Archive | May, 2008
May 9, 2008

Photos from our month-long Western Europe trip…

…can be found here:


May 9, 2008

The end!


Pompeii – The city is so well preserved, you can actually see and feel how the people there lived 2,000 years ago.

Venice – Gondola rides really are very romantic if cliche and touristy.

Monte Carlo Masters – We got to see the World #1, #2 and #4 play on clay.

Granada – The town parties late, the Al Hambra is magnificent and the General Life gardens (pronounced “Henerale Leefay”) are serene and beautiful.


Europe is F-ing expensive

There are more churches in old European cities than there are shopping malls in Dubai

Lock your checked in luggage

Sometimes you have to pay for using a toilet, even in Europe

Everyone in Europe drives a manual transmission

Almost everyone drives a hatchback

Almost everyone speaks some English and is eager to use it, even in Paris (this is new)

Italian and Spanish are remarkably similar languages

The French discovered a lot of things

When travel blogging, it is best to write an entry every day, otherwise you forget things

Tour groups are not for us, although maybe we’ll like them more when we get older

Paris is not a clean city

The Piano was born in Florence

Dante’s Divine Comedy was the first book to be written in Italian

The Catholic church has a long history of corruption and hypocricy

Venice stole the body of a “Saint” to compete with the influence of Rome

Venice used to be a vast empire and its downfall was the discovery of a new trade route when Christopher Columbus landed in America

Prostitution is out in the open in Europe

(I will add to this list as I remember more things)

May 9, 2008


An oddity! Great weather in London. Street musicians were out, playing by the pubs and restaurants and there were more people out than normal for a Saturday afternoon. I stayed with my cousins on Edgeware road and went to Picadilly Circus with my friend Ziggy and cousin Ali for 3 hours of billiards, air hockey and bowling (I got 5 strikes in a row, one short of my best). My aunt made my favourite Pakistani dish that night for dinner. The next morning, I played with my niece and nephew before catching the Heathrow Express out to the airport and making my way back home.

May 9, 2008


Upon further examination, it turns out my cell phone and USB thumb drive were also stolen along with my Swiss army knife and cologne. Still not a huge deal and lesson learned. You can and should lock your checked in luggage outside the US.

We spent 6 days in Paris in all. Since I am writing this blog entry at the end of the trip, I’ll just mention the highlights. The science/technology museum (I can’t remember the French name) they have there is very interesting and interactive. I spent half a day roaming about it and inspecting the earliest iterations of inventions and technology that have impacted science and how we live today.

We did the Eiffel tower old school, by taking the stairs as far as they go, all the way to the second level from where we watched the tower do its “sparkly” thing.

We took a boat cruise up and down the Seine.

We took in a Paris Cabaret. The one we saw was LIDO, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though most of the acts and the dancing overall were disappointing. Vegas shows are of a higher calibre both in terms of imagination and execution, although there were a few “oooh” and “aaah” moments in LIDO. These included a dancing horse, two ice skaters on an elevating ice rink, an acrobatics act and a bottle of champagne to make everything else more enjoyable. The constant barrage of feather adorned frontal nudity may have also helped.

We took a day trip to Versailles which although massive was not as peaceful and calming to walk through as the Al Hambra in Spain.

We visited my aunt and uncle in Paris for dinner one night.

We took in the Louvre, the Arc de Triomph, Notre Dame cathedral, Saint-Sulpice church, Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona (where we sailed toy sailboats in the pond) and other Paris stuff. Since we had 6 days, we didn’t feel rushed and did a lot of casual walking around the city, especially in the 7th. We were all art museumed out after Italy so we only visited the Louvre, and that too out of a sense of obligation. I never thought much of the Venus de Milo or the Mona Lisa and seeing them in person didn’t change that. However, there was lots of art that did move me as well as ancient Persian and Babylonian artefacts that were spectacular.

Our hotel was the Renaissance Trocadero in the 16th. Although very central (we could see the Eiffel Tower from our balcony) it was also very expensive and boy did we feel it. I’ve been told the 16th is the most expensive area of Paris which is already an expensive city. As it turns out, the only time in my life I’ve ever had McDonalds for all three meals in one day was in Paris. Even that didn’t wind up being cheap. We spent $60+ that day on McDonalds for only two people!

I left Paris for London via Eurostar while Colleen flew out to DC directly from Charles de Gaulle.