Page 8 of Stephan and Klaudia Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Kerala » Varkala February 22nd 2005

In order to get the ticket reservation done quickly, we moved to the credit card line. After filling in the elaborate form, we got our tickets on the night train from Madurai to Varkala, two sleeping berths included, for little more than EUR 4. I guess we are not VISA's favourite customers. We had reserved the opposite upper berths, as recommended in all the guide books. When we arrived at around 10:45 p.m., people were still eating late supper, filling the air with all sorts of exotic smells. There are no compartments as we know them from Europe, in the sleeper class a whole carriage is filled with berths, separated only by light wooden planks, each box has six beds in it, one side open to the corridor, where you are advised to put your feet. ... read more
Exercise on the beach
Beach beauty
North Cliff

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai February 20th 2005

For the first time, we experienced a bigger Indian city, it was very crowded and we felt quite uncomfortable in this overpowering atmosphere. However, we managed to cut our way through the bazaar to the city’s main attraction, the famous Minakshi Temple. The temple’s towering gopurams stand out with their colourful stucco images of gods and animals, which are regularly repainted. The whole complex seemed so overloaded with statues and colours, that we were reminded of some rococo churches in Vienna. After meeting the temple elephant and the cow, we decided to have a rest and to watch the sunset seated by the Golden Lotus Tank. In the evening we went to see a typical dance performance within one of the temple halls. Next day we visited the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace. This royal palace was built ... read more
Gopuram close-up
Temple elephant
Temple cow

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Tiruchirappalli February 19th 2005

Due to the fact that this weekend was an ideal one for weddings, many hotels were fully booked. But in the end we got a room in the oldest hotel in town, set around a nice courtyard with shrubs, flowers and banana trees. Very nice indeed! The first sight we went to see was the temple town Srinangam, just north of Trichy, easy to reach by local bus. It was boiling hot, and for the first time Klaudia got real problems with her blood pressure. Normally an addict to strong espresso, she has had to do without this stimulating drink for a week now. Desperately she tried Indian coffee - and astonishingly enough she liked it! It is fascinating to watch how the freshly brewed light brown liquid is poured from a height of about 1m ... read more
Overview of gopurams
Gopuram sculptures

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Thanjavur February 17th 2005

We are slowly getting used to Indian traffic and the buses, stoically enduring all noises, smells and bumpy potholes or speed-breakers. We didn’t drive until the Central Bus Stand which is a couple of kms from the centre but were shown out off the bus right in the centre. The hotel we had chosen was full so Klaudia stayed in the lobby while Stephan sought for another place to stay. This took a large part of the afternoon so we could see the magnificent Brihadisvara Temple rather late (notice: the sun sets at 6:30 p.m.). Despite the advanced hour, we were awe-struck. This temple had no kitsch colours to offer, but wonderful buildings in nice red sand-stone in a lush and pleasant surrounding. The 62 m high Vimana (= towered sanctuary containing the cell in which ... read more
Shrine within the Temple
Vimana at sunset
Hindu holy men

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Chidambaram February 16th 2005

Yes, we made it! Due to the time-table, the bus should have left at 10:20, but in India time-tables are merely approximative, we caught an express bus at 10:00. The distance to Pondicherry (also called Pondy) is 100 km and it took us only 1.5 hrs. That is what "express" means in India. The bus was again lacking windows and doors, but the resulting draught made the heat bearable. Just a few remarks on traffic in India. It is even more chaotic than we can imagine in Europe. The most important utensil is the horn respectively the bell for the bicycle. The louder it sounds the better. A loud horn means "I'm loud so I'm big and strong and you better get out of my way." A bus being a bigger vehicle than a car, a ... read more
Detail of Gopuram
Ganesh statue at the top of the Gopuram

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mahabalipuram February 13th 2005

After bribing the ticket controller with the equivalent of 1 EUR (which seems to represent a fortune for him) we managed to get 2 seats for the 50 km up to Mamallapuram(also known as Mahabalipuram). It took almost 2 hours, but considering all the vehicles on the road (including cattle and a wide range of other animals) this seems to be a good average. In Mamallapuram we selected the Sea Breeze Hotel, chose a room with a fan and no air condition. What attracted us was the huge swimming pool. However, we were so tired that we slept until 4:00 PM. In the afternoon we found an internet cafe, which was not difficult as there are plenty of them in town, and tried to solve our final problem in Frankfurt. Mamallapuram is a nice little town ... read more
Five Rathas Temple
Shore Temple
A Holy Cow and us

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Chennai February 13th 2005

Our departure was chaotic as usual, nothing new. Finally we managed, all our stuff was packed into boxes and send to a storeroom in Barcelona. We were short of time and in the end several loose items were stuffed into some miscellaneous boxes, probably we will never find the fitting parts again! However after ten months of travelling who would care about such small details. We had got a cheap flight with Gulf Air with one stop in Bahrain where we changed planes, from Bahrain to Chennai (former Madras) via Oman's capital Muscat. Now you will probably understand why it was so cheap. Having safely arrived in Chennai at 6:00 AM local time we lacked orientation since it was 1:30 AM in Europe. After finding an ATM where the Maestro card worked and with the first ... read more

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