Saturday, December 30, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Brussels was the the essential surprise in this trip. I had no plans to go to Belgium and reached there as I skipped Italy, and a friend, to go to Paris and was on my way to Amsterdam. Brussels came on the intinerary cause it also was home to one of our 'sardar' (A Sikh and a leader: pun intended) friends. So I reached Brussles at about 4 pm and was most affectionately received by him at Brussels Nord. I was seeing him after 10 years.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
I took the bus from Brussles, a Eurolines ride, for Euro 16 for Amsterdam and was in Amsterdam by 6 pm. It was overcast and cold and waiting for a while at Amstel Bus stop, I was sure of being mugged. Not cause of anything that happened to me in The Netherlands but rather more because of my middle class insecure upbringing. The middle class dictum goes that, if you are scared of being mugged, you will be but I tried to rationalise my fears with my experiences and managed to mock myself. It was cold, already dark and I had two bags with which I was waiting for what seemed like an eternity. I tried to make a call to my friend but I couldn't fit into the phone booth with both my bags and worse, I didnt know how to operate the phones with the Euro coins I had. Later that night I visited the Red light district in Amsterdam. Amsterdam as a city grew up not by royal decree or someone's imagination but rather as a port town and the unplanned origins of the city are reflected in the hooks that all Amsterdam houses have on top center of the building. The red light district is situation in/near China Town(the Chinese are everywhere), and like most of Netherlands is crisscrossed by a number of canals. It was quiet a nice experience except for my indisciplined bladder which need two evacuations during the outing, total cost 1 Euro, that is about 56 Indian Rupees. The next morning I cycled around Amsterdam with my friends and visited the Van Gogh Museam, definately the high point of my visit despite the steep Euro 10 entry fee. My relation with high art has always been suspect and I am more like an animal circum-ambulating around theatre, philosophy,paintings, dance forms and other such high arts. But Van Gogh for me has been humanised as a fellow human being rather than an artist by John Irving's biography called Lust for Life and a few other secondary readings about other contemporary painters like Paul Gaugin which mentioned Van Gogh. But it was the power of Irving's prose which provided me an entry into Van Gogh's life, times and more importantly his work. It took me a whole three hours to get past the three floors that the museam held and its a must visit for even the most philistine of you.
Back to the point, the pictures below are from the town of Dodretch, in the province of Holland. An important clarification, Holland is merely a province in Netherlands! I bet a lot of you didnt know that, nor did I. After Amsterdam I made my way to Leiden where a dear friend is studying. The visit to Dodretch was part of a class excursion his group was going to and so I joined them. After a refreshing class of the history of Dutch Archives at Dodretch, we had a guided tour of the quaint, small and classically Dutch town. The weather was mostly close to brilliant that day with beautiful sky and great sunshine, yet, we had moments of doubts when they would suddenly become overcast and a small patter of rain gently had us running for cover.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Paris overwhelmed me. I was actively suffering. The previous days in Geneva, I was vainly asserting that in Paris, I would have a bottle of wine in one hand and a French chick on the other loafing through the cobbled Paris streets. Alas, life is not what we imagine or what we wish, life is what we make of it. So what did I make of it? I reached Paris about 1 pm by train from Geneva, an exorbitantly expensive ride, first class and reserved. As soon as I reached I took my onward ticket to Brussles for the next day. I had merely 24 hours in Paris. I ate at an 'Indian' resturant in La Chappele, largely a Sri Lankan Tamil area, where pictures of LTTE maniac Prabhakaran adorned their walls, the maps of Sri Lanka only showed the Tamil areas, I changed money and took the metro to Eiffel Tower. And then I crossed over to the Eiffel Tower side of the river Seine and walked till I crossed over to the Concorde Square in front of the Louvre and then reached Champs Elyesse and closed it with a picture outside Moulin Rouge, slept very well in a room with four people. The next morning I took found the Eurolines Bus stop in Galleni and made my way North to Brussles.
Saturday, December 2, 2006
This is Heidelberg too. The first picture is the sunset over the river Necker that divides old Heidelberg from what I assume is the new town. It is a beautiful small town in what is called the Rhine-Necker Valley. The most gorgeous natural landscape in Germany was my route to Heldelberg when I boarded the train at Muenster and changed three trains. The last two pictures are from old Heidelberg. The clear blue sky, the lovely sun light and the open air cafes, breathtaking!