The Gardens of Jannat al-'Arif inside Alhambra in Granada

Andalusia is a wonderful land. It is the warmest and most passionate region of Spain and there are born all the traditions most felt by the Spaniards, such as flamenco, bullfighting and tapas. Andalusia is the land of the magnificent Alhambra in Granada, the most famous building in Spain with Jannat al-'Arif, but also the mosques and Moorish palaces of Cordoba, the Picasso museum in Malaga, the beaches of the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz. There are the Sierra Nevada mountains and its natural parks. In Andalusia there are the most characteristic and lively festivals in the country, such as the Semana Santa in Seville, the capital of the Region.

Founded by the Romans under the name Illibris, Granada stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of two rivers: the Darro, a tributary of the Genil, and the Genil itself. We reach it by bus at a cost of 25 euros each way, which takes about 3 hours.

Immediately, as soon as we arrive we realize that we have underestimated the city. We only have 4 hours and 30 mins to visit it and the things to see seem endless! I tell you already that is a flaw and a very high cost and the city requires a lot of time for the visit because it is really beautiful. So the program chosen by us is not the best. If you go in the day you start early in the morning and you already plan to take the last bus of the evening. But the ideal is to sleep them one night.

Returning to us we do not get discouraged and start from the center of the city. We visit the Souk: a network of dense alleyways that meet with each other between squares and craft shops and spices, really lovely. Here I buy the Granada, which I will try at home, very good! It is not an Arab neighborhood but what remains of the ancient Arab "souk" of the city. Even today the streets of this quadrilateral are those of the ancient souk, only the buildings that have been built in Spanish-style stone rather than Arabic have changed over the centuries.

It is the only souk present on European soil. Zoco is pronounced in Spanish. There are a lot of souvenir shops but also shops and shops typical of the Maghreb souks. The cathedral is silhouetted around these streets. The Catholic Kings wanted the construction of a cathedral, on the site of the great Nasrid mosque in Granada.

Because of the lack of time we decide to have lunch take away in a small fry/deli where with 7 euros per person we enjoy a mixed frying cone, fish balls and calamari omelette. We also take the gazpacho another local specialty, paella and cous cous. The owner Tere shows us her mother's photo and explains that it is from her that she learned the trade. It's good to see how here on the contrary to many other places, people and shopkeepers are relaxed and never in a hurry. All explain, they help you (strictly in Spanish eh) the frenzy is not for them! Sometimes they are too slow and when you go into the store instead of serving you if I spoke to you or were talking on the phone! It would be unthinkable here!

After this refreshing lunch we also give ourselves a typical sweetie in a bakery: taste the famous piononos, the pope's sweets, famous in Santa Fe. Here all the desserts are rich in spices and honey, I love them! The Arab influences in the kitchen, in architecture and in craftsmanship are felt and seen!

Eating while walking we can take the C3 bus to the main attraction of the city to the al-hambra palatial complex. Etymologically, Alhambra in Arabic translates as al-Ḥamrā (the Red), since its full name was Qal'at al-ḥamrā' (Red Citadel). The Alhambra is a true walled city (medina) that occupies most of the Sabika hill. While for its part Granada benefited from another system of protective walls. Therefore the Alhambra could work independently of Granada. In the Alhambra there were all the proper services necessary for the inhabitants who lived there with mosques, schools, shops and more.

It was built in 1238 by Muḥammad ibn Naṣr called al-Ḥamar, The Red, because he had a reddish beard. He had the first nucleus of the building built. His son Muhammad II subsequently strengthened him.

In 1492, with the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Kings, the Alhambra became the royal palace of the Kings of Spain and this saved the complex from the destruction suffered by many other Islamic monuments following the Reconquista. Adjacent to the complex of Alhambra we find the palace and the gardens of Palacio de Generalife (Arabic: Jannat al-'Arif - Architect's Garden) which was the summer residence of the Nasrid sultans. Both monumental complexes were declared by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in 1984. We visit under a scorching sun the two attractions with a single ticket of only 14 euros. The view of the city, the mountains of Sierra Nevada and the Albaicin neighborhood (our next stop) from up there is beautiful.

Immediately after the Alhambra we go by bus C1 towards the Albaicin district. Unfortunately, time is short and for the visit there is less than half an hour. The Albaicín has preserved the narrow streets, the courtyards with trees and flowers, the terraces, the cisterns and the public fountains dating back to the past medieval dominion of the Moors. It stands on the hill in front of the Alhambra, from which it is separated from the river Darro.

During the long Arab-Berber and Jewish domination the moment of maximum splendor lived, reaching about 60 thousand inhabitants and 26 mosques. The district has a marked Arab imprint and owes its name to the Arabs of the city of Jaén (bayyasīn, i.e. those of Baeza) who moved en masse to Granada after surrendering to the Christian troops of Ferdinand III. Points of interest within the neighborhood include the remains of a complex of Arab baths in Granada, the archaeological museum of Granada, the church of San Salvador built on the ruins of a mosque and the Mirador of St. Nicolás, which allows a spectacular view of the Alhambra.

And that's where we leave the bus. Having little time is the best place to take some pictures and visit the church in the square, crowded with street artists and musicians. A truly unique place! Unfortunately, the time has expired. We agree that the Lac, the bus to the bus station, can not bring us in time so we stop a taxi and without even spending so much we reach the station. We did it. We leave again in to the direction of Seville.

Travel to ​​Bangalore and Jog Falls through Karnataka

This was the crudest route of our entire trip. We waited for hours by train, bus, and car until we reached the Periyar National Park, a tiger reserve. We could have done it on a roll but it would be crazy. From Anantapur, we left for Bangalore and Mysore but en route we visited the Jog Falls and the Ranganatha Temple of the ninth century on the island of Srirangapatna. Tipu Sultan established his capital here while opposing the forces of the East India Company in four wars until it fell under siege in 1799.

Arriving at the Anantapur station we stock up on cookies and water bottles. We knew it was going to be a long trip. Buying food to get on an Indian train is a little ridiculous because, at each stop, there are lots of vendors with baskets and buckets full of food. They sell samosa, chai, and other delicious foods. But when you are traveling for a few days you can take a risk and we had to be a little cautious with what we ate.

When the train stopped we had the doubt of where to go up because in India there are a lot of classes and we got into a third car that was not ours and in which we were all quite cramped. It was a long trip and more we were worth getting comfortable!

We travel all day, but time flew by just watching people, we have a good time. In our compartment, there were few people, who went down at the stops. In the end, we were alone in the apartment with another passenger to Bangalore so we could settle and rest. I was reading a book.

We arrived in Bangalore late at night. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India. It is reputed to be a cosmopolitan city and as soon as we get to its train station it smells almost like any European train station of buns and coffee. The first impression we had was that it was huge, dirty and chaotic. Then I changed a bit when we arrived at the modern MG Road, where our hotel was located. There were shopping centers, hotels, and restaurants there.

We went around a lot. We ended up getting off the car and asking at the reception where they indicated exactly where to find our hotel. With everything clear, we arrive at the door of the hotel. This was what I remembered. We meet our driver for the next day and we enter our room. The truth is that it was not bad, but it was on the ground floor and the window faced a wall barely a meter away. So it was really dark, but, during the day we were not going to be there, so it was the same.

We prepare to go out to dinner and we look for where to do it in the Lonely Planet. We saw a place that seemed good to us because of what we read, so we went out to the street in search of a tuk-tuk that will take us there. In just 10 minutes we were at our destination. We are in a very busy place with all kinds of clients. There were groups of young Indians, families, tourists, and foreign residents.

We even had to wait a while to be able to have a table, but when we saw the letter we felt we were right. There were dishes for all tastes, from Indian food to hamburgers to the purest American style. So we sat down and enjoyed the penultimate dinner of this trip.

To return we took again a tuk-tuk that wanted to charge us at the beginning the double of what it had cost us the going. Luckily we already know how to control this issue and finally, we returned for the same price that we paid a few hours before.

Day 2

The hotel breakfast was very good, and the dining room located on the top floor of the building was very bright (quite the opposite of our room). At the agreed time we were at the door waiting to know some places of this city.

First, we went to the Bangalore Palace. It is a kind of replica of Windsor Palace and is the private residence of the Wadiyar family. You can visit the interior while elderly servants teach you the building. We were clear that we only wanted to see this place from the outside, especially considering the high price of the entrance.

For taking pictures they charge you separately and that the opinions of other travelers did not promise an interior that was worthwhile. So we got there and immediately they explained that we could not take pictures from the outside if we did not pay for it. I thought it was wrong the way they treated us that we leave there but not before taking this picture.

The next stop was made in another place where you could not take photos indoors. It was the ISKCON temple. It has been built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or what is the same and it will all sound to you: the Hare Krishna. It is located outside the urban center, on the side of a hill and stands out for its resplendent white color.

To enter in addition we have to leave out the cameras and shoes, pass a security checkpoint and always follow the marked path that leads first scalars up to different rooms where the life of Krishna is told. We can see figures of the god and Radha.

karnataka images wallpaper

We pass by the center of the temple, built in a mixture of modern and traditional styles and the room in which the devotees stop to pray. It has wide and high ceilings, with a marked path that cannot be left (at least those who go there to pray). It takes us to the exit of the temple by the road opposite the entrance.

This time we went through food stalls, incense and souvenir shops. There are all the paraphernalia at our fingertips and also at really competitive prices. We leave the temple with that feeling of a theme park where you pass by the attractions and then, excited, you buy the memories of your time there.

Then we went to another temple, one of the best known in the city, the Bull Temple. To get there we had to cross a large part of the city to return to the center. From there we climb another small hill on top of which rises a small temple. Inside it is the large statue of Nandi built in a monolith of stone. The temple is picturesque because it is traditional in such a modern city, but apart from that, it left us totally indifferent. And we already had many wonderful temples behind us.

We go to another of the places of interest in the city, the palace of Sultan Tipu. Our plan was to walk later to one of the markets in the city. We paid our entry fee and entered the gardens surrounding the small palace that is not nearly as beautiful as the one we had visited the day before in Srirangapatna. Even so, its columns and the few paintings that still decorate the walls make it one of the places that you can visit if you are in Bangalore.

Right next to the palace we can see one of the most ornate temples in the city, that of Kempegowda. We left the palace towards the heart of the Muslim quarter, the Jama Masjid. On the way, we passed the fort of Kempegowda that we found surrounded by food stalls and dirt. A place I did not bother to take a photo of. Already at that moment, I was beginning to be overwhelmed. It was hot. There were many people and I had the feeling that Bangalore did not offer me anything that deserved to spend there that day.

That day was Friday and when we arrived at the mosque there were a lot of men coming and going from the mosque to pray. That was a hotbed of people and we soon realized that our entry there would not be welcome. So we retraced our steps towards the city market (Krishnarajendra).

We started walking along the main street of the Bangalore market and something was happening to me that was the first time that happened to me. I was uncomfortable, I did not like being there and nothing motivated me to continue walking through those streets. Everything was terribly dirty. It was hard to walk between the stalls. People pushed us towards the road where cars kept passing by. I enjoy taking pictures in the markets. I only took the camera once, I even look for a shuttle to return to the hotel but there was no way.

We finally reached the end of that chaos and we were able to walk along streets with sidewalks where at least nobody pushed us. In this way, we arrived at Cubbon Park from which we could see one of the city's government buildings, the Vidhana Soudha. From there and under the shade of the trees we walked to the beginning of MG Road where we finally found a tuk-tuk to take us to the hotel.

But the driver began to go around and around while I realized that we were going in another direction. He stopped and told us that the agreed price could not be because we were going too far. There I got angry saying that it had been going around for a while and that I was not going to pay more, and he told me to get off that he was not taking me. So nothing, we got off but I did not pay him. The one that was mounted was interesting, but I did not care.

In the hotel, we took a shower and the night we went to a mall near the hotel. Here we did some shopping in very stylish craft shops, nothing to do with what is usually seen in Indian markets. Then we took a tuk-tuk to go to dinner at the same restaurant the night before. And tonight we got confused because we ordered the hamburgers that we had seen at other tables the night before and that seemed very appetizing, but it was all appearance.

With a bad taste in my mouth, we returned to the hotel where I, fortunately, slept well, although with a certain sadness to know that the next day I would leave South India, that places that I like so much and in which I enjoy so much (except in Bangalore).

We have breakfast. Our flight left mid-morning. So there was no time left to get to Bangalore airport and take that flight back. Thanks to one of our travelers, a great connoisseur of coffee and cocoa plantations in half the world, we deviate a bit from our route to visit a coffee processing plant in Coorg, in the foothills of the western ghats that separate Karnataka from the state from Kerala. An improvised change in the route that reveals a new pearl.

A Weekend Discovering Pizzas in Piedmont

The pizza and Italy, in fact, over time, have managed to create a strong common image. It is almost a symbiosis concerning the historical, cultural and traditional aspects. The existence of this complex local heritage, a sort of 'genius loci', is full of meanings and also symbolic values. It identifies this country and makes certain smells and tastes familiar, and the urban landscape itself.

The unmissable ones are the classic marinara to the Margherita, from the one with the yellow cherry tomatoes of Vesuvius and olives to the pizza with the salami of Faicchio. The days away are a bit all the same, but fortunately, we always arrive at the end of the day. If in Milan you have an aperitif, in Turin you go in a Piola, in Rome in a trattoria, and in Naples, you cannot go but eat pizza.

The pizza is definitely the queen of the country's gastronomic tradition. In some pizzerias it is possible to taste it in its more traditional version, others have focused on innovation. The choice is really wide. From wherever you start, Ovada is a point of arrival. You can come here from the Western Liguria or from the great cities of the North. The feeling will always be that of a small miracle with the discovery of a sweet and welcoming landscape, different from the one we just left behind.

Although the name of Ovada can make us think of grapes, this is only an impression given by the sight of the endless vineyards that surround it. In fact the toponym Ovada comes from Vadum, indicating the fact that already in Roman times the city was a place of transit and therefore also a hub of commerce. The Stura Valley, which connects Genoa and Ovada also through several other municipalities, offers a breathtaking view to the traveler. There are the winding roads, wedged between the green of the Ligurian Apennines and the stream, more or less dry depending on the period. It leads to Ovada through a wild and sweet landscape at the same time is a real emotion to experience.

But it is certainly not less exciting to arrive in this lovely city of Alto Monferrato, during one of the still warm weekends that we managed to rip off in the autumn. Crossing the Po Valley with the desire of the sea in the heart, after the first tunnel of the Trafori motorway, we feel we have arrived in Liguria, while still traveling in the province of Alessandria.

The landscape changes right here and within a few kilometers, the endless expanses of Piedmont give way to the hills and the sight of blue mountains in the distance. The monotony is pleasantly interrupted by the vision of colored houses, of castles that dominate the valleys, and of a lot of green. To get to the sea it would take another twenty minutes. But the fascinating highway route of bends and tunnels can be tackled even later. We want to stop right here.

Ovada is rich in monuments and churches of great historical and cultural value, such as the seventeenth-century Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. It with its two tall bell towers and dome draws the characteristic Ovada skyline. The city has given birth to a series of prominent figures from the world of the arts, including the nineteenth-century composer Antonio Rebora. It is to whom the city's School of Music is dedicated.

In the center, we also see the church of the Immaculate Conception. It is managed by the Franciscans of the adjacent convent. We also see the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, founded by the Dominicans in the 15th century. In via San Paolo, we admire the birthplace of San Paolo della Croce, declared a national monument since 1918.

Our walk through historic buildings, pretty gardens, and characteristic caruggi takes us with a discreet peck into the central Via Ruffini. Known for its fresh fish, excellent pizzas, and focaccias, the place is loved by those looking for quality at a friendly price.

We sit in the spacious hall, ideal for private parties and birthdays, furnished with style and elegance. There is as well as the characteristic room with brick vaults that is open during the weekends. To contribute to the family atmosphere are also beautiful vintage images of the historic center of Ovada on the walls, in addition to the slates that tease us with the details of the menu. From our table, we can see the spectacular wood-burning oven from which delicious pizzas and focaccia come out one after the other.

After tasting the various specialties of the restaurants, we can confirm that we could not imagine being treated better. The fresh fish comes three times a week directly from Savona, and we are fortunate to be here in just one of those days.

So we start with a nice mixed seafood appetizer. We continue with the exquisite first courses like the fish ravioli with scampi with cream and the linguine with seafood. Let's water these goodness with excellent white wines, both of the territories, such as Gavi, but not only. The labels change periodically and there are wines from different regions. Among the main courses of fish, we taste the swordfish cut with rocket and tomatoes, the sea bass in the foil, while some of us choose a rich grill of mixed fish.

A part of our group opts for the irresistible focaccia and pizzas, tasting the legendary Recco type focaccia. It is available in different varieties besides the classic one with stracchino and gorgonzola, with cooked ham, with pesto, with culatello and even with porcini mushrooms.

The pizzas are leavened for a long time. The dough is prepared in the evening for the next day, which makes them very digestible. I greatly appreciate the presence of pizzas made with whole wheat flour. At the sight of the pizza menu, we all experience a pleasant embarrassment of choice. In addition to the classic tastes, we find many imaginative and appetizing varieties such as "cowboy" pizza, with tomato, mozzarella, sausage, beans, bacon and onion.

There was also "atomic" pizza, with gorgonzola and sausage. The marinated pizzas are also very good, like the "Alassio" with mixed fish. There is the one with shrimps and rocket or the pizza with fried squid. There is also a wide selection of white pizzas for all tastes. It includes pizza with fontina and walnuts, with pesto, stracchino, boiled potatoes, and walnuts or "Ufo" pizza, with truffle cream, cream, mozzarella, ham and mushrooms.

Here we enjoy a nice dinner even those who are particularly attentive to nutrition and to the line. Not only thanks to the choice of pizzas with whole wheat flour, opting perhaps for a vegetarian seasoning, but also by choosing one of the light dishes.

We also indulge in a rich parade of desserts, representing an irresistible temptation, starting with the homemade cake. We choose from tiramisu, white pannacotta, Nutella pannacotta, and Chantilly cake. Those who still feel in the summer, choose a good ice cream or one of the various delicious parfaits, but also like the Nutella crepes drowned in coffee or whiskey.

Every day I think exactly the same thing. They should not allow them to saturate the air with that wonderful fragrance at that time! Turning the corner,s the scent of freshly baked pizza hits my nostrils overwhelmingly and descends directly to the stomach to tempt me into temptation. How do you resist pizza at the Pizzerias of the country?

I cannot and then I stand patiently in line until I get in front of the counter to choose the pizza directly from the pans beyond the glass. Potatoes, mozzarella, and gorgonzola, spianata with olives or simply pizza with tomato sauce (but also with spicy salami or mushrooms or asparagus). They are all worth it!

You can eat standing next to the bar counter, while sitting on the bench in the long side of the room or gathered around the only table, in the corner, to the right of the entrance. What matters is only the pizza!

Thanks to this trip, which I hope to repeat soon, I have learned that Alto Monferrato is not only a land of good wines. There are also excellent pizzas, and when you sit down at the table to enjoy a plate of fresh fish, it seems to be out of the sea.

Maldives Travel Diary - Story of a Honeymoon

When we consider going to the Maldives there are many doubts. There are too many islands to choose from and at the beginning we are very lost. Most are resorts in the hands of large international chains that are governed by their own standards.

When the word Maldives sounds, our mind draws palm trees, turquoise water, coral sand, goldfish, overwater villas, relaxing and vacations. There are now small budget hotels and guest houses on the inhabited islands.

Maafushi, Gulhi, Guraidhoo and Fulidhoo in the South atoll of Male or Huraa, Thulusdhoo or Dhiffushi in the North Atoll. They are examples of islands where backpacker tourism is changing with the time. They increasingly attracts families with children, couples and people traveling solo.

Maldives wallpaper images

Day 1: Male

Our international flight via Sri Lanka from New Delhi, landed in Male around 10am. The flight to Male was very short. It was a pity it was cloudy and dusk, because we could barely see the atolls from the air. After passing the passport control, we proceeded to change money, because in the local islands, the services and purchases are better done in Rufiyaa.

With the money in our pocket, we went to the arrivals area in search of the hotel, that in its rate includes the pick up at the airport and the transfer to the hotel. The truth is that getting to Male from the airport does not have any mystery. It is about taking the only, and perfectly signposted ferry that crosses from the island of the Hulhumale airport.

It is always better to be received at the airport and be unconcerned of everything. The problem arose when we were going to leave the airport. The rain rages as we have rarely seen, a harbinger of the bad weather that awaited us in the Maldives. We had to wait for more than half an hour until the rain came down and the ferry service was restored. The transfer by boat to Male, barely 1 km, became eternal.

After leaving the suitcases, changing our wet clothes and resting for a while, we left the hotel for dinner. The first impression that we took of Male, was that of a city with a lot of life. We had dinner at a restaurant in the center of Male, and the truth is that it was not bad. There was a stand with pizzas, another of different warm breads, another with sushi, soups, and meats. In the center stands a large dhoni-shaped display to serve different preparations.

We get back at the hotel. It was too late and the trip had left us all exhausted. Upon arriving at our bungalow we were surprised by an arrangement on the bed with heart shape and flower petals. We slept early and at 12 o'clock at night I was awoken by a tremendous storm.

Maldives wallpaper images

Day 2: Dhiffushi

We sleep like logs. Around 06:30 dawns in the Maldives and with it our eyes opened looking at the horizon from our beds. We have never enjoyed sleeping as much as here. It was raining during the night and the day dawned cloudy. The bad weather forecasts that we had seen in previous days were being confirmed.

It seemed that, to our disgrace, the time during our stay in Maldives was not going to be as paradisiacal as we expected. As until 2:30 pm our ferry did not leave for Dhiffushi, we decided to dedicate the day to visit the city. Although we had read it did not have great attractions, it would surely give us to fill a morning and learn more about the local population.

In flip-flops and a swimsuit and a T-shirt we went to the breakfast buffet. At breakfast we meet a young couple. We have a strong breakfast with the omelet and hot chocolate with cereals, some pastries and fruit. We leave the suitcases at reception and go out to visit the city, starting with the nearby artificial beach of Male. It is nothing out of the world and cannot be compared with any of the idyllic beaches of the more than 1,100 islands that form the Maldivian archipelago.

We continue our way along the promenade towards the fish market, but not before stopping for a coffee. Before entering the famous fish market, we walked around the fruit and vegetable market in front of us. We bought a few bananas, and a candy based on sugar and coconut that they sell rolled as cigars. They also offered us a kind of very good tuna sauce, but we did not buy it, because despite the haggling it seemed too expensive.

From the fruit we went to the fish market, which should rather be called, the tuna market, because they only sell this fish, and of multiple sizes and qualities. It is interesting to see how they negotiate the price of tuna, and how they peel and dissect it, separating it according to the use.

We continue our walk to the nearby mosque. It is a pity that it is closed with works going on outside. The garden that surrounds it, the Sultan Park, is also closed and under construction. With the visit of the Mosque we terminate the walk, and return to the hotel to collect our bags and take a taxi to Villingili Pier, in the south west of the city.

The ticket office informs us that the local ferry with Dhiffushi has been temporarily canceled. Apparently, the ship traveled the day before to Dhiffushi, but it could not make the return trip in the morning. At first, they did not offer us any alternative. When we were looking for a hotel to spend another night in Male, one of the attendants of the terminal, told us that at 4:30 a ferry would leave, from the North Pier of the island.

The ferry that comes from the airport is a public speedboat that made the journey to the island. Knowing that there was an alternative, we set out to look for a taxi that would bring us back to the north pier. Suddenly, I saw a gentleman with a polo shirt in which we could see the logo of our hotel.

The man was there to take guests that day to the island on an alternative to the local ferry. They had planned a speedboat to move us to the island, along with two other couples, at 14:30. What had to have been a pleasant trip by sea in a brand new speedboat, became an authentic adventure.

As soon as we left the port, the rain began to come hard, which together with the strong swell and to the fact that the ship had hardly any roofed area, made the trip very hectic. I have to admit that, at times, even fear passes my mind watching the state of the sea.

After fifty minutes we reach the small island of Dhiffushi. To our amazement, there were people on the beach, bathing and enjoying the shower under the umbrellas. The fact is that the image of tourists bathing in the rain surprised us at first. That same afternoon, as soon as we left our luggage at the hotel, we put on our swimwear and went out for our first swim in the sea, even though at times it rained and it was almost dusk. After a beer at the bar we dined enjoying the Italian food we had that night.

For dinner, we went to the restaurant, where we ended up being charmed by the grilled tuna. The first impression of the island had not been as expected because of the weather. After the romantic walk along the shore of the beach listening to the splash we take shelter in our love cabin.

We went to bed that night with the hope that it would improve. The next day we had an excursion to discover the animals that hid in the depths of the sea. We were restless thinking about the encounter with the whale shark. It was one of the things we chose this island for. During the night the deep dreams took over us and took us in the middle of schools of fish to the seabed.

Maldives wallpaper images

Day 3: Male

To make the most of the day, we decided to get up early that day. The previous night, we hired a snorkeling trip at our hotel for 9:00 in the morning. Since we had not been able to do the dive baptism, we could not say goodbye to the Maldives without at least doing a good snorkel. Until then, we prepare the suitcases, and breakfast quietly in the hotel restaurant.

We saying goodbye to the delicious Mashuni, the typical dish of the Maldivian breakfast. It is a spicy salad based on tuna, onion, coconut and chili, accompanied by a bread type roti accompaniment. The sweet touch of coconut mix perfectly with tuna.

As we had agreed, at 8:45 we were already ready with our swimwear on, waiting for them to come and pick us up for the snorkeling trip. The reception informs us that the hotel boat has gone out with other guests to make the excursion of the sandbank. We had to wait around two hours for it to return and start our excursion.

After the initial flush, we left the boat in the direction of a coral reef fifteen minutes west of the island. Once in the water, what we see under the sea is really impressive. There is a coral reef full of colorful fishes of many types and sizes. Some swim alone, and others in schools of fish.

Some are more than 50 specimens that, when we approach retreat in unison. We had to take turns doing the dives. One of the boys went out of his way to accompany us in search of sea turtles. We saw a turtle less than a foot from our face, and a stingray.

Exhausted from swimming, we returned to the Dhiffushi beach and returned to the bar. Here we spent the rest of the day, until at 2:00 pm we decided to eat something at the restaurant. After lunch, we return to the hotel to take shower, close our bags, and go out in search of our speedboat companions. The trip to Male this time is much more pleasant than when we came from Male.

Once at the airport, we spent the last Rufiyaas we had left, before falling down in the airplane seat. It had been a strenuous beach day. The flight back was somewhat longer, because of going in the opposite direction to the rotation of the earth. We had a great vacation.

Maldives wallpaper images

Maldives wallpaper images

Experience St Patrick's Day in Ireland

Ireland was a pending destination for years. What better time to take a break than the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the national holiday of the Republic of Ireland. Surely we have all heard phrases such as the world dresses in green or the day everyone feels Irish. Well, the festival of Saint Patrick is, beyond the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.

It is the manifestation of a people who feel proud of their traditions, their capabilities and achievements. It is a showcase in which they show them. Throughout the country and all the places scattered around the world in which there is an Irish presence this festival is celebrated with celebrations and parades. The most important of the Saint Patrick's festivals is the one that takes place in the city of Dublin.

Day 1 in Dublin

We arrived in Dublin on a flight at 22:20. We moved to the hotel in Ballsbridge, a residential neighborhood of mostly single-family houses in which several embassies are located. The hotel is well connected by bus lines to the center of Dublin or for a pleasant walk in half an hour on foot.

The first thing we did, despite the time, was to take a walk around, to stretch our legs and for a contact with the Irish pubs. Nearby, around the block, at the junction of Huddington Road and Shelbourne Road we found several restaurants. We see fast food outlets and most importantly, several pubs of different environments in which we tasted our first Irish pint.

While getting back to the hotel we passed next to the Aviva Stadium, where the Rugby and Soccer competitions are held. In it the competition of the so-called Irish Sports competitions is not allowed. Two of them are the Irish Footbal (which allows limited use of hands) and the Hurling, the Irish sport par excellence, with its female version called Camogie.

I had the chance to see a Hurling video and it's spectacular. An important fact is that the players of Hurling and Camogie do not charge a penny for practicing this sport. It is absolutely amateur and the Irish liking for these sports is impressive.

Day 2 in Dublin

After an excellent Irish breakfast, we go to the nearest stop to go to the center. Shortly after starting the trip I realized that we were going in the opposite direction. Since it was not too much to know a little more of the city we went to Blackrock. After getting off and taking a walk through the small town, we took the bus return to the center.

Once in Northside Dublin, in O'Connel Street we wander aimlessly, but with the aim of heading to South Dublin, to the center of the city. We reached the Liffey River, which divides Dublin in two. We cross it by Grattan Bridge, following the walk in front of the Town Hall, the Dublin Castle, and various alleys that led us to the statue of Molly Mallone and Trinity College. There was already a party atmosphere. Many people were in the streets in green clothes.

It was a very pleasant walk and after taking the bus on Nassau Street, where most of the lines stop, we return to the hotel to meet our guide. Fearing another mistake like the morning, and so as not to end up in Northern Ireland, I asked a boy who was at the stop of the bus that would take me to my hotel near Aviva Stadium.

I confirmed it and we both climbed to the first one that came. Well, at the stop before mine came he told me that the next was mine and to take the first right for my hotel. Something would have to see my English accent of the Celtic peoples, or that really the Irish are very friendly people, as we could check these days. At the stop before mine came and told me that the next was mine and that I took the first right for my hotel.

With our guide we attended an Irish whiskey tasting. The truth is that we really liked that whiskey, with a delicate flavor and is very soft in comparison with other Scottish malt or American bourbon. We savor some appetizers.

In the afternoon we take a guided tour of the city, with special attention to the Saint Patrick's Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in Ireland. Along with the Christ Church Cathedral it is one of the two cathedrals of Dublin. Both are Anglican, although they originally belonged to the Catholic Church. St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest in Ireland and is the final resting place of Jonathan Swift. It has an impressive choir with the seats of the Knights of St. Patrick, with their coats of arms and banners.

The beautiful remodeled Lady Chapel, behind the main altar is dedicated to the Irish combatants killed in the wars of Crimea, China and Burma and to the men and women killed in the World War I and II. On the walls we can see the flags of the old regiments and some more modern battalions of the RAF. In this chapel there is a sculpture dedicated to the combatants of the IGM.

Then we continue with the visit that ended at Christchurch Cathedral and the Viking vestiges of the primitive Dublin. We dined at the restaurant. It was not cheap, but was worth it. At first I had a fish cake that tasted great. After a couple of Guinness pints we returned to the hotel for a good night's rest.

Day 3 - The Wicklow Mountains

We plan to visit the County Wicklow located to the south of Dublin and in it there are the Wicklow Mountains, that are not of highest of the country. There are three of more with Carrantuohill (1,038 m), Beenkeragh (1,010 m) and Caher (1,001 m). The lowest mountain is the Lugnaquilla with a height of 925 m. They are rounded mountains carved by glaciers, with numerous passes and glacial lakes. Its slopes are covered by marshy areas and the Wicklow Mountains National Park with 3,700 hectares is also located here.

Our first stop was at Kilruddery House & Gardens, a beautiful mansion that belongs to the Brabazon family since 1618 and for sixteen generations. It is a beautiful mansion with one of the best gardens in Ireland and beautiful walks. The mansion houses many rooms and halls that can be covered in a guided tour and that house antiques brought successively by their guests.

There are tea rooms lined with tissue paper brought from the East, antique clocks, precious and precious furniture, to an interesting outdoor room. The Orangery has a glass ceiling and statues inspired by The Crystal Palace, where we enjoy a tea with pastries and freshly baked scones.

In this house and gardens have been filmed numerous films. Next we headed to Glendalough, a few kilometers to the south. Glendalough is a valley that soon became a center of pilgrimages. It had an authentic city, with a cathedral, several churches, a circular tower 30 m high and numerous buildings, whose remains can be seen today.

The place is charming, and walking through its ruins and surroundings is an authentic delight. The monastic complex is located on the shores of the lower lake and the Glencalo river. In its vicinity lie several hiking trails. The most popular one leads to the upper lake from where there are some beautiful views.

There are several hiking trails in the area, and the best known is the St. Kevin's Way that leads from Hollywood to Glendalough. The Wicklow Way Trail leads from the south of Dublin to Clonegal, crossing the most spectacular areas of these beautiful mountains.

We leave this wonderful place and along a mountain road we cross at Wicklow Mountain Park to go to Hollywood, where we have a light lunch. The road allows us to enjoy the landscape. We see several abandoned mines. The minerals that were extracted were mainly lead and zinc, along with small amounts of silver.

When we reach the highest areas the landscape is rounded mountains covered with heather and grassland, with an abundance of mosses and lichens. They are very similar to the Scottish Highland. We finally arrived in Hollywood. The first thing that catches our attention is a sign with the name of the town, on a hill and surrounded by sheep grazing.

The town is small, but charming, and we headed for lunch with a tasty vegetable soup and some less prominent sandwiches. We are surrounded by numerous photographers of directors and famous actors, whose passage through this town is due to the great number of films shot in this county, known as the European Hollywood.

From Hollywood we went back to Dublin crossing the spectacular route of the Blessington Lakes. These lakes were formed in 1947 with the construction of the Poulaphouca reservoir, which produces electricity and in turn supplies water to Dublin.

On our way back to Dublin, we took a new tour of the city, which already had a festive atmosphere in St. Stephen's Green. There was a large box with traditional music and hundreds of amateurs enjoying the show. We also enjoyed dinner with the pleasant company of the traditional Irish music group. After dinner, and of course a few pints, we retired. Tomorrow is the parade or as they call it there St. Patrick's Festival Parade.

Experience St Patrick

Day 4 - St. Patrick's Day Parade

Since March 14 throughout the city hundreds of events of the most varied have taken place. There are street theater, musical performances, and activities for children and families. There are also boat races, treasure hunts, exhibitions, performances. There is also helf the Irish beer and whiskey festival, film festival, bagpipe contests and most of them are free to enter. But the culmination of these celebrations is the parade.

The parade is the manifestation of the pride of being Irish and a sample of the identity signs of Ireland. At breakfast in the hotel we agree with a group dressed in the traditional kilt. They belonged to the Bagpipe Band of the Saint Patrick's Battalion in Mexico City, and that they had come to take part in the Parade.

In reference to the kilt, known as Scottish/Irish skirt, it seems that it was actually introduced in Scotland in the seventeenth century. This garment has its origin in the Irish Lein-croich, a long robe of about 5 m surrounding and tied to the waist as a skirt. The rest was placed on the shoulders in different ways according to weather needs, and held by a brooch.

The traditional Irish colors used to be darker than the Scottish and there are representations and sculptures that show that it was already used in Ireland before the 16th century. We headed to the center of the city to enjoy the parade and take photographs that gave graphic testimony of this great event.

In the first place, we made a brief tour of the place where the festival was being prepared. We were able to see the preparations and trials of the groups up close. The atmosphere throughout the city was really festive. Thousands of people are on the streets in green clothes.

The most popular, of course, the leprechaun hats (kind of Irish goblins), but closely followed by shirts, shirts, hats, scarves, and as many clothes you can imagine. And of course almost all with the clover symbol of Ireland. Tradition tells that the Patron Saint explained to the faithful the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

In this year's edition of the parade, eight main groups of floats from various locations in Ireland participated, in addition to several smaller ones. There are groups of Bagpipes and Drums and March from Ireland, USA, Mexico and Germany. In addition to an Irish army company and a body of riders, and several more that I will leave in the pipeline.

The parade leaves the vicinity of St. Mary's Place in North Dublin and crosses the river by O'Connel Bridge. It passes before the town hall and ends next to St. Patrick's Cathedral after a trip of 3 km completely crowded with people in the street. People climb to monuments, in windows, balconies and even roofs, all of them applauding and enjoying the event.

Many young people of all nationalities, but older people and families with children tremble. I have to say that even baby green bodies were sold in souvenir shops. Once the parade was over, we resumed our efforts with a buffet lunch at Exchequeur Street. We have a tasty Irish Stew (stewed lamb) watered with a few pints of Guinness to regain strength.

Then we take a new walk through the city and a break until late afternoon when we were invited to a cocktail party at the hotel. The cocktail party we were invited to was held ina beautiful room above the entrance of the hotel, overlooking St. Stephen Green. At the head of the table there were two chairs, each with a drink in front, in which no one sat.

As a farewell to Dublin, since we flew home early in the morning, we dined at one of the best seafood restaurants in Dublin. It's not cheap, but the food is worth it and the portions are super-rich. Of course accompanied by some pints of Guinness.

In summary it was a very pleasant experience to be in the celebration of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin. Ireland and Dublin in particular are a very interesting destination. The Irish people are cheerful and very friendly and the folklore and Irish food highly recommended. Of course, there is the Irish beer and whiskey.

I'm already starting to plan my next trip to Ireland to tour the country and do some of the wonderful hiking trails there, especially the fantastic Wild Atlantic Way.

An Indian Wedding Weekend in the Colors of London

My dear England, already 6 years has passed since the last time we saw each other. Last time was our first meeting. At the age of 19, I flew to see you for two weeks, to learn English, to discover the Bristol area and your charming neighbor, Wales. I still cherish this first meeting today. I had waited so long to meet you. I still see myself in college.

You were so close and so far away. I remember those holidays, where I looked helplessly at the sleeve, imagining you on the other side. Finally, 6 years ago, I came to visit you. I could not help but shed a tear when I saw you. It had been too long since I had dreamed that I had waited to meet you. And finally, I realized my dream.

You were everything I hoped for. You were all dressed in green, filled with the sweet folly of your inhabitants and lurking in magnificent buildings. Even your rain has pleased me at home. It is part of the scenery. It feeds your beautiful gardens and forests.

Oh London, you do not stop seducing me a little more each time I come to visit you. I stay at home each time one or two more days and I say to myself that one day I will end up not leaving. Your houses, your shops, your language, your Christmas decorations, your metro, your skyscrapers in heart of the city. You give me a little more full view each time and my wallet does not thank you because you are as expensive as you are pretty.

But hey, when we love, we do not count. It's crazy this love that I can create for this city, after having hated it so much as I was younger. I grew up. My tastes in travel and my expectations have changed. And today, I feel like at home, a place where I just want to leave my suitcases.

But I had to leave you again. And then, a few months ago, my lover tells me that her family is invited to an Indian wedding in the English countryside and she offers me to accompany her. It seemed too good to be true. Until the last minute, I was expecting a problem that would prevent us from leaving. Wait pretty London, do not worry too fast, as this article will be a declaration of love and not a practical guide.

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But no, here we are in February, boarding the flight. From the boarding area, I already find your merry people drunk with beer! We live in the pretty district of Highbury, at the house of the bridegroom's mother. It is a peaceful neighborhood, with its houses and park, so British.

I discover typical London apartments, narrow stairs, windows without shutters. I feel like I'm in full Love Actually. We arrive late on night. The wedding takes place the next day in the middle of Hampshire in Jane Austen County. My friend brings me a bottle of champagne, a cup of fruit, and a small handwritten note welcoming me.

I decided to open the champagne. Two glasses later, I am totally at ease in my new environment and a gaiety perhaps not very royal but very pleasant. I crawl in my giant bed to reach the softest pillows in the world, thinking of the royal breakfast that awaits me tomorrow.

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Day 2

I have the pleasure of waking up with the sun. What is beautiful is the light that touches the roofs of houses and grass gardens. I cannot wait to get ready. I get ready to put a sherwani. I'm surprised by the weight, as the hundreds of pearls sewn on it make it heavy. I am a little clumsy but it does not detract from my pleasure!

Late morning, we go to the venue of the ceremony, at the Northbrook Park. This is a magnificent 18th century mansion surrounded by a huge park in the middle of the English countryside. In the morning, the wedding ceremony takes place. I let a royal smile float on my lips to tread with my footsteps the most haughty carpet of the entrance. I look super relaxed.

The young girls who greets me at the entrance is absolutely charming and asks me with a sincerely interested air if my trip went well. The bride and groom look beautiful in their traditional dress. It is difficult to understand everything that happens, and a booklet has been distributed and helps us a little. I recognize some rites that I could see here and there, but I do not prefer too much details.

After the ceremony, we meet the bride and groom to congratulate them. We then head to another part of Northbrook Park for lunch. The meal is a vegetarian Indian lunch, which delights me! In the afternoon, meanwhile, we were free. We took the opportunity to walk in the park, and admire the peacocks. It was the first time I saw a white one!

In the evening was the marriage ceremony, with a reception with buffet, music and famous dances. The evening ended late in the night, but we returned a little before midnight to wake up too late and enjoy London.

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Day 3

After a good night's sleep, we are here to capture London. We have a lot of walking planned. We put on our sweaters, coats and sneakers and we go face the cold of London! We leave Highbury to go to Big Ben. Highbury is really a neighborhood which I fell in love. Very close to the center of London and yet very quiet and full of greenery (definitely what is missing in Paris compared to London). This first morning is very touristy.

We had to go to Westminster so we took this combination of lines on the subway. Just leaving the stop we find the Big Ben in front. The day was somewhat dark and threatened to rain at any moment. We left the Palace of Westminster for later and we went on to take some pictures of Westminster Abbey. Along the way on the other side there were many statues dedicated to emblematic leaders, such as Winston Churchill.

We continue walking. I could not miss a photo in the famous telephone booths in London. Inside there are a lot of erotic ads. Neither the famous double-decker buses could be missing. We keep walking and cross St James Park to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The truth is that this park is quite good.

In the park there are many different birds, ducks, swans, crows, pigeons, squirrels, herons, monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans. The most amazing thing to see a black swan. We kept walking but we had lost the course. We wanted to arrive to witness the change of guard at Buckingham but we came across the Palace of Whitehall.

Here they do the Horse Guards Parade in the afternoons, but it does not have as much relevance and expectation as the changing of the guard. We were in the morning so it did not play yet. Outside the palace was the monument to the fallen in the World War II. We left Whitehall and through the St James Park and walked more towards the famous Trafalgar square.

Along the way, we see an endless number of statues and monuments dedicated to historical and emblematic figures. We arrived at Trafalgar Square. In the center of the square is the column of Admiral Nelson on both sides the two fountains and surrounded by four huge bronze lions. On the north side of the square is the National Gallery and to the east the church of St Martin's-in-the-Fields.

The square was full of people. From there we went down to the Buckingham palace, and we found the Admiralty Arch. At the bottom of the whole is the Buckingham palace. Walking on the right we came across a statue of a white horse. I had no idea what it represented or who the work was but at that moment I was possessed by my reflex camera with the spirit of a Japanese who takes pictures right and left.

After a long walk, we arrived at the famous Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British Royal Family in London since 1837. It is currently the residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Visits to the interior of the palace are only allowed for 8 weeks a year, between August and September. There are two different types of entry. One of the modalities allows to visit the State Halls and the other also includes the Royal Carport and the Queen's Gallery.

In addition to the visits to the interior, throughout the year the Changing of the Guard is celebrated in front of the palace, an act capable of attracting thousands of visitors. Finally we arrived, and as they told us the change of guard had already taken place.

We were very tired and we took some photos of the palace. We left there again heading to Big Ben and Thames. On the way back out of several commemorative statues, my attention is dedicated to Women of World War II. Later in Downing Street we saw a lot of people gathered, and we approached and exactly it was the official residence of the British prime minister.

After a walk we arrived at the Palace of Westminster. There was the famous Big Ben. From the Westminster Bridge we took some good pictures of the Palace and Big Ben. On the opposite side was the London eye the famous wheel owned by British Airways.

After this long walk, it is already 4 pm when we decide to go to lunch. We prefer a vegetarian buffet. I finally feel like breathing. The atmosphere is cozy, the light is subdued and the buffet is a delight. The restaurant is located in a small courtyard next to Oxford Street but sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood.

After our meal we continue on our way in that area with the intention of riding the Ferris wheel on the London Eye. We continue walking but this time I walk to the subway to take the same line and get off at the London Bridge stop. On the way to the subway we saw several pubs and places where in some one can eat the famous fish and chips.

But we did not eat anything and we went ahead and the sherlock holmes pub caught our attention. We got to the subway and got off at the London Bridge stop. At exit we were next to the London Bridge. Many often mistake this bridge and that of the Tower Bridge. The latter is much more beautiful and obviously famous. Crossing it we had good views and, far away, we could see the beautiful Tower bridge with the Thames flowing along.

Floating on the River Thames is the famous HMS Belfast battleship transformed into a museum where its operation and its warlike past are recreated. We leave the bridge to take the direction of the tower bridge and the Tower of London. On the way we saw how the English are also lovers of exercise. I thought they were just beer lovers but I was wrong.

Along the way along the Thames we now had the image of the London Bridge that we had just crossed. And after more walking we reach the Tower of London. We did not enter. The Tower of London has played an important role in the history of England. It was besieged on several occasions and having it under control was important to control the country. The tower has served as armory, treasury, menagerie, Royal Mint, public records, and House of Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

Today, the Tower of London is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country. We continue walking and next to it was the famous Bridge of the Tower of London. The Tower Bridge is a drawbridge that crosses the River Thames. First we cross it from within and we take some pictures. We can climb the towers but we have to pay. From the same bridge we had also very good views, so we took the opportunity to take a picture.

As we did not have a tripod or selfie stick, a boy who was passing by take some pictures of us. It has appeared in films like the Mummy, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Wolf Man and Sherlock Holmes. It has also two appearances during the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games, as the helicopter pass by that carried Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by James Bond. It was also seen during the relay of the Olympic torch on its arrival at the Olympic Park across the River Thames by an athlete and David Beckham.

From there we went back the same way but back to go to the London Bridge stop and take the subway. We get off at Green Park and take another direction to Piccadilly or Leicester Square. We planned to visit the Chinatown area and have dinner and see some shops. At the end we got off at Piccadilly Circus, and we walked straight ahead. In some nearby street we saw the representative arches of the Chinatown area.

Honestly I was not surprised at all. We took some pictures and little else. Well, we found this area dispensable because we had already been to New York and Bangkok and it's more of the same. For those who like Sushi and food of that style, you have Wasabi restaurants that are dedicated to it. In the district of Soho, which is close to Chinatown and the shopping streets of Regent street and Oxford street, there is a lot of pubs, and shops.

Within this district is the commercial area of ​​Carnabys with alternative fashion boutiques and various designers. We return to Highbury. When we return, we are lucky enough to discover the bride and groom from the day before, who came to rest with their family before going on their honeymoon. They suggest we go for a drink with them in the neighborhood.

I cannot believe it, they went to bed in the night before at 4 am, got married the day before, and want to go to the pub today with us. The tradition of pub and beer is definitely ingrained in your culture, my dear England. Of course we accept. I prefer this kind of improvised moment in the company of locals, the ones that make me travel.

This moment is priceless. These few hours, though too short are definitely my favorite of this trip to London. We also shake a leg to various bollywood hits and end with Ishq Dance from Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

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Day 4

It is already our last day in London. We decide to slow down the pace slightly compared to yesterday. We got up early and had breakfast and headed towards the Notting Hill market. We took the subway. We arrived and left the subway and it turns out that there is a tremendous agglomeration at the exit of the subway. We did not know where the market was or the Notting Hill area or anything but we followed the people.

We went walking downhill looking at some stalls. There was everything from old clothes, old vinyl music. I did not like much although the parallel streets had their charm with their colorful facades. The Chelsea neighborhood would be not far from there.

Several artists along the way earning a living, but as we progressed, there were already all kinds of food stalls. In one of the parallel streets of Portobello road was the famous Notting Hill movie library starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. We are far from the excitement of the city, in a very cute and charming neighborhood. There is a small shopping street lined with authentic shops.

We returned to the road down the path of crowds of people. We had not bought anything, but the visit was proving to be pleasant at least. We were very hungry so at one of the food stalls we eat several portions of pizza. As the road to the market and stalls had ended, we went back to the subway.

We decided to go to Hyde Park and so we got off at South Kensington and then Hyde Park corner. We started to take some pictures. The truth is that the park was huge. When we saw the map we were scared because we had thought to go to the tip of the park to see the meridian point.

But suddenly when we were walking, it started to snow and we turned back because we did not carry umbrellas. It was too cold to go to see the meridian. Apart from that we had not crossed a part of the park yet. We went back to the metro running. And since we were there we decided to go to the famous Harrods department store. So we had to get off with that same line in Knightsbridge.

There was no snow and the sun came out. We left the stop. We walked forward something and there were the Harrods stores. The building is huge. We took some photos and we went in but we did not buy anything, I was offered clothes by the designers to put it on for free but I did not want to.

In that area there were many well-known clothing stores. At one point I saw an Aston Martin DBS pass and behind was the Ferrari Spider. I saw other good luxury cars.

We first make a trip to Covent Garden, one of the most popular neighborhoods in London. It is the artistic district of the city. There are many animations and the buildings are all more beautiful than the others. There are all kinds of stores from Apple to Quicksilver, Michael Kors, Skechers, Disney Store.

For lunch, we went to Camden Market. The crowd was once again very present, but I tried to abstract to enjoy the place. I let myself be tempted by Thai noodles. I see a shop of Indian trinkets and the front is overlooked by a huge colorful elephant. We advance from surprises to surprises. At the end of the district, we discover a very quiet canal that leads to Little Venice.

The place is fairly quiet and slices dramatically with the excitement of Camden Town. The walk to Little Venice is quite long. So we bifurcated halfway to Regent's park, one of London's many parks. Our last place of the day is King's Cross. I will not have done the Harry Potter studios, but out of questions that I'm letting the Platform 9 3/4, I needed at least that. And oddly, there, the crowd was very bearable. I had to be in a half-hour of queue before having my picture!

My dear England, it is already so much to say goodbye to you. We go back to Highbury one last time to get our things back and say goodbye to the mom of the groom who greeted us well. Even if this second meeting has been more mixed, my dear England, I remain deeply under your spell and I miss you already. Thank you for welcoming me to my dear England again and see you soon.

The Soul of Vaisakhi Festival in the Heart of Punjab

A few days ago, with a DSLR on the neck, I attended a colorful Vaisakhi, the Sikh harvest festival in a small corner of Punjab in India. For the large farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Baisakhi marks the New Year, as it is time to harvest the rabi crops. Could I let such a riot of music and colors escape me, which marks the beginning of the beautiful season after the long winter?

Red, yellow and blue. And again green, white, indigo and lots of orange. A rainbow that moves fluctuating and praying, with a rhythm and a grace that only Punjabi women can express. Dressed up for partying in their shalwar, they recall the colors of nature when she wakes up.

In the morning of the day, there is a frantic movement of people. Everything must be ready for the afternoon procession. In fact, wherever there is a gurdwara, there was a large crowd to pray and read Gurbani, the precepts of the book, sing kirtan and bathe in the temple pool. Women wash the langer, the community kitchen that in a few hours will work to prepare the meal not known for how many people. Nobody seems to worry about it. Here visitors of any religion are welcome.

This festival is also an opportunity for farmers to thank God for having had a good harvest and to pray that the next one will be equally prosperous. Some men with turbans, outside the Gurdwara wash the tractor that will transport the chariot with the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib. It will be placed under a canopy, also cleaned and covered with garlands of fresh and colorful flowers for the solemn procession through the streets of the village.

The sun shines. Before the solemn ceremony, the devotees, along with other volunteers, drop the huge temple flagpole to wash it with a big rope. At the top stands the Khanda, a circle with a two-edged blade in the center. Once the flagpole has been raised again, the devotees stand in front in prayer. Some women turn around us.

The solemn procession is about to leave. At the head of the procession, the tractor pulled in a glossy way drags the cart on which the Holy Book is displayed. Immediately behind some barefoot warriors, with unsheathed swords, are preceded by a cistern that symbolically purifies the contaminated soil before their passage. Other warriors dressed in white and blue precede the line of the praying community. First the women, and then the men, all move in a composed way and hold signs that proclaim the wise reflections of the Book. Mock duels, bhangra performances and Gidda make the procession a very happy and colorful time.

At the temple, the adepts arrive in dribs, but without stopping. Before entering, they take off their shoes, wash their feet and cover their heads as a sign of respect. From the central door one can see a large room at the end of which the altar is placed. In the center an old man solemnly oscillates the chauri (a fan of hair of yak) on the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred Book.

Words alternate with traditional music performed by a group of musicians. The crowd is divided. On the one hand there are women. On the other are the men. In the middle a slow and silent procession arrives in front of the altar, where all prostrate themselves and leave an offer.

It is almost time for lunch, but already from the morning we can smell spices. We sit on the ground, barefoot, next to each other and expect our turn to eat the chapati accompanied by basmati rice and fried lentils. The glass is always full as the chai is served non-stop.

The Soul of Vaisakhi Festival in the Heart of Punjab

After a while, everyone spills into the sports field. In every village the party goes on with colorful markets, skilled jugglers, and compelling matches of Kabaddi. There is a group of martial arts that shows physical abilities with sticks and big shining swords. Tournaments last until sunset. The public are intrigued. The long day comes to an end.

In the evening, people had fun doing the Bhangra, a dance that tells the story of the whole agricultural process, from working the land to sowing and harvesting. People dress in orange, and green, but also in blue and white and continue to intertwine in a harmonious movement. The dancers and percussionists challenge each other to continue the dance to exhaustion. As night dawns the large crowd thins out. Slowly the rainbow of colors disappears on the horizon.

Story of a Trip to Tikal - the Mayan jewel of Guatemala

We begin the story of a trip to Guatemala, in which we visit ancient Mayan cities such as Tikal. I took the step, and I regret not having done it before! My trip started when I saw a flight offer to Guatemala and I do not know what impulse it gave me to end up buying it 15 minutes after seeing it. I start looking for information about the country and places to visit.

Day 1

Although there is a direct flight, I traveled with a stopover in Miami. Security controls at the Miami airport is excessive with huge queues. There is not a single smoking area in the entire airport. One has to go outside, and not only that, but in the street one cannot smoke in any place. There is an authorized area, that is, a piece of street with ashtrays where one can smoke.

Both to enter Miami and Guatemala, we have to fill out a lot of questionnaires and forms. In Miami, they even record with a fingerprint and photo included. Well, after a long trip we arrived in Guatemala City, at 9:00 local time. Our bags leave the last and after sealing passports and others, finally we left outside 1 hour later. When I leave the airport (which is small) I see it is all fenced. People waiting for passengers are on the street, so at the door were the cars sent by the hotels.

The car continues and we ask the driver to leave us at the junction near the hotel, which is on the outskirts of the small town. After leaving the backpacks and clean a little, we went up to the reception, and we sat for a while to watch television while we talked about the impressions that his country was leaving us.

We asked for a recommendation to go to dinner and the manager sent us to a restaurant, a few minutes walk in the same street as the hotel. We dined well! With a full stomach and very tired, we go to bed soon.

Story of a Trip to Tikal - the Mayan jewel of Guatemala

Day 2

At 4 o'clock in the morning we were on foot, since we were moving to the Peten region, to the north of Guatemala. It is the most extensive but less populated area, because it is surrounded by thick jungle and communications are difficult. We fly to the city ​​of Flores.

In Flores we stayed at a boutique hotel. And by the name you can guess that it was not a hostel precisely. It was the most expensive accommodation of the trip, but we wanted to treat ourselves. Once we settle in our room we looked for an agency, because we wanted to hire a few excursions. We had previously looked on the internet from home, but finally decided to do it on the site.

A wise agent caught us on the way, took us to his agency and made us an offer for the excursions we wanted. So, after haggling the price conveniently, we accept. We return to the hotel to wait for the transport to go to Tikal. From there we go by bus for almost 2 hours to the Mayan archaeological center of Tikal, with a stop before to have an opulent breakfast with a sandwich, a homemade cookie, a banana and a freshly made smoothie.

We made the visit with a small group and a nice guide. We started at the Visitor Center, where the guide introduces us to the history of Tikal. Tikal was declared by UNESCO world heritage site. There are more than 3,000 buildings, although the guided tour consists of a 6 km walk. According to archaeologists, Tikal would have been inhabited for more than 1,500 years.

In that period, the Mayan civilization reached a very high cultural, artistic, architectural, urban and astronomical development. It is the only pre-Columbian civilization that developed a writing system and incorporated zero into its numbering system.

We then continue on a path through the Ceiba, a tree considered sacred by the Mayans. Crossing a path we reach the Complex P, where we can climb to the highest part to see some amazing views of the park, especially on the left. We continue through the park and go through some mountains, buried temples that have not been excavated.

Upon entering the Archaeological Park of Tikal, the first impact comes with the Great Plaza, the heart of the ancient city, where all public events were held. It is surrounded by four large buildings. In the east and west, are Temple of the Great Jaguar and Temple of the Masks. First we approach the North Acropolis to see the square from the top with the two temples, one on each side.

The views are impressive! We have a good time traveling the acropolis and seeing the Great Plaza from every angle we can. Then we go to the back of Temple II , which can be climbed by wooden stairs that have enabled not to wear the main front steps. From there you have very nice views of Temple I and the square, but it is almost impossible to take a picture of Temple I.

In the East Square, where two old roadways open, the structures can be observed. For the Mayans, the ball game was ritual, and the loser was sacrificed. I only have an idea of ​​the real dimension of Tikal from the top of Temple IV, the tallest building in the entire acropolis. The climb is difficult through a steep staircase with wooden planks (accessed by the back of the temple).

This Temple IV, called the Two-Headed Serpent Temple, greatly exceeds the height of the trees. In this temple a scene from the movie Star Wars was filmed. From there we can appreciate the immensity of the jungle, and the silhouette of the other six main temples. We continue walking until we reach the area known as the Lost World, where the pyramid is believed to be the oldest building in the Tikal park.

From there we returned to the great square, where we climbed to the top of Temple II to have a better view of the plaza and the temple of the Great Jaguar. There is a large bonfire in the center, where black smoke rises high, and Guatemalans are all around. Music plays throughout the square. Some make a kind of ritual, a small group is dancing and many are just sitting talking.

The guide gives us one last explanation before saying goodbye to us, until here the guided tour arrives! When we go down we enter the square and we mix with the Guatemalans and we enjoy seeing their traditions. We are there for a long time, until we get tired, and we decided to go and see what we can of the park.

Tikal offers a combination of history and nature, since it is both an archaeological site of great importance and one of the most important nature reserves in Central America. In the interior of this tropical forest, more than two thousand plant species have been identified, among which stand out varieties of ceibas, mahogany trees and zapote trees.

Among the varieties of fauna the spider monkeys, howler monkeys (or zaraguates), coatis, toucans, iguanas, tarantulas, and even a crocodile as well as infinity of insects, and mosquitoes can be seen roaming. We ate at the archaeological park, talking with another Guatemalan tourist. The man in his 40s told us that he was a primary school teacher.

On our own, we left the square at the back and headed towards the Central Acropolis, towards Temple V (the second tallest temple), towards the Plaza of the Seven Temples and towards all the structures that we found along the way, visiting everything practically alone.

At 2:30 pm we return to the entrance because the park is quite large and we do not know exactly how long we can take to reach the entrance, which is where the driver who will pick us up at 3:00 pm. Along the way we are surprised by 3 wild boar running past us! We follow the path until we reach the main entrance, where the agency picks us up on time to take us back to the hotel.

We leave Tikal thinking that we have lacked time to go through the park well, since it is huge and we have dedicated a lot of time to the Great Square, but we hope to return at some other time and enjoy everything without having to look at the clock.

After crossing El Remate, we went directly to the hotel. Despite being 4pm, they still serve meals. We ordered food that are quite good and that, being alone in the restaurant, they serve quite fast. The only weird thing is that in the menu as a drink a watermelon shake comes in. So we ordered some lemonades and we left the shake of the menu for dessert.

When leaving the restaurant, without stopping at the hotel as it gets dark so soon, we approach the lake. It is a very nice place with a small dock and there are fishermen and a couple of families, some children are taking a bath. The boys cheer up and jump into the water, they say it's even hot! Since we are there we stayed to see the sunset, it is the perfect place, very quiet and really beautiful.

At about 5:30, having already the sun set, we headed for the main street of the town although the truth is that it is almost all closed and we can not see anything remarkable. We arrived at the hotel, where we sat on their jetty to see the views until there is practically no light.

The hotel is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by jungle and all its fauna. The rooms are divided into small bungalows. It is rustic but cozy. We have a night swim in the pool and in the outdoor Jacuzzi in that jungle environment after the exhausting day of walking with the sound of howler monkeys in the background.

And back in the hotel, we had some muffins and other sweets that we bought in a kind of bakery very close to the hotel and that will be our dinner today.

Trip to Agra - the City of Taj

Today we go by train from Jaipur to Agra, with departure scheduled at 7:00 and arrival at 12:00, for a journey of about 250 kms. We get up at 06:00. At 07:45, the train arrives at the Jaipur station. The train is electric and a little more modern than the first one we took. It also has air conditioning.

Shortly after leaving the station, a waiter passes by with tea, coffee and pastries. At 1:00 pm we arrived in Agra, left the station and took a taxi to our next hotel. The service as in Delhi, totally composed of male staff, who were very friendly and helpful. Next to the hotel there is a restaurant and we eat there.

After lunch we visit Agra Fort, made with red sandstone. It is quite large and very well preserved too. During the occupation of the Mughals, they built fortifications and palaces, followed by the British. After the visit to the fort we go to the Sadar Bazar. It is destined for the local public and it is stressful no matter how chaotic it turned out to be.

We continue to the Taj Ganj, near the south gate of the Taj Mahal, where we read that there are many bars and restaurants that have terraces overlooking the most famous monument in India. When going through the main street the hunting-clients invite us to go up to the terraces. We tried one of them and upon reaching the top, the view is spectacular and of real luxury.

We take a few beers with the view of the Taj Mahal as it gets dark and the feeling is of total relaxation and peace. We are about to put on our back another of the wonders of the world and this makes us immensely happy. Late at night we dined on the same terrace and then returned to the hotel.

Trip to Agra - the City of Taj

Day 2

Today we will visit the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, which is 36 km from Agra and to go we will take a local bus. After breakfast we left the hotel and stopped a tuk-tuk to take us to the bus station of Idgah and from there the bus to the abandoned city. Once at the bus station we took out the tickets. And they indicate the bus number we should take.

As soon as we see it, we cannot believe it. It is pure scrap metal. It sounds like a loose sheet and it emits smoke like a steam locomotive, and this is idling waiting for the time of departure. Several more tourists are assembled and we all look at each other. Surely we all think, where have we got to? But they are a few more tourists, who may already be used to these buses.

The truth, at first is that we wanted to get off but we thought here we have to endure whatever it takes. The bus starts and all the way it was impossible to have a conversation without shouting and air conditioning. All the windows and the door remain open for air to enter.

We left at 09:30 from Agra and arrived at the city of Fatehpur Sikri at 10:45. It takes one hour and fifteen minutes to make 36 km. On the road there was a lot of traffic. Cows, of course are everywhere. They go their way and do not flinch, for nothing. We cross the village of Kiraoli and the road is muddy where the smartest passes first. The driver of the bus does not slow down and is splashing mud all and everything.

We continue and arrive at Fatehpur Sikri without any problem. We get off the bus and walk about 500 meters along the main street, which is also a bazaar full of shops and stops for all kinds of products. Near the end of the street there is a climb and at the end of this is the abandoned city.

After entering, a fellow connects well. He tells us that he is not a guide and that he works in the abandoned city to help tourists and he will guide us without charging us anything. We do not believe it, but we think that it will not hurt a guided tour and when we finish we will negotiate the tip, which he will surely ask for.

The truth is that the guide was perfectly knowledgeable of the city. We were with him for about two hours. He guide us all and explained the whole history of it. After the visit, he accompanies us to a corner where there is a stop for souvenirs. Now we understand, he will try to sell us something and his benefit will be, we assume, the commission to compensate for the work of the visit.

After taking a look at the souvenirs we saw a few that we liked and we started negotiations. In the end we brought back memories for all the family and friends, and we left with full backpacks. This time we were able to look calmly and buy what we liked. As there is some more palace outside the main enclosure and it is still early we continue to contemplate and visit these buildings.

At one point we are surrounded by five or six vendors with a lot of souvenirs and insist that we buy them. We tell them that we have already bought everything and we do not need anything else. We show them the full backpacks to be believed but they keep insisting without ceasing to surround us.

They follow us and insist that we buy from them. We say no again but they keep following us until we stop without paying attention to them to see if they leave. There is nothing to do as they insist but we continue to ignore them. During the rest of the visit we did not see any more.

It is time to return and going the reverse way we return to the bus station. If the outbound bus was pure scrap, this one was a bit more. It was more dilapidated but it made the same noise as the outward one. Back to Agra we find the same thing as the traffic and chaos but we already take it another way. We have passed the test and we are cured of fright.

We arrive in Agra, go to eat and then to the hotel to rest. Once rested we ​​left the hotel and taking a walk we arrived at Tajganj. We went up to the terrace of the bar that we already knew and we relaxed totally seeing again the sunset with the Taj Mahal in the background. We feel happy in spite of everything.

It's time to eat, so we went to a restaurant. We ordered several typical dishes like naan, chicken tikka and mutton biryani. Of course, first the bread, naan, in different versions, of garlic, cheese and spices. and took a night walk to see the area. We decided to return to the hotel.

Upon arriving at the hotel we went up to the room and decided to enjoy the pool facilities. And what a wonder when the waiter brings them us presents us with some typical snacks. We have dinner and go to bed, as the day go by and a new day full of new adventures awaits us.Tomorrow we will dedicate the whole morning to the Taj Mahal and we do not want to miss any corner.

Travel in the Beaches of Lakshadweep Islands

We thought that a place like Lakshadweep deserved a special space on our blog. It was a mental break as well as a physical one and a mini trip within our travel through India. We will tell you the days that we lived in this paradise with special attention hoping to be able to clearly convey our feelings. Tourists can choose to stay in a couple of very luxurious and very expensive resorts in Agatti or Bangaram. There are also packages that the travel agencies make available for the Minicoy or Kavaratti island.

Day 1 - Arabian Sea

We felt a strange sensation in the morning before leaving the hostel in Fort Cochin. It was a mixture of emotions. Of course, we were also quite excited. We felt that we were heading towards a destination dreamed of by many people, a pristine place where we could reset our minds and then return home!

At about 9 o'clock we visit the tourism agency that takes care of our travel to Lakshadweep. We get the instructions, pay and know the place of boarding. While waiting for the ship we met an Austrian girl, traveling solo. In addition, there were a couple of old Finns, Danish girls, Romanians, a Polish, an Indian couple with daughter and a Colombian!

We got on the ship around 10 am and we sailed at half past one! Besides us, tourists the other people on the ship were all inhabitants of the island who go home after shopping or maybe just for a short holiday. Leaving the harbor we saw the first dolphins and at that precise moment, we understood that we would end up in a little corner of paradise.

Day 2 - Minicoy

20 hours later, this morning, we saw the first palm trees in the distance. Instead of dolphins, the giant turtles and an infinite number of flying fish welcome us. I have never seen anything like this. The landing maneuvers were slow and cumbersome. The ship obviously did not reach the island. It turned off the engines about 5 or 6 km away from the coast and small boats came to take us ashore.

We were the last to go down. On the boat, we had the feeling that they were taking us away from India to the Eden. It was very strange. Along the way, we have seen other turtles this time much closer, and the dark blue of the open sea has left gradually, to the turquoise lagoon. We were passing from crowded India to a cover of any magazine or brochure of a tour operator!

Arrived on the ground, we leave for our homestay, not exactly a resort. Seeing that it is not in a holiday village has raised our spirits! Our bungalow is about 15 steps from the sea water, a delight for our eyes! The place where we arrived is incredible, indescribable and simply divine.

The first thing we did was take off our backpacks and put on our beachwear and throw ourselves into the water. The day passed to the sign of total relaxation. Around midday, a guy approached proposing a kayak ride! Sure why not!

Then we went to a small island a few hundred meters from our beach towards the open sea. The idea was to snorkel from those parts where they say there are many live corals and different types of fish! The current, however, did not allow us to dive. So we landed on the small island a few square meters away.

We observed giant waves get infinitely small and disappear about 200 meters away from the shore. The coral reef brakes the sea, creating the fantastic lagoon that we have before our homestay! After the little island, they took us to the open sea and they made us snorkel at a point where the current was much calmer.

For about two hours we swim between corals and fish seen only on television. It was the first time for us. We discovered a completely new world that literally left us speechless. Although the means at our disposal were not the best our first time under the water was truly memorable!

We row until 2. Then they came to call for lunch. In the afternoon, we asked for and got some masks and fins, and we headed a few hundred meters away from our bungalows to try and do some snorkeling. Unfortunately, the attempt was only half successful as the current on that side of the island is quite strong.

While disconsolate we headed back to the calm beach in front of our homes. The guys offered us a boat ride proposing to go and do snorkeling in a better place where there should have been a quieter sea! Obviously, we accepted.

We were half an hour sitting under the sun in the cockpit with the engine that did not want to start! Then the two guys started to screw on and they clearly combined some damage. The fact is that the boat has begun to move and slowly we headed towards the open sea. The water is very low. Shortly after the engine stopped as expected we threw ourselves into the water and enjoyed a couple of hours in the indescribable sea.

In the late afternoon, the owner of our guest house took us on a tour of the island! We moved away from the area to the other side of the island. The town is like one of the many that we saw here in India, nothing particularly interesting. There are many mosques and many women who walk through the streets of the villages! The men were almost all out in the open sea to fish for tuna.

We ended the tour of the island with a visit to the lighthouse. After climbing the 200 steps we could enjoy all the splendor of Minicoy. Upon returning from our excursion, obviously, we dived into the water. The sea does not seem to let us go out. We spend endless hours between turtles and manta rays! We are really resting. Our choice to come and relax was really apt!

The evening is spent in absolute calm. We have a good dinner with tuna served with a simple slice of lemon on a banana leaf plate and various vegetables. We spent a couple of hours on the seashore to watch crabs and other animals of course! We cannot ask for anything better.

Lakshadweep wallpaper images

Day 3 - Bangaram

Like a child at Christmas time, who wakes up at dawn to open the presents, we too woke up very early today. We walked the 15 meters that separate us from the sea and we admired an amazing dawn! As the sun rose the lagoon took color. We see all the shades of blue. Today was our day of visiting the villages of the island.

At about 8:30 we have the breakfast with delicious omelets served at the beach cafe! The day is dedicated to an adventurous trip in a small turboprop. We move to Agatti in less than half an hour flight in the Arabian Sea! In Agatti, an exciting and fun helicopter flight awaits us to reach Bangaram.

We pass through the Suheli Par atoll protected by a great barrier reef. The separation between the blue and turquoise waters is superb. We arrive back in the evening when the sun is setting. So much is the desire for the sea that we do not deny a dip in the clear and calm waters of the lagoon within the coral reef that surrounds the island.

We spent the remaining part of the day lazing on the beach. I went away to take some pictures. Obviously, I started to investigate here and there, talking to all those who stopped me to ask me where I came from! I found the local market selling fish!

Towards the sunset we see some couples rowing perhaps in their honeymoon. However, the day was beautiful. In the evening we see the owner preparing a barbecue. Around 6:45 pm folding tables and chairs were installed on the corridor at the end of the kitchen.

The meat is roasted, and the cook is about to cut it. One guy brings the drinks as some Indian pop music starts playing. To complete, there are various meat and fish dishes to grill ourselves on the embers. A large pot of rice completes this treat. After the chocolate cake, some guests retire. We stay there until 1am. The evening was very successful. We are happy to be together. As we were tired we fall asleep soon!

Day 4 - Laccadive Sea

We would not like to tell you about the last day. Or rather we would like that the last day did not exist. But all the beautiful things end quickly and even our mini vacation at Lakshadweep is over today. We spent the last morning on the island snorkeling not far from the coast. We see corals, a thousand varieties of fish, and turtles. Nothing was missing from the appeal. It was perhaps the most beautiful and satisfying exit we have made here at Minicoy.

This makes our departure even more painful. We had the opportunity to change our ticket and stay another two days. But it would not have been correct. The journey back home must continue. We want to continue to discover this land. Our holiday was among the most beautiful things we have done up to now.

But a vacation is not a journey, and we have come here to travel. This belief of ours also helps us to overcome the sadness of farewell. I hate getting away from a place like this. Today, however, with thirty years on my shoulders I cannot cry. But I assure you that I had the desire. There are places that steal your heart, and Minicoy has done this to me.

A sense of nostalgia grips my minds! I do not know if I'll be back. I do not know until my memories are so clear that I can go back to dreaming of these magical places! We are on the ship in silence, savoring the last moments of our island! We salute our Eden with the hope that the world can offer us other places like Minicoy in the future.

We really hope that in years to come it will be still possible to enjoy a place like Minicoy. We hope for you that there will not be only old photos to admire but that you can travel and enjoy the beauty of the world!

Wetting the feet in the Ganges in Rishikesh

I just arrived in Delhi, at 8 in the morning after an excellent service of the beautiful hostesses. We rest and ate something to leave for the next flight to Dehradun and from there to Rishikesh. After the flight took off and was almost near to landing, the pilot tells us that we are going back to Delhi because there is a sandstorm and we cannot land! Now what do we do? We landed in Delhi and asked the steward who tells us that it is normal.

The safety of the passengers prevails first of all. For a while they do not let us get off the plane. Apparently they tells us that they are thinking whether to send us home and we get out. But, in these moments, I only think about the lap of Nanda Devi. She is the reason for my trip.

A crazy young taxi driver drops me off at the old Delhi station with my fat backpack with sleeping bag, and inflatable mattress. I carry the minimum clothes with another pair of pants, shirts, sweater, gloves and knee pads for the descents. I also carry medicines of infections, altitude sickness, diarrhea, and a dark chocolate bar.

In the small backpack I carry a camera, accessories, and a Delhi travel guide and the area where I go. In the belt pouch, I carry the cards and money. In addition to this, and at 35 degrees, the thick and old jacket of real goose feathers embraced against the chest. I get a ticket for the 11:30 train to Haridwar, but my name is on the waiting list.

My neighbor on the plane has reassured me that I will get a seat when I was discussing the possibilities. They reserve a lot for politicians, military and VIPs. I have a seat but I am exhausted by the effort of climbing the stairs with all the gear. Now I need to take out money. After asking half a dozen of those around me since I got off the taxi, I know that the ATM is on the other side of the tracks, but it does not work.

I find another on the other side that only gives 2,000 rupees. Between ups and downs I check the train time. Haridwar does not appear on the panel, but I get help. I board the coach. My seat is the one below. They are the same trains, the ones left by the British, but much older. I would sleep if it were not for the shrieks and the running of the two children in the compartment opposite.

I tries be alert for the next stop. The train stopped, but nobody is in the hall or the door. I tried to open the exit door, but it was so hard that it was impossible for me. It overwhelmed me a little as I could not see anything from inside and the train started again. I turned to my bunk from the top. Finally a man told me that there were still about 40 minutes left for Haridwar.

In Haridwar, my taxi driver hired through Internet, waits for me to take me to Rishikesh. This city is in chaos, with people going around everywhere. Rishikesh is the supermarket of spirituality since the Beatles came to a meditation course with the famous guru of the moment. There are classes of yoga, meditation and sacred dances for Indians and Westerners in search of the lost soul in ashrams.

There are half hotels, half temples, and spiers on the edges of the sacred Ganges, emerging from the Himalayas. And, in recent years, too, Rishikesh is the trekking and rafting capital of India. Most of all this is concentrated in Tapovan, north of the city and close to the Ganges.

After crossing a madness through narrow streets, ramps, stairs, stalls and temples I reach the narrow metal suspension bridge. Underneath there go by inflatable rafts full of adventurers. The Ganga is very clean and runs with enthusiasm. To all this I must add that the Kumba Mela is this year.

There is a crowd of people, groups of old people, pilgrims, whole families with children running away, sadhus, with their beards and dresses that come from any side, the gurus, the tourists, and the locals. I try to finding a rafting company for the next day. As I seek security first of all I decided to reserve for a higher price and more hours of travel.

First I took a Masala Chai and then I tried the momos in a street stall. The sauce that accompanied them gave them the perfect touch and the dish includes a separate soup. It is full and tasty. I then crossed the bridge, which moves slightly and arrived at the end of the street to the guest house.

My hotel is next to the river, but away from the hustle and bustle. As it is not ready yet, I go to eat at a nearby restaurant where the Beatles were supposed to have composed their White Album. The truth is that the place was full of tourists, with high prices, and western food. Although it is a place that has many western food dishes, they also serve some Indian dish. But I was soon to realize that they were all over Rishikesh in general.

I ordered a paneer butter masala and plain rice that was exquisite. After check in the room boy gives a towel. After a hot bath, I open the suitcase, and take a shawl out. It was 10 o'clock between one thing and another. Then I went go out to the verandah and see the himalayas sleeping in the dark. Of course, that's nothing for what awaits me in the Nanda Devi! I return to bed to go to sleep.

Wetting the feet in the Ganges in Rishikesh

Day 2

The first thing I did on the day was go to the satsang. I was there for half an hour with chants and mantras. Most of the audience were foreigners. I noticed certain rules that I had not been aware of until now. It is not to talk, not to show affection, and avoid physical contact.

I felt a little bad when I realized that a western lady had given me a kiss as a greeting, when it is something that is not due. Especially because she knows the rules, but she said she doesn't care. I would have preferred to respect the customs of the site. But in the face of ignorance, sometimes we do something inappropriate. Now I know. I go to go to the free yoga session at the Ashram.

I was very comfortable in the class. I did what my body allowed me, since it was like the third time in my life that I did yoga. I do not understand anything about the different modalities. The teacher explained me to hold my breath as long as possible.

I go out to see the town to the Ram Jhula and visit the ghats, where I put my feet in the Ganga (which is frozen). I turn on the dslr camera to take a picture and surprisingly after taking the first picture it turns off, marking exhausted battery. At the end without the powerbank that stayed in the room and with the battery discharged I could not use the camera. So I take some pictures with my phone of the brave people who are taking a bath.

The river appears very clean and brings a lot of strength. The Ganga as it passes through Rishikesh is famous for its rapids and therefore rafting business. It is also the entrance to the Himalayas. The accesses to the bridges are a spectacle, of light and color and of sound by the stalls that sell musical discs.

In the temples the prayers go on at full volume. The smell of incense is mixed with the sweet of the dessert stands. Near the bridge there is a restaurant where where I have breakfast. The waiter Chotu seems a character from the Japanese Manga.

The guide pick us up to go to do our rafting of 24 km. We go upstream and at the exit of the rafting they give us an explanation of the material and its corresponding use, they distribute us in the rafts. We start the adventure with a couple of maneuvers to coordinate on the raft. With us are beautiful girls, teachers and a little crazy boy who say that he is national sailing champion.

According to the guide, there are 3 strong rapids, and one of which is the maximum for recreational rafting. Between rapids the rafts are coordinated almost without any coordination. In a calm area, our guide takes out a few bottles of soda and a few bags of chips that come as a ring to the finger as the effort demands intake of something to follow.

At the end of the journey the guide congratulates us as he saw us very well coordinated and in shape and we take some photos for the memory. I have not found the reclining Vishnu and take the shared van that leaves me again near Lakshman Jhula. The Ganga divides the town and these bridges are used, only, by people and motorcycles and bicycles.

The cars have to go around the mountain, to get to this part of town, where the most important and visited temples are those that look like wedding halls. I wander around the west side of Tapovan to buy gifts and go to the Parmarth Niketan Ashram to the Aarti Sthall temple to see the ceremony. Like Benares, the priests sing and offer prayer to the Ganges.

They make people sitting around participate, whether meditating, singing, clapping. Then they offer fire to all the participants and offerings of flowers to the Ganges. It is less striking than that of Varanasi, but in my opinion, more spiritual. The people who are in Rishikesh really live it. In Varanasi it seemed more like a show, and only the locals lived it more intensely.

At 8, I went straight to the hotel where they will give me the Ayurvedic massage. In it I get struck by a western lady whose seems to be in a trance. For one hour two girls and one boy massage my whole body. The boys are slow and lazy compared to the girls.

After a little rest I take a shared van to the market and buy incense packs. I call home and mom tells us that everything is fine. Happily I go for dinner in a place with vegan alternatives that appears in the Lonely Planet guide. I order noodles, french omelet and mashed potatoes and rolls. I return to the hotel. The town looks charming in the night.

Wetting the feet in the Ganges in Rishikesh

Day 3

At 8:30 am I start for trekking route. Another guy and girl joined us. The truth is that they were not very prepared with the clothes for trekking. When we were already on the road, the guide told us that the road was 23 km long and that we can travel by car, and that the one on foot was farther away. He tells that people used to get in a shared car and walk down the path.

I decided to drive up and walk down joined by another couple and we share the expenses. I climbed up to the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, which I was disappointed because I do not know why I had made the idea in my head that it was going to be a nice little place in the middle of the mountain. The only thing to highlight is a thousand-year-old tree that grows in the walls of it, and a fire that, according to what we have been told is burning for 1500 years.

I bought something to eat in a nearby stall and eat it on the fly. The descent has been all along a cement road that runs along the forest. Between that, and the amount of garbage and flip flops that were at the sides, the ride has been less pleasant than I would have expected. But hey, I have walked 3 hours. And I had almost another hour from where I got to yoga class.

I went back to the Yoga class they offer for free. Today we had another teacher with another totally different form of yoga. I dine at the restaurant with open door in the street, which was perfect and delicious. I see them cooking with the open stove and the truth is that it has been very fast, and good. I ordered onion masala dosa, aloo matar and a lassi. The lassi was nothing special.

The car was waiting for me on the way to Joshimath. The landscape is very beautiful. The road runs hanging from the steep mountains and three hundred meters above the river. Forests are still very green, monkeys jump among the trees and the inevitable cows lie down or walk through the irregular asphalt. There are small villages of colors settled on the slopes and white temples crowning the hills.

There is a lot of traffic. It is the time of the Char Dham Yatra, the annual pilgrimage to the four temples located at the headwaters of the rivers that form the Ganges. Soon I arrive at the first detachment that cuts the route. The monsoons have retreated only a few days ago and their torrents gut the ground. A mechanical shovel pulls rocks and dirt to the edges while we wait.

Then, all of them, from both ends, want to go first. Trucks, buses, cars and motorcycles rub against each other and take off the site with a horn. But nobody gets upset. Joshimath continues with the same aspect. The road is its main street and only that it has tripled its length from one point to another.

I see stores on both sides, and one in four sells mobiles, as in the rest of India, while trucks, taxis and other carriages make their way through the crowd with the sound of their horns. And everything is very peaceful. I stay overnight in one of the hotels, the highest one.

I climb a couple of hours more through a magnificent and lonely forest, almost enchanted, to a wide meadow to take some pictures of the Nanda Devi as the eternal white divine queen of Kumaon, as they call it here, is radiant and wonderful.

I stayed in a stupendous wooden cabin located under the ridge just in the upper limit of the level of the forests. I lie down for an hour. It seems that I am acclimating very well to the altitude. Before dinner I talk to young guys from Bangalore, the other inhabitants along with their porters from the cabin.

They were tired with cold and running water from their noses. I have a great hot soup with vegetables. I sleep fully dressed inside the jacket.

Wetting the feet in the Ganges in Rishikesh

Day 4

In a collective taxi, I go to Badrinath, one of the four most sacred temples in India because there, at the foot of the Nilkanta, is born the Alaknanda, one of the cited rivers. After visiting the colorful and crowded temple and ringing the bell of the entrance to get away from me the evil spirits, I launch myself up the mountain to test my legs.

After so many hours of plane, train and road, I am now in my element. There are some sadhus living in stone huts or under a rock topped by red flags near the path. We exchanged greetings and I keep ascending. I feel still young, but I have to admit that with much more effort.

Again, after the first long climb, the hard crossing of the rough gorges, at times wrapped in fog. I decide to descent. When I see the rocks crowned by orange flags that announce the cabin, I feel a good time to say goodbye to the great mountains. I think aging is like climbing one of them.

I feel younger. Already down the forest I thought about my trekking next year. Or do I keep it for when I'm about to turn eighty? In the afternoon, my smiling, educated, modern guide for the trek, comes to see me at the hotel. I keep acclimating to the altitude. So the next day I'm going to Auli (3,000 mt), a meadow above Joshimath recently converted into a ski resort.