July 4, 2015

Paris of the East

They say that the friends you make at school and college are the ones who last a lifetime. I wasn’t so fortunate during school, but met the most wonderful people during my years in Pune and Gurgaon – and I am ever so grateful. When Ankita and I lived and worked together at Edelman, things were not always painless and tranquil, given our limited means, but I think of those days fondly as some of the best years of my life – yet. So, when she mentioned that Aditya and her were planning to see some more of Europe and asked me if I would like to join, I almost…

December 19, 2014

Polska!

When I first told people around me that I was going to Poland for the Eid holidays, there was more than one raised eyebrow. To start with, it made me a little sceptical, but my mind was made up, to visit. The country wears its charms lightly – so much that it doesn’t draw the attention of the average Euro-tripper. But step in, venture into its heart and you’ll find medieval cities, fairy-tale castles and untouched wilderness, served with an invigorating shot of vodka. We drove over the Polish border from Prague, headed to Kraków, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. We had hired a…

November 6, 2014

A Bohemian Rhapsody

Since I moved to Muscat two years ago and found a lot more time (i.e. earned leave) and funds to my disposal, it was a part of the agenda to ensure that I take an annual trip with the folk to places we have always talked about. Jet. Set. Go! We got our Schengen visas a day before we were to travel – so yeah, a couple of very tense weeks.. In 2013, we covered a lot of Western Europe in a rather rushed manner and this time around, I wanted to do it differently. Also because the agenda here was different; the trip was woven around my father’s wish…

August 1, 2014

Hrvatska!

A couple of months ago, on weekend family movie night, the parents and I were watching this Satyajit Ray classic – ‘Agantuk’. Translated into English, it means ‘The Stranger’ and is about a family dealing with the sudden visit of a long lost uncle. In the film, this uncle, having travelled the world, educates us about wanderlust (Did you know that this term is an English loanword which was already extant in the German language – pronounced wander-loost). It’s a rush like no other. A bug that bit me early in my twenties, inspired by the company I kept and their love for just packing bags and stepping out. And I…

October 27, 2013

L’Italia

Italy was the last country of our three-week long trip, and honestly, the bit that I was most excited about! Driving through the Brenner Pass, a mountain pass along the border between Italy and Austria we crossed numerous apple orchards and vineyards and began to spot the Italian part of the Alps in a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara sort of frame, where an endless stretch of road continued with grapes growing on either side of the road and the towering ice tipped mountains looked down on them. Buongiorno We were headed towards Italy’s northern-most major city of Venice! It is one of those places you have seen just too many times…

October 10, 2013

Liechtenstein

Leekh-ten-shtine. That’s how it must be pronounced. So much for geography obsession; before my visit, I didn’t even know this was a country. But as it happens, the Principality of Liechtenstein is an adorable, doubly landlocked alpine country bordered by Switzerland to the west and by Austria towards the east. Vaduz is its capital and that was where we were headed, on the way to our Austria leg of the journey – (Which was my first post – or does no one remember, already!?) Leaving the spellbinding Swiss landscapes behind, we were told that even for tour guides and bus drivers who frequent the route, it is difficult to figure…

October 9, 2013

Heaven in Helvetica

To be completely honest, while we were planning this trip, Switzerland was the place I was probably least excited about – but it happened to surprise me the most. In almost all the other countries, there were these elaborate lists of things to see – museums, galleries, rivers or just anything that made them stand out. In my head, Switzerland was the place where some Bollywood movies were shot, a lot of rich people lived, and Toblerone was manufactured – didn’t seem all that much to be wound up about.  All of that changed in a jiffy. Where I last left off, we had just consumed unearthly amounts of Black…

October 5, 2013

Deutschland

While we had already stepped into Munich at the beginning of our journey, the rest of the Germany journey was yet to begin. One of the largest countries in that part of Europe, it has stood witness to so much history and change, that it has continued to fascinate people from all over the globe. And we were no different. We were driving across the Netherlands from the western most edge of the continent, right to the heart. Via Dusseldorf, very pleased with the light drizzle, we stopped at Cologne where the famous Cologne Cathedral sits. Better known as the Kölner Dom, construction of this magnificent cathedral began in 1248, but was…

September 29, 2013

Oranje Country

Windmills. Wooden shoes. Canals. Van Gogh. Beer. Some of most extraordinary things in the world are owed to the Netherlands. And we were able to experience most on our one-day trip; getting the best of rural Holland and the modern Amsterdam. We set off from Eindhoven to reach Madurodam, a miniature park in the Scheveningen district of The Hague. Although I found it a tad boring, we had to appreciate the intricacy with which the models were created – especially the port area, Schipol airport (which was complete with moving luggage conveyor belts) and several of the nation’s landmarks. What I did enjoy very much were the flowers – although not in their peak,…

September 22, 2013

Belgium

It was now time to bid Paris a teary goodbye. Belgium awaited.  We drove four hours to the capital city of Brussels, where we first stopped at the Atomium. We were explained what the significance of this iconic structure was, but after I heard that meeting rooms were built in the spheres, they kind of lost me. However, for the education of all, the Atomium was originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair – is used as an exhibition centre and meeting hall now. It has also been named one of Europe’s most bizarre buildings by CNN – and I would concur heartily. Happy Atomiers After a half an hour and the rather…