Throwback Italy

The vision of being on a plane and discovering a new land during the Easter break quickly transformed into the reality of being a couch-hugger due to the coronavirus pandemic. There’s nothing to complain, but fortunately there’s lots to reminisce. Especially journeys to the lands where the seething mass combats the ill-fate brought about by the coronavirus. It is disheartening to see that Italy, which was bustling with people, energy and laughter just a couple of months ago, now presents itself as a quiet, abandoned land, encapsulated in gloom.

But hey, you know what, the pandemic will go away soon, hopefully. But it will not and cannot take away the supreme artistic glory of Italy, which delights and dazzles every visitor and citizen alike!

This article is a throwback to one of my most favourite Easter getaways to a nation that is brimming with countless splendid historic sites, monuments, museums, churches and works of art.

Where every square is a poetry,
And every street, a museum.

 

The Cathedral of Florence, Italy

The Florence cathedral, also known as the CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE, is a church of magnificent architecture right in the center of the historic city of Florence. Its exterior is decorated with a precious mix of pink, white and green marble, making it for the most exquisite facade.

The red-tiled cupola on this towering Duomo is the city’s most iconic landmark and breathtaking even from a distance.

Duomo di Milano, or the Milan Cathedral

Milan’s immensely fantastic Cathedral, the Duomo di Milano, is a masterpiece of its artistic and cultural heritage. That elaborate façade is decidedly the most impressive structure in Milan.

Fontana di Trevi, or The Trevi Fountain, Rome

Fontana di Trevi, or the Trevi Fountain is known as one of the most gorgeous fountains in the world. It’s built at the junction of three streets (tre vie), which give the Trevi Fountain its name, the Three Street Fountain.

A coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return to Rome. Throw in a second coin if you’re seeking love – even a third for wedding bells!

When the fountain is open roughly €3,000 is thrown into it every day as people follow the tradition of throwing coins over their shoulders. The legend holds that a coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return to Rome. Throw in a second coin if you’re seeking love – even a third for wedding bells!

The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum is the capital’s most remarkable monuments, and the symbol of Rome. It is one of the seven wonders of the modern world thereby making it the MUST VISIT attraction while on a trip to Rome. As per statistics, it receives around 7 million visitors in a year. Expect long queues to get in!

The Colosseum was a giant amphitheater, also known as the Flavian amphitheater,  believed to have a seating capacity of around 50,000-80,000 spectators. It was the scene of thousands of hand-to-hand combats between gladiators, of contests between men and animals, and of many larger combats. The exhibition of exotic animals, execution of prisoners, recreation of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years.

Every Good Friday the Pope leads of Way of Cross procession in the Colosseum to remember the early Christians that died in the arena.

The Vatican City

A trip to Rome is not complete without a visit to the Vatican City. It’s the Seat of the Pope of Catholic Church, and is a proud home to St Peter’s Basilica Church which is considered to be one of the pilgrim places in the city.

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Inside St Peter’s Basilica Church

Measuring just around half of a square kilometer, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. St. Peter’s Basilica is located on the famous St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.

St. Peter’s Square
Apostles lining the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica appear like angels blessing from heaven

The Vatican museum displays countless masterpieces of paintings and sculptures. The Sistine Chapel, without a doubt, is the most famous attraction inside the Vatican Museums. The Chapel is completely covered in artwork, including incredible frescoes by Michelangelo. Photography is not allowed inside the Sistine Chapel, but nevertheless, it’s a treat to the eyes!

Vatican Museum

 

While the artistic gems and cultural treasure all remains untouched and safeguarded. the country can definitely be seen put through the test of a lifetime with the impact the pandemic has caused on its economy and tourism. We deeply pray for the normalcy to return soon giving back the residents their peace of mind. Much love! ❤

 

 

Love lives on

Lake Bled, Slovenia

“It simmers yet again,

Happiness in a crimson bubble

That we better know as heart;

With the promise of

Flattering illusions

Palpable fantasies

Love lives on … ♥️

– Shagun

Happy Valentine’s Day, all !! ♥️ 🙂

 

Winter vacation 2018: Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore

Last year I planned to take all my annual leave at one go and travel home to India. I first thought it might be crazy, as I have never taken more than a week’s holiday at a stretch. So how could I possibly stay away from work for a month? But thanks to the support of my oh-so-wonderful colleagues! They made it much easier for me to be gone. I did enough on my holiday to pack myself up with energy and doses of sunshine, so I can now brave the dark and long tunnel of Swedish winter.

What I liked the most is that I had time to do all I wanted to do – be at home with family, meet closest friends and relatives, visit my parents-in-law, go shopping, take my dad for an excursion to Singapore, and also spend Christmas and New year exploring the vibrant Asian countries of Vietnam and Cambodia! I would have likely had to do 3 different trips to make it all happen, if I had split my journeys during the year. Not so efficient, right?

Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore – Being the tropical countries that they are, certain parts remain warm during December, and that made it a perfect winter getaway for me.  There were showers of rain on a couple of days, but not as much as to spoil the day’s plans. Keeping a pocket poncho at all times, especially in Singapore, is a wise thing to do!

More descriptive blogs on the travel will appear in your Reader soon! But I couldn’t wait to give you, my friends, a sneak peak into the rich landscape and a dreamy world these places own. So here goes a glimpse!

  • Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

What vibrant and lively cities these are. Be it the nature’s bountiful countryside, the world heritage preserved sites, the historic structures glittering in the glory of ancient architecture, or the the walking streets buzzing with party, nightlife and food, it surely has something for every visitor.

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Boat ride in the Ninh Binh province in North Vietnam, known for its scenic landscape

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  • Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Untouched by the paints of modernization, protecting it’s mythology and exuding ancient wisdom from every corner, this temple city of Angkor Wat in the Siem Reap region of Cambodia was nothing less than a gem discovered. Angkor Wat is a large temple complex, sort of an archaeological park, home to several glorious temples from the 12th century. Particularly fascinating in the area was the popular night market, pub street and the spa culture. We’re definitely going back again!

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Angkor Wat at sunrise

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  • Singapore

Who would have imagined a tiny country will become the biggest hub of commercial banking and trade, will rank one of the highest in the ease of setting up businesses, and yet be known as Garden City, thank to it’s lush greenery all around in the middle of the city. This little, yet highly developed nation, surely gives progressive goals to the rest of the world. It was not my first visit to Singapore, but it was the very first country that I visited outside India, along with my closest friends almost 10 years back. It will always remain special! 🙂

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Sentosa Island with a view of the iconic Merlion statue

Are you excited to read more about the holiday? Stay tuned 🙂

More travel stories:
How about visiting Riga, in Latvia?
For once, Blues are Beautiful! In Santorini, Greece

 

 

 

Message from the autumn leaves 🍁

It’s now time to bid adieu,
descend into the solace of winter;
holding on to a promise to revive
and come back alive,
in the best of green,
with the verve of youth,
packed with hope
and smiles of the spring.

Till we meet again,
let’s partner on this journey,
of a silent transformation
yet a throbbing resurrection;
Take a pause to reawaken, too
change things you wanted to,
always change about you.

Read my other autumn stories :

Leaves begin to fall

The breeze of autumn..

Leaves begin to fall

Woah, that was a long break. I haven’t seen my lovely readers in a little over 2 months. Caught up in such whirlwind, pointing all fingers back at myself for this disappearing act, and having gobbled up high doses of guilt tablets (honestly!) , I’m now ecstatic about getting back to the thing I love doing the most – write about my experiences and sharing them with you! And what better time to find my resurrection than while I witness this gorgeous transformation of the nature turning from emerald to gold. Earth is peeling away a layer of its brilliance and green beauty, and emanating the glow of its fire within. Every leaf is a flower, cozying up to its own warmth, and in turn presenting a sight to behold.

Autumn in Sweden is such that I always fall short of names to aptly describe the colors that so delicately and beautifully unfold. Ochre, mustard, buff, amber, sienna, crimson and scarlet are a few that I feasted my eyes on this weekend, along with the familiar tones of yellow, gold, orange, red and brown. Every step in the woods, and on the little streets drawn out as a carpet studded with jewels, gifted our hearts with precious moments of joy and pleasure.

How much I’d like you partake in this happiness!

Read also : The breeze of autumn

Happy autumn! 🙂

Swan symphony

This gorgeous swan couple had me engaged for a long time while walking along this beautiful canal in Bruges, Belgium. Their fascination for each other was so evidently palpable in their gestures and movements, that I really wanted to capture a moment between the two that I could take along with me as a happy memory.

I waited for about 15 minutes in anticipation of a sync of their long, slender and beautiful, though extremely swiftly turning necks. And finally, for a fraction of a second, I got this one. If you watch closely, the swan on the left is facing her front, while the swan on the right has his head twisted behind to pair up with his partner. But the elegance is such that it makes the difference less noticeable!

I love the symphony of elements in the image – the harmonious blend of the green landscape with the sweet exhibit of affection. It subtly stirs up feelings of being in unison with one’s partner, having a common direction of vision, hope and love. The feelings of being at peace.

Via Photo Challenge : All-time favorites

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Envious waters

The pink within

The active geyser of Iceland

The flow of water enhances the beauty of any landscape multifold. We have all seen this precious life source adding to the glory of nature in the form of swift and rapid rivers, cascading waterfalls, pristine lakes and vast oceans.

One truly wondrous and unforgettable sight for me was when I witnessed it spouting wildly from the deeper layers of the earth, like a vigorous fountain, roaring in its fury as it began to reach for the sky. Having attained its peak, it collapsed the next moment with a loud thud, only to stir up its core and rise again, and then again, every few minutes. What a spellbinding sight it was!

I was at the great Geysir, Strokkur, the famous active hot spring in Iceland that erupts about every 6-10 minutes, due to high geothermal activity in the area. It usually goes up to 30 meters of height, and before it begins to fall, it has already cast a lasting, bewildering impression on its bystanders! You can imagine people standing around it, and waiting patiently to get a perfect picture, like I attempted to get this one! 🙂

A trip to the Geysir can easily be done from Reykjavik (capital of Iceland) as part of the popular Golden Circle sightseeing route, which covers three major attractions in the range of 100-150 kms – the Þingvellir National Park where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, the spectacular double-layered waterfall of Gullfoss, and the active Geysir in the Haukadalur Valley.

Read my post about the most stunning waterfalls of Iceland

Read : These incredible waterfalls of Iceland