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.
Continue reading “One glorious day soaking up the spirit of Siena”
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.
Continue reading “Why Dhanushkodi is the most seductive ghost town ever?”
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.
Continue reading “Isle of Skye will fire up your heart”
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.
Continue reading “Why Connemara will make you sing with joy”
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.
Continue reading “What makes a trip to the Giant’s Causeway so epic?”
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.
Continue reading “Do you know of the five best neighbourhoods in Lisbon?”
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.
Continue reading “Soak in the splendour of the Royal Palace of Madrid”
Lyon, France’s second city, is my first choice…
Taking a train from Provence through the peaceful countryside into the bustling train station of Gare de Lyon Part Dieu can be a jolt of sorts. There’s a buzz in the country’s second-largest metropolitan area, home to over 1.6 million people…and you can feel it even as you hail a cab. At 7.30, people are already on the roads, driving to work, waiting at bus stops, opening their boulangeries and coffee shops. The laid back, relaxed atmosphere of Southern France is behind you…this is city life, busy and bustling…after all, you’re closer to Paris. Ready up to discover the country’s gastronomic capital.
Continue reading “My first impressions of the lovely French city of Lyon”
Simple charms of Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic…
There’s a different Barcelona behind Las Ramblas and you wouldn’t believe it until you stride a few feet down a side street into the city’s old Gothic Quarter, Barri Gòtic. This vast area stretching between Las Ramblas and Via Laetana is where Romans had developed their early settlement in 133 BC. Remnants of the fortifications they built to protect their city can still be found. A slice of ‘Barcino’ still exists in ‘Barcelona’. Devote a day to dwell on its delights.
Continue reading “Dwell on the delights of beautiful Barri Gotic in Barcelona”
Palampur makes an ideal, offbeat hill destination
It is a dream. You’re walking down a lovely, long mountain road, shady with a thick cover of graceful, tall pine trees rising from mysteriously plunging slopes. Even without touching the deep green leaves, you can sense their velvety softness. Again and again, you reach out to steal a fistful of the elusive mist, in vain. Its a gentle glide on undulating waves of serenity as the pines whisper sweet-nothings.
Melt dreams with reality. Choose Palampur, an offbeat hill destination in the Kangra valley, at the foothills of the majestic Dhauladhar mountain ranges. Its claim to fame is that its the only tea-producing region of North India. But more importantly, you’ll have it all to yourself.
Continue reading “In the quest for peace and pines at Palampur”