Monday, August 26, 2013

Travel:: Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva and Paris with Mum


Final year is coming soon, one week left.
How time rockets.

Unlike last year, this year I did not come home to Malaysia for summer break. Instead, my mother came and spend the raya with me and my brother.
Together, the 3 of us travelled to Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva and Paris *grin grin*
Our first Raya day was supposed to be in Paris, but it turns out I miscalculated the dates. Or rather, I misread the calendar. Hence, we spent our first Eid day in Geneva.


The Iconic I amsterdam :)

Surprisingly, Amsterdam has many Indonesian restaurants hence it was not hard for us to find halal restaurants to break fast.


But Brussels has even more Muslims. I see Muslim women everywhere, with their scarves and robes (err, jubah?).
I can't recognise Muslim men, they all look the same!
It was harder though to find halal food in Brussels, this is because most of the halal restaurants were closed, I am not sure why. At last, we found one kebab restaurant and to my horror, all the menu was in French (or maybe it was Dutch)! I had to subscribe to travel mobile data to Google Translate the menu and with the help of the pictures, we get a somewhat clear view of what we are ordering. Wasil and the waitress were using sign languages. Fortunately, "Assalammualaikum", "Muslim" and "Halal" were conventional.
We will always start with "Assalammualaikum!" followed by "Muslim, halal?"
We spent only one night in Brussels.

In Brussels, we went to Mini Europe.
This is a place where all the landmarks of the EU countries are displayed. But they are only miniatures.
It is fun to be able to see all the landmarks within 2 hours of walking.
Mama enjoyed it very much, she said she felt as if she has just toured the whole of Europe.
We were given a booklet with brief information about the buildings and both of us walked around reading the booklet.
Wasil, being a man (read: boy) was more interested in the buildings than reading it.

Mini Europe, Brussels

Geneva, Switzerland

Our next destination was Geneva, Switzerland.
It is a very expensive city. Since we started traveling, we've been surviving on kebabs and kebabs till my mum got very sick of it hence we treated her to a Western restaurant. And it cost us approximately CHF 60 for 3 vegetarian pasta! *facepalm*
We converted CHF150 per person and indeed, we finished almost everything in the 2 days we were there. Of course, most of the money went to souvenirs for people rather than food.

The tallest water fountain in the world. Geneva, Switzerland. 

Paris, France

All these while I've been hearing bad stories about Paris. How my friends (or friends of friends) were pickpocket-ed (what a word), tied one hand to the other while the bad man rummaged through his pockets and many other scary stories. I have a friend in Paris who denied all that and insisted these stories were exaggerated. But still, I stepped into Paris feeling very cautious, and apprehensive.

Turns out I was right.
But we were not "bullied" by back street people but rather by the authority!
From Paris Gare de Lyon (the train station we arrived from Geneva), we took the metro and changed to tram in one of the station. We thought the same ticket we used on the metro can be used on this tram, since usually, the transportation tickets are valid for 1 hour.

As soon as the tram departs, ticket inspectors came and asked for our tickets. We gave them our tickets and they started making noises saying that our tickets were invalid and we are fined €30 per person.

Mum and Wasil tried to explain that we did not know and stuff but in no time 5 of them were already surrounding us and demanded money. We even missed our stop.
Some of them can speak English and kept asking us to pay or they'll bring us to the police etc etc. It was so chaotic.

Not long after, I took out my debit card and grudgingly handed it to one of the officers who was holding a card machine. He quickly inserted my card into the machine after I agreed to pay for all 3 of us while another officer started writing in his record book.
After paying €90, we stopped at the next stop and had to take the opposite direction tram to get back to our hotel.

I really felt like cursing all of them.
Such a bad experience within the first hour of arrival into Paris.
The situation turned sour and all of us weren't really speaking to each other since everyone was trying to calm our anger.

My God, even thinking of it now made me feel like kicking those gangsters as hard as I could.
How could they surround us and forced us to pay?
I should not have paid, should I?
I should have just let them bring us to the police station, if they really wanted to.
Maybe they were just threatening us.
If they wanted to send the summon back to our house, we could have given our Malaysian address. Let's see how they want to force us to pay.

Anyway, we had our lunch after that and calmed ourselves down in the hotel room before going out again to visit Paris. This time, we made sure we validate our tickets every single time we board any transportation.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

After telling my friend about the incident, he said trams are different from any other public transportations.
Usually, our tickets will be valid for 1.5hour but that does not apply on trams.

Alright, let's stop here for now.
I have to tidy up my room, heh.

-Because life is a test-