Voila, the week is over, the luggage is ready. Tomorrow is the big departure to North India. Auli is located at 2,500 meters and very close to the Nepal and China border. Anyway, whether there is snow or not, the important thing is to be there.

Day 1

We just landed in Delhi, after 3 hours in flight. It is 29 degrees and wet. I take the taxi. It is 3:40 pm and after spending 2 hours between the two bus stations I am finally at the bottom of the bus for an unknown destination. The trip itself is likely to be epic with luggage on the knees.

At 7 we reach halfway. We have a 30 minute stop in a kind of dhaba to rest after a village. Around 10 we reach Hardwar, and the bus gets empty in a full and lively street, with noises everywhere. We still have 1 hour before the next stop. We leave, cross two bridges spanning large rivers. The bus stops again at the entrance of a village, a crossroad or in the middle of nowhere.

At 11 we reach Rishikesh. Our next bus is at 3:30 am. After negotiating with a rickshaw we go to the bus terminal and wait at the stop. It is not really cold, and we are not alone.

Day 2

I learn our bus does not leave at 3:30 but at 6:30! I therefore run around to find a driver and a car to do this last step more quickly. It was not counting on the local mafia drivers. We are found a Tata Sumo but as it is shared we need another 10 passengers and the luggage will be on the roof.

This is not possible and we have not seen the bus yet. So I get back on this parking lot. It looks cleaner and better maintained than the public bus of the first stage. It's reassuring but it is night. We go inside. We are the first to see the time and decide to sleep while waiting for the departure.

It leaves on time. First, the bus, finally a mini-bus that we suspect have been a school bus. Indeed, the seats are not very spread and the rows are very close. I managed to keep the place next to me empty for a good time but there was the stops and newcomers. I tried to sleep on this 11 hour trip. The state of the road and the bends no longer did not facilitate this task.

Here we are roaming the mountains along the Ganges. The landscapes are beautiful. We went from the agricultural plains to terrace farms. The green Ganges is bordered by large hills and mountains. At times we have the impression to discover beaches of white sand. They are beaches of gravel whitened by the sun. The contrast is striking. We have our eyes full and we live some thrills.

The road winds along hills and mountains. We climb to the pass passes then down to cross a bridge at water level. The roads at the edge of cliffs has no guard. Sometimes I look out the window and I see a road edge lace or the rear tire seems to flourish with the emptiness. It is impressive considering the height. In addition, this road is mainly used by construction trucks, and freight transport.

It was a trip that was thrilling by the conditions but beautiful by the landscapes. It is 4:30 pm. At the detour of a mountain I see in the distance the eternal snows of the Himalayan summits. But this remains in the distance because there is still 2 hours of travel towards Joshimath, our last stop before Auli.

At 6:30, we finally put our bags on the ground. More than 14 km to get to Auli, we search the driver who will drop us. It is necessary to negotiate again. The mafia is there. It is difficult to discuss without anyone around who plays the number and which imposes the tariffs. From Joshimath we take a cable car to go to the ski resort.

Here we come finally, after 34 hours of travel. I have a desire to take a shower and eat something hot. Regarding the temperatures, we went from 34 degrees in Delhi to a few degrees below 0 at Auli. From wearing tee-shirt I am almost in ski suit now.

Auli is neither a city nor a village. It is rather like a ski resort. The main town is Joshimath. In Auli there are 2 types of comfort, government or private accommodation. We had opted for the government one. We reserve a cottage. The cottages are called huts and has only one room in addition to the bathroom.

Trekking to the Ski Resort in Auli in Uttarakhand

Day 3

What incredible landscapes! The cloud ceiling was low and in the morning, we find the clouds hanging on the mountain like a scarf knotted around the shot. That's wonderful. We see clouds surrounded by peaks, as if in retreating. It had created a cottony lake. The goal for us was also to see for the first time the Nanda Devi, the second highest peak of India at 7800 m, Mana at 7200 m and Khamet at 7750 m.

The contrasts are striking. We even note the demarcation of snow and rain on the peaks, as if a line. There is little snow with some patches at the level of the surviving dwellings of the previous glaciation. We are more than 2500 meters. The sun is hitting harder. Enjoying the ski slopes will be difficult, so we decide for the hike.

We tramp in the woods, on snow, and see a mini lake. We crossed ski schools that had the courage to ride with the skis or the ski lifts were not planned. The area is very large and wide. It must be very different under snow. We arrive at 3000 m altitude to discover the panorama with 360 degree view on all the surrounding peaks. It's simply grandiose! On the other side is Tibet. The weather is beautiful and sublime. I do not want to go down.

We went down to Joshimath to negotiate a taxi to Badrinath for next day. The negotiation was not very fruitful, as none of the drivers were willing to take us. This is our last evening in Auli. The weather is overcast. We call our room boy for the last time (the one who lights the wooden stove) and he assures us that we will get a car. We go to bed early as we have to wake up at 6 am.

Day 4

Our driver is on time. We quickly take the road, as we do not want to waste time. We go to Badrinath. Located at over 3100 m altitude, this small village will close its doors tomorrow for the winter. The villagers will go down a little lower in the Valley. Here the climate is too rough, without means of heating.

On this occasion a great religious festival is organized. A group of tourists that we meet on site make us discover this ceremony from inside. Since the beginning of our trip we have real beautiful encounters. We still have the warm heart of these friendships. As contact is not always easy in these places, when an emotion passes, it is even more strong!

The fighter jet pilot in the Indian Air Force will be our guide during our pilgrimage to Badrinath. So much so that we will travel together the next day. So here we are to share the jeep! On the way we often stop at temples we cross. We gain red powder and grains of rice glue on the forehead. And then we stop to drink a chai or eat a thali.

We leave our new friends in Karnaprayag because we now want to go to the Kumaon region. They go back to Rishikesh. We leave the cold steep valleys of the Garwhal to join the Kumaon, which also offers superb views of the Himalayas, but in a much greener environment. We see rice fields and tea plantations on the terrace. We cross hamlets of villages. The green and the blue are side by side. We came from a world of gray and stones.

The road is well endangered finally. We cross mostly trucks. There is work everywhere and what strikes after a week away from everything is the world. There is people everywhere, walking along the road, sitting or waiting for a hypothetical bus, as there is no stop.

And above all, on the edge of the chasm, on the landslide, people break stones tirelessly to maintain and repair the roads. They break pebbles all day long, to reduce them to crumbles and they are thousands! The rocks detached from the mountain become gravel under the blows of hammers. Everything is handmade. It's like in the Middle Ages. It breaks the heart to see them working in these conditions.

It is 4.30 pm when we arrive at our destination. The hotel we found in Kausani is a small paradise on earth. From our terrace it is an invitation to admire the giants of snow and rock. This stop is relaxing and really very appreciable in the pine forests. We hear even the cicadas! The sun also warms us up a bit more.

Indian cuisine has earned the deserved reputation of spicy. However, a few days of travel will show you that the range of flavors served at Indian tables is far from being able to describe with a word. The sweets, based on syrup and dairy, are as exciting as they are intense, and although they are not used to serving as a dessert in restaurants, they are the perfect culmination to cleanse the palate of memories of chile.

The Kheer is one of the most popular desserts in India. From the northern peaks of the Himalayas to the coastal regions along the Indian Ocean, everyone enjoys it. The importance of this great Indian pudding is based on the fact that it is appetizing for the palate of different cultures. There is more than one way to prepare Kheer dessert. Cultures throughout India and even worldwide prepare the Kheer according to their respective tastes. The variety is surprising. The Kheer is not only prepared in the traditional way of northern India.

There are cultures that prepare apple and banana Kheer even with a slightly bitter version of the pumpkin (in the city of Hyderabad, a version known as Gil-e-Firdaus). The varieties of Indian dessert do not stop only in India. Neighboring China also has its own version, where the preparation includes fruits and honey and are distributed in layers. Rice with a layer of gelatin is added to this version.


Surprisingly the Kheer has a non-vegetarian variant. In fact some say that initially the Kheer was a meat dish but evolved through the centuries as we know it today. The origin of Kheer remains largely unknown. Although mentions are found in a lot of ancient books of Ayurveda (it is also used for medicinal purposes especially as a coolant and for detoxification) and in the ancient Hindi poem in Padmavat, its origin remains debatable.

Popular opinion however falls in favor of the Indian subcontinent because the word Kheer is derived from a Sanskrit word Ksheera which means milk. The Kheer has a very deep religious association in India. It is to date used as an offering in most Bids and Hawans. The invocation to the gods is considered incomplete without him. In spiritual Dhams like Jagannath Puri, Orissa the Prasad is known as the Kheer Prasad.

In the deep south of India, it is known as Payasam and is diluted more than its counterpart in North India. In the famous temple of Ambalapuzha, payasam serves as prasadam to all devotees. In contemporary times, we also have what is known as Kheer Pasta, Kheer Oats, and even Cucumber Kheer. This is indicative of the evolutionary stages that the great Indian pudding has to go through.

We share with you a Kheer recipe, for a Diwali full of Indian style sweetness.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter)
¼ cup of basmati rice or long grain rice
1 liter of whole milk
½ cup of brown sugar
1 pinch of ginger
4-5 seeds of freshly crushed cardamom
Some almonds
Some pistachio

Preparation

• Heat the milk up (it is good even in the microwave)

• Melt the almonds and pistachios a little lukewarm water

• In a spoonful of warm milk break a pinch of ginger so that it mixes better with the other ingredients

• In a deep pan from the bottom, often toast the rice in the ghee, then add the warm milk

• Boil the milk with the rice over medium heat, continuing to mix

• Lower the heat to a minimum, add the crushed cardamom and continue to cook stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom, until the liquid is reduced by half (about an hour and a quarter)

• When the volume is halved, stirring constantly, add the sugar, ginger, almonds and pistachios and remove from the heat

• Pour into a bowl or cups, decorated with almonds and pistachios

• Serve lukewarm or cold, after leaving the kheer in the refrigerator for at least four.

At 10.20 I have to take the night train to Ajmer. Ajmer is housed in arid plains, surrounded by the Aravalli range. During a trip to Rajasthan, this small town is a good place to rest. Indeed, there is not much to visit. At a prudential hour I went out in search of the autorickshaw. I take one on the move and I tell him to wait a moment while I go to look for the backpacks.

I said goodbye to our charming little hotel. I have a thali and I sit in the waiting room. I make the beds and I am going to sleep because I am supposed to arrive at our destination at 3.45 in the morning. However, the hours go by and I cannot sleep. Every time I get more nervous and it becomes increasingly difficult to fall asleep. I listen to all the songs and I'm still awake.

A Solo Trip To Ajmer in Rajasthan

Day 2

Finally I think I fall asleep, but the moment wakes me up because I are about to arrive. It's 3.30 and I will not have slept more than 30 minutes. I arrived at the Ajmer train station around 4 in the morning. The station is full of people and at that time there are no buses. I am besieged by several rickshaw drivers who fight each other and I say no.

In principle I were going to wait for the bus but seeing that they lowered the price to me alone I decided to leave, so I could look for a hotel soon and sleep a little longer. The road is full of curves and at night, a little dangerous. I tell him the hotel, and he insists that it is not good. It is hard to find it and by the time it is closed! The city looks less friendly than Jaipur.

In Ajmer there are few hotels and not very good ones. Everyone goes to Pushkar. I look at a couple of other hotels but they are dumpy and they are in the center, so as I want to rest from chaos, I return to the starting point. Around there I see a car from which a boy comes down and offers me his hotel. I go with him and without thinking much I stay there and do not go to sleep for a while.

I decide to have breakfast. The hotel receptionist informs me about all the points of interest of the city, of which there are three. I then start a complete tour of the city of Ajmer. In the end I decided to rent a bike. I have until 12:30 to return it. First I head to Taragarh, the ruins located at the top of a mountain. The road is a bit scary because it is full of curves. It's worth the detour, as the view is magnificent!

I leave towards the Akbar Fort. I cross the old town and its many stalls. Unfortunately, the fort is closed for renovations. I will therefore be satisfied with the exterior facade whose architecture reminds me of the forts of Jaipur and Amer, seen a few days earlier.

On the way to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah mosque complex from the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the most important Muslim pilgrimage center in India, I spent time leisurely strolling through the Daulat Bagh park with marble pavilions of Ana Sagar Lake.

It is green and dense as a cream of spinach, where people lay down to sleep or sit to see the waters and mountains on the other side, However, about 100 meters before arriving, on the stairs of a ghat on the shore of the lake, I find dozens of people bathing.

I arrive and go to see the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. The street is a suffocating bustle and the entrance was crowded with devotees. Anyway, the neighborhood around is lively and effervescent, and it deserves a few laps. It is a very cool place, with stalls, small shops, and people dressed and doing the same thing that was done a hundred years ago. There are some pots, the largest in the world that are capable of making 100 kg of rice for the city.

To access it, I cross the Nalla Bazar, an endless lane where jostle merchants of all kinds, onlookers, families of exit, unfortunately also some people in search of a small room to eat and the eternal motorcycles, scooters, rickshaws and even carriages all this accompanied by a happy concert of horn. There is a large esplanade dedicated to music and shows. I see the tomb of a Sufi saint.

Pilgrims come to this site to pray for Sufi help to heal illness, personal problems or to succeed in business. Each vow is materialized by an orange ribbon hanging from the bars of the mausoleum. Gifts and offerings are also made and thrown into 2 huge cauldrons. In these cauldrons, I see a little bit of everything from money, bags of rice. There is even a guy who throws his phone! The guide gives me a red and yellow string necklace as a sign of blessing for our trip.

I come out and then I go to the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra mosque that is full of goats. I take another ride with the bike and decided to return to return the bike. For lunch I ordered a fried rice, dal tadka, salad accompanied by papaya juice. I went to the street towards the center and stopped at the train station 10 minutes from the guest house. There is a lot of rats running around. I get a ticket to Jodhpur for the day after tomorrow.

I then visited the Ajmer Jain temple, also known as Soniji Ki Nasiyan. This is the first time I visit a temple of Jain religion and it is simply amazing! I see a closed room that contains a gold or gold kitch representation of our universe, supposed to be a representation of Ayodhya.

I go around admiring through windows, and also from the floor. There is a palace, a sacred mountain and the gods move in flying boats with animal heads floating in the air. For fans of Disneyland, it's like being in old world. Our guide is one of the descendants of the artists who painted the model in fine gold and made the colorful paintings of precious stones from the ceilings. He himself takes care of the maintenance and restoration of the frescoes.

Wanting a beer, I search around the station. In front of it is the hotel but it is next to a mosque, and Ajmer is the Muslim nerve center of India. From a distance, on a side street, I see a bar signboard. Upon arrival, a beer bar sign welcomes me to a chipped door that has a narrow, steep staircase.

At the end is an amazing gambling den, with a crowded atmosphere. Bollywood songs from the 50's play on a TV in the background with people having light or strong beers or whisky. I talk and enjoy in the priceless club. I eat at a restaurant that serves me very good chicken biryani, located right in the heart of Dargah Bazaar!

On the way back to the hotel, I hallucinate at the addiction to the horn of several drivers who pass alone without crossing with anyone, but they can not stop beeping.

Already in the garden of the guest house, it is a paradise of any entomologist, as the geckos are in abundance. Back at night in the back of the bus, I observe the game of sensual gestures between a pair of young couple, one in the left row and another in the right separated by the corridor. I was about to encourage them and tell them to kiss each other now, after half an hour of winks and glances and gestures.

In hindsight, I now understand why the auto rickshaws assail me all day long shouting Pushkar every time they see me walking in the streets of Ajmer. There is really not much to do in Ajmer in terms of tourist attraction, if not the visit of the Jain temple which is really splendid. However, this city is a good base for those who want to rest during a long trip, and to immerse themselves in local life, off the beaten path.

We got up early at 6:30 in the morning as we wanted to make the most of the day and see many things. I wanted to avoid big queues in places like the Vatican.

Santa Maria Maggiore was the first we saw, since we had it just outside the hotel. The good thing about this church, like almost all the others, is that it opened at 7 in the morning. So we saw it without any problem. Then we went down to the Colosseum on Via Cavour, stopping at San Pietro in Vincoli.

As it was 8:30 or so in the morning there were almost no people, which allowed us to see it with tranquility. The truth is that it took us a while to find it because it was after climbing some stairs from which the church was not visible.

A Walk around Rome

The particularity of this church is not its spectacularity, but in it are the chains of San Pietro and the Moses of Michelangelo. They are impressive, especially the Moses. After this, we went down to the Via dei Fori Imperiali. On Sunday, since this street is closed to traffic it's nice to walk without the burden of cars.

After Trajan's Forum we headed towards the Altare della Patria, but as it was still closed. We walked down to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where the Bocca della Verita is. On the way there is a church (I do not remember the name) full of people as Sundays are wedding days in Rome.

In Santa Maria in Cosmedin there were almost no people, so in 5 minutes we took the picture with Boca. There are some small urns to leave donations. I say this because everyone throws something, more than anything by compromise, since there is a security guard guarding the mouth and people who happen to take the picture.

It does not make much of a case. In fact, we take the picture, while he talks on his cell phone and barefoot, with the shoes lying there. The church interior is very small and somewhat abandoned or that was my impression. There are the relics of Valentine's Day, and a sign to the lovers.

On the way up we went to see Altare della Patria. There are security guards who start whistling like crazy so we cannot sit down or bend over to take a picture. Another curious thing is that they charge 50 cents for going to the washroom inside the monument, which is common in many places.

Following the signs, we get to a panoramic elevator that goes up to the highest part of the monument and from which we can see all of Rome. The truth is that it is worth it, but it is a little expensive. Another curiosity is the flame that is lit on the stairs, guarded 24 hours a day by guards.

After seeing the monument to Vittorio Emanuele we walked all the way through Via dei Fori Imperiali. We pass through the Colosseum to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which is the Cathedral of Rome. This Basilica is awesome. At the central doors of the cathedral, on the inside, there are two handles shaped like children.

Tradition says that all pregnant women in Rome who want to have a son, go to touch them. The Holy Stairs is just in front of the Basilica. This ladder is the one that Christ ascended in the palace of Pontius Pilate. People raise her on her knees, step by step, asking what each one wants. On some steps there are circles of glass. These circles are on the areas of the stone where the blood of Christ is falling from his forehead. It's quite an experience to hold them.

After this, we go down again towards the Colosseum. It was already broken and there was still a long day. We went to the Palatine and waited a little queue for about 30 minutes. There is a discount for members of the European Union under 25 years of age. When we left it was already 3 o'clock, so we went to eat. We ate at a restaurant that is on the street. I do not remember the name but it was overlooking the Colosseum and right next to a gay bar. We ate great and cheap.

After eating, and since we already had the ticket bought when we entered the Palatine, we entered the Colosseum. We did not have a guide. Some friends who have been recently were with a guide told me that it was worth it. We just wait to enter for 5 minutes. After seeing it we went to the hotel to take a shower and to rest for a while, as we were super tired. Not before buying some gifts near ​​the Santa Maria Maggiore. We bought magnets and a keychain.

After resting we walked towards Via Nazionale. In this area there are cheap and nice restaurants. Afterwards we walked to the Pantheon and the Fontana. Of course, it was an unforgettable experience. We had an ice cream in the oldest ice cream shop in Rome. It's called San Crispino and there are two in the area.

One is in front of the Fontana, with the ice cream shop in the street on the right. And in the Pantheon, as we leave it behind us, there is a street that goes straight ahead on the left side. Right down that street, when turning the corner is another. It's tiny but has some delicious ice cream. Do not leave Rome without trying the ice cream.

I ordered a melon flavour and had even the characteristic strands. We also ordered one of fig that had the seeds! The two ice creams came out a little expensive, but it's worth it. And after seeing the Illuminated Fontana and Pantheon, which by the way is the best image that I take of Rome came back to hotel.

A Walk around Rome and its Ice cream Shops

Day 2

We get up early, like every day at 6:30 in the morning and at 7 we head for breakfast. At about 8 we left the hotel towards the metro, because to go to the Vatican it is necessary to take it. We took the red line to the Ottaviano stop. There we got off and walked along Via Ottaviano, which leads to the Vatican. We walk about 10 minutes and follow all the people because everyone goes to the same place.

As it was around 8:30 in the morning, there were almost no people. We saw the St. Peter's Square and we passed Basilica. To get to the Basilica, we have to access through some security arches on the right side of the colonnade. When we enter the Basilica just to the right is Michelangelo's Pieta, curiously protected with a Methacrylate crystal.

It is the only sculpture that we saw so protected and personally I was quite surprised. Because for example, Michelangelo's Moses was almost within reach, only protected by a mini wooden fence of only 30 cm in height. It will be for being inside the Vatican. As we continue on the side of the Pieta, a little further on, we see the tomb of John Paul II.

It was hard for us to find it since we thought it was in the papal tombs, but then they told us that since they beatified him, they went up to the Basilica. The first time we entered the Basilica we passed by as we did not know that this was the tomb. We see it from afar as there is a cordon of security and there are also several security people giving way only to nuns and priests.

One thing that we see is that there are many security people, of American movie types with dark suits and pinches. It surprised me a lot. As we walk around the Basilica we see little stairs that go down just below a very large statue (like all the ones in the Basilica). There we can access the papal tombs.

We go to another site that I will now tell you. There is also a sacristy that we can access. At the end of the corridor leading to this sacristy there is a souvenir shop and a museum. In this souvenir shop, among other things such as rosaries, scapulars there are some little glass bottles to be filled with blessed water.

These boats are found in all the stores around the St. Peter's Square. We buy it in the store inside the Sacristy, and we see a security boy. We give him the little boats and he goes to the Sacristy and at the same time he goes out with them full of holy water.

After seeing the Basilica, and luckily, there were hardly any people since it was early, we went up to the dome. To go to the elevator and the stairs we have to leave the Basilica and right at the door go to the left and there are the lockers. We see it indicated we enter the Basilica. We went up in an elevator.

We have the option to climb the 800-odd steps or walk up the elevator halfway up the road. From above there are spectacular views of Rome and especially of St. Peter's Square. The views were not very clear. Back to the elevator we enter a store that has religious memories and things right in this half of the way. I bought a rosary in this store.

At 11:30 we had arranged the visit to the Ufficio Scavi. I did not know about the existence of this trip to the Vatican necropolis. I made the reservations by mail and I had no problem. They were super quick to answer me and send me the tickets that you should print. I sent an email indicating the day I was going to the Vatican.

They confirmed that I had room to make the visit. I sent them a new mail indicating my credit card number and in just a couple of hours I had the confirmation and the tickets to print. At first I was not very confident about having to send my card number by mail, but I read that many travelers had done so and had not had any problems. I did it super fast and without problems.

To access the Scavi Ufficio, we go to the left colonnade as we look at the Basilica in front. There is a security control of the police that we must pass and then go to the Swiss guard who are the ones who give us access to access this area. Then we walk a little bit, all in a straight line and we arrive at the Ufficio Scavi. It lasts an hour and a half and the last thing we see is the original Saint Peter's tomb. Then, we go directly to the area of ​​the papal tombs.

After this, we go to see the Basilica again. This time it seemed that we were going in procession of the amount of people there, and see the tomb of John Paul II, which in the morning we had not seen because we thought he was in the papal tombs. We went out in search of a place to eat.

In the end, seeing that the time to enter the Vatican Museums was upon us, we ate in a little stall on the street. We ate chicken panini and water. We did not like anything. The bread was super hard, and overheated. The chicken did not taste like chicken but between the hunger we had and the time that we were on, we ate whatever they give us.

We entered the Vatican Museums at 2:30. To access, we go out through the right colonnade. We walk down the street and go along the wall that there is. When we arrived there was an infinite queue, but as we were having the tickets, we tried to access by an area, supposedly for those who bought the tickets. The result was that they opened the doors and there everybody entered.

Of course, for anyone who understands art is paradise, and the impressive Sistine Chapel. I had been told it was very small, but when I saw it, it seemed very big. Yes, we were very squeezed and the security guards do not let you take pictures, and they kept shushing. The truth is that the visit was very long. We were very tired, and there were many people, many groups with guides but well, it is worth seeing, and more if you understand art.

At the exit, from the museum, we go to a souvenir shop. There is a post office. The Vatican has its own Post Office. It was the only place where I found Vatican coins. I wanted to buy some to give to my father because he collects them. In the St. Peter's Square, there is a numismatic shop. I asked there but they told me that they did not have them, that I should ask in the souvenir shops around the square because they sold them there.

I asked at a store on the way to the Museums and they told me that they did. They sell them in collector's cases. They also told me that the only euro currency that is in circulation in the Vatican is 50 cents. The rest, they only sell them to collectors and they are not in circulation. For my purchasing power they were very expensive. So I asked in the post office of inside the museums and there they sold the coins of 50 cents.

Once we left, we took a bus that took us to Trastevere. We entered the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere and we walked a little through the neighborhood. After walking, we went to the Tiber Island and back to the hotel. At night we went for a walk and dinner. We got into a restaurant of these in which they offer pizza and drink. It was not bad, but not to good either.

I still dream of the first pizza I ate in Rome. Later, we went to the Fontana, to say goodbye to her, since it was our last night, and of course, to eat a banana and chocolate ice cream. If a banana ice cream is natural, its color is gray, nothing of the typical yellow color. I can tell you that its flavor is unforgettable.

A Walk around Rome

A Walk around Rome

Nag Panchami is a snake festival that is held in numerous places in India. It is celebrated in the month of July or August. Snakes are offered milk and even silver jewelry. In addition, fasting is usually done that day. In this festival, married women and girls, get up very early in the morning. After a bath, they arrange the offerings and go to places filled with snakes. If there are no snakes nearby, offerings are given to temple statues.

Fairytales, legends, myths, and fables often revolve around animals. These are then used as symbols. They are related to human behavior or are intended to express the concerns or virtues of the animals. Everyone sees, for example, a symbol for a ruler in the lion, the fox as smart and cunning, the bear as good-natured. The Eagle is a symbol of heaven. The serpent among others is a symbol of the earth, underworld, or for wisdom.

The snake is an animal which, because of its characteristics, hit and stimulated the imagination of human beings, often as a legendary creature in the folklore and mythology of various cultures. The figure of the serpent is part of the mythological accounts of a large number of ancestral cultures.

The so-called sea serpents have been described since antiquity. Usually, sea snakes are described as eels. In many other cases, the serpent appears under the figure of the dragon, a mythological being that is also present in a number of cultures.

For no animal, there are as many and as contradictory interpretations as for the snake. In natural religions, the snake is the bearer of the souls of the dead. When skinning, she puts her old skin off, symbolizing renewal, eternal life, and rebirth.

Among Hindus and Buddhists, the serpent is the guardian of wisdom. Egyptians, Greeks, and Tibetans treat them as Ouroboros, as the serpent biting into the tail. It is a symbol of eternity. In Mithraism, the snake curling around the tree symbolized the course of time. This list of snake symbols can be continued almost any time.

Ancient people certainly did not consider snakes for strikingly wise animals, which were distinguished by wisdom. However, in humans of all continents snakes gained extraordinary mythological meaning, which is explained by a snake-fear that is anchored in our subconscious minds. At the sight of snakes, we usually react very emotionally. They not only frighten us but also excite and captivate us that we tell stories about them.

Such emotions, triggered by snakes, were presumably the origin of snake myths and snake veneration as they occur in various forms on all continents. Many snake cultures have survived to the present day, and even Christianity, who treat is a satanic symbol could not prevent the penetration of pagan snake cultures into Christian rituals. There is such a Christian snake cult even today in Central Europe.

The snake is one of the oldest and most common mythological symbols, being present in the majority of cultures with similar meanings. The characteristics of the snake that humans have stimulated its association with supernatural themes are numerous. Sometimes the serpent and dragon have similar symbolic value as snake venom has similar characteristics to those of the fire launched by a dragon.

A snake festival takes place every year around May. Findings of snake sculptures give rise to the assumption that there were processions here long before the Christianization. The snakes were carried around the fields. This is a typical magical ritual in honor of the fertility goddess for good harvests.

For example, the Ladon of ancient Greece and the Norse Nidhoggr are sometimes described as snakes and sometimes as dragons. In China, the snake Indian nāga is often confused with the Chinese Dragon (lóng). The serpent god Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs and Toltecs also has wings, like its equivalent in Mayan mythology.

There is an infinity of ancestral stories and representations of all kinds such as engraving, carving, paintings, handicrafts, fabrics on the Serpent. We can find it in the Torah, in Sumer myths, in ancient Egypt, in the ancient cultures of India, in China and also in the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya, and Mexican cultures among many others.

How is it possible that the figure of the serpent and its symbology is present in such distant cultures, which supposedly never had contact with each other? It is understandable in the case of related cultures, or those influenced by conquests or migrations, but how could this myth reach all corners of the planet?

In Norse myths, the image of the ouroboros appears again in the form of text, represented as Jörmungandr or also called Snake of Midgard, son of Loki and Angrboda. In some African religions, snakes are sacred animals. Indications or references to Ouroboros have also been found in the Phoenician people, in India, in some African religions and traditions influenced by them.

In Japan dragons (Nihon no ryū) are legendary creatures widely spread in local mythology and folklore. The myths of Japanese dragons amalgamate native legends with stories imported about dragons from China, Korea, and India. In Mapuche mythology, Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu are powerful snake-like beings. In the aboriginal mythology of Australia, the Rainbow Serpent is a creative deity, bringing life to an empty space.

In the tradition of the Native American Hopi people, they had a figure called káto'ya, which was a big-headed snake. In the representations of the Vedic gods, we can find them in many cases accompanied by serpents. Such is the case of Varuna, the Vedic god of storms, who is considered the king of the Nagas. In the legends of India and all of Southeast Asia, the nâgas are inhabitants of the underworld where they jealously guard the treasures of the earth.



In Khmer iconography, the male naga has an odd number of heads, while the females have an even number. In Buddhist mythology, Muchilinda is the king of the nagas who protected the Buddha from the great rain that fell after his spiritual enlightenment.

In the Mexican mythology, Cipactli/Tlaltecuhtli is a sea monster that lived in the ocean after the fourth deluge. Sumerian mythology has among its more ancient deities Lahmu and Lahamu, two giant brothers who used to be represented by a serpent. For its part, Mexican mythology brings its version of the myth of Tiamat merged with that of Lahmu and Lahamu, with the astonishing resemblance.

All this evidence would point to a coincidence with a nonexistent probability or the possibility of a common origin, a source that has been able to impregnate its knowledge and myths to other civilizations, of a Mother Culture that have bequeathed its culture to its successors.

According to some scholars, the frequency of the serpentine figure in the traditions and human symbolism is rooted in something real that happened at the dawn of human evolution. Among some researchers, there was some confusion when considering the extremely tight time space in which the human species evolved.

It is as if all these mythical stories were different versions deformed with the passage of time and generations, of a single event.
If you go looking for a second fish dish very inviting and delicious but also healthy and nutritious, here you have found the recipe for you. It is the Bhapa Chingri or steamed shrimp. The prawns must be fresh of course. If you can personally go to the port or, if you do not have one nearby, you can go to the fish market or the market early in the morning. Choose redder and beautiful shrimp that you will find and bring home.

Remember that shrimp and fish, in general, should not have a faint smell of ammonia else it would mean that the freshness is a distant memory. You will need to prepare a fabulous mustard sauce to accompany this amazing recipe that will become a permanent fixture in your kitchen.

When you cook the steamed shrimp, the main thing to remember is that crustaceans do not take long and should never be overcooked. You can make steamed shrimp on the stove, in a steamer or in the microwave. The Bhapa Chingri or steamed prawns undergo a light cooking that will allow you to do an encore without scruples. The flavored water is a nice touch, the smell of the dish is intense and recalls the atmosphere of the East. It is a simple appetizer but the results are amazing.



Ingredients

10 prawns
4 tbsp oil
1 cup coconut
1 small onion
5 tbsp mustard paste
2 green chilies
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 banana leaf
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste

Recipe Method

Wash prawn pieces properly and then immerse it in salt water for about 5 minutes. Take out the prawns from the water and dry them properly.

In a steel bowl, combine oil, onion, grated coconut, sugar, green chillies, red chilli powder, mustard paste, salt, turmeric and sugar, mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate them in the coconut mixture for 10 minutes.

In a large pan half fill it with water and bring to boil. Put the prawn bowl in the pan and steam it covered for about 10 minutes or until the shrimp is translucent. Stir the shrimp once halfway through. Steamed prawns are ready to serve.




Ingredients

Peeled prawn: 4 pieces
Olive oil: 40 gm
De-seed diced tomato: 50 gm
Chopped garlic: 20 gm
Chopped scallion: 20 gm
Feta cheese: 20 gm
Juice of 1 lemon
White wine: 35 ml
Steamed rice: 1portion
Flour to season

Preparation:

Dust the prawn with season flour. Saute garlic with olive oil. Add prawns, saute, add wine and flambeau. Add tomatoes and scallions. Add feta cheese, finish with lemon juice. Serve with steamed buttered rice.

Kakra Chingri

Ingredients

Crabmeat: 200 gm
Shrimp paste: 100 gm
Mustard paste: 50 gm
Coconut paste: 25 gm
Green chili paste: 15 gm
Turmeric paste: 10 gm
Ginger paste: 20 gm
Mustard oil: 35 gm
Salt: to taste
Sugar: to taste
Banana leaves: 4-5

Preparation:

Mix the ingredients well in a bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours. This will give you time to make the other preparations. This includes cutting the banana leaves into 6 inch squares. The pieces of banana leaves need to be warmed to make them soft and manageable. Once the crabmeat mixture looks well set take it out of the refrigerator and divide into eight equal portions. Place each portion on a single piece of softened banana leaf. Fold into neat parcels. Steam the parcels in a steamer for 10 minutes. Serve hot. This tastes best with steamed rice.

Maybe you've heard about Shangri-La once. This mythological city of unknown location, famed for the spirituality and teachings imparted by its inhabitants, has been of recurring use in the artistic, literary and audiovisual imaginary of the past century. There are many areas where this city has been planted, almost always linked to the Himalayas. I do not remember where I read a long time ago that the Mechuka valley was one of them.

Day 1

After spending a few days living in a Buddhist monastery, I decided to travel there to see first hand what I found. I traveled from Itanagar to Along in positions worthy of a yoga instructor, avoiding with hands to hit the roof of the vehicle in every rut of the stony track.

Once in Along, I climbed another vehicle that left shortly after dawn to Mechuka. A glance at the map may not reveal how hard it is to enter this valley. The line representing the road will be unable to guess that kind of road. It is, of course, unpaved, that timidly makes its way through leafy jungles, valleys, and sometimes to waterfalls.

More frequented by monkeys and other animals than by vehicles, the route was nonexistent just twenty years ago, leaving the inhabitants of the area in a peculiar isolation. I got cold ice cream and no sleep despite not having slept. I booked a room in the only hostel and have a Tibetan soup in a neighboring family restaurant. Supplementing the full moon with the light of the lacking street lamps, I walked for a while before falling exhausted under the blanket.

Arunachal Pradesh travel images wallpaper photos

Day 2

I opened my eyes with the first rays, but Mechuka was already awake. Where electricity is scarce, people live with the sun. The frost covered the skirts of the valley that shelters this town. The frozen plants confirmed my motives for having shivered all night. Wanting to find some remnant of the mythical past of the valley, I made myself understand how I could until the natives directed me towards the old monastery.

The indications were clear. I had to walk to the North. And I did that. As soon as I separated a few kilometers from the town, I was impressed by the tones of the landscape and its light. Already on arrival the previous day I had noticed a different light in that valley, an illumination that I had not seen anywhere else in the world.

I attribute that to the height, reflection of the nearby peaks or some optical effect. The mountains that border the horizon served as a natural border with Tibet. On a hill that rose in the middle of the valley, I saw the monastery that I was looking for.

I found it difficult to find a path between the flooded plantations, and I had to go back several times. I reached the top of the hill panting, sweaty and with my shoes soaked to find a shocking surprise. The wood with which the building was built confirmed its relative youth, and its architecture more resembled an American ranch than a Tibetan monastery.

Everything I had imagined about the place was far from what he saw. If that was not enough, the door was closed. With a couple of voices, I only managed to frighten the four hens that stung seeds in front of an adjacent house. Finally, a sleepy boy came out of it. He lived in a nearby town, and in a kind of community work that week it was his job to take care of the place.

With a lot of predisposition, not only opened the doors of the monastery but for more than half an hour I saw each of the figures inside. They indeed corresponded to the original building. An exquisite collection of masks depicting demons and other mythological beings, various artifacts for rituals and ceremonies, tunics or sophisticated mandalas hung on the walls attesting to a somewhat more active past of the place.

A human figure with presumptuous divine features rested on a three-legged chair. The nearest ray of light illuminated it tenuously, revealing the dust in suspension, the scant cleanliness of the place. To my question about who it was, came a stunning gesture. It's Guru Rinpoche!

I have not recognized the founder of the Buddhist order Nyingma, who preached the benefits of this religion throughout the Tibetan territory. This monk who receives almost as much devotion as the Buddha himself found seven unique places in the world. They are characterized by his predisposition for personal development, happiness and the establishment of Buddhist communities far from the world. Listening to those words, the idea of Shangri-La reappeared in my head.

From the monastery, still fascinated by the views, I continued on my way to another place that attracted me to the region. It is the cave in which Guru Nanak retired to meditate, the established one of the Sikh religion. The last section before the cave crossed a militarized zone. The soldiers guarding its entrance are so surprised and happy to see that I walked to the sacred place, they did not hesitate to let me pass.

At one point, among the conifers that stretched on both sides of the track, I spotted two dwarf deer, native to the Himalayas. Next, to a river, I found a wooden sign indicating the proximity of the cave. I find a brief indication considering the warmth of the gurdwaras scattered throughout India.

A humble hut with some photographs on the wall gave way to a staircase as sloppy as sloping, full of mold that inevitably slipped down. I do not know how much or what internal achievements Guru Nanak would achieve, but I admire his ascetical ability to have spent years as a hermit in that environment. The cave in question has the width of a body tilted, preventing another position that was not upright.

The humidity is constant and the temperatures drop to zero for several months a year. Later I would find out that there were several years that he dedicated there to the ascetic life. With still some sixteen kilometers to reach Mechuka, I started the round. I walked lightly when passing again next to the military barracks whose presence, evidently, was not accidental.

The neighboring border with Tibet, known as the McMahon line, is constantly watched for fear of the expansionist ambition of the Chinese government that already pierced it in 1962. Upon seeing me, soldiers greeted me. At that moment my face must have spoken for me. Absorbed by the impressions, I had not eaten a bite all day and hunger came suddenly.

The food with which they entertained me encouraged me to stay with them for some more time. When the dessert arrived, I was already surrounded by a good court of generals and other high officials.

When I arrived in Mechuka, I finished the beating of my legs by going up to the only Buddhist temple in the city. Luck, destiny or mere serendipity, in it I found the key person of my visit to the valley. I just closed the door of the temple when I approached and introduced myself by shaking his hand. He agreed to my request to visit the place for a couple of minutes warning me in advance that there was nothing special there.

After being interested, with a casual smile, for the reasons of my trip we ended up in a long conversation that culminated with a dinner at home. It complemented the explanations of how their ancestors came to Mechuka from Sikkim or stories about the war invasion of the valley in the sixties with old faded photographs or historical documents.

Those drawers, more typical of a museum than of a private individual, showed the love of my new friend for the history and traditions of his land. The best, I still ignored it, was to come. It is an invitation to travel with him by car to show me interesting places. Sketching a mental list of the many doubts that appeared to me, I fell asleep that night.

apatani images wallpaper Arunachal

Day 3

Punctual to the appointment, the particular tour began almost at the door of his house. Some Buddhist flags and some inscription recalled the place where Guru Rinpoche had marked the beginning of the valley twelve centuries ago. With the armed conflict of 1962, that promised land automatically lost its status. It did not matter to its inhabitants the destruction of the site.

In Mechuka the yartsa gunbu abounds, a powerful aphrodisiac that is sold in some countries for a whopping sum, and that was already known centuries ago. So well known is the healing ability of some plants in the valley that Mechuka in Tibetan literally means healing waters everywhere.

Where those flags are today, Guru Rinpoche marked the beginning of Shangri-La centuries ago. Historically, the natives of Mechuka were known as barbarians. The atmosphere of the place changed radically with the massive flight in the seventeenth century of many Tibetans. I had found out that the public vehicles leaving the valley were full for several days.

The local people, upon seeing me, warned me that with the lack of traffic it was very unlikely that anyone would pick me up. An hour passed, not the cold when beginning to believe they passed in front of my three SUVs in a row. None even slowed down. The last one stopped in a house to buy food, and I ran to play one last letter.

In the car was the engineer of Along in charge of Menchuka's technical emergencies. He asks me to sit in his car that made me accept immediately. In the car, there was no shortage of beers, and the experienced driver was driving fast. Before arriving at Along, he had already invited me several times to spend a few days at his house.

The wild roosts that he had hunted gave us a dinner based on grilled vegetables (in the most literal sense of the term) that were dipped in a thick sauce based on entrails of fish and the same chicks. Vegetables that I had never seen served to accompany the rice and pieces of smoked pork during the day by the same fire that blackened the whole kitchen (which also serves as a living room and sometimes as a bedroom).

A bone, spine, and sometimes the skull of the animals that were eaten are stored and piled on top of the fire itself, resulting in over the years a curious collection. He tells me that in Arunachal Pradesh the Donyi-Polo religion, that worship the Sun and Moon, continues to be practiced inspired by the animist tradition of the area.

Day 4

On the third day, I left Along, to continue touring Arunachal Pradesh, probably the most unknown state in India. I had not found Shangri-La, nor got answers many of the questions with which I arrived in the valley. Maybe, I thought, Shangri-La does not really exist, or maybe I have a long way to go. Maybe continuing to travel would help me to mature, to continue asking questions, to answer them with new ones, to keep looking. In the meantime, I continue enjoying those little Shangri-La that the road sometimes provides.

Understanding the Malaysian cuisine is not easy; mixture and diversity concepts better define it. Malaysia smells of curry, a coconut rice pudding is invaded by all kinds noodles and vibrates with heat furnaces of the tandoor. Like a big pot is involved, where each culture is adding its ingredients, this country is a range of flavors. Here, who do not find something that suits your palate, you will not find anywhere.

Malays themselves have their own dishes. There are others like Peranakan or Baba Nyonya. They are descendants of the early Chinese who arrived in the country from which was born a whole rich culture that is entrenched today. Then there are the Indians, who not only imported their customs both from North and South India but merged with the Malaysian customs and thus emerged Mamak restaurants, which refers to Indian Muslim ones.

This mixture then allows us to enjoy many dishes and seasonings. Very spicy curries with thick sauces and tender meats. Chinese noodles made the traditional way swimming in soy fish sauce and ginger. Flatbreads brought the diversity of Indian culture, such as naan, the chapati (very flat bread made with whole wheat flour) and adored by all, the roti canai.

Chingri Malai Curry: Prawn in Coconut Milk

Malaysian food uses quite curry because of the influence of Indian cuisine. Also, lots of noodles act as a base through their Chinese ancestors. Indian food gives a warm feeling in the mouth and fragrant spices. Frankly, I love a good curry, especially when it has been inspired by the cuisine of southern India.

Prawn Malai Curry is exactly that. It is a delicious dish mainly composed of a cashew nut sauce and coconut milk, richly spiced with shrimp. It seems to combine the crispy seafood giving a kind of creamy curry food feeling. Curiously, this dish is common in most of the equatorial belt.

A holiday on the island of Penang is a treat for the senses. In addition to the beautiful beaches surrounding the island, the capital offers cultural life. Everything can be done on this island, water sports, beach life, eating deliciously, etc. If you want to enjoy a different holiday, Penang can be a great option.
Every day we start the day with breakfast. When we travel, that breakfast can also tell a lot about the customs. If we have the opportunity to take a typical breakfast place we visited, we will share one of the daily customs of its people. We try their daily flavors and will copy a fundamental routine in everyone's life.

This time we travel to India, with a flatbread that despite what you can imagine results into the flakiest bread. This is Paratha, a quick bread that is prepared with leavening. It is an ideal breakfast food to replace the traditional American pancakes or the elaborate croissants because they are a mixture between them.

Its peculiarities are that it is a bread that does not have yeast. It is made with ghee, a butter that is removed by the effect of cooking the milk proteins and water. Paratha is the union of two words that mean layers of flour and they are crispy on outside and soft inside. There are endless variations of paratha, that is stuffed in every way possible.

Despite having in common the basic ingredients, the bread is produced in a wide range of types that differ in seasoning and workmanship. It assumes various names. Among the most common are aloo paratha, gobi paratha, mooli paratha, onion paratha, paneer paratha, methi paratha and others. The Mughlai paratha is a type of bread very simple to prepare, filling of beans, meat or paneer. It is hearty and delicious.

The Paratha as I say, are traditional fast flatbreads of India. They are in flaky form. These that I present to you today is called Kerala Paratha with fillings based on cooked potato and spices. The base mass is prepared in both cases with flour, milk or water, ghee or butter, a pinch of salt and another with sugar to give color. Aloo Paratha although is stuffed, whole wheat flour is used more commonly.



In India there are prepared Naan bread, to eat with the main course especially spicy preparations, which balance in an amazing way the intensity of the dishes.

The flaky effect of Kerala Paratha is achieved by stretching the dough, very thin as cigarette paper and then folding it like an accordion. Then twist that dough folded like a snail and finally go back to stretch it into a pancake shape. It is clear that prior to folding in the form of an accordion, the dough is varnished with ghee, oil or butter, to achieve that puff-like effect.

Once given shape, they are cooked in a pan, preferably iron, also varnishing the paratha with ghee, at least on one side. And at the time of serving people "preen" a bit to break the layers that have formed.

Maybe I was not ready for Varanasi. Perhaps it was the radical change after traveling through large cities such as Calcutta or Delhi which caused the commotion. Perhaps it was because despite the fact that pages and pages have been written about this city, it has always been difficult for its authors to describe the incoherent feeling of walking through its streets.

I loved and hated Varanasi for its permanent contrasts and its ability to take things and emotions to the extreme. Benares has traditionally been known for Varanasi, a name composed of the Varuna and Assi rivers, which converge on the Ganges, a river that represents Shiva. It is said that Benares is the oldest inhabited city in the world.

This city is contemporary to mythological cities such as Babylon, Nineveh or Jericho. It is part of that circle of living cities among Rome, Jerusalem and Athens. The American novelist Mark Twain said that Benares is older than history, older than traditions, older even than legends, and it seems twice as old as all together.

Located on the banks of the Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh, it is considered the spiritual capital of India. It is one of the seven holy cities, so it receives a vortex of pilgrims from every corner of the country.

Varanasi wallpaper travel

1 Day in Varanasi

It was time to leave Rishikesh and head to Varanasi. We had been told that traveling by train was more practical and convenient than doing it by bus. So, happy and excited, we headed to Haridwar where we would start our train journey. We did not separate from our backpacks at any time. We even slept hugging them in our uncomfortable bunk beds, constantly visited by flies, mosquitoes and other insects attracted by the fluorescents that illuminated the wagon.

We had a compartment with nice people, a mother with her son, a single girl, a boy alone and an executive. He is that character, with his briefcase, all the time belching, rubbing his feet and chewing paan. Although the train was full of people, the air conditioning was so high that it was even cold. All the time vendors were selling chai, coffee, cookies, water and various trinkets.

The 20 hours planned became more than 30. We took it with good humor, especially after listening astonished to a guy who had traveled on the same train as us. They told us that they had been pursued by a cobra when a snake charmer, after having voluntarily made a brief performance in the car in which they were traveling, proceeded to charge for the show.

The guy refused and the charmer, angry, decided to threaten them by bringing them his elusive show companion. The guy fled running from wagon to wagon, pursued by the charmer and his serpent, until they managed to sway him. But the epic of this traveler would not end here. While he was sleeping, he sat with his backpack tied at his feet.

Some skillful baggage thief managed to get one of the bundles. So the poor boy, once arrived in Varanasi, had no choice but to go to the police station to make the complaint. In short, after listening carefully to the rugged journey of the boy, on the one hand the empathy made us feel sad for him.

But on the other hand we realized that the 30 hours of train and the experience of sleeping on a bunk embracing our backpacks and surrounded by a multitude of insects, it had been nothing more than a routine to which we should accustom ourselves if we were once again thinking of using the train to travel through this amazing country.

We arrived in Varanasi well into the night. New city, darkness and more than 20 hours of uncomfortable train journey made us choose the easiest way, a hostel near the station. We got a double room at a hostel for 400 rupees. We had a private bathroom with hot water, a large enough bed, a television with a wide assortment of films taken from the Bollywood factory. The enormous tiredness accumulated at that time of night made us not think too much.

2 Days in Varanasi

This morning we left the room, again with our backpacks on our backs and we started looking for a new accommodation. This time it was much more adjusted to our budget. A night of luxury had been more than enough for our bodies and our pocket to return to reality.

The Old City would be the old town of Varanasi. In it are the majority of gates or entrances of the city to the Ganges, the sacred river of India. In some of them are the crematoria, places in which the corpses of those believers who want their souls to be purified are cremated so that, after death, they can reincarnate in a better life.

The Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats are the main crematoria. In the Panchganga ghat, five sacred rivers converge. This fact motivates Varanasi to be a favorite place of pilgrimage. There are countless believers from all over the country who spend their lives working for, once dead, to be able to pay for the transfer of their bodies to the crematoriums of Varanasi, so that they may be incinerated and their souls purified.

The remains of the incinerated body, wrapped in a kind of aluminum foil, will be discharged, logically, into the river. The new hostel did not seem at all bad. A magnificent terrace was the meeting place of an immense number of travelers of all nationalities who, of course, made a stop in the sacred city of India par excellence.

The terrace, in addition, had a view of the river and some old stairs gave access to a shore quite close to one of the main crematoria. The smell of the city in general, and that of the surroundings of the hostel in particular, was quite peculiar. The room was quite basic. It has a tiny bed and bathroom. There was no shower. If we wanted to refresh ourselves, we had to use the community showers.

The price of the double room was 150 rupees. A price that made our pocket very happy. But after spending one night our mosquito net, which faithfully accompanied us on our trip, became a landing platform for an innumerable variety of insects. So we decided that maybe we had to look for a third option.

We spent about twenty minutes walking through medieval alleys full of cows, strange sanctuaries, sadhus, shit and puddles until we found the Hotel. Our inseparable Lonely Planet took us to the guest house. At 200 rupees we got the double room with bathroom and window. The shower was again shared with the neighbors, but the place was clean and both us and our beloved mosquito net rested without too many surprises.

After a well-deserved nap in the hostel we went to see the ghats, the stairs that lead to the Ganges, from which people carry out their ablutions. Once comfortably established, the time had come to thoroughly investigate the river, the city, and its crematoria. Strolling through the narrow streets of Varanasi is a real spectacle.

The cows for some reason that I do not know, are especially fat. The dead are taken in cots to the crematoria. Friends and family, between chants, transport the body wrapped in a kind of aluminum foil in the direction of the Ganges.

There are eyes everywhere. Children, old people, merchants, monkeys, cows, all observe me, although there is nothing to object, because I also observe them. We all look at each other, and we cannot help it. We continue walking. Some girls painted me with bright powders and asked me for money. I give them a couple of rupees. A man tried to convince us to take us by boat, then another, and another, and another, and another, and many at the same time.

We wanted to walk calmly, something that was impossible here. Varanasi, with all due respect, reminds me of a traveling circus. Every time we turn a corner we find a new show. We went to the hotel for dinner and there were the few with a bottle of whiskey. At one point we were attacked by a bug. I just hoped not to find one of these in the room.

3 Days in Varanasi

We had hired a boat at the hotel to sail at sunrise over the Ganges. The driver of this one did not wake up until eight o'clock and at that time it had already dawned. He did not understand why we no longer wanted his services and we went again to the Ganges. We were tired of being chased trying to sell things and we went to the other shore to see what was there.

We find ourselves with the antithesis of the other shore. There were no houses, no people, no buffalo, no cows but only a desert and silent esplanade. We met some dogs that lived in herds and a man who planted chitos in the middle of the sand. We sat down to enjoy the silence, I had forgotten it.

When we went to cross it again to return to the bustle, we saw the herd of dogs devouring something wrapped in cloth. On return, we take the breakfast and we go to sleep a little. Then, we walk in the neighboring streets at the hotel but on the side of the interior of the city rather than the river.

We went around the city. It was difficult to walk because of the amount of people there were. I saw an altar with a dead monkey surrounded by candles and flowers. I missed it because I would be gawking at any multicolored store.

We insisted on visiting the Kashi Vishwanath. We entered, but without cameras or backpacks or anything. We then went to visit the Banaras Hindu university campus, one of the largest campuses in India. Here we met a singing student who took us through the universities.

Then we were totally duped by some fantastic vendors. They did it so well that we could not resist and bought some pieces of fabric from the popular Varanasi silk. We were walking down an alley when suddenly a commission agent from the many silk factories in the city appeared out of nowhere and convinced us to agree to visit his factory.

We started with a guided tour inside a building that was a factory and housing. So we were presented to each member of the innumerable family that owns the business. After the interesting tour we went to a room full of silks of all colors where we were invited to sit on comfortable pillows, and where they offered us a good shawl.

It must be recognized that the quality and beauty of Varanasi silk is indisputable. It has a special and soft touch, striking colors and elaborate drawings. One does not have to be an expert to understand why these pieces of silk are rightly among the most recognized in the world.

After some arduous negotiations we ended up buying a few quilts and some handkerchiefs for a price that did not seem very expensive. We left the building with the feeling of having been completely duped, but also with the satisfaction of having bought a few pieces of the coveted Indian silk at a price that did not seem totally exorbitant.

We hired a boat and went downstream to look closely at the crematoria and the sunset. It was a beautiful image, which thanks to superstitions, was completed with lighted candles and flowers, which appeared in the Ganges . After ascending the sacred river, we stopped in front of the Dashashwamedh ghat where a ceremony was going to be held.

It was a moving image. Thousands of people gathered around dozens of priests. The evening Aarti, songs, lights, prayers and the devotion made the hairs stand on end. We return along the Assi Ghat, near where we live. To return to our guest-house, we pass each time in front of one of the doors of the Golden Temple.

At the restaurant in the guesthouse we finish the evening with excellent dishes and a biryani. After this nice dinner, we went to sleep.

4 Days in Varanasi

Today, it's raining and we leave the old town in the slush. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, there will be Shivaratri which will attract a crowd of pilgrims, and they begin to arrive today. There is already a lot of people.

A porter guides us as we arrived to the place where we can take the rickshaw that takes us to the station. We take the night train to Calcutta which leave at 16:55.

The typical Indian cuisine, you could say that it does not exist. When you travel through India you can see the variety of foods, tastes and smells that can be found in it. Bengal discovered the existence of the chutney which was a preparation much to its taste. At this point, the sources have divided some claim that it created a recipe using mango, raisins, garlic, sugar, and spices.

Chutney is one of the fundamental components of the meal and is part of the gastronomic cuisine of this country. Its preparation is simple just choose a fruit, a spice or a vegetable, add sugar, vinegar and cook for a long time until the mixture will thicken. Then there are those who prefer more liquid and who prepares to preserve the pulp.

There are many variations of chutney depending on the mix of spices, fruits, and vegetables. A lot also depends on the choice of yogurt, vinegar or lemon juice. Also, the color and texture changes depending on the ingredients chosen. In India certainly the most widespread is that of mango which is divided into Avakkai Mangai, Shilpi, Thuvaiyal Mangga, Chanti Khasa, Major Grey's chutney.

We also find other types of chutney whose base is not the mango but another fruit or vegetable Hari chutney, Dahi chutney, Thengai chutney, Pudina ki chutney, Autumn Chutney, Hussaini tamatar qoot.

In Indian cuisine chutney or chatni as it is said in Hindi is a variety of sweet and spicy spices, native to the western part of India. It is a very popular accompaniment, especially for panipuris, which is usually offered along with other sauces.

In the United States and Europe, it is more familiar as a packaged product. For this purpose, vegetable oil, vinegar or lemon juice are added to enhance the preservative properties.



The conserve that we know as chutney is native to India, where it was used as a technique to preserve fruits and vegetables during travel. These were cooked in a mixture of sugar and vinegar, they were cooked and then packaged to provide sustenance during the invasions and wars of that time.

Sugar, the main food of the spirit according to the Indians, provided the necessary energy and spices allowed to accelerate the metabolism. It is extended the belief that the person who eats sugar ends the day in a sweet and full of life.

The Chutney can last for months thanks to its natural preservatives (which are part of the ingredients) vinegar and sugar. The fire is extinguished and it is allowed to cool, it can be done inside the same pot.

Its origin is defined in India, although the English planted their first factory in 1612 and did not let it become independent until January 1950. It was the Portuguese who first began, in the sixteenth century, trade with India until in the 17th century the Dutch came.

But two years before, Queen Elizabeth I authorized the creation of a similar one, the first English Company of the East Indies. In 1612 the English had their first factory, after which they spread throughout the region. In 1675 the French began to operate in these areas.

The English knew these preserves in India and adopted the recipe as their own. They spread it throughout the European and American continent.

The difference between the sweet chutneys of the West and the Indian Chatni acres is very noticeable.

The Indian chatni for example of the south has coconut. While in northern India it is typical fresh mint to accompany any meat or bread cooked in the tandoor (clay oven). In the east and west of India, people prepare it sweeter. It consists of a cooked mixture of sugar, vinegar, spices, and fruit that resembles a pickle more than the real chutney.
Tiramisu is the dessert that almost everyone likes and after any binge there will always be a space for a teaspoon of tiramisu. It is the most loved, the most requested, the most dreamed. Its current name derives from the Venetian dialect and is now considered a typical dessert of this region. Yet other regions compete for its origins like Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piedmont and Tuscany. Yet there are many little-known curiosities behind this sweet so loved! We'll tell you some.

It was a fresh October evening in Taipei, the metropolis, and Taiwanese capital. We came out of a restaurant after dinner, specializing in hot pots. The unusually livable temperature (25 degrees at eight in the evening and humidity at 77%) is an invitation to walk. After the inevitable purchase of the usual bubble tea, we find ourselves in the night market of Liaoning, in the Zhongshan district that remains open until one o'clock.

There are food stands and digital gadgets. Occasionally we find items made by one of the Taiwanese aborigines' tribes. We see girls of Chinese ethnicity and platinum blonde hair and muscular guys with tattoos. Workers at the edge of the market collect what is thrown away and load it in huge bags attached to the handlebars of old bikes. Modern scooters covered with thousands of LED lights whiz through the nearby streets. Ordinary people go by and do their business on the Taipei 101, the high skyscraper at half a kilometer that was the highest in the world until a few years ago.

Among the food for sale, we find caramelized tomatoes and unexpected kebabs. There is the stinky tofu, whose smell can be felt from ten meters and makes immediately go in the opposite direction. And there's a vendor of Asian-looking tiramisu. In a mixed English, and Italian, he answers perhaps adding something in Chinese Mandarin. Within two minutes, continuing to walk in the market, I decide that the tiramisu made by an Italian must be tried absolutely. We buy three portions.



I tried the pistachio-free mini gluten-free one. It was my tastiest minutes of the week! Soft, delicate, the pistachio does not overwhelm the coffee and vice versa. Thanks to the convenient single portion I tasted my dessert, sitting on a bench in the shop. It is abundant, comfortable to hold and allows you to eat it while walking around the city.

I think back to what he does. I do not know if he has a hand-made tiramisu production company or the "factory" on an industrial scale, or he prepares a few portions as and when he can. I only know that it takes courage to start selling something in a night market thousands of miles from Italy.

It's easy to say tiramisu! Who does not know it? Who have you never tasted it? But who could say who was his inventor? There are several legends that revolve around the birth of the tiramisu, who maintains that it was conceived in Piedmont by a Turinese chef.

Even earlier in time, it is said that the tiramisu was created in Tuscany, around 1600. But the regions in winning the paternity of tiramisù are Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto. In fact, most attribute the paternity of the "tiramesù" to the city of Treviso. The success was so resounding that it gradually spread throughout the Veneto region.

But why is tiramisu just like that? There are many stories that circulate about the name of this dessert. The only certainty is that it is a word derived from the dialect of Veneto "tirame su" (then Italianized tiramisù). The current name tiramisu seems to date back to the custom of serving this sweet treat as a tribute to some closed houses in the region. Thanks in fact to that combination of energizing ingredients it has always been characterized as a dish with invigorating and aphrodisiac properties.

The tiramisu was good, by the way.

Today I will talk about Manipur, one of the states of northeastern India and bordering Myanmar, formerly Burma. It is one of the least visited places in the country but it is not without attractions. It is possible to travel in Manipur independently and without having to obtain a permit. I was there last December and I took the opportunity to visit the beautiful Loktak Lake.

Day 1

The road was a succession of bends through hills and forests, never flat, yet 15 km from our arrival point a totally flat valley opens before our eyes. After another strenuous bus ride in an old bus along bad roads and a bus driver in a hurry we arrive in the morning in Imphal. The capital of the state of Manipur is our destination for only one reason. We want to go to Myanmar.

As I reach the plains of Imphal I see protests by the ILP (Inner Line Permit) groups occupy the streets. We have to find a place to stay. On the outskirts of Imphal, a couple invites me to spend the night at their house and they inform me about the situation of the protests. I get news that the road to Kohima in Nagaland is cut off because of a heavy landslide that left the road cut off.

We reach a tourist office! They give me a brand new brochure on Manipur. I show two places with the finger, and they give us directions to take. The two designated places were Loktak Lake and the city of Ukhrul further north. It is only the photos that decided our choice.

Walking in Manipur reminds us in some ways of the Tripura, and by others, the Mizoram. There is a kind of mixture that works pretty well. The city center is Ima Keithel or Khwairamband Bazaar or more commonly known as the women's market. There are no men on the horizon.

The market is divided into two parts. There is a normal market where fruit, vegetables and everything else is sold and then a covered area where one can buy textiles. We have already seen the patterns and embroidery on the cloths throughout the Northeast. It quickly becomes clear that this part of India hardly sees tourists.

Our attempt to find out if the pineapple is sweet end with a pictorial explanation of how best to cut them. We feel like the real attraction of the market between all the older ladies who give us their best toothless smile.

We go for a walk to Loktak Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Northeast India. I negotiate a boat trip with some of the fishermen who live on its shores in order to navigate calmly among its islands of vegetation. With a long pole the fisherman patiently directs the boat.

The special thing is actually the small floating islands on it, the so-called Phumdis. A mixture of plants, soil and organic materials move as a solid mass on the lake. Some islands are so large that even houses were built on it or small gardens arise. The waters are very calm and look like a mirror where the clouds are reflected.

We stop before some small huts that serve as shelter for fishermen. We ate fish in the fishermen's courtyard who accompanied us.

Nearby is the Keibul Lamjao National Park where with a little luck, I did not have it, you can see some Sangai. It is an endemic antelope that is in danger of extinction and of which only about 200 specimens remain in freedom. In Manipur it is considered as a sacred animal. We climbed on a hill inflamed by the magnificent Gulmohar trees amidst the celestial chanting of a temple.

On the way back from here to Imphal, we go in a car because the owner saw us and was curious about what brings us here. So we also learn why so much military can be seen here. In addition, we are close to the border area and also wants to be guarded. On the way we see the Kangla Fort.

Traveling by land from one country to another is very exciting. It's really unbelievable how an artificially drawn border can make so much difference. Back at Imphal we go to the only restaurant worthy of the name, and surprise on the menu we have tandoori chicken and naan! It is quite rare in this part of India. So here it's really a big surprise! The price to quality ratio was largely up to our expectations.

Traveling Through Manipur, Loktak Lake and Imphal

Day 2

From Imphal, we head to Moreh early in the morning, where we plan to cross Myanmar's border. Myanmar could only be reached by plane and then possibly via Thailand by land and also from India but traveling through Manipur was not that easy.

From Imphal to Moreh it is about 80km, which we cover in a van with three other passengers. We pass not only a few mountains but not less than 5 border controls. The mountains of Manipur, green and leafy, give shelter to guerrillas, drug trafficking, clandestine logging and timber smuggling. The area remains under the control of the paramilitaries, the Assam Rifles.

The heavy rains of the previous weeks left some sections damaged with heavy landslides, and it has to push through the mud. The friendly locals host me or invite me to a tea or puri when I stop to rest. We have a fortuitous encounter in a curve with an Englishman of Indian origin who arrives walking from England. He started walking three years ago and after crossing Afghanistan and Pakistan he arrived in India. Now he is on the way to Burma.

Moreh is a small border town with great commercial activity. As it was the Independence Day, many businesses are closed. The mix of cultures and ethnic groups jumps out. Kukis, also known as Chin in Burma, Tamil, Nepali, Manipuri Meiteis, Mizos, Punjabi and Burmese give color to this small city.

In Moreh, of course, we are let out at the wrong gate and have to travel with their luggage for another 1.5 km through the sweltering heat for the next check. Here, as in the past, our names were handwritten in a register and we go on to the final check in India. The luggage is scanned again. We get our exit stamp and continue to the border. Only a small bridge separates us from our adventure Myanmar.

The bridge however is closed as there is some tensions on the other side. We decide to change track and go in a sumo to Ukhrul, further north in Manipur. But no, there is a bus! I know it sounds ridiculous, but we were so happy to change for a bus, an ultimate comfort. All along we were treated to pop songs, with the passengers singing all along. We do not know what to expect on the spot.

Finally we see yes houses, and streets, but no one on the horizon. There are no hotels, or restaurants. The driver stops in front of what seems to be a guest-house. I was going to say goodbye to him, but he goes down with us as he wants to be sure that there is someone at the reception. The room is very clean.

Night falls, and we are hungry! The only restaurant in the area is hidden at the bottom of a cellar. We cross a living room to arrive in this dark kitchen, and get a unique menu.

Day 3

In the early morning we had only one desire is to redo the road in the opposite direction. When we arrived in the city we passed in front of a interesting looking house that must be 3 or 4 kilometers from the center. We go for a walk. It was a traditional house. In fact we learn that there are more than 3 in the vicinity. We were surrounded by children. A man comes around and takes inside his house.

We see buffalo heads and human skulls. Yes, they were headhunters before. One must kill at least 3 buffalos in order to build a house like this. It's too expensive today, and no one continues the tradition. On the brochure that the tourist office gave us we see they are people from the Tangkul tribe. They were all dressed the same way.

So we continue the conversation. They inquire if we had taken breakfast? It made me happy. To thank them we went to buy some meat for the family.

We take a tour of the city. At the town hall we admire some remains of headhunters. In the evening, we return to the famous restaurant. This time we meet a Buddhist lady. She tells us that she comes from a tribe who believed in worship of Sun and Moon!

She also serves us dinner. Tomorrow we will leave in sumo towards Nagaland.

Last weekend, we went for a ride at the Oktoberfest in Munich. This annual beer festival lasts two weeks and three weekends between September and October and is very popular. A little more than a month before the date of our departure, we finalize the trip of how to get there, and especially where to sleep. Many locals rent their apartments for one or more days. This is the option we choose.

I can be badly ordered sometimes! At each trip I repeat the same mistake to prepare my bag at the last minute. I could have made the effort to organize myself the day before! Because yes, today I'm not leaving for any trip. I'm leaving for a world tour, a trip without return! This is not an outing in the forest to pick chestnuts!

But now, I preferred to spend my last evening with my best friends in a cafe in Paris, to celebrate my departure. My train for Munich is at 20:10 pm from Gare de l'est and it is already 18h past. I remain calm and take a last look at my checklist to be sure I have not forgotten anything.

Anyway in a few hours I would realize a stupid oversight, I'm sure, it always happens like this. I arrive at Gare de l'est at 19:55, the time to find my train. A mass of mob, as agitated as a swarm of bees released into the wild in search of a new location. On each traveler's face could be read the joy or sadness that accompanied them. I see goodbyes in tears, farewells in laughter, and farewells in kisses.

But there were also travelers like me, alone with their backpacks, looking for the coach that corresponds to the number on the ticket. Before getting into the train I take a last picture of the outside, as if to sign the beginning of the adventure.

Inside the coach most of the passengers were already in their seats. Mine was at the end of this long lined corridor. As my steps approached my cabin, I noticed that this coach was only equipped with armchairs. Each compartment had six row chairs, one facing each other. I will not be able to sleep tonight. Anyway I did not expect better considering the price of the ticket bought on the internet against an individual who could not make the trip!

The other surprise is that my compartment should be the one with the least noise. Two South Asians were already sleeping and a rather grumpy guy, who looked like a Kebab salesman, was reading the newspaper in a foreign language. I comfort myself with the idea of ​​being able to see the route at night because I had the side window seat.

Ten minutes after a young man enters the cabin and sits next to me, followed by a girl with a huge suitcase. She was right in front of me and ceaselessly cackling with her parents on the platform. She was crying, she was laughing, she was crying. It was fascinating.

The train starts. It's the beginning of a long journey without return. I don't really realize the immensity of the thing, I have trouble realizing. Is it too much confidence in me? It may be the habit of travel. Goodbye Paris.

It is 22h. I felt like I was in the middle of a construction site. For the well-being of my ears I decide to go out to see the outside landscape from the window of the train corridor. It was dark here, but I liked the atmosphere that emanated from it. I could also hear laughter from other compartments. It was probably people already celebrating to prepare for the Oktoberfest.

A few minutes later, the young German next to me also came out of the compartment. He had been touring Europe by train for two months now and was traveling solo. Now he was on his way home. In Germany students resume classes usually in mid-October and being a student he had to return. I explain to him that I was just beginning my tour of Northern Europe. The first city after Paris will be Munich but after that I did not prepare my itinerary.

He was quite surprised at my way of traveling. He had not really planned his itinerary either but had a railway pass that allows him to use all trains in Europe for free or at a very low price. His surprise was greater when I told him that I got my ticket cheaper on the internet despite his pass.

Two people come out of the coach next door, the very one from which all the hubbub came. Apparently they are English seeing their accent and so are British. With all my travels and encounters, I had acquired the useless ability to recognize the different accents. They giggle and go to the window to smoke a cigarette. They also invite us for a round of beers if we want.

We exchange an approving glance before following the two English in their cabin. Five other people were already there. Three girls and two guys. The armrests were up so we could settle easily. Indeed all this small world came from the United Kingdom, except one of the girls who was Australian. All went to Munich for the Oktoberfest.

I spent the next three hours exchanging experiences with each person. It was nice to know everyone's story, to share events and tips on the trip. I also learn that they have booked a tent through a website and that they will stay for free in Munich.

Going into contact with others has always brought me joy and this exchange that night confirmed it to me. I had been gone for only a few hours and I had already found a place to stay in case my first plan falls into the water. Beyond finding a good plan I spent a great evening with everyone. I felt really good. With all those English around me, I felt like Harry Potter on the Hogwarts train.

Day 2

It's 7am. I wake up in my cabin. My friend sitting beside me will come down a stop before me in a city near Munich. He offers me to host me if I don't find accomodation. I take his number and we hug each other. With my bag on my back, I head for the exit and wait for the arrival in Munich. There is no sign of the English. They were drunk the day before. This is a small ring sounding that it is the terminus. One foot in front of the other, I leave the train.

Usually, my very first action when I arrive in a country is to try to reach the city center and take a map from a hotel or hostel. The other solution is to go and talk to the people I meet in the street to find my way. But it was 7:30. I was tired and I resigned myself to the idea of ​​getting in touch with the locals. A great coffee is needed at our arrival where we find another guy who comes from Amsterdam.

I head for the exit of this immense station by following the mass of people who leaves the train. My eyes constantly catch dozens of fellows who unload and refill trunks and bags of travelers. I was quite surprised to hear only English around me. The Oktoberfest attracts many foreigners and I begin to doubt the authentic atmosphere during this holiday.

Outside, I see a hostel on the other side of the street. They must surely have maps of the city they give for free, so I decided to go there. The Germans look very disciplined. As I arrive at the hostel the guy on the other side of the counter yells, FULL!

I told him I'd just like to have a map of the city. He generously offered to me and I want to ask him where will I get the inn I want. I had everything indicated. With the map in hand, I head for the hostel. The further I go, the more I notice people with sophisticated accoutrements. Even more surprising, I notice these same people drinking in one-liter mugs at 8am.

I notice the traditional Bavarian outfits worn by both women and men. For women, it's the dirndl, an apron dress bent at the top and flared at the bottom, all very colorful. For men, it's the Lederhose. It's very folkloric but it puts right in the mood.

I arrived at the hostel. The feeling was very strange because I used to be in quite small and authentic hostels. Here I felt like I was in a big hotel. However the atmosphere that emanated from it remained young and friendly. People in traditional costumes were in the lobby and were already preparing to go to Oktoberfest.

I go to the counter. The manager was friendly. After a few words exchanged he told me that the check-in is not before 14h. I was really tired. I did not really sleep that night and hoped to rest for a few hours. He offers to leave my bag in the reserve and to visit Oktoberfest in the meantime. I leave for there.

I get out of the hostel and notice dozens of people in traditional costumes heading towards the same direction. I call the first person who comes in front of me asking the direction for the Oktoberfest. It's only five minutes on this road! I follow her to be sure not to lose! She tells me that a mug of a liter of beer is very cheap at this time!

I found this system very ingenious because it motivated the servers to be productive! I spend a few minutes talking with her and she invites me to go to the tent where she works, for free beer! I had already made a friend in the first hour in Munich. The accent had to play in my favor.

I continue my walk in the Oktoberfest. There were rides everywhere, I felt like I was at the carnival. I did not expect that at all. The more time passed, the more people there were, mostly families, all in suits. The huge wooden tents were next to each other, with not many people inside. It was still early.

To start we took a good place in the area where the inaugural parade was going to take place based on music bands, carriages pulled by horses decorated with details of a beer house, and all in a great atmosphere. When the parade finished I decide to come back to the hostel after this little visit, because I have no energy.

I meet again the manager and asks if there is really no possibility of having a room right away. He accepts. I go up to my dormitory which was on the 3rd floor and enter the room. Several people were sleeping. I slipped into my bed as silently as a ninja.

It's in those moments that we think back. For my part, I only said shit, I forgot my beard trimmer in the Paris hotel. After a good rest it's time for us to visit the OktoberFest site on Theresienwiese Square. Although the morning started ugly with rain and was chilly, it did not take away the desire to put on our best Bavarian finery and join the party.

We find ourselves at the top of a small hill overlooking Theresienwiese Square, and it's really impressive. The place is literally huge. There are tents (gigantic), attractions of all kinds that make us fly in all directions, and especially many, many people (who do not necessarily walk very straight). It is forbidden to drink outside tents and gardens associated with them.

In the central aisles we find something to eat something in a stand and wait to see if later the queues to enter decreased. Each tent is held by a different brewery. They all have a theme and an orchestra that punctuates the day and the evening. Having arrived only around noon, we did not manage to enter the tents despite many tests. After a few elbows, we still managed to get into a garden. It must be patience but we can finally order our beers and enjoy the moment.

The rain having caught us and having no place in the tents, we fall back on a second plan to go to a brewery held by the Brewers present for the OktoberFest. Each brand of beer has a brewery in the center of Munich. The beers are cheaper and the atmosphere is just as appealing! We end the evening as well, amused and impressed by what surrounds us. We do not feel like we have been projected into another world, where everything is bigger and more raw.

At about 8 we picked up, as the day had started very early and the next day we wanted to be ready in the tents to get a seat.

Weekend Trip to Munich for Oktoberfest

Day 3

After a good breakfast at the hotel, we returned to TheresienWiese. It would be like 9:30 in the morning and there was already enough people. We wanted to visit the big tents. So we went into 2 or 3 of them to take some pictures and see the decoration. There were already people sitting, but there were still free places.

After visiting these tents, we still had to see the one in HB, probably the most famous in the whole area. Upon entering about 10:30 in the morning and although we did not wait in line, all the benches were already occupied. We were able to fit in a high table standing right next to where at 11 a band would start playing.

The atmosphere began to heat up, as beer began to roll. At our table we met people from half the world, especially Swiss people with whom we had a great time. The hours passed without realizing. The penalty was, that afternoon we took the plane back, but for the record, at some point we raised the possibility of letting it go without us.