Thursday, December 29, 2011

Land Trip - Europe (Day 57-58: Stockholm, Sweden)

26 Sept 2011 (Day 57)
If there is one country that I'll definitely go back; it is none other than Sweden. And it is not because it is the home of IKEA and H&M...

Arrived in Stockholm in the mid afternoon. The train station wasn't particularly big or as impressive as their European counterparts. Took a 15mins walk to the hostel.

Dropped my haversack and off I went.
(A street in Stockholm)

(Vasa Museum, a preserved 17th Century Warship:
One of the most popular museum in Stockholm)
(Skansen- An open air Museum and Zoo)

While I was walking to the Museum, I saw 2 mothers sitting on a bench with their babies. They were just chatting away and somehow I felt compelled to ask them for directions. Usually after asking for directions, I would ask for recommendations for local food. I have been to so many cities and that became sort of a standard "questioning routine". The mums were really friendly and straightaway recommended me a place that serves the best Swedish Meatballs in Stockholm! Super excited!

They warned me though, that the price was on the steep side.

I found "Prinsen Restaurant" quite easily. The waiter recommended beef filet with fried potato cubes. So I ordered that and a plate of Swedish Meatballs. Let me tell you this: If you have time for only one meal to eat in Stockholm, you MUST definitely try the Beef Fillet with Fried Potatoes at Prinsen.

It was the BEST Beef Filet steak I have eaten. I haven't tried a Beef Steak that was so tender, juicy and aromatic at the same time. When I ate the Fried Potato Cubes, I just went "Ooooooooohhhhhhh". They served with a special kind of sauce that was made from egg. The Potato with egg sauce was amazingly delicious.

I can now officially declare that this is one of my top 2 favourite dishes for my whole in Europe! (The other one was the food I ate in Madrid.) I can't fully express how much I love this Beef Filet with Potato Cubes.
(One of my top 2 Favourite Dish - Beef Filet Steak with Fried Potato Cubes)
(Swedish Meatballs-Better than IKEA's)
(Drottninggatan-Famous Shopping Street)
(Watching the Sunset)

Took a nice walk around the capital of Sweden. Bought some groceries at the supermarket and went back to the hostel.

27 Sept 2011 (Day 58)
My second day in Stockholm. 

Stockholm is made of different big islands and I went to explore an area called SoFo in another island quite far from the city.

Walked past the old town.
(Old Town)
(Outside The Royal Palace)
(Nobel Museum)
(Restaurant Gondolen - Dinning with a view!)
Since I was in the home of the most famous furniture store, I had to make a trip there. In Stockholm, you will find the WORLD'S LARGEST IKEA store. I heard that there was a free shuttle bus that leaves neat the train station every hour but I couldn't find the pick-up point. I asked many people but they all seemed to be unsure about it or they gave me the wrong directions! Well, you have to first understand that most people in Stockholm are not from Stockholm. That was why.

After walking in circles for more than 45minutes, I finally found the IKEA Shuttle Bus pick-up point. Just made it in time for the bus, otherwise I had to wait for another hour! The bus ride took about 20mins and I arrived at the WORLD'S LARGEST IKEA!!!
(World's Largest IKEA)
Even though I probably ate the best Swedish Meatballs last evening, I thought I had to eat the IKEA meatballs since I was at the WORLD'S LARGEST IKEA. So I did. The question is, "does the meatballs taste nicer than the ones in Singapore?" The answer? Nope. It tasted almost exactly the same as the Singapore IKEA meatballs. Very good quality control I must say.

Of course, the Swedish Meatballs at Prinsen Restaurant was way better. 
(IKEA Swedish Meatballs)
Walked around the WORLD'S LARGEST IKEA and went to buy the Hot Dog when I left. Surprisingly, the Hot Dog there is cheaper than the one at Singapore's IKEA. It is lesser than SGD $1!!! Probably the cheapest food I've seen in the whole of Stockholm!

Took the shuttle bus back to the city near the train station and walked back to my hostel. By the way, this is one of the better hostels that I've stayed in during my whole LAND TRIP.
(Hostel's common area)
Cooked some pasta for dinner and got ready to leave the Capital of Sweden. I was going to catch a train that night up to Porjus, Sweden!!! (The place I hoped to see the Northern Lights!)

It was going to be a long ride - a more than 24-hour journey up north!

After experiencing Stockholm and eating the best Beef Filet, MY LIFE WAS NEVER EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE....................................EEEEEEE............................EEVER, THE SAME, AGAIN!!!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Land Trip - Europe (Day 56: Copenhagen, Denmark)

25 Sept 2011 (Day 56)
My LAND Trip officially ends here.......No, don't get me wrong. My trip wasn't over yet. I was still traveling. But the "LAND" part of my LAND Trip was over. The reason? I need to travel via Ferry from Germany to Denmark. Yes, I had to travel "over water" for this leg of the journey.

This was the first time that I had to take a ferry from one destination to another. But this wasn't a normal passenger ferry, this was a TRAIN Ferry! Yes! The whole train went on board the ferry! I've seen Ferries that carry cars on board but the whole train??? This was a first.

In fact, I didn't book the ferry ticket. I just booked the train ticket from Berlin to Copenhagen and that was it. I didn't even know that the Ferry was part of the train ride!

When the train went on board the Ferry, my eyes were wide open. I couldn't even blink. I was impressed. At the same time, I realised that I had been traveling on land for the past 55 days and was impressed with myself too. haha... (Why can't I?)

We were not allowed to stay in the train when we were on board the ferry. So I explored the whole ship. Then I went to the upper deck to take in some fresh air and let the wind blow my long and silky hair. Wrong, it should read: "let the wind blow my short and spikey hair."
(On the Ferry. With Germany behind me.)
Arrived in Copenhagen in the late afternoon after the World Cycling Championship has ended in the city. Well, I didn't know that there was the World Cycling Championship in Copenhagen until someone on Facebook asked me if I saw it there.

It was getting late. The time was around 5pm and I knew that I have less than 24 hours in Copenhagen. So I quickly explored the Land of the Vikings.

Went to the King's Garden which surrounds Rosenborg Palace.
(King's Garden)
(Rosenborg Palace)
One of the symbols of Copenhagen is The Little Mermaid. And now my mission was to locate it.
Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world. That meant that I didn't take the public transport. The price of taking the bus is really high. So I walked.

After a long walk from the King's Garden, I finally found The Little Mermaid!
Hans Christian Anderson wrote "The Little Mermaid" fairy tale in 1837, and in 1909 the son of the founder of Carlsberg (yes, the beer!), who was fascinated by the story, had the statue built.

Saw the Royal Danish Guards and I just had to take a picture. I looked at him and said "Hey, what's your name?" and he ignored me.
(Trying to act cool!)

Then I walked along the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe - Stroget. It was supposed to be a great deal huh? The thing is, it wasn't. Why? Because it was a Sunday!!! And on Sundays, the shops don't open at all! And that is according to their law. Their law actually limits the shops operating hours and days! So by law, shops can't be opened on Sundays!

So I walked along the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe without shopping. How sad. I know.

Hey, but at least now I can tell people that I walked along the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe! Ok, enough of that.

Copenhagen is also home of the World's Best Restaurant - Noma Restaurant! It is a two Michelin Star Restaurant that is ranked the Best restaurant in the World in 2010 and 2011. I really wanted to go since I was in Copenhagen but I found out that I have to reserve a place in the restaurant months and years in advance. And I am not even exaggerating. Oh well. Now I know. So I have already made a reservation for the future! I'll be back.

After resigning to the fact that I couldn't eat in the World's Best Restaurant, I settled for a typical Danish Restaurant. And the food was good. I could only imagine how superb the food is in Noma.
 (Having my late dinner)
After having some typical Danish Cuisine for dinner, I couldn't resist the temptation to eat Danish ice-cream! After all, I was in Denmark. And as you know, Denmark is also known for its ice-cream. I couldn't let the opportunity slip away. I think you girls will love the ice-cream! 

It was late. But I didn't want to spend any money on transport. So I walked back to my hostel from the city. It was a long walk. And scary at times. Because some streets were really dark and quiet. 

Got back to my hostel and was catching up on blogging. A group of youngsters were quite drunk sitting at the table next to mine. It was hilarious overhearing the things they said. 

Rested for the night and the next morning I was catching the train to Stockholm, Sweden!!!

After spending less than 24 hours in the Danish Capital, MY LIFE WAS NEVER, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE........................................EEEEEEEEE..................................... EEVER, THE SAME, AGAIN!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Land Trip - Europe (Day 55: Berlin, Germany)

24 Sept 2011 (Day 55)
Took the train at 6 plus in the morning. Arrived in the Capital of Germany at 12pm.

When I went to the hostel to check in, I was told that I had to wait a for a few hours later for my room to be ready. Then I asked her to check if there are any rooms available because I wanted a place to settle down a bit first. She said no. Then went I was about to leave the counter, she said that I was lucky because there was a room booking that was canceled last minute and I could have the room! I was a happy boy! She was kinda rude though.
 (Berlin Wall)
Took the U-Bahn to the Berlin Wall, more specifically, the East Side Gallery. The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by East Germany starting in August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from East Germany and East Berlin. Little is left of the Wall at its original state, which was destroyed almost everywhere.

The remaining stretch of the Berlin is actually quite long. I didn't walk the whole stretch. After walking for a while, I went to Checkpoint Charlie.
(Checkpoint Charlie)
Do you see Charlie there in the big poster above? Ok, that is nonsense. The reason why this checkpoint is called Charlie is because of the phonetic alphabet; checkpoints "Alpha" & "Bravo" were located elsewhere. So this is Checkpoint C, which is Checkpoint Charlie. Get it?

Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Formerly, it was the only border crossing between East and West Berlin that permitted foreigners passage. Residents of East and West Berlin were not allowed to use it. This contributed to Checkpoint Charlie's mythological status as a meeting place for spies and other shady individuals.
("You are leaving the American Sector" sign at Checkpoint Charlie)
Went to a famous landmark in Berlin - The Bradenburg Gate. The Gate was commissioned as a sign of peace but when the Nazis ascended to power, they used the Gate as a party symbol. 
(Bradenburg Gate)
 (Bradenburg Gate - 1936)
The specialty sausage in Berlin is the Currywurst. It is a sausage covered in ketchup and curry powder. I knew I had to try it!
(Eating Currywurst at a street vendor)

And you know what? It was soooo good that I decided that the Currywurst was going to be my favorite German Sausage! And it still is.
 (Bundestag - German Parliament building with a spectacular glass dome.)
Took a long walk around the city. And there was a Berlin Marathon going on!
(Marienkirche & TV Tower)
Then walked around a open Market - Hackescher Markt. This is a popular place for eating out with nice bars and restaurants.
(Hackescher Markt S-bahn Station)
Walked a bit more and took the S-bahn back to my hostel. Next morning I was heading to Copenhagen, Denmark!

After visiting the Berlin Wall, MY LIFE WAS NEVER, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE........................EEEE............................EEVER, THE SAME, AGAIN!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Land Trip - Europe (Day 54: Nuremberg, Germany)

22 Sept 2011 (Day 53)
Continued from the day in Munich.....Arrived in Nuremberg after a short 1-hour train-ride at 9pm. Took a 10-minute walk to the hostel. Checked-in and slept.....

23 Sept 2011 (Day 54)
Woke up in the morning and went to the tourist information center to get some information. Duh....

Then I took a tram to the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds.Soon after they came to power in 1933 the Nazis designated Nuremberg as the place for their annual party rallies. To demonstrate their power, they planned a set of gigantic buildings. Only a fraction of these were actually built, including a colossal Congress Hall and the reviewing stand at hte Zeppelin field. The rally grounds consistes a total of 11 square kilometers.

Hitler used the place for propaganda and to rally the troops. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the rallies every year.  
(Congress Hall - Could seat up to 50,000 people)
(The designed was inspired by the Colosseum in Rome)

(The Great Road)

(The Grandstand at Zeppelin Field - The place where Hitler stood)
The Grandstand had the Swastika blown off in 1945, after Germany's fall in World War II.
Took the tram back to the city.
(In the Old Town)
I didn't know that Nuremberg is well-known for Gingerbread! That is one of their specialty there and I had to try it. Gingerbread is usually eaten during Christmas time but I guess it is so popular with tourists that it is sold all year round. So I ate Gingerbread without the man! 

Another Nuremberg specialty is the N├╝rnberger Bratwurst, which is thinner and shorter than other bratwurst sausages. It contains a lot of spices and it was delicious! 
After eating, I went to the Imperial Castle. I could see the whole city of Nuremberg from the Castle.
(View from the Imperial Castle)
Walked around the city a little bit more and went back to the hostel.
(My Room!)
Managed to catch up on my blogging that night. The next morning I was heading to Berlin, Germany!

After exploring Nuremberg, MY LIFE WAS NEVER, EEEEEEEEEEEE....................................EEEE...................................EEVER, THE SAME, AGAIN!!!