All posts filed under: Europe

My travel notes from a continent I love to love.

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Rüdesheim Wine Festival: Sneak a Peek Into Germany’s Wine Culture.

I had an unshakable image of Germany in my head – drinking freshly brewed craft beer at an open-air beer garden, hearing locals cheer “prost” with every chug and watching women dance in traditional dirndls. But two weeks ago, when I arrived in the Rhine Valley, an hour from Frankfurt, that image was shattered. The Rhine River flowed gently amid hills covered in steep vineyards, Rudesheim’s cobble-stoned streets brimmed with wine stalls, wine gardens tucked away under vines replaced beer gardens, and my first drink was not a Radler (like on every other trip to Germany) but a Riesling from a small family-run winery! I found myself in Rudesheim as part of the Must Love Festivals project, which has bloggers traveling across the world to showcase quirky traditional festivals! Here’s why the Rüdesheim Wine Festival is a great introduction to Germany’s lesser-known wine culture: Hiking meets wine-tasting in the vineyards   My withdrawal symptoms of Georgia gradually dissipated on the first afternoon, when the festivities began with a hike through the vineyards of Rudesheim! Barring me and two other English-speakers, the forty odd people were all …

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Go to The Caucasus Mountains, Find Your Soul, Set it Free.

When I see a mountain, I’m not gripped by the desire to conquer it. I hope instead, that the mountain will conquer me. That walking on its slopes, I’ll hear my own heartbeat. That in its open meadows, my thoughts will flow. That in its magnanimity, I’ll realize just how tiny a place I occupy. That it will reveal myself, honest and unmasked, to me. And so it was with the Caucasus mountains of Kazbegi in northeast Georgia. *** Among the wildflowers of summer and mist-laden valleys I wandered, not knowing what I was searching for, yet finding it in the raw beauty that encompassed me. I found comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one drawn by the inexplicable notion of solitude. 700 years ago, a monk seeking solitude in these very mountains, built the Gergeti Trinity Church in the daunting backdrop of Mount Kazbeg, and it is in his conviction that I found mine.   We walked in the rain, through the clouds, up steep paths, balancing on small rocks, seeking shelter under stray …

cultural routes europe

Retracing the Journey of Europe’s Forgotten Refugees.

Having grown up in a protective Indian family and been on the road for almost four years, I like to think I know a thing or three about freedom. Breaking away from the shackles of a cubicle-bound life was easy. Breaking away from the expectations of society continues to be a constant battle – and one that I’m not the first or last one to face. Today, I’m hopping over to Western Europe to hike through the secret trails of the Huguenots and Waldensians – religious refugees who were once banished from their home for rebelling against the popular religion; they walked through the mountains, valleys and vineyards of France, Switzerland and Germany in search of freedom. I hope to follow in their footsteps, find solace in their monasteries and truth in their wines, and bring you stories from a region that hasn’t been discovered by most. Why is this trip special? This trip is a milestone in my journey as a travel blogger. It will be my first campaign with iAmbassador, perhaps the most successful travel bloggers collective of our times and one that I’ve …

Kazbegi, Kazbegi photos, Stepantsminda

If You’re Looking for the “Shire”, Come to Georgia!

Somewhere deep in the Caucasus mountains, I sip a glass of fine Georgian wine, watching the clouds playfully swirl around the snow-clad Mount Kazbeg and my gregarious Georgian hosts lovingly tending to their vegetable garden below. I’ve spent my days indulging in the country’s sumptuous gastronomy, drinking mineral water right off the spring, lounging in my remote mountain home as though nothing else in the world matters. The mist descends on our postcard village of Stepantsminda, a woman in a traditional black dress carries fresh lavash bread from the neighbourhood bakery, the valley echoes with the laughter of men, children and horses.  This isn’t the Hobbiton trail in New Zealand, but the closest you can get to life in the Shire (Lord of the Rings style) – where people live beautifully, eat well and be merry. Two weeks ago, I landed in Tbilisi, Georgia’s photogenic capital city, with a friend, a one month visa and no fixed plans. The rugged mountains, chilled out locals, Soviet-era homes, underground wine taverns, artsy cafes and quirky cultural vibe instantly cast a spell on me. I …

Germany solo travel, Berlin photos

First Time to Germany? Practical Tips to Plan Your Travels.

I vividly remember my first trip to Germany, exactly four years ago. I had won a pair of flight tickets to Europe, taken a two-month sabbatical from my corporate job, and arrived in Munich with a friend – anticipating Germany to be uptight, and not half as fun as Italy or France. I was so wrong! On that first trip, I guzzled the finest beer in the country’s oldest biergartens, savored the wry humor of locals, climbed the stunning limestone mountains of Saxon Switzerland, and fell in love with the quirky city of Dresden, once the seat of east Germany’s cold history. I’ve been back twice to revel in the snowy Christmas Markets of Cologne and Rothenburg, attend a travel conference in the port city of Hamburg, soak in the spring colours of Berlin and discover the fascinating lake region of Spreewald. Here are some travel tips to experience one of my favourite countries in Europe: What’s the best time to visit Germany? I loved the onset of summer in early June, with long days and sunsets …

Romania photos, Brasov photos, Brasov Romania

Snapshots from Romania!

It all began one night, when a friend and I sat staring at the world map. I had landed a fat assignment and finally reached my savings goal for a long overdue trip out of India. After turning down many drab international 3-4 day FAM trips that offered nothing immersive or even remotely exciting, I craved a mix of the east and the west, interesting food and the chance to experience a culture I knew little about. Romania seemed to tick all the boxes. Flights were booked, visa hurdles painfully crossed, and off we went. Into a world that continues to delight and surprise me.

5 Quirky Ways to Discover Madrid.

Exactly a year ago, I was packing my bags for a solo trip to Madrid and Valencia. I travelled back in time to revel in the medieval era festivities of the Las Fallas in Valencia, which I wrote about in a story recently published in The Hindu. And I fell in love, almost instantly, with the vibrant colors of spring in Madrid. I strolled along quaint neighborhoods and tree-lined boulevards, and stumbled upon some of the city’s quirkiest secrets to discover why it inspired the likes of Ernest Hemingway. If you’re going to Madrid, take my list, and let the city charm you, as it charmed me. Stroll along the Manzanares river, under the cherry blossoms.   I expected to find medieval architecture co-existing with a cosmopolitan vibe in Madrid. But its tree-lined walkways, gorgeous parks, and natural colors of spring caught me by surprise. Thus began my quest to traverse through the most scenic parts of the city, and when I saw a map showing the River Manzanares flowing through Madrid, I decided to journey to the far end. As I …

In Photos: German Christmas Markets.

I’ve forever romanticized about a white winter in Europe. The kind where I would watch snowflakes gently descend upon cobbled streets, and look poetically at the gloomy skies for a ray of sunshine. On this whirlwind trip across Germany with Lufthansa and German Tourism, I did just that. I sipped my first of many cups of gluhwein in Frankfurt, found myself in a time warp with Rothenburg’s medieval era festivities, fell in love with the colorful celebrations in Cologne and Berlin in the backdrop of quaint old churches, and revisited Dresden with much nostalgia. It was festive and charming, but just so cold, reminding me of What I’ve Learnt From Winter in Europe. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on my way back to sunshine! *** 1. AERIAL VIEW OF DRESDEN’S CHRISTMAS MARKETS  from a Ferris Wheel! Glittery festivities lie in contrast against gloomy midday skies, symbolic of winter in Europe. *** 2. A LOCAL ARTIST’S WOOD-CARVING COLLECTION at Cologne’s Christmas Market aka Weihnachtsmärkte on the Alter Markt; wood-carvers, crystal painters, glass glazers, all showcased their …