Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Part 6 (Geneva Chapter)

Immediately after breakfast, we continue our traveling by bus, not on foot anymore. So our itinerary includes stop over in Lausanne-the Olympic Capital and Geneva.

On our way, we could see on both sides of the highway, white blankets of snow covering up most of the area. At certain angle, we could see the Alps!

We reach Lausanne first, where the weather was romantically cool for us to wander around the town. The town was quite hilly, and most of the time we were walking down a certain narrow hilly lane which actually leading to Lake Leman (Lac Léman to its French-speaking inhabitants).

We stop by a row of stalls selling fresh produce of the farm and we bought 2 packs of fresh strawberry - delicious!! We ate while walking our way to the tram station which would take us to Lake Leman in much faster time - err like 5 minutes (if I had time, I would rather walk and enjoy its architecture..but hey, I have to follow the team, remember). Lake Leman is so breathtaking - you can see the whole stretch of the lake where your eyes can set on were flank by the Alps with snowy peak of the higher Montblanc - magnificent!! My auto-cam doesn't do justice to the whole scenery, it doesn't really potray how breathtaking the actual coastal scenery is..goshh, you have to come so you could believe me and adore and you would thank God for such creation!

Architecture of Geneva
After Lausanne, we proceed to Geneva where almost everybody of the group was seen busying themselves in selecting souvenirs to take home. Souvenirs here in Geneva were quite expensive in comparison in Amsterdam. But I like the weather here..it's bright and cool! And I wish I could have more time to explore the city, its architecture especially and feel the life of it! oh well, it can't be done as I wish and if you want to know more about Geneva

It was almost 5pm when we decided to leave Geneva and headed back to our hotel in Zurich - time is so short to cover all these places and seriously, these men do shopp!! and I thought girls would be a big spender when it come to shopping...
Architecture of Geneva

strolling the streets of Geneva
Lac Léman

Monday, February 22, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Day 5: Zurich Chapter

The Fourth Day actually starts as early as 4 am for me as we have to be ready to leave the hotel at 5am to enable to catch the train to Zurich at 6am. It was a late night for me, packing-up the bags, the souvenirs all that..and I was worried that I couldn't wakes up on time to get things ready to go. Again, we had to walk really early in the morning to the nearest train station (gosh this bag is HEAVY-I have to thicken my face to ask favors from the guys every time we stumble upon staircases) We have to change train in order to get to the station that will get us to Zurich. And I wonder, isn't there any handicap people in Paris?? Because, there ain't any escalator or lifts at any of these stations!! and of course we have to walk fast in fear that we might missed the train.

So, we finally reach the station in time so we boarded the train and finally catch our breathe!! The train was comfortable enough and there's no external sound coming in, so we can actually relax and catch a nap - which actually I don't! The journey takes us pass the time from dawn to morning, enjoying nothing but the bluish-gloomily vistas of snowy landscapes!! Gosh, it was cold!! and from inside the train which going at quite a speed, you can't see much except when it's nearing a station.

When we arrived in Zurich, we had to change our money from Euro to Swiss Franc. Well the toilet cost me 8SF-believe it or not!! but it was neatly clean as similar to a powder room clean!! We kept all our luggage and take a stroll towards what seems 'deserted' old town of Zurich on Saturday (I was told that all the shoppes actually closed on Saturday in Zurich!!) There seems to be a celebrations/parade going on, so we just hang out and enjoy ourselves. We did try to get on another river-cruise but I'm not sure why we can't make it - something to do with the schedule, I think.

The sky was truly of clear azure, and I can see the jetline within it's skyline!! I'm so at awe of such beauty!! We didn't realized that we have spent all day enjoying the parade - it was actually nothing much to brag about but it was fun since we had no where else to go since all other places were closed on Saturday - so forget about shopping ya, guys if you happened to reach Zurich on weekend.

Late in the evening, we walk pass the old town to get to the station where we kept our luggage and headed to our hotel. We have to get on board of a tram to reach our hotel and by the time we reach the place, we have to walk another 500meters or so with our bags. OMG, I didn't realized how exhausted I was when I finally sat myself on the sofa at the reception lobby-and it seems ages for them to process the registration!! I was feeling like the ultraman-blinking-out-red-light of loosing the power anytime!!

When, I reach the room (gosh it was a dreadful 20meters walk from the lift to the door), I really can't think much except I need to catch on my sleep-so freaking tired!! so, managed to popped-in some paracetamol, leave a message to the group leader that I'd definitely give dinner a missed - nothing feels better than a good sleep at that particular moment!!

Well, what happened next was humiliatingly disturbing!! I can't believe I was so deep in sleep that I can't actually noticed any of the ringing phones, ringing door bells even knocks on the door!! SERIOUS aloof of me!! (I'm not sure how deep have I been?!)

Anyway, the fifth day turn out to be better. We headed for tour to Lausanne and Geneva! and we are taking a bus right in front of the hotel ...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Day 4: Paris Chapter

We arrived in Paris, really early in the morning- it's about 6am where the sky was still dark. From the bus-station, we had to walk to nearest train station dragging all our bags in order to catch the intercity train to our hotel which is located in the city centre. I can't really figure out which station that we were and which station that we stop for the hotel. Again we have to drag our bags and walk from the station to our hotel (our group leader was sure knew where he was leading us too..I don't!!) It was cold, wet morning and it was a quiet walk - Parisian are still sleeping!! not to mention there are people who sleeps right in the middle of the pedestrian walkways-I almost bumped into one!!

so Day 4 - after a quick freshen up (luckily we managed to get the room early) we start our Paris Tour with visits to the famous Eiffel Tower!! Majestic!! I'm seriously felt I was some sort in love with Paris. Eiffel!! I'm so in LOVE!! Unfortunately we cant make it through the top - the ques was already like a miles long even though it's only 10am at that time.. and the rest of the group wasn't as keen as me about going up there,so, we spend some time there snapping away pictures!

The opportunity to ride the double-decker bus was waived as we find that it wasn’t economic to do so for such a quick tour, which later we decided to do as what we did in Amsterdam - we take the cruise via the Seine River – it was said that it is the traditional and romantic way to explore Paris. The cruise starts from the quay nearby Eiffel Tower, and we make a stop at the Le Musée d’Orsay where I think it has a spectacular architecture but I was not able to enjoy it as the rest decided to make it a pass.

We continue the journey along the Seine where it is lined with old quays and crossed by many gorgeous looking bridges. The cruise pass-by the iconic Notre Dame - woww!!(magnificent detailing and the opportunity to see those flying buttresses outside the text book is tremendously awesome)

We make our last stop at L’Hotel deVille where we started our leg of tour by foot. I have two options - walk slowly with the 'backbenchers group' or follow the fast-pace of those 'road runners' (hehe..i chose road-runners!)

Looking for a place for lunch that could fit these guys basic requirements was tough (I was doing okay with bread and sandwiches-they don't!) So, we walk and we walk and we walk…under such good weather, whilst admiring the landscapes and the architecture, it makes you forget that it already way pass your lunch time and you only had your breakfast at 6am simply because you just doesn’t feel exhausted at all.

We finally make it to Champs Elysees, and from far you can see the Arc de Triomphe located at the other end of Champs Elysees Avenue. The traffic was heavy, but the avenue is so wide that it is so comfortable to just walk under the cool weather, plus there are so many things to look at that we didn’t realized we walked through it.

I do enjoy walking the avenue, feeling the Louis Vuitton boutique (woww, for 200 euro you can only get the key holder!! Lucikly, I'm not into it) but it was unfortunate that I just can’t make it to Arc de Triomphe – the rest decided to retreat.

We walk through the other side of the avenue and I get myself a bottle of perfume at the famous perfume shoppe... and then we headed back to hotel... this journey is something I wish to elaborate..so before we headed to Zurich ... I'll write more...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Day 3: Amsterdam Chapter

We were taken to visits on more football fields/stadium at a few more places, Breda and Baker - more like the suburb of Amsterdam.. (as this visit is all about synthetic football field which going to be applied at the Sports School project that I'm handling).

On the evening of day, we boarded a bus to Paris instead of the initial plan on taking the speed train (it's 8hrs journey all through the nite inside a very tight space of four-seater bus - and I thought European people are big in sizes!). We missed the opportunity to board the speed train to Paris as there was a train collision in Belgium. However, we managed to experience snow fall that nite - yayy!! We were so 'jakun'!! haha ..Anyway, the journey was not really comfortable, and I managed to withheld any feelings of going to the loo as the public toilet was far worst than what we have here in Malaysia-talk about civilisation alright.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Day 2: Amsterdam Chapter

On the second day, we board the double-decker train to Eindhoven, heading for the Philips Headquarters (yeahh, you are right - those philips lighting fixtures that we used at home). It takes us about 2 hrs journey and the weather of that particular morning was drizzling cold. We were given some presentation on lighting fixtures and a tour of their facilities - interesting!

glimpse of snow can get a tropical weather person so excited, eh??

capturing memory in front of Eindhoven Station

I think that's a entrance to subway? with Philips HQ at the further end..

Later, we went to their stadium for a guided tour - yes they got their own stadium for football!! the Philips Stadion-PSV. It was late in the evening when we finally make a move back to Amsterdam - we spend like, almost the whole day in Eindhoven! the gloomy post winter weather was slightly better than morning which allow us to enjoy some scenery while boarding the train.

After dinner activity for me was restricted to being indoor - inside my room as all the guys wanted to go hu-ha...moulin rouge, etc etc... and they begged me not to tag along.. Auwww, boring!! this is the un-interesting part of being the only female in a group of male traveling abroad!! and the TV channel sucks - big time!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Europe Travelogue - Day 1: Amsterdam Chapter

I have mixed-feelings upon the invitation to join the trip to Amsterdam. Even though, the invitation was like 'a dream come true' but at the same time it would actually means that I'll be away from home, from the children for a straight 6 days and I've never done that!! Anyway, there's always a first time for everything, and if I survive this, there might be a lot more coming     ;)

Well, the departure day finally sets in and it's going to be a transit in Changi before the actual flight to Schiphol (out of so many places in the world, our transit just turn out to be Changi - well, you cant expect much since you are flying with SIA-duhh).

So, Day1 (it was 18th in KL and 18th again in Amsterdam)

It's actually the first time I set foot inside the International Terminal of KLIA even though I was there when the whole complex was still in its skeleton form and there was dust everywhere in 1997. Unfortunately, I can't really takes my time admiring the complex so forget about KLIA, here come Changi.

Changi Airport Singapore

Changi, being design in such way that really out stand it as a huge air complex by integrating the 'domestic' terminal with the international but other than that, well it's still an airport so nothing much difference from KLIA though.

Upon boarding the plane - it's economy all right with 3-3-3 arrangement and somehow, am stuck with sitting in the middle of the middle row between a malay bloke (one of my entourage) and a danish bloke ( I presume) which interestingly looks like Einstein. Anyway, we were served supper in the middle of the night - talk about timing and the food - what do you expect?!

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam
It was roughly about 6am when we touch down in Schiphol, and it was expected to be negative 4 Celsius. When you are leaving the warmth of the plane loading yourself via the passageway, you can seriously feel the chill and woww, IT IS DAMN CHILL!! It was not a smart strategy by just holding on to your sweater instead of your coat as it does not seriously cover you up. It is freezing cold upon arrival in Amsterdam!!

Walking away from Schilphol Airport in order to get to our transportation was kind of 'challenging' (given the fact this would be the first time that I ever had to brave through minus 3celcius), you had to abstain the freezing cold while dragging your luggage and the windy morning doesn't help much even though it was just 100 meters walk ! Hey, I'm like those in the movies - breathing out cool air - seriously exciting despite the cold.

the lobby of Hotel Terminus (inset-hotel front)
Anyway, it was only half an hour journey to our hotel-Hotel Terminus. OMG!! I had to drag the bag through 2 up-going stairs and another stairs going down upon exit the lift in order to get to my room, and the corridor was very narrow! This is seriously an experience I would never forget! And the room was so tiny, unlike any standard hotel room that I've been with single bed and 3foot wide circulation area in between bed and the wall, but at least it has an attached bathroom and a bay-window overlooking the street!

the stairs leading to my room after the lift

my tiny room (lucky enough to have attached bathroom)
view of Beurs Street from my room's bay window

gloomy skies - flock of birds
After getting refresh, I'm all excited and at the same time, blessed of not having any serious jet legged upon arrival, but 13hrs straight in flight is really something that I'm not looking forward to indulge in near future!!

Walking your way through the streets in Amsterdam really beats you out - It's freezing cold, my nose freezing, and wearing head scarf doesn't makes any difference, you still need something else to cover your head especially your ears, learn my lesson!

And, most interesting of all, I stumble on this particular unit of what should-we-call, a shop or an apartment that is so tiny in width which barely could fit a single door, in between 2 standard size shops!! Also, almost all of the building were constructed to be tilted towards the road, for the reason - goods can be transported inside via the window and not the stairs (remember the narrow stairs of Terminus Hotel?)
it looks like the building is collapsing? NOT!!
My group and I went for souvenir hopping from shoppes to shoppes. These guys are serious about shopping - who said women can go nuts for shopping spree - wrong fact here, though  ;)  Anyway, the Orange Jersey cost a bomb and the workmanship was not so neat,so forget about the jersey! Bought some fridge magnet as souvenirs ..before we settle down for kebab as our lunch - the portion was huge!

Later in the afternoon we managed to get a ride on the river cruise boat. Amsterdam skyline was kind of gloomy due to the weather and somehow it suits all the architecture and I enjoy it!

the water is freezing, yet these ducks seems to be okay..
bridge and more bridges..

Red Light District at night!

After dinner we head towards the 'red light district' - the famous legalised prostitution area in Amsterdam ..euwwww grossss!!! all those women wearing skimpy bikini standing in front of the red-lighted bay window calling out for 'customers'...and they're huge-the sort of trans-gender size back in Malaysia!! However, other than that, I like walking through the night passing by all those building - the architecture detailing under low light create the fancy out of it, however walking alone is not advisable!! but imagine this - it could be quite romantic walking hands in hands with your love ones under the clear sky and very cool weather enjoying the architecture!! haiiihhhhh - dream on Medzz!!!