Mount Abu : A Pleasant Revelation

Mist over Mount Abu

I had always dismissed Mount Abu as a crowded, touristy destination and it it was never on our travel radar. Until one day, a research led us deep into this ‘hill station’ and we were pleasantly surprised. Mount Abu is a ‘hill station’ on the Aravalli range of mountains. The Aravallis are amongst the oldest … Read more

Over 100,000 Kms Of Road Trips

Travel creates memories, and sitting home in this lockdown all we can do is revisit the memories. Over the last 10 plus years, I realised we have covered more than 100,000 kms, road tripping across North and South India. A whole lot of it was related to work, where we decided it best to drive, … Read more

Why We Have Often Preferred Hotels Over AirBnB

One of the very talked about subjects in the realm of affordable and frequent travel is staying at AirBnB instead of hotels for the experience and cost savings. As a couple we love home stays for the experience, but extensive traveling over time has made us opt for very often for boutique hotels instead. When … Read more

New York City : What To Do

2nd Avenue, NYC

New York is perhaps the greatest city in the world. It has something to offer to everyone, regardless of where you come from and what you like. Truly the land of opportunities, dreams, love, skyscrapers, great food, great cinema, great art… you name it. So when someone asks what should one do in New York, … Read more

New York : A Brief Intro

New York City

Many years ago, as a kid, I had chanced upon a coffee table book titled ‘New York City In Pictures’. Mesmerised by this amazing city full of energy and ideas, being in New York has since been a dream. I would scribble famous buildings like The Empire State Building or Chrysler Building. Would draw those … Read more

With Corona Virus Around, When Should You Travel

Coronavirus Travel Advice: When should you travel again? The simple answer is, not until there is an affordable and accessible treatment and or vaccine available for a few months.

What is Corona Virus? There are many kinds of Corona Virus out there and when we get a cold and cough infection, about 20-30% of the time it could be some kind of Corona Virus. The one that is pandemic in the world right now has a new novel strain called SARS-Cov-2 and the disease it causes is called Covid19. Read the NYTimes article linked here to understand what it is and how bad it is. Although many people have recovered, (in fact a majority of people who got infected, recovered), Covid19 can be quite fatal for many people too.

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A ‘Western’ Surprise!

Film History Museum, Lone Pine, California.

Westerns – we all know of them as movies of the American Old West with all that swag! But driving cross country on a trip to see the Californian National Parks, a Western was the last thing on our minds. 

It was just after dusk when we entered the small town of Lone Pine, 3.5 hours drove from LA and 93 miles from America’s beautiful Death Valley National Park. We were shaken with the cold weather and stirred by the joy of being so close to a destination that topped our bucket list, and were gearing to visit it first thing the next morning. Knowing little that there was a charming little museum of Western Film History right in our backyard. As the server in the diner mentioned the museum, we could suddenly hear Ennio Morricone’s everlasting theme of The Good, Bad and Ugly ring in our ears, remembering Heston’s sassy one liners, the cowboy hats and the whistles. Now our hearts were pounding with excitement as though we discovered a little gem. Well, what do you expect from filmmakers anyway ? 

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Oh Berlin!

Perhaps one of the most culturally rich and significant cities of the world, Berlin has in many ways shaped a lot and gone through a lot as well. First documented in the 13th century, and founded at the crossing of two important trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417-1701), Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), German Empire (1871-1918), Weimar Republic (1919-1933), and the Third Reich (1933-1945). It was bombed out in the World War II, split into two with a 96 mile long wall becoming a symbol of the Cold War, and then re-united, thereby symbolically ending the Cold War, and uniting a Germany split by Allied Powers after the World War II. It has now become the cultural (as well as political) capital of Germany, and perhaps an important one in the world as well, with its vibrant art, music, movies and startup scene.

When visiting Stuttgart, we were sure we wanted to visit Berlin as well. A big multicultural city, Berlin is also kind of artsy and hence a little bohemian. It is one of the largest startup capitals of Europe. There is a wide choice of food, music and party for every taste and budget.

What to do in Berlin?

We decided to stay in Berlin’s Mitte district in the hotel Lulu Guldsmeden located in a building made in 1850. The Mitte District is the first and oldest district of Berlin City. It encompasses the historic core of Berlin City and includes landmarks like the Museum Island, Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz, Alexander Platz, Berlin Hauptbanhof, Checkpoint Charlie (Berlin Wall), Brandenburg Gate, etc. Plus lots of nice cafes and restaurants. Because of its rich history and culture, we were sure this is where we wanted to stay.

What strikes you is the magnificent architecture and its sheer scale. The older buildings are like monuments, built carefully and with love. You cannot but help think of all that this wonderful city has gone through. During the second world war, the British dropped over 45,000 tonnes of bombs on Berlin, the Americans, around 25,000. A lot of the standing buildings were destroyed. At the end of the war, the city was split, the Berlin Wall built. But thankfully freedom and resilence shone through, the wall was brought down and Germany united once again!

Standing at the corner outside our hotel, our first views of Mitte in Berlin.

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Esslingen, Germany : A Gorgeous, Almost Fairy Town

During our visit to Stuttgart, some good friends suggested we take a day out to drive to Esslingen. Also located on the Neckar River, some only 14km from Stuttgart, Esslingen was first settled in the Neolithic Period. The city was first mentioned in 777AD when Franconian Abbot Fulrad of St. Denis near Paris mentioned it in his will. Around the 13th Century, the people of Esslingen built two bridges over the Neckar River thus making it an important trade route. Luckily during the World Wars, Esslingen wasn’t hit badly and that has preserved its medieval character.

It’s a beautiful city full of pretty houses, cafes, ice cream parlours and surrounded with nature. Definitely worth a visit. If you are here during the German summers, do carry an umbrella as it can get very hot.

Ours was a very brief visit to Esslingen!

Esslingen Church
Esslingen
Esslingen has the largest collection of old medieval half timbered houses in Germany.
Esslingen
These old half timbered houses in Esslingen were all built in the mid 1300s

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Two Days in Vienna, Austria

Vienna State Opera

When the waiting at the Berlin Airport for our connecting flight to Vienna became agonizingly long, we started panicking. Asking around we figured flights were getting delayed. There were some weather disturbances (this was end of July) which made it difficult for flights to land (it was raining, but the airlines folk know better). The delayed flights soon led to our flight being cancelled. We didn’t have a booking in Berlin and it was already getting late. Compounded with the fact that a lot of the staff was on holiday because of summers, there was a bit of confusion, before the airline finally managed to get us onboard a flight around 4 hours later.

In this process we landed in Vienna past midnight, starving, tired. Most of the eating places in the airport were shut already. The very reasonably priced metro that connected Vienna airport to the city center was way past its last flight. And we were here, only for two days in Vienna, Austria!

Meanwhile at the luggage belt, everyone from our flight had left except us and another family. Our luggage hadn’t arrived. We lodged a lost-luggage complaint with the airlines’ airport office, and took an expensive taxi to our hotel.

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Anegundi Village : Visiting Hampi

The Kishkinda Trust

When visiting Hampi, we chose to stay at a quaint village across the Tungabhadra, called Anegundi. The village, also called Kishkinda, itself is older than the Hampi monuments. You need at least two days to see this village. Lots of people stay at Hippy Island in Hampi, but frankly we didn’t like the place. It’s … Read more