Musee de la Castre, Cannes, France

On a business trip one day, I was stuck in countless meetings that sucked away the hours while the beautiful view outside slipped by…

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By some stroke of luck, I had managed to free up the next half of the day, and had the opportunity to take a walk around the area. The first stop I’d chosen was the Musee de la Castre, located atop the hill of Suquet in Cannes.

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I took a little stroll uphill to get to a ancient castle building, much of which I was told, were ruins as it had once been ordered to be destroyed by the Bishop of Grasse. I had never imagined that there could be a view of this town so beautiful…

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The museum housed various collections ranging from primitive arts (seemingly from Middle East or Asia), and landscape paintings from the Provence region. But this wasn’t the only reason to visit the museum. Its gardens and yard were amazing as well. Around the area you could find evidence of the past, but what caught my attention – which I nearly missed, so if you’re there, make sure to keep your eyes peeled – was the watchtower that you would come up to after the painting collection. Interestingly the Watchtower lasted until the 11th century, acting as a defensive redoubt against enemy attacks. It later became a seigniorial prison. It takes about 109 steps to get to the top of the tower, but I could vouch with its amazing 360 view, that you will never regret climbing the spiral.

I had unfortunately missed the ship out to the Lérins Islands. The Île de Sainte-Marguerite would show an interesting site of the Fort Royal, and the Île Saint-Honorat where a monastery spans across the woodlands. These would perhaps be reasons for more efficient meetings when I’m back in Cannes!

North Holland, The Netherlands

Typical of a visitor to The Netherlands, I thought it was necessary to visit a fishing village of this famous trading nation. What better place to visit than Volendam?

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Volendam sits in North Holland, with many old fishing boats and where the town still boasts of inhabitants who wear traditional Dutch costumes. There is a small museum at Volendam that features the costumes and history of the town. I was however, attracted to the cheese shop and its demonstration at the basement! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I later headed to check out the historic windmills of the Netherlands, at Zaanse Schans. The windmills are each named and process different items – there are sawmills, oilmills among many others.

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There was so much to look at in each place, I wished I had more time at each location! Next time when I stopover in the Netherlands, I’ll be sure to extend my stay!

Het Scheepvaartmuseum, The Netherlands

The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam was one of the best parts of my trip to The Netherlands.

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Located off the centre of Amsterdam, the National Maritime Museum sat at the old harbour and is housed in a former naval storehouse. Dedicated to the maritime history of the Netherlands, museum told several stories of voyages, life on ships, and even has a replica of the Amsterdam vessel berthed outside! You can get on the ship to check out the quarters too! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The museum has four wings, each dedicated to a different experience related to the maritime history of the Netherlands. It was a wonderful experience for me, and the once-architectural wonder of building it on an artificial island in the harbour captivates me. Even though it isn’t widely promoted as a tourist place and not exactly along the tourist bus routes, don’t miss a visit to the Het Scheepvaartmuseum!

Amsterdam and its museums, The Netherlands

I stopped by Amsterdam briefly during the very same trip to France and Germany, and to my delight, I saw a huge variety of Dutch cheese all around!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But of course, typical of my travels, I decide to spend a fair bit of time at the Museum quarter of Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum (State Museum), which had been recently renovated, showed an impressive collection of the nation’s famous works. It houses the popular Dutch Delftware, artefacts, paintings, fashion evolution and more. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
But the museum’s collections wasn’t the only impressive thing – its outdoors were equally beautiful. The gardens had various sculptures that told a story of its own. I liked the cold natural air and preferred to take my breaks outside. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Within the vicinity was also the Van Gogh Museum, where one could admire the Dutch Master’s artworks as well as that of his contemporaries! I took a brief visit there; but again, in part due to time constraint and in part out of disinterest, I had to skip the nearby Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art.

Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with its major museums housed there, is definitely a must-visit for the art lovers! Just a note – there is also a Hermitage in Amsterdam; in my opinion, not comparable to the actual one in Russia, but out of ease of traveling and if you really wish to look at the Russian and French arts, drop by the one in Amsterdam! And for the history folks, keep a look out on my next post about the maritime museum!

Burg Eltz, Germany

A friend took me to visit the out-of-the-way Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) when I was in Frankfurt. The medieval castle sits on the hills above the Moselle River, and is not easily accessible unless you’ve planned your driving route carefully. Interestingly, it is one shared by three families’ joint heirs. So yes, that means the folks who own it still visit and live there.

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There are three branches to the castle, of which two are open for public visit. The treasures of weaponry and accessories are also on display. Tours come in German and English. The tours disallow photo-taking, but I’m sure you will enjoy learning from their knowledgeable guides about how the medieval baths and kitchens were!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt isn’t so much the grandeur of the castle that attracts my attention, and not so much the history of the families; rather, its fortified walls and how it has never been destroyed brings much interest to its existence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a castle to pass on for generations!

Cologne Cathedral, Germany

After my trip to Paris some months ago, I took a stop at Cologne and Frankfurt. At Cologne, I stopped by the famous Cologne Cathedral, dated back to the medieval times. It stands across the Rhine and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apart from the amazing architecture, you can get to the top of the cathedral via a spiral staircase of 509 steps. But beware, it’s a crazily tight space where those ascending and descending share that limited air and winding route!

As you walk to larger platform, you’ll see a one-way route heading further up the cathedral. Take a break before continuing! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

As you reach the top, you’ll get to see viewing platform that offers wonderful views of part of the Cathedral’s architecture as well as the Rhine.

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After heading all the way up to the viewing platform, I was exhausted and time was running short. I had to take my leave, and regretfully I had not had the time to look at check out the cathedral’s treasures and bells. That shall be reserved for yet another visit to Cologne!

Montmartre, Paris and the Eiffel Tower

Having a little more time than I’d expected after completing the necessary, I took a quick bus trip down to Montmartre. It didn’t seem to look quite like what I’d remembered it to be.

The market place had changed to include a huge pavilion and some food establishments. I didn’t like the idea; but I still appreciated the beautiful artwork that the artists displayed.
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Of course, when at Montmartre, how could you miss the Basilica of Sacré Cœur in remembrance of the French victims in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War. I took a walk inside, and the interior was unquestionably magnificent. However, as with every church and cathedral in Europe, watch your belongings as you enter/exit.IMG_0474
The view back was as stunning as you could imagine. IMG_0469
I wish I had taken more photos, but even without, I’m sure you will consider taking a trip down next time! 

To end of my day, it was instinctive to find somewhere to enjoy the romantic views of Paris. I ended up in Maison Blanche on Avenue Montaigne. The food was alright, but the interior wasn’t impressive. Plain, to say the least. I’ve heard many complain about slow service. But when in France, take your dinners like they would! Slow down, enjoy, and chat with your companion! If you’re on a date, I guess this would work out fine. Unfortunately, the view to the Eiffel Tower was only available if you were seated outdoors, and this was only possible in the warmer seasons of the year. Do remember to make reservations if you wish to go!

<<I had to remove the image of the Eiffel Tower because I heard that it is now illegal to put up pictures of the Eiffel Tower’s night view!>>

short stop in Paris

When I stopped briefly in Paris a few weeks ago, I stayed in the ever-convenient St Germain’s area. Having nothing planned for the day of arrival, I took my sandwiches and drinks to the second largest public park in Paris – the Jardin du Luxembourg. The park has a palace and the Medici Fountain, both of which exhibit strong Italian influence. I later learnt that Marie de Medicis had built the palace in imitation of that in Florence. IMG_0443

It’s a beautiful place to read a book and relax before the start of a week’s work. There are plenty of chairs for you to pull around and pick your favourite spot to rest. Not necessarily a tourist area, but definitely a great place to visit!

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Snoopy’s World

Are you a fan of Snoopy and Charlie Brown?

Here’s an activity for the non-tourists, who prefer to take a different route from your travel guidebook. On my way back to the Sha Tin train station from the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery, I chanced upon this:IMG_0708

I walked around the pillars and found the entrance to what was known as ‘Snoopy’s World’.IMG_0746

It’s free of charge, and there really isn’t much to do unless you have children. There isn’t much I can tell you, except that it’s connected to the New Town Plaza shopping mall. Snoopy World isn’t crowded – again, it isn’t a touristy area. Drop by at least, just to take a few pictures of these familiar characters! IMG_0727