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. 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.