The Northern Lights – What are they?

What are The Northern Lights?

Nature plays its own games. It surprises us in ways unimaginable. One such experience exists far beyond in the north, in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic Circle. The Northern Lights have seized human fascination for thousands of years. Now I don’t really have a bucket list of my own, but I have always wanted to experience this phenomenon for myself, absolutely first hand, which is why I headed about 217 miles north of the Arctic circle (Tromso – a quaint city in Norway, to be precise) to watch the enigmatic Auroras throw a dance pattern for me. The Aurora Boraelis is what these whimsical natural lights commonly known as.

The Northern Lights

Are you one of those who wanted to know more about the science of the Aurora? Well, back in school I was terrible with both science and geography (Don’t judge me!), but as I spotted the magnificent green curtains form across the sky, I couldn’t hold back the curiosity in my pretty-much-blown-out-mind. So I spent some time educating myself with the tour agents at Chasing lights and learnt all I could about nature’s most spectacular event – The Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights

The northern lights are natures very own spectacular light show. These dancing curtains of light sway with the wind right around the magnetic field of our Earth. They occur about thirty to forty hours after the sun tosses its particles in the earth’s magnetic field. These charged solar particles then collide with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen in the earth’s atmosphere, therefore releasing flashes of light better known as the Aurora. This happens somewhere between 20 miles to 200 miles above the earth.

There are approximately four different colors that the Aurora borealis creates. Each of these depends upon the type of atom collision and the altitude at which the collision happens. The color Blue occurs under 60 miles above the earth’s surface. The color purple shows visibility from over 60 miles above the earth. Ironically Green, the most common color seen actually occurs 100 miles above the earth’s surface while Red, the most distinguished and rarest of all colors appears over 150 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Northern lights will probably remain nature’s most magical, luxurious and distinguished experience ever. People have been chasing them for years now and years to come. I can run after them time and again. That is how enlightened I am with this nature’s activity. I am already making plans for my next Aurora adventure across the Arctic!

The Northern Lights

 

Have you seen the Northern Lights yet? Don’t you want to pack already?

I enjoyed writing this post. If there is anything you want to know about Aurora Borealis shoot up on the comments section below and I will get back ASAP! If you have an experience to share, send me the link and delight me with your adventure!

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Stay tuned for some extra Aurora magic on my blog!

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Fotografiska

There comes a point where science becomes poetry. When a strictly objective gaze creates an image that allows us to imagine a beauty greater than which we can express. That’s where photography turns more life-like. 

 

I am not  a professional photographer, but of what I learn and believe in photography and by following great artists of the time, I understand photography as one of the strongest art forms existing today. Right from the time of Ansel Adams to all the current gen Instagram-worthy photographers trying to make their space in the ever so saturating field, one thing goes without saying – it is very important to find your subject that you’d love to shoot rather than just focusing on being a good photographer. But it is equally important to find your creative. And nothing in the world can possibly mirror creativity better than the pieces of work in this art-fled studio.

Facing the islands of Kastellholmen and Djurgarden, this museum, Fotografiska – mainly known as the photography museum of Stockholm is built-in a former customs house. It is a massive three storey photo gallery where one can find worlds top photographers works exhibited on rotation.

Credits: www.svt.se

One such opportunity came my way when I was traveling in Stockholm during the last week of December. Honestly Fotografiska wasn’t on my list before I looked up the website and read about the photographers who were exhibited there at the time. In no time the camera enthusiast in me decided to find a way to reach Djurgarden. I stayed very close to the central station and it took me a direct metro rail to Slussen and a quick 12 minute walk hence to reach this beautiful building. I had the Stockholm pass which helped me skip lines and saved up on my entry fee. That’s the one thing I absolutely love about the Stockholm pass – it includes almost everything one would want to see in Stockholm, and it sure is cost-effective.

If I have to describe my experience at Fotografiska in one word, I’d say – Fascinating. Right from the moment I walked into the gallery and laid eyes on hassleblad camera bodies and lenses, I knew I was in for a treat throughout. It took me about 3 hours to read through each photograph, the colors, the angles, the details. The artists that month on exhibit were Nick Veasey, Chen Man, Asa Sjöström and Ida Borg. Each of them echoing their meraki through their own unique cutting edge photography, took me through an extraordinary journey in the making of state of the art masterpieces. Staring up at these daedal photographs, I was in awe of the complexities of art and the simplicities of human life and materialism.

Here I will be taking you back to Stockholm’s December journey. Tip-toe with me through Fotografiska and go speechless at the possibilities of art and creativity.

Nick Veasey

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“I can preserve a child’s smile, make any woman feel beautiful, bring a grown man to tears, fifty years from now and freeze time – What’s your superpower?”

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Most artists claim to delve beneath the surface of their subjects. Most artists fail. And of what I experienced of Nick’s photography technique is that no one can go to such intricate depth of ones core. This man has the imagination, power and creativity to dig deep into the possibilities of daily objects. And what’s crazy is – he seems UNSTOPPABLE. In an unmatchable spirit, Nick Veasey works in his X-ray studio in a rural area outside Maidstone, England. He does not focus on capturing beautiful landscape over shining horizons, nor does he focus on painting portraits. Instead, he has mastered the art of penetrating deep inside any object – living and non-living. The X-ray technique. Look, observe, learn the magic created by Nick Veasle’s X-ray photographic technique. Read as deeply as you want. unravel a photo layer by layer, till there’s nothing left to it – and yet everything.

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I have never seen detailing so closely my entire life. Neither would you.

Chen Man

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Redefining the fine line between Fashion photography, Art, Painting and Graphic design, Chen Man masters the art of photo-manipulation technique. She was the first one to learn, use and master Photoshop in China. She would spend months on her computer creating and recreating one image.

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Flying with fearlessness and sitting at the edge of the curiosity-cliff, Chen Man shocked the chinese art world bringing in a whole new revolution to the visual world single-handedly.

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Ida Borg

Taking on life simple pleasures and building art off them, is a skill many possess. But the sheer perfection and elegance is what defines Ida Borg’s work of art. In – Hygiene – A circle of life, Ida captures the daily emotions of the life cycle of a lay man. In the mindset of educating people about the importance of Hygiene, Ida says, ” No matter where you find yourself in the cycle of life, hygiene is what stays with you, and your health should be of primary concern”.

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In her series, Ida has captured people of different ages and nationalities, from across the world to bring together the basic necessity of one thing that unites us all – Hygiene. Photography is an all-inclusive art form which is why it has the power to reach the mind, body and soul of anyone hence provoking newer perspectives.

Asa Sjöström

“I see myself in those I photograph and I often wonder what it would be like if their lives had been mine. The connection feels personal, as if we share a story, but one that is not my own”.

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Asa captures the story of a silent land. A land she walked into and fled herself with overwhelming emotions. Moldova, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, is the poorest country in Europe (2005). On her 3 month long trip, she captured faces of prisoners, victims of human trafficing and domestic violence. Feeling incomplete even after capturing the souls of what made Moldova, she realised that she hadnt looked close enough. That was the moment when she put herself in the place of the locals, observed the details and encountered in the people of Moldova, strong integrity, will power and a fierce sincerity. She saw people, the poverty and the dignity; the brutal yet fragile life experiences of the people.

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Its a fearlfully dangeorous stunt to put yourself in place of such severity just to capture the heart and soul in a photograph. Asa’s ‘The silent land’ series are a line of brutally honest inhuman realities of this wildly materialistic world we live in.

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Fotografiska introduced me to art like I have never seen before. The multitude of possibilities one can learn just by using a lens, the levels of photojournalism and the numerous ways of visual storytelling is what I take away from this beautiful art museum in Stockholm. If you are a photography enthusiast, take my word for it – YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS PLACE! Go, unlearn everything you have been taught about photography and look at art in a whole new perspective.

FOTOGRAFISKA MUSEET

Stadsgårdshamnen 22
116 45 Stockholm

OPENING HOURS

Sun – Weds 9:00 am – 11: 00 pm
Thurs – Sat 9:00 am – 1:00 am

TICKET PRICES

Adults SEK 135
Students and Seniors SEK 105
Groups (minimum 20 visitors) SEK 105
Children under 12 years free
NB This museum does not accept cash; cards only

When Art meets Life

Have you been to Fotografiska yet? What did you like best?

I enjoyed writing this post. If there is something in specific you would want to know about Stockholm or want me to write about, mention in the comments below and I will get back ASAP. Got any other amazing must-do must-see option in Stockholm? Share me the link and I will read it up too 🙂

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Fika – Lets brew it!

Shhhh… my coffee and I are having a moment. I will deal with you later.

FIKA. BECAUSE. COFFEE. FRIENDS. CONVERSATIONS. RELAX.

 

Halla friends!

As promised, out of my sheer love for cultural learning and oh, COFFEE, this blog’s dedicated to a momentary romance with coffee, or as the Swedes call it – FIKA!

Somewhere on the Island of södermalm, I found a little café on the corner with a board outside that said – FIKA! The word in itself was so sweet to read I was intrigued to google it up. “OK google! What does Fika mean?” “Fika is a coffee break”. My heart the next hyper second – “Wait, coffee? Did I hear Coffee?”

It took me a conversation with three Swedes to understand that Fika after all isn’t ‘JUST’ a coffee break. It’s so much more than that. And boy, do the Swedes hate it being called a coffee break!

My ever so curious mind didn’t stop till I learnt all about Fika (Because, well… coffee). So in my own words I’d define Fika as – a moment of meditation with coffee! More like a concept, a state of mind or a feeling. And feelings have no definite terms of description, aye? (Yup I just got a little philosophical here!)

Fika is a Swedish obsession. The swedes are one of the highest coffee consuming nations in the world (Ranking in the top 10 list). Which is why, Coffee is more than having a break or a pastime for them. Coffee for them is weaving moments of bliss and light hearted conversations with friends and family leaving all your problems behind (nop, they do not discuss problems on the coffee table). And this, my friends, is an integral part of their culture (Fika – every single day! yup.)

So how do you… Fika? You wonder?

I will help break it down for you.

  1. You get yourself coffee.
  2. You add a pastry or a muffin (anything baked basically!)
  3. .. you just FIKA!

The art of Fika is all about leaving all your problems behind and having a moment of bliss and relax. The Swedes believe (and you and I would second them on this), the world is getting busier by the passing minute. Problems are never ending and our hair is graying faster and sooner than ever. It would do no harm to set aside everything and enjoy a happy conversation with a friend… and just FIKA! This, as I said before, being more of a Swedish tradition and obsession, the employers even give their staff a Fika break (maybe even two sometimes). That’s how entrenched it is in the Swedish culture.

Now, as I sit back and sip on my cup of coffee while I write this piece of article here, I think how coffee really is just a ‘to-go’ option for everyone around the world (yes even me!). We all have so much on our plates every single day that a coffee break really means discussing work issues or holding up client meetings. At work a coffee break means heading to a vending machine or the cafeteria and buying yourself that use and throw cup, sipping on it while you are driving or taking the subway. When I was studying in the UK, most of my mornings were filled with coffee on the side while getting dressed or finishing an assignment. Even at the university, I would get myself coffee from the 1 pound coffee maker and run with it to the lecture theater (multitasking, please!). But ever since I got back from Sweden, mum and I try to inculcate this Fika culture in our daily routine. We are both crazy coffee lovers and we sit with our coffees in the balcony and watch the sun rise up every morning. It really is the best moment of my all-so-busy day! A rather relaxed kick start.

What are the rules of FIKA?

One of the many beautiful things about this art is there aren’t really stated rules to fika. Not a coffee fan? Drink tea instead. Don’t like a muffin, pick a croissant or a sandwich. Whatever suits you? You don’t even have to head to a café, you can Fika literally anywhere, even in the comfort of your home.

Sweden and Coffee?

If we go down the road of civilization and walk down the streets with Swedish history, Sweden and coffee have been in a rather complicated relationship from the start.

Coffee entered Sweden like a breath of fresh air in mid-16th century under King Fredrick I. However, he was never a fan of these brown beans and tried to tax the shit out of it to kick it out of their culture. With eventual failures, he then banned coffee. Over years and subsequent successors, King Adolf Fredrick levied heavier taxes on coffee, which lead to coffee smuggling and these bean babies went underground. With secret coffee shops in hidden corners of cities, the Swedish became hitched to coffee. It became an ingrained part of them. They wanted someone to build this as a culture. And hence, enter King Gustav III, from where things got creative and interesting. After several attempts of brainwashing his people against the contents of coffee, failures of PR campaigns downgrading the effects of coffee, the swedes just did not let go. He even ran an experiment where he picked twin brothers (criminals) and tried to prove the harmful effects of coffee. He fed one brother with tea and the other with coffee, each thrice a day to prove that the coffee drinking criminal would die a caffeinated death rather faster than the tea drinking criminal. Not only did both of them survive the test, they also outlived the king (in fact, the coffee drinking criminal even outlived the tea drinker).

The ban on Fika was lifted in the mid-19th century when the youth was high on rage and caffeine. Ever since, coffee and Fika has taken over Sweden like a storm and is now a cool tag.

Let’s all raise a toast to the warrior that lies in the Swedish coffee (wink!).

If you head to Sweden, DO NOT call Fika a coffee break. Just call it… Fika!

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Every day, I try to have a Fika. It helps to sit back on my chair and breath fresh air in the balcony and read a book or listen to music with my strong, dark coffee. That is my Fika!

What is yours?

 

I enjoyed writing this post. If there is something in specific you would want to know about Stockholm or want me to write about, mention in the comments below and I will get back ASAP. Tell me about your Fika experience in the comments below. I would love to read them <3

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The artists paradise – Stockholm

Are you headed to the Venice of the North? Read on to see things you absolutely cannot miss in Stockholm. (For the love of Art and Culture)

6 of my most exclusive Experiences in Stockholm!

6 most amazing things to experience in stockholm

Are you headed to the Venice of the North? Read on to see things you absolutely cannot miss in Stockholm.

It’s been about 2 months since my Scandinavian travel and I still cannot get enough of how beautiful the Northern part of Europe is. Yes you read that right. Scandinavia in the Winters (yep, I know your eyes are wide open in sheer surprise or shock :P). Experiencing a white winter was always on my list right from my years in the UK. Terrible luck as I’d call it, I spent 2 December’s in the UK and never saw a single snow flake (sigh!). But as crazy as it sounds, Scandinavian winters are insane only if you are an absolute winter lover. Peak winters, knee deep snow and below freezing temperatures, Scandinavia is white heaven on earth.

Credits: Ola Ericson /www.stockholmsfoto.se

I started off with Stockholm or as they call it “The Venice of the North”. Almost a week in Stockholm, spending the whole of Christmas week there, I saw some incredible places and experienced some of the best Swedish traditions. Not to miss, the city that was lonely on Christmas eve (no body on the streets and most of the stores were shut), caught up to a running life soon after. Right from fancy museums to watching the gloomy sky change colors over all of Stockholm, I had some off the track experiences or what I’d rather call as “The Artists Galore”. Think of it! If you just end up visiting the main streets of the city or the headlined museums or touristy spots what new have you done? It would feel like ‘just another European city’ with nothing different to mark. I am among the ones to learn of the history of a place and watch out for the rarer experiences. After all travel is about indulging in newer experiences! Delve a little deeper and you’ll find each city has a soul of its own.

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If you are especially an art lover, I’d suggest DO NOT miss this list!

HERE WE GO!

1. Fotografiska: The artist living in abundance

Credits: www.svt.se

Open: All seasons

Entry fee: 145 SEK (Free on Stockholm pass)

Often referred to as the “Photography museum” in Stockholm, this place has photography exhibitions on rotation. Every few weeks they showcase the most exclusive set of photographers across the world. I visited this museum in the 3rd week of December and experienced photography very unlike what we see every day. Watching works of photographers Nick Veasey, Chen Man and Ida Borg, I couldn’t believe photography of such kind even existed. These photographers are the epitome of creative photography.

I am dedicating an entire blog to my most favorite museum (Fotografiska) soon! Stay tuned.

2. Get moving on the waters – Winter Archipelago boat tour.

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Open: All Seasons (Kindly check site for Christmas/eve)

Entry fee: 295 SEK (Free on Stockholm pass)

The city of Stockholm is virtually surrounded by 14 islands. The reason why its called the “Venice of the North”. Boat tours in summer ring a bell to beachy outfits, free flowing gowns and some ice popsicles. But I visited Stockholm in dead peak winters and wasn’t too sure of how a boat tour would turn out be on semi-frozen land (lol). Alas, I fell in love with city even more. There is just something fulfilling about heaters and socks and mufflers combined with gloomy views on the outside and a really hot cup of dark chocolate wrapped by your fingers.

Was it freezing outside? Hell ya-ha! I did a 3 hour Archipelago ride. It was big boat beautifully decorated with all things Christmas. Tiny reindeer pelts hanging on each window, small Santa’s kept on the corners of the boat. Everything was red and oh so beautiful.

Do this tour and get in tune with the historical grounds of the Archipelago.

3. Travel back in time – Skansen

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Open: All seasons

Entry fee: 180 SEK (Free on Stockholm pass)

This beautiful open air museum located in the Island of Djurgården is about 15 minutes by bus or tram from the city center. Relive the 19th century Swedish lifestyle here. It consists of 150 homes and farms. The employees in Skansen play roles of people from the past explaining Swedish art, craft and culture.

4. 360 degree view – Ericsson Globe

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Open: All seasons

Entry fee: 150 SEK (Free on Stockholm pass before 12pm)

This beautiful structure – The Globen Skyview – gives you an unobstructed view of all of southern Stockholm. The Globen is Sweden’s national arena and the largest hemispherical building in the world. The building has 2 spherical gondolas that take you up to the top of the building which is the view point in about 30 minutes of riding time. Secret tip – carry a wide lens or a go-pro for this place 😉

5. Because you never say no to coffee – FIKA!

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Not many people know about this beautiful Swedish tradition. Fika is the art of taking a coffee break. Sounds too mundane? Its significance is much more than that. Fika is the art of meeting your loved ones over a coffee break with sweet conversations and cake or a pastry. But Fika is more than just coffee. In fact its almost offensive to call traditional Fika JUST a ‘coffee-break’. It is more of a Swedish obsession. Sweden is one of the highest coffee-consuming countries in the world. So coffee here is more like a lifestyle in itself.

Being a coffee-addict myself, you can only imagine my obsession in learning what Fika really is all about. I am going to write an entire article on Fika. Stay tuned!

6. Art at its best – Stockholm Underground

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Once again for the art lovers of all kinds, I’d recommend you carry a good camera so you can get some lovely shots of Stockholm’s underground rail. Trust me when I say, the art under here is fantastic.

Stockholm metro was opened in 1950. Right from beginning, a group of local artists have been involved through the construction process. The Swedes wanted travel to be an experience and not just a mode of commute even for the locals.

Around 150 odd artists have contributed to the art of Sweden’s underground metro. It is more like a permanent art exhibition down there. Sculptures, mosaics, paintings, gardens etc. are some of the highlights of the metro. Look out for T-centralan for some fancy deep blue under water feels; Kungsträdgården for some ancient sculptures, dungee cave feels; Rådhuset (court house) for some natural cave and lava colors; Solna centrum for a feel of walking straight into the colors of the burning sun.

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Stockholm really surprised me. I knew I would love it but I had no idea how much I’d fall in love with it. This was just winters, my eyes would sparkle with bliss with Scandinavian summers. There is so much more to Stockholm when you put on your traveler shoes and dirty your shoe laces a little, walk around the city and explore parts like no one else can explain. After all, each traveler has his own eyes, a different perspective and an urge to explore like no other. I cannot wait to come back here with lesser layers on me 😛

Have you been to Stockholm? What did you like best?

I enjoyed writing this post. If there is something in specific you would want to know about Stockholm or want me to write about, mention in the comments below and I will get back ASAP. Got any other amazing must-do must-see option in Stockholm? Share me the link and I will read it up too 🙂

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Stockholm – a dreamy December’s journal

As light rain and snow tumbles down the city of Stockholm, I walk on the street of Strandvägen spotting thin layers of snow on the many wooden benches at the banks of Lake Mälaren. I spot some words written on each of those benches and decide to leave my own mark for however long they remain.

As light rain and snow tumbles down the city of Stockholm, I walk on the street of Strandvägen spotting thin layers of snow on the many wooden benches at the banks of Lake Mälaren. I spot some words written on each of those benches and decide to leave my own mark for however long they remain.

There is something very nostalgic about the air in Stockholm, something that reminds me of my sweet-somethings. It tingles little smiles across my face and as I gaze across the wide archipelago stretched across the many islands that surround the central part of the city, my heart is filled with happiness undeniable. A December visit to Stockholm surely needs some guts and willpower to face cold winds and ankle deep snow (at least in the beginning). Almost every travel agency I went to discouraged me to head for my Scandinavian adventure. Their reply – “Ma’am we are too ‘Indian’ to face such extreme winters”. And my only response to their words – Rolling eyes and several smirks later – “just gives me an estimated quotation please”.

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And after 2 weeks of endless planning (sipping on coffee by the edge of my balcony and of dreaming of white winds and snowflakes) I headed straight to Stockholm with my family (parents and brother). Everyone I knew told me that Scandinavia is better off travelling in the summers. European summers are pretty pleasant, I know of that as I have traveled to Europe in different seasons before. But as utterly gorgeous and happening Scandinavia is in summers, there is something magical about its winters. A visit in the winters brings the city under different lights altogether and a big white blanket of snow. And this very few tourists know about.

In my further posts I will be giving you tips about Scandinavian winter travels. For now put your gloves, woolen socks and ear muffs on, HERE WE GO!

Hotel Tegnérlunden

This is where I stayed. Located about 12-15 minutes walking distance from the Central Station, this little boutique hotel was filled with tiny details, a cosy environment and a beautiful garden to wake up to every morning.

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The view from my hotel. Stockholm at its gloomy self.
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Endless cups of coffee, Swedish history books, this was my cosy corner in Stockholm.

Daylight would spread across Stockholm sky after 8:30 am. The beautiful view from the glass walls of Tegnérlunden were worth the little day-light spread across Stockholm’s sky.

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Subtle breakfast mornings in Stockholm

Strandvägen

A boulevard in central Stockholm, Strandvägen stretches for over 1 km in distance. With footways paved in granite and lamp-posts and benches lay’d at the corner, this place is the departure spot for many cruises in the city. I did the famous Archipelago winter cruise right from here.

One of my favorite spots in Stockholm, Strandvägen.

Nordiska Museet

The very first museum I entered in Stockholm was the Nordic Museum. This museum holds the cultural history and ethnography of Stockholm. I learnt some fantastic insights on different aspects of Swedish life and architecture over a period of 400 years. And thank lords for Christmas eve, I ended up spending more than three hours at this museum getting dressed as Santa and fairy.

Gamla Stan

Another favorite spot in the city. This is an old town which consists mainly of the island Stadsholmen. Gamla stan has some of the most colorful buildings in the city of Stockholm and some of the most narrow lanes across eastern Europe. The whole of old town is filled with tiny cafes and boutique shops selling authentic Swedish vintage wear. Slightly expensive, for me Gamla stan will probably be one of the many picturesque spots in the city.

Kungsträdgården

One of the busiest squares in Stockholm, Kungsträdgården is a centrally located park which turns into an ice skating ridge by the end of December, all through winters.

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Christmas decorations, Kungsträdgården

Drottninggaten

Drottninggaten is the biggest, most famous shopping street in Stockholm. But the foodie in me stopped for this amazing ice-cream.

Ice cream shop, Drottninggaten

Skansen

Being an open air museum, Skansen during its gloomy December season seems like a haunted forest in itself (don’t worry their ain’t no ghosts here). My pictures seem even more gloomy and haunted as I captured them with barely any daylight left. I missed most of the interior of Skansen, but if you are there, Please look through this beautiful place completely (and click LOTS of pictures).

Ericsson Globe

And last but not the least, Skyview. If you want to see the whole of Stockholm (and I mean almost all islands) from a birds eye this is the place you should absolutely not miss. Not many people know about the globan. Ericsson Globe is an indoor arena located in the globe city of stockholm (on the outskirts). It is the largest hemispherical building on earth which has a small glass globe attached to it. You step inside and it takes you to the top of the Globe from where you see all of Stockholm’s beauty.

This is just a glimpse of all the beautiful things I saw in Stockholm. There is so much more to Stockholm than what is seen in mere photographs. One has to be there to experience the truest sense of Swedish culture.

In the next few posts I am going to talk more about my journey across Scandinavia and how to survive the below freezing temperatures. STAY TUNED 😀

If there is something in specific you would want to know about Stockholm or want me to write about, mention in the comments below and I will get back ASAP. Got any other amazing must-do must-see option in Stockholm? Share me the link and I will read it up too 🙂

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A Jubilant Love Affair – Con Amor Granada

“This is the dream of all the world. The dream is to live in Granada. You know, work in the morning, have a one hour nap in the afternoon and at night go out and have that life; eat tapas and drink red wine and be in a beautiful place”.

Sophia – “Hold my hand and I will show you a beautiful place.”

Anthony Bourdair once said, “This is the dream of all the world. The dream is to live in Granada. You know, work in the morning, have a one hour nap in the afternoon and at night go out and have that life; eat tapas and drink red wine and be in a beautiful place”.

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Copyrights: @whereizmyboardingpass

This is what these narrow bustling streets of the little Spanish town echoed. With an exquisite history of the Nasrid Dynasty and the spectacular Moorish architecture, one cannot help but imagine what the kings and the queens would have felt walking through the passages of the ‘Palacios Nazaries’ to the gorgeous lush green gardens of the Alhambra. There is so much authenticity in the palaces and the monuments of this town, that one cannot miss being in – as described by Anthony – a beautiful place. Although, to me Granada will always be a conflate of ancient authenticity and modern day lifestyle.

I had a friend Ross, back in England who once happened to mention that his grandparents lived in Spain. He knew my genre of travel and suggested I make sure to visit this town. When I asked him to describe this place to me, he said “Granada is as beautiful as the sky midst the setting sun; as mellifluous as the Spanish lady’s footsteps; as rustic as the falling autumn leaves and as genial as a small child playing across the street”.

A wandering soul like mine couldn’t resist those words and I instantly found myself booking an apartment for a 3 day trip in the town of Granada. I looked through pictures of the place over the internet but what I witnessed was so much more abundant than what was on the internet. I was in the town where once lived the Romans and the Nasrid’s. While the Romans brought in early architecture and culture to Spain, the Moors and the Nasrid’s brought in royalty and Islamic décor during the later history of the town. I was walking the narrow streets of Granada where there existed abundant history and war and blood and lust. Here, in this ancient southern Spanish town, I could be anyone, do anything. I felt like a free bird trying to find a new home away from home.

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And so, one fine summer morning of July, I decided to be a bird. I was the crimson rosella parrot. That morning as I stepped out of my apartment in the city center, I let my predominantly red-blue feathers flip-flap back and forth as I flew myself swiftly across the charm filled atmosphere of the town. I let the warm summer air kiss my tinted lips and the bright sun twinkle in my eye.

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In no time I was at the Palace of Alhambra, getting lost in the mysterious walled gardens hidden from prying eyes, walking through the Arab baths, wondering what all the intricate designs in the Alhambra’s salons and courtyard’s really signified and what all those words engraved and carved on the walls and ceilings of the palace really try to convey.

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Post a well exercised morning, as the sun reached the midpoint in the sky, I was roaming the streets of Granada, glancing through the windows of old vintage shops and passing by groups of people eating tapas and drinking chilled beer. It was almost 4 by the time I rested my tired legs in a café and ordered myself a tall glass of cold coffee sided by a tomato-mozzarella sandwich. Every restaurant in here had tiny water sprinklers suspended from the roofs and umbrellas which really help fight the scorching heat during peak summer days.

Post a light lunch I was out again, doing my thing, being myself, the free-spirit person I am, engaging myself in the hustle-bustle of the town life as I encountered a square seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The locals were building something that looked like a stage. The stage lay in a bucolic setting of tiny cottages and had a rustic charm to it.

As I looked around, I saw people whispering among themselves and talking about what was about to come up. I saw tourists trying to hold maps, shutterbugs not leaving their cameras alone and this one tall petite woman in a long cotton gown with a sling bag. Her round glasses were raised above her forehead and she was busy making some notes and clicking pictures of the whole set-up.

I landed myself next to the young lady, maybe about 24-26 years in age. She was preoccupied with her camera, sitting over the stairs of the square. I sat by her and introduced myself, hoping she spoke English. I asked her in Spanish, ‘tu hablas ingles?’ (You speak English?) immediately replying ‘no hablo Español mucho’ (I don’t speak much Spanish). She looked at me with a gentle welcoming smile and started talking to me in English. Her English had a Spanish lilt to it, and I knew she was a local.DSC_0747

After a brief introduction she told me the whole set up is for a series of tap dance performances lined up by the locals. She gave a brief introduction of what the traditional dance form of Spain was and how culturally centered the people of this country are when it comes to learning ancient art forms. Flamenco is a passionate seductive dance form in a mysterious culture dated almost over 500 years ago. This dance form is colored in passion, dance, drama, story and romance. Women were dressed in colorful gypsy style dresses, silk shawls and hand painted fans in an array of dazzling designs. Some women were also dressed in capes and corsets in red, black and white while men were covered in red and black tuxedos tightly wrapped around their waists. There were men playing live music by clapping their hands and tapping their feet over the strong wooden flooring. The old men, with faces scorched and cracked like the bark of an olive tree, their hands swaying, making movements that could describe a saga by themselves and the courting couples dancing the most dramatic sevillanas, a symbol of life in this wonderful southern town of Granada. Their bodies moved in Spanish lilt while their feet tapped the wooden flooring making hard-hitting sounds to the ears. The expressions on their faces spoke a language that broke all linguistic barriers among all us variant travelers gathered in that little square from different corners of the world.

Being a dancer and culture enthusiast myself, I was left startled in the brilliance of the Tablao Flamenco. This dance form was theater in itself.

It took me a few moments to gather my wings back up and stand on my feet to wave in the flow of the evening. As I turned to leave, I thanked Sophia for the time spent together. It was almost 9 pm and my stomach had started to growl. I was starting to get hungry. Sophia called out for me and asked if I would like to have light dinner somewhere around. A little part of me was relentless but I gave in when she said she knew a great coffee shop around the city center where we could have a quite conversation over some neat Tapas and hot chocolate. I informed her that I was a vegetarian and she surprised me when she said she was vegan herself.

 

 

Image Credit: Vagabond
Image credits: Vagabond

We started walking through the dark narrow lanes lit with hundreds of fairy lights, some shaped in butterflies, some others in net shaped candles while some were painted in the colours of rainbow. A little part in me couldn’t believe these were the same streets I walked through all morning. They were much livelier, filled with people playing music and women dancing to it. It looked like a mini carnival. I lost count of the number of restaurants we crossed, but I cannot forget how crowded each restaurant was even on a weekday. There were restaurants with females dancers swaying around, belly dancing in their outfits and serving food from one table to another. There were belly dancers on the ends of every street. There were people chatting loudly in a language that made no sense to me. And yet, there I was, slurping up every step of this town, like freshly squeezed strawberry juice.

In between all my momentary observations, Sophia and I exchanged details of our respective countries. She asked me how I got here and where I was headed to after. She helped me with things I could do in Seville and Madrid. In about 20 minutes we reached Plaza de los Girones. The café where we ate was a cosy little setting filled with artistic pleasures. Restaurante Hicuri Art Vegan had warm interiors and was filled with walls painted in different colors. There was so much vivid art and graffiti on every wall in so many mixed colors. Sophia knew the staff since she was a regular here. She mentioned this place was ranked highest and one of the best vegan/vegetarian cafes in town. We sat by the corner resting upon a bright yellow wall. I am a foodie at heart and always in for trying new dishes and so I insisted she order the food. She ordered creamed vegetable soup followed by a main dish (which I can’t remember. Sob!). I insisted on bunking hot chocolate and sipping on some traditional wine. The wine selection at the restaurant was fairly small but justly so, they honed in for perfect selections including some organic options. We built conversation as we ate and I learned how similar we were in terms of our perspectives on life and travel. She was a photographer and aimed to be a fulltime traveller. And I could see her going a long way with this by the glitter in her eyes every time she spoke about a new city or a new country on her bucket list. I introduced India to her in a very authentic way and gave her a list of places she should go backpacking around the country.

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Image Credits: Vagabond

As the sky turned from purple to deep blue to coal black, what started as a fun filled conversation, turned into a beautiful unintended intellectual conversation. We shared stories from our past. We spoke about our families and friends, about what life meant to each of us and what the purpose of love really is. I told her how different the concept of marriage in India is and that back home my family was looking out for me to settle. That moment Sophia told me something which I will never be able to forget all my life. She said, “Sakshi, before you find someone, make sure to find yourself. Or else, you will break all the hearts in the process.” Her words moved something in me. I knew what she meant and I connected to her words so well. For a moment I could literally visualize those words, the alphabets from her statement move around me. In that moment I understood the importance of perspective.

What I thought would last a small talk, extended to a late night dinner at a random art café with a glass of organic wine and long endless conversations. It’s been a year and a half since that day, and I still haven’t been able to forget that serendipitous evening in Granada. As the stars took over the sky and formed a blanket over us, I knew Granada was magic in some little way.

And before the night ended, I went back to that little square, sat on the stairs and lay on the tiled floor, staring up at the sky, trying to locate the stars and breathing in the musical air one last time before I headed to my apartment. Once in my apartment I changed into a pair of shorts and made myself a hot cup of coffee. Sitting on the edge of my balcony, I looked down at the empty streets and wondered if this is what ‘home-away-from-home’ really meant. That night before I cradled myself to sleep, I wrote a little about this beautiful town that I’d like to mention here:

 

A jubilant love affair – con amor Granada

 

When you shed your skin and take another form

You know you might see yet another storm.

Or you might just come across a calm ocean

Stretching its arms ahead of time’s notion.

You could either crib to feel out of place

Or simply relish the sweet escape.

Into a town so beautiful where the Alhambra stands

Looks like a musical and welcomes you with open hands.

Where the sun sets in pink and the night turns purple

Where your heart beats in sync and your soul feels coral.

Where the streets stay awake with all the hustle

And its people eat pray love with a whole lot of bustle.

I knew I found me, a bit of myself here

I know I will come back, with another story to share.

And as I finish my cuppa, breathing reliance

I can’t help but brood, about the sweet dalliance.

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Did you enjoy this article? Have a similar experience? Comment below and let me know 🙂

Have any questions about Granada? Hit me up! And I’ll answer.

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#HappyTravelsPeepal

#whereizmyboardingpass

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

Vashisht – Myths from the Himalayas

A large of travel in India holds massive amount of myths and historical significance. I rode from Manali to small lush green village and unraveled some fascinating stories from the era of Mahabharata. Read on to know more…

Anyone fascinated by the ancient stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana will come to believe that a large part of travel in India has back stories and myths that define the current day destinations. Are you the kind of traveler who loves to learn the historical significance of a certain destination? Are you the kind that loves to go down to the deep roots of reasoning? Are you the one to question and give deeper meanings to your travels?

If you are, then you and I are going to have fun connecting historical dots. Read on to find more!

We reached Vashisht on rented bikes. A quick flashback to a lovely (pretty bumpy) bike ride from the edge of old manali to Vashisht all the way to Solang valley and back! The sheer beauty of lush mountains and roads knotted up in their own twisted tales, a bunch of girls on three bikes pretty defines ‘BOSS GIRLS’!

In the month of July, a bunch of us girls traveled all the way from the south of India to Himachal for a trek toward the Hampta pass, crossing valleys and mountains between Manali and Spiti. With a stop over in Manali for 3 days, we decided to rent bikes and ride around Manali and a few villages. I have been to Manali three times before, but this is the one I am never going to forget. The sheer presence of mind while riding midst these lush mountains and meeting the cold breeze in the air at higher altitudes while swirling from one turn to another, I realized that happiness is just around the corner (of the mountains, duh!).

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In conversation with them about the history of Vashisht ©whereizmyboardingpass

Our very first stop was at this quintessential little village at the banks of river Beas called Vashisht. Being more like a subtle green patch, this village was named after Rishi Vashisht, one of the seven sages (saptarishis) in Hinduism. The story of Vashisht trails all the way back to the era of Mahabharata. Even the river Beas, was originally called vipasha which means ‘freedom from bondage’. All across the books of Ramayana and Mahabharata, the conflict between the two greatest rishis of the time – Rishi Vashisht and Vishvamithra, has been a highlight. There have been various violent encounters captured in the respective books between them. Myths say that, Rishi Vashisht attempted to commit suicide in this river after he gained information that Vishvamithra (warrior son of Gadhi) killed his children. In the attempt to commit suicide, the river refused to drown Rishi Vashisht therefore creating a hundred shallow channels. And that’s how the name Vipasha – present day Beas. After this event, Rishi Vashisht started afresh. This temple is almost over 4000 years old. Looking closely into the architecture of this temple, you will see the intricate details and carvings on its wooden walls that speak of an unread story altogether.

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Vashisht Temple, Himachal Pradesh ©whereizmyboardingpass

We reached Vashisht in about 20 minutes from one edge of old Manali. This village is filled with rich culture, traditions and lots of tiny colorful cafes. It remains pretty crowded by tourists from around world during peak seasons. From foreign travelers to traditional architecture, German bakeries to Instagram worthy sit down cafes with live music, from cows to deer’s to nilgai’s, this was one stop on my bike-day excursion around Manali that I will never forget. Such is the photographic beauty of this village and the path that leads to it.

If you are in Manali, do give this little place a quick visit. It won’t take you more than 45 minutes by walk or even a short drive up through the rickshaws.

Got another historical significance for this village or hill station? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

How to make friends on the road?

This is one question I have been asked way too many times.

How do you manage to make friends on the move?

Well it’s easier than you may think and this isn’t subject to being an extrovert alone. No I am not a social butterfly or an extremely outgoing person in general and no it is not awkward to talk to random strangers. In fact I have built some of the most long lasting friendships on the road and soon you shall realize that the fun in traveling or backpacking is in the people you meet on the way and the relations you build along your travel journeys.

I have been traveling a long while, which is why I am going to give you super easy and quick pointers as to how you can make friends while you travel.

If you have any more ideas please feel open to sharing them in the comments section below the article!

1. HOSTEL!

Hostels are the way to go peepal!

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Skip that hotel and pick a travel hostel. Travel hostels are designed into existence so you meet like-minded people and fellow travelers. This is by far one of the easiest hacks to meet new people when you travel. Share stories, learn new stuff, sing along bonfires and eat together over beer. Hostel cafes and bars are the go-to place to catch up with a crowd belonging to different edges of the world.

2. Share a meal!

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YES, that’s right. FOOD. As weird as it may sound initially, this is one thing I have learnt from my personal experiences. Share a meal at a local bar or a café, at the hostel kitchen or a chai shop, and you will find words running out of your mouth with no extra effort added. But seriously, sharing a meal with a hungry traveler (I was starving when I found a girl who shared her fries with me. Seriously guys, I am talking yummy golden fried – French fries and cheese dip. Slurpp 😉) might just do wonders. Delicious feed = Loads of friends = You are welcome 😉

3. Join Meet-up sites.

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This isn’t something I have personally experienced, but learning from an old friend’s experiences I am willing to try this on myself. There are plenty of Facebook pages and websites where you can meet like-minded people and build conversations. Share a sport or a hobby and see your comment section flood. Post your location and learn how people around gather to help you. This is one of the easiest introvert-travel-hacks. This is the digital age, and we have plenty of apps flooded on our play stores. Pick one, join it and find fellow travelers willing to join you, weather it is a day trip or a week’s trek, a sit down supper or a social gathering, you are sure to find some help here.

4. INSTAGRAM!

screenshot-2017-09-15-15-01-37-e1505468097871.pngYup. You read that right. This is one of my most favorite social networks to meet and plan adventures with fellow travel bloggers and travel enthusiasts. Alright, this isn’t really a way to make friends while you are literally on-the-road, but Instagram is an easy place to find safe and legitimate travelers. I have built friendships over Instagram and have a bunch of people willing to travel with me in the future. I have even found kind hearted individuals willing to help me with local travels, from across borders.

5. Ask people questions.insurance-640x320

That’s right buddy. Asking people questions about the place, where to find a certain kind of food or anything about the place you are in. A secret to this is portraying an attitude of a tourist. Ask very touristy questions to locals and you will see an entire conversation building up. An addition to this is the fact that people enjoy talking about themselves, so take interest in the people you talk to. Ask them questions about themselves and not just the place.

Many people I know personally have told me how difficult they find even exchanging looks with strangers, let alone words.

Well, I am here to say – You are not alone. I was also one among you until a few years ago. I had no other option but to seek help form the people around me with my luggage as I was travelling from Leeds to London with my entire student luggage in hand (30kg+20kg+10kg+10kg). That is a lot of luggage when your mode of transport in the city of London is the underground and you are all alone, added to that the pressure of less than 2 minute halts at the boarding station. That was moment I realized it’s not the end of the world, asking for help from strangers or even talking to them randomly. 

You just need to get your fear out.

6. Stay open to new experiences2986486d7725736e74ac1d87784dc839--adventure-awaits-adventure-travel

A random bicycle race, a quick day trek, trying a random food dish, dressing up like the locals, sharing embarrassing stories from past, playing the guitar, learning a new dance form. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. If you want to make friends en-route travels you have to, HAVE TO be open to crazy, wild, new experiences. Indulging in local activities, volunteering for a local campaign, learning a new language, all these are ways you will make new friends. And believe me when I say this, the friends you make sharing experiences will remain with you forever.

 

 

 

Got yet another tip or any information that would help the readers? Feel free to leave in the comments section below.

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#HappyTravels peepal <3

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

Why are we the best versions of ourselves when we travel?

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To explore the world is a gift in oneself. To be able to meet new people, share new experiences and grow with the world is something I never lose sight of. The feeling of being on a plane; walking that narrow street toward the cathedral; sky diving in the air of Switzerland; climbing one of the many ranges of the Himalayas; sitting in a cafe with a bunch of unrecognizable faces and still being able to share stories of a lifetime; doing the many things you otherwise would have never done. Have you ever wondered what is it that makes us want to travel more? I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a comfortable bed in a big space in the suburbs of the city which junk food and Netflix to the rescue?

But yet, there is an urge to see new things. Why do we feel so great when we travel? Is it about finally having to click snaps in those picture perfect locations? Or to post check-in status’s on social media for the world to know how amazing our life is? Is it the freedom to meet new people and socialize? Or is it something more than that? Something with a deeper intent or something as simple as freshly brewed coffee?

All of us will have different answers to all the questions stated above. Although my reasons might seem more personal, they are more universal and I am sure most of you would strike a chord with me on this.

Reasons why I am the best most authentic version of myself when I travel:

  1. Experiences will always have an upper hand

From a trainee to a senior level executive, from $100 to $2000 a month, from Benetton to Louis Vuitton, from Honda to a Mercedes, all our lives we aim to be better, bigger and run for all the materialistic achievements. What we fail to understand is how perishable our wants are, in this unbelievably materialistic world. What we ignore believing is indeed a very simple fact; experiences will always have an upper hand. While having a big house or a high end car looks satisfying to the world, what matters the most are the experiences we gain out of life.

From my last travel journey, some of my most memorable moments have nothing to do with which car we hired to drive across the hills, or which hotel we stayed in, but instead about the way our team pushed our car out of a waterfall for over an hour; or how I walked up to a total stranger in a café who I am best friends with now or how I found soul worthy connection midst the crowd.

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Travel, for me, has been about finding the new world. Every single time the plane lands onto new grounds, I cannot wait to walk the trail, or taste local food, or even make a new friend over a hot cup of coffee or chilled beer. Every time I travel, I know I am embarking upon a new story of my life, all beautifully gift wrapped around exciting experiences that will stay with me forever even after the leather from my MK bag wears out.

  1. Getting lost is a good feeling!

Only a handful of you are probably going to agree with me on this one. But I truly believe that being lost is not always upsetting.

I was walking the streets of a small village called Zermatt in Switzerland to find myself some good coffee. Almost half way through I realized I forgot the way back to my hotel. There are two types of reactions to a situation like this: panic and try to run back to your hotel and just order room service; be bold and embrace the feeling of being lost and trusting yourself in the hour of need. That’s what I did. I smiled and walked anyway, looked for a pretty wooden café with dim lights, walked in and asked in broken English, for some cuppachino ;). Although it took me over an hour and a half to find my way back to my hotel, on the way I discovered a beautiful little chapel with a catholic wedding on, a quintessential café with mouth-watering coffee and french-bread, streets I would have never walked otherwise and photographs I now keep as self-created souvenirs for myself.

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Getting lost is a good feeling. It’s about how to react to the feeling that decides your course of action. Ever since that (and many other) incident, I have found myself embracing and cuddling my lost soul. I have learnt the ability to adapt to challenging situations. It’s a power, to be so beautifully decorated even when the world around you seems hard to deal with.

  1. Trust – the world and yourself

Enjoying being a lost soul has taught me how to trust myself in the need of the hour. Travel on the other hand, also makes you have faith in the unknown faces of a new place. It makes you build trust in the unknown.

The world is a bitter place, true. And we sure should be careful of the people we engage ourselves with. But the world is more empathetic than we could imagine.

One evening in Granada, Spain, I met a girl and ended up having one of the most amazing conversations of my life. I still remember her words and how fearlessly, she offered me dinner at a local diner. She learnt I was a vegetarian and had difficulty finding vegetarian food in the city, so helped me choose vegan tapas and even offered to walk me back to my hotel.

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It’s hard to be completely fearless on unknown land, in fact we shouldn’t even try to be so, but limiting ourselves because of our fear, and not willing to engage in subtle adventure defies what travel truly means to me. Travel pushes us to out our faith in kind strangers. That is the trust we need in this world. Breaking cultural and social barriers is what travel should be all about.

On the other hand, the ability to face fear, or move ahead of cultural or language barriers makes us trust ourselves. Travel helps us realize what truly matters and pushes us to run after our passions and dreams and fight for the our beliefs, helping us create meaningful lives.

Just imagine how it would feel to live a life without the chains of societal responsibilities, not being answerable to anyone but yourself or not being around people who tie you with expectations and rules and careful establishments?

Travel lets your do all of this by restoring your faith in your own self. You will meet a whole new person, trust me on this.

  1. Comfort is boring

You have a comfortable home in the urban, a fair enough job at an MNC, probably even come back home to a family, watch some TV and fall asleep. Wake up again and it’s the same cycle.

Anyone who has lived in a tent midst vast mountains on a night with feels of -10 degrees, with food not so great and milk getting cold in seconds would know the importance of patience and the fact that there is beauty even in the uncomfortable, that being flexible is a skill we should all master.

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Ever lost luggage at the airport? Ever felt your legs ache so much that you want to just take all your frustration out on the people around you? Ever gone hungry, and being offered nuts by a total stranger? The after feels are precious, aren’t they?

Travel teaches us to get off our comfortable couches switch the digital life off and for once face challenges stepping out of our daily comfort zones. And when things don’t work the way they were planned, we have to go with the flow, build a new plan in the heat of the moment and learn to flex ourselves with the situation.

  1. Everyone is human

We are all humans striving to be better in this world. Keeping aside all cultural differences, boundary and language barriers, religion and caste and all the superficial things in life, everyone and I mean EVERYONE is running behind the same things in life : Love, security, happiness and respect.

Travel has bought me face front with people both younger and older to me, people speaking a different language, richer and poorer; and I have learnt one of the most important lessons of my life: people are out there for love, respect, happiness and security. I have learnt to look past the superficial aspects of life and I have some lifelong friendships with people across the world. This is the beauty of travel, no judgement’s made.

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Last but not the least, I’d just like to say what I have truly believed in: Travel while you are able to, make time for it, because the person you are before a trip and the person you will after a trip, will differ. And you will fall in love with the world and yourself.

#Travelforlife

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

Zermatt – unending mountain romance

And then as we entered Zermatt our hearts pounded in happiness as we witnessed the mountains in the brochures walk out of the pages and stand in front of us, all tall and exquisite, coming to life all at once.

And then as we entered Zermatt our hearts pounded in happiness as we witnessed the mountains in the brochures walk out of the pages and stand in front of us, all tall and exquisite, coming to life all at once.

With the majestic Matterhorn shining in white and the hypnotic beauty of the village below, all our grievances, all our tiredness came to rest. Kids gluing their faces to the tall windows of the golden express, folks running through camera specifications to capture what were at an eyes distance and the silver heads blankly gazing at the tantalizing sight of snow taking natural forms in pure bliss, Zermatt was like walking into a real life fairy-tale.

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Located in the southern part of Switzerland, in the district of Visp, this German speaking village is nothing less than an alluring beauty to both mind and vision. Not a very commercial destination for tourists around the world (especially Indians), we were a family of four, and happened to visit this quintessential village on our way from Interlaken to Geneva. A two day stay in this beauty was all the rest we needed after all the thrill we experienced at Mt. Titlis and the Jungfrau Joch.

This car free village offers some of the best views of the high snow clad mountains of Switzerland right from the comfort of your bed. Just imagine waking up to fresh dew in the air, opening your eyes to shining white snow mountains and if your stars are shining in luck, then some fresh snowfall too. Offering non-stop mountain romance for all 365 days, this village has a population of less than 6000 inhabitants. Shops and boutiques shut at 5 pm and restaurants usually do not have more than three people working. The one thing I learnt from the people of Zermatt was to multitask. Hotels where the receptionist was also the chef and the house-lady, cafes where a man in his early forties was the owner and the gardener and the waiter and a lot more.

Zermatt lies under the exhilarating Matterhorn peak, which is where it gets its tag as a ski resort. Walking across the tiny bridges and into the narrow wavy lanes in this village, you will find some classy boutique stores and delicate cafes serving some of the best hot chocolate in the world. Also a paradise for stationary lovers (I am one, myself) Zermatt is filled with some insanely intricate stationary shops, offering some adorable range of paper crafts, books and journals.

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Image from : www.fuchs-zermatt.ch

My personal favorite experience in the village was my encounter with a local baker at a small German café. I was out there looking for a vegetarian cake to celebrate the eve of my parents 25th anniversary. I found myself running from café to café, bakery to bakery, just more saddened with failure to gather a vegetarian cake. One last bakery at the corner of Kirchstrasse street, had a kind old lady who cared enough to listen to my story and understood my absolute urge to find an egg less cake in the eleventh hour, offered to bake an egg less cake for my parents. I still cannot thank her enough for going out of her way to bake a cake for us. That was when I understood; people always want to help you, no matter where you go or who you are.

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Zermatt gave me a whole bunch of memory lanes, rich culture, interesting food and enchanting snow loaded mountains. As extraordinary as every other city in Switzerland gets, Zermatt is one of the closest to my hearts. Sure, there isn’t much to do in the village, but just the thought of zero pollution, zero vehicles, zero traffic, happy faces and a load full of snow, is like living in a world before the Pandora’s Box!

 

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover