The formal classes for our winter semester finished towards the end of January and for those who do not have elective modules in block or the practical modules, they finished their exams by the first week of February and commenced their much needed holiday. Winter is extremely cold in Greifswald and I was amazed to see the Baltic Sea completely frozen. What appears to be large stretch of water body and pond in the summer becomes skiing ground. While my classes were finished, I had two block modules and a practical module to complete during the much awaited winter holidays and as such I remained cold and frozen in Greifswald. Just before our Summer Semester began on 1st April, I was glad that I could manage a weeklong holiday to travel some places and look around.
It was the Bhutan Day organized by Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft at Frankfurt, which instilled excitement for me to travel far to the south of Germany and in continuum I planned to travel towards the far western Europe, Spain and Poland. The charm of the travel however was taking a solo trip. The blog post is much due, as I was busy the commencement of summer semester, and this time, I am heavily loaded with modules.
8. Frankfurt main Am:
The financial hub of Germany is one of largest towns in Germany, a city greatly devastated during the World War II and rebuilt later. My purpose of being in Frankfurt as mentioned earlier was to attend the Bhutan Day and during the course of interaction with the German Friends of Bhutan, learnt that Frankfurt is culturally and ethnically diverse, with around half of the population, and a majority of young people, having a migration background. Frankfurt is beautifully meandered by a large river, Main, and here I share some of the picture snapped out there.
|Eiserner Steg over river Main|
|View of River Main|
A beautiful memory from Frankfurt trip was the evening stroll through the streets and chatting over a chilled beer with Aue Dorji Wangchuck, a fellow countryman I met there during the meeting.
9: Barcelona: Having spent one and half days in Frankfurt (25th – 26th March), I took the flight from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Barcelona, the most sought travel destinations in Europe. I reached the enchanting city of Barcelona in the evening but unlike Greifswald which is extremely cold, the city was milder. I checked in the Mediterranean Youth Hostel and wasted no time to explore the city. Barcelona is known for art and architecture, mostly designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Most of the points of interests will take us to wonderfully designed architectural master pieces.
|La Sagrada Familia|
|The Venetian tower|
|Parc de Montjuic|
The first point I visited was La Sagrada Familia, the Church of the Holy Family. A day is definitely not enough to explore the limitless options in Barcelona so I kept my visits to see the exterior beauties. I then took a stroll on the famous cobblestone lanes of the Gothic quarter and La Rambla Street to have a glimpse of street shows, and to have a chill beer and good dinner. The cost of food and drinks are more expensive on this street than other restaurants but being alone, it was a wonderful feel to immerse myself in the crowd. Taking a ten journey ticket, the travel was very convenient provided we decide which point to visit. From the recreational parks to beaches, churches and streets, souvenir shops filed with shirts and badges of Messi, and numerous dots of Gaudis master pieces, my one day (26th – 27th March) trip was quite a hectic one.
|Plaza de Orienta|
10. Madrid: I took the night bus from Barcelona to Madrid, the capital city of Spain on 27th March. The point of taking night bus is that we need not have to waste a day travelling and also we save cash on booking hostels. Madrid being capital city, and also being inland city is not the top rated travel destination. There are many beautiful port cities along the Mediterranean coast but I planned via Madrid as I was determined to visit Portugal. The journey started at 10:00 PM and I reached early in the morning at 5:00 AM in Madrid. I took a metro from the Bus station to the central train station and there I waited for the day to break. The good thing is that we can lock our heavy baggage in the lockers in the station and we can roam the cities comfortably. Madrid has intricate boulevards, many spectacular palaces and of course parks. Like in Barcelona, I took a 10 journey ticket to explore the city. Having already spent two days with extensive walking, I was quite tired by noon and had to enjoy the sun in one of the square in Madrid centre.
|Palace of Madrid|
|Plaza de Cibeles|
|Gate to the City of Lisbon|
11. Lisbon: For my journey from Madrid to Lisbon, I booked a train ticket to experience a different mode of travel. That was also a night journey so being too tired of the day trip, I had a good sleep in the train. Unlike the trains in India where there are berths to sleep, I didn’t see trains with beds to sleep in Europe. We have to sleep on our partially leaned seat. The journey was little over 10 hours and I reached Lisbon at 7:00 in the morning. The exciting point was that I have an acquaintance in Lisbon, a Bhutanese friends studying there. So, from the train station I took the metro to reach my baggage at his place and from where I had a breakfast. However they were busy with some important classes so I had to explore the city of Lisbon on my own. Lisbon is a coastal city but there are beautiful hills that rise high enough to give beautiful view of the city. I took a day ticket and moved from one point of interest to another, sometimes catching free walking tours and other times, wondering lonely as clouds amid the crowd. By 4:00 PM the two friends have finished their classes and I had a much needed companionship to walk the streets with diverse conversation topics. Lisbon is comparatively cheaper than Barcelona or Madrid.
|City View from one of the Hills|
|Praca do Imperio|
|Lisbon on hill|
The advantage of taking solo trip is that I have the freedom of choice for myself. For many months, I have been surrounded by same group of people and socialized with them so travelling alone definitely gives a different taste. This compels us to talk to strangers asking them the routes, requesting them to take pictures and in times just picking normal conversations, which is nice. Indeed the camera, the power bank, and the internet package serve the best companion and there is no way that we get lost. Being alone also helps discover yourself better because I have to do everything by myself, thus we overcome fear and insecurities. And of course we find peace without having to check patience and worry. Of course there are a set of disadvantages as well.