Tuesday, 29 August 2006

An hour in Amiens

From Paris it was obvious to take a quick stop in Amiens, hosting a huge Gothic Cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I know there's a risk of going overboard with the Cathedrals, but this one has a couple of peculiarities to it, which I would like to show.

One of the prettiest town clocks I've ever seen. The Cathedral is seen in the background.

Inside the cathedral is absolutely huge. Perhaps the highest church ceiling I have ever seen. It is not hard to imagine why coming here hundreds of years ago would be a deeply spiritual experience for people used to tiny little cottages. Coming here for the first must have been absolutely awe inspiring.

This relic is perhaps the most interesting sight in Amiens. What is here is alleged to be nothing short of the frontal skull of John the Baptist, the man who baptised Jesus Christ.

This must be an inspiring pulpit to preach from. Your words must carry a bit of extra weight to the listerners with a backdrop like that.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Notre Dame de Paris

My last post from Paris will focus on the famous Gothic Cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris.

The Cathedral is perhaps at it's most beautiful seen from the back on a bridge crossing the Seine.

The more traditional view of the cathedral known from Victor Hugo's famous novel about the resident hunchback and later movie adaptions. An interesting side note is that Notre Dame might not have existed today had Hugo's novel not raised awareness for a large scale restoration project.

But thankfully the church remained standing, leaving the gargoyles to continue their watch over the roof tops of Paris.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Some culture and some chilling in Paris

If there are two things that Paris is just amazing for then it is culture and just hanging out in the city's many cafes, parks and public spaces.

This is Louvre one of the world's finest museums. The glass pyramid leads down to the underground entrance to the many halls of the museum. Lines are long, but one girl prefers to sit an relax outside.

It is pretty limited where you can take pictures inside the Louvre, so I didn't get too many shots. For instance there is absolutely no photography allowed near the world famous painting of Mona Lisa (But we did see it). However I quite liked this egyptian sculpture with it's red background.

This is the very famous more than two millenia old Venus de Milo. I'm no art expert so I'm not surewhat makes it so famous, but it is quite nice.

After Louvre it was time for some relaxation. The steps of Sacré-Cœur on Montmatre are ideal for that. Hundreds of people gather here to enjoy the nice view over Paris

This little girl was just one of the many people enjoying the sun on Montmatre.

Here me and Ole are enjoying a drink at one of Paris' countless sidewalk cafés. Integral part of the Paris experience.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

With a View to the World's most Romantic City

Of course a few days in Paris just isn't enough for this marvellous city. We started by going straight to the Eiffel Tower to get some views of the French capital from above.

The famous L'arc de Triomphe commemorating Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz seens from the second observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.

The view to the south of the tower.

Notre Dame de Paris looks completely crowded in by the other buildings of the city, but it is actually situated on an island.

The view to the north of the tower across the River Seine to the Trocadéro gardens and the Palais de Chaillot. On the platform between the two wings of the palais a very famous picture was taken of Hitler posing in front of the Eiffel Tower after the nazi invasion of France.

In all the excitement of being at the Eiffel Tower I completely forgot to take a classical standard shot of the tower in front of the symmetrical gardens on the south side. However in a way it's sort of coolb in stead to see it from a different angle where you can see that the tower is in fact situated in an area where people work and live. Must be cool to wake up every day to the view of the world's most famous tower in the world's most romantic city.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

A quick stop in Reims

On the way to Paris we took a quick stop in the Northeastern Frenc town of Reims to have a look at the marvelous local cathedral.As you can see the Cathedral looks mighty impressive from the outside, with humans standing by the door appearing to be only small dots.

And on the inside it is equally impressive.

One of the many glass mosaics of the cathedral (Click to enlarge for more detail).

Saturday, 19 August 2006

Luxembourg - once my home

On our tour of Northwestern Europe we made a short nostalgic stop in the small country of Luxembourg which I once could call home for about a year (back in the year 2000).

Luxembourg City is very beautifully situated on a plateau surrounded by tree covered canyons carved out of the landscape by the river Alzette. Here you see part of the sky line of the oldest part of town.

Luxembourg is the richest country in the world due to the banking industry and the EU institutions based in capital, also named Luxembourg. But despite being a very small country, there is more to Luxembourg than just the capital city. Here are the remains of an old fortress in the small border city of Esch-sur-Sûre.

The beautiful silhouette of Esch-sur-Sûre's skyline.

Finally a slightly blurry picture illustrating a difference between Luxembourg and most other European countries: A bridge over a motor highway - for animals! Covered in trees and bushes the animals feel safe crossing the road this way. Not many other countries have the public finances to afford this kind infrastructure.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Trier (part 4) - the Small Things

A town is more than old ruins and large buildings. A big part of what makes a city fascinating is in the detail - the small things that grap your attention. Also in this department Trier is a rich city, as these examples will show:

From a column outside a Trier house, a bit of a hand seems to stick out from within. Noticing things like this makes it fun to wander the streets of Trier.

An amazing, colourful doorway adds a lot of character to an otherwise not that interesting town house.

Another example of a nicely decorated doorway into an ordinary house. Here the charm is in the wonderfulo woodcarvings that are common all over the city.

In this statue on the corner of a large house a man is carrying a small baby on his shoulders.

An old lady looks out over in the rain from her unusually nicely decorated window.

Even the deckhole slabs are very nicely decorated with the Trier city shield showing St. Peter holding a large key.

Trier (part 3) - the "New" Town

Trier is more than just old Roman buildings. It has continued to develop since then and there are lots of more recent beautiful places in the town, although it might be a bit of a stretch to call them "new":

Here is the main town square with the lit-up church of St. Gangolph in the background.

The face of the Restaurant Zum Domstein, where we sampled some real Roman food as I described in an earlier post.

More buildings from the beautiful town square.

The Kurfürstliche Palais (Electoral Palace) with the earlier shown Basilica in the background.

And finally a nice scene outside the Rheinisches Landesmuseum (State Museum of Rheinland). Very unusually for Germany you can even see palm trees amongst all the plants if you look closely.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Trier (part 2) - Inside the Grand Old Buildings

As I promised a few days ago I will now show a couple of pictures from inside the two impressive old buildings of Trier: The Cathedral and the Basilica.

The Cathedral of Trier looks like two huge churches that sort of grew together into one. This is a view of the largest hall in the church. Notice the people standing in the central aisle to get a sense of the size of this.

The church has many intricate and fascinating decorations. This one shows the Grim Reaper with his view on a man who was no doubt very important to the community before his death.

Trier Dom as the Cathedral is called in German also has a so called Schatzkammer (Treasure Chamber) where various old relics are on display. Inside the golden container carried by the angels you see an alleged part of the shackles used to chain down St. Peter himself.

The Basilica provides a contrast to the Cathedral by being a very simple and fairly undecorated place, which perhaps is why it was seen fit to be a protestant church. The massive hall is however still very imposing, especially when considering it was built 1600 years ago.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

India, take 2!

Today I bought my plane ticket to India. I will be leaving Europe on October the 5th and be gone for at least another 6 months. It's going to be very exciting to get back to Delhi :o)

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Trier (part 1) - the Roman Heritage

In the previous week I went on a tour of North-western Europe with my family. The first stop was Trier, Germany's oldest city and - according to my Lonely Planet - former capital of the Western Roman Empire. Despite being a small city Trier has many attractions, so I devote 2 or 3 posts to this nice town. First up a look at the Roman Heritage.

Perhaps Trier's most famous sight: The 2nd century Porta Nigra which was the city gate of the Roman city. This is possibly one of Germany's oldest standing structures.

As befits any major Roman city Trier naturally had a large bath complex, where slaves underground would keep the city's bourgeoisie provided with heated swimmingpools, saunas and similar luxuries.

The city's imposing Cathedral itself is not from the Roman times but it has been built over the ruins of a 4th century Cathedral built by the Christian roman emperor Constantine.

The town's basilica is a huge structure built to be a throne hall for Emperor Constantine (making it from the 3rd or 4th century). It has since been converted to a protestant church. In my next posts I will show some pictures of the Basilica and the Cathedral from the inside. Both are very impressive buildings.

The whole family went to a Restaurant that is famous for serving food from the only Roman cookbook known to still exist in the world today. With so much of the food we eat nowadays being imported from other parts of the world (either the recipees or the actual food such as potatoes) it was a big experience trying European food as it was 1800 years ago.

A closer look at one of the dishes we were sampling, here a desert. This is an omelette with almonds, nuts and honey. Tasted very good, and so did the other courses we tried.