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How to experience Cappadocia, Turkey as Do-It-Yourself & in Limited Time

8 Feb

A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a visit to Cappadocia! Mention of this place immediately conjures an image of multiple hot air balloons floating over the unique landscape. However, as we were to realize during our trip, there is so much more to see and do here than just these hot air balloon rides and the typical Instagram shots.  Cappadocia boasts of multi shaped and colored natural rock formations (fairy chimneys), cave villages, underground cities and multiple archeological sites. These rocks were formed millions of years ago when ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed the region in thick ash, which solidified to form a soft rock called ‘tuff’. Over the years, erosion due to wind and water shaped these rocks to form the famous fairy chimneys we see today. Then during the Roman times, persecuted Christians fled to Cappadocia and realized that this tuff was a soft and malleable and could be dug to make dwellings. And it is these surviving structures that make Cappadocia so worth a visit.

Hiking through the Red & Rose Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

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Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

4 Feb

I read “Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage” by Dr. Shaul Sapir on the recommendation of a Swapbook friend, Aadil Desai. Aadil is an avid reader, collector of antique books, maps & collectibles and a Mumbai story-teller. He leads many walks around Mumbai and shares stories about the city, its history, architecture and culture. So when Aadil recommended this book there was no doubt in my mind that it was a must read.

Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

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The Bombay Balchão walk with author, Jane Borges and Swapbook in Mumbai

24 Jan

Walking around in Mumbai, especially in the older parts of the city, is like walking through a treasure trove of the city’s history. In some instances, these treasures are hidden, just waiting to be unearthed. But in many cases they are in plain sight and all you need to do is pay attention. I love exploring my own maximum city and whenever I am not traveling and have the time, I join a group or some friends to walk around some of Mumbai’s old neighbourhoods. On one such weekend I joined a group of friends from Swapbook and author, Jane Borges, as she took us on a quick tour of the various locations featured in her recently released book, Bombay Balchão – talking about the old Christian neighborhoods of South Mumbai, their history, culture and the people.

Dabul, an old Christian neighbourhood of South Mumbai, Maharashtra

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Photo Essay: The Unique Ottoman Gravestones of Istanbul, Turkey

19 Jan

Walking around any old cemetery has always turned out to be a lesson for me – in terms of local customs, tombstones, designs, local history, culture, genealogy and design. With shortage of space and paucity of time, most modern cemeteries are built to to be completely utilitarian, but in many older cities you still stumble upon ancient cemeteries that were definitely more than just graveyards to bury the death. And on our recent trip to Istanbul, Turkey we came across the Ottoman culture of cemetery and tombstone design.

Ottoman tombstones at the Sulemaniye Mosue, Istanbul, Turkey

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Photo Essay & Guide – Visiting the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey

4 Jan

A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) was once one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and one of the grandest cities of the ancient world. While it was at its peak grandeur under the Romans, it has a much longer history with many great civilizations i.e. Greek, Persian, Roman and Christian. Though in ruins today, it is still a must visit to see the beautiful temples, baths, palaces, homes, markets, streets and imagine the everyday lives of the ancient Romans.

Ancient ruins of Ephesus, Turkey

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A Visit to a Christmas Market in a Cave in Valkenburg, Netherlands

21 Dec

I love festivals and everything associated with them – from the decorations & lighting, to the traditions followed, to the gifts exchanged and most importantly to all the very tasty food. While Diwali is a favorite time to be home in India, being in a place to which a festival is local, is a definite “cherry on top” for any trip. Last year I was in Netherlands in mid-November and as luck would have it, my friends P & J told me that the first Christmas market was opening in Valkenburg, Netherlands that weekend. Apart from being the first Christmas market to open, this market is truly unique as it is held inside a cave.

Very many Santas at the Christmas market, Valkenburg, The Netherlands

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My review of the Kundalika Rafting, a Nature Trails Resort in Kolad, Maharashtra

11 Dec

For our recent trip to Kolad, I was researching for accommodation options when I came across Kundalika Rafting – a Nature Trails Resort, an eco-tourism resort with a focus on nature and generating local employment. The online pics and reviews were good, so we booked a one-night stay in a superior deluxe tent. They had multiple options and packages (for meals and activities) available and I booked our stay to include dinner and breakfast (there didn’t seem to be any other options close to the resort). We didn’t book any adventure sports / activities in advance and chose to decide on them after arriving at the resort.

Our camp, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

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