Travel Diaries: Romantic Venice 

img_0321Venice is a manmade island! Hard to believe, isn’t it? And all the more because it is a combination of 170 islands and 400 bridges! It is built on the Adriatic Sea with the help of wooden blocks. Legend has it that it all started in the land of Padova, where “Hund”, the king of Hungary had terrorised the people. As this king was good at horsemanship he used to loot the villagers, but very soon they realised that naval force was his weakness. So in a move to save themselves, the villagers relocated to marshy lands.img_0338

We reached the Port Fucina in time for our ride to the epic St. Mark’s Square. The weather was amazing. It was a bright and sunny morning as we set to cruise to Venice. There are water taxis here, to move from one island to another, called “vaporetto . img_0377The cruise was a windy one, although the sun was out, the winter had set in. It was a sight to remember as we neared the beautiful city, monuments and well painted buildings by the banks on both sides. It was another moment of “Clickathon”! No wonder “Napoleon” said the Mark’s Square to be the drawing room of Europe.

While walking on the streets of Venice, the capital of Veneto region there were jingles running through my head, for everything looked so pretty! The gondola, the river, the bridges, the roads, the perfect blue sky and the white – golden structures against it. The difference between the Basilica and the Cathedral was finally understood. Cathedral is the seat of Bishop and Basilica is the place, saint’s body is buried. Here, we saw the Basilica, it had Bronze horses in its structure. These Poles around symbolizes the victory of battles.

img_0416Also there are two granite columns, one is “Winged Lion” the symbol of Venice and the other has St.Theodor slaying a dragon. Both are significant structures at the square. I loved posing around here and the selfie stick actually turned out to be my bestfriend!

Also Romance was totally in the air, saw so many young couples proposing by the Gondola and the Basilica. It was a sweet sight! And personally I felt this place was indeed very dreamy and totally worth falling in love with.

Travel Diaries: Munich to Wattens to Innsbruck!

The tour began after a long flight via Muscat, changeover for Munich. It was freezing as I stepped in Munich. I obviously wasn’t accustomed to these chilly winds since I have been born and brought up in Mumbai. We were taken to an Indian restaurant once we boarded our coach and, from the bus onto the restaurant every step I took was a self reminder that, “Nikhita, you better gear up well, or the winter is going to freeze you for good!”

I would have loved to sip on a chilled beer since it was Germany, and I do know that Octobeer just got over because I made the most of it by experimenting with Beer in my hometown, but here that thought just went off once I started eating the hot indian meal. Our tour manager gave us warm greetings and I couldn’t contain our excitement as we checked in to our Hotel.

The next morning, after a wholesome breakfast, we got onto our coach for an orientation tour of Munich city. The next 10 days our bus was going to be the second home where we were going to spend literally the most time. It was warm and cozy, with reclining seats and windows that gave a very good view.

 We reached our first halt, the Marian square, to see the Madonna statue that is gold plated structure, and Golden Roof next to the church.

It’s rather funny, that everytime I peeped out, there was a moment of Wow! All these Mercs, BMWs,Porches, Audis,Volkswagens, Volvos flooded on roads and rarely anything other than them. It was indeed a treat to keep watching them in abundance, but what also surprised me is that there were different tracks for cyclists. 

We then went to Wattens, to see the Green monster fountain, aka the biggest Swarovski Outlet. Danielle Swarovski invented these crystals and the brand came into play. The showroom is under this monster, and as you step onto a belt you are surrounded by shimmer and dazzle. Among the extravagant displays,the bridal outfits studded with crystals, a beautiful peacock and Disney souvenirs caught my eye.

After that visit, we then headed on to Innsbruck at Austria. The excellent roads were built during Hitler ‘s time and are called Autobahns. These roads even landed planes during world war II. They supposedly don’t have a speed limit. 

The “Inn” in Innsbruck is the name of the river and “bruck” means bridge in German. Along the cobbled stone pathways lies a scenic city with buildings in gothic structures.The Maria Theresien Strasse had a row of shops and cafes around, with beautiful displays where I couldn’t stop posing. There was one boutique which had thier traditional dress, the milkmaid outfit on display along the mugs of bubbling beer. 

The local pubs had a Barrel on thier enterance along with some beautiful floral decor. As we walked along the streets it was early evening, so we saw a lot of street artists,performers, cartoon characters, painters, bubble makers and musicians. They were putting up a good show, and I even had a photoshoot with one such artist. The place had a great vibe and it was really eye pleasing to see it all in the old city charm. 

The crossroads looked attractive too, as buildings were coloured in different shades of pastels in a harmonious manner. This city was a visual treat!

Travel Diaries: Sojourn en Paris

Paris welcomed me with a very homely feeling! The bustle of a city full of life. My day began with a scrumptious breakfast of Pancakes, croissant, pudding, cakes, coffee and so much more, but all I really wanted was to see the eiffel tower. 

Couldn’t wait anymore, and so we left for the once a wonder of the world. This tower was built as a temporary structure for the world exhibition in the year 1888, and it was only made for 5 months. Later it was decided to be restored and this wasn’t appreciated by the locals initially. They disliked the structure because they viewed it as inappropriate with the old charm of the city. An antenna was installed on it during world war II and till date its height is 130 meters. It is made up of iron and steel. 

After reaching, we got a ticket and got into the que for an elevator which takes you to the different levels. We went upto second floor which gives you a beautiful view of Paris city. All the monuments can be seen in miniatures. It was a moment of “Clickathon”! 

We then went to a café, I saw a beautiful display of Macaroons. I was really tempted to pick up some, but to my shock one macaroon was for 1.90€. I held back myself, because I am not very fond of Macaroons, I have tasted it back home but I will definitely pick up some if I get it at a better price, maybe I just wasn’t tempted enough. 

PARIS city tour awaited us next. It was also time to know all about the Perfumes at the Fragonard perfumery. Here there was the distillery of olden days and bottles of different shapes and sizes. A whole museum was dedicated to perfume making and it smelled like flowerbeds! The variety of perfumes were made out of essential oils and each had its distinct concoctions. We were given a whiff of thier top 6 scents and I honestly got so confused that I ended up picking nothing but it was indeed a learning experience as I learnt about the kind of fragrances I identify myself with.

Our city tour guide joined us in, and we then scanned the streets of Paris. The grand brands at Champs de Elyss, to name a few Loius Vittoun, Channel, Cartier, Bvlgari, it had it all. We then passed under Arc de Triumph, which is at a height of 50 metres. 

The city seemed to be in its all glamorous avatar as the sun set and we got ready for our Cruise on river sienne. 

It was all glittering as we passed by the monuments on both sides of the bank. Eiffel tower is one structure which can be spotted from everywhere in the heart of the city. As the division is according to the river, eiffel is on Left bank. It was illuminated and on our way back we say the champagne lights. It is a treat to see the Eiffel at night because it is so much more in a city that is all about Love! Paris, I promise to the Eiffel that I will visit you again when Love finds me. Till then I will take inspiration from the energy that’s bustling around me, for I love the idea of Love!

The day ended on a high note as I saw the carousal,Rue de Paris that is a ferries wheel and the opera house. 

Travel Diaries: A Swiss Affair 

Ever since I have known about Snow I have always wanted to visit Switzerland! And as I say Swiss, Snow, Chocolates, Cheese and Swiss Knife pop on top of my wishlist. I knew I couldn’t take Snow back home but the rest and offcourse the Bell has kept me fascinated for years after watching DDLJ! 

As we crossed over the border of Italy and entered I would be lying if I don’t tell you that the writter just awakened from within. We touched swiss after a long Tunnel and what a contrast of weather, from winter chills we went to snowfall Hills. I have seen snow in my native country but catching glimpses of the first snowfall of winter in Switzerland was a moment which just fulfilled my trip. The snow flakes slowly and steadily settled on the coniferous trees along the montain slopes, the houses along the road’s rooftops got a coating, also the cars and pathways weren’t spared from turning into white beauties. It was a matter of worry before, as to how was I going to survive the winter but now it turned into a treat. My camera just couldn’t get enough of the snow scenes so did my eyes, and the eyes won over as I kept down the camera to fill my personal memory storage,aka brain! As we halted for lunchtime, the restaurant to my surprise had tables lined by the window panes overlooking the mountains. It was hot indian food and the icy cold view. The food was excellent, my favourite rajasthani sweet pickle which is hard to find even back home and an apple sheera for dessert, couldn’t ask for more. 

We then left for Mt.Titlis. Here after buying a ticket and you also get a sticker pass to be put on. Then you first have to get into the “Gondola”, which is a six seater cable car that takes you to the point where there is a station for “Rotair”, that is a big cable car with a capacity of 60 people and revolves on its axis as it carries to Mt.Titlis. Surrounded by snow it was completely white except for the colourful specks which were people climbing down the mountain. 

The Mt Titlis has 5 storey building, with open snow area on 5th floor, the place I was most looking forward to.

 It also has a restaurant and bar on 2nd floor but we chose to go to the Move n Pick Ice cream parlour on level 3. I had the swiss chocolate ice cream since I wanted to try things local, it was the most creamy chocolate I ever had. It cost us a little less than four euros but it was definitely all part of the frozen memories that I was going to carry back home. 

We also visited Lucerne, which was again a very scenic place by the Coblebruck. It had a row of cafés by the lake which had beautiful Christmas decor already. It was a day well spent. 

#TREK#KALSUBAI the tale with a twist!

DSC_0559

The trek was a bit steep and quite slippery at times but the real adrenaline rush was getting a grip through it all. It was a long one but that feeling when we finally made it to the top after crossing over scary ladders and streams was mind blowing, to the extent that the winds were blowing so fast that we thought we could fly! I felt so full of life at that moment, it was as if I was stepping in heaven and was floating on the clouds,Yes! It was so insane! It was peaceful and just so beautiful that I’m falling short of words. We were literally on top of the mountain if not the world, at 5400 Ft above sea level!

DSC_0545

As we began to head down, we saw a stall selling hot bhajjiyas and chai. We celebrated our victory over the most amazing plate of bhajjiyas which we polished off in minutes. I could have eaten some more but the way down was a challenging one, so I resisted the craving and we continued down. As I was marking my way down and putting each foot in a planned manner so as to not slip, there were many instances when I thought would stumble maybe but I kept going. I think this holds true even in life, we can take precautions, plan and then act but sometimes the fall is the place where the rise begins.

DSC_0552

After hours of the steep way down, as we reached base site I was at my hungriest best! I have never had such a huge appetite, maybe it was the simplicity and freshness of the hot food served or the hard work that we put in, but I haven’t eaten so much even at the grandest of buffets! The typical Maharashtrian fare with Matki ussal, a subji, hot chapatti, varan bhaat the comfort food of all maharashtrains and the yummy Shrikhand, which took away all my fatigue. I was at my messiest best self, in my most rugged avatar and now it was time to get ready for heading back home! With zero network, and nil social media, it was a delight to see people interact face to face. I made some new friends and the journey was one to remember!

No that isn’t the end of it all! There is more awaiting you as we head back. Had we gone home comfortably by the private bus, we wouldn’t have remembered this day much. It was a rainy day and the bus got stuck in the mud. All tactics like raising the engine, giving it a push and also getting a tractor to pull out the bus was employed but to no avail. It was getting chilly as the sun dropped down. I was getting worried for I had to head to work the next morning. But there was clearly no sign of a way home. Fortunately my friend’s service provider came to our aid, for she found coverage to make a round of calls home. Everyone was anxious, worried and upset about the mishap. To top it all it was raining heavily and continuously back home. At one point I really thought we would have to stay back in the village. And then a ray of hope shone! A taxi was arranged to head to Kasara station from where we were to catch the local train. Now we had a challenge ahead of us, for we had to get into the last local to Kasara or we would be stuck up and it was already late evening. My friend who had got injured was given priority and we quickly got into the packed vehicle for station. I really don’t know how we reached there, because the roads were very scary, it was dark, raining and all foggy. There was literally zero visibility to my vision. I was petrified but I had to show a strong front to my friend who was already in pain as she had an injury. I’m sure our driver had some super powers that he took us safely. We thanked our stars for we reached in time for the train. Although we had never travelled on that route all we knew that we had to head back home anyhow. This was the time when I befriended the crushes friend. Soon we realized that we were heading home to the same suburb! There was major bonding that helped to ease the nerves. Now for a matter of fact we knew we were safe and then we finally managed to reach home!

DSC_0567

Yes, I went straight to work the next day! I do take my job very seriously but breaks like this fuel the person I am! Cant wait for another shot of madness!

P.s. Thank You AJ for making this happen! This couldnt have been a better break and especially to embark our Friendship of 13 years,& still counting…

#TREK#KALSUBAI

It’s been long, since I was dreaming about this day, it was harder to believe when I was finally living it away. It had been planned long in advance and I was typically excited a lot, for it was a day with my chosen one with whom I grew up all along. My school bestie was accompanying me! The girl I share all my wild madness with, my moments of pain and equal joy! With whom I have experienced my first streak of solid adventure as a Kid when we did River Rafting and now we were all grown up, so have our endeavors!  Taking out time from our busy schedules when we meet, our greets and farewell are no less then long lost lovers. Time and the distance have only strengthened our bond because in days of Skype and whatsapp we never seemed to have lost our track.

DSC_0481

The day arrived and we finally got set with our rucksack for the super adventure! We were equipped with every small necessity and a bumper pack of energy. As we assembled at the meeting point we saw so many new faces that were a part of our trekking group. I could feel the vibes as they were an equally excited lot. And guess what?!  I had already found myself a crush after a bit of scanning and I could obviously not hide the hint of blush.  After school days I had probably not got that silly feeling but I guess now I had gone back to being the same girl I was in secondary. It felt just like school when she used to tell me what to do and what not to. It was certainly a walk down the memory lane. We got into the bus and headed for the overnight journey to the base camp. It was continuous giggles and chatter, for we had to catch up on life and off course the Gossip! We fell asleep when the energy zonked over and a sigh of relief was probably given by trespassers. It was drizzling as we reached the base site. We got ready for the intensive trek to the highest peak of Maharashtra.

DSC_0504

There is something so addictive about the rains, that I never really get enough of this season. Especially when in nature the effect is all the more drawing. I was mesmerized by the view of the mountains engulfed by clouds. It was foggy, chilly and lush green. I had to start clicking! So I did, and caught up on the before dawn glory. It was so peaceful and unlike the daily grind of life that I couldn’t help but feel the gush of the Mother Nature. That’s when I exactly remembered that,”We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same but something inside our minds has changed and that makes all the difference”.

there’s more coming… next part on its way! Wait for it… Until then let me know if you have a similar story, please comment and share it if you like it.Truly grateful and keep that soul alive!