Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A short visit to Paris

Still can't believe myself that i'm in France, in Paris! with a TGV! Oh la la

Due to the temptation to go to the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race, i've changed my plan and booked my train ticket to France. I was told by my friend, Dietmar that i could take the TGV to Paris from Kaiserslautern (which is quite near to Maikammer). So i started to check on the pricing and planned my trip on which date that i should go. Im surprised to see that it goes as low as 39€ for Kaiserslautern-Paris Est which takes about 2.5 hours. However, i managed to get mine at promo price of 69€ (normal price for 2nd class was 99€) even though it's almost doubled but for the race and France!

Dietmar was kind enough to drop me at Kaiserslautern HBF (30km from home) station instead of Neudstadt (5km from home) and showed me a nice route for motorcycling! At the station, i had some confusion about the terminal, and a local showed me how to check it when you got there. Attached is the table. Also remember to get on the right section in the terminal as TGV only stops for few minutes and you don't want to walk from the front to the middle/end of the train.

The seat and the walkway inside the TGV itself isn't that big. It's a double decker so check the number of your seat, it's normally on the top level. Cabin has a low level of noise, even when it hit a speed of over 300kmh. I managed to record 327kmh on my gps. Oh boy, i wish my bike is that fast! haha..  It was a nice countryside view to Paris BUT.. did i mention, the train is LATE? TGV arrived like 40 minutes late, i was like WTF? It's Europe, it's Germany, how can it be not punctual? Oh well.. there's a notice says something about police intervention and passenger transfer. Uhhh..

So all my plans and schedules are pretty much delayed for more than 40 minutes now and i'm not feeling good because i hate being late, and to top it off, a friend of mine, Laurie is waiting on the other side and she's going to wait for over an hour! Im so sorry :( Upon arrival, i had problem looking for the metro and finally found the information centre. It was 2 level down to basement and the ticket machine is located there as well. A one way trip cost you 1.80€ (to any locations on the same line) and there are many lines/tracks. Watch out and make sure you got on the correct line. I took the wrong direction and realised it after 2 stations and decided to hop off and go to the other side. Silly me! After changing my metro in Montparnasse, i've finally reach Volontaires after 20 minutes to my friend's place.

Had my first classic french food at her apartment, ratatouilles and of course, french wine! Thanks for the lunch :) After, we went for a look at the Arc De Triompe, and walk along the Champ Elysees until we reach the end, Le Lourve Museum! Cant believe I'm really here, looking at all this iconic building and structures of Paris, France.

We went to the famous Eiffel Tower or Tour Eiffel, and really.. can't believe my eyes here. It feels strange and excited at the same time, and suddenly the movie scenes pops up in my head;

From the moment from getting on the TGV - Mr Bean's Holiday where the little kids was separated from his dad and Mr Bean filming it. Ahhh!

Arc De Triompe - well i think many movie scenes were shot here, and all the famous traffic jams as showed by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in Top Gear. LOL!

Le Lourve - The famous Da Vinci Code of course!

Tour Eiffel - GI Joe, the scenes where they shot a missile of nanomites that devours the tower. It hits me when i was underneath the Eiffel Tower. Oh boy!

There's so much things to see in Paris, and don't listen to the advices that you only need 2 days to see Paris. NO! No way.. Please spend more time in Paris, there's so much to see and appreciate. I had to leave the very next day to catch the 24 Hours Race in Le Mans but i promised my friend and Paris to come back. I've book my TGV back to Kaiserslautern from Paris Est on the 4th of July (and yes, it's the 39€ ticket! Wohoooo) so i'm coming back and see the real Paris very soon!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maikammer, hidden wine gem of Germany

I've travelled to Maikammer to visit my friend's Timo's dad, Dietmar on the 4th June. Took a train from Frankfurt city - Mannheim HBF via Flix Bus (6€) and a train from Mannheim HBF to Neudstadt Wiener (6.80€). Strange isn't it when a local train is more expensive than inter city bus. Had some confusion in the train station;

Ticket machine shows many Neustadt as it means new town. Check more details of which Neudstadt that you’re intended to go first.   

Ticket doesn’t shows which terminal to take, so check on the information board, or ask someone. Best way is to download the DB Navigator apps!

Well anyway, i managed to get there to Neudstadt and Dietmar picked me up from there. Was a little late due to heavy traffic on Autobahn but it was all good. Had a brief walk around Neudstadt to change my first impression of Germany. It was first week in Europe, i had such an amazing time in Maikammer. Truly an European experience for a start. 

Had a great opportunity to explore the countryside of Rhineland-Palatinate region with 2 great superbikes owned by Dietmar, the Honda CBX and VFR V4 Vtec and rode in some nice cars, Renault Avantime, Mazda MX5 and a classic Mercedes. Below are our road trip of about 300km round the Rhineland-Palatinate region and surprised visit to Alsace France!

Maikammer.. wine! food! Never did i knew Germany are famous, or even had wines (silly me!) but Maikammer is famous for their classic and white wines. Riesling was one of the famous one and is commonly used in a local drink called Rieslingschorle. Wineschorle in general is pretty much a mixture of wine and carbonated mineral water at a ratio of 50:50 or better, 80:20 :P The wineries here also make good Schnapps which is a strong 40% proof alcohol that warms you up in the cold evening. Maikammer is also famous for saumagen, a type of ‘sausages’ where meat and vegetables are mixed together. I’ve also tried forelle for the first time, german name for trouts and Flammkuchen (it’s not from Maikammer unfortunately.. it’s from Alsace region, French border about 30 min from here)


We visited quite a lot of places and towns nearby, and i’ll let photos do the talking :)
Cant thank Dietmar and Karin enough for giving me such a great experience in Maikammer!


                                Hiking up the hill to the Hambacher Scholss

                                                              Maikammer from up hill

Sunset of Maikammer, Germany

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A little problem in Frankfurt city

So, the adventure begins , a Eurotrip as some says, and i've finally landed in Frankfurt Airport on the 2nd June after such a long travel.

Bus from Penang to KL - Took Panther/Super Nice bus (Bukit Mertajam) MYR35 (8€)

KLIA Express train from KL Sentral to KLIA airport. MYR35 (8€)

Vietnam Airlines from KL to Hanoi ; 3 hours flight (and delays for an hour and havoc in the shit airport. Hanoi to Frankfurt (T2) ; 12 hours flight, arrived at 7am in the morning, waited for hours under the long queue waiting to be stamped and allowed into the country. It was a pretty easy ordeal going through the immigration and once again got quoted, your english is good. As i were preparing my documents and explain about my plans, and joked about Octoberfest,  she said, i trust you and stamped! Wee.. much easier than Australia. (well the reason i mention this is because as a Malaysian, it is tough for some of us to travel and somehow, we are always in the suspicious list). The flight cost me MYR1073 (255€)

It was such a coincidence as one of my good friend, Timo is in the same airport flying to Malaysia! We talked on Facebook and set a meeting point for breakfast! It was great to see him and he showed me around and teach me how to buy a train ticket to the city. Thanks Timo!

After he left, i sat down a while to get everything ready before buying my train ticket to the city. Haubanhoft (HBF) is the term of central station in German city. It cost me 4.55€. I've booked a hotel/dorm called Smart Stay Hotel near the HBF and check-in at 2pm. Walked around for a little bit and oh man, such a bad impression. Drug addicts are everywhere here in this area, sort of a red light district! Disgusting seriously. Thankfully the staffs here are friendly and speaks English as most Germans do. Makes everything slightly easier. I've decided to roam around a little more and found the Main (river). Beautiful place and i've decided to sit down here and have some biscuits for lunch.

The Frankfurt Cathedral and the interior. Impressive building!


I booked 2 nights at Smart Stay hotel that cost me 29.80€ (8 beds dorm on the 6th floor) and a 2€ deposit for the smart card.

Didn't do much in Frankfurt apart from walking around the city, and a much further one to Bonnheim where the buildings are much nicer. Had my first german food, Currywurst for 2.70€, and some Asian foods as it's cheaper. Korean dinner (twice), Sweet Chilly Chicken Rice for 6.90€ and i found another one next day for lunch, chinese fried noodles opposite HBF for 3.90€! Super cheap for European standard.

Did spend some time along the river Main and talking to some locals who explain some building around and the amount of Museums! Well, I'm not a big fan especially when we need to pay a lot of money to get in.

So that's Frankfurt for me, i left on the 3rd day to visit Timo's dad, Dietmar about 100km down south of Frankfurt. Booked a bus from Flix Bus that cost me 6€ to Mannheim HBF, and a train to Neustadt An Der Weinstrabe for 6.80€. Had some confusion on which terminal to go and a local showed me how to check. Its on a big pieces of paper on the wall. For an easier way, download DB Navigator apps on your phone where it tells you name of every stop in case you went on the wrong train and of course, all other stuff necessary for a train ride in Germany.

Reach Neustadt An Der Weinstrabe after 1-2 hours (due to traffic jam while on Autobahn) where Dietmar picked me up! The next adventure begins in the next post!

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Adventure begins!

Today mark another phase of my life, i've finally back to travelling, backpacker style.
Been thinking and dreaming about this trip for a long time, although Europe were never in my list as i know its expensive. However, i'm glad to have so many friends around the world that makes this trip possible and longer. Thank you :)

Sitting here in Starbucks waiting for my flight at 7.10pm.. there's nothing much i could do at the moment, the sky is dull and my tripod checked-in. Thought of doing time lapse but oh well..

It's a little emotional this morning leaving family and relatives for an unknown duration of time as i only bought one way ticket, never knew what could happen and where i will end up. Leaving the comfort of home and heading into uncertainty does makes me a little nervous or even scared. But i have to take this step, i've been doing nothing for the past couple of months, and my heart is not there anyway. I need a new motivation, a new inspiration and journey to refresh my mind and soul.

I would like to thanked everyone who is involved and participate in our Couchsurfing meet-ups since last May 2014. It's been awesome to be in such an active community and have alot of fun together. Thanks to all the 'farewell' party and bbq as well...

I will keep everyone updated with details in this blog, and photos of course!

So check this blog when you're free to keep up with my adventure in a brand new continent, Europe!