Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tallinn Estonia

The Tallink Superstar
The ferry to Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia, leaves from Helsinki and the 2 hour journey across the Baltic is over even  before the ship's bars and restaurants  have been explored. Travelling to Estonia by sea is very popular with tourists and  no wonder, as Tallinn is the closest capital to Helsinki and travelling by ship enables you to combine the fun of cruising with efficient transportation.Estonia is a top destination for tourists in the Baltic region and Tallinn the most visited tourist place. 
Top Deck ,Tallink Superstar
The roof top deck or sun deck is for adventure.The wind  is extremely strong because of some strange fluid dynamics and one has to almost struggle to walk against the wind i.e towards to bows.It is common for scarves and mufflers to be just blown away.Maybe it is the Baltic wind.The whole sun deck area is protected from the wind  by glass partitions.There is also a bar here.
The Tallink Superstar Logo
Annually, over six million passengers make the crossing over the Gulf of Finland between the Finnish and Estonian capitals of Helsinki and Tallinn. The Tallink Superstar was a  brand new vessel
designed to cross the sea in about two hours year-round, offering amenities and public rooms to passengers that are almost the same as those found on cruise ships.
Boarding Terminal at Helsinki
The boarding terminal is huge and there were about 2000 passengers travelling with us. When the boarding started it was pretty congested and we could see cars also entering the hold of the ship. The process took about an hour.
Seating Area Over 3 Decks
The main feature of the  interior design of the ship is the show-bar located in the fore of the ship going through three floors and having a large glass wall.
Glass Wall and Entertainment Area
Passengers can also visit and enjoy themselves in the many restaurants and cafes on board which include an Ala carte restaurant, two buffet-restaurants, a pizza-restaurant, hamburger-cafe, ice-cream corner for children, children’s play corner, sun-deck bar, a casino and business lounge. In the stern there is a bar going through two floors and having a glass wall. On board M/S Superstar one can also find large shops which sell everything from groceries, alcohol, latest cosmetics, clothes, fashion accessories and much, much more.  
Ferry Terminal Tallinn
Tallinn, which is the capital of Estonia, is situated on the northern coast of Estonia and on the chasm of Finland. The Tallinn Ferry Port is one of the biggest ports for both passenger and cargo in Estonia. Due to the fast development  of this Ferry port, it is very popular among the surrounding areas of the Baltic region. This port is located very close to the old medieval town. It has four terminals. 

Old Medieval Town-Reval , Tallinn
Built up from the 13th to 16th centuries, when Tallinn – or Reval as it was known then – is an enclosed neighbourhood of colourful, gabled houses, half-hidden courtyards and grandiose churches is, quite rightly, the city's biggest tourist draw. And the fact that it's all neatly packaged within a mostly-intact city wall and dotted with guard towers gives it an extra dose of fairytale charm.  

Russian Orthodox Cathedral
This spectacular, onion-domed structure Estonia's main Russian Orthodox cathedral. The church was built in 1900  by the Russians when Estonia was under Czarist rule.An architectural masterpiece , the building is also the grandest and  most opulent  church in Tallinn.The interior, filled with mosaics and icons, is well worth a visit.The church's towers hold Tallinn's most powerful church bell ensemble, consisting of 11 bells, including the largest in Tallinn, weighing 15 tonnes. You can hear the entire ensemble playing before each service.


The old town is a tourist attraction and attempts have been made to recreate the atmosphere of the medieval times. The Coke Vendors go around wearing traditional uniforms belonging to the era.The Cappuchino sellers are also  attempting to recreate the atmosphere of the medieval times. We went to Mcdonlads for lunch and ran into a problem. The only cash accepted was Kroner and we had only Euro. The credit cards needed  the pin number to be punched in the machine and even one out of us did not remember  their PIN.We had to stand in a long que to change the money at the money exchanger(at a big loss). After this incident all of got new PINs and memorozed them as well as stored them on our mobiles.
Medieval Lamposts and Souvenir Outlet.
There was a souvenir shop selling semi precious orange stones and other items.

Suit of Armour
One of the interesting items on sale was the suit of armour worn by Estonian Knights.When I showed some curious interest in the armour suit  the sales person determinedly tried really hard to make me buy it.She assured me it was fully wearable with excellent joints, extremely comfortable and would afford full  protection(against what?-but did not ask). She was willing to give a whopping 50% discount on the list price of 3000 Euro. I escaped by saying that I would look around and come back later.
Town Hall Square
The picturesque Town Hall Square has been the undisputed hub of Old Town for the last eight centuries Surrounded by elaborate merchant houses and packed with cafĂ© tables, it's a natural magnet for tourists. Historically it served as a market and meeting place, and was the place where executions took place. We sat at one of the cafe tables for half an hour and tried to imagine the 15th century scene where there was no Capuchino, coke, Laptops, horses in place of cars, beer being consumed in wooden mugs etc. with the Burgermeisters in their colorful attire entering and exiting the town hall.The weather vane atop the spire of the Town Hall is the original one put up in 1404. The Tallinn old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage ite.  Estonia is one of the 10 top digitised cities in the world where IT is used for almost very thing.Free wi fi was available all over the Old Town.
Tallinn City
The Estonian language has 9 vowels against 5 in English.The higher number of vowels give a musical lilt to the language and singing comes naturally to Estonians. In 1989 , to free themselves from the Soviet rule , the Estonians launched a singing revolution in which 2 million people held hands and sang patriotic songs banned by the Soviet Union.The USSR finally gave up and allowed Estonia to be free making it the only nation which Sang It's Way To Freedom.


With the KGB gone, the Estonians worked hard for 20 years and have made their country most advanced in terms of adoption of Information Technology and modern architecture.In 2011 Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Holiday in London


Tower Bridge ,London
Students studying in schools in India analyse  Shakespeare and Charles Dickens threadbare during their English classes.School's libraries have Arthur Conan Doyle's collections of Sherlock Holmes' Elementary My Dear Watson stories and the same are read and reread along with Ian Fleming's James Bond collections of My Name Is Bond- James Bond.The latest among he popular authors and most read in India is Jeffry Archer. The result is that the first international destination which comes to mind is London.  Upon arriving in London for the first time the waiting  surprise is that all street and metro railway stations sound AND feel familiar. Fleet Street for newspapers, Savile Row for tailors, Charring Cross Station for Sherlock Holmes stories etc. London feels strangely familiar and the biggest comfort is that language is no issue at all as compared to Europe and Asia. As a result London has always been the top destination for foreign travel and has many tourist places waiting to be explored.Fully furnished and fully equipped flats of various sizes are available for a month or so on rent and can be time shared for by two or three families for 10 to 15 days which are basically enough to explore London.The London Underground train system is very extensive and can take you almost anywhere in London and its suburbs.
The Tower of The Tower Bridge, London
This is a draw bridge which opens for ships to pass  and there is a story about a bus jumping between the two sides of the opening draw bridge because the bridge started opening when the bus had not fully crossed over.An aeroplane has also flown between the draw bridge and the upper level walkways.The walkways are glass enclosed and the walk between the 2 sides at that height enables some excellent panoramic views of the city.The upper walkways are meant to be used when the draw bridge is open for ships.


Buckingham Palace, London
The Queen's residence is a tourist place  for all visiting London.The Queen's Guards in the red uniform have been the butt of many a joke ,but I believe they are gallant soldiers who are serving in the British Army and who have also earned decorations  for various deeds of valor or for other meritorious services to the crown.The black cap worn by  the guards is made of  the skin of the Canadian Black Bear and weighs about 2lbs . The Queen's Guards are not supposed to smile even in the most extremely comical or humorous situation-just try doing it . The Changing of the Guards is a mid morning  ceremony(made all the more famous by Changing of the guards Bob Dylan song) in which several soldiers and horses take part. Somehow I could not figure out when the ceremony started and exactly when it ended. However innumerable videos and photographs were shot. 
London Eye
Just a short walk from the Buckingham Palace is the London Eye, put up by British Airways to mark the millennium year.There were some technical issues and the erection of the giant wheel took some time with the result that there was a joke floating around for some time "BA can't get it up". I believe now BA has sold the London Eye to the Tussuad's Group whose Madame Tussuad's wax museum is an institution by itself and not to be missed.
The London Eye
As  the capsule goes up the view of London City can be enjoyed. It is a flight like experience with  London eye tickets and boarding passes being issued ,the  capsule going up and then landing after about half an hour.Another capsule can be seen outside.
Westminster-Parliament House from London Eye
The London Eye has done what The Eiffel Tower did to Paris-given it a symbol.In the background can be seen the Palace of Westminster which is the British House of Parliament.
Big Ben-London
For films set in London, the opening shot always shows the Big Ben. Earlier I believed Big Ben was the Bell of the clock tower but I think now the bell, Big Ben Clock and the tower itself are all collectively known as Big Ben.
London Tower
Built as a Palace cum Fortress , the Tower Of London  has been used mostly as a prison and is famous for the imprisonment, torture and beheading of many princes, princesses and  queens and many non royals also. There is a show in which we can meet the ghosts of most of the people executed in the tower.We saw our own Kohinoor Diamond also among various Royal Jewels on display in the tower of London.


The London Dungeon
The children have a nice time at the London Dungeon.It is a lesson in innovative torture and execution.
Westminster Abbey
 The West Minster Abbey is the  final resting place of the Royalty. Their coronations and marriages also take place in the same church.The remains of  famous artistes and scientists are also buried here.Sir Issac Newton was also buried here.
Trafalgar Square, London
 Charring Cross has now become Trafalgar Square. It is named after the Battle of Trafalgar in which Admiral Nelson won the war with France but lost his life. I believe Nelson was fond of wearing a flashy and  brightly decorated Admiral's uniform and was thus a singled out target for a musketeer on a French warship.


Stone Henge,UK


The Stone Henge has been around now for 3000 years from the Roman times. Its purpose could have been astronomy or religion ,nobody knows for sure.


For shopping in London , a walk down Oxford Street is a must. At the end there is Marble Arch which was earlier the place for public executions.There was a famous tree  whose branches played the role of the scaffold. The popular entertainments in olden times were Public Executions and Bear Baiting. 


Picadilly and Soho have been infamous for their revue shows . Earlier there were only female performers but lately male  and transvestites have also been included in the shows. However there is  never any  doubt about which performer is male,female or neither.  



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Khajuraho-The Ancient Temples With Exotic Sculptures

Khajuraho Sculptures


Khajuraho Temple-Located approx 600 Kms from Delhi, in the state of Madhya Pradesh there is the Khajuraho Temple, built and forgotten in the 12th to 15th Century and lost in the forests. The local villagers knew about the existence of the Khajuraho Temple and took whatever care they could, till in the 19th century the British Archeological experts carefully dug up and restored 22 out of the 80 temples. Khajuraho is famous for its erotic carvings and sculpture and it is not possible to describe the same. It can only be felt by physically seeing them with one’s own eyes. Only 10% of the Khajuraho sculptures on the outside of the double walls of the temples have an erotic nature while the rest depict the normal life of women in those times.
Khajuraho Sculptures
 Whatever may have been the reason for carving out the erotic sculpture-some say it depicts the virile power and strength of the rulers, others say it was an educational tool for teaching young boys about the facts of life- these are unique in the world and have been described by various tourists as exotic, erotic, exciting, educational and quirky depending on the feelings generated in their minds. Khajuraho has its own airport and there are hotels of all types,5* to Tourist Lodges for back packers, good roads with transportation facilities .An overall exciting and unique experience awaits you at Khajuraho which will transport you to a different era in time.

India is today a top destination for tourists and Khajuraho India is one of the most visited tourist places. The best  time to visit is from September to March.