Posted in Travellogue

One August weekend in Dublin

I have been in on an inertia for the past few days, having been caught up in a whirlwind of activities  in the fortnight before and as a result ended up falling ill with flu in the  next !!!  I had been  busy last few months with a project close to my heart and which also  involved a 150 miles walk around the London LOOP.  Both my husband and I , are  a little bit of under the weather , resulted in having  to juggle  some of our winter travel  itineraries. Today sitting in quiet contemplation, I realised, I have not had a chance to sit and sip a coffee in silence in a long time, I have not  had a chance to reflect upon the last few months and have been just been whizzing past through the activities with out paying  much attention, which made think of travelling and the Dublin trip.

A friend’s beautiful photos and wonderful words about  the city, acted as an inspiration  for my visit to Dublin. I often like to do a bit of arm chair travelling, by reading travel blogs and posts. I find such arm chair travelling  wonderfully relaxing, sitting in the cozy comforts of your home, curled up on a sofa, reading these stories and travelogues, you are transported to such amazing places, which is a wonderful feeling, similar to reading  a story book  in comforts of your home. You travel along with their words to  such wondrous places, places which you have never been, sights you have never seen, stories you have never heard and sometimes you may have visited the place, yet you see it with a new pair of eyes, a point of view, which  you missed or sometimes you have a shared experience. There are times,  when you open up a travel post of a friend, on a cold and dreary day, seeing photos of a friend smiling in  warm sunny Jordan, you smile, the warmth exuding from the photo , spreads the warmth to your heart and home. I absolutely love and enjoy armchair travelling as much as I enjoy actual travelling.  Dublin,  land of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, city known for Guinness, busking and music, a city which is dotted with lovely independent bookstores is a booklovers paradise and the photos and words of a friend enticed me to visit Dublin. A photo of Oscar Wilde’s statue, looking rather very happy, perched up high on a rock, with a lovely smile on this face, acted as  an additional boost to perk up my interest to visit the city.

Dublin, is a vibrant city full of charms and excitement, yet it  has an air of calm about it. The streets  of the city are filled with beautiful architecture both old and new, street art, musicians, buskers, pubs, independent bookshops and libraries.

Upon reaching Dublin and dropping our luggage at the Hotel, we walked towards Trinity college,  the college where likes of Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift have studied. The Trinity College is a very prestigious University and also famous for its oldest Library in Ireland called The Old Library. The library is famous for its Long Room , which houses old manuscripts and books, and the library also houses the Book of Kells. Book of Kells is a manuscript of gospels in Latin, and it is claimed to have been compiled by monks completed around the 9 th Century. The Library is open for visitors. You begin with a tour of exhibits of old books, manuscripts and Book Of Kells.  It is believed that it took several years for the Book to be complied and perhaps it began in an abbey in Isle of Iona, Scotland and must have been brought to Ireland for safekeeping during Vikings war. The Book is referred as an illuminated manuscript because it has ornate pictures, icons, artwork and margins along with the gospel text. The Book is supposed to be ‘scribed’ in four different hands. Scribe is term used to  refer to a person , who would handwrite manuscripts, who was familiar with art of writing and possessed the knowledge of languages . They were sort of copyist of olden days. This was a practice followed before the printing press was invented or available. I was very impressed and fascinated with the fact that there were only four Scribes, given the fact the Book of Kells comprises of 340 folios and bound in to four volumes. The scribes could also have been the monks and disciples at the abbey , would have spent their entire days in writing the manuscript, considering the fact they would have to depend only on natural light and their eye sight to be in extraordinary conditions, they should have been of very young age. The Book of Kells is considered the finest example of Western calligraphy work. Once you finish seeing the exhibits of Book of Kells, you walk in to the Long Room Library. Long Room is a library with Oak wall to wall cabinets , full of books and manuscripts, lined with the marble busts of famous writers and philosophers., in front. The library is absolutely stupendous, the tall oak shelves magnificently looming over you, stacked neatly with old  books and manuscripts, catalogued and organised alphabetically. There were winding staircases alongside running up to the ceiling. I walked the length of the room in a state of awe, and I sure would have loved to lean over , take a book , and sit in a corner and read quietly. Given that it was  strictly not allowed and out of question, I walked out of the library with that wishful thinking.  We walked around a bit in the grounds of the college, and then walked out in to the streets of the City.

Dublin is a paradise for book lovers and enthusiasts, is dotted around with fascinating book stores and book shops. The city is a land of literary geniuses. Oscar Wilde , W B Yeats , James Joyce were born here. James Joyce featured the streets of Dublin and Dublin city in his works like Ulysses and Dubliners. There are guided literary Pub trails available, on the trail you could visit the pubs which were frequented by  the writers and authors, where they would have sat and had their drinks and had a tete -a-tete. Unfortunately we could not do the trail this time, but perhaps the next time. We tried, visiting as many book stores we could in the short time we were there. I particularly loved the Books Upstairs,  and Winding stairs. There are some quirky ones hidden in alley ways and street . There was one called The secret Book and Record store, which had a great collection of some second hand books and old vinyl records.

The city has many bridges across the River Liffey. The bridges add architectural charm and also render a lovely story. The most famour bridge across Liffey, which is a wonderful cast iron structure fondly , referred as Ha’penny Bridge.  The bridge was built in the 18th century for the pedestrian crossing, over  the river. Before the bridge, people  used  ferries ,for a charge to cross the river ,run by a Ferry operator. The ferries were not in good condition hence the Bridge was constructed  for safety of the pedestrian and was named the Wellington Bridge.  Upon construction of the bridge there was a toll charge levied to cross the bridge which was  penny and a half pence(ha’penny). Though the charge was dropped after one year of the bridge having been constructed, but the name Ha’penny stuck to the bridge .

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Dublin is known for its music, musicians and busking. The famous musical ‘Once’ is set in Dublin. The city’s famous Grafton street, is the shopping street with major brands having their store, yet is better know for the buskers on the street. In the evening the street comes alive with people and musicians, the street pulsating and vibrating, the musicians smiling happily  and performing passionately, the people standing with a glass of drink , swaying to the music. singing along,  under one open sky, enjoying and having a good time like one big family. The vibe of the place is absolutely electrifying and positive. There are many famous musicians who have busked on the streets of Dublin, there is a youtube video of Ed Sheeran performing as a 11 year old boy busking on the streets of Dublin.

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There are two places where we enjoyed the food very much during our stay in Dublin, one is a place called Cornucopia, which is a vegetarian restaurant , is in the city centre on Wicklow Street. It is a casual and warm restaurant, with seating at two levels, you order the food at the counter and take it to your table, we chose a table upstairs near the balcony, with a view on to the street. The other place we enjoyed was the food hall at Avoca. Avoca is a departmental store, with a food hall, serving healthy,warm and tasty food.

There is a fishing town North of Dublin called Howth, which we heard is very picturesque and had a walking circular trail with views on the coast. We took a DART train from Dublin to Howth. The town is indeed very picturesque beautiful fishing town, with many sea food restaurants ,a port and the railway station itself is a pretty, like the ones from vintage photos. The  shop outside the railway station  gives out the map for the Howth Cliff Loop. The trail is around 6 kms circular route , goes up the cliff from one side and comes down to the village around the other side and the route is rated as easy to moderate walk. Since the walk begins with uphill, and I struggle a bit with elevation walks, I had to sit and take a few breaks to catch my breath. The trail is very beautiful and the walk up the cliff is very uplifting and rejuvenating, with beautiful views of the Irish coastline and cliffs. At that time of the year the heather was in bloom and at peak of its beauty, it was one the most beautiful and colourful sights, with the purple spray of heather all over the cliffs, clashing with the blue of the sea shimmering in sun light. The trail has  very nice and convenient spots to sit and taken in the view. The walk is certainly worth.

I travelled to Dublin, with an intention to pay a visit to the memorial of Oscar Wilde which is located at Merrion Square. Merrion Sqaure is a Georgian garden Square,  where Oscar Wilde is supposed have lived at one of the houses and poet W. B Yeats is also  supposed to have lived in one of the houses in the square. Oscar Wilde’s memorial is located in a park , opposite the house, where he lived. The house is marked with a Blue Plaque and is not open to public. The memorial was built to honour the legendary genius playwright and one of the famous sons of Ireland. Memorial is a statue of Oscar Wilde, smiling , with a pipe in his hand , perched upon a rock, with a plinth displaying some of his famous quotes. I think the memorial is befitting the witty genius. The man himself was grossly misunderstood when he was alive, in spite of being literary genius, witty and had immense love in his heart. Unfortunately he died penniless and tragically in a hotel in Paris, but even close to his death his humour had not faded. He so reminds me of someone I knew, who was also grossly misunderstood , was witty and was the one who introduced me to Oscar Wilde and his work. It is very comforting to see Oscar , smiling and reclining happily, having finally arrived back home , even though it was 97 years after his death and he did find a place in his homeland . No one can dispute the fact that he is very much loved and admired at home and across the world.

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I enjoyed travelling to Dublin as much as I enjoyed reading about it. There are many more sight seeing spots in Dublin, we chose to see the spots which perked our interest, there were some which we could not see ,due to lack of time. It is while pondering about travelling today , I thought of Dublin. I have acquired the taste for travel in the last few years, which made me ponder why travel. Travel helps me understand myself better, it makes me a storyteller, it gets me out of my slumber and comfort zone. I was watching the movie, Julie and Julia, yesterday, which is inspired by real life tales of two women, who lived in two different times, who cooked the same recipes, and in the process discovered their true passion, one found her passion and love for food and cooking and the other rekindled her passion for writing.  Whether it is  cooking, writing, travelling ,reading,  or singing  it is all a journey. All it takes is to begin the journey.

“Travel improves the mind wonderfully and does away with all one’s prejudices” – Oscar Wilde

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Posted in Travellogue

Paris

There are some cities or places we feel at home. We are drawn to the place, an affinity because we have emotional attachment of having grown up there or have some nostalgic links to the place. Paris happens to be one place where I feel at home, I can wander around the streets of the city aimlessly for hours. I have no prior nostalgic links to the city nor have I had any special interest in the city while growing up. Yet since my first visit to Paris, ten years ago, I have an ongoing love affair with the city. I am a why/because kind of person, everything must or should have a reasoning. Randomness is a concept which my brain refuses to accept. Normally when we want to go away and are looking at options for places to travel, I often insist on travelling somewhere new, where we have not been. I believe I need to challenge my senses and mind, by travelling to new places. Your eyes see different sights, you breathe the same air yet you can smell different aromas and fragrance, you taste different food, I find it refreshing and awakening. My mind has a tendency to switch to an autopilot mode in familiar area, because it is so familiar to its surroundings and senses. I find travel a perfect way to awaken my senses which otherwise  seem to go in to a slumber. I find Paris an exception to this. I love visiting the city, I have visited the city several times, yet very time the city keeps me engaged and enthralled. I am in love with the city of love, I do think the city , loves me back with equal propensity.
If you are familiar with the movie ‘ Midnight in Paris’ where the protagonist Gail Pender loves to walk around Paris in rains and thinks the rain makes the city look magical. I am very much like Gail, always look to past looking for answers, love Paris, yet I differ in his views of Paris. I find Paris magical in any season, in rains, in blustery winters, in blistering heat with sun beating down my neck and in autumn. I say magical because it always manages put a smile on my face, make my heart feel feather light, making even the mundane daily monotony look rapturous. People say Paris is not very friendly in fact is considered very rude. Perhaps there is some truth in it, may be it is a relative truth. Paris is beautiful yet derelict, passionate yet indifferent, amorous yet sometimes hateful. Paris is much like life, an oxymoron, full of conflicting emotions, a paradox. It is a good place to do a bit people watch, best place to visit museums and art works, with best touristy spots, a paradise for food lovers and fashionistas equally. As for me Paris is an emotion, and that emotion is Love.

As I said I love walking around aimlessly in Paris, looking at paintings in Louvre and Muse D’orsay, sitting by a Café on Monmarte sipping a coffee, walking up to Sacre Coure and sitting on the steps and listen to a busker play harp.( I have visited five times and everytime, he is there, playing harp), walking in the night by the River Sienne and watch the Eifferl Tower Shimmer, having a Berthillon Ice cream in freezing cold, looking at the odd objects in the Flea markets of Cligancourt, browsing the books in Shakespeare and co. And I enjoy doing a Patisserie crawl or what I prefer calling as Patisserie Trail.

I used the below and went around for a patisserie trail. Rue de Bonaparte also has very interesting shops , in case you want a little break from all the cakes and macaroons. 
http://foodloversodyssey.com/2011/08/food-lovers-walk-in-paris-rue-de-seine-and-bonaparte/
In the beginning of this year, I read a travelogue on Paris by a fellow blogger, and the photos and words made be long to revisit the city. I messaged my husband saying it has been two years since we went to Paris, and what better place to visit in February than Paris. And again in March I felt I need to visit the Giverny and see Monet s Garden ‘ We have never been to Giverny’ My husband seems to think I always find reason to visit Paris, but I what I find amusing is his response , when I say ‘ Do you not want to go to Paris?’ ‘Na , it been a while since we went to ‘Ol Pari’

PS: I am attaching the photos and not writing about them. A picture is worth a. thousand words, a visual expression!!

Posted in Travellogue

Fours days in Germany-December 2016

Its been 20 odd days in to 2017, I am still writing about Christmas. Having been down with flu for a few weeks since Christmas, I have not had much chance to think and gather my thoughts around our Christmas market trip to Germany in December. Today I had the desire and also the opportunity to sit and curl up on the sofa and write after many days.

Here is the link to it.

Four days in Germany

Posted in Travellogue

Home is where your heart belongs !!!

Sitting here in the Delhi, in quiet contemplation, cannot stop thinking of London. Back home, the Christmas lights would have been strung up, the warm coats and jumpers would be out, it is the time for hot chocolates with marsh mellows and Mulled Wine, there will be a mad rush to buy gifts. I love everything about Christmas, the fairy lights, the fairs and markets, the cold and of course Father Christmas. I would like to believe in good behaviour being rewarded.

When I left London, a few weeks ago it was  Autumn. There is some thing magical about the  Autumnal glow of the Sun,it is warm and sweet as Honey, and the sun beams streaming in to the house cast beautiful shadows, creating beautiful play of light and shadows, often leaves me wondering what if I  were to dip my palm in to the ray and scoop a little out  and eat it. Ah the sweetness of the Autumnal Sun!  The leaves turning beautiful shades of pink ,orange and yellow , shedding their vibrant leaves, teaching us in a way sometimes letting go is beautiful.  It is a sight to behold watching rainfall of leaves descending from the tree, shaken by a not so gentle breeze and scattering the roads and roadside with colour. I have often wondered which is more beautiful to watch , falling autumn leaves swaying and swaggering towards the ground, having been freed from tree or watching a snowflakes falling from the sky. I have not yet made up my mind.

My roots are in India,my extended family is here,I have wonderful friends here,yummy food, I have had most amazing time since I have come here,  yet  sitting here I cannot stop thinking about  London,  my walks in woods, my cycling training , my friends in London and my home. Absence makes the heart go fonder. Perhaps all the wandering and travelling has made me realise where  I belong. Strange feeling it now ,with all deglobalisation happening around the world. Also on a personal level I question myself with mixed emotions of sense of belonging . Where do I belong ? As a human race where do we belong ?  Last week a dear friend said  ‘ Humans began as wanderers, Nomads.It is in our nature to wander around and travel, we have forgotten it and we keep on trying to fit in and belong .’ Until she mentioned it I had never given it a thought, perhaps I truly do not belong anywhere, I am just a wanderer. For now I live in London and call it my home.

Thinking about home, belonging and wandering  I started writing my travelogue about our Trip to Vienna. Click on this link to read my Viennese Wanderings.

Vienna- The city of Music

Posted in Travellogue

An island Trip

The last couple of months of my break plans are on a bumpy road. I have had to defer the 90 mile walk, I  have successfully lost all the photographs from my Temple Trip to Tamil Nadu; a technical glitch on my laptop/icloud back up ended in  wiping out photos from March to May. Such are the maladies of a world dominated by technology. Let me try the law of attraction  and skip the negatives and think of  positives; had a friend got me addicted to listen to songs from Coke Studio, have started my swimming lessons and  learning to ride a bike. These are not great feat or achievements in themselves, considering the Paralympics  held in Rio. But listening to a Persian song on Coke Studio, of which I do not understand a word, I am transported to a  world of love and beauty. Such is the power of Music, a beautiful language, which transcends borders, cultures and barriers and in a minute transports  you to a world of calm and love and if I add to it, the fact  that  a friend sitting  miles and miles away, in another country, thinks about me while listening to a song and pings  me the link, ” listen to it, you will love it “.  Listen to it , I did and since  have  become a fan follower of Coke Studio on Youtube. I like swimming and  there is something fun about swimming. A famous swimmer once said ” Swimming is all about having fun, and I am a firm believer, that you keep swimming as long as you are having fun, but I can say it becomes much more fun as you get older and learn more about the sport, life and especially more yourself.” And as goes about cycling, I have  rarely cycled as a child and have a terrible fear of traffic. In an attempt to overcome  the fear, I am learning to cycle. In spite of the fear, I enjoy cycling, cycling in the woods, surrounded by tall trees , forming a canopy over you, warm sun rays streaming through the leaves, squirrels and rabbits rushing across the trail, rustling of the dry leaves gently rolling on the path, and the smell of grass, mixed with mud and rain,  is  very calming and is almost akin to meditation. And I then went on a small getaway to a small island, which was very rejuvenating.

Here is an account of my trip.

/And the Journey continues … Jersey

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On a train to Edinburgh

Train journeys mean happiness to me. I have very fond memories of travelling by train as a child, in India, to visit my grandparents. I used to be excited days ahead of the travel, I suppose it  was a combination of no school, no homework, endless days of fun with cousins, and the journey it self.  So I decided I want to travel by train to Edinburgh on our small getaway to Scottish Isles. Here is an account of my train journey

On a train to Edinburgh

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Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu-Kumbakonam

Today I thought I will write about Kumbakonam. By the time I was nearing Kumbakonam and the counts of temples visited was going up, the heat and the temperature was rising . Braving the rising temperatures, scorching Sun and  driving around the tar roads, I saw beautiful sights  and experiencing the surrounding of Indian countryside, roads lined with trees, surroundings with coconut groves, banana groves, rivers, saw  a beautiful moonrise in the Paddy fields, glowworms referred in Tamil as Minmini Putchi  floating over the farm. These are sites which I had long forgotten. The moon rise reminded me of a tradition in Southern India called Nila Sappaddu, means Moon Meals, referring to a tradition of  eating food under open skies in the night with the Moonlit sky and stars. I have done that so many times with my cousins at my grandparents home on the terrace or in the garden, where one of the aunts and uncles will tell a story and all the little ones will have food under the Moonlit sky.

The first trip that I took on my break from work was in March and we are nearing end of May and I am now hard pressed on time for finishing my account of my soul searching trip to Southern India.

Now, I am looking forward to our little trip to Inner Hebrides in end of May. Please click the below link for full details of trip to Kumbakonam

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu-Kumbakonam

Posted in Travellogue, Uncategorized

On a break

I had been contemplating for a while about whether I need a break from my work. I have had series of long chats with my near and dear ones, on pros and cons of a break. I had reached a point where I was not sure whether what I was doing was what I want to do. When I started to work after my university I was passionate about my work and loved it and I was sure about it. I have made such wonderful friends through work, I have learnt a great deal, have earned my living and evolved professionally in to what I am today. I want to discover who I am without my work. Does my work define me or I am to define my work? I decided until I disengage myself from my work, I will not be able to find the answer. I have taken the plunge and am going to live the next one year of my life as it comes and do things at a leisure and do a little bit of soul searching. I will try and learn something new. On a break

Posted in Travellogue

Lively Liverpool

Visted Liverpool over the Easter break. Liverpool is so synonymous with Beatles. It has much more to its credit than Beatles Mania. It is the European Capital city of culture and is a UNESCO World heritage site. I loved walking around the city, it has beautiful architecture, muesuems, independent shops and the famous Liverpool One mall. Personally I loved the Bold Street full of independent Shops and stores, my favourite being the bookshop News from Nowhere, which is celebrating its 41st birthday.

  

Albert Docks is equally charming and is lovely to walk around. It reminded me a little of West India Quays,in East London. It was beautiful crisp morning to be walking along River Merseyside, gazing around and just soaking in the atmosphere

  

  

  

  

  

The central Library which has been recently refurbished,is a must see for all book lovers.  I was mesmerised by the beautiful architecture and sheer abundance and proximity of books. Beautifully bound, catalogued and scientifically arranged books, ready to be borrowed and bury your nose in to lovely yellowing pages, leaving the hustle and bustle of daily life …. 

      Visiting the  Slavery Muesuem is very interesting and a humbling experience.

  
    
We also visited the Walker Gallery and Maritime Muesuem.

Just outside Liverpool there is an interesting National Trust property. It’s Tudor property and which has been renovated over the years and is now an Victorian property as per the interiors. It’s has a display of  two different architectural time periods in one site. The property is called Speak House. Our guide educated us on how many words that we use today in English originated from Tudor times., like cupboard, board games, side board.

It was a beautiful Sunny day, the house was filled with golden rays and casting beautiful shadows and creating a lovely display of light and shade. I enjoyed  taking photos and capturing the memories and storing  them on to a photo. It is  a tiny speck of time frozen, frozen by camera and stored in a photograph….

  

  

  

  

  

 

  
            
                

Posted in Travellogue

Lands End to John O Groats in a Car

It had been on our minds to do the Lands End to John O Groats for several years. Last year we were able to accomplish our dream of driving across the country from Land s End to John O Groats.  It was a very memorable journey. Here is an account of our trip. Hope you enjoy reading it and are inspired to undertake a cross country road trip.

https://coindesbobby.wordpress.com/travel-bug/

Posted in Travellogue

Beautiful Landscapes- An Ode to Nature

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These are some of my experiments with photography with an I pad. I am not a photographer. These are my attempts to capture some of the lovely moments spent amidst nature. Walking through these beautiful trails is an experience which cannot be expressed in words nor the camera can capture the entire beauty and the profound experience!!!!
First and third photo are of River Severn in Wales
The Middle one is of Buttermere, Lake District