Mountain calling – Summer ’18

Helloooo again. It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last blog, life has been pretty interesting. I finished my first year of master’s (a major relief) and then came the summer vacations followed by my internship and now back to school again. The summer vacations went exceptionally well. The perks of studying in Europe is that you can travel to a lot of beautiful destinations. I traveled to Slovakia this summer. I have a cousin who lives in Prague and we decided to take a trip to the beautiful Tatra mountains. The whole plan was to hike and explore the place. This last-minute plan lasted two nights and two days, and it was perfect.
I have traveled quite a few times to the mountains already back at home and I was still awestruck by this place. If you like visiting places, you’re either a beach person or a mountain person. And I am a mountain person. So this trip was just what I needed after the hectic year.
Day one, we hiked to a beautiful place called The Green Lake (Zelene Pleso). It took about half a day of climb uphill. En route all the way you’ll have the company of a beautiful stream flowing right by you giving you ample opportunities to click great pictures of it.

The stream en-route Zelene Pleso, High Tatras

The beautiful Green Lake (Zelene Pleso)

Day two, we woke up in the morning and we read through nearly all the hiking trails in the region to pick one of the difficult ones – Slovak Paradise. We based out of this place called Zdiar. To hike in Slovak Paradise, one would normally require to start as early as 7.30am. And there we were sitting at 9.15am contemplating if we should take the trail or not. We had to catch a train the same day too. After about fifteen mins of discussion. We decided to pack ALL our things, head to Slovak Paradise and then directly board our train saving ourselves a trip back to Zdiar. So we started with all our luggage and started the hike an hour and a half later. The weather wasn’t very promising. It was insanely cloudy and windy. As we started the trail, we saw nearly every kind of landscape one would expect – grasslands, forests, hills, rivers; name whatever you would like to see and you would have it.

Grasslands before starting the hike in Slovak Paradise

A stream flowing in Slovak Paradise before the clouds covered the sky

After hiking till about 2.30pm, we decided it was time to head back. Partly because of the weather and partly because of the trails. The weather forecast predicted heavy rains and there we were in the middle of a forest and hearing the thunders. There are so many trails in that one place. It is a national park and depending on your preference you can follow whatever trail you want. We even got lost quite a few times because we had to take detours as a result of fallen trees and landslides. Maybe if we had planned better, we’d know exactly what we wanted to see and do. But no regrets! It was an amazing experience. Someday I hope I get to take a couple of weeks off and discover the beautiful country – Slovakia 🙂

Winter Break

With almost a week left for the year to end, the whole of Delft is quiet. Two weeks of vacation has managed to get every single soul out of the city. Foreseeing this, I decided to go see the Christmas celebrations in Cologne and Brussels. I must say, the whole of Europe has amazing train connectivity. The trip was totally worth it.

Christmas Market- Cologne, Germany

Cologne has one of the world’s most famous Christmas Markets which is open until the 23rd/24th of December. The HUGE Christmas tree with every inch of it covered in lights leaves one dumbstruck. The aroma of the deep-fried food, the mulled wine, and the music can lift anyone’s Christmas spirits. A word of caution- none of these food stalls accept a card, so keep cash handy. The market has a lot of pretty Christmas souvenirs to take home. The weather being cold, beautiful handwoven woolen scarfs, caps and gloves that are for sale tempt your soul to buy them.

Christmas, however, is a family holiday and most of the places shut down around that time. This is the case with the whole of Europe I believe. However, all the stores, museums resume activities again the day after Christmas. It would always be wise to plan a trip bearing this in mind so that you aren’t disappointed when the activities are shut down.

Chocolate Manneken Pis and the gorgeous Waffles- Brussels

Post-Christmas, I had the chance to visit Brussels and Antwerp. Both the cities left me in awe of their beauty. Brussels has almost every tourist attraction at a walkable distance from the city center. The most amusing place for me was the Manneken Pis. It is basically the statue of a boy who is peeing into a pond. He is dressed up in various costumes. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you that there is an entire gallery that houses all the costumes that he has been dressed to date. The neighborhood of this statue is filled with waffles stores. It would be a crime to not try it. It is food for the soul.

 

Grand Place, Brussels

Antwerp managed to make it to my list of the best shopping destinations. The street just outside the station is a shopper’s paradise. You will find probably every possible brand of clothing and a wide variety of choices for food too. The Thai wok just outside the station is a must-try food. (P.S the quantity  is too much).

With these three places, my short trip came to an end and I am all geared up for the upcoming year!