Back from Nepal

Back from Nepal ! We successfully hiked the Manaslu Circuit and crossed Larka Pass ( 5200 m ). I returned home full of new experiences and awesome impressions. And with 2000+ photos.
I am starting to upload the best ones to my flickr album ‘Nepal 2016‘.

Ankunft in Kathmandu
"Ankunft in Kathmandu"

Nepal is a very different country to what I had been used to so far and I admit I was a bit scared also when starting the trip. But I adapted well and meanwhile I can imagine to return and see different regions like the Anapurna Range or the Everest.
Our hike took 14 days and started at Arughat Bazar ( 650 m ). For many days we followed the river Buri Gandaki: many steps up and down to get to swing bridges to cross the river again and again. 1

Stufen über Stufen
"Stufen über Stufen"

0 days later we stood on top of Larke Pass. I got a bit of a headache when we climbed from 3400 to 3800 m but after following the advice of our mountain guide to not lay down but walk instead and after drinking some more water and tea I was fine and did not have any problems further on.

Manistein unterhalb des Manaslu
"Manistein unterhalb des Manaslu"

This was when we had reached Samdo. The next day we made a steep climb on top of Samdo Reak ( 4800 m ). This made me getting weak knees but at the end I made it to the summit.
We found many nice lodges and tea houses on our way, a few of course had been not so nice. After we had crossed Larka Pass a highlight of the tour was a rest day at Bimtang where we had perfect sunny weather and were surrounded by a breathtaking mountain landscape. And the next day when we hiked down into the rhododendron forest was a highlight as well.

View down to Samdo
"View down to Samdo"

Before and after the hike we stayed several days in the Greenwich Village Hotel in Kathmandu und had the opportunity to visit many exciting places in Kathmandu, like Pashupatinath, the old city of Bhaktapur, Swayambunath where Buddhas Eyes overlook Kathmandu, and the large stupa in Bodnath, unfortunately under construction after the big earthquake one year ago.
It has been an unforgettable trip and adventure !

Eifelsteig


My wife and I have been hiking the Eifelsteig during our two+ weeks of vacation this autumn. It is a 314 kilometer hike, quiet ambitious, done in 15 days, thus more than 20 kilometers on eight of these days, and some altitude to manage – up to 700 m sometimes.
We started in Aachen on Saturday, September 12th, and reached Trier at the river Mosel on Sunday, September 27th.
Weather was quiet mixed these days, some rainy or very cloudy days, but we also got some nice sunny days and moments. We slept in a cloister two times and in a castle one time, and overall there have been many great moments to remember. This is the sort of vacation we really like.
My full set of photos is here on flickr.
Highlights have been Aachen of course with the incredible Cathedral,

the beautiful city of Monschau,

the "Three-Mills-Waterfall",

the trail along river Lieser,

and finally Trier, among many others.

Paris Day 7, Saturday 7/20/2013

For our last day in Paris we purchased another 10-rides-metro-ticket and took a train to  Montparnasse. The catacombs we skipped facing a huge line of tourists waiting in front of the entry. We walked

Friedhof Montparnasse
"Friedhof Montparnasse"

to a Cafe located at Montparnasse cemetery, where we met a French person speaking German very well who explained to us a lot about the historic events in this quarter of Paris.  Afterwards we visited the cemetry, where one can get a map at the entry showing the graves of all the famous people resting here. After a while we found the one of  Jean-Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir, and we also visited Samuel Beckett’s last stop.

Blick von Turm zu Turm
"Blick von Turm zu Turm"

 

After leaving the cemetry we ended up in a street market and following the row of boothes we directly got to  Tour Montparnasse.  € 13.50 was the entry fee for an elevator getting us up to level 56, 200 meters away from the ground. A few more stair cases led to a terrace from where we had an ingredible view to the city of Paris. That view here had two major advantages over the one you get from Tour d’Eifel: no multi-hour wait, and: Tour d’Eifel is included in that view.

Das Tor des Triumphs
"Das Tor des Triumphs"

A short while later we strolled along  Boulevard du Montparnasse to Place Pablo Picasso, took a left there und reached a  Cafe at Jardin du Luxembourg two blocks later, where we had some sandwich and salad for lunch. In another Cafe we tried those Éclair, which always look delicious when you see them in a glass cabinet, but which are quiet sweet and sticky when you eat them, especially when not cooled sufficiently, which luckily wasn’t the case here.

Traffic in Paris
"Traffic in Paris"

Now we took the metro again to reach Arc d’Triumph and thru a passage underground we got directly below the impressive building where the grave of an unknown soldier is located with a flame burning forever to make all of us think about the many who have fallen during rescent wars. We took a seat on some warm stone, meanwhile conveniently located in the shadow of Arc d’Triumph and watched all the traffic circling that famous building in this large roundabout where 12 roads run into each other. One of those is

Eine Handtasche für € 15.000 gefällig ?
"Eine Handtasche für € 15.000 gefällig ?"

Champs Elysées, which we explored a little later, following the shadow-side of this world famous shopping mile to the part where shops are replaced by trees and parks. We did not buy any of those handbags for € 15.000, nor a  Rolex or a Renault. Just peeking thru the display windows and receiving some arabic parfum sample from an avid sales person was sufficient for us.

We needed another rest on a shadily park bench before we boarded a metro train again taking us to  Centre Pompidou.

Fontaine Stravinsky
"Fontaine Stravinsky"

In a Bar with surpringly many good looking and kissing young men we had some beer to clean our throats from the dusty air, before we visited the bizarre and colorful fountains at Centre Pompidou and of course the Centre  itself. Here again, as almost everywhere in Paris: many people, bustling activities and hundreds of bars and restaurants. We roamed to  Les Halles, where a large construction project has started, then to the next metro station to get back into “our” quarter with “our” hotel.

Le Centre Pompidou
"Le Centre Pompidou"

In the evening with beginning nightfall we made another walk to the famous  Moulin Rouge surrounded by a cheap red-light district and found a nice bar a little later and further away where we had our last beer here in Paris.

Next morning after breakfast we walked to Gare de l’Est just ten minutes away from our hotel and arrived there early enough to catch our TGV train to Stuttgart which had changed its schedule to depart 10:50 am instead of 11:17 am which was the plan I had seen when booking that train. Well, that train was surprisingly empty that day.

Moulin Rouge
"Moulin Rouge"

From Stuttgart we took an Intercity train to Mainz departing at 03:16 pm and arriving in Mainz one and a half hour later.

Paris Day 6, Freitag 7/19/2013

We took the metro to the  Louvre, from there we crossed the river  Seine and approached Musee d’Orsay. Tickets we had purchased two days before in the tourism office in Rue Pyramides.  The museum is located in a former railway station used by the Paris-Orleans company.

Pont des Artes
"Pont des Artes"

Arriving there we got us an audio guide which delivered interessting information about the different exhibits which usually just come with some labels written in French language.  Besides a model of the Statue Of Liberty and an interesting cross section through the  Opera Garnier and the festive halls of the former hotel here in this railway station we focused  mainly on the paintings by Monet, Renoir and van Gogh and paintings by other impressionists.

 

Das Musuem, das ein Bahnhof war
"Das Musuem, das ein Bahnhof war"

Van Gogh has created 40 self-portraits which allow to study his psychological health over time, as the artist said, zwo of those we could see here in Musee d’Orsay.

In the very efficiently organized cafe of the museum we took a short lunch break before we climbed up to the fifth level and enjoyed an incredible view from a terrace there  to Louvre, Sacré-Coeur und Place de La Concorde.  In the afternoon we left the museum and returned to the hot streets of Paris. 

Musée d'Orsay Bird Eyes View
"Musée d’Orsay Bird Eyes View"

At Pont Alexandre III, a present from the Russians, which crosses the river Seine in one arc without any additional pillars in the middle and which carries a lot of angle statues in bronze and  candelabras and which is guarded by four golden statues on long pillars we sat down in some canvas chairs at the river and sipped some ice tea. Then we continued our walk passing by Petit Palais to Place de la Concorde, one of the larges squares in the world. In times of the French Revolution the guillotine had been errected here, nowadays an Egypt Obelisk, the present of an Egypt viceroy to Paris. After crossing this mighty square the heat was getting too much for us.

Place de la Concorde
"Place de la Concorde"

We continued our walk to Opera Garnier and then took the metro to station Cadet and found a cool place to rest in our hotel room.

In the evening we climbed Montmatre once more and had a nice dinner in the restaurant named “Mouline de la Galette”, where we enjoyed a 5-cousre-menu with two half bottles of wine: an elegant and fruity flavored totmato cold soup, white asparagus with caviar and small cubes of salmon, a greeting from the kitchen in form of a creamy tasting  liver pâté, followed by the two main courses gilthead seabream and lamb chop, finally a fruit cold soup and a small chokolade cake.

Artist vor Sacre Coeur
"Artist vor Sacre Coeur"

An espresso and a hard liquor concluded our meal before we got the opulent check, which was missing one bottle of wine and the two expressos.

It got late again until we got back to our hotel this day.

Paris Day 5, Thursday 7/18/2013

Today was shopping day and thus we walked from our hotel to the La Fayette department store where in the main building they sell mainly cosmetics, fashion for the lady and gourmet food downstairs.

Dans La Fayette
Dans La Fayette

Everything is located on four floors below a glass dome which looks quiet impressive. My lady wasn’t lucky and didn’t find anything while I got myself two shirts and some shorts in a neighbour building where they have fashion for the man. We stopped by a cafe on one of the balconies and enjoyed some Espresso together with those colorful macaroons you can get here everywhere in all sorts of tastes and watched what was going on around us and below.

Lunch @ Lafayette
Lunch @ Lafayette

Later we visited the Perfume-Museum in Rue Scribe.  Entry is free but not getting some perfume in the Fragonard perfume shop at the exit of the museum. Here my wife was lucky and got herself some nice French perfume. The equipment and processes shown in the museum to make perfume for instance from flowers strongly reminded us of the novel “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Suskind where someone tries to accomplish the same using some virgins.

Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur

For lunch we visited the gourmet department of La Fayette and ordered some lobster burger and scampi together with some delicious rosé vine which we liked that much that later on we bought another bottle before leaving the shop.  For our late afternoon break we went back to our  Hotel L’Ocean into our quiet and cool room. Then we were ready to climb up to Montmatre which could be reached from our hotel within half an hour. Before getting there we purchased some food in one of the shops on the way: cheese, baguettes, small salami sausages and nuts.

Place du Tertre
Place du Tertre

We climed up to Sacré-Coeur and entered the building to see its interior, before we roamed thru the narrow alleys with all the restaurants and street artists creating portraits of everyone willing to pay for that. Later we found the “Moulin de la Galette”, one of two from former 14 mills left on Montmatre where nowadays a nice French restaurant is located a bit above tourist class and where one of the famous paintings by Renoir came into existence  which we were going to see the next day in  Musée d’Orsay.

Der Weinberg auf dem Montmatre
Der Weinberg auf dem Montmatre

We made a reservation for diner the next day. Then we continued our expedition to finally find the vineyard of Montmatre, then we walked back to Sacré-Coeur and settled down for diner at a fountain a bit further down the hill where we unpacked our food and enjoyed another bottle of delicious rosé vine we had carried with us in a backpack – together with two small vine glasses we had brought from home of course. Meanwhile the skyline of Paris was illuminated by the setting sun and the crowds of tourists started disappearing as well as all the dealer selling all kinds of junk.

Paris Day 4, Wednesday 7/17/2013

For today we had planned to visit the Louvre and thus we took the metro to station Pyramides, erroneous assuming this would mean getting to the Louvre entry pyramide. Wrong: this station is in Rue Pyramides, not that far away from Louvre but a few minutes to walk to get there. We got there and saw a long waiting line in front of the entry and a sign promising: 1.5 hours waiting time.

Der Louvre
"Der Louvre"

Facing this we decided to change our plan and returned to Rue Pyramides where a tourist office is located. There we asked for tickets to Tour d’Eifel and museums. We learned that we can get tickets for Tour d’Eifel thru the internet but need to book much time in advance and then print out those tickets, and that we can get museum tickets right here in the office for a small extra fee ( € 1,50 ) but with the luxury to then take the short line into the museum. So we bought two tickets for the Louvre for € 12 each and two tickets for Musée d’Orsay for € 9 each which we are going to visit in one of the coming days. Equipped with those tickets it now took us 5 minutes to get into the Louvre and skip the long wait in the burning sun.

Ein Riesengemälde im Louvre
"Ein Riesengemälde im Louvre"

The Louvre, a former Royal palace, is mighty large, but the number of visitors streaming into it is large as well so that even in these large buildings and halls you start feeling squeezed. Hordes of tourist block the view to sculptures and paintings with raised cameras, mobiles and even tablets ( many people nowadays prefer to use those for taking pictures ), try to get their smile on to a photo together with some famous art, step back and on your feet trying to find the best perspective for a shot. Enjoying art becomes difficult in this environment, nevertheless the visit to this largest museum in the world is still impressive. Paitings we found quiet late, first we passed by countless statues, antiquities from the Orient, the chambers of  Napoleanos III.,  stony minotaurs and Roman ground mosaics. 

Und noch mehr Statuen im Louvre
"Und noch mehr Statuen im Louvre"

We saw a Sphinx, a pillar with the law code of Hammurabi, the Venus de Milo, of course the world famous Mona Lisa and then those large paintings like “Marriage at Cana” and the real large one showing  the coronation of Napoleons I. and empress  Josefine.  First we even did not recognize this picture until we recognized Napoleon raising the crown for his wife.

At late afternoon we left the museum passing by the top down version of the Pyramide below the museum and walked towards river Seine, crossing the river and reaching Institute Francaise. There we turned left and walked towards Quartier Latin and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame de Paris
"Notre Dame de Paris"

We recalled a cozy pub seen there and found it again: the “Highlander”, where we sat down and relaxed while consuming a few hot-dog-bear-combos and giving our burning feet some rest; the Louvre is exciting but streanous ! We also used the quiet moments here to write a few postcards for our friends and relatives.

Afterwards we had sufficient power to continue our walk to Notre Dame. Sitting on a stand, probably errected for the celebration of the 850-year-anniversary of Notre Dame, we gazed at the Western face of the cathedral illuminated nicely by the late afternoon sun, while listening to the nice music presented by some street artist.

Nachts an der Seine
"Nachts an der Seine"

On the bridge to Quai de Montebello we watched some acrobatic skater demonstrating their skills before we entered Quartier Latin once more to finally find a Creperies where we got use some crepes and galettes for diner, the latter a more hearty variant of the sweet crepes. Another bear, then we were ready for another walk crossing Ile de la Cité, following the river Seine for a while back to the Louvre, then taking a train of metro line 7 back to station Cadet next to our hotel.

Paris Day 3, Tuesday 7/16/2013

Eifelturm an der Seine
"Eiffelturm an der Seine"

Today we visited Tour d’Eifel and took the metro to École Militaire, where in former times Napoleon was trained and finally got a certificiate saying:  “… will get somehwhere under favorable circumstances …”. Looks like the circumstances had been favorable.

We crossed “Champs de Mars” where in these days military training took place, and approached Tour d’Eifel. Tourist concentration raised quickly and we saw those long waiting lines in front of 3 of the pillars where you have to stay for 4 hours to get on the tower by elevator; the one for the stair cases to the first platform was much shorter. The 4th pillar was closed. If one really wants to get up there it is recommended to buy tickets thru the internet. Which we didn’t and thus quickly came to the conclusion to skip this.

Water go !
"Water go !"

We walked further to the bank of the river Seine, then crossing the bridge to Trocadéro and Palais de Chaillot with a huge fountain located bewteen the palais and the Tour d’Eifel with changing water games. Every full hour the giant water cannons become active and fire water towards the tower.

On the square in front of Palais de Chaillot we boarded a bus from “Les Cars Rouge” company, allowing to travel thru entire Paris within two hours and learn a bit about all the famous places thru what a narrator tells you via head phones, while sitting relaxed on the upper deck enjoying the fact not having to walk.

Dom d'Invalides
"Dom d’Invalides"

Fee: € 27 for one day, including as many drop off and on’s as you wish. So we learned that the Tour d’Efiel weights 70.000 tons and that every 7 years 50 tons of paint is needed to preserve the tower from rusting away.

We passed by Dom d’Invalides and Place de la Concorde and reached Quartier Latin, where we dropped off first time for lunch. This time we ended up in a Greek restaurant and got us a little menu with appetizers and moussaka, accompanied by rosé wine from Kreta and much water of course ( did I already mention how hot it has been in this city these days ?)

Seine and Ile de la Cité
"Seine and Ile de la Cité"

Afterwards we walked to a  wooden bridge, crossing river Seine connecting Louvre with Institute Francais, recommended by an American couple sitting next to us in this Greek restaurant. From there we went back to the “Les Cars Rouge” station at Notre Dame and continued our sightseeing tour via  Place de la Concorde to Opera Garnier, where we dropped off a second time and took a walk to our hotel for a afternoon rest, thus skipping the hottest part of the day outside.

Paris Nights
"Paris Nights"

On our way back later on to the  Opera we bought more water, some Merlot and sandwiches and finally did the third part of our sightseeing tour, again via  Place de la Concorde, continuing to Champs-Elyséss and Arc d’Triumph, Passing by Dom d’Invalides once more and back to Trocadero and Tour d’Eifel.

After a short walk we found a bench in the park close to that huge fountain I mentioned before where we had an incredible view to the famous tower and where we settled down for diner while sun was setting and night approaching. Tour d’Eifel looked great in the light of the golden sun and later on illuminated when it was dark.   “A bit kitschy”, as my wife commented. Later in the evening we walked back to the metro station crossing Mars Field again. It was midnight until we reached our hotel. Luckily even that late metro trains run quiet often and there is only a few minutes wait maximum.