A Travellerspoint blog

Udupi Utsava

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Post from April'13

We are living in an age where we can travel around the globe. In fact we can travel to the moon and back. But in a little quiet town (well known for its breakfast delicacies) Udupi – God travels through naalu beedi literally meaning four streets, in an elaborate procession called as Utsava. God idol is carried out of the temple and placed on huge, intricately decorated wooden chariot known as Ratha.

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(Photo credit: Chendil Kumar)

Trumpets are blown; Drums beaten; Fireworks lit against the evening sky;
- All to announce the commencement of the Rathotsava- pulling of the chariots, carrying the idol of Lord Krishna.

People from the temple, streets and nearby lanes gather. Almost everyone joins in - priests, devotees, followers, tourists, shop keepers, street vendors, married woman and children too. Together around 50-100 people take ropes tied to the chariot in their hands. They begin chanting ‘Govinda.. Govinda.. Govinda.. Govinda..' in reverence to Lord Krishna and pull the ropes with great excitement and strength.

God travels across naalu beedi based on people’s faith, belief, excitement and strength. It’s crowded, messy, sweaty but you find faith binds them all. When at turns (junctures) , where the chariot is not moving, you almost want to give up. Loud chanting, drums beating and festive sprit around, cheers you to try harder and not give up, and to pull ropes of the chariot with all the strength. And then there times when you seem to just hold the rope and it feels as though the chariot is moving on its own and you have run to keep up with pace of the chariot and the crowd.

It develops a wonderful relation among its believers, it works brilliantly as a teamwork exercise. It instills multiple lessons:
· that you are not alone and that it is always a teamwork that makes it happen.
· to never give up and to take that one more step forward.
· to cheer others (motivate) through chanting who are pulling the chariot.
· you see so many other people doing it, believing in it – your belief strengthens.
You sweat, toil, pull, walk bare feet and then there is sense of achievement when the chariot is back at the temple. But as soon as it is completed people bow down facing the chariot attributing all of it to the Lord. Thereby developing this feeling that someone is always looking after you.

What a beautiful ritual/exercise to bring about such a transformation among so many people. It's celebration exemplified!
That’s why it’s an Utsava!

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(Photos credit: Chendil Kumar)

Posted by deeptisubraya 01:55 Archived in India Tagged people night temples attractions philosophy ancient_sites ancient_traditions Comments (0)

Attractions in Sri Lanka

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On our recent short trip to Sri Lanka, we did not plan to do much sight seeing because we were travelling with our baby but by second day the crazy tourist feeling kicked in and we were out and about to checkout some attractions of Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located at Pinnawala village on the way to Kandy.
It is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants and known for having largest herd of elephants. There are different arenas where visitors can interact with elephants, especially the baby elephants can be fed milk or you can click photos with them as they play. In some arenas Elephants were not chained and were grazing in herds, that was really a sight to see!
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Quick tips :
-It took us around 4-5 hours to drive to Pinnawala from Wadduwa and we only had about 2 hours time to spend, which was not enough.
-The place opens from 8:30am to 5:45pm and there is ticket to entrance.
-Would recommend at least half day, as I have heard that elephants going for the bath in the river is fun to watch, which we missed.
-There was huge crowd on the day we went, because it was a local holiday, so choose a working day to enjoy the place.

Tooth Temple in Kandy

Kandy is located in the mountainous and thickly forested interior of the island. It is the second largest city after Colombo.
The drive to Kandy is beautiful. It has long winding single lane roads, passing through little villages then tropical plantations, mainly tea and then around hills in Kandy Plateau to reach an elevation of 1,600 ft above sea level. The weather is cooler and pleasant. The city lies next to a large Kandy lake, has narrow shopping street lanes and is home to the famous Tooth Temple.

We went to Kandy to visit the Tooth Temple, which is grand and elegant. It has many murals and paintings. It being a popular attraction has lot a locals and tourists, still kept very clean. We went around the many temple halls and finally sat down at a open hall with gardens around, where one could just sit down to mediate, I assume. It was evening time and just serene.
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Quick tip:
It took a whole day of driving to reach Kandy and we managed to see Tooth Temple and do a little of shopping/lunch. However, would recommend staying over at Kandy than a day trip.

Kalutara Buddhist Temple

Kalutara Budhist Temple was closest to our resort in Wadduwa and is located in Kalutara. It is by side of Kalu river and has simple yet beautiful vistas of the river and town around. The temple itself is not a popular tourist attraction hence there were very few tourist and we went towards afternoon so very few locals. It has a modern 'Stupa' meaning there is large 'stupa' structure meditation hall within which there is buddhist stupa. Sitting there; mediating, feeling the wind and surroundings around took us into a peaceful world.
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Quick tip:
Try and visit a local temple, instead of a touristy one, to get a feel of the place.

Posted by deeptisubraya 01:48 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged landscapes bridges temples attractions Comments (0)

Geoffrey Bawa's - The Blue Water in Sri Lanka

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We planned a short trip of 3 nights and 4 days to Sri Lanka from Dubai, during the Eid break of Sep 2015. This was our first trip with our baby who was then 10 months old. We chose not to do much sight seeing and and planned just to relax. So we chose to stay at The Blue Water Hotel. It is located in Wadduwa, which is 50kms from Colombo and 77kms from Katunayake (Sri Lanka International airport).

The Blue Water,was designed by world-renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, who is considered as having been one of the most important and influential Asian architects of the twentieth century. To know more about Geoffery Bawa visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Bawa

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The resort is simple yet beautifully designed and integrates the tropical feel of the place extremely well. It only has sea facing rooms and almost from any part of the resort there are breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. The open breezy structure of the ground floors, large balcony areas for each room makes you feel as if you outdoors while being indoors (a beautiful feeling to enjoy but a difficult feeling to describe :) ) .

The little corners around the resort are enticing and captivating like the ancient banyan tree and well-chosen antique chair around it, almost as if patiently waiting for you to come and sit down, to start a beautiful long mind dialogue. Or the two large swimming pools, inviting to explore the blue.
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The place being tropical there is either sea breeze or rains, all through the day. The openness in the structure of the resort and the beautiful blend of landscape architecture and interior design, makes its refreshing and pleasant. The reception and common areas have long wide corridors which opens to gently flowing water features, well manicured green lawns and beautifully lined tall coconut trees.
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Now that's what I call - a room with a view. Waking up each morning to the sounds of sea waves is sublime feeling! :)
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Quick tips:

  • This resort holiday is perfect for laid back relaxing luxury holiday and our baby throughly enjoyed the surroundings.
  • The resort has a wonderful spa which I definitely recommend as a part of the relaxing holiday.
  • There are no shops or restaurants in walking distance to this resort. Breakfast was complimentary and had large spread of food. We had lunch & dinner in the resort on most days.
  • In this trip we did not plan much sight seeing, not even Colombo. The local attractions we visited were Kalutara Buddhist temple and a nearby market to buy souvenirs.
  • It took us an hour and half to drive from the international airport.

Posted by deeptisubraya 20:06 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged beaches buildings trees sky Comments (0)

Ten best places in USA

Here is my list of TOP TEN (not in any order ;)) from my US Trip

In the East Coast
1) New York City
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Undoubtedly the big apple city has this energy, which is unmatched. Seeing Manhattan view from the Empire State Building, we were left with no words but oh wow!

2) Niagara Falls
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What gave Niagara Falls the magical feel was the touch of autumn. It was unreal - leaves flowing as colorful flowers into the falls!

3) South Beach at Miami
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Its not simply that Miami beaches are called one of the best in the world, you have to see it to believe the blue!

4) Driving by Atlantic Coast
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Drive from Miami to Key West (in Florida) - A whole day driving by the Atlantic coast. Crossing seven miles bridge which connects over 1,700 islands of Florida and when you stop for a view you are literally in the middle of ocean!

5) Sunset cruise around the Key West island
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Surreal feeling of pink & blue sky made me want to fly away with the sunset!

In the West Coast
6) Grand Canyon
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Physically we were exhausted (jet lag, long drives, change in food) yet the moment we got down to see this canyon, we felt some energy within us. The sheer size and depth evoked curiosity and excitement. It was almost breathtaking to stand by the edge!

7) October sun rise at Yosemite National Park
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On cold wintry morning (with temperatures at 5-6 degrees) near Silver Lake in Yosemite National Park, we were waiting for sunrise. Seeing yellow leaves turn gold with rays of morning light. That was magical!

8) Driving by Pacific Coast
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Drive from San Jose to Los Angles on Highway California State Route 1 (It's known for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA). A whole day of beautiful blue ocean sights. Driving along the curvy, twisted roads on the cliff along the Pacific coast. The views from these cliffs of the ocean are simply stunning!

9) Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
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The bridge seems to just perfectly fit and complete the landscape of San Francisco. Walk on bridge with spectacular views of the city and the ocean, just left us speechless!

10) Pigeon Point Lighthouse in California
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There are many 'not so' famous hidden gems, one evening driving around, we found the Pigeon Point Lighthouse ... perfect setting for a sunset!

Posted by deeptisubraya 07:03 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises beaches bridges buildings skylines sky california attractions Comments (0)

Jewel of Andalusia

Travel Musing....

So it’s our second day at Granada, which is a little town in the south of Spain. We spent the first day seeing the famous tourist attraction – Alhambra Palace (which was the reason to travel to Granda - please read my blog entry Alhambra Palace for more details). But for second day we had no plans and had the whole day to ourselves – so we did what we usually do, take the map and walk around the little town to see places we think are interesting.

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Granada town view

It was November morning, so it was cold and the clouds in the sky were making it difficult for the Sun to come out. But still it was a good day to explore the town and if you had a simple jacket on, you could walk around. We studied the map and formed a vague plan on which direction to go. Then started walking through the narrow alleys, small cafes, open squares. It started getting uphill and we were walking through little homes washed in white, through a school, some buildings and the roads were slightly deserted. I was getting worried I like to walk in places where there are people around but I guess we were walking in some residential area and so it was a little quite. So we kept going.

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Narrow alleys

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Homes washed in white

But you never really know where you are going in a new place though you have the map and have read all reviews about the place on the internet. At crosswords, you think you are using logic, road map, road signs and general geographic observation, to decide, where to go - RIGHT or LEFT ?? But you use your gut to take you there where you have never been.

After nearly 2 hours of aimless walking, I was getting hungry and little restless. But you just listen to yourself and go in the direction your soul tells you to walk. More often than not your soul will guide you, it will take you where you are meant to go and the best part you don’t know what to except. It then arrives the special moment – we reached a high point from where we saw magnificent views of the Alhambra Palace standing tall, the jewel of Andalusia. The sun had fully come out with slight breeze and there was no one around, we stopped right there to adore the view of the jewel.

But if you ask me to take you there, I might not know the directions to that place ;). It’s when you just let yourself go and follow your gut, do you get views worthwhile!!

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Magnificent views of Alhambra Palace from across the hill

Quick review:
We walked around the Albaicin somewhere between Calle Elvira, Plaza Nueva and Sacromonte. It's an easy walk and along the way there are some cafés & restaurants to sit back and enjoy the views.

Posted by deeptisubraya 05:21 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes attractions thoughts Comments (0)

Invalid ticket at Alhambra

Travel musing

We were in Granada visiting the most popular tourist attraction – Alhambra Palace. Visitors have to book tickets in advance as one may not get tickets if you just decided to walk in. This is because only a limited number of visitors are allowed in a day and they are distributed through each hour, so that the Palace can be preserved and doesn’t get too crowded at any point in time. I appreciate the idea, I think this approach should be adopted at many historical sites which tend to wear & tear due to so many tourist visiting them.

Going back to Alhambra – there are many tickets you could buy - the day tour, the evening tour, the walk through the gardens, the general life tour etc. We chose two tours – a visit to the Nasrid Palaces, scheduled at 9:00 AM and then a visit to the Palacio de Generalife (which is another section of this palace), scheduled at 2: 00 PM.

I was enthralled with the Nasrid Palace and its beautiful Islamic architecture. The views it had to offer of the town, the beautiful gardens that open to fountains, the intricate work on the doors, ceiling and pillars made it impressive place. Huddled around the magnificent gardens the palace was almost like a paradise and I was lost in it. There was couple for their wedding portrait and I thought of it as incredibly romantic! Alhambra sure is one of the most romantic background for a photo shoot. :)

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We sang, danced around the Palace Halls, Towers, Alcazza gardens, posed for photo at every step, strolled through the souvenir shop but couldn’t decide what to take home and stopped for long lazy lunch. After all this we took the long walk from Alhambra Nasrid Palace to Palacio de Generalife (though its not far, we were walking slowly enjoying every view the place had to offer).

At the entrance of Palacio de Generalife, was a doorman, who was a old gentlemen dressed in uniform of sorts. I handed my admission ticket but he refused our entry. I was stunned! How could he refuse our entry and so I enquired why he did not allow us when we had a valid ticket. He pointed out the time on the ticket, which showed 2:00PM and we were late. It was almost 4:00PM!! The doorman asked us to move back as there were other visitors.

In all the wandering, singing, dancing walking lazily through the first part of Alhambra Palace we had lost a track of time. My husband was disappointed and started the ‘I told you so…’ conversation. We had such a wonderful time the whole morning it couldn’t possibly end feeling sad.

I was all flustered and angry, but I decided to try again and walked up to the doorman and spoke to him to explain that we were around the palace itself but we lost track of time. He did not understand what I was saying. I presume he didn’t follow English and spoke only Spanish.

Now I tried to keep my cool and I tried again, I used sign language to explain that we got late and we have come from very far to see this place. It didn’t seem to work. He could not follow me. He gestured me to move back.

I tried again, this time I simply smiled and he ushered us in. I then realized - Smile, the universal sign opens many doors, many hearts :). It makes up for language barriers, distance barriers and maybe even can amend some rules.

Needless to say I enjoyed touring the Palacio de Generalife too. We sure would have missed something if we had not pushed our entry through the doorman. And I now remember to smile before I give up on anything or anyone, it might just open the door I have been waiting for.

Have you ever pushed your way through a doorman? How did you get past? Did you ever lose track of time because the place was so beautiful - when and where?? Would love to hear your experiences. :)

Posted by deeptisubraya 00:47 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings people trees attractions thoughts stories Comments (0)

Alhambra Palace, Granada

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In a quiet little town in south of Spain, is the Alhambra palace (which literally means "the red one"). One of the most iconic tourist attraction and perhaps the only palace with Islamic architecture in Spain. The palace and fortress was built by the Nasrid dynasty, the Muslim Rulers in Spain. They ruled from 12th century and these palaces served as royal residence until 14th century when Spainsh Rulers took over. In the 15th century the Palace of Charles was built within the Alhambra fortress. It was restored in the 19th century and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Supposedly the theme followed by various rulers in building different parts of the Alhambra palaces and its fortress was 'paradise on earth', which can be experienced even after so many years of it being built. Or was it the touch of autumn which transformed this place into a paradise. I don't know which one it is, but definitely it is one of those few places in the world, you visit it once (even if its just for a day) and it stays with you for a lifetime. And again here I must add my photos don't do justice.

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Nasrid Palace

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Beautiful archways looking into the town

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Palacio de Comares

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Military District

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Star shaped marble ceiling with exquisite Islamic Art

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Intricately designed column arcades

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Alhambra sits on a high point and offers beautiful views over the whole Granada town

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View of the Alhambra Woods

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Portico and pool in the Alhambra complex

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Courtyard of Palace of Charles V, built 15th Century within the Nasrid fortifications.

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Fountains and flowing water are a common feature around the Alhambra
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Palacio de Generalife

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Views of Nasird Palace from Palacio de General life

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Walking back from Alhambra palace to the town

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View of Alhambra Palace from the foothills

Quick review:

Admission Tickets:
Would strongly recommend to book online tickets (which are hard to get otherwise) in advance and then plan your stay/trip to Granda accordingly. Only a allotted number of tickets are allowed entry to the palace each hour. This is to limit the no of visitors in each hour hence its difficult sometimes to get the day and time that you are looking for.
There are 4 main parts to the Alhambra - Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, Partal and Generalife. And there are numerous tours - the nasrid palace day tour, the general life tour, the garden tour, the night tour. Plan how many hours you would like to spend and how much of the palace you want to cover. Its a huge palace and can easily take more than 5-6 hours to visit this place. And stick to the timing issued on the ticket, as they are pretty strict about it. We took the Blue circular pass - Pass to visit the Alhambra and the Generalife in two consecutive days (a general visit and a Evening visit).

How to get to Granada and Stay in Granda:
We took a bus from Madrid in the afternoon and by late evening were at Granada. We checked into our hostel and stayed for two nights.
The bus ride was comfortable and economical with beautiful vistas of the countryside of Spain. The hostel was one of the most beautiful hostel I have stayed in and staff/people were friendly and gave tips, maps etc to navigate around Granda.

How to reach Alhambra:
There are buses from various points in the city taking you to the Alhambra palace which is very conveinent. Or you can walk through the city towards the Alhambra palace. The hostels/hotel should be able to give you route. We took the bus in the morning as we had entry at 9:00AM into the palace and did not want to be late. And while returning from the Palace we walked downhill into the town. It was easy hike down after a lovely day of sightseeing at Alhambra.

Posted by deeptisubraya 01:10 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings attractions review ancient_sites Comments (0)

An encounter with Pablo Picasso’s work

Travel musing..

I was looking forward to exploring Madrid, I had done some research on the place and was thinking of walking in and around the city – parks, plazas etc, but then we decided to visit the modern art museum. Spending time at a museum (boring idea??!!) is not exactly how I like to explore and know a city but I thought we could spare an hour or two.

So we head to Renia Sofia Museum, the largest contemporary art museum in the world. While checking out the museum map/literature I had heard some of the painter/artist’s names the museum was exhibiting and one name that caught my attention was Picasso. Sure I have heard of Picasso (who hasn't !?!) but I had never seen any of his works or knew why he was considered a genius. You can call me the ignorant kind when it comes to art. So I did not know what to expect.

As we started walking through Picasso's works I was plain staring at some of the paintings because I could not fathom them – the dialogue in my head was something like this - that line, is that a nose? ; oh my god are those supposed to be eyes; is that someone’s face... so on and so forth. I could not follow any of the sketches and was forming opinions and being judgmental about every painting I saw as if I were an art expert. (things we do when we are ignorant... common on we all do it!!!).

Then we walked into this big room and a huge painting, 11 by 26 feet, was hung on the wall and it was the only painting in that room. It was a black and white painting but it was so dramatic and powerful. It stirred up a lot emotions. I went forward read the note below the painting – ‘Guernica’ – it was a Picasso’s masterpiece.

There are many masterpieces in the Reina Sofia museum but this one stands out and speaks so loud. I stood there for good 10 minutes or so, to see the many elements/emotions the painting had. Then took a huge sigh and realized why Picasso was considered a genius. Once you see the painting its almost difficult to ever forget the image.

The Spanish government appointed Picasso to paint a large mural to display at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. It was created as reaction to the aerial bombings on the town Guernica in Spain by German and Italian forces during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Guernica shows the cataclysms of war as well as the anguish and destruction it inflicts upon people, especially innocent civilians.

After it was completed, Guernica was exhibited worldwide during a limited tour, and it received wide acclaim and became famous. The exposure brought the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention. It was hung in a New York's Museum of Modern Art until 1981, fulfilling Picasso's wish that it should not be shown in Spain until democracy was established. It was then exhibited at the Prado Museum (in Spain) , and moved to Renia Sofia Museum (its current house) in 1992. This painting has attained an enormous reputation over the years, and has become a reminder of the devastation of war, becoming an anti-war symbol and an embodiment of peace.

My encounter with Pablo Picasso’s work ranged from being ignorant to being judgmental about his style to being totally taken back and realizing why he is called a genius – all these range of emotions in less than two hours.
I felt this compulsion to write about this experience because in some way it was a revelation. When you step out of your usual, judgmental mind set and are willing to see/learn things then you realize, how little you know or limited your thinking is. And isn’t it why we travel - to open up to new perspectives, to learn a few things more and to see the works of geniuses. So when in Madrid do visit Renia Sofia Museum and see this masterpiece.

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Photography is prohibited inside the museum, so the picture is from Wikipedia
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PicassoGuernica.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PicassoGuernica.jpg

Posted by deeptisubraya 22:38 Archived in Spain Tagged art attractions philosophy review thoughts stories Comments (0)

3 things to do in Madrid

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We took an early morning train (Renfe) from Barcelona to Madrid. We then checked into our hostel, which was centrally located and walking distance to the attractions we wanted to visit. We had a day and half to see things in Madrid and decided to check out:

Museums
Now I am not an art expert or art lover but we had no fixed plan on sightseeing so we decided to check out the art museums. I honestly did not know what to expect and how much time to spend at the museums. Out of the many museums that are there, we visited two of them - Renia Sofia (Modern Art museum) and Prado museum (Art museum).

Reina Sofia Museum
It is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world and has collections of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro among many other Spanish modern artists. But the highlight of this museum is the 20th century's most famous painting, Picasso's "Guernica". It definitely leaves an impression on you and is a must see when in Madrid. Besides modern art we also saw some temporary exhibitions. The collections were wide ranging with variety of styles that were interesting and thought provoking while some were just abstract.

Prado Museum
Established in 1819 this is an Art Museum which has the world's richest and comprehensive collection of Spanish, Italian, Flemish and masterpieces from other schools of European paintings. We bought the audio tour, which took us through important paintings and masterpiece and it was engaging experience.

Although I thought trip to art museums maybe boring as I don’t understand much of classic or modern art but by the end of the museum tour I was quite, as in totally silent maybe in contemplation mode because my mind was reeling with impressions, colours and images. We spent almost the whole day between the two museums. And I would definitely recommend a trip to art museum when in Europe because its an experience and brings a whole new perspective about how you see things. There is no photography allowed inside the museum.

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Renia Sofia Museum in Spain

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Temporary exhibition in Renia Sofia Museum... I totally got this!! Every woman needs shoes in all possible colors ;)
Photography is not allowed inside but could not resist clicking this one!

Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main plaza, a huge enclosed square that over centuries was used for bull fighting, executions, political events then as a market place etc. There are nine passageways connecting to the square. The plaza is surrounded by restaurants and souvenir shops. When we went to visit, some work was going on so we did not see much happening here, although it’s a nice place to sit and enjoy evening coffee & famous Spanish Churros :).

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Plaza Mayor

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One of the passageways connecting to the square

Royal Palace
We went in early next morning and found long lines and lots of tourists waiting to visit the Royal Palace. It is not used as a royal residence any more, but some official functions do take place here. On most days it is open to public and one can see the throne room, the king's private apartments, the impressive dining room, the royal chapel, the armoury and the royal pharmacy. The furnished rooms of the Palace are quite beautiful with exquisite furniture and decor befitting a royal residence. There is no photography allowed inside.

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Royal Palace of Madrid

Review:
Attractions: We did not estimate that we would spend almost a whole day visiting the museums (although it was an interesting experience) and since we did not have much time left we could not cover the other attractions in Madrid - parks, other plazas, flamenco dance show or bull fighting.

Traveling to Madrid: Madrid being the capital of Spain is very well connected by trains and buses to/from all other parts of Spain. The train from Barcelona to Madrid was just a three hour journey and from Madrid we head to Granada.

Stay in Madrid: There are lots of options available, we chose to stay in centrally located hostel close to the Plaza Mayor. It was clean and comfortable, well connected, we had many options of dining around the place.

Admission tickets: Museums had entrance tickets (on certain days and times there is free entrance) and the audio tour is additional but worth it. Royal Palace also has entrance tickets.

Posted by deeptisubraya 00:06 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings attractions review Comments (2)

There is lots to do in Barcelona..

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We had three days in Barcelona and it just flew by, because there is so much to see and do, besides the 'football'. Here are a few things we did :
Barcelona is a City by Gaudi! Me and my husband are fans of Gaudi's work so most of the time went in visiting and admiring his masterpieces. The first attraction we saw in Barcelona was – Temple of Sagrada Familia. It is being built since 1882 and expected to complete in 2026. It is UNESCO world heritage site. (please read my blog entry http://deeptisubraya.travellerspoint.com/62/ to know more)

Plan a few hours for a visit to the park Guel. When I went in I thought its just a park, we will quickly walk around and move on. But I spent a whole morning there. It’s one of most beautifully designed parks I have been to. (please read my blog entry – park Guel for some photos -http://deeptisubraya.travellerspoint.com/97/ )

Any direction you walk in Barcelona you are bound to find a Gaudi building :), and we explored two of Gaudi’s building – Casa Mila, also known as a La Pedrera. It’s appearance from outside with a wave like structure and a rooftop which takes you to space leaves an impression on you (please read my blog entry – http://deeptisubraya.travellerspoint.com/63/ to know more). Another building we visited was the Casa Batilo, where Gaudi's creative use of space, light and structure leaves you reeling. (please read my blog entry –http://deeptisubraya.travellerspoint.com/96/ to know more)

If after all of this you still have energy ;) there is so much the city has to offer. We decided to take a ride on the Hop on – Hop off bus, Barcelona is a big city and it’s best way to get a flavor of all the districts around. So many interesting sites :

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Street Art, Muse, Inspiration - Barcelona has such things all over the city!!

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The National Palace of Montjuic

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Different Architecture styles all infused in one city..

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Agbar tower and Football Stadium - we did not have enough time to visit :(

But you can only feel a place when walk through its streets. And walking through La rambla street is an experience for the five senses. Also walk through the Bari Gothic area which is an old town with medieval buildings. (please read my blog entry – http://deeptisubraya.travellerspoint.com/101/ to know more).

Quick review:
Attractions: There are so many more attractions to visit and see in Barcelona like the Camp Nou Stadium, Flamenco dance shows, La Boqueria (famous fruit, vegetable and meat market), Tibidabo amusement park and beaches which we could not cover because of time constraint.

Caution: Like most touristic cities in the world, watch out for your camera/wallet and personal belonging.

Posted by deeptisubraya 23:16 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes churches art buildings people night attractions Comments (0)

La rambla - it's all happening here

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One of the best things in Barcelona is its – La rambla street. The long street stretching over 1.2 kms always has something happening at any time of day and night. We were staying close La Rambla so I have been here at 6:10 AM (on way to catch a flight), 10:20 AM (crossing over to catch the tour bus), 8:40 PM (strolling along the street), 2:05 AM (lost in the street) and it was always filled with something or someone – its filled with :

Street statues – Dressed in practically anything & everything - historical figures, mythical characters, movie characters, cartoon characters. They are all there. They even let you take picture for as little as one euro but the problem is there are so many you would like to pose with.

Street painters – Artist’s put their paintings in line along the street. They are put for sale but there are so many and so good that it takes time to just look through them. The artists have an empty canvas to sketch up any tourist wanting their portrait. It’s amazing to see how fast they sketch. Really talented artists!

Street act – There was this guy who collected trash coco-cola & pepsi cans from restaurants and other places. He had two or three bags full of them. He turned the can into pretty looking ash tray. He was making them in front of us and made each one in less than five minutes. There were loads of people flocking to see how he turned trashed can into ash tray and were buying it for 5 Euros. Talk about profitable recycle & reuse!

Street food – Now an absolute must do when in Spain is to try tapas at local joints, so every few blocks we stopped and found some amazing tapas.

Street band – Group of young men put up such a well orchestrated music piece then followed it with amazing dance routine right there on the street. It was fantastic and ought to be a part of some TV show or something. But for as little as one euro you get amazing live performances.

Street shopping - No sightseeing is complete without some shopping so there I was shopping at the stalls and bargaining & trying to save a few euros as I picked some beautiful souvenirs and memories.

It's a carnival on that street with so many people, tourists, artists, performers etc and there is so much energy out there. Some experiences are so awesome yet kind of difficult to describe.. Walking through La Rambla is something like that!! :) :)

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Welcome to La rambla

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Street statues night or day always there!!!!

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Street performance and shopping ... anytime!!!!!

Another street you must experience walking through is the Bari Gothic area. It is an old town of Barcelona, with narrow alleys, tall medieval kind of buildings and cathedrals. The structures are huge and gothic. Outside the cathedral there is huge open space, there was orchestra playing and locals began to dance a routine after a while they invited tourists to join too. I don’t know what ritual or festival it was but enjoyed an evening of a music and dance. It was late in the evening and by then my camera battery was out so I have no photos.

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Street leading to Bari Gothic

Quick review:
• This street is always crowded, watch your step, and be prepared it can get overwhelming.
• Plan some leisurely time, you can't rush through a crowded place like La ramble else you may not really enjoy it.
• Be cautious about your belonging - wallets, cameras, bags, phones, it can be easily stolen.
• Be sure to bargain your way on all the purchases.

Posted by deeptisubraya 06:40 Archived in Spain Tagged people night attractions review Comments (2)

Casa Batllo – Demystifying Gaudi!

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Now there are many reasons why one could visit Barcelona – football, beaches, nightlife but if you get stuck with an Architect (like I was!! ;)) then be prepared for days of mind blowing experience as you walk in and out different buildings of Gaudi in Barcelona.

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If you are sightseeing Gaudi's building from the rooftop of an open air tourist bus, my guess is, by the time you turn to see the Casa Batllo building you would have missed it. Because its among so many residential houses on that street its hard to see what the fuss is all about (Its just one more of Gaudi's building!!??!!)

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It takes time and little bit of understanding to appreciate Gaudi's works, a glance is just not enough!

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One of the many building that has Gaudi’s influence, is the Casa Batllo in Passeig de Gracia. It was built in 1877 but in 1904 Gaudi reformed the building for a wealthy family and it was used as a private residence. It has been recognized as a UNSECO world heritage site since 2005.

The building is now a popular tourist attraction for Gaudi fans and architectural students. Starting right from the entrance, balcony, staircase, ceiling, doors every detail has been thought out and designed by Gaudi to take you into a world of underwater or perhaps a world of myriad colours and shapes inspired by nature.

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Like the chimney inspired by a mushroom

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Like the top façade which looks like scales of colorful fish

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Like the railing of the staircase which resembles a backbone of a vertebrate

The list goes on and what’s beautiful is the combination of unique design with functionality.
Some more unique features are

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The typhoon effect on the ceiling

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The parabolic arches of the attic

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And yet again by the time you reach the rooftop you are left reeling!

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As you walk out, you are sure to stand back and stare at the building which when built was known as 'House of Bones' by the local residents.

The building which was built to serve as a residential home, is over 100 years old and yet even today people flock to see it and it manages to capture visitors attention and makes you think about Gaudi's insight!

Quick review:
• There are long lines at the entrance of architectural students and Gaudi fans.
• There is an entrance ticket and the audio tour is additional (would definitely recommend the audio tour, it gives the story behind every aspect of the building).
• If your using the hop on hop off bus - With the city map there are various discount coupons on admission tickets, do not forget to use them!
• It took us over 2 hours to see the entire building, so again plan well and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Posted by deeptisubraya 00:27 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings attractions Comments (0)

Park Guell - Out of a fairy tale book!

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Park Guel was initially planned and commissioned to be built as garden community with luxury homes away from industrial city but was an unsuccessful venture way back in early 1900s. It was later taken over by city's municipal and converted into a public park in 1926. And it was declared a UNSECO world heritage site in 1984.

We took the hop on hop off touristic bus in Barcelona to cover the not so nearby places. And one of the must see attractions on the route is the Park Guell. I had so many other places marked out on the touristic map that I planned not to spend more than an hour at this park. But we spent a whole morning in this place.. simply wandering around. There are some beautiful views and artistic structures around filling your mind and camera's memory card ;) !!

Starting from the main entrance where there is stairs to hypostyle halls with tall columns, the pavilions, the snake like guell bench every aspect is infused so well with surrounding it does not like it has built but as if it were natural structures and a part of the landscape around.

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Main Entrance to the park

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Houses straight out of fairy tale books

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Gaudi's signature on every structure inspired from either nature or magical world!

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Long walkways along the pavilions with beautiful views of the park

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Little children on school trips... there were musicians playing and artists entertaining the crowd.. (is the heading missing or what!!?????!!)

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Antoni Gaudi residence - now used as a museum

Quick review:
- There were many tourists and residents even though it was regular working day.
- When we went in Nov 2010 all areas of the park were open and free. Now there is an entrance ticket to access all areas of the park.

Posted by deeptisubraya 01:13 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings people trees attractions Comments (0)

Casa Mila - the magical rooftop!

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One may ask what so different about the rooftop in Casa Mila. The average tourist may think it’s just another one of many Gaudi’s building in Barcelona with steep entrance ticket, priced at 20 Euros. But only if you have been there (rooftop) would you know that it’s an unusual world out there.
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Most tourists in Barcelona, Spain visit the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell to see the genius – Antoni Gaudi’s work. But Casa Mila is a building not to be missed when in Barcelona. Designed by Gaudi and also known as La Pedrera, it was built during the year 1906-1912 for a wealthy couple as their residential home. It was only later that the building became famous for its creative design and unique architecture and in 1984 was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The building is still in use and people live here. Part of the building (interiors and rooftop) is open to the public.

Gaudi’s signature can be seen in so many aspect of the building. The tourist brochure has a detailed literature on every aspect – exterior, facades, lofts, hallway, doors, furniture, stairway, lifts, rooms, ceiling, floors etc.

But the rooftop is a straight one-way ticket to the magic world of his creative mind and I was intrigued by it. There are various chimneys and ventilation towers designed differently as if taking shape and form of some beings and it feels like being somewhere in outer space.
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What could Gaudi have been thinking of, to design Chimneys (something that is not given much thought by anyone) in such a way. It demonstrates eye for detail, using structure to express creativity and his ability to create inspiring space (even on a rooftop).
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When you are up there you are amazed by the different possibilities. You are propelled to ask why should things be the way they are. You are inspired to create new things, to think beyond what is taught.

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On a beautiful evening in chilly November I was left speechless because it’s one rooftop with sky as the limit to your imagination!

Quick review
• There are long lines at the entrance of architectural students and Gaudi fans.
• There is an entrance ticket and the audio tour is additional (would recommend the audio tour, it gives the story behind every aspect of the building).
• If your using the hop on hop off bus - With the city map there are various discount coupons on admission tickets, do not forget to use them!

Posted by deeptisubraya 01:18 Archived in Spain Tagged art buildings attractions thoughts Comments (2)

La Sagrada Familia - Antoni Gaudí's masterpiece!

History 'Under Construction'

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If you Google for the 'new seven wonder of the world', your list will include:
Great wall of China in China, Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan, Colosseum in Italy, Chichen Izta in Mexico, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Macchu Pichu in Peru.

And if your anything like me, my guess is, that almost any one would like to visit these places. But why are these considered to be the wonders of the world. How would it be to be a part of the era when these extra-ordinary structures were being built? What would it be like to witness history 'under construction'? If you are thinking these questions then head down to Barcelona!

One such monument or legendary building which is being built and is being studied even by the current day architects is – the Temple of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. It is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions and renowned architect Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.
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Paintings left by Gaudi on how the church should look like and present day Architects at work!


The structures that I listed above are wonders of world due to their brilliant architecture and engineering style. The world is in awe as to how these were built. Similarly, Temple Sagrada has great detail and complexity in its architecture and design. Its construction work began in 1882 and a year later Antonio Gaudi became the director, holding the post for nearly 40 years until his death in 1926. He transformed the temple with his distinctive style making it an exceptional piece of architecture. Though I am not an Architect and do not understand the architectural complexities, from a tourist point of view, Temple Sagrada is an interesting place to visit.

The easiest to appreciate and understand is the façade – external design of the project. The temple has three grand facades.
First, the Nativity Façade, the construction began in 1894 and was completed in 1930 and it was the first façade to be completed and showcases Gaudi’s direct influence. The façade faces the rising sun towards east symbolizing the birth of Christ. It is highly ornamented and decorated with scenes reminiscent of elements of life.

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Nativity Facade

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Intricate carvings

Second, the Passion Façade, the construction began in 1954, based on the drawings and instructions left by Gaudi for future architects. The façade faces the setting sun indicative and symbolic of the death of the Christ. In contrast to the highly decorated naturalist style of nativity façade, it is dedicated to the passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucification, hence the façade is austere, plain and simple.

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Passion Façade

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Bold carvings

Third, the Glory Façade, the construction began in only 2002. It will be largest and most striking façade and will depict the Celestial Glory of the Jesus. Aware that he would not live long enough to see this façade completed, Gaudi has left general sketches of what the façade would look like.
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Many aspect such as the interiors, altar, pillar, ceiling, windows, glass panes, stairs, towers everything has a story and makes it very unique.
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Sagrada Familia’s construction started in 1882, a 130 years ago, it has progressed very slowly and was interrupted by Spanish Civil War. It was resumed in the 1950s and construction passed the mid point only in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges still remaining. The anticipated completion date is 2026 – the centennial of Gaudi’s death.

When Gaudi died in 1926 the temple’s construction wad only 25% completed. During those days when he was asked about the extremely long construction period, he replied, ‘my client is not in a hurry. God has all the time in the world’.

It is interesting to note that the construction of Sagrada has spanned over three eras and it is not supported by any government or official church sources. Initial stages were funded by private patrons. Currently, the money from tickets purchased by tourists is used for construction. Although the temple is incomplete it is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and in Nov 2010 the church was consecrated.

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Different elements designed uniquely - Gaudi's signature

I had read about the history and structure of the building like most tourists and was aware I would be seeing the Temple during my visit to Spain but only when I stepped off the taxi and was standing right in front of the temple that I was overwhelmed and realised that, it is a truly magnificent building, marvellous creation of Gaudi and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.

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Barcelona city view from rooftop of Sagrada

Quick review:
• Expect long lines at the entrance and lot of crowd (because it is the most popular touristic attraction in Barcelona!!).
• The audio tour is worth paying the additional euros (other than the entrance ticket). It gives you the story behind every detail of the temple structure.
• The roof top has amazing views of Barcelona city - don't miss that!
• The place is like a construction site with cranes, dust etc in some parts of the temple (as it is yet to be completed!!) so be prepared and wear comfortable walking shoes.
• Plan a good few hours to see this place if you want to understand and appreciate Gaudi's insight. :)

Posted by deeptisubraya 00:06 Archived in Spain Tagged churches art buildings temples attractions philosophy review Comments (0)

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