A Trip to Europe: Part 4

Shreyaspeak:

February 24th 2008

It was carnival day in Arlon. It was time for everyone to get on to the streets and make one hell of a mess. The carnival is being held for the past 30 years and it is quite a sight. K, M and I decided to walk the streets of the city in the morning to just take in the pre-carnival atmosphere. The carnival procession was to start in the afternoon. We saw the preparations for the procession, people dressed in weird clothes, bands playing. The whole town was in frenzy. We ate French fries and bought a balloon for M that cost a whopping 5 Euros. Wow!!

Soon it was carnival procession time. We found ourselves a nice place to stand and watch the procession. The parade started with so many troupes of dancers, performers, bands, weird dressed up people, people throwing sweets and confetti.

Carnival at Arlon

Carnival Bunny

Kids throwing confetti at each other at Arlon

The whole sight was so colorful and so full of life. We really had a great time being a part of this carnival. Late in the evening, there was a tradition of burning an effigy to get rid of evil. There was a lot of drinking and dancing involved. We watched all of this from our apartment window. End of a very memorable and fun-filled day.

February 25th 2008

An early start to the day as I had to reach Luxembourg’s Gare Centrale in time to catch the 08:10 hours CET TGV to Paris-Est. Took the 20 minute train journey from Arlon to Luxembourg and was in time to get on the TGV. The journey to Paris was really comfortable but for the two long stops at the stations in Thionville and Metz.

After a two hour journey, I arrived at Paris-Est station. My next job was to find a place where I could get a printout of my hotel reservation and then, find the hotel itself. Thankfully, I found a place near the station, got the printout and found the hotel quite easily. I had booked a single room for two nights at this place called Bel Oranger nearby the Paris-Est station. The room costs 95 euro per night but since I had booked it online through a website, I got it for 55 euro for a night. Good bargain indeed.

I settled down in the room and freshened up. Called up my friend K2 (another name starting with K. So, I shall call her K2) and decided upon meeting her in the evening. I then headed out with a map of Paris in my hand (available at the hotel reception). I walked on the Boulevard De Magenta towards the Place De La Republique. Don’t we all love French names? From there, I decided to explore ‘The Louvre’ museum. I headed towards ‘Rue Rivoli’ and the sight of the Louvre took my breath away. The immense size of the structure just hits you. It is incredible. I got in to the museum and decided to explore the sections housing Greek sculptures, Italian paintings and the Egyptian gallery. It was quite an amazing display of art but there was one painting that was a big disappointment.

Virgin on the Rocks

Monalisa

All art lovers will hate me for this but I felt the Monalisa was not worth the hype. I expected it to be much bigger than it actually turned out to be. The Egyptian section was wonderful with the sarcophagus of Ramses and other artifacts. I was so immersed in checking out every item displayed that I did not realize how time flew by. It was nearly evening by then and I had just managed to cover a third of the museum. I headed out to meet my friend K2. We had decided to meet up at a place on the Champs Elysees.

Champs Elysees

I walked towards that from the Louvre, went past jardin des tuileries, place de la concorde and finally reached Champs Elysees. The road is an incredible buzz of activity with lots of people, designer fashion stores, eat outs, and some well known theatres like The Lido. K2 reached the place about the same time as I did and it was wonderful to see her after quite a long time. She and I were in the same batch that joined Infosys and we had become good friends. She showed me the various stores and then, we went in to one of them since I had some perfume purchasing to be done. Enter the perfume store and you get attacked by girls with perfume strips. ‘Try this!! Try that!! What kind of fragrance do you prefer?’ These are the things one has to deal with in such stores. After smelling about a hundred fragrances, K2 and I both finished our perfume shopping and got out. It was so good to smell the clean non fragrant air once again.

We then took the Paris metro to the Eiffel Tower and spent the evening viewing the lovely Paris city view from up top.

After a bit of souvenir shopping, it was time to head back home for her and I got back to my hotel.

February 26th 2008

Sacre Coeur

Breakfast in the hotel and then, I was off to see the Sacre Coeur, Montmarte. It was quite close to my hotel and I made it there on foot. Since the church is situated on a hill, there are a few steps to be climbed. The church is an incredible sight. Quite different in terms of the style to other churches one sees in Europe, this one with its massive width and domes looks spectacular. The view of Paris from Sacre Coeur is also wonderful. The church has a every tranquil feel to it on the inside and the choir is great. I then climbed down the hill and went through the numerous narrow streets in Montmarte. These are a lot of small shops selling souvenirs, t-shirts and various other goods. After a while of exploring around, I headed back to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch, I called up K2 and we decided to meet up in a café near Notre Dame. Paris road side cafes are lovely but the traffic really gets on your nerves. I actually found the traffic similar to the traffic in Bangalore (a bit of an exaggeration but Paris traffic is bad). We then headed to see the Notre Dame cathedral.

I have always been a big fan of this cathedral mainly because of the gargoyles and the place is a wonderful sight once it gets dark and the lights come on. A bit of light drizzle wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits. We then headed off to an area filled with restaurants of international cuisine. French, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai… you name it, and there’s a restaurant catering to your taste buds. K2 and I decided on a Mexican place and the food was wonderful although the quantity was just too much for us to finish. K2 and I then said our goodbyes and I returned to my room for the night.

February 27th 2008

The day to leave Paris and get back to Brussels. The Thalis train from Paris-Nord to Brussels-Midi was scheduled to leave at 10:30 hours CET and I was at the station well before the departure time. The journey itself was very good with no stops in between and I reached Brussels-Midi in 1 hour. Caught the metro from Brussels-Midi to Rogier and met up with AP to collect the apartment keys from him. We had a light brunch and he got back to his work whereas I went to the apartment. After freshening up, I called up a distant relative (my third cousin) who was in Brussels with his family. He invited me over for dinner that night at his place and I was longing for home food. So, it was going to work out really well!!

Spent a bit of the evening walking around the Madou and Rogier area and then met up with my cousin. He took me to his apartment where he stayed with his wife and two kids. The Leonidas chocolates I had bought for the kids made me an instant hit with them 😉 Dinner was a typical south Indian affair and lip smacking. Time to head back and call it a day.

February 28th 2008

Last day in Brussels before my flight back home and I had some shopping to be done. Mainly Belgian chocolates. I visited some malls in the shopping district of Brussels, observing the style and trends of people In Brussels. As in every part Europe, style is very important to the people of Brussels and it shows. The girls with their boots, the fake fur, the long overcoats, the fragrances, the accessories… I can go on and on. Had lunch at an Indian restaurant (was bored of sandwiches and salads) and purchased a whole lot of Leonidas chocolates to take back to India. Choosing the right kind of chocolate to buy is quite an ordeal in itself because of the variety and choice on offer. Tasting every thing and deciding whether to take it or not… I wish someone would pay me to do this job =D

Came back home in the evening and did my packing to return back home the next day.

February 29th 2008

Leap year bonus day would be my travelling-back day. After saying my farewells to my friend and his roommates, I proceeded to Madou metro station and caught the metrorail to Rogier. Walking from Rogier station to Brussels-Nord train station with my luggage wasn’t very comforting but I had no other choice. A cab from Brussels-Nord to Brussels International airport would cost me 50 Euros. I think I have better usage for that much money. A train departs from Brussels-Nord every 20 minutes to the airport and I took the one leaving at 09:00 hours CET. The travel time is about 15 minutes and it costs just 2 Euros. Brussels International airport is amongst the top airports in Europe and it shows. The facilities and the arrangement are really good and well setup. I got my check in done proceeded to the departure lounge. Brussels International airport has great shopping and it houses the largest chocolate store in Belgium. Although I had no further chocolate shopping to be done, I did a bit of tasting. Yes!! I can never get enough of eating chocolates. Also, I wanted to buy something for my dad and my eyes fell on an optics store. I really liked a pair of RayBan sunglasses there and decided to get that for my dad. A 106 Euro purchase which was well worth it. Time to board my flight which was a comfortable journey with good food and drinks. The flight departed Brussels at 11:30 hours CET and reached Chennai at 01:40 hours IST.

March 1st 2008

Since I had done a through check in, I did not have to collect my baggage and after passing customs check, I walked over to the domestic section of the airport. After 2 weeks in Europe, the humidity in Chennai really hit me. I had my flight to Bangalore at 05:55 hours IST which meant that I had a little more than 4 hours to spend there and it was unbearable. I wasn’t able to sleep much during this time and all I did was trying to read a book I was carrying. After an agony filled 4 hours, I boarded my flight to Bangalore. The flight left Chennai at 05:55 hours IST and reached Bangalore at 06:40 hours IST. I got my baggage out pretty quickly and saw my parents waiting outside the airport. I reached Mysore a few hours that day by car.

A lovely experience lasting for 2 weeks had come to an end. Four countries in Europe, meeting friends, new experiences, new food, new environment… I relish every moment of it. My first trip to Europe might have come to an end but I will definitely be going back again for more.

P.S: Names of friends have been referred to with initials/short form to maintain anonymity.

Thanks AP, Sam, P, K, M, Lara and K2 for making my trip a very wonderful experience.

Brief facts

Number of countries visited: 4

Name of countries visited: Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France

Cities visited: Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Brussels, Brugge, Arlon, Luxembourg and Paris

Mode of travel: To and fro from India by air, intra-Europe via rail

Slideshows:

Related Posts
A Trip to Europe: Part 1
A Trip to Europe: Part 2
A Trip to Europe: Part 3

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24 Responses to “A Trip to Europe: Part 4”


  1. 1 arvind July 23, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    wonderful paintings aren’t the ..i just want to visit europe to see all those paintings..
    dont u think the font is small.. 😦

  2. 2 Xylene July 23, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    That was awesome. The pictures was superb.
    He had a great time for sure.

  3. 3 Shefaly July 23, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Shreyas

    I think everyone feels the same about the Monalisa. It would help if they did not put it in a large room as they have done so its relative smallness (of size) becomes too apparent. Louvre really needs at least a week of walking inside 🙂 Everytime I go, my footwear is in my hands after about 4-5 hours..

    One of the reasons why Sacre Coeur seems so imposing is probably because of the triumphalism which guided its construction.

    Did you go inside the Louis Vuitton showroom on Champs Elysees? It is an art gallery so they can keep it open on Sundays when retail is closed..

    And yes, Parisians are awful drivers, no question about it. Crossing the road at Arc de Triomphe is like having a deathwish :-/

    I can now see why Poonam is so impressed with Belgium – you write so much about it in your posts 🙂

    Thanks for writing about it all.

  4. 4 Lekhni July 24, 2008 at 3:38 am

    I have fond memories of “Hammurabi’s Code” too at the Louvre. I agree, the Egyptian section is quieter, far less crowded and much more interesting.

  5. 5 Shreyas July 24, 2008 at 11:07 am

    @ Shefaly: I saw the Luis Vuitton showroom and boy is it huge. But I didnt go inside because I had my friend K2 with me and her husband had forbidden her from going inside. You see… shes one crazy shopping freak. Theres no telling what she’l end up buying. The cost doesnt matter 😀

    and Im glad you liked this travelogue. Its myfirst and I guess the amatuerishness shows. Well, will keep improving for sure and boy, I cant wait for my next trip. Destination not yet known 😀

    @ Lekhni : a fellow egyptian civilization fan eh? I am just crazy about the egyptian works.

    @ Xylene : Maybe the entire photo album can be published. Lets see if I can get Poonam to put up the link here.

  6. 6 praneshachar July 24, 2008 at 11:21 am

    from mysore to europe and back nicely depicted and the concluding part is like a jewel on the crow. great paintinga and great description of gallaries wonderful experience and u have narrated in such a fashion it was as if we were also there. great simply great
    have wonderful times ahead and enjoy more and more trips and post for us let us atleast read and feel.
    poonam: thanks a lot of posting I had a virutal Euro trip great

  7. 7 Shreyas July 24, 2008 at 11:39 am

    @ praneshachar : I was actually sceptical about my style of writing cause usually travelogues arent wriiten in this style. Well, im happy you all liked it. I will try making my future writeups have more detail and finesse.

  8. 8 praneshachar July 24, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    shreyas: there is lot of difference bewtween writers who travel to write a travelogue and an ordinary traveller making a report. yours in second cagtegory but has got all quality and content what one loves to have. that way your efforts are laudable great going keep it up

  9. 9 Amit July 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    A 5 euro balloon. Wow!!!!
    And I have heard about the “smallness” of the MonaLisa painting. At first sight you might take it as a fake as you have a different image in your brain.
    This was a beautiful four series post. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 10 Sakhi July 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Good post again.. and i want to visit europe too! GOd only knows when will be able to do that! *wishful thinking*

  11. 11 Shefaly July 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    @ Shreyas: Oh it is a pity you did not go inside the Vuitton. They have some of the most fabulous, old – vintage! – luggage on display. Of course they sell some well-architected but rather overpriced stuff too but with so many fake LVs about, that is one brand that has no allure for me. I am sure your friend would have had that discretion too 🙂 The LV showroom is in an odd way a modern hommage to consumerism, a modern museum of sorts.

    I note you went by Jardin des Tuilleries. Did you go in? Monet’s famous Water Lilies are open again to the public after several years, exhibited in the Orangerie of the Tuilleries.

    I wouldn’t worry about the ‘amateurishness’ of the post. 🙂 I travel a lot but I rarely report on my blog on them. I report when I have something photo-documented to report. Travel almost always is more about what we did not capture on the camera..

    Good posts.

  12. 12 Liju Philip July 28, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Ah Europe, my dream vacation place. Want to spend some days at the not so prominently visited European countries like Romania, Hungary, Austria etc. The old communist blocks have some of the best architectures in Europe.

  13. 13 Poonam Sharma July 28, 2008 at 10:04 am

    @Arvind: Did you mean that font for the post is small?

    @Xylene: Yes, he surely had a superb time 🙂

    @Shefaly: 🙂 This smile is for Belgium. 😛

    And thanks for your knowledgeable inputs, my mystic mistress! 🙂

    @Lekhni: Welcome to Visceral Observations! I agree Egyptian section must be more mystic and interesting.

    @Shreyas: Thanks for responding to readers in my absence. I told you this was an interesting travelogue. 🙂

    @Praneshachar: Thanks for your words…

    @Amit: Thanks, buddy…I hope you are back to blogging, I have been out too. 🙂

    @Sakhi: Surely, a Euro trip travelogue from you is also due from you. I am an eternal optimist. Gun for that trip! 🙂

    @Liju: Hey you are back! How was it? I agree old communist blocks would have some of the nicest architecture. 🙂

  14. 14 Shreyas July 28, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    @ Shefaly : looks like I missed out on a lot… Will check out these places the next time I am in Paris.

    @ Liju : True.. eastern europe seems blessed even more that way. My dream destination is Prague in Czech republic. Cant wait to go to that city 🙂

    @ Pranesh, Amit and Sakhi : Thanks for the compliments

    @ Poonam : thanks for forcing me to write the travelogue 😀 so, whens you treating me for it?

  15. 15 vimal July 29, 2008 at 3:12 am

    @ Shreyas & Poonam : Thanks a lot guys for this effort. All the parts are worth reading and the photographs are also great. Please do travel more 🙂 and avoid travelling to these places again 😀

    I am already missing that Carnival bunny 😦

  16. 16 dinu July 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    So this time you have more photos .. good 🙂
    Champs Elysees looks almost like India gate ? at least in this photo

  17. 17 Harsha July 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    awesome paintings.. nice write up 🙂

  18. 18 ManofRoma August 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Being European and liking Poonam’s blog I should have commented on the series before. I liked this report, and the French part I liked most possibly due to my ‘francomania’. Don’t we all like French names?” Yes we do, they are so lovely. The Monalisa ….I expected to be much bigger”. Well, size …. plus it is hard to say why sometimes beauty requires a long path to be fully grasped while other times it is so easily attainable. The buzz at the Champs Elysees; the attack in the perfume shop; the Sacre Coeur church though I don’t find so spectacular being a relatively new church and much preferring ancient stuff, like Notre Dame. On the remark on style in Europe I agree, though it is not to be found everywhere (it is lacking IMO in GB, for example, or in Northern parts of Germany).

  19. 19 Anshul August 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Looks like your blog is attacked….

  20. 20 Nova August 5, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    amazing pics… but what about that green light on Monalisa? Is that the camera flash light?

  21. 21 Shefaly August 5, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    @ Nova: Last I saw the portrait called Mona Lisa, it was hanging in an alcove in the wall, behind a bullet proof glass. The light is also not very good and as far as I recall (I get mixed up between museums and art galleries, because they have different rules), flash photography is not allowable. It is a miracle any photo emerged at all!

  22. 22 Shreyas August 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    @ vimal : thanks for the compliments. It was a pleasure having it read by so many people and for that, I have to thank Poonam again. And yeah… im missing the bunny as well 😀

    @ dinu : well, the shape is similar but the details arent 🙂
    Well, Poonam and trying to see if we can post all the pics of the tour. Hope you will enjoy that as well.

    @ harsha : thanks 🙂 im oozing confidence now for my next writeup 😀 hehe

    @ ManofRoma : I have always been a big fan of the Notre dame cathedral. An d in fact, i didnt even know about the sacre Coeur but i heard about it from my friend and hence, decided to pay it a visit.

    @ Nova and Shefaly : that green light was from someone’s camera, I guess.. the focus light. And yeah, flashes arent allowed in there.

  23. 23 trista34@gmail.com January 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I didn’t know life would change so much when I got you

  24. 24 trista34@gmail.com January 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    And that it would change just as much when you left
    But you put paw prints right on my heart


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