Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
Showing posts with label Abroad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abroad. Show all posts

Monday, 25 October 2010


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


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


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.


Monday, 18 October 2010


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


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

Luxembourg is the fairy tale city of Europe. We started late night from Copenhagen by a City Night Line. The tiresome journey with three changes at Koln, Coblenz and Trier was proved worth it the moment we entered the realms of this city.

The most beautiful balcony of Europe @ Luxembourg

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Google Maps: Stockholm, Sweden
Trip: Copenhagen > Bergen > Voss > Stockholm

The land of Victoria Silvestedt - that is how I used to relate Sweden with. How correct I was. Stockholm, the capital city, boasts of blondes in such a huge number that it is difficult to keep up with admiration. Where hazel green eyes, golden flowing hair and voluptuous body are a commodity the city is truly a land of fantasies. We started our three days with the trip to one of the archipelago that comprises Stockholm.

Having a sumptuous lunch with some of the hottest exchange students and a stroll at the island, we came back for a night at Stureplan - the centre of friday night parties at Stockholm. We spend a couple of hours observing people before coming back to our abode.

The next day we planned for Vasa Museum and an elaborate stroll to Gamla Stan which is the oldest of the 13 islands that Stockholm is made of. We started with the Change of Guards and missed it by a whisker of a second.

Vasa Museum was huge and elegant. The story of a ship recovered after 300 years in the sea was elaborately displayed.

Gamla Stan was awesome with narrow streets and curious cosmopolitan crowd. We did not buy anything but the walk through the cobbled paths was enough to occupy us all.

The next day we had to go back to Copenhagen  We covered a building which is claimed to be the biggest spherical building in the world.

We were back to Copenhagen and faced a little hurdle when a train accident changed our train routes and we reached our destination one hour later.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


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

It was a short and lonely stay at Voss - for seven hours to be exact. I wanted to cover the entire stretch from Bergen - Oslo in daylight. The problem is there are limited trains from Oslo at night for Stockholm / Copenhagen  Hence Voss came into picture and how beautiful it turned out to be ! The first two hours I invested in walking uphill as much as possible. From up the view of Voss was amazingly simple. Seated comfortably by the side of an elegant lake the city couldn't be more peaceful.

One of the best thing about Europe is the pleasant weather which combines with less pollution to provide you enough oxygen and zeal to stay upbeat. Without much sleep the earlier night I was still fresh and still striving up the mountains that surrounded the town.

While coming down I managed to take quite a few pictures of the lake under the changing intensity of the sun. It was like a slow movie at play by the nature.

My train was late at midnight. The town entertained me till then. In these parts of the world in the middle of September it does not get dark before 9. The last couple of hours were spent finishing a novel which a friend had gifted a couple of months back.


Google Maps: Bergen, Norway
Trip: Copenhagen > Bergen > Voss > Stockholm

The overnight train from Oslo to Bergen was half empty. We were able to stretch our legs as night approached. However the first couple of morning hours were crucial and so we set our mobile alarm for 5 AM. The morning was unforgettable. We were passing through fjords. Sky high mountains rose from nowhere and the train would have to tunnel through or meander as per the wishes of nature. We reached Bergen at around 7.

We refreshed ourselves at the station and went straight for the Information Office for a trip to fjords. The two famous fjords were more than 200 miles away and would take atleast two nights to visit. We were disappointed. Seeking instant redemption we went for Mount Floen through a elevator train. 

The view from top was worth more than other days because it was sunny with pleasant breeze at the top. I realized that I am at the edge of Europe.

We decided to walk down to the town as it was much more fun given the warm weather and multiple viewpoints.

Later we settled at Brygge which is a world heritage site thanks to its old port history. The fish market nearby was also enticing with fresh offerings.

At 3, I parted from my friend as I had plans for Stockholm the next evening with Sumeet and Rohit. But before that I had to travel to Voss which would serve two purposes. One I would be able to see the famous Oslo-Bergen rail link in daylight. Secondly Voss is simply beautiful from what I have heard.