Travelling is in my blood, even my ancestors were migrants from Upper Asia and Tibet. Writing about your travels is like composing a music on paper that you have already experienced in your mind and inner ear. I recently got a contracted project and packed to head for Munich and the Netherlands. Europe is quite familiar to me as I frequent the Western bloc every year on some pretext anyways. This time my destination is five places – Munich, Zoetermeer, the Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. In 3 months you can only do so much and that too with a stupid Indian passport that gets you there, but not without the requisite formalities, certainly no visa on arrival convenience. Regarding visa -real easy got it in 2 days sharp and valid for 2 years! Amazing for me, since that means I get to avoid the passport office as much as possible to enjoy Europe and all of its offerings.
Countries I have visited so far till 2017 April.
Europe : Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg
Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri-Lanka, U.A.E.
Africa: Rwanda, Uganda
15 countries so far in the space of 5 years, notwithstanding countless excursions within each country from state to state and region to region as well as in my home nation the Indian sub-continent from the hilly mountains to the coldest parts of Asia near the Himalayas and Ladakh as well as the jungles of North East India – I am quite happy till now and my passport is nearly finished. So I have to apply for renewal soon. The chart below is generated from www.amcharts.com in their visited countries section. You can make your own one too.
The list of countries yet to visit is huge, though there are some parts where I have absolutely no interest anymore, especially the Middle East Gulf countries as well as Bangladesh and countries where struggle and politics is too much like Yemen and Syria or Iraq.. Also parts of Africa like Liberia and Sierra Leone are some parts where visiting would be more risky than I bargained for. I have no interest in visiting USA other than a few states like New York. I am wholly Europe centric when it comes to living and loving and fulfilling my wanderlust. Central Asia countries like Kyrgyzstan will be for later as they are not really touristy type places but more for cultural acquaintance when the time is right for me.
So keeping that in mind my current list would look like the below chart –zones in the world left for me to enjoy and dive deep in the culture and traditions. This is very feasible for me and makes my travel goals focused minimizing fluff and maximizing value for me most importantly. You can see that it is mostly Europe in the todo list with Russia still left to explore in depth. Just look at the damn size of the country! Transiberian train journey, Mongolia and Siberia are top of my list. Japan is ok, but I am not too much into it – I still prefer Europe over anything else.
Anyways, getting back to my Munich trip. I am literally on the clouds on this one. Such a comfortable trip with Lufthansa – awesome service and such good sleep! I took this right after waking up.
Munich from the sky – notice the rectangular fields and the river Isar (if I remember correctly).
Munich Airport – Flughafen München is really ordered and quiet, very different from say Dubai airport. I landed and found that my connecting flight to Zoetermeer was arriving a day late. I got a 16 Euro food coupon for the breakfast and was asked to check in about 3 hours for the next flight timings. The lady at the reception was courteous and I asked her about spending a day in Munich would be a good proposition, so I asked for some sight seeing places and popular venues to visit. She wrote them down explaining how to visit each one, including Marienplatz the central market in Munich. I proceeded to have my breakfast and tottered around the food stalls and settled for one nice looking outlet for traditional German food – with beer and all that, certainly can’t miss the pork. I felt the lady at the stall was immensely welcoming and we struck a small conversation about what I do and what she does and how is life in Germany and my travel experiences in Germany so far. Really nice and I had a good time sharing a few anecdotes with her. Her name is Marian. She also helped me get the items I wanted without having to pay extra and for that adjustment I owe her one. I asked for her permission to take a snap as a souvenir and she was kind. I ate a hearty breakfast and bought some extra beer from the next stall. German beer is quite strong and even one mug can make you a little tipsy sooner than expected.
The wonderful shopkeeper, thinking about the menu I just asked 🙂
My breakfast for the next hour, the bag has another long bread and pork ham sandwich and a second salad. Typical good airport food eh, for Munich anyways.
Just where do you get to see this kind of peace and quiet in India or Asia anyways? I love the furniture. Very IKEA like, simple straight lines and geometrical shapes with sturdy natural wood. Those are real plants by the way.
I took a train ticket outside for Marienplatz and hoped to see everything that I can muster in one afternoon without overwhelming myself. I just love European and Gothic architecture and the central Church in the market area was huge, typical of such old buildings. Even getting a shot on camera was tricky, and you would need a telephoto lens or wide angle lens to cover that height. I was burdening myself with carrying a Triton Taktile midi keyboard the whole time along with my backpack and it was looking a little funny to me as well, not to mention catching the attention of others repeatedly. I have since changed my gear carrying habits as well. Anyways, I needed an ear cleaning solution that was easily available in Munich medical stores that was comparably not available easily back in India. Its called Otowaxol and it comes with a small rubber ear pump as well. Loved it. It is so effective that it cleared out my right ear before my next flight in 15 minutes flat. After the chemist purchase I proceeded to get another one of my staples – Invisibobble hair bands, that are so very cool, even for a guy like me. Anyone with long hair and voluminous as mine, needs a really modern solution, even if it means wearing girly stuff if required. Just friggin’ awesome. Comes in packs of 3 and I went for the brown and pink. Don’t ask why I like pink, I just do. That was just about all the shopping I had done in the morning.
Very normal scene in Europe anyways, just for the regular drooling, sports cars – for me I am not a car guy, mostly cos I always had VIP cars in India reserved for VIPs and a chauffeur at all times. In fact, a secret – I still don’t really know how to drive, and Uber has spoilt me completely. The only solace I take is that driving wont enable me to fly from one country to the next which is my modus operandi anyways.
The familar magazine stalls you get to see everywhere in most Western European airports and they are not in English, in case you are asking.
Out in central Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) you get the column of St. Mary. Tall structure to look at and you get to the skyline.
Streets and shops are so well lit by the morning sunshine (9:00 AM). The air is very clean too.
That is me with a Shemagh, Gunnar RPG glasses, Steve Madden Ringwald Blue Shoes, a man’s bun and a full belly. Really tanned (you can tell!) after a week long UAE outing on the beach. I need to get back to my schoolgirl complexion and Europe is the place to unwind.
Spotted a Gargoyle like pipe outlet for rainwater.
The church in the center.
An interesting intersection between the buildings.
Seriously the best shot ever for me – in terms of the ambience. The peace in the park, in the morning sun and the cold air is just too awesome to miss.
Roads are so clean out here. Children are so polite and so angelic, its a recurring theme from other countries in the Western bloc of Europe. The children (kinder) treat people with so much respect, I adore them. Just went about walking down the streets here and there at every turn making a mental note of my overall direction. Just love it.
I can read basic German so making sense of things like Ausgang (Exit) and Kirch (Church), Herren (Men) and Damen (Women) is not too difficult. I still find French a lot easier when it comes to numbers nonetheless. International airports always have English on the display boards anyways and from my experience some amazingly helpful reception staff in Frankfurt airport and the like – they all speak excellent English. Lots to share and I had to be in Munich on my way back too, so I spent another two days exploring Munchen.