Cologne or Koln is one of Germany’s oldest cities on the banks of the River Rhine. On quite a few occasions in the past I had transited through Cologne but somehow never had a chance to explore it. However in April this year on my trip to Germany I spent 2 days here and discovered quite a few of its interesting facets. I felt this city has a lot of opposites interspersed really well with each other that lent a unique character and vibe to it. There is a lot of ancient to complement the modern, loads of traditional breweries coexisting with Michelin star restaurants, quaint contrasting with trendy, Romanesque Churches alongside modern creativity, cultural and artistic etc etc. But even more than the city per se, it’s the people of Cologne with their friendly greetings and openness for everyone that left a lasting impression on me.
Venice – about 3 years ago I found myself in this city at a really short notice of 2 days. While looking for a place to stay online, I realized that last minute trips to Venice is not a good idea as all places that I liked and within my budget were full. After a lot of research I ultimately stayed at the Faronhof B&B, a small bed and breakfast in Oriago di Mira (about 15 kms from Venice). Though I would have loved to stay in Venice; it all worked out much better in the end as this B&B gave me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Venetian countryside.
Heidelberg – a picture perfect, old German town, on the River Neckar, in the valley of Odenwald.
With a majestic Heidelberg castle overlooking the city, the River Neckar flowing through its Old Town, old colorful buildings and beautiful hills all around; Heidelberg has all the elements to make anyone fall in love with it at first sight. I recently spent a couple of days here and loved every minute of my visit. Though there is not much to do here that can be classified as “non-touristy”, I still managed to find some different things and I’m sharing the same with you all below –
Venice. About 3 years ago I found myself in this city at a really short notice of 2 days. With no time to research or read on it, I was quite unprepared as to what to expect or the unique things to see and do here. So I just spent all my time just walking around and exploring the nooks and corners of this unique city.
Ahmedabad – A bustling city and the financial capital of Gujarat. It’s famous for many things but never really known as a tourist destination. On my recent weekend visit to this vibrant city, I was quite surprised to see that the Ahmedabad has a lot of places to visit and many unique things to offer to any type of traveler. It has an interesting mix of heritage sites, a piece of the freedom movement, beautiful temples and mosques, good food, amazing hospitality and a unique culture. It is well connected with other cities in the country and all major airlines and trains have travel services to Ahmedabad. All this makes it a good choice for a long weekend trip from any part of India.
Will you believe me if I tell you that that I stayed in a room by the beach with sand under my feet and sound of waves to keep me company while I was in Heidelberg (a landlocked town in Germany)? Well I kid you not, courtesy the Hip Hotel, I actually stayed in a room in Malolo with a view of the beach, sand and palms and the sounds of waves without even stepping foot in Malolo.
After completing the two selected books on Afghanistan, the next country on my reading list was Albania. Researching for books on Albania was quite interesting as I realized that I don’t know anything about this country at all. As a quick background – geographically located in Southeast Europe between Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece, Albania has an interesting political history. Albania was ruled by the Ottoman Empire till 1912 (when it declared its independence), but was conquered by Italy in 1939 and then by Germany in 1943. In 1944, it became a Socialist State and the Party of Labor and Enver Hoxha took control of the country till the early 1990s. During the communist era, Albania experienced many social and political changes, as well as isolation from the international community. In 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the democratic Republic of Albania was established. With it’s nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule and the subsequent communist regime, Albania has a unique and distinct culture from other European countries.