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Old 20th December 2013, 23:28   #1
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Default Of Bavaria and Oktoberfest 2013

There were times when we craved for a vacation and we didn’t have one. But this time it happened to be two.

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Soon as we returned from India after our annual vacation, my wife got an invitation to attend a product launch of their principal manufacturer in Laudenbach, Germany followed by Oktoberfest 2013 Munich. While it was obligatory in my wife’s part to accept the invitation as part of her job, my participation meant extra cost of two more of us which would pinch our budget. But the prospect of going to Oktoberfest in Germany was irresistible and I decided to tag along with her.

And there begins planning.

After numerous calculations, permutations and combinations, the itinerary is fixed.
Day 1 Dubai – Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Heppenheim, stay at Heppenheim.
Day 2 conference for my wife, we go sightseeing and in afternoon travel by train from Heppenheim to Munich,
Day 3 Oktoberfest 2013
Day 4 Munich sightseeing,
Day 5 Return.
While my wife’s ticket and accommodation were taken care of by the company she works for, I was trying all options to try and squeeze myself and our daughter into the same accommodation booked for my wife and reduces some expense. But it was not that easy. However, good folks in Germany were so kind to help us through the accommodations and booked us triple rooms instead, a favour which we never can forget.
Visas were done, shopping done, and with hardly two more days to go, packing starts. Whether going for a month holiday or a week, packing is a tedious job. Packing - unpacking - packing. There goes all clothes, some snacks, tripod, shoes etc. And ready to go!
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Old 20th December 2013, 23:36   #2
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Day 1
Dubai/Doha/FRANKFURT

Popular choice would have been the Emirates which flies daily direct to Frankfurt. But cheapskates always look for options. And some good souls designed www.cleartrip.ae (and other similar websites) to help those cheapskates to find the cheapest options in air travel in one go.

So the website throws up options as low as AED 1,100/- one way in some Pegasus airways which has transit point in Turkey. Apprehensive about the airline, I jump one more option of Saudi Arabian Air which has long layover in Jeddah to a rather comfortable airline – Qatar Airways, the Worlds Five Star Airline. Total flying hours is 8hrs as opposed to 6hrs of Emirates which flies direct and charges AED 700 more. Well two hours is a compromise which I can live with considering that it saves AED 1400/- for two persons one way and the same applies to the return leg from Munich.

Flight to Doha took about an hour and we were ferried by bus to the transit point and again by bus to the aircraft. Flight to Frankfurt was Boeing 777-300. Except the takeoff, rest of the journey was comfortable with very good service.

The airport looks old but it was neat and clean. Just that it lacks the ambience of Dubai Airport. The checkout was easy with some customary security checks, baggage arrived a little later. The baggage trolley required €2/- whereas it’s abundantly available free in Dubai. I insert a €10 note and the machine took a while to return the change and to release the trolley.

Once outside, we waited for taxi. In fact a taxi was parked right in front of us and a short man was standing right beside the taxi dressed up in denim and shirt. I actually mistook him for a passenger until he asked whether we were looking for a taxi. I was expecting taxi drivers in uniform as seen in Dubai. Once seated comfortably in the relatively new Merc C 250 CDI, he enters the pin code in the navigation and it shows the route and off we go to Heppenheim.

Enroute, I chat with the guy and he turned out to be from Afghanistan and we switch our language to Hindi. Within half an hour, we reached Park Inn at Heppeneheim. Checked into a triple room - thanks again to the good folks in Laudenbach who arranged the upgrade. The room was comfortable. But the bathroom was a shocker. No shattaf! No bucket and mug! OMG! Im left with tissue rolls instead! To level the shock I drink a coca cola from the bar. Looking around reading the leaflets, I find another piece of paper saying that the coca cola that I just drank costs €2.5!!

Not to be sunken to more shocks, we decide to walk around. But another shock awaited me. Internet data pack which I subscribed for did not work. It worked in Frankfurt but it’s not working now in Heppenheim. I was relying on google maps and without network I’m lost. But Heppenheim is not a big city. We take some basic directions from the reception and head to the Cathedral of the Bergstraße and Marketplatz.
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Marketplatz
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Vettelheim - A model of a town named after Sebastian Vettel. Heppenheim is the birth place of Mr. Sebastian Vettel.
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Cathedral of the Bergstraße

The stone paved streets were quiet, peaceful and calm. Often would a car pass by with a clatter. Clatter of a diesel engine. Most of the vehicles seemed to be running on diesel. The Marketplatz is a picturesque town centre. All houses have similar architecture and flowers bloom in all windows. It was getting dark and we returned to the hotel. Other delegates for the conference had arrived. After a brief introduction and chit chat, we proceeded for dinner at Marketplatz.

It was 7.30pm, and getting colder. We get seated ourselves in the open air of a restaurant in Marketplatz. We asked for the menu and thus came a menu in German. Almost all of those dishes were of pork and beef. So we ask the waitress for any chicken dish and she suggested pasta. The waitress took our order and gave us a bewildered look. Bewildered because it was very cold
Since no water was served, I ask for water, and she brings a bottle of 750ml wasser and charges €7.5 for it. I then remembered what our neighbours said. When their friends toured Europe, they took bottles of water along with them it seems. Now we understand why.

With the temperature dipping rapidly, we finish our dinner quickly, walked to the cathedral once again clicked some photographs and returned.

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Cathedral of the Bergstraße at night.
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One of the many lanterns which lit the streets. Each has unique designs.

On our way back we searched for a grocery store and learned that they all close down at 8pm. Thirsty, chilled and tired we returned to the hotel and crashed for the day.
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Old 20th December 2013, 23:57   #3
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Day 2
The day began earlier. Got up early and ran to the reception for an iron box and was directed to the ironing room to find an iron box chained to the wall! Ironing done, we were ready for the breakfast. Having no idea which one of the dishes were beef and pork, I started off with eggs instead but eventually went on to taste some steak, ham, salami and God knows what. It all tasted so good that I thought of giving my pescatarian (with the exception of chicken) habit a break.

My wife then headed out to the conference with other delegates and I checked out of the hotel and kept our luggage in safe custody at the reception. Our destination was the Starkenberg Castle up a nearby hill. The receptionist told us that taxis don’t go up there and we need to trek. I and my daughter were game for the trek and off we went. During breakfast, I fiddled with the settings in my phone and it connected to internet. So with assistance of Google navigation, we started our walk to the castle.

The roads are neatly paved, lined by houses on both sides, almost same architecture of those we saw near Marketplatz, quiet and calm. No sooner we started climbing up a gradient for some 15 minutes, I found another road which went up to the right side. After consulting the map and some calculations, I decided to take that short cut.
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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” Beverly Sills once said. How true it was. The supposed to be shortcut took us to a road parallel to the actual route and we walked endlessly through beautiful vineyards until we met dozer operator who said that the road is closed and we were actually on the wrong route. We now have to go back to where we took the deviation and then take the actual route. Other short cut was to climb the steps through the vineyards. But those were closed.
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View of Cathedral from top.

Sweating from the climb, disappointed by the wrong decision, eager to reach the castle, anxious to reach the train station on time, a baffled me decided to retreat.

We walked back to where we took the wrong deviation. It was 11.30am already. Probably we were the only two human beings sweating on that beautiful weather. We stood there thinking about our next move. My daughter was game to try walk to the castle. But her face told me that she was tired. If her mother was around, she would have already climbed up her lap complaining. With me, she was one obedient angel.

So I decided to go to the town and have lunch first. Amused to find Kebab and Grill restaurant, we got in. It turned out to be a Turkish restaurant and not an Arabic one. Ordering was pain again as they had chicken only in Shish Kebab which would take time or so what I understood. Then was the Donor Kebab for which I asked whether it was chicken. The guy showed me a photo of a cow and I understood it was beef. Having no other choice, I ordered Donor Kebab. It was my first Donor Kebabs.

Most importantly, we found bottled water and drank loads of them.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel reception, took some rest at the lobby and collected our luggage and headed straight to the railway station.
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For Heppenheim to Munich part, I actually wanted to drive on the Autobahn. A quick search through rent a car rates plus the fuel costs (1 ltr of petrol costs €1.5) made me decide against it. The company had booked the delegates in Intercity Express from Weinheim to Munich. Since my wife has to be with other delegates, I booked our tickets also in the same train.

Booking train ticket online was very easy. Go to www.bahn.de, register, select the train and itinerary, give the credit card details and voila! Tickets are booked. On the contrary, even after spending several hours and days I still could not register myself in our own Indian Railways.

The train came sharp at 4.05pm, and within 10 minutes, we were at Weinheim station. The delegates reached after a while and suddenly the sleepy platform came alive.
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Weinheim Railway Station.

Train to Munich came sharp at 5.00pm. 1st class cabin was comfortable, spacious and quiet. The train moved at high speeds but it didn’t feel so. The landscape began to change from vineyards to forests to plain lands. The express train stopped at Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Ulm. At each station, as soon as the train stopped, the lights and A/c were switched off and I believe the engine also was shut down. We reached Munich at 8.10pm.

‘We are in Bavaria’!
Ambience at Munich railway station seemed to shout that aloud. People dressed in traditional costumes were returning after their festivities at the Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest specialities were sold just like soda or water bottles are sold in our railway stations.

We decided to walk to our hotel.

So we walked to Sendlinger Tor. It seemed quite awkward to pull our trolley bags and walk through the streets of Munich. But it was a good opportunity to see the place too. So we walked past the numerous hotels catering to every type of nocturnal butterflies, different ethnic restaurants from Lebanese to Afghani, from Chinese to Tandoori and myriad life styles. We reached Motel One at 9pm and checked in.

As planned, we regrouped at 9.30pm and headed for dinner. Dinner was arranged at Hacker Haus, a Bier Garten from the house of Hacker Psorr. The ambience of the restaurant reminded of its rich history dating back to 18th century. Although the inn was renovated in 1985, apart from a large LED TV, everything else gives a vintage feel.
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After dinner and frolics, we returned to the hotel and crashed for the day.

Last edited by Dhar's : 21st December 2013 at 17:40.
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Old 22nd December 2013, 11:42   #4
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Default Re: Of Bavaria and Oktoberfest 2013

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 22nd December 2013, 13:36   #5
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Awesome ! Didn't know fuel was that costly in Germany . Where are the Oktoberfest pics
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Old 25th December 2013, 01:11   #6
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Originally Posted by rawkeron View Post
Awesome ! Didn't know fuel was that costly in Germany . Where are the Oktoberfest pics
Fuel is extremely expensive especially if you compare with Gulf countries. But travelling within city is very easy as the public transport is very efficient and well connected with trams, subways and buses.

Oktoberfest pics coming up in a while.
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Old 25th December 2013, 01:43   #7
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Day 3.
Buffet breakfast at the hotel was a sumptuous affair. We agreed with others to meet in the lobby at 2pm and headed out to Marienplatz.

First, I wanted to buy myself long socks that would go with my Lederhosen.

Lederhosen?
Yes. Lederhosen.

Every festival has its own essence. Indulging truly in it is an experience. We all have traditional costumes. As we were going for the Oktoberfest, why not wear the tradition Bavarian dress for the event? So the search began for the traditional Bavarian Lederhosen and Dirndl. Online shops in Germany quoted €150 to 200. ie. AED 750 TO 1000/- for a dress which would be worn only for a half day and won’t be used for rest of the life. Hence that idea was unanimously voted down.

We had no clue where to buy Lederhosen in Dubai until a candle stand came to our rescue.

Ladies have an eye for curious objects in displays. These curious’ have a magnetic force. Force that attracts ladies to the shop and one thing leads to another. The same happened with us too. An attractive candle stand on display attracts my wife into the shop. The candle stand inevitably goes to the shopping bag and she browse further.
And she finds a Dirndl in one of the shelves. We couldn't help control our excitement looking at the price. AED 170/- hardly €35! But we were in a major disappointment. Suitable sizes were not available. But as a consolation, I found lederhosen for my size.
So here I am in Munich, wearing a traditional Bavarian costume.
Marienplatz
Rathaus Glockenspeil attracts huge crowd during its play at 11am and at 5pm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathaus-Glockenspiel
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We were amazed by the sound of bells and the music. After that we proceeded to the The Frauenkirche.
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We visited the Church of Lady.
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It was noon and we had to head back to the hotel to join others. On our way back, we visited the Dallmayers to buy some chocolates. We were awed by the exotic food items on display. Awed because of their price tag. We bought our chocolates and returned to the hotel.
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A flower shop

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A band playing in front of Hacker Haus.

Oktoberfest.
"Let's go to the Oktoberfest!"
From our hotel, we walked to Theresienwiese, the venue for Oktoberfest.
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A Punto Abarth. The only car I photographed in the entire trip.

The Theresienwise reminded me of the Global Village of Dubai. There were numerous rides and games for everyone seeking for excitement to thrill.
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Walking past the games and rides, we came to the main arena lined with huge tents, each having seating capacity well over 5000 people at a time.

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Theresienwiese was crowded even though it was a weekday. People of all ages dressed up in traditional Bavarian costume, merrily walked past the displays of horse cart with barrels of bier, buying souvenirs, taking photographs and enjoying themselves.

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That's yours truly in traditional Bavarian Lederhosen.

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We reached the Statue of Bavaria, took some customary photographs and proceeded to Hippodrom where our tables were booked.

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The Statue of Bavaria.

In fact we were excess in number than the bookings. Last minute excitement increased the numbers. But once again our hosts were very kind to make some requests and we were all in the tent seated.
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Hippodrom.

Hippodrom was nicely decorated. Bookings were for a period of three hours. The tent was full. All of us managed to squeeze in our allocated two tables of 10 persons each. Appetizers were served already and as I was hungry, immediately started my pet pooja.

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Then the waiter brought the obvious - fresh and straight from the barrels, 1ltr mugs, both hands holding six mugs each, and one on top of it. I had seen that only on photographs. To see that in real was jaw dropping.

Prost!
The band played and crowd cheered. Main course was served. I once again did not care whether it was pork or beef and relished the mouth watering dishes. Singing and dancing followed.

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That's me with the person who served our table.

Three hours flew past and it was time for us to leave. Our waiter gave us small bottles of snaps, worn around our neck like a garland. I did not dare to taste the contents for obvious reasons.

We slowly made our way out of the tent. Outside, we bid farewell to those who were staying in another hotel. Many others chose to stay back for more sessions outside the tent.
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We proceeded to the rides area where we rode some games. I bought two bottles of water and I was asked to keep a deposit which was refunded once the used bottled were returned!
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As the temperature started dipping, we finally bid adieu to Theresienwiese taking with us memories of a lifetime. We walked back to the hotel and crashed for the day resisting an after - weisen party at a nearby cafe.

Last edited by Dhar's : 25th December 2013 at 01:47.
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Old 30th December 2013, 23:00   #8
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Day 4
We woke up a little late although we planned for an early day. Our plans were to visit the toy museum and Kids Kingdom in Deusch Museum during the morning half and visit the BMW museum in afternoon. We had our breakfast, thanked and bid farewell to our hosts and other delegates and began our sightseeing trip. It was raining and thankfully we had our rain coats with us.

Toy Museum
By the time we reached Marienplatz, it was 11am already and we could watch the Glockenspeil once again. It attracts a lot of crowd even during the rain. The toy museum is right next to the old town hall. It’s in an old building with winding steps resembling a light house. Housed in three floors, it has an amazing collection of toys some of which are centuries old. But it’s only for display and not for playing.
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This was seen at the entrance of the Museum.

Out from the toy museum, we went to St. Peter’s church.
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Radiometers in a shop.

Once again richness of architecture amazed us.
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We decided to go up the tower and climbed the stairs. The climb was not as easy as we thought. After much panting and gasping, we finally made it to the top. The view from the top was amazing.
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Leaving the Peterplatz, we bought some souvenirs, and headed back to hotel. It started to rain and it was very cold. We had lunch of fish schnitzel and potato from a nearby restaurant and returned to our hotel. It was 3pm already.

After a quick change of wet clothes, we left for the Deuche Museum. We traveled by tram to the nearest station and walked rest of the distance. We just managed to get into the Kids Kingdom as it was closing time.
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By 5pm, we left the museum and walked to the Rindermarkt.
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It was 7pm already and we dropped our plans for BMW museum and the English Garden. We had our dinner once again at the Hacker Haus and returned to our hotel, packed and retired for the day.
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Old 30th December 2013, 23:11   #9
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Day 5
Realising that five days is not enough, we had our breakfast, thanked the hotel staff and left for the airport by taxi which came exactly at 8am as booked. This taxi had a navigation display which showed other taxis in the nearby vicinity. Munich airport again was understated just like a Volks Wagen. Clean, practical and no frills. Soon, we were through our check-in, security and seated in the lounge waiting for Qatar Airways Dreamliner 787-8.

Auf Wiedersehen to Munich, the Dreamliner took off with a little shudder before settling in for quiet flight. Large individual displays, comfortable seats, overhead storage placed quite high giving more ‘headroom’, excellent food and service made the return flight a nicer experience. We reached home safely that night.

<The End>
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Old 1st January 2014, 09:02   #10
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Nice and crisp blog. Its always a visual treat to view Europe. Really nice pictures. Thanks a lot for sharing.

And the lederhosen looks quite interesting .
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Old 1st January 2014, 10:34   #11
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Nice crisp log of your trip there!

I agree Munich (or a few other places in Europe) need at least 2 weeks to have a proper look. Apart from the BMW museum, there is also the Olympic stadium, the castles at Fuessen, the ski resort and Zugspitze at Garmisch, some more castles in town and a number of breweries that are must sees.

It is interesting to note that you actually found and wore the lederhosen. If you want to make some money, you should rent it out to other bhpians who would travel there

I wonder what job your wife has that entails such mandatory travel. Perhaps I can apply?!
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Old 2nd January 2014, 11:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drmohitg View Post
Nice and crisp blog. Its always a visual treat to view Europe. Really nice pictures. Thanks a lot for sharing.
And the lederhosen looks quite interesting .
Thank you for the kind words. It was my first time in Europe and now I know why many Bollywood movies were filmed there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdrive View Post
Nice crisp log of your trip there!

I agree Munich (or a few other places in Europe) need at least 2 weeks to have a proper look. Apart from the BMW museum, there is also the Olympic stadium, the castles at Fuessen, the ski resort and Zugspitze at Garmisch, some more castles in town and a number of breweries that are must sees.
I could have spent a couple of days more if it wasn't for the month long vacation I took earlier and had to make it a short trip. I sadly missed the BMW museum. Hope to make another trip with enough time and resources.

Quote:
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It is interesting to note that you actually found and wore the lederhosen. If you want to make some money, you should rent it out to other bhpians who would travel there
It was a surprise to find a Lederhosen in Tchibo and it surprised our hosts and other delegates also!
I'll definitely lend it to a fellow tbhpian .

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I wonder what job your wife has that entails such mandatory travel. Perhaps I can apply?!
My wife heads the Operations and Technical Dept of the company in UAE.
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