All posts filed under: Culture

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Slow Travel, Vegan Food and Cultural Immersion: An Experiential Guide to New York City.

There’s something about New York City that is easy to love. Maybe it’s that you can hear four different languages in the span of one short metro ride. Or that you can find restaurants serving the rarest of cuisines. Or that you never feel judged, no matter who you are, what you look like, what you wear, or how you talk. I’ll be honest. Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and other flashy New York sights didn’t evoke in me what they possibly evoke in other travellers. But being part of the city even for a few weeks (again and again) is what I came to love. Behold, my humble attempt to put together a New York guide beyond the touristy sights and sounds, scratching a little below the city’s surface in fall and winter: Slow travel in NYC Fall colors along Riverside: I vividly remember the moment I knew I wanted to stay longer in the city. It was a crisp autumn afternoon, and I was sitting under a tree – its leaves bursting in shades of …

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Unexpected Friendships in The Dominican Republic.

Porque viajas sola? Why do you travel alone? Some questions don’t change even on the other side of the globe. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, in the Dominican Republic – a Caribbean nation that hadn’t been on my radar until I found a cheap flight and two unplanned weeks in New York. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, with Juanin, a newfound friend who had quit his job in a golf resort to become an independent guide – leading curious travellers to secret waterfalls and pristine villages near the north coast, one of which he grew up in. I wanted to tell Juanin that I travel alone because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sitting with him in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, chatting like long lost friends. Even for an introvert like me, solo travel lends itself to unexpected friendships all the time. And so it was in the Dominican Republic: Una vida: You have one life. When the folks at my sweet abode …

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Living With An Italian Artist in Umbria.

I travel to discover schools of life that feature in no textbooks. On a warm spring day, I woke up to the rustling of olive trees and what sounded like Italian jazz. The delicate aroma of fine coffee wafted into my room, and blended into the warm smell of ceramics. From behind the wood and glass door, with garden tools in one hand and a cigar in the other, buongiorno chimed Enrico, and invited me to a breakfast of wood-fired hot bread, olive oil from his olive groves, fresh fruits from the garden and strawberry cake made with stone-ground flour! Thus began my rendezvous with the dreamy countryside of Umbria – and a lesson in the Italian way of life. We broke the ice in broken Italian, English, Spanish and the common love of good food, and I soon figured that we were on somewhat similar life paths: Enrico was a painter by passion, but decided to keep his 9-to-5 job to pay the bills; I had quit a 9-to-5 job to try to make my passion pay the bills. I journeyed through his vivid imagination …

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Culturally Intriguing Ways to Experience Europe.

Even before my first trip to Europe over four years ago, I imagined whiling away time in charming medieval villages, people-watching in quaint little cafes and soaking up gorgeous landscapes on long summer days. I was lucky enough to live that dream again and again, from falling irrevocably in love with Gargnano on Lake Garda (Italy) to a surreal alpine encounter in Chamonix (France). But it wasn’t until I was invited by iAmbassador and Visit Europe to experience Europe differently, that I started to see beyond the obvious charm of the continent, into its very heart. Meet the “Cultural Routes” – 24 themed trails across Europe, where along with the lure of country life, you can travel through time and learn about the continent’s fascinating history in unconventional ways. I’ve traversed only one cultural route so far, and shortlisted the others for future trips: Hiking: Camino de Santiago I’ve heard of the adventures of three women who’ve walked the Camino – alone – and while part of me wants to do it, part of me is not sure I’d survive! This 800km pilgrim trail, …

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Meeting The Real Nomads: The Bedouins of Wadi Finan in Jordan.

Under a million stars in the pitch-black sky and the occasional cry of the desert fox, I let the cool breeze lull me to sleep. Surrounding me are the stark, barren, make-your-eyes-sore mountains of Wadi Finan, and in the distance, a community of Bedouins have pitched their tents. The constellations above me are their compass, a half-dry stream their source of water, and nomadism the only way of life they know. It took us four sweaty hours in the old car of our Jordanian friend from the mountains of Orjan, then a bumpy four-wheel drive to arrive here. We left the last traces of civilization behind when we turned off the Dead Sea highway that connects the country from north to south, and were left awestruck by the lonely desert landscapes that these nomads choose to call home. Why would anyone choose to live here? That was the only thought swirling in my mind when we entered the earthy Feynan Ecolodge – an off-the-grid lodge managed and run entirely by the Bedouin people who live in this community. …

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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 locals …