• Street view of Florence
    Blog,  Europe,  Italy,  Travelogue

    The myth of Perseus and Medusa

    Any visit to Italy must include the beautiful city of Florence. And once in the city, everyone naturally gravitates to the centre of town – the historic Piazza della Signoria. Brimming with artwork, this is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. The clock tower at Palazzo Vecchio (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Centuries ago, Florence was the centre of a renaissance sweeping through the Roman empire. Talented artists went out of their way to outdo the other with some of the paintings and sculptures that, centuries later, still leave visitors awestruck. Some of these greats, including Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Donatello and Ghiberti, went about not just transforming the city with their…

  • L’importuno di Michelangelo
    Blog,  Europe,  Italy,  Travelogue

    Michelangelo the vandal

    Michelangelo’s genius left us some of history’s greatest paintings and sculptures scattered all over Italy. Could he have also indulged in a bit of vandalism on the side?  View of David at Piazza della Signoria (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Travel to Italy is on the bucket list of pretty much any human with a passport. I consider myself lucky to have visited it twice. The first time was a rushed but eye-opening experience with Contiki.  The clock tower at Palazzo Vecchio (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) The second trip was a lot more researched and relaxed with ample time to explore beyond the best of Italy and Florence. Throng of tourists…

  • The setting sun over Wadi Rum
    Asia,  Blog,  Jordan,  Travelogue

    Chasing the sunset

    A train in the middle of the desert, proof that Lawrence of Arabia was not the myth you thought he was and seeing one of mother nature’s most spectacular light shows. It’s all part of the experience when visiting Jordan’s Wadi Rum. A view of Wadi Rum (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) You might think, exploring a desert is something only adventurers or people soft in the head do. Well, you can confidently erase that thought if you are in Jordan and choose to explore the Valley of the Moon, or what is more popularly known as Wadi Rum. Valley of the moon or planet Mars (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Wadi…

  • Inspired artwork
    Asia,  Blog,  Resources,  Reviews,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    What’s in a name?

    Plenty, it turns out. Among the many things I was looking forward to in Sri Lanka was to sample a variety of its cuisine. Thankfully, this small family run business on a hill in Kandy didn’t disappoint, barring its odd name – No Name Restaurant. The seating inside the restaurant The pleasures of dining locally One of the joys of travelling to another country and its cities to so experience its varied cuisine. Sri Lanka was no different. The last time I was there on the beaches of Hikkaduwa, we had hired a tuk-tuk. Hungry for a decent meal after our tour of Galle, we asked him to take us…

  • The train to Kandy passing through paddy fields in the lowlands
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    The 12:40pm train from Colombo to Kandy

    One of the highlights of travelling through Sri Lanka is journeying from one destination to another by train. The Colombo to Kandy train didn’t disappoint at all. Colombo Fort railway station Sure, there have been plenty of train travels, mostly in India and also around the world, including on one of the most famous train journeys that I am sure is on everyone’s bucket list if they haven’t done it already – the Reunification Express. However, nothing prepared me for my train journey from Colombo Fort station to Kandy station, or through Sri Lanka. A crowd lining up for tickets outside the station (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) What you pay…

  • Viharamahadevi Park
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Colombo highlights in six hours

    What’s it about some cities around the world. You land at its airport, and immediately connect to another flight, train or bus and head to other parts of the country. Getting a fleeting glance of the city, as it quickly disappears behind you, only to see it again, when you are heading back to the airport to leave. Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and primary point of entry into the country immediately comes to mind. The train from Colombo to Kandy On my previous two visits to the country, that’s exactly what I did. It was merely a transit point before I headed to the sunny beaches down south in Hikkaduwa…

  • A customer at a klek shop in Sofia
    Blog,  Bulgaria,  Europe,  Travelogue

    Kneel in Sofia

    Every global city has its landmarks. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria is no different. So, when someone asks you about the ‘Kleks’ through the city, you now know. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) A casual stroll down the city’s streets will showcase landmarks like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National History Museum, the National Assembly, the National Palace of Culture and if you pause to look below waist level occasionally, you will most likely see something that is unique to Sofia, a ‘Klek’. The National Palace of Culture (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) With the fall of communism and the entry of capitalism, many Bulgarians started their own businesses.…

  • Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala Rock
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    The attempt on Pidurangala Rock

    I travelled to Sri Lanka for the second time over the New Year holidays. This time instead of the coast, I opted to explore the wonders of the interior – Kandy, Ella, Dambulla and on to Sigiriya. The initial stairs leading up to the top of the rock (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Like everyone else, I initially Googled best things to see in Kandy, Sri Lanka and ‘Sigiriya Rock’ came up on every list. Hardly surprising, as Sigiriya Rock or ‘Lion Rock’ is one of the island’s most revered and popular destinations. It may seem to be a large rock formation at first, but it is much more. The rock…

  • Passing through the tea estates on the way to Ella
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    In praise of train travel

    What’s it about long-distance train journeys that brings out the little child in me. A sense of happiness each time I take my seat, listening to the train as it whistles past towns and the countryside. Hurtling through tunnels or racing with the setting sun. There is something that is magical and wonderful about train travel, letting me be the little kid that I always will be. Whizzing through a tunnel between Mostar and Sarajevo Hours spent watching from a window or door of a moving train, as scene after scene unfold. Striking up conversations with complete strangers as they get in at different stations, heading to places near and…

  • The sand dunes of Hunder
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    The sand dunes of Hunder

    When you visualise deserts, chances are the first visuals that come to mind is the vast emptiness of the Sahara, with its extremely hot temperatures, or closer here in India, the famed Thar desert. Until I ended up in Hunder, in the Nubra valley. An oasis in the midst of the sand dunes I’ve seen plenty of photographs and friends recount their experiences travelling through an area marked by a stunning lake, beautiful monastaries and mountains that simply take your breath away. Sand dunes with the mountains as backdrop However, nothing prepared me for what I experienced in Hunder, about 150 odd kilometers from the capital Leh. Nestled within the…