Thursday, November 25, 2010

Paris, Eiffel Tower

Today was a majorly king day. The last day of our tour. We saw the major landmarks around Paris. Then we saw them again on a boat sailing up and down the seine river. 

Everything just looks so grand. It amazing how the ok'd architecture has been preserved and maintained. That's kind of the reason why most European countries have an otherworldly feel to them. 

After the river cruise, in the wind on a semi cloudy day at 4 degrees temperature, I was glad to have the lunch arranged for us. Being an Indian tour, Indian food is on the menu, always. But the hot food felt good after the biting cold. 

Oh and don't think I suffer as much as everyone else in this cold. I am only carrying a jacket that's lighter than your denim pants. That, and my hat. Which I seem to have forgotten on top of the Eiffel tower. :( I wanted to run up and get it but we were running late. :(

This evening was planned for the Paris gala night. It's optional, coz some people don't approve of topless women. If that was the case, it might explain why the old foggies in the bus frowned at me and my cousin when they saw we were goin for the show too. But that doesn't explain why they cane for the show in the first place. Even after the show was over, they were complaining like they always did about everything. Said they would rather have watched national circus in Mira road than spend 135 euro on a show that made them waste time and money and sleep. Stupid, ain't it?

As for my review of the show, we went to the Paradis Latin. It's one of the oldest cabarets in Paris. The show was alright. I'd seen a much better show on the superstar Virgo cruise I'd been on three years ago. This show was much more... Raw. It was more sexual then sensual. I'd expected a good peek a boo style choreographed performance. It was hardly anything more than some provocative dances, some romantic dances, some performance ballets, all with a few near naked people touching each other, and a lot of bare breasts and bums. 

I suppose it's what this show is about. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, but it could have been better. 

The espresso I had before the show, the eroticism of the show itself, the champagne I had during the show, the half dreamy bus ride back to the hotel and the half bottle of wine I finished off right now has left me in a very happy restless mood.

After the show we stopped by the Eiffel tower at midnight to watch the lights. It sparkles at midnight everyday!! :D that's one image that's gonna be etched in my head for a long time now... :)

I'm off to sleep now. Tomorrow is a long day. Planning to spend about 3 hours in the Louvre, and I intend to make the most of it!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bruxelles

I'm sitting here in the hotel room that's a good two hours away from Paris city centre. Sipping French wine. With Swiss cheese. Nibbling on Belgian chocolates.

The air is pleasantly chilly, and the music's not too bad. It's right now that I realize my trip is almost over.
In two more days, I'll be back to Bombay.
The last two days were rather boring. Most of it was spent in the bus. The visit to Koln was fun, but only because we had like two hours to ourselves. Enough time for lunch, and a bit of shopping too. ^_^ Koln Catherdal is another one of the most impressive buildings I saw on the trip. It’s a beautiful gothic structure over 15 stories tall!

The Christmas Market in front of the cathedral was fun. We had lots of yumm local food. Smoked salmon, meat loaf burger, hot spiced wine… Oh this wine was heavenly! I’d often read about hot spiced wines in my fantasy books, but never really thought about it till now. And I can see why the Heroes love it!

Today, we visited Brussels.  And mini Europe. Brussels was fun, coz of the waffles and the nice walk near the mannekin pis statue. The waffles were yumm!! Mine was overflowing with whipped cream!
I'm tired after this trip. Tired of all the bus travel. Tired of the random food timings. Tired of not being online. But as tired as I am, I have a feeling I'll be going back to Europe sometime. On my own terms.
It's time to go to sleep now. We have a long day ahead. I shall finish my wine and sleep. ^_^

Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Forest, Cake.

Mihir had the most awesomest cake today. It was a black forest cake. It was so awesome, Mihir decided to type this letter in third person. The cake was perfectly drenched in cherry liquor, not too soggy, not too dry, not too intense, not too watery… it was delicious and moist. And it had the most amazing cream layer that tasted of just a hint of cherry… and the real cherries in the cake were pickled in the cherry liquor, and oh my god it was heavenly heaven heaven heaven.
Mihir never had any respect for Black Forest cake before. Now he does. He knows better now. He knows there is no better cake than Black Forest Cake.

Today was the day they got out of Switzerland. The first stop was at Schauffhausen, near the German-Swiss border. It is a tiny town, that's built on the banks of the river rhine, around the rhinefalls.
Next, they visited a cuckoo clock factory, also near the border, but on the German side. Mihir has never felt as happy about being on the road as he was today, because he found out that on the Autobahn, there no speed limits for private cars. None what so ever. Cool, ne?
The clock factory was fun. Mihir never thought he would enjoy looking at clocks so much. Intact, he even bought a neat alarm clock for himself today, so that he can wake up at 3 am when he needs to. Smart, he hopes.
Next stop was Heidelburg. They saw the neat old buildings, and the old house now turned into a hotel where Hitler used to live.
The town is cute because it's largely student village and lots of cute kids my age were strolling around. Mihir thinks he must come back in summer.
Mihir found what can only be described as chocolate covered shortbread cookie balls. It was shortbread cookies rolled into a ball, baked, and then drenched in molten chocolate. It was yum. Mihir wonders why noone's thought of it yet.
Mihir fell asleep typing this post. :(
Mihir only has about 30 minutes of time left in the Internet, so he is going to cut this post short, and write more next time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jungfraujoch

 

Today is the day I felt cold. Officially. It took a temperature of
negative 12 degrees Celsius, and a wind speed of 45 km/h during a snow
fall to make me feel it. It's not fun when my fingers are going numb.
I can't take photos then!!
The ride to jungfrau was long. Two hours to the village at the bottom
of the mountain. Then two train rides about 45 minutes each. But it
was soooooooo pretty. And as luck would have it, it snowed on the
top!! Did you pray for it to snow for me? If you did, it worked. ;)
The snow is white. The snow is fluffy. The snow is cold. It was
awesome. :) it was so cold I had to buy a cap to cover my ears. >_<
There's not much to write about being 11k feet above sea level. It's
more about being there to see it, feel the snow on your face, feel the
wind clawing through the two layers of clothing I was wearing. It was
bloody brilliant. :D
Everyone was commenting on how even I was feeling cold, along the
lines of, "how the mighty have fallen". I shut them up after a while.
My body started burning up enough for me to take my jacket off in the
train on the way down. :P
After jungfrau, we went to Interlaken. Literally translates as
"between lakes" it's a tiny city surrounded buy mountains and two
lakes. It's a shopping location. The most expensive brands I know all
have boutiques there. It was totally unexpected. But I enjoyed it. We
got like an hour and half to ourselves there. But sadly enough, the
city closes at about 5 pm. Winter timings and all that. We picked up
some chocolates, and I bought myself a Swiss knife. I'm super happy
about it. Got it engraved with "taurius1". :D
We're on the bus, on our way back to the hotel in Zurich. Feeling
sleepies. And a horrible movie is being played on the tv screen in the
bus. >_<
It's still not sunk in that I'm in Europe. I thought it would be more
exciting. But I guess it's because I'm in a guided tour bus. :P
It's not just a thing in my head. I know how awesome traveling alone
is. Until I save up enough to do it, I'll keep the thought buried at
the back of my head. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Zurich

 

It's cold!! My fingers are going numb in the wind outside!! It a
wonderful feeling!!
Today was a long day. First, we went to Pisa from our hotel in
Florence. That was a short enough ride. Pisa has not one, but three
important buildings. The leaning tower just takes away the thunder
from all the other monuments. I took lots of photos, but I don't think
they will come out too well... I'll have to decide once I get back
home.
After Pisa, we started off for Zurich. It was a long, long, long bus ride.
the tour guide tried to make it sound fun by telling us about the
scenic route, the river, and the third longest tunnel in the world,
the Gotthard road tunnel. I fail to see how 16 kilometers of endless
tunnel is exciting. Someone in the tour group even tried to film the
journey. He got tired after about 10 minutes.
We had our lunch at Autogrill. I had a huge steak. Took me 5 whole
minutes to make sure the person behind the counter understood my
order. I don't think anyone except for me, my cousin, and the couple
from the USA actually enjoyed the food. Everyone else was caught
munching on snacks bought from the supermarket. I believe the Jain
contingent decided to starve themselves.
During the bus ride, someone told the tour guide to play a DVD. So we
watched Bachna ae Haseeno, With English subs. It instantly turned from
a fail movie to a comedy. :D
At least with my music on my iPod, coupled with my super awesome 90%
noise canceling head phones, I didn't have to suffer the hindi
dialogues, and the cranky kids in the back of the bus.
The hotel in Zurich is super awesome. It's called the Novotel Hotel.
Very classy place. Even I feel intimidated by all the business people
here.
But the place is good, so I'm not gonna complain.
A hot shower did me a lot of good. There's something therapeutic about
standing with a hot shower hammering your head, imagining the dirt and
grime and bad moments of the day just washing off you and leaving you
clean and shiny. This, followed by the awesome sinking feeling of
falling back into a soft warm bed... *sigh*
Our room has a queen sized bed, and a sofa cum bed. I think the tour
guide might has messed up our room allocation, but don't tell him
that. ;)
I'm gonna spend the rest of my waking hours listening to my music. It
should be entertaining. I wonder what I will think of today... :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roma.

Europe is cold. I love the weather here. I can't stop stressing I enough. And the cold is reason enough to have a little drink every evening. And a little alcohol never hurts. Unless you have zero tolerance for it. 

Today was the visit to Rome and the Vatican. It was nice, but way too hurried. I really hate this tour business. We spend more time traveling than actually visiting places.

Highlight a Rome was the Trevie Fountain. We tossed a coin. We made our wishes. Then we went to a pizzeria and hogged. :D We carefully avoided the restaurant that the tour guide recommended, because we were sure it would be flooded with too many Indians asking for random things on the menu… I found a nice hat shop at the plaza, but stuff there was *WAY* too expensive. Rome over and done with, we got back into the bus and headed for the Vatican City. We passed by the Colloseum, and managed to convince them to let us stop there for photos for like 20 minutes. Thank heavens. Would have been tragic if we were forced to just drive by the thing!!

The Vatican City was not as impressive as I thought it would be. Maybe the rain played spoil sport and made me lose my feeling of awe at being there. It was beautiful, no doubt. But I still think the cathedral I saw at Florence was more pretty.

I ODed of coffee today. Made the bus ride more interesting. Had fun listening to my music.

People in Europe, or rather the parts of Italy I've been to, don't really seem to friendly. There's very few people on the streets who return smiles. But the places here all look beautiful. I guess for them, they would be used to it, and India looks beautiful. :P

I'd love to get out at night, but the problem is that our hotels are usually in the outskirts of the cities we are in. And the fact that everything shuts down by the time we get back to the hotel adds to our woes 

I'd love to come back to Florence, or Venice, with someone, and just live there for a while, taking in yeh culture, not the guided tours. 

Spain isn't in our itinerary, by I'd love to go there some  day. I've been bitten by the travel bug this year, and I cant help but want to keep gosling new places!!

I find myself writing a lot now. I usually stay awake until well past midnight here. Mostly coz I sleep in the bus between destinations. My sister is a typical can't get enough sleep kinda girl, so I'm left to my own devices at night. And italian tv doesn't have too many hot chicks on it all the time. I think it's coz the hotels don't keep more than a few channels. :)

I hate not being connected all the time! There are so many times when I've wanted to check with google and I couldn't!!

It’s still fun when it is. I’m glad.

 

(written on Nov 19)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Firenze. Carrefour

Here we are. After a wonderful (boring) train ride, we arrived in Florence. An small inquiry at the tourist centre told us thy the place where we had to meet the rest of the tour group was about 20 minutes away.
We had lunch at a cafeteria at the station. Turkey with artichokes, ravioli and pizza. The pizza was yum. Simply no other way to describe it.
Lunch being done, we headed over to the place. Vie Della
Derosa. Found a very yum pastry. I forget what it's called now. It was essentially crispy puff bread with chocolate layers topped with a dark chocolate shell. :D

We spent some time at the park in the centre of the square. Watched a couple suck face. Random people sitting, sketching, smoking.
Until the tour group arrived. The tour guide yelled at me from across the street. Probably recognized my hat. :D

Florence is pretty. Lots of beautiful buildings, lots of culture. A two hour walk took us past most of the famous monuments. The one thing that made me go "wow" was the St Michael's basilica. It was huge !! And so beautiul. The carvings, the mosaic, the sheer grandeur of it! Totally took my breath away!

The day's almost at an end now. Going to our hotel in Florence. I really hope it's rooms are more spacious than those at the previous hotel. And free wifi. I really need my Internet!!
Not an hour goes by without me reaching for my phone to try and search for something on google!

Tech deprivation apart, one thing that's made up for it is the food. I've loved having the food here. An I suppose a trip is I only as good and the food you have there. And coz our hotel is next to carrefoure here.
Which reminds me. It's almost dinner time. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Location:Florence

Firenze

Wake up at 6 am. Breakfast at 7. Leave for Milan proper at 8 am. Run run run. So I suppose it's nice to move at my own pace now. As I'm writing this, I'm on a train to Florence, because the tour bus left without us.

The casual and leisurely walk around a few back alleys of Venice was unsatisfactory. I'd rather have spent an entire morning walking around, but the tour has fixed timings. Which we missed. Long story short, our shopping is done, and the Eurostar tickets from Venice to Florence has ensured we won't be doing any more. :P

Venice is a very cute city. Lots of tiny lanes, lots of friendly faces, lots of tourists, an lots of gorgeous architecture. St Marta's basilica was beautiful, and I wish I could have taken photos there. It felt nice praying there.
The visit to the glass factory was as nondescript as I thought it would be. But the stuff they had was pretty pretty. ^_^

So Venice is done. Next stop is Florence. We're reaching there earlier than the tour group, so I'll get to see the place properly. I definitely must come back here without a fixed itinerary once.

We are now arriving in Bologna Centrale. One more stop away from Florence.
I wonder if I'll get to have better coffee than I have so far. :D

For now, back to my music. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The eagle has landed

We landed in Milano. Met the tour guide, thankfully enough. We were getting worried we wont find anyone from the tour group. The tour group assembled there came from different flights. Usual generic Indian tour group profile. A few couples. A few new families. A fee old families. A few large families. And a few couples who could possibly be revisiting their honeymoon from decades ago. Noone seems too talkative. Don't know if anyone is. Time shall tell. Tour manager Amit needs to talk more. Ah but all that aside, before I knew what was happening, we were bundled and carted off into a bus headed for Venice.

We are on the highway that totally skipped going to Milan, much to my dismay. But stuff like this is bound to happen on a tour group. We are on highway number E 64. Easy to find on a map. Difficult to remember. Better than every town having an MG road, I suppose. :)

I hope for the best. Mostly coz the 12 hour journey has messed up my sleep cycle, my food cravings, and mostly coz I need internet access to post what I'm writing!!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Location:Milano

If I don't do it, somebody else will

First leg of the trip. 9 hours of plane travel. 3 hours window-shopping in DDF. 7 minute sprint across DXB to get to Gate 121 before it closed. As always, great airline service. 600 channels and still nothing to watch.

Traveling is exciting, but people generally forget that the view out of the window is not always so hot. A few hours of endless clouds rolling by under you tires out even the most enthusiastic kids who spend most of the flight with their faces plastered against the pressure sealed double panes windows.

I'll publish this post one I find some free wifi when we land in Milan. Until then, I'm gonna get started on my 6th baileys on ice. ^_^


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Location:Milan?

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