Zurich (The loud burning of Böögg festival) and mini Liechtenstein

 

 

Last one on Switzerland and the random mini country that I have always wanted to visit. This is Zurich at night! It became increasingly difficult to take photos of the cities I went to at night because the sun doesn’t set until 9-10pm!P1110270 P1110275

Mirror hallucinations.

P1110274

Our failed attempt on timer-set photo taking, but that’s kind of interesting! Like we were vanishing into the river. The blur you see on the bottom right was a really nice Swiss guy who told us about a Spring Festival the next day! So that’s why we decided to stay one more night there! Totally ad hoc decision.

P1110260

Guess what that’s for? It’s a duck! (hint: not just decorative)

P1110266

The spring festival starts at the afternoon every year so we went to Liechtenstein in the morning! Turned out there actually wasn’t much, (except Chinese tourists) like I was told, but it was still fascinating to be in a country with less than 35k residents! We went to a free museum about stamps/postal stuff, like the one in Monaco, seemed like these small countries like to have such kind of displays.

P1110293

They had these outdoor “library shelves” completely unlocked! It is astonishing to see how disciplined the citizens are. Imagine that in Hong Kong, all books would probably be gone and never returned in 3 days.

P1110303

That small castle up on the hill lives the royal family! I guess in such a small place, everyone must have already known everyone.

P1110311

We only went to the “capital” Vaduz and it was rather sparse when we moved away from the tourists streets. We saw some gorgeous icy mountain tops beside the river 🙂

P1110322 P1110341

Time to head back to Zurich! (I fell asleep during the ride again, sun fu sai daddy :P)

P1110394

This festival is mainly about people celebrating their hard work in Winter. Groups of different location (? my guess) and occupation march along and at the end they burn a poor snowman to symbolize the end of winter!

P1110408

There he was, all tied up on top, waiting for his dying day :/ They say the faster it explode, the better the summer would be.

P1110423

I figured everyone in Zurich probably went out because I have never seen that many people since Vatican.

P1110429

She reminded me of my dad and I when we were young. She looked so bossy though.

P1110465

At exactly 6pm they lit up the hays and EVERYONE cheered.

P1110473

After almost 40 minutes, the body exploded and the fireworks inside it started making loud noises and so there we said our goodbyes to Winter!

P1110488

THAT was a candy meant to be picked up by me, but the guy in red shirt was faster 😦 I could see it but I couldn’t REACH for it.

P1110466

Great great weather and cotton candy that I haven’t had in ages 🙂

P1110209 P1110212

Aaaah perfect world. Whoever invented these completely not filling but fun food must be Peter Pan – someone who never grew up.

P1110226

Advertisements

Prague – erm…yea just Prague.

P1090886

Why is it just Prague? Yes I was told it is gorgeous, and I believe it definitely is,,, if the weather cooperates. But when we were there it was not like that AT ALL.  The most beautiful and intriguing thing we saw was a bank… The weather was again against us and even the famous Charles Bridge failed to put us in awe.

P1090946 P1090956 P1090954

We really just went in and took photos. First time in my life to do that in a bank. The receptionist must be so used to this.

It is almost like a ritual to compare public transport here at Central Europe! Here we took the tram, and they were somewhat better than Budapest but not even near Vienna’s contemporary designs.

P1090926P1090921

P1090923

Prague food was good too, but then not as cheap as Budapest 😦 P1090880

Then of course, there’s the old town!

P1090994P1090976

Easter Carnival again! Everything was so bright colored and little kids were staging cute plays. The kids were circling the “tree” (acted by a tall boy) and eventually all were stuck to it … I was puzzled by what was going on and my companion was spot on “The first kid played around the tree, and was glued to it, and he called for help, and all other kids tried to help out but ended up glued to the tree too.” – Wow. 😉

P1090990  P1090998

Easter Tree. Eggs on Trees. It was almost as absurd as Dali’s sculptures.

P1100002P1090972

As we roamed around we passed by this little shop with overflowing goods that I did not dare step foot in; as if the moment I pushed the door all stuff would collapse on me.

P1100004 IMG_2875

Highlight of Prague! Kafka’s statue. This was hilarious, and also proof of “nothing is possible unless you at least give it a shot.” I have not been piggybacked in years, and I would not have thought that the Piggy would be my roommate 🙂 🙂

People were taking photos of us, I guess they don’t see 2 girls doing that often 😉

Angry girlfriend: See, even that girl can do that. How come you can’t? (It was in Chinese 那個女生都可以怎麼你不行?)

Poor weak boyfriend: …

Sorry boyfriend, my roommate is just super strong 🙂

P1100023

For dinner, we were at this restaurant with wifi.

Me (being smart to double check): Do you guys have wifi?

Waiter: Oh yes, but we are not an internet cafe.

Me: … erm Ok so if we eat here, we can use it , yea?

Waiter (with a smile on his face): Oh yes sure.

IMG_2880

We saw everything that is to see in one day. Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Astronomical Clock in Old Town, THE BANK. haha.

P1100041

The Prague Castle was super freaky at night especially when there were only 4 people. My camera failed at night :/ but the view was actually quite nice. Very different of course, compared to the beautiful night view that I missed so dearly in Hong Kong.

P1100049 P1100093 P1100100

 

So there, everything checked in a day. The next day, we went again to these places, but in the morning instead. (Not really morning, but 2pm :P)

 

P1100124 P1100161

We saw a couple taking wedding photos, aww it was so adorably cute. Photographer was super demanding on the bride though, and she just bent lower and lower and lower…hilarious. The groom just had to stand there, how unfair.

P1100136 P1100140

I have never seen such horrifying statues outside of Churches…imagine that’s what we saw the night before! Explains why I did not dare take too many photos then …

P1100170

The sun refused to shine…sigh.

P1100186

 

They rolled crepes differently around here! (But I preferred the french ones more, then the Budapest ones. 🙂

 

 

P1100189 P1100190

Vienna – Part 2

P1090850

In total, we visited a whopping 7 museums in total! After The State Hall library, we went to the Globe Museum and Esperanto Museum. The next day, we made it to the Silvers Apartments, Sisi Museum (My personal favorite) and the Royal Place. Ended with the Papyrus Museum. Main point however, was that we always tea in between these museum visits. 
P1090818
P1090819

The Silver exhibition was monotonous, we saw endless plates and glassware that royals used in the past. Not really worth going but I guess that’s why they had to bundle those 3 museums together. Sisi Museum on the other hand, was so thoughtfully designed and Elizabeth (Sisi was her nickname) was such a tragic character.

In fact, I came to realized the entire royal family was completely MESSED up. (I would use another stronger word if not for the fact that my space is appropriate for all ages)

P1090821

At the age of 15, she married the Emperor and due to her previous family brought up that was rather free and unstructured, she felt trapped and overwhelmed by the Royal Palace. She was obsessed with her own physical appearances because that was the only thing in her life that was within her control. She died with an 18′ inches waistline. Her first daughter died a toddler because she didn’t listen to her mom’s advise to not bring along the young kid to travel. Her youngest son committed suicide besides his mistress. Her life ended when she was assassinated in Geneva.

I am a seagull, of no land, 

I call no shore my home,

I am bound to no place,

I fly from wave to wave.

That strange feeling when you don’t fit into any part of the world’s puzzle, or perhaps it forgot to leave a spot for me?

_________________

I flee from the world and all its pleasures, 

And its people are remote from me today,

Their joys and their sorrows are alien to me.

I stand alone, as on a star.

I stand alone, as on a star. Despite the unparalleled view from above, I am all but myself. Her words pierced through my heart, and although I am no royal, I could relate to her: doing things that are against our wishes, the feel that our lives are out of our control, the emptiness of feeling lonely…

I wasn’t sure what it was that I learnt from the museum, or the point of setting up this museum with so much sorrows, but it did trigger my melancholic nerve and it was as if at that point in time, I was connected to this extraordinary women hundreds of years ago.

__________________

Back to Vienna’s desserts. Tiramisu with Bailey’s, Chai Tea Latte and Sachertorte (chocolate cake.) Sweet things always makes life sweeter.

P1090839 P1090840 P1090841 P1090842

When the sun set, we went to the nearby theme park next to our hotel. (Yes finally a 3 star hotel, why I love Central Europe, and would recommend young travelers to go)

P1090863P1090854

P1090852P1090859

The Ferris wheel, Roller Coaster, Soaring swing, Antique Coca Cola Machines, all radiated in a synchronized color tone under the blasting lights. There was nobody though, and it reminded me of Zombieland. So we left.

P1090860

I stand alone

As on a star

In a foreign zone

Stranded and strayed

Relentlessly seeking

from afar

P1090845

I stand alone

As on a star

If only I have known

Better or worse

That nothing gold remains

but scar

P1090846

I stand alone

As on a star

Heart sinks heavy as stone

Solid but cracked

Plunged down and tightly sealed

In a jar

P1090847

It might be a shorter post, but trust me, the poem took me the entire ride from Wien to Prague and more (which was almost 5 hours FYI)

Vienna – home to lovely music and my extra weight gained – Part 1

 

 

 

Right before our bus ride from Budapest to Vienna, we used the rest of our hungarian money, 305 huff to buy 2 hash brown that cost 200 huff each. Yes, the math does not add up so how did that happen?

P1090636

P: One hash brown please.

Nice staff: 200 huff.

P: I have 105 huff left, can I buy anything with it?

Nice staff: No I’m sorry.

P: Well then please have it, we are leaving today and the money would be useless to us.

Nice staff: Sorry, we can’t take tips.

P: hmm… then can you give us one more hash brown? (wink wink)

Nice staff: okaaaay…. 😀 Wala~ Mission impossible checked.

 

Well, sometimes you just got to ask 😉 Who knew McDonald’s would give out half priced food?

P1090675

_____________________________________

We were also outsmarted by our smartphones who reminded us of the change of summer time so we did not miss the bus! And since we won’t be here when they change back …we lost an hour IN LIFE.

 

P1090667

Vienna greeted us coldly, with snow. And we responded with a nice nap before lunch. (The staff in our hotel folded my pajama :’) so considerate. I tested their kindness by putting 3 shirts on my bed, and all were nicely folded when I came home.

 

P1090777

We arrived city center and the umbrella we bought was completely ripped by the strong wind…

 

So first, we went to an elegantly designed library – The State Hall. Those books were not for checking out because the oldest ones dated back 1501! It was like entering a dream of intellectuals, as if simply breathing in the air in there would pump up my brain with knowledge…yea yea yea only if it is that easy to be smart -_-

P1090609   P1090619

Snapped back to reality by the exhibition on the sufferings of Austrian Jews. The letter below was written by an imprisoned husband to his wife, affectionately. One of the few exhibits in English because all materials sending out from the concentration camps had to be censored.P1090616

It brought tears in my eyes when the words I am perfectly all right flooded my sight. May god bring us together again very soon. It was so heartbreaking.

P1090635

 

 

 

I also learnt something new on my first day in Vienna by visiting the Esperanto museum. It is an artificial language created with the vision of uniting mankind and facilitating easier communication around the world. Really interesting concept.

P1090653

Would human beings really love and care about each other more simply because the same language is spoken? Experience told me cultures are just generalizations and they can only give me limited insight at best. Values of individuals are what really connects us.

P1090662

I have also learnt that many words we use today were created rather recently. Serendipity – the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident, It’s origin is surprisingly Sri Lanka – Serendip. Serendipity, the recurring motif of my life. Seek no more, and you shall find 🙂

P1090711

 

For dinner we tried some Schnitzel and they were oh so good.

 

 

 

P1090671 P1090670

 

Finally the weather was nice again and we visited the (cafe of) Belvedere palace.

P1090688     P1090703

P1090722  P1090727

 

Tea oriental chai latte, chocolate cake, mochaccino and marble cake. Nom nom nom 🙂

P1090720IMG_2837

 

Our plan was to shop but turned out all things were closed on Easter Monday except souvenir shops and cake shops. Sigh, So inevitably we were obliged to eat more cake…

P1090754

 

 

 

This, my friend, is Vanilla mousse with raspberry !

P1090762

Seriously, as we were looking for directions, all we saw were these super tricky fonts…who would be able to read them from across the street?

P1090742 P1090743

Angry little biker on the other side Oh come on, when will the light change ? 

P1090733 P1090738

 

It might sound like non-stop eating, but believe me, the situation required us to do so.

Dinner, Pan fried shredded potato with sausage and salad, Viennese Soup (it reminded us of Chinese noodles soup) 

P1090769

Final observation: Their metro was so much more modern and sharp compared to Budapest! I guess after all, it’s kind of like the tunnels of Switzerland and Italy 😉

P1090765 P1090677

 

Some things just never gets old.

 

P1090776

 

Buda-Pest Part 2

P1090319P1090413

Part 2 of Budapest started off with a sequence of interruptions:

1) IT RAINED. After snowing hard the day before, it rained hard on us. We managed to arrive the only store in the vicinity that sells umbrella by sharing a tiny one (that I lost eventually). The umbrella broke in a day, but that’s another matter.

P1090378

2) Finally we made it to the metro station, and right at that moment, I wiped my nose, and it was wet and red. In more than a year I have not had nose bleed and on THIS rainy day on SLIPPERY stairs, my nose decided to bleed on me. -_-

P1090397

3) Naive me thought that Citibank must be everywhere in Europe, and turned out they don’t do business in France. Budapest, on the other hand, does have Citi very prominently, but the thing is I  forgot my pin because I did not withdraw money in 3 months. Genius me. When I did recover my pin, the card failed. What the hell?

P1090398

4) Our only “local” friend was locked in her own house and had to postpone meeting us. 

P1090538

WHAT a morning.  First stop, the Great Synagogue, largest in Europe. In the center, there buried 2000 dead bodies in 24 graves. They died from the holocaust. My heart pinched a little. Or may be it was a lot.

P1090285

Another beautiful and thankfully less tragic building – the Opera house. 

P1090311P1090306P1090296

Then it got super cold and we went for “drumroll”….. TEA!

Hot wine, hot chocolate, pancakes with sweet cottage cheese and with Nutella. Absolutely divine. I have never had crepes (they call them pancakes here, just like in Iceland) with cottage cheese and they are the best !

P1090317  P1090322 P1090333

The cold gave me really bad headaches but we still managed past the never ending lonely path to the heroes square.

P1090338

_____________________________________

Supposedly, Easter means all shops closed and nothing much to see. But no! To our most pleasant surprise, there were Easter celebrations everywhere and we came across two lively markets with mouthwatering food and useless but absolutely adorable things.

P1090367P1090423

P1090361 

I just have to post this photo, he looked at the camera for me 🙂

P1090362P1090375  P1090371  

Crossing the famous chain bridge, we finally stepped foot on Buda. The view was close to breathtaking, but not quite because the weather was bad. What made me love Budapest so much during this trip was not the obvious spectacular view along the river (it was not even close to spectacular on that day);

P1090392P1090394   

it was the vibe of the people, the folk songs and dances by bright young men and women, that really made it such a lovely city.

P1090456 P1090451P1090428

That above is a manual basket-go-round for babies! The cutest thing I have ever seen. The kids were giggling and gripping the ropes so tight. It was such a pleasant scene to see; pure simple pleasures. They were throughly happy. That was of course before the ruthless part of time kicks in, namely, growing up.

P1090470P1090471

Those long tubes were chimney cakes~! The name really fits because when it was ready, smoke comes out of the top, as if you are carrying a portable chimney! That rolling thing was super heavy, and they were the only handmade chimney cakes we have seen.

P1090463

This Easter Festival celebration on the Buda castle, everyone wore a huge smile on their faces and joy filled the atmosphere. The buzz, the warm hearted people, pale colors and sweet sweet air made the carnival so cozy and radiant.

P1090437

P1090494P1090551

The famous Mathias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.

P1090513  P1090517  

I decided then that I have to go back to Budapest again, when it is warm and clear.

P1090547

It is my second time to see these thoughtful “Maps” for the blind. 

P1090559

I could not put myself into the shoes of the blind at all. All the gorgeous rivers, bewitching night views, charming seashores, they could not see it. What we take for granted, might be what others are dying to have. I felt so lucky at that precise moment. And as much as I believe that life is fair, I also like the idea of karma and even if good happenings don’t come after good deeds, at least there was some kind of good outcomes for someone. At least there was more good in the world for a brief instance because of me.

P1090407

Finally, our last dinner at Budapest and was again another hurdle. WE DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH HUFF left… After a lot of math and brain power, we made the most out of our money and cheated a hash brown from McDonald’s the next morning. (More on that later on 😉 ) We almost did not have enough money for ketchup and we couldn’t even buy the pastry with ham…just cheese.

P1090576 P1090579

It started raining again and we had to run to the metro station, without knowing where was the closest one.

P1090349

Turned out it was just right around the corner and just when we were overjoyed by how smart we were to find the metro so swiftly and boarding the train that was almost leaving, the train STOPPED. The light went off and the engine went silent. WE BOARDED IT WHEN IT WAS ALREADY THE LAST STATION.

P1090580

All wagons were separated with no windows! The driver did not know we were still in it…(No wonder there were no one in the trains smartypants…) After some banging on the doors, we panicked. And although I do have some water left that will last me the night, the idea of being stuck there was horrifying. Thank god the light was on again and the engine started again. They used the same train for the other direction. THANK YOU god. P1090582

Budapest does have poorly designed metro, you cannot get to the other side of the platform unless you go back up the street. The escalators were different and super fast. 

But either way, we were just glad we made home safe and in one piece.

P1090352

Buda-Pest (CHEAPEST city ever) Part 1

Finally, the cities that I have long been told are beautiful. Central Europe is an interestingly different place compared to the other “more developed” Western european countries. Let’s start with my favorite – Budapest.

P1090208

It was so shabby and dirt cheap, precisely why I loved it. We flew Wizz Air for the first time, and I could not believe we had to compete to get on board! My favorite budget airline is still Easyjet.

IMG_2785

It was my first time landing into an airport covered with snow. The timing, geographical location all doesn’t add up to snowing in my head. I was puzzled. Can anyone tell me why it’s so cold in Central Europe?!

P1090139

Boarding the metro, it was like traveling 50 years back in time… they probably have been using the same old train for a century; like was going to fall apart any time, how lovely.

P1090143

At city center, there was this huge colorful market building with overpriced touristy souvenirs. It was filled with an energetic vibe. But I preferred the outdoor although it was freezing.

P1090157P1090153  

I HAVE NEVER SEEN THAT MUCH SNOW EVER IN MY LIFE! Those kinds that I only see in movies: upon each step, crushy sound will be heard and footprints (like on sand) are left 1 inch deep. I would have lied down and do the snow angel thing if my jacket wasn’t new and I have someone to clean up my clothes afterwards.

P1090192

The snow was so thick that we simply couldn’t resist drawing a smiley face on this cute turquoise car.

P1090264

Then of course in ANY city, there are the churches.

P1090216

See how different it looked when the sun came out? Even the color changed. Erm , my friend said the people loved this saint stephen so much that his hand was cut out and placed inside this church…interesting logic eh?

P1090213  P1090224

Why i said Budapest was really cheap: we had dessert-tea for only 2 euros / person! It was sweet bread soak honeymilk with mysterious powder on top (It reminded me of heung low fui – sorry for the Cantonese) and Chocolate sauce pancakes with raisins and crushed nuts.

P1090218 P1090217

To burn off the calories, we went for a scroll along the famous river. The sun was setting and to me, it is the most exhilarating moment of a day.

P1090261

Yes it is calm and still, but it recharges my soul (If I have one?) with its glorious golden rays, upon the river, melting the snow, tinting the lonely (ugly) snowman. With every breath, I took in the wonderful scent of twilight as the day come to a close.

P1090270 P1090276

On a nice day like this, it also reminds me brutally that a lot a lot of minutes has passed and it will be tomorrow soon. On a bad day, however, it is a relief to know that darkness is approaching and I will be secluded again soon to just settle everything internally.

P1090257 P1090235

Dinner: my first try of rabbit meat, it tasted like chicken. And the arguably tasty vegetable dish. Who knows it’s that difficult to order normal veggie? Come on all we wanted was to stay healthy!

P1090281 P1090282

– And up to this point, my list of lost things include 2 left gloves, a hat and an adaptor …

P1090141

Somehow this lonely chair, and the melted snow (yes same as water) mirroring the bronze railings reminded me of the song Someone like you.

P1090277 P1090274

“Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead”  – the MV was filmed in PARIS! better check that out when I am there next month 🙂

P1090271P1090226