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Old 31st May 2015, 12:36   #1
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Default My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands

After the 2012 grand road trip, it was like the tiger had tasted the blood. However, the irony was, even when I visited Europe 2~3 times, it was always hectic, loaded with work trip. In Jan 2014 an internal transfer brought me to Bangalore. And in Jan 2015, a better opportunity saw me bid adieu to the company that made me see the world. New job, new people and new travels . The best thing was, even this job change did not break my yearly Europe trip ritual. The new organization's HQ being in Luxembourg, I was all smiles.

March 2015 a major infrastructure change at the HQ office meant I had to be there to inspect and give a go ahead to the migration. Although it was just a day's job, I managed to convince my boss to approve a 3 day leave. Since I already had a Schengen visa, I just had to get the tickets booked and fly.

There was an icing on the cake too. My ex colleague and a very good friend Jaspreet (Revved_up on TBHP) was also in Germany during the same time. He was there for the same group of trainings which I also used to attend. While working together, we never got to travel together. But as fate and irony would have it, we got the chance as soon as I left the organization. Jaspreet will pitch in to write his part of the story too. Will start the travel in the next post. Till that time, will leave you with a teaser pic.

My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscffile1687__1_tonemapped.jpg

Last edited by vinayrathore : 31st May 2015 at 12:58.
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Old 31st May 2015, 14:09   #2
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Hi, this is Jaspreet Singh and both me and Vinay will try to contribute to this travelogue together. This is going to be my first attempt at writing.

So, coming back to the trip, I was supposed to attend some trainings in Augsburg, Germany from 4th till 17th March. Which meant i had 2 weekends of spare time and the second weekend was going to be a 3 day off for me. This was my second trip to Europe, during the last trip in 2011, i had traveled to Austria and Switzerland on trains.

This time too, i was skeptical about driving on the other side and had booked train tickets to visit Italy on the first weekend and was planning to book the same for Amsterdam during the second weekend. However, on the day of my flight Vinay convinced me to cancel my train tickets and book a car through SIXT. Though nervous, decided to give it a shot.

So, it was 3rd March when i landed in Munich. As soon as I switched on my phone, I got a message from Vinay that he was coming to Luxembourg on 12th March and had a day's work after which he was free till 17th. This meant, we could do the Amsterdam leg together!!! This was the biggest coincidence which could happen.

From 3rd till 12th March I took a VW Golf (though I had booked a BMW 1er) on rent twice and drove within Germany and to Italy. That's a separate story and maybe someday I will write a travelogue about it.

Both me and Vinay had been planning out the last leg of my trip and we booked a car from Augsburg where I was stationed. We would go around to Amsterdam and Brussels and return it in Augsburg itself on 16th. We booked a VW CC category and hoped for the best to get a 3er.

To be continued.....
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Old 31st May 2015, 18:53   #3
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Could you please let me know where that train journey was? It looks so amazing. Seems like you had a wonderful experience. Great pictures!
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Old 31st May 2015, 19:38   #4
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe1980 View Post
Could you please let me know where that train journey was? It looks so amazing. Seems like you had a wonderful experience. Great pictures!
Hi Joe! Thanks a lot!

This was the Bernina Express, a special train with panoramic windows that links Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy. It ranks among one of the best train journeys in the world. Click here to know more.

There are many such special trains in Europe.

PS: Where ever relevant, I have already given links to the associated wiki pages in my posts above. You can click those to know more about the same.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 14:04   #5
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Default re: My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands

So as mentioned in the intro post, Jaspreet had already left for Munich and my plan too was final. I was to fly out on Wednesday 11th of March, finish my work at Luxembourg, join Jaspreet for our road trip the next day and return to Bangalore on 17th March. One day prior to Jaspreet's return to New Delhi.

Another surprise came from my office travel desk. Since my Visa was issued in Germany, they booked me to Munich instead of my destination Luxembourg through Qatar Airways and sent a few flight options from Munich to Luxembourg for me to choose. Wow, another opportunity to drive. I immediately asked them not to book a flight and that I will manage this part myself. My Flight was to land at Munich at around 8 AM 11th March. I Booked a Munich to Munich 3er from Sixt for a day, while Jaspreet had already booked a VW CC class car from Augsburg from 12th Afternoon. The wait to fly out started while I was constantly in touch with Jaspreet about the weather conditions et al. It snowed a few times before I landed so with the intention of traveling light but in anticipation of temperatures below 5 Degrees all the time, I only packed my heaviest NF jacket along with other essentials in a small cabin size suitcase.

The D day arrived and I left home in a Airport taxi after dinner on 10th as the flight was at 12:45. Reached Airport only to see a very long queue first at the checking counter and then at the Immigrations. Was well in time so did not face any issues. Flight, a Dreamliner all the way, was pretty uneventful till Doha where it started to hot up! Few Pics. (this set is from my cellphone cam so please bear the quality...all good things take time ).

A huge stuffed toy at Doha airport.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-20150312-06.28.06.jpg

A Mc Laren on display.
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After the layover, took off for Munich. Watching the classic 'Anand' on way.
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Caught up on some sleep too. Somewhere above the Black Sea.
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On Approach to Munich.
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Nice timing captian! We were a full forty minutes early!! Getting out of the Munchen airport was a breeze. This part of my trip was to be a marathon to Luxembourg and back hence did not get time to click any pics. Sixt had a disappointment with no diesel available at Munich. So had to make do with a Petrol 3er Station wagon. What a drive it still was. Keeping pace with the fastest cars on the Autobahn, reached Luxembourg just before noon directly to the office. Finished my work by 9 PM and retired at the hotel nearby booked by my HQ guys. Phew... long day it was. Tomorrow was to be a yet another such long day but an exciting one!! Yay!!

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Old 2nd June 2015, 23:04   #6
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Although it was my first time in the City state of Luxembourg, I did not intend to be a tourist there at all. Office was not in the city center and that helped keep the greed of ticking it off the bucket list away. May be some other time will do it properly.

Woke up early, finished breakfast and started off for Munich by 07:00. Jaspreet would be free by 14:00 as it was the last day of the training so the goal was to reach by that time. Journey back was the same "chasing the fast cars" affair. Reached Munich city SIXT center by 12:30 dropped the car and took the next available Regional Bahn to Augsburg. Reached Augsburg Hbf sharp at 14:00. Jaspreet was on the way to Hbf in the mean time. We rendezvous at Konigs Platz which is like a terminal of sorts for the city public transport system. After the normal exchange of pleasantries and some punjabi explicits (the way good friends meet after a long time in Delhi ), we went to his hotel across the street to keep my luggage and freshen up. Was hungry so took a donar kebap (as they spell it) roll and took the tram to the Sixt City Center office. Our booking was from 16:30 but we hoped they should not have any problem with an early pickup.

Reached there and saw this gleaming red A3 RS parked outside. We just drooled over it for some time before going in to check how it can be ours.

Yours truly with the RS and finishing the Donor Kebap Roll on the go.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1087.jpg

Me and Jaspreet.
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We went in, only to find out that leave apart the RS, even the booked category, the VW CC was not available.

We argued a bit and the only options we had were: A VW Tiguan, A petrol A4 Station Wagon, or a brand new BMW 116 with M Package. No points in guessing what we chose.

My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1089.jpg
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Came fully loaded with Full iDrive, M Alloys and Bumpers, Electric seats et al. Plus was, it came with a discount as this was two categories lower than our original booking. It was a brand new car that came directly from the Munich office (warehouse?) just few hours back and needed a wash which was done quickly and the keys handed over to us.

My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1093.jpg

Only 93 Kms done. Distance from Munich to Augsburg is 70 Kms approx.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-20150312-17.04.421.jpg

We went to the Hotel picked up our luggage and off we went on way to Amsterdam. Since it was expected to be an evening start, we were having a stop over for the night at Bad Schönborn near Mannheim which was right on the Autobahn A5.

We had checked with Sixt guys, if we would have to be gentle with her. They said no, its comes run in from factory.

So here we go..Touched 200 at the first opportunity.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-20150312-18.11.23.jpg
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1095.jpg

At a parking on the Autobahn
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And the sun went down somewhere near Hockenheim
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscffile1478__1_tonemapped.jpg
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscffile1480__1_tonemapped.jpg

We reached the hotel at around 20:00 which was late for a German small town. Searched for the owner, found him doing what is done best at that time. He instructed us to get the keys from a safe near the reception area. Had to search for the keys for 10 mins and check in ourselves. Surprise of the evening was a sumptuous dinner of Biryani! Yes, the hotel had Srilankan staff and they made us great prawn biryani given the situation.

We talked late into the night and received a call from the owner about being loud. Now that's how two friends meet after a long time.

Last edited by vinayrathore : 3rd June 2015 at 10:17.
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Old 4th June 2015, 14:10   #7
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Waking up the next morning was a bit of a chore as we slept late. Got ready quickly and went to the restaurant for Breakfast. Now one thing I really love about European hotels is their breakfast spread. You really get spoilt for choice and start behaving like a child. Right from cereals to fruits, to honeys (yes multiple kinds of it), to millions of kinds of cheese, breads, cold cuts etc etc etc... After a lovely breakfast, we checked out and came out to a freezing morning. As soon as you exit, the chill outside hits you in the face. Europeans are used to it, but for us, a warm head gear is a must. It felt as -5 or 6 Celsius.

The beamer at the parking lot.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1099.jpg

As we get closers we see this .
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1106.jpg

Surprisingly, what seemed like -5 was actually +2.5 degrees. Or was it the engine's warmth?
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-imag1100.jpg

So we start off and search for a fuel station. Just to check the tank full to tank full mileage plus fuel is always expensive on the autobahns. Filled it up and soon were on the Autobahn. The mileage surprisingly was a cool 18.2 Kmpl even after doing those insane speeds. Camera pics start now.
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Mazzak? Huh?
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After some two hours of driving, we stopped at a restaurant for some coffee.
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And then I took over.
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Old 4th June 2015, 15:59   #8
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Driving on, some sites on the Autobahn.

My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf407.jpg

You cross the western north south corridor which is the one of the busiest in Europe. Reason, it has one for highest population density with so many industrial cities. A lot of modern day technological discoveries and inventions happened around here. Köln actually is Cologne in German.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf409.jpg
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Remember Wurzburg from my 2011 road trip?
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf413.jpg

Hey whats that?? A spaceship??
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf415.jpg

Zoomin...zoomin...zoomin... Oh!! its a truck full of B M Wieeees!!
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf417.jpg

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An Electronic information display which actually works! When did you last saw one working in India?
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Old 5th June 2015, 15:28   #9
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We amble along at good speeds and the ETA on the iDrive was 13:00. You cant get bored of driving here. I could go on for 2000 more kms non stop. In the meanwhile, these were the scenes around..

We saw an overhead light signal telling that the right lane is closed around a km back. Then we see this. Lights flashing to form an arrow, signalling to keep left. There were some machines clearing creeper plants that were intruding the road.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf431.jpg
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One of the several road works slowing down the traffic.
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Mind you, even when you slow down, the speeds would still be above 80 Kmph. The lower sign implies no overtaking by heavy vehicles. In the pic below, speeds were ~100 kmpl with really really strict lane discipline ensuring we were driving a couple of feet from the truck on the right lane.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf441.jpg

And climb to 120kmph as soon as the road work zone ends.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf444.jpg

And then we zoom ahead. You either should be in a Ferrari or keep right to allow faster cars to pass you quickly.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf446.jpg

An HP Swift??
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf394.jpg

Or a Haryana one?
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf397.jpg

Or closer home a Karnataka Audi with a Go-Kart hanging behind?
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf403.jpg

A Motor home or Caravan. A very common site on the weekends.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf429.jpg

Last edited by vinayrathore : 6th June 2015 at 20:34.
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Old 6th June 2015, 20:05   #10
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Continued...

Country side
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf427.jpg

General speed Limit 120 kmpl. 80 kmpl 'bei Nässe' (German for 'When Wet').
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf448.jpg

Now the limit is 120 but 80 'when wet' limit ends. Normally on straight roads there is no 'When Wet' limit.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf450.jpg

But this ain't a straight road. It's 'S' for S**y. Typical curvy autobahn. I love the sight and how you can corner at 200kmpl. The B M Wie doing duty how it does the best, 'The curve specialist'. Wish I could click a pic of the curve and the speedometer together.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf452.jpg
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Another road work going on.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf460.jpg

One of the many wind farms.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf464.jpg

and we continue..
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Old 8th June 2015, 15:08   #11
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Default re: My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands

Some more pics on the way...

Caravans fresh from the factory!!
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf487.jpg

A castle nearby. A google search said its the Montabaur Castle.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf489.jpg

Meanwhile, Jaspreet is fiddling with the iDrive.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf500.jpg

And we are in the fast lane. Constantly doing 180~200kmph on the silk smooth arrow straight road ahead.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf501.jpg
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Even in the middle lane while overtaking the trucks.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf514.jpg

We cross Bonn and Cologne. They have a common Airport.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf515.jpg

A Pajero Sports Pickup?
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf516.jpg

We are nearing the DE-NL border now.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf517.jpg
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Old 8th June 2015, 15:16   #12
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Default Re: My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th June 2015, 13:57   #13
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And before we know it, we see this.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf519.jpg

The boards announcing DE-NL Border.

The province of Gelderland welcomes us.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf520.jpg

We see some police presence as compared to other European countries. Also note the fonts and color combination of the sign boards is changed.

Lots of speed cams and various other traffic sensors almost every 200 mtrs for some time.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf521.jpg

Soon the road becomes tree lined on both sides. Reminds us of the Srinagar highway.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf522.jpg
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Wow. A beautiful Defender.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf523.jpg

Directions for Amsterdam starts appearing quite frequently. Note the cams and sensors.
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The landscape around.
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Old 11th June 2015, 18:09   #14
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Nice pics and travelogue there...reminded me of the trip I took with a colleague nearly 13 years ago. I had traveled Amsterdam to Dusseldorf on a official trip.

BTW did you catch up with other attractions in NL like keukenhoff, zandfoort beach, redlight etc
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Old 13th June 2015, 14:04   #15
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Soon we enter the City of Amsterdam. Our hotel was in the north Amsterdam and reaching there was a breeze via the Ring road. Amsterdam has an outer Ring road that circles the entire city.

Some sights as we enter the city.

Tried a panning shot.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf537.jpg

Ring road has glass sound barriers. These barriers can be seen on almost all high speed roads that pass an urban or inhabited area across Europe.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf540.jpg

A board announcing you are on ' Ring Amsterdam'.
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The Enneüs Heerma Bridge. Quite an interesting looking structure.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf546.jpg

And we enter the tunnel that goes under the IJ the bay shaped lake that was actually a bay once. IJ separates the North Amsterdam with the rest of the city. Reaching Amsterdam Central from the hotel was a 10 min bus ride or 15 minute walk and a ferry.
My European Sojourns: Off To The Netherlands-dscf548.jpg
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Last edited by vinayrathore : 13th June 2015 at 14:06.
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