When in Prague, it’ll be a total let-down if you did not (or at least tried your best to) cross Charles Bridge. Why, you might ask. Well, simply because Karlův most, as it is locally-known, is a historical 610-meter long architectural creation that is definitely worth the few minutes (or hours) you’d spend while walking through it. My first glimpse of Charles Bridge was in a windy winter afternoon, while taking Sandemann’s New Prague Castle Tour, after we took the free city walking tour that they offered. We were crossing Čechův Bridge, a vehicle- and tram-passable bridge connecting the Jewish Quarter and Letna Park, or the area where we took the tram to the Prague Castle complex, when I saw that old-looking bridge — clearly, I had no idea that it is the famous Charles Bridge. We actually crossed Charles Bridge (only pedestrians are allowed) at the end of the Prague Castle Tour, as it connected the complex to Old Town Square area. Our guide told us interesting trivia about the bridge and the statues lining/guarding it — the most famous of which is that of St. John of Nepomuk’s statue and the plaques under it. Apparently, if you touch the statue of the priest being thrown into the Vltava River, your trip back to Prague (and of course Czech Republic) is assured! 🙂
A three-hour drive from Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, will bring you to the calm and charming Ha Long Bay. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin in northeast Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has withstood the test of time, and yes, naval battles and legends. Literally translated as “Bay of the Descending Dragon”, Ha Long Bay offers visitors a majestic view of naturally-formed limestone pillars and, if you have much time to spare, over 1,600 islands and islets. A popular way to enjoy the scenery is by taking one of the numerous Ha Long Bay cruises through glass-like waters (although it was a bit too green for me!) aboard these ships that looked like the ones used back in the 1900s era (my first thought was the Huckleberry Finn cartoons!), giving it an old world feel. We spent two days and a night aboard one (and I was happy to see two very able Filipina crew managers) and although we were actually working (yep, no kidding!), in that short time, I really got to appreciate the calmness (so unlike the 2Go weather fiasco!), majesty and beauty that Ha Long Bay offers to its visitors.
Yep, both Niklas and I stepped into the cold, cold city of Berlin for the first time on our first week in Europe, after the butt-numbing 7.5-hour bus and ferry ride from Copenhagen.
Following the instructions from our half-Pinay, half-German CouchSurfing host Analie, we took the “Messe/ICC” Ringbahn (loop train) to Gesundbrunnen (one of the main stations for the Ringbahn, S-bahn (railway train like MRT), U-bahn (metro/subway) and regional/international trains) and took the S-Bahn to where she lives. (So much “bahn” right? And we’re not talking about the buses and trams yet. While the transport system is quite efficient, one of the first few lessons in Berlin is that Bahn = train and going to one station using the right S-Bahn or U-Bahn requires tourists (and locals) to never underestimate the travel time necessary. haha)
Before traveling to anywhere, I always research first for the top 3 things to see, do or eat — and my final tourist travel in the Indian sub-continent to Kerala and south India was no exemption. It’s like my non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter whether I’m staying 6 hours or 6 days — I must be able to see/do/eat the top 3 things. After that, I feel happy and accomplished, ready to move on to the next destination. So, when I was checking out things to do in Kochi, the first European colony in India and one of the major metropolitan cities of the south Indian state of Kerala, the Chinese Fishing Nets definitely was on the list. Called Cheena vala in Malyalam (the local language), the Chinese Fishing Nets at Vasco da Gama square in Fort Kochi is a popular tourist spot, especially at sunset. The silhouette of the Cheena vala lining up the shore is such a sight that you wouldn’t imagine it for its actual purpose — a fishing net!
Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post The Taj Mahal – Finally! was originally posted on October 15, 2012, a month after I’ve taken the trip on September 9. Another post is connected to this one, which will be posted as a Viahera Vlog. The visit to Agra was a side trip before attending the official meetings of the Volunteer Committee (which I was a part of) at the VSO India office (read: no extra cost charged to VSO) to discuss policies for volunteers and put forth comments, opinions and suggestions from volunteers in India for improvement in programme support and effectiveness of volunteer placement and organisational partnerships.
Before coming to India, I only know a few things about this sub-continent and what stands out among these is the Taj Mahal. I barely know the story about Taj Mahal before I came here, only that it is a must-see monument, one of the seven wonders of the world.