I rejoiced the festival of colours, and felt the illuminations from the festival of lights as those were the times of merriment in India. It was when I was attending my undergrad 5 years ago. In Europe it is different. Winter is extremely cold especially in the northern regions. However cold days are relatively short so I end my spending more hours in my home cozily. But December has its charm here. Christmas is 25 days away but colourful and illuminating Christmas markets are everywhere. Cold can’t deter the people from coming out, and the Glue Wine have the healing power to cold. By 22nd December till the New Year, Universities remain closed and we get as long as two weeks holiday, all looking forward to celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families. Greifswald really gives a desolate look; its streets are empty and downtown appears gloomy. After all it is University’s town so everybody seems to have gone for vacation and left behind are the exotic species. Yet I was happy that my sister planned a trip in Germany and Netherlands, and it was a perfect moment for me to take my vacation as well.
|Lights of Hamburg|
|The Alster, The Bridge, The Concert Hall of Hafen City|
5. Hamburg, Second Largest City in Germany: We were in the city of Hamburg on the evening on 24th December. The city though lighted with Christmas bulbs, it was calm. The next day, we had no option but to take a ride on City Tour bus as the weather was gloomy with light drizzles. The port city has its own enriching history of being a business centre since 19th century. Canaled thoroughly, it is called the Venice of the North and it is said that it has as many as 2,496 bridges, out numbering the combination of many cities in Europe. The river Alster flows calmly through the city and forms two idyll lakes in the city, which are city’s major attraction. And there were many interesting stories. At one point of location near lake Alster, a poem had written a love poem, but he had two girlfriends whom he loved equally so he dedicated the poem to the both. These information, we could listen to the pre-recorded description of the city in the bus, but for German, it’s described live by the guide. This is the fun of taking a city ride. By sight, asides the canals and bridges, Hamburg has a beautiful and well maintained infrastructure with wonderful town planning.
|The way of Amsterdam.|
6. Amsterdam: The Capital of Netherlands. I knew my sister read a lot and still does, but little did I knew that she have a dream to visit Anne Frank’s House since her childhood days. I do read a little but neither had I known about it, nor did somebody recommend me to read “The Diary of a Young Girl”. We had two days to spend in Amsterdam, more than enough to roam around and see the museums, stroll the streets, enjoy the light festivals by the canals and of course visit the Secret Annex, the Anne Frank Haus. Amsterdam is also full of canals and particularly during the Christmas holidays, with numerous light festivals nights stroll along the canals gives you an enticing feeling. Buildings are mixture of modern architecture and classical tilting merchant houses so taking a walk along with bicyclers is a charm. Tulips still blooms in the coldest of winter and marijuana is just another plant in Amsterdam. Masterpiece is everywhere and Anne Frank’s Haus draws the maximum crowd. As it was my sister’s wish list to visit the museum, we had to wait in queue for 3 hours before finally getting the ticket to explore the famous secret annex, as called by Anne.
|A Sample of Tulips|
|Queue outside Anne Franks Haus.|
It was during the time of Second World War that Nazis occupied Netherlands and there was apprehension of Jews. Anne the 13 year old girl was hiding along with her family members in the heart of Amsterdam for two years since June 1942, until they were apprehended in 1944. It was during those two years that Anne regularly wrote her feelings and thoughts in a dairy which was gifted to her during her last birthday prior to moving to the hiding place. While Anne has died of typhus in the camps, her diaries were collected by one of the worker who helped the family with all the support during the hiding period and was later handed over to Annes father the only surviving member from the family. It was later published into a book and still remains the international best seller.
“I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free.” Anne Frank, 24 December 1943.
It was really a secret annex with complex structure. Having thoroughly explored the hiding place and seen the old diary, I felt the inspiration to write diary as well. Such was the power of the 15 years old Anne Frank. So I bought one copy of the book as a remembrance for the visit and to remind me of the inspirations. Coming out of the house it was already dark but it was astonishing to find still a long queue of people waiting to see the house. I didn’t see such devotion during the times of Moenlam Chenmo blessings in Bhutan also. Well, regarding the book, I am midway reading few pages a day.
|The Tower of Berlin and the Museum Island|
7. Berlin: The Capital of Germany: Berlin is the first city that I visited when I first landed in Europe last July and it will remain the last city to before I leave for my home in the land of happiness. When we returned from Amsterdam, we spend two days in Berlin since my sister didn’t visit the city before. I passed by Berlin five times before but I was not well acquainted with the biggest German city so I took the opportunity with her to explore the city. Berlin does not have many canals. In Berlin the points of interest are the museums. Frankly speaking there is nothing special to sightings in Berlin but does the Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg Gate and the remains of Berlin Wall, whose histories are deep and have national significance. Like the Eiffel tower, a TV Tower stands tall in the heart of Berlin. In terms of doing miscellaneous shopping, Berlins seems cheaper and so is for foods and restaurants. Hostels are also cheaper in Berlin as compared to the other cities that I have visited. In Berlin travelling is very convenient as a single day ticket is valid for all modes of city transport systems, but there is hardly anyone inspecting the tickets.
|The Parliament Building|
That was it for 2016. If world is a book, then travelling is the best read. Without commencing the journey destination will never get closer. It is through the travels and journeys that we realize how small our pond is. For all those beautiful journeys, it added cherishing memoirs in me with almighty’s grace. The colds of winter are slowly fading and the warmth of the day is expanding gradually. Between the cold and warmth are the thick pile of books and journals, the pages of which I needs to unfold to realize the ultimate purpose of my life in Greifswald. For now, my concentrations are more into books with the approach of winter semester exams.
Best wishes for the studies.