One glorious day soaking up the spirit of Siena

This Tuscan town is famous for the Palio…

Hungover from the highs of flower-draped whitewashed villas, open-roof vintage cars and cliff-hanger coastal views. Dew-fresh Amalfi Coast memories flashing through the mind’s eye. Train-bound to Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, in and out of tunnels, through golden fields loaded with bales of hay and little hill towns dotted with red-roof houses. No big surprises during the 5-minute taxi ride from the station. Until the moment we sail through one of the gates…into one of the most unique walled towns in all of Italy.

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Why Dhanushkodi is the most seductive ghost town ever?

Was Dhanushkodi destined for destruction?

The traffic snarls begin from the monumental elephant-shaped rock hill of Yanaimalai, which stands guard at the outskirts of one of India’s most ancient and spiritually revered cities. Spaces grow tighter as we push deeper into the narrowing arteries of the Madurai. Past gaping construction pits of a ‘work-in progress’ smart city. Through noisy microphones blaring with reprimands of traffic policemen. Along psychedelic gopurams and inviting stalls of white and orange jasmine garlands. In and out of markets crowded with gold jewellery stores and street-side restaurants advertising frothy glasses of Jigarthanda. It’s an eventful drive, even without a glimpse of the iconic Meenakshi Amman Temple.

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Five offbeat ways to find bliss in the glory of Goa

Flashback to freedom in Goa

100 days of lockdown. 100 days of blue skies, birdsong and window-facing workdays. 100 days of balcony greens, dewdrops and virtual events. 100 days of introspective solitude and small mercies. Occasional anxiety bouts and unexpected disaster-strikes. Largely #ThriveAtHome theme. And finally, a break in hibernation, thanks to an unavoidable errand. Covid-proof drive through almost-forgotten roads. Untrimmed bougainvillaea bushes breaking free in joyous abandon. Expressionless masked mortals trapped in the safety of sanitised vehicles. Me: weighing the value of freedom on a leash…

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Isle of Skye will fire up your heart

Visit the Scottish Highlands from Inverness…

If you’ve been having recurring dreams about prowling around in the deep dark mist hanging over glassy mysterious lochs and losing yourself to the wilderness of the majestic Highlands of Scotland, you’ve been fantasising about the Isle of Skye. If there is a heaven on earth for incorrigible nomadic souls and obsessive nature hikers, this is it. But 1,656 square kilometres of the largest island of the Inner Hebrides archipelago, sprawled over the western edge of the British Isle also makes an idyllic destination for hopeless romantics.

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Why Connemara will make you sing with joy

Best day trip from Galway…

Every guidebook waxes eloquent about the raw appeal of ‘Wild Connemara’. Luring you with vivid landscape photography that makes you go weak in the knees. Enticing you with fantasies that seductively whisper ‘pick me, pick me’ for your ears only. Leaping out of your screen tantalisingly as a ‘dare-you-to-not-ignore’ mandate for your semi-frozen Ireland itinerary. Cakewalk, declares the visual pasted on your desktop. Because you’re sold, too soon. Dreamy-eyed every second till you reach the destination that’s been haunting you non-stop. And head-over-heels, even after.

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What makes a trip to the Giant’s Causeway so epic?

Day trip to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland…

Ireland, Dublin and the Giant’s Causeway…the path is inevitable, almost prescribed. Two possible reactions. Curious and keenly inclined towards Northern Ireland’s solo World Heritage tagged (and most visited) site, that saw over a million footfalls in 2018. Or blasé to the point of brushing it off as yet another over-crowded tedium. Either way, we’re all adequately Google-rehearsed and Instagram-prepped, so nothing should stir up a surprise, right? Wrong. Freshly juiced from a trip to the Emerald Isle, I say this with the deepest of conviction. No amount of preparation matches up to the real deal. In this case…seeing truly is believing. And that is no exaggeration.

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Three exquisite handicrafts from Odisha that will inspire you

Traditional crafts of Odisha…

Odisha’s magnificent temples and silky beaches have been working overtime to pull in the throngs forever. But there’s so much more under the shroud of modesty surrounding this nearly-neglected eastern state of India. Like its untouched forests, secret gorges, abundant wildlife and a rich treasury of traditional arts and crafts. From elaborate stone carving and mask-making to fine silver filigree and handloom, a handicraft tour of Odisha can prove to be an adventure as well as a challenge. Smart traveller alternative? Kala Bhoomi, the Crafts Museum in the capital city of Bhubaneshwar.

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How I made the most of my 3rd year of travel blogging

From travel blogger to legit travel writer…

129 blog posts. 1,30,000 words. 1000 days of blogging. Whoosh! I must have blinked. Pinch me…has it been three years already since a nervous newbie first bared her soul online in the coveted cosmos of travel ‘influencers’? It’s been a joyride, this 3rd year of my third career, riding on wings of un-jaded exuberance and unscathed passion. Would it be too presumptuous to pat my own back just yet? Considering that one of my several vices happens to be an irreversible and intense intolerance for routine.

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Do you know of the five best neighbourhoods in Lisbon?

 

Exploring Lisbon’s best areas…

An unmistakable Mediterranean-ism and a wild Atlantic coast! Europe’s westernmost country literally has the best of both worlds. Voyage-driven history, staggering landscapes, Moorish roots, and a unique culture that changed the face of its colonies for posterity. Certainly a destination to redefine your vision of the continent. So give in to the pull of Portugal. Submit to the lure of Lisbon. With my rundown of the top five most atmospheric neighbourhoods in the capital.

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Soak in the splendour of the Royal Palace of Madrid

Inside Madrid’s Royal Palace…

You turn a final corner and there it is in front of you…the grand 18th-century Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). Protecting the largest royal palace in Western Europe is an elegant, gilded decorative iron fencing in bold black and gold, offsetting the purist white of the magnificent structure beyond.

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