• Palazzo Vecchio
    Blog,  Europe,  Italy,  Travelogue

    Exploring Piazza Della Signoria

    If there is one image that best sums up Florence, it would probably be the most beautiful ‘L’ shaped square – The Piazza Della Signoria. Modern art that pales in comparison (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Surrounded by some of the most buildings in the city, it feels like an outdoor museum, in no part thanks to its famous sculptures strategically placed throughout the square. Any wonder it’s always full of visitors, trying to outdo each other as they smile while clicking photographs for posterity.  Statue of David at Piazza della Signoria (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) It is these sculptures and buildings that have come to symbolise the city’s renaissance past…

  • 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…

  • 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.…

  • 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 Little Princess
    Blog,  Europe,  Hungary,  Travelogue

    The princess and the tram

    Budapest has plenty of things that make it a delightful city to visit. One of them must be an innocuous statuette sitting casually on a railing along the Danube promenade, right in front of the track on which the famed Tram # 2 runs – the Little Princess. The palace in Buda As seems the norm these past few years, I found her quite by chance. Walking along the promenade between Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge on the Pest side, I initially spotted Tram # 2, ranked as among the top 10 tram rides anywhere in the world. While I didn’t do the journey, hopping on the tram gives you…

  • View of Latin Bridge in Sarajevo
    Blog,  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Europe,  Travelogue

    Luck by chance

    They say that history flows like a river. If that be the case, then nothing sums up the tumultuous history of a region, and the world, like Miljacka river that flows beneath the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo does. A tram chugs along Obala Kulina Bana For a river its size, there are several bridges across the Miljacka river. Unless you know exactly which bridge you are looking for, it can take a bit of time. Which is what happened when I went looking for the Latin Bridge. Without any thought or plan, I set out looking for the bridge, and instead chanced upon another discover – the Festine Lente, which…

  • View of the bridge with the academy in the background
    Blog,  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Europe,  Travelogue

    Make haste slowly

    It measures 38m long, has an unusual loop that runs right in the middle and best of all, is designed by three students. Go take a walk on the Festine Lente in Sarajevo. View of Festine Lente bridge I was looking for the Latin Bridge. The same bridge that brought Sarajevo into the limelight and had the whole world at war with itself in 1914. Not like it is hard to find. On a good day, expect to see curious tourists milling around the bridge and the building wall close by. Surprisingly, it was this other pedestrian bridge that caught my fancy. The Festine Lente, or looping bridge. It translates…

  • Milda
    Blog,  Europe,  Latvia,  Travelogue

    For Fatherland and Freedom

    It’s been a landmark in Riga for close to a century. She’s a symbol of Latvia’s freedom and independence. And she’s affectionately known as Milda. View of the Freedom Monument as you walk from the Old Town While the Old Town is what many tourists come to explore and experience, a short walk outside and you can see a bit of Latvian history, literally towering over you. And if you time it well, watch a change of guard done with such precision, it’s an attraction all by itself. Guard of Honour The Freedom Monument It towers over the city, sitting between Old Town and Central Riga. It was built in…

  • The Three Graces
    Blog,  Europe,  Travelogue,  UK

    The Three Graces

    When in London City next, make sure to catch two installations around Piccadilly. While one is obvious, the other one is something you will need to crane your neck up to and is a lot more interesting – The Three Graces. Statue of Eros outside Piccadilly Circus station On every visit to the city, having passed through Piccadilly Circus so often, I have barely ever noticed my surroundings, absorbed as I am with the throngs of people that come here and other worldly distractions. Until one summer day, on my last visit. Taking a break from all the window shopping, I stepped out of one of many stores and decided…