Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Budapest: Szechenyi Bath


One of the most unforgettable experience in Budapest was my visit to Szechenyi bath. The place is absolutely grand. There are 3 outdoor pools. Two semi-circular pools flanked a swimming pool, the water in the pool is not hot. Most saunas have very high temperatures. I can only stand being in one with less than 45 degrees, the rest are unbearably hot.


Picture taken from web

Somehow I think it is better to stay outdoor since the place is very grand. Simply breathtaking!

Budapest: Top Sights


Budapest was the country of birth of Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok the famous musician and Erno Rubik (who was also a sculptor and professor of architecture) the creator of Rubik Cube.

The best part about Budapest is that the tram are available 24 hours.

Some of the top sights listed in the map from information centre.

Buda Castle and the Matthias Church (also known as church of Our lady)


Chain Bridge - The most famous among the bridges connecting Buda and Pest

Parliament - Grand, massive, stunning

Heroes' Square

St Stephen's Basilica - "The mummified right hand of Hungary first king, St Stephen is kept in the chapel". When I was there I was sent away for restoration. From the picture, I saw that the hand is not in good condition as if its in the process decomposing.  

Andrássy Avenue - Budapest answer to Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Dohany Street synagogue

Margaret Island - You can walk to the island from one of the bridge (Margit Hid). Very lively at night as there are clubs that open till wee hour of the morning.

Szenchenyi Spa and swimming pool - the experience was definitely worth it. 

Gellert Hill and the Citadel

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Applied Arts

Palace of Arts

Museum of Ethnography

Memento Park - Statue Park

National Opera House

Other things that I would personally recommend:

Market (near Szabadsag Hid)
On the 2nd floor, there's a stall selling Hungarian cuisine. You have to try at least something, goulash, stuffed cabbage, paprika. 

When you are done eating amuse yourself by trying to open the Secret Box. I had so much fun learning to open the boxes. Boxes come in a few sizes.

The river cruise (this is definitely better than the Seine river cruise in Paris)
What can I say, you get to see of the bridges and landmarks on either side of Buda and Pest up close. The parliament and Buda Castle really stood out. The cruise comes with 2 free drinks and you can also opt for dinner with additional price. 

Some interesting info
Hid means bridge
Kirai means Chinese so you know what is a Kirai shop now.
I think the people in Budapest like to eat salty food.
For more on Hungarian cuisine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tromso



Tromso is the north-most place I have been. I came from Sortland with the famous Hurtigruten ferry. In the summer you can experience midnight sun while during winter you can witness the northern light. I came to hang out with my friend Aleks.  and besides earlier I've purchased a flight with Airbaltic from Tromso to Budapest via Riga way back.

The bridge is walkable. I walked from the Artic Cathedral on the mainland across the bridge all the way to island.

Once I arrived, I headed to the Info Centre. It was here that I left my notepad. This notepad is very important to me. I wrote down the addresses of all my hosts in it and wrote in detail my daili expenses up to the cents and the account was balanced everyday. I was really upset.

 
I stopped briefly at the Perspective Museum and another art Museum. This art museum is absolutely free and the paintings depicted mostly the mountains of Norway and the way of life of the people.

It was here on the 3rd day, that I heard about the news of the Oslo Masacre. It was covered in the news almost 24/7. It was very tragic. I facebooked my host in Oslo and luckily she was safe but told me she was deeply shocked and the place of the bombing was close to her office.

The next day when we pass by the church, we saw some flowers and candles being laid on the floor for the victims.

My friend brought me to the Polar Museum. I saw many seals there and they are mostly very big. The entrance fee is NOK110 (appr. 14.50 Euro). 

After that we had lunch at a restaurant. Everything in Norway is expensive. A meal of burger and tea cost about NOK150 (appr. 19 Euro)

My friend prepared a very special meal for me for dinner, Whales!!
left: the whale in the supermarket, top middle:being marinated, bottom middle: cooked whale, right: dinner

We went to hang out at my friend's place at night and later went to a club. While walking I snapped this pic. It was at night. I love this pic probably due to the hue of the sky.


Sortland

Me and my friends first got to know two Norwegian brothers through couchsurfing. They are Trig and Aleks, both had stayed with my friend when they are in our city. They had come back to KL many times and each time brought new friends with them and so we had gotten to know 4 more other guys and 2 gals through them.

I was very excited to meet all of them again in their hometown Sortland. Going to Sortland was like going to a place I've never been before but heard so much about. In a ways there is so much familiarity. I did a lot of fun stuffs when I was there.

I have heard about the midnight sun and was so excited to be experiencing such phenomena. Before I came to Sortland I visualised myself lying underneath the sun, sleeping in my sleeping bad and enjoying the warmth of summer.

When I was there they brought me to their houses and introduced me to their parents and families. I was surprised that they actually mentioned about me and my friends and said we took really good care of them when they are in KL. We always had a blast hanging out with these Norwegian bunch.

Jorgen and Fredo brought me along for a fishing trip at the sea shore. We have to put on waterproof suit which was up to my chest level and boots to stand in the sea. Fredo managed to catch a fist within a few seconds but decided to let the fish go because it is not big enough. Unfortunately my suit was filled with water when I tried to retrieve the bait that was caught up among the sea weeds. Therefore I had to get changed before I froze to death, with that bringing out fisihing trip to an end.

One day, Johannes came over and said he's going to his grandma's place to paint the root and if I want to come along. I tagged along since there's not much to do at home. I helped him painted the roof. I was slightly afraid of being up in the root as it was quite steep. After we are done granny serve us tea with cakes, sandwiches and brown cheese.

I grew up in a small town very close to the outskirt of the capital. Therefore by comparison I found that it was very surprising that for a small town, there are a few pubs/bars there. The town is small in the sense there not many houses there but each houses are actually very big and some very far apart. In this small town there are also a few malls. One of the malls even has H&M. Talking about a small town. The boys (sorry have to call them that since they are much younger in age) always said they are from a small town.

Even in a small town, the standard and quality of living is not as small. Speaking of the country which the last year has become the richest country in the world. No wonder everything here is way too expensive.

Trondheim

The train ride from Trondheim to Bodo via NSB train is very scenic. The tickets are definitely cheaper if you purchased in advance . Lookout for minipris which is the cheapest ticket available at NOK 299.

I took the train at night. Since there was midnight sun in summer you get sunlight the throughout the ride. As the train travels close to the coast you get to see the mountains and fjords all along the way. I tried not to sleep so that I can observe the view. Simply stunning and breathtaking! Definitely worth every kroner.

video




For further information, check out this website http://www.nsb.no/?lang=en_US

Oslo

Oslo City Hall houses the city council, city administration, and art studios and galleries. It hosts the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony every Dec 10.

Within the hall, there're walls full of paintings. It was very interesting to look at the painting, most are very complex. 

The ground floor of the city hall.


The Picture on top left was on the ground floor.

Picture in the middle of right side is located in the Banquet Hall. Another side of the walls (to the left) has pictures of the Norwegian Royal Family.

The wall on bottom right was also on the ground floor.

This was above a door.



Oslo Opera House


“Not all those who wander are lost.” 
J. R. R. Tolkien


Berlin: Top 10 Attractions


10. Kaiser Wilhehm Memorial Church

 9. The Holocaust Memorial



8. Brandenburg Gate



7. Pergamon Museum


6. Memorial of the Berlin Wall

 5. DDR Museum

 4. German Historical Museum
The German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum), DHM for short, is a museum in Berlin devoted to German history and defines itself as a place of enlightenment and understanding of the shared history of Germans and Europeans.

3. Topography of Terror

2. Berlin Zoo
The Berlin Zoological Garden (German: Zoologischer Garten Berlin) is the oldest and best known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844 it covers 34 hectares (84 acres) and is located in Berlin's Tiergarten. With almost 1,500 different species and around 19,500 animals the zoo presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world

1. Checkpoint Charlie



The list is a summary from a youtube video on the same subject
Other source; Wikipedia

Monday, November 28, 2011

Haarlem: Centrum




Bottom-middle is in front of me, bottom-left to my left, bottom-right on the right. Top-middle is bottom-middle zoomed. Top-left is behind me and top-right is further ahead behind the statue.

Amsterdam: A Walk around Jordaan

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. "

Saint Augustine







The Hague: Madurodam

“He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.”
 Dutch proverb


Welcome to is the smallest town in the Netherlands! This is where you have a bird eye view of the Netherlands. Everything is precisely 25 times smaller than in reality.


Left: Model #17 - Weighing House and cheese market | Alkmaar
The Weighing House in Alkmaar was originally a holy Ghost almshouse, where poor travellers could stay. In 1582, it was rebuilt as a Weighing House, where the cheeses were weighed and sold. The building now houses the Holland Cheese Museum. In Moduradam trading in cheeses is conducted in the traditional manneron the square in front of the Weighing house

Right: Model #4 - Reformed Church | Maasdijk
architect A. Komter completed this church for the reformed Church in Maasdijk in 1952.


Left: Model # 33 - Magna Plaza shopping centre | Amsterdam
This building in the centre on Amsterdamhas housed the magna Plaza shopping centre since 1992. The building opened its doors in 1899 as the Amsterdam main post office. it was designed by architect Cornelis Hendrik peters. To the left of the shopping arcade is Tattoo Bob, where the people of Modurodam can get a tattoo. On the canal to the right you will see the 'Gay monument'

Right: Model #43 - The 'Rijksmuseum | Amsterdam
the Rijksmuseum, dating from 1885 and designed by P.J.H. Cuypers, houses one of the most important collections of XV-xix century paintings. If you bedn down you can see the Night Watch (1642) by the world famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn. The model was added to Moduradam to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the collection. The real Rijksmuseum is currently undergoing comprehensive renovation inside.

 
Left: Model #44 - The royal Theater | The Hague
The Royal theater was built in 1766 as part of a palace that was never completed. It was converted to a theater in 1804.

Middle Model #156 - Royal Palace 'Huis ten Bosch' | The Hague
This large country house is the residence of Queen Beatrix. It was built around 1645, according to a design by Pieter Post for Amalia van Solms, the wife of the Frederik Hendrik. Both side wings are of a later period: they were added during a major renovation in 1735, led by Daniel Marot. The gardens and palace were fully restored after the Second World War. 

Right: Model #29 - Building of the Supreme Court | The Hague
To the left, at the waterside, is the building in the Lange Voorhout in the Hague occupied by the Supreme court. King Willem I (1814-1840) once lived in this building.




Model #22 - Dutch Parliament Buildings 'Het Binnenhof' | The Hague
The binnenhof has been the centre of government of the netherlands for centuries. Once a year, on the third  Tuesday in September, Parliament is officially opened on 'Prinsjesdag'. In the 'Ridderzaal' (Knights' Hall) the Queen gives a speech setting out government policies for the coming year.



Left: Model #9 - Norther maritime museum | Groningen
The Northern Maritime Museum was opened in 1932 and houses objects originating frm the Dutch shippin and shipbuilding industry.

Right: Model #74 - Central Station | Groningen
This station was designed in 1893 by J. Gosschalk. Prominent features are the galleries on both sides of the main building. These have three arches, of a form unique to Dutch station architecture. Like in the station in Groningen, the white horse greets approaching travellers.



Left: Model #75 - The Peace Palace | The Hague
This palace is the seat of the International Court of Justice. It was designed by the french architect L.M. cordonnier in collaboration with the Durch professor J.A.g. van der Steur, and was built in 1913. The palace was a gift from the American steel magnate CArnegie. This is one of the oldest building models at Madurodam.

Middle: Model #167 - 'AVRO' Radio and television studio | Hilversum
This building, designed by architect Karsten and Merkelbach, dates from 1936 and is an example of the new dutch Realism. The AVRO was the first broadcasting company in the Netherlands to have its own studio.

Model #165 - Dutch East Indies Monument | The Hague (the front portion of the picture)
The indies Monument is situated in the woods nearby Moduradam. A memorial ceremony is held annually to honour the victims of the Japanese occupation in the former Dutch East Indies. The monument was designed by Jaroslawa Dankowa.

Right: Model # 193 - Pop Concert | The Hague
Here the golden Earring is given a sparkling concert.

Info taken from brochure/guide that comes with entry ticket

Rotterdam: Cube House

Can you imagine living in a house like these? Well you can find out for yourself as you can visit one of the house (show cube) for 2 Euro. These houses can be found only in Rotterdam and Helmond. Each house represent a tree and all houses together would represent a forest. All the furniture inside are custom made. The average furniture would be too space comsuming if put in these houses. The walls tilted to 45 degrees.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Pillars of Belgium

You can spot these pillars in the train station - The icon of Belgium' s train station.
 Brugge

Brussels

Antwerp



Antwerp's Pedestrian Tunnel

The pedestrian tunnel in Antwerp link the river Schelde to the left bank. The escalator that goes down to the tunnel was the very first being built and it is made of wood. There is a lift as well and it is a very huge one. You can carry along your bicycle in the lift.




    To the left is the tunnel, and on the right is the view from the other side of the river. 

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” Danny Kaye

Brussels: Top Attractions


St Michael Basalica

   Atomium



   Manneken Pis


Royal Greenhouse

Royal Palace



Grand Place / Grote Markt

Brugge: Market

Market at Grote Markt is held on every Wednesday. When I passed the place on a bus at around 5.00 am to go to my host place I saw that people were getting ready to start business. According to my host, the market lasted until 2.00pm.

     Sausages and ham stall


    Waffles stall, the ones shown was coated with sugar

   Cheese stall

    Fruit stall 

    Flower stall


Historical town of Brugge

The Squares - There are two main square, the Markt (where market is held every Wednesday) and the Burg closely.

Canal Ride - For 6.90 Euro you can go for a canal ride. The size of the boat is small, it can fit 15-20 people. You don't have to wait too long. Great view of the town and great way to chill after walking around the town. The following picture showed the boats used for the ride.
 





Brouwerij De Halve Maan (The Half Moon Brewery) tour - For 6.50 Euro you can join a guided tour round the brewery on beer making process. Brugse Zot (Bruges Lunatic) is one of the brew. You get a free beer at the end of the tour. At the top floor you will have very good view of the town. The factory also housed a restaurant on the ground floor.





"The only beer that is actually brewed and lagered in Brugge (Bruges), pale blond ale, crowned with a white head, blooms with a fruity pronounced aroma, hints of lemon, and hits the palate with a refreshing dryness, embellished by hints of spices and orange, balanced by an underlying faint malty sweetness. This is one of the lighter Pale golden ales with an alcohol content of 6 %. The beer finishes with a short, fruity taste that somewhat sticks to the palate".

 Churches and Basilica
- Church of the Holy Blood
- Church of our Lady

Visit the Begijnhof (convent).




Eat Frites (fries), chocolate and waffles.






Useful site
http://www.trabel.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Packing list

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

Susan Heller


The following were my packing list for my 101 days trip to Europe

T-shirts (3 T-backs, 3-with sleeves, 1-sleeveless, 1-long sleeve,1 tube top??, 1-spaghetti strap??,1-halter top??,...)
underwears (16-disposable, 7-reusable)
3-bras
4-dresses for daywear
2-dresses for clubbing
2-jeans
2-short pants
1-jogging pant
1-legging
1-mini skirt
1-sport bra
1-long pants for sleeping
1-short pant for sleeping (in case its hot ;)
2-fleece jackets
1-knitwear
1-bikini
1-belt
2-towels
1-small towel
1-beach blanket

sport shoes
walking shoes
3 inch heels
flip flop
shoe deodorant
2- socks

adapter
camera (charger, all sort of cords that come with it)
handphone (extra battery, charger, ear-plug)
pens
notepad
sudoku puzzles

shampoo
conditioner
leave-on conditioner
shower foam
facial cleaser
toner
mosturiser
facial cottons
wet wipes
tissue papers
lotion (1-150ml, 1 miniature bottle)
sunblock
shades
goggles
deodorant
2-lipbalm
40-pads
tampons (1 box)
90-panty liners
hair spray

shopping bag
bag for going to beach
bag for daily travel
plastic bags (for wet clothing)

lenses
lense solution (1- 350ml, 2- 150ml)
3-lense cases
spectacles

nail clipper
cotton buds
disposable tooth pick with floss tip
2-sewing kits
shaver/razor
limited makeup - eye liner, mascara, lipstick, eye shadows palate, blusher, makeup remover
limited accesories - earrings, necklace
medication/first aid - plasters, tiger balm, nose rub, oilment, pills
biscuits/snack

sleeping bag
blanket from Ikea

All these I carried in my backpack and daypack. My load was damn heavy. Everthing is so excessive. As days pass by the toilettries become lighter making room for more souviner and maps. I was comtemplating sending a parcel back in Budapest. I had it packed in the post office but decided against it when I found out the price. Eventually I carry the box all the way to Salzburg and then Zurich before sending it back home.

On day 5, I was reading a Lonely Planet (or whatever) guide on RTW trip and read in the preparation section roughly the following statement:

The less you carry, the less for you to look after, the less for you to guard against lost/theft

How I wish I read it before I set out or someeone would actually check out my luggage and advise me to carry less stuff. Moral of the story: Please get expert advise when it comes to packing.


“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.” 

Glenn Clark



P/S: I
think this is not the complete list

Getting Ready

I actually have more than 7 months to prepare for my European trip. The said amount time to save money, to research on places I wanted to go and buy stuff that I needed for my trip.

First thing I did was to tell all my friends and family. Some couchsurfing friends offered me a place to stay and their availability. Most of my intial planning was looking at a map and plot where I would like to go from cities to cities, changing my mind throughout. Part of it was talking to friends who have been to Europe and asking for advice and recommendations.

Due to workload,  my active social life and procastination I didn't do very well.

My research is limited to doing wikitravel search on the potential cities I wanted to visit and if I wanted more information will do a google search.

I didn't manage to save much money, so for my trip I bagged my mum to borrow me some money and get another bank loan. I am a very good pay-master so I can easily get a personal loan from my bank.

My European Adventure



"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step click"

It all begin in Nov 2010, Airasia just launched a new route to Paris and they were having promotion. Somehow I manage to secure a flight after trying endlessly for 6 hours. I got a return tickets to Paris for less than RM 1600 (Euro 400) ;) The best gift I have given myself. The rest as they say is history.

2011 was an amazing year for me.  I traveled around Europe for 3 months during the summer mostly on my own. My best friend's sis joined me for 3 weeks. I’ve visited 31 cities in 13 countries 101 days covering 13925km (8652 miles).


I've been to Ghent, Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Berlin, Oslo, Trondheim, Sortland, Tromso, Budapest, Zagreb, Salzburg, Zurich, Lucerne, Brunnen, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Florence, Pisa, La Spezia, Rome, Naples, London, Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Lyon and Paris

Here's a map of cities I have been