Western Europe

Restaurants of san marino
The mist had still not cleared fully within the walls of the San Marino Citta, but I decided to brave it. After all, I had to see the main attraction of this tiny little European country.   If you have seen the national flag of San Marino, you cannot miss out on the 3 towers that grace its middle. Also depicted on their coat of arms, these are a group of 3 towers located on the peaks of Monte Titano, on which the city of San Marino is built.   The Guaita, Cesta and the Montale. And if there is […]

The 3 Towers of San Marino. And a Piadina.

LGBT pride flag
Amsterdam in August is one the best places to be for experiencing the subdued Dutch Summers. It’s mildly hot, the sun paints brilliant canvases on the blue skies and exuberant reflections on the canals below, and there are the occasional bouts of rain whenever you feel that the heat is creeping up on you.   And it is also the month of love and pride. Further Reading: The time that I saw a Fokker at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. No windmills. But plenty of canals. Before visiting Amsterdam, I had harboured images of a city full of windmills. Because that is […]

Celebrating love on a Canal: Amsterdam, Netherlands

st. peters square
This is part of a series called ‘A sonnet to the world’, which I have been working on. You can read about the project here. The idea is to write a 14-line Shakespearean Sonnet for every country I visit (and hopefully and eventually, the whole world). And this one is for Vatican City. The Bishop of Rome was definitely a draw; But there were more ways that the Vatican could woo. In the centre of Bernini’s piazza, the fountain of Maderno And the solitary statue of St. Pietro were just a few.   Even the hands of Michelangelo had grazed […]

A Sonnet to Vatican City

It is tough for me to write blogposts titled ‘the complete guide to XYZ cities’, because of the way I travel.   I often don’t have an itinerary, and when I reach a place I just tend to start walking and figure out interesting things to see. And more often than not, my time gets eaten up by the people I meet there, leaving very little for the places. Especially so in Europe, because there are usually a thousand things to see in each city in Europe, but also a thousand interesting people to meet. So, I tend to go […]

A Park, a Puerto, a Plaza and a Palace: A photowalk through the heart of Madrid

san marino walking guide
Before the nation of Italy was unified in the 19th century, some of the city-states that make up the current fabric of Italy, used to have the official title of ‘Most serene republic’. Like, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, Most Serene Republic of Genoa, and Most Serene Republic of Lucca. Since the unification of Italy, they all discarded the title. But one modern independent state still continues to use this title, albeit informally. Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino. The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. And you know the nomenclature is quite apt, when you consider the fact that […]

A misty walk through the Most Serene Republic of San Marino

San marino sightseeing train
All roads lead to Rome, they said. Well, some roads lead away from Rome too. Like the one I was going to take. From Termini to Rimini. Goodbye Rome. Hello Rimini. I had been staying in Rome for the past few days, filling myself at Communist-style Osterias and hearing the pope speaking in a lilting, swoon-worthy Italian at St. Peter’s Basilica. I wanted to leave Rome and head towards Florence, but that is when something else interesting caught my eye. The Republic of San Marino was not only the 3rd smallest country in Europe (after Vatican and Monaco city), but […]

All roads lead away from Rome: Rimini and San Marino

St. Peter's piazza view 2
  An ocean of human beings had engulfed the Piazza of St. Peters. They came from all walks of life, with all kinds of problems and troubles. Some brandished their national flags; others, their cameras lofted atop long selfie sticks. Some looked around; while most had their eyes glued to the second-last of 10 windows on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. Eagerly waiting in the glory of the Roman sun, for one man to show up and start speaking.   A man named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who in another life was a chemist, a janitor and a bar […]

Watching Pope Francis speak on a Sunday noon: Vatican City

punting cambridge
This is the second part of a 2-part roadtrip from London through South and Midwestern England. Click here for part 1. Day 3 – The canals of Birmingham Before this day, I had associated the word ‘canal’ with Venice or Amsterdam. But little did I know, that the massive canal network in Birmingham was bigger than the one in Venice or Amsterdam! But to enjoy them properly, we first had to deal with the day. What was a peaceful 2 days without rain, had completely turned the tables on us. Birmingham was pouring! The news mentioned that the storm had abated, […]

A Roadtrip from London – Birmingham, Ely and Cambridge (Part 2)

university church oxford
This is the first part of a 2-part road-trip from London through South and Midwestern England. Click here for part 2, or follow me on Facebook for updates. The weather signs weren’t right when I landed in London Heathrow airport. And at that point, if anyone told me that I was going to drive through London – Stonehenge – Woodstock – Oxford – Birmingham – Ely – Cambridge – London over just 4 days, I would have laughed at them. It was early February, and the England weather was cold – as was expected. A chill wind welcomed me as I […]

A Road trip from London – during Storm Imogen (Part 1)

amaro italy digestif
As an Indian boy from a village in Northern Kerala who grew up on fish-curry and paratha (technically, porotta in Kerala), my notion of Italian food was late and simple. ‘Late’ because I had my first pasta only at the age of 23 or something. And ‘simple’ because I thought Italian food was only about Pasta and Pizza. Read: Lengthy drive-in beaches and communist symbols. Read more about the beaches of Northern Kerala. During my travels, I have discovered that Italian cuisine was much more than that. I didn’t need to travel to Italy to dine at Italian restaurants in […]

The Italian dining experience you probably NEVER heard of: An Osteria in Rome

fokker 100 KLM cityhopper
Its not a unusual sight to see airplanes in an airport because, duh, that’s what airports are for, right? However, true to its unique style, Amsterdam definitely decided to give you some surprises in that department too. And on a Panorama terrace, no less. I had ensured that my trip to Amsterdam coincided with the annual Canal gay pride festival in the month of August. And in my hurry to see the colorful pride, I had not taken much time to explore the Schiphol airport. I finished the pride, a road trip through Western Europe, and on my return, I […]

A Fokker on a panorama terrace: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Sagrada familia, barcelona, spain
16th April 2015 – Barcelona, Spain I was back in favoured Spanish pastures. I loved the smell and the feel of this city. My heart cried to stay here longer. But my wallet? Well, it had turned deaf. What a sodden pity! Last evening, we managed to take a late evening bus to Barcelona, from Toulouse, arriving late into the night. I had a quick day in Barcelona today, before heading to the Baltic regions. I was not spending more time here, because i have been in Barca before. It is near and dear to me, and is also my favourite city […]

Project 365: Day 289 – In Gaudi’s Barcelona again

toulouse, france, capitole, travel, photography
15th April 2015 – Toulouse, France Somewhere between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, I stumbled upon another French gem, well-hidden. Good beers, fine company and eye-catching Capitoles. Thats all we need. We are, after all, simple men.   Toulouse was an unexpected pitstop because of the Andorra issue, but I was convinced yesterday by David that it was beautiful. David was a couch surfer I met on this trip before, in Bhaktapur, Nepal. And he was living in Toulouse. So, I messaged him yesterday, and we met up for a quick hour, within which he gave me a whirlwind tour of Toulouse. […]

Project 365: Day 288 – Unexpectedly, Toulouse

Toulon, France, spring
14th April 2015 – Toulon, France I planned like the devil was in the details. And rode two trains, and saw 3 towns. But Andorra is proving elusive as always. Well, plans change. We all have our downs. I visited a country yesterday, which ended up in disappointment. I should have considered that before attempting to visiting a new country yet again today. I have been wanting to visit Andorra for a few years now. The last time I was in Spain in 2013, I was given only a single-entry visa, so could not enter Andorra. While Andorra is a visa-free […]

Project 365: Day 287 – No Andorra. Not yet.

Nice, france, gardens, travel, photography
13th April 2015 – Nice, France The French riviera wasn’t enough. So I headed east, closer to Italy. There was so much money in the air, But nothing that I could feel. Only see. I had to visit a new country today. And, so I did. Much to my chagrin. From Toulon – where I was the previous day –  I started in the morning towards Nice, on a TER train that went through the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur) region. The train took me all the way to Nice. I explored Nice for the next few hours till lunch. Frankly, I should have […]

Project 365: Day 286 – In a country of the filthy rich

marseille train station
12th April 2015 – Marseille, France The Spaniards will have to wait.  I am headed French. For now. The riviera holds a special attraction. Lets check it out. And how!   Last night, after the reunion, I left with Aurelie to France. Or rather the French riviera. She is from Toulon. And I had an opportunity to visit her family, and I could also visit Marseille, Nice, Monaco and Toulouse. And finish off in Andorra, before heading back to Barcelona. That was the plan for the next 1 week. So, we took the IDbus from Barcelona to Marseille last night, and reached […]

Project 365: Day 285 – The French connection

Barceloneta beach in Barcelona, Spain
11th April 2015 – Barcelona, Spain I thought I was running away from people. From the civilised world I knew, to unknown shores. And yet, I keep bumping into known shoulders. They come from everywhere. In fours and scores.   Turns out I was not the only person visiting Barcelona today. My friends from Prague, with whom I had a reunion just a few days ago, were also in Barcelona, on different reasons. So, we agreed to meet in the afternoon for some beach time in Barceloneta. Barcelona has some of the best beaches in the world. I have been to this […]

Project 365: Day 284 – Another reunion on a Barcelona beach

annenkirsche dresden germany church
10th April 2015 – Dresden, Germany I said goodbye to the Germans, those stony faces. Met the Czechs. And gave my regards too. Then fled. The Spaniards are my calling today. Barcelona again. Wait. I know no Spaniards there. Its all a french spread.   The day started hectic. And ended pretty much the same way too. So, I left Radebeul in the morning, and went back to Dresden. With my heavy backpack and all. I had a bus from Dresden to Prague by 11 AM, but I still had time to kill. So, I hung out around the many churches that […]

Project 365: Day 283 – One day. Three countries

radebeul, dresden, germany, bismarckturm, travel, photography
9th April 2015 – Radebeul, Germany The city held no promise, so I headed deep Into the suburbs, into a lost town called Radebeul. After the wines were tasted, and the heights covered We even had to honor Bismarck, as a general rule.   I think I had seen enough of Dresden already. So, I took a train, and headed to Radebeul, in the suburbs of Dresden. I never had Radebeul on my plans. It happened as a result of a couchsurfing invite from Ellie, who lived there. And when I checked it up, Radebeul had some amazing vineyards, and beautiful, […]

Project 365: Day 282 – One of the Bismarck towers, in Radebeul

dresden, germany, travel, photography
8th April 2015 – Dresden, Germany Winter still ruled. With a cold hand and  A touch of unrelenting, unforgiving steel. Spring is near, everyone tells me nowadays. But that is not exactly how I feel. I woke up in the morning, and went to take a walk in the Neustadt area of Dresden. The only problem: its still winter! Well, it has been a really long winter for me already. Starting from the cold reaches of Nepal and Bhutan, I found a little respite in the beaches of Sri Lanka and Maldives. Then, came the snowy days in Istanbul, and the winter […]

Project 365: Day 281 – Is spring ever coming?

Dresden, germany, singing house
7th April 2015 – Dresden, Germany The eyes stared back, some curious, some hostile. And the road looked bleak, until some warmth was shared. In the alleyways of Dresden, I found a home with music. Pegida must see it too. They could have compared. I took a morning bus from Prague to Dresden, Germany. After 150 ams, 2 hours, and a police checkpoint, I was in Dresden. The first thing that I noticed about Dresden was the intense staring that I received from almost everybody in the town. Like, really intense. And thanks to the stoned nature of German faces, I really couldn’t […]

Project 365: Day 280 – Pegida and a musical house

Notre dame cathedral in Paris, France
30th March 2015 – Paris, France We followed the hunchback, through the streets Of a melancholic paris, all the way to Notre Dame. But the cathedral we left behind, and roamed the Love bridge, spanning many a broken heart and flame.   Today was our last day in Paris, and the day to finally visit the Notre Dame. Considered the finest example of French architecture, the Notre Dame came with a huge advantage for a cash-strapped traveller like me. It was free! So while the Louvre came with a little push because of the 12 Euro entrance, the Notre Dame needed no convincing […]

Project 365: Day 272 – The love bridge of Notre Dame

louvre museum in Paris, France
29th March 2015 – Paris, France I went to see the most beautiful girl, But sadly to my liking, she was too small. Like many women who I was sad to depart with, I bid goodbye too. And focused on those greeks, tall.   I have been avoiding museums for a while now, mainly because I have moved over from the touristy fare and decided to enjoy the people rather than then the museums. But I had to give in today. With the 2 tourist friends of mine, Rindo and Victoria, I stepped out in the morning to see the Louvre. Here […]

Project 365: Day 271 – Ignoring the Mona Lisa in Louvre

A little eerie, but beautiful nevertheless. - Humayun's tomb in New Delhi, India
28th March 2015 – Paris, France I am back in the city of love, and I guess Love does lead to some weddings, if not all. I had gone to see the eiffel and surroundings today, But love and a carousel trumped them all.   I woke up early in the morning today, and took a train from Leuven at the ungodly hour of 6.30 AM in the morning! The train took me to Brussels, from where I took a Eurolines bus to Paris. And after negotiating the complicated Paris metro, I was in my hostel in Montmartre by noon. Two of my friends from […]

Project 365: Day 270 – Brides on the Seine