Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hallstatt, Austria

Think Alps and you get images of Switzerland in your head – snowcapped peaks, lush green meadows, cow bells, Shahrukh & Kajol etc etc. However, the Alps range stretches halfway across Europe - from France, across north of Italy, Switzerland (of course), the tiny country of Liechtenstein, Germany & Austria. And while all of the Alpine regions are very pretty, the Alpine lakes are in a league of their own. Whether it is Lake Geneva in Switzerland or Lake Cuomo in Italy, Alpine lakes are usually breathtakingly beautiful.

Our destination was Lake Hallstatt, a slightly lesser known, but no less beautiful Alpine Lake in the Salzkammergut region of Austria (also known as Austrian Alps region). The tiny town of Hallstatt lies on the shore of Lake Hallstatt (called Hallstätter See in the local language). Earlier, the town could only be reached by boat from the town of Obertraun on the opposite shore, but now has a beautiful road connecting it to Bad Ischl, onto Salzburg.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

The first time I heard of this picture-postcard town, it was in a small blurb in the Indian magazine Outlook Traveller. Back then (5-6 years ago), international travel was very rare for us and this name was just filed away in some corner of my head. But over the years, the name kept cropping up, in articles or travelogues. And after knowing more about the place, I just had to include it in our Czech trip.

Český Krumlov (pronounced 'chessky crumlaw') is situated in the southern part of Czech Republic, in what was erstwhile the republic of Bohemia (origin of the word ‘bohemian’). Český Krumlov is a charmingly well-preserved medieval town, built around an equally well preserved 13th century castle – and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The river Vltava flows through it, and the Old Town is within a horseshoe bend of the river. The town is small enough to walk across in 15 min or so (most of the Old Town is pedestrian only). Or you could take a canoe down the river if you felt like it.

(the same river Vltava flows through Prague as well)

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Czech Republic & Austria

For someone running a travel blog, I am ashamed to say, we had only seen one European country before this - Croatia. European countries, are a victim of their own popularity. We know exactly what to expect in a France or a England or Italy or Netherlands or Switzerland. They are still very beautiful and special, but they are missing that thrill of discovery. Of some corner, which makes you feel like you are one of the few to see this.

So we decided on a compromise for our first proper European trip – we chose the central European countries of Austria and Czech Republic – or more like chose the cities Prague and Vienna and wove a trip out of it. Prague (and Czech Republic) are the new European destinations, with the charm of the old world, but with lower prices and some rough edges from the communist times. And Austria has always been in the shadow of the more famous European countries, but Vienna is now getting more attention as a European destination.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Renault LiveLodgycal in Goa

I am sprawled in the super comfortable seats of the Lodgy with the back reclined to the max, like a sleeper seat. There is enough legroom that I can stretch my 5’10” frame almost straight while lying down. It is raining hard outside and there is the melodious pitter-patter of rain falling on metal. The vipers are fighting valiantly to keep the windshield clean, but the rest of the windows are covered by a sheet of water, making for a very diffused lighting inside the car. I have my Fiio connected to the Lodgy’s fancy-looking audio system and Arijit Singh’s soulful voice is sounding oh-so-good. No one in the car is talking, everyone probably lost in their thoughts or immersed in the music. It is as if we are insulated from everything else in the world, just the 4 of us, in Renault’s spacious new Lodgy.

We are driving on the dreamy NH17 in Goa, from Lalit Resort, Canacona to The Leela Kempinski, Cavelossim (our base of operations). Manjulika (@manjulika5) is at the wheel, and she is driving slowly, in a very relaxed way. Goa in monsoons is a carpet of green and the NH17 is taking us through some beautiful ghat sections, where everything apart from the road is heavily forested, accentuating the feeling of being disconnected from the wider world. Usually I am the guy hogging most of the driving, but today I was discovering how pleasurable it can be to be driven though such beautiful roads. Sitting in the front is Rekha (@RekhaKakkar) taking photos through the rain and lying alongside is Jim (@JimmieLuthra) who like me, is content to lie back and enjoy the drive

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pammukale : Photo Blog

We travelled to Turkey in 2011, much before we started the blog. As a country, Turkey is spectacular. A true melting pot of the East and West, Turkey is recently being credited as the cradle of human civilization (Göbekli Tepe - supposedly the site where organized religion started - as well as first cultivation of wild wheat). Turkey as a country has something for everyone - the Meditteranean for the beach bums, thousands of archaelogical sites for the history buffs, charming city life in Istanbul, natural wonders like Cappadocia ..

Today we are looking at Pammukale, which is a natural wonder without a peer

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