Fujiyama, Japan

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cannes

Google Maps: Cannes, France
Trip: ParisNice > Monte Carlo > AntibesCannes > Paris

Cannes is a beauty. No wonder some of the most beautiful people gather in this beach-town to celebrate the human creativity every year. The city has everything that French Riviera stands for. A crowded marketplace, long shore, a church with a view and the Cannes Film Festival.

Beach @ Cannes


Antibes

Google Maps: Antibes, France
Trip: Paris > Nice > Monte Carlo > Antibes > Cannes

Antibes was a quiet and lazy beach town. We took an early train from Nice to Antibes as the day was long and we had to cover Cannes the same day. The train dropped us at the periphery of the town and we had to walk half a mile or so to stand in front of the beach.

Railway Station, Antibes


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Monte Carlo

Google Maps: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Trip: Paris > Nice > Monte Carlo > Antibes > Cannes

We arrived Monte Carlo late in the evening. Descending from the train when we came out in the open taking a flight of steps we realized the dense constructions of this city. It reminded me of Minas Tirith. The roaring sea in front was adding to our amazement.

Dock View, Monte Carlo

Friday, 3 December 2010

Nice

Google Maps: Nice, France
Trip: Paris > Nice > Monte Carlo > Antibes > Cannes

The dipping mercury level at Copenhagen was enough reason for me to plan my next trip down south of Europe. Hence I was standing on the massive coast of Nice in French Riviera on the first weekend of December. The beach town is small and walkable.

Morning on the beach, Nice


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Naples

Google Maps: Naples, Italy
Trip: Copenhagen > Venice > Naples > Copenhagen

On a magical morning I was walking through narrow alleys that went up and up somewhere near the centre of the city of Naples. A fort like structure was visible now and then at the top of this city and all I wanted was to be there. Although it was foggy, I should have anticipated what I was going to witness after passing through the station of Pompei earlier that morning.

The ancient city of Pompei@Naples


Monday, 22 November 2010

Venice

Google Maps: Venice, Italy
Trip: CopenhagenVenice > Naples > Copenhagen

Happy couples walking hand-in-hand or laying comfortably on long boats (gondolas) would consider this island a heaven. Venice is not for loners. Even the fascination of sauntering through congested alleys and artful bridges does not compensate for the loneliness a bachelor feels in this ancient city of romance. 

Waterbus system@Venice


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Vatican City

Google Maps: Vatican City
Trip: Zugspitze > Pisa > Rome > Vatican City

Next day we went straight for the Vatican the first thing in the morning. It is half an hour tram away from the central station of Rome. We were eager to see the smallest country that sat right in the middle of a bustling city.


In front of Basilica, Vatican



Monday, 8 November 2010

Rome

Google Maps: Rome, Italy
Trip: Zugspitze > Pisa > Rome > Vatican City

The original idea was to cover the five points of the cross decribed in Angels & Demons. However at 3PM the three of us were only checking into a hotel room. It was walking distance from Station. We now had exactly 24 hours in Rome  By 4 we had a definite plan which was bit different from the original one. Colosseum was the closest and hence we found ourselves walking towards the grand structure in no time.

The Colosseum@Rome


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Pisa

Google Maps: Pisa, Italy
Trip: Zugspitze > Pisa > Rome > Vatican City

Its 8 AM. I am walking on a lonely street that leads to the Tower of Pisa. Something is wrong. There is a tall building few hundred metres from me that looks tilted. As I walk closer it looks as if the tilt is increasing.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Zugspitze

Google Maps: Zugspitze, Germany
Trip: Zugspitze > Pisa > Rome > Vatican City

The highest point of Germany was just a stop in my journey to Rome. An early train from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then a semi-expensive Zugspitzebahn (Cog Wheel + Ropeway: Round Trip = EUR 35; no discounts) brought me in 3 hours on top of this beautiful peak.

Zugspitzebahn@Zugspitze


Monday, 1 November 2010

Paris

Google Maps: Paris, France
Trip: Paris > Nice > Monte Carlo > Antibes > Cannes > Paris

Paris has a charm that attracts wanderers and tourists alike. While the fashion capital of Europe may prove expensive, one has little choice considering the fact that Eurotrip without Paris is inconceivable.

The Eiffel Tower@Paris

Monday, 25 October 2010

Basel

Google Maps: Basel, Switzerland
Trip: Berlin > Grindelwald > Lucerne > Basel

The last two time I was in this city I was running around. The first one was when I ventured for Trination Point only to realize that I will miss my train if I don't rush. 

Tri Nation Point, Basel 


Lucerne

Google Maps: Lucerne, Switzerland
Trip: Berlin > Grindelwald > Lucerne > Basel

I fell for Lucerne the moment I came out of the railway station. How many cities boast of a lake right in the middle and a station adjacent to it? Even the port was across the street with ships waiting to take you for a grand tour of Swiss Alps - the most prominent being Mount Titlis.


Before everything I had to find a bed for night and I decided to go for the HI Hostel which is off the centre some 25 minutes walk away from station. Settling there, having a bath and an early dinner at 6.30 PM took me a couple of hours before I took up the walk back to the central area.


The next morning I started off at 10 for Lion Monument. It is a beautiful piece of carving on a vertical mountain wall. Close to the monument was the grand church of Hofkirche-Sakristei. Back from the church a road was going up and I decided to take it.


The further up I went the better I had the city view. It took me half an hour to reach the pinnacle but the perspiration was worth the view. The entire city settled besides the lake looked surreal.


I walked back and decided to take a train for Basel which I assumed would take me 4 hours to reach. It was then that I realized that I am in the middle of Switzerland and no city is more than 2 hours away.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Grindelwald

Google Maps: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Trip: Berlin > Grindelwald > Lucerne > Basel

A Harry Potter fan would expect something magical from a town that holds the name of Grindelwald. Hence when I was asked by a fellow passenger why I am going there I simply shrugged. I had to go.


A train from Interlaken took me to Grindelwald. The train route leads to the highest peak in Europe - Jungfrau. However the to-and-fro ticket to Jungfraujoch is too expensive at CHF 135 (INR 6000). A diversion on the same route will take you to Murren which is considered as a place of ethereal beauty during Swiss summers.


When I reached Grindelwald, the hilly town was covered with fog and small snow flakes were accompanying the rain drops. The youth hostel had closed for the season as were most of the other hostels. November onwards this area is close for about two months before opening up in the end of December for ski-lovers.


The surrounding sky high hills were mesmerizing - the most interesting part of the panorama were two peaks adjacent to each other overlooking the marketplace where I was standing. The Grindelwald village itself looked like coming directly from one of the JK Rowling's novels where wizards live.


There was a tourist information desk with an amusement centre near the station. Here for the first time in my life I saw a full length ice hockey field. Taking a walk around for a couple of hours I decided that I was there at the wrong time of year .


I took the train back to Interlaken at around 2 PM. From there I planned to go to Lucerne. The couple of hours were enough to leave a lasting impression about Grindelwald - definitely magical.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Berlin

Google Maps: Berlin, Germany

  • Berlin is more than the Berlin Wall. The city is big for an Indian on foot as I was so do take help of the tubes to cover the length and breadth.
  • Holocaust Memorial at the centre of the city is mostly around which things happen. The good thing is that it is walking distance from the station.
  • Reichstag Building and Brandenburg Gate are other major points near the station that I was able to cover by foot.


The entrance to capital of Germany was as grand as was expected - three floors of mall space was bustling with a cosmopolitan crowd - between two floors allocated to railway station.

Berlin

Monday, 18 October 2010

Jelling

Google Maps: Jelling, Denmark
They pronounce 'J' as 'Y' here in Denmark. My plan for the day was to visit the famous Runic stones, a UNESCO world heritage site at Jelling (pronounced as Yelling). One of my first excursion to Danish countryside affirmed the general opinion that indeed Denmark has a dull weather. It compliments the peacefulness that the country offers.

Runes on the rock, Jelling

Referred as the birth certificate of Denmark, these runic stones were carved by King Gorm and his son Bluetooth. I was not expecting the carvings to be comprehensible.


As the weather turned from sunny to cloudy and from still to windy within minutes, I decided to take shelter in the nearby Fakta store. Buying some bananas and a coke, I came out with little relief. The wind had slowed down. I decided to climb one of the large mounds in the area for a somewhat ariel view.


Settling at the top I finished off my bananas and coke and took  a few pictures. The stones were spread in a small area around a church which evidently has also become a graveyard.



Taking a cue from the minimal crowd present and a direct train for Copenhagen scheduled for 2.18 PM, I took leave from the revered stones and settled in the first clas compartment of DBS Tog thanks to my eurorail pass.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Oslo

Google Maps: Oslo, Norway
Trip: Copenhagen > Bergen > Voss > Flåm > Sognefjorden > Oslo > Stockholm > Copenhagen

The capital city of Norway was as beautiful as I had left it two days ago. The city surprised me with a cosmopolitan crowd and busy streets. I was expecting a quieter capital of the north-most Scandinavian country.

Oslo at sunset

Booking a bed in Anker Hostel which is close and affordable in a super expensive Norway, I decided to take a walk towards the Oslo Opera. Designed to attract, what I admired most was the setting sun as visible from the top of this edifice.

Den Norske Opera@Oslo

Walking back quickly as the mercury was dropping fast, I grabbed a chicken burger from McD and went back to my hostel bed before 8.

Art on the streets of Oslo

The next morning I woke up fresh and took an early leave for a walk along the banks of Akerselva. The warm sun shining above and fresh feet helped me walk a couple of miles towards the dock area.


Pleasent noon beside Akerselva@Oslo

There again I settled in cool blazing sun and ate my last of Snickers while admiring the beautiful city. My train was due at 1 PM for Copenhagen and I had to double up to catch it.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sognefjorden

Google Maps: Sognefjord, Norway
  • Ferrying from Flam to Godvangen is the quickest way to cover the famous fjords of Norway.
  • There are treks available on the route but one needs to stay overnight, Aurland being the biggest.
  • Countryside Norway almost shuts down after the second weekend of October so plan accordingly.

The famous fjords of Norway awaited me while I was sleeping in Flåm  The next day I checked out of the hostel at 10 and started walking towards Aurland. The 5 miles walk was pleasant with lots of breaks to admire the landscape. The ferry to Godvangen was not scheduled before 3.30 PM and hence I was at leisure.

View of Flam on way to Aurland

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Flåm

Google Maps: Flåm, Norway
Trip: Copenhagen > Bergen > Voss > Flåm > Sognefjorden > Oslo > Stockholm > Copenhagen

This blog would have less to do with Flåm and more to do with how I reached there. When I stepped out from the overnight train from Oslo to Myrdal at 4.45 AM I was in two minds. Either I wait for more than 5 hours and take the famous Flåmbana train or I walk the 15 miles to Flåm. I chose the latter.


At 7 AM I decided that it is enough light to walk on the railway track that would lead me to Flåm


Thanks to a local guy whom I met a couple of miles later I learned that the road to Flåm goes the other way. 


I retraced back my steps to find a huge waterfall going down a beautiful ravine just below the railway station. How the hell did I miss that?


The winning  road down to the valley was enough to convince me that I had taken the right decision. The next few hours kept surprising me with elements of nature I had only seen in wallpapers.


The seven hours of trek included hundreds of waterfalls, two tunnels, four wooden bridges, three gorges and a flowing river all along the trek.


I reached Flåm at 2 and immediately checked into the Youth Hostel. I needed a hot water bath. The hostel was beautifully placed between the river and a sky high mountain with Flåm station a couple of minutes away.


I decided to take a stroll later in the evening although my legs were still sore with the seven hour trek. The weather and view was rewarding enough and I ended up sitting at a wooden bench eating chips and drinking a hot cup of coffee.


I even trekked up the hill for a top view of Flåm  With enough pain to bear, I walked straight back to my bed and prepared for a long sleep. I was still not clear about tomorrow's plans.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Helsingor

Google Maps: Helsingor, Denmark
Trip: Copenhagen > Helsingor > Copenhagen

We reached Helsingor at 4 PM. That may well be enough to tell what we were able to do there. What we managed was visit to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a couple of miles walk in the windiest of conditions.

Kronborg for upgradation@UNESCO World Heritage site


Monday, 27 September 2010

Munich

Google Maps: Munich, Germany
Trip: CopenhagenSalzburg > Munich > Copenhagen

Oktoberfest was the only agenda when we reached Munich  As we arrived at the famous Theresienwiese we realized we were late. The tents were closing down. The girls in bavarian dress were looking amazingly hot - not to forget they were drunk. 


It was late night and we relaxed at the station. An early morning attack was required from us to occupy a better spot in the hanger-size tents that were erected in the Theresienwiese area which is a 15 minute walk from station.


We arrived at one of the tents at 7.30 AM. We were not alone. At least 2000 people were already there making a queue while it rained. The gates opened at 8 and beer was served at 9. By 10 we were clueless as to where we are and decided to walk around. Taking a few snacks we came to ground and decided to go.


As we came on our foot, we moved quickly. The next destination was Dachau. The notorious concentration camp was a source of awe and fear during WW2. The camp was revamped for tourists and had enough reading labels to keep up occupied for a couple of hours.


Our train was scheduled at 7.30 for Copenhagen and hence we decided to take off early. 


Sitting at Munich station was also worthwhile as those girls in bavarian dress at Okcoberfest were in abundant numbers at the station also.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Salzburg

Google Maps: Salzburg, Austria
Trip: Salzburg > Munich

Salzburg is home to the world's largest ice caves and we were going there for that exact thing. It is very close to Munich and consequently I decided to cover it on my Oktoberfest trip. Taking an overnight train to Munich and then another one to Salzburg we managed to reach at 12. The caves would close at 3.30 PM. We decided to take a tour bus which promptly put us at the gate of the caves at 2.30. 

View from Wurfen

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Zermatt

Google Maps: Zermatt, Switzerland
Trip: Luxembourg > Brussels > Amsterdam > Bruges > Fredrichshafen > Zermatt

My first impression of Zermatt was that it is overcrowded and expensive. The roads were narrow and I had no clue where to go first. Wisely I decided to get settled in a Youth Hostel first and then go for exploration work.

Huts @ Matterhorn trail

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fredrichshafen

Google Maps: Friedrichshafen, Germany
Trip: Luxembourg > Brussels > Amsterdam > Bruges > Fredrichshafen > Zermatt

I was woken up at Offenurg by the kind ticket checker. An hour of stay at the cold station and then I was again on move towards Konstanz. It was memorable peice of journey. Hills would rise at short notice, forests would cover the tracks and fog would hide everything for a while. The Black Forests reached their peak at Triberg and then subsided. The lakes were coming more frequently as the Rhine meandered between Germany and Switzerland - but not before swelling at the giant Lake Konstanz.

Lake Constanz, Fredrichshafen

Bruges

Google Maps: Brugge, Belgium
Trip: Luxembourg > Brussels > Amsterdam > Bruges > Fredrichshafen > Zermatt

I was alone and sleepy when I reached the sweet little town of Bruges when the clock was hitting noon. A small crowd of tourists was there to help me in direction and I moved with it. It was a Sunday after all.




Sunday, 19 September 2010

Amsterdam

Google Maps: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Trip: Luxembourg > Brussels > Amsterdam > Bruges > Fredrichshafen > Zermatt

The city of fantasies was beautiful as well. Canals criss-crossing a bustling landmass inspired long walks. The three of us were there for our own reasons. We were planning a night out and hence no hostel bookings were done.


We started with a good lunch at McDonalds. I was craving for beer but had to wait before the others would part on their search. We did that sooner than I was expecting and decided to meet at the internet cafe near the station at midnight.