With this post, I enter the #AtoZChallenge of blogging in which I will be writing about things to do in cities listed in alphabetical order. For today, we have Amsterdam.
Cycling is the most preferred mode of commuiting amongst the people of Amsterdam. So, when there, hire one. The city has more than 8,00,000 cycles so one can imagine how convenient cycling around is. It is easy to maneuver, takes you everywhere and the city being bike friendly, cycling everywhere actually acts in your favour.
Amsterdam has something for everyone – be it arts & exhibition, concerts & music, performing arts, museums, festivals, events, film and cinema. Here is a rundown of few things you must cover if you have 24 hours to spend in the city.
Anne Frank House
This is a part of history one shouldn’t miss. Even if you have never heard of Anne Frank, this is a good time to find out more and visit the musuem. The museum is open on all days of the week. This is the place where Anne and her family hid, and yes, this is where she wrote her diary. You can find out more about the timings, price or ticket and what else can be seen at their website http://www.annefrank.org/
The FOAM museum is an international photography organisation based in Amsterdam. If you are even remotely interested in photography, you might want to head over here. The museum is open on all days of the week though the timings differ. You’ll need to buy tickets which can be done from their website http://www.foam.org. You can be part of an ongoing tour or attend any of the current photo exhibitions.
Blue Boat Tour Company
Canal cruises in Amsterdam are absolute must and Blue Boat Amsterdam Canal Cruises give you the perfect ride which you deserve. You have the option of city canal cruise, open boat cruise, hard rock burger cruise, kids cruise, dinner cruise, and more. The experience is grand and once in a lifetime. Not only that, this gives you the wonderful opportunity to explore the city in a different manner. Know more about this at https://www.blueboat.nl.
When one mentions the Hermitage Museum, what comes to mind is the one in Russia. However, there is a branch of the same museum at Amsterdam! Located in a building which dates back to 1861, it is at present the largest satellite museum. The musuem houses two very prominent and permanent exhibitions – Matisse to Malevich and The immortal Alexander the Great. If you wish to visit the place, learn more at their website http://www.hermitage.nl/en/.
The nightlife scene at Amsterdam is on fleek and there is something for everyone – be it festivals, bars or night clubs. There is this option called the Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket which you can get from IAmsterdam, and gain unlimited access to eight different Amsterdam nightclubs for seven days. Along with the free pass, you’ll also get free welcome drinks.
These are only few of the places one can visit. It is quite possible that none of them interest you. These are just few suggestions from me, nothing more.
Earlier this week, while walking through the bylanes inside Jaisalmer Fort, I noticed something very unique. The walls outside many houses had identical graffiti painted. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the paintings were actually wedding invitations!
Our guide, Satish bhaiyya who had been sent with us by Club Mahindra Jaisalmer resort where we were putting up, was a local of Jaisalmer. He explained that this unique method of drawing graffiti wedding invitations on the walls was an age old tradition which was still followed by all.
A week before the wedding, the invitation is painted on the wall next to the entrance of the house. The invitation includes names of the bride and the groom, the date of the ceremony and an image of Lord Ganesha along with kalash and swastika. You can know if the son of the house is getting married or the daughter is, depending on the placement of the names. If the daughter’s name is placed before, then this is the bride’s house.
This practice is old, and dates back to many decades ago. However, it is equally appreciated by the present generation and not really forced upon them. The entire society is on the same page and this unique way of making news of a marriage in a family certainly makes the people of Jaisalmer different and far ahead of times. Not only is a lot of paper saved, but money and effort saved are also used in more productive purposes.
The invitations remain on the wall until there is another wedding in the family, and that could be years later too. When the next wedding comes up, the invitation is replaced with the new one and that stays up until the next wedding.
The streets and bylanes of Jaisalmer, specially inside the fort area, are populated by houses on both sides and every turn brings one face to face with a wedding invitation. It was a delight to walk through the narrow lanes, kept spotlessly clean, and chancing upon the various graffiti invitations on the walls of the houses. About the houses, people, shops and feel of the Jaisalmer Fort, I’ll need to write a separate post.
Below are few more pictures of graffiti wedding invitations of Jaisalmer.
I love to read about places. Most of the time that I am seen hunched over my tab or mobile, I am reading up about people, cultures, must visit places, off-beat places, and everything related to whichever city or country that pops to my mind at the moment. Last night, I was reading up about Ireland. A good friend moved there a couple of years ago, and the quaint, friendly country has been on my list ever since. More since I heard her praise how friendly the locals are – most important, ‘coz I’d hate to visit a place where the people are not friendly.
The first thing I noticed while reading about Ireland is, how green the country is. The castles and country side have fascinated me ever since I was a little girl, and after reading up more about the country, I cannot wait to pack my bags and travel. Until then, I shortlisted five must-visit places in Ireland –
Connemara National Park
There are six national parks in the Republic of Ireland and Connemara National Park is located in the west of Ireland, County Galway. The national park is spread across 2,957 hectares which even includes a 19th-century graveyard along with 4,000-year-old megalithic court tombs. Yes, you’ve guessed why this national park piqued my attention! It is said that there is quite a wide variety of flora and fauna which can be seen in the national park with one special attraction being the Connemara pony, which is the largest mammal in the park.
A mountain off the Atlantic coast, the Slieve League includes few of the highest sea cliffs and stands 1,972 ft tall. I couldn’t find a lot of literature about the place worth mentioning here, except that the pictures left me spellbound.
In the village of Mullaghmore in County Sligo, is the much visited holiday destination where the ocean line and the view of the sky are said to leave one spellbound. And who doesn’t love being spellbound, looking at the marvels and beauties of nature! Author and historian Joe McGowan’s home, Mullaghmore Beach is said to be one of the world’s best big wave surfing locations. The waves here are high and are responsible for a typical weather type which is fondly called – Viking Storm.
I know I will be writing a seperate post about this, but here is a preview. Few of the must see castles are Blarney castle, Ashford castle, Bunratty castle, Doe castle and Cahir castle. The exquisite architecture and well-maintained premises can mesmerise just about anyone and take one back by centuries, to give a peak into the lives of the residents of the castles.
Lush green, clean, serene and expanding till as far as your eyes can see. Give me one reason why you wouldn’t want to spend a few days soaking in the calm and beautiful nature, and I will tell you ten for why you should. Yes, in a fresh post for sure!
|Flickr: klmircea / Creative Commons|
Hohenschwangau castle was officially the summer residence of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and his wife, Marie of Prussia. You will need to buy tickets individually for visiting Museum of the Bavarian kings, Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle. Mary´s bridge (Marienbrücke) which is the bridge over the Pöllat gorge is closed for visitors till May 2016 because of restoration work.
|Flickr: molinarius / Creative Commons|
Located in Cochem, this beautiful and breathtaking castle is the largest hill-castle on the Mosel. When you take a guided tour through the castle, you also get to be a part of rustic medieval banquets, medieval castle festival, sparkling wine gala, cultural events, gourmet festival and even the Cochem castle Christmas if you are visiting from now till Chrsitmas. You can have a one of a kind experience if you go with Cochem’s night watchman in his evening round through the old town. He will have his halberd, horn & lantern with him, and all you will need to do is join him around 20:30 hours right outside the tourist information office. This tour will be an hour long and will be charged.
About 50 kms south of Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg, Hohenzollern Castle is a very popular destination amongst tourists. Located at the height of almost 3,000 ft, Hohenzollern Castle is actually a combination of three castles. The first castle doesn’t really exist any more as it was attacked and later completely destroyed in the year 1423. Three decades later, a second castle was built. It went through a lot of history and by 1798, it had started to fall into ruins. The third castle is the one we can see now. It was built between 1850 and 1867. Since then no one has actually take residence in the castle so from 1952, it is being filled with art and historical artifacts from the collections of the Hohenzollern family. In 1978, a major earthquake had damaged the castle and it was being repaired till about 1995. Prince Hubertus of Prussia, Princess Kira of Prussia, Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, William, German Crown Prince and Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin have their burials here.
These are the seven of my favourite castles. There are many more to explore and find out about. I’ve put this post together to urge travellers to travel into the country’s history and know the real Germany. Because, what is point of travelling to another country if in those few days, you haven’t spent a lifetime there?