European Odyssey -day 10-16 Paris & Amsterdam
After winning the obstacle race against time Swati, Raj, Sid and me were in the overnight train to Paris from Munich with bhaiyya joining us tomorrow. To our dismay we didn't have a sleeper and the sitting chair were nothing great. In fact the train itself was a misfit in our European trip so far. It was so ordinary it made rajdhani feel luxurious. We had 10 hrs to spend most of which were on the floor of the train! But this was the beginning of our experience of the bad side of Europe. As we arrived in Paris we were greeted by smells which reminded us of Dadar station, but the similarities didn't end there. As we exited the platforms onto the bridges there were Indian looking people selling used mobile phones, the whole place below the over bridge was occupied by hawkers selling clothes in boxes and all kind of people jostling to find a good deal. Paris road were full of litter and creepy people. Paris was a BIG disappointment. The next three days we traveled to the Eiffel tower where all the grass of the lawns was worn off by the swarm of tourists, Louvre which shut at 1735, Notre Dame which wasn't as impressive as the duomo in Milan. The saving grace were the walks along the river seine with many activities around it and the church above a hill just behind our hostel. From the hill you could see 3/4 th of the city but not the Eiffel tower. There near the church is a person who juggle with a football in manner which is hard to believe. But here also I faced bad experience; as we were climbing the last steps of the church a group of black men approached us for tying a sacred thread onto our fingers, obviously asking for money for it. As I along with Swati tried to get through them, one of them grabbed my arm in an aggressive manner and threatened me for apparently not showing respect?! In the three days we stayed in Paris we came across lot of such incidents, Bhaiyya was almost robbed of his wallet by Bangladeshi people. At the end of three days we were glad to leave Paris for our next destination of Amsterdam.
As we left Paris things began to take a turn for the better starting with the train journey. The Thalys train was no less than a first class experience. We arrived in Amsterdam around 1345 hrs to be greeted by cold and wet conditions. But the city was squeakly clean and looked great with its old architecture and many canals and bridges. Flowers were back onto the buildings, bridges, cafes everywhere. All the three days we spent in Amsterdam were wet except the second one which was bright and sunny. Two days are more than enough to cover Amsterdam and we felt we could have used a spare day in maybe Munich. Attractions off Amsterdam are the many museums including weird ones like torture museum, prostitution museum etc. The red light area. The many'coffee' shops which legally serve hash, marijuana and other light drugs. But the city comes alive in the night with its many clubs and bars. However with night temp around 8-10 C and breeze it may not be convenient for all. On the early morning of the 4 th day in Amsterdam we had a flight to our next destination of Barcelona. It was just a transit place onwards to our two destination for Valencia for the La Tomatina festival!