Alhambra - Granada - Spain

We did not book our tickets for Alhambra before coming to Granada. There can be 8,000 visitors inside Alhambra in a given day. Out of those 8,000 around 6,500 are sold over internet & phone. So for us, it meant getting up early and queuing up in the morning. As it was Monday and not peak of tourist season... we were lucky.

alhambra
Alhambra has main 4 sites to visit. The main attraction is of course "Palacios Nazaries" the best preserved Moorish Palace in Europe. The palace is quite intact from all the wars that were fought between Christians and Moorish (Arab Muslim from North Africa). The war ended at 1429. I heard lots of tour guides mostly Japanese comparing this to Taj Mahal. As I have never been to Taj Mahal I can not say for certain but I am quite sure it is not that close to Taj Mahal in beauty. Still the works of Moorish artists are really very appreciable.

We spent a good amount of time in Palacios Nazaries, from there we went to Generalife via beautiful garden of roses. From there we visited 'Palace of Charles V' and 'Alcazaba'. This makes the four attraction of Alhambra.

After siesta, we went to the Cathedral and walked around there. That evening while strolling we came across Mexican Restaurant - "Chile Grande". The food was really excellent which reminded me of my Californian days.

Granada - Spain

The temperature in Spain was quite hot compared to Paris. It was around 37° C when we reached Granada in the afternoon. The bus station for intercity is not at the city center but there is a good connection of public transport for the same. Our hotel was at the center - Plaza Royal.

Around 5 PM, we headed out from hotel, it was still very hot and bright. We walked towards Plaza Nueva. We entered into two churches while walking along the Darro River. They were small churches compared to the cathedral but also have nice wood work. Then we walked uphill towards St Nicolas Church in El Albaicín

Alhambra from San NicolaIt is on hill top from where you can have a great view of Alhambra at the sunset. The cobble stone roads are really narrow. There are lots of tourists at that view point in the evening so are gypsies. They were playing music and selling their art works.

As we had time before the sunset we walked down a bit and went to Sacromonte. There are gypsy caves most of which are now converted into houses. But there is one part left for historic and touristy purpose.

Then we came back to The Church of San Nicolás. I am quite sure if you been there recently you must be knowing Bill Clinton also re-visited this place while he was President as he was here once as a young student. Well even with out his historic visit this place at the sunset is really great to look at the red fort – Alhambra.

This is one of the photos that were there in that Smart Card Media with which we had problem. It would have been very sad if those photos were not recovered.

Well I must admit this time the vegetarian place recommended by Rick Steve was good for dinner.

Madrid - Spain

We were on our way to spring break; we planned to visit Spain and Lisbon for 10 days. We started our trip with flight from Paris to Madrid on Saturday 21st May 2005.

We reached Charles de Gaulle Airport on time and the checking was smooth but after boarding the plane we were in ground for almost one hour before taking off. The cost cutting measures with European state carriers are all alike now, so there is no free snacks & drinks in the short flight. By the time we reached Madrid in the afternoon we were very hungry. We got into the Metro from Airport to our Hotel which involved dragging our luggage for 10 minutes or so. The hotel was again ‘Novotel’, this one was not that outside one like that of Vienna but not very close to the Metro like Berlin. But we found this one is quite OK with public transportation as there is a Bus stop just outside the hotel which takes to the center of Madrid – Sol.

After freshen up we headed towards Sol, after reaching there we had a very late lunch in a Falafel place. It was great – cheap price – tasty and fresh food.

After that we started our walk tour towards Royal Palace via Plaza Mayor. This walk is a kind of an introductory tour referred in any travel guide book. We took lot of pictures of the beautiful ceiling of the royal church, decorated with bright colors. From there we headed more south towards the Basilic.

 Madrid with tripodOur dinner was not up-to mark. As dining section of Rick Steve's guide book is quite empty. There are plenty to choose from when it comes to eating as Spaniards have great passion about gastronomy.After dinner we walked from Sol towards East to “Banco de Espana” and we tried to capture few nice big white buildings in night mode with tripod.

Next day morning we checked out from hotel and started our Bus journey to Granada. We were very lucky to get to the bus station on time to board the bus to Granada with out any wait. The five and half hour long smooth & comfortable ride with one break gave us view of Spain’s agricultural rich country side. Before reaching Granada we passed some scenic view of Sierra Nevada range.

Vienna - Austria

We just finished uploading pictures from our Vienna trip to our site. It was a great trip. Only complain was the hotel which was really outside of city without any proper public transport. The hotel was “Novotel” and we preferred it as we got good treatment from this hotel chain for our trips to Amsterdam and Berlin. When we booked the same it was mentioned it has Metro next to it. But in real world the metro station is 5 or 6 KM away and there is a bus which runs every one or two hours between the metro station and the hotel.

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.

Well that brought to an end and we were back to the airport for our afternoon flight to Paris.

Bonjour

After a long time I changed the theme of my web site; hope the color combination looks good. The two templates are 'new' and 'zen'.
There are now more than 1300 pictures to checkout in the Photo Album section. Most of them come from last 3 years as that is how old my digital camera is. And a big section comes from Europe. After moving to Paris, we used this opportunity to visit maximum countries possible which are part of Schengen visa.
This year we went to Germany, Austria, Spain and Portugal till far.
Though, each countries and places have own attractions. But now, it looks all alike .. Chateau, Bateau, Gateau (Castle, Boat Ride, Dessert) along with Museums and Cathedrals. May be this is due to too many places we have visited in last 2 years.
I recently played with Ming a cool system to play with PHP for creating Flash movies. Here is sample Ming, PHP slideshow . Also created a simple banner with typewriter (ticker) effect

New PC


After months of checking web sites for prices reading forums for review and always thinking about moving out Paris I got my new PC. It was not an easy choice as all these years I wanted a Mac from Apple. And Mini-Mac was a real contender for long time.

But at the end I went for mini-PC because of the money and choice of flexibility I have with the same. There has been a tremendous change in computer hardware in terms of speed, functionality and size in last 4 years when I made last PC. This is the configuration I got for my new PC.
  • Shuttle SB83G5
  • INTEL Pentium 4 530J 3.0 GHz
  • Samsung PC3200 512Mo DDR
  • Hitachi 160Go 7200 RPM S-ATA 7K250
  • LiteOn 48/24/48(CD) & 16x (DVD)

It coasted me around 650 Euros when I got these parts from different small computer stores in Rue-Montgallet in Paris. Well I have to admit the whole setup process was quite easy but it requited a good amount reading the manual. It worth the RTFM as the CPU and heat sink connection is the most vital and tricky for a success.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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