My wonderful 10 days 8 nights CNY 2013 trip to Europe
I’m back. I’m back. Back to Malaysia yesterday’s night. I miss my home, my bed, the food, and the weather here. Eventhough I’m exhausted after almost 14 hours of flight back to KL from London not long ago, but there is this excitement that drives me to write this post up as soon as possible. Great things come and go. Writing this post that highlights most of my trip brings back some of the wonderful memories I had during the 10 days 8 nights Chinese New Year trip to central Europe with my family which officially ended yesterday. It’s an exciting journey!
7th February 2013 (Thursday) and 8th February 2013 (Friday)
At night, we depart to KLIA for midnight flight to Dubai before a transfer flight to our final destination, Zurich. Total of time spent in plane: over 14 hours. Sitting in a plane for that much of time is really too much for me. Luckily, it’s not a direct flight. At least for now, I can drop by at Dubai airport for some walking, shopping and a chance to view Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building) from far.
We reached Switzerland (first out of six countries to be visited) on Friday’s afternoon (already night in Malaysia). And the first thing we experienced; tiny little snow dropping from the sky. Ohh…lovely. On first day of tour, we visited the Lion Monument (said to be the most moving stone sculpture in the world, but I don’t find it that spectacular) and the Chapel Bridge in the beautiful serene city of Lucerne, nearby Swiss Alps.
9th February 2013 (Saturday)
Today gave me the most freezing experience I have ever had in my life. Why? Today, we took three cable car rides (in different types, with one being the world’s first rotating cable car) to the top of Mount Titlis along the famous Swiss Alps. That’s over 3000m above, and the temperature was -22 degree celsius. The coldest I had ever been to. That is the reason some of our tour group members decided to give up on half way to ice flyer lift ride at the top of the mountain, including me and my family. We then visited the Glacier Cave. Shopping time in the afternoon that also gave us opportunity to witness the unusually happening street filled with parades celebrating a kind of festival. What’s famous in Swiss? Watches of course.
10th February 2013 (Sunday)
Today we left Lucerne to Rhine Falls. It’s quite a beautiful sight overlooking to the waterfall, but that is not really outstanding. We then proceed to enter Germany (second out of six countries for visit) and passed by the famous Black Forest (it’s white forest in winter anyway, can’t feel the ‘black’ in it during this season). We arrived at a small beautiful town called Titisee with a frozen lake, and sojourned to the cuckoo clock workshop. We had fun enjoying the on-going festival with colourful parades and ‘threats’ by some of the performers. I had someone putting a huge chunk of snow into my body from the back. That’s fun, but painful too. At night, we stayed at Heidelberg, a picturesque town.
11th February 2013 (Monday)
Today, we proceed to Rhine Valley for a visit to wine museum and of course wine tasting too. Then, we went to Cologne and viewed the magnificent Cologne Cathedral in the midst of the festival I mentioned earlier again. It’s so busy and packed at the plaza there and we left the place quick, giving me no chance to shop for souvenirs in Germany. Today, a lot of time was spent in bus to go from Germany to Netherlands (famously called as Holland too), the third out of six countries we are to visit.
12th February 2013 (Tuesday)
At Amsterdam, we went to countryside to visit the cheese and clog workshop. There’s a very beautiful scenery over there, as many famous traditional windmills are present along with unique houses and lake. Next, we proceed to Volendam, a small fishing town and we had lunch over there by the sea. We get back to the beautiful city of Amsterdam and get on board the glass-doomed waterbus for a cruise along the many canals of the city before dropping by at a diamond factory (we spent too much time in there, waiting for others to buy). At night, we walked pass the famous red-light district (where prostitutes are, and they are performing by the windows to attract customers…prostitution is legal in Netherlands).
13th February 2013 (Wednesday)
Today was also the day when most of the time was in the bus, going from Netherlands to Belgium (fourth country to visit) and later France (fifth country to visit). At Brussels, the capital of Belgium, we dropped by at the iconic Atomium (landmark built at World Expo held in the city over 50 years ago) and also at the famous Manneken Pis (a fountain with a small boy urinating…there is a lot of different stories behind its creation). What’s famous in Belgium? Chocolates. Shopping again. Before we left Brussels, we also visited the amazing Grand Place, a square surrounded by awesome buildings. Then, we arrived in Paris by evening and spotted the first time, the famous Eiffel Tower at night. Wow…cool.
14th February 2013 (Thursday)
Paris! No doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Everything is beautiful there, especially for architecture lovers like me. After a morning shopping at La Fayette, we had city tour and got to see the huge Arch de Triomphe (a huge arch built to celebrate victory in war last time), Place de la Concorde (a historical square last time, now some of the area is a playground with a ferris wheel), Notre Dame Cathedral (no one would not know this cathedral), Paris Opera House (famous for Phantom of the Opera) and Louvre Museum (where we get to see the contemporary glass pyramid in the middle surrounded by classical museum building blocks). Mona Lisa painting is in there. We didn’t get to enter the museum as the price is too expensive.
Then, we get to visit the second floor of the iconic Eiffel Tower (built at World Expo over a century ago, once the tallest structure in the world). Too bad, it’s a rainy day and that affects our outdoor viewing activities. Anyway, we still get to see the beautiful panorama of Paris. After that, we enjoyed a cruise along River Seine, where we got to see many beautiful buildings and bridges, the Eiffel Tower again and the smaller Statue of Liberty.
15th February 2013 (Friday)
Today, we left France and arrived at London, United Kingdom (the last country to visit) after boarding the high-speed train, Eurostar that cross the Chanel Tunnel (a tunnel below the sea built many years ago and was an engineering breakthrough). London, another beautiful city. I’m really getting jealous of how their cities look like compared to my KL. We had lunch at the famous Chinatown. Saw the distinctive London bus (double-decker red bus), mailbox, taxi, red telephone booth which best represents London.
City tour started, and we got to view the famous Big Ben tower, Buckingham Palace (official residence of Queen Elizabeth II), Trafalgar Square (a square erected to commemorate victory in war again), No. 10 Downing Street (the house and office of Prime Minister), Westminster Abbey (a huge Gothic church where famous royal weddings took place including the recent marriage between Prince William and Catherine), Tower Bridge (famous bridge with the tallest building in UK, the Shard Tower nearby). Then, we took a ride at the famous London Eye, the current third tallest ferris wheel in the world. From there, amazing panorama view to London just like where we are at the Eiffel Tower overlooking Paris. There, we got to see a 4D show regarding the London Eye too.
16th February 2013 (Saturday) and 17th February 2013 (Sunday)
After getting a full day pass for London Underground train, we went to Madame Tussauds, a famous wax museum displaying waxworks of historical and royal figures and celebrities. There are a lot of people in this three-storey building and it’s very hard for us to take nice pictures in there. I saw Marilyn Monroe, President Obama, UK’s royal family, Daniel Craig, David Beckham, Mahatma Gandhi, Leonardo di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, and many more. There are also a mini-train ride, haunted house visit, 4D show on superheroes, and souvenir shop in the museum. After that, we went to Harrods for a quick shopping before the tour ends, and we arrived at the London Heathrow Airport by the afternoon (much early) to work out on tax refund and those usual airport procedures when boarding flight. Yes, we were in A380, the largest passenger plane in the world for flight from London to Dubai before transfering for another flight back to Kuala Lumpur. We reached KL by 10pm on Sunday.
It’s a very long and amazing trip for me! Of course, I bought a number of souvenirs (magnets, key chains, watches, chocolates, model of Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Burj Khalifa, shirt, etc) for myself and my colleagues. Things are very expensive there since their currency is much higher than us. But I will buy things also, but not those of expensive brands famous from Europe like LV, Gucci, Prada, Longchamp, etc. The trip came to an end, and I will have to resume my usual working days tomorrow (it’s a good decision that I took leave today also for me to get enough rest and for clearing up my luggage). I had a very great ten days in Europe.