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Jul 15, 2010

A European Journey - 1 (July 10)

I have been lucky to visit Europe quite a few times. No doubt it was all courtesy my work, with all my visits leading to me spending much more time at work than I normally put when I am in my own office, with very little time for sightseeing, still, how many people get to go to Europe regularly.

This time was courtsey the wife, who planned out an European tour for two weeks. I have not been on a vacation for a long time, and seriously, was happy, that my wife had planned this out (leaving it to me, would have taken another two years). So the plan final, the tour was to Europe for two weeks, and ofcourse, my plan was no work.

And so we started, with the first day (July 10), leaving for Belgium. Midnight flight, via Amsterdam, a four hour halt at the airport, sans any veg food (the agent forgot), we finally reached our hotel, after nearly 12 hours since we left Dubai.. Was I ever dead.. But alas, being a Saturday, and ofcourse Europe, they never give the rooms prior to 4 PM.. Checkout is always 12 PM. Hello Hello.. Welcome to another part of the world, which is not Dubai.. Checkins are not when you land up at the airport, and you will not get help to get your baggage. We all work for ourselves.

All settled in, food was ofcourse the first thing on mind. Voila, what does a veggie eat when he goes out of Dubai.. Pizza!! Luckily there was a joint open, and we could savour something into our empty stomachs. The rest of the afternoon / evening was just a stay at the hotel, as most of the places were closed by then.

Come the next day, a checkout, and onwards to the beginning of the journey. Pickup near Grand Central, the bus finally came about an hour late. Either way, a tour around the Grand Palais, the Central, the Mannekin Pis, and of course the St. Michel Church. I had been to the area, around 10 years ago, of course nothing had changed, however they were now on a cleaning spree of cleaning all old buildings and bringing them back to their original glory, ie. clear them of all the soot that they have been collecting. And is there a change? The buildings sans their soot and dirt, are simply un-recognizable and beautiful.

A tour of the Central area complete and a few Belgian chocolates down, we headed off to the Atomium, where an Atom has been expanded 160 billion times to create a building in the shape of atoms. Amazing what has been built. That and a few scenes of true Belguim, we headed off to Netherlands, our next stop.. Eindhoven.

Amazing thing was how the country manages to keep itself clean (of course there will be poverty and dirty areas, but on an overall basis), and the amount of greenery available. Wonderful weather, amazing atomosphere (sans the heat wave), beautiful greenery, and without a doubt, an absolutely beautiful country...

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