Fujiyama, Japan

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