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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life is a song

It's almost an unsaid ritual--to pack our ipod/mp3 player when we set out to travel. Music for most of us is an essential part of traveling. And why not? It's an universal language that connects us all-- no matter what our country, our background and our identity says. Music helps us to get in touch with the familiar, it takes away the anxiety of being out of our comfort zone, it is a great conversation starter and ensures the camaraderie  of others. Here, I bring to you six popular songs that makes being on the road even more fun.

1) I've been everywhere--Johnny Cash: Unlike this country music guru I've not been everywhere but nevertheless Cash takes you through the dusty Winnemucca road through to Reno, Chicago, Fargo
Minnesota and Tulsa. He crosses rivers, deserts and breathes the mountain air. A song that perfectly embodies the spirit of travel.

2) Around the World--Red Hot Chilli Peppers: Who can argue when they croon that life is beautiful around the world? It definitely is, let's sit back and enjoy.

3) Yuhin Chala Chal Rahi--Swades: A song that puts an instant smile on my face. Ace music director A.R. Rehman lends his magic in this soulful, happy song. The message is simple: Keep moving dear traveler because this world is beautiful. Now, who can disagree to that one?

4) Sweet Surrender--John Denver: I can sweetly surrender to this one. John Denver urges you to live to the fullest, live in the moment and live without care. In this world of chaos and competition, the song is like a healing touch which can make the toughest road trip a cake walk.

5) Time of your life--Green Day: This song begs you to ponder about the unpredictability of life. No ones know when life can take a turn because life is one unplanned journey. Well said Green Day!

6) Don't Worry, be happy-- Bobby McFerrin: "When you worry, you make it double. Don't worry, be happy." Not just a song for the road but for life that I am gonna sing note for note. C'mon let's put a smile on our face.

Music is a language, a reminder, a catalyst and the ultimate travel partner. It makes your heart croon, discard the blues and adds excitement to the travel. Do you agree?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

London markets

One of my favourite places to explore in any city is its markets. For me, they are the ultimate representation of a city’s personality. Away from the comforts of fancy ad gimmicks, air conditions and stripped of any artificial airs, markets are where you see the city in its true colours while indulging in some shameless people watching. Exploring a market is not just about shopping it’s about experiencing a city’s raw character, coming in touch with its rugged personality and getting acquainted to its many shades. Markets unlike malls also have uniqueness to them that can never be matched up. Of course, the fashionista in me is always beaming after getting her hands on that one unique piece. 

At the bustling Camden Market

London, as we all know, is one of the best shopping places. Whilst names like Harrods and Selfridges have put London as a shopping paradise for the swish set; there’s definitely more to London’s shopping landscape than the glittery malls. I bring to you two of best shopping and people watching haunts of London—the Brick Lane Market and the Camden Market. 
Vintage Cameras for vintage people@Brick Lane
Invitation from Brick Lane 

Camden slowly waking up on a Sunday morning

Brick Lane Market:  A study in culture and contradictions, this market is located on the northern end of Brick Lane along Cheshire Street in East London. In Brick Lane, posh boutiques stand in sharp contrast with rickety stalls selling a plethora of eclectic goods from old books, antique cameras, and vintage clothes to cutesy bric-a-brac. This place is popularized by bargain hunters, art students and curry houses, It’s unpolished, little wild, rough around the edges and definitely unafraid. And true to London’s multicultural fabric, Brick Lane is a place where people from all different cultures, backgrounds come together to clash and cherish. Brick Lane’s vibe can be summed up in two words—wild and eclectic. 

Vibrant street art @ Brick Lane

 Festival @ Brick Lane  

Camden Market: One of the oldest markets of London, it has been the home ground for musical legends like Ian Drury and Amy Winehouse. Situated between Camden Town and Chalk farm, the Camden Markets give you a sneak peek to the city’s vibrant street culture. Saunter around its narrow pathways and you will soon realise that this is a place where alternative culture could have born.  You will see an array of shops selling everything from Goth, Punk to vintage lifestyles. 

as the name suggests

the Regent's canal
While its sheen as the alternative culture hub has dimmed a bit over the years, thanks to the influx of Starbucks and Gap, it still is one of the best places to go to get rid of the “herd” mentality and celebrate differences of all kinds. There are four main markets: Buck Street Market, Lock Market, Canal Market and Stables Market and each feel like you have been transported into a different city. Camden’s vibe can be best described as sinfully different and deliciously unique.
Fashion House@Camden

standing tall @camden   

Oldest Spot?

So, what does market mean to you? And which ones are your favourite and why? Do let me know in the comments section. 

Read my Weekend Note on Brick Lane here

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Welsh adventures

Seaside Pier-Conwy

Conwy Castle

"Croeso I conwy,” the bright blue board told us. And before we knew, we were scrambling for the dictionary. But thankfully, just next to it the English board said “Welcome to Conwy.”
Yes, Welcome to Conwy.

An ancient walled market town on the north coast of Wales, this quaint little town is famous for its medieval Edwardian castle, nostalgia tinged houses and a place where the old Welsh language is still spoken-- sometimes casually, sometimes officially but always with pride.

Conwy castle, takes a place of pride in the narrow cobbled pathways of the city. And it is easily the centre point of the town, everything else surrounds this giant of a castle. Home to King Edward 1 between 1283 and 1289, it was built during England’s second campaign in the North Wales.

Much of the castle is in ruins but as you walk around, you can still signs of the ancient times. The castle was designed to have inner and outer ward. Today, the inner ward is in shambles but even then it doesn’t stop you from travelling to a different era. A World heritage project, the castle’s massive defensive wall still stands tall and proud.
Conwy Castle
As you step out, this town comes tantalizingly alive. We walked its paths and discovered its many niche shops while the waves from the nearby coastal pier gave us company throughout.

Panoramic view--Snowdonia

From Conwy, we drove to the nearby Llandudno. Wales, is a city for drivers. As your vehicle whizzes, your eyes are treated to beautiful rugged mountains, almost whimsical houses and vast green plains with schools of sheep.

Just half-an-hour drive from Conwy, Llandudno is a seaside resort. Llandudno, is a place where fictional heroine Alice from Alice of Wonderland , holidayed during her summer vacations.  It is famous of its Pier, Bay and the Happy Valley.

Woodlands near Llandudno Pier

The Pier behind me

Our first stop was the Pier, a spectacle designed in Indian gothic style. It is made of cast iron, brackets of lacework in iron with a pretty balustrade and mouth extending to the beautiful blue waters of the sea, the Pier seduces your senses right away.

We take the much popular ropeway to explore the area. As the ropeway starts, at a breathtaking height, I cross my fingers and toes and open my eyes to the view of North Wales. The sea and the captivating Snowdon Mountains live me speechless.

Pretty Big thing

Bay From the Ropeway

And as the ropeway proceeds, the town of Llandudno becomes a mere dot in the vastness of the beautiful coastal ground of Wales. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. After stepping out, I go straight towards the pier to experience the blue waters of the sea up, close and personal.

Candid Camera

The village

The Village train
My reverie admiring the sea is broken, when husband announces that it’s time for the Bay--a gentle sweep between the sea made of rock and sand. The area of the Bay is the Marine Drive, a beautiful long road where the sea accompanies you on one side and the mountains accompanies you from the other side.
And here we are

Marine Drive

Llandudno, in a nutshell is this—a place where sea beautifully marries the mountains.

Llandudno, rydych yn wych.


Llandudno, you are marvellous

Monday, July 30, 2012

Slice of Rome under the English skies

A famous legendary story around the city of Bath, Somerset in South-West of England is that the first human activity evidence was found during 8,000 years BC. The place had an air of mystery around it, with steam emerging from a green, hot, lush swampy area. Prince Bladud father of King Lear, had contracted leprosy and was cured after bathing in the hot muddy waters. In gratitude, Bladud founded the City of Bath around the springs in 863BC.
Inside the Rome Bath

Gorgeous Roman architecture
Outside view

Today, in the 21st century these springs continue to draw the curious wanderer, artists, lovers and poets. And why not? With its quaint high street, cobbled lanes, velvety gardens, niche boutiques and Roman honey-coloured buildings feasting your eyes in every corner, the beauty of Bath has to be seen to be believed.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Bath was named as “Aquae Sulis” by the Romans in AD 43. Much before Britain went around making colonies, Romans invaded and colonised Britain. In AD 70, the Romans built a reservoir around the hot springs before building a sophisticated series of baths and a temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva. As a religious shrine and bathing complex, Aquae Sulis attracted visitors from across Britain and Europe, making Bath a popular destination.

Julius Caesar was a regular visitor

Ancient artifacts

Goddess Minerva

With a very distinct air to it, Bath is very different from other English cities. A great walking city, it is a slice of Rome in England. Bath has many attractions but I could only manage the Roman Bath and the Prior Park Landscape Garden.

Terrace View

Green and hot

Holy Spring

The quaint neighbourhood

Inside the Roman Bath museum, I learnt how the seemingly simple ritual of bathing can be an important social and economic activity. Well below the modern street level, the Roman Baths are known for four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum.

The bath complex is a remarkable example of engineering as well as Roman art and architecture. Once completed in the 4th Century, it housed five healing hot baths, swimming pools and cold rooms, sweat rooms heated by an ingenious early plumbing system, and the Great Bath at the centre, where the surrounding statues of the Gods would float eerily in the clouds of steam.

The honey colored buildings

Bath Abbey

Bathing, during that period, was a ceremonial ritual where you socialised with people and even carried on business. Today, the museum gives you a taste of Roman life with actors dressed in various characters around the bath area.

The buildings above street level date from the 19th century and are made in the Georgian style. From the Roman Bath, I went to the lush-green Prior Park Landscape Garden, just across the Roman Bath (the city is not a very big city). An intimate 18th century landscape garden, it gives you sweeping views of the city. An ideal picnic spot, it is a place where you can get lost with anyone or yourself.

Palladian Bridge

Built by entrepreneur Ralph Allen with advice from poet Alexander Pope and Lancelot Brown, it is also very close to the famous Palladian Bridge, one of four in the world. A stream tinkling with clear, cold blue water breaks the harmony of the green landscape.

From here you can clearly see the Bath Abbey, an Anglican Parish church founded in the 7th century. A fine example of perpendicular Gothic architecture, the Abbey is characterised by sculptures of angels climbing to heaven, peal of ten bells, 52 windows and a large stained glass window. But its beauty lies in the fact that it easily blends in with other Roman buildings in the area.

Greenery everywhere

I sat there for what seemed like forever and everywhere I turned my heart skipped a beat by the beauty of this magnificent city. Needless to say, I felt a pang leaving the place!

Until later dear Bath.