I travel a fair bit for my official work and in November last year I had a chance to visit Dubai for our office offsite. As I had been to Dubai for a holiday once before, I had seen and done many of the typical touristy things. But my travels have taught me that even repeat trips to see the same sights can be fun – you can see things that you missed in the excitement of last time or try new ways of experiencing the same sights. And I tried re-experiencing “At The Top” in Burj Khalifa, but this time in the night and by learning more about this architectural marvel.
Our Slovenia travel chapter started with its beautiful capital city and the smallest capital in Europe – Ljubljana (“lyoob-lyAH-nah”). Interestingly Ljubljana is a city that does not have any world-famous monuments or attractions or a long or short list of to do’s. But it has many things to see and do and the best way to discover its secrets is via our favorite way – ditch the map and walk around aimlessly on foot.
“S-LOVE-nia”; a small country that just like the spelling in its name
makes you fall hopelessly in love with it at first and in every sight.
It’s a small country cozily tucked amongst Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia but somehow is one of those rare places that has the best of everything and something for every visitor. It’s also one of the few countries in Europe that’s very young – both in terms of creation and age of the local population. It was part of erstwhile Yugoslavia but it got its constitution in 1991 and only became a part of the EU in 2004. Hence it should be on every travelers “cheat” wish-list to Europe – as it offers all experiences that are European (with flavors from all its neighbors) while retaining its own charm and flavors.
And elaborating from above, please find below my 20 reasons why this country should be on your travel wish-list for 2015 –
1. Live your own fairy tale – Visiting Slovenia is like being
transported into your own fairy tale where you see castles nestled
amongst clouds atop green hilltops, rivers flowing along your paths
and verdant green forests as far as the eyes can see. Frozen 2 can
actually be shot here :)
Continuing the stories of my Konkan journey here is the next chapter – Konkan Diaries 2.
Our second day in Konkan is my favorite with some unusual activities and unexpected surprises. We had decided to visit Malvan and see Shivaji’s famous fort of Sindhudurg that we all had read so much about in our school history textbooks. In ancient times, Malvan was known as ‘Mahalavan’ meaning a region rich in salt (“Maha” means salt and “lavan” means plantation of salt). Per Wikipedia another possibility is that it’s a phonetic derivative of the word “Mad” meaning “coconut” and “Ban” meaning “gardens” for the large number of coconut trees in this area. And if I was to decide between the two based on the current scenario, I would go with the latter.
We started the day with a quick visit to the local village’s small weekly bazaar and post that left for Malvan.
Continuing my experiences from Konkani Diaries 1.
After an adventurous overnight journey we finally reached Kudaal (the nearest bus station for Parule) early morning and got off at the bus stop on the highway. Here we met with Bapat Bhaiya – our host, guide and driver for the entire Konkan trip. Bapat Bhaiya loaded all our stuff in the car and gave us a quick introduction to the area during the car journey. We drove through the town of Kudaal that looked like any tier-two town in India with random concrete buildings everywhere and a big market. But once we were out of Kudaal the scenery changed dramatically. Sitting in the back of the car I had my ears tuned to Bapat Bhaiya’s stories but my eyes were trying to soak in all the elements of the world outside my window. This entire area was extremely scenic with a very Kerala and Goa like look and feel. It was green everywhere with small red brick houses and sloping roofs, long winding roads, mango, palm, coconut and cashew tress all around creating nice canopies, lush green fields (majorly paddy) and red soil, characteristic of this region, making a nice contrast with all the green. In many places the road was at a height and the village cozily nestled amongst palm and coconut trees below.
I have driven a fair bit in India and seen quite a bit of the Indian countryside, the life of farmers, their ways of life etc. And when we drove through the Chinese countryside I was amazed at how many of these images resembled those back home. There were a few differences too and I had a happy time comparing the two. Sharing my own impressions on the rural Chinese landscape via a short photo essay below :).
Konkan… A strip of land along the coastal stretch of Maharashtra and strategically located between the hills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. This unique geographical position has endowed this entire coastal belt with hills, beautiful golden sandy beaches, pristine backwaters, lush green fields, swaying coconut trees, coves and lagoons and so much more. I have lived in Mumbai all my life and heard many amazing reviews and stories from fellow bloggers and friends returning from a road / bike trip in this region. But somehow my trips never materialized.