Why you need to stop at these seven sweetest spots in Dubrovnik

Insta-worthy Dubrovnik beyond the wall walk

Entering the walled city of Dubrovnik through the impressive 13th century Pile Gate, four doors, two walkway bridges and a wooden drawbridge, remind yourself that Napoleon’s French army once stomped through this path with destructive, harmful intent. Shivers up your spine?

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You can see the broad limestone-paved promenade ahead, gleaming like polished marble under millions of footsteps. Can you believe that 300 meters of the Stradun (or ‘large street’ as christened by the Venetians), used to be a swampy channel till the 11th century, separating two settlements of Laus and Dubrava, which were later integrated and city walls built around them? Even from a distance, you can feel the heartbeat of the traffic-free old town, a bustling street by day and party place after dark. A procession singing religious songs slowly marches by. Stradun’s age-old tradition as the hub for group activities and festivities continues uninterrupted. High above the roofs, people trail the famous Dubrovnik walls. You’re doing that too…later! But first, a dive into the ethereal beauty of the perfectly designed town. Emerging for lungfuls of air at the sweetest spots of all.

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Sweet Spot 1: Maskeron

At the mouth of the Stradun is a massive fountain, a sixteen-sided container with a cupola, a masterpiece in itself. ‘Onoforio’ supplied fresh water to the citizens from Ombla river, 12 km away in medieval times, and its water is still drink-worthy. Just opposite, is a Pharmacy that has been open for business since the Middle Ages. A young woman tries to step onto the head of a small stone gargoyle ledge, fixed about half a meter above the ground and sticking out barely fifteen centimetres from a wall. It seems like the mouth of a rainwater drain, and even has a name…Maskeron. Its top surface is smooth and polished like marble from years of thousands of steps and the wall above is greasy from the touch of a thousand hands. A luck thing? The woman keeps trying but can’t balance as there is nothing to clutch. Her husband keeps watching from a distance until love prevails…he walks over and gives her a brief, ever-so-gentle shove from behind, so that she makes it. You smile at the cute scene. She jumps off and kisses him and they walk off together. The legend is that if you balance on the ledge, stand facing the wall, you will find true love. Give it a shot!

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Sweet Spot 2: Loggia Square

Stroll the Stradun, gazing at the rows of stone houses built in a modest Baroque style…equal heights, similar fronts and shops on the ground floor. Dating back to the post-earthquake year of 1667. Definitely old enough to be labelled ‘old’. Dozens of dark, narrow lanes criss-cross on both sides…cafes and tiny tables line the narrow stone walls. A coffee at one of these, maybe? Onto the modest sized Loggia Square, if you can call that rectangular shape. And a profusion of grander monuments bunched together…without breathing space. The Franciscan Monastery with its bell tower, the Gothic Renaissance-styled Sponza Palace (originally a customs house and mint, now housing the Historical Archives and one of the oldest institutions in Europe), the Rector’s Palace (earlier the municipality, now a museum), the Orlando’s Statue standing guard and the 17th century Baroque cathedral, dedicated to the protector of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise. Only a student of architecture can detect how the Renaissance, Gothic, Classical and other period forms compete haphazardly in the monument facades. No Notre Dame perfection here, but the impact of the harmony is spellbinding.

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Sweet Spot 3: St Ignatius Church

Right of the Cathedral, locate the quaint baroque marketplace, Gundulić Square, stop by the high statue of famous Croatian poet Ivan Gundulić…and survey the open benches full of fruits, vegetables, dry figs, aromatic oils, home made cheese, liquers, arancini (candied bitter orange peel), lavender bags for closets, hand crafted souvenirs and lace. 

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Then climb the beautiful 18th-century Baroque stairs (an indigenous version of the Rome-like ‘Spanish Steps’) connecting the square to an area that used to be the Jewish ghetto. To your right, is the stunning, white St Ignatius Church, constructed in the recognizable Jesuit style, its interior decorated by a Spanish artist with baroque frescoes. Drool at the sumptuous altar inside. A guitarist strums strings at the steps of the Europe’s second oldest Jewish synagogue just next door. Take a picture…he smiles and nods in appreciation.

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Courtesy: Pixabay

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Sweet Spot 4: Buza Bar

You’re now in pursuit of Buza Bar…Dubrovnik’s best known café. Straight ahead of the Jewish Church towards the left, find a sign that read “Cold drinks with the best view in town” that leads you to what is literally a hole in the wall…down a makeshift flight of rough stone steps to a casual café perched on the edge of a sheer cliff. Straw thatched roof, plastic chairs, tiny folding tables facing the sea. For miles and miles, the azure Adriatic is all you can see. The wind blows your hair into your eyes, and from far below your feet, the foaming waves crash against the rocky cliffs, again and again and again, the rhythmic roar rising and fading. This is a view to simply die for. Buza Bar serves only Pepsi, juices and beer, but this tiny little place, with seating for maybe 50 people, is amongst the Top 10 must-see spots on everybody’s list while in Dubrovnik. Further away, Buza Bar 2 offers formal dining with table service. Paradise is painted in one color…azure blue!

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Sweet Spot 5: Hrvasa Lane

Back in the town, head through the popular St.Dominick Street, once a marketplace for local craftsmen to display their wares, now a medley of Chinese- souvenir shops. Running parallel to Stradun, is Ulica od Puca, where a row of leather shops, handmade souvenir shops and jewellers stand, over a street where many wells were scattered in the old days to collect rain water for use by citizens. Gaze at the artillery-splattered wall of the stone city, each stone is part of a story thousands of years old. It is heart-wrenching…how this grand fortified structure has endured ravages of intruders, survived a massive earthquake, and risen from the destruction of bombardment during the civil war of 1991, when people hid in underground safe-houses without power and water supply for months. Everything has been rebuilt with so much love. In K.Hrvasa Lane, the house of a famous artist, Ivo Grbic stands testimony of the war-ravaged times, painted walls outside narrating ugly memories vividly…the artist’s museum inside baring his creative soul and spirit. Immerse in the past.

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Sweet Spot 6: Dominican Monastery

Walk through high, bare, unadorned, plain, solemn, imposing stone walls in search of the Dominican Monastery. Its wide, semi-circular stairs will fool you into believing it is an opera. This is a place to get lost in yourself. Claim a step and listen to the silence.

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You’re one of the 10,000 that throng these lovely, cobbled streets everyday. Compared to the population of 1000 residents, this number is actually mind-boggling. Sadly, this is a city dying a slow death, as locals move into the new town in search of modern conveniences. More ironical than sad actually, considering that since ancient times, invaders including Turks, Arabs, Napoleon, Venetians and Ottomans have all been vying this medieval town, strategically placed on a remarkable coastline of steep, mountainous terrain and strings of lush islands. In off season, the majestic monuments, shining walkways and grand wall are deserted, charming squares silent and lively cafes empty…a period of forced hibernation, until the crowds return to be amazed yet again, leaving millions of new footprints merging with the old.

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Sweet spot 7: Old Port

Follow the walkway to the Ploce gates, for the ultimate moment of glory. Peering through the bullet-wounded stone walls, face the most photographed sight of Dubrovnik that graces every travel brochure and every website. Your opportunity for some of the best shots of the harbour dotted with boats, darkening Adriatic waters, steep fortifications of ominous walls, and stunning views of Fort Lovrijenac (King’s Landing popularised by the Game of Thrones). Out on sea on the left, the leafy green idyll Lokrum Island floats on the water. Take a longer walk to the Excelsior Hotel for more breathless views.

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Then walk down to the old port, where the Stari Grad meets the sapphire blue waters dotted with sailboats and yachts, high brick walls on three sides form a curved protective shield, the canyons peek out from the turrets on the walls. Centuries ago, this was where the massive ships from unknown lands would dock, tradesmen would exchange goods and travel discoveries would be revealed. Now local captains with tiny booths hawk touristy glass-bottomed boat trips to Lokrum Island and display worn out photo-albums. At one end, several tables and chairs of the ‘Arsenal’ restaurant are splayed over the docks. This was once a large arsenal for state ships to be built, repaired and stored. Sit on a bench, watch the boats come and go. Imagine the flickering candles on the tables under the skies twinkling with a thousand stars. Breathe in the Mediterranean air, raise your hand slightly, and murmur the magic words…‘pomalo’ (relax).

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And finally, when the day is done, the shadows of the palaces, glossy limestone tiled floors, gleaming soft lights from antique lamp posts and live guitar strumming make the prospect of a romantic candlelit dinner sounds tempting. The food may not sweep you off your feet, but the atmosphere will certainly make up for that and more. But there’s another appealing alternative. Hike 2 km downhill to the Gruz harbour along a peaceful tree-lined road, minimal traffic and luxury residences. Make a pit-stop to witness a surreal red-gold globe of fire slipping silently into the infinity pool of indigo. Naturally, dinner will be generous…your appetite has been stoked to its limit.

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Insta-worthy Dubrovnik beyond the wall walk


Have you ever stepped in the fiery heart of Andalusia? Part 2

Melt into scintillating Seville…

Seville is home to two of the most magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, two outstanding pieces of other-worldly architecture. Both will leave you reeling in disbelief with their grandeur and intricacy. Both are monumental tributes…one to the Lord, the other to royalty. If you were forced to explore just one, which would it be?

Cathedral de Sevilla: The grand splurge

You try in vain to capture a complete image of the majestic 15th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cathedral de Sevilla. Its an impossible feat from ground level and close quarters. After all, the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world occupies a gigantic 11,520 square metres area.

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Pause to pan across the modest brick facade, dulled with the ravages of time and hidden from full view by a row of orange trees. The iron panelled ‘Doors of Forgiveness’ (Puerta del Perdón) are framed by a large, intricately carved horseshoe arch ornamented with relief sculptures and delicate Koranic inscriptions. Inside is an ancient Moorish courtyard studded with orange trees…the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard), reminiscent of typical Islamic gardens.

Move to your left, to get a closer look at the original minaret from the 12th-century Almohad Mosque, now a bell tower for the Cathedral…the most magnificent structure in all of Seville, a beacon of antiquity and culture in all of Andalucía. The Moorish tower is nothing short of overwhelming. Its intricate lattice work, Arabic patterns, keyhole niches and windows are in strange harmony with the Renaissance balconies that were added much later. For some reason, you are reminded of a Muslim veiled woman wearing Prada sunglasses! Above the belfry on top, was poised a statue symbolising faith, a functioning weathervane nicknamed Giraldillo (‘to turn’), which gives its name to the tower, the Giralda. Climb to the top later.

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Just opposite the Puerta del Perdón is the main entrance to the Cathedral…this time a pointed horseshoe arch, heavily adorned with reliefs depicting biblical events and figures of saints. Once inside, you so are intimidated by the size and the scale, that feelings of reverence were sidelined completely. Vaulted ceilings soar at a height of 121 feet…St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s Basilica don’t even close in this respect! 80 chapels and the longest nave of any church in Spain…lavishly decorations of art and bronze sculpture and gold in the side aisles, but an unexpected restraint with the huge nave that is left almost empty. They wanted to have a church of the kind that “…those who see it built will think we were mad.” Well, they succeeded, you agree, as you bathe in the multicolour rays of the light streaming in from the gorgeous stained-glass windows.

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Examine the huge choir stalls and gasp at the gold flamboyance of the largest altarpiece in the world shielded by a large ornate wrought iron screen…the entire life’s work of one craftsman, Pierre Dancart. It is easy to see that Seville had been basking in the glory of its new wealth after becoming a major trading center after the Reconquista and conquering the rich Incas in the 1500s…and this was the grand splurge. Observe the tomb of Christopher Columbus held aloft by four soldiers, representing the four kingdoms of Spain. DNA analysis and controversy apart, it is a fitting tribute to the last wish of the Italian explorer who died in Spain in 1506. RIP, Chris…wherever you are!

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Brace for the best part…a heart pumping workout up a spiral, circular walkway of 35 gently inclining ramps, 100-meters up to the bell tower. Stop at the several window alcoves for close-ups of the bells and gargoyles and much-needed gasps of breath. Scrutinise the cream brick walls and the brick-fishbone patterned floor…imagine two mounted guards following the muezzin on his horse all the way up to call people to prayer! Great for him, not so great for the horse, specially if he had a weight disorder. At the belfry, enjoy the spectacular views of the town, full of zigzag lanes and the bull ring, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza in the far distance. Try tracing the path back to your hotel, and give up…the maze of streets is too complex a mystery. 

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Afterwards, cover the entire perimeter of the Cathedral. The plain brick is a perfect backdrop for all the elaborate Gothic stonework…unadorned high walls crowned by a terrace of stone pillared railings and punctuated by a line-up of chess-bishop shapes and peeking from behind, a jumble of bud-spangled spires rising to the skies. Each of the 15 doors on the cathedral’s four facades feature unique reliefs…it is no use keeping track of the patterns, there are far too many to remember.

End your jaunt at the 1386-founded Antigua Taberna de Las Escobas on Puerta del Perdón. Savour delicious gazpacho and paella at one of the small pavement tables under a shady canopy. Poet, playwright and novelist Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra, (author of Don Quixote), French author Alexandre Dumas and British author Lord Byron had once graced the traditional establishment and dined under the brass-studded mahogany ceiling. The crockery is not that old, so there was no chance we were eating out of same plates, but you will leave with a strong feeling of being in exalted literary company.

Real Alcázar: This can’t be real!

The second UNESCO World Heritage Site of Seville, the medieval Islamic-style Real Alcázar (Royal Palace), is just a few minutes away. Dating from its 1300s identity as a fort for Cordoban officials, this intriguing fusion of Spanish Christian and Moorish architecture is sheer resplendence. It is a fantastic Arabian palace still in use by the Spanish royal family, complete with hedge mazes, scented orange groves, and an abundance of colored tiles.

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Soak up Andalusia’s Moorish heritage by spending a few hours meandering through the patios, rooms, halls and stately apartments filled with intricately designed arches and decorative rounded shapes symbolic of the unknowable true nature of Allah. The ornate arches and shady corridors surrounding a long reflecting pool at the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens) make you question the myth that the Moors used to demand a tribute of 100 virgins from the Christians, every year. You can almost see the King and Queen strolling by the pool contemplating a redesign. But what redesign? It is too perfect.

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Pick up your jaws from the floor of the Salón de Embajadores, (Hall of Ambassadors) after staring at the bas-relief carvings literally dripping from the walls. And close that open mouth as you study the dramatic cedarwood cupola ceiling…a giant gold sun studded with sparking jewels in star, circle, tears and other shapes. Real Alcazar is not for real!! The drama continues in Palacio Gótico, the gothic palace built for Alfonso the Wise, which dazzles with floor-to-ceiling tile mosaics. And these days, wallpaper is the epitome of luxury in home interiors. Hysterical!

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The royal gardens, built over 1100 years are a compendium of the history of gardening…Andalusian, Moorish, Italian, English and French styles are all featured. Ornate clipped hedges, trickling water, and fragrant, colourful flowers in the bright and spacious green areas, geometric patterns, surrounded by closed areas urge you to explore them. Water accompanies you everywhere, trickling through ditches and canals, ripping in the many pools and springing delicately in sprays, gushing in fountains and grottos…enhancing the serenity and calm, adding to the coolness of the shade, and providing soft background score to the chirping vocals of the feathered ones hopping and flying around.

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Suddenly, you are a Spanish queen, sitting in this verdant paradise of the royal retreat on a rainy day, watching peacocks dance and sipping exotic fruit cocktails served on silver trays. Am I right or am I right?


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Explore two of Seville's architectural icons


Have you ever stepped in the fiery heart of Andalusia? Part 1

Melt into scintillating Seville…

A 2.5 hours journey by high speed train from Madrid Atocha station will transport you to Seville, Spain’s fourth largest city located along the coast of the Guadalquivir River in the South. The dull sandy colour of the scorched countryside, though not refreshingly green, has an allure of its own. The sunbaked red earth is dotted by miles of olive trees, sunflowers, maize and corn.

On the horizon, a sudden flash as the sun rays catches the metal of the lance that Don Quixote is wielding…the errant knight in shining armour trotting on his beloved horse, with Sancho, his partner in crime in tow, readying for another episode of comedic misadventure or chivalrous romance. A picture of impractical idealism as pure as the silhouette of the whitewashed stout windmill behind him…unreal, dramatic. Hah, it’s just your imagination again!

Courtesy: Wikipedia

It is a short 10-minute cab drive to the old town area from Seville’s Santa Justa station. Andalusía’s fiery, cultural capital. Isn’t your mind already flooded with images of romance, flamenco, vibrance, fiestas, bullfights and cigars? Make the perfect choice by checking into one of the Casa-transformed boutique hotels in a narrow cobbled lane. Chances are you’ll find yourself in a restored historic mansion with a delightful interior courtyard open to the skies, colourful blue-white-yellow mosaics, a trickling fountain, and a fine lounge area with comfortably furnished alcoves. Does your window look out into back alley, facing homes with iron-balconies and drawn curtains. Doesn’t matter…you’re not going to cooped be within walls in this gorgeous, passionate city!

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Courtesy: Casa Romana

As you set foot into the quaint town, feel the pounding heartbeat of Southern Spain in the narrow one-way streets, ochre-yellow of the houses highlighted by pure white window frames and delicate black iron grills. A ‘fotografia’ announcing ‘fotos carnet entrega en el acto’ (photos card delivery on the spot), a ‘zapateria’ (shoe shop) stocking all kinds of fashion accessories, a graffiti scribbled shop shutter, a ‘telefono y fax publico’ selling mobile accessories…even the mundane enamours you. Many streets are almost empty in the quiet residential area. An old lady with an umbrella disappears into a corner lane, two backpackers consult their map on the opposite pavement, and in the distance, a row of parked motorcycles announce the onset of ‘busy-ness’.

Within minutes, you land at Plaza del Duque de la Victoria, enclosed by small mansions converted into hotels and the inevitable Les Cortes de Ingles. In the centre is a small enclosed park…a diagonal black-white chequered chess floor…an oasis of palms fanning the statue of Seville-born artist Velasquez. People rest on benches and potter around flea market stalls. The two parallel shopping streets of Seville, Calle Sierpes and Calle Tetuan are just around the corner…packed with eating joints, cafes, souvenir shops and high-street brands and flocking with tourists. Rebajas (regular half-yearly sales) and saldos (blemished items at a lower price) signboards beckon…come back later.

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Wandering in and out of the lively streets, reach the wide open Plaza del Salvador, its western face crowned by the stunningly artistic salmon-and-cream facade of Iglesia del Salvador, the second largest baroque cathedral of the city. The other crowd pullers here are two legendary bars, Los Soportales and La Antigua Bodeguita. Old-world wood panelled folding doors and hand-painted floral designs proudly proclaim their lineage under charming arcades held up by old Roman columns of uneven height. This is the best place to sample a piece of Seville nightlife…a square jammed with people, standing with their drinks in crowds for sheer lack of space, squatting on the pavements and the steps of the church, music mingling with chatter. A temple in India with a liquor bar in front is an unthinkable anomaly, but this is Spain.

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From Plaza del Salvador, walk down Calle Hernando taking cue from the wares on display in shops to translate their Spanish signboards. Test your language skills… Traies de Flamenca (traditional dresses, hats, spanish fans), filataleia (rare stamps), numismatico (coin collector), helados (icecream), fruiteria (fruits), guitarras-artesania-regalos (guitars, crafts and gifts). Turmeric, cream and peach colored houses with soft pastel window frames line the street, their common Andalusian character merging them harmoniously together. Note the electric and phone cables carefully bunched up underneath the slim balconies with lovely grillwork, they were painted in the building colour to appear more discreet. Bamboo blinds somewhere too…the insipid Indian ‘chik’ has a Spanish cousin!

Search out the inimitable landmark next…the Plaza de Espana at the Parque de María Luisa. So they had built this Renaissance Revival style glory for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition! Some exposition that would have been! Pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages dot the area filled with clear ponds, endearing bridges and gushing fountains. The spectacular half-moon building about 200 meters in diameter, is embellished with detailed polychromatic tiles, ceramic handicraft and bright pavilions, and its two spectacular towers reflect in the idyllic moat. A fairytale! Indulge in a leisurely paddle under the Andalusian summer sun. Drift along the water, under the shadow of decadence and lavish architecture. The laidback life of Sevillianos centres around company, conversation and cuisine…dive deep into it for a while.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Potter around Santa Cruz, Seville’s cultural capital, where winding medieval lanes lead to romantic plazas perfumed with orange blossom. This is the  Jewish Quarter and spiritual home of the famous Andalucían traditions of bullfighting and flamenco. All around is a littering of art galleries, museums and cultural delights including the intriguing Museo del Baile Flamenco housed within an 18th century building. None of the political and religious violence against Jews was evident anywhere…just clean, whitewashed buildings, lively tapas bars, cheerful restaurants and a relaxed, fun-loving vibe.

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Myriad outdoor cafes provide delectable food in gorgeous settings. You’re reminded of wailing flamenco singers, morena Sevillanas dancers, stylish Don Juans, all along the curving narrow streets, small churches and outdoor cafes. Shops sell flamboyant bullfighter and flamenco costumes…rich embroideries, bejewelled buttons, glittering sequins, heavy girdles and collars on dark coloured heavy fabrics. The mantilla (Spanish veil piece of lace or silk worn over head or shoulders), the peineta (large decorative comb with a curved body), the gilet (sleeveless embroidered waistcoat)…centuries old traditions live on here. Bright blue-green and yellow Spanish tiles adorn the exteriors of pastel houses, walls of forgotten churches, noisy tabernas, historic buildings and even street signs. The abstract, repetitive patterns added charm to benches in parks and pillars in plazas…and intrigue to hidden courtyards of private mansions and corridors of quiet museums. Tiles even beautify the under-surface of balconies…beauty for beauty’s sake! Pure colours, brilliant surfaces and kaleidoscopic shapes…every tile art piece calls out to be photographed. “Te queiro, Seville!” (I love you, Seville!) you murmur under your breath.

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Loiter in and out of the centuries-old labyrinthine, streets twist and turn, and sometimes without realising, your direction changes from east to south, or west or north. Each corner brings more wonders…a Roman column juxtaposed into a wall, a grand mansion with lavish carvings on its front door, a sudden plaza, a minaret peeking from behind a building, a Mudejar-style municipal office, a church tower visible from a distance. Layers of ancient influence…Roman over Phoenician, Visigoth over Roman, Moorish over Visigoth, Christian over Moorish…mysteries reveal at every few feet…an unparalleled medley of spectacular Medieval, Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Clearly, the inhabitants of this city are proud of their heritage…every street, every house, every shop was a joyous celebration of ‘being-Andalusian’, and every inch of the town is embellished painstakingly, like a personal living space lovingly on display. 

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As the day ends, find a bench to rest your exhausted legs. An elderly Spanish woman with a couple of El Cortes Ingles bags strides along the pavement at breakneck speed, with the single-minded purpose of overtaking everyone she encounters along the way. She jumps the bus queue, wiggles through a couple of teens ahead of her and pushes her way into the bus, making a loud declaration in Spanish. Was that “Let me pass, I’m in a rush”? Everyone just kept clearing the route. This little grandma is fiery and feisty. Just like Seville!


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Melt into scintillating Seville


This is a Van Gogh fan alert. You need to head to Arles now.

On the Van Gogh trail in Southern France…

Your search for France’s finest scenic beauty will lead you to rural Provence. Here, charming villages dot the fresh countryside. Undulating oceans of vineyards melt into sweeping, fragrant lavender fields. Summer sunflowers blend into lush olive groves. And canopies of plane trees border the long, winding roads…this magnificent legacy of Napoleon has been providing shade and shelter since centuries. These breathtaking vistas once fuelled the creative genius of legendary writers like Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and art masters like Cézanne, Picasso, including one of my personal favourites, Van Gogh. Follow the dreamy drive to the town of Arles, where the famed artist lived for a year and developed his inimitable style characterised by bold colours and dynamic brushstrokes.

Continue reading “This is a Van Gogh fan alert. You need to head to Arles now.”

Taste a slice of tranquil life on the Rhine

And why Cologne city should be on your list…

As the train crosses the Rhine, strain for a view of the iconic twin spires of the mammoth Cathedral towering over the narrow gables and high slated roofs of Germany’s 2000 year-old city, Cologne or Koln. You fight the urge to walk into its hallowed interiors directly from the station that’s just 20 meters away. But the moment your wheeled baggage is out of the way, you’re back. This is ground zero…all roads start and end here.

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Have you heard of the mysterious mansions of Sidhpur?

Unearth an abandoned neighbourhood in Gujarat

I shouldn’t have gone googling when the guide asked me, “Would you like to see the wooden mansions of Sidhpur?” It killed the surprise. Or maybe I should have. Because it would have been a huge mistake to skip it. Pick from various good hotels in Ahmedabad to stay, and drive 112 km away to this ancient city of north Gujarat, believed to be located at the junction of the rivers Ganga and Saraswati.

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You can be a pigment in the colorful canvas of Cinque Terre

Inside Italy’s five most famous seaside villages…

Italy is an enigmatic lady. She flaunts varied sides of her split personality with equal elan…chic (Milan), arty (Florence), sophisticated (Bellagio), luxe (Capri) to innocent (Varenna), rustic (San Gimignano) or religious (Vatican), romantic (Venice). And if you’re looking for unspoilt and laid-back, there’s Cinque Terre (CHINK-weh TAY-reh). The cluster of five seaside villages stayed hidden from public eye for years, but are now  on every Italy-lover’s wishlist, and for several good reasons. No statues, monuments, museums and street performers here…just the sun, sea, rocky beaches, food, and unadulterated Italy. As its been since centuries.

Continue reading “You can be a pigment in the colorful canvas of Cinque Terre”