Tag Archives: Europe

The Capital City – Zagreb

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The best feeling lies in discovering places which you have heard or read about and thought that you will see for yourself some time. I was amazed to experience one such city. A city originated in the middle ages and holds many memories of the Danube monarchy, today known as the political and cultural heart of Croatia!

Zagreb has something interesting to offer whenever you visit. But the best time to enjoy Zagreb is in spring and early summer. October to December is equally good, especially around the Christmas time when you can find a lot of stalls and activities happening in many of the city center’s squares.

You can experience the history of this city without much walking. Thanks to the brilliant network of trams. First encounter with my surprise was when I was not able to find tram tickets; but it was easy to locate. Newsstands around is the place to buy them or you can buy it straight from the tram driver. I also noticed that this city has lot of ‘men on horse’ statues. One located at the central square. Zagreb cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and is visible from mostly all the parts of this square. It is a beautifully done architectural marvel. Another interesting place right next to the square is the Dolac Market or the best farmers market. It contains colorful range of products from flowers, fruits, souvenirs, cheese, meat & local wine. It is truly an experience for all the senses.

Closely situated to the Dolac is the popular Tkalčićeva Street, an old lane famous for garden facing cafes and several bars. This street has a wide variety of food and drinks to try from but if you would like to try a traditional štrukli then head to La Štruk located in the adjoining Skalinska Street. Don’t forget to order few shots of Rakija!

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Run up the stairs from Tkalčićeva Street towards the stone gate which connects the upper town to the lower town and houses a painting of holy Mary and baby Jesus. This painting is significant because it survived a great fire in 1731. Everything was destroyed except this painting. Since then people believe that it holds some magical powers and it became a popular spot for offering prayers and lighting candles. Not very far from here is another gothic landmark, St. Marks Church. One of the most photographed tourist attraction known for its beautiful roof.

Another interesting place to stop by is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum is stacked with random items & placards telling the true stories about the failed relationship and what that item meant. The museum was started by two Zagreb artists who broke up and it picked up fast. People from all over the world started donating their items with a brief of their unsuccessful relationship. It’s a new concept but at the same time was funny and depressing.

On the left side of the museum are Lotrščak Tower and the Grič cannon. This spot offers panoramic view of the city and the canon fires every day at noon making it a thrilling experience for all. At the same place is the funicular, a cable run trolley to transport people from upper town to the lower town. Lower town has a wide variety of branded stores and number of historic buildings each having a story of its own. Amongst the many eating outlets in the area is also a famous ice cream & cake outlet, Vincek. Trying a few scoops is a must!

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Zagreb is a special city which has witnessed 1000 years and has something to explore in every street. My favorite thing to do in Zagreb is to walk around and absorb the culture and tradition as much as I can. If you have been to Zagreb and know any interesting place let me know. I will be happy to give it a visit!

Say “Bonjour” Fellas!

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While to many, Paris could be about love & romance and to the rest about their cuisine. For me Paris was a dream, I had, while in high school. The French capital not only combines both the things but also presents it to you in such a beautiful way that you just can’t resist trying it all. With all its marvelous architecture and breath taking view this city is for sure the most interesting city in Europe. Whether its summers or the chilly winters you can roam around and discover this city full of art, history, fashion and love.

Paris has a lot of stories. Spare a day or two to transport you back in time with a historic stroll through one of the many museums such as Louvre Museum. If you are not a history person still things to do in Paris are many. You can visit the famous Eiffel Tower, Pont Alexandre III, Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe & many more spectacular sights.

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Eiffel Tower is the most iconic structure in the city and has witnessed a lot of marriage proposals till date. A lot of arm-in-arm couples could be seen walking around, while some enjoy a flute of rosé bubbly in candlelit bars. The opportunities for romance here are endless.

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Not very far from the Eiffel tower is the extravagant Pont Alexandre III. The bridge is a sight to behold & was inaugurated in 1900 for the world fair. This bridge connects Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and the Invalides.

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If you are an evening stroller and love to see the city coming into action while the sun goes down than Champs Elysees is the place for you. Named after heaven, it’s also known as the most beautiful avenue in the world. Heading a bit left from the main street you would reach Arc de Triomphe, another artfully created structure honoring the people who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

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A day spent in this city will be incomplete if you do not indulge in some of the city’s most delicious cuisine. French food is known for its flavors. From baguettes to cheese and basic to the traditional, there is something here for everyone to tempt the palate. Don’t forget to try my favorite pâtisserie Ladurée for a sweet finale with that loved one of yours.

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Joy of Christmas

Europe in December may be chilly but the reception is very warm. The aroma of hot Glühwein and other delicacies with the Christmas lights glittering get everyone into the holiday spirit at these European style Christmas markets.
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Beginning in mid November these markets promise unforgettable events, mouthwatering food and a variety of seasonal gifts. I witnessed this age-old tradition in Vienna during a short stay. Walking towards the City Hall (Rathaus) I saw several Christmas markets with festively decorated stalls offering traditional hand made goods, Christmas decorations and souvenirs.
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It is altogether a very romantic affair; streets bustling with people in high spirits, city beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, artisans showcasing their craft in wooden stalls and that amazing smell of roasting sausages.

This is how Christmas celebration should be.
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Food, drinks, music or shopping whatever your reason is, visiting a Christmas market anywhere in Europe is definitely worth it. Few of the best Christmas markets can be found in Germany, Austria, Sweden and France. So, choose a market which best suites your mood and have fun!

A Scottish Experience

While I continue globetrotting, this time my stop was Athens of the North, Edinburgh.
Also, home of the Scottish Parliament!

I started my day with a lavish breakfast buffet at Edinburgh Marriott Hotel and then straightaway took bus# 100 (24 hours service/Wi-Fi enabled) to the city centre. The bus dropped me at Princess Street which is 15 minutes ride and apparently the last stop. From there I started walking using a route planner available at www.walkit.com.
My plan was to cover all the main tourist attractions and interesting spots before the day comes to an end. My on foot journey included:

Princess Street Garden:
a beautifully landscaped public park in the centre of Edinburgh. Various concerts and other events are also held here during the festival time.

Edinburgh Castle:
a magnificent historic fortress.
For ticket pricing and timings refer to – www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk

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Scotch Whiskey Experience:
a large tourist attraction, offers a whisky tutoring session that takes place in the form of a virtual tour.
For ticket pricing and timings refer to – www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

Grassmarket:
the Grassmarket lies to the south of the Edinburgh Castle and is famous for a lot of pubs and cafes.

Greyfriar’s kirkyard & Greyfriar’s bobby:
a graveyard related to multiple paranormal activities.
For people who like adventure you can also book a ghost tour at – www.cityofthedeadtours.com
(Strictly Not For The Faint Hearted)

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Royal Mile:
the busiest tourist street in the old town.

After walking so much already, it was time to have lunch. What could be better than the traditional Scottish delicacy – Haggis?
Now, I admit that the description of haggis may not sound all that appealing but it’s definitely worth trying if you’re ever in Scotland.

“A haggis is a simple dish prepared by using the lungs, heart and liver of a sheep, to which is added suet or fat, oatmeal, onions and a little stock and seasoning, filled into some sort of casing or skin (traditional way is using a sheep’s stomach) which is then boiled for several hours.”

I headed straight to Whiski Bar where I was welcomed by Ms. Karen and was given a comfortable, cozy place to settle down. By the time chefs were busy preparing the dish for me, I was being introduced to few of the many scotch whiskeys they have. Established in 2012 this place has bagged many awards already in the past few years. Promising to give everyone fresh Scottish food using the very best local produce this place is mostly crowded with locals and tourist. Keeping in mind this large footfall per day advance reservation is recommended and could be done here – www.whiskibar.co.uk

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At last my most awaited dish was presented on the table with absolute finesse. Honestly speaking I found it very tasty and the scotch was pairing well with it. For the sweet finale I tried cheese cake of the day and must say it was extremely pleasurable!

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Lastly, to conclude the day and to digest the food I started walking towards the Holyrood Park which is adjacent to the Holyrood Palace. The parks highest point is Arthur’s Seat, a massive hill just outside of town providing a bird eye view of the city and is popular for hill walking. Within the park you can also visit St Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th century medieval chapel, as well as Duddingston Loch – a natural fresh water loch (an important site for bird breeding)

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Edinburgh is definitely an ancient city with interesting history and a cosmopolitan capital with a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, shops and active nightlife spots. It is not the most exotic destination but different in terms of culture. Flashes of tartan can be seen on the kilts of men playing bagpipes to the shortbread packs displaying a true Scottish character. In Scotland, traditions run deep and locals are more than happy to share them with you.

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Will surely visit again!

Augustiner Keller – Munich, Germany

Beer is one of the oldest drinks produced by humans. Historians believe that the grain was first fermented to produce beer, almost 2000 years before it was used for baking breads as a staple. Beer not only being used for celebrating events but was also used as a payment or as gifts at that time.

While I was in Bavaria’s capital city, I got an opportunity to meet Mr. Christian Vogler. The landlord of the oldest and the finest beer garden in Munich. He is an internationally known chef by profession and said to have been a master of the legacy Augustiner – Keller (in Hackerbrucke) since April 2010.

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It was brought into existence in 1812 after the official order by King Max Joseph I was passed, that these gardens could be places where both beer and food could be served. Since then this award winning place has lived to the reputation of serving freshly tapped beer and other Bavarian delicacies keeping the tradition alive and following high standards of service.

This place is also very much recognized amongst the locals and the tourists for its unique atmosphere. The first thing which you might notice here is the multiple seating options starting from the terrace to the unique vaults or if you like your lager under the shade in the open air then finding that perfect seat under one of the many chestnut trees should not be a problem. These trees were planted years ago so that the shade they provide could cool the ground and prevent the beer in the ice cellar from getting warm in summers.

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The beer at Augustiner is served straight out of wooden barrels and the strike of a bell marks the announcement of the opening of each new barrel.

Along with the selection of international specialties, light snacks and vegetarian dishes their beer selection is amazing as well. Majorly you can choose from Augustiner Edelstoff, Augustiner Weissbier, Augustiner Pils, Augustiner Dunkel or Augustiner Heller Bock. If you visit this place during the Oktoberfest you will also find Augustiner Oktoberfestbier and Augustiner Maximator two additional types of beer especially brewed for the festival time and cold weather.

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It also fascinates me that being the smallest brewery in Munich 70% of population drinks Augustiner and all this is without any publicity as the management  believes that there publicity is the quality. So if you are in Munich and looking for a casual place that works for dates, hanging out with friends or just grabbing a beer this place is to be!!

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For more information refer to: http://www.augustinerkeller.de/

Thank you for joining in with the interview, Mr. Vogler!

 

Traditional Viennese Schnitzel – Figlmueller

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So, my next stop was Vienna, Austria and as they say “No kangaroos in Austria” I dint find any but instead a lot of well groomed horses. The hotel (Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel) not very far from the airport also had a history related to horses as it was a military riding school back in 1850’s.

After a well deserved rest it was time to explore the city and taste the Viennese cuisine. It’s said and believed that Viennese cuisine is second to none in all of Europe.

Vienna is very much known for its coffee houses serving creamy coffees and rich chocolate cakes. Both indoor and outdoor seating’s are available; choose depending on your mood and company.

The best way to discover a city is to walk your way through; it not only gives you a panoramic view but also a chance to discover the hidden streets and alleys probably very famous amongst the locals for various reasons!  😉

This well-appointed city is full of architectural excellence. While I was walking, I crossed the famous Belvedere Castle, Russian Liberation Monument and made St. Stephen’s Cathedral my last stop for the evening as just behind this historic icon is Figlmueller – The home of the Schnitzel.

For over 100 years the chefs at Figlmueller are serving perfectly crisp & tender schnitzel and now it was time for me to try one.

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A schnitzel is a boneless meat(veal, mutton, chicken, beef, turkey, pork), thinned and flattened with a hammer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried. This popular dish is garnished with a slice of lemon and served either with potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter.

The reason why this restaurant is popular in the area is the originality of the recipe, fresh and best quality ingredients, the traditional presentation, and ambience. Talking about the ingredients, even the bread crumbs used for the coating is made exclusively of the Austrian emperor roll which is again made to order.

After the mains I also tried the Kaiserschmarrn with stewed plums from the dessert section. Loved it completely!!

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The staff is absolutely polite and speaks German and English. You might have to wait for few minutes before you could get a seat as this place is mostly crowded. For me the overall experience was worth the wait and money but for people who don’t have much time to wait it is always better to reserve a seat in advance.

For more info logon to http://www.figlmueller.at

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