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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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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McLeodganj : A Dreamy Little Hill Town

McLeodganj Lanes

Up in the Kangra hills lies this little town of Dharamshala, also known as Little Lhasa because of the large Tibetan population. The Tibetan Government -In – Exile is based out of Dharamshala-McLeodganj. (McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala.) McLedoganj lies in the Kangra District which was annexed by the British from the Sikh empire … Read more McLeodganj : A Dreamy Little Hill Town

Hampi : What To Do Apart From The Monuments

Tungabhadra River

Somewhere around the 14th Century AD, a major city arose on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Karnataka. Pampa Kshetra, Kinshkinda Kshetra or Bhaskara Kshetra, this city is also known as Hampi. Spread over some 16 square miles, Hampi has some excellent ancient monuments, as we experienced. However, apart from the monuments, Hampi has … Read more Hampi : What To Do Apart From The Monuments

Reducing Your Plastic Footprint On Road Rrips And Travel

Plastic is wreaking havoc on our planet, and not much seems to be done for it. Part of sustainable, responsible travel is reducing your plastic footprint. Because plastic almost never ever decomposes, it has already poisoned our planet. We feel terrible about this, and are trying hard to reduce our plastic footprint, in the hope … Read more Reducing Your Plastic Footprint On Road Rrips And Travel

Hampi : Exploring More Monuments

There is so much to see and absorb in Hampi, one definitely needs about 4 days here. Spread over a 16 square miles, this UNESCO World Heritage site has “forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others” (from Wikipedia), and is one of the largest … Read more Hampi : Exploring More Monuments

Hampi : Glory Of The Vijayayanagar Empire

Lakshmi Narasimha temple Hampi

I never thought there could be an archaeological site as vast and neat/clean as Hampi. From most of our travels, such sites are limited to tiny areas in congested villages or towns. Hampi is anything but that. The name Hampi comes from Pampa, another name for Goddess Parvati. Hampi is also known as Pampa Kshetra, … Read more Hampi : Glory Of The Vijayayanagar Empire

Badami : The Marvelous Cave Temple Art

Badami Cave 01

We had never planned on visiting Badami. In fact we were in Hampi and while returning, we decided to give Badami a quick look. But Badami turned out to better our expectations. The capital of the 6th Century Chalukya Dynasty, Badami is famous for its rock cut temples in the cliffs of red sandstone that … Read more Badami : The Marvelous Cave Temple Art