Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe travel and photography

kyiv boryspil airport arrival 23
Important Update: My visit to Ukraine was in August 2017, just shortly after the Visa on Arrival was introduced for Indians. But in January, 2019, Ukraine has unexpectedly stopped the Visa-on-Arrival program. BE ADVISED! “Don’t visit countries that are at war!”, said conventional wisdom. Well, when have I ever listed to it?   I have wanted to visit Ukraine from the time that I did a few months of travel around Eastern Europe in 2015. I could have crossed the land border to Ukraine from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Romania. But one thing stopped me from going.   Getting a […]

Visa on Arrival for Indians in Ukraine: My experience

Orpheus statue at Sofia airport, Bulgaria
12th June 2015 – Sofia, Bulgaria The European odyssey, is finally over. Not sure how I feel about it, but I am smiling. I bid my goodbyes, and sang with the thracian Orpheus, And watched as the flight wings hovered above the desert ring. It has been a long 5 months, hopping through Europe. Most of it, during the cold winter months. But sadly, yet happily, it ends today. The fact is, I miss home a little bit. Home is not as you would imagine it. I just miss the luxury of sitting in a corner or a chair that I am […]

Project 365: Day 346 – Goodbye Europe. Hello again, Asia

Alexander Nevsky cathedral, in Sofia, Bulgaria
11th June 2015 – Sofia, Bulgaria I’ve been to the largest. The second is not too different. Somehow, the domes are similar. And I can’t tell the difference. Followed it up with local beers, and an English pub quiz. We were close, and should have almost won. Just my jealous 2 cents.   One place which I didn’t get to check out yesterday during the free sofia walking tour, was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. I did pass by it, but somehow the sun prevented me from taking any pictures. And I didn’t get to go inside too. So, today I made up […]

Project 365: Day 345 – Size does matter in Sofia

St. Nedelya church, Sofia, Bulgaria
10th June 2015 – Sofia, Bulgaria If something was free, I should have been the first to take it. But somehow, going on 2 hour group walks was never my style. Not today. The free walking tour was finally on my agenda. And rightfully so. The trivia, and the ministers, were well worth the while. It has been 5 months in Europe. And I have not taken even one of those free walking tours so far. Somehow, the concept of going in a group to walk around the city for 2 hours, was a little alien to me all this while. And I had […]

Project 365: Day 344 – Free tours and the Tourism minister

Somewhere near Ruse, Bulgaria
9th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania The coach hissed on the tracks, surprisingly reminiscent of India. And the open windows, took the eye to the distant edge of the world. Past a lengthy immigration stop, and a barrage of questions, The visions of yet another country – silently yet surely – was unfurled. It was a good run, Bucharest. But I am afraid we must finally part ways. I left the hostel in the morning, and headed to the train station. There was only one train everyday from Bucharest to Sofia, and that was at 12.50 PM. I had already bought the tickets […]

Project 365: Day 343 – The Bulgarian train odyssey

Herestrau skate park, Bucharest, romania
8th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania The wheels are in motion. And they are soaked in adrenaline. And somehow, once again, I find myself again in the giant park. But not for the Indian festivities that clouded the horizon yesterday, But rather for the inlines, the bikes and the skates. And all their spark. I don’t know what’s with me and the Herestrau park, but I am back again here today. Well, it wasn’t intentional. It just happened that I was walking towards the central train station, and somehow, unintentionally my path led to the Herestrau, yet again. But I had something […]

Project 365: Day 342 – Skates and bikes. Rolling in Romania

Parvathy Baul in Bucharest, Romania
7th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania Passed down in a history of oral traditions, with not a written word. In the company of only the Ektara strum and the Duggi beat. The Baul had me in a trance, although not a word was registered. Sometimes music transcends meanings. Not an easy feat. For the third time in a row, I was back in Herestrau park. But little did I know that today would be my favourite one. 2 days ago, I was here to check out the public parks and the lake. And yesterday, I came to see the Namaste India fair. Well, I came back […]

Project 365: Day 341 – Swaying to a Baul in Bucharest

Namrata Rai performing Kathak at Namaste India, in Bucharest, Romania
6th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania A mere 25 days waited in front of me, To find myself back in the warmth of home. But then, home found its own way to come to me. After all, home is wherever your heart decides to roam. I decided to go back to the Herastrau park again today. But not to enjoy the public domain, rather for 2 other reasons. One was to see the Dimitrie Gusti National village museum. Another was to get a little taste of home. And I found the perfect partner to go along with. Cristina Istrati was not only a published […]

Project 365: Day 340 – From Bucharest. Namaste India.

Herestrau park in Bucharest, Romani
5th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania It must have been love at first sight, When the colentina flowed into the large lake. And the love child grew up with a curious disposition. To build as many statues as an eye could take. I am determined to continue the good run in Bucharest, and decided to walk out on my own today. Exploring the gardens and parks in Bucharest. The day started with walks around the large Cismigiu garden, which stood verdant surrounding a lake which I would later learn was artificial. I entered from the main entrance near the city hall, and […]

Project 365: Day 339 – When Herastrau and Colentina met

Caruta cu Paiate monument in Bucharest, Romania
4th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania The old city and yesterday’s events, were old news I had moved on. And that is one thing I have learnt. And so I bumped into a bunch of happy-go-lucky folks. Amusing they were. Recognisable, they definitely weren’t. I had put behind me yesterday’s events, and woke up with a fresh smile. The environment at the funky chicken hostel also helped to liven me up, with 2 Polish girls from Krakow who showered smiles all around, and brought some energy to the day. So, I stepped out to see a little bit more of Bucharest city […]

Project 365: Day 338 – Caragiale’s characters

Bucharest, Romania 2
3rd June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania I didn’t sing, or do the colourful Roma dance. And I walked around with a camera, the tourist stamp. Yet, a pretty girl asks me if I was a travelling gypsy. Not cool, Romania. I am going to remember this scamp. It wasn’t long ago that I was in Dresden, scared of the Pegida people. Or the time when I was in Monaco, and profiled by the cops. But the Balkans had helped me forget those 2 episodes, with the love and mutual respect they have been showering on me, all the way from Albania to […]

Project 365: Day 337 – A Gypsy with a camera?

Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary
2nd June 2015 – Budapest, Hungary The most eastern end of the Budapest railway, shone bright In the early sun rays, like a morning-eyed kitten. Thanks to old friends and new benefactors, The wanderlust still rages. I am ever so smitten. I should have have been on a flight to Dubai today, as per my original plan and budget when I first landed in Europe 3 months ago. But then, I had a masterstroke to try crowdfunding. To see if any of my friends hated me enough to keep me travelling longer and delay seeing my ugly face for a little longer. So, I created […]

Project 365: Day 336 – By rail through Romania

St Stephens basilica in Budapest, Hungary
1st June 2015 – Budapest, Hungary 11 months had passed. Or rather, flowed quietly like the Danube. I pinched myself, and watched the sun burn my skin. Under the shade of a fountain next to a basilica, I found recluse, and made peace with my evil twin. It has been 11 months! People say you look back at the end of a long travel, and remember all the great places that you have seen. And those images float through your head. Well, people are wrong. I don’t recall much of the places that I have seen, amazing as they may be. But I do […]

Project 365: Day 335 – Last month! Lets toast to that!

Fisherman's bastion in Budapest, Hungary
31st May 2015 – Budapest, Hungary The bastion needed to be visited again. If not for the views from atop, for the seven towers. The view was magnificent, one I failed to click last time, And here I stood, soaking myself in the golden noon hours. The last time I was in Hungary, I had visited the castle hill and the fisherman’s bastion. But like most stupid tourists, I had decided to click the view of the city from the top, rather than the Bastion itself. I was back in this beautiful city, and I had to change it. So, I went to […]

Project 365: Day 334 – The fisherman’s bastion of Budapest

Budapest Eye in Budapest, Hungary
30th May 2015 – Budapest, Hungary The first Nelson was in my own home turf In the national capital, saluting a war memorial. The second, in the Kalemagdan, that giant fortress. And the third, for the Budapest eye, is almost an advertorial. I have never really enjoyed watching cricket, although I have enjoyed taking pictures of it in the streets of Kolkata and the beaches of Mirissa, Sri Lanka. But being an Indian, I grew up with cricketing terms around me. And one of those was the Nelson. In tribute to Horatio Nelson (who is said to have lost 1 arm, 1 eye and 1 etcetera), […]

Project 365: Day 333 – Triple Nelson near the Budapest eye

Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana, Slovenia
29th May 2015 – Ljubljana, Slovenia Like the lifeblood of a forgotten empire, The Ljubljanica flows though. Ever so slowly. I flow too. Sometimes lost in a newfound current. I am not a innate traveller. Yet, I try to be. I left the Roxannes in the morning today. I had a bus leaving Ljubljana by 3PM, but since there was no way I could give the keys to Roxanne, I decided to leave with them in the morning, when they went for their work. After spending some time in the local McDonalds, I clicked around the Ljubljanica river in the morning. Before […]

Project 365: Day 332 – In love with Ljubljana

Lake bled in Slovenia
28th May 2015 – Bled, Slovenia Life is not spontaneity or coincidence, I’ve always been told. Its a matter of meticulous planning, and hard work. Maybe true, but not always, as I found out today. That fateful coincidence laughed at me again, and did his smirk. I am a huge fan of couchsurfing, and I have wrote about it multiple times before. But my faith in couchsurfing as a platform that connects humans, was restored once again today, because of 3 wonderful anecdotes with 3 beautiful people. One was a story of humanity, another of spontaneity and another of sheer coincidence. 1) Kashif Last night, me […]

Project 365: Day 331 – 3 stories of couchsurfing. And lake bled.

Hanging shoes in Ljubljana, Slovenia
27th May 2015 – Ljubljana, Slovenia In a street filled with graffiti and some erotic shops, I cranked up my neck to stare at hanging… shoes. What looked like a beautiful sight, soon turned around On the base of the story that it held behind. I couldn’t choose. Ljubljana does have some interesting street art. And exploring it, started with the weird Metelkova. The Metelkova mesto is actually a squat, with numerous clubs all playing their own style of music. And a gathering for all kind of artists, who have converted a former military barrack to a hub of art and graffiti. And […]

Project 365: Day 330 – The hanging shoes of Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Slovenia
26th May 2015 – Ljubljana, Slovenia The wander is still alive. He finds himself Sitting on forlorn benches, and sipping in thoughts. Sometimes we rarely see the bigger picture, Yet we rush in. Eager to join the demure dots. I decided to simply walk through Ljubljana today. And found out it was easier than I thought. Ljubljana is a pretty small city, with an even smaller centre. And everything in the centre is centred around the Ljubljanica river, a small river which might be called stream by some. And the central attraction are the bridges which are located almost every 50 metres […]

Project 365: Day 329 – A wanderer went through the Atom age

Kaptol cathedral in Zagreb, Croatia
25th May 2015 – Zagreb, Croatia Croatia has me filled to my brim. Both at the waist And in the heart. The food and the people are to blame. As I sat in a short bus ride, passing through the meadows, Slovenia gracefully entered the verdant frame. I said goodbye to Barbara and Ana today. Zagreb has been so much fun, and I met some of the best people so far in the Balkans. But it was time to move on. Walking to the Autobusni (Bus terminal), I passed by the Kaptol region, stopping at the Zagreb Cathedral to take some quick pictures. […]

Project 365: Day 328 – Zagreb to Ljubljana

Panning in the Medvenica forests of Zagreb, Croatia
24th May 2015 – Zagreb, Croatia After yet another late night, spent among The company of cocktails and pretty Croatian lasses. We took today to the high slopes for cycling, Photographs, and adrenaline: the opium of the masses. After the stint yesterday with the heavy Strukla and exploration of Dolac market, me and Barbie went to a local bar called Zabacs, joined by her friend Ana. One drink led to too many, and sleep came calling only around 4 am. Which explains the waking up at 12 noon today, after which we decided to do something healthy. So, I left with Barbie and […]

Project 365: Day 327 – Meddling with the Medvednica

Bronze statue in front of Dolac market in Zagreb
23rd May 2015 – Zagreb, Croatia The rain came hammering down, but we didn’t stop. For it also brought along umbrellas, of all colours and style. And amidst the people clambering to their boring office life, One lady stood in bronze, and kept to her poise and smile. I left Bosnia and Herzegovina behind in the morning, and headed for Zagreb, my second destination in Croatia. Dubrovnik was amazing, but it was a very short visit. I knew Croatia had more than that. After reaching Zagreb by afternoon, I met with my couchsurfing host. Barbara, aka Barbie, lived with her mom and […]

Project 365: Day 326 – The lady of the Dolac market

Old town in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
22nd May 2015 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina With another forty days of solitude left, I find myself in yet another old town. How many has it been? I’ve lost count. At this stage, I am just silently counting down. I slept really well today, maybe the first time in over a week. And woke up by noon with no idea what to do. Well, it was back to walking again, far-cry from the days when I was living on a motorcycle. I’ve come a long way since then, and surprisingly only have 40 days left on this project. I can afford […]

Project 365: Day 325 – Counting down the days

Latin bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
21st May 2015 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Whats with me and bridges? I run into another one today. In another city, and with another tale behind its view. While yesterday had Turkish romanticism written all over it, Today it said a different tale; one from which violence grew. I left Mostar today, for another city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And a historical one at that. Sarajevo doesn’t really look like it, but a world war began here. In 1914, it was in Sarajevo that Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of the Austro-Hungarian empire. An event that immediately sparked WWI. By […]

Project 365: Day 324 – Another day. Another bridge.