Apr 092015

Amsterdam Car

A friendly town with many who communicate in sufficient English, and has a reliable and organized transportation system with buses, trams, and long distance trains. Amsterdam is full of tourists with few locals especially in the center of the city or old city. Of course the Hollanders are a beautiful people, and their women are also very pretty, and in some places very tall. There are a ton of UK tourists here because there are many regular and short flights from London to AMS. Not to mention other means of transport from the UK to the Netherlands. Check out http://www.rome2rio.com/s/London/Amsterdam , I love this site.

I am not a Museum goer as museum goers go. None the less I still visit them as its one of the things to do, and you only live once. Make sure to visit the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, and the other top museums. I wouldn’t visit the other museums unless you are a serious museum goes. I like what my very good friend says: A museum is nothing more than a collection of dead peoples stuff and it’s like going to a morgue (I guess it’s true for the most part). For me nature and the great outdoors itself is a museum, except more alive and real time. Get the 3 day pass, especially if you will be taking public transport, and have energy to visit many places. For the pass visit: http://www.iamsterdam.com. Otherwise, it will be a waste of money. Please note the Rijksmuseum still has a considerable entry fee even with the IAMS card, after all it’s not like Copenhagen where even without the pass many museums are free. For me the pass was mostly a waste because I walked pretty much everywhere since I love to walk. Also, I only visited about 3 to 4 museums: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (separate charge), Amsterdam Museum (kind of fun), and some other museum.

What I did, and I recommend this for everyone: The Van Gogh Museum, the Canal Boat Tour, Grocery Store: AH Van Baerlestraat located at Van Baerlestraat 33A, 1071 AP Amsterdam, the public library – especially the 2nd floor with the view of the river and cool looking metal interior private spaces for study, VondelPark, Oude Kerk. Please walk (or Bike or Boat everywhere), I was pretty much on foot most of the time. Public transport is efficient, and it could get a bit expensive since they don’t have a weekly metro card or a monthly metro card as in NYC. I could be wrong! Maybe they do have a weekly or monthly transport pass? Still, when you can walk or bike such a beautiful town and country then who needs public transport!

My personal choice: For all those Pot lovers, I am sorry, its not my thing, that was something like 2 to 3 decades ago. Luckily Amsterdam is being cleaned up. I think it’s a good thing, and some of the results of the cleanup are already evident.
Day Trips Not taken: I went in late December during Christmas time, it snowed everywhere, and trains could go to the destination, they just didn’t guarantee a return train back I tried day after day to take day trips to The Hague, Rotterdam, Harlem, and another area that still has windmills, it snowed quite a bit.

Day Trips Taken: The Snow had cleared up 2 days before my trip to CopenHagen. I was tried of Amsterdam. I felt like adventure. I went to Antwerp. And It was to die for. I am glad I spent the time, money, and effort for it. See Antwerp blog. For now here are the Antwerp Pics:

Other Stuff: There is also an area which has many immigrants in Amsterdam. In many of those areas I automatically had to maintain my guard. It’s my natural instinct, and it’s rarely incorrect. Really. It came naturally growing up in Old 70s/80s New York City. I didn’t like that experience to say the least.

Overall, Amsterdam was a wonderful place to be, and has lovely canals, cool bikers, and beautiful people. I could see how it was the Dutch that made New York City. They have had and continue to have great sailors, engineers, artists, and especially business acumen. Along with a (Healthy) stress free life style, and naturally organic food (and I am hoping also non GMO food).

I will be visiting Amsterdam, and other places such as The Hague again. Hopefully in the summer.
Hope you enjoy some of the pictures below, and I really love the small cars, they are so cute, clean, and efficient!

 Posted by at 9:14 pm
Aug 292013

Well, after being forced out from some family members and not worry about my mothers health, I am happily back from my trip. I was actually forced to leave my mother as she could manage much on her own. That was challenging. I am happy that my mother is much better now. So, having much of my personal worries I am back in NYC. I miss the cleanliness of Northern European Countries, and I miss the beautiful water bodies of southern Europe.

Everything is about moving fast, and quickly even when there is no reason to, and people hustling, and bustling. It is about survival as opposed to living and breathing.

No wonder Yoga is so big here, we hardly breathe properly. That means I can’t have that occasional smoke as it actually doesn’t relive stress.

And now its basically back to the (right) job very, very soon.



 Posted by at 5:20 am
Aug 072013

I had to revisit Spain and this trip would have been incomplete with out it.

Blanes, Spain
I headed to Blanes via Barcelona from a flight from Marseillie, France.
Blanes in short as a great beach as in much of Spain, East, South, North, or West to the Canary Islands. Blanes has a nice Jardin Boatanical as well. And thats about it. I was there for 3 nights, and went mostly to the beach. Avoid blanes if you can. More on that later. Better to go to Lloret de Mar, or even better is Tossa de Mar, and perhaps equally beautiful in a differnt way is probably Roses, Spain.

Barcelona, Spain
I been to Barecelona before, and stayed here for two nights before heading out to my other love. Mallorca. Actually my plans where to stay in Spain, and to go from Catalyuna to the North-East, Central North, North West, and south of Madrid later in September. I just started getting very tired, the humidity was a bit much for me, and lastly the pockets where taking a hit.

So before heading back to New York City, I head to my other love, Mallorca. I also had it in my plans to visit Menorca which I probably would love even more, and cancelled out it as I was just very tired, and didn’t want to exert too much energy.
While in Barcelona where I had also hope to live for about a week I mostly walked, went to local grocery stores near Via Augusta and walked all the way to La Sagrada Família (Sacred Family). The reason for this was the last time I was in Barcelona I had not visited the Sagrada Família properly, and was in quite a bit of hurriedness. This time it felt very good, and took in as much as I could possibly.

Mallorca, Spain
I later headed to Mallorca via an expensive last minute (a fews days prior) flight booking. There is a ferry, and it takes a long, long time and I believe you have to sit through it as opposed to sleep through it. The better bet is to take the Ferry to Menorca which is about 3 to 4 hours max, and spend a night or X amount of time in Menorca and take the ferry to Mallorca. If time permits I suggest to take the ferry both ways from Barcelona to Menorca Route. After all it is the clear, crisp, beautiful waters of the Mediterranean.

 Posted by at 9:34 am
Aug 072013

Took the train from Zurich, Switzerland to Lyon, France via Geneva, Switzerland.

Lusanne, a city very close to Geneva seemed like a pristine Tuscan town, run with German efficiency, and Swiss banking, and believe it or not French Sweetness.
I will be back again in Lusanne one day.

I arrived in Lyon, and it was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure if I would ever visit France after visiting Paris about 12 years ago. Lyon, France was totally different. People, of all ages, respected me, were truly humble, honest, and friendly. If there is ever a model of human respect, humbleness, honesty, and friendliness, and followed by original French foods from the farm to the kitchen or the cafe or Bistro, then it is in Lyon, France. It will serve as a model of humanism for me that I hope I don’t forget, and keep reminding myself to erode the times my ego (arrogance) might try taking me to heights in order to avoid the painful falls.

I stayed here in Lyon for 1 night, and spend 2 days wandering around.

Later, headed, to south France for some time with the bleu sea.

 Posted by at 9:30 am
Aug 072013

I arrived Zurich after having left Munchen via train.

While on the train I had an interesting friendly conversation with a couple. I suppose they where in their mid 50s. The term to use is middle age. God that sounds depressing. She was visiting her mother in Munich, Germany. She was German, and married to a native Swiss guy on the German side of Swiss. She had moved to Switzerland (Schweizland) while she was younger. She was more curious, friendly, and intending on conversing with me, than her laid back husband who was more interested in getting back home and getting on with his nap or life as routine. He was still friendly, and had a good sense of humor.

They asked me if I knew much about switzerland, and I replied not much, as I hadn’t much time to research as I wasn’t even sure if I would be visiting the Swiss. The only info I had was the hotels were expensive, and that food was expensive, and that the Von Tropp family from the Sound of Music found freedom in the Swiss region. Not to mention it was only a 3 hour train ride from Munchen.

Of-course, being wonderfully Swiss, they had to help me. She had her husband draw up a map of Switzerland, and the places I ought to visit as a first timer. The map was pretty good. If I still have it I will try to upload it here, scan it, etc. They gave me information on Schaffhausen, Lucerne, Berne, and two peaks in Switzerland. One peak was the largest in all of Switzerland, and the second was closer to Zurich, as Zurich would be the first city of my visit. Whilst the conversation I also kept my eye out on the scenery and it was beautiful, the country side not as beautiful as Germanys. The scenery while passing lakes and water bodies was absolutely stunning. The part where the country side was different and spectacularly beautiful was to be a later train ride from Zurich to Geneva.

Our train ride was almost over. I forgot to mention that she had become less friendly as I had mentioned that I visited Berlin, and PotsDam and found it interesting. I also came out and showed some other areas where she later commented and became a bit unfriendly and said “you know Switzerland doesn’t honor or need intellectuals”, “you know Switzerland doesn’t recognize any outside university achievements”
So after a quite 10 minute lapsed, and I wish I had kept my mouth shut. Just should have kept nodding, and smiling I could have avoided all this.
I guess the mistake was that the moment I had left my guard, and threw up my egotistical New Yorker self to express my opinion, whether intellectual or not, as if I was right.

Any how, I ordered a can of coke-light to keep awake, and paid the man over 5 CHF (thats over $5) for a can of coke. That kind of took some by surprise on the train as I also had bought sandwiches and non caffeinated drinks from supermarkets in Munich. As the food on the trains is super expensive especially one in Switzerland. The food on the train stations is also more expensive than in super markets. So, like the most of the 2nd class passengers I had done my grocery, and sandwich shopping in the stores and Munich supermarkets before boarding the train. You should too, as the trains dont have much of a food menu, let alone food.

It was time to part, and the couple got off at Winterthur. They lived near Winterthur and I could see why they made a good choice of living there as opposed to living in the city of Zurich.

Zurich is beautiful, airy, and something I wasn’t aware of super humid, and something I was aware of expensive in most things including local or regional transport. My advice to you is research Switzerland before you go, and definitely research the Swiss Pass. I bought the bit over $50, local 72 hour transport pass which came in handy for only the 10 to 20 hours + the boat ride, as I walked most of the time. Lake Zurich is beautiful, and I would take the boat ride to places much farther away where the water and area is much cleaner, and not many chances of running into other people or worst duck droppings. My advice if you are visiting Switzerland at Zurich is your first stop, then you will only need about a day or 1.5 days to see much of Zurich. The better places to visit are Schaffhausen, Lucerne.

Later, if you are looking to swim or dip in the water with not too many people and cleaner area hop on the train and go to Lake Weesen. Don’t forget to take your cooler, and have it filled with refreshments from the COOP Supermarket or the likes.

Well, my stay in Zurich had come to a close, and I was headed to Geneva for a day to head to Lyon, France for yet another day.

 Posted by at 9:25 am