Sunday, June 29, 2008

Praha: An Ancient Little City

Taking the bus to Prague was like riding a horse on a really bumpy trail in the middle of an Eastern European forest, dotted with farmhouses. The view coming into the city was amazing though; it looked as if we were walking into a fairytale.

Our hostel was the cleanest $20 a night accomodation I've ever slept in. Camille and I spent the entire three days walking (those Czech taxi drivers charge quite the premium!) around the old town, the newer town, the Jewish Museum (the saddest memories of the Holocaust's effect on Prague) and various gardens and parks. Not to mention a couple nights out at the bars and jazz cafe's...

Sapna & Camille at Bugsy's Bar
Sapna's first cup of Absinth! ugh!!!

Check out the slideshow for the best view (yes, facebook users, you have to click into my actual site to view the show, sorry!)

The Town of Kutna Hora
Now this was the craziest little Czech town ever...filled with churches and cemetaries. Not to mention a musuem dedicated to objects made from skulls. The Ossuary pics are below...enjoy the morbidness!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Euro 2008: Football in a Storm

Football may just be the craziest thing about Europe, at least every second summer! We just happened to be in Vienna for the Germany-Turkey Euro 2008 semi-finals, and there could not have been a better place to be. Camille and I arrived at the Fanzone Wien two hours early, just barely enough time to snag food, an $8 beer each, and a $6 bucket of popcorn, before the crowds poured in. Not to mention a seat on the bench under the Mastercard shelter--which was great for standing on to see the giant screens fixed to the cathedral walls.

Towards the middle of the game, a hail warning sign flashed on the big screen, which seemed laughable after our warm weather Wednesday afternoon. "Follow instructions of the security guards" they warned us. The game continued as usual until the 70 minute mark--usual being screaming fans dressed in German or Turkish flags. That's when the worst storm in Vienna in a decade hit---powerful wind, pouring rain, hail and blinding lightning.

Our previously spacious Mastercard shelter became packed as everyone huddled together to wait the storm out. You'll have to use your imagination was too wet for pictures!!!
Absolutely drenched, we were pushed out half an hour later by dressed up guards, complete with ambush-like helmets. The train ride home smelled "like wet humans" according to Camille, and added to our adventure through the unexplained lock down at one station. Soaking wet, we returned to the hotel and prepared for another half day in Vienna, with Tobi (yes, another Singapore mini reunion!) As the Germans say, "man sieht sich immer zwei Mal im Leben!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wien: Coffee Lover's Paradise

Two hours of gorgeous people watching at the arrivals terminal of a Slovakian airport and two Slovakian lattes brightened my mood and set me off in a European direction. After meeting Camille and hopping on a bus across the border, we recounted our adventures apart the last year. Upon arrival in Vienna, we were greeted with sunshine, beautiful architecture, the smell of bratwurst and an amazingly connected transport system.

Situated in Ottakring, a heavily Turkish populated area, our hotel was clean and quaint. Kaffeehauses line the streets and every second corner is a kebab shop. Not to mention the abundant Anker bakery shops that sell fresh sandwiches.

Coffee is Vienna is an everyday delight, with some shops open at 7 AM and others opening much later and staying open into the wee hours of the morning. While some serve the infamous Italian espresso, (normally the restaurants that also serve amazing pizza), others serve a much stronger, richer, darker, Viennese espresso, Julius Meinl. Even I had to put sugar in it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

European Days: Hofburg Palace, Spanish Riding School and Schonbrunn Palace

Only in Europe can you spend two days walking around and encounter a palace, Spanish Riding school, breathtaking cathedral, and castle, within city limits. We started our hot summer day, as tourists, moving from one attraction to the next, snapping photos like avid photographers. What a beautiful backdrop! Check out the slideshow below for a real view of Vienna's urban beauty...from skinny streets, to cobblestone roads and BMWs, to palace grounds, Renaissance art, and exquisite decor in cafes.

The Schonbrunn palace was the most breathtaking. Somehow, it struck me as more beautiful than Versailles; it was elegantly, but sparsely decorated, with paintings and paneling that seemed decorative, rather than intense. The gardens are indescribable, less crowded and more peaceful, it seemed like a retreat rather than a tourist attraction. We spent the rest of the day wandering the streets, stopping at high class shops, gelato stands, and cafes (where we tried Mozart torte!), until the night grew dark and we had the perfect background for cathedral pictures and our model poses!

Checkout the slideshow....Facebook devotees...please click the link "View original post so you can actually see the show"

Mozart in the Park: We also had a chance to visit Mozart in a famous cemetery, just a few trams stops from the train station. Among the memorable graves were Mozart and Strauss, not to mention hundreds of family plots with beautiful decoration

A British Weekend

After four years, it was a great entrance back into the European world...a weekend in England! Just a chill weekend, hanging out with cousins, my grandma, and family I hadn't seen in years.

We started our journey with a three hour detour from the London Heathrow airport back to Dartford, Kent, with my cousins Pavan and Tina. Normally a one and a half hour trip, this turned into a random journey, as we were at the mercy of the Tom Tom GPS! Called "SatNav" in the British world, this little piece of technology took us through the same tunnel twice, through London rather than around it, and left us stuck in that wonderful London traffic. We did, however, see a rather interesting undertaker's sign, blatantly advertising burials for people of all religions, with religious signs in their window's shop. We bury anyone!!!

Our weekend consisted of countless games of Wii Golf, fun & games with Simba the Ulsatian, and 4 years of catching up...hence the lack of abundant pictures!

1. Sunny & Nia, dinner at Sidcup Place
2. Sonia in the tiny town of Crayford
3. From Back Left: Sunny, Nia, Uncle Steve, Tina, Sapna, Sonia, Aunty Viniti

4. From Left: Tina, Nia, Uncle Steve, Uncle Ramesh, Sunny, Jhaiji, Aunty Neelam, Sapna, Aunty Viniti, Sonia...and ofcourse, Simba.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sex, The City, & Martini Night

Carrie Bradshaw has become a known name in popular culture over the past 6 years...and to tribute the debut of the most anticipated romantic comedy ever, we are holding a few marathon martini nights and then heading to the theater (albeit a week after most).

Our first night consisted of an introduction and mad-dash in which Stephanie and I tried to shuffle through DVD's to find the most crucial episodes to give to Sheena, a Sex & the City virgin. Never having seen a single episode, we started her off with the classic first 30-something birthday party episode and progressed to the episodes just before Aiden's arrival into Carrie's life.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the night though (after a delicious Italian meal at Fiore's Cantina, just steps away from my apartment)...was our search for ice. That's right, after carefully selecting the Cosmopolitan ingredients and martini shaker from my list (flavoured vodka, lime juice, low-calorie cranberry juice and all) I had neglected to fill the ice trays.

After this discovery, us three girls walked up to the KFC Manager, out near the Whyte Ave store on his smoke break, and asked to fill a couple cups, with ice. This suddenly turned into three cups of ice, and then a bag of ice...which the manager had one of the employees fill for us, for free, from the bags of ice at the back of the store. And here we were, thinking we'd have to sneak cups of ice from KFC's pop machine! Three girls flaunted off, bag of ice in hand, Sex & the City style.

Episodes later, we are still shuffling, struggling to pick our favorites from what may be tv's most original comedy targeted towards women. Our plan is another afternoon of episodes and girl talk...and then a night out on the town with Cosmos in hand!