Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Europe diary 2016: Holland - the cheeezzy land!

                           

                      
Picturesque dutch Village 

From Germany our next destination was Holland.  There are enough bus routes from Frankfurt to Amsterdam.  It takes 5 hours to travel to Amsterdam from Frankfurt by bus. We were tired yet excited to see another European country. Known for world class cheese and other dairy products- we were simply overwhelmed to be in the cheesy land.

                
Eateries near the hotel

It was almost evening when we reached our hotel in Hofdoorf.  It was a comfortable 4 star accommodation and with lot of eateries around the neighborhood.  The homes were beautifully decorated with flower gardens outside. Summer evenings are always enjoyed by people by handing around the vegetable garden area or cooking outside. It was a fun filled environment. The hotel lobby was vivacious with music and dance. It was a vivacious atmosphere with people from almost all corners of the world.

    
Zaanse Schans- the greatest tourist attraction
  
The next day morning we were driven to Zaanse Schans which is a Dutch village and a great attraction for tourists situated at the neighborhood of Zaandam, near Zandijk in Netherlands.  The first sight of the wind mill set me mind boggling. It is a great technology that is used to create electricity. They are used for grinding spices, pumping water and sawing wood.  They are called wind turbines and are even used to grind flour to make bread. The information desk is open between 9:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs. Verkade pavilion is known for exhibiting the history of biscuit and chocolate makers. The entrance fees are 10 Euros for an adult and for children 6 Euros.

                                       
Shoes in process



The shoe factory- demonstrating 


We were taken to the shoe museum and we had a demonstration of how traditional Dutch shoes are made from soaked wood. The shoes are then allowed to dry in sun and become ready in 2 months. The size of shoes even matters.  These shoes are often seen displayed near traditional Dutch houses. Beautiful shoes were being sold starting from 50 Euros a pair to 5000 Euros a pair. A wooden shoe studded with precious stones was something that caught my attraction.  There are various souvenirs price range starting form 3 Euros , sample  shoes , fridge magnets and key rings which can be carried back home  as gifts for family n friends.

               
Fishermen village 




Beautiful neighbourhood; attractive decor



Souveneirs for sale


Next we were taken to fishermen’s village.  It is a chic village where the houses appear to be in a competition to win the award for best decoration. We were taken to a cheese factory. We were demonstrated on cheese processing. The factory visited by us was called ‘Volendum’. The hostess dressed in traditional Dutch attire was looking attractive and was demonstrating on cheese preparation.   Various flavors of cheese were on display and the tourists were asked to try samples of each. We went around the village and tried some fish dishes. The dishes were truly excellent.  ''Volendum'' has recorded the highest number of tourists each year.

              
Replica of Kohinoor at Coster Diamond





Diamonds for sale




Explaining the texture and properties of diamond




Next we were taken to the town where we had a view of Coster Diamond showroom.  A replica of the Kohinoor caught my attraction which was displayed in the entrance. The guide took us around the museum where we were demonstrated on the processing of diamond. The precious stones were carefully preserved and the tourists were allowed to have a look and even try the beautiful stones. They offered attractive price for the tourists after educating them on diamond buy.

               
Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh museum is a great attraction. It is the home to more than 200 paintings, 700 drawings and more than 700 of his letters all by Vincent Van Gogh. It was opened in 1973 and was modernized through all the years.

There are various city hopping bus meant for the tourists who can avail the chance to go around the city at a nominal price of say 30 Euros per person.

                                
City Hoppa bus - Amsterdam

                    


There are various other things to do in Amsterdam apart from sight- seeing. Sex tour of the red light area is the greatest attraction for both married and unmarried couples.  The beautiful and exotic sex workers will truly take you off your knees. The sex tours can be availed by foot and a guided tour will cost 35 Euros per person.

                               
Amsterdam red light area- a view at night
                     

We were taken for a canal tour organized by the tour company.  The cruise was truly attractive one with an audio guide. There were separate arrangements for cruise with on board dinner.

                   
Canal cruise view



                       
Viewing the city from the vessel




Memorable Amsterdam; view form the cruise



In one word, 2 days was not enough to view this beautiful city. Amsterdam, a beautiful city having lot of opportunities, ports and other industries, the hub of flower business can be the city of your dreams. To live your dream needs a little money and opportunity. Money can be earned by anybody and everybody but everybody needs to look for opportunity to holiday. There’s nothing like exploring unknown places, getting acquainted to their culture.


Next day morning we left Amsterdam for Brussels, Belgium.  










Friday, 27 January 2017

Europe diary 2016: Germany- where history and technology reside in harmony


                                       
The famous cathedral of Cologne


From Luxembourg we headed towards Germany.  The term technology has an inherent relation with Germany. Having over 2 millenium of history Germany still stands as one of the greatest tourist attraction for entertainment.  We were taken to Trier which was our first halt.

                                           
House of Karl Marx in Trier
                                             

Trier is a beautiful city situated on the banks of Moselle River.  It’s a place of historic buildings. While passing the beautiful roads we saw some landmarks like Palace of Trier and the Cathedral of Trier.

We came to a very interesting place- birth place of Karl Marx. His native home is now a museum. It’s maintained by the Government and displayed for public interest. The father of socialism and communalism was born in this house in 1818. After the Nazi party came into power in 1933 the house was turned to a printing house. It took 10 Euros per person to pay a visit inside the museum. We enjoyed the visit as it was not very crowded.

         
Porta Nigra - the medieval gateway to city

One of the greatest attractions of Trier city is the Porta Nigra. Derived from the Latin word which means black gate, porta nigra stands as an emblem of the powerful Roman Empire. Built with grey sand stone between 186 and 200 AD this used to serve as the entrance to the town. Our guide told that Napoleon ordered reconstruction of the Porta nigra and thereafter the black color was retained.
Then we proceeded towards another German city – Bonn. It’s famous for the university. We visited the house of the famous musical enigma- Ludwig van Beethoven. We visited the house which is .preserved as a museum. The entry fees were 5 Euros per person.

                                              
University of Bonn- an exclusive learning center
                                                
We had some time and took a stroll around Bonn. A beautiful city and tidy roads and road side restaurants proved to be quite inviting to us for a glass of wine. The city more than 2000 year old proved to be one which offers the best ambience to tourists far as his interest to dining and photography are concerned. The city can offer your accommodation starting from 55 Euros a night to even 3000 Euros. But our tour operator booked a 4 start hotel for us and we had a very comfortable stay.

                   

         
Pipes sold at market

Fresh fruits






                                                                






The road way being very accessible we headed towards another city Koblenz. An ancient city situated at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine River stole our hearts for the vivacious environment it offers.  We were suggested to take a stroll along the banks of Rhine river but we were offered a great German lunch at a traditional restaurant. The tour operator booked our seats quite in advance so that we don’t have to wait for long but carry with our rest of the journey. We had a view at the Koblenz cable car.

                               
Traditional German lunch


The lunch was truly sumptuous. We ordered beef with mushroom gravy, potato chips and the traditional red wine.  Just after the lunch we headed to have an experience of the Rhine cruise. The weather was sunny and the temperature sore up but nothing could restrict us from having the deck view of the German countryside. 


                             
View of the country side from the deck of cruise on Rhine river

We could see various cathedrals and houses. We viewed the Ehrenbrestrein fortress.  It’s a land of casinos and beer gardens. The city hosts various festivals at different times of the calendar year which attracts a lot of tourists.  The cruise was wonderful experience. We thanked the crew for a great service.

             
Young talents entertaining audience near the cathedral



Then we headed towards Cologne. It’s another 2000 year old city spanning across the river Rhine famous for the cologne cathedral, a twin tower signifying the gothic architecture of medieval Europe. We stopped near the cathedral and took some snaps. The term cologne comes from this city might have originated from here.


                          
Ludwig museum preserves some rare arts 


We headed to see the Ludwig museum which boasts to showcase some of the greatest 20th century arts by Picasso and signifies the romano-germanic influence. Something that attracted me was a wall with bullet scars in it. It’s the wall of Berlin that was taken down by angry protesters. The fall of the wall of Berlin marks the end of East and West Germany and the term Germany, a unified nation comes to the picture that signifies strength and unity. I touched the wall to feel the history attached to it.

Berlin wall remains on display
Touching part of history on the wall
                             
                                                             

At last we were dropped to a 4 start hotel in Frankfurt. The modern business capital of Germany, Frankfurt boasts to be the head quarter of various multi nationals today.

                         
The busy market center of Frankfurt

It has history; it experienced tough time and one of the worst chapters of history. It witnessed some brutal torture to mankind which is remembered even today. It has sheltered and produced one of the best brains in technology thereby making the world best and luxurious cars. It’s got one of the best universities and centre of learning for various scholars. I loved Germany and the various shades of life it has to offer. It’s too short a time to explore the country and its picturesque beauty. I wish I could again come to Germany and explore its treasured assets.







Saturday, 19 November 2016

Europe diary 2016: Luxembourg- a city on the UNESCO world heritage list


                              
                              

After leaving Paris my next destination was Luxembourg. It’s a beautiful city with lots of historic importance. It’s situated at the center of the triangle of trio cities- Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.  Luxembourg is situated amidst the deep gorges cut by the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. It bears significance of the medieval fortifications.

It’s very easily connected to Germany and Amsterdam. It’s a land of various medieval castles. It’s got one of the best and costliest shoes in Europe. The average cost starts from 500Euros and end at about 5000 Euros.

                   

We were at Kirchberg observing the various shops of varies interest. It’s a small city with a population of around 10 million. The canals and the sight in and around was truly breathtaking.  There is not much of night life here except that a few take away eateries and restaurants to feed a  tourists appetite.  After bring in a big metro city like Paris this is not the kind you will appreciate a lot except the rich culture it sports. There is no military in this country.

   
A mind boggling and peaceful city 


There are various road side painters whose art of work was truly marvelous. I was having my cup of coffee and observing the beautiful art portrayed by his brush.

Mention worthy is the vianden castle which is about 50 kilometers form the Luxembourg city. Upon an entry to the casements du block it will give a nice panoramic view of the city.
We passed by the National museum of history and art building.

     
A shoe shop 

A small but beautiful city is Luxembourg. We spent out night at Novotel hotel. The next day we were off to Germany. The bus route seems to be easy and accessible too.





















Sunday, 2 October 2016

Europe diary 2016: Visiting Reims -the champagne capital of the world

Highway leading to Reims, France 

                           

It was about time that we leave Paris for another country of immense beauty. We headed towards Reims situated in the Northeastern side of Paris and known as the champagne capital of the world.  A beautiful city which dates back its presence in the  12th century, a city with all modern amenities  of  life a perfect blend of  culture and business. The buildings were   quite old and bear the testimony of medieval architecture.


Walk way near the church




Cathedral, Reims











                             



We saw the oldest church of the city which was constructed in the 12th century. The inside of the church was captivating and we felt a certain charm under the roof of the church. It’s a small city with a population of 1.87 million. Whenever war hit a place, several destructions occurred and Reims is one such example.  Anyway Reims takes the pride to be the desired venue of French coronation for years. The cathedral has been listed as one of the heritage sights rated by UNESCO.

Process of champagne fermentation



The best part of the city is the champagne growing region. Known for the best champagnes of the world, Reims is the most visited place meant for champagne lovers. Reims played a prominent role in the French monarchial history. The very first sight of the cathedral was truly a great impression. The guide told us that it was destroyed during World War I by the Germans which were again re-established.  
                         
Fountain on the roads of Reims



We passed by the town hall of the city. You may find various hotels for stay and restaurants where you can enjoy traditional French food. The champagne yard was a bit far and it takes 43 euros per person to plan a trip in the champagne valley just to have a look at the champagne growing process. An overnight stay in the grape vineyards will cost you 150 euros per person.


                            
Town Hall of Reims, France.
                     
We were running out of time else a trip to the champagne growing region would have been really great.  There are certain package tours where you may opt to visit 4-5 champagne growers of the region and could taste at least 15 types of the drink. 

Champagne has an interesting history. Wine produced from selected grapes was favorite drink of The French and some Englishmen. Now For Dom Perignon and his contemporaries wine was not the desired end product but they preferred sparkling wine. The bubbles in wine became a natural process.  The fermentation takes place in bottles and creates carbon dioxide which then forces out due to pressure. Now the weak bottles were replaced by strong glass bottles and closed them with the help of Spanish cork. Dom Perignon dies in 1715 but his 47 years of experience as cellar master led the basic principles of champagne making today. After 1800 the sparkling wine industry or champagne was established in a wider way.
The bottle of champagne starts from minimum 250 euros and can end up to 5000 euros.  I managed to collect some photos from some friends who were lucky enough to visit the place. Sight of the champagne valley looks no lesser than a fairy tale landscape and those houses looks like
I might have seen them in some movies.  The lush green vineyards were a soothing sight.
I left this lovely place for Germany. Was looking towards another opportunity to discover the mighty structures and hospitality offered as well as to take home some of the world class champagne gown by this region.



Friday, 23 September 2016

Europe diary 2016: The glitz and glamour of the city at night



                         
A great place for shoppers



Attractive souvenirs and attractive prices



The next day we left hotel a bit late. We were told that we will be going for a late evening tour. We were busy shopping the whole day. Paris is a great place to be a window shopper as well as a serious one. The street surrounding the famous Louvre museum is famous for street shopping. You may get various economic souvenirs like – key chain, paper weight, T shirts, aprons, hats, fridge magnets and many more. The cost of souvenirs range from 1 euro to 50 euros. We purchased perfumes from the nearby shops. 

        
Moulin rogue- the great cabaret!


We had a great cruise along the river Seine and then visited famous spots, had good photo session and then were off to see some famous entertainment junctions of the city. Moulin rouge was mention worthy. Whoever comes to Paris should see the performance of this famous cabaret. The tickets are available online.  Moulin rouge and Lido show are known for erotic dance that are truly entertaining and enticing. Audiences are kept glued to their seats by the fascinating performance of the dancers. Yes, Paris is a great prospective place for sex workers from all over the world. But East European girls constitute the majority in number. Starting from 110 euros the ticket may escalate price during weekends. We saw various shops of sex toys. It’s the fantasy of an adult individual and a paradise for a newly married couple. If you want to have the best honeymoon experience then Paris is the right place to frame those precious moments.


                        





It was almost dusky when we were taken in our coach and went for touring the city. The evening sight of Louvre was great. The pyramids were dazzling and the place was looking truly superb. A beauty was quite incomparable.  The fountains and the street lamps were dazzling and it resembled nothing but an avalanche of heavenly lights.

                 

   
The champ’s elysses was looking marvelous with series of smaller lights which flooded the area. This sight was not unknown to me as I saw it earlier in many Paris based movies. I remembered “Julie and Julia”. We took photographs for a lifelong remembrance.

                                      

Lastly we were taken to see the beauty of Eiffel tower. Every day from 10pm to 10:05 pm the tower is illuminated with sparkling lights which mesmerizes the audience momentarily.  We were busy settling places near the tower where hundreds of spectators gathered to get the sight of the coveted beauty of modern technology. We were all ready with cameras and mobile phones. As the sparkling if the light started all were ready to record the precious moment. I took the video of my lifetime and prepared to preserve it so that I may show it to my grandchildren in future. 

                      




https://web.facebook.com/100009244142395/videos/1663552617296194/



In one word Paris is a magical city that has accepted various races, various cultures and various people. It is the epitome of modernity as well as a great evidence of glorious history. It has seen revolution yet is one of the most disciplined and organized nations of the world. It has absorbed people for livelihood and possesses threat every moment and fears any unforeseen terror attack. It has great entertainment to offer as well as the best place known to worshippers.  In one word, I became a bit matured after I visited this great place of the once powerful French monarchs. I will cherish each and every moment spent in this beautiful land. The best moments were recorded in my memory like a slideshow.



Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Europe diary 2016: Glimpse of the French history!


Situated 12 miles to the southwest of the city of Paris is Versailles, a wealthy suburb which was the seat of political power of the French Monarch. Started being built in the 11th century the palace of Versailles or chateau de Versailles was the symbol of power and flamboyance. It took us exactly half an hour to reach Versailles from the city heart. Paris is now becoming known for traffic congestion in day hours as the city experiences increase in population due to migration from  all over the world.

              
Entrance to the Palace


We were quite excited to view the masterpiece of architecture and the place of the once ill famous monarchs who turned the minds and sympathy away from the common men who didn’t have enough bread to feed their hungry mouths.  Throughout the journey our guide enlightened us with the stories of French revolution and some colloquial stories and it aroused our interest level a lot. 15 euros was the entry price to this palace and no charges for children below the age of eighteen. We enjoyed Wi-Fi services inside the palace. No  photo freak will ever  miss a chance to delay a beautiful post in the royal palace with such a beautiful amenity of communication technology today -such precious is technology.

    
Before the ticket office


The very first view of the palace was an enormous land with gothic style architecture tombs and vast cascades with golden colored tombs. The entire land of France claims to have gold plaited tomb structure thereby dictating the pomp and grandeur of the once luxurious monarchs. We were given an audio guide which let us understood the various living units of the palace. King Louis XIV built this in the medieval period ensured that it should contain all means of entertainment and also reflect contemporary science that was prominent from the unique technology in the opera area. The pressurized fountain was a reflection of  art and technology as well.

                          
Some belongings of the kings

As I followed the audio guide it was speaking about the habits and lifestyle of the monarch who believed in centralized ruling and much of the land in the area was meant for animal grazing. People like administrators and officers who were not meant to stay in the royal palace used to stay in their residences outside. The favorite men of the king used to make it a ceremony when he used to wake up (lever) and go to sleep (coucher). The king’s bedroom was the nucleus of the Palace. He used to shift bedroom in winter and summer depending on the comfort of sunlight.  It was heard that his subjects used to be invited in the palace as a symbol of show off and grandeur but never ever invited for a meal.

  
Royal chandeliers- unspoken words on fame ad glory


When there was dearth of bread and the subjects died of hunger, the subjects approached the queen expecting a note of mercy and understanding but she uttered the word “ Let them eat cake” made her quite ill famous which propelled the subjects to force enter the palace and take the guards at their control.

  
Galleries in the Versailles Palace

My analysis was that the world never forgives indifference of a king or leader towards the commoner. There has to be a revolt. The rule is a truth even today.


   
Jardin de la chateau ( Royal garden)

The jar din de la chateau or the garden is a beautifully maintained place till day to hang around and photograph.

   
Bastille fort- reminds of the fort the once stood tall



Place de la bastille: The July column or the place de la bastille stands at a place where the bastille fort once used to be.  Storming of the bastille took place on 14th July 1789 where all the royals were taken into house arrest and then turned into prisoners and had their head chopped off in the famous guillotine. Marie Antoinette and King Louis XIV were one of the first heads to be sacrificed.
The entire city speaks of history and the monuments speak a lot of the glorious past. I felt that the day was spent amidst history and I went back through a time machine with a bit of imagination what used to be the lifestyle of the monarch and the chapters of history flashed before my eyes.