Jan 16, 2016

Long weekend in Madrid

That was a greta 4 day trip to Madrid. Although it was mid december, except for some breeze and cloudy days, the weather is good and festive season helps bring up your spirits to shop and go crazy.

Day 1: Walk the Gran Via and its alleys

Gran Via - good to walk
Xmas season at El Corte Ingles
 If you like walking to explore a city, you should probably start with Gran Via. It is the high street of Madrid with all major brands having a flag ship store. Why I like it? Not really for the shopping, but the concept of high street gets in a lot of life and businesses. I like the business of these places.
You have lots of options to eat ranging from international chains to creative cafes in the side alleys. The side lanes are definitely worth the detour.

Shop in the numerous El Corte Ingles stores, Madrid's biggest departmental store chain.

Day 2: Take in the Real Madrid ambiance
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
 Whether you are a Real Madrid fan or not, you have definitely heard of the legendary team. I have seen them play from my college days and it was a cool experience to see the home stadium and their change rooms.

Especially after 2014's tenth cup, Real Madrid celebrations are contagious and you can walk out feeling their spirit.

Evenings in Madrid are your golden hour to catch the flamencos dancing. YEs, catch the Flamenco dance performance at any of Madrid's favourite Flamenco clubs. We went to Cardomomo for the last and the longest show with their biggest troupe of 9 artists. It was a great experience. Not full house because of the low season but definitely a great experience to see the intense local art form.

I thought Flamenco was just a ladies dance, but there are men and couple dance performances too. Also music and song solos and recitals.

Day 3:  Royal Palace, Buen Retiro park, a museum or two

While I liked taking a walk in the vicinity of the Royal Palace, the local park and greenery, I found it also slightly monotonous. The palace has a English look and feel to its facade with grays and longish architecture. I was expecting something more southern European and this kind of threw me off.

As the palace and cathedral are on top of the hill, the view from top of the palace entrance across the cityscape is a good one. there is also a monastery nearby to walk around to. I was there on a low season and closed day, but do plan visit there.

Mercato de San Miguel -

The most amazing fresh food market. It is better than any food court or food street in Madrid. This one place justified the trip to me.
Amazing sea food, tapas, paella, lots of iberian ham and desserts. Them all and lots of sangria stalls around the market. I loved the authenticity and the creativity of food here.

Day 4: Calle de Mayor -  the area

The downtown area near Calle Mayor is filled with life. If you want the best churros in town, go to San Ginos as per the recommendation on all travel sites. Every street has a churro shop too many, but choose the right place and you got your best churros.

Don't forget the Tapas and Sangria!

Dec 18, 2015

Lisbon, first impression of Portugal

That's my day out in Lisbon. Partly sunny and not so cold day in mid December. Definitely happy to be in Lisbon and enjoy the weather. Yet to try out the sea food and party culture

Sep 18, 2015

The French Riviera

Nice! Oh my god!!! It is nice. Very nice.
Nice was the latest destination.  It was a fun trip especially since Amsterdam was beginning to lose the shreds of its summers and I needed a proper sunny vent, nothing beats the fancy than the turquoise beach and a cotton dress.
The first time we see as we enter the city a French bakery for breakfast full of delicate fren ch pastries and desserts. It was just the beginning of the day and the trip and the pastry already set me up to a great sugar pumped start. I always recommend a kickass breakfast and stuff it with sweet. No better time than morning!
French Desserts in Nice
The rest of the afternoon I just while away on the beach sunbathing and  lazing in a beach chair and takings swims in between. Isn't that what you do on a holiday in the French Riviera?
Came back in the evening for a series of concerts set up along the promenade. Turned out to be a summer party- Prom party in Nice. I liked this idea. Set of small stages every few hundred meters and each playing different music. Pick and choose your music for the night...

Next day we went off to Monaco for a day trip. But on sunday we were back at the promenade and checked out the walking trail, the port and and a short train tour up to the top of the cliff. Totally recommend some these in your to-do list:
  • The walk along the promenade
  • The visit to Nice port and a long walk back to the city along the beach
  • The old town for day time shopping and evening cocktails and dinner
  • The little train ride to top of Nice fort.

Port of Nice

Aug 24, 2015

Sail Amsterdam 2015

Sail is the maritime event that happens once in 5 years in Amsterdam. Ships from all over thr world come to Amsterdam. Often the countries send their naval representatives, some their cultural flavours and many have happy little boats sailing by. It is larger than life and a definite treat for the eyes. I totally recommend Sail 2020

INS Tarangini is India's navy training ship. They sailed for 3 months and had a beautiful tri colour flying it's vibrance off in the summer day. Best of all- the captain decided to allow Indians on board the last day. We went up, called with the Indian Navy, shook hands and in general had lots of fun.

Jul 10, 2015

3 Great Walking routes in Dubrovnik

The recent trip to Croatia in Spring made me fall in love with Dubrovnik. The weather was perfect 28 degrees and just about right to get out in the sun all day long. Though not warm enough to get into water (although locals claimed it was 24 degrees in water ;) blah!!!) , the heat was not scorching enough to give  head ache and make me stay indoors with the AC on. So, that's my temperature rant, I loved it and it's my bottom line. We walked quite a bit and discovered some neat routes around for a good walk to build up your appetite to gorge on more sea food while enjoying the local landscape and Balkan turquoises.

1. Copacabana beach to the Old Town / Babin Kuk to Old town. 

We stayed at Babin Kuk at the Valamar hotels and did this walk almost every day of our stay. I loved the walk to the old town all along the sea. The walking trail is well made and walks you along the port with its little private decks and all sized boats anchored through the length of the journey. I can guarantee you will love this 6 km walk

2. Walk in the Old town. It is guaranteed to be on your list if you are in Dubrovnik. But needless to say, if you walk the alleys and the steps up and down, make your way till the port and back , you are bound to burn some calories just as you take in the ambiance of the town.

Port just outside the Dubrovnik Old town
3. Panoramic Walk up and around the Walls - The Old Town has a panoramic walk tour. I would totally recommend this. If you don't want to sign up for a tour, still go for this route because it is just one of the best you can get in Dubrovnik. You need pay to enter the Fort and then just follow the steps that lead all around the Old Town.
Oh! my favorite port
It is panoramic at all levels and I absolutely loved it. Much as all of Dubrovnik is over-hyped and touristic, there are these despite-touristy bits that make the experience memorable. I am glad I did this walk.
Panoramic View of Dubrovnik