Monday, July 05, 2004

Paris - An eventful Trip - part 2/3.

Chapter 2 - Jab Bhagwaan ne Bhi Kaata.
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So we landed at Paris Beauvais airport on time, and there was a bus waiting for us outside the airport. BUT WE DID NOT TAKE THE BUS. Reasons :
1. The landscape was too invting for a walk - a perfect country side that we had seen in the movies.
2. The bus ticket was for 10 Euros - and we had heard there is an alternative for 6 euros.
3. We were in a mood of adventure at 10:00 in the night - and at 10:00 pm it was still like 5 in India.
4. We were out of logic - who would risk a night, in the country you have never been to.

So with some directions about the nearest city - Beauvais - we starting walking, with rememberances from the movie, DDLJ. On the way we met a guy, we asked him where the station was and when was the last train, his answere was not motivating. We were constantly asking for lift without any sucess. There seemed nothing near by, ecept a MAC. We got directions there for the station cus we still had hopes to catch a train to Paris. It was 'just' 10:00 after all. Luckily we got lift who dropped us at the Beauvais Station. We enter. We enquire. We exit. We are doomed. No trains after 9:00 pm. Next what. Dont know. We even did not know how far was Paris. Next we were on the road again for a lift to paris. But Paris was 90 km from Beauvais - no one was apparently going to Paris. We were stranded in an unknown place, with nowhere to sleep, and a pleasant cold weather which was sure to get colder in the night.

A funny thing - Not only we were staranded in an unknown location. There was someone else who was craving for help. While I was asking for lift I recived a call on my mobile - ASKING FOR HELP. He went, "do you know Raman Puri", 'Ya', "Do you know Paulmi Das", 'ya', " Ok they are in Venice and have missed the bus to Austria, and they need help. They dont have enough money to go back, so tell me how can they reach you?". I still cant control my luch while writing this. Asking from help, from the seekers of the same commodity. Well I was able to help them in directly, I gave them javed's phone number in Trento, who proved to be a good help.

So devoid of any lift we were ultimately forced to accept the night in front of the station. Luckily their was a big fair going on in that small town, and being Sat Night, it was packed. We spend an hour or so there and had our dinner inbetween. One of the best dinner ever - French Fries, Cheese, and Bread.:-)

The night was cold, so was the ground and I was really sleepy, so a mixture of all it was UNCOMFORTABLE. But I knew it will be the thing most remembered, and It really is. Somehow we manage to spend the night as the train to Paris was at 6:30 in the morning. On the dot, the gates to the station was opened and this is when bhagwaan ne bhi kaata - the tickets to paris was for 10.70 Euros. 'Laugh'

Paris - An eventful Trip - part 1/3.

Chatper 0 - Trip Planning
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This has been one of the most incidentful trip ever in my life, and by far one of the best. The whole plan to paris was never stable. The credit for making this trip goes to Ishan who was there from Edinbra(Scotland).

Well let me begin with how the plan was made -
Back in May when Ishan was still in India, he told me to check out the flights and book a ticket for 25th(Friday) of June for the week end in paris, I enquired, and due to my ignorance and time-pressure by Ishan I was not able to find suitalble flights for me. So for me Paris was out of the scene. But Ishan was strong to go there.

Now during the Florence trip when I met Shubham, he also wanted to go to Paris. My heart was always for it, so I did some research, and found that if I took a flight on Sat-26th instead of Friday, I could make it. But then there was this uneasyness of taking a day off from the work, cus just going to Paris for one day did not make sense. So again the end result was not good.

By this time Ishan was constantly after me to try my best for Paris. And as time passed by I was more confident because of the good work done :-), so I decided to take 2 days of and finally make it to Paris. But Ishan had his flights back on 27th, so that meant I was alone for Monday :-(. On asking Shubham also replied negative. So once again, things went down the drain.

Now the only hope was that Shubham says yes, but the flight prices were rising. Luckily, his mind turned on time and Paris was not far away, we were joined by Sandi from Torino. So I got the tickets booked online with Ryan air for just 56 Euros return - believe that appears to be 56 cus Ryan air has lots of additional cost ;-).

So well, this was how the plan was set for Paris - oh, with time one of our friend in France, Bhatele also agreed to jump on Board - maybe because of his Love for Shubham, but this was a good group - meeting both my IITK friends and Delhi friends in Paris. Sounds Nice. Infact it was Nice.

I HAVE NOT EVEN STARTED WRITING ABOUT THE TRIP AND ITS LOTS OF WORDS - SO I AM SURE THIS ONE IS GOING TO BE A LONG ONE.

Chatper 1 - Trip Starts
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So. Finally our flights were booked for 26th of June - from Milan Bergamo(8:15 pm) to Paris Beauvais (9:30 pm), so that meant that if we come early on 26th to Milan we can spent one day at Milan too. Thats what we did. I was the last one to reach Milan at 10:45 but that too after I was awake at 6:00 in the morning. Shubham, Sandi and Kaushik were there at the station to receive me. (Kaushik was there only for Milan). I had got some sweet breads from ROma termini a week before, but was not able to consume because of the strong smell, but that served as a perfect breakfast for four of us. They already had a map of Milan and there was nothing much to see there, we went to some lesser known places but they were not worth it. The only thing that is grande is the 'Catherdral'. It 'IS' worth a visit. Its different from the rest of the cathedrals I had ever seen. So our afternoon was spent at the Church. We had our lunch at the burger king. A nice meal.

From there we set of to the Milan Station for a train to Bergamo - these ryan ppl have their airports well outside the city, though we realised it late, bergamo was 70 kms from Milan, thats like from Kanpur to Lucknow.
At the airport we has plenty of time to kill, so we set out in search of a supermarket to get just water. We weere supported by a Canadian guy in our effort. His actions and words were fun. We did find a supermarket and that was the largest supermarket I had ever seen. It was extraordinarly huge, and cheap ofcourse. By this time the Canadian guy was anxious to go back. He was tensed, but at the same time was telling us, there is no need to hurry we have lots of time left. :-).

This was the first chapter.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Information

Lots of photos has been updated at http://photos.yahoo.com/nikux

Rome - The Eternal City.

It's been over a week now that I went to Roma, and a blog on it is long due. This was my first only IIT trip in Italy, and it was not normal trip. For two of my friends - Harshat and Sarthak from Sweden – this was one of the most expensive trips they had ever undertaken. But it was worth every Euro. For me the trip was supposed to start from the day the Swedish guys were to come to my place for an overnight stay (on 17th June) but the evil forces were well in action and that day the Italian trains went on strike. Alas they were not able to see my paradise. So actually my trip started on 18th night, when I took a train from Trento to Roma Termini.

I reached Termini first, followed by the two Swedish friends, but they came on another near by station, after a successful tour of Venice. The last and largest of us all was Shubham, coming from Cassino – that’s a name of a city 100 kms from Roma. After our morning activities at the station, we headed straight for what was most fascinating to Harshat – St. Peters Cathedral. To add to the fun, he was taken there blindfolded. This is the largest Church in the whole world. Its massive – astronomical would be the right word. Luckily we got a free guided-tour of the church that made the visit more successful. The church also stores the famous sculpture by Michelangelo – Pieta. The good part about Italian Churches is that they let you go to the top, cus the view from the top of any church gives a snapshot of that city. So was with St. Peters. Being one of the tallest Churches the view was also one of the best. – Btw at this time technically we were not in Italy, but as you might have guessed, we had changed country from Italy to the Vatican City.

It was already noon by the time we were satisfied with the Church and we walked towards the Vatican Museum, preserving the famous – Sistine Chappell again by Michelangelo. Shubham told that the queue for the Museum was shorter at noon, but we were amazed to see that the queue was just not there – actually, the museum closes at 12:30 on Saturday’s L. Any ways, I did go to the Museum on Monday.

Form the museum we went to Mac to stuff ourselves, this was my first Mac lunch in Italy. I usually preferred an Italian pizza to any thing else but this time Mac got the majority. Rome can be divided into three parts – The Vatican, The ancient Rome and The new Rome. The ancient Rome consist of the Colosseo and Foro Romano - the centre of the civic and economic life of Rome in the Republican era which was our next stop. Would not say that these two structures look magnificent, cus they are just ruins, but yes, Colosseo still has the power to evoke emotions. The inside tour of the Colosseo is not worth if you don’t take a guide, but we realised this after going in. Foro Romano, is fun if you can imagine the depth of time it represents, else its just stones. Another attraction in the league is the palatine hill, which was the first nucleus of city life in Rome.

..To be updated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

'Chalna hi Zindagi hey'

I never miss any opportunity to strain myself for adventure, I love risky adventure, though this one was not risky but sure it was fun to walk about 2.2 million centimeters. Ahh, now don't start calculating, its 25 kms dude!. This was on the last Sunday 13th June 2004 - I remember someone close to me has a birthday around this date cant remember who so if you are the one Happy belated birthday :-).
Well! so initially it was decided that there would be 10 enthusiasts but on the day of the hike 4 ditched - Karthik, Gobind, Prashant, Anil, Kiran and I were the fortunate once to experience the bliss. The place was 'Lago di Tovel(Lake Tovel)' in 'Val di Non'. The first 40kms from Trento to Tuenno was covered by bus next was a 11km walk to the lake. We had in mind that a normal person walks @10kms/hr, but soon we were proved wrong when an hour had already passed by and we were still 6kms from the destination. This was the time we decided to pump up and this was the time gods went against us. Till now the route had less acclivity, but now it was a difficult path to cover, still we all made an effort and were able to cover this 6 km in less than an hour.

Next was the scene, words cant describe, I can use the word paradise, but its so often used that its lost the importance...maybe the pictures will. Clear sparkling water, cool winds comforting us with the kisses of sunlight, snow covered peaks protecting us from the outer world and green trees all around inviting us to experience the height of serenity. And I am sure it was much better than I can ever describe.

Monday, June 14, 2004

A Unique City - Venezia

117 islands and 400 bridges, that's what's Venice. We planned a weekend in Venice(5-6 June 2004). I am happy that I stayed there for two days(some of the fellows came back on the same day as Venice is near to the place we stay at - Trento). But in one day one can only see the tourists attractions not Venice. The fun in Venice is to get lost in its confusing narrow lanes. It would be criminal if you just sit at the Piazza San Marco(The main tourist attraction there) or always use a map to find your way.

Venezia
We reached the stazione at 10 am and took the Venice Card at the station itself, its a card that gives you unlimited travel on the public transports and the public toilets ;-) for 24 hours, so its a must if you plan to visit here for a day. The first view from the station itself if worth spending sometime.
Venice has one 'Main Road' - The Grand Canal, and there are only 3 bridges over that. One of them is just in from of the station. The more famous one - Rialto was at some distance and we chose to make it our first destination. Maneuvering our way with the help of a map, we were successful reaching the place. A very crowded place indeed, where you can see loads of boats and can have a nice time shopping. Infact the tourist shops are scattered throughout the city - feels bit odd to call it a city :-).
From Rialto we went to Piazza San Marco - the largest open space in Venice boasting the famous 'The Basilica of San Marco'. It is the most important monument in the city, an everlasting testimony of the grandeur of Venice -from http://www.travelplan.it. The piazza also has Palazzo Ducale near by, which is a storehouse Venetian art. There's a big tower at the piazza, from the top of which one can see complete beauty of Venice at one go.

Murano(1:00 pm - 4:00pm)
Considering Venice as one island: Murano, Burano and Torcello are the other three islands off the beaten track. Murano the most famous of the three has been famed for its glass production. We actually saw how the workers make those vivid glass-art. I brought some from the 'fornace(furnace)', not very cheap though. Other than the glass-factories, Murano is a very peaceful place, we had our lunch at the 'banks' of a canal - the same alu ka parathas that we had cooked the previous day :-)

Burano(4:00 pm - 6:00pm)
This was the place that attracted me the most. Even more than Venice. This place is famous not only for its fishing and lace industry, but also for its pastel-colored houses. We could see houses in scarlet, navyblue, pastel green, cobalt blue, chrome yellow, pink and all the colors that you might have heard before. The logic -they say that the bonbon colors have their origins in the fishermen's desire to be able to see their own houses when heading home from a long day at sea. Funny eh! But the colorful houses are a truth! Will post the pictures at http://photos.yahoo.com/nikux in sometime.

Torcello(6:00 pm - 7:00pm)
This was kind of a waste of time, this island is not worth going to not even in an ancillary capacity. Though we were lucky to attend another marriage there.

Venice by the night
If you get a chance to see Venice in the night, don't give it a second though, Lighted Venice with its reflection in the waters - aha! I wish to go there again. Again Piazza San Marco was our destination. The piazza with splendid lighting and live music was enough to attract us for two hours. Btw, in the daytime this place is just like 'Gateway of India' with loads of pigeons eating carelessly among the crowd.

Second day
On the second say we straight away headed towards the 'Beach'. About 10 mins boat ride from the mainland, Lido is a long stretch seperating the lagoon from the Adriatic sea. The weather gods were in our favor as it did not rain that day and we had a perfect weather for 'Beach Activities'. A sure shot relaxer. We honoured the beach for more than 5 hours, and came back to venice by 4pm.

Back to venice
We made Santa Maria della Salute our destination, cus this place was jeweled with lights in the night. So we began our journey, this time without much of a help from the map. It was fun, technically you can't actually get lost cus all the cannals are so connected that there is always another way to go there, only the direction has to be kept in mind. Wandering in Venice is a sure sure fun. We had ice creams from a cafe that we later came to know was named, 'India Cafe'(Karthik saw the name on the tissue :-). Well that was the end of our romance with venezia. No wonder a city of 0.3 million is flodded by over 15 million tourist every year.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Yeah we did it!

I am sure this would be the dream of many indian guys who are out for internship, but not one could have possibly done it. Burn Burn Burn(Jalo, Jalo, Jalo), my friends cus I did it. 'Alu ke parathein', is what we made for our two days trip to venice. It was really fun, I, tarun, Javed and Ashwin, sucessfully made 30 alu ka parathas, that were like ummmm! slurp! Now after those 30 round stuff, I am quite confident to make more and different kinds the next time, infact yesterday made 3 Tandoori rotis also! one was perfect, other two were little thin for tandoori rotis got little extra crisp! but 'zindagi ka mazza aa gaya'.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

A talk with the Italian Mountains

Hiking on Monte Bondone
2nd June, 2004

The Italians celebrated their Republic day today and I celebrated this opportunity, hiking on Monte Bondone. This region is just full of adventure sports activities, a perfect place for the mountain adventure lovers. We started a bit late at 2:00 pm relying on the fact that the sun sets here at 9:00 pm.

The Hike started at Sardana, 5 mins ropeway journey from Trento. I had the map of hiking routes from the Tourism office. It said "min quota : 580 m , max Quota 1.300m(Italian use '.' instead of ',' and viceversa like 1.000 is one thousand)" so we assumed that the trip is for 1,3 mts and back totaling 2,6 kms, but later we had fun with this assumption.

Initial 10 mins were on stone pavement, which gradually led us into the woods, with the typical smell of damp leaves. After walking for 45 mins we(I and Karthick - only he was ready to talk with the mountains along with me) felt little awkward as the path was constantly going down, where as it should have been an acclivity. We could hear the mountains saying - guys you are going in the wrong direction until we finally saw a signboard that made us sure. Then was the difficult part and then was when we realized than what we assumed was not true, cus we easily had walked more than 2 kms. The 580 and 1.300 were the max and the min altitude, and where we were was showing 400m.

Gathering our spirits together we decided to move up, but things did not improve. It was a never ending steep slope upwards. It was really tiring, averaging 30deg of slope was a tough task. We were not even sure how much of the route we had covered. After a total of 2 hours of walk, we came across another sign board that made us sure we were on the right track, but that also made sure that we could not go any further. We were at 1.000 meters and just covered half the one way distance. Bah! to add to our low spirits was another route from that place back to where we started from. And seeing Karthiks, exhausted body, we had no choice but to come down. But I think it really was fun to involve ourselves so much into talking with them that we even lost the track of our route. That's what I call a deep conversation.

Arrivderci

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Mantova and "Festa dei Popoli"

29 May 2004

Perhaps this was my best day till date in Italy. I should say it was a complete meal, with historical, natural, cultural and an uncategorizable dish, all adding its own flavor to the meal.

Festa dei Popoli - Peoples Fest

I will start with this cus this was the best part. - Our evening was reserved for a big concert under the peoples fest. Never before had I got the pleasure of experiencing such varied kind of music. Groups from different countries entertained us with their 'tradizione musica'. The first band was some kind of African group (we were little late and missed the country of the group). It was just drums, drums and drums. Then there were performances from Albania, Slovakia, Ecuador, Chile, Austria, Senegal and Argentina. The instruments I heard live for the first time were the Oboe, bagpiper, Chitarra battente - a very miniature guitar with 10 strings and a traditional instrument from Ecuador. Other than that there were guitars, cello, base guitars, violin, drums, keyboard - that's what's called an N-dimensional Pleasure. I wish harshat(non IITK's please ignore) was there to show them the magic of India.

Mantova
Historical
The Welcome office for international students organized a trip to Mantova, a small historical town a 100 Km from Trento. The journey started at 8:00 am on 29th May where as usual I was a bit late for the bus :-). Covering 100 kms in 90 mins we reached Mantova, where our first destination was the 'Palazzo Te'. A not so magnificent palace, but the most extraordinary thing about this palace was the 'show-off' logic used by the architect - Using some Egyptian text on the wall to make the guest feels the high intellectual level of the king, even though he himself did not understand a word of it, using paintings such that they give an effect of it being carved from the marbles, infact using something that looks like marbles but far less cheaper.

After a guided tour to the palace we went to the city center for another guided tour, but I already had my quota of stories so I decided to lag behind the group -- oh! we were 50 young people from different corners of the world -- the city had its own charm, but again nothing extra ordinary about it. Btw this city was once a man-made island, with 4 lakes on the perimeter, but now only three remains. During the guided tour of the city center we got a change to see an Italian wedding, it was really sweet to be a passive part of it.

Natural
The second half was reserved for a boat trip in one of the lakes near the city, after around a 20 mins drive we reached a small village (which never did appear a village to me, but was called so by the tour operators). The boat trip was through the swamps, full of birds - especially red and grey herons and water lilies - both yellow and white.

The uncategorizable dish
Surely the sweet dish for the days menu. It was a smaller scaled version of zia's fun(non IITK's please ignore). Don't want to write much on this.

ci vediamo