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Friday, January 13, 2012

BACK --> The Germany-Austria-USA tour diary

Hello Everyone,
Finally I am back. Its been long but this time i will promise to be more regular with my blogs.
I would like to Start from Where i ended.

DAY 1 --> Munich

I reached Munich at around 6 AM. Immediately, i bought a German SIM so that i could be in touch with everyone. Now with most european cities, the airport will always be at a distance from the city centre. And unlike India, they have excellent public transport system to ensure you reach without paying through your noses on a taxi fare. I had to change 2 trains and walk a bit to reach to my hotel. I was informed that Germans are very organised and their way of working is perfection to the core. That is true. A first time traveller would get harrowed for directions, specially in a non-english speaking country. But, in Germany, everything is so well etched that one doesnt have to lift a finger to find directions or their way around things. Since i had come in Winter, well, start of winter, it was freezing cold. But i loved it. At an average daily temperature of 2 and 3 degrees celsius, it was fantastic and just the kind of weather i would love to be in. I managed to get an early check in at the hotel. I freshened up and immediately headed towards the Munich Olympic Stadium. The stadium took only 3 years to built and it is an architectural delight. I did the famous Roof walk tour and then headed towards the park. I had a nice meal of pizzas and Coke and then headed for the Olympic Tower. Here one gets a bird eye's view of Munich. I also saw the small but very nice, Rock Museum. This place is a must for all rock music fans as it has a collection of memoribals from all famosu rock bands who have visited Germany. And i could see, nearly all of the famous ones have. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Beatles, Jim Morrison, Metallica, AC/DC and the list continues. After that i went down to the sea world and saw some awesome aquatic life. After that i headed towards the hotel. I managed to find a pamphlet of a ghost walk tour of Munich.
Now this is not a conventional thing tourists do, so I had to do it :).
I just about managed to reach the place at 7 PM for the tour, where a nice Scot - Adam Fowler took us through lots of lanes and alleys of Munich and told us about all the haunted stories behind the walls. We didnt manage any ghost sightings, however, i must admit that when i came back to the hotel, i got a call from home stating that there was a paranormal activity right in my balcony. I was shocked. I will not go in to the nitty gritty of the activities in my house but i guess the whole question of whether there are Ghosts and whether there are spirits or not in this world, has just been answered. After a nice dinner at a great Indian Restaurant, i decided to call it a night.

Day 2:-
After a huge breakfast, headed for Munich Central Station for Salzburg - Austria. Now Salzburg - is much more colder than Munich. Although it was sunny, the temperature, was 0 degrees celsius. Salzburg, as we all know, is the birth place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. So, apart from visiting the famous Salzburg Fort, collecting memorabili, eating the Sachre Torte, visiting the world;s oldest(And still running) restaurant, i also visited the birth place of Mozart. Its a small town but it has so much to see. I also saw lots of places where the famous Sound of Music was shot. It was a day which was very well spent. In the evening i came back to Munich by around 7:30 PM. Since i had lot of time at hand, i decided to browse around the station shops and reached my hotel at around 9 PM. Went to sleep after a good Mexican dinner.

Day 3:-
Today i headed for the World famous Allianz Football Arena - or the famous FC Bayern Munich football stadium. Since i had time to spare, i took a nice long walk in the famous Englischer Garten or the English Garden of Munich. It was an awesome experience walking on one of the biggest parks in Europe and that too in the middle of the city. After that headed to the Stadium. It took a while to locate the stadium because it was so foggy that the entire stadium was covered in clouds and just couldnt be seen from far. But i managed to find my way in and what an experience it was. If my visit to the famous Ajax Amsterdam stadium was great, this one was out of this world. Winning i must say. Then i headed downtown to visit the Munich National Musuem. This was, where i was thoroughly, impressed by the German culture, and maybe the culture of most european countries. The entry fee was 10 Euro and it was 15:30. The lady at the counter told me to come after 30 minutes so i can walk in for free because the museum closed at 17:00 and the last 1 hour was free for all admittance. Very impressed. I managed to stroll in the museum souvenir shop for a while and then strolled around the museum. Now this museum exhibits only science exhibits. Right from the machines of the industral revolution, to new age computer systems, to huge automobiles to a huge huge model train set. It was superb.
After that I headed back to the hotel. Had a nice dinner at the Indian Restaurant i went on the 1st night and then back to bed.

Day 4:-

Today was another busy day. I took the hop-on-hop-off tour of Munich and saw the city through a double decker bus. I visited the Nymphenburg palace and museum. And spent a good 2 hours there. There were so many things to see inside the palace and musuem, i must have clicked atleast 200+ pictures and all of them are available to be seen on facebook. Then i headed for the famous BMW museum and i saw, on display, each and every BMW that has ever been made. Right from the 1st car to the latest model to all the bikes they have made as well. Its a huge museum situated in the BMW Head Quarters which is a stone throw away from the Olympic Stadium. It was a wonderful experience and not to be missed by anyone visiting Munich. I had a nice meal at Pizza Hut and then headed for the hotel. Next day i had to leave for Los Angeles. :-)

Day 5
This was going to be a long long long long day. Because i was going to fly from Munich To Los Angeles Via Frankfurt. And since i would be flying west, i would be gaining lots of time. And since i was awake from 4 AM munich time to the time i finally went to sleep was in LA at around 3 AM LA time. So for all practical purposes, i was up for almost 32+ hours. I did manage to get some sleep on the plane but was not very good.
My first welcome in USA was not the best of ones i wanted. The immigration officer asked me to stand aside, after taking my finger prints, for half an hour. And then a cop came and asked me politely that he had to search my bag and was asking me lots and lots of questions. Including, whether i have been convicted for felony. After that i was sent to a,what seemed to me, a detention centre and was made to wait with lots of people (Mostly Chinese and Koreans and one Palestine). I wasnt asked any questions but was given my passport. I asked the cop, what was the whole issue ? He told me, that my name popped up against someone else's name which was similar sounding and who had a criminal record. He even apologized me and said that this was not a very good welcome to someone who is visiting USA for the 1st time. I told him, very kindly, that he should not apologize and that he was only doing his duty. I took a Shared Cab from out of the airport to my Hotel which was in Heart of hollywood. Now contrary to what many, who have not been to LA, know, Hollywood is not exactly the best of places. Most of that part of the town is a very poor suburb and its a crime infested area The glamour that one sees in American Movies are mostly Studio Sets and they are not even in proper hollywood. Even the famous Hollywood sign is very far away. The few things one can see(And i did) is the Kodak Theatre, A nice movie in Grauman Chinese Theatre and the world famous Hollywood walk of fame which has names of all famous Celebrities embossed on a star. I must have taken atleast 100+ pictures.
One of my closest friend, Sameer, who stays in LA was going to get married later in the week and he came to meet me with another close friend Rajiv. We went out to a nice pub and shared good ol' memories. Sameer ensured that my 1st night in LA was well Spent :) and i am not talking about the pub here(because i am off alcohol since September 2011).

Day 6:-
For all visitors to LA, i highly recommend taking the Go LA card and specifically for 3 or 5 days because one can get great discounts and free entries to many places for a small reasonable price. Since i was keen to see only a few places, i just took the 1 day pass. I went to see the Paramount Studios(Decent although it can be given a skip) and the Warner Brother Studios(Much better than the paramount studios but dont expect the world). I even had a nice peruvian lunch. Coming back to the hotel, i was dead tired. I must have conked off at around 7 PM and woke only at 8 AM next day.

Day 7:-
After waking up and packing my bags, as i had to check out of the hotel, i visited the kodak theatre. Now this one was only a 30 minute tour but got an insight of the famous Kodak Theatre where the oscars take place every year. It was spectacular. Sadly pictures were not allowed to be taken inside. Then i shopped for some mementos and then Rajiv came to pick me up and we headed to the Pacific Palms Golf Resort. A huge and an amazing 5 star hotel which was going to be the venue for Sameer's wedding next day. Afternoon was spent in sleeping for a while as there was the traditional Sangeet Ceremony in the night. Though most of it, i spent sitting and enjoying everyone dance and sing while i was eating. We called it a night at around 2 AM.

Day 8:-
The big day. One of the most eligible bachelor on the West Coast of USA was finally climbing the altar :).
So it was a nice simple Wedding with the Band Bajaa and what not. :) :)
After the wedding at, by far, the best wedding venue i have ever been to in my entire life and lots of pictures, headed to have a heavy lunch and then back to the hotel where we were supposed to check out. The reception was at another venue called Pasadena which is a small town in California, but in LA county. We checked at the Hilton and after sleeping for a bit, we dressed up for a long night. The reception was in a huge ball room with awesome food served in Golden Ware and silver ware. Good music program, which i preferred sitting and watching rather than dancing. I made a few friends out there and we ended up chatting till 3 AM in a nice cold winter night.
 By the time we slept, it was nearly 4 AM.

Day 9:-
Today we had to check out. So i did what i could think doing best, i strolled around the town and shopped for a top up card and some comics. I didnt exactly head back to hollywood where i was going to stay for a couple of nights, but headed to go to a nice place for a late lunch and meeting up with Sameer and just generally chatting. We then headed back to Hilton, picked up our luggage, said good byes and headed for Hollywood. Since Rajiv's flight was next day and he didnt have anything else to do, i asked him to come stay with me in my hotel. We had a nice dinner at an Indian Restaurant and then hit the sacks.

Day 10:-
Today was the day i was going to spend in Universal Studios. Rajiv joint me and we had a great time. It was a monday but it was very crowded. The best thing to do is to take a VIP pass where you get priority entry in all the rides. I convinced myself to take the house of horrors tour and let me say, it was bloody scary. After spending a good amount of time, including tour of the studio, rajiv headed back to the airport and i was back to hollywood. I was strolling around and then decided, what good is a trip to hollywood if i cant see a movie in a theatre out there ? So i watched, The ides of march. Directed by my God - Geroge Clooney and starred as well. To say that this is a great movie is an under statement. I came back to the hotel and slept. Next morning, I was leaving for Las Vegas after all :-)

Day 11:-
Took a 7 am bus and headed for the new age sin city - Las Vegas. Although a lot of the traveling was in the desert, it was a scenic travel. And finally i reached las vegas at 13:00. Awesome, thats all i can describe and one thing off my bucket list. I checked in to Caesar's Palace and a grand room. I had a nice Jacuzzi  bath and then a shower and headed for the world famous Max Brener's Shop for some nice chocolate and cheese burger. Then i headed for a night tour of Las Vegas. The tour guide, Bill, was a friendly retired 60 something guy who gave us lots of insights about Las Vegas and we were in time to see the musical fountains, The world's largest Chocolate fountain and the real down town Las Vegas. We also clicked pictures with a real Million Dollars and did souvenir shopping as well. Bill was polite enough to inform us that the best way to enjoy Las Vegas is to take a US $8 bus pass which would give you unlimited travelling in the city bus for 1 whole day. And it was worth it. Of course back in the hotel, i gambled in the famous penny slots and managed to win US $80 after playing for US $20.Not bad :)

Day 10:-
Woke up at ease and after chatting for a while with Alpa(My cousin) i headed straight for the Stratosphere. Now Stratosphere is a 5 star hotel, which, on its roof (At over 750 feet) has some death defying rides including the famous Sky Jump. I, did them all :). Very soon i will upload my video of Sky Jump and i can only tell one thing - A real fucking out of the world experience and that was not even the scariest thing. The rides were much more scarier. But the adrenaline that gets pumped in your body after that is un fucking believable. Then i headed to do some more shopping and then to the famous M&M store at las vegas. Guys, i dont have the words to describe that. All i can say, is that no visit to Las Vegas is complete without going to the M&M store. I had a huge Mexican dinner.  I came back to the hotel and then gambled some more and then checked out of the hotel at around 4 AM.

Day 11:-
I was heading for the final leg of my trip. Greenville, South Carolina. To meet my my cousins, who co-incidentally were having a mini reunion due to the long thanksgiving weekend. I flew via Houston in, by far, the best airline i have ever flown - Southwest. Very friendly crew, very decent fares and unlike all american airlines, this one allows 2 bags to be checked in without a cost.
Had a nice subway sandwich at Houston and then flew to Greenville. Met my cousins after almost 3-4 years. It was thanksgiving(A very big day in USA) and like the tradition goes, we had our dinner at home together. While my cousins Rushabh, Mihir and Alpa's husband Karan went off to sleep, Alpa and me were yapping till 5 AM.

Day 12:-
For the first time in, i dont know how many years, i slept sound. I slept at 5 AM and when i opened my eyes, it was 1 PM. Even if the house would have been on fire or there would have been an earthquake, i wouldnt have known. I took a shower, had some chocolate milk and by the time we went out for thanksgiving shopping, it was almost 4PM. Now thanksgiving weekend is a very special time for shoppers. You get stuff at dirt cheap rates. I managed to pick lots of stuff for cheap and i cursed my self for not picking up the .  TB external Hard Disk for US $80.  But there will always be a next time. After that we headed for a nice mexican dinner at El Mexicana and then visited the Greenville City Centre. Then back home, and once again while others slept, Alpa and me yapped. This time only till 2 AM :0

Day 13:-
So my long holiday was finally over. I had to leave Greenville, head to NewArk and then to Bombay. I left Greenville at around 13:00 local time, landed in Newark at around 17:00 NY time (and i managed to get in 2 bags checked in and not pay a cent more despite the flight having a strict 1 bag check in ploicy :) )
I had a nice burger and then took the 19:00 Flight to Bombay. It was a long and a nice journey. Managed to see The Conspirator on the flight.
I also managed to See Mr Popper's Penguin on my way to LA and Eat, Pray, Love in Munich.

By far, i will only take pleasant things from this long trip. I am sure if mum, and my loved one, if they were around, this would have had been an even more wonderful experience.But i am sure somewhere up there, mum must be seeing and must be happy for me to have enjoyed so much.
And as far as my loved one is concern, my sweetheart....I just want to say....Not a single day passed by when i didnt think of you.

What i did after i came back and till now, i will try and have this updated by tomorrow night.
Waiting to hear from all of you.

All the pictures are uploaded on facebook(And there are over 1000 of them) for everyone to see and comment.

Good night folks.


2 comments:

  1. Hey Wat a good n detailed account of ur wonderful trip.......I had seen d pics on FB... Great share... Wonderful..... HAve such wonderful trip all over d globe .... enjoy

    ReplyDelete