May 31st – 5th June – Paris – Hamburg – Flight back to Brisbane

(Finally completing the blogs for my EU work visit that included some sights on the side! …. only 6 months+ late)

The next fews days were mainly at work and as there was not much happening other than random sights – am compiling them in one post with a lot of pics (honestly I cannot remember much – it is over 6 months back!! )

Paris to Hamburg – 31st May

Last day of work in Paris and we were on an evening flight to Hamburg. Dinner was in the Schipol Lounge – this was much better than the restaurant options on airside.

Reached Hamburg past 9pm and taxi to our Hotel was without incident.
Arriving at the Hotel, it appeared more like a small boutique place – big difference from the last time I was here at the Westin.
However was pleasantly surprised when entering the room – infact blown away, the most amazing rooms with the biggest bathrooms and the most comfortable beds. The bed was heaven, so much needed after the long day we had.
Highly recommend staying at the “Sir Nikolai” hotel. Such a nice place.


Breakfast at the Hotel was great – they offered a very personalised service. The lady incharge of the breakfast had made a good acquaintance with both Nita and I and from Day 2 was very much looking after us and even had our favourite fried eggs cooking as we were getting seated – super impressed with the service.
Next fews days it was me at work which was a mere 10 mins walk away and Nita had a chance to roam about and take in Hamburg city sights and shopping districts!

With the late sunsets, I had loads of time in the evenings to roam about and see places with Nita.

Hamburg had been a good short visit – whilst we did not have a full weekend here, the evenings were great and we did end up having some nice eats!!

Flight back to Brisbane was interesting- Getting to the airport , we had given ourselves 3 hours and thought that would be enough – well it was just enough which included running to the gates!
The queues at the airport were huge , but worse was the Emirate checkin counters, only 2 counters for a massive lineup – add to that AU government deciding to introduce Digital Passenger attestation – only found out about that when I reached the counter. From there it was a mad rush to get forms filled , checking in, immigration and then running to the gates.
A super hectic and a very unpleasant experience to end this trip…. still lets not spoil the entire trip on one bad moment – it had been an amazing working visit and Nita had a great relaxing time.
A bonus on the way back – we had an extra seat – can stretch those legs!!

And that brings to close a great 3 weeks of work travel with a side sightseeing. We covered Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Paris & Hamburg – grateful to be associated with a great company – Domino’s Pizza Enterprises!! Till our next trip – Auf Wiedersehen

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May 30th Paris

(Finally completing the blogs for my EU work visit that included some sights on the side! …. only 6 months+ late)

First day in the Paris office post covid today.
But first a quick bite with Nita at a cute cafe near our hotel we had spotted yesterday.

Ordered Pancakes with Ham and Eggs – that was something different and really nice! Great place but have no idea what the name was :(.

Nita’s plan was to roam about today and just explore on foot, next catchup for us was later in the evening for dinner – yet to be decided, we were wanting a nice Indian/spicy variety – my task was to find that from work!
My Uber came soon after, and left Nita to her breakky and coffee.

Ride to the office was just under 25 mins, back at the French office, good to see fellow colleagues after a long break.

Lunch was with Stephane Monnier, my good friend from Operations – he took me to a nice seafood place around the corner. Back at the office there were more meetings and knowledge sharing sessions with legal, marketing and Finance.

Nita with her coffee fix @ Galleries Lafayette

Met up with Nita back at the hotel and then we were soon of in our Uber to our dinner place – Khajuraho – apparently a fine dining Indian Restaurant with good reviews.
Had not realised the place was so close to river Seine, got the Uber to drop off a block away – we were and this was a great time to walk along with Seine to the restaurant – live a bit more of Paris !

The restaurant was a nice with a good indoor/outdoor seating, we got a nice seat indoor next to the window.
Interestingly the place was decorated with ….as expected…. the statues that are famous in Khajuraho – Kamasutra ! Loved it, that gave us a variety of topics to discuss…. always fun,

Our waiter was good and provided some great recommendations. Food was simply super duper!! All presented so well and the taste was so so good, this is was much needed spice fix. Unfortunately we did not take more pics of the food – our hands were covered in the sauces and curries, could not be bothered with cleaning them up…. food was just so tasty

Highly recommended – must visit Khajuraho Indian when in Paris.

Next we headed out to Pont Alexandre III bridge, which was a mere 5 min walk away.
It was still some daylight – around 9pm – good time to see the transitioning of darkness and the lights coming on around the place. Ofcourse time for some pics!

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May 29th – Paris

(Finally completing the blogs for my EU work visit that included some sights on the side! …. only 6 months+ late)

Montmarte – Day 2! We had an early start to avoid the big crowds at MontMarte. Got there just after 8:30 , place was very empty and it felt so different to yesterday when it was packed.

Good opportunity to take some great pics without any crowds !!

The entry to the upper levels was not going to be open for another hour and a half, good time to get some coffee and light brekky – yes always the french croissants !

Found a nice cafe directly opp the markets with art stalls – was nice seeing artists setup their stalls in the morning…. Pooja would have loved the art works here.

The weather was nice and cool, perfect for the nice warm coffee and croissants – this was a good relaxing break.

That done we headed back to Sacré-Cœur basilica to go up to the top. No queue as we were still early and glad there was no queue .
Got our tickets and we were up the stairs.
Now for the people like me who would not have thought about it, this was a very old building with super narrow stair ways . The way up was a very very narrow spiral stair case made of stone. There were no open windows and room only for a single person to climb at a time and no chance to turn around – it was a ONE-WAY stairs. For people who are claustrophobic – I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS VISIT. I am one of these guys and literally after about 60 seconds of climbing, the walls seemed like closing on me. Unfortunately these stairs go up a single way, there is absolutely no way to turn back with people behind you all trying to climb and as there is no space, there is only ONE WAY – UP :(. Luckily up a few more flights there was a small nook where I had some space to take off my jacket and get more breathing space and calmed my nerves. As it was not crowded the people behind me were more than willing to wait and not pressure me, plus the high stairs was making everyone super tired so a break was well warranted for all.

Slowly made the way up and finally out in the open 🙂 felt so good to feel the fresh cold air on the face. The view from the top was great but the experience getting up there was not the best for me.
If you have a heart problem or are claustrophobic , please do not climb to the top!

The view from the top was great, a very nice outlook of Paris.
As always what goes up must come down…. it was time to go back down. Time for the stairs again, but coming down this time it was not too bad.
We were soon back on ground level and it felt good to be out of there into open areas.

By this time the crowds had definitely built up and queues were getting long. We were lucky to have gone early in the morning.

Walked down the hill to grab an UBER. MontMarte was done and we had covered it very well. We headed back to the OPERA area – to Galleries Lafayette – this was turning to be Nita’s fav spot.

Had a late lunch around 2pm at the Panasia restaurant on the upper level of that place – amazing food!

Around 4pm we made our way to the highly rated Angelina Chocolateria – famous for pastries and amazing hot chocolates.

Queue was about 15 minutes wait which soon cleared up and we were seated.

Could not rate this place high enough !!! LOVE LOVE LOVE…. you have to try the hot chocolate and amazing pastries. This was an amazing finish to the afternoon.

Dinner was booked at Le Train Bleu. This is an amazing french restaurant that is in a train station. Now I say amazing for the decor inside not so for the food ! :(. Whilst the ambience and decor was out of this world the food was not at the level – I would not recommend this place.

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May 28th – Paris

(Finally completing my blogs for my EU work visit that includes some sights on the side! …. only 6 months+ late)

Today we headed to Montmarte – the authentic village within Paris. We had not visited this place in our last 2 Paris visits. Left the best for last.
This is a cobble stoned hilly village on the northside of the city – was only about 15 mins UBER ride – and most of that time was in traffic.

We got dropped at the lower part of the village making our way up to the top. Lots of peoples around , especially Liverpool supportors in their traditional reds – it was the EFUA final today (not that we were going but it definitely made the place more crowded with loads of people).

We needed to fill up and there were loads of cafes – selected one where the croissants looked amazing – did not fancy anything more than the traditional french croissants. These were great just what we needed along with the coffee fix.

Breakky done – headed further up to more crowds and more amazing streets and markets, leading to the magnificent Sacré-Cœur basilica.

The place was amazing however the crowds were LOTS. And a massive queues to get into the Sacré-Cœur basilica.
Decided to give all this a miss and comeback early tomorrow morning. Key thing in Europe, everywhere is super busy by 11am, if you want space and quiet, you need to be at the places much earlier.

Got an uber to Champs-élysées , head to Four Seasons for their amazing coffee & cake. Unfortunately luck was not on our side :(, due to the EUFA finals and the crowds, only hotel guests were allowed in the hotel cafes & restaurants. Back to the main street and headed to Cafe 86 – Loccitane on Champs for our fix of coffee/cakes.

At Cafe 86, we were seated on the street section, which gave us an amazing view of what was happening on the busy Champs Elysees street. This place was jam packed!! And it was amazing to see the number of football supporters. Noticed a couple of guys holding signs ready to buy tickets for over 1000 EUROs. Wow!!

Evening dinner was booked at the Buddha Bar Paris restaurant – we loved this place in Dubai and had a very medicore experience here in 2018 when we came with the gang – gave it another shot but unfortunately again the experience was not super ! Food was not amazing although the wait times were ! Dont think I will be doing Buddha Bar Paris any more 😦

Dinner done, then it was off to Eiffel.

not a bad click with the iphone!

Can never tire of Eiffel – it was getting cold, time to head back to hotel, tomorrow morning it was Montemarte again but much earlier to beat the crowds.

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May 27th – Paris

(I have been so lazy – finally finding some time to finish this blog before our next trip)

Early start today, headed out to Trocadero to take self Portraits with Eiffel Tower as the backdrop.

Got there early before 6am to avoid crowds – shocked to see the top level all boarded up :(. Oh no! This place is supposed to provide the best angle of pics but it was covered with wooden fences – some sort of maintenance going on.
Down the stairs and got lucky with a good vantage point. Time to setup my tripod and we got some good pics.

Next we headed to our other fav vantage point for Eiffel pics – Rue de la universite. Being so early, there was only one couple being photographed and they we soon finishing off – lucky!!

That was enough photography, time to head back to the hotel to change and head out for some breaky.
Getting back to the hotel was easy , but getting into our room not so! Our room key card was not working, went down to get it checked and the lady gave me a new card and said I must have put it next to a phone or something.
Anyways, second card still no luck. Went down again and she said it cannot be, and was getting annoyed at me. Gave me another card and the same thing. Went down and told her about the issue. So she came up and tried herself and as expected – same issue – door would not open. At that point she blamed us that we had locked it from inside :(. She brought in some automated door master key unit to open the door, but that also failed. By this time Nita was getting panicky and worried, and not making the situation any better was the lady still blaming us. At this point I lost my cool and started going off at the and how her manager need to sort this shit out and she needs to learn how to talk. She was soon in tears (OMG what had I done 😦 ). Her manager soon arrived and was super apologetic, had us seated in the breakfast area to get some thing to eat whilst they sorted the door. It was another hour before the door was finally opened and we could get in. What an ordeal but it was not fixed just opened. We were promised it would be fixed by the afternoon. Well atleast our room was accessible. We got freshened and headed out towards Galleries Lafayette – that was a good place to cheer up Nita.

Browsing around and for lunch we ate at the top level food court which had the most amazing asian stir frys! Shared a Chicken Egg Plant stirfry- this would have to be the best stirfry to date!! Wow.

From there we headed to Champs Élysées – never get tired of that place. Walked about and came to Arc De Triomphe. Well why not, did not have much else to do, lets take a walk up those stairs!

Had been a long day and we opted for an early dinner, where else but back to where we had our last most fond memories – Les Halles, @ the La Perla Italian.
Uber’d there, place was much more busier this time around, at the La Perla restaurant, we got a table with no delays. Food arrived and whilst it did look good , unfortunately the same could not be said about the taste. It was not the same as what we had in 2017. Plus the service that we had received previously was not to that level, maybe it was the new staff members ??? Still not a bad meal. Decided to skip dessert and walked in the alleyways.
Nita had to grab an ice cream and take the same pic she did in 2017.

Bit more walking around and headed back to the hotel, surprised to find goodies left behind for us, hotel were sorry for the inconvenience caused with us being locked out earlier today, nice way to end the day 🙂

Hotel provided some goodies to make up for us being locked out of our room
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May 26th – Paris

Back in Paris, our fav city in EU, Paris has such a different vibe to all other cities…. we could keep coming here over and over.

First stop was the Louvre, not going inside but taking in the atmosphere on the top courtyard and of-course more pics

Roaming around the Louvre Courtyard done , next we headed to Cafe Le Nemours – just around the corner from where we were – it was brunch time. The place was full, but finding a table for 2 was achievable, only had to wait around 5 mins and we were soon seated.

Good Brunch and recharging done. Time for some exploring and burning off the calories, walking through the arch-way next to it, we were surprised with what we saw. We were at Jardin du Plalais Royal – Nita had wanted to visit these gardens in this trip , we had loved this place in 2018 but had no idea this was right next to Louvre – last time we Uber’d to it and here it was – well one more tick done 😉

Lots of walking around, we made our way on foot from here to Champs Élysées.
Took a pit stop for a coffee refresher at Four Seasons – we remember the Hot Chocolate we had got for Neha during our last visit there, it was soo good, had to try it again.
Four Seasons is just wow!! Enter into a world of fresh flowers – they did not skimp on flowers, they are everywhere.
The bar we sat in in 2018 was closed today, however we did get a seat at the La Galleria – this is the place we wanted in 2018 but due to no space we sat in the Bar !

Had a nice table overlooking the courtyard, ordered our coffees and the Napolean cake recommended by our wait staff.
It was good to be seated after all that walking, time to relax. Our coffees and cake arrived soon after.
The cake was to die for, not too sweet, the flaky layers were perfect – and the sauce all made it sooo yumm!!

Next to our table were as an American couple on holidays, we began chatting with them and found out how they had to get COVID tests done before flying out – it made it hard for them to be holidaying and making sure to keep themselves super safe for the test results. On that side of things, we were super lucky that Australia did not have that requirement. Was good chatting with them and their holiday so far.

After about 1 hour plus at the coffee pit stop, we were back on the streets , time to explore Champs-Élysées – or more for Nita to explore her stores ;).

Nita made the key stops at her fav beauty stores, then it was time to make our way back to the hotel to relax a bit. In the evening we had an 8pm reservation at KONG – Nita had booked that place a month back from AU. Pictures did look good, fingers crossed the food lived up to the pics. This restaurant was also used in a scene from Sex in the City.

Our UBER got us there just after 7:45pm, a shot walk around and then it was up the lift to this interesting place.
It was dimly lit with nice relaxing vibe to it.
The front door person checked our reservations and guided us to our table.
It was weird, it was all dimly lit with not many windows, but the pics were showing of a DOME style environment with lots of windows looking outside.
Well that view was next, the entry is on the lower flower and then they guides us up an internal round stair case, revealing the DOME upper level – WOW!! This was very cool, a top level floor with an almost 360 degree view … almost as the end of the hallway was not fully glass covered.
But this place was so so cool, amazing views from here, we got seated next to a window 🙂 – YAY!! The place was packed and tables were close to each other, however being next to the window, it did not give that feeling of being to close to all – hint, get a window table booking, definitely worth it.

Food was a surprise, we were expecting lack lustre food, as the star dish was the view, however were pleasantly surprised to have got amazing flavours – hands down very good Asian fusion + they had great cocktails. A very good fun first dinner in Paris for this trip :).
Headed out to the Pont Neuf bridge – a stones throw away.
This bridge is where we took a ton of pics when we were here with the family n friends group in 2018. What a place and great memories.

It was a good finish to the night, time for the Uber back to the hotel and a pic with the Domino’s just around the corner from our Hotel.

The Domino’s next to our hotel
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May 25th – Utrecht to Paris

Last day of working from Utrecht completed and we were on a 8pm flight to Paris.
Arrived around 4pm to the Hotel, Nita was almost all packed, couple of checks and we were headed to the Utrecht central station to take our train to Schiphol Airport – due to the afternoon and long wekeend traffic Kaos, was recommended to the take the train to the Airport rather the risk being stuck on the highway in Taxi. The train to the airport was super quick, and super easy.
We were soon checked-in and avoided the massive checkin queues all thanks to being Business Class.
Got lucky with that, apparently buying economy internal flights with baggage was equal to a business class ticket!! So they flew us Business for the internal flights 🙂 – not complaining.
Made our way to the lounges to now chill and replay our amazing experiences so for. Next stop was Nita’s fav and you could not keep the smile off her face – we was so looking forward to Paris.

Flight was smooth and we arrived in Paris on time, just past 9:30pm.
Grabbed a Taxi and were on our way to our Hotel in the Opera area. Unfortunately with the EUFA finals on the same weekend, accommodation was scarce and prices were super high, IBIS it was in Paris, but the location was bang on, it was as I had asked to be placed in the Opera area.

Hotel check in all done, now it was time to relax and look forward to the long weekend!
Tomorrow was a public holiday and I took Friday off as Annual leave, allowing us to get a long 4 days of free time to roam about.

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May 16th – 24th Utrecht

Summarising these into one post. During this period, I was at work daily so it was not really holidays and there were only a few pics of us dining out etc.
Covering these days with pics

Dominos EU HeadOffice
This was my office for the next 8 days, located in an industrial area a good 25 mins uber ride from central – no easy way to get there and not much around the office, but the office itself was so much more nicer than the AU office.

Typical night time working from the Hotel – COGNAC goes very well

So many good breakfast spots in Utrecht, Anna Pancakes is one we found from online reviews, highly recommend this place. I small nook that serves the most amazing variety of pancakes + they have good coffees!

Utrecht has many many canals all lined with great food / coffee nooks – we were making the most of the sites and trying different places. As with all places, there were one or two places that were not so great, but overall we were happy with the variety of monrning and afternon tea/coffee experiences we had

Outing with my EU Team
Took out my EU team on a drinks and dinner. Nita got to meet, Priya, Akshay and Gopi. Amazing bunch. Priya helped Nita by locating and getting for her a special Tandoori Marsala that we last picked up in London in 2018.

Best food at De Goedheyd

Best and the most amazing surprise menu food we have had to date @ “De Goedheyd“, my colleague Jeffrey Berend took Nita and I to this special place.
The Surprise menu indeed a surprise, such an amazing experience, no menus – just chatting with the Chef’s on what we dont like and then let it all start :). All meals paired with perfect matching wines.
Big advantage I had was going with a local , else I may never had tried this place!!
Highly recommended

Amsterdam day visit – Work meeting with Snowflake @ Amsterdam, planned afternoon catchup with Nita, experienced the best Indian in NL – Anjappar – recommended by my work colleagues. Wow this place is amazing , nice spicy varieties from the south – I just wish we had more people so we could try other dishes, well something for next times.

Lots of Dinners and Dessert options – it was a hit n miss but then that is the fun with exploring

Another Surprise menu dinner
After the De Goedheyd experience, we wanted more of that, and ended up at “El Qatarijne”. Whilst not to the level of De Goedheyd, this was very good. It puts itself as taking the flavours from the Easts and modernising it – I think they did it well. I also met a look-a-like of Bachan from Cheeni Kum, just wish I also met Tabu!!

Sights across Utrecht, so many canal walks, above and near the water, and then there were hidden gems – this place has so grown on us both, prefer this over Amsterdam so much – it is compact and has it all

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May 15th – Rotterdam

It was Windmill viewing today, at Kinderdijk in Rotterdam, we had booked that back in Australia – try and book this in advance, once a month on a Sunday they have an open day where a lot more windmills are open for viewing.

Another early start – taking a 7:15am train to Rotterdam. Train ride was not too long with great views of a different side of NL.

At Rotterdam central, we took an Uber to the Waterbus statation- it is a great means to get to the Windmills, a nice water ride across Rotterdam.

Finally made it to Kinderdijk, a short walk from the water taxi stop and we were soon looking at an amazing sight – farmland with Windmills !!

Windmill touring done, made our way back via the Waterbus to Rotterdam , now for some local sight seeing, including the Market Hall and Cube houses. We took the scenic walk from the waterbus station to the Markethall passing the maritime area. Being a warm day, that walk was getting a bit uncomfortable – we both hate touring in warm weather, it just gets so uncomfortable and tiring :(.

By the time we reached Market hall, we were tired, the heat was draining. First stop a long lunch break, found a nice place in the Market Hall.

Got a much needed break, had enough energy to walk around Market Hall to see some of the vast array of food stalls – picked up some nut varieties to munch along for the next few days.

Directly outside were the cube houses, great no need to walk much.

Post that we decided to head back to Utrecht, avoiding stretching ourselves too much, I needed to be in a good state for my first day at the NL Head Office.

That evening we went to Namaskar Indian restaurant in Utrecht, wanted something spicy – unfortunately the Google reviews did not live up to it, I would rate this place very very bad, please avoid.

We were done early, decided to walk around the place and see the evening buzz on a Sunday. Lots of people eating out. Stopped by for some Gelato and made our way back to the hotel.

Gelato @ Utecht

Called it an early night , tomorrow was back to work.

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May 14th – Amsterdam

Finally putting my lazy self aside and getting to writing the blog for our NL work/personal trip. Better late then never, this late also means I may have forgotten a few things….will try my best.

We headed out to Amsterdam for a day trip. Were last here with our friends in 2018 during our Cruise and had some amazing memories then.
Took the train from Utrecht to Amsterdam, did not realise how easy train travel was here – highly recommend this mode of transport in NL, super efficient and so cost effective. Got an early start to make the most of the day.

Arrived in Amsterdam in just under 40 mins, it was a glorious day – clear skys and not too warm, allowing lots of walking without getting tired. Time to start walk-abouts.

We were getting peckish, had skipped breakfast, time for some brunch. Walking around the amazing canals and narrow laneways, found a hotel with a nice outside seating overlooking a canal. Had a nice recharge there.

Recharge done, now for some more roaming around…. found an amazing cookie shop, they baked the freshest bestest cookies!!! Must try for anyone coming here. it is called “HET KOEKEMANNETJE”.

We clocked a fair bit of steps today, it was getting close to 2pm, time for a late lunch – did not want anything heavy and opted for Sushi at Shiso – a great place – the Google reviews were right. Sushi here was perfect and just what we needed.

It was then walking about a bit more before heading back to Utrecht. Made it back for a coffe and then to the hotel to rest a bit.

Nita had booked dinner at at Cantina De David – an Italian restaurant that was very highly rated and required bookings to be made weeks ahead. Food was great but the most amazing part was the location and where we were seated, it was like an underground shelter.

Great finish to the night, it had been a long day for us but what made it interesting was the daylight that stayed till around 10pm!

Tomorrow we were off to see the Windmills at Rotterdam.

View from our hotel room – around 9:30pm.
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