Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

Brugge

I am writing this post as the last one from my road trip through Europe. The one's following this one will hopefully be from a stable internet connection in England ;)

Brugge is a really small town, mostly inhabited by younger people. Our hotel, Ibis was in the very center of the town. It was easy to walk everywhere. Many say that if you want to go to Amsterdam without the marijuana and red light district, then Brugge is where you want to be. I guess i was in the perfect place then. There isn't that much history in the city as such, it just a chill relaxing environment. Here are some of the things I did in Brugge:

  • Eat Samurai Sauce and Fries and chocolate everyday
  • Visit the local cathedral
  • Go to the old town square
  • Go to the Bruges Zot Brewery and see the whole city from the top
  • The local farmers market
  • Take 2 finals :D
  • Leave Belgium for England :( To say that I was depressed the day we left Brugge would be an understatement. I didn't know what to expect from England. All I know is that I had a great time travelling continental Europe and I really enjoyed the company of old friends, new friends and everyone I came across. If I had to do it again I'd prefer it was the same people I did it with. I'm really glad I made this trip as I made memories during this trip that I will cherish all my life. That's it for now. We are off to England now via the chunnel . That is one thing I am definitely excited about. A bus that gets on to a train under the ocean for transportation. Wohoo. England here I come!

Oh here are the pictures from Brugge: Flickr

Brussels

Ah Belgium. As our driver Max said, is the land of beer , beautiful women and strong men. We didn't have musch scheduled in Brussels. I went around the city with Hahn and literally saw everything we could. Here's a list

  • Grand Place( ate the best waffles in the world and godiva there)
  • Peeing Boy.. Can't believe this is their official symbol. Awesome is all i can say
  • Royal Palace
  • Victor Horta Museum ( Quaint house with a lot of cool nuevo architecture)
  • St Micheal's Cathedral ( The place is massive ) The hotel we were put in was an absolute shit hole. They had terrible elevators , sub-par food and damp smelling sheets(i know right!). Good thing we didnt really stay in here for too long. We were out enjoying the beer and fries. I had a glass of the infamous Kwak. As everyone before me i splashed the beer over my face. Tried a few others too, mostly novelty flavored beers. We stayed here for 2 days so there really wasnt much I could do.

On our way to Brugge we made 2 stops and went to a small town called Ghent with an old cathedral our professor wanted us to see. We then stopped around 3.00 pm at Blackenberg which is a beach town on the Belgian Coast. The weather was around 50 F.. not the best weather to get naked. Unfortunately the people in my group didn't care and they went anyway. It was like an Indian beach honestly. Not the cleanest beach I've seen. It was fun throwing a football around . As of now im using internet at a cafe to write this post. The next city is the last from this wonderful trip. I have great expectations for Brugge.

Check out the Photos on Flickr Brussels & Ghent

Paris

Bienvenue à Paris!

The city of every teenage girls dreams where they think a cute french man is gonna come and sweep them of their feet. I wish I could say the same out the women here. Haha. They have this air of authority around them, intimidating if you ask me. Anyway, Paris is a beautiful city as always. A plethora of art and culture all around this city. We got put up in this wonderful hotel called the Oceania. It was outside the city, but the hotel room made up for its location. It was definitely the best shower I have seen till date and the room was equipped with a plasma tv and speakers. We spent most of our days touring the city. There is a lot to see here. Most of all we did was in the center of Paris.

Our first day was spent going to a service at Notre Dame. At this point I was about done seeing cathedrals. It all seemed too redundant too me.It was the music that got me this time. The choir was absolutely incredible and being in the cathedral with so many people chanting is definitely something people visiting Paris should definitely do . On a side note, check this rendering of Notre Dame http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/blaise_aguera_y_arcas_demos_photosynth.html The following day we visited the Louvre; saw the Mona Lisa pretty close up. One word, Overrated! I liked Raft of the Medusa better. Saw a few mummies, fairly creepy. It took me about 4 hours to see one wing of the Louvre and I rest the left of it for my visit sometime in the near future. As part of my tour we also went to the D'Orsey Museum which was sadly under renovation but the grand clock in the museum reminds you of how it was an old railway station that was later converted to a museum. Our next visit later next day was at the Pompidou which was fascianting. I learned that a pink string in a 600 sq ft room can qualify as modern art. So can vultures sitting around eating intestines coming out of a statue of Buddha.. Scary stuff.

The next day we visited the house of Rodin, which was in the heart of the city and had a gorgeous view from its lush gardens. Rodin was the sculptor of the well known figure of the thinker and the gates of hell depiction. The rest of the day was dedicated to climbing the Eiffel Tower which was a bad idea.

Since we didn't buy tickets the whole way we had to make it to the second level to use the elevator. That was a fairly tiring experience. The view from the top was well worth it. Plus it gives me bragging rights since a great wonder of the world. We then walked to L'arc de Triomphe and decided to climb that too. It definitely turned out to be a lot worse than the Eiffel Tower since the stairs were too skinny to hold my big feet. and there were about 300 of them. Again the view of the city from the center of Paris is something words cannot do justice to.

Food in Paris is something that takes getting used to. They play with a few flavors and really to exxagerate the effect of those flavors in the dish. I finally tried escargo on a pizza. It was delicious. Our last day there, one of our professors who loves Indian food took us out to dinner to an Indian restaurant. It was actually really good. Overall, I had a great trip in Paris, much better than what I expected and definitely one of the best cities I have been to on this tour.

Au revoir for now, I'm losing my stolen wi-fi connection from the park here.. Seems to be a trend with my blog posts:)

Check out more photos on Flickr

Strasbourg

13 hours on a bus and finally we got to Strasbourg. I have to admit, I expected a lot more from this city. It is rather small for a prominent European city. We only had one day here so it wasn't all that bad. That one day was definitely enough for enjoying the entire city though. We went to downtown Strasbourg. Saw the big cathedral there which was really grand but it was unfortunately going through some renovation, so I couldn't really appreciate the outside of the cathedral. Downtown was small with a river running around it's perimeter and many boat cruises. There were more than a few stone bridges which made look very picturesque. One thing i distinctly remember is the food I had there. It was a classic Cuban sandwich. It was absolutely incredible. I ended the day by watching the Eurocup match with a few friends and our gracious driver Max who bought us drinks every-time Turkey scored a goal. That sums up all I did in Strasbourg. No wild partying. It was a welcome, quiet and relaxing 3 days for me

Flickr photos are available here

Prague

When you think of Prague, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Eastern Block. Well, I was mistaken. This city is gorgeous. It has centuries of history and the cit is dotted with architectural marvels. As part of our visit here we went on a walking city tour as this is apparently a social norm in Europe. We took the tram to the old city and started walking around. I ate at one of the best restaurants in Prague. I wasn't impressed, I have to say. Pork Steaks and mash potatoes are not my thing. We continued the tour and saw the Prague Castle, walked down the Old Bridge and saw the clock tower. The cathedral was grand and the evening sun was playing with the stained glass creating all sorts of colors in the cathedral.

The rest of the time in Prague, we just walked around. Enjoyed what was some of the better Chinese food I have had.. Kinda weird don't you think :)

We saw a marionette opera of Don Giovanni which is one of the things one has to do when you go to Prague. It was interesting to say the least. Classical opera style with some infused humor from the puppet masters.

The last day was exciting. I got to visit the modern art museum in the EB. It was fascinating. I dont particularly see anything artistic in most modern art. I prefer the older art. I enjoy the amusement side of modern art; seeing what the artist thinks he made and what the common mind percieves it as. There were some strange exhbits there inclduing a picture of a womans private parts, which I don't get has to do with anything the caption said. There were a few Picassos there that I liked, the rest of the art. Bizzare! Check out my photos on Flickr

That was the end of my visit to the EB. As of now im stealing internet,sitting on the road,looing shady, trying to finish an art paper and writing this blog post.

Na shledanou for now..

P.S: I forgot to mention.. The women are freaking incredible. Every one of them is a perfect 10.

Munich

This is the only city during my trip for which I have mixed emotions.. I had a strange array of experiences which is the only reason I say this. Don't get me wrong Munich is and always will be a great city. Our visit started off with a shitty hotel which had minimal ventilation and maximum humidity. Not a big fan. Stay away from hotel named Europa. Saurabh decided to visit us here which was cool. Our first day there we made a trip to a Dachau, a death camp from Nazi Germany. I have never been more depressed in my entire life. The place is desolate and just brings this eerie feeling of death surrounding the entire perimeter of the camp. I think every human should go here and experience it first hand. You will see how bad humans can be as a species. The stories I heard, the posters I saw, the documentaries I watched all flashed before my eyes when I was walking through the place. After I was done touring the place I met up with my group again so we could figure out what else we were doing that day.

To make the day more contrasting, I ended up going to the BMW Museum after this which was when Puneet achieved Nirvana. The building has some nice Bmw's in there, new and old. The museum itself looks really cool . It is some sort of modern architecture. Suits their image in my opinion. After that was done we were all fairly hungry. And since this was the land of beer, we decided to go to a beer garden. We joined friends, professors and drunk germans around mugs of beer and plates of brats. It was an incredible experience to say the least. I definitely vote Augstiner for the best lager I have ever had in my life.

I spent the next two days catching up on work, updating the blog, visiting the new and old Pinakotek and cheering for the Germans in the eurocup. I also managed to delay the entire group of 50 people so that I could get my travel documents back from the embassy with my approval to go to England :D

That's it for now. A long trip lies ahead of me... Goodbye Germany. Flickr photos uploaded here

Padua/Venice

The bus ride from Rome to Padua was gorgeous . Passing through the Italian countryside is an experience that I don't really have words to describe. After what seemed like a life time we got to Padua. I was surprised at how small the town. The entire perimeter of the town was walkable(something you don't see much of in America). The hotel was alright other than one of the girls getting bed bugs which is disgusting. After the usual round of art and music classes we were free to do whatever we wanted around Padua. I walked around the town and explored the cathedral there and ate gelato at least 3 times. We visited the Scrovegni Chapel which in my opinion was some of the best art I have seen in Europe. The wall painting by Giotto are masterpieces and the Italian government has managed to take great care of it. There really isn't much to see there other than the town square and this chapel. I guess tech put us up there because it is significantly cheaper than Venice and not much of a commute.

Venizia is a magical place. I am still amazed at how people still manage to continue their daily activities using boats. I have to say though, there is a foul smell throughout the city. Never figured that one out. The whole city is covered with art and history. My highlights of Venice can be summed up into Academia, Peggy Guggenheim and St Marks Square. The Ferrari store there was particularly entertaining :) Check out my photos on Flickr . They essentially document my entire trip through Venice.

Roma

Rome, is a massive dump. If it wasn't for its rich history it would well be classified as a third world city. There is trash everywhere. There are tourists everywhere and the place is swarming with people at any given time of the day. Enough complaining for now. Nevertheless, the public transport in Rome is one of the most well laid out systems you could use as a tourist to get across the city. The city is rich in history and is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is also a reminder of the greatness of Renaissance and Baroque culture. I spent a long time in Rome at the Best Western. There is something comforting about staying in brand name hotels, it gives a sense of consistency and quality. Saurabh joined us in Rome and spent 2 days with us at the hotel. The fact that it is a major city in Italy makes it easier to bargain hunt. Food and drink are definitely cheaper here. It's a fun city to be in if can ignore the garbage. It's easy for me since I'm from India :) Things I did in Rome ( It's a long list.I'll split it up)

Ancient Rome:

  • Colosseum
  • Piazza del Campidoglio
  • Trajan's Column
  • Trajan's Market
  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Pantheon
  • Arch of Constantine
  • Roman Forum Churches:

  • Santa Maria Maggiore

  • San Paolo Fuori le Mura
  • Santa Maria della Piet√†
  • Santa Maria del Popolo
  • San Giovanni dei Fiorentini Renaissance and After:

  • Piazza del Campidoglio - Michelangelo

  • Palazzo Chigi
  • Campo de' Fiori
  • Villa Borghese
  • Borghese Gallery
  • National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II
  • Spanish Steps
  • Tribute Fountain

Photos on Flickr are available here

Vatican City

Vatican City is an interesting little 'country' in the middle of Rome. It is a city-state, the only one of its kind that I have seen. The central authority here is the Roman Catholic Church. It comprises mainly of the Vatican Museum, St Peter's Basilica (designed by Brunelleschi) and St Peter's Piazza (designed by Michelangelo). St Peter's basilica is one of the most overdone pieces of architecture I have come across. The inside of this basilica is covered with gold, statues, painting and enormous pillars with an equally enormous dome. It is very exciting to see this church but at the same time it is a gross manifestation of the power the Pope commanded over the Catholic community during the Renaissance Era and after. The major things I saw:

  • Sistine Chapel
  • St Peter's Dome
  • Vatican Museum Staircase
  • The massive Baldachin
  • School of Athens - Raphael amongst other famous paintings
  • The Vatican Piazza with its unique architecture

Oh Internet Where Art Thou!

You don't realize how much you need something until you actually dont have it. For me it's the internet. I sound like a crack addict, so be it. I didn't realize how often and how much I have taken this web of information for granted. Here in Italy Internet is scarce. I have no free wi-fi anywhere. Small town Sienna on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere had free internet for 30 mins. Thats it. Other than that the Best western has given us about 2 hrs a day for internet which I am currently using in the room. Hopefully it lasts us through our stay in Rome

But yea doesn't seem like I am going to get to update this too often . I will try to update it whenever and wherever I can . So keep checking and look at the pictures. Italy is a very beautiful country

Ciao.

Florence

The Florence Duomo

Florence is a great city with a rich historical past. It is populated mainly by tourists from the sights I have seen in the past few days. Everything in the city seems to be related to the Medici family who were the ruling family in Florence during the Renaissance which is when Florence became known as a financial center. Since I'm on tour with some newly made friends and I do a lot of touristy things, I'm going to list stuff I did and what I thought was interesting for all my future posts. You can always check out pictures for these cities on Flickr

List Of Places I Visited in Florence:

  • Bargello Museum
  • The Museo del Duomo (Mary Magdalene - Donatello)
  • The Florence Dome
  • The Uffizi Gallery
  • Ghiberti's Bronze Panels
  • Santa Maria del Carmine ( Masaccio wall paintings)
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Basilica di San Lorenzo
  • The Medici Palace
  • Orsan Michelle

Studying Abroad

This whole studying abroad thing that I have gotten myself into seemed like a great idea at first. It was a very impulsive decision when I did decide to do it. I did not consider the logistics behind this entire trip until I actually had to deal with it. There's a hell lot of things I had to (still have to) . Don't get me wrong the whole program is great, but i think its lacks a certain structure to it.

Getting a UK visa is apparently very hard due to some retarded interpretations of the immigrations rules by both the school and visa officers which makes it extremely hard to obtain one at this point. Hopefully it will work out at some point in the near future. The fact that I have to leave my 'study abroad' in the US for a study abroad to Europe hasn't kicked in yet. It probably has to kick in sometime soon this week and the euphoria has yet to set in.

For now I shall continue watching Arrested Development and entertain myself with these last few days of free internet and HD cable television that I have in this country, that people call the Land of the Free.

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