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Showing posts from November, 2007

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we headed back the way we came yesterday and after crossing Rajaji National Park the road divides and one goes towards to Dehradun and one to Rishikesh. The drive was pleasant, as we opted Laxman  Jhula as our destination google map smartly took us via highway bypassing the main city.But at the end the roads started to get narrower lucky for us we found a parking lot packed yet as we early risers ;)
The weather was little cold compared to the planes of Dehradun with lots of breeze coming from Ganga. We walked to Laxman Jhula to cross it. Oh boy! We have no idea what local authority allows two-wheelers, cycle to cross the hanging bridge which is meant for a pedestrian. And top of it you even have some cows standing in the middle.
I am sure the people coming all the from abroad to Rishikesh for peace, meditation and self-purity do get a complete shock wi…

Milan shopping - trip came to end

Time to say Ciao, a presto (bye, see u soon) to Venice!!! Although we knew it might never be soon again. With happy mood we left for Milan from where we started our memorable journey. We boarded Euro-star for which we had to make advance reservation. Indisputably it was the best train we boarded in last seven days. On reaching Milan kept our luggage in lock room and set off to explore the business city as well fashion center of Italy.

Starting with Milan’s cathedral, the city’s centerpiece and third-largest church in Europe is worth visiting. Next to Cathedral Square “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele” – Milan’s great four-story-high, glass-domed arcade- place to shop for rich and famous. Milan’s famous opera house was closed for renovation. We skipped Leonardo’s “Last-supper” and his bronze horse which he never built.
We had pasta at lunch in small store which was really ambrosial - no doubt. Late afternoon, wandered through big brand stores for clothes and ultimately I bought one wrist wat…

Venice at leisure

Next day, when we woke up, were very happy to see blue sky after two days of grey sky. Around 9.00 AM we came by boat to hot-spot St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's Basilica which is Byzantine influenced was too crowded to visit that time and unfortunately in evening we ran out of time and could not make it so satisfied ourselves from outside only. Doge's Palace is a gothic palace with bridge of sighs at rear end which is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace and last view point of Venice that convicts use to see before their imprisonment. Campanile bell tower is worth for city view only but we did not take the flight of stairs as we have lot more to explore. Visiting museum was big NO as we had enough (time was another constraint).Did enjoyed trip along the Grand Canal with hopping on-off. Countless bridges lace together the neighborhoods of Venice. Amazed to see many historical …

Half day at Florence and Venice

After spending three nights in Florence it was time to move on. We packed and checked out, keeping our luggage in the hotel. We walked towards Palazzo Vecchio (Piazza della Signoria) - city square adorned with fine arts. Basically, Florence is full of timeless beauty which can keep you captivated. Close to this square is Uffizi which we reached by 8:30 AM for our visit. Uffizi’s structure is like a long rectangle; it is not very big in structure like other top European museums. Famous paintings by Leonardo, Dante, Michelangelo & Boticelli are a sight not to be missed; a true Mecca for art lovers.Around mid-day we were back to hotel; picked our luggage and headed to train station for next destination – Venice. Venice is only three hours away from Florence by train. An unusual city built on small islands and traversed by some 100 criss-cross canals.Reaching Venice first thing we bought 2 day-pass for Public Transport. Don’t be surprise the only way to transit in this man made city i…

Siena

There are plenty of places to explore in Tuscan region from Florence as day trip. We decided to visit Siena which is only one hour. Reason for choosing Siena was for its medieval beauty; in that era Siena and Florence were at war when Florence defeated Siena.Travel by road through Tuscan region is really amazing as you cross those post-card hills. But exhausted from yesterdays walking on the cobble stone roads of Florence I dozed as soon we hit the highway that made Santanu bit furious as he couldn’t share those moments.Bus dropped us near to city center from where we visited top-sights – Piazza del campo square (city hall, museum, bell tower) and cathedral (with a baptistery, cathedral museum and viewpoint) of medieval town with twisting alleyways.Siena’s city square (unique shell shaped piazza) is huge and it is the main landmark; only accessible by feet or taxi. There are lots of leather shops along Via di Citta (Main Street). Besides, there are numerous other shops and restaurant…

Florence

Yesterday, late evening when we reached Florence it was drizzling and continued raining during the night. We got up to find grey sky - a very big disappointment compared to last few days as we had picture perfect blue sky. We also had to take out light jackets as temperature dropped. The hotel we stayed was not great but it was clean and functional in the centre of city even we could see the dome of famous cathedral from our hotel room window.Florence was capital of Italian Renaissance so planned to visit famous Uffizi and Accademia dell’Arte. We started with the later one as it was next to our hotel. But we were surprised to find a long queue at 8.00 AM. We had to use even umbrella in between but those rain did not deter anyone in the queue as all were waiting with patience for their turn to enter.Photography is completely prohibited inside; there are too many security personal who try their best to stop you as soon as you remove lens cap off your camera. Although flash photography i…

An afteroon at Pisa

Being exhausted from last evening we got up bit late and had very good breakfast before hitting the road. According to our itinerary, distance to be covered was long one as our hotel was booked at Florence.We took train to La Spezia, it was a crowded, got packed with each passing stations of Cinque Terre but became empty as soon as we crossed Riomaggiore. We had to wait a bit at La Spezia as train was coming from north was late. We heard trains in Italy sometime get delayed by few minutes to hours.On our way to Florence we planned to visit the amazing 180 feet high Leaning Tower of Pisa - stop for taking pictures as we were crunched with time for visiting top sights.At Pisa, we left our luggage at locker room of railway station went to “Duomo” by local bus, which was a quick way to get a glimpse of this old city. Pisa is also known for its famous university. As soon as we got down from bus we found the entrance was packed with hawkers and souvenir shops. It is a pretty common site in…

Cinqueterre – Mediterranean nirvana

We got up early had a quick breakfast and dragged our bags to Milan Central Station; bought our ticket for next destination “Cinqueterre” - refers to five small villages (Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza) - cling to the rugged mountains along Mediterranean coastline with breath taking view. This UNSECO heritage site is not on the main train line or motor-way that connects Milan to Rome. To get there, we have to cross the mountain to reach the western side of Italy. Need to change train at Genoa- known for its pesto sauce and native place of Columbus. It is said that as the western side of the Liguria hills gets the best sun light which is perfect for tomato and basil. As we had to change train from main line to local line we could only get glimpse from train. There are special trains from Levanto to La Spezia which stops in these five villages. As I write down about different trains lines I am sure you got an idea how remote these little villages are …

Milan and Lake Como

Prologue:
Weeklong journey of Italy takes us back to summer of 2004; due to various reasons never posted travelogues on time though pictures from the same were published on time. Please hang on as we try to recite detailed vacation from our faithful memory.We had a night train from Bercy Station, Paris. For us, reaching Bercy was bit far from our Metro Station (Exelmans on M9) as there was no easy interchange; while on street-road map it looks closer from our apartment. This train is not a fast train (TGV) but fast enough to take you to Venice from Paris in one night. We started around 20:30 but due to summer it was still very bright day when we left Paris. We travelled by first class; the cabin was similar to AC 1st class compartment of Indian trains in size. No doubt, the spotless and punctual services are incomparable. Only down side of this night train is missing the beauty of Alps as we cross in the night.
Journey Begins:
After checking in pre-booked hotel at business centre of It…

Fresh Tomato Soup

Till far only soup ever tried to make was carrot soup in Paris that too in bleak winter. Big thanks to my French Teacher for sharing the recipe en Français. Recently, went to local vegetable market; seeing tomato got so tempted that without thinking bought two kilos. Then I brainstormed a bit to think and idea of soup came as an escape. Here is my 2 cents recipe. If craving for something sweet and sour at the same time just have a bowl of creamy tomato soup to satisfy your desire as an appetizer.One kilo Tomato – boiled, peeled and deseeded.Two/three carrots – chopped to tiny pieces.One big Onion finely choppedFew cloves of garlicOne red chiliOne Bay leaf½ tsp cumin seedsBlack pepperNutmeg2 tbsp Olive oil / ½ tbsp butterJuice from one fresh OrangeLow fat cream or thick yoghurtDried Basil / Parsley leaves - optionalSalt to tasteHeat the oil/ butter and fry cumin seeds, bay leaf, garlic and onion with pinch of salt. When onion turns golden, add carrots and continue frying at low flame. …

Got G(oogle)-Phone

Well downloaded G-Phone application from Google. on my Blackberry. All I needed was data access enabled phone to download G-phone. The speculation was running high about a new hardware from Google in lots of web sites. Lets see how these applications (Gmail, Google maps, Google news, Google search, Gtalk, Google calender) will work on a normal phone where the display is not as big as Blackberry and you do not have full keyboard or track wheel. Any feedback on that, have you tried already ?

Festival of lights

Today as we celebrate India’s grand festival of Light signaling triumph over evil after a protracted fight which is marked by lighting of oil based traditional earthen or clay lamps as they shine brightly in each and every home - Be it lowly or mightily from the hut of the poor to the mansion of the rich when good with all its might, leads us from darkness to light. A day when old and young indulge in royal feast on this festival of snacks and sweet.For one and all we pray gift of light -
Wherever you travel, may a star lead you
The wind be at your back and road rise to meet you
Let God holds you in hollow of his hand.Wishing you all a very happy, prosperous and safe Diwali