Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jaipur, day two (01.03.08)

It's Friday, 15.02.08. At 9 the hotel owner knocks to our door. He says we need to leave, because he wants to clean the room. Ha! No way! Check in is at 10 – that's what says the writing on the wall near the entrance. And he said so yesterday, as well. Several times. Ok, all we can do is to hurry up.

Soon we leave the hotel with our luggage. In the way towards the Old City we pop in... McDonald's. To use the normal toilet. At this time there are tourists only. The Indians usually visit McD in evenings.

It's time to discover the hidden charm of Jaipur! It might be difficult as I'm still ill, the sun is spreading its arms even further and the backpack is getting heavier with every step. Doesn't matter. Fortunately, the traffic is not so bad as last night. Although the air is still full of dust. That's normal.
We enter the gate of the Pink City and walk towards Nehru Bazaar, which is connected with Bapu Bazaar. Small shops are situated in old buildings with orange walls. Neglected. Damaged. Everywhere similar products are sold – jewelery, scarfs, saris, punjabis, bags, spices and “European” clothes. Almost each shop keeper presents us their goods, block our way with scarfs and push them in front of our eyes.
„Look madam! Just look! Looking is not buying!”
Yeah, right. I've heard thousands times. Well, I think I should buy some gifts for my family and friends. But there's really nothing that would be appropriate. All right, there are few things. But the worst thing is, that even a few-second-stay in front of a shop window means that you'll probalby be pushed inside the shop. And now the ceremony starts. The shop keeper make us sit down, shows us a variety of colours and patterns. When Paulina buys tiny hindu clothes for his god-child, the seller persuades me to try sari on. Well, all right. Trying on is all I can do. In fact, I thought I would leace India with beautiful new sari. But now I changed my mind. Where would I wear it back in Poland? Anyway, I just try it on. Wow. The long blue piece of clothe is being wrapped around me. Cool. It costs 600 rupees. It's not about the price. I just don't want to. Although it look gorgeous.
Next shops, persuasion, and pestering to buy next goods again. We were supposed to go sightseeing. But before I reach the first monument I'm already equipped with new scarf, tunic an masala... Paulina's also bought many things. Maybe even more. I think I'm already fed up with this city. Maybe it's because of the fever. I need to escape this colorful labirynth, this mazy street full of stalls, see something more attractive. But it's not that easy. hawa Mahal - the place we want to reach - is situated near the bazaars.

It's the next time that I'm completely astonished by the Indian pavements. If they do appear - they're completely blocked by motorcycles, baggers, full of
rubbish, damaged or being modernised/built. And the next thing - the pissing Indians. I notice them in every city. They're squirting on the streets, everywhere, always, in any time of the day. I know, I have written about it already.
Finally, having lost our way in the labyrynth of streets (the map was useless again), we reach Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Wind. The entrance costs 50 rupees. On the way to the building we met an Israeli couple. The man comes from Poland, he had two Polish wives, now he's married to an Israeli woman. He speaks Polish a little bit. Nice. We talk with them shortly and then we split, quite accidentally. Each of us visits the Palace in a different way.
The building has 5 levels, the walls are pink, orange, white or pink, and it's full of cosy nooks. The Palace was built by Maharaja Sawaj Pratap Singh. He did for the ladies-in-waiting, so that they could watch the city life through the beautiful windows. Oh, so generous it was.

We climb to the last floor. There's a tiny terrace and a wonderful view of the whole city. I've found it! The charm of Jaipur is right here! Far away from noisy streets, annoying sellers, pestering rikshaw-men. I don't mind the sun anymore, either. There are mountain hills far away in the distance, tiny bicycle underneath, little shops, orange-pink walls of the buildings. And everything would be just fantastic if the group of Indian boys stopped gathering around us. Anyway. We ignore them and continue our trip around the Palace, walking through the white arches and up to the next terrace. This time without the view. It's time to relax. Stuff myself with plenty of medicines. The fever doesn't make the sightseeing easier at all...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Through the White Opava Valley towards Praded (20.08.08)

The Czech Sudetes and picturesque nature...

There is an amazing rout where Karlova Studanka finishes and gives its place to a wonderful waterfall land. It leads towards hill Ovcarnia (1300 m above the sea level) through a very picturesque region. Unfortunately. I crossed it in fog, so the charm of the valley was hidden behind the thick curtain. But on the other hand... the real beauty doesn't get scared even of the fog!

The rout is full of fallen trees, here and there a wooden bridge leads upwards, a waterfall falls down a rocky wall. Sometimes a bridge is replaced by a tiny footbridge, the rich green attracts your sight, yellow, purple and blue flowers ask shyly for attention. Ohs and ahs everywhere and a big regret that the weather doesn't emphasize the beauty of wonderful views.

After 5 km we finally reach a mountain hotel Ovcarnia. There's a bus stop opposite, one more hotel and a view of Pradad! On the highest mountain (1491,3 m above sea level) of the East Sudetes a RTV tower. It's covered by fog but still it seems to be quite close. But it's not. Te asphalt way doesn't lead straight to the mountain. The signs mislead, as well. Once they say 1,5 km ad then, after 0,5 km they claim it's still 1,5 km to reach Praded. The peak seems to be far away, the again quite close. It must be there, over the next turn! Quite the opposite. The fog is getting thicker and surrounds the hills around. Maybe a short cut? What about getting out of the asphalt and go through the grass...?

Ok. I stick to the rout. Finally the last stretch. I see the tower in front of me. The wind blows strongly and it gets cold. Visibility: quite poor. But I reached the peak! Welcome Praded.

Normally, you could climb the tower and view the surroundings from its top. But there's no point in doing that today. You wouldn't see anything. What you can also do is to hire a scooter and drive down towards Ovcarnia. No, thank you. The way back seems to be even whiter. For few minutes I can't see more than 10 meters ahead. Maybe less. Hm, it would be cool to play hide and sick now!

The asphalt isn't nice at all. It's almost like way towards Morskie Oko. Almost...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Warsaw (10.08.08)

The only problem with Warsaw is that I don't really like it. But visiting it for the umpteenth time I finally found some charming places...

Firstly, the Lazienki Palace:

And now The Palace of Culture and Science:

And the view from the 30th floor of the Palace:

And my favourite option, city by night:

Ankeruhr (7.11.08)

There is a strange clock on the oldest square of Vienna (Hoher Markt). 12 various figures go around its face during the day and at twelve all of them move to the rhythm of music attracting well-orientated tourists.

The clock was built in 1911 and shows the figures of following people: Marcus Aurelius, Charles the Great, Leopold VI, Walther von der Vogelweide, King Rudolf, Hans Puchsbaum, Maximilian I, Andreas von Liebenberg, Rudiger von Starhemberg, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Maria Teresa with her husband and Joseph Haydn. Dressed in smart clothes, they proudly show minutes and during the midday parade they move around slowly. Music changes from time to time – suitably to the age in which a particular person lived.

It seems it's my Viennese substitute of the Poznań's goats:)

Müllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau (04.11.08)

It's the next Hundertwasser's project, realised in 1971.

This time it's not suitable for flats. It houses a refuse destructor. It sparkles with many colours, the walls are decorated with strangely shaped windows and it's surrounded by golden columns...

Few tricks and a usual refuse detector transforms into a piece of art...
Plenty of students pass it each day, because it's close to the University of Economics.

Wienerwald (02.11.08)

which means the Vienna Woods. The terrain spreads along the west and south-west city's border and attracts a lot of people, especially cyclists and hikers.
And it attracted me, as well. My first visit lasted only 4 hours, but it was enough to evoke positive impression.

The autumn has already settled down here. The paths are covered with thick layer of colourful leaves, the trees lose their green shine, fog is hanging above the hills and mud appears under your feet from time to time. Brave cyclists keep on pedalling through the hills and knolls, hikers cover the marked paths. And only the birds' warbling is missing...
But the young scouts are loud enough to notice them. They're not everywhere, but still – they do appear here and there.

We covered a rout around the hill with a viewing tower, through a flat paths of Riegelhuette and towards a mountain Exenberg, where a high radio tower stands. None of the hills was higher than 500 m above the sea level and the climbing wasn't really steep. But the view from the hills over the city was really magnificent.