Saturday, July 14, 2018

A pet (dog) at home is a trouble. Or is it?

A child is someone who very naturally fond of companionship. That is why children are very fond of Pets, particularly Dogs, I see many children playing with and feeding the Street dogs in my locality. These dogs also are attached to these children and come running from where ever they are, tail wagging,  the moment they see these children.

Why is this relationship? Most likely because the child has been pestering the Parents to get a dog at home and parents have refused because either one or both of them don't like the pets at home or the fear of increased responsibility and commitment which reduces there mobility.

The Parents are right to some extent. We have had our pet (dog) second time now. Both times it was our son who picked up the Dog (first time he was hardly 8 years old) with a promise to do all the tasks related to the dog, but the promise was extremely shortlived and the Dog lived fairly reasonably long life.

It obviously meant that the care for the dog became our responsibility from the time they arrived at home. When the second time Dog was taken in, our son had become an adult and hence some days when we forced him, he would take the dog out for a walk or give him Bath.

Let it be clear if you do pick up a pet dog because your son/daughter pesters you and you finally agree, the responsibility of the dog is going to rest with you. Worst still, if your pestering child is either about to finish the education or already working, he/she may just leave for another place but the pet would still be with you. It is important to take a pet (including a dog) only when the whole family agrees to get a pet otherwise don't risk that soul's life by getting him/her at home and then making that pet suffer.

Serious responsibility comes onto you when a pet is brought home. But if responsibility is not a burden, the pet at home is a sheer pleasure. They are the best companions that one can have, a dog in particular. Whether there are people at home or you are alone, the dog keeps the home alive and you have the guaranteed company at all time.

They will be with you. They will force you out of the bed. They will make you play with them and they would be so alert that a footstep outside your door would get an instant response by way of loud Bark. Whether an adult or a child or an elderly, with a pet in general and a dog in particular, would never be alone. For a parent whose child is alone at home but the home has a dog, there would be no worry about the safety of the child and the security of the household. As long as the dog is there, no one would dare to look at your house with a not so good intention.

Even when alone, your day will have activities related to your pet. Feeding the pet, tending to the pet, playing with the pet, enjoying moods and the antics of your pet, particularly dogs, are all fun. They provide essential companionship without demanding much from you except for some love and attention and a little bit of food.

Pets also have therapeutic value. They uplift your mood, they help the Spastic children to improve, they help sick recover faster and there are many such documented research indicating various other therapeutic effects of the pets. Not to forget "Seeing Eye Dogs" who assist blind to navigate (I am not sure if Seeing Eye Dogs are available in India) and in many cases, they have saved lives of the Blind by stopping them from falling into Lift Shaft/ditches.

Having a pet, a living being, in the household does impose some limitations but what ones get in return from that pet is more than the trouble we have to take. If the people of the house have to go out, there are Kennels for dogs (not sure if a similar facility exists for other pets like Cats, Parrots, etc). Recently we did a long trip by boarding our dog, a bundle of Energy called Cookie, in a Kennel.

Therefore, in a reluctant household having a pet is a trouble (actually they are the ones not cared for in such a household) but in a willing household, a pet or pets are definitely not a trouble but a gift of God.

Dedicated to our first pet, a lovely Show Stopper German Shephard, Donna.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Virtual Tour of Ghent, Belgium - Day 4 of Our Europe Trip

You can read-

Summery of Trip through Paris, Ghent and Amsterdam -

Day One (at Paris) Blog -

Day 2 (at Paris) Blog -

Day 3 Blog (Paris and Ghent) -

Virtual Tour of Ghent, Belgium - Day 4 of Europe Trip

Ghent in Belgium is a mid size town. It is said that once upon a time Ghent was the second biggest towns in Europe after Paris. Well, not any more. This may be a mid size town but it is a famous education center with  few very reputed universities.

Ghent was also a very important trading post and therefore was quite rich place (once u on a time). It has historical monuments and the beauty is, they all are located in a very compact area except a few which are away. So lets start our tour.

Since its a small place, we had no requirement to start very early. We started off after finishing a hearty breakfast at our B & B which was located at Rabot strat (more about Rabot Strat later). SInce this city can be seen on foot, we started our walk. The street of the town beyond city center were not very crowed. Walking was a pleasure and the weather was balmy.

As we walked towards city center we consulted the tourist map and found a Church very close to our location. It is Sint Elesabeth Anglican Church )originally a Roman Catholic Church but later handed over to Anglican Church in 2016). An old but almost plain building (from outside, we did not go inside as the service was going on) but it is part of an old site called "beguinage or holy corner which ad convents and four churches.

The neighbourhood through which one reaches church too was colourful with beautiful houses and a public garden. For balance part on this place let the Photos do the talking.

The Sint Elisabeth Anglican Church

Statue on the door of Neighbouring household

Stylish houses
After a quick look at this church we continued our walk towards city center. On Brugastraat (which leads to City Square, we came across yet another old church. Building of this church was typical Belgian in its facade. It also had the only parking lot that we saw in this area.

The Church

Carved Door


Typical Belgian Architecture 
A few minutes of walk took us to Gravensteen Castle. It is  castle which built in Middle Age (Around 1180). Gravensteen means "Castle of Counts" in Dutch language. This castle stands at the same location where there was a wooden castle of 900 AD. This was a seat of counts of Flanders (Dutch speaking Northern Part of Belgium) for few centuries. Once the counts abandoned it, it went through many roles and finally fell into disuse till it was renovated by City Council of Ghent around 1885.

It is not as big as a Indian Fort but it is big as a castle compared to standard castles that we see in Europe with its own fortification and some bit of open ground. Let the photos do balance of the talking about Gravensteen Castle.

Gravensteen Castle in full Glory

Closer View

Inside the Compound

One of the hall inside


The Armour

Cross Bow


Model who is generally behind the camera


Another view
Main Castle Enterance

Just inside, at Reception Area

After Gravensteen visit and a quick tasting of Belgian waffle (it was actually invented in Ghent) we strolled further on Korenmarkt (street) enjoying the market scenes  crossing a beautiful building (which in itself looked as if it is a grand Church, etc) we reached Church of Saint Niklaas (Nicholas). It is yet again a grand building. It is beautiful also. Unfortunately I don't seem to have main facade photo of this church.


Inside Nicholas Church

A Stained Glass Panel

Another One

As we walked down further, we reached the most famous monument of Ghent. Ghent Belfry (or watch tower) with attached Merchant's hall. Completed in 1380, this 91 meter tower served as watch tower and a secure vault to store important documents of the city government. There is a merchants hall attached to it where cloth was traded (Ghent being a major trading post) which was added later in the year 1445.

Ghent Belfry,First Look

Inside, Statues of the Protectors

Belfry with Merchant's hall

Ghent Belfry is one of the few places in Europe where there is a lift to reach the top. This lift is from first floor. There are intermediate floors where one can get down from lift while going up or down. The aerial view from top is grand. The other two towers of the three famous towers of Ghent (St Nicholas Church and St Bavo's Cathedral) and the churches on which they stand can be viewed from here.
Aerial View, Saint Nicholas

Bavo's Cathedral from top of Belfry

Street Scene

View of Ghent

The bells of Belfry originally served only religious purpose but soon acquired a state of controller of daily life as they started tolling daily to indicate the time. There was a famous bell named Roland which was removed by a victor who defeated Ghent. Now the belfry has a Carillon built with combination of bells.

The bells of Belfry

Finishing our trip of belfry we moved on and came across Sintbaafspline (Saint Bavo's square). It has a beautiful fountain where that day some children were enjoying a dip. This place also  has a Theater where performances are held. There are few  food trolleys that are parked in this square. We spent some time there basking in the sun.

Children enjoying in the pond


Saint Bavo's cathedral is what gives the square its name. The Saint Bavo's cathedral is a 14th century church which stands at the place were a church existed from 942 AD. Its grand and worth visit. The most important is the artwork of Jan Van Eyck titled "Adoration of Mystic Lamb", only public work of the artist. Its a panel of paintings which are in Chapel.  I did not photograph it as at that time there were too many people around it.

Saint Bavo's Cathedral
After visiting the cathedral we had a ice cream from one of the food truck at the square and then had our lunch. Post lunch we visited the last place on our list, Saint Michael across a romantic bridge named after Saint Michael (Sint Michielsburg). The bridge is considered romantic as this is here that you can click photograph with Saint Michael Church towers. Also on the city side all major monuments provide a good backdrop.

Saint MichealBurg (Bridge)

Saint Michael church is very grand from out side. We could not visit inside as the Church was closed.

Saint Michael Church
After this visit we returned to our B & B. After getting fresh and a cup of tea, I visited Rabot, a Spanish time fortification with sluice gates to flood certain areas to bog down the invading army. Today it is just a simple building.

Our day ended after this trip. We have a morning 6 am Flixbus to catch fro Amsterdam.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Three Days in Paris - Self Planned Europe Trip -Virtual Tour of Paris and Ghent

The summary of pour travel through Paris, Ghent and Amsterdam can be read here -

You can see the blog of day 2 at Paris here -

Our Third day at Paris and Evening at Ghent.

We had a afternoon Flixbus connection to Ghent and that left us with just the pre-lunch session to visit Paris. Only one major place could be done in this time. One such place was Sacre Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart (of Jesus) Paris) that could be visited in this short time.

A beautiful, photogenic white domed Basilica (now I have no idea why a place is called Church, Basilica or Cathedral)  built as a Penance for defeat of France during 1870 Franco - Prussian War as also  Commune of 1871. The structure is Three domed, one large central dome and two small domes on either side make very geometric figure. Its construction started in 1875 and it was finished in 1919.

Taking a bus from Cadet area we reached We reached the nearest bus stop "Muller". A short walk took us to the base of Sacre Coeur. We wanted to take the Funicular (an inclined Lift kind of arrangement which exists at many monuments which are at some height across Europe) but we met a Gujarati Madagascar  citizen who indicated that from our current loctaion we would reach Sacre coeur climbing the short stairs and walking in the same time that we would take to reach the Fanicular station. Hence we choose to walk.

If one wants to take the Funicular, it is better to go to Abbesses Metro in Montmartre area rather than heading to Muller.

It was a warm and sunny day with large number of people visiting Sacre Coeur. As we climbed up the stairs and walk about 50 meters, this was the first glimpse of the Basilica.

First Impression
A beautiful, well proportional white building with its grand and smaller domes stood proud in front of us. The crowd gave it a festival look.

When you are in front of a beautiful monument it is difficult to avoid the urge to photograph self with the beauty

To give the readers a glimpse of the inside here is a panorama of the inner area of Sacre Coeur

There is a scaled model of the Sacre Coeur inside and that also looks beautiful, though difficult to photograph due to low light inside

The exterior of the Basilica is also equally beautiful as you can see below.

There is a stairway access to Sacre Coeur Dome. Its not much, hardly 300 steps (Ha Ha) on long spiral stairway. One side to go up and other side to come down. Climbing up is a good exercise and a bit of fun too. Here are the views from the top

Just Two cautions. One - While one plans Paris trip, visit to Sacre Coeur should be planned befor effil Tower and Notre Dame. The reason is simple, one would enjoy Sacre Coeur visit and views from its dome more if you see Sacre Coeur before Notre Dame (as it is not as historic and as Grand as Notre Dame) and if one visits Eiffel Tower and takes the lift to Summit of the tower before climbing to the Sacre Coeur Dome, the rip to Dome would not impress you.

Two - As mentioned in this post earlier, if one wants to use the Funicular, it is better to travel to Abbesses Metro in Montmartre  than to travel to Muller.

After visiting Sacre Coeur, we returned to our B & B, picked up our luggage, had lunch and then took a cab for Bercy Seine for our Flixbus to Ghent in Belgium. It was a 4 pm bus which reached Ghent by about 8 pm (still clear day light, Europe sunset in summer at that latitude is about 0830 pm) and checked in in our B & B there. 

By the time we settled down and then stepped out into town for dinner, it was dark. We asked some people were to go to have food (finding people beyond happening areas is difficult but we found some) and were directed to area around Sint Veerleplein square. It was a very simple place to find (its city square and also one of the few happening places). Enroute we saw imposing Gravensteen Castle.

Reaching there we found a place where famous Belgian hand cut fries (what we call as French Fries) were available and had our dinner there. The glimpse of night time Ghent that we got is as seen below

As we were taking post dinner stroll along the riverside, we found a a fully illuminated locked studio with glass facade. The statues and artifacts were so lively, we could not help but photograph them. See for yourself and yu would agree with us.

This short experience with Ghent made us very enthusiastic about full visit tomorrow. Returning to B & B, we slept off.