The most incredible sights in the historic heart of Istanbul

A walking tour in Sultanahmet, Istanbul…

Hypnotic first glimpse of a one-of-a-kind city uniting the ‘chalk-and-cheese’ divergent continents of Europe and Asia. Spectacular skyline of cascading grey-blue domes and pencil-thin minarets of nearly 3,000 mosques. And the electric blue of the rough Bosphorus waters speckled with gliding seagulls. Born as Byzantium under Greek ruler Byzas (7th-century BC), renamed Constantinople by Roman Emperor Constantine for 1,100 years and reincarnated as seat of Ottoman Sultans’ mighty Muslim empire for 400 years…the culture cauldron in Turkey’s star city has enriched multifold with each glorious era in history. Melting pot, indeed!



The best way to experience Istanbul’s ancient spirit? A walking tour through its historical heart, Sultanahmet. Follow my league and choose Walks in Istanbul. (They operate in 10 different cities across Europe). Soak in the grace and grandeur of the Unesco Heritage Site with a 6-hour Highlights Tour or luxuriate in a 2-day marathon Grand Tour. Monumental mode on. Brace for impact!

Hagia Sofia: Divine wisdom for eternity

Stock up on history: Humble wooden church built by Constantine morphs into a glorious symbol of the Byzantine Empire, largest church in the world and religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years…courtesy 6th-century Roman Emperor Justinian I. Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II converts it into a mosque and adds Islamic features like mihrab and four outside minarets. Today as a museum, Hagia Sophia stands out as the most unique blend of Christian and Islamic cultures across the world.

Hagia Sophia_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1.jpg

Appreciate the architecture: Curious, even seemingly haphazard mix of shapes on the exterior facade disguise the inner brilliance. Classical basilica plan and stupendous dimensions. 336 columns supporting a grand vaulted brick roof. An imperfectly round (even unmanageably-sized) dome with a diameter of 100 feet, 180 feet high from the floor, supported by four huge piers. It succumbed to gravity twice…until Turkish star architect Sinan added massive buttresses in the 16th-century.

Hagia Sophia_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_8.jpg

Drool over the art: Elegant low-hanging lamp-lit chandeliers in the main hall for fresh home decor goals. Marble and mosaics to dazzle the eye. Exquisite Ottoman floral designs and Quranic calligraphy for unblinking stares. And magnificent views of the central nave from the upper galleries for stunned silence.

Hagia Sophia_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_3.jpg

Stumble upon secrets: Gold Byzantine mosaics which once lavishly studded the interior walls of the former church, now lie hidden under thick layers of Ottoman paint. Rare chipped, gleaming specimens peek through in the upper gallery and over the main gates.

Hagia Sophia_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_5

Hagia Sophia_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_6

The Blue Mosque: Soul of the city

Stock up on history: After the series of wars in the 17-century, 13-year old Sultan Ahmed I commissions one of the finest mosques in the heart of the imperial city, adjacent to Hagia Sophia. Wins not one, but three big brownie points. Reasserts Ottoman power. Matches legacy of great predecessors like Suleiman the Magnificent and Mehmet the Conqueror. And shows triumph of an Islamic monument over a converted Christian church. Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Blue Mosque (because of interior blue tiles) redefines the cityscape forever. Trump cards played right!

Blue Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1

Appreciate the architecture: Five main domes, six slender minarets with delicate balconies, and eight secondary ascending domes. A large prayer hall crowned by the main dome and a spacious courtyard for late-comers and ablution fountain. Scale marries splendour with finesse in the classical period’s last great mosque.

Blue Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_2

Drool over the art: 260 lovely stained glass windows. And 21,000 blue Iznik tiles…a first in Imperial Ottoman mosque architecture for the time. Traditional motifs like cypress, tulips, roses and fruits. Linger…as long as you can.

Blue Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_5

Blue Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_6

Blue Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_3

Stumble upon secrets: The Sultan’s request for “altın minareler” (golden minarets), was misunderstood as “altı minareler” (six minarets). But Kaaba mosque had six minarets, so the Sultan ordered a 7th minaret to be added to the Mecca mosque. Squared up well!

Suleymaniye Mosque: Legacy of two Turkish icons

Stock up on history: The largest mosque in the city on a hilltop near Golden Horn is the legacy and final resting place of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. It is also architect Sinan’s most majestic masterpiece.

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul__7.jpg

Appreciate the architecture: Islamic meets Byzantine in structure and design. Hagia Sofia inspirations appear in the shape of a 173-feet main dome, smaller domes, series of arches, decorative windows and buttresses. Ingenuity gleams through rails that allow the building flexibility to shift up to 5 degrees. The most important feature is acoustics, which Sinan perfected by placing hollow cubes at various points. 10 balconies on four minarets are a tribute to Suleyman, the 10th ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul__3

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul__4

Drool over the art: Inside arches with red-white stripes reminding of Muslim Spain. A giant low-hanging chandelier in the center of the mosque. Iznik tiles wrapped around the courtyard, displaying Ayat al-Kursi, a Quranic verse. And the soft blue-grey marble walls. Serenity now!

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul__5

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul__6

Suleymanie Mosque_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1

Stumble upon secrets: Sinan’s special screened windows trapped soot escaping from candles, which was converted into ink for calligraphers. Eco-friendly and recyclable!

Topkapi Palace: High drama, opulence and intrigue

Stock up on history: On a hilltop corner of the peninsula overlooking the Marmara Sea, Sultan Mehmet II builds an imperial residence at the site of the ancient acropolis of Byzantium. He names the 15th-century Topkapi after the huge victory cannons (‘top’). 25 sultans rule from here for four centuries, till they move to modern palace mansions along the Bosphorus.

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_6.jpg

Appreciate the architecture: 700,000 square meters of buildings, courtyards, gardens, fountains, pools, hospital, bakery, arsenal, mint, storage places, armoury, administrative areas and enormous kitchens serving over 6,000 meals a day for up to 5,000 residents. Digest that. Then get up-close-and-personal with quintessential Ottoman decor…harmony of exterior and interior spaces, elaborate domes, curving arches, decorative pillars, intricate murals, embossed ceilings and real treasures. Can’t get enough?

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_2

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_3

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_4

Drool over the art: Too much to list. Brilliant Iznik tiles in the Privy Chamber. Lovely light-and-shadow play in Baghdad Kiosk and Revan Kiosk. Topkapi dagger sheath studded with diamonds and four giant emeralds in the Armoury. Delft panels tiles and Murano glass mirrors in the Imperial Hall. The spectacle doesn’t ceases!

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_8


Stumble upon secrets: The Queen Mother ruled over the Harem, filled with hundreds of concubines (mostly non-Turkish slaves), protected by eunuchs. Think labyrinthine passageways, cloistered rooms, grand salons and intimate courtyards. Intrigue and conspiracy was rife in the Harem because Ottoman rule was not the first child’s birthright. Anyone could be Queen Bee! So till the 17th-century, all male relatives were killed after a favoured son was chosen to ascend the throne.

Topkapi Palace_Sultanahmet_5

Basilica Cistern: Ancient subterranean marvel

Stock up on history: No fresh water sources in the city…Bosphorus and Marmara don’t quite cut it. Solution? Hundreds of underground stone-made cisterns. The largest of these, the Basilica Cistern built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in 532 AD, is now a museum. Named after its location under the Stoa Basilica.

Basilica Cistern_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_2.jpg

Appreciate the architecture: Unimaginable proportions…460-feet long, 230-feet wide. Cross-shaped vaults and 336 marble columns, each 30 feet high, holding up an arched roof. 13-feet thick wall insulated with waterproof mortar. 100,000 tons of water capacity, transported via aqueducts from the Belgrade Forest, 19 kilometers away. Classic Roman engineering, after all!

Basilica Cistern_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1.jpg

Drool over the art: Water cistern or spectacular subterranean temple 52 steps inside the earth? Yellow spotlights creating a mysterious red theme. Ionic and Corinthian columns, some bare, others with artistic carvings, mostly recycled from older buildings. If you’re lucky enough, you can attend a concert here. Atmosphere is everything.

Basilica Cistern_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_3

Basilica Cistern_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_4

Basilica Cistern_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_5

Stumble upon secrets: Two heads of Medusa, a female underworld Greek mythological monster, form bases for two columns. Legend says the heads were oriented sideways and upside-down to counter the power of Medusa’s direct deadly gaze. The more likely, plausible reason? Better balance and fit. Whatever appeals to you more…

Slip into living heritage

Glamorous galleries of the royal palace. Hallowed interiors of gigantic religious structures. Overwhelmed much? Shift gears dramatically. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of 61 covered streets and 4,000 shops of the Grand Bazaar. A cornucopia of aromas, flavours, sounds, colours and textures…time travel to 15-century Istanbul!Hush! Did a Topkapi guard just gallop by?

Grand Bazaar_Sultanahmet_Istanbul_1

We experienced the true spirit of Sultanahmet as guests of Walks in Istanbul over a fascinating six-hour walking tour, with expert guide Duygu, local resident, history buff and die-hard vegetarian. All opinions are my own. 


Pin this post for later!!

A walking tour in Sultanahmet, Istanbul #historiccity #istanbul #sultanahmet #unescoheritage #hagiasofia #bluemosque


The most wonderful things that Belgium is known for?

Comics, waffles and chocolates of Belgium…

You knew that Johnny Depp is not the star of the 2017 remake of the classical movie ‘Murder on the Orient Express’…its Kenneth Branagh as the famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot. But did you know that Agatha Christie’s fictional detective was inspired by a real-life Belgian policeman, Jacques Hornais? For Christie whodunit fans like me, Belgium is (and will always be) synonymous with Poirot. As will be comics, waffles and chocolates. On the trail of other wonderful things in Belgium’s capital, Brussels…

1. Comics: A whiff of childhood fantasy

I would like to believe that Georges Prosper Remi is, in fact, Belgium’s national hero. Remi who? Herge…the Belgian mastermind behind the famous comic book series, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’! The city certainly does not forego any opportunity to mark his presence. Scenes from his cartoons along with those of other comic artists amiably light up hundreds of dull corners in the city. My personal favorite? The much-publicised wall mural with a scene from ‘The Calculus Affair’ depicting Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock using a fire escape as a background.


Purest of treats await comic enthusiasts at the majestic and quirky Belgian Comic Strip Center. Tintin, Smurf, Asterix…you name it, they’ve got it covered. The permanent and temporary exhibitions are spread over 4000 square meters and attract 200,000 visitors per year. Gloat over walls and walls filled with murals, artwork, life-size exhibits and vintage comic book covers. Retreat into nostalgia as you lose yourself in the dream world of comics through the ages, from across the world. Love it, right? Then follow my league and take home a small model as a memory to cherish forever.

Belgian Comic Strip Center_Brussels.JPG

2. Waffles: Aroma versus taste dilemma

Waffles, waffles everywhere, but for nothing but the best, roam the delightful Rue de l’Etuve. The preamble is pretty enough too…let your eyes guide you in admiring the jumble of Flemish-style brick houses, 18th-century mansions and modern buildings. But watch out for jostling crowds, beer-loving patrons and people-watchers sitting on tiny close-set tables along the pedestrian path. All along, tons of stores sell expensive Belgian chocolate. ‘I luv Brussels’ souvenir shops showcase common ‘take-me-homes’. Locals and tourists hog frites (fried potatoes) dipped in mayonnaise and half-baguette sandwiches crammed with potatoes, sauce, onions and deep-fried meat. Walkers munch on Parisian-style hot croissants as they stroll along. Immerse in the lively atmosphere of the historic centre.


Make a beeline for Le Funambule Waffles, a modest shop from 1867, graced with the company of esteemed neighbours like Neuhaus and Godiva. Right next to it, crowds are gathered around another famous icon…a bronze sculpture of a mischievous peeing boy. ‘The oldest citizen of Brussels’ from 1388 is usually dressed in costumes for major celebrations, events, and festivals in the city, but sometimes he is in his birthday suit too. If you’re expecting a larger monument…you will be surprised, even feel somewhat let-down. Believe it or not, the symbol of Brussels is only two-feet high!


The sweet aroma of chocolate Nutella squeezed onto the fluffy, toasted waffle wafts into your nose. Naturally you are drawn like moth to the flame. Queue up for the sweet delight. The first bite is light as air. The slightly uneven crispy edges melt in your mouth. The piping-hot caramelized pearl sugar crunches musically in your ears. And the topping of whipped cream, bananas and strawberries spells pure perfection. The payout? Just 1 Euro! Round two then. Bring it on…


3. Chocolate: A little indulgence never hurt anyone  

Endless Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas and Guyana storefronts…till you’re finally drawn in, hook line and sinker. The shelves overflow with temptations…basic chocolate for masses, artisanal chocolate for purists and avant-garde creations for connoisseurs. And your mind is filled with images of how it all started with Spanish explorers bringing cocoa beans to Europe from Mexico in the late 16th century. 100 years later, King Leopold II colonized the African Congo, and cocoa was introduced to Belgium. And today, the country known for the best chocolate in the world, producing around 220,000 tonnes of the coveted item every year.

Choices then. Go for the pralines…chocolates with a soft or liquid filling. Faultless taste and history to top. Pralines date back to 1857 when Brussels pharmacist Jean Neuhaus used chocolate to cover medicine and its bad taste. In 1912, Neuhaus Jr. replaced the medicine with a more tasty filling and called the sweet a ‘praline’. The first pralines were sold in a typical Belgian cone shaped bag, mainly used for fries. Obviously these were not fit to keep the delicate goodies safe and so Neuhaus Jr.’s wife designed a gift box, or ‘ballotin’, in which the pralines could be stored uniformly, safely and of course beautifully wrapped. The rest as they say, is history.


Neuhaus, the 92-year-old chocolatier, is a favourite of the Belgian royal family, and is known for its inventive caramel, marzipan, chocolate mousse, ganache and cream-filled pralines. They say, Henri Escher, Mayor of Zurich, drank his first cup of chocolate on the Grand Place in Brussels. Impressed with its flavour, he exported the recipe to Switzerland. So much for Swiss chocolates!


These days chocolate and chocolate making is part of the Belgium heritage. At every gourmet chocolatier, spreads of satiny bonbons entice…and the global ingredients like figs from Izmir, ginger from Guilin and hazelnuts from Piedmont, are pushing the boundaries of creativity, rewriting the history of Belgian chocolate. 

So what’s the one thing you wouldn’t leave Belgium without? 


Pin this post for later!!

Comics, waffles and chocolates are the most wonderful things that of Belgium is known for #belgium #brussels #chocolate #waffles #foodculture #localfood

Explore gems in the most famous boulevard of Vienna

Resplendence of the Ringstrasse in Vienna…

Sunlight dazzles on the calm waters of the Danube flowing through the city’s suburbs. You can almost hear the strains of the most famous waltz ever written, ‘The Blue Danube’ by Strauss. Well, hardly a waltz, more like Austria’s second national anthem. The aura of Europe’s cultural hub unveils itself gradually through broad boulevards, aristocratic architecture, glorious greenery and luxury hotels housed in old palaces. Missing your gown and tux?

Ringstrasse: Ring of resplendence

Start with the grandiose Ringstrasse, Vienna’s most epic public construction project generously commissioned by Franz Josef in the mid 19th-century. The 5-kilometer long, tree-lined horseshoe-boulevard circling the inner city, sports an ensemble of showpiece buildings for aristocrats, including Parliament and State Opera House, splendid parks, an array of museums. Chauffeured-driven diplomats in sleek black cars and awestruck foreigners in smart tour buses traverse the elegant roadway. But you’re imagining Vienna from another century…horse-drawn carriages, noblemen in top hats, the protection of a beloved emperor and the pride of citizenship of a powerful nation. There’s endless drama in the eclectic mix of diverse styles, revived motifs (inherently neo-classicist) in every building but, if time is a challenge, focus on these five spots on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Take this loop.

vienna map.jpg




1. Karlsplatz: Just a trailer

The modest-size of the Karlsplatz (Charles Square) its compensated by the glory of an ornate super-sized, green copper dome. The overt splendour of the Karlkrische (St Charles Church) proclaims its significance. This was Charles V’s grateful homage to the heavens when the Great Plague subsided. Moorish elements, inspired by sacred architecture in Spain combine with a Greek-temple like portico to create an unexpected jumble of influences, yet there is an inexplicable balance. Two ‘Pillars of Hercules’ in marble with spiral friezes (so like the Roman Trajan’s Column) accentuate its Byzantine-like dome. To the right of the church, a simple plaque commemorates the great Venetian composer, Antonio Vivaldi, who died in Vienna and was buried here. More than anything else, Karlkrische has a strong, commanding presence. And this is just a trailer of the majesty that lies in store. 


2. MuseumsQuartier: Art attack

The baroque facade of the former imperial stables is a complete contrast to the unusual cubic structures inside the complex that house modern art museums. Choose the MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien) for over 9000 contemporary art pieces…paintings, photography and sculpture from classical modernity, cubism, futurism and surrealism to pop art, fluxus and nouveau réalisme. Play Rorschach-like experiments trying to interpret the polka-dotted question-mark face with a single eye and large teardrop. Or marvel at the photo-like quality of Hanns Kralik’s “From my window of 1930”. The vintage 1908 poster of Kaiser Jubilee by Ferdinand Ludwig Graf is endearing…was it even an art piece when he drew it? Outside, in the Haupthof courtyard, melt into the energetic and inspiring vibe on a comfy beanbag under the late morning sun. A quick doze, then?

Museum Quartier_Vienna_4.jpg

Museum Quartier_Vienna_1.jpg

Museum Quartier_Vienna_5.jpg

The seeds of culture addiction have been planted…and when you reach the Museum of Fine Arts and its counterpart, the Natural History Museum, you’re want both…but settle at one. The stone sculpture of a baby elephant with cute button-eyes wins your favour…and by the time you exit, your brains are overflowing with information on neolithic tools and dinosaurs. Nice!

Museum of Natural History_Vienna_1

Museum of Natural History_Vienna_3

3. Heldenplatz: Stage for history

You’re at the Palace Complex, so pause at the Burgtor, one of the original gates surrounding the fortifications of Vienna from 1660 to read the inscription LAURUM MILITIBUS LAURO DIGNIS MDCCCCXVI (Laurels to soldiers worthy of laurels 1916). The middle archway, once a privileged entryway for the emperor’s carriage in imperial times, is public thoroughfare now, so march freely through. Here, in the monumental Heldenplatz (Heroes Square), the whiff of the ancient Austro-Hungary regime still hangs in the air, even after 100 years of the Empire being dissolved.


Size up the high balustrade of the Neue Burg, now the National Library. One day in 1938, the Nazi flag had converted the balcony into a stage for Adolf Hitler to address more than 200,000 Austrians and declare his former homeland as part of the Third Reich. Freeze in the layers of history, get caught in a whirlpool of evolving identities and be lost in the waves of time.

Heldenplatz_National Library_Vienna_2.jpg

Tour the exemplary European baroque architecture inside…3-meter high magnificent frescoed dome, marble sculptures, mighty columns and natural light flooding in through the ceiling. The Grand Hall, laden by wooden bookshelves dressed with gold-plated wood carvings, rises to heights of almost 20 metres. Stuffed with over 7.4 million items including ancient texts written on papyrus, maps, paintings, manuscripts, rare books and photographs. Having an urge to read?


4. Michaelerplatz: Of exalted guests 

Take a regal lunch break. Indulge at Cafe Hofburg in an Inner Courtyard outside the Imperial Apartments. How about grilled ham sandwiches and Kaiserschmarren ‘Hof köchinnen Art’, (sweet omelette pancake, served with stewed plums and apple puree)? Paper napkins with a dignified crest emblem, elegant silverware that clinks heavily, and poised waiters in black suits? Yes, please!

Cafe Hofburg_Vienna.jpg

Steps away, at Michaelerplatz, face the neo-Baroque entrance gate to the Habsburg imperial palace, and its oldest part (Alte Burg). The white curved building is graced by a green copper dome, elaborately gilt-embellished like a royal crown. Under your feet, you can see excavations of 18th-century housing, medieval cellars and Roman buildings…from the times the city was called Vindobona. Layers of history, one on top of the other reaching as far down as 9-meters below the ground level. The Habsburg Palace, the winter palace of the Habsburg family since the 13th-century has 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms spread over a massive 60 acres. Spare a few hours. (Read my post on Habsburg Palace)

Hofburg Palace_Vienna_1

Hofburg Palace_Vienna_2

Hofburg Palace_Vienna_3

Hofburg Palace_Vienna_4

5. Kohlmarkt: Coal to couture

From Michaelerplatz, stroll down Kohlmarkt, Vienna’s most luxurious shopping street, which had humble beginnings as a charcoal market. International jewellery brands like Cartier, Chopard, Tiffany and Wellendorff showcase glittering gems where court-appointed jewellers were once housed. Take in the drama of Romanesque columns, baroque stuccos of cherubs, graceful sculptures on entrance portals, elaborate stone fountains and engraved reliefs. Distinguished composers Haydn and Chopin had once lived in houses around here. Study the H&M store where a former court menswear store used to be. Transitions!





Peek into the 200-year old Imperial and Royal Court Confectionary Bakery, Demel, where Empress Elisabeth used to order her sweets. The famed Sachertore stands out like a diamond from the decadent display. Only two places claim to make the true Sachertorte: Hotel Sacher and Demel. Authenticity guaranteed. Can you miss a slice?

Head for the highlight of the area. The 12th-century Gothic cathedral, Stephansdom with pointy spires, tall windows and a diamond-patterned tile roof in blue-white-yellow. The story goes that composer Ludwig van Beethoven finally confirmed his deafness when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower when they tolled, but did not hear the bells. Catch the reflection of the medieval cathedral in a modern glass-and-steel building opposite. Traces of the past always remain in the present…and that is the undisputed law of the universe!



Pin this post for later!!

Ringstrasse, Vienna's 5-kilometer long, tree-lined horseshoe-boulevard circling the inner city, sports an ensemble of showpiece buildings for aristocrats, including Parliament and State Opera House, splendid parks, an array of museums. Here's a guide.  #vienna #ringstrasse #historic centre #Habsburg palace

Discover unusual delights in the most charming street of Heidelberg

An afternoon exploring Haupstrasse, Heidelberg…(continued)

From the pulsating historical center of Heidelberg, follow the throngs to the right of Ritter Hotel, to face the other big draw of the town…the mile-long Hauptstrasse. Here, cobblestone streets and 18th-century buildings stand testimony to a history stretching back 600,000 years…if you count the fossilized jawbone of the Heidelberg Man. But stay in the present for now and trace the seemingly endless spine of the old town. Local bookstores, pretty boutiques, charming souvenir shops and commercial fashion houses…there’s a lot to absorb at every inch, so keep those eyes peeled all the way.

Continue reading “Discover unusual delights in the most charming street of Heidelberg”

Why you need to get to the adorable German town of Heidelberg!

Blend into the old square of Heidelberg…

You’ve started on a high note. Peak high. A ride on one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe stretching from Cologne to Heidelberg. Your mind is resonating with the sensory explosion, courtesy the Rhine river valley panorama. Little towns with tiny German houses, pointy old churches and broken medieval stone fortresses from Roman times. Hills rich with lush foliage, rolling vineyards, landscaped terraces and curvy roads kissing the gushing river that sparkles with the rays of sun. And you’re contemplating a strange paradox. In the birthplace of cuckoo clocks where keeping time is everything, how does time manage to stand so still? As if the journey wasn’t magical enough, you land in one of Deutschland’s most adorable towns…Heidelberg. Three million tourists a year. But why should statistics give anyone nightmares?

Continue reading “Why you need to get to the adorable German town of Heidelberg!”

Obidos is one of the most photogenic towns you have ever seen

Obidos, Portugal’s most picturesque town…

Surprise! The wide arch through which you enter the parking lot of Obidos turns out to be part of a 3-km long stone-mortar aqueduct. The rough queue of inverted U’s that make up the ancient structure seem to shorten in height as they stretch far into the distance, farther than your eye can see. You raise an eyebrow and purse your lips, impressed by the impeccable condition of the 16th-century marvel built to transport water to the town.

Continue reading “Obidos is one of the most photogenic towns you have ever seen”

These Versailles secrets will make you want to go now!

Getting under the skin of Versailles Palace…

Just 16 kms southwest from Paris, lies possibly one of the most popular, most visited and grandest of all sites in France. Versailles. You’re shaking your head at the prospect of someplace over-crowded and touristy. Well, so is the Vatican. Is that your best reason to skip it altogether? You may say a palace is a palace is a palace. That’s BEFORE you get under its skin. BEFORE you dive deep into its soul. BEFORE you know all the fascinating secrets that make Versailles, Versailles!

Continue reading “These Versailles secrets will make you want to go now!”