Sunday, 27 September 2015

Falling in Love with Toledo

Toledo was a lovely medieval town and was super touristy. I got down and looking upwards where the old fortress was and I gave up walking and started looking to the local bus to get me up there. 1.40 euro by local bus about 5 minute ride I was in the main plaza right in the middle of Toledo.

Toledo was a walk around cobbled stone streets everyday, winding and twisting everywhere with shops of all manner in every corner. Souvenir shops, tourist shops, cafes mostly for it was a touristy place. Sometimes even if it’s touristy it is worth visiting and Toledo was just that kind of place. The souvenir was also top notch quality and diverse, not like any of those key chain, magnet crap but hand crafted plate of stainless steel with 24 carat plated etchings mostly of Jewish nature and medieval armoury.
Souvenir inToledo
The knifes of knifes …. If Switzerland has lots of Swiss army knife, Toledo has all the fanciful knife that you see on GoT or Vikings and even intricate curved knife that could be from Ali Baba and the forty thief fairy-tale. Also not to forget crazy ninja vintage Japanese sword. I did not feel guilty window shopping when the souvenir shop looks like those.

The next day Kt and family came to Toledo and he message me to meet up later that day. We went walking for a viewpoint outside the city …. A walk along the river to outside the city which overlook Toledo itself. Beautiful place which had just one restaurant which served the best frosted beer we ever had. Sat there and just watch the sun set and the city night light glimmer.

Kt declare Toledo the second best place he have ever been on earth, first being Sikim in India.

The next day I left for Aveiro
Toledo - Spain

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Hola Madrid !!

Note : This is more like an Entry Log than a post ....

Madrid ! in-between everything of one’s expectation but truly a city worth visiting. Madrid is a big city but then again like any other city suburbs the same residential/industrial and so on repeats outside. Most travellers stay within the city walking zone to see the sights and museum.
First day and I could not check in till 2pm naturally so I just stroll around wandering and stumble upon a building that has some exhibition for free. “Palacio en Comunicacion” = The Palace of Communication. The building was a beauty by
Palacio en Communicacion
itself and they also had a very cheap observation deck to view the city of Madrid from above at the top for just 2 euro. View was not the best for the building is not really that high up but still a pretty decent and nice view for 2 euro.


When in Spain = Siesta like a Local ….
Siesta …. I fall into the siesta pace on the first day itself and went to sleep after lunch only to wake up at 6pm and headed for the museum. In fact I love Spain if only for the Siesta ….. Beauty culture, language, food …. But nothing beats the siesta.

Museum Hack
Museum de Prado which was the 3rd largest museum portraying old art and sculpture (1st is the lurve in Paris) was free after 6pm. So most tourist just spend the time from 6pm to 8pm in the museum instead of paying to enter. I don’t blame them and I guess I also became one of them.

3rd place is a hard place to be for although they had quite a number of masterpiece in the museum it was not a famous as the Sistine chapel or the Mona Lisa. Still it was pretty impressive and the first day I could only see maybe 20% of the whole museum.
Walking Tours

Next day I joined the free walking tour of Madrid at 11am which gave a great brief history lesson of Spain as it is. The city gems and wonder opening up little by little from the tour which was 3 hours yet one could tell it was barely the scratch of Madrid. I also found out then during the tour that Cuecha the neighbourhood the hostel I was staying at was located at was a gay neighbourhood. It was labels as a fun neighbourhood J
Making Friends

Back in the hostel and the second siesta but this time I did not get to sleep as I met PJ and KT which was from India. They and their very young cousin of 19 years old was travelling around for a bit before eventually heading for Portugal to attend KT sister destination wedding. A destination wedding where one hold the wedding other than the place of the bride or groom. Portugal was just a destination for all their family around the world to gather for the wedding. Interesting I thought.
3 of us ended up going together (for me again) to the Museum de Prado to soak in more old classic art goodness. Then we headed back to the hostel while they prep up to go for a pub crawl. I cooked my cheap dinner and decline the pub crawl. They did not make it to the starting point at 10 pm and I saw them again at 1030pm. I introduced KT to the all great goodness of Europe which was the 1 euro packet wine.

I became good friends with KT and PJ …. Only to later visit them and crash at their home for a week in India a few months later …

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Next Continent …. Fresh Start ….. Madrid

There is something about travelling that even after a few months of adventures to places that one could only dream about, hopping onto that plane flying from one continent to another always seems to excite me. It was as if my soul knows that things are going to change for sure and all the semi security that I had accustom to while travelling, getting comfort on the road will be thrown out the window for the few days when I touch down a new continent.

I was flying from New York to Madrid. All the while I am thinking it’s great to get out of the states for it was sucking my money faster than ever. Did I ever mention how hard it is to travel the states? It is definitely not backpacker friendly. In a way South America was more backpacker friendly then the USA. Furthermore I was looking forward to Spain and excited to make use of my little Spanish vocabulary that I learned in South America.
Touch down and I headed for the hostel. I had three nights booked in Madrid but on Friday night I would be forced to leave …. Shit shit shit … while I never had a problem in South America or USA on being force to move on due to fully booked hostels in the whole city, Europe was such that it can happen. Where to go next after Madrid …. How to get there …. Is the hostel in the next place fully booked too? Paranoia sets in as I enter a new continent unsure if what I have been doing for the last 6 months will work in Europe or even what I knew travelling Europe 4 years ago will apply at all today in different countries.

Day one …. Check in and 1st world order to the rescue …. Maps of Madrid city, information board, fully trained tourist information centre and precision network of public transportation that is reliable to its timetable. Within hours I feel more relax and calm for it seems Europe will be much much easier than USA or South America ….

Hola Madrid … It’s a whole new playground …

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

MET Museum New York City

The MET Museum New York City which I did not manage to see the first time round in 2012 was still not on my high priority list in 2015. I have seen many museums travelling but only few museums are truly worth mentioning. I don’t claim to be an expert in museums and usually just stroll by walking around looking without really LOOKing.

Van Gogh Painting in MET Museum New York
Like they say it takes a masterpiece to truly capture a wandering soul. If you study it, or knew about it or was recommended to see it then most likely a set of perception has been form in the head such as how amazing the Mona Lisa is and then get overwhelmed by how many idiotic tourist is clustering the floor with cameras held high flashing away.
Price of admission is recommended, RECOMMENDED at USD 25 for adults, USD 17 for student and elderly or veteran and free for children. I took note on that recommended part and got my admission for USD 2. It was a matter of how you are willing to take the shame. Most people would pay a part of it but at USD 2 I guess was pushing it for I got the solemn treatment. Large museums in the states are like a respectable thing. Even the homeless would not enter a free grand Smithsonian museum to loiter around even in the winter. When I see a free museum especially in New York, I also see …. a free toilet …

Silverware In MET Museum New York
I can’t really tell you which masterpiece to expect in the MET museum. I have a habit of just walking around and just looking but the place was a surprise for not only was it huge, tremendously huge such that looking at art for prolonged time will make one sleepy. They had loads of painting of course but also arts of different kind. Anything that could capture ones attention more than a minute was considered art and collected in the MET Museum.
Piano with a Harp
I only saw a small section of MET without really thinking letting my feet decide while my headphone blast away. Egyptian section is always captivating with its pristine preserved mummies and numerous carvings and glyphs inscriptions. Then there was the musical instrumentation section where every kind of old to new instrument that was made with deep artistic manor was collected, preserved and proudly displayed.

Porcelain was another amazing section that I could not get my eyes off. I had no idea that American porcelain artist was as intricate as the ancient Chinese group. Carpentry works on furniture was also collected to my surprise but mostly ignored by the visitors. Silverware was also greatly collected from simple dining ware to intricate honour medals. Then there was the armoury section with its painted breastplate.
Armoury Section of MET Museum New York
The usher of the museum said it would take at least 3 hours to walk through the museum. If one can endure 3 hours of walk through then he would probably be in the museum for more than just 3 hours. Most would give up in 2 hours for the shear tiredness of their eyes. Walking around groups of students in study groups could also be seen walking around with their teacher or tutor explaining or being question on the interpretation of an art piece.

Maybe I should have paid USD 5 instead ….