New Year's Eve in Bonn in Germany

Back from Brühl, we went straight to the hotel where we "preened" and we got ready to celebrate New Year's Eve and the arrival of the New Year. In Germany, they simply say celebrate the night of Silvester. We were going well since we arrived at the hotel at 5:30 p.m. and had a reserved table at 7:30 p.m.

That allowed us to take a quiet walk and see the illuminated streets to the restaurant where we would dine and that we found through the internet. They offered a buffet of German food and glass of wine.

When we left the street it was deserted (it was 7:00 pm) and we thought that in this city the celebration of the New Year was going to be a "dud". Inside the houses, there was no music, no laughter, nothing at all. There were no cars and all shops and bars were closed.

The lighting of the streets was simple but pleasant. When we arrived at the restaurant we almost felt relieved to see that there were already people inside.

The place was decorated in a traditional German way and the employees were dressed in the regional dress. We were seated at a table decorated with candles and Christmas decorations. They offer us a welcome drink since the buffet had not yet been prepared. So far so good, but no music, no one having fun?

We felt so quiet and more when we found that the place had all the tables full. But the audience seemed to have gone to the movies rather than a New Year's Eve dinner.

Like everyone else, we had taken the welcome drink. The people and ourselves started asking for beer mugs since we still had no food and what happened? Slowly people began to cheer up, laugh and talk louder and louder. Even a Swedish couple that was by our side began to engage in conversation with us.

Finally, an hour later around 8:00 pm the buffet opened and the music started to play, but in a very subtle way. It was nothing high. The food we can not qualify as sensational, but it was quite good, especially the roast meat that was cut at the time and in sight.

To us, it was enough with a plate of different side dishes and another with meat and "kartoffelsalat". We spent our time chatting like Tarzan with the Swedish couple, waiting for the desserts to come out. Once they did, we gave a good account of them and asked for the bill for drinks and coffee that were not included in the buffet payment.

Around 21:30h we went to the discotheque in one of the premises of the Town Hall. There we had to wait due to a large queue of people to pass and security checks. We had booked it on the Internet. They announced it as the best place to see the fireworks that would celebrate the New Year on the banks of the Rhine. We thought it would have balconies or terraces to see it and if it was raining or snowing we would be sheltered.

We were also encouraged by the fact that a DJ was going to mix music from the 80s with current music and the price included a drink (which later was a thimble).

They put a stamp on our hand and we realized that it was to go out and see the fireworks and come back. It was not going to be able to see it from the building. In short, the night was nice and it was not as cold as we expected.

For years we were not going to dance to a disco, but the atmosphere and attitude of the people do not change much. Maybe now it takes a lot of Jason Statham style for the gym guys, with shaved hair, white shirts of two sizes less and thin tie. The girls opted mostly for the short dress and heels.

But we did not feel out of place because there were people of all ages. We were lucky enough to take a seat in one of the amphitheaters and from there we were having a good account of the people who "excelled" on the track. We could also dance without stress and enjoy the good music they put on.

And it was time to leave at midnight. People gathered to leave but in an order. We went down the stairs and left like everyone else in the direction of the Kennedy Bridge to see from above the fireworks over the Rhine.

People carried rockets, firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that began to explode practically wherever they pleased. We looked at our watches and it was really 00:00. We immediately uncork the bottle of champagne and gave a first hickey wishing us happiness for the new year.

The show was incredible. It was one of the most impressive we've seen. The Rhine was almost on fire, with noise and light coming from everywhere. The boats circulated with people inside celebrating the event. On the banks and on the bridge they did not stop firing rockets. The police only expected an incident because they did nothing to prevent them from throwing themselves with some care. It was both an extraordinary spectacle and a dangerous one.

There each one took care of themselves and we realized that the whole city of Bonn woke up from the lethargy of its normal and slow life. After an hour without stopping of explosions of light and color, hundreds of bottles and remains of pyrotechnics began to accumulate in the streets. It was time to go back to the hotel and not tempt to fate.

Walking Around Park Street in Kolkata

Park Street is a symbol of the city of Kolkata. One of the favorite destinations of tourists from around the world, especially during the Christmas season, Park Street offers a huge amount of possibilities and attractions, which includes museums, pubs, nightclubs, five star hotels, bookstores, cafes, historic as well as modern restaurants, fast food hubs, music stores and parks in and out.

I went to Calcutta via a low cost airline, not without having been able to rest a little at the lounge of Mumbai. So I arrived in Calcutta without a hitch, just a few hours late from our initial schedule. When I arrive in Calcutta, it's a real leap in time, not so much the airport that is modern, but as soon as I see the famous yellow taxis, and travel the first few kilometers.

Seeing these old buildings dating from the colonial era falling into ruin makes me think of Yangon in Burma. I do not know what to expect, to see it there under these eyes. It is clearly different, at this moment. I have difficulty to understand how it is humanly possible to live in these conditions. So I see cows, trash, brothel, a lot of people and a concert of horns which is only the beginning.

My hotel was in the Esplanade. The mission of the day for my taxi is to take me there and what a mission. Suddenly, our driver, not finds himself asking his way several times. I was insisting that we be taken to our destination, I did not want to find myself somewhere in Calcutta, as good as my sense of direction.

Fortunately, we will eventually find someone who knew the hotel and finally arrived at our pied-a-terre. The entrance is quite discreet behind a staircase. I see a old elevator that can barely take 2 people. But the room is fine. The staff present arranged my train for Bodhgaya for the next day. After a good shower and a nap, I finally went out on the street.

I walked aimlessly in the first direction that came to me. I land at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Headquarters, a municipal building dating back to 1876. It, as the name suggests, houses the city's administrative services and infrastructure management. When I sees the old dilapidated hotel just across the street, I think they do not miss a job.

At the end of the Hogg Street, I see the New Market in Lindsay Street which is in fact the oldest municipal market of the city. I walk on to the Oxford book store under the porch of Park Mansion. In the radius of the guides I look for a map of Sundarbans. I see a map of Bengal where I can see more details than in my guide.

I notice that the field of fine books is developing. The photographic works on India are more numerous than before but still very few books on Calcutta city yet very photogenic. In passing I stop to take a apple crumble cupcake and tea at the Flurys. It cost me more than the meal but it's quiet. It is the rendezvous of the golden youth and intellectuals of Kolkata. I enjoy the calm with the story of tea painted on the wall in front of me.

In fact my neighborhood, Park street is a street where there are many luxury shops, a big avenue then crowded for the festivities. I returned at 3 to take a shower and I fall asleep immediately. Walking back to Park Street I stopped in the very romantic Park Street Cemetery. In a totally different style, there was once again a very special atmosphere.

Located in the middle of a town in a square of forest that has survived the urbanization, this cemetery, which has been abandoned for almost a century, is home to hundreds of burials rivaling each other. From the size, originality of the form, or the location, nothing distinguishes the eternal home of a newborn from that of the Marquis of Hastings who was once the governor general of India.

I resume my walk to Russel Street. I leave when police officers approach me, asking me to follow them and tell me that photographing is prohibited in the area. Indeed, an official building was on your right. One of them wants me to show him and delete the picture. I try to explain to him that it is a film camera. I show him the viewfinder. The other more conciliatory policeman explains to his colleague that it is an antique camera and I get away leaving my name, address and the mention of antique camera.

At lunchtime I had lunch at Peter Cat in the Park Street area, an establishment frequented by the middle class where one queues to have a table. Here the menu is not vegetarian but rather very meaty, and the map of spirits, beers and wines is as consistent as the menu. Low chandeliers above each table create a cozy atmosphere. The waiters are all dressed in Afghan style. I order its famous Chelo kebab and pulao rice with a lemon soda and a black label.

At tea time, in the chai shop, a talkative Bengali holds my leg for half an hour, and gives me a little lesson on the economic problems and the expatriation of firms to China and communism in Eastern Europe. He explains to me with disconcerting ease that it is a natural selection.

At dinner after crossing Camac Street I went to Hakuna Matata located in a posh shopping arcade of chic boutiques, bars, restaurants and a movie theater. In the menu they have aloo phoolkopir dalna prepared with cauliflower and peas in a curry just strong enough. There is daab chingri with large shrimps served in half a coconut cooked in a coconut curry. There is also kaju kishmis pulao of fried rice with grapes and cashew nuts, slightly spicy. There is also a gondhoraj salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, lemon.

The avenue is covered with Christmas decorations, garlands, lights. The crowd rushes, each wearing a Santa Claus hat, or red and black clothes.

Park street is filled with colorful fancy decorations, with the streets full of life and shops glow with their signs and showcases, while you travel a walk the sidewalks flooded with people. The Christmas in Park Street is a wonderful experience, with a merry bunch of festive people smiling even in the cold. On December 25, the streets are filled with crowds who celebrate in a very special way, waiting for the celebrations for the new year.

Under the dress of the lady, the area cultivates a energy which is much more radical. Heir to a mixture of cultural and underground culture, the street absorbs influences from UK, US to India. I stopped to buy records of Rabindra Sangeet written and composed by Ranindranath Tagore. The crowd spills as I arrived at the hotel. I listened to the songs of Tagore on my bed by candlelight drinking hot tea.

park street kolkata girls nightlife shopping christmas night restaurants

Trip to Belur Math and Ramakrishna Math

From the windows of the train, we can see the landscape changing when arriving near Bengal. The vegetation becomes much more tropical. We see rice fields, banana trees, palm trees and the climate is much warmer than in Varanasi from where we arrive.

The train arrives at the Howrah station at 9 pm. The train station of Howrah, the largest in Asia looks pretty, clean and not too crowded. We find the prepaid taxi stand in front of the station. We buy a ticket at the counter and take the taxi indicated in the queue. In Calcutta, taxis are beautiful yellow cars, often Ambassador, carefully bred.

There are many and they are not expensive. On the other hand, the drivers do not always know the place where we want to go. We cross Howrah Bridge and we arrive in the busy little streets where is the hotel. The reception and the lobby is quite classy, and there is even a lift! On the other hand, the room is in a sorry state strewn with detritus.

The air-conditioning flees on the ground, and everything seems abandoned and it is a pity because it could be done better. It is large and very clear with its two large windows, a sofa, a large bathroom and is located on the top floor overlooking a quiet street. They assure us that they will clean! Finally, after the household has been nearly done, we settle down.

The walls and the furniture would need a good leaching, but we will be fine there. We have dinner at a local restaurant. There is no menu but plenty of dishes are brought like rice, dal, vegetables, very spicy shrimps, red spinach curry. In the neighborhood is Sudder Street, the street of backpackers and the atmosphere is very nice and cosmopolitan.

At the end of the street is the beautiful white building of the Indian Museum. Opposite is the large Maidan where are full of cricket grounds, a game very popular here. In the night, the neighborhood is full of people and small street shops abound.

Trip to Belur Math and Ramakrishna Math

Day 2

As we have a day before the departure to the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, the travel agency offered to organize a day visit from Kolkata to Belur Math. A man wait for us at the exit of the train. We take a yellow ambassador taxi to face the traffic to a small Broadway style hotel. The room is spacious, with a sofa area.

After a shower we go with the guide and a driver. It is not very causative. He does not tell us where we are going, nor do he give us an explanation about the city, or its history. Not great as a guide, but it brings us to interesting places. We realize that he does not speak Hindi much.

On the banks of the Hooghly River in the north of the city is the Belur Math. Nestled among palm trees, flowers and manicured lawns, this vast religious center is home to the Ramakrishna Mission. The founder is the Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a philosopher of the XIXth century, who preached for the unity of all religions.

The main temple is a huge monument mixing several styles in cupolas, cathedral shape and Indian palace. We wait inside the opening. The faithful prostrate themselves before the statue by placing flowers and money in the donation box.

Other small shrines contain other statues or idols. A museum traces the life of Ramakrishna and his disciples. We meet one of their gurus. Through the streets there are many shops of religious objects, and dozens of photos of all sizes and colors stand out with Vivekananda, in different poses and costumes, as if he were a film artist. A little further up the opposite bank is the Dakshineswar Kali Temple a long striped yellow and red building, with many pointed roofs. It can be seen from the river. Ghats go down there, where pilgrims bathe. This is the place where Ramakrishna began his spiritual journey.

On our way back to Calcutta we stop at Kumartuli. The place owes its name to the sculptors of effigies of idols like Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and many others. The sculptors are always busy as the idols are ritually immersed in the sacred waters of the Hooghly on the occasion of religious festivals. They make idols of all sizes from the smallest to the giant ones before Durga Puja.

The first step is to make a straw structure. Then they cover it with clay. After drying, effigies are painted and customized with wigs, jewelry. We come back to Chowringhee. The Victoria memorial evokes a pantheon, between the white house and the Taj Mahal. Built in honor of Queen Victoria's 60th birthday, it was completed only after her death.

We enter the park between two stone lions. In front of the main alley, the queen looks a little absent, on her bronze throne. Behind it is the imposing white marble edifice with its cupolas and columns.

A statue of Victoria, much more majestic is under the big dome. Inside there is a gallery of paintings, one of photographs of the governor's house. The Calcutta gallery is the most interesting. It traces the history of the city, from the first inhabitants to independence, through colonization. The only problem is that everything is in English and there is far too much text.

At the back, the memorial is reflected in basins. After a ride in a carriage, the lovers find themselves on the lawns in the middle of the detritus. The park is pretty and well maintained. It is a pity looking at the lack of civility of some.

Not far away, the Birla Planetarium is one of the largest in the world. Sitting comfortably in chairs as in the cinema, we admire the projection of the starry sky under the dome.

Trip to Wild Rose Country of Alberta in the Canadian Rockies

After many months of preparation the adventure begins in Canada. Although I considered going through Vancouver, the time available and amount of things to see in the Rockies led me to opt out of Vancouver. Hence the title of the blog since our trip takes place in Alberta, where in the license plates of the cars we can see the famous Wild Rose Country phrase.

Day 1 - First Contact with Canadian Rockies

We got up early to catch the first flight of the day. I was able to take out the boarding passes the day before and choose the seats. As we do not have machines here we check in at the window. At Heathrow we had to change terminals but for the huge airport it really surprised me how well organized it is.

When we get off the plane we just have to follow the purple signs that are in flight connection. They take us to some buses that leave us in the terminal we go to in 10 minutes. Once there we pass the security check and wait for the next flight.

At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon it was finally time to get on the flight, a Boeing 767 with individual little screens. With respect to the other intercontinental flights that I have taken, it has the advantage of a 2-3-2 configuration, so it is much more comfortable than the 3-4-3 of the 777 or the 747.

We took the window seat and the seats seemed quite large although the entertainment on board seemed pretty shabby. The controls cannot be removed from the seat and have little games, something that at least helps me enough to pass the time. Almost all the films are in English but with that accent with which the greatest of the dramas seems like a comedy.

When entering the plane in the seats, they leave us a pillow, a blanket and a small packet with a brush and toothpaste. From London we left with almost an hour of delay due to minor technical problems. So we had a good time waiting, although with the excitement of the trip it was not very long either. Throughout the flight we recovered great part of the accumulated delay. In the end we arrived only 20 minutes late.

As soon as the flight took height they passed by offering drinks and soon after dinner arrived, typical of the plane and not very good. I don't know why inflight everything tastes so poor. On this occasion we had to choose between beef and chicken paella. I chose the second and that pasty rice was anything but paella.

For dessert we had a piece of pretty rich chocolate cake. They gave us a glass of water, butter and a bread roll with spices and a salad. They ended up offering coffee or tea. During the flight they would pass from time to time offering juices and water. When there was little more than an hour and a half before landing they gave us breakfast, a sandwich, fruit, a kitkat, juice and coffee or tea. In this case, it was pretty good.

The 9 hours of flight as always are very long although once on land we almost do not remember how the trip was over. At 8:20 we landed at the Calgary airport. It's not very big. While we were going to collect the suitcases, we took the opportunity to take some pictures of the welcome signs.

Before picking up the luggage, we pass the immigration. The security asked us the typical questions of how long we were going stay and the places we were planning to go. When arriving at the belt with the fear that our luggage would not leave, we see they had already begun to leave. I had never seen so much efficiency, as ours went out in the first round, so we could already breathe easy.

Finally we passed a small control where we delivered the customs card that we had filled on the plane, and voila, we were in Canadian lands. Once we leave we go to the car rental company in front of the door. It is only necessary to cross the street where the taxis stop. There we picked up our car that we would not leave until the last day of travel.

In the office I was offered a full tank and I passed it because it was not worth considering the price of fuel in Canada. I was also offered to upgrade or get additional insurance to avoid paying the franchise a higher price. I said no to everything.

The car had enough space for our bags and also had air conditioning. I could not ask much for what I paid considering the rental rates in Alberta. Once mounted in the car the first thing was to place the navigator with the maps of North America installed.

After a few meters the GPS began to give us instructions and in a few minutes we were at the hotel. The room was huge and had a couple of armchairs, tables, desk, flat screen tv and ipod dock. It also had a mini-kitchen, that is, a sink, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and everything needed to prepare tea and coffee. The bathroom in line with the rest of the room was good with shower and bath.

After getting some soft drinks in the machines of the hotel (very expensive of course) and some ice from the free machine, we dined something we had bought along the trip. We prepared to rest.

Wild Rose Country of Alberta in the Canadian Rockies

Day 2 - Road to Banff

It was not hard for us to get up early because of the time change. So at 7 o'clock we went down to breakfast. By the way, breakfast was very good. There were both sweet (up to waffles) and salty items. There were juices, coffee, yogurt, cereals, sausages, various types of breads and pastries, plus eggs, bacon and sausages.

We wanted to make a technical stop in the center of Calgary to buy some things for the camping day. So we reach a Canadian store specializing in mountain accessories with very good value for money. Also, when we were leaving we saw the famous bells.

Since we were in the center and that we had plenty of parking time, we took the opportunity to take a quick tour around the city center. At about 11 o'clock we set off for Banff, a journey that takes about an hour and a half, along a freeway with very wide lanes and endless straight lines.

Immediately on the left in the direction of the march we can see the Canada Olympic Park, the place where the winter Olympics were held. There are three jumping trampolines on the top of a small hill.

As we went along the road to the Rockies several things caught our attention. The first is the size of the cars, and the rare thing is to see a normal car. Almost all are huge pickups and large SUVs, the same as those of the American movies. At about 1 we arrived in Banff. As it was early to check in at the hotel we decided not to reach the town and go to Lake Minnewanka that we had on the way to take advantage of the time.

It is a huge lake, one of the largest in the area but is not as impressive as others. We surround the lake by the path that leads to the Steward Canyon, where we find a wooden bridge. From here at this time we can not continue walking for the activity of bears in the area. On the shores of the lake as we walked we found huge banks of mosquitoes. I think nowhere else we saw so many.

Between some things and others we went to Banff to eat and settle. We left the car parked in the area indicated as parking at the end of Banff Avenue, before crossing the bridge over the river. As we were hungry we ate a salad in the first eatery we found on our way. There was also free wifi so we could look at the mail.

At 3 we went to the hotel, which I booked on the website of the hotel and did the check-in. I know it is a bit expensive but I chose the higher category room and had the advantage of being in the center of the city, a stone's throw from the shops. The price also includes wifi and free parking.

The hotel is quite good. The biggest advantage is its location and the fact that it includes breakfast. The next visit of the day was the Johnston Canyon. I had read that it is usually plagued by tourists, so it is recommended to visit it in the afternoon or early in the morning. We opted for the first option, arriving there before 5. We had no problem parking although we saw cars by the road and there were people but nothing overwhelming.

After taking a photo of the information booth to put in instagram that we usually do, we started the way with tranquility and taking pictures. In about 20 minutes we were in the Lower Falls. After the obligatory stop we continue the path next to the bluish river by the promenade enabled for that purpose. After another 25 minutes we reach the Upper Falls.

Given the time it was we decided to continue to Ink Pots but we were afraid that it would be night. So we gave up. After all we had many long walks and it was not a matter of spending all the energy in the first day.

We take a nice walk along the river, and we see a couple of waterfalls. To get there we take the Bow Valley road. However, once the trip is over we see many people. I was also struck by the Mistaya for its curves and the strength of its waters or the Maligne. Instead of returning to Banff we chose to follow the road a little to see the impressive Castle Mountain up close.

Given that they say that this is a good area to see a bear, but there was no luck in this regard. From here we returned to Banff since we still had to pay for food purchases and we wanted to go around the small shops in the center. The next day the famous Lake Louise was waiting for us.

Trip to the Small Town of Siliguri

The taxi for the airport is scheduled at 8:30. We plan to wake up around 7:30 to take a hot shower. Anyway, I was awakened by the noise in the street. In Delhi, it's amazing as sweepers sweep the streets, make piles but we never see anyone picking them up. Maybe there are garbage collectors who do it later?

While waiting for the taxi, we see the newspaper delivery men who roll the newspaper in a ball, surround it with an elastic band and send it to the recipient's balcony from the street. But sometimes it's harder than it seems at first glance.

The journey to the airport lasts almost an hour. At the airport, there are plenty of checks before arriving at the boarding gate. The plane is delayed by thirty minutes, so we wait. The flight goes well except the screaming of the little girl in front of us, a hyper spoiled little girl who will even refuse to put her seatbelt on arrival. It annoys the flight attendants who still keep their smile.

We see the Himalayan chain and managed to take a picture sneaking up to the business class. After arriving at the Bagdogra airport, we are literally beset by a pack of taxi drivers who all want to take us to Siliguri. Again, we are entitled to a crazy driver who takes the side of the road for a lane and he exceeds everyone. About an hour later, he drops us in front of the hotel.

The welcome is very nice. There is tea bags, coffee and a bottle of water are at our disposal. Three reasons have brought me here. The first is that Siliguri is the ideal base to the Indian northeast. Everything that interests me is more or less at hand with the ancient kingdom of Sikkim, the city of Darjeeling, as also Nepal.

There is even some state of the Seven Sisters, a constellation of states of the northeast of the subcontinent, such as Assam or Meghalaya. I do not know very well what I will do or where I will go. The second reason is a very narrow steam train that runs through the hills. From the plains it goes up to the city of Darjeeling and they call it the Toy Train.

The third thing that has brought me here is a bike riding experience. From the Siliguri station, everywhere there is transport to the city. All the vehicles becomes a firm aspirant to take us to the city. Saying that in Siliguri there is not much to see should be punishable by law. The guides qualify it in this way because it is not a city full of tourist landmarks, museums, monuments, open-air buses, or expensive restaurants.

Nor does it have an absurd ghetto of backpackers like Thamel in Kathmandu or Khao San Road in Bangkok, where you can take refuge from the reality of the country, going through a kind of magical door that takes you to a comfortable bubble with some touches of exoticism.

To say that in Siliguri there is nothing to see, is like denying life. It is as if we said that in India there is nothing to see. The truth is that in Siliguri there is no time to see everything. It is the pure life of a Bengali city of incessant activity, a diatribe very typical of urban India and a mixture of beauty-seediness-survival. Here every morning untouched children in uniform say goodbye to their mothers who bend down to sweep the entrances of their houses.

In my opinion, people in Siliguri are friendly for various reasons, cultural, educational and those that come to mind. I am afraid that one of the main reasons is the lack of tourists. If I managed to make an anti-travel guide that encompassed all the nothing to see in the world, the fortunate one who followed it would undoubtedly find the quintessence of the territories.

Tourists and travelers are like a plague of locusts. We arrive at a place and we go to the next one, hungry. And it should be made clear, not by going too smart, but simply to maintain an ethic and a certain seriousness when traveling.

Siliguri allows me to escape from this wheel of tourists. I reach a certain urban nirvana where I can open my eyes well with the assurance that what I have before me would be there even if I were not here, and it is not created for me. Towards the city center we cross a large bridge, above the Mahananda River, lined with homes looking like slums. The atmosphere is lively and rather happy. It's colorful, children play and laugh in the streets.

From this bridge we witness many scenes of life. It was the most interesting and informative place of Siliguri! In Kolkata, everything, absolutely everything could be done on the sidewalks but here it is in the water. Would it be a good solution to travel to the nothing to see and pass by the must? I would also have to do it quickly, before the others find out. Once on the main road I see a bus assault. Buses never stop at all if they can avoid it. If the passenger is an older person then they would stop.

The assistant, a guy hanging from the open door with his hand full of bills screams like a desperate one who communicates it to the driver by a code of blows in the bus body. One blow is a signal to stop, and two blows is a signal to continue.

After getting into a rickshaw that will take me to the main train station in the New Jalpaiguri Station area, I learn that the Toy Train to Darjeeling does not work since the last monsoon spoiled part of its layout. I will have to get into the mountains in another way.

I had read some excellent reviews about a motorcycle rental company based in Siliguri. At 45 minutes I have between my legs a beautiful Royal Enfield 500. Now it is me who travels my first meters down a dusty street wondering if I will survive India. And at the time I have it parked in front of my hotel.

The feeling is similar to that of the night of kings when I was a child. At 6 o'clock in the morning I will leave the one with the brown eyes asleep and I will take a turn for a Siliguri that has just awakened. I cannot believe it, as sometimes, what happens is even better than what was dreamed. India rolls around me while I happily wind the accelerator.

Rice balls for travel - Meet Japan through your food

Japan is one of the most famous gastronomic destinations in the world and is also increasingly fashionable in the West since a few years ago here. We have made an express guide to Japanese food. The idea is that you can print it if you are traveling to Japan or simply plan to consult quickly. I have put enough of the dishes that I remember trying so far and I hope to expand it little by little. Nor is it wrong to help dismantle the widespread myth that the Japanese eat only raw fish and rice.

Let's start with the culinary Japanese icon par excellence. The sushi is a rice ball with some accompaniment on top. The rice must have been previously mixed with rice vinegar (komezu), sugar and salt as basic elements, sometimes leading to other condiments. The accompaniment that is put on top is usually raw fish or seafood, but cooked marinated fish, octopus, squid, egg or vegetables are also used. Before eating it gets wet in soy sauce in which a bit of wasabi has been mixed.

The typical sushi described above is called nigiri. But there are other types of sushi such as maki (cylindrical in shape, with the filling in the center and surrounded by a sheet of dried seaweed). There is the temaki (with the rice and the filling stuffed in a sheet of algae forming a cone). Special mention for the inari because it is something different. It looks like a dumpling because the sushi rice goes inside a tofu bag. It does not carry fish, seafood or any other type of typical sushi ingredient.

As the famous BMW ad said, driving is not the same as driving, and the same thing happens with sushi. It does not even look like the one they serve in specialized shops or bars of fishing villages that you buy in trays at the supermarket. Although I like them (both) a lot. My favorite is marinated mackerel followed closely by the sea urchin.

The onigiri (also called omusubi) is one of the best-known Japanese dishes. It consists of a rice ball filled with other ingredients, which is usually shaped triangular by hand. In fact, both names imply the action that is carried out with both hands for its preparation.

The onigiris are easy to make (only a little-cooked rice is needed and shape it with the hand). For generations, it has been a typical food of any field trip or picnic. In fact, in Japan, it is almost an essential element to taste, for example, under the cherry blossoms, in sports meetings, or to go to the mountains.

In addition to making them yourself, they can also be purchased easily and for very little money in the konbini. Here it is common to find a wide selection of flavors for a price between 80 and 125 円 (depending on the ingredient), or even less. These onigiris are packaged (with an easy-open system) individually and can solve an improvised or fast meal.

If we go back in the history of this dish, the rice balls are already mentioned in the Genji Monogatari, a novel written 1000 years ago by Murasaki Shikibu. In one of the scenes, the hand-molded rice balls (called tonjiki in the novel) are stacked on a mound and offered to the gods during a ceremony at the imperial court. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the soldiers who fought in the civil wars carried onigiri wrapped in long palm leaves. Since they are rich in proteins thanks to the bean paste (miso) that they had inside and that they later cooked using their own helmet (jingasa) as a container.

As I said, there are many different types of onigiri because there are many foods that combine perfectly with rice and can be used as "stuffing". To get even more variety you can mix small pieces of food with the rice before cooking. The ingredients combine well together, getting a light meal that is nutritionally balanced and colorful.

Currently, we almost always see the onigiri wrapped in nori seaweed, but for years this was very expensive and therefore very unusual. Another modern innovation is the use of molds of wood or plastic to give Kawai forms to rice balls, or putting on plastic gloves so that the rice does not stick or simply for hygiene, but even so there are understandings that affirm that the tastier onigiris are the handmade facts of the traditional way, perhaps because the affection put in their elaboration gives them a special touch.

Mochi are sweet rice cakes with a dense texture, almost like chewing gum or jelly beans. They are very popular during the new year and, despite government warnings, it seems that every year old people are choked to death by not being able to chew them well.

Donburi literally means "bowl" and is simply a bowl of rice with something on top. To accompany the food I recommend the Japanese beer.

Trip to Pondicherry during Pongal

January is the coldest month in south India. Always close to January 15, the Tamils ​​celebrate the traditional festival called Pongal. Here the solar calendar is still being respected for the determination of religious celebrations and traditional cultural events, and for the implementation of agriculture. This solar calendar, which is basically used by the Tamil population, is not synchronized with the North Indian calendar that we know as the Tamil New Year is set on what would be our April 14th.

Today is a special day for South India as the Pongal festival or the new year is celebrated! I spend the morning in the local cinema hall, as the atmosphere in the room is guaranteed with new release of Rajinikanth. The spectators express themselves with long and frequent whistles! Everything ends well in songs on kollywood dances that carry me with pleasure with popcorn to give company. I laughed like teens.

The tourist office organizes a trip to Bahoor, a village near Pondicherry with a small group. I was afraid it would be a tourist trap, but in fact we participated in an authentic evening amongst the locals. Watching the beautiful Kolam patterns on the front doors made me want to learn how to make! In January in Tamil Nadu, kolams are often made to celebrate the traditional harvest festival.

Besides the decoration and the symbol of prosperity, what I did not know is that these kolams made of rice powder, are intended to attract birds and other small creatures to feed on it, thus inviting other beings to their own home, that is, as a daily tribute to the harmonious coexistence of all beings.

On the other hand, it is not a religious celebration and all people, regardless of religion or creed, participate in this event, since it is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest and the elements that contribute to it. The main point of the festival is to cook rice with fresh milk until it boils and spills out of the pot in which it is cooked. This overflow is considered a good auspice and indicates prosperity for the following year.

On the one hand, it is a simple but attractive spectacle, that of seeing and waiting for the boiling of rice. On the other hand, this rice boiled with milk becomes a delicious meal that seasoned with typical ingredients is served to all residents.

We also tasted pongal, a sweet dessert made from rice, cashew nuts, raisins, brown sugar and condiments such as cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. After returning back to the hotel we had a small local dinner at the restaurant with dosa and chutney. And it's crazy how time flies! The waiter mentions that tomorrow the restaurant will be closed because of a general strike in the major cities of Tamil Nadu.

A strike for what? It is to defend the ancestral game of jallikatu festival that is part of the Tamil tradition, also known as Ertajuvudhal or Manju Virattu. It is celebrated during the Pongal festival, where cattle are honored for their labor, the sun and generally agriculture. It consists of releasing a bull on a place where athletes try to kiss the animal with bare hands within a distance limit.

Pongal wallpaper

Day 2

Today is the Mattu Pongal, dedicated precisely to animals that help in agriculture. Although it is said of the cows this celebration includes all the cattle, for example the oxen used to pull the carts. On this special day, cows are given special food like fruits, sugar and they are given a certain freedom to graze or wander at will.

But above all, for this celebration the cows are decorated and garlands are placed, sandalwood paste marks and even the horns are painted. All this is, of course, also a symbol of auspiciousness and gratitude. Cows and oxen are groomed for the occasion and men paint their horns in many colors.

In the evening, the procession of wrapped ox carts decorated with balloons, trucks or decorated tractors are organized. The hordes of young people gesticulate while dancing on Happy Pongal. Huge speakers pour out loud music. Well I can tell you that the journey to the temple in oxcart is long and uncomfortable but what a mood!

I liked my experience of celebrating Pongal for several reasons. I was able to see a traditional festival up close and tasting, again and again, the delicious sweet pongal, and above all for being a participant in a celebration that has its base in the eternal rhythms of nature.

Story of a Unique Solar Eclipse in Easter Island with the Rapa Nui

I had never experienced a total solar eclipse, but after being in Easter Island at the moment when the moon covered us with darkness at noon, I understand why eclipses create addiction. But let's start from the beginning. Why is there a traffic jam of literally hundreds of kilometers in this area? It took 4 hours to travel 60 kilometers on a 430 km trip.

We left the previous night in anticipation of a circulatory chaos. The journey was quiet, and just when entering the area of ​​totality began the most absolute of follies. Every few kilometers there were areas enabled with tents, signs, rest areas, gas stations, and food stores. At the end, we entered a camping area where hundreds of people began to assemble telescopes and equipment for the next day.

Immediately we started talking with the people around us. The nervousness about what was going to happen the next day was palpable in the environment. After assembling everything and doing some night photos we went to sleep as the next day was the great show.

We were tired and we slept like logs, but that did not prevent us from waking up very early. We began to prepare all the equipment. The area kept filling up and as the great moment approached it seemed that the world was going to stop. The moon made its appearance and began to partially cover the sun.

Minutes before the magical moment, the area of the Tahai archaeological complex was a coven of different geek tribes. On the one hand, there were fans of astronomy and eclipse hunters, with their tripods, cameras, and telescopes covered with filters to worship the sun god. On the other hand, are the neo-hippies. They are willing to dance, to feel vibrations, and to merge in communion.

There are a handful of journalists and tourism professionals. And logically, the Rapa Nui people try to make the moment even more enjoyable. They offer us Pisco sour, dances and memories of the day in which we would live five minutes of astral spectacle, in the circus of the celestial spheres.

And in all this, I was walking around the area, taking pictures of the Moai, the dancers, and the geeks. From time to time I throw a glance at the sun protected by glasses for that purpose. It is true that it was noticeable that the moon covered the sun for minutes. But to my disappointment, there was no sudden sharp drop in light on the island.

I had time to talk a little with the Rapa Nui guide, who told me some things. He had lived an eclipse in another area of ​​Chile when he worked as a camera assistant for a television network. "When the eclipse is total, the wind will blow. It will be cold and all these people will go crazy, he assured laughing as a mischievous kid before my skepticism.

The clouds played to annoy us. For a few seconds, they acted as a natural filter that allowed us to see through the naked eye. But again, around me, there was as much light as before, although the tribes mentioned released the first cry of surprise. And when I thought that was going to be all that I would live that day, everything happened just as the guide had said.

By then there was a kind of tense calm, but there was a moment when everything suddenly changed. Suddenly, the light began to fade and the landscape began to take metallic tones. We began to get into ecstasy, prepare cameras, change objectives, run from one side to another as the light vanished in seconds. Hundreds of people stopped their vehicles on the sides of the road while the world seemed to go out.

The moment came when the sun was reduced to a black circle in the sky. The moon extinguished the light, the wind blew, the sea roared and all of us who were there exploded with surprise. We just vibrated standing there, open-mouthed, with the camera hanging, hands shaking, listening to the growing murmur of admiration around me and noticing how a knot of emotion closed my throat.

The previous minute is inconceivable for someone who has not seen a total eclipse of the Sun. The light vanishes in a spectacularly fast way. People start screaming, howling, jumping, running from one side to another with excitement.

I don't even know how to describe what can be seen at that moment. Let's begin with the environment. The sky does not darken as it does when it gets dark, but it takes on a silver, metallic, completely surreal color. The horizon in all directions becomes a color between orange and pink. Some stars appear in the sky, as also the planet Venus. In the meantime, people shout and whistle.

There are expressions of amazement in different languages. The temperature suddenly goes down. The Sun is now nowhere. In its place, there is a silver ring in the sky, surrounded by filaments like feathers of a wing. At a first glance looking up was like feeling in another reality on another planet. It is an experience so completely different that it can not be described. One can only feel ecstatic.

After two minutes of ecstasy, the whole process is repeated in reverse. The Sun begins to appear just behind the moon and suddenly the day returns in just a few moments. Just 2 minutes after the whole thing it seemed that nothing had happened. But if it had, people kept hugging, jumping, watching the pictures of their cameras and running madly to see the result.

Everyone who looked through our telescopes came to see our images, to share their enthusiasm, to invite us to play with them, and even offer a pickup! After having shared a moment like this one cannot help but enjoy humanity, the people, the sensations of all people who smile even with the image of the eclipse in their retina.

We leave while the stars begin to appear in the sky, between distant storms in the plains and the first silhouettes of the mountains. The light returned, the moon continued to haunt our ridiculous and wonderful planet. Men again pretended to be men, and the wind and the sea calmed down. We got on the bus and of course, the reality came back. It's been a while since I started writing these words and have barely made progress.

We're still stuck in a monstrous traffic jam. We see people outside the cars stretch their legs. People throw gasoline with carafes because there are lines to access the gas stations. We are exhausted. We know that we will be trapped in the car for hours, but what difference does it make? In a way, this is also part of having lived one of the astronomical events of the century, and we have lived it in a very special way.

After days like this, it is impossible not to fall madly in love with science, and with astronomy. Can something that you know will happen and that has a scientific explanation of the simplest to leave a man who claims to be rational on the verge of crying? Can the beauty of an eclipse cause a guy with gray hair to weep like a child? Well, to my surprise, yes. And my eyes still moisten days later writing this.

I understand that the reader of this blog now has a grimace of disbelief. I imagine that there are things that can only be understood if they are lived. Or that I'm clumsy with words and cannot explain myself better. But the truth is that now I understand why there are people who dedicate time and money to pursue eclipses, to see them at the best point in the world to observe them.

I presume that I am not the only one to have lived that way that way. The reddening of the eyes of some of those around me during the nearly five minutes in which the ones the sun went out is not due to the sun's rays. And the question I heard the most that day was, have you also been excited?

My First Time at the Quebec Winter Carnival

We are back after a few days in Canada. We have taken a little delay in writing our blog so today we take you back by two months to plunge back into the heart of winter. During the first weekend of February we decided to go live the Quebec winter carnival experience. This is apparently a highlight of the Quebec winter. It was therefore the occasion for a trip between friends for a festive weekend.

We rent a van and take the road from Toronto at 8 on Friday morning because the trip is very long, between 8:30 and 9h which across Canada is nothing at all! After braving the elements, we arrive in Quebec and on the advice of our friend we stop for eating a poutine. It was the first and also the last time! But we have to eat well and at this time there is not much left open. We then return to our hotel room to get us off the road and rest before starting our carnival weekend!

Quebec Winter Carnival

Day 1 in Quebec

On this Saturday morning, it is cold and it is well covered in ice. We start towards old Quebec to begin our winter journey. It is with joy that we find the atmosphere of the old city and its fortifications, the Chateau Frontenac. In short, it is here that Quebec was born!

We start by buying the carnival efigie that will allow us to enjoy all the activities offered during the weekend. Here we are on a slide course, ice sculptures and ice stamps on the ice, a whole program! We start with the slide of the Chateau Frontenac to put us in the leg and despite the intense cold the experience is very nice. We must quickly get warm before continuing because the day will be long!

We then continue our walk in the streets of Quebec where we come across several ice bars and braziers installed nearby. The atmosphere is really nice! We head to the Bonhomme palace, the carnival king, carved in the ice and really very impressive. I donned my sash and thoroughly immersed in all the clichés associated with the event.

Many other sculptures come to decorate our visit including the famous iron throne of the famous Game of Thrones series. The fans are noticeable right away! It's still cold, if not longer, and we need to warm up again. A good hot chocolate at a cafe is needed!

We have a strong will to get out of our cozy nest and go back to brave the cold! But we still have to win the Plains of Abraham. After some photos and big hugs to Bonhomme, we left the Loto Zone to go to the Plains of Abraham, which are part of the Battlefields Park, theater of the short but fierce battle between French and British in 1759.

It hosts the bulk of activities including many slips on large buoys, car stamps and sculptures from around the world and a spa! You can also skate, compete with snowballs, take a little sleigh ride, participate in a giant bowling game, or learn to snowboard.

Although tempting we did not want to dare the experience, as it is really too cold for us. We are content to hit some slopes which is already worth many laughs. The night falls on Quebec and the decorations are illuminated which makes the place even more magical. We would forget (almost) the cold! Then it's time to set off the carnival parade.

We head immediately to the Sugar Shack at the entrance of the village, to enjoy our first maple taffy. The maple syrup is heated, then poured over the compacted snow, in strips aligned side by side. With our little wooden spatulas, we just need to wrap the delicious sweet stuff around the stick, and we feast on a typical Quebec lollipop!

Quebec Winter Carnival

Day 2 in Quebec

The next morning we decide to stop at Montmorency Falls. These are 83 meters high, making them the tallest in Quebec and although much smaller, they are taller than Niagara Falls! The frozen falls show (but not completely either) is amazing and we take a closer look at them as we walk on the frozen lake that surrounds them.

We even see some daring men climbing the wall of ice that forms in winter. It is even colder than watching it and we decide not to go back to downtown Quebec City because today another event awaits us. We take part in a canoe race on the St. Lawrence, caught in the ice of course!

Again we find the way to arrive late and we miss the start of the race but fortunately for us it works on a system of delayed starts. So we can still attend the entry in the running of some teams. This is a very impressive and dangerous sport. It requires great coordination because all the crew members have to advance at the same rate on the ice before rushing into the part of the river that is cleared.

We witness a man slip on the ice and bangs his head hard enough and is then evacuated on a stretcher. The race is very physical that's why we take our hat to some feminine crews who do not demerit absolutely! Before heading back to Montreal, we decided to make a last lap on the Plains of Abraham to test new slips and especially the buffer cars that intrigue us a lot since the beginning.

But in the end it is not very impressive because we spend most of the time trying to control his gear and do more of everything on himself than anything else! We end the carnival by raising my glass of caribou scented with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg to warm up.

We leave at the end of the afternoon and it will take us nearly 4 hours to overcome the terrible traffic conditions to Montreal. There is snow, and ice on the highway and it is midnight when we finally take the plunge at the bed!

Christmas on the Winter Goa Beach

I love to escape the winter at Christmas. Then I do not have to cook or decorate a Christmas tree or buy any gift. I also like to travel in winter, as then the weather in the native climes slowly gets dull and dark. This usually starts in November. The darkness bothers me and then the gray and drizzly weather! That makes me tired. I want to go to the light! Where to travel? This time I decided to go to southern India in Goa.

Just in time for Christmas, I flew to Goa. When I completed my 300-kilometer trek around the Annapurna Mountains, I spontaneously booked a flight to Goa on the 24th of December. The prospect of sun, warmth and beach party after the cold in the mountains seemed very tempting. To avoid unnecessary transfers and long waiting times, I have chosen a non-stop flight.

Christmas Decor

Day 1

We reach the small Dabolim airport in the morning. And so I landed in Goa on Christmas Eve, exchanging the 7 degrees cold in Kathmandu for the 30 degrees warm beach of Candolim. After a full hour, we leave the airport with our luggage. Our transfer bus takes us to the hotel in Candolim in 45 minutes. In the light of the day, waiting taxis and a service counter comes to my attention.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to have a pre-booked shuttle. I was surprised by the Christmas decoration that laughed at me in Goa from all sides. I did not expect that, because there was hardly anything to see in Nepal. But Goa was once a Portuguese colony and probably has a high proportion of Christians because of this, so Christmas is a big deal here.

I stayed for a day in the hostel. We are in the pre-Christmas time in Goa. In the afternoon, the hotel invites us to bake a joint cake. That sounds exciting. Large quantities of nuts and dried fruits pile up on a large table in the hotel lobby. Another table abounds with alcohol like rum and brandy. The cake gets a treat! Equipped with plastic gloves and chef's hats, the cheerful mixing of ingredients begins.

Next to me, an Australian, Scandinavian and Englishman mix with me. This will be a typical English Christmas cake! Afterward there is coffee, tea, and biscuits for all the hard-working helpers! In the lobby, the Christmas tree glitters. Christmas music is playing. At almost 30 degrees heat, it seems a bit strange. I am missing only the White Christmas by Bing Crosby!

At 0 o'clock I actually wanted to watch a midnight mass. When I found none, I strayed to the beach. I noticed that on Goa the change from 24 to 25 December is more like New Year's Eve, namely with rattling fireworks. Anyone who was up to something started firing, which was explosive enough to think that World War III had begun. We are quite tired and fall into bed at about 4 o'clock in the morning.

Day 2

When I stood in the supermarket the next morning, I saw things that I had not seen for months. There is dark bread, cheese, and pork sausages and yes the beer! So I bought my dignified holiday feast.

At the entrance of the beach are small booths to buy missing items like towels or souvenirs. The dealers are pretty quiet. They are only allowed to sell in front of the beach so as not to bother the bathers.

The beach is wide with fine sand. What I miss for a really picturesque beach are palm trees or shady trees. Beach shacks and small restaurants line the beach and provide sunbeds for a fee. The ocean current is very strong. A walk along the rushing sea leads to the beach of Sinquerim and the first towers of Aguada Fort in the south. On this site, the beach is also made with palm trees. Toward the north, the beach merges seamlessly with Calangute Beach.

The decision to fly to the beach was definitely the right one. In Nepal, after my trekking tours, I always had the urge to go somewhere. At the moment this urge is completely gone and everything is super relaxing. My life is now in eating, lying on the beach, swimming and drinking beer.

In the late afternoon, I go along the main road with small side streets in both directions. There are souvenir and clothing shops of all kinds, as well as small supermarkets. The restaurants offer Indian and international cuisine. The menus are in Russian too. The bars invite for a delicious beer.

Candolim is firmly in the hands of package tourists. What I had not considered in my spontaneous Goa flight booking, was that the time shortly after Christmas to New Year is the absolute peak season. Although the time of the hippies and their music is long gone in many places parties and techno music has replaced them.

At the end of December, during Sunburn festival hundreds of visitors come here. The room rates rise three to four times and it is increasingly stressful. Especially Anjuna, Baga Beach and Calangute are said to be very crowded. So I moved to the quieter Benaulim in South Goa that night.

Day 3

Next day I drive to Gokarna, a coastal town in Karnataka, where it should be a bit cooler. There I want to spend the New Year's Eve on the beach.

A Week in Sagar Island and Bakkhali during Gangasagar Mela

After days in Calcutta, we really want to rest at the beach. We decide on Bakkhali, a small seaside resort at the southwestern end of the Sundarbans. Today we plan our departure for Sagar Island and the Sundarbans. For now we inquire about the price of a taxi to Kakdwip and Hartwood Point, the pier for Sagar.

At 10 am we leave the city for a dive into rural India. The countryside of Bengal is generous and green, with water galore, banana trees and bright green rice fields. At 1 o'clock our taxi leaves us four kilometers from the pier for the Sagar island. We walk on foot with luggage, then a van rickshaw and the last mile with the crowd of pilgrims who are starting to arrive.

We board a boat. On board the groups sing, throw offerings to the river. In the distance the Sagar island emerges. After disembarking we walk to the sound of the speakers that broadcast music and announcements in Bengali. On all faces there is joy and smile. Pilgrims piled in buses travel the last 25 kilometers through a beautiful landscape with small farms sheltered by trees, each with a small pond full of fish.

Before two days of the sacred bath the place of the Gangasagar Mela is already well populated and it will be difficult to find accommodation. The hotel that we booked through the internet is of course requisitioned by the senior officers of the army, and the hostel too. Most pilgrims will sleep on the beach in tents of fortune made of plastic or in large tents installed by ashrams, sects, associations or religious groups.

It is in one of them that we find a space of four walls in tarpaulin with a mattress of jute enclosing straw on the ground. We are offered a badge with the room number and a meal voucher in exchange for a deposit of hundred rupees. Sitting at a table behind a plate of braided tree leaves, the volunteers hurry to feed us. Here the luggage is safe, as the surveillance is well done. Our hosts are extremely nice and worry constantly that we do not miss anything.

To reach the seaside just before the night we have to walk another 2 kms in a crowd that grows by the hour. In a soft and unreal light from a light mist, some pilgrims bathe, others do the aarti, the evening prayer by lighting small oil lamps. At 7 we settle in our little nest. There is no switch to turn off the neon lights and the speakers continue to scream religious texts.

A Week in Sagar Island and Bakkhali during Gangasagar Mela

Day 2

The loudspeakers shut down around 1 in the morning. The generator and the neon light as expected did not stop. We slept intermittently. At dawn the diesel generator go silent but the amplified music to the limit of saturation returns.

We resume our pilgrimage in the crowd. The paths leading to the sea begin to fill up. The anthill moves with a smile hanging on the ears! Strong emotions overwhelm us by bathing in this multitude of people. Near the Kapil muni ashram temple volunteers manages the long line of devotees. The small temple is colored with bright and acid tints.

We go back to the sea, and take a stop at the chai shop for lunch. The sea is high at this time. The pilgrims splash and immerse themselves three times then they dry their saris in the warm wind. The group of sadhus cross each other, greet each other, plant their tridents in the sand, sing but hide to smoke the ganja. They let themselves be photographed.

We see a couple of German photographers with heavy cameras and prying zooms. I feel better with my old dslr. We go back to the two-way street. Back at our lodging, we are offered a meal again. In the tent temple a ceremony is held and where three musicians play and sing the epic of Ramayana.

At the tent our companions take a nap despite the ambient din. I take the opportunity to find a bucket that I fill with water from a pond and wash and rinse completely with happiness. We go to the village to try to find some peace because around our accommodation there are few other ashrams including ISKCON that all compete to attract the pilgrims.

Since the beginning of the afternoon the Sangam is constantly filled. People from rural Bengal fill the place. We arrive at the south-east end of the beach and we see a panoramic view of the landscape. Here the speakers are far and we find ourselves in a quiet atmosphere with the approaching evening.

Going towards the center of Sangam we realize that pilgrims settle to sleep under the stars on the dry sand. With the mauve night that comes the lamps of the Ganga Aarti light up here and there. Groups continue to flock to prepare for the holy bath that officially begins tomorrow from precisely when the sun goes into makara or capricorn.

We go together with the human tide. At the ashram a Shiva devotee constantly sings accompanied by a cymbal. Entering our room we find that some luggage has come to occupy a little surface. A cheerful volunteer organizer tells us that this room is for seven people. In these nine square meters it will not be cold tonight.

An obese couple burst into the room. We go to the kitchen of the ashram. People cook vegetables and rice in large pots. The atmosphere is nice. At the time of going to bed the sound continues screaming the Ramayana and it will last all night on a background of diesel generators.

Day 3

Around 7 o'clock we go out of our tent. Yesterday, we spoke of human tide but this morning nobody can imagine the size of the mass. We get the impression that people from entire India has come for this great rendezvous with the Sun and the Ganges.

It takes us an hour and a half to reach the sea. At the top of the beach we do not believe our eyes as the sand has disappeared to make room for the crowd. The fervor is enormous. Moving away to the southeast of the beach, we find a slightly less populated lane that allows us to climb gently towards the ashram.

At noon it's time for us to leave the sangam. The incessant noise make us not to stay longer. We aspire a little calmness and we refuse to spend another night in this noise. With our bag on the back, we leave. It may not be the right time. It would probably have been better to wait a day or two after the departure of the pilgrims but the decision is made to go to Namkhana.

We climb a crowded bus. To go the last kilometer separating us from the ferries it take us four hours of trampling. The mass increases. Fortunately every hundred meters the security aided by the army imposes a bar to manage the mass. Finally we arrive at the last barrier. It becomes really dangerous.

Once on board we breathe easy. The ferry enters a long channel edged with mud and enters the wide estuary. At night we disembark at Namkhana. The small town also lives to the rhythm of the town. The first hotel is a 10 minutes walk but is full. The young receptionist sends us to three other guest houses. We take a rickshaw van.

The second hotel is also full and this time the young receptionist offers to help us find a cottage. Three steps away a hotel offers us its so-called single room. We have no choice nor the courage to go back in search of a hypothetical good room. We go back to the street to eat a pancake with a fried egg and a few small sweet bananas. We buy shampoo, a candle and mineral water.

A shower with a little cold relaxes the fatigue. The calmness is finally here. At 11 o'clock a good rain falls on Namkhana. We think of our friends under the tent of the ashram, and all the pilgrims on the road and think that we finally got well out.

Day 4

The hotel manager suggests us to go to Bakkhali further south by providing us with a list of hotels with their phone numbers. We have our brunch with chicken curry and rice. We go for a walk to the place called Namdabanga, and find the brick-paved path coming out of the city center to the northwest. For a good hour the ride is superb. First the suburbs pass through a fishing village where we find women seated under the veranda of small mud houses, fiddling the nets.

We meet the locals whose smile freezes when they see us. It is clear that tourists do not often come to Namkhana. Through the continuous path in the shade of tall palm trees and coconut trees we see glimpses of the river. Small farms in soft and rounded land mark out the course. The end of the path opens on the bright and blazing estuary. A bamboo tag with a green cloth marks the entrance to the channel.

On the way back we take photographs. Children have fun to see their faces on the screen of the digital camera. We stop to see this moment of simple happiness. Once in town we see that a good part of the mela landed in Namkhana.

In the afternoon we take the path to the south which is actually a dam to protect tides. Most of the cultivable areas are below sea level. These dikes are well maintained and it would be a disaster for the peasants if the salt water penetrated.

We depart for Bakkhali. We take a boat to cross the channel, with about twenty passengers sitting on the plating. After venting from shore, the pilot starts an ancestral diesel single cylinder without clutch. The boarding maneuver on the other side is done with finesse thanks to a string that stifles the engine to the limit of extinction.

We climb in a mini bus painted as tiger skin to cross the 20 kilometers that separates us from Bakkhali. On the outskirts of the village we see some big hotels for rich tourists. On arrival we discuss with the driver around a tea. A sign indicates a Bengal Tourism Bungalow. The manager greets us in the big hall that sounds and announces that it only accepts customers who booked at the tourist office located at BBD Bagh. He makes us visit a small guest house rather basic and dark.

Towards the beach a restaurant attracts us. We have chicken, rice, vegetables, kingfish, shrimp and the grilled pomfret. This little exotic fish is succulent. Walking on the big beach, the air is wet facing the Bay of Bengal. We go for a dip in the refreshing water, very salty. We approach, at the end of the beach. There is a hamlet, fish driers, women sorting shrimp and fishermen unloading their nets.

Back to the village, a huge structure of bamboo as a cathedral is installed on the sand. A man and his son offer tourists a shooting range, a wooden horse ride and a rudimentary big wheel with four wooden pods, all operated by hand with many squeaks. The sun forms a beautiful red ball that sinks into the misty horizon. After a meal in the room, we go to bed at 11:15 pm.

Day 5

We go into the countryside. When we turn around a rickshaw man offers us a two-hour tour with a visit to a government tiger shrimp farm and the Frasergunj port. Sitting on the tricycle, we shake like a plum tree because the road is paved with bricks. We admire the rural landscape that we have often seen through the window of a train or a bus with the frustration of not being able to stop.

The shrimp farm consists of about thirty large pools like a football field, located in the middle of the mangrove! We go on the road for half an hour through the rice fields and small hamlets. The Frasergunj port with a concrete jetty houses a flotilla of about twenty fishing boats ranging from the sailing canoe to the small trawler, an ice factory and warehouses.

Fishermen near their boats unravel small fish that will be frozen or dried to go to Calcutta or exported. We go back to Bakkhali where we ordered chingri malaikari for lunch. They are cooked in coconut milk, and it's a treat. Around 4 o'clock, we take a walk on the beach. One of the great bamboo cathedrals was completely dismantled and loaded into tipper trucks bound for Calcutta.

At sunset we sip tea before the sun diving in the Bay of Bengal. Life is beautiful! Tomorrow a bus day awaits you with three or four changes to reach the village of Sona to the north half way to Calcutta.

Trip to Vienne Jazz Festival in France

Music erupts as summer dawns in France and Europe. Among the hundreds of cultural festivals, I'll talk about one that honors an enveloping and sensual rhythm called Jazz! The Jazz festival at Vienne in France is one of the most important meetings of world jazz. Some say it is etymologically a derivation of the word 'jasm' which in turn comes from the slang 'Jism' or 'gism' but also used as a synonym for energy or guts. However, other scholars believe that its origin is in the popular French Lousiana state in the verb 'jaser'. It means chat, gossip or mock.

The city of Vienne in France has a rich Roman history, from which several imposing ruins can be seen walking the streets. One of the monuments is the impressive Roman theater, which is the main stage of the open air jazz music event. I assure the environment has a magic that makes music mixed with live jazz with a lot of emotion.

Thus the leading exponents of jazz attend every year in late June for 15 days. They forget about the cold days of European winter and celebrate the arrival of summer with gentle rhythms.

The nights of the festival in Vienne can easily pass between musical euphoria and hypnotic calm, between rhythms as blues, jazz and RnB. However the opening concerts have other melodies and sounds like salsa, Cuban and African sounds. The result is a kind of rhythmic and sensual fusion invites welfare.

Vienne Jazz Festival in France

But the event is not limited to the concerts in the great Roman theater. Several platforms located in gardens and parks provide an opportunity to appreciate and live jazz for free and even beyond midnight. For all this the city of Vienne and its festival, are the perfect excuse to enjoy and to enrich themselves with music, while the beauty of the architecture and history of the city can be seen.

The concerts in the Roman theater has a cost of 40 euros on average. The concerts in parks and gardens of the city are held in the afternoon and after midnight. These are free. The city of Vienne is 20 minutes from the city of Lyon and on the banks of the Rhone River.

There is no doubt that the tour of the origin of the word 'jazz' is infinite and somewhat daunting. Real consensus may never be there. It could have served as the perfect soundtrack for any jazz-belle of the French Quarter while her body smelled of jasmine.

In the early twentieth century, Storyville was one of the hottest spots in New Orleans. At nightfall, emerged a new city, a suffocating atmosphere of vice and perdition where drunkards, whores and pimps intermingled. Illicit pleasures emerged with the first moonbeams and merged with flashes of neon lights. The 'bordellos' multiplied by every corner.

There were a lot of customers, but also a lot of competition. The narrow streets of the unpaved red district, lit only by the dim light of gas lamps became a hotbed of people. When it rained or sea level rose, it smeared all. In an attempt to counteract stinky (and noisy) and more marshy area of the city, and to set the mood for the hogging candidates, prostitutes started using a fragrance of jasmine. Already popular in certain environments were known as jazz-belles.

The customer who left the brothel, still imbued with the scent of jasmine and passion, was said to be "jassed". For the musicians who played the piano in those brothels had to inspire the dances of harlots and satisfy the male staff. Even brothel owners, at the door of their stores advertised those musicians on large signs saying 'Jass music', in order to draw the attention of passersby. Some naughty boys took care of erasing the 'j' initial for it to stay as 'ass music', a fact that forced the owners to replace it definitely with the word jazz.

Among the many theories that attempt to explain the origin of the word 'jazz', the perfume of jasmine perhaps is the most unlikely, but at the same time one of the most captivating and sensual. In general thesis that refer to decadent character of the city it is less consistent, the most fanciful, or even the craziest, but they are also the most surprising and innovative. Because after all, something that was born there in the brothels of Storyville, why it could not take its name there?

It is true that none of the pioneering black musicians admits to having heard the term 'jazz' in the city during those early years. They all spoke of ragtime. There is also inconclusive testimonial evidence. The evidence is scarce and authors that defend it are almost outcasts. But as jazz music does not become mathematical or physical theories are found to catalog Louis Armstrong solos, any version is, at least, noteworthy.

In addition, most passes tangentially through New Orleans. They cite especially Chicago, New York, to Los Angeles or Atlantic City but do not stop at the real focus where jazz was born. At the time we also talked about the trio of sex, alcohol and jazz and played the importance of brothels and other dives for the emergence and development of style. Perhaps without that sinful background, jazz would not have been what it is. Who knows. Well, it is in those bawdy brothels where theories that speak of sexual origin of the word 'jazz'.

It seems that 'jazz' before 1900 already had a strong sexual charge. It could be a verb or noun. In the popular slang, it meant sexual intercourse. Southern blacks used it as a substitute for copulation.

Vienne Jazz Festival in France

Africa and other exotic theories

Some musicians speak of an African root, where the word 'jasi' means living apace. We find more experts delve into the transatlantic theories to explain the origin. In the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, the word ' jaz ' has the sense of fast things. It was also the term to refer to dance or play music and could illustrate a possible descent of onomatopoeic sound from African drums.

In connection with this theory are reminiscences of Arabic 'Jazib' and by extension ' jazibiyah' which refers to charm, beauty or attractiveness. In the Hindustani language the word 'Jazba' expresses a violent desire. In opposition to that interpretation are those who believe that 'jazz' comes from a corruption of 'Jezebel' fomented by black preachers.

One of the most outlandish theories was published in 1920 in the London magazine and establishes a divine explanation. English sailors from 17th century, collected the word 'God' from Portuguese and brought their Indian colonies and from there spread to China. The peculiar pronunciation of the Chinese became 'Joss', a term used with a strong religious sense.

When the Chinese migrated to California in the last decade of the 19th century they introduced it in the country. San Francisco was founded as the 'Frisco Chinatown Orchestra Joss' that caused a furor among blacks in the area. The Joss Orchestra in the slang of black resulted in the 'Jazz Orchestra'.

Although there seems to be some unanimity that 'jazz' as a musical term arose in New Orleans, the first applications took place in Chicago, although this issue is not without controversy. In 1915 the Chicago Daily Tribune published an article. Conversely, some argue that the first use was in New Orleans in 1914 in connection with the performance of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band at the Casino.

In this struggle to be first, also comes trombonist Tom Brown, who claims his place in history even in his epitaph- as the first musician to be hired as a 'Jass Band', but also in the race enters the banjo player and bandleader Bert Kelly. Whoever may be the first it is not until 1915 the word became popular among Americans.

In the 20 alternative names of 'jazz' such as 'ragtonia' or 'calethumpia' even came to enjoy the favor of musicians. Fortunately, none came to fruition.

My Workspace: Microsoft Presents New Office 365 Toolbar for macOS

Microsoft garage Toolbar App My Workspace synced Office 365 with the Apple macOS. It offers an easy calendar overview access to MS office documents and files on OneDrive. The optional installable app can get placed in the toolbar area of macOS. My Workspace displays a chronological list of recent files.

It is like the DropBox or OneNote app. Especially important files can get pinned and displayed in a list available per tab. This is especially useful for anyone who opens a large number of documents in a short time. They have quick access to the most important project data. A split function is also built into My Workspace. It allows access to individual files by a link.

Outlook calendar in the snippet

The built-in, scrollable mini-calendar view should be practical for the office work. You can see the appointments and tasks of the next hours without opening Outlook itself. From there, you can also answer invitations at the push of a button. You can start scheduled Skype meetings. A quick starter at the bottom opens individual office apps.

How many items get displayed in the file list or calendar can be set in My Workplace options. Depending on what you select there, the menu that gets displayed from the top of the screen is larger or smaller.

Creative project of Microsoft Garage

My Workplace gets developed by a group of Microsoft employees. It is within the framework of the so-called Microsoft Garage. In this respect, this is not an Office-Mac enhancement developed by the Office team. It is an independent project. Microsoft Garage released an extension with Speech Recognition program for the Windows Office.

Adobe Sign

Adobe Sign allows for secure digital signatures in electronic documents in Office 365. In return, Adobe makes Microsoft Azure the preferred cloud platform.

Microsoft has integrated the electronic signature solution Adobe Sign in Office 365. Documents in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Outlook can get signed with Adobe Sign. This works according to Microsoft over all device classes and platforms. The signed files fulfill the requirements of handwritten documents.

The two companies are making announcements from the past year. The goal is a deep and diverse integration of the respective product offerings. Adobe Dynamics 365 and Microsoft SharePoint, Adobe Sign has been available since March.

In the course, the integration of Adobe Sign into Microsoft teams will also follow. It then facilitates the complete electronic exchange of documents. It thus reduces the duration of approval processes in companies.

For this, the Adobe Sign-App in Microsoft teams will offer a tab to sign documents. Through a bot, team members can manage and keep documents. When these functions are available is not yet clear.

Adobe will also integrate Adobe Sign into Microsoft Flow. The signature solution allows you to create your own workflows. The integration of Adobe Sign and Microsoft Flow gets to other Microsoft products. It includes SharePoint, Dynamics, and OneDrive, in the coming months.

Microsoft teams also gets linked to the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Christmas Wedding Trip to Folegandros in Greece

About a month ago, I went on a week-long trip to the Cyclades with two islands on the program - Folegandros and Santorini. I did not know these islands at all, and in the case of Folegandros I had never even heard the name. In fact, I went to attend the Christmas wedding in Greece of a friend, and I took advantage of this trip to have a vacation.

It's probably not going to be a big surprise, I really enjoyed it during this trip. I tasted better versions of dishes that I already knew, but I also made many culinary discoveries. In this article, I will tell you about all these finds.

For those who would like to go on a similar trip, I have prepared a itinerary, based on my personal experiences to give you an idea of ​​what to do and what to eat. But before that, I want to thank my friends who invited me to their Christmas wedding in Greece. Without it I would not have discovered this hidden Cycladic treasure.

As Folegandros does not have an airport, the only way to reach the island is by boat. You can either go to Santorini by plane and take a ferry (about 1 hour ride with speedboats), or take a boat from the port of Athens, Piraeus.

These small extra trips obviously waste some time, but it's well worth it. It's also why Folegandros is quieter and untouched by tourism than some other Greek islands.

Approaching the port of Folegandros, you will be fascinated by its pristine beauty. This island is the perfect destination for relaxation and escape. There is not much more to do than "chill" under the winter sun and hike.

The best choice for comfortable accommodation is to stay in the main village of the island, Chora. Set on a clifftop, many resorts offer spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. And as the island is not the most touristic of the Cyclades, the price of accommodation is very reasonable. By the way, forget about Airbnb.


Arriving at the port of Karavostasis, it seems that apart from this small port there is nothing else on this island. But do not worry, there is more. It appears that the main village of the island, Chora, was intentionally built out of sight to avoid pirate raids. It is a strategic position that has helped to ensure its flawless preservation.

To go to Chora we take the bus from the city (Chora is the only destination of the bus that leaves from the port). The bus leaves everyone at the entrance of the village because access is prohibited to motor vehicles.

Chora is a white and very picturesque Cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths. It is perched 200 meters high, overlooking the Aegean Sea.

The island of Folegandros, like the other Greek islands, has a variety of local specialties that are worth trying. From Chora, to Ano Meria and the picturesque village of Agali we find many traditional taverns serving Greek and Cycladic specialties. The Kalasouna for example is a typical Folegandros cheese pie made with sorouto cheese and onions. As a dessert, we taste the Karpouzenia, a traditional sweet pie made of watermelon, honey and sesame.

For my first day on the island, I did not look too much. I stopped on one of the most beautiful squares of the village, at the Dounavi Square, to eat at the restaurant. I could not decide on a dish, so I decided to take two entrees with roasted summer vegetables and stuffed vine leaves, served with Tzatziki. It was really delicious and at the same time very simple and light.

After lunch, I tried to get lost in the alley. The most beautiful part of Chora that I could see was the Kastro, a set of alleys just off Dounavi Square. Kastro is the oldest part of Chora and has been inhabited continuously since its creation. Some of the houses are over 1000 years old and are surprisingly maintained in very good condition.

The three main plazas of Chora fill up after sunset, while locals and tourists dine under ceilings of bougainvilleas and festive hibiscus.

I had dinner on one of the places in the restaurant. I would have liked to take some of their vegetable gratin that seemed delicious, but it was a victim of its success and out of stock. I then took a dish with different vegetable stuffed vegetables. It was really good. I also had a bowl of tzatziki while waiting for my meal which was really good too. The special thing about this restaurant was that they had quite a few vegetarian and vegan dishes. In addition, everything was homemade.

Folegandros is ideal for hiking. The paths are deserted with sea and mountain views at the same time. Donkeys and goats come at times to give us company. To end this first day, I made a short walk (15 minutes) to the church of Panagia at the top of the hill overlooking the village. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Folegandros Greece


Going west of the island, there are many small roads and trails to walk around. The landscape is arid and without trees, but still beautiful and welcoming. Many of the old donkey trails are preserved, the distances are short and it is almost impossible to get lost. Many hiking trails end with a beach or a small cove. To the west of the island is also Ano Meria one of the great villages of Folegandros. There is, I think, no accommodation for tourists in Ano Meria (or very little). So it's not bad to go see the real life here and to eat in a restaurant by locals.

At Folegandros, you will have to try Matsata, a traditional artisanal pasta. It's like noodles, but cooked immediately after preparation. They are not sold in stores, but you can find them in restaurants, where they are served either with a typical red sauce, or with braised meat, rooster or rabbit.

I tasted the Matsata at a restaurant in Ano Meria. It was a restaurant on the main road that seemed to be run by a family, ranging from grandchildren to grandparents. There was no map. All the dishes available were written on a sign at the entrance of rabbit, chicken or pigeon served with matsatas or fries. When we sit on the terrace we can see a dovecote and a henhouse behind the restaurant. This suggests, of course, that the meat comes directly from this place.

Returning to Chora by the main road, there is a sign indicating the path to a bakery. Curious, I followed this path to find the said bakery and buy me a small dessert. The Panifias bakery was very small and was actually part of a house. At first it seems like it's closed, but in fact we just wait for one of the family members who opens the bakery. In this bakery, we find mainly cookies, brioches, biscuits and pastelis.

For our penultimate evening, we were particularly spoiled. That evening, was the wedding party. While I had said several times during the day that I would have liked a pork dish for dinner (local food, par excellence). The whole pork is roasted as it is represented in the medieval banquets and there was precisely one on the wedding menu. As we approached to take a picture, the bride's sister came to us.

In the end, this day has been one of the most memorable. But what satisfaction to live this adventure in family and to have seen the children so enthusiastic in this environment!


For this third day I decided to go to discover the beaches of Folegandros. Some beaches are not far from Chora and can be reached on foot if you like to hike. The beach of Angali for example, which is an hour from Chora on foot. There are also buses leaving from Chora that go there twice a day.

Angali is tiny hamlet with a small beach and 2-3 restaurants. As often for beach restaurants, these are not great, but if you are really hungry after your hike, you will find something to eat. Or to cool off you can opt for a Greek coffee brew, a specialty found in all cafes and bars of the island.

As my stay in Folegandros was coming to an end, I tried to condense everything I had on my list last night: eat a good gyros and drink Rakomelo.

For the gyros I went to Maraki Square with a very small terrace that friends had recommended to me. It was the best Gyros I have ever eaten. In addition, the price was really very low. We order fries in this restaurant with mint sauce, and it's really good. We also try Greek sausages.

To end the evening in style, I went to drink a Rakomelo in a bar atmosphere, which I did not manage to know the name, because everything was written in Greek alphabet. I just remember it was not far from Kastro. The inhabitants of the village there watched a sort of incomprehensible game on TV.

So we get back to the Rakomelo. It's a drink that looks a bit like the grog. It's hot Raki honey, and it goes much better than the raw Raki. I also tasted ouzo. But I liked a little less. My third day at Folegandros ended with the discovery of a very good restaurant.

It is a restaurant of Chora, a little away from the main squares, with a small terrace, which nevertheless has a very special atmosphere, thanks to its jasmine and its many cats. The decor is simple but very tasteful. All dishes were interesting, Greek specialties with a modern touch. I took the sea bass (very fresh) with a bergamot sauce and I was delighted.

On the fourth day, we had to take the ferry to Santorini. Folegandros will definitely be on my top 10 favorite destinations. I recommend it to everyone, especially in late winter when the weather is just perfect and there are not too many people.

Tourism, IRCTC and Indian Railways

Indian Railways has shown remarkable improvements over the last few years. Special attention is now built on providing comfort for passengers. The railways have introduced some new trains. Indian Railways is coming up with a new strategy to make more use of ICT. This system will soon be introduced in all the tourist trains and railway coaches.

Indian railway is also making serious efforts to include professionalism in their flow and make some organizational reforms. Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd or the IRCTC is the marketing wing of Indian Railways. It is currently working on some policies to accommodate private parties from the travel and tourism trade to participate in their joint venture.

The Indian Railways is the largest of its kind in the world consisting of a manpower force of about 1.5 million workers. This is also referred to as the lifeline of the country and makes a great contribution to the growing economy of the nation. The Indian railway promises safe and hassle-free journey to its passengers and at the most reasonable price. The tracks run in almost every corner of the country and are known for its inherent strength. More than 13 million passengers benefit from it every day directly from the rail system in India as it has a network of 6,800 km.

With more than 200,000 freight trains, about 50,000 coaches and 8000 locomotives, railways set of tracks cover the entire length and width of India. With more than 7,000 stations across the length of the route and more than 20 million passengers, Indian Railways became one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world. It is not only the largest but also the money to gain more public sector in the country! Indian Railways include Southern Railways, Northern Railway, Western Railway and Eastern Railway, and more. The utility and convenience of Indian trains are noteworthy.

Trains like Rajdhani Express, Garib Rath Express, and Shatabdi Express have a proven track record to make the trip easier and more comfortable. Progressively such high-speed trains are capture most of the portion of no-frills airlines. They are able to provide a rapid, low cost and happy travel compared to other means of transport.

IRCTC is the body that manages the entire online ticket booking plinth of Indian Railways! All these attempts are made to promote tourism in the country. This establishment has taken place so that it can function as an extended arm of the Indian Railways. It aims to make Indian Railways more comfortable and also handle the food service and hospitality at the stations.

IRCTC also introduced some cheap hotels and special tour packages for the convenience of passengers. IRCTC has gone functional to effectively exploit the tourism and catering potential. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Indian Railways and IRCTC Ltd. to perform their functions.

IRCTC online portal is designed to provide a responsive user interface to book tickets to any destination in India. It also operates trains exclusively to all famous tourist and offers several packages that attract attention! On the login page, you will find an IRCTC login menu consisting of username and password. If you have registered to the IRCTC website, you can enter your username and password for logging. If you are a new user you have to sign up and register.

The beta version offers additional services such as e-ticket, Tatkal booking, cancellation, PNR status inquiry, and more. Passengers can also check their PNR status through SMS via fixed or mobile phone. All you have to do is send the 10-digit PNR number via SMS to 139. Or simply dial 139 from your phone and follow the instructions and get the current PNR status

Do you think, travel packages are offered only by airlines and road transport companies? Of course not! Avail the travel packages offered by Indian Railways and you will know the difference. It does not matter if you're a domestic or international tourist. You can grab a budget and deluxe package tours organized by IRCTC.

This wing of the Government of India also manages the catering, online ticketing operation, and other tourism-related activities of Indian Railways. Visit the IRCTC and get your railway booking done or plan your visit to the destination of your choice. If you want to visit the main tourist destinations across the country, book the package 'Bharat Darshan' offered by IRCTC. It is a popular tourist package for budget tourists.

Those who want sophistication in the services, facilities, living room, kitchen, etc. during the complete journey can choose to choose the package of luxury tourism. There are special trains dedicated to luxury tour packages in luxury.

These luxury trains run by Indian Railways have Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Royal Orient Express, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Golden Chariot, and Buddhist circuit train. IRCTC also happens to be a partner in the light of the Maharajas' Express. Get pampered throughout the journey is what makes all the difference. Take a package of luxury and make your trip unforgettable!

Indian tourism is not only conventional. The fun and adventure lovers will appreciate the various packages offered by this tourism wing of the Indian Railways. Since wildlife trekking for water sports, you can choose one or all. You can also get your personalized tour according to your special requirements. Railway booking is facilitated not only the ticket but also online. Visit the official website of IRCTC for the same. You can also get a railway reservation done from your phone, even while on the move via GPRS or SMS.