Sunday, June 26, 2011

Notre Dame Cathedral and Seine River cruise

14th May 2011

A cathedral on Gothic architecture. Its construction started during 1163 and was fully completed only in 1345!! This cathedral was subjected to several vandalisms due to the disturbances in France and has been restored each time.

What attracted us were the surroundings of the cathedral. Next to it is Seine River and also a beautiful garden. So much that we spent more than 2 hours sitting next to it!! There is also a way to go to the top of Cathedral but we decided not to go.

Later, we took a one hour cruise on Seine River. It passes through 25 out of 37 bridges constructed across the river in Paris. All along the river are various monuments of Paris like Eiffel tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame and French parliament to name a few.

The guide also showed the place where Princess Diana died in an accident.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Khandika falls

11 June 2011

My uncle has recently discovered new waterfalls in the forests near our village. In spite of being close to civilization, the locals were oblivious of its existence. All these things interested me a lot and decided to have a look at it myself. While having tea, the discussions were about this falls. A decision was made suddenly to see this falls!! And after few minutes I was driving my car with my Uncle and Cousin.

Dinesh, a “localite” near the falls joined us. It was his first visit for him also!! As we moved away from the tar road, the surroundings changed drastically. We were inside dense evergreen forests. Few minutes later, we parked the car and started walking. A small patch of areca nut plantation had to be crossed. We also had to cross the stream coming from the waterfalls twice to reach it.

The waterfall was a pleasant surprise. I was expected some small falls but this was bit big. It was just the beginning of monsoon and hence there was decent amount of water. A nice place to take shower!!

And this is not just a monsoon falls. It hold decent amount of water even in winter months. We must be the largest crowd to visit this falls till date!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

14th May 2011

This looks very similar to “India Gate” in New Delhi. Built during the period of Napoleon, this monument became the important landmark for all the military parades after successful victories. The military parades were conducted not only by French but also by Germans in 1940 after Hitler’s victory over France!!

Beneath the monument is the tomb of an unknown soldier died during First World War. An eternal flame is lit there. This is in memory of soldiers died who were never identified.

Arc de Triomphe is at the center of the circle where several roads meet. With no marking for pedestrians to cross, we did a foolish act. Jumped into the road to cross!! The road was quite wide and we had to put all our energy to cross over before being run by speeding vehicles. And after crossing we found that there is a way through the tunnel for pedestrians.

One can also climb up to the top by paying entry fee. Continues climb of about 300 steps will bring us to a small museum that shows the history of the monument. Few more steps took us to the top.

The view from the top is simply great!! It looks like all roads lead to the arc.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Louvre Museum, Paris

14th May 2011

Our first place of visit in Paris was Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre). A fortress built in 12th century; it is now the largest and most visited Museum in the world. It is so large that if you spend a minute in front of each collection, it would take four months to see the entire Museum!! Its collection includes the most popular painting “Mona Lisa” from Leonardo Da Vinci.

There is a direct entry to the Museum that brings us to the glass Pyramid, the entrance of the Museum. We brought our tickets here (10 Euros) and started our “long” walk into the Museum. Since it was difficult to cover the entire Museum, we decided to first start with the ones which we thought were important. We were particularly interested in the paintings, Greece and Roman antiques.

The collection is simply amazing, especially the paintings. Hundreds of paintings decorated the walls of a long corridor. Most of the paintings were depicting the life during Jesus Christ. With very little knowledge about European history and Christianity, I found them difficult to understand. The explanations in French didn’t help me either (Audio guides in different languages are available. But I always prefer to read).

Since its inception, there has been lot of revolutions and wars in Europe. It would have been a daunting task for the people to safeguard these precious elements. Even now, the paintings look like “just completed”.

I personally liked “Last Supper” painting. It is the largest painting in Louvre and covers the entire wall on one side. This is from Italian painter Paolo Veronese. (The one from Leonardo Da Vinci is in Milan, Italy). It took quite some time for me to get the complete painting in my camera. I do not know how the painter managed to draw such a huge one.

In front of “Last Supper”, a massive crowd was formed. Wondering what people doing there, I peeped in. It was the “Mona Lisa” painting. I must admit that my initial reaction was a disappointment. After seeing the extra ordinary large painting of “Last Supper”, Mona Lisa looked extremely small (In fact it is small). But people are fascinated by this painting. Everyone wanted to take a snap of theirs with the painting in the background. Considering the popularity of the painting, it is well secured inside glass.

After paintings, we moved to Roman and Greek sections. Below is the sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss.

Venus de Milo, one of most famous ancient Greek sculpture.

The walk was tiring and we took few breaks in between. The restaurants inside the Museum were extremely expensive and we decided to have food later. At one point of time, we lost track of where we were moving!! The collections seemed to never end. Later, we also realized that we were just trudging without any aim. We had seen enough of the Museum and decided to move out. Completely exhausted, we sat next to the fountain enjoying the cool breeze outside.

It was time for late lunch and I could only get a salad in McDonald’s. All my efforts to get a burger with “meat” removed failed as the girl in the counter could not understand my logic. A coke and a few pieces of vegetables were the only ones available for me and I was grateful for that!!
Eiffel tower at the background