Posted in Travel

Post 40: Trip to Bad Urach, Germany

Bad Urach is a small town in the district of Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, in southern Germany. It became our holiday destination during the extended weekend of Ascension Day. To be honest, this place was not a choice originally. We started looking out for places real late and traced right from North Germany to central and then finally down south until we got a hit on the accommodation. However, I must say that it has been a blessing in disguise.

The house we rented was an absolute pleasure to stay in, located on the sides of a hill, and providing amazing views of the adjoining hills and valleys.

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This small sleepy town was in full bloom all bright and colorful everywhere we walked.

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The way towards the Centrum
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The Town Centrum
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Pretty pretty everywhere

 

So naturally, the important question that arises is what’s interesting to do there? The place is full of hiking routes in the Swabian Alb biosphere area. One of the days, the men in our group planned a Hiking Adventure. This was in the Wasserfallsteig trail and then following up to Hohenurachsteig trail with stunning views of the cliffs ‘Hanner Felsen’ and the pathways through lush mixed forests.IMG_20170526_151222

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The Waterfall – respite to the eyes

I have to be honest that I was really not keen on going further than the Waterfall to reach the ruins of the castle ahead as the path was extremely steep and difficult more so in the summer scorching heat. But with the persuasion of the group, we moved forward together and it was all totally worth it. We walked a couple of kilometers until we reach a flat with rest places, toilets, and refreshment. This place was extremely relaxing with the canopy of the trees, keeping away the strong rays of the sun and providing much-needed shade. We refilled ourselves here and started again.

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The canopy of the trees

We walked through the dark green forest stopping now and then to click pictures (like below) keeping ourselves motivated for the path ahead.

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Soon the way got harder and steep and we (the ladies) took help of fallen branches to act as support.

Upon reaching our destination, we felt like ‘On-Top-of-The-World’. Breath-taking views of the valleys down under can only make you want to sit there and admire.

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The ruins of the castle are very picturesque itself and with a clear blue sky, it looks perfect canvas-ly.

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Bad Urach is also famous to have the narrowest street in the world only 31 cms wide. It was an absolute check of fitness to be able to pass through this lane successfully. 😉

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The Centrum is full of good cafe’s and restaurants all full of super nice food. We dined at “Die Traube” and everything they served was delicious.

This small sleepy town is totally recommended for a short trip to relax and recover from the monotonous schedule of our daily lives.

 

Posted in Travel

Post 38 : Luxembourg short break

A lot has changed for me since the Philadelphia trip and my last post. But I managed to bounce back to life and both summer and the sunshine has only helped in my recuperation. The period between March-April-May is my favorite because there is so much happening almost every weekend. Either it is an extended weekend with public holidays in the middle of the week or there is a Flower Parade in Keukenhof.

Spring has already set in and summer is getting ready to make an entrance. This is the time when we like to make mini trips to nearby places and just relax. Because the past couple of months have been very stressful for the both of us, a relaxing trip is all we were looking forward to. Unfortunately, we were really late in booking flights and that lead to super expensive flight tickets to anywhere we wished to go. Finally, we settled to revisit Luxembourg but were again stuck while booking accommodations with super expensive options. I must say it all happened for a reason. We ended up booking a forest bungalow. We have never stayed in any such places before and I wasn’t sure how comfortable it will be until we actually arrived in paradise.

It was an absolute piece of heaven. Amidst the dark greenery, stood a dozen small wooden bungalows which housed very basic necessities. We were in the village of Dillingen very near the famous Beaufort Castle. Since this was our second visit, the sole purpose of the visit was to relax and stay away from the usual crowd. Fortunately for us, our co-voyagers shared the same trip intent as us.

Dillingen is situated on the north-east of the country on the Luxembourg-Germany border, the countries separated by the Sûre river. It’s amazing how the borders blend between the countries, it’s hard to identify the changes except for the sole signboard that says Germany or Luxembourg very unlike the borders of my Motherland, India, and her neighbors.

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Luxembourg
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View of Dillingen, Luxembourg from the side of Germany across the Sure river

 

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The Other side of the bridge in Germany
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The Sure river that divides Luxembourg on the left and Germany on the right

So apart from exploring the beauty of the borders between the countries, we wanted to try something new, something different. So we decided to hike. Well, to many, it isn’t a big deal but I must mention here that it is a great deal for people who isn’t really the sporty or ‘easy-moving-ass‘ type! My husband and I are kinds of car-driven-tourist or typical public-transport-tourists very unlike backpackers. So, our hike expedition was very tailor-made keeping in mind our levels of flexibility. Nevertheless, for novices, I would consider us as pretty good.

Luxembourg is famous for hikes, treks, water sports, biking and much more. There were also many famous hiking trails in the region where we stayed. We drove to the site of ‘Schiessentümpel Waterfall‘ and took the Mullerthal Hike trail.

Absolutely mesmerized by the magnificence of the dark forest, we set foot on the 4-kilometer track. After 500 meters, we halted at the fascinating waterfall to click pictures and then continue the ascent uphill to a viewpoint which beholds a good view of the surroundings on a clear summer day.

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Needless to say, what an amazing experience it was, the pictures say it all. We only wondered how much more beautiful the place would be in full summer. When our short trip came to an end

When our short trip came to an end, we left as happy souls completely detoxed and not heavy hearted after a wonderful vacation.

Posted in Journal, Travel

Post 37 : Visiting Philadelphia

I have been living in the Netherlands for over a year and a half now and I have had the opportunity to travel to some fine countries ever since. Last October, I visited Eastern European country Ukraine, a place that honestly wouldn’t have crossed my mind for a visit unless for a business trip. However, it has been a very pleasant experience and I wish to visit again for tourism someday.

Last week, I got the opportunity to visit the United States for the very first time. I was visiting Philadelphia and I quickly got used to calling the city by its famous nickname “Philly”. Philly has its historic roots in the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the formation of Constitution. Wiki says “In the 19th century, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and railroad hub that grew from an influx of European immigrants. It became a prime destination for African-Americans in the Great Migration and surpassed two million occupants by 1950.” The apparent presence of African Americans in this popular city even today totally draws attention to its history.

While it was snowing in the Netherlands, Philly was experiencing light drizzle with quite a pleasant weather. It was my first impression until I experienced what blown away really meant! (it was super windy). However, it was bright and sunny all week during my stay. My business associate based in Philly asked me about my first impression of the United States to which I answered that I expected to see burger shops and fried food around every corner, which was not really the case in this city. Yes, Philly is known for some great food options especially Steak Houses. Since my hotel was in the heart of the city center it gave me ample opportunities to explore the city by foot in the very limited time available after day long tiring business meetings. I like to walk alone in new places I visit to enjoy and admire the city at a relaxed pace. Since I am not really a museum person, I decided to walk the streets and check out the two most eminent historic edifices, a must when in Philly – the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. The City Hall was very close to my hotel and I viewed it almost every day. I also visited the Reading Terminal Market on one of the days with a colleague and what an amazing encounter it can be for a foodie. Hustling and bustling with people shopping, eating, selling, relaxing with the aroma of food all around makes you sniff all the way to the tempting dishes like the ones they show in cartoons.

The thing about Philly is how its historic buildings stand out dramatically amongst the modern day skyscrapers striking a most amazing blend.

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The most amazing thing about America is its people and their hospitality. Most people are friendly and always happy to involve in small-talk. I think almost every store I visited learned about me being a visitor (lol – also with the amount of shopping I did). I really did shop until I dropped. With amazing deals on their local brands, the famous brands we know as imported, there was nothing to stop me.

Promising to be back soon again, I bid a final goodbye beholding the breathtaking skyline of Philly forever in my memories.

Posted in Travel

A Weekend in Gent

Weekend – the word does magic by itself. By only uttering the word , you can brighten up a grumpy, gloomy, demotivated worker (and I really mean any worker with the usual weekend off). To brighten up one of my weekends (which otherwise would just be cleaning, eating and sleeping), my husband decided to take me for a drive. Fortunately for us, the forecast was of a bright warm sunny weekend and indeed it remained so. Perhaps, the weather contributed to our visit to the small city making it look so beautiful.

We started late in the afternoon from our residence at Eindhoven in South Holland and after about half an hour’s drive , we realized that we forgot our passports. After spending another hour in going back, I am glad we could hold back the determination to still make way there, thanks to the kind words from my husband like “lets see Ghent at night too!”

A straight drive of an hour and forty minutes in smooth international roadways flanked by green fields, decked by windmills and an amazing weather eased the journey in no time and we entered Ghent (Gent – as it is called by Europeans)- the city of castles. The cobblestone race surfaced roads, the old architectural buildings and houses, the narrow cozy lanes and the vibrant colors and the warm sun made it a wonderful evening upon arrival.

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Ghent is a port city in northwest Belgium, at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. During the Middle Ages it was a prominent city-state. Today it’s a university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized center is known for medieval landmarks such as 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbor.”

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I would skip the history of the city as Wikipedia gives a detailed knowledge on it but my husband told me that one of Ghent’s historical importances is the Altarpiece (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghent_Altarpiece#/media/File:Lamgods_open.jpg). He later showed me the movie “Monuments Men”.

Coming back to our evening tour in this city, it is a quiet sleepy town with architectural importance throughout the city. Since we were late in the evening to have reached Ghent, we headed straight to Saint Bavo’s Cathedral which homes the famous ‘Alterpiece’, but unfortunately, that section of the Church was already closed. We took a round of the other parts in the Church. Completing the Church tour, we decided to take a boat ride to cover the city before dark and it was a chilly yet pleasant ride. If you are in Europe, there is no better way to cover the city tour than a nice cozy boat ride. Most buildings in the city are typical European architectural styled and prominently colored. Combined with the weather and the fall colors, the sight is indeed breath taking. I am not a history person and I can never remember the historical or important points but I concentrate on nature and architectural beauty and Ghent has both of these in ample to indulge in.

 

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As dusk dawned upon us, the city center could be seen burstling with people in the cafes for dinner and drinks. We too settled down in one of the cafe and ordered a very European meal of steak, roasted chicken, fries and salad, ofcourse over some red wine. And as it is rightly called to be a sleepy town, in no time the bustling city center started emptying out. It was soon time for us to head home after a great day spent in a great European City.

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Posted in Travel

D..D…Delhi

Delhi is the capital city of India and known for its rich cultural heritage, food and shopping destination. It has been capital of the ancient kings and rulers over and over again during their regime.

Exploring each corner of Delhi is a real challenge in itself and require days of research and stay in the city.

My trip to Delhi this time was a second stopover and more fun with a gang of girls. The motive was  travel, eating , shopping and loads of fun.

Feb 26 2014 – Day 1 : Wah Taj!

It was an unusual early morning for me. Out of habit i got out of bed and stepped into the attached balcony only to encounter the never before experienced chills of the city. We started our journey by taking the Yamuna Expressway which we were told is worth an experience. Indeed the gigantic roads are well maintained and it was a comfortable ride. We stopped after the first toll on entering the expressway for breakfast which consisted of a sumptuous Aloo Paratha, crispy tasty Samosas and steaming hot tea !

It was a long ride of 2.5 -3 hours to the city of Agra.Upon entering all eyes were searching for the main attraction, the Taj Mahal amidst the other heritage structures and monuments which makes the city special. Not to forget the traffic of the city also took us quite sometime to reach the nearest stop to the Taj. This day was the last day for the Taj Mahotsav , so we had to stop our vehicle at some distance away, but it opened another opportunity for us.. the Tanga Ride.

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The first look of the magnificent Taj through the red stoned structure entrance adds a different charisma to it. Taj Mahal does not need any introduction , neither does it need any history to be told. It tells its own tale.

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Roaming around Taj Mahal for hours wasn’t enough and we forgot about lunch as well. Quick Note for travellers , if you are having lunch at Agra, please do proper research about the places for we suffered a heavy cost at lunch in a well known restaurant , where the non veg items werent cooked enough (side note) and we were billed an amount of 4000/- to our shock.
The next destination was Agra Fort.This is one fort whose historical importance attracts me. The best being the views of Taj Mahal from different angles and locations at this fort. The huge Corridors, the courtyards, inside mahal are all so lively. Completing Agra Fort marked the descend of dusk and we had to head towards back home. Fatehpur Sikhri is still on my list for next visit 🙂

Feb 27 2014 – Day 2 : Delhi 6!

The day started travelling to Delhi 6 – Chandni Chowk. This amazing place is super crowded not just with people but shops everywhere. Yes,it was the start of the Shopping Parade. So we decided to charge ourselves up with the famous Dahi Bhalla at Natraj right outside the lane coming out from the Chandni Chowk Metro Station. Delicate and soft Bhallas dipped in snow white dahi topped with khatta meetha chutney and sprinkles of masalas. It isn’t really something  new, but whats worth mentioning is the freshness of the bhallas and the sweet sour dahi.. Heavenly!

So Chandni Chowk is the famous wholesale market and you really need a whole day’s time to cover the whole market and yet not get tired with the variety. Since its wholesale, it is cheaper to buy in lots. The dress materials varies in really variety of ranges with the cheapest starting i guess from 200 and the upper limit would depend on what you intend to buy. The lehengas are something which are really cheap and my companions say the same when you buy from showrooms would be double or triple the price you get in here.

And when there is an alarm ringing in your stomach saying battery down in between your busy shopping hopping schedule, ou just have to reach out to the Parathewali Gali at Chandni Chowk  near the Metro Station gully. Honestly, you dont have to ask anybody about the place, you can just close your eyes and follow your nose’s sensation. 🙂 The shops have pictures of celebrities to politicians. The range of parathas start from Aloo, Gobi, Paneer, Mixed Veg… The ones worth mentioning are Mirchi Paratha, Papar Paratha, Malai Paratha and Lemon Paratha. These are deep fried in desi ghee and served with a khatta meetha banana chutney , aloo ki sabzi, pumpkin sabzi, pudina chutney and a bowl of mixed vegetable achar to be taken as per requirement. The best accompaniment with the hot served parathas is a glass of chilled lassi.

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The next place that is a must try is Kanwarji Sweet shop where the hot jalebis and the kachoris and the variety of sweets are just too good and fresh.

Feb 28 2014 – Day 3 : Shopping Parade!

Delhi trip is incomplete without a visit to the Red Fort aka Lal Quila and the metro connectivity in Delhi makes the travel very comfortable.We boarded the metro and landed in Chandi Chowk again to visit the fort. Red Fort has always attracted me with its vastness, architecture , history and the red stones.. I get engrossed watching every details of this place. Red Fort is a very important part of Indian History and again needs no new introduction.

lal-quilaThis visit was followed by another round to the Parathewali Gali since we were in Chandni Chowk and it wasn’t an opportunity to be missed. The happy tummies now filled in energy enough to start our shopping expedition.

To flag start the shopping expedition, we went to Janpath. The Junction of Janpath has some nice stores for Kurtis , Stoles and scarves, junk jewellery. Right where the stores end , starts heaven..What an amazing place to be. I was awestruck!

Colorful-Crowded-Cheap-Chirpy… and it consisted of what not – from indian-to-western wear, tops-to-bottoms, shirts-to-skirts, formals-to-casuals,stoles-toscarves, socks-to-shoes, jackets-to-sweaters, and the list is never ending. Its just not clothes, but also some nice decoratives glass items, antique look alike items for house decoration purposes- nice good stuff, but most attractive were the clothes…..and the best part of the shopping was nothing exceeded a maximum of 400 bucks.  Shopping here we lost our glances at our watches not tired,not hungry until our pockets were empty ;).

Soon it was dark and we headed towards Connaught place. A nice hot cup of tea in hand and a pleasant evening stroll along the white long corridors. Winters can be fun 🙂

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On one of these corridors amongst different vendors sits a lady selling brass items and the originality of the items can be found out from the weight. From small Ganesh idols to huge nataraj statue. The best of the lot was a chess wooden board and the pieces on top made out of brass. Fine matt finished with a price of 5 grands. Different varities of unique pieces she has with not a second exact model.

The last spot here was right opposite Gate no 7 of Metro Station(if i am not mistaken), the shop is called Thapar’s and you got some huge collection of woolen there. Pretty reasonable and not to bad for the quality. If you shop for 3k and above you get a kit-bag free :).

Day end happily with hands overloaded with shopping bags.

Feb 29 2014 – Day 4 : Finale ..

The trip was incomplete without visiting Qutub Minar and the bonus was another shopping destination very near Qutub – Dilli Haat…

Qutub Minar like other major monuments  does not need any introduction but there isn’t much left for a visit except broken pieces of the place.

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Dilli Haat is one colorful places with different shops under one shed. I believe every city had a place like Dilli Haat  named differently with shades of cultural heritage. Again the list includes from dresses, jewellery, stole, decoratives, woolens etc. Here you have a lot of variety to eat with specialties from different states of the country. We tried Rajasthani House for a change with authentic delicacies like dal bati churma.

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This marks the end of the wonderful Delhi Trip with loads of shopping, food and travel.

We definitely missed out the authentic Old Delhi yum eat outs of tiny to miniature sizes near the Red Fort but that is still a to-do in my list. Will go back again for a Food Trip next time. 🙂