is constructed like a snake, which makes its way through labyrinth of old buildings on either side; basically you bypass the busy, crowded market underneath. Few buildings along the way are almost at a kissing distance from the flyover.
While rain still continues in South Asian countries; People from Karachi to Dhaka are facing this year after monsoon-effects with this heavy downpour. This monsoon is considered to be most well-known and potent. So, I thought to put a picture with blue evening sky to cheer up ;). BTW this is Gammon House situated at Prabhadevi next to Sidhi Vinayak Temple.
Siliguri is gateway to the North East of India. It is commercial city of North Bengal where tea, timber and transport are the main business. It is a base point to head towards Darjeeling, Sikkim, kalimpong, mirik etc. Besides, it is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Situated at foot of Eastern Himalayas it has very pleasant temperature but weather is very unpredictable as it gets shower any time. Summer is not like other parts of India which burns in hot lava. It hardly exceeds 32 C in day time and after every 3-4 days there is a light rain sometimes short sharp downpour. Winters are really biting cold with mercury level hardly rising to 15 C at day time. During winter, on clear day it gives excellent view of Himalayan peaks with an opportunity to see as backdrop of snow-clad mountains.
In the month of May, we went there for 10 days which was a great escape from Mumbai’s heat and frequent power failure. These pictures are from the terrace of my in-law’s house.
After moving from Paris, we had been planning to take a trip somewhere out of Mumbai. We even bought a Travel book on India to explore more our own motherland. But with time and circumstances our plan didn’t got executed. At last, after longtime we took a day break on last weekend when Santanu came to know at last moment about his holiday on Maha Shivratri. Since it was last moment plan we could only make for one night stay.
Harihareshwar is a small town with palm-lined beach known for pilgrimage centre-Kalbhairav (Shiva) temple and its ideal beach resort of MTDC. This beach is black due to the rock particles from rocky shores being mixed into the sand. The beauty of the place is its serenity (far off from city’s buzz) and lack of commercialization unlike other tourist spots Goa or Kovalam. Beach actually splits in two parts north and south.
The southern beach is where resort is located facing the sea which offers not only rooms but also tents and cottages in a bamboo grove with AC. But it needs booking well in advance. We repented for not making it before hand so we had to stay in “Geetanjali rest house” as paying guest in just 400 Rs a night. We had our lunch and dinner at MTDC canteen as the view of the sea through the green is refreshing sight for mind and soul. There are chairs placed under thatched roof where one can have meal under a starlit sky with a sweeping view of the bay and some lit-up boats bobbing out on the sea. This side of beach is mostly deserted compared to that of northern beach. Though our host asked us to have food with them called as “gharguthis” with costal flavor ( Konkani meals) – simple but hygienic at same time ; we denied politely as they were having fast for Shivratri so we didn’t wanted to stress them.
The northern side is where temple is. It’s that side where one can see stunning sunset we lounge there to watch red ball taking a plunge in the blue roaring Arabian ocean. This roaring sound of restless waves dashing against the rocky shore is something to watch for hours. Its something cannot be explained in words.
Next day we started early for Shrivardhan 15kms away which is famous for its beach, temple and historic monuments. Its home town and birth place of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath (founder of peshwas) but beach is not that attractive or well maintained compared to that of Harihareshwar.
A lovely drive on NH-17 except bumpy roads starting from Mangaon to Mhasla ahead past till junction where it splits into Srivardhan and Harihareshwar. Though it was a short stay but will last in memory for long time. Moreover this was first time after coming to India Santanu drove all the way 170 kms from Kharghar for 4 1/2 hrs at stretch. While coming back we took halt en route near Mangaon to get some fresh veggies and brunch (Resort Open Umbrella).
At end Santanu regretted for not learning stick-shift before then we could have explored France more.
But this post is not about why we left Paris and why moved to India. It is all about how we spent our last one week in Paris. Before leaving, we wanted to take pictures of those which makes Paris so desired destination for tourists. No doubt it is one of the most visited place in the world be it for Eiffel Tower or Champs Elysees.
As our time for departure was coming close we tried to visit few of the well known Brasseries or Bistros to hidden street corners to passages away from busy tourist area. We did our best, but weather was not very happy with our move and unexpectedly August was very grey with clouds and rain all those thirty-one days. It is a month when almost every thing stands still in Paris or France from bakery to fashion-store to office- “tout le monde”. As every one heads towards sea “au bord de la mer” for getting “bronzee” sun bathing. If you come back from vacation with out noticeable change in color your vacation is not well spent.
Not only, we took lots of pictures and uploaded to our gallery but we reorganized them. It was very long and meticulous process with thousands of pictures to sort and write their details as much as possible. In a way it was great to know more about Paris. All credit goes to Pamela for the same. With less than 16 hours to go before the movers were to arrive I rushed to La Defense to take pictures,
YES!! It was crazy but its worth for people like me (amateur photographer) as it allowed me to capture those tall buildings with blue sky after washed by rain.
Although, I am not sure if any one going to visit Paris is going to read this post and check our pictures or not. But, somehow I got a feeling of “been there – did this…did that…” and I am very content from heart for the same
As we spent our last two days in cleaning after the movers left before handing over our apartment keys to our landlord. In this process with lots of small things to be done on other hand at last moment like closing the bank account, getting official papers from office etc. we got so tired and exhausted that we could not effort any long to run and take pictures of “Parisians in roller blade”.
This post is getting bit longer than I thought so I will split the last few days and hours in another one. Keep reading ….
Our trip to Switzerland has ended after all those C.B.G (châteaux, bateaux and gateaux) trips around Europe but indeed it was a different experience altogether. It is all about the greenery, mountain streams rushing along, water falls, snow clad mountains, sounds of cow-bells tickling on the alpine meadows.
I am not sure if every one is happy with their first trip to a new place or not. But, I am always very happy and excited to go to new places. I always live with some desire or feeling that was not filled in that very trip. It keeps me motivated to go back to the same place once again. May be it is my way of exploring and traveling.
The beauties of all those places we have been in Switzerland are so vast that I think - “I can explore them for years to come if I am there all the time”. But I know that is not going to happen (soon for sure!).
Here are few things that one should not miss while traveling in Switzerland – starting with what we missed.
- A Video Camera a MUST along with normal camera – to capture the Alpine divinity while traveling in train (specially for those panoramic one)
- Ask for window seat if your train needs reservation.
- Hiking Pole – if you are hiking and that includes downhill.
- Make sure your watch is giving correct and precise time - the train/bus leaves platform on dot. To demonstrate this you just wait on a platform you will find the train starts moving as soon as the time posted and time on the big clock on the platform matches.A good pair of hiking shoes if you plan to walk a lot.
- Warm clothes even in summer for going to the top of the mountains.
- Good sunglass – Normal sunglass only stops little compared to those special glacier sunglass, you need them to save your eyes from the reflected sunlight from glacier at high altitude.
- Polaroid filter -for your camera if you happen to be lucky on the mountain top with clear blue sky.
The evening we reached was bit late around 11PM so I decided to take a cab from the airport to the hotel. The hotel people told me it cost around 35 euros from the Airport to the hotel. But it cost us 54 Euros so I was very angry with the Taxi driver at first for taking longer routes. But when I asked again with the hotel guy he said it is normally around 60 Euros. Well that made me feel good but not better.
Next day, Saturday, we went to Melk by train from Vienna the weather was great with blue sky and warm temperature. The train ride was nice as it gives a good view of Austria’s country side. Melk has a very beautiful abbey which is known as Stift to the local. From there we took a boat ride on Danube River to Kermes. While walking from the boat stop to the train station we met a lady from Graz. She suggested us to take the train ride to her beautiful town in the Alps on any sunny morning.
That evening we came back to Vienna and walked around StephansPlatz and dined in a vegetarian place, the food was good.
Sunday we had our coffee and some tasty pastries to start the day. We walked along the ring starting from Opera, Hufburg Palace, City hall, Museum Quarter Parliament, University and the stock Market. After that we went to St. Augustine’s Church to listen the Sunday Chores. It was a very different experience the music and singing was really very soothing to ears. After lunch we went to Belvedere Palace. It was very special day as Austria was celebrating its 50 years of Freedom. There was live music, dance in different form. We really enjoyed those great outdoor performances.
On our last day we went to Schonbrunn (beautiful fountain) palace. It was summer residence of the royal. Its beautiful park really demands a good amount of time from you to explore those lavish green surroundings.
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.
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.