Monday, May 7, 2012

Paris to Amsterdam by Thalys

Thalys is a high speed rail service between Paris and Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne. I decided to take Thalys train as oppose to take flight due to travel by train is easier and basically you don't need to be 2-3 hours before departure to reach the platform for boarding. By taking train, you only need to be at the platform about 15 minutes before departure. Flight with Paris and Amsterdam is priced at such an expensive price an its not worth it. The journey from Paris to Amsterdam by Thalys takes around 3 hours.

Due to my flight from Kuala Lumpur is on standby basis, I have no choice but to book this train quite last minute. And at the time, I booked my ticket, I notice that the price of second class cabin is the same as on the first class cabin. Sure when you are paying for the same price, you will take the best available offer. First class cabin comes with free reading material, WIFI and meal. I would give my thumb up on the meal offered. Its tasty and good quality. Another good thing is that they start serving after each stop. So they served me 3 times during the journey.

From Paris, passenger need to board the train from Gare du Nord train station and follow the signboard for Thalys.


This is the red colour Thalys train.

This type of time display board is still in use. Its a really old train station.

Time for boarding train 9339.

First class cabin. Red colour seats and huge comfortable chair.

My lunch. Courgette terrine with mint, tomato coulis, salmon fillet with guacamole, organic quinoa salad with herbs and roast aubergine slices. Wow such a technical dish name!

Zoom in the meal to make this blog reader hungry :-)

I request for free red wine of Emilen D'Albert from France.

Pistachio cheery tart.

Butter cake.

Finally I reached Amsterdam Centraal station.

For more information on the Thalys train service, please visit: http://www.thalys.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Budget stay at Trianon Hotel @ Amsterdam, Netherlands

The hotel room is clean and the location is good as well. Near by there are 3 tram stations Museumplein and two Jac Obrechtstraat stations. Easy accessible via tram from Amsterdam centraal station. If you prefer to take bus, you may take bus 197 to and from Schipol Airport and drop off at Museumplein station. Opposite the hotel across a main road, there is Albert Heijn supermarket which is good to stock up on food and buy some Dutch delicacies back home. It's within walking distance to Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum. The distance to the centre of Amsterdam is not that far. Just around 4-5 stations (10-15 minutes) away. Although this hotel comes with free WIFI but the WIFI connection in the lobby and in the room is not stable and the speed is slow. Keeps disconnected.

Rating: 7/10(Moderately recommended. The price is not cheap but the location is good. I suggest this hotel to person who don't mind about the other things other than the location).
Price: EUR300 for 4 nights. The stay here includes daily breakfast.


My bed facing the window. Can get very cold at night but comfortable.

Another view of the room with television, sink and hair dryer in sight.

Toilet and shower. The toilet got some smell of the shower sheet not being cleaned well.



Continental breakfast. The usual jam, cheese and ham.

Fruits and egg.

The serving table. Milk and corn flakes is provided as well.

Address: J.W.Brouwersstraat 3, 1071 LH Amsterdam
Phone:+31206732073
Coordinate/GPS: 52.356378,4.87838
Tram: Museumplein on lane 3, 5, 12,16 or 24. Jac. Obrechtstraat on lane 16.

Bitterballen of Cafe Het Gasthuys @ Amsterdam

This cafe located near the red light district of Amsterdam offers variety of Dutch snacks and also served as pub. I ordered bitterballen and hot chocolate on that day. The service is good and the lady was lovely too. I found this cafe by coincidence. It was my last day in Amsterdam and I just want to try out bitterballen before I left this place. Somehow, I stop at Spui station and start walking around behind the back lane. I found out this cafe which looks good outside and the menu has the items that I wanted plus reasonable price.

Taste:8/10(Delicious. Good bitterballen. The savoury Dutch beef based snack contains a mixture of beef, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper. Great to eat while its hot!)
Price:6/10(Moderate. The price for 12 pieces of bitterballen at EUR4.00. I think the price is quite reasonable for Amsterdam. I order hot chocolate as well at EUR2.00).


I finished the 12 pieces of bitterballen alone!

Look, you can see the minced beef, parsley in creamy paste).

This is the best hot chocolate presentation that I ever had.

The ambiance in the cafe. Looks like a very old cafe serving traditional Dutch food.

Address: Grimburgwal 7, 1012 GA Amsterdam.
Coordinate/GPS: 52.36935,4.893594
Tram: Spui station.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Impressionist masterpieces at Musee d'Orsay @ Paris, France

Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, an Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It is best known for its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces and it is the largest in the world by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin and Van Gogh.

I am quite fortunate that I am able to step into this museum. I only reached the entrance at 5.00pm on sunday and I am leaving Paris on monday and they closed on monday. Wow, I almost missed it. As soon I gained access to the museum, I went to look for a few famous painting that I read before such as Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin & Seurat. The good thing about arriving late is that they let you in for free and they don't want to disappoint anyone who have been queuing for quite some time but due to time, they are not able to go in. Its amazing to see most of the museum in Paris that people are dying to try to get inside there!


Musee d'Orsay is previously a railway station (Gary d'Orsay).

Very nice interior and creative to convert railway station into reputable art museum.

Painting by Renoir.

Sculpture on the main corridor.

Main corridor.

Admission fee: EURO 10.
Opening hours: Open from 9.30am to 6pm daily, except Mondays. Late night on Thursdays until 9.45pm. Last tickets sold at 5pm (9pm Thursdays). Museum cleared at 5.30pm (9.15pm Thursdays)
group visits, pre-booked only, Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm (Thursdays until 8pm). Closed on Mondays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Metro station: RER Musée d'Orsay (C) or Métro Solférino (12).
Address: Rue de Lille 75343 Paris, France
GPS/Coordinate: 48.860367,2.325068

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery @ Paris

When I told my friends that I visited Pere-Lachaise Cemetery as part of my Paris trip they mentioned to me that "don't you feel creepy and scary visiting such place?". Most of the people gives don't quite agree to visit this place. But for me, visiting this cemetery is quite worth while and the way to know French life and how they appreciate the dead. The tomb shape is quite unique and this cemetery is very well maintained and become one of the top tourist attraction in Paris. Do you know that this cemetery is the most visited cemetery in the world and it also a site of three World War 1 memorial.

Père Lachaise is still an operating cemetery and accepting new burials. However, the rules to be buried in a Paris cemetery are rather strict and only for people who die in the French capital city or if they lived there. Its difficult to get buried in Pere-Lachaise nowadays as there is a waiting list and very few plots are available. The gravesites at Père Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned headstone to towering monuments and even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to the memory of a well-known person or family. A lot of the tombs are about the size and shape of a phone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers.

According to official website of the city of Paris, to date, one million people have been buried there.


Tomb.

Cone shaped tomb.

Mini chapel tomb.

Each section of the cemetery is divided by division.

Creative.

Tomb for whole family members.

This place is hilly.

Phone booth tomb.

Normal grave.

Pyramid shaped tomb.

Towering monument.

Metro Station: The Paris Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on both lines 2 and 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. Many tourists prefer the Gambetta station on line 3, as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.
Address: Boulevard de Ménilmontant.
Coordinate: 48.859802,2.3909

Cafe Hoppe @ Amsterdam

This cafe were recommended by the walking tour guide and I were not disappointed. Its look like an very old restaurant and wood panelled Dutch pub. It even have sand on the floor. So traditional. The clientele seemed to be mainly Dutch people popping in after work. On my visit, I ordered Kroketten which is breaded deep fried filled with beef creamy paste which contain herbs and cheese. Kroketten were invented in 1800s as a way to use up the leftover stewed meat. Now its very popular snacks in Netherlands and even in McDonalds they have "McKroket" bun.

Taste:8/10(Good. I like the hot creamy paste which flow out from the fried breaded kroketten).
Price:4/10(Near expensive. Kroketten at EUR6.00 and hot chocolate at EUR2.00).


My cup of hot chocolate.

Kroketten with bread, shallot & mustard.

Kroketten.

Hot creamy paste with cheese, beef and herbs.

Environment inside Cafe Hoppe.

This cafe even have outside section which visitor can have a view while having their drinks.

This is how the cafe look like from outside.

Address: Spui 18/20, 1012 XA Amsterdam.
Coordinate/GPS: 52.368812, 4.888652
Tram: Spui station on lane 1,2 or 5.

Tang Gourmet @ Paris, France

This friendly restaurant is located just steps from Place d'Italie metro station and on the edge of Chinatown. There is a range of a dozen-plus dishes available in many sizes either you want those dishes with noodles or rice. In Asian, those dishes with rice is known as mixed rice. Tang Gourmet also have huge variety of dumplings, samosas and other tid-bits. Roast ducks, chickens and pork hang on an adjacent counter and are chopped and sliced to order.

Taste:7/10(Moderate. Their board noodles with beef taste is moderate and without the pan taste. The chinese menu here are catered for Western taste bud and some of the items which is tasty if you eat in Asia but its blend here. Overall this place is still good to go if you are craving for Asian food if you are in Paris. Their spring roll is good. And I believe their duck and roasted pork is good as well as many customers choosing that. I won't choose duck or pork as that meal is quite normal for me and I wanted to try something different).
Price:6/10(Moderate. I believe this is among the cheapest eating place around Place d'Italie. For around 6 Euro, you can get quite a decent lunch here).


I ordered fried broad noodles with beef. And I have spring roll as appetizer.

Vietnamese style spring roll with vegetables(rice vermicelli, bean sprout & salad) and prawn.

Spring roll taste is quite good.

Chili sauce.

Looks like here is famous for Peking duck and roasted pork.

Tang Gourmet menu is extensive and they have many customers too.

If you are looking for Chinese food while in Paris, do visit Tang Gourmet.

GPS/Coordinate: 48.830404, 2.356742
Address: 188, Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris, France
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