Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eurotrip thoughts

We were planning on planning a long trip someplace... just take off from work but the plan was just not falling in place. A meeting was coming up for Margaret in Antwerp and so we suddenly got into planning mode. The lonelyplanet, eurorail was hit on from all angles and after a lot of permutations and combinations the itinerary took shape.

Started with london. Margaret's brother Edward is there who gave us a good feel of the city. One must do is the live theatre scene out there. From london we headed by rail to belgium.. went around Brussels and a beautiful place called Brugges (watch the movie "in bruges").. Bruges is out of this world... like out of a fairytale stuck in time.. it was a trade center like venice but then silt accumulated in the waterways and cut trade.. ppl left the city then returned a few centuries back and rebuilt the place.. the architecture is stuck in medieval times.. very quaint and untouched... cobblestone roads still cover most of the city.. the horses are massive... waterways and canals run thru the city..

when margaret was working I went around Antwerp (diamond capital of the world), Gent, made a second trip to Bruges and then Rotterdam.. Antwerp is quite a nice city with a lot to see. They were celebrating the completion of the rail station with the release of a book which was written in 5 days and was based around the station.. Each day some famous author would sit in the station and continue where the previous one left off. They setup a makeshift printing press in the same location for the release of the book.

In Gent they were shooting a film at the station.. Belgium is known for its award winning intellectual films. I found the people to be very warm and polished in Belgium. They seems to go into details which shows in their intricate knitwork, their showpieces. When I as leaving the station they were completing the final scene of the film.

after Margaret's meeting we went to Amsterdam.. walked thru Anne Frank's place where she wrote her dairy. It was quite an experience.. toured Van Gogh's museum.. at first I was wondering how a looney guy with not much painting skills got so famous.. I mean if you compare his stuff to Rembrant's visually appealing skills you start to wonder... but then slowly it grows on you... the strokes, the style, the abstractness, his thoughts and if I think of it now his ones were the most abstract but are also the ones which have a very strong visual picture in my mind.. you can probably compare him to Frank Kafka who didn't have a real good writing style but his concepts, humanity and _depth_ of thinking comes out thru his writing... it almost like he painted for himself first...

we then took the train from Antwerp to Paris where we spent a couple of days... paris was grand... had a different charm to it unlike Bruges. It is pretty in all its grandeur, Notre Dame, Champs Elysee, Arc de Triumph, Eiffel tour, the Louvre, the art work... the mona lisa was tiny though :) We picked up a B&W painting there and margaret added some red to it back in bangalore.. its come out quite well...

went overnight by train to venice after running from station to station in paris and nearly missing the train :) its in situations like these when you feel that you need to know the local language to survive.. but I guess the travel was going too smoothly till then and we needly that adrenalin rush.. this was our only overnight trip and the station at venice was easier to follow... some of the paintings there were mouth watering.. picked one from there.. the glass work is freaking pretty and intricate.. the grand canal is nice but the narrow canal ways are not maintained that well.. a bit of a let down after seeing bruges :)

rome came after that where we stayed at a hostel run by nuns. There was this very sweet nun who was trying hard to converse with us and find out our relationship before allowing us to stay in the same room :) rome has a lot of history but again we felt it could be maintained better. ppl are a bit lazy in general..
we saw the pope and attended mass at st peter's basilica.. the basilica has michaelangelo's Pieta.. pure genius... The sistine chapel is wonderful.. you need to know its relevance to appreciate it.. from a pure skill point of view, i liked his marble sculpture (pieta and some at the louvre) better than his paintings in the sistine chapel... but the concepts and thoughts to bring that all together in the sistine chapel is genius..

We walked a lot in rome, the colosseum at night was lovely.. The piazzas were quite lively with art of all forms... Jazz on the street is something.. the way those guys improvise and communicate... they were enjoying themselves.. extremely talented to have to earn a living on the street.. picked some water colour paintings in rome... oh and then you had these nice roley poley gladiators charming tourists..
it seems the locals can easily point a pickpocketer from amongst the crowd.. managed not to get pick-pocketed in rome inspite of the dead give-away. big camera around the neck, map in one hand, travel bag, fake italian accent :)

from there we headed back to london and were treated to some of edward's culinary skills and then to bengalore where I watch "Nigella bites" under the pretense of learning how to cook :)

A select few are present here
The complete albums are here


Anonymous said...

Nice to read abt the trip..makes me wish to plan for one immediately. The pics are awesome, espec the ones with Margaret :)
P.S. I just got some cake in office, MD tells me that your mom makes the best one in the world..there is no better way than being direct, so I hope I have a slice soon :)

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