Tuesday, July 21, 2015

EuroRail Experience- Photo Diary

The view and our table
Chicken fried and grilled baby potatoes

Egg Salad

The restaurant in the train from Berlin to Prague

Some moments have been dedicated to food. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bike Tour In Berlin- PhotoDiary

Berlin has the most history where Hitler began his rule and from where you can know a lot more about the history if you are a fan of historical facts. What interested me most was the World War 2 and the Holocaust. I have followed it all the way to Budapest to know more about it. But let's just talk about Berlin for now. We had two days in Berlin and we were kind of lost the first night. The city was big when compared to Amsterdam and we didn't have a definite plan as to what to do. That's when we thought about taking a Bike tour with Fat Tire.
Our tour guide Marc was a great help. He was an American, living in Germany for a while now so his language was clear and we could understand every bit of it. I am not a very traffic friendly person and riding a bike was the last thing on my mind. But its safe to tell you now that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Exploring city this way is not only fun but also so relaxing after long walks around the city.
After spending the first half of our day at the German history museum, where we learnt all about the World War 1 and 2, we reached the TV tower (another grand structure). There we picked up our bikes and made our way towards the great big exploration of the city of Berlin. It was roughly 4 to 5 hour ride around with several stops around. What we covered was the Berlin Wall, The bunker where Hitler committed suicide, The Jewish colony, The residence of the President of Germany, The Jewish cemetery, The museum Island, The blue church, The park and so much more. The ride in the park was my favorite because of the clear paths and the little pond that had a tree with purple flowers. The pond reflecting its beauty, shading itself from others and for a moment time stood still.

We had a break at the beer garden where we had pizza and salad for a treat. It was a long ride back and we were planning to have dinner at the TV tower with a revolving restaurant. The sight of the TV tower is breathtaking, paling against all other restaurants we have ever been to. You could view Berlin and catch a view of the Museum Island. As we ended our day to this very amazing city, we learn an exciting way of enjoying and being together with Bikes.

A part of me stayed behind because it just too beautiful to just make it a passing memory.
The Jewish Cemetary

Food for soul

Inside the TV tower

Berlin Dome

View from Berlin Dome. The stairs were really narrow and intimidatingly never ending

Fat Tire- picking out bikes

Moving with our group

Fascinating view from every corner of the city

The president's residence

The symbol of Germany

The Blue Church
A view of BERLIN DOME from the German History Museum

The most hated man in the history of humankind. Berlin wall now converted into an open museum. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five things to do in Amsterdam

The most tourist friendly city of all- Amsterdam was everything what I hoped for. It was a bright rainy day and we were not carrying an umbrella. The raindrops felt fresh and touched us barely yet there was a whole lot of city to be explored and we made our way to the Red Light area. This is where you find the most tourists in the area and it almost feels like a stroll in the park (only its late night) where you can see dolled up prostitutes posing, waiting to earn their keep for the night. Photography is not allowed and respect towards the prostitutes is always maintained. If you are not into it and are only looking for some fun then you can check out the sex shops where quirky souvenirs will remind you of the movie Queen.  And the crowd (I found many Indians) making a way through the crowd, glancing ideally at the sex toys as if used to it every day, considering the ban on them in India. Moving on, you can watch live sex shows with a glass of wine complimentary as you enjoy the view. If you are lucky and spontaneous, you will be asked to participate in their segments.
The night was still young for some as I saw many college groups and couples, enjoying and mostly scandalized as they made their way back to their hotels.
Waffles and strawberry syrup

Amsterdam Dungeon:

To add lots of fun and fear to your stay in Amsterdam, you have to try Amsterdam dungeon. You will enter the dungeon and the employees act as people from the times of pirates and plague- the times when Amsterdam was getting rich and how the other side were being treated. Along with learning the history of Amsterdam, you learn to enjoy it too. It is funny and a little scary and purely wicked on so many levels.

Heineken Experience:

The man who told us how beer is made

A few more pints left
How beer was made
If you are a fan of beer, then have the best beer in town- Heineken. This was were we spent the better part of our day. We took our tickets for 16 euros with complimentary souvenirs and two drinks on the house. The beer brewery started some decades ago and you can have the entire history laid out for you. Even the medals they got for being the best in the business. The people working there seemed to me the happiest in the planet. They were open to taking pictures and sharing online and even giving a free class of how to pour a beer. After have a tad too many (free) drinks, we got our souvenir bottle with our names enbedded in it and we made our way to the cruise- happy and drunk.

Small Boat Cruise:

Dancing houses (boat cruise)
A more personalized way of seeing Amsterdam is going through the canals where you can see houses so close to each other that no air could go through them. But then this is the way of their life and the Victorian houses gives you a nostalgic view of the times that must have been. Our captain was quiet informative as we went through many smaller canals where the bigger boats couldn't fit in. Interesting bits like - a man making a house on a garden he just bought because there is a serious shortage of housing in Amsterdam, Houseboats now permanent residence of many locals, a man who refused to sell his house had a five star hotel build around it now (maybe his children will sell it one day). It did stand stubbornly around the grandness of the Victoria Hotel near central station.

The Ice Bar

We truly had our day packed as we headed lastly to the Ice Bar. There were two complimentary drinks and we were given really warm coats and gloves as we entered the little room made of ice. It reminded me of a Bond movie with glasses made of ice as we sipped cool liquids that warmed us as we stood deliberately getting the cold to us. In any other warm day this would have been a great option but Amsterdam was already cold and rainy for the day, so after 45 minutes of feeling cold and stamping our feet, laughing at ourselves because we couldn't feel out fingers because we had to take our gloves out to take pictures,  it was still something I would do despite all that.

It felt like Amsterdam was the best place to be where you could take a day pass and take any trams and buses anywhere. There are night trams too so if you are a wanderer and love late nights then this is the place to be.

Ice Bar

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Palace of Versailles- The Grandness of Paris

The front entrance of the main palace

A view from up from the palace

The beautiful paintings inside
If you take a direct train to Versailles Chateau, you will come across the very busy tourist destination in France. Right across the train station is the tourist information and booking where you could get your tickets to the Palace and various activities like Lido, Moulin Rogue, Boat cruises in the city of Paris. And with discount. Its a good deal to go to begin with. We took the bus of ten minutes to the Palace since the walk seem a little more than I could bargain for and decided to walk back. Another option was for me was to take a bike but the bus was already booked so chucking it, we reached the grand palace of Versailles. It was divided into several portions. The gardens, the queens palace, the main palace where you could find various paintings restored after world war 1 and 2. The palace has a history of frivolity where the king and the queen lived lavishly, spending the money more on themselves than on the public welfare which angered them. In the end they were killed out of outrage. There is also a farm and quarters for the farmers because Queen Marie Antoinette, a favorite of the king wanted to build the houses in English style and follow its classic style of living too. As you walk through the gardens, that never seem to end, you will see the beautiful rose bushes and flowers all around you, giving you a whimsical feeling of being in the world that's way beyond your imagination. I could also see a few bikers running around the gardens since the entrance to them is free. A few people picnicking by the grand canal, soaking in the sun as the cold air bit us. The grand canal was the source of water for the royalty. And it's superb! they also have row boating for the ones who like to use their energy a little more. Lots of couples were getting frisky with the oars and laughing along with it. It was perhaps the most romantic ride of the day as we over looked the palace standing dauntingly in a distance.
The view from one of the gardens

posing with the flowers

The gardens

The bedrooms of one of the kings and queens

The fountain of Apollo

The concave mirror

The grand canal

Row Boating among with couples on The Grand Canal

Enjoying the row boat ride

We had a sandwich and a drink at their cafe Angelica which was the only eating joint there. And the Cesar salad was just too good to be true. There are ice cream stands, fresh orange juice stands around the corners for which you need cash and since we still had not converted our dollars we couldn't take that option.

The main palace entrance as you walk by has a huge fountain with Apollo riding through the water. The art is truly amazing and fineness of it's craft appreciable. Also the very controversial modern piece of art that depicts a a female vagina with blood- a flow of life (supposedly representing the queen) is still under construction was right before the stairs. The entrance also had a concave-converse mirror. It was interesting to take a picture through it. Loads of tourists were sitting on the stairs enjoying the view of the entire Palace grounds.

The interiors of the palace barely had any original pieces left because of the war and everything has been restored to till the end. We took an audio guide and walked our way through the long gallery of paintings and art.