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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Indian Restaurants in Europe with odd opening hours

During past 2 months, I have visited several European cities and in each city managed to find some Indian restaurant. While I was delighted to find homely food, the surprising bit for me was the very odd opening hours of many of these restaurants.

In India restaurants open early in the morning for breakfast- like 7 AM and continue to operate till night say 10 PM serving breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner without shutting down during day time. Of course some upmarket restaurants do not open for breakfast- they open at 10.30/11 Am and serve lunch to dinner. I was expecting a similar timing for Indian restaurants for Indian restaurants that operate in European cities, but what I found out is different.

In the city of Bern, Switzerland, I walked up to Maharaja Restaurant at about 12.20 pm hoping to find some lunch. It was a Sunday and I was treated to a locked door with a sticker which said on weekends they open only at 5.30 PM till 11PM. Essentially don't expect any food all day till sunset.

In the city of Bergen, Norway, Indian restaurant Lille Taste of  India opens only at 1PM, while another Indian restaurant, Arti opens only at 2 PM

In Geneva, Switzerland, this Indian restaurant opens at 11 AM but closes at 3PM, reopens at 5.30 to close again at night. Spotted few other restaurants later, they also had different timings.

In Brussels, Belgium, this Indian restaurant opens from 11.30- 2.30PM and again from 6PM to 11PM

I can understand opening late. I am not expecting any of these restaurants to open early for breakfast time. Most tourists will have free breakfast at hotel and or will be getting up late. So if you open a restaurant at 7AM you may not really get much customers. But opening too late in the afternoon, closing for few hours in the afternoon etc causes lots of inconvenience to customers- particularly tourists. Tourists may have a train to catch or things to do. If the restaurant they were counting on is closed, it may not always be possible to wait till restaurant opens. Tourists will be forced to manage with some non-Indian food and move on. It is worse on weekends. Weekends is when most tourists will be coming, so restaurants could use these days to open for additional hours and make some extra money. But they have even less working hours on Saturday and Sunday.

I checked and found that different restaurants will have different timings- there is no legal obligation or a uniform code as to when a restaurant should be open or closed. It is decided by the owners.

I am wondering why do they need to close completely in the afternoon? Why not stay open with probably less staff and reduced number of items on offer. Rent and salary and other such fixed expense will have to paid anyway so why not try earn some extra money?

Local families who are familiar with opening hours can plan well or cook at home as a backup option. It is the tourists who will feel betrayed seeing closed doors of a restaurant. If they open only at 5PM on Sunday, then tourists will have to go elsewhere for lunch. Coming back later could mean precious time and extra money on transportation.

I spoke to a staff in the Arti restaurant in Bergen- she said “People here usually do not take heavy breakfast as we do in India and they will have lunch early at 11-12 AM. We get most of our business in the evening hours”. Another staff in Geneva said “During Ramadan month we open extra hours. If we have customers we have no problem staying open extra”. This restaurant had closing hours marked as 3PM. When I went in at 3.20 PM it was still open, but when I wanted to order, I was offered only take away stating they are about to close.

Of course I am only sharing my observations. Each business owner has full authority to decide when he wants to do business and when to remain closed. I can’t guarantee them more business if they extend their business hours. But I feel staying open with skeleton staff/reduced number of items might be better than complete closure.

Many customers of Indian restaurants abroad where I visited were non-Indians. Just like how Indians go out to try Italian or Mexican or Thai food, others venture into Indian restaurants once a while. So the timing is probably very much fine for them, who form decent percentage of customer base for these restaurants.

Also may be I am a minority here. Being vegetarian and not very comfortable with non-Indian food, I rely heavily on Indian restaurants in a city to feed me something sensible I can fill my stomach with. My next option is to walk into outlets like Subway and ask them to make me a burger/sub without meat or buy some fruits and snacks from a supermarket and survive on it till better alternative is found. But other Indians who eat meat aren’t really dependent on Indian food when abroad. They may happily enjoy local cuisine or manage with any non-veg food they can find. Thus the closed doors may not impact them much. Just for once a bluemoon customers like me, they may not want to keep it open for several hours.

Another point to be noted that not all Indian restaurants are owned by Indians. Many are owned by Pakistani or Bangladeshi nationals. So may be the opening hours are influenced by their own culture back home.

Indian Restaurants in Copenhagen are good in this aspect. They don’t close in middle of the day. A Nepalese cuisine restaurant in Helsinki Finland called Everest also seemed to be fine- open from 11 AM till 11 (on Sundays 12 noon to 11 PM)

What are your thoughts? Have you faced similar scenarios?

ಸ೦ಸದರ ಸ೦ಬಳದ ವಿಷಯ...

ಸ೦ಸದರ ಸ೦ಬಳದ ವಿಷಯ... (A kannada article about salary of our MPs)

ಈ ವಾರ ಸ೦ಸದ ಪ್ರತಾಪ ಸಿ೦ಹ ಲೋಕಸಭಾ ಸದಸ್ಯರ ಸ೦ಬಳದ ವಿಷಯ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದು ಬಹಳ ಚರ್ಚೆಗೆ ಗ್ರಾಸವಾಯಿತು. ಸ೦ಸದರಿಗೆ ಈಗ ಸಿಗುವ ೫೦೦೦೦ ಸಾವಿರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹಾಗು ಮತ್ತಿತರ ಸವಲತ್ತುಗಳು ಯಾತಕ್ಕೂ ಸಾಕಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ, ಮಗಳ ಓದಿಗೆ ತಿ೦ಗಳಿಗೆ ೯೦೦೦೦ ಸಾವಿರ ಬೇಕು, ಕಚೇರಿ ನಡೆಸಲು ಬ೦ದವರಿಗೆ ಚಾ ಕಾಫ಼ಿ  ಕೊಡುವುದು ಸೇರಿದ೦ತೆ ಹತ್ತಾರು ಖರ್ಚುಗಳಿದ್ದು, ಸ೦ಸದನಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ತನ್ನ ಆದಾಯ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಗಿದೆ, ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಎ೦ಪಿಗಳ ಸ೦ಬಳ  ಕನಿಷ್ಟ ೩ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಇರಲಿ ಎನ್ನುವುದು ಪ್ರತಾಪ ಸಿ೦ಹರ ಬರಹದ ತಾತ್ಪರ್ಯ.

ಸಹಜವಾಗಿಯೇ ಇದು ಹಲವು ಪರ ವಿರೋಧ ವಾದಗಳನ್ನು ಹುಟ್ಟುಹಾಕಿತು. ಮಗಳನ್ನು ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಯಾಕೆ ಸೇರಿಸಬಾರದು? ೩ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೆ ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಉತ್ತಮರಾಗಿಬಿಡುತ್ತಾರೆಯೆ? ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಹಲವು ಅನಿಸಿಕೆಗಳು ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ ತಾಣದಲ್ಲಿ ವ್ಯಕ್ತವಾದವು. ಇವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹಲವು ಪ್ರತಾಪರ ಗಮನಕ್ಕೆ ಬ೦ದು ಅವರು ಉತ್ತರವಾಗಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಚೀಟಿ ಯನ್ನು ಫ಼ೇಸ್ ಬುಕ್ಕಿಗೆ ಹಾಕಿದ್ದಲ್ಲದದೆ ಇನ್ನೊ೦ದು ಲೇಖನ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿ ಅಪಸ್ವರ ಎತ್ತಿದವರ ಬಾಯಿ ಮುಚ್ಚಿಸಲು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸಿದರು.

ಈ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಬೆಳವಣಿಗೆಗಳನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದ ನನಗೆ ಈ ವಿಷಯದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನನ್ನದೇ ಆದ ಅನಿಸಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ಹ೦ಚಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕೆನಿಸಿತು. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಈ ಬರಹ. ನನಗೆ ಪ್ರತಾಪ ಸಿ೦ಹರ ಮೇಲೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಅಭಿಮಾನವಿದ್ದು, ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡದ ಮತ್ತು ಹಣ ನು೦ಗುವ ನೂರಾರು ಸ೦ಸದರಿಗಿ೦ತ ಇವರ್ರು ಹಲವು ಪಟ್ಟು ಉತ್ತಮರು. ಅವರನ್ನು ಕೆಟ್ಟವರಾಗಿ ಚಿತ್ರಿಸುವುದು ಈ ಬರಹದ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಖ೦ಡಿತಾ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಅಪಸ್ವರಗಳನ್ನು ಸದ್ದಡಗಿಸುವ ಭರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ವಸ್ತುನಿಷ್ಟ ಅ೦ಶಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಾಪರು ಕಡೆಗಣಿಸಿರುವುದಾಗಿ ಮೇಲ್ನೋಟಕ್ಕೆ ಕ೦ಡುಬರುವುದರಿ೦ದ ನನ್ನ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಗಳನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಪಡಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

೧. ತಾನು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕೆಲಸಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರತಿಯಾಗಿ ತನಗೆ ದೊರೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಕಡಿಮೆ ಎ೦ದು ಎನಿಸುವುದು ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಉದ್ಯೊಗಗಳಲ್ಲೂ ಸರ್ವಕಾಲ ಸತ್ಯ. ಆದರೆ ಭಾರತದ ಜನಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಮತ್ತು ಇತರ ಉದ್ಯೋಗಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒ೦ದು ಮೂಲಭೂತ ವೆತ್ಯಾಸವಿದೆ. ಇತರರು ತಮ್ಮ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಇನ್ಯಾರದೋ ಮರ್ಜಿ ಕಾಯಬೇಕು. ಒಬ್ಬ ಕಾರ್ಖಾನೆ ನೌಕರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳಕ್ಕಾಕಿ ಮಾಲೀಕರ ಮು೦ದೆ ಅ೦ಗಲಾಚಬೇಕು. ಒಬ್ಬ ಸಾಫ಼್ಟ್ ವೇರ್ ಇ೦ಜಿನೀಯರ್ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ವಾರ್ಷಿಕ ಅಪ್ಪ್ರೈಸಲ್ ಗೆ ಕಾಯಬೇಕು. ಸರಕಾರಿ ನೌಕರರು ಬಜೆಟ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಆಗಬಹುದಾದ ಘೋಷಣೆಗೆ ಕಾಯಬೇಕು. ಈ ಎಲ್ಲ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳಗಳಿಗೆ ಹತ್ತು ಹಲವು ತೊಡಕುಗಳಿದ್ದು ಹಲವೊಮ್ಮೆ ಮುಷ್ಕರ ಹೂಡುವುದು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಮಾರ್ಗವನ್ನು ಅನುಸರಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತದೆ ಮತ್ತು ಹೆಚ್ಚಳವೇನಿದ್ದರು ಅತಿ ಅಲ್ಪ ಪ್ರಮಾಣದ್ದಾಗಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಆದರೆ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳ ಮಾತೇ ಬೇರೆ. ತಮ್ಮ ಸ೦ಬಳ ತಾವೇ ನಿರ್ಧರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ವಿಶೇಷ ಅಧಿಕಾರ ಇರುವುದು ಇವರಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ. ೫೦೦ ಸ೦ಸದರು ಸೇರಿ "ನಾಳೆಯಿ೦ದ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ೧೦ ಪಟ್ಟು ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಲಿ" ಎ೦ದು ತೀರ್ಮಾನಿಸಿಬಿಟ್ಟರೆ ಬಡ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಪ್ರಜೆ ಅದನ್ನು ತನ್ನ ತೆರಿಗೆಯಿ೦ದ ಭರಿಸಬೇಕು. ಹಾಗಾಗಿಯೇ ಜನರು ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳ ಸ೦ಬಳವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸುವುದು. ಸ೦ಬಳದ ಮೊತ್ತವನ್ನು ಬದಲಾಯಿಸುವ ಅಧಿಕಾರ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರಿಗೆ ಹೇಗೂ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಅದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸಲೂ ಬಾರದು, ಚರ್ಚಿಸಲೂ ಬಾರದು, ತನ್ನ ವಾದವೇ ಸರಿ ಎನ್ನುವ ಧೋರಣೆ ಸರಿಯಲ್ಲ.

೨. ನಾವೆಲ್ಲ ನಮ್ಮ ಆದಾಯವನ್ನು ಗಮನದಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊ೦ಡು ಎಷ್ಟು ಖರ್ಚು ಮಾಡಬಹುದು ಎ೦ದು, ಯಾವುದು ನಮಗೆ ’Affordable" ಎ೦ದು ನೋಡುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಆದರೆ ಪ್ರತಾಪರ ಲೆಕ್ಕಾಚಾರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ದಿಕ್ಕಿನದು. "ಇಷ್ಟು ಖರ್ಚಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ, ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಇದಕ್ಕಿ೦ತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿರಲಿ" ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರವರು. ಇದೇ ಲಾಜಿಕ್ ಅನ್ನು ವಿಸ್ತರಿಸುವುದಾದರೆ ಮು೦ದೆ ಮಗಳ ಉನ್ನತ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸಕ್ಕೆ ತಿ೦ಗಳಿಗೆ ೧೦ ಲಕ್ಷ ಖರ್ಚಾದರೆ ಸ೦ಸದರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ೧೫ ಲಕ್ಷ ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆ? Of course ಸರಕಾರಿ ಕೆಲಸಕ್ಕೆ ಆದ ಖರ್ಚನ್ನು reimburse ಮಾಡಲಿ.

೩. ಪ್ರತಾಪರು ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿದ ತಮ್ಮ ಪೇ ಸ್ಲಿಪ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲೂ ಆದಾಯ ತೆರಿಗೆ ಕಡಿತಗೊ೦ಡ ಲೆಕ್ಕವಿಲ್ಲ. ಸ೦ಸದರಿಗೆ ಸಿಗುವ ಸ೦ಬಳ, ಭತ್ಯೆ ತೆರಿಗೆ ರಹಿತವಾಗಿದ್ದರೆ ಅದು ಇತರರಿಗೆ ಹೋಲಿಸಿದರೆ ಬರೊಬ್ಬರಿ ೩೦% ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಆದಾಯ ಪಡೆದ೦ತೆ. ಯಾಕೆ೦ದರೆ ತತ್ಸಮಾನ ಆದಾಯ ಪಡೆಯುವ ಇತರರು ೨೦-೩೦% ಆದಾಯ ತೆರಿಗೆ ಕಳೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾರೆ.

೪ "ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗಳು ಸರಿಯಿಲ್ಲ. ಅದನ್ನು ಬದಲಾಯಿಸುವಷ್ಟು ಅಧಿಕಾರ ನನಗಿಲ್ಲ, ಒಬ್ಬ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ತ೦ದೆಯಾಗಿ ಮಗಳನ್ನು ದುಬಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಕಳಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ" ಎ೦ದಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಪ್ರತಾಪ್. ಅವರ ವಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಆಯ್ಕೆಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸುವ ಉದ್ದೇಶವಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೂ ಉದ್ಭವಿಸುವ ಸ೦ಶಯವೆ೦ದರೆ ಒ೦ದು ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಯನ್ನು ಉತ್ತಮ ಪಡಿಸಲು ಎಷ್ಟು ಅಧಿಕಾರ ಬೇಕು? ನಾಡಿನ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ರಾತ್ರೋ ರಾತ್ರಿ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿಪಡಿಸಿ ಎ೦ದು ಯಾರೂ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಿಲ್ಲ. ಯಾವುದಾದರು ಒ೦ದು ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಸೇರಿಸಿ, ಆ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಆಗಾಗ ಭೇಟಿಕೊಟ್ಟು ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ನ್ಯಾಯಯುತವಾಗಿ ಸಿಗಬೇಕಾದ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳೆಲ್ಲಾ ಸಿಗುವ೦ತೆ ನೋಡಿಕೊ೦ಡರೆ ಸಾಕಲ್ಲವೇ? ಒ೦ದು ಶಾಲೆಯನ್ನು ಮಾದರಿ ಶಾಲೆಯಾಗಿ ಪರಿವರ್ತಿಸಿ ತೋರಿಸಿದರೆ ಸುತ್ತ ಮುತ್ತಲಿನ ಹತ್ತು ಶಾಲೆಗಳು ಅದೇ ಮಾದರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ ಹೊ೦ದುತ್ತವೆ. ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಹೋದರೆ ಇತರರಿಗೂ ಪ್ರೇರಣೆಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಆಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳು, ಶಿಕ್ಷಕರು ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಸೂಕ್ತ ಗಮನ ಕೊಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಶಾಶ್ವಥವಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೂ ಕನಿಷ್ಟ ಒ೦ದು ವರ್ಷ ತಮ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಸರಕಾರಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಕಳುಹಿಸಿ ಬದಲಾವಣೆಯ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡಬಹುದಲ್ಲವೆ?

೫. ಜನ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸ೦ಬಳ ಕೊಡಲು ಮೊದಲು ದೇಶದ ಬಳಿ ಸ೦ಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳಿರಬೇಕು. ಸರಕಾರಿ ದು೦ದುವೆಚ್ಚ ಕಡಿತಗೊಳಿಸುವುದು, ಕಪ್ಪು ಹಣ, ಬ್ರಷ್ಟಾಚಾರ ನಿಯ೦ತ್ರಿಸುವುದು, ಕೇವಲ ಆದಾಯ ತೆರಿಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸುವ ಬದಲು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಜನರನ್ನು ತೆರಿಗೆ ವ್ಯಾಪ್ತಿಗೆ ತರುವುದು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಮೊದಲು ಆಗಬೇಕಿದೆ. ಮೊದಲು ಇವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿ ನ೦ತರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿಕೊ೦ಡರೆ ಯಾರೂ ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.(ಸೈನಿಕರಿಗೆ ಜಾರಿಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಸರಕಾರ ಪಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕಷ್ಟ ನಿಮಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತೇ ಇದೆ.)

೬. ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತನಾಗಿರುವವರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಗೆ ತಕ್ಕ೦ತೆ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ. ಖ೦ಡಿತ ಇರಲಿ. ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳಿಗೂ ಒ೦ದು ಮಾನದ೦ಡ ಬೇಡವೇ? ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡುವವರಿಗೆ ಖ೦ಡಿತ ಉತ್ತಮ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಸಿಗಲಿ. ಆದರೆ ಸ೦ಸದ್ ಅಧಿವೇಶನಗಳಿಗೆ ಚಕ್ಕರ್ ಹಾಕುವ, ತಮ್ಮ ಮತರಾದರ ಕೈಗೆ ಸಿಗದ, ಅನುದಾನವನ್ನು ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಬಳಸದ ಸ೦ಸದರಿಗೂ ಏಕೆ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಬೇಕು? ಭಾ. ಜ. ಪ ಗೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಬಹುಮತ ಇರುವುದರಿ೦ದ ಮೊದಲು ಸ೦ಸದರ ಕೆಲಸವನ್ನು, ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ಒರೆಗೆ ಹಚ್ಚಿ ಪರಾಮರ್ಷಿಸುವ "Framework" ಮೊದಲು ಮ೦ಡನೆಯಾಗಲಿ. ನ೦ತರ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಅ೦ಕ ಗಳಿಸಿದವರ ಸ೦ಬಳ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಲಿ. ಏನ೦ತೀರಿ?

City of Bern, Switzerland explored in 90 minutes

How much of a city can you see in 90 minutes? If you have 90 minutes to spare would you step out to check out the city or prefer to relax in a cozy place? On my day 2 in Switzerland, I planned to stop over at Bern and spend a few hours exploring the city. It had a house where Einstein had stayed and few other attractions. However, as I first decided to go to Niesen peak near Spiez, I had very limited time left for Bern. With next train to Geneva some 15 and 90 minutes away, I stepped out of the station at about 12.10 PM with the thought of skipping immediate connection and taking next one, making the most of my 90 minutes. First I walked to an Indian Restaurant, Maharaja but was greeted by the closed door and a notice that said on Sundays restaurant open only by 5.30 PM.

I had made some plans to visit a few specific spots in the city- like bear park, Einstein House etc. But given the reduced time, it seemed difficult that I will be able to visit them. So I changed my plans. I decided to hop on into a tram and do some random sight seeing. If I find something interesting around, I would get down at next station, take some pics and hop on a tram again. Like this, with some walking and tram rides, I could take some decent photos of the city- the bridge, a museum, a river and a bunch of such outdoor stuff. Below are the pictures from my short exploration of Bern city.

River Aare runs around Bern and is its main lifeline. There are several bridges across River Aare, below is one of them... There is a botanical garden on the other side but I had no time.

Another bridge across River Aare.. I had time to cross this.

Einstein Museum, Bern

Above-right: The Bern Minster is a cathedral in the old city of Bern. Only saw it from a distance. More about this 15th  century building here

Zytglogge- Bern’s landmark medieval tower- this is an 800 year old building with several renovations and 15th century astronomical clock. More on Wikipedia
Kindlifresserbrunnen- Child eater fountain

Kunsthalle Bern- an art museum/exhibition centre.

With last few minutes remaining, I literally ran from tram station (just one station before Railway station) to click this building. Clicked some pictures and ran back to catch next tram. Had no clue what this building is, found later that this building is Bendeshaus or Federal Palace of Switzerland- it is a century old administrative building.

Above: The bright red trams in Bern, Switzerland....

The city of Bern certainly deserves more time than I could spend. 

Friday, October 09, 2015

Skywatch Friday-Sunrise at Geneva lake, Switzerland

After walking around the United Nations building, I walked towards the Geneva lake. The vast water-body was very inviting with daylight breaking in a corner. Clicked plenty of pictures, some of them below for this week's skywatch Friday. Zero post processing is done.

View my other skywatch pics under the Skywatch tag. Even more skywatch pics from around the world here

Thursday, October 08, 2015

United Nations, Geneva at 5AM

When I went to Geneva, Switzerland, I had to make some ad hoc changes to my plan. I landed at about 11 PM. My plan was to take a 5.46 AM train to Bern (and then to Interlaken). So I didn’t want to spend on a hotel for few hours. I decided to take a walk in the town at 11PM. I walked towards the Geneva lake. But the ambiance was not very encouraging. The streets were full of people both black and white with bottles, in various stages of alcoholic influence. Prostitutes on the street and guys standing by the corner observing everything around. Near the Geneva lake there were groups of people indulging in drunken talking, overall this was not the kind of welcome I expected in Switzerland and I didn’t feel very comfortable/safe roaming around. So I walked back to the Geneve railway station by midnight. But the counter that sells Swiss Pass (costs 210 Euros, but gives nearly unlimited access to all bus/train and trams in Switzerland) would open only at 8AM. Buying individual tickets could have cost a lot, plus takes away flexibility of being able to board any train/tram/bus anywhere. So I had to trade off 2 hours- instead of 5.47 train, I could only take 8.11 Am train, which meant I had couple of hours to spare exploring Geneva town. I slept for few hours in the Railway station waiting room and went out for a walk at about 5 AM. Now the streets were clear. It was cold but I could move forward. Referring to Google maps I walked towards United Nations. An organization of which several countries including India is member of.
Of course there was nothing I could do infront of United Nations building at 5 AM. I took some pictures of the broken chair (a piece of art) and took lots of photos of the UN building. India flag was not in the front, so I couldn’t locate it.  United Nations opens for public on select days and at select hours. The day when I was in Switzerland was not one of those days. Visiting UN was not my priority either. I walked further to take a look at a museum building(which would again open at 10 AM). But its reflection in water was nice, so after some photography I moved towards the Geneva Lake.  
 United Nations Geneva, Switzerland- visitor Information
 The broken chair- a 12 meter, made out of wood sculpture by a swiss artist