A Travellerspoint blog

Ancient Rome....

“Rome, Rome, thou art no more As thou hast been! On thy seven hills of yore Thou sat'st a queen.”

I flew into Rome from Leipzig airport with my friend Aakash on Thursday night on a cheap Ryanair ticket (this was an experience in itself, traveling on an airline that has sponsors). Once I reached Rome Ciampino airport, I took a bus to the Rome Termini train station which is in the city center. The airport is actually about 30 km in the outskirts of the city. First impressions of Rome - a huge city, with a rather colorful and non-european flavor. It was very unique, not like other European cities that I've seen. I guess this is probably the reason why it's considered to be the most beautiful metropolis and attracts millions of tourists every years. Right from the beginning, I start seeing all these ruins, nicely preserved for the public to see. They were splendid! we reached the train station and after half an hour of trouble, figured out our way to hostel. We met up with a few friends from France GT Lorraine, and then headed out for the first Italian dinner. Ravioli. Yum! I was pretty tired and kinda sick, so I came back from the dinner and got some rest, while Sid and Aakash went to see the night view of the Colosseum, which I'm sure was splendid.

Second day, we start our tour with a visit to Colosseum, which was closed unfortunately due to some strikes. However, I'm satisfied with the outside view of it. It was amazing. I am just amazed that these things are still preserved. The architecture was so detailed, it almost surprises me how did they get all these ideas back in the day. After the Colosseum, we just went around the city, got to see Trevi fountain, a few other ruins, Roman Forums, Pantheon, Vatican city and what not. It really was a long and hot day in Rome, we covered quite a bit of it though, so I'm happy. However, Rome requires at least 3 days if you want the full experience. We did a hop-on hop off tour to cover Vatican City, since it's a little far from other stuff. This allowed us to see Spanish Steps and a couple of other things too. We also saw the expensive shopping district of Rome, where brands like Prada, Armani, etc. were thriving. Rome was a great experience overall, and I am definitely wanting to make a second visit there sometime, hopefully to see everything in more detail since for me "Rome was not traveled in a day". Pardon me for that bad joke, but I just wanted to say it so badly haha.

We headed off to Florence that night, and Venice was the plan for next day! Woooot!

Posted by dhruval.shah 09:21 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

One short of a week!

Couple of company visits, couple of tests, and ITALY awaits!

So yeah, like the title suggest this was a rather short week. I had a test on Monday, right after getting back from Cologne, and then had a company visit to Bayer AG, the pharmaceutical company that came up with Aspirin. Apart from that Monday and Tuesday were pretty chill, didn't have a whole lot to do and got some rest. We had a visit to the local Anna Amalia library in Weimar though, which was a pretty short visit. It had volumes dating back to 8th and 12th centuries, still accessible for public.

We had another company visit to Schott AG, a huge glass manufacturing company in Jena, and this was a rather interesting visit. I got to know about their Solar Panel division, which has been involved in some heavy projects around the world and known for its outstanding engineering in this field. We had a visit to the company museum, and we got to hear about the development of the company over the years. Apparently, the company was partnered with Carl Zeiss, the best lens manufacturers of lenses in the world. So yeah, this was one of the big visits during my stay here in Germany.

Another test was coming up on Thursday, so spent all of Wednesday studying for it. After finishing the test on Thursday, I was in a great great mood, of course because ITALY was just hours away!!!

Posted by dhruval.shah 08:42 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

I <3 Köln

Okay so Friday talks are finally here. I was to meet Sid, visit Cologne (Köln in German). Lots of things were making me excited. I had a really good train ride with a transfer at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (familiar territory by now) and the Deutsche Bahn ICE Trains are heavenly! They are so nice, I was definitely impressed by them! I walk right out of the Hauptbahnhof, and I see a HUUUGE structure in front of me. I was left speechless for a good 4-5 seconds, I go ahead to see more of it. And then I finally reach a place from where I can see the complete structure. First thing I do is, I take out my camera and click I-don't-know-how-many pictures of it. Yes, I am talking about the world-famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), a UNESCO world-heritage site, constructed between the 12th and the 19th century. It just surprises me how were they able to construct such a monument over the course of 700 years, with such highly detailed architecture (you need to check out pictures on Facebook for this) without the technology that we have today. Sid comes out of the station and has the same feeling.

We then headed towards our hostel which wasn't all that easy to find and when we found it wasn't all that pleasing to the eye, but hey that's what you get for trying to find a cheap place in such a highly visited city when you book 3 days before your stay! We go out for dinner late in the night, and with Cologne being very lively, everything was open till 1-2 AM so we were able to eat a nice Italian dinner and chill around the river. Tired earlier than expected, we returned back to the hostel and got some rest before the busy Saturday!

Saturday morning we rush to the city center and take a tour of the city! There's a lot of things to know, which obviously will take me years to write here. But it's a great city, lots of things to do and to see, and of course we weren't able to get enough of it in just 2 days! We ate lunch at Subway (yay American food) and quickly headed out. We did a trip to the Chocolate Museum, which is a heaven for chocolate lovers. Lindt being their official partners, we got to eat a lot of awesome chocolates. It was a great experience. Now came the big task of climbing the Cathedral tower. I did get tired from it, but it was a lot of fun! And the views of the city from the top were fantastic! I am probably sounding redundant by now because I'm running out of words to describe this structure. I would honestly call it the Taj Mahal of Germany. Apparently, the government doesn't allow construction of buildings of similar height around this cathedral so that it holds its stamp on the city. To me, that's a very smart move and something that other cities should learn in order to preserve the history! We headed off to Dusseldorf after this. I've heard a lot about things to do in Dusseldorf and it being a fun city, but call it a failed planning or bad advice from the local travel center, we didn't find a whole lot to do. However, the walk around the river was fun (although it was kinda chilly) and we got to see some of the old city! We came back to Cologne for the 2nd game of Euro between Czech Republic and Poland and ate dinner at this Thai restaurant while watching it. Went out later on and had fun!

We checked out early in the morning on Sunday and went to the tourist office to see what we could do. From some of the suggestions, we decided to go to Kolumba Museum, a museum of modern arts. This place was fascination. A must-see for art lovers (I like it, but unfortunately not smart enough to get the messages out of it :\ ). We got to see something new that we hadn't seen before and took some great pictures! After this, we went for lunch and called went back to the train station to catch our respective trains and end the ultra-amazing weekend, knowing that we're gonna meet again in 4 days in Rome (YEAHHHHHH!). I got back at 9 pm in Weimar but awesome Northern Europe was still bright so I got back home quickly on a bus. The last of the Germany games (v. Denmark) was on and of course we won it! God that was one amazing weekend!

Posted by dhruval.shah 19:06 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

First full week!

First test, more German wins, and more..

Okay, so I know I am pretty late with writing about the days from 11th June to 15th June, but I've really been busy here with doing awesome stuff like traveling, hanging out, watching football, and what not. So I had my first test during this week (Monday) and god needs to spare me on this one, I took a test after 7 months! Wasn't fun at all.

Moving on to Tuesday, we made a trip to Eisenach, which is the birthplace of a great German musician Johann Sebastian Bach. This town is definitely a must-see for lovers of music. It just amazes me how someone can be so masterful at such a high range of musical instruments. Our guide played us some of his tunes and they were truly enchanting! Most of the instruments that were used for us were original instruments dating back to 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. It's wonderful how they have been preserved in such a careful manner and still displayed for the public to see! After Eisenach we went to the Wartburg Castle. This was a really beautiful place, up on a hill in the middle of lush green forests! Again, lots of history to know behind this and it's very interesting! We headed on to a small automobile museum which displayed early models of EMW (Eisenach Motor Works), the East Germany counterpart of BMW (which stands for Bayern Motor Works). Got some awesome pictures there of some great early 20th century German engineering! The best thing to happen on this day was that me and Siddharth decided to meet up for weekend! And after a lot of discussion we decided to meet in Cologne, which to us was just a really great city at that time. Will tell you more about this in a separate post, which Cologne definitely deserves.

Wednesday was just a normal day, nothing special, just classes. We had a long trip to Leipzig on Thursday. We started out with a visit to the American Consulate there, then we did a city tour, a tour to the World War 2 museum. It was already evening by the time we did all these (Leipzig is a 2 hour drive from Weimar) so we took a 2 hour dinner break and I got to catch up with a friend, Aakash Arun, who's working with Deutsche Bahn in Leipzig! We all went to see an orchestra after that, it included Johann Sebastian Bach (yea, he's very popular everywhere in Germany even today). And this was my first orchestra, so I was excited for it, but the classical music couldn't overcome my tiredness, and I had the tiniest of naps before a friend woke me up (shhhh!)

Friday came by and all I was thinking about was the weekend trip in Cologne!!!

Posted by dhruval.shah 18:46 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

First Weekend!

Naumburg and Erfurt and GERMANY FOOTBALL!

sunny 70 °F

So finally the first weekend in Germany arrived, and it didn't even feel like a weekend! The reason for it not feeling like weekend was different this time though. Everyday here is so chill and fun (just 3 hours of classes everyday :P). We already had the weekend well-planned, with a lasagna party at one of the tutor's place on Friday night, Naumburg trip on Saturday, and Erfurt trip on Sunday.

On Friday, I just hung out in the city with a few friends, ate lunch and enjoyed the beautiful weather. The size of the city and the atmosphere allows me to just stay outside all day without feeling tired. We went to eat a special dessert in the early evening, it's called Kaiserschmarrn. It's basically a HUGE dish, I am not even sure if one can call it dessert because it actually is even more filling than dinner! It's made of fried cookie dough, 2-3 scoops of vanilla icecream with chocolate syrup, and a bunch of fruits. It probably contains more calories than one is allowed to have during the day, but oh-god-damn it was so good! I was so tired by then (and so full) that I just fell like going to sleep. Obviously dinner wasn't required after that dessert, so I just went back home and went to bed early so that I am fresh for the trip next day!

Naumburg is a very old town built on the river Saale and been inhabited since god-knows-when. We took a bus there, which gave me a glimpse of the German countryside for the first time (I slept on the train to Weimar from Frankfurt). This country is very beautifully organized - the green fields are so well maintained, it's almost impossible to find a badly manicured place. The cities are built a good few kilometers apart from each other, and the pollution is very less because of minimal use of automobiles. This makes for a very interesting countryside. The two main attractions in Naumburg were St. Paul and Peter's Cathedral, which was constructed about 800 years ago. The history behind this cathedral is phenomenal and the architecture is even more amazing! It's definitely worth checking out the pictures of this place. Other interesting places included St. Wenceslas Church, Markplatz, etc. Oh, and I had my first authentic waffle in Naumburg! After Naumburg, we headed on to a winery and learned different aspects of Wine making. Wine tasting was also done there by some and of course, the German Riesling won over everything else. Saturday was also the first game of Germany in EURO 2012 and WE WON!!!!! Yes, the moment we stepped into watch the game as soon as we got back in town, Mario Gomez scored the first goal (and the only one of the game), so you can say that we are gonna be lucky for the team!

Sunday was a day trip to Erfurt, which is the capital of Thuringia, which is the state that I am in right now. I had an adventurous trip while going there, since I couldn't make it there with everyone. However, it was a fun experience going there myself with my broken German. Erfurt is another old and historic city. We did a city tour with a local guide and got to know a lot of cool things (this post has been long ah!). My favorite location in Erfurt was the gigantic Marien's Dom and Severi Church, do check out the pictures! We also had some amazing ice-cream here. I had Nutella, which surprisingly I haven't seen back in States!

Enough to type now. I am tired! Cya :)

Posted by dhruval.shah 16:56 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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