Posted in Travel

Post 42 : Final stop for a while

When I opened my blog after ages,¬†I imagined the page like this ūüė¶

Iron Rust And Corrosion - Motor Transport Museum - Campo, CA

My last post was in July. Where have I been all this while!! Yeah, I have been away, busy in this thing called life, which has kept me on my toes ever since and I foresee it is only going to get busier.

It’s not that bad for I am entering the next phase in my life soon but it is also important that I keep myself alive through my likes and hobbies.

So, here is one more long overdue post from my travels this year РOur final stop for this year and some more time.

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This year I traveled a lot. Business Trips, Vacations short and long. Overall it has been quite an adventurous year both with and without a pun. However, this last trip of ours will be a hard stop for a while now.

This has been our longest summer vacation so far. While it is still not up to the mark with European standards, it did what it does to others – Refreshed or body and minds!

This time we planned a road trip for the entire trip.

Started from home and with a night halt in Germany, we reached our first destination n Lofer, Austria.

A small village with a breathtaking view. Surrounded by greenery & the tall snow-clad mountains is enough to gaze at all day.

 

Lofer has been our station for the next couple of days and our start and end points for different tourist spots. First from the list was the Salt Mine at Hallstatt, Salzburg. This location is a package full of adventure and natural beauty. Clubbed together with good warm (rather hot) weather, the day spent has been absolutely memorable. Souvenirs from the salt mine shop are absolutely recommended.

The next most important stop was the Grossglockner. I can still close my eyes and go back in time among those wonderful snowclad mountains. It is to die for. I would let the pictures do the storytelling instead of my words.

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We spend the last day in Lofer to explore the little village and the two beautiful peaks it offers mainly for skiing called Almenwelt , Lofer.

Did I tell you I am scared of heights? But the ropeway ride to the top was totally worth every second.

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After a memorable stay in Lofer, we looked forward to our next destination to Vienna, Austria.

With scorching heat at 39 degrees Celsius, Vienna stood tall and beautiful in heavy traffic yet bursting with tourists. The next two days were as hot as this day but nothing stopped us from exploring it famous for art, music & literature.

You can do a HopOn-HopOff bus trip to go to places, take a Vienna Pass or just set on the local transport with your own itinerary.

Here is a 3-day itinerary we referred to.

Our first day started in the center of the city with¬†Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace.It has a set of museums which you can explore if you like or just go around the place to explore the Library, Mozart statue, the Parliament & the St.Stephen’s Cathedral. the Cathedral was our last spot. This is situated on¬†Stephansplatz which is a famous shopping region. It has great eating places as well and Open Faced Sandwiches are a must at¬†¬†Trzesniewski.

In day 2 of your stay in Vienna, you must visit the Schönbrunn Palace. You can easily spend a good day at this place exploring the palace museum and the amazing gardens well maintained. A toy train ride is available or you can hike on foot to explore every inch. There is also a zoo maintained by the palace. At the Gloriette, you can get a mesmerizing view of the city.

 

If you have an additional day that can be utilized in Vienna, you must visit the Naschmarkt,  Vienna’s famous century-old open-air market. We missed it as our last day was on a Sunday :(. So we headed to the Prater Amusement park to see the Giant Ferris Wheel.

After a lot of discussions with my husband, I agreed to take the ride and I have had no regrets at all. This is a huge amusement park and if you have kids, they can be pampered and made happy very easily at this place.

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After a pleasant stay in Vienna, it was time to bid adieu and head towards our final stop in Prague. The drive to Prague has been very pretty, amongst colorful small villages, bright greenery, and huge fields.

 

Prague is a very different city from Vienna, although bursting out with tourists, it is quieter and calmer than Vienna. The similarities range from the buildings and architecture.

The first day always starts from the center: the Prague Castle and Old town square. Almost all the tourist spots in Prague are in and around the Old Town Square, so it involves a lot of walking and convenience. We started with exploring the palace and walking around in the Golden Lane to the St Vitus Cathedral and then around the main entrance of the palace for an amazing view of both the palace and the city of Prague.

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You can then walk down straight following the curves and it will lead to the famous Charles Bridge. A couple of rounds on the bridge is totally recommended. You can also get a caricature drawn from the local artists on the bridge or buy some junk jewelry from the vendors on the bridge side.

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Head straight with the crowd to the town square where the center of attraction is the Astronomical Clock. It is an experience to watch the clock click every hour. It will take you at least 2 rounds or more to study the mechanism and match with the functionality.

Sit down at one of the cafe restaurants, relax with a drink, followed by a nice dinner.

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We stayed a little away from the crazy city center at VyŇ°ehrad, therefore, we started the next day by exploring the¬†VyŇ°ehrad Castle just next to our apartment hotel walking around the low hill and viewing the¬†¬†VyŇ°ehrad Cemetery¬†as well. The hill also provides picturesque views which budding photographers can find interesting to visit.IMG_20170809_111426.jpg

Here is an itinerary you can follow for Prague. But after¬†VyŇ°ehrad, we headed back to Town square and just enjoy a relaxing walk around. We revisited Charles Bridge and Old Town and also took a Boat trip on the Vltava river.

When in Prague, you must try Goulash, Dumplings, Buchty, the famous Trdelník and others.

With wonderful memories of the trip, we enjoyed the long drive back home with a night halt somewhere in Germany, silently wishing to come back again someday.

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Posted in Journal

Post 41 : A brand new garden

We decided to get a new garden this summer and have been waiting impatiently for its completion. The end result is just amazing.

We bought the house last August and the garden was bursting with green. Not at all a bad sight, but too much for the both of us to maintain. It was too bushy everywhere around. Clearly, there has been no maintenance since years.

This summer, our mornings and evenings have a fixed happy job, water the plants and grass ūüôā and then sit back, relax and enjoy!!

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Old Garden as we bought it
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Transformation in progress
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Everything Cleared off
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The transformed brand new result – Happy us ūüôā
Posted in Travel

Post 40: Trip to Bad Urach, Germany

Bad Urach¬†is a small town in the district of Reutlingen, Baden-W√ľrttemberg, in southern Germany. It became our holiday destination during the extended weekend of Ascension Day. To be honest, this place was not a choice originally. We started looking out for places real late and traced right from North Germany to central and then finally down south until we got a hit on the accommodation. However, I must say that it has been a blessing in disguise.

The house we rented was an absolute pleasure to stay in, located on the sides of a hill, and providing amazing views of the adjoining hills and valleys.

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This small sleepy town was in full bloom all bright and colorful everywhere we walked.

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The way towards the Centrum
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The Town Centrum
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Pretty pretty everywhere

 

So naturally, the important question that arises is what’s interesting to do there? The place is full of hiking routes¬†in the Swabian Alb biosphere area. One of the days, the men in our group planned a Hiking Adventure. This was in the¬†Wasserfallsteig trail and then following up to¬†Hohenurachsteig trail with¬†stunning views of the cliffs ‚ÄėHanner Felsen‚Äô and the pathways through lush mixed forests.IMG_20170526_151222

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The Waterfall – respite to the eyes

I have to be honest that I was really not keen on going further than the Waterfall to reach the ruins of the castle ahead as the path was extremely steep and difficult more so in the summer scorching heat. But with the persuasion of the group, we moved forward together and it was all totally worth it. We walked a couple of kilometers until we reach a flat with rest places, toilets, and refreshment. This place was extremely relaxing with the canopy of the trees, keeping away the strong rays of the sun and providing much-needed shade. We refilled ourselves here and started again.

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The canopy of the trees

We walked through the dark green forest stopping now and then to click pictures (like below) keeping ourselves motivated for the path ahead.

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Soon the way got harder and steep and we (the ladies) took help of fallen branches to act as support.

Upon reaching our destination, we felt like ‘On-Top-of-The-World’. Breath-taking views of the valleys down under can only make you want to sit there and admire.

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The ruins of the castle are very picturesque itself and with a clear blue sky, it looks perfect canvas-ly.

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Bad Urach is also famous to have the narrowest street in the world only 31 cms wide. It was an absolute¬†check of fitness to be able to pass through this lane successfully. ūüėČ

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The Centrum is full of good cafe’s and restaurants all full of super nice food. We dined at “Die Traube” and everything they served was delicious.

This small sleepy town is totally recommended for a short trip to relax and recover from the monotonous schedule of our daily lives.

 

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Post 39 : Hobbies

Long long time ago, I promised to stop being lazy and do something fruitful out of my life. Well, Laziness has always defeated me except for sometimes when I did the bottle art¬†or when I converted beer bottles to beautiful show pieces using fancy craft materials(no pictures yet). Until recently, I revisited my color boxes and brushes and made them felt needed. Here is the output below. As for the caption, a dear friend called it “The Reflection”

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Posted in Travel

Post 38 : Luxembourg short break

A lot has changed for me since the Philadelphia trip and my last post. But I managed to bounce back to life and both summer and the sunshine has only helped in my recuperation. The period between March-April-May is my favorite because there is so much happening almost every weekend. Either it is an extended weekend with public holidays in the middle of the week or there is a Flower Parade in Keukenhof.

Spring has already set in and summer is getting ready to make an entrance. This is the time when we like to make mini trips to nearby places and just relax. Because the past couple of months have been very stressful for the both of us, a relaxing trip is all we were looking forward to. Unfortunately, we were really late in booking flights and that lead to super expensive flight tickets to anywhere we wished to go. Finally, we settled to revisit Luxembourg but were again stuck while booking accommodations with super expensive options. I must say it all happened for a reason. We ended up booking a forest bungalow. We have never stayed in any such places before and I wasn’t sure how comfortable it will be until we actually arrived in paradise.

It was an absolute piece of heaven. Amidst the dark greenery, stood a dozen small wooden bungalows which housed very basic necessities. We were in the village of Dillingen very near the famous Beaufort Castle. Since this was our second visit, the sole purpose of the visit was to relax and stay away from the usual crowd. Fortunately for us, our co-voyagers shared the same trip intent as us.

Dillingen is situated on the north-east of the country on the Luxembourg-Germany border, the countries separated by the S√Ľre river. It’s amazing how the borders blend between the countries, it’s hard to identify the changes except for the sole signboard that says Germany or Luxembourg very unlike the borders of my Motherland, India, and her neighbors.

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Luxembourg
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View of Dillingen, Luxembourg from the side of Germany across the Sure river

 

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The Other side of the bridge in Germany
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The Sure river that divides Luxembourg on the left and Germany on the right

So apart from exploring the beauty of the borders between the countries, we wanted to try something new, something different. So we decided to hike. Well, to many, it isn’t¬†a big deal but I must mention here that it is a great deal for people who isn’t¬†really the sporty or ‘easy-moving-ass‘ type! My husband¬†and I are kinds of car-driven-tourist¬†or typical public-transport-tourists very unlike backpackers. So, our hike expedition was very tailor-made keeping in mind our levels of flexibility. Nevertheless, for novices, I would consider us as pretty good.

Luxembourg is famous for hikes, treks, water sports, biking and much more. There were also many famous hiking trails¬†in the region where we stayed. We drove to the site of ‘Schiessent√ľmpel Waterfall‘ and took the Mullerthal Hike trail.

Absolutely mesmerized by the magnificence of the dark forest, we set foot on the 4-kilometer track. After 500 meters, we halted at the fascinating waterfall to click pictures and then continue the ascent uphill to a viewpoint which beholds a good view of the surroundings on a clear summer day.

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Needless to say, what an amazing experience it was, the pictures say it all. We only wondered how much more beautiful the place would be in full summer. When our short trip came to an end

When our short trip came to an end, we left as happy souls completely detoxed and not heavy hearted after a wonderful vacation.

Posted in Journal, Travel

Post 37 : Visiting Philadelphia

I have been living in the Netherlands for over a year and a half now and I have had the opportunity to travel to some fine countries ever since. Last October, I visited Eastern European country Ukraine, a place that honestly wouldn’t have crossed my mind for a visit unless for a business trip. However, it has been a very pleasant experience and I wish to visit again for tourism someday.

Last week, I got the opportunity to visit the United States for the very first time. I was visiting Philadelphia and I quickly got used to calling the city by its famous nickname ‚ÄúPhilly‚ÄĚ. Philly has its historic roots in the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the formation of Constitution. Wiki says ‚ÄúIn the 19th century, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and railroad hub that grew from an influx of European¬†immigrants. It became a prime destination for¬†African-Americans¬†in the¬†Great Migration¬†and surpassed two million occupants by 1950.‚ÄĚ The apparent presence of African Americans in this popular city even today totally draws attention to its history.

While it was snowing in the Netherlands, Philly was experiencing light drizzle with¬†quite a pleasant weather. It was my first impression until I experienced what blown away really meant! (it was super windy). However, it was bright and sunny all week during my stay. My business associate based in Philly asked me about my first impression of the United States to which I answered that I expected to see burger shops and fried food around every corner, which was not really the case in this city. Yes, Philly is known for some great food options especially Steak Houses. Since my hotel was in the heart of the city center it gave me ample opportunities to explore the city by foot in the very limited time available after day long tiring business meetings. I like to walk alone in new places I visit to enjoy and admire the city at a relaxed pace. Since I am not really a museum person, I decided to walk the streets and check out the two most eminent historic edifices, a must when in Philly ‚Äď the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. The City Hall was very close to my hotel and I viewed it almost every day. I also visited the Reading Terminal Market on one of the days with a colleague and what an amazing encounter it can be for a foodie. Hustling and bustling with people shopping, eating, selling, relaxing with the aroma of food all around makes you sniff all the way to the tempting dishes like the ones they show in cartoons.

The thing about Philly is how its historic buildings stand out dramatically amongst the modern day skyscrapers striking a most amazing blend.

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The most amazing thing about America is its people and their hospitality. Most people are friendly and always happy to involve in small-talk. I think almost every store I visited learned about me being a visitor (lol – also with the amount of shopping I did). I really did shop until I dropped. With amazing deals on their local brands, the famous brands we know as imported, there was nothing to stop me.

Promising to be back soon again, I bid a final goodbye beholding the breathtaking skyline of Philly forever in my memories.

Posted in Journal

Post 36 : Grey is the color of the season

I have grown up enjoying winter as a wonderful season and the best one in India. The chills of the morning, the warm sun of the afternoon, enjoying oranges after lunch sitting under the sun wrapped with traditional quilts followed by a post-lunch nap(siesta).

Winters were the seasons full of fairs, picnics, weddings that would mean lots of food and eat out. White and blue were the colors of winter back there.

Here in Holland, grey is the color of the winter, not even white. In my first winter here, it felt so dull and depressing and I suffered from homesickness. Gradually, I got used to the color and kind of convinced myself that Grey is not dull, it just means slow down, sit back and relax. Well, isn’t that so true, we are mostly indoors, keeping warm sipping soups sitting against the fireplace(No I am not 80 years old!!).

This winter¬†we were in Italy for vacation and the amazing weather with white and blue sky and the brimming sun hit my make-shift arrangement of the mindset hard about the color grey ūüė¶ ¬†!¬†Prints versus the negatives! Envious, I keep going back to the pictures and refresh the hustling bustling places around, sunny, bright and blue.

But soon I am shaken by reality – grey it is for now!

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Post 35 : A Brand New Year

When I was younger, I made it a point on or before the last day of the year to take some time and look back on the things I did during the whole year. This is a habit I picked up from my late English Teacher, who was also a guide. He played a very big role in shaping the person I am today. ¬†But ever since I came to Holland, life has gotten busier each minute (Read : I have become lazier!). I still try to pen down a few words and sentences and keep up with this ‘tradition‘ that I have followed for years. The objective of this activity as I understand from Sir,¬† is to understand the way I have evolved as a person, good or bad, over the past year . As I grew up, I concentrated on becoming a better human being, a better me and enhance my personality and amend the grey sides of my character.

Over the last two years, we have been vacationing during the last week of the year from Christmas until New Year. Therefore. it leaves me with no me-time during the best month of the year.

So, here’s looking back at 2016, cherishing the good memories and remembering any bad times as a lesson.

.. Lots of travelling all throughout the year. Black Forest, Paris, Croatia, Normandy, Ukraine, Italy.

.. Lots of new friends around, many get together s with them, fun filled gatherings and event.

.. Moved to New House.. a very big step and a lot of responsibility. Happy and proud that we did it together and pulling through great.

.. New Job for the better, new learning and new responsibilities.

.. I became fatter ūüė¶

.. And  now most importantly, a great balanced family and personal life.

It’s been a great year, Wish all a very Happy New Year 2017 to everyone !!

Posted in Journal

Post 34 : Amidst the busy schedule

Life has kept me extremely busy, which is kind of good. But the little free time I manage by cutting the corners of my agenda, only adds to laziness. I hate myself for being lazy! There was a time when I had a generous abundance of free time but then I had tough emotional times , therefore I spent them cheap – being lazy. Story of my life!

On the days, I am working from home, I stare at the half sprayed golden hue of the neatly cleaned beer bottles which would have earned us at least 3-4 Euros if returned back but I fought for my hobby over materialized money(really!). Its been more than a month, they are still waiting for my time and attention. Alas! The evident rust on my writing skills, my pens and pencils, almost losing my brushes and colors earns me almost an award. Could I be anymore lazier? How I miss my diaries from childhood, my bundles of writing, stories and junks. Had I not disposed them of out of sheer Adolescent Idiosyncrasy, they would have been alive with me today.

Nevertheless, the point of today’s post is neither about my laziness nor about my youthful accomplishments but about Imagination. Imagination plays a very important role in the growing years of our childhood. Imagination protects the innocence in a child and makes all his stories enjoyable. I became part of a similar amusing story yesterday ¬†when I met a friend in the train on my way back home from work. Amongst several other household chatters, she was telling me about her daughter whom I have known as a lively, enthusiastic and creative kid. Yesterday I learnt another thing about the girl, she has immense imaginative potential and not only can she imagine an amazing fantasy world but can also describe it down beautifully. It’s a gift. Not everyone can express feelings¬†marvelously.

Enjoy the read and words of appreciation for the little rising star will help encouragement.

So here’s her story .

©Copyrights by Tiyasa Talukdar on behalf of Nandini Banerjee

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Post 33 : The Quintessential Bong Festival

For anyone who is reading this journal and has no idea of the word “Bong“, then I will take pride in explaining that Bong is an abbreviated form for Bengalis – people from Bengal(the state of West Bengal) in India. We are rich in heritage and culture, we love our foods and we love our¬†adda’s (spending quality time with friends and family). It is usually very easy to identify us – by our appearances(we are usually well-fed , so essentially round at our bellies or our faces), we are also great at communicating with people and friendly(especially if we see another Bong, we are overwhelmed) and no matter from how far words come flying, if its about food, you have our attention!

Keeping aside our qualities, I would like to highlight, we take our festivals very seriously, we have a whole bunch of them and that makes the saying “Baro mash-e tero parbon”(13 festivals in 12 months- oh no not literally , that is an understatement.I guess its some multiple of 13).

We have traveled to the different corners of the world and made our presence everywhere thereby globalizing ourselves truly but when it comes to Durga Pujo, the true blue Bong soul transpires above all.

When we were kids, dressing up in new attire and the pandal hopping experience with numerous street foods -egg rolls, Fuchka , Mughlai Porota, Ghoogni were the only things in our schedule all four days.For some little details , Ashtami’s Anjali, Sondhipujor Arati, Nabami-r NonVeg food were other highlights.

With generation changes and over time, litle has changed over these traditions. We still dress up  in our sarees and jewelry now, we still enjoy those special Pujo meals and we still go out and participate in pandals.

This year, for some of us Non Residential Bongs as well as Indians, we grouped up and traveled to a Durga Puja organized in Koln, Germany. Well, the pandal hopping had to be done once per year. Last year we were in Netherland Durga Pujo. Two days of uninterrupted fun surrounded by nothing except Bengalis(mostly, and also non Bengalis , even Germans), good food (not that good, but that’s a different topic) and great programs.

I’ll cut short my talking and let some pictures do the talking for the nostalgia we went through not being able to be home at this time of the year.

Bolo Durga Maa-i Ki !!! Joi!! 

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