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Old 17th May 2012, 22:39   #1
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Talking Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

It's been quite a while since I had a holiday.
So, to make up for that, me and my dad decided on a Work trip to Amsterdam.

Wait. Work? Amsterdam?
Yup. That's what we did.
An exhibition in Amsterdam took us to a last minute trip to Europe.

Here're some teasers:

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And so it started in April. We remembered this exhibition that was to take place in Amsterdam in May. We knew we had to go. Only problem was, we had no tickets, visa, reservations. Heck, we didn't even have a plan!

Hmmm. Ok. Schengen Visa can take time. Most of us know that. And it totally depends on your country of arrival.
Out family had learned that the hard way. Flashback to Eurotrip 2009. No work. Only pleasure. We had to enter into Europe through Frankfurt. And then go to Hannover for my sister's graduation.
Everyone got a Schengen Visa from the German embassy easily. I didn't. I had to get mine through the Swiss embassy because of lack of time. Anywho. It was managed then.

What now?
We called up our neighbourhood travel agent who also happens to be a friend. We had to quickly book our return tickets. This late, and that too during school summer vacations in India, meant we got pretty high prices.
We booked Finnair from Delhi to Amsterdam via Helsinki.

And then came the visa application.
Got all the documents prepared. The day we had to submit them came. After rushing to our office for the last minute checks, we went to the agency that takes care of these applications. Thankfully that was in Nehru Place, quite close to our office.

After about two and a half hours of waiting, we finally submitted our documents. This was a Friday. Our flight was booked for the Monday that was 9 days later!
And we got to know that Monday (2 days after visa application) was a holiday. Weekends were off. And from the visa center to embassy and back, the passports and application forms would take two working days.
Oh dear. This was cut quite close.

Each day after that, we wondered whether we would actually be able to go or not. And then we called the visa office on Thursday. We got a curt response. "Your passports are ready. Please get them collected."

I had maintained a pretty cool exterior. But inside, there were bursting bubbles! I rushed to the office. Waited for my turn. Got our passports. We had managed a Schengen Visa from Netherlands embassy in 3 working days including the day of our application!

I had waited to shop for some essentials assuming that if we don't go I could delay it :P I am not a big fan of apparel shopping. Anyway, that was managed pretty quickly.

Monday came. Got up early. Thankfully the flight was not at insane hours.
Got to the airport well in time. I do like T3 at Delhi Airport. It has taken the airport experience to levels I had not experienced before in India.

Our boarding was announced. And a couple of hops and skips on the step on no need to walk thingys later, we were at our boarding gate. And I got a very brief glimpse of our Airbus 319.

I took a picture of that. But I can't display that here. Reason will come later..

Anyhow. On our last trip to Europe, we had Lufthansa flights. And those were yucky. Old planes, with CRT displays which you could see if your neck was made of rubber.
This though, was something different. The plane seemed quite new. There were flat displays behind all the seats. And a nice control in the arm rest.
And leg room that was good with your legs comfortably detached and kept on the seat next to you!

Aah well. We took off. There it was. The uber cool In-Flight Entertainment system.

Check it out here:

Some nice food and drinks, with nice collection of movies and TV shows later, we landed at Helsinki, Finland.
And I realized that I had not gotten up from my seat in about 7 hours! That must say something of the IFE system!
Thankfully, my legs had not turned to jelly. So we walked to the Passport control for Immigration. Only to be greeted with a nice long line. And just two counters. And a very good case of Murphy's Law. Our line was the slowest.
And we had about 1.5 hrs of lay-over time before our flight further. But only 45 mins to board it!

Anyway, we got the nice stamps, and rushed to our boarding gate for the onward flight to Amsterdam. Only to be told sternly to hurry up!

This was a basic Airbus that we have in our domestic flights. And lo and behold! We had seats in the very last row! How I dislike that.

We took off. And within 30 minutes or so, we were flying over the sea. With islands. And there came out Dad's phone. Click click click!

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Some more teasers:
Attached Images

Last edited by samarth.bhatia : 18th May 2012 at 15:43. Reason: adding clicks!
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Old 17th May 2012, 23:14   #2
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

Hey thats a very interesting beginning. I expected more pictures and a longer post. It takes the fun away to read travelogues in parts. Do try and post the rest of it ASAP with lots of pictures.
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Old 17th May 2012, 23:26   #3
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A lot clicks of the sea and the islands later, we were flying over land again.
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And suddenly, things got more interesting. And more beautiful.
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Oh those lovely canals!

And then we landed at Schipol. A very long walk on a walky thingy later, picked up our baggage and headed out.
Ouch. The cold was harsh after the cosy weather in the plane and the airport. Not to forget the ultra hot Delhi weather.

But it was good.
We were welcomed by the Tulips!

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Old 17th May 2012, 23:54   #4
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

There's something about coming to a foreign land, and being greeted by people you know. It's a feeling I have seldom felt, but was lucky enough to feel here.

We were greeted by family friends at Amsterdam. And we had no clue they were going to come out to the airport. So it was a nice surprise. We walked straight to their car. We strapped up, and set off for their home, where we were putting up for the next couple of days.

It was a brilliant drive.
An interesting thing was this underpass we went through. Over it, the airplanes used to cross over. I took a pic of that and am not putting that up here. For a reason that will come out later.

We reached their home soon. And I do have a pic of that.
That's the entrance, along with our ride for the most parts.
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It was time to relax. And time to put the Matrix SIM into my phone.

And that's when things went a bit wrong.

Last edited by samarth.bhatia : 18th May 2012 at 00:05.
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Old 18th May 2012, 00:58   #5
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I had bought a nice phone recently.
It had a Ducati logo at the back. With a Videocon logo below it.

And I had my fingers crossed while putting in the Matric international SIM card. Funny thing about this SIM. It was a micro SIM with a frame of the size of a regular SIM surrounding it. The levels of the frame and the micro SIM did not match. So, the total thickness was more than that of a regular SIM.

And my Ducati Videocon phone was new. With a slot on the side though which you click the SIM in. I clicked it in. And it didn't go in too smoothly. But it clicked. And I switched it on. There was no network. While there was network on my Dad's Matrix SIM.

So I thought it might be a problem with the phone. I wanted to try the SIM in my iPhone. But alas! The SIM did not budge. I was afraid now - both for my phone and the SIM.
Well I tried to talk to a very tiny technical me about what I could do. So with the help of a thin metal thingy, I finally go the SIM out. Tried it on my iPhone. It didn't work.

I wrote a hurried mail to Matrix asking for their assistance. And put my iPhone on charge through my laptop. We had forgotten a convertor for our devices having Indian plugs.
It was the USB cable to the rescue.

And then the real disaster struck. My iPhone getting switched off and on on its own.
I am a complete amateur when it comes to handling any kind of software. And that's why I had bought the iPhone. With the iOS, I could have peace of mind.
But no. It kept happening.
I tried many ways.

But finally, after consulting my friend in Delhi who has a very keen interest in the ways of all software (and hardware), I had to revert to my Factory settings. Without a clue of whether I had any backup or not!
With a trembling finger, I pressed the Revert to Factory Settings, erasing all content. And that includes the pictures I had clicked so far.

And then I connected it to my laptop again. And there came a message from the Gods of iTunes. Do you wish to Restore data on this iPhone?

It was about 2 months old data, but still, it felt good to have saved something.
I made a mental note of keeping my data restored from now on. (Which reminds me, I'd better connect the phone now and learn iCloud and how to use it!)

So the damage was controlled.
And then it was the next day and time to get ready for the exhibition.
We were driven there by Uncle (our family friend). He showed us all the relevant tram and metro stops en-route. That was real good of him. And it was extremely useful to us on our way back.

Outside the exhibition were some of the biggest trucks I had ever seen.
And they had brilliant huge cabins at the back where some of the products from some exhibitors were showcased.
Here are some pics:

This Germany registered truck with all the chrome reminded me of the American trucks.
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It was quite a sight to see the front of this truck.
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First time I saw a Renault truck:
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A nice Kawasaki cruiser
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i40. A brilliant looking car
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A closer look at the LEDS in the handlamps. Much like Audi, no?
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And then a metro and a tram ride later, we were walking back home:
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Oh I did love the canals.

Trivia: Did you know that Schipol (Amsterdam Airport) happens to be 10m below sea level?
In fact most of Amsterdam, and large parts Holland come from re-claimed or man-made land.

And we ended the day with a nice dinner.

Or that's what I thought we'd do..
Uncle suggested that I go see the Centrum (Central part of Amsterdam) with his nephew.
With my feet sore from walking, I would have said no. But I was too tempted.

But this is how the weather was:

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We waited for a while. Me with my face in my palms. Staring out the window. Willing the rain to stop. Or atleast reduce.
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Old 18th May 2012, 18:37   #6
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And then it was time to either brave the rain, or forget about going that day.

Well. I braved it. Wore my Woodland trekking boots (for reasons I wasn't sure of myself - maybe because I had forgotten to carry regular walking shoes). Went to recharge my tram and metro card (from hereon referred to as the TMC). Used a funny ATM like machine that only accepts Maestro cards. Whatever happened to VISAs and Mastercards?
Anyway. We had to walk home to return Dad's TMC.
All of this took but 15 minutes. And the Sun was out! Yay!
I even forgot for a while that it was 7:30 pm and the Sun came out like it was the middle of the day! (There was sunlight pretty much till about 9 or 10 pm in these areas)

So I took off my rather uncomfortable boots and wore my floaters. Aah. That felt good on my feet. And then we walked back to the Tram stop. Got in. Put the TMC near the sensor. And I sat near the window - gazing out to the beautiful canals we crossed by. And the ultra clean environment. The greenery. All washed afresh by the rain.

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It did feel good indeed.

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It was a nice ride to Centrum Amsterdam.
And suddenly we took a turn and there weren't so many open areas anymore. There were these cute buildings with their mismatched proportions and non aligned sides and the funny tops. And the open curtains.
I was suddenly in the Yetiblog(R) in Amsterdam. I couldn't help but smile to myself.

But what was this? Oh no. Raindrops again.
I had my floaters on with socks underneath. They were going to get mighty wet matey!
Surprisingly, I was so excited at the prospect of finally seeing the Centrum that I didn't care too much for the rain.

And then we got off the tram.
I could get used to this, I said to myself.

I realized that even Picasa (with its straighten tool) couldn;t help much with this image! This is pretty much how the buildings are! lol

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Do observe the number of cycles and their imaginative parking spots! The Dutch love to cycle. That's for sure.

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Couldn't help but go click click on seeing this nice truck

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It was a nice evening. We walked around quite a bit and visited the famous Amstedam Red Light District. It was quite different, ahem ahem!
The eyes took some time to take in the beauty of the place (and I mean the buildings and the canals! Don't let your mind wander too much!)

We had some food and beverages and were on the tram again by about 11:00 pm. Got home by 11: 45 and got a good night's sleep. It had been a pretty nice and eventful first day in Amsterdam for me.

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Old 18th May 2012, 18:56   #7
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

Note From Team-BHP Support-Team: Thread moved from Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 18th May 2012, 22:30   #8
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

And the days went on.
Second and third day were more uneventful with mostly work at the exhibition.

Although we did visit the Centrum again on the third day. This time it was me and my dad. But due to the fact that we had gotten there by accident, having taken the tram in the direction away from home rather than towards it, we didn't really do too much.
Plus there were bags that we both had filled with catalogues from various companies.
We returned home relatively early that day.

Apart from this, I went to the centrum one again. And this time it was with company closer to my age. We walked and walked and walked some more. We say various parts of the city. From the high energy discos to the streets filled with youngsters just partying away to glory.
This was all done while eating some delicious Dutch fries. I forget the local name for that. These are much thicker than the regular french fries. And they are best had with the Mayonnaise.

The plan was to walk back to the Tram station where we had parked the car. But thankfully my feet got some mercy. We caught the last tram there.
And then we took a nice drive through the forest - in the middle of the night it was something else. The air was scented and so fresh. There was this lake where we saw some men fishing into the night. And the silence with just the sound of the engine.
We stopped for some minutes to hear the sounds of the night. It was baeutiful.

And then we drove back home.
I was a little more silent that night, more than usual. Lost. But not lost in thoughts.
It had been an exhausting but very refreshing evening.
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Old 19th May 2012, 21:04   #9
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Well it had been a work trip, so work had to be done.
And it was done!

Meanwhile, in the evenings after dinner, there had been discussions on what all we could do with the 3 extra days we had. Before I continue, I think it is pertinent for me to tell that these 3 extra days had come at a pretty big cost factor.
You see, we earlier booked tickets for coming back the day after the exhibition. The pleasure part of it had not been considered as we had been running around for teh visas etc.
Anyway. So the planning for these 3 days was done last minute too.

Last minute meant the options for mode of travel if we wanted to go out of Amsterdam were limited to trains or by air. By air was dropped to keep the expenses in check.
By train, we saw that tickets one way to Paris cost upwards of 100 Euros per head.
Plus spending a night in Paris would mean we shell out quite a bit for the hotel (since it was last minute).

Then we thought about buses.
See a bus from "Eurolines" would take about 8 hours, travelling form 10 pm to about 6 am. 8 hours isn't too much. Plus we could explore Paris from early in the morning.
And the bus tickets would be about 65 Euros for both of us.

Plus, we wanted to see Brussels too. Paris to Brussels was just about 3.5 hrs. So we decided to take the bus to Brussels and reach there by about 8 pm. This meant we booked a hotel in Brussels.

Three days. Three cities. Or rather, three countries. Amsterdam-Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam.

This was turning out to be quite a nice backpacking adventure!


Exploring Amsterdam: Day 5

We got up early. My feet felt a bit painful. Especially near the toes.
I ignored it.

This was a day when we would be driving around Amsterdam!
How I had waited.

We dressed and left with uncle.

Again, let me show you our ride for the day:
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The plan was to drive to McDonalds. Catch a quick breakfast.
And then head on.

That's what we did. We reached McD's on the edge of Schipol.
I was starving.
The breakfast menu was nice. Some nice food, coffee, and the view.

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At this point, I must say that I really enjoyed the juice. It was Tropicana. But it was different from what we get here. I assume because of the different taste of the fruit.

Then we set off once more.
Our destination: Den Helder

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I was in the front passenger seat of the X3.
I had been eyeing the nice large sun roof. Flick. And the roof thingy moved out of the way to reveal the sky.
It was click click time. But this time with a better camera!

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Uncle was nice enough to drive us around. Only later I found this place was about 120 odd kms away!

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The bridge for the aircrafts to cross over. Cars go through the underpass.

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Nice system of live traffic feed on the motorway. If a portion is congested/road closed, it shows in Red. Otherwise in White.

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The motorway smoothly goes under the building. Nice.

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The GPS shows 90 kms! I had no clue!

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The smoke from that chimney seems more white than the clouds.
(+) Good for the environment (-) Rains coming up!

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I did enjoy the sun roof!

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This tunnel goes under the sea. Quite interesting.

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The tunnel from inside

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People dig station wagons in Europe. Most cars have an estate variant.

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Tulip fields! Yay!

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Windmills. Lots of them. And modern ones!

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There's a canal which runs next to the road. Typically Dutch.

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The canal:

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What's that around the corner?

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to be continued..

Last edited by samarth.bhatia : 19th May 2012 at 21:23.
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Old 19th May 2012, 22:13   #10
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

When I saw those ships, I thought we were about to reach the beach.
See, for a Delhi guy, any thing close to the sea/ocean is a beach. Other things don't come to mind that easily naa

Here, I want to show you the last bit of the drive before we reached the "beach".

Now I have travelled to coastal towns, lived in Bombay and all.
But having the road so close to such huge ships was something extraordinary.

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Large ship approaching..

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Getting larger as we get closer..

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Look at the size of that !

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WE drive over the slope. I am not prepared about what to expect..

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Say Hello to Den Helder

The dykes were under the concrete pathway about 30m away.
Our beautiful X3. Basking in the warm sunlight, mixed with the strong wind - Wind Chill redefined.

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That's my dad and me.

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Lone man enjoying the chilly wind in the warm sun.

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Lone doggy doing the same.

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Lone man and lone doggy decide to give each other some company.

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It was simply amazing to see these slopey grasslands with the buuilding on one side..

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...and see the sloping concrete with the sea behind it, on the other

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Dad and uncle went till the dykes - here they're walking back

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This car looked beautiful. Especially in this area.

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Oh I loved this place! The wind and the sun. No sound other than the sea. I walked around near the dykes alone, trying to soak it all in.
It's a beautiful world, indeed.

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I hope you guys have enjoyed the travelogue so far.
As good as it is for me to remember my trip, it is very encouraging if you keep chipping in with your comments, guys

Little bit of trivia: From this coast, the United Kingdom is very close via sea. About 20 minutes by ferry, I was told.

just half the day's drive was done till now...

Last edited by samarth.bhatia : 19th May 2012 at 22:34.
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Old 20th May 2012, 06:44   #11
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Default Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

Samarth, nice one. three countries in three nights, definitely hectic - hats off to your and your dad's spirit.
the pictures are nice, accompanied by good narration - will watch the space.
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Old 20th May 2012, 14:25   #12
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Smile Re: Eurotrip 2012 - About Red Lights, Croissants & Waffles!

Originally Posted by drmohitg View Post
Hey thats a very interesting beginning. I expected more pictures and a longer post. It takes the fun away to read travelogues in parts.
Thanks for your words drmohitg. And for your suggestion, which I fully agree with.
Hence, I asked the mods for permission to put up more pics in the first post.
Hope you have enjoyed reading the rest.
There's lots more to come

Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Samarth, nice one. three countries in three nights, definitely hectic - hats off to your and your dad's spirit.
the pictures are nice, accompanied by good narration - will watch the space.
Thank you sir.
You are too kind.

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Old 20th May 2012, 16:59   #13
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Thumbs up Den Helder to Keukanhof

We were at Den Helder.
I had been going click click endlessly. The camera battery was brand new. So I had faith.

Alas! My faith was shattered! The battery died out.
And then my Faith in the Almighty was doubled. I walked around enjoying the sun and wind, promising myself not to get lost behind the viewfinder, but actually let the place soak in.

And then we walked into the X3 for a drive back towards Amsterdam.

Next Destination: Keukenhof, Lisse
Distance: About 130 kms

I couldn't help but go click click. These roads were absolutely beautiful.

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En-route, we stopped for fuel. Now I have known about the self service stations for some time. But actually seeing LPG being put was different.
We picked up some sandwiches and ice-cream, and we were off again.

I also saw this gorgeous Ford Ka Soft-top at the filling station

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The drive to Keukanhof took about 1.5 hours. We entered the town of Lisse. It was beautiful. The houses were all very pretty. And quite big. The landscaping in the lawns outside was also very different, and beautiful.
There were tulip fields all around us, I was told. I saw large green grass like growth. No colors. It was a bit disappointing to know that we were about a fortnight too late.
The tulips had been harvested. We saw new seeds being put in the ground.

But the Keukanhof was like a day-saver.
This is essentially a large garden filled with tulips and some other Dutch plants.
From here, I'll let the pics take over. There's a nice surprise in it for you all

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Finally saw tulips..

more to follow..

Last edited by GTO : 21st May 2012 at 14:21. Reason: As requested
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Old 20th May 2012, 17:19   #14
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Smile Keukanhof and the Surprise Find!

Some better pictures of Keukanhof:

Tulips hi Tulips!

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Dad likes the sunlight and the flowers. And the amazing scent in the air.

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I keep getting the urge to go click click. "What if it's just a 2 MP camera?", I think.
After coming home, I steal Dad's much better pics from the 8 MP!
Basically, the better pics you see here are all clicked by him.
Full credit for that to him.

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Nice place for a picnic..
.. now, only if I could fit more than half my behind on these chairs! lol

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The chair look on at his dead brother, the cut tree.

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What's that we see in the distance?
Is it a fan? Is it a tower?
No, it's an old Dutch windmill. lol

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We walk into the windmill through the base.
There're these models displayed inside.

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We walk up through some old, rickety, narrow stairs.
My size 11 feet are not meant for this. Neither is my 6' 1" frame meant for the low height.
I keep cribbing. And then we find a nice balcony.
This pretty much curbs the cribs. lol

Back side of the big fan thingy

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View from the balcony

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Hope you guys are enjoying this.

lots more coming up..

Last edited by samarth.bhatia : 20th May 2012 at 17:37.
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Old 20th May 2012, 18:04   #15
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Smile Keukanhof

Then we found a place to rest our feet for a couple of minutes.

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Lovely little girl. She wanted to move the pram herself.
Did not give up even with the pram doing a wheelie!

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We went inside this building. It had displays of award winning flower arrangements.
Some pictures for you guys:

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And then we had to leave as there was one more place left to visit.
We walked back to the parking lot.

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Found this awesome Merc in the parking.

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This Germany registered Opel, in all Black attire, looked super hot!

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I decided I like sunroofs!

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more coming up, soon..

Last edited by Technocrat : 23rd May 2012 at 00:53. Reason: Typo corrected
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