Posted in Travel Photo Challenge, Travellogue

Travel photo challenge 4

Sky ablaze

Such beauty exists in this world, you just have to find your way !!! Another day another travel photo . What a glorious Sun Rise, it is these kind of surprises that I love about travelling.

#coronatimes #harrypotterstudio #India #Kumbakonam #kaapi #prague #travel photo challenge #holidays #quarantinetimes #travel #traveltribe #temples #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #flåmbana #travelblog #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #travel blog #bergen #modalen #mobrygga #travel #traveltribe #travelmemoirs #amsterdam #overtourism Amsterdam architecture art autumn blogging booklovers books challenge childfree christmas citybreaks citytrips culture English countryside germany glenfinnan viiaduct harrypotterbridge India interrail interrailing isleofskye Paris photography portree roadtrip scotland soliloquy train travel travel travelblog traveltime traveltribe trips trips.south India UNESCO heritage site wanderlust

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Rain, Mist and Scotland !!!

In these times of pandemonium and chaos, it is sometimes difficult to find a bit of calm, respite from the uncertainty. It is time to reminiscence, and indulge in enjoyable events of the past, bask in their glory. I am thinking of our wonderful time at Isle of Skye in September last year.

I was looking for a time away from my daily monotony, a time away from my work from home desk, a time out in to the nature, perhaps a sensory challenge. Nature and woods with its multitude of sights and sounds changing with the season, has a way of drawing me out of the slumber. We do go out on nature trails and walks, a way of getting fresh air, a bit of outdoors. It was that mellow time of the year, before the onset of winter and darker evenings, when the leaves and trees are a range of colors, there is an all round glow of yellow and oranges, the leaves breaking away gently from the trees, carried away by autumn breeze and finally findings its way to the earth, the gentle swishing the boots make over the russets and pinks on the ground, now and then there is a thud of a conker landing on to the ground, and there is a hint of tranquility hanging about in the air. Its hard not to yearn for the outside. We have had our days out in nature earlier in the Summer by way of picnics in the woodlands. Perhaps the heart desired a bit of more.

Continue reading “Rain, Mist and Scotland !!!”
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Travel Photo Challenge 3

Day 3 of Travel Photo Challenge. No captions, no explanations.

Abirbhav of https://theunclicheophile.com/ has graciously accepted to participate in the challenge. Thank you so much for that. Looking forward to seeing his photos, he has an unique perspective.

#coronatimes #harrypotterstudio #India #Kumbakonam #kaapi #prague #travel photo challenge #holidays #quarantinetimes #travel #traveltribe #temples #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #flåmbana #travelblog #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #travel blog #bergen #modalen #mobrygga #travel #traveltribe #travelmemoirs #amsterdam #overtourism Amsterdam architecture art autumn blogging booklovers books challenge childfree christmas citybreaks citytrips culture English countryside germany glenfinnan viiaduct harrypotterbridge India interrail interrailing isleofskye Paris photography portree roadtrip scotland soliloquy train travel travel travelblog traveltime traveltribe trips trips.south India UNESCO heritage site wanderlust

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Travel Photo Challenge 1

Thank you Amanda of https://seachange.home.blog/ for nominating me for the challenge. Here is the first day photo, with no captions no explanations.

I will try and nominate others as I go along.

https://seachange.home.blog/

Sunrise

#coronatimes #harrypotterstudio #India #Kumbakonam #kaapi #prague #travel photo challenge #holidays #quarantinetimes #travel #traveltribe #temples #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #flåmbana #travelblog #travel #traveltribe #travel-memoirs #norway #scenic-train #flåmrails #flam #travel blog #bergen #modalen #mobrygga #travel #traveltribe #travelmemoirs #amsterdam #overtourism Amsterdam architecture art autumn blogging booklovers books challenge childfree christmas citybreaks citytrips culture English countryside germany glenfinnan viiaduct harrypotterbridge India interrail interrailing isleofskye Paris photography portree roadtrip scotland soliloquy train travel travel travelblog traveltime traveltribe trips trips.south India UNESCO heritage site wanderlust

Posted in Travellogue

Winterrailing

Winter is one of my favourite seasons to travel. The festivities , the lights, meandering through Christmas markets aimlessly, wrapped up in warm coats and hats, with smell of melting chocolate and hot cocoa wafting around, fills my heart with warmth and longing. The perfect cure for this is to embark on a journey and if the journey involves a few train travels, it renders the journey magical. I am sharing some of my favourite markets from this years Interrailing trip.

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Experiencing Bergen!!!

Beautiful Bergen with its colourful wooden houses, vast emerald green coastline, mountains and fjords, made me fall in love with it instantly. It is often called the Gateway to Fjords , it is the second largest city of Norway, is also the European city of culture. It is surrounded by seven mountains and hence is sometimes referred as a city between mountains.

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A ride on the Scenic Flåm Rails

I have not written much on the blog for a while partly because I have been bitten by the Netflix and binge watching bug and the rest is due to me just being listless. It’s not particularly uncharacteristic of me slipping in to an ennui now and then, often it leads to a bit of reflecting and pondering. I often find such times far too comfortable and retreat in my cosy cocoon of solitude. It’s here that books, blogging and travelling often help me shake out of my slumber and remind me that it’s a beautiful world out there to be experienced. In England it is that lovely season of Autumn, when the warmth of Sun on your skin feels like a sweet dollop of honey on a warm toast, the Sun rise and set paints the morning and evening skies in spectacular colours, trees with their leaves in beautiful shade of russets, yellows and pinks, and gentle sway of falling leaves on to the ground look magical , I believe it is Mother Nature tenderly nudging me out of the boredom reminding that there is more to life than the binge watching and being glued to screen. Autumn is a season when we travel a bit more.

Continue reading “A ride on the Scenic Flåm Rails”
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Amsterdam..

August this year, we travelled to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.The city famous for its beautiful canals, liberalism, coffee shops, red light area and cheese. This was a much anticipated trip as I had been wanting to take the Eurostar to Amsterdam from London, for a very long time. Also given that it is the 25 th year of Eurostar, as a train enthusiast I was super excited to have picnic on the train to celebrate. With a packed picnic bag, I arrived at the St Pancras station a bit tired as I had been overzealous in preparation of the picnic. But all was well once we boarded the train and I was calm and joyful. As soon as the train rolled out of St Pancras Station. like a child, I kept asking my husband every five minutes “ Shall we eat now?”. I am still not sure what was I more excited about the picnic on the train or the train ride.

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John Rylands Library

Manchester has become one of my favourite cities in England. I visited Manchester first time in March this year. I have been to the city three times since then. This is also attributable to cricket mania which had engulfed our home for the last one month. The city has managed to capture my attention with its industrial heritage, which was once upon a time known as Cottonopolis and played a pivotal role in the industrial revolution. I would like to explore the city more. I have so far only been able to explore the Science and industry museum and The John Rylands Library.

Manchester has earned the title of UNESCOs city of literature. It is home to four world class libraries Central, Portico, John Rylands and Chetham’s and gave the world the works of Elizabeth Gaskell. I have a predilection for books and libraries, and invariably I have a tendency to gravitate to a library or a bookstore.On all three occasions I have visited Manchester, it happened to be a Sunday, and John Rylands library is the only library open on Sundays. So my choice of library was easily made. Having visited John Rylands Library once, I wanted to revisit on the next occasion. I found John Rylands library a subliminal experience. It tells a tale ; a story of books, a city and a library

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Stargazing in a Shepherd’s Hut

Spring is very stunning in United Kingdom. I love the burst of colours on the road side, the chorus melodies of the birds in the morning, the gentle breeze of the spring swaying the buds and flowers, bumblebees and butterflies in the garden. It is the season for picnics, garden parties and outings to the beach. Spring is also considered as a great time for star gazing.

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Posted in Musings, Travellogue

My Journey to India !!!!

In the month of March I had travelled to India after a gap of two years. In this post I am going to share some of the photographs and anecdotes from the trip and from my memories. I am not sure if these are very touristy, but they most certainly have a nostalgic value for me. India is a vast country, with diverse natural beauty, food, culture and architecture, with lots of history. I have often seen photos and write ups about India in magazines and travel videos, I have never been able to relate to them. I understand that, living in a place and experiencing it , is completely different to visiting a place as a tourist, the perspective is completely different. We see what we seek, perhaps I am seeking something different. This time like every time around when I am back in India, I went seeking the place that I grew up in, the one which is in my heart and mind, like the courtyard where I have played hide and seek with my cousins. the mango tree at my maternal grandparents house that I have climbed up and jumped down from, the garden that I have sat with my mother and aunts, while they sunned the pickles,stringing the jasmine and other flowers in to garlands, their hands deftly garlanding the flowers while gossiping away to glory, the temple courtyards where I would occasionally see peacocks and elephants. sleeping on the terrace gazing at the starry night and falling asleep and waking up to an orange sky with the Sun about to rise, looking at tiled orange roof tops from the terrace of my paternal grandmother s home, then to lie down flat on the hot surface of the terrace, peering down the small sun roof in to the kitchen watching my grandmother and mother stirring the pots , clanging the vessels, cutting vegetables, and garnishing,which often reminded me of symphony. Why? Because they would always move in perfect sync with each other, if my mother added tomatoes, my grandmother would add salt, one would add coriander, the other would add turmeric . Believe me I could never function that way, there would be all round chaos in the kitchen, followed by a serious meltdown. I firmly believe in too many cooks spoil the broth, but apparently it did not hold true for them. I love to walk back in the memory lane, trying to conjure up the past from my memories, with the present colliding with it and creating a mishmash of new memories.

Continue reading “My Journey to India !!!!”
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Temple at Gangaikonda Chozhapuram

Last month I had travelled to India, for a bit of family fun ,catching up with some good old friends and a bit of sightseeing . Travelling in India for me is full of nostalgia and fun, yet extremely overwhelming and exhausting. It is never a leisure trip. Having been born and raised in India, my  formative years were spent in India. I have many memories associated with India, some good and some not so good. I often think of life as a series of experiences and memories,  like a large beautiful painting  made with  different splashes of colours and Brush strokes. Some strokes are crisscross, some not very clear, and then there  are smudges of paints,  some are vibrant and  some a bit dark, but together they make a beautiful painting, without these colours and  strokes, the canvass would be blank. So a trip to India is always a walk back in to the memory lane for me, with many fond memories and some not so fond ones and making some new memories on the way. It is a very emotional journey for me and I usually find myself in a perpetual state of frenzy with fraught emotions. I heavily rely on a set of friends for emotional support while I am in India. And on our way back home, I usually find myself saying to my husband , in a very crestfallen voice, ‘I need a holiday !!!!’  I love the country that I was born in and raised, but the country that I go to now, is alien to me. I have this  place in my memory, which used to be my home, and then there is this place that I am visiting now, very different to my memory. I have changed as a person and the place that I am visiting now has changed. I am a person who has  a birth country and home Country.  I belong to both cultures, but in heart now  I am a Londoner. Home to me means, London, I need my Victoria Sponge Cake or a Sticky Toffee pudding to perk up my spirits, Mind the Gap on a tube station is  music to my ears, to be able to bolt to a museum as soon as I feel like is a fact I love, when I am away, I start missing the grey overcast sky of London . I love the fact that I am part of a city which is a multi cultural melting pot. When I feel like having a Masala Chai I could head in to any Curry house or head to East Ham for a Idli or head to Leicester Square for a steamed dumpling, or head to Turkish Street for a Turkish Tea and Biscuits.

“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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One Winter Weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen !!!!!

The first time I heard about Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was when I was trying to find the train route to travel from Munich to Innsbruck,during our Interrailing trip last December. Munich to Innsbruck via Garmisch-Partenkirchen is considered to be one of the panoramic routes, although it not the quickest route. On that particular trip we decided to skip the scenic route and take the quickest route. We usually prefer travelling somewhere in February, and this year we thought we will visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen as part of our February travel tradition.

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Interrailing in Europe- 2

Hopping on and hopping off trains, traipsing through Christmas markets, Interrailing has been so much more than amusing. We checked out of the hotel, after a hearty and leisurely breakfast.We wheeled in our luggage to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, boarded a train, bidding adieu to Frankfurt. We settled in to our reserved seats on Deutsche Bahn train to Nuremberg, our next destination. I updated our Interrail pass with the current travel itinerary. The train started to roll out of the platform, moving swiftly out of the station and the city. The train chugged along, the coach was absolutely quiet, with no noise not the even usual white noise , except the rhythmic sound of train chugging along,which to me sounds like a mother singing a lullaby to her baby, gently rocking her to sleep. The peace and quiet of the car, with the rolling meadows and countryside outside the window of the train, put us in to a sweet slumber, and both of us dozed off, me happily resting my head on my husbands shoulders and he resting his head on top of my head. We woke up to a commotion and chatter when a few more passenger boarded in at the next station. It was a crisp bright winter afternoon, with blue skies when train pulled in to Nuremberg. We walked in to the hotel. We were greeted by a very warm and friendly staff at the reception who gave us a lot of insight on the city, a map of the city and also told us about the famous Lebkuchen of Nuremberg. It’s a bit like gingerbread but not in its entirety. Nuremberg is the second largest city of Bavaria. It’s known for bratwurst /sausages, Lebkuchen, toys and Christkind Market/ Christmas market. The city is known for its infamous Nazi rallies. After the war, trials against German officials ,were held in Nuremberg, called the Nuremberg Trials. The Christmas market of this city is amongst one of the oldest known markets, is almost 400 years old. I had heard a lot about the Nuremberg Christmas market. Two years back, returning back from a Christmas market trip while I was waiting for my luggage to arrive , at London Heathrow Airport, is when I heard about Nuremberg Christmas market. It was from a fellow traveler standing next to me, while waiting for luggage, as we started exchanging our travel stories in order to kill the time. He was returning from a Christmas market trip, but unlike us he had been on a River cruise. He thought Nuremberg Christmas market was the best market he had seen on his trip. Since then I haven been looking up information and reading about Nuremberg . The market in Nuremberg is very traditional, the stalls at the market sell the best traditional handmade Christmas decorations, there are no plastic decorations sold at this market. And now I was very excited to be at Nuernberg.

We walked towards the market, feeling extremely hungry. We discovered an Indian restaurant called Sangam on the way and we stopped over and enjoyed the delicious food. The Christkindlmarkt market did live up to its name, it is indeed one of the best markets I have visited, very traditional and beautiful. It is held at the main market square. The iconic landmark of Nuremberg Christmas market , golden angel is easy to spot and is everywhere, in the lights, the tree decorations, handmade curios. It follows a tradition of Chris kind/ Christ child , handing out gifts to children. The Christ child, at this market is a girl with golden hair and not baby Jesus. Every two year a girl with golden hair from the city is chosen to be Christkind, who would walk around the markets and handover gifts to little ones. We walked around in the market, looking out for the Christkind, but no luck of spotting her. We walked back to towards the hotel, talking about our eventful day and thinking about how wonderful it was to watch a sunrise in one city and sun set in another.

The next day we planned to visit Munich, the capital and largest city of Bavaria. We booked a late afternoon guided walking tour of Christmas Markets at Munich. We had a easy start of the day, beginning with a leisurely breakfast. There is something revitalising to start a day in an unhurried way, sitting and having a conversation, contemplating and simply being in the moment. After the breakfast, we went to the Handwerkerhof/Handycrafts market near the station. It’s a medieval shopping area, withal collection of little shops selling locally hand made items. The items are priced on the higher side, given that they are handmade and unique. I particularly liked a cook shop selling carved rolling pins. After a bit of stroll and wandering around in the market, and we walked to Nuernberg Hauptbahnhof to board a train to Munich. It was a pleasant journey of an hour in to Munich Main station. On reaching the Munich station, we had a lunch at the station which was pretzel and Minestrone soup. There are plenty of options to eat at station. We then walked over to place we were meeting our Guide for the tour. The tour begins at the station, takes you through the oldest Christmas Market at Marienplatz, Sendlinger Market, then with a 10 minutes stop at Christmas village at Munich Residence and the tour ending at Medieval market. The tour was informative, giving you the history of the markets and it also gives you a fair idea of different market, and you can explore further on your own, based on your liking. The tour was two hours and we booked it from viator. We liked the Marianplatz market, and on the way we noticed a St Michaels Church with beautiful murals on the walk, we were interested in visiting it. We were feeling peckish, so we stopped over at an Italian cafe/bistro.. We had the most delicious Pinza, which is sort of flatbread with sauce and topping, but not big as a pizza. I had not heard of a Pinza before this visit, and I really loved the taste and portion size of it. I would so love to try Pinza again. After a Pinza, I was looking at some cannoli filled with sugar, when the waiter who looked at me watching the cannoli wistfully, suggested a profiterole, as the cannoli would be too sweet. The profiteroles were simply divine and I am ever so grateful to the waiter, who had recommended both the Pinza and Profiterols. It was such a warm and welcoming cafe, and I am so upset with myself for forgetting the name of the restaurant . But I will always remember the place in Munich where I tried Pinza for the first time. We walked around the beautiful Marianplatz Christmas Market, visited the St Micheal s Church, and spent a memorable day at Munich. We headed back later in the night from a dazzling Munich to Nuremberg. We were back in Nuremberg in one hour and in to our hotel, resting our heads in warm beds and giving our our aching feet a good rest and a nights sleep.

The next day s itinerary was a day trip,to Regensburg. We started the day with the same leisurely pace as the previous day and reached the main station. We boarded the train to Regensburg, a heritage town on the banks of Danube. Our first visit was to the Thurn and Taxis Christmas market. It is considered to be the romantic Christmas market. The Christmas market is in the grounds of the castle. I think it would look more Romantic in the lights and in the evening than in the natural day light. We walked out of the market by lunch time, and headed out in to the old town. It was raining, and the aldstadt looked very pretty, with it’s beautiful cobbled alleyways glistening in the rain. It was a cold winters day and with the rain pouring down, it made it even more chilly. We wanted a bit of warmth and respite from cold and rain. We went into a coffee shop called Hemingway. It’s a nice restaurant/coffee shop with friendly staff. We ordered some soup, fries and coffee. I was curious to find out if there was any anecdotes of Hemingway having visited the place and hence the restaurant acquired its name, but I could not find any. The food and the place warmed us up enough, we walked out of the restaurant, nicely wrapped up in hats ,scarves and coats. Regensburg, a heritage town, has preserved it s medieval town centre, in spite of having been heavily bombed by the Allies during the World War II. The town wanting to preserve its Medieval site, went through a slow rebuilding process and managed to save it Medieval sites not having been torn down. It managed to earn its UNESCO heritage sites. Such stories interest me, and are very dear to me, being a history buff and also as a person originating from a country with rich and long cultural heritage. My personal favourite in Regensburg were the St Peter s Cathedral or Dom,a perfect example of German Gothic architecture and the 12th century stone bridge on the River Danube to take you to other side of town. A walk around the old town centre, and crossing the 12th century stone bridge, makes you think of all the history, the past the town has had, countless lives that have trodden on the same paths, that we walk today, lived and breathed various emotions, how their lives was different than ours, yet had a similar pattern.

“ Our greatest glory is not in falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Confuscious.

We returned back to Nuernberg, late in the evening. We made our reservation for our train next day to our next destination, which was to Innsbruck.

The next day, another day of a lovely leisurely start of the day, after a good breakfast, we went to visit the toy museum at Nuremberg. It takes you on a tour of evolution of toys over the years and how toy industry was a great part of Nuremberg. The museum also demonstrated use of toys, as a tool in defining social norms to young minds, for instance, use of toy soldiers and trains for boys and dolls and doll houses for girls. As a child I did want a doll house, and all the different doll houses reminded me of my childhood desire and my husband was reminded of wanting to become a train driver and wanting a room to build a model Railway set. We both still would like to fulfil our childhood desire, me having a doll house and my husband building a Model Railway town. I am not sure, how deeply it’s driven by the societal norms and boxing, I leave the thought percolating for now.

We had a lovely stay in Germany so far, enjoyed every moment of interrailing with Deutsche Bahn. It’s a pleasure travelling in Deutsche Bahn, the staff always very polite and friendly. We boarded the train at Nuremberg, bidding adieu to Germany, Deutsche Bahn and the train hurling us off to another city, taking us ahead on another journey.

“Travelling is more fun, hell life is more fun..if you treat it as a series of impulses.”- Bill Bryson

Oregon Girl Around the World



CulturedKids
Posted in Travellogue

Interrailing in Europe -1.

Often, when a year ends and a new year begins, one starts to think about the year gone by and wonder what the New Year has in store for you. I have been mulling over a quote by Socrates ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’. My mind incessantly ruminates over memories and on multitudes of cliches of life. Or should it be called the ‘Grand Philosophies of life’ as quoted on the serviettes of Eurostar. I personally would call it banalities of life, which in bigger scheme of life are considered inconsequential. But these small questions, often lead me on to a journey,making me loose myself in little joys of life and on to a road of self discovery.

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Rules of Happiness:something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.- Immanuel Kant

Is Interrailing a verb? That is what I have been mulling over for over a month.

I have an affinity towards train travel since my childhood days. And since our train travel a few years back using the Interrail pass in Germany. I have been wanting to go Interrailing again. And 2018, did give me the opportunity to explore the various Christmas markets of Europe. Leaving aside grammatical nitty-gritty Interrailing is the most beautiful way to get around in Europe. I simply love watching the world go by, through the window of a train , with the idyllic European countryside and the changing landscapes, it is like walking through an art gallery looking at different paintings/art. Once we decided the dates for the holiday, we ordered our Interrail pass. We ordered a 10 days pass, to be used within one month. There are various options available , but we chose this option as this fitted with in our travel needs. We chalked out the itinerary, the number of days stay at each place, and booked Hotels not very far from the railway stations. We travelled to 10 different cities, in 4 different countries. It was fabulous and magical. I could not fit it all in to one post so I have decided to split it in to parts. This post is first part of the journey.

We chose our first stop as Brussels. Eurostar is part of interrail pass, but it requires a reservation of a seat, in order for you to use the pass.I reserved seats, on a morning train, leaving from St Pancras reaching Brussels Midi in the afternoon. We decided to reach St Pancras slightly early.It would give us time to have a leisurely breakfast at the station before boarding the train. It’s such a perfect way to start the holiday. There are plenty of options to eat at Kings Cross and St Pancras. I enjoy planning, chalking out the itinerary and details as much as I enjoy travelling. When I was a kid, I would plan days ahead, what books and comics I would carry to read on the train, my mother would diligently pack snack pots for the travel, which she would neatly pack in a little bamboo basket and I always had a special request for my snack pots. I always thought, the snacks tasted even more yummier in the train rather than at home. We reached Brussels by afternoon. We reserved a seat on a train for our next destination for the next day. Before heading out to our Hotel, we had lunch at the station, which consisted of a slice of pizza and some ice cream. The Hotel was right across the station. We checked in to our hotel, and had a lovely wintery afternoon Nap, nicely tucked in to a cosy duvet. Power nap, Beauty sleep, siesta whatever you want to call it, is claimed to be good for you, especially if one has been working a bit of crazy hours and is slightly sleep deprived. By the time we woke up, it was drizzling, the roads were glistening in the rain and all the holiday lights were on. We gulped down a hot cup of coffee at the Hotel, wrapped ourselves in scarves, woolly hats and coats and walked out with a warm happy wintery glow on our face towards the Grand Palace. During the month of December, the Grand palace has a sound and light show at frequent intervals in the evenings. It’s a spectacle not to be missed, the Square comes alive with music and lights. Although I thought the music could have been a bit more cheerful. The Square itself dazzles with a large pine tree lit up, with buildings and shops around decorated in tinsels and lights. There are many more Christmas markets around the city, but we stayed in the Grand Palace area. We walked around a bit more around Grand Palace, later on had a hearty meal at one of the restaurants, then walked back to our hotel, by this time it was freezing cold and the rain was turning in to sleet.

Tiffany Christmas tree at St Pancras Christmas tree Brussels Grand Palace Grand Palace Light show Cite Centre Grand Palace Brussels

The next day we woke up to a view of a snow covered rail tracks and buildings, a light dusting of snow, which reminded me a dusting of sugar on a cake. We packed our bags, got ready, had our breakfast and checked out of the Hotel. We boarded the ICE train to Frankfurt, for which we had reserved tickets earlier. As soon as we board the train and take our seats, one of my tasks on this trip , is to update the travel itinerary on the Interrail pass. Any valid pass without the travel itinerary updated with the current journey on it, are invalid and chargeable with fine. The train ride was so calming and restorative, watching the serene snow covered terrain, makes you feel so tranquil.

We reached the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof/Main station, by afternoon. The station is very impressive architecturally, a neoclassical building , perhaps very similar to other stations constructed during that era. It is one of the busiest station of Germany, thronging with people from all walks of life. I was very impressed with the station, it had a buzz about it, architecturally, culturally and socially; a proper confluence of new age and by gone era. While Walking out of the the main building, at top of the building, I noticed a statue. I later found out that is the statue of Greek God Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, supported by two figures. The two figures are metaphoric representation of Iron and steam.

We checked in to the Hotel, a walking distance from the Hauptbahnhof, after having a lunch at Sarvana Bhavan, a vegetarian chain of restaurants with presence across the globe. It’s famous for its South Indian food variety. One of  the wishlist my husband is to visit all the Saravana Bhavan restaurants across the world. This helped him tick one of his list. We had a bit of rest in the room, planning the next days trip and watching dusk fall over the banks of River Main. We walked out of the room as the River Main started to sparkle and shimmer in the evening lights and brightening up the wintery evening.

We walked around the historic centre of the city, and sat in Coffee shop sipping our Cappuccino, watching the Christmas lights and market outside. Sometimes it’s a wonderful experience to observe the surrounding as an outsider, someone who is outside the perimeter, just an observer not a participant and let the boundaries dissolve gradually, you see the perimeter blurring, and you are no longer an observer but are part of a larger picture. People watching and observing especially during the holiday season has such a surreal and positive impact on me. I find laughters of little children and adults truly infectious. The surroundings and atmosphere are so vital and have such a profound impact on our psyche. I recently read on a Psychology site, if you surround yourself with positive experiences, thoughts and people, it helps in building your resilience. It helps build up physiological and psychological resources, which in turn helps in being more optimistic, steering you away from negativity and stress. One of the memorable sites, that day was watching the carousel going round and round, lit up with lights and happy faces , festive music blaring out aloud. You just start to join the merriment with a small tap of feet, ending up riding on the carousel, laughing out aloud and singing along the cheery songs. We walked back to our Hotel, giggling and laughing like little children

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof/Main Station

Christmas tree at Romerburg Frankfurt

The next day morning we had a scrumptious breakfast at Hotel, before heading out to the main Station. We wanted to visit Mainz, a historic town known for its medieval city centre and Gutenberg Printing press. I looked up the train timings on Interrailapp, and found out we did not require reservation for this travel. It’s situated at an half an hour journey by train from Frankfurt. Mainz is a city in the Rhineland, situated on banks River Rhine, where River Main meets River Rhine. Mainz Old town /Aldstadt is very pretty, with half timbered and coloured medieval houses and is even more attractive with Christmas lights, and markets. There is plenty to eat and drink. My personal favourite during this trip was Fruchtspieße or Fruit skewers. It is fresh fruits covered in chocolate on a skewer. There a wide variety of fruits, from Cherries, strawberries, grapes to pears and apples too. There are candied version of fruits too, but my personal favourite is with fresh fruits. It’s perfect to walk around munching on the chocolate covered juicy fruit or standing near a open fire bowl to get a bit warmth and give your feet a rest from the walking. We also visited the Mainz Cathedral, which is situated in the old market, and is not far from the Christmas market. The Cathedral referred as Dom , a red coloured building stands tall and is a beautiful backdrop to the market. It is very difficult not to want to wander towards it and walk in. The Dom is thousand years old, is made of sand stone, a Romansque style, with lots of statues and paintings , it is a bit dark inside, but nevertheless very beautiful. I would have loved to know more about it, but there was no literature inside the Church. I would recommend visiting the Church, if you are in Mainz.

Frankfurt Main station Mainz Christmas Tree

We stopped over for lunch at a place called Aposto, opposite to the the statute of Gutenberg , the man who started the Gutenberg press. It was also to give a rest to our aching limbs and to get the contact lenses out of my dry eyes to switch to comfort of glasses. The food was warm and delicious, the ambience was lovely, and staff welcoming. I had a tomato soup and garlic cheese rolls and my husband ordered a pizza. The pizza I must say was large, and I was glad I ordered a warm soup. After the lunch we were wondering where to head next, we decided on another city of Rhineland, which we visited on our earlier trip, and loved it. We boarded on a train from Mainz to Cologne.

Cologne, known for its Cathedral and for its Eau de Cologne, and has the tallest Christmas tree in Rhineland. And we loved the Angel Market/Engel Market of Cologne,when we visited last time and a friend had loved the photos of Engel Market from the last trip. All these reasons lured us back to Cologne. We walked out of the station in to the Cathedral. Personally, it’s my favourite Cathedral after the Rouen Cathedral. I love the Gothic architecture of the Cathedral and how the structure looms over the city with its presence and the market next the Cathedral is absolutely lovely and full of festive cheer. We went to the the famous 4711 shop, which sells the original Eau de Cologne/ Kolnisch Wasser or simply Water of Cologne. I remember when I was a little girl, when it was too hot in afternoons, my mother would rub Eau de Cologne on my temples, as a respite from heat. We walked around the Angel Christmas market, before heading back to the Christmas market next to the Cathedral. We stood under the tallest tree of the Rhineland, taking selfies and photos. It was time to head back to Frankfurt, to our Hotel

Under the Tallest Christmas tree of Rhineland

Cologne Hauptbahnhof/Mainstation

We took the train back to Frankfurt. In an hour we were back in Frankfurt main station. We stopped over at a coffee shop for a quick bite before heading back to the Hotel. We turned in for the day, reminiscing about the last few days full of fun, Christmas markets ,trains , train rides and train stations, and looking forward to more days of Interrailing, full of fun and adventure.

Interrailing in Europe is sure an amazing way to criss cross through Europe.

“Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is the train “- Charles Barkley

Fifi and Hop
CulturedKids
Posted in Travellogue

Amiens, a Journey

Reading was a favourite pass time of mine as a child.My childhood days were filled with wondrous tales and stories from across the world. Stories from a range of books fed the curiosity of a child with vivid imagination, introducing me to these fabulous places and people. Reading made  the stories in the book come to life , with beautiful words , making me travel with the pages to faraway lands, laden with mysteries and adventures. The Stories of Gods and Goddesses from Indian Mythologies, fantasies and magical tales from Arabian Nights, fairy tales from Russia, Enid Blyton’s Magic Far away series, adventure series of Famous five, comic books with stories of Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, Sci fi adventures of H G Wells and Jules Verne. I could travel any where I wanted, with a flick of a hand and a flip of a page. Those were the simple days, before the advent of phones and internet, where you had to use the power of your imagination to conjure up a place and travel with your mind as a child. One particular story I enjoyed very much as a child and as well as an adult , is ‘Around the world in 80 days’ by Jules Verne. The very first time I heard the story, was from my father, who narrated the story from his memory, and I remember being fascinated with words like circumnavigate and perplexed with the word wager and amazed by the fact you save a day travelling from East to West , Mr Fogg s Determination, and Passeportout s resourcefulness really inspired me.

“Did you know , Jules Verne lived the later part of his years in Amiens, and his house is open to public is not very far from Paris by train?” said my better half one day, while browsing through a random map on google maps on his phone. Browsing through google maps randomly, is a favourite pass time of my husband, he has a penchant for finding locations of inspiration for travel. I needed very little persuasion further on this for a petite trip to the French city, not very far from Paris.

Vinnie at 10th arrondisement

On a Friday night we boarded the Eurostar from St Pancras London, to Paris Gare Du Nord, for a late Autumn trip to Amiens. We stayed overnight in Paris, next morning we walked out of our Hotel in Paris, with our SNCF tickets in our hand, strolled around the streets of Paris, spotted the street art Vinnie at 10th arrondissement, which made me very happy. We grabbed some breakfast before boarding the train from Gare Du Nord, to Amiens, it took an hour to reach Amiens. The present structure of the station what we see was built after the World War II having been  destroyed during the War.

Gare D’Amiens

We dropped our luggage at the Hotel, which was right across the station. We had a quick bite to eat since it was already the lunch time, then we walked towards the Maison Du Jules-Verne. It’s a charming little museum, with English audio guides, and little leaflets in each room in English. There is an exhibition on his publisher, (Pierre Hetzel) too. The house is large, warm , and welcoming, with a tower at the very top. The house has been kept, as if the humble author has just walked out and would be back soon. When I walked around the house, I felt it exudes a warmth of a well lived house, full of love and tenderness. He lived in the house with his wife for 18 years , until his death. I particularly loved the spiral staircases in the middle of the house which takes you all the way up to the tower. The house is filled with furniture from the  era of the author, additionally it showcases the objects giving insights in to his work. His degree certificate can be seen framed and hung on the wall, and of course there is a photo of the novelist himself on the wall. The other objects of interest for me were the various maps, paper clippings which illustrated the travel plan of the book. If you are an admirer of Jules-Verne, like me then his house is definitely worth a visit. The house closes down in middle of October and reopens in April.

View of the house from street

Spiral staircase running all the way up to the tower

Amiens is also referred as the Little Venice of North. A walk along the River Somme on an autumnal morning , with its meandering canals, riverside restaurants and bistros, gorgeous colourful houses by the edge of the canal and you begin to understand, why the city may have acquired the title of Little Venice of North. I have not been to Venice, so I am not the best judge whether it is like Venice or not. But sitting by the canal, sipping coffee,under a canopy, watching swans and ducks floating on the canal, with  sound of bells of the Notre Dame Amiens peeling in the background, the quaint city feels ethereal, making you leave the cares of the world behind and just savour the moment you are in.

I was interested in visiting the Hortillonnage- floating market gardens. It is a floating market garden grown on the marshlands, and can only be accessed by boats. It is a preserved site around 300 hectares of marshland , capable of producing beautiful flora and fauna. The tour on the boat takes around 45 minutes, which are run at regular intervals. There are leaflets available in English, but the tour is in French. Although the guide on our boat, knew a bit of English, and pointed and explained to us some parts in English. It was extremely kind of him to do so and I really appreciated his efforts. At the beginning of the tour, it was mentioned to us at that the tour guide would speak in French. The Hortillonnages are small plots of lands, separated by canals, and accessible only by flat bottom boats. The water level is essential for the canals and to support the flora and fauna around. This water level is maintained by three locks around the canal. The gardener, called the Hortillon is in charge of maintenance of the banks of the canal, as the mud from canal has to retrieved and laid on the banks to keep the fragile banks intact. I quiet enjoyed the tour, it is so serene and secluded, far from the sounds of the city, and is tucked away between beautiful canals ,with vibrant colours and diverse birdlife.

Amiens is of course known for its Cathedral D’Amiens, with its magnificent gothic architecture, which is worth a visit. The quaint city has plenty of shops and also has a branch of Gallery Laffeyette, if you are interested in a bit of retail therapy.

I enjoyed dinner at Ristorante Del Arte. It is an Italian restaurant, situated not far from where we stayed. We did have the waitress attending to us , speak to us in English. Her English speaking skills were limited to as much as my French language skill are, which is not great. I wanted to order a vegetarian pasta, my husband very cleverly ordered a Margarita Pizza. I inquired in English, about the contents of my pasta and wanted to confirm it had no meat, and I managed to completely confuse her and she looked worried. I had to literally wrack my brains, and I managed to say in French.”Je voudrais des pâtes, pas de viande, pas de poisson” . She looked relieved and pointed at the menu a pasta dish, and said it was vegetarian contained no meat. The pasta arrived and it was very delicious. She came in to check later if everything was okay. I love such interactions with people during travel and that’s what makes travel a little bit more fun.

I often read on blogs disclosures being made on recommendations. It made me realise I often mention hotel and restaurant names and have not added any disclosures . I thought it is worth mentioning now, my blogs are usually anecdotal, they are my experiences, and I would like to think, they are almost like a story, a tale that happened to me on a travel. The hotels and restaurants I mention on my blog are part of the stories. Somewhere I have been, someplace I have stayed, eaten in and enjoyed and paid for myself. It is merely my recommendation. I would like to be the narrator, the catalyst, who makes you embark on a journey, your journey, explore what you love, find out what you like. It is the human connection that interests me. You my dear reader, are what I am interested in. If with my blog I am able to connect to you, I am able to take you along my journey with my words, make you wonder, Hmmm.. would I do that?, shall I go there?. That connection would make me happy.

Jules Verne who wrote Around the World in 80 days in late 1800, inspired a woman in 21st century , to take the train to Paris and then to Amiens, experience a wonderful walk and a lunch on the Riverside, a delicious dinner at Del Arte, admire the Street art on 10th arrondissement , Paris and many more experiences. A man in born in France in 19th century, long dead, managed to form a connection with a little girl in 20th century, in a far away land, a land where he never stepped a foot on, at different times., yet with his stories he managed to amuse her. To me that’s a marvellous journey. Would you like to embark on a journey of your own ?
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year..

Le coin des Bobby

There is something magical about Christmas. Call me a romantic or dreamer , I love Christmas, every little drama associated with it. I like the Christmas movies, streets festooned with decorations and light, high streets and shops decked with twinkly Christmas lights, mad rush in the shops, Christmas fair and Markets. I wait with anticipation for the Regents street and Oxford Street lights to be switched on . When I walk back home in the evenings in to our street looking up at all the homes  decked and lit up , windows with  warm glow  of lights, lovely Christmas Wreaths, I feel a sense of elation.

Having grown up in India, where Diwali is celebrated with more pomp and show, my exposure to Christmas was very limited and probably only limited to what you see on movies.  When I moved to London, it was Autumn, and just about when the…

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It’s that time of the year again !!!

Reminiscing last years Christmas market !!!!!!!

Le coin des Bobby

It’s the that time of the year , after Christmas and the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, wondering about the year gone by and gearing up for another year. I must admit, I love the build up leading in to Christmas and the holiday season. There is an orderly, almost sort of regulated amusements, taking you in to gaiety and merriment. The lights on the Streets get switched on , the stores are decked up, the shopping lists being made and gifts being ordered, setting up the tree at home, taking out your Christmas jumpers and hats and leading on to the maddening frenzy and then the quiet after Christmas. Last year we waltzed in to Christmas, this year not so much. This year I have stammered and stuttered in to the festivities with our little bouts of Flu and other urgent medical emergencies, which are part and…

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