Wednesday, May 31, 2006


With a sweeping aerial view, the film opens with a left-to-right camera pan through the clouds and across rocky, snow-covered mountains. The camera dips into a green, wooded valley with steep cliffs that descend into a snow-fed lake. Reflections of the hills are viewed in the mirror-like images on the water's surface. As the camera moves over the European landscape and village, it discovers an open, green area nestled between the peaks. It moves closer and zooms into the green field, where it suddenly finds a happy and joyous Maria (Julie Andrews), a novice Salzburg Austrian nun, walking across the wide expanse of land. With open-armed appreciation of the beauty of the surrounding majestic peaks and vistas of the Austrian Alps, she twirls and sings the title song. For her: "The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music."
This is the opening sequence of "The Sound of Music",(SOM) a much-heralded, breath-taking piece of film-making. And it was shot here in Salzburg, Austria. Now it would be unfair to say that the film was shot in Salzburg coz the locations are spread far n wide. So to check out the places where this historic musical was shot I took the SOM Tour by Panorama Turs on the first day. The tour which lasts for about 4 hours, costs €30 and if u have an interest in movies then it is a must for u. There are some other tours as well like the Bavarian Alps, Salt Mines and the Ice Caves (this is conducted only in winters) which may be of interest to you. The places that we visited during the tour were:-
Leopoldskron Castle(pic above) - this was used as the Trapp family home.
Hellbrunn Castle
St Gilgen and Lake Wolfgang - adjoining village of Salzkammergut is the birthplace of Mozarts mother
Mondsee Cathedral- The wedding scene was filmed here. Maria led by liesl, walked down the aisle to meet the Baron in front of the stairs ok the main altar

Lake Wolfgang

Mondsee Cathedral

The SOM tour ended at the Mirabell Castle n Gardens. The Mirabell castle was built by Prince-Archibishop, Wolf Dietrich,in 1606. Today the Palace accommodates the office of Salzburg's Bürgermeister(mayor) and the municipal administration. Just besides the castle is the Mirabellgarten (Mirabell Gardens). In SOM, Maria and the children were seen dancing around the statue of Pegasus, the winged horse, and throughout the gardens singing "Do-Re-Mi".

Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun
Me, a name I call myself, Far, a long, long way to run
Sew, a needle pulling thread, La, a note to follow So
Tea, a drink with jam and bread, that will bring us back to Do

Doesnt that remind you of your rhyme singing, primary school days?

This is a nice place to take a break and if you like photography, you'll find many good spots. The garden enchants visitors with it's statues, fountains and elaboratly decorated flowerbeds.

The next day was reserved for exploring the old town of Salzburg (Alstadt), so we got ourselves this Salzburg Pass for €20. The pass allows travel on public transport and includes admission into many of the city's tourist attractions and usually comes out to be a good deal. The two day pass costs €27, so in case ur stay is gonna be longer u cd exercise this option. The day began at the Cathedral Salzburg. Its been consecrated, destroyed and rebuilt 3 times and the dates are commemorated at the gates (see pic above). The three main bronze doors represent Faith, Hope and Charity.

Under its roof is the most important musical instrument and one of Salzburg's treasures, the 4000-pipe organ where Mozart played his court-commissioned masses, psalms, litanies, chorals and sonatas. The four statues in front of the cathedral are St. Rupert, St. Paul, St. Peter and St. Virgil.

The octagonal dome that rises 71 meter high with its copper silhouette is recognisable from everywhere in the old city and the surrounding hills and mountains. Pic below is the dome from inside.

Outside, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle of the square. If you go out in front of the statue and walk toward it, it appears as if the angels on the facade of the cathedral, set the crown they are holding, on her head. Solid funda ...Haina??

Ok now something odd. Look at the below pic closely and in the middle u will see two alphabets. This is the Christian Anarchy Symbol, Alpha & Omega, meaning the first and last which in turn is to represent God and/or Jesus. (Refer to the book of Revelations 1:8, 21:6, & 22:13. Rev. 1:8 says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."). Basically, the symbol is a visual play on the "anarchy" symbol but with a different meaning and intent.

Christian Anarchism (also known as Christian libertarianism) is the belief that the only source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable is God, embodied in the teachings of Jesus. Christian anarchists feel that government and established churches do not, and should not, have power over them.
I've never ever seen anything like this in any other church and I have no idea what it was doing here. Actually I realised this only when I had come back and was editing the pics. If some one can explain to me whether they generally have such symbols in church. It was too obvious for a trained eye to have missed it, so I rule out all symbolism in this episode. Da Vinci Code anyways didn't get sucha favorable start at the Cannes :-P

Viva Mozart!!! Next we went to Mozart's House of birth n stay. Two diff buildings not very far apart. The pic below is of the house where he was born. Not much inside the house to see. The other place, where he stayed, provides much more info about his work n life. Visited it later during the day. And since this happens to be the 250 anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth therefore its kinda special this year with everything from chocolates to spirits, key chains, shot glasses embalmed with Mozart. Everyone conveniently forgets the fact that Mozart though born here, was virtually kicked out of the city and hence took refuge in Vienna.

Next up the Castle Hohensalzburg, which stands on a steep hill, Monchsberg. It was built in 1,077 by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. This medieval castle is one of the very few castles in Europe that were never conquered by foreign military force. To reach the castle u can either walk or take the funicular.

The view of the city from the top is absolutely gorgeous. There are a few restaurants at the top. So enjoy some pizza along with Weissbier but be prepared to wait a litle longer here coz the service is everything but quick. The view from these open air restaurants is also quiet breath-taking. The valley below is actually quite picturesque. Now if u look at the mountain in the pic below, then the Austian alps are to the left of it and on its right is German/Bavarian Alps. The mountain is half Austrian half German.

At the foot of the hill are lotsa shops selling souvenirs. I would recommend anyone to shop here as it is comparitively cheaper than the souvenir shops. A bell which I bought for €15 at one of the shops earlier was on sale for €9.

Also at the square is a huge chessboard, so I decided to sit there for a while n enjoy the game. Now about the game which i saw... It staretd off beautifully with the Ruy Lopez opening which incidently is my fav. Later White went in for the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation which you would agree can force Black to choose a different defence. So the black guy shifed from Arkhangelsk Defence. Now, I would have choosen the Closed Defence but that guy went for Delayed Exchange Variation Deferred, hence the black knight and bishop were not on their best squares.

OK...that was some really authentic sounding 100% crap...Except Ruy Lopez I dont know anything in the paragraph.. White won eventually and we moved on to explore more of the city.

One thing which we missed out was the boat ride in the Salzach river, which is a part of the Salzburg Pass. Since it wasnt officially summer the last boat left about 5 pm and we missed it. Strolled in the old town for some more time just exploring the streets, not visiting any place in particular, not in a hurry to reach a destination or landmark. Just letting the ambience of this old town seeep into me and etch itself in memories for later times.

Complete Salzburg Album


And withs that on 31st May 2006, I completes one years in blogsphere. It is the Happy Buddays of the blogs!!!!!!


Next post, about the year it has been.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


If-I-tell-ya-I-will-have-to-kill-ya tagged me with the latest tag thats doin the rounds these days.. so here it is:-

The Wanderer's Tags

5 people who top your shit list(excluding Arjun Singh)..... and why:
Well I dont hate people and as I have published on previous occasions 'Hate is a very harsh word and should be used sparingly'. So I dislike :-
¤ Public officials who demand/ask/accept/expect money from the junta to do their job.
¤ People who say 'Is country ka kuch nahi ho sakta' and continue criticising every thing with all their nonchalance.
¤ People who lobby at work and give importance to things(sex, state, relatives et al) other than merit.
¤ Himesh Reshamiya - By GOD ki kasam, 'dimaag ka dahi' ho jaata hain uski aawaaz sun ke...har desi radio site pe uski hi aawaaz sunai deti hain...Anu Malik se bhi ganda gaata hain... If his music isnt enough to blow ur brain, his nasal rendering of the same will surely want you to pluck your hair.
[Edit 22May06 1350 hrs IST]
¤ P Chidambram... see the sensex.

Close brushes with death/danger:
¤ After my 10th boards I registered at a swimming pool nearby. There were no instructors, only lifeguards(thankfully), and with a little bit of self learning and watching others i was able to float and on the third day I ventured beyond 6 feet.. all was well until i collided with someone in deep waters and then i was in deep sh*t..
¤ This one time after a game a friend jokingly tried to choke me with a towel. and for a moment it was all black and i had this flash, in which my whole life went before me in split second ... It was a really weird experience.
¤ Driving Yamaha350 at 120 kmph in Delhi.. we used to specifically go to Shanti Path to do this(for fellas who dont know about delhi then this is a really wide loooong stretch of road with lesser traffic) ... 1 bike would lead and make sure there were no stones, potholes or anything which could potentially make our lives shorter. It was such a high.

5 Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:
I dont think I will ever commit suicide but when death comes, it should be when I am awake.. not in my sleep...I wanna say "C ya soon" to a few people.

5 Guilty pleasures:
No guilty pleasures. If I indulge in something then it is because I choose to. I dont feel guilty for my decisions. (I may be sorry at times but not guilty)
Chocolates, Icecream, Alcohol, Smoking .. nothing makes me feel guilty. I enjoy it therefore I consume it.

5 things you never want to forget:
¤ How much my parents have toiled to provide a good life and education to me n my sisters.
¤ By and large people are basically good and trustworthy (until someone repeatedly proves otherwise).
¤ Good deeds dont go unrewarded. Maybe you wont see the benefit straightaway... but ur brownie points are getting accumalated.

5 things you wish to forget:
I have already forgotten them.

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:
¤ Rabbit
¤ Mussels
¤ Deer

5 crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order
¤ Aishwarya Rai, way back when she became Miss India World n later Miss World.. stop laughing now.. I was only a 15 year old then.
¤ This gal S, who was perhaps the dumbest one in the class, but I liked her. And she was cute too.
¤ Then during college.... S (not the same one as above) ... she and I went around for a while. It was fun and then we called it a day after about a year.
¤ Then another S... the rel was short n sweet.
(From all this I drew 2 conculsions.. I should keep in mind henceforth if the girls name start with S or not. And if any girl wants to get married then she should have a fling with me... proven track record)

Strangest dream you ever had:
¤ Just a few days ago I had this nightmare that my Manager, the Tech Lead my current roomie and me are sharing an apartment. I woke up with cold sweat.
¤Another one which is quite weird... If u follow the show Fraiser then you would know how weird a dream is, when one sees himself as the third brother of Fraizer n Niles... YIKES!!!!
5 most valued personal possessions:
¤ All my extra curricular certificates(Never got those academic certificates much) and pizes. And the fav amongst them is the 1st prize trophy for Dumb C at BITS Pilani.
¤ All my school report cards. Right from Kindergarden. I just dont have the heart to put them away. They are perhaps the only proof that I once was good at studies.
¤ All the notes/books i have accumalated over the years. no fiction/novels etc.. pure academic stuff. Earlier i used the excuse that i will give it to my nephews/nieces in due time but that cover has been blown now and my mom is just looking for a chance to settle scores.
¤ Photographs: right through school, grad n PG. I wont trade them for anything.
¤ Nothing other materialistic possessions like laptop ipod etc.. i dont care about those kinda stuff(coz i dont have any :-P hehehe) but i do miss my guitar .. its somewhere in Mumbai i am told, but dont know where and with whom

5 favorite superheroes..... and why:
¤ Chacha Chaudhary: I used to read all of those comics from caryoonist Pran and I guess my first superhero was him... brain instead of brawn/supernatural power
¤ Batman: Another fav character. Loved the way he saves Gotham city every now and then. And the fact that he too doesnt use any supernatural power helps. Also add to it that Gotham is a very futuristic city.
¤ Spiderman: Loved the jingle "Spiderman Spiderman, does whatever a spider can..."
¤ Superman: Ok before u say I am abnormal, here is every childs dream... to fly like Superman.

Most of the people who would do this are already done with it... so if u r reading it n havent done
it till now.. please feel free to consider urself tagged.

Monday, May 15, 2006

München - Tag Zwei

Well day 2 was reserved for the Schloss Hohenschwangau und Neuschwanstein. The two castles are near a place called Füssen which is about 2 hours from Munich. A travel tip here - In Munich when u buy a 1+1 ticket its actually valid for 5 people so it makes sense to go there in a group of 5 and make use of this scheme. Just outside the Füssen station (pic above) you will find the busses which will take you to the summit, for less than 4 euros, from where you can get the tickets to the castles. Now a twin ticket for both the castles costs less(15 Euros approx) so go for it. Now you could take a Bus, a horse driven carriage or simply walk to the castles. The day I was there, the buses were not plying so there was a huge waiting line for the carriages therefore chose to walk. First to the Schloss Hohenschwangau. Well there would be a guided tour in English of the castle which comes included in the tickets u buy for the entry.
Schloss Hohenschwangau (Castle of the High Swan County) was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. The castle is small, nothing like the fabulous castles you have back home... and the size of the rooms is such that u have to remind yourself time n again that u r in a castle.. the exterior is yellow and at many places repair works are also being carried out. It is said that Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria discovered the ruins of Burg Schwanstein while out walking in the Bavarian countryside one day and vowed to restore the castle into a romantic royal residence. Many rooms here such as the Knight's Hall, Billiard's room, Hall of the Knight of the Swan (which was the formal dining hall) Some pics of the interiors can be found

Next we moved to the Schloss Neuschwanstein whose construction was started by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as "Mad King Ludwig". It was named after the Swan Knight, Lohengrin, of Wagner's opera, and was designed by Christian Jank. Now one interesting thing to note is that reportedly King Ludwig was very pally with this guy Wagnar and most rooms in this castle are based around a theme of one of his operas. Many tapestries and paintings also depict scenes from the operas of Richard Wagner, a reflection of Ludwig's love for Wagner's work. However, many of the interior rooms remain undecorated; only 14 rooms were finished before Ludwig's death. Owing to his eccentricites and his perceived use of Bavarian funds (a myth, as Ludwig actually used his own money to finance the construction of the castle), Ludwig was removed from power before the castle was completed. Many in the castle which are incomplete are not open to the public. This castle is supposed to have inspired the Disney castle in Paris.

The Throne Hall has a huge chandelier in the shape of a royal crown and depicts the legend of Parzival on some of the walls. The chandelier reportedly weighs 3 tonnes. There are also images of six European rulers and a very beautiful mural of Christ above the kings over the throne area. The only thing missing from this room is the throne itself. The King's bedroom is the only room designed in the gothic style. The wood carvings on the bed and canopy are amazing. There is also a secret door that blends right into the wall to Ludwig's bathroom. The last room on the tour and the one at the top of the castle is the Minstrels Hall. This was designed so Ludwig could have his own private showings of his favorite operas and plays.

The swan features prominently in designs motifs and paintings in both the castles. The reason being that the swan is a legendary bird and a symbol of royalty and knighthood.

The visit would have been incomplete without a visit to the Mariensbruke, but we were disappointed to see that the path to the bridge had been closed coz of snow. What the Hell.. we still decided to visit it... and we were not alone.. there were scores of people there who thought alike...Some really lovely views from the bridge... absolutely amazing.. perfect postcards!! Here is a small video (2.5 Mb) I shot there.
Now between all that walking from one castle to the another n then to the bridge I did manage to click some pics of the Alps. Here they are:-

Back to Munich by 8 pm and we had dinner at an Indian restaurant, with this desi couple we met at the castles - Shashank n Reema. Now, I wonder why, every European city which I have visited till now always has an Indian Restaurant named Taj Mahal... I mean, doesn't anything else symbolise India... Dont get me wrong, Taj is beautiful no doubt....and someone, who I know remotely, went there the very next day of her engagement with her 'fiancé of 1 day'... But dont you think it is a bit overrated??? First off, its not a mahal.. it's a mausoleum... and as for being the symbol of love, Mumtaz died giving birth to their 14th child... Some love, I must say.
Heres the complete album.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

München: Tag Eins (Part II)

Day 1 cont.After visiting all the places mentioned in the previous post, we sat down at Mc Donalds to grab a bite. Turns out this Mc is owned by desi people...and that too from Delhi.."My city"...that must have been the exact sentiment in the owner's heart as well.... for he offered us free meals, (ofcourse for formality sake) which we declined politely... but he insisted on giving us free icecream... we cdnt resist that much... and like all Indians we talked about Cricket - India's performance against England.. and all this happened while we were at the counter.. with a pile of people behind us. Aakhir dil hain Hindustani.

The few other places we visited that day were:-

Odeonplatz is situated at the start or end of Ludwigstrasse, which is also known as the "German Champs Elysees". Munich has varying styles of architecture and in Odeonsplatz you can find shades of Italian styles. It has a tri-arched platform for a statue of Ludwig himself. This square is flanked on the left by the big yellow Theatinerkirche and on the right is the Residenz. Now if u notice in the pic below, the two lions at Odeonsplatz, the one on your left has its mouth open unlike the one on the right. It represents the sentiment that Bavaraia can always speak against the ruler but it will never speak against the religion(remember Left - Theatinerkirche, Right - Residenz) :-)

The square is most famous for Adolf Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch on November 8 and 9 of 1923 . Following a long night of agitation the revolutionaries were parading toward the Ministry of War on Schönfeldstrasse on the morning of the 9th when they were confronted with a police barricade spread out across Odeonsplatz. Sixteen persons (15 Nazis and a waiter) and four police officers were killed in the subsequent riots and once the Nazis came to power, in 1933, the square became a kind of shrine to the fallen Nazi “martyrs.”. National Socialist flags covered the place and a small monument/plaque was set up on its right wall. All passers-by were required to do the Nazi salute when passing by it or face arrest. Just across the street are two bronze lions which guard the gates of the Residenz. Rubbing the noses of the lions is considered a good luck charm, so I duly rubbed their noses. One reminiscent of those times is the metal plate in front of the platz. "Den Mitgliedern der Bayerischen Landespolizei, Die Beim Einsatz gegen die Nationalsozialistischen Putschisten am 9.11.1923 Ihr Leben liessen: Friedrich Fink, Nikolaus Hollweg, Max Schobert, Rudolf Schraut". When translated (Thank you Shashank) it reads - "Remains of the police personal who died fighting the National Socialitic Movement on 9.11.1923 are buried here. Friedrich Fink, Nikolaus Hollweg, Max Schobert, Rudolf Schraut"
OK now going to the Residenz to the right of the square ....The Residenz was the official home of the Dukes and Duchesses of Bavaria for centuries, from its creation in 1385 to their abdication and Bavaria's induction into the Weimar Republic in 1918. Today it is a museum with over 10 courtyards n 130 rooms...I didnt go inside so cant comment much about that part.. but a stroll around that place was delightful. The Residenz grew over the centuries and assembles the styles of the late Renaissance, as well as of Baroque, Rococo and Classicism. If you see the pic below you might notice that the round windows towards the top on the right side wall are painted and not real. DAMN, I heard the term for this style somewhere but it's slipping my mind.
Anopther story here - King Ludwig I of Bavaria fell for the charms of a dancer Lola Montez. Now Lola was a very clever and progressive lady, that is to say she slept around a lot. She quickly began to use her influence on the king and this made her unpopular with the local population, particularly after documents showing that she was hoping to become a naturalised Bavarian citizen and be elevated to the nobility were made public. From here arose the expression "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets".
The Hofgarten with the dome of the state chancellery near the Residenz is also a sight to watch and a stroll is a good idea anytime of the day. Adjoining the gardens is the Bavarian State Parliament. Some parts of the building were completely destroyed during the World War II and had to built again like the glass structure. A closer look and you might notice the signs of World War II bombardment on the huge pillars(bigger pic). I tell you, if just standing there sent the shivers down my spine, imagine how it would be when this whole thing happened.
A stone throw from there is the World War Memorial. Now usually the memorials are built at an altar, but for this one, the earth was dug up, which symbolizes that they arent really proud of the events. Beneath this memorial is the grave of the unknown soldier. The White Rose memorial is also close by.
Hofbräuhaus (The Royal Brewery) - It is one of the five major beerhalls in the city, but probably the most famous. It is at places such as these that hundreds or even thousands of people gather during the evenings, drink beer out of stone jugs and yalk about everything under the sun. It was infact a beerhall, Bürgerbräukeller, from where the Beer Hall Putsch started. Bürgerbräukeller was also the hall where an assasination attempt on Hitler failed. DAMN!!!
(Photo courtesy

The hall is made up of several large rooms with long wooden tables, and a large outdoor courtyard in the back. Dig into some humungous warm pretzels and the popular 1-litre steins. This place hosted a rally run by none other than Hitler himself. Even the Hofbräuhaus wasnt spared the catastrophe of World War II. On the night of April 25, 1944, the first airborne bombs struck the it and three subsequent air raids almost completely destroyed the building. The pic below shows the lid of a barrel. The beerhall has beautifully decorated cielings with paintings all over. If u enter and look directly above and a litle to your left then you will see a painting which consists of 4 Bavarian flags and 4 Bavarian coats of arms. On close inspection one would notice that the Flags n Coats of Arms are painted in such a way that they give an appearance of Hakenkreuz (Swastika), and mind you public display of such Nazi symbols is illegal and punishable. This is where the symbologist streak in me comes alive :-))

BTW Munich hosts the biggest beer fair in the world – the traditional Oktoberfest, which happens in the last week of September. In 1810 Max Joseph arranged a grand festival to mark the wedding of his son, crown prince Ludwig, to Therese Charlotte Luise, Princess of Saxony-Hildburghausen. This was the first Oktoberfest and each year it gets better.

Königsplatz is one of the most impressive squares in Munich is the Königsplatz. Its HUGE. It was once a major staging ground for Hitler to flaunt his military parades. Flanked by three neo-classic temples, this square had been nicknamed Athens on the Isar. The structure now houses several museums and many classes are conducted here.

The office which Hitler once used is reported now being used for music classes.
Olympiapark & Olympiastadion - The sports complex was created specially for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The stadium (with interesting canopy roof) and the 290m broadcasting tower are now established city landmarks. It has a big green area with hills and a lake. You could take the elevater to the Olympiaturm (Olympia Tower) and have an awesome view over the whole city. In the Summer of 1972 Munich hosted "The Happy Games", an Olympics intended to showcase a new peaceful, democratic Germany. On 5th September a group of Palestinians broke into the Olympic Village and entered the accommodation of the Israeli athletes at 31 Connollystrasse, killing two and capturing nine. A tragedy which hasn't been forgotten by the world.

Earlier this used to be the stadium to host all matches for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best football clubs in Europe, but now the games have shifted to Alliance Arena. In the vicinity of the Stadium is the Office n museum of Bayerische Motoren Werke(BMW).

PS: Blogger wasnt allowing me to upload pics so it took a while to publish this post and I had to drastically reduce the pics. Anyways, catch a glimpse of the above pics and a few more from München/Munich here.

And until I post next - "Keep Visiting !!!"