Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer break 2013

What comes after a hectic schedule? Yes, you are right, it's holiday! Two months earlier than last year, I have planned my holiday with my gf. Because I will have another hectic schedule from the end of August to the mid September, presenting my projects on muon compression. Since we have organised everything two months in advanced, basically all the tickets were cheap if not the cheapest.
Garden and Park of Versailles Palace

Our first station was Paris, which has taken us about 4 hours by TGV from Zurich main station. We have spent a few days in the winter over here last year and decided this time to visit some of the places that we have missed and also to experience the summertime Paris.

We had a really nice french cuisine at a restaurant nearby our hotel on the first day. During the 2nd day, we spent almost half the day at the Versailles palace which is extremely huge, both the palace itself and the garden. Then headed back to Paris downtown to search for Japanese rahmen.

Night view of Louvre Museum
Then we went to the Louvre Museum to wait for the sun to set, and took some night pictures of the "pyramid". We came back to this museum the next day early in the morning, spent a couple of hours visiting before going for another round of rahmen. Those 2 Japanese rahmen were perhaps the best we have had before in Europe, and there were inexpensive (7-10 Euro). After filling up the stomach we went to the Arc de Triumph and shopped around the famous street, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Before departing to London the next day, we spent some time at the Montmartre and the fun part was trying hard to avoid those "bracelet tying experts".

Greenwich Meridian
Arriving at London in the evening, we were informed by the hotel reception that there is a large shopping mall called Westfield nearby. Without second thought, we rushed there for our dinner and were amazed by what it has in this complex. We had Nando's since 10 months ago (also at London) and spent some time surfing Internet in the mall (since there was no wifi in the hotel). We spent our second day around Leicester square and had dim sum as our lunch. Found Thai durians at only 8 pounds and also visited M&M for some goodies. Then finally visited Harrods that we have missed last time and were astonished by the grandness of this department store. We decided at night to go to Greenwich the next day and it was a completely satisfied day trip.

Penang! restaurant
First we went to Canary Wharf which is like Wall Street in the States in terms of function, and feels like Odaiba in Tokyo in terms of the view. Moving to the south we have visited a farm with lots of animals to play with. From there we walked through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (under the Thames river) to Greenwich where we have visited some museums and the Royal observatory and most importantly Greenwich Meridian which defines the zero of the Longitude.

On the way back we went to a Chinese restaurant and had a simple dinner with sour spicy soup, wan tan soup, roasted duck and fried vegetable. We realised that there is a filming going on nearby our hotel and stopped there watching for a while. Hopefully we will find out which film it is next year since it looks like a big budget filming. On the final day, we have decided to try out Penang! restaurant at Westfield and have ordered Curry Laksa and steamed Siakap fish and Teh tarik. The foods turned out quite good and the prices were reasonable. Then we went to Victoria and had our dinner in a Spanish restaurant which is included in our Wicked theater tickets. Great dinner and excellent performance of the Wicked!

Manneken Pis (Warning! It is really small)

Grand Place
The next day morning we had a very trip to Brussels (90 mins transfer time) before going to Amsterdam. After spending some time lining up at the tourist information counter, we managed to get a map of Brussels city and also the estimated time from the station to the main attractions. After depositing our luggages, we rushed towards the famous Manneken Pis (a small kid peeing) and Gross Markt. The place was filled with lots of tourists and artistic buildings, and also a couple of expensive waffle cake shops (about 4.5 euro with strawberries and cream). We managed to come back to the station on time and grabbed a box of Godiva chocolate.

Typical photo of Amsterdam canals

"I amsterdam"
Arriving at our hotel after spending an hour figuring out the transport system in Amsterdam (which in the end pretty much the same as in Zurich, but with gates). Decided to have buffer dinner they offer and it was fantastic. With about 25 euros, we had something that cost more than 300 chf in Zurich, and we still can't believe it. The next day we have visited some famous places like the dam square (and had a box of freaking huge french fries), the flower market (colorful and wonderful!), and went to Heineken experience (main factory until 1980s) to learn about beer brewing and of course had a few glasses of Heineken! 
Windmill at Zaanse Schans

Wonderful flower market
The next day we went to Zaanse Schans, a village where the windmills are still working. On our way there, we have met an artist who is working there and he has been learning Chinese himself and from the tourists. It was fun chatting with him and we have bought 1 of his drawings (he better becomes the next Picasso! LOL). Since it is a village and not so crowded with the tourists, we could really enjoy the scene there and felt really relaxed. We had even the chance to rent bicycles and cycled around the village. Visited as well the cheese factory and Clog (wooden shoe) factory, we were amazed at how many types of wooden shoes they can make. I had the impression that it is going to be very painful to wear those shoes but it turns out it is not the case and they are water-proof and very warm to wear. 

Returning to the Amsterdam station, we had a canal city cruise and it was extremely worth the $$. And then we had our once/twice a year KFC! Oh, hot and spicy! On the last day finally I found the "must eat" raw Herring fish (Mackerel with onions and pickled cucumber). My first immediate response after eating was ..... Penang asam laksa! 


No comments: