Saturday, August 23, 2014

Walking Down the Streets of Zurich: Episode 2 (River Limmat)

Hello, there you are, great! With all the daily activities at work eating up my mind and body, I usually go home tired and sleepy that I almost forgot I still had this to post. Yes, it's been months and I'm so sorry for that...

After our walk a few months ago (referring to my previous post, Walking Down the Streets of Zurich: Episode 1), I bet you have recharged a little bit? Oh, come on, don't tell me you would like to rest still? The sun is up but it's still very cold at 2 degrees Celsius! I really think we should keep on walking. This is getting even more exciting as we approach the heart of the city!

We're just about to leave Sihlquai and stroll along Museumstrasse heading toward the Swiss National Museum. The museum which is one of the main sights of the city is located on an island between two rivers, River Sihl and River Limmat.

River Sihl                                        River Limmat

You will see the museum exactly in the middle of the two rivers.

From a distance, the museum resembled the castles I used to read from my Classics Illustrated comics. Believe it or not! Look at these.
A view of the Swiss National Museum from the bridge

Looks a bit scary, I know, because of the barren trees but for me it was another mesmerizing view. I couldn't seem to stop gazing at the towers of the museum. Oh, I should have a picture with it at the background. How unfortunate though that Billy wasn't able to capture the tip of the tower when he took a photo of me standing in front (left photo). But good that he was able to get another full view of it (right photo)--- without me in the pic!!! :(

The tower of the Swiss National Museum

Unfortunately, the museum was closed that day, being a Monday. That means we had to return another day to see what's inside.  For this day, we had to settle with a few shots outside the building.

But I will post the photos together with all the rest of the photos taken inside. Oh, sorry to say that it would mean another post!

From the museum, we crossed the Museumstrasse to go to Zurich Main Station or Rail City (or Central Station) also known as Zurich Hauptbahnhof (or HB).
Photo taken along Museumstrasse. The museum on the left and the Zurich Central Station (Rail City) on the right.

Side entrance to the Rail City; along Museumstrasse, in front of the Swiss National Museum
Let's see what's inside...

The Central Station is the largest railway station in Switzerland, Zurich being the major railway hub servicing not only Switzerland but also other neighboring countries like Germany, Italy, Austria and France, as well.


 Photos of the train station inside the Rail City



The station has more than 200 underground shops where travelers can buy food, souvenirs, jewelries, ornaments, flowers and plants included. The photos below were all taken inside the Central Station or Rail City.







A full view of the balloon-like figure of a big winged woman hanging in the middle of the Rail City. 
I was so intrigued looking at it that I took a photo as it seemingly hovers over my husband posing below. Hahaha! I finally succeeded after several attempts!



There we found the Zurich Tourist Information where we were able to ask questions about transportation, top places to see and the easiest, fastest and most practical means to reach any place we wanted to visit. All the Tourist Information staff were very approachable and courteous in entertaining us. They speak different languages... impressive! English, yes!!! They gave us these brochures containing maps of the whole city. Now we literally had Zurich in our pockets!
Zurich in your pocket

                                  Zurich Welcome Guide                               Zurich Guide Shopping

Thanks to these handy guides containing maps and information about top Zurich attractions. Having received tips on how to explore the city, we were able to buy tickets that would allow us to travel by tram, bus, train or even cable car. That's the first thing I like about Zurich---its transportation system. Hmmm... would it disappoint you to hear that I plan to make another very special post about that. 

But before leaving the Rail City, here's Billy posing in front of the souvenir display. 


Sorry, we didn't buy anything here. Just queries on where to go, how to go, how much.

For now, let's get out of the Rail City through the gate fronting the Limmat River, along Bahnhofquai. Let's walk across Bahnhofquai towards Bahnhofbrucke in order to cross the Limmat River.

Look at this map to see the area covering the Swiss National Museum, 
Zurich HB (Rail City) and the Zurich Central
Now we're heading towards the Central Plaza which I always referred to as "Zurich Downtown". 
The photos above were all taken along Bahnhofbrucke on our way to Zurich Central
See us standing at Bahnhofbrucke, while crossing the Limmat River. Have you noticed that we don't have photos taken with both of us together?


At long last, we reached the heart of the city! From Zurich Central, we traversed the length of Limmat River alternately via Limmatquai on the East Bank and Bahnhofquai on the West Bank. One could not describe Zurich without mentioning Limmat River. It plays a major role of dividing the city into two, the east and the west banks. 

I hope you can relate by looking at this map. 
See the Limmat River at the center.

This division of Zurich into the East and West Banks by River Limmat really caught my interest. Yes, the city stretches on both sides of the river! That spells the beauty of the Limmat River, making it one of the highlights of the city. 

Connecting both the East and West Banks at certain points are the following bridges, starting from the Zurich Central--
The Bahnhofbrucke


Bahnhofbrucke, the bridge between Zurich Hauptbanhof and Zurich Central, is one of the main thoroughfares in Zurich.

The Muhlesteg 


What's in this plain and simple-looking footbridge? Don't you dare underestimate it! 
You might be surprised to know the main feature of this bridge. Another post to watch out for ;)

 The Rudolf-Brun-Brucke 

This bridge was named after the first mayor of Zurich, Rudolf Brun.

The Rathausbrucke

The Rathausbrucke is a popular pedestrian crossing that connects the Rathaus (Zurich Townhall) located at the right side (East) with the left side (West) of Limmat near the Lindenhof area. The foundations of the Rathaus is built on the waters of Limmat River. We didn't enter the building but it is said to have a Renaissance architectural design with a Baroque ceremonial hall. 

 The Munsterbrucke
The Munsterbrucke with the Grossmunster Church at the background
This bridge is located near the three prominent churches in Zurich. That could be the reason for its name as "munster" means "big church". These churches are the Fraumunster and St. Peter Church on the westbank and the Grossmunster Church on the eastbank. Click here to view my previous post entitled, "Kirchen in Zurich" where I featured these three famous churches.
Here's another view of the Munsterbrucke taken from the Rathausbrucke.

... and that's me with the Munsterbrucke and the two churches 
(Fraumunster and St. Peter Church) at the background. 
The photo above was taken while resting for a while under the shady tree beside the statue of Ulrich Zwingli at Zwingliplatz.


The Quaibrucke

The Quaibrucke, as I observed, is the bridge near the quay area. 
Photos of this bridge above and below were taken from opposite directions. 
The photo above was taken while watching the boats and yachts at Pier 7 along Limmatquai while the one below was taken from Quaianlagen along Utoquai, a few blocks away from Quiabrucke, towards the direction of Lake Zurich. 


The Quaibrucke is the last bridge along River Limmat connecting the East and West Banks of Zurich. Beyond this point the river meets Lake Zurich (Zurichsee), one of the main tributaries of River Limmat.

Ooooppppsss... of course, I shouldn't forget to post these before I leave. Snap shots of me taken by Billy as we sidetripped into some streets along the East and West Banks and while crossing the bridges along the Limmat River.



In this post, see how far we've gone traveling on foot! Mind you, my husband walks so fast!


That very well explains this countenance.

We had to recharge after walking that far!
Whew, finally, I made it... six months in the making! Well, it did take so much effort preparing this post after all the time spent consulting Google maps, zooming in and out on specific areas comparing various city landmarks with photos we took. It gave me a great sense of fulfillment reading about the places we've been to. So here, I wouldn't pass this chance of sharing with you a portion of what I've experienced in Zurich in a week's time. Oh no, erratum please... this is only Day 2! 

Hope you enjoyed traveling with us!
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fast food dishes by Garden Chef: Mackerel - veggie omelette


Oh, no, it's almost 8:00 am!!! No more time for another snooze :((  This is one of those days when I don't feel like getting up from bed but I have no choice. I have just begun to feel the stress of office work for the past weeks. Yesterday was another lazy day. No marketing, no cooking... just blogging in bed! :)) 

Okay, now I'm off my bed. So what happens next? You gotta be fast!!!!! Any idea brewing? Let the countdown begin!


Opening the cupboard, I see a large can of 555 Mackerel Salmon style. 


Are there eggs? 
Yes, I still have six pieces. 
Take out three. 
Open the can of Mackerel. One onion coming. 
Then the veggie bin, of course! 
Let's see... I have tomatoes, green bell pepper, carrot and leeks from among the other vegetables. Let me take one large tomato. 
Cut a piece of leek from the stalk, take out the green bell pepper and the remaining carrot.  

Now, I'm ready! Did you get the ingredients? Don't worry, I'll summarize them for you. Here...

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, sliced
1 large can of mackerel salmon style, cut into chunks
1 small carrot, sliced into strips
1/2 small green pepper, diced
3 medium eggs, beaten 
pinch of salt, ground pepper, any spice of choice 
1 tbsp leeks (or green onions), sliced thinly 



Steps:
  1. In a skillet, heat some of the oil from the can of mackerel. Saute onions and Mackerel chunks.
  2. Add carrots. Allow to simmer.
  3. Add tomato slices and bell pepper. 

    4. Add salt, ground pepper and other spices to beaten egg.
    5. Pour egg mixture to sauteed mackerel mixture in pan, turning pan left and right to mix the egg         evenly over the mackerel mix. Allow the egg to settle in very low fire.


    6. Once the eggs have settled, top with leeks and serve with toasted bread or with fried rice.

Here it is...


It does look like pizza. By the way, for the spice, aside from ground pepper, I used Garam Masala, a spice I bought during our recent trip to Malaysia. 


Have a great week ahead! Oh, I'm looking forward to two holidays this week. More rest days :)) Thank you, Lord!
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Life on Lakeshore Drive

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Experiencing KL: learn and have fun



My Philippine history subject taught me that Filipinos came from the Malay race. Whether it's true or not today, doesn't really matter. But my trip to Kuala Lumpur with my family last week to celebrate Ana Cristina's 22nd birthday made me realize that there are indeed very close similarities between the Filipino and Malay language.

I began taking my own silent vocabulary lessons on this foreign language upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).


Malay 101 lesson, here we go.

I learned my very first Malay word when we had to follow this sign at the KLIA. Guided by this, we were able to find our way from the plane to the immigration area and finally to claim our luggage.
Malay word no. 1: KETIBAAN = Arrival

Of course, all of us needed one thing in common. To look for the comfort room... errr rest room? Or did I read toilet?

Malay word no. 2: TANDAS = Toilet
What a relief it was! Then, we got our tickets for a teksi ride that brought us to our hotel.

Malay word no. 3: TEKSI = Taxi
That was a long 57-kilometer ride from the KLIA to our hotel. My husband who was seated beside the driver had all the time to take photos of the sunset! It was so amazing that at past 6 pm the sun was just about to set! I had to keep looking at the taxi window to assure myself that my vision was not deceiving me!

Our first sunset at Kuala Lumpur
While my husband was busy capturing the best sunset view during the teksi ride, I almost slept! But dozing off several times during the trip was no reason for me to miss this sign along the way. Welcome to KL!

Malay word(s) no. 4: SELAMAT DATANG = Welcome
After checking in the hotel, we went out to survey the area. As we walked around the One-Stop Residence Hotel and Mall at Fraser Business Park, we discovered the Secret Recipe, a bakeshop very near the hotel. There we had pizza and vegetable salad for dinner, shared a slice of cake for dessert and we were ready to culminate the day. 





On our way back to the hotel, I noticed this sign written on some doors in the mall.

Malay word no. 5: PINTU = Gate

At the airport on our departure, I also noticed this sign.
Five new words in a few hours, not bad eh?!! But the next three days had more to offer. 

We decided to avail of the KL Hop-on Hop-off  (H-O H-O) Tour service the following day. 

Here are photos of the tour bus.


Hop-on now, come on!


One could complete the tour in 2-3 hours even without getting off the bus. 

Whohoo, this double-decker, air-conditioned KL H-O H-O bus, equipped with WiFi and pre-recorded commentary for each attraction, brought us to the primary tourist spots, guided by this City Tour map. 

There are more than 20 KL H-O H-O bus stops that lead to several attractions in the city. 
You may hop-off in any of these bus stops in order to see more of the place, then, wait for the next KL H-O H-O bus and hop-on again and again and again. 


The KL H-O H-O bus ticket is good for 24 hours.

Our daughters, Ayana Grace and Ana Cristina, seated in front of us, 
savoring the view of the city atop the double-deck KL H-O H-O. 
Enjoying the convenience of just staying seated on the bus and taking a view of streets and places through the window, I learned more words. Jalan Sultan, Jalan Metro Pudu, Jalan Parlimen, Jalan Pudu Sentral.

Malay word no. 6: JALAN = Street
The bus brought us to the major attractions of the city, the pride of KL--- its menara!


Malay word no. 7: MENARA = Tower
The sight of the two major menaras in KL was so amazingly overwhelming! 


Standing below the two gigantic towers, unmindful of the scorching heat of the sun, I felt as if I was in a dream! Until now, I could still imagine the towering heights of both the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower, looking down to where I was, saying, "Oh, there you are!".

The Petronas at night was simply magical!
No regrets at having to come back another day, just to appreciate more of the towers
with all its glitters after the sun has set!

Each one of us took much time taking photos of the Petronas from different angles. It was a pity that I was not able capture the sight of my husband and daughter taking pains at photographing either one of us posing underneath the towers. That's a craft they patiently took efforts at perfecting, to the point of almost lying supine at the ground looking for a vantage point before giving the camera a click.

I'm so glad my husband was able to capture the changing hues of the fountain as it danced with the music. 
The Dancing Fountain of Petronas in Kuala Lumpur


We sat on the steps still watching the waters playfully splashing from the fountain. Then the music came alive again with a different tune. It's a pity that I'm not good at taking videos. Forgive me but I do hope you will like this one.


That was a long dance! Did you like the music? I bet you caught what my daughter and husband had to say (in our native tongue) while watching the video? ("Bongga" means "stylish"; "Tamang-tama ang dating natin" means "We just arrived on time!")

Whew, it took 3 hours before we finally decided to leave Suria KLCC. We couldn't seem to stop taking photos of the towers from different angles! It was so hard leaving this grandeur behind!


But then, it was getting late and we had to go back to the hotel to plan for our activities the following day.

We also walked along Jalan Bukit Bintang, dropped by Sephora (a cosmetics shop) near Starhill as requested by Ayana Grace, the beauty blogger of the family. From there, we also visited the KL Pavilion where we posed for some photos with this fountain at the background.

Beautiful fountain! I just loved looking at it!

Wasn't able to resist posing beside this manikin :)
I literally prodded my husband take a photo of me.
We took our time to explore the shopping area. In some doors in the mall, this sign was very noticeable.

Malay word no. 8: TOLAK = Push
Except for the spelling, very much Filipino eh?! And this sign would also appear in any place we went to. 
Malay word no. 9: KELUAR = Exit
One major attraction of the city is the Batu Cave, a limestone hill we decided to see 13 kilometers north of KL. To reach the cave, we traveled by train from the KL Sentral. 

 The train station at KL Sentral

I like staring at the train schedule advisory.
Makes me aware of the exact time the train is coming. 
Even inside the train. 
See the blue and red lights? It's a tracking system to make the passengers aware of the train stations throughout the whole trip until one reaches his or her destination. 
I kept looking at it the whole time. Made me wonder when the local MRT trains 
and buses in my own country would have that.
I also enjoyed the train ride as it allowed me to see some of the major city attractions from another perspective, hahaha... from the railway...


... until we reached our destination--- the Batu Caves!
We didn't go there to worship. But we were so intrigued at the thought of climbing the stairs in order to see the beauty of nature up there. 


We're here!!!


The Batu Caves is one of the famous Hindu shrines outside of India. The place is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the center of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.  One would never miss the Murugan Statue as it stands 140-feet high at the entrance of Batu Caves. This statue of a Hindu deity is said to cost 24 million rupees, being made of 1550 cubic meters of concrete, 250 tons of steel bars and 300 liters of gold paint imported from Thailand. 

I had goose pimples looking at the gigantic statue of Muruga. 
The Batu Caves temple stands 100 meters above the ground. The biggest cave, known as the Cathedral or Temple Cave that features ornate Hindu shrines, has a 100 meter-high ceiling. We had to climb a 272-step flight of steep stairs in order to reach the top (no wonder I had muscle cramps the following day!). I had to stop on platforms after slowly climbing 10 to 15 steps at a time, in order to catch my breath. 

Cheers, I did it! Hmmm... who did you say looks tired? 
But in all honesty, I was panting when I reached the top! Ssshhhhh...
Whew! It was such an achievement for me, I just couldn't believe it! I kept reminding my husband not to walk up the stairs very fast so I could keep up with them. Good cardiac exercise, indeed, it was. But not for my legs :( Without any of them knowing it, I had to take several doses of muscle relaxant a day after so that I could go to the other places as scheduled. 

From the Batu Caves, we still had time to linger at Merdeka Square.

Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) or Independence Square is the place where the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time in 1957. 

This place is known literally, as the heart of downtown KL and figuratively, as the heart of Malaysian nationalism. Wow to that, even if, as a student, I never appreciated world history with all the memorization the subject entailed. :((
There, look at me, appreciating the colors of the flowers... in perfect harmony with my blouse. 
I really felt "I belonged!" :) :) :)





We stayed here for a while. It was very relaxing --- just sitting on the grass, impressed with all the sky-high buildings around the square and hearing the soothing sound of water flowing from the fountain. 

Look at these photos of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad) located just in front of the Merdeka Square. The building features a 40-meter clock tower. 

I don't know why this building caught my attention so much that I took quite a number of photos of it. Oh, maybe it's the shiny copper dome tops giving the building a mosque-like structure. This building houses Malaysia's Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. Being a major landmark in KL, it often serves as backdrop for significant events. 


The KL City Gallery was just beside the park. 



We were able to tour sections of the gallery and watch a diorama showcase of Kuala Lumpur. Great presentation!!! Watch this.

The Spectacular City Model Show at the KL City Gallery
                                     
Thanks to Ana Cristina for this video

In one of the miniature displays in the City Gallery, I learned another Malay word.

 Malay word no. 10: MASJID = Mosque

Visiting KL wouldn't be complete without traversing the streets of Chinatown. Jalan Petaling is the place. Here we had a taste of Malaysia's street food. The three of us shared the assorted food we bought. I enjoyed observing how the vendor picked up and cut pieces of the items we chose with his bare hands!

Left photo on 3rd row: I was fumbling for some tissue paper from my bag
to wipe the chopsticks before getting a taste of Malaysian food.
Well, next to KL's Chinatown, of course, one shouldn't miss the Central Market. That, according to my daughter, was my favorite place. Don't ask why... see these photos?

Aside from scouting for a few items as souvenirs, we had a chance to get a taste of Durian Popsicle from one of the stalls. Oh, this was one thing I'm already missing! There was no more time to look for other stores to get another stick. :((


Durian Popsicle treat! Love it! 
During our 3-day stay, I would often hear my husband utter, "Terima Kasih" (Malay word no. 11 = Thank You) to the taxi drivers, salespersons and waiters after they've done us service.  

Our last stop before leaving for home was the KL Tower. Of course, we couldn't miss spending some time for photo ops before finally saying goodbye...
The 4 Sisons at the Malaysia Cultural Village, a nice place to relax.
There were still a lot of places to visit... more words to learn but to the KLIA we had to go once more. This time, we had to follow another sign in order to find the check-in and boarding areas for passengers bound for Manila.

Malay word no. 12: PERLEPASAN = Departure
Bye for now, KL! Till we meet again! So I say, "Terima Kasih," the time has come.