East meets West meets East

Tripoto
23rd May 2015

View from the Rose Garden, Vienna

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

The Chain Bridge, Budapest

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

Matthias Church, Budapest

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

The garden at Schonbrünn by evening, Vienna

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

The quiet, enchanting streets of Vienna

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

The Jewish Quarters in Prague

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

A sweeping view of Prague

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

Minster of Our Lady, Freiburg, Germany

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

The alleyways of Berlin

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

Munich from St Peters Chruch

Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala
Photo of East meets West meets East by Zahabia Rajkotwala

Four 20-something girls set out on a trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary

The trip was an eye opener for me in that it has busted my prematurely set ideas of traveling. I have now come to believe that the best advise to give anyone traveling to any part of the world, is that do what you will.

Every place in the world has a list of things you "must-see" and "can't miss" but don't be too hard on yourself to adhere to such lists. See what you can, but feel free to step off the well trodden path and stop at places and do things that interest and fascinate you, no matter how unusual or mundane it may seem to everyone else.

In the end, if travel was supposed to be the same experience for everyone, we wouldn't need to travel at all!

Munich is the quintessential German city. It is slow paced and refined yet teeming with life at its heart which is Marienplatz. Situated not too far from Munich is Dachau, site of an infamous concentration camp, which has been preserved and is open to visitors.

Munich is full of beautiful parks,(the Englischer Garten) beer gardens and is a canvas of beautiful buidlings that you will keep searching for in every other European city you visit.

We used Freiburg im breisgau as a base point to visit the Black Forest. The spot we chose to see the Black forest from was Titisee which boasts of a lake and a panaromic view of the Black Forest. A little further from Titisee(by train) is the region of Feldberg in Baden -Würtemberg which offers sweeping views of the southern portion of the Black Forest.

Freiburg itself is a university town, bustling with students, small take out restaurants, cafes , bars and stores. The Freiburg Minster stands looming over this small town and is the most haunting cathedral I have ever seen.
Berlin to me, was more a person than a city. It has the attributes of a rebel, that has struggled to become its own person. The sense of place and history in Berlin is very strong. A lot of our time was spent exploring the recent past - the Second World War, the Berlin Wall, rise and fall of the Soviet regime in East Berlin. The city is also a great (and cheap!) place to shop , eat and drink.

The city is filled with little streets and alleyways that are sites of bars and restaurants enclosed by graffiti and poster covered walls.

The city never fails to surprise.
Prague is enchanting. Its bustling with tourists(and absinthe) and has everything you need to see, eat and do situated in a relatively small area. The key is to stay some place close to the Old Square from where everything (including the Charles Bridge ) is walking distance.
Vienna has a quality of magic. It is modern yet the architecture takes you back to about 200 hundred years in time. The presence of the Hapsburg Dynasty can be felt everywhere. The city at every point reminds you of its great musical past and the grand manner in which every kind of fine art was indulged by its rulers.

We managed to catch a concert at the concert hall at Schonbrünn Palace even though what I would have preferred is a visit to one of the stellar opera houses in Vienna (unfortunately nothing was running around the time we were there).
Budapest introduces you to a very different part of Europe. Eastern Europe has caught up with its western counterparts only very recently. It is industrial in parts but it has the same sense of grandeur I witnessed else where. A lot of architects that designed buildings in Vienna designed structures in Budapest.

It has a younger population, faster pace of life and a more diverse selection of activities to choose from. It is distinctly Eastern European in terms of language, food, the local stores and markets. The culture is different (a lot like Prague!) and fascinating.

My friends and I made an impulsive visit to the Ecseri Market located on the outskirts of Budapest. The market was devoid of any other visitors but us (being a Tuesday) and the lonely rows of antique crockery, silverware, jewellery, medallions, books, show pieces and other local crafts have blown my mind! The trip to the market wasn't what we expected, it was better.

A sense of history and a troubled relationship with the past is felt when exploring Budapest, so always keep your eyes peeled and your mind open to seeing something different!
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