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Monday, 17 April 2017

Destination Europe IV: Solo Holiday Travel

The formal classes for our winter semester finished towards the end of January and for those who do not have elective modules in block or the practical modules, they finished their exams by the first week of February and commenced their much needed holiday. Winter is extremely cold in Greifswald and I was amazed to see the Baltic Sea completely frozen. What appears to be large stretch of water body and pond in the summer becomes skiing ground. While my classes were finished, I had two block modules and a practical module to complete during the much awaited winter holidays and as such I remained cold and frozen in Greifswald. Just before our Summer Semester began on 1st April, I was glad that I could manage a weeklong holiday to travel some places and look around.

It was the Bhutan Day organized by Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft at Frankfurt, which instilled excitement for me to travel far to the south of Germany and in continuum I planned to travel towards the far western Europe, Spain and Poland. The charm of the travel however was taking a solo trip. The blog post is much due, as I was busy the commencement of summer semester, and this time, I am heavily loaded with modules.

8. Frankfurt main Am: 
The financial hub of Germany is one of largest towns in Germany, a city greatly devastated during the World War II and rebuilt later. My purpose of being in Frankfurt as mentioned earlier was to attend the Bhutan Day and during the course of interaction with the German Friends of Bhutan, learnt that Frankfurt is culturally and ethnically diverse, with around half of the population, and a majority of young people, having a migration background. Frankfurt is beautifully meandered by a large river, Main, and here I share some of the picture snapped out there.

Eiserner Steg over river Main

Main Tower

View of River Main

Old Opera
A beautiful memory from Frankfurt trip was the evening stroll through the streets and chatting over a chilled beer with Aue Dorji Wangchuck, a fellow countryman I met there during the meeting.

9: Barcelona: Having spent one and half days in Frankfurt (25th – 26th March), I took the flight from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Barcelona, the most sought travel destinations in Europe. I reached the enchanting city of Barcelona in the evening but unlike Greifswald which is extremely cold, the city was milder. I checked in the Mediterranean Youth Hostel and wasted no time to explore the city. Barcelona is known for art and architecture, mostly designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Most of the points of interests will take us to wonderfully designed architectural master pieces. 
La Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

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Casa Batllo

The Venetian tower


Parc de Montjuic

The first point I visited was La Sagrada Familia, the Church of the Holy Family.  A day is definitely not enough to explore the limitless options in Barcelona so I kept my visits to see the exterior beauties. I then took a stroll on the famous cobblestone lanes of the Gothic quarter and La Rambla Street to have a glimpse of street shows, and to have a chill beer and good dinner. The cost of food and drinks are more expensive on this street than other restaurants but being alone, it was a wonderful feel to immerse myself in the crowd.  Taking a ten journey ticket, the travel was very convenient provided we decide which point to visit. From the recreational parks to beaches, churches and streets, souvenir shops filed with shirts and badges of Messi, and numerous dots of Gaudis master pieces, my one day (26th – 27th March) trip was quite a hectic one.

Plaza de Orienta
10. Madrid: I took the night bus from Barcelona to Madrid, the capital city of Spain on 27th March. The point of taking night bus is that we need not have to waste a day travelling and also we save cash on booking hostels. Madrid being capital city, and also being inland city is not the top rated travel destination. There are many beautiful port cities along the Mediterranean coast but I planned via Madrid as I was determined to visit Portugal. The journey started at 10:00 PM and I reached early in the morning at 5:00 AM in Madrid. I took a metro from the Bus station to the central train station and there I waited for the day to break. The good thing is that we can lock our heavy baggage in the lockers in the station and we can roam the cities comfortably. Madrid has intricate boulevards, many spectacular palaces and of course parks. Like in Barcelona, I took a 10 journey ticket to explore the city. Having already spent two days with extensive walking, I was quite tired by noon and had to enjoy the sun in one of the square in Madrid centre.

Palace of Madrid

Plaza de Cibeles

Retiro Park

Gate to the City of Lisbon
11. Lisbon: For my journey from Madrid to Lisbon, I booked a train ticket to experience a different mode of travel.  That was also a night journey so being too tired of the day trip, I had a good sleep in the train. Unlike the trains in India where there are berths to sleep, I didn’t see trains with beds to sleep in Europe. We have to sleep on our partially leaned seat. The journey was little over 10 hours and I reached Lisbon at 7:00 in the morning. The exciting point was that I have an acquaintance in Lisbon, a Bhutanese friends studying there. So, from the train station I took the metro to reach my baggage at his place and from where I had a breakfast. However they were busy with some important classes so I had to explore the city of Lisbon on my own. Lisbon is a coastal city but there are beautiful hills that rise high enough to give beautiful view of the city. I took a day ticket and moved from one point of interest to another, sometimes catching free walking tours and other times, wondering lonely as clouds amid the crowd. By 4:00 PM the two friends have finished their classes and I had a much needed companionship to walk the streets with diverse conversation topics. Lisbon is comparatively cheaper than Barcelona or Madrid.

City View from one of the Hills

Praca do Imperio

Lisbon on hill

The advantage of taking solo trip is that I have the freedom of choice for myself. For many months, I have been surrounded by same group of people and socialized with them so travelling alone definitely gives a different taste. This compels us to talk to strangers asking them the routes, requesting them to take pictures and in times just picking normal conversations, which is nice. Indeed the camera, the power bank, and the internet package serve the best companion and there is no way that we get lost. Being alone also helps discover yourself better because I have to do everything by myself, thus we overcome fear and insecurities. And of course we find peace without having to check patience and worry. Of course there are a set of disadvantages as well.

Friday, 7 April 2017

"Bhutanese Youth in Pursuit of Happiness": Bhutan Day 2017 by German Bhutan Himalaya Society

25th March 2017, in Frankfurt am Main, the financial powerhouse of Germany, there was a small yet special gathering in the rooms of the Tibethaus, an environment resembling Bhutanese setup. Organized by the Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft (German Bhutan Himalaya Society) it was an annual meeting of its members and invite the Bhutanese living in Germany to take part into it, to have discourses and discussions on the issues of interests from Bhutan and term it “Bhutan Day”.
Bhutanese participants with organizers of the event.

I came to learn about the event last year when I participated in the National Day Reception in Brussels, while interacting with Mr. Reinhard Wolf, the President of the society. I got the invitation to take part in the event but the venue was in Frankfurt, which is quite far from the place where I live and study so taking part in it would entail more days of travel. However the event happened to be during my semester break, which makes my travel plans so convenient. Being away from homeland, it is always a wonderful pleasure to talk and discuss about Bhutan, and the event being organized by Germans for their love and support towards Bhutan, it gives more reason to attend the day. Moreover I learnt that officials from the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Brussels are also attending the meet so this added more verve to travel south and have some interactions with fellow countrymen.
Mr. Reinhard Wolf, President of DBHG welcomes the participants.

Mr. Reinhard Wolf, the President of the society has put in tremendous effort to make the day a very fruitful and rewarding one. The early hours of the day was set aside for the annual ordinary general meeting of the Society amongst its members and the Bhutan Day 2017 formally kicked off at 11:30 AM with the theme “Bhutanese Youth in Pursuit of Happiness”. The highlight of the event was that there are two presentations; Mr. Dorji Wangchuk from London spoke on "A Perspective on Bhutanese Youth in the Pursuit of Great National Happiness" and Prof. Dr. Alexander Klaußner on the topic "Handicrafts have golden soil - maybe and especially in and for Bhutan". It was through these two presentations that a discussion on the theme was met. The presence of officials from Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Brussels was a positive note.

Bhutan with a young population with over 27% between the age of 13-24, the most pressing issues and concerns revolve around the youths. Unemployment for youths is high at 13%, we also have serious concerns of rural households remaining empty due to rural urban migration as youths don’t prefer to stay in the villages. While over 56% of the Bhutanese population rely on agricultural practices for livelihood, they mostly comprises of elderly parents. Besides blue collar jobs are least preferred by our youths, not considering the fact that economic return from doing farming and blue collar jobs are much higher than their counterparts working in offices. The happiness of youth would have greater implications on the overall happiness of the nation. Coincidentally, the recently published World Happiness Report also saw Bhutan drop in her place by 13 notches from last year. At 97th place, this is not a comforting position particularly considering the claims and praises of Bhutan being one of the happiest countries in the world. While we have such concerns for the youths, it is heartening to see our friends in Germany have equal concern as we Bhutanese do.
Mr. Dorji Wangchuk talks on GNH and Youth.

However, it was awe inspiring to listen to the talk of Mr. Dorji Wangchuck, who articulated the message of how we perceive happiness as a country, with special focus on the four pillars and nine domains of happiness. He also shared with the audiences, the prospects for Bhutanese youths towards the road of happiness mainly because of many enabling conditions our Bhutanese youths are blessed with, and of course some of the constraints and challenges.  This was complimented by the lecture of Prof. Dr. Alexander, who enlightened the gathering the multi-fold advantages of taking craftsmanship, relating his experiences in context to an old German proverb, “A trade in hand finds gold in every land”. He explained how dual system of vocational training and education systems works in Germany and possible scope in Bhutan.

Participants of the Day.
In all, it was a wonderful experience with our German friends and I remain grateful to the President of the society for the opportunity. It is always a blessing that I am a Bhutanese and I am more humbled when we have many good friends around the world, who spare their precious time in an effort to make a difference for Bhutan. This however is all inspired by the benevolence of our Kings, who after denouncing their lively pleasures, put the country and people as foremost priority. Through the ages, our kings have established bonds with many countries, and today we are proud to have many friends of Bhutan, who continues to promote the friendship and deliver services to Bhutan and the Bhutanese people. Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft is one such society, which is now over 25 years old, established solely for the promotion of international understanding between Bhutan and Germany. I as a Bhutanese remain thankful for all the efforts they put in.  

May The Friendship lasts Forever. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Spring Blossoms

དུས་རྒྱུན་ངིའི་ཡིད་ལ།། ཧང་ཧང་དྲན་འདི་འོང་མི།།
གསོ་ཁར་དུས་སུ་ཤར་བའི།། ལྡུམ་རའི་མེ་ཏོག་འདྲ

བལྟ་བའི་མིག་ཁར་མཛེས་པས།། སྦུབ་ཅུང་རྒྱས་ཏི་འོང་ཚེ།། 
སེར་སྦྱངམོ་རང་གི་སེམས་ཡང་།། དབང་མེད་ཁྱོད་ལུ་ཤོར་སོང་།།

པད་འབད་རླུང་གི་གཡབ་ཏི།། མངར་བའི་སྦྲང་ཙི་རྒྱས་ཚེ།། 
སེར་སྦྱངམོ་སྐོམ་པའི་སྡུག་བསྔལ།། གསལ་བ་བསྐལ་བ་བཟང་ཡོད།།

གཏན་རྐྱང་མཐོང་ས་མེད་རུང་།། གསོ་ཁའི་མེ་ཏོག་བཟུམ་འབད།། 
འཕྲལ་འཕྲལ་ངིའི་སེམས་ཁར།། ཧང་ཧང་འཁོར་འདི་འོང་གནང་།།
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Galanthus nivalis

Eranthis hyemalis

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

I Received a Post Card

I don’t remember vividly when I received the last postal letter, but it was sometime during my Schooling days in lower secondary school. I got a letter from a friend studying in a school in different district and it was a warm gesture of valuing friendship. It could have been my bad if I have not replied back to her. Sadly, I also don’t remember where I have kept the letter. It must have turned into dust long before, but I am happy that our friendship grew only stronger and values keep enriching. If not of fond memories of playing in the fields and studying together in schools, there are hardly any evidences of lasting friendship. Thank you for the friendship. Also my elder brother use to send me letters from Wangdue and I use to feel immense joy on receiving them from him. That was much earlier when I was studying in the primary schools. He also put in a note of Nu. 5 or Nu. 10 with the letters and that made me happier. I never asked my brother and sister at home to give me money while going to school from home as a day scholar and they hardly give any. So getting a Nu. 5 note, together with the letters was a big sum for me. Again, I am not sure whether I ever replied to him, sorry my dear brother Dawa. I am not really sure whether I wrote any letters to my friends. That’s strange part of me. Letters that I wrote from the mountains remained as mere gestures in my diaries.

However, sending wishing cards to friends was quite common until my high school days. I use to receive a few from my friends and I too sent to few of them. However this has a different taste because it is just an exchange of greeting among the friends, with whom we share daily doses of life. I now feel that sending letters in longer range is more special.

Coming to the postcards, my experience was only decorating the song books with them. Post cards for me were those depicting Bollywood actors and hardly had any knowledge with other contents. Again the sad part is I don’t know many of actors. Being a shepherd during winter vacations until I completed class 10 when our dear sheep were finally sold away, I hardly watched any Bollywood movie. I just knew few of them while in school and I use to collect a few to decorate song books, which I was fond of maintaining until my early University days. But little did I realize that post cards are meant to travel even further, crossing international borders, and particularly sent while on vacation to share the travelling experiences and love messages precisely but openly without the need of an envelope. However I didn’t receive any and nor did I sent one so I am devoid of a good experience of how we feel to receive one and to sent one.

Time has evolved and habits have changed. In the days of cell phones, email, and text messages, letter writing and sending postcards can seem hopelessly outdated. It is indeed a dying art in the wake of modern telecommunication and specially the advanced social networking through internet. Yet I am lucky to get one Post Card today. My letter box generally remains empty except for few documents from the university. I did a random check-up today and I am surprised to find a post card addressed to me. With the gleaming city of Bangkok, it reminded my short travel to that “City of Angels” two years ago. The postcard also had borne a postal stamp of the Late but the Great King of Thailand, His Majesty Bhumibol. Such strong messages it possesses. Coming into the message, I am glad to learn that my friend could finally break bucket lists of travelling the globe after the studies, with the first destination being Bangkok Thailand. I am happier that you had a good experience there and I wish you many more beautiful travels, exploring and adventuring throughout the world. More than anything, I am happy to receive the first post card in my life. Thank you for the beautiful postcard with beautiful message of hopes for me.

I am not sure, how many friends visit my blog and read my stuffs. My purpose of keeping it is to keep some records of my feelings, experiences and thoughts. Had any one of you read through it, please drop me your postal addresses in the comment. I would love to send some post cards from different cities in Europe. I have few trips planned in the last week of this month and you could receive a colourful post card from the cities I visit.

Thank you. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ultimate Path

The heath that best suit the sunbath,
It's soaked and slid with summers rain.
The pond that best quenched my thirsts,
It's shrunken into ice by winters frosts.
When into the eclipse, the moon entangles,
The mundane world appears darker than usual.

The beauteous blossoms in spring garden,
The hail has it tattered the frail petals.
The melodies of cuckoos, it is fading
As they fly away to the distant autumns.
Like the setting of sun into crimson horizon,
Each embrace of happiness is now at losing end.

The sensational joy of togetherness, 
Like the emerald dew, its drying away,
The alluring moments of love and laughter,
Karmic fate has it made fleeting.
Amidst the steams of mist as I traverse,
In wheel of Dharma, I see the ultimate solace.

(Adapted from of Gelong Sumdhar Tashi)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Conservation Journey: Video

Often as I go to the field, I keep recording the exciting moments in the form of pictures and videos, besides keeping some journals. Of all the field expeditions I have conducted, the expedition into the remote northern mountains of Bhutan to record the unique biodiversity was the most enduring and adventurous one. It also took the record time of 24 days in the wilderness, before we finish setting up the camera traps. While I have posted some of the excerpts of the journey, today I am sharing here the video records during that event.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Honeygiver Among the Dogs: A Bhutanese Movie in Berlinale

Titled “Munmo Tashi Khyidon- Honeygiver Among the Dogs” is the debut feature film by Dechen Roder staring Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk (Kinley) and Sonam Tashi Choden (Choden) with special appearance of Chencho Dorji, Rapay Khandu and Aum Gyelmo. 

Kinley, a police officer was assigned with the task of investigating the mystery behind the disappearance of the Abbess in a nunnery in Bumthang, and simultaneous disappearance of immigrant Choden, a young and stunning lady often described as flirtatious demoness by the village folks. Villagers suspect Choden as the assassin who killed the Abbess, there is no prove that Abbess is killed. The quest begins with constant command and reminder from Kinley’s Chief, whom he talks over telephone.  Girls have the power to bewitch gentlemen; that’s what worries the unseen Police Chief. Kinley tactfully masters the approach to investigate Choden, leaving aside his police uniform and wearing a civilian costume, but then he sees Choden coming to him seeking his companionship to flee the chase of the police, not in vehicles but walking the trails through the forests, taking longer duration to reach Thimphu. While Kinley tries to know what her problems were and her reasons for her travel to Thimphu, Choden diverts Kinleys questions whereby she narrates the legends of Dakinis fighting social oppression, obscuring Kinleys quest. Whether the stories that she narrate have parallel connection to Choden herself is something to probe into.
Kinley in Action
Reaching Thimphu, Kinley discover the possible reasons behind the disappearance of the Abbess and Chodens reasons being in Thimphu. Kinley on the other hand was considered a failed Cop by his Chief and takes the case by himself. Kinley however does not stop chasing Choden, with the promise to help resolve her troubles. Between illusionary nightmares and Chodens earlier narrations, Kinleys independent probe discovers more twist in the case. He found that the Land at which the Nunnery was located have rocks of timeless values, as discovered by a researcher with whom Choden is suspected to have an affair. Ultimately Kinley discovers the greed, disloyalty, corruption, and conspiracy that surrounds hims and discovers the real Dakini in front of him in Choden. Kinley returns to Bumthang where his search began, in search of the Abbess, only to find she passed away peacefully and transformed every remains of hers into mystical rainbows. 
Stills of Choden
This is the synopsis of the film, which I had the opportunity to watch during Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival (9th to 19th February 2017) on February 11th in Berlin, thanks to Mr. Reinhard Wolf, President of German Bhutan Himalaya Society. The film was shot mostly into wilderness showcasing the beautiful natural scenery of Bhutan as lead artists walk through the beautiful forest trails. In the second half, it also showcase the capital city of Thimphu, the gullies, the culturally intricate prayer wheels, the way we go to office and do the daily chores, with a unique dress code called Gho and Kira. And as mentioned in the synopsis, the film also features the prevalent follies in the way our bureaucracy functions with some degree of disloyalty and corrupt practices, and of course revealing the presence of hardworking and sincere Cop like Kinley. While everybody is behind the materialistic pursuit, there are ladies like Choden who embodies the spirit of Dakini but only regarded as Demonss by the society, a true complexity of the way we live. These were some of the points that seemed to have caught the eye of the audience at Berlinale based on the questions audiences raised, leaving aside how they felt the taste of the film as a subject.

“How successful do you think the movie will run in Bhutan?” one of the viewers asked Actor Jamyang Jamtsho who represented the film on behalf of Director Dechen Roder. Well, the movie, though presents slights of love and romance, it lacks sex and sleaze but a noir of crime and detection, it also have some sense of humour in the way the Chief commands Kinley, which caused some laughter among the crowd. However unlike our regular movies where the subject is mostly romance, comedy or the biographies with numerous scenes of love making and dance sequels, Honeygiver among the Dogs takes a thrilling journey through the woods with occasional musical preludes but without a single song, except during the credit crawl when the movie ends. This is the change brought in by the Debut director in a film with debut lead female actor, a new height set by feminine workers. Actor Jamyang has record of playing the Young Dalai Lama in the movie, Seven Years in Tibet, and later worked on his directorial debut and screen play Gyalsey-the legacy of Prince, which is also premiered internationally. While the movie is rich with artistic values and moral messages, people would have different taste because of the genre. Viewers with whom we have talked expressed their satisfaction in the movie and specially the scenic Bhutan. The movie saw a big crowd in CineStar 3, and its second screening is scheduled on 16th February.

For me it was a wonderful holiday treat, even a better outing meeting with Actor himself and the German friends of Bhutan. It was also a moment of pride being Bhutanese when the viewers have better expression and curiosity to know more about the country. While film industry in Bhutan is evolving rapidly, our creative ideas with adequate support from government, Bhutanese movies have an opportunity to grab international attention in such mega international film festivals.

 image courtesy: facebook page, Honeygiver among the Dogs.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Fabulous February

The second month of 2017 is already here. It might be the shortest month of the year but it has lots to offer. As February onsets the warmth of spring having endured three cold winter months, it is also time that we fill our heart with warmth of happiness. The lands would be arid no more the harsh frosts will be soon replaced by sparking dew. Nature would regain its vibrancy and soon, spring blossoms would embellish the remains of forgone parched winter. It is time that we open our arms to embrace hopes, to replenish our heart with love and to ecstatically rejoice the February's offer.

February blessed Drukyul not once but twice. Twice, the Crown Prince was born in Bhutan in February. However, February of 2017 would remain more special for our Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck as we celebrate his first birth anniversary on 5th February. A year ago, when we heard that Gyalsey was born, we felt blessed as we could see the continuity of Bhutan's unifying force, the Wangchuck Dynasty. For over hundred years now, our Kings have been the source of wisdom, compassion, valiance, and tremendous foresight so birth of our Gyalsey adds continued hope in our people. The moment is special particularly to my generation of Bhutanese, for having witnessed the birth of Gyelsey.

36 years ago, our parents would have equally felt the jubilation of how we feel now. His Majesty the King was also born in the month of February; 21st February of 1980. Then, our parents would have offered thousands of butter lamps for the celebration of the Birth of Gyalsey and prayed for the good health and successful reign as their future king. Their prayers, we have seen it prevailing with continued peace and progress in the country under His Majesty reign today. So, this February, we are lucky to be celebrating the Birthday of present king and the future king for the first time.

Celebrating such auspicious occasion is not a celebration as a nation but it is the celebration as a family, the family of Drukyul. It is the unwavering love and faith between the two parents that the family prospers. The joys of the children are the joy for the parents. This February we rejoice the values of love and devotion, faith and commitment, the values that keep the family stronger. Our Druk Gyalpo and Gyeltsuen epitomize these sacred values of the family. So in between two auspicious celebrations is also the valentine’s day, which our young lovers fondly celebrate. For the celebration of such day, we should integrate our sacred family values so that romance, like that of our King and Gyaltsuen, can be source of more happiness in our lives.

So, this February will remain fantastically fabulous for our Bhutanese people in general and lovers in particular. Meanwhile, as we are yet to celebrate the first birth day of our Gyelsey, the Future of the Nation, I rejoice will full heart and pray for good health and long life of our Gyelsey and the Druk Gyalpo. 

image courtesy:'s Facebook Page

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Destination Europe III: Adieu Travels, 2016

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 24
th 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.

I amsterdam!
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.
The Light Festival by the Canal
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
Brandenburg Gate

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.