A Trip to Europe: Part 1

Encouraged by the fact that my Goa trip series was awarded at Dabido’s blog, I decided to publish a friend, Shreyas’ travelogue to Europe. (Dabido, I also take this opportunity to thank you and Ashish who perhaps nominated my post.)

I was intrigued since day 1 when Shreyas told me he was embarking on an trip to Europe on his own. When he returned, I pestered him to write a travelogue until he did write one. :D Once I read his travelogue, I was intrigued by the personal touch Shreyas gave to his travelogue. Its not run of the mill where-to-visit story, it is simply how story of his visit with his thoughts and perceptions. :) Without much ado, I will leave you to enjoy Shreyas journey through his words and pictures:

February 16th 2008

Departure from Bangalore to Chennai at 20:25 hours IST in Jet Airways. Arrival in Chennai at 21:15 hours IST. Spent time at the Chennai airport looking at other passengers initially. Had an obscenely expensive cutlet for dinner. Then, made my way to the Leela Palace lounge and watched the F A Cup game between Manchester United and Arsenal which ended up in a wonderful 4-0 win for the Red Devils. Great start to my trip indeed!! ( A real soccer lover, MU fan that my friend is!)

February 17th 2008

Departure from Chennai to Brussels at 01:15 hours IST in Jet Airways again. The flight was good with nice entertainment options and decent hospitality. Arrived at Brussels International Airport at 07:15 hours CET. Took a while to get my baggage, went through checks and then proceeded to the train station at -1 level of the airport terminal building.

Tintin, Captain Haddok and Snowy climbing down the stairs in Brussels

Purchased tickets to Brussels-Nord and a ticket from Brussels-Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. On the train from the airport to Nord, met a Portuguese co-passenger and indulged in some stray talk. He was telling me about his trip to Africa and asked me a bit India. He helped me in getting down at Brussels-Nord and that is when the cold weather of Europe hit me for the first time. Standing alone with my luggage on the platform waiting for the train and with my cell phone giving me problems was not the ideal way to start my vacation. But, what lay ahead gave me reason to smile. ( I would smile too if I were in his place.)

Departure from Brussels-Nord to Amsterdam Centraal at 09:15 hours CET. The train journey was good with me soaking in the sights of the Belgian and Dutch countryside. In between, I was still working on getting my cellphone to function properly. Made a few calls to the help center that weren’t of much help. Arrived at Amsterdam Centraal at 11:15 hours CET where my friend AP was to meet me at the exit of the station.

Amesterdam Train Station

Arrived at Amsterdam Centraal at 11:15 hours CET where AP was to meet me at the exit of the station. The cold wind of Amsterdam was a bit uncomfortable initially while I was waiting for him. Saw a girl wearing a plunging neckline and that was proof enough that one can be hot even in such weather. ( Boys never stop ogling, do they?) Saw a familiar face next… that of AP. Both of us then proceeded to the youth hostel where he had booked a place for me. On the way to the youth hostel, as we walked straight from the Centraal station, AP pointed to the left and said ‘that’s the red light district. We will go there soon.’

Things were looking good already. We walked to Bob’s Inn where the girl at the reception was very friendly. She was quite confused to hear AP and me converse in English and enquired as to why we don’t talk in our own mother tongue with each other. That was when we told her that India has so many languages and AP and I have different mother tongues. She was quite intrigued by that. AP and I then headed to my room which was in an adjoining street.

I checked out the room (a dorm) which I would be sharing with a guy from Australia, a guy from France and another person whom I never got to talk to (he was always asleep). The dorm costs 21 Euro per night with complimentary breakfast. AP left me in the room and went to shop with his friend Sam (they both had arrived in Amsterdam from Brussels the previous day). I freshened up and then messaged him (my cellphone still wasn’t allowing me to make calls). He asked me to hang around in the red light district and they will catch up with me over there.

I walked in to the red-light district and I have to admit, it was the first time I had seen such a place and it’s quite a sight. What is considered taboo in most places is not so in here. There are cafes, restaurants and shops which one would normally find in any city but so naturally blending in to this were the coffee shops, the sex toy stores, the porn video stores, peep show bars, porn theaters, massage parlors and of course the famed windows with girls in them. ( Well, this is new description for me too!)

The district itself is typical Amsterdam with canals flowing in between, lovely bridges, cobbled streets and of course, the cyclists. There are more cycles than there are people in Amsterdam, some say!

Canals of Amsterdam

More tomorrow in next part!

All images and story are copyrighted to Shreyas.
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28 Responses to “A Trip to Europe: Part 1”


  1. 1 Sakhi July 15, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    congrates for the award! :)

    Loved the “tintin” :)

  2. 2 Anshul July 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    :| Waiting for Part 2 and so on….
    :)

  3. 3 dinu July 15, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    cool image there :D post more images pleaseeeee

  4. 4 Reema July 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    waiting for part 2!! red light area as a tourist spot,eh? :D

  5. 5 Shefaly July 15, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Poonam:

    So is this the travelogue that has endeared Belgium to you? :-)

    Street art is a peculiarly, curiously intriguing thing in European cities. Like that TinTin. (I am wondering now if I should finally post a photo-essay on my Xmas travels from 2007…).

    So when you publish part deux? I hope it is tomorrow :-)

    Holland was the first European country I lived in. It is the cleanest, most orderly and liberal country I have ever been in. Given a chance, I would live in the Hague or Amsterdam in a heartbeat.

    Reema:

    The red light area in Amsterdam is a masterpiece of merchandising. I hope the author publishes some photos for those who are curious how sex can be displayed tastefully.

    What I hope will come out of the Dutch story is the very liberal and tolerant ways of the Dutch. There are, in addition to the red light area, cannabis coffeeshops too. They have enviably enough – at least for the UK I think – a well-integrated immigrant population too.

  6. 6 Shefaly July 15, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    BTW your link to Dabido’s blog is actually leading to the same Goa post as the first link. Just thought you may want to check that. Thanks.

  7. 7 RJ July 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    @Poo – Waiting for part 2 – for all the red reasons :). Unlike Shefaly says, it’s not about curiosity it’s all about CURIOSITY :D

    Also mention, what happened to the girl wearing plunging neckline? :) All in all, nice pics and Europe sure is a vacation material! We all know that!

  8. 8 Julien July 15, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I’m looking forward to part II. Great pics by the way ;-)

  9. 9 vimal July 15, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Whatever happened to that receptionist girl !!! :D

    Eagerly waiting for the next part and please tell shreyas that its a nice write up.

  10. 10 arvind July 16, 2008 at 11:39 am

    waiting for the next one.. as dinu said more images .. :P
    tin tin painitng was great ..
    looks like every body is on the trip

    i just retrurned from kumbakonam tri[p 2 days back..check out that post.. ;)

  11. 11 Poonam Sharma July 16, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    @Sakhi: Thanks, how come you are not writing these days?

    @Anshul: Ok, today..

    @Dinu: I will try to get a slideshow from Shreayas.

    @Reema: Guys manage to find such spaces. :)

    @Shefaly: yes, this and there is another travel album I saw belonging to my honeymooning friends. :) But I thought of Belgium even before that.

    Why are you still wondering about posting that, you have shared that lament when I wrote those Goa posts. Please post it, it would be antidote to my sore eyes. Btw, I have read your recent post, but not commented only because didn’t have anything new to add.

    I will have to ask Shreyas about pictures of red light area. And thanks for pointing out error to Dabido’s post, I have corrected it.

    @RJ: uh han, now you too want to know about girl with plunging necklines. NEw post today….

    @Julien: I hope I don’t disappoint you, I will try to put more pictures.

    @Vimal: Now you are another. RJ wants to know about girl with plunging neckline and you want to know about receptionist. Are all you guys always so solicitous :P Vimal, keep on your appreciation, Shreyas will be reading your comment. Hopefully, he replies too. :)

    @Arvind: Commented on your post..and new post today.

  12. 12 Shefaly July 16, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    @ Poonam:

    Yes, I remember. The trip was a week long; there were lots of friends and more importantly, chillun. So I have a few hundred photos from which I have to sort some to share taking into account that no chillun show up and no unwitting adults become web celebs! It is a huge task.

    Given the last post, I need to give it a bit of a breather to post something so drastically different. (And the discussion is quite heated and I already have an epilogue/ follow-up to it in my mind).

    Thanks for reminding me though :-) I will make slide shows and share them. Soon.

  13. 13 Joel July 16, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Wow.. Europe.. I love that place… I wanna go there once… and the pic are nice btw..!
    Waiting for the next part… :excited: :D

  14. 14 dinu July 16, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    @ Poonam

    Slideshow is a good idea … :D Upload files to flickr n link here na ? why do you want to use your storage here at wp ?

  15. 15 Shefaly July 16, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    @ Poonam:

    Done. Tell me what you think.

  16. 16 Ashish July 16, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Boo… Dabido gets a linkback and I don’t? Booo… I even voted for you. :P Okay, I’m joking. lol. Once again, congratso on the award! :)

    I refuse to read the post as it will just increase my Europe pangs more… its the place I want to be right now. :D

  17. 17 vimal July 16, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Oh good god, how did i miss this???? Sorry!!!

    Congratssss blogmate, on the award, I am sure you will win much more laurels than this. Keep writing, on in other words, keep entertaining us!

  18. 18 Shreyas July 16, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    @ Shefaly : Yeah… what u say is true :)
    coming to more red light pictures, I didnt take more cause its prohibited there and I didnt wana risk my camera.

    and yeah, the dutch are the most liberal people in the world. and it shows :)

    @ RJ and Vimal : those girls were seen only during the time mentioned. Sorry to disapoint you guys

  19. 19 Poonam Sharma July 17, 2008 at 11:42 am

    @Ashish: I never knew there had been voting, or I had been more grateful to backlink. :P I will now though, indebted. :P

    But you should read this to dream of bauties.

    @Vimal: Bus aise hi, suddenly! This is takiya kalam of a bad shayar in a TV soap. I hope if I manage to keep you both entertained and informed, its an feat in itself. :)

    @Shreyas: Thanks for dropping by and allowing me to post your travelogue!

  20. 20 Harsha July 17, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Congrats :) sorry for conveying greetings late as i was very busy in work for last few days.

    tintin pic is nice :-)

  21. 21 Xylene July 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

    wow !! I loved that TIntin picture. :)
    Europe ! That is one of my dream destinations, well whose aint?

  22. 22 Poonam Sharma July 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    @Harsha: No problem! Glad you could come by despite busi-ness :)

    @Xylene: yes, Europe is almost every one’s dream destination, including me. :) I will surely go for a world tour.

  23. 23 Dabido July 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Hee hee! Dabido Awards are much sort after. :-)
    People who win them deserve them. :-)

    Poonam: Glad you think so! :) Thank you for coming by!


  1. 1 Barcelona in Christmas, 2007 « La Vie Quotidienne Trackback on July 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm
  2. 2 A Trip to Europe: Part 2 « Visceral Observations Trackback on July 16, 2008 at 4:13 pm
  3. 3 A Trip to Europe: Part 3 « Visceral Observations Trackback on July 17, 2008 at 5:49 pm
  4. 4 A Trip to Europe: Part 4 « Visceral Observations Trackback on July 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm
  5. 5 Europe Tour: Slideshows « Visceral Observations Trackback on August 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

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