Tagged with " Europe"
May 29, 2010 - Royal Diary    No Comments

Eurovision 2010

I am watching this in the comfort of my living room. My favourite act so far is from Turkey, a band called maNga.

Last year, I was watching this in Hamburg together with my colleagues and the year before in Southampton with me exchanging messages with Song Yia on msn judging the acts. This shows how fast time flies.

The Eurovision song contest is now in its 55th year! It was the platform that launched the career for Abba when they won for Sweden. Every year, European countries would be represented by a music act to battle for the crown. The winners are based on votes and you can’t vote for your home country. (That’s the rules!) The winning country gets to host the following years event. It is the largest live music event shown with over 120 million viewers.

This years highlight included a stage crasher during Spain’s performance which granted Spain another opportunity to perform again after the final 25th act. France and Germany had upbeat tunes while Iceland and Ireland had standing ovations.

The show’s most iconic part with almost a cult status is the results announcement section in the end. Each country eligible to vote in this event will have their mini slot announcing the results of their local vote. It is also interesting to see that neighbouring countries will often vote for each other. (eg. UK voting for Ireland). Will be interesting to see who will grab this year’s glory.

Being nostalgic again, the first time I ever I heard about Eurovision was when Ruslana of Ukraine won with the following upbeat tune in 2004. Still a good performance in my records.

Well, enough for this time while I continue watching the remainder of the show.

Jun 27, 2009 - Royal Diary    No Comments

Last Weekend In Hamburg

Today is the last weekend in Hamburg before I head home to lovely Malaysia. It have been an exciting time of my life in a city I grew to love. I will cherish the experience I gathered here so much and am looking forward to the next adventure wherever that may be.

I will be out all weekend to enjoy Hamburg in all its glory! The stay here allowed me to travel and see Europe more than I ever did. I have shared some of those trips with you through this blog.

I still have tons of back posts to catch up on and am also in the process of redesigning the blog. Hopefully, I can have a whole weekend to catch up on that sometime in the near future.

Till then. “Auf Wiedersehen”

Jun 7, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Pisa

Always wanted to visit this place since I was young. The cartoons I watched somehow keeps featuring it. More text to follow!

View On TopView From The Top Of The Leaning Tower

The Leaning TowerThe Leaning Tower

Bell On Top Of The TowerOne Of The Bells On Top Of The Tower

May 6, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Vaduz Liechtenstein

Who knew that I will be in Vaduz, Liechtenstein which is the capital of one of the smallest countries in the world. This happens to be one of the stops along the way on my European getaway.
So, what does this tiny capital have to offer you may ask?

The capital is located next to a hill and overlooking the city from the cliffs is the iconic castle.
The main city consists of a short stretch of Pedestrian Street with shops, galleries and museum. They all accept Euros and Swiss currency. Do watch out for the postal museum which is free to enter.

Due to the recent borderless rules, it is hardly ever possible to get your passport stamped when crossing between European countries. However, for a small fee, you can get your own Liechtenstein stamp which I did.

Here are some pictures from this tiny city:


The Vaduz Castle On The Hill


The Town Hall (Rathaus)


Parliament


Government Building


St Florin Cathedral

As a summary, this is a good place for a pit stop while you are travelling around one of the bordering countries. I don’t think there is a need to spend a night here unless there is something that you are particularly interested in.

That’s all for now!

Cheers.

Apr 26, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Bergamo

We spent a day in the upper city of Bergamo, Italy awaiting for our return flights late in the evening. Although the original plan was to only visit Milan but decided to spend time here after a few recommendations.

Although the weather was against us, we still braved the slight showers by trying to spend time in places with shelter. Mostly being their free museums which was surprisingly open on a Sunday in this part of the world.

Well, Bergamo can be mainly separated to the upper city and the lower city. The upper city on a walled hill is where we strolled around on narrow cobble stone roads and is ideally small to reach all the main attractions.



The Gates To The Public Garden



Narrow Streets Of Citi Alta (Upper City)



Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica is the towns grandest religious building in the city.



The Duomo

The cathedral is dedicated to St Alexander, the patron saint of Bergamo.



Walls Of The Upper City

The hilltop city is surrounded by the venetian walls as a form of defence although never used in battle.

As a summary, Bergamo is a must see and can be reached by train or a day coach trip from Milan.

Cheers

Apr 25, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Milan

Milan, a fashion capital, shopping haven and home of Prada. Well, here I am for a short weekend trip in lovely Italy. Here is a quick lazy post of pictures from Milan which I will do a write up shortly:

The Duomo

Apr 5, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Carlsberg Visitor Center

A Sunday in Copenhagen and with most shops shut, it couldn’t have been a better choice to take a trip to the Carlsberg Visitor Center.

Unlike the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and The Guiness Storehouse in Ireland, the Carlsberg visitor center is much more low profile. It has recently been renovated in 2005 and now it boasts an exhibition floor of over 10,000 square meters to the art of brewery and also its rich history.

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The Grand Elephants At The Gates Within The Carlsberg Brewery

If you take a walk from the train station, you might pass through the Elephant Gates with two grand elephants on each side. They have an uncanny resemblance to the entrance of the Berlin Zoo.

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The Portfolio Of Carlsberg Owned Brands

Carlsberg was founded by J.C. Jacobsen in 1847 and named it after his son Carl and the hill on which it was built. (Berg is hill in German). As you walk in the visitors center, one of the first displays is the largest collection (18,634!!!) of Beer bottles in the world which is endorsed by the Guiness Book Of Records since 1968. The rest of the tour is a self guided one with many interactive displays.

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Messing With A Display

The JC Jacobsen family have contributed many things to the city of Copenhagen which includes a gallery and many monuments. One of it has even become a symbol of the City, the Mermaid.

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Miniature Mermaid Statue Which Became A Copenhagen Symbol

The entry ticket also entitles you to two complimentary drinks at the bar. With so many to select from, you can kindly ask to try them first which I think the bar tender will be more than happy to allow if there is not a big crowd. I suggest you try the Jacobsen limited range which is not widely available as the rest.

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Enjoying Carlsberg In The Bar

I highly recommend anyone in Copenhagen to spend about 2-3 hours by dropping by here. It has a much intimate setting than the Guiness and Heineken brewery maybe because of its lack of popularity. Go to their official Visitors Center homepage at visitcarlsberg.dk for further information!

TIP: If you are coming from the city center, there is a direct bus which drops you off at the entrance instead of having to take a long walk from the station!

Watch out for my upcoming post of my other adventures!

Cheers,

Benny Ong

Apr 4, 2009 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Copenhagen Denmark

Finally, train tickets that I have booked months ago will be used. We set off early in the morning for a little over 6 hour journey to the capital of Denmark as part of my massive Europe voyage this year.

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The Mermaid

The first attraction that everyone visits is the Mermaid Statue along the river. Its status is the same like the Eiffel Tower is associated to Paris. I must say that it was a long but scenic walk from the city center.

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The second most visited location after Tivoli Gardens happen to be Christiania. I did not realized its existence until I picked up a brochure in the tourist office which mentioned it. I could not take much pictures within the main street as it is not allowed within the free town. Here is more explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:

“Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania) is a partially self-governing neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Christiania has established semi-legal status as an independent community, but has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its open cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. Since then, measures for normalising the legal status of the community have led to conflicts, and negotiations are ongoing”

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The Opera House

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The Royal Guard

With lack of research, I was very lucky to stumbled upon the changing of guards which happens daily at 12 noon. The crowd was not as large as London’s but it gives you intimacy.

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Gefion Sculpture

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The Round Tower

The round tower offers great view of the city and is one of the oldest observatory in the world.

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Stock Exchange

The roof of the stock exchange attracted me. It features three dragons with their tails swirl around each other to form a spiral. The three dragons represents Denmark, Sweden and Norway. All three scandinavia countries.

As a summary, I enjoy the city very much and would highly recommend it for a weekend getaway. Although it may not be a cheap destination to go, everything else makes up for it!

TIP: If you plan to visit the city, have a long weekend which end late Sunday or early Monday as most attractions are closed on Mondays. The national museums are free to enter and the following website offers a 3D map, skymap3d.com whereby physical prints of it can be obtained at major tourist attractions throughout the city.

Oct 19, 2008 - Royal Visits    No Comments

Vienna Austria

Decided to spend a day trip in Vienna, Austria which is roughly 3 hours by direct train from Budapest, Hungary. The capital of Austria with a population of 1.7 million fires your imagination with its rich culture and fascinating buildings. Every corner of your view is filled with magnificent architecture and attention to detail which simply makes our modern development look blend. However, Vienna does have its fair share of new building in the Vienna International City (VIC) or commonly known as UNO City which hosts one of the four UN headquarters in the world.

The well networked transportation system can be grasped easily like many other well established cities. It is served via a mixed of tramps, busses and underground network.

Tourist Attractions that I managed to visit before calling it a day was as follow:

St Stephens Cathedral

St Stephens Cathedral

St Peters Church

St Peters Church

The Parliament

The Parliament

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace – I would say the most visited place in Vienna.

Rathaus City Hall

Rathaus – The City Hall

Church of St Charles Borromeo

Church of St Charles Borromeo

Imperial Court Theatre

Imperial Court Theatre

Vienna State Opera

Vienna State Opera

I am sure that this will not be my last trip to Vienna and will most certainly make a trip back to this amazing and beautiful city.