Sunday, June 22, 2014

Butterfly Park, Banneraghatta

15th June 2014

I had visited Banneraghatta few times but never bothered to have a look at the Butterfly Park nearby. I thought that my daughter would like the place.

The authorities claim that there are 20 species of butterflies in the park but I could not see all of them. It seems the number of butterflies increase a lot during the month of October. I am not sure but would like to visit again during October/November.

It is a decent place to spend some time and understand the world of butterflies. A small gallery and a documentary provide insight into the life of butterflies.

Only a small fraction of people visiting Banneraghatta visit this park. Hence the place is less crowded. But “graphitti” people have put their marks on the flowers also. It is a pity that we have such lousy people. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stockholm in pictures

May 2013

This trip was done over a year ago. I am now putting some photos together to stitch a story. Like any of my other European trips, I covered Stockholm by using only public transport and foot!!

It was almost midnight when we (I and Vikas) landed in Arlanda Airport situated 40km away from the city. The airport was deserted. It was during these times I preferred crowd. I asked guy at the information guy on how to reach the hotel I booked. He immediately called up the hotel who promised to pick us up at the earliest. They were prompt and we were at the hotel within few minutes. 

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden is a place where Nobel prizes (expect for Peace prize which is awarded in Oslo, Norway) are awarded. Here is the building where the prize ceremony is conducted.

Like any other European city, the historical monuments are located in “old town”. The old town of Stockholm is located at Gamla Stan Island.

Stockholm Palace is the main attraction.

Out of several museums, we decided to visit Vasa museum. Vasa was a Swedish warship built in 17th century. It sank in its maiden journey after sailing about a kilometer!! It was later savaged in 1951 and housed in a museum. Do not forget to watch a movie about Vasa ship in the museum. It gives an idea of the kind of ships present in 17th century.

Vasa ship

Top of Vasa ship

Vasa museum
Here is the Nordiska museum which we only viewed from outside.

I like to see towers. In Stockholm, I visited the observatory. Nice views of Stockholm can be can from the top of the tower.

Stockholm tower

Stockhom view

View from the tower
A street in Gamla stan.

At 6PM, we were shocked to see the shops being closed. It was common scene in Europe but I expected the capital city to open for little more time!!

On second day, I took a cruise ride to Stockholm Archipelago. It consists of 30,000 islands!! Most of them are privately owned!! But in Sweden public access is allowed in private property. Many people use it as a vacation place. It was an amazing journey to see tiny islands owned by individual family.

A Dutch windmill seen from the boat.

Varieties of boats and ships.

Even on summer day, I could feel the cold during boat ride. The jackets I had were useless and I was shivering for most of the journey.  Took some blankets from the boat to wade off the cold. It was hard to imagine how the place can be in winter.

Finally, an outside view of Arlanda airport.

If I missed seeing something, it was Ericson Globe. We could not just find the time to visit that place.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Macau, mix of east and west

April 2014

Macau and Hongkong was our first official family trip to a foreign location (Thought we had travelled to Bhutan last year, my wife refuse to accept it as a foreign country!!). My friend Sankara who has accompanied me in many of the earlier trips also came with his family.

Macau, an erstwhile Portuguese colony now in the hands of China is a mix of Asian and European culture. As part of “One Country, two systems” policy of China, Macau along with Hongkong enjoys limited amount of freedom. Being famous for the casinos, Macau attracts people from Mainland China and other countries.

Reaching Macau is simpler. From Hongkong Airport, people can directly reach ferry point without crossing immigration. It is then an hour’s journey to Macau on ferry. Airlines even check-in the luggage till Macau!! Only restriction being that the ferry should be booked in advance (Link here) and the ticket should be shown to the airline staff while checking in. It is a very simple and hassle free process.

Sea bridge in Macau
Our flight landed in Hongkong on time. We had budgeted some time for delays and hence had to wait for sometime before getting onto ferry. Ferry was quite luxurious and much to my surprise sailed like a speed boat. The journey was smooth as the weather was not windy. Being tired from flight journey, I just dozed off!!

Inside the ferry
The immigration at Macau was the easiest one I experienced so far. No need to fill any forms. Just present the passport and they give us a 30 day visa within few seconds!! And no stamping on the passport.

Check-in bags being loaded
Opposite to ferry terminal was bus terminus where hotel shuttles operate. Once in hotel, we quickly freshened up and hit the streets. We were little tired but all we had was a day in Macau. So, we had to make full utilization of that. Rest and sleep could wait.

Lisboa hotel
Near to our hotel was Casino Lisboa, one of the biggest casinos in Macau. The place was bustling with tourists. Having decided to enter casino in the night, we spent some time in photographing buildings around the place and proceeded further.

Senado square
Our destination was Senado square, where the pavements are made of hand laid limestone pieces. Surrounded by several Portuguese style building, this is one of the most photographed places in Macau. There are many Cathedrals and Churches around this area. St. Dominic’s Church was one of them.

The end of our long walk brought us to St. Paul’s ruins. The road leading to this place was filled with shops selling pillets and all of them had meat in it!! We had to settle down for some light weight snacks at Starbucks. Spent a long time around St. Paul’s.

Ruins of St. Paul
Our next stop was Macau Tower. Since it was little far, we took a public bus to reach that place. The main attraction of this 1109 ft building is adventure sports. The bungee jump from this tower is said to be the one of the highest in the world. Skywalk on the perimeter of the top floor is another adventure. For acrophobic person like me, skywalk inside the floor would suffice. We can walk on the glass floor where the road some 1000 feet below is visible. It was hard for me to walk looking down but finally managed it. Never had the guts to go outside and try the hard stuff. (It is safe as people would be tied to a pole and not left free).

Macau tower
South East Asian countries provide challenge for vegetarians. There are hardly any vegetarian items present in local hotels. There were few Indian hotels but all of them situated in Taipa Island. We decided not to try searching for Indian stuff and settled ourselves in a Pizza Hut. They had some vegetarian stuff that was good for our dinner.

View from Macau tower

Macau was a short stay for us. But indeed it lived up to our expectations.