Saturday, 21 January 2017

Destination Europe II: Towards West

I feel the true essence and specialty of being Bhutanese whenever I travel outside. Once beyond our national boundary, our identity is defined by the country from where we come from and I feel the pride of being Bhutanese for Bhutan is best known to the outside world as a happy country and through our best practices in development. My four year stay in India during my bachelors programme was totally an isolated one without any interaction with fellow Bhutanese. And now in Germany, I am totally immersed into the international community of students. In such distant places, our Royal Bhutanese Embassies play a pivotal role in bringing our Bhutanese community in unity, and here in Europe, the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Brussels tries to links each and every Bhutanese through common gatherings. For 2016, we are privileged to assemble together for the Reception dinner during National Day under the guidance and leadership of Her Excellency the Ambassador. I then resumed by Euro Trip to explore the cities in the West of Europe. Travel makes one modest.
Royal Bhutan: Brussels

The Grand Place
3. Brussels, Capital City of Belgium: Brussels is the third city which I visited in 2016. It is quite far from Greifswald so I booked a flight ticket from Berlin to Brussels to shorten the duration of travel. Anyway, my journey from Greifswald to Brussels is one full day. I had to take a three hours bus from Greifswald to Berlin Alexandraplatz and then a 35 minutes journey by Metro to reach Berlin Shonefeld airport, which is at the outskirts of Berlin City. Amongst the airlines, I found Ryanair the cheapest. I could book a round-trip to Brussels from Berlin in just 24 Euros, but to avail such fare, we need to book as early as two months before the scheduled journey. So I took the Ryanair at around 7:35 PM and in one hour it landed me in Brussels. Brussels was illuminated with many Christmas lightings. In Brussels, our Embassy has arranged our lodging in Hotel Manhatan in the heart of the city, where I met fellow Bhutanese who came for the event. It was a homely feel with new friends from Bhutan.

The Little Peeing Man

Bois de la Cambre
The next day, Tenzin R. Wangchuk sir from the embassy arranged a guided stroll through the town and had the chance to see the urban setup of Brussels, the centre of European politics. Brussels is also known as Capital of Europe mainly because it has the seat of the European Union. An interesting fact about Belgium is that it is separated into 3 regions mainly due to differences in language – French and Dutch speakers and creating a bilingual region. From the ledgend of Peeing Little man to the common grand place, park of Bois de la Cambre to various catholic churches, from modern urban infrastructures housing important offices to classical museums, Brussels offers a healing travel without fatigues.

4. Paris, Capital City of France: Paris is the most sought travel destination. Having reached Brussels, it’s always wise to take another comfortable journey of 5 hours in the Flix Bus and then explore the city of Paris. With Eiffel tower as its centre of attraction, Paris is believed to have pores to light itself from the core. I along with the new friends stepped into fourth city in Europe to have the glance of it. Having reached Paris, we left no reason to skip Eiffel tower but made it the first priority. As we went towards evening, we will quite unfortunate to have the complete view of it. The giant 19th century landmark, which is one of the 7 wonders of the world and reigned being tallest tower of the world for many years with its magnificent height of 324 m is too tall that its apex was shrouded in the mid-air fogs.
Eiffel Tower

For the cultural enthusiasts, Paris is believed to exude culture and endless offerings, which can be experienced by walking into Montmartre and other such streets, but we ended by hopping from one landmark to another during our short stay. There is that famous Louvre Museum with glistening diamond protruding outside and there are bridges of locks enroute famous Notre Dame, the most sought after by aspiring architects.

While development has engulfed every natural scenery, there are also some recreational parks like Luxembourg Gardens to feel the fragrance of flowers. What could be the state of my country had she embraced such development centuries ago? While Bhutan lacks the economic might, I feel fortunate that we have our scenic landscapes intact, which are exemplary to the developed world like Brussels and Paris. As I stroll amidst the crowd of strangers, I remembered how I met quite a number of estranged old friends along the Norzin lam in capital Thimphu. We have our own uniqueness which is beautiful. Yet, there is more to explore to see their great wonders, which makes us appreciate our little splendours. 

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