A different side of Venice – Staying in the Venetian countryside

5 Sep

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.

The Venetian countryside, near Venice, Italy

The Venetian countryside, near Venice, Italy

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My Own Top 7 Must See’s and Do’s in Heidelberg

27 Aug

Heidelberg – a picture perfect, old German town, on the River Neckar, in the valley of Odenwald.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany

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 –

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Photo Essay: Venice through my camera lens

20 Aug

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.

Venice in one pic - Gondolas, Cupolas and Lamps

Venice in one pic – Gondolas, Cupolas and Lamps

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8 Must See’s and Do’s in Ahmedabad

6 Aug

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.

Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

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Staying in “Malolo” at the Hip Hotel in Heidelberg

21 Jul

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.

My room with a beach view - Malolo at the Hip Hotel in Heidelberg

My room with a beach view – Malolo at the Hip Hotel in Heidelberg

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Albania – Broken April by Ismail Kadare

16 Jul

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.

Broken April by Ismail Kadare

Broken April by Ismail Kadare

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Afghanistan – The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

3 Jul

I started my travel reading project with the first country on the list – Afghanistan. Originally I had decided to read one travel related book on each country written by a local author. But an initial research online yielded quite a few interesting book suggestions, and I couldn’t make up my mind. Finally my sisters’ Afghan colleagues’ came to my rescue and based on her recommendation I decided to read – Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi and The Places In Between by Rory Stewart.

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. Pic courtesy - Amazon

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. Pic courtesy – Amazon

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The Majestic Ruins of the Heidelberg Castle

30 Jun

Originally my Heidelberg trip was to start with a walking tour of the town, for which I had actually taken an earlier train from Frankfurt. I reached my hotel alright and then got badly lost and missed the walking tour. I am sure anyone who has been to Heidelberg will wonder how I managed such an impressive feat in such a small town! Well in my defense I was holding the map upside down. #Faceplam I know. So once I missed my walking tour, I decided to start my trip with a visit to the most imposing structure in Heidelberg – The Heidelberg Castle.

The Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg

The Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg

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A Unique Museum in Heidelberg – A Studentkazer or Student Prison

25 Jun

Growing up is a stage in life where we are all up-to one mischief or the other. While the disciplinary action can vary depending upon the gravity of the mischief committed and the damage done, have you ever heard about a prison sentence for such crimes? Well if you were a student at the Heidelberg University in the early 19th century, then going to prison for misdemeanors was a realty.

Inside the Student Prison, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

Inside the Student Prison, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

On my recent visit to Heidelberg with Germany Tourism, I asked the Heidelberg tourism office for their must see suggestion in the city, apart from the famous Heidelberg castle, and they all recommended the “Student Prison and the Great Hall”. I have seen India police stations and even stayed in a prison converted to a hostel (in Ljubljana), but a student prison was something I had never seen or heard of before. Intrigued I decided to visit.

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Afghanistan – “Earth and Ashes” by Atiq Rahimi

23 Jun

I started my travel reading project with the first country on the list – Afghanistan. An initial research online yielded quite a few interesting book suggestions, but only two Afghan authors – Khaled Hosseini and Atiq Rahimi. I had read all of Khaled Hosseini’s books so I decided to add Atiq Rahimi to my shortlist. Additional research yielded books that I would have liked to read but they were all by foreign (i.e. non Afghan) authors and were based on their journey and impressions of this country. This kind of diluted the purpose of what I want to achieve, which is to read more local authors of every country to understand the local customs, mannerisms and lives. I didn’t want to read a foreigners’ observations of this country.

Earth and Ashes - Cover courtesy - Amazon

Earth and Ashes – Cover courtesy – Amazon

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