Sunday, May 18, 2014

Europa! (Part One)

Vacation! That's been the sweetest word to me for quite some time now. Our first vacation in two years. Now that it's over, I'll say, boy! what a vacation it has been. It has been quite a whirlwind.
We planned late, the visas came late, we were packing (and unpacking) until the last minute... There's so much to share about these 15 days, I guess I will do it in parts - easier for me and you!

So, where do I begin? 15 days, 3 countries, 7 cities...Our first stop was Zurich, then we drove down to Florence, with Florence as our base, we visited Pisa, Lucca and Rome, we then moved over to Venice, spent a day and a half there and our last stop was at Paris before we got back home.

Zurich. Everything about the place is so pretty. Particularly since it was spring time, there were flowers in bloom every where. Greenery at every corner. And freshness at every step. Yes, was really cold. We honestly didn't expect it to be that cold. Though the temperatures showed 17-20 deg C, the air was extremely chill. But we managed, thanks to my sister-in-law (from Poland) who had thoughtfully packed some jackets and sweaters for all of us.

Everything in Switzerland was so 'Yash Chopra'. I could feel it everywhere - the gardens of Zurich, the trams, the bridges and even the hooded cyclists on the streets of Zurich who kept zipping by (if you know what I mean).

I didn't know if his films were shot in the places we visited  but then I could feel the vibes. (No wonder they have named lakes and trains after him). Every inch towards the snow-covered Alps made my heart flutter.The mad, hopeless romantic that I am, all the way up to Jungfrau, I narrated the story of DDLJ, scene by scene to my (very patient) husband who had never watched the movie. And I was in tears by the time I finished (I smile sheepishly as I think about it). But such is the place. It evokes an extremely happy feeling in your heart wherever you go.

In Switzerland we visited the Zurich lake, Rhine Falls, Kyborg Castle and Jungfrau. Jungfrau was spectacular with an altitude of 11333 feet and a temperature of -4 deg C - never seen anything like that before.

The town in which Kyborg Castle is located, is a quaint little town with each house competing with the other in prettiness. If I could, I would have loved to get to know the owners of these charming houses. Every house is free standing, with abundant space around it. Almost every house has a garden and its own play equipment. Idyllic!

The Rhine falls which I believe dates back to the Ice Age is this luscious flow of fresh water, unimaginable to a regular resident of Chennai. Never have I seen such a tremendous amount of water gushing its away without restraint.

The city of Zurich itself is quiet and unassuming. Surprising, since it is one of the most important cities of Switzerland. The city is very well connected by the tram service and it is generally easy to get around. Traffic rules are very strictly followed with the utmost respect to pedestrians, which I was very pleased with.

There are a lot of good restaurants including the inescapable 'Big M' (of course we did find it very useful). Then on our way back from Italy (we stopped by Zurich again), we ordered in a meal from an Indian restaurant interestingly named Masala!

I am glad we started out with Zurich - it was love at first sight. A great motivation to go ahead with the rest of the long tour in Europe.

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