Showing posts with label taxi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taxi. Show all posts


Shiv Jayanti

“Shiv jayanti” should not be confused with Shivratri (Night of lord Shiva)- marked with devotion to one of most powerful lord in Hindu mythology. While Shiv jayanti (Birthday) is celebration of birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj who ruled Maratha region in 17th century fighting against powerful Mughal Empire of North-India. He was named Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son.

According to English calendar, birthday of Shivaji is on February 19th. But ShivSena, the main political party of regional party in Maharashtra celebrates the same according to Indian astronomical dates. In Mumbai, you can’t miss this day which is celebrated with its colors and festivity. A colorful procession with lezims (a traditional musical instrument) is taken around the city. The main gathering happens at Shivaji Park of Dadar in the evening. You will find saffron triangular flags fluttering everywhere from train station to cabs on this day.
But there are some down side of this celebration to common people. If you have to travel around Dadar or need to cross the central part of this maximum city be prepared for a evening crawl. On the main roads as soon as you see on your rear-view mirror a big speeding SUV with flags you need to give right of way. The priority to this kind of vehicle is more than any emergency vehicle; it also signals ‘do not dare to touch me or stop me’ to law enforcement officials. With recent split of ShivSena this time there were cars from both parties to show their power and dedication to Shivaji Maharaj. Not sure if Shivaji would have appreciating the same. This is one of these celebrations which have been hijacked by political parties to show who rules the city - ‘Asli Bhai Kaun Hai’.


Indian Inglish

The biggest asset of 21st century modern India is its big chunk of young educated Indian who can speak decent English. There is lot of buzz and business happening in India as there are numerous outsourcing operations.
But on the ground we speak very different English with borrowed words from Indian regional languages that do find their way into our writing, advertisements and newspapers, TV spots and shows from north to south or east to west.
For example, in south it is very common to end a sentence with “no” – ‘You’re going, no.’ which might be a question or asking re-assurance from the other end.
  • Use of yaar, abey, arey in an English conversation between Indians, mainly by people of native Hindi-speaking origin.
  • Use of the word ki to mean, that such as in "What I mean is ki we should follow that sign.”
  • Use of word "wallah" to denote occupation like taxi-wallah, grocery-wallah.
  • Use of word maane (Bengali) , Yani (Urdu) and matlab (Hindi/Urdu) is quite common "meaning" ("What I mean is...").
  • Use of accha! to express positive emotions as in "Accha, so that's your plan" Or chal (Hindi for the verb "walk") to mean "Ok" like in "Chal, I gotta go now".

  • They have got so much incorporated in our day today life that we hardly notice. Even you might find certain spelling unique in Indian English to attract or just out of ignorance. I think this sign falls on the second category. What is your pick?
    But I personally think Indian English is much more globally understood and acceptable than any other British colonies. And I strongly believe we should not colorize our English; and do every effort to keep it close to its root rather than making it pigeon language.



    Doumo from Distance

    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.

    Piazza del campo

    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 restaurants lined against the narrow lane which we found outrageously priced and too crowded with tourists. We walked along that street and had mouth-watering pizza for lunch in one resturant.

    Marble Work small

    Siena’s cathedral is outstanding with black and white marble columns and dazzling mosaics on the floor. Do not miss the magnificent Bernini statue of Mary Magdalene (does this bell a ring from Da Vinci’s Code?) hidden away in a niche of marble. Duomo is unfinished as you can see the half constructed outer wall. inside every possible inch of wall, ceiling and floor has been decorated. Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini library which is also must.

    Later, we walked to San Domenico (Basilica Cateriniana) with delicate and soft gelatos in our hand. This is a huge gothic church with minimalistic design so there is no fancy marble works or any thing.

    Finally, we walked back to the bus stop (to Florence) with my eyes wide open this time.

    At morning we crossed famous open market of Florence. But unfortunately, in the morning we were too early and in evening we were too late.


    Cabbies of Mumbai

    Mumbai Taxi

    Black and yellow metered taxi’s made famous by Bollywood movies play a major role of public transport in Mumbai other then auto rickshaws, trains and buses. In New York they are yellow, in London they are Black and in Mumbai they’re both yellow and black. They are part of Mumbai heritage. Normally, they move in snail space at peak hours which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads. Truly, at times cannot help to mention their weird way of driving.

    Few facts:

    • These metered taxis ply throughout Mumbai otherwise only mode of hired transport in proper Mumbai as auto-rickshaws are not allowed. Bandra on western and Sion on central line marks the demarcation point. This is a big bliss as there is not much noise pollution, no mad driving and not much squeezing on road for space.
    • They are quaint vehicles which are quite reasonable in price to hire, even if short on leg room, seat comfort, ceiling height, and window space.
    • They also run in share mode, maximum of four person can share the ride but routes are fixed for this kind. Mostly Mumbai-ans uses them to reach office from station or vice versa.
    • All most 99% black and yellow cabs are Premier Padmini by FIAT
    • FIAT does not produce these car any more so all cars on the road are 20/30 years old.
    • They run on CNG (that is the only reason taxi fair did not got a hike in last few years).
    • Fixing the car is easy, not much electronic like new car. Each driver knows his car’s technical fine points like his palm.
    • Taxi drivers in Mumbai are still OK; not as honest like old times but better off from their counterparts in any other major cities in India.
    New TAXI - Mumbai

    Though there are new air conditioned taxi on the road which are yet to become mainstream. These will be air conditioned and fitted with GPS, cordless phones, electronic meters with printers. These new taxis will charge a little extra than the traditional black and yellow taxis because of the luxury frills.

    Even recently one Cab Company has decided to employ ladies driver catering mainly to ladies passenger and this service will be started by this November.


    C for Cab and Cricket

    Cricket – is India’s gorgeous past time – it is not taken as a sport. This picture was taken during Cricket World Cup of 2007 inside a Mumbai cab. But somehow I never posted the same. I am not a big cricket fan but is impossible to avoid cricket while you are in India.

    In recent time, performance of Indian cricket team is quite disappointing. But that does not change Indians breathing cricket - be at India or abroad. Performance of India in any other sport is quite dishonorable considering its population.

    Cricket and cricketers are most sought after in India. Best Indian performance of cricket in world arena was almost 20 years back when there was not so much glamour and money in that game. May be that is why they were more interested in playing cricket rather than endorsing any brand or product.

    The worst of all is the Indian cricket board which is most money milking sport’s body in the world even beating those big football clubs of Europe. Chairs of Indian Cricket Board are filled up with politicians and old cricketers whose greed for money, power and limelight or Page-Three attention never ends. Enough of ranting …..for something which I don’t even care.


    “Amby” in city of joy

    Calcutta (Kolkata) – mega city of Eastern India. In this vibrant city with a distinct socio-political culture, cabs are grand old Ambassadors from Hindustan Motors and most of cars are manufactured from the nearby plant of Uttarpara. This picture was taken next to major long distance Sealdah Railway Station which shows that city of joy still struggles with traffic congestion. Unlike of other major cities where Tata indica or fiat or Maruti are common hired forms of mechanised transport this city has almost all taxis as amby painted in yellow.

    Yellow Cab of Calcutta

    Before Maruti it was the only car on Indian road. This reminds me of my childhood times when me and my brother used to identify a Mark-II, Mark-III or Mark-IV by its sound (all these models looked very similar). It was a stupid game in era of Nintendo –Wii. The game was a simple one - we used to hide behind a wall as we saw an Ambassador approaching, try to identify the same by sound and confirm as soon as it passed by from behind.

    While writing this post I just found the web page of this car and found 10 reasons to buy this car ……

    1. First Indian car – [born in 1950 (inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford ,United Kingdom ]
    2. Power Steering – [Trying to match up the new market with Maruti, TATA, Honda and Toyota.]
    3. Multi Fuel Injection – [Well, all new car has that - what a big deal?]
    4. Company fitted CNG – [Well, you can convert almost every petrol car in India to keep your running cost as low as 1 Rupees for 1 KM.]
    5. Tough
    6. Tough - [tested on Indian roads for long time but why they have to list the toughness twice?]
    7. Roominess - [Yes, more then 10 people can travel in a single car at a given time!!]
    8. 5 Speed Gear box - [Another lame reason, all car now a days has the same. ]
    9. Easy repairable – [They claim across the country all mechanic knows the car inside out.]
    10. Serves the country – [Used by Indian Army and de-facto car of Indian bureaucrats and politicians. ]

    If I have enough money one day I will like to have a chauffeur driven amby for myself just to hang out in nostalgia or in the roomy car or to be different from every one else ;) .My eleventh reason or may be only reason for having this car.


    Viva Goa - Day 4


    As we couldn’t enjoy much earlier day we decided to opt for rented bike and move around in our own pace. Rented a bike for 2 days for 400 Rupees. One thing which is very interesting about Goa’s motorcycle taxi locally known as pilots ideal for nipping between beaches or for short distances. Bonafide operators ride black bikes with yellow mudguards and white number plate. These vehicles transport a single pillion rider. (Photo credit: from

    As usual after breakfast we headed towards Anjuna beach. Anjuna is gorgeous with its rocky shore and mighty cliffs where you can hear of techno-thumping sounds and see hippies around. With morning sun and plenty of time at hand we made this special sign to remember Goa. Vagator, however, is the perfect hideaway spot with its few beach shacks and fishing boats off in the distance. Black lava rocks, the coconut palms, the lush green landscape, nature playing its own music, and the sea turning from aquamarine to emerald green with Chapora Fort at its background. The reminiscence of the old Portuguese times giving a splendid view of the sea and hills covered with coconut trees and rice fields. To reach middle and little Vagator one needs to walk but the calmness worth the effort as big Vagator gets bus loads of Indian whiskey drinking male tourist.

    At noon, sun is really hard to tolerate but for lunch, we made sure to have exotic flavour of the Goan dishes at whatever cost. So, we searched hard to find one place called “Gabriel” recommended by our guidebook as an authentic goan cooking. It was really worth searching.

    For most Goans three basic necessities – fish, curry and rice. Goan values their food as much as they do their daily siesta. In their daily meal, seafood always has a pride of place in some or other form. From fried fish to exotic concoctions; sea food is usually a must on the menu, except for the occasional break for some religious observance. Besides fresh seafood, dried and salted fish dishes are also highly prized by Goans.

    Green Chicken Curry

    We ordered Galinha com Coentro (chicken with fresh coriander leaves and vinegar) and prawn curry with rice. It was really fresh, home –made and scrumptious. Owner was friendly; had chit-chat with him. We figured out it was guest-house cum restaurant with lots of shady trees around and not far from sea. Sitting arrangement is in the garden under trees with fan. Since it was shady we spent 2 hours there and at last we were offered yummy chocolate (European one after a long time).

    In the evening we prepared ourselves for soaking at Baga beach; smeared well with body-oil. As on day two we found that sand was very fine and it gets stick to the body like glue even after proper shower. So, smearing oneself helps as sand can’t stick to the body and washes off with each roaring waves.


    At evening we went to Tibetian market right across our resort where Santanu bought one finger-ring for himself and then headed for dinner at Baga-Calangute road to one nice restaurant. Wanted to taste one goan dessert for last 3 days; since we were not left with an inch place in stomach we could not but today made sure to eat less so that we can taste it. For dessert best is Infantaria Pastelaria recommended again by our guidebook which was again right across our resort where we bought Bebinca – a layered pudding.


    Mahabaleshwar Day-II

    On day 2 we woke up late from bed took a stroll in the backyard then decided to walk towards main market to book our return trip and to have breakfast. On the way we had strawberry from street corner as its very common people selling it through out same product. We booked our return bus trip and were asked for shared taxi at 175 Rs for Mahabaleshwar darshan which we accepted. Walked on main bazaar street of Mahabaleshwar which is full of quaint shops that are certain to catch your fancy.

    Relaxing Its bit hot at noon in this time of year. We had Kate’s point, Echo point, Needle hole, Venna lake, Lodwick point, Elephant head and sunset point.

    Sunset point called Bombay Point being close to our MTDC resort, is the expansive view of the sunset considered to be one of the most beautiful, popular and oldest sights in Mahabaleshwar. But too crowded with tourists and people come here to ride on horse and get themselves photographed with horse stunts and backdrop of sunset. It got its name since it was on the old road to Bombay.

    Next day started return trip in the morning; we got to enjoy the whole journey in those semi-comfy chairs of bus. Otherwise we had to face hair raising stunts from some of the crazy drivers in those winding and hair-pin bending roads.

    Sunset Point


    Mahabaleshwar-Weekend getaway

    Unlike last time we booked our trip with bus agency for 700Rs (2 persons). Our reporting time was 00:15AM at Kharghar node but we were quite early then our reporting time 11:30 PM fearing we might not get a public transport to reach on time. We waited for our bus and waited, and waited and waited some more. It was about 00:30AM and there was still no sign of our bus. We gave a call to bus counter and asked them when the bus would show up. The guy there kept on saying that it was late and it just started from other side of Mumbai-suburbs.

    It was about 01:00 AM and yet no sign of our bus. All shops had closed down and everybody else around us had boarded their respective buses and gone. And there we were, two sitting with bags on the pavement in the middle of the night. Phew! All along we were cursing ourselves and was thinking the difficulties we might have to face if we have to return home then at last at 1:30AM we did board the bus.

    Entrance of MTDC

    Well, this time we even booked our hotel beforehand with MTDC. One can check the availability; book the room of your choice from your own PC. The only trap is - pay heavy penalty if you change your mind at last moment. We booked for Krishna cottage for 1450 Rs per night. MTDC is located near the road to Pratapgad outside of the city center, the dwelling units are covered in thick greenery. The stretch of road on which the MTDC lay is quite desolate. The PWD guest house is adjacent to this resort, which is equally or rather more charming. Tourists of MTDC can walk into the PWD guest house, stroll and even have food at the PWD restaurant. One more beauty about the PWD bungalow is the sunset spot which we missed. The beautiful lawn in front of the PWD bungalow overlooks the whole ranges of Sahyadri, more importantly, there is no crowd here. Really, much better than Mahabaleshwar’s famous sunset spot. The lonely road is a good joggers’ track or one can enjoy the walk (inside) which is pleasant or can enjoy the backyard of cottage and you have an opportunity to listen to chirping of various kinds of birds. There are 30 cottages which is most beautiful part of this resort. This resort is heaven for nature lovers as shrouded in greenery. A great escape for those assaulted daily with the view of our urban jungles who really want to get stress relief. The trees sway in the wind the swishing sound engulfs you and makes you feel relaxed.

    Since, we reached early morning we had an option of choosing cottage of our choice. We picked lucky 13 close to PWD guest house. The cottage rooms are quite spacious and have good clean big bathrooms as well. The rooms are equipped with television which is only useful in case you plan on staying indoors.

    Not accustomed with nocturnal bus journey we were groggy. And moreover Santanu wanted to relax rather then rushing from one point to another. After having breakfast at PWD guest house we took a nap to recharge ourselves. With nothing better to do we set off for Panchgani, Pratapgarh and Wai at noon. Though Taxi wallah having fixed rate cards we bargained for 1000Rs for 3 places.

    We started with Panchmari which derives its name from five hills that surrounds it. This trip includes Parsi point and tableland. Parsi point is famous for best view of Krishna valley down below. And table land offers the panoramic view of Panchgani itself. It's largest plateau in Asia, a small plane can land here. It is situated 60 meters high on the eastern side of the town. It protects Panchgani from strong winds, heavy rainfall and makes this hill station enjoyable all year round. It streches far beyond eye can see. On way we went to strawberry garden where you can buy all the fresh products available there. We bought strawberry jam.

    From here we went to Wai, foothills of Panchgani ancient town with temples. It is believed Pandavas stayed here in disguise during their exile. Dolya Ganapati Temples on the bank of Krishna river are well preserved of their times.

    After having late lunch we set off for Pratapgarh which is about 26 kilometeres from Mahabaleshwar on the opposite side of our first two destinations. This is the fort where the legendary confrontation between Shivaji and Afzal Khan took place and which saw Shivaji emerge victorious. At pratapgarh we hired a govt. recognized guide Satish for 80/- who was very informative and helpful for taking our snaps:-).He explained every aspect of it in detail. The fort was quite fascinating and we climbed up some 400 odd steps to enjoy the view from atop. There is a splendid view of the lush green valley and the forts Raigad and Makarandgad can also be viewed on a clear day. We were not lucky enough to have crystal clear weather rather it was hazy. On the east and the south the hills have steep slopes covered with dense forest in contrast with rocky west and the north. The hills gradually descend to the valleys separating Mahabaleshwar and Kineshwar range on the east and the Konkan valley on the west. We enjoyed sunset on our way back to Mahabaleshwar from one of the Shayadri range.

    At twilight, we headed towards our cottage. Suddenly there was a strike in the city and all the shops were closed. This situation caught every visitor’s off-guard and everyone approached MTDC restaurant for dinner. Though tired and famished we had to wait for 2 hours - as small kitchen was not capable to handle such big volumes of orders in one evening. What a chaos it was. Oh GOD!!!


    Sikkim - Gangtok

    My current home in India is Siliguri, north of West Bengal may not be the most alluring for tourist destinations. But it is the most important city in the entire Eastern Himalayas due to its geographical location. As city is unabashedly an industrial centre and gateway to seven sisters of North-East along with Sikkim & eastern part of Nepal. My parents moved here ten years back and by that time I had just started my career; never had ample holidays to explore any thing around. Always I used to be too tired to get out of home and end up with novels and old music. But this was for the first time I did take days out to visit Gangtok.

    Though journey was not very memorable or different than that of those I had while growing up in North-East region except that Pamela was with me this time. Traveling by Jeep through those narrow winding roads is an experience in itself where our co-passengers thought that we are going for honeymoon trip. The drive was very scenic with Teesta River flowing all the way. The forested hills are still green but truly there is continuous deforestation going on for either cultivation or smuggling woods.

    We reached Gangtok after midday and the Taxi Stand was the most active part of the city like any other small or hill town in North-East. There are too many touts to rob you. If you travel light and are able to carry your luggage yourself you can avoid them. We stayed in a ITDC hotel near to M.G.Marg where we had our lunch at its expensive restaurant. Then we went out for booking our trips for sightseeing & daytrip for next 2 days. Being a tourist place it seems everyone wants to rob so you need to have good negotiating skill & make sure what you need you get the same. After bargaining we were able to book our trips for next 2 days. Then from there we went to the Government Institute of Cottage Industries (also called the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom) which promotes and teaches the ancient crafts of Sikkim (like painting, mask making, weaving, wood carving) to keep them alive. It is located at zero point, few km uphill from the main Gangtok town.

    Day II, we had Allu paratha as breakfast early morning near to Bus stop at Agarwal restaurant & got the same packed for the route also. Then we headed towards our agency. Indians are famous for their IST so our co-passengers. After waiting a while for them to join we started our trip to Tsomgo Lake.
    Tsomgo Lake is situated at an altitude of 12,310 ft on Gangtok-Nathula highway. Just few kilometers away from Indo-China border. This road also continues to Lasa, Tibet. Drive to that region is again very different with snow capped mountains & this whole belt is undertaken by Indian military. Salute to our Indian army who are taking pain to guard those borders to make our life easy & peaceful. Really I wonder sometimes how they are struggling there to earn their meal in those extreme cold regions far from there near one.
    On reaching Tsomgo lake (pronounced as Changu Lake which means source of lake) we hired snow boots as all the travel agents take their customers to respective brothers stall for hiring jackets, snow boots and water-proof boots. Because of the high altitude heavy woolens are required which we already had.
    From there we went immediately to Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial which lies between Nathula-Jelepla pass which is at still more higher altitude of around 13,450ft. Actually, it is built in memory of a sepoy of 23rd Punjab regiment. It seems after few days of his missing he appeared in the dreams of his fellow comrades & expressed a desire that monument be built in his memory. Now it has acquired a statue of a pilgrimage, being Sunday there was langar (free meals served after Sikh services) offered by Indian Army. After one hour stay we came down to Changu Lake.

    Weather was getting worse. Tea, snacks & film rolls are available at the dozen of temporary stalls near the lake. But there is no facility of accommodation or proper toilet for the tourist. Rides on yaks and mules are also offered which was worthless to enjoy for Pamela at that temperature.
    In the evening, we walked on the main street of M.G.Marg which is normally closed for all vehicles from 5 to 9 PM. Looked for budget restaurant for our dinner; we found one and also found a long queue waiting for their turn. The wait was delightful.

    Day III started for us early morning as we wanted to return to Siliguri ASAP. We started our sightseeing activity from Rumtek monastery (largest monastery of Sikkim) and ended with exotic orchid show along with Enchey monastery, Do-drul stupa.
    Gangtok is a blend of the traditional and modern, where modern concrete multi-storied structures clings to the hillside along with stupas and monasteries; buddhist prayer flags flutter with the mountain breeze; young college girls in trendy dresses while elderly matrons clad in traditional 'bakus' and lamas in colorful maroon.

    Now, looking forward to travel to North Sikkim some day which we heard is more beautiful with valley of flowers and lakes to explore.


    Lisbon - Portugal

    Pictures from Lisbon

    Well the over night bus journey between Seville and Lisbon was not very long one. We had an hour long stop as soon as we entered Portugal. The road condition was good and we reached the Oriental Stop of Lisbon at very early hours and the sky was still dark. From there it took another 20 minutes or so to reach the final destination near Zoological Garden. We took a taxi and the ride was a short one to our hotel for only 6 Euros. The driver was nice and he was mentioning about the drought Portugal is facing.

    The Hotel (Novotel) was under renovation but the staff was kind enough to get us a room at 4:30 in the morning although we had by mistake booked for only one adult which we came to knew then and there.

    After having rest for few hours we headed out from our hotel to Lisbon downtown by metro. It was a very cloudy day. I was feeling heavy headed and wanted to get some coffee.

     Pictures from LisbonAfter walking in Rossio Square for a while we bought day pass for Lisbon Trasport. The Metro system is run by the Government while the Bus, Tram and trolleys are run by a company. Lisbon have lots of trams and it seems like one of the attractions. Lisbon downtown is divided in three major part Bairro Alto, Alfama and Baixa. The first two one are on hills and the last one in the middle of the two.

    It took us a while to figure out the starting point of Gloria funicular. We took it to reach the top of Bairro Alto Neighborhood. The ride is very small and full of tourists only. At the end of the 2/3 minute ride the people who bought a single trip ticket was wondering is it really worth or not.

    Just getting out of the funicular on the right towards hill there is park, from there we get very nice view of the other part of the city and the river from there. There is also the ‘Porto’ wine collection place just across the street. Start walking downhill towards Chiado. Chaido is very happening place with lots of designer shops and places to east and drink. We visited Sao Roque Church which is very beautiful with lots of excellent tile and marble works inside; it was built in the glory days of Portugal.

    We had lunch in one of the restaurant of big mall in Baixa Chaido. After that we took tram 28 for going to Alfama. This one is also a old tram most likely built in 1930s and it passes Baixa district. We visited the Caste of São Jorge. After spending a good time and taking the view of Lisbon & River Tejo we took the same tram back to Chiado. In Chaido we took Bica funicular which is like Gloria a old one but it is very stiff and goes down to the river front. The buildings along side are very old and in poor condition.

    Once reaching the river front we took tram 15 towards Belem. There are both new and old tram on this track. Belem is 5 KM outside of Lisbon. On the way we saw 25th April Bridge, which just looks like Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco. The reason may be both are built by the same company. Belem tower and Monastery are the main attractions along with the ‘Monument to the Discoveries’.Well it was a quite a long day and we headed back to Chiado for dinner and then to Hotel.


    Seville - Spain

     Plaza de Espana
    Last day at Seville... After checking out from the hotel we took a bus and got down next to the Casino of Exposition. But today it is a public holiday at Seville which we did not knew, so the roads were quite empty at 9 in the morning. After getting down from the bus we walked towards Plaza de Espana. Plaza de Espana was built for 1929 world expo. Lots of Latin American countries joined that expo. The world expo was not a success as that year was marked as first financial disaster of the Great Depression as U.S. securities lost $26 billion.
    The famous tile work of Andalusia is at its best here. There are maps of Spain from that time; the benches, the small decorative bridges are really beautiful. We walked along the great corridors of Spanish Pavilion. From there we walked to Alcazar while we saw the university and the famous 5star hotel. The university used to be a cigarette factory before.
    King Pedro Castile in the 1360's with his mistress Maria de Padilla, lived in and ruled from the Alcazar. Pedro embarked upon a complete rebuilding of the palace, employing workmen from Granada and utilising fragments of earlier Moorish buildings in Seville, Cordoba and Valencia. The comparison between Alhambra is like comparing apple and orange. This is build with lot of confusing room. The outside garden is really beautiful which worth a stroll.
    As that day was religious holiday with procession and big gathering of people around the cathedral. We walked along the cathedral towards city hall and further. After lunch we rested inside a café for 2 hours to beat the scorching heat.
    We took a bus to visit Basilic of Macarena, the weeping Mary which is world famous. We walked back all the way from there to Plaza de Espana. It is better to visit west facing Plaza de Espana in the evening for photos.
    After all that walking we were really tired and exhausted. We had tapas again for dinner next to our hotel. It was a better place with street side seating. We really enjoyed my food with cool breeze and watching people on the street.
    Taxi ride to the bus stop for Lisbon was a good choice at late night. But waiting for the midnight bus was not fun. But the overnight bus ride was not bad.


    Cordoba – Spain

     Double Arches - Cordoba
    When we started planning for Andalusia we did not thought of Cordoba first. But later friends who had been there suggested visiting Cordoba.
    We walked from our hotel on the busy morning streets of Seville to reach the train station. We bought ticket for AVE (fast train) to Cordoba. The fair is not at all expensive compared to French standard as it costs almost similar from Paris CDG airport to city center. The train service is really good and train travels in high speed.

    Cordoba’s main attraction is its Mezquita(Mosque). This is a living history of Cordoba as it transforms from one culture and religion to other. It was one of the first big city that was built by Moorish rulers in Spain at 10th century. These leaders wanted to build a mosque for their religion. Earlier the mosque was small but with time as Cordoba prospered, it was extended to accommodate more people.

    The double arch with red and white stripes makes a very immense effect to the visitors. These double arches are purely for decorative purpose but it is so unique. Later days when Christians gained their control over Cordoba this was converted to a Church with very little modification giving it a feeling of church inside the mosque.
     Patio Cordoba
    The `Mihrab` traditionally had two functions in Islamic worship, first it indicated the direction of Mecca (therefore prayer) and it also amplified the words of the Imam, the prayer leader. But The Cordoba Mosque Mihrab looks south in the same way as the Damascus mosque and not south east in the direction of Mecca. This one is very beautifully decorated with Islamic arts of gold on marble.

    From there we went around various streets exploring beautiful patios of Cordoba. Best time is early May to visit the same. There is a competition for most beautiful patio in Cordoba, which means lots of patios to check out in early May.

    We had a light snack of fruits and juice near to Alcazar. The afternoon was scorching hot. After waiting a good amount of time for the public bus we took a taxi back to train station. The ride in the AC car was worth (4 Euros) every penny as the outside was burning at 40 C.


    Vienna - Austria

    We just finished uploading pictures from our Vienna trip to our site. It was a great trip. Only complain was the hotel which was really outside of city without any proper public transport. The hotel was “Novotel” and we preferred it as we got good treatment from this hotel chain for our trips to Amsterdam and Berlin. When we booked the same it was mentioned it has Metro next to it. But in real world the metro station is 5 or 6 KM away and there is a bus which runs every one or two hours between the metro station and the hotel.

    The evening we reached was bit late around 11PM so I decided to take a cab from the airport to the hotel. The hotel people told me it cost around 35 euros from the Airport to the hotel. But it cost us 54 Euros so I was very angry with the Taxi driver at first for taking longer routes. But when I asked again with the hotel guy he said it is normally around 60 Euros. Well that made me feel good but not better.

    Next day, Saturday, we went to Melk by train from Vienna the weather was great with blue sky and warm temperature. The train ride was nice as it gives a good view of Austria’s country side. Melk has a very beautiful abbey which is known as Stift to the local. From there we took a boat ride on Danube River to Kermes. While walking from the boat stop to the train station we met a lady from Graz. She suggested us to take the train ride to her beautiful town in the Alps on any sunny morning.

    That evening we came back to Vienna and walked around StephansPlatz and dined in a vegetarian place, the food was good.

    Sunday we had our coffee and some tasty pastries to start the day. We walked along the ring starting from Opera, Hufburg Palace, City hall, Museum Quarter Parliament, University and the stock Market. After that we went to St. Augustine’s Church to listen the Sunday Chores. It was a very different experience the music and singing was really very soothing to ears. After lunch we went to Belvedere Palace. It was very special day as Austria was celebrating its 50 years of Freedom. There was live music, dance in different form. We really enjoyed those great outdoor performances.

    On our last day we went to Schonbrunn (beautiful fountain) palace. It was summer residence of the royal. Its beautiful park really demands a good amount of time from you to explore those lavish green surroundings.

    Well that brought to an end and we were back to the airport for our afternoon flight to Paris.


    Moved to Paris

    After basking last 4 years in Bay Area we moved to Paris. The weather was bleak cold which almost blew me off as we were getting in to the TAXI at the airport. Reached hotel without problem, had a Chinese female driver speaking English. Exhausted and tired to reach work which looked like a 5 minutes walk from hotel on map. But, got lost in concrete jungle of La Defense which is one of the unique place with concentrated modern high-rise buildings in Europe. With out realizing found La Grande Arche which was right in front of my nose. After asking several people and at last police which was no good for me to reach work that evening.

    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...