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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Smitten with Darjeeling

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Darjeeling never fails to mesmerize me, each time I visit her. Our last visit in July 2011 was left incomplete with the heavy monsoon showers forcing us to bid an early but reluctant farewell to the hills. The lament, however, kept the spirit of the wanderer alive within us that ensured a revisit this year in February. And so we were here again; Satarupa, Koel and me, stealing a little of our own time for ourselves and delving into the beauty of this enchantress they call ‘Darjeeling’. As I take a leisurely stroll down the Chowrasta, I wonder; “What is it in this place that fascinates me most?” Is it the aura of the mountains that surround me, some canvassed in a distant blue while the others clad in a lustrous green often textured with camellia sinensis (tea shrubs)? Or is it the restless yearning to catch a glimpse of…
Friday, 31 October 2014

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India

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Deep down in India’s tropical south lies nature’s gem in the form of a serene hill station known as Kodaikanal. We were on a long South India tour, Kodaikanal being the last stop on our itinerary. As we were passing through the lush green farmlands of Tamil Nadu we saw a dark auburn colored mountain encircled by dense monsoon clouds. We were later told by our guide that on top of this mountain calmly rests Kodaikanal and that we are going to be on top of it in just over an hour. During our ascent on a single lane tarmac road there were frequent twists and turns and plentiful hairpin bends. As we were continuing our ascent in our small minivan filled with honeymooning couples, the fog grew denser and denser. It reached a point where we were not able to spot anything out of our old minivan’s unpolished window.…
Thursday, 23 October 2014

One Sound Made all the Difference

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It isn't often that I recall the detailed sounds of a place, even the smallest ‘clink’, as if it were from a song I have played a thousand times. Yet the song of that hostel, I recall every noise that echoed throughout my many slumbers. There was the sound of the heavy wooden door of the Baroque mansion that had been converted into a partying paradise. It swung open laboriously as travelers came in and out, the buzzer lasting only a few seconds as the electric lock freed. The door was never unlocked. It swung shut heavily and the heavy brass locks clinked as they met. The ever present sound of flip flops gliding across a film of dust and sand on the tiles was punctuated with the thud of heavy backpacks and suitcases plopping down without care. Sometimes there was a dog yelp, from one of the two resident…
Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The World’s Most Romantic Place

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Ireland is the most romantic place in the world. Its not Paris, “The City of Lights” or “The City of Love.” It’s not the sunny vineyards of southern Italy or the art of Rome, the waterways in Venice, the seaside in Greece, or the sexy Spanish men who might become lovers. It’s none of those things. Ireland is green, it is full of sheep and it is windy and rainy. It literally does nothing but rain up to 225 days of the year. It’s miserably cold, and sometimes foggy, and you’ll be up to your ankles in mud, constantly smelling like the smoke from the peat fires necessary to retain the slightest bit of warmth. But I’ll say it again because it’s worth saying twice; Ireland is the most romantic place in the world. It is a place that wooed me, captured my heart, and left me pining to return.…
Monday, 30 December 2013

My Muse Florence

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The first time I came to Florence it was for love. At least, being in love was the plan since I was on my honeymoon with my first wife. This is back in the late 1980s when I harbored the insane idea that getting married right out of college would be the fun thing to do. Barely in our twenties (I couldn’t even grow a beard yet), we returned Stateside from the honeymoon to no money, mounting bills, and misery. I was a young writer looking for his start which no one would give me, or so it seemed at the time, and it didn’t take too long for my wife and I to realize our major mistake. She went her way and I packed up my bags, went straight on to writing school. The second time I came to Florence with a woman I “loved” was in the late…
Thursday, 23 August 2012

Granada’s Arabian Night

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  “It’s impossible” We are told repeatedly.   “No one can get tickets to the Alhambra unless they book many months in advance.” The hotel concierge shakes his head at us.    “I have friends who booked their tickets four months before they came here.  If you cannot book online then it’s impossible.  Enjoy the rest of Granada.” He adds before shrugging his way out of the small cubicle in which we sit, along with the hotels only working computer.  We had coaxed him into helping us muddle our way through Spanish websites when we couldn’t buy tickets on the Alhambra Palace’s website but he had other guests to attend to.  None of the guidebooks that we had both meticulously read before getting to Andalucia mention anything about booking ahead.  It seems hopeless and we only have one night in Granada to see the Alhambra after having spent the larger…
Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spice Up Your Relationship In Jamaica

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The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is a cultural paradise, bringing out any couples’ spicy side. From music, to romantic sunsets, adventure and famous jerk dishes, Jamaica features ‘love’ as the main course. It started out as a Spanish colony, but in 1655 it became English, and later a British colony, achieving full independence in 1962. It remains in the Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and Kingston, which is located on the Southern coast, as the country's capital and largest city. After arriving through Montego Bay, the second largest city in Jamaica and the gateway to tourist activity on the North Coast, my husband and I stayed at Gran Bahia Principe Resort in Runaway Bay (http://www.bahia-principe.com/BP/resorts/resort/Jamaica). This was the spot that the Spanish "ran away" to Cuba when the British invaded the island. Cuba is only about 90 miles off the coast of…
Monday, 25 October 2010

Honeymoon in Ireland

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We arrived on the Emerald Isle at almost midnight, rented a car, and attempted to find our hotel. We had a small setback due to the fact that the steering wheel was on the right, the gearshift on the left, and we had to drive on the left side of the road - we'll have to factor in some extra time to adjust the next time we travel to Ireland. After almost sideswiping an entire street of cars, we found Hampton Hotel, a boutique hotel in a nice neighborhood in Dublin. We were warmly welcomed and found our beautiful premium room definitely worthy of a honeymoon. It was a huge room with a king sized bed, sitting area, couch with a 50” wide-screen TV, LCD fireplace, and a large bathroom with rain shower and tub. This is a luxe property in Dublin boasting amenities like heated floors in the bathrooms…
Wednesday, 01 September 2010

Honeymoon in Provence and Cote d'Azur

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Our two-and-a-half-week honeymoon in Provence and Cote d’Azur afforded us with the time to really relax and experience life in France. It was the perfect antidote to the extremely stressful time before our do-it-yourself wedding, when everything had to be done all at once just before the event, as well as the typical stresses of two very different families meeting for the first time.
Friday, 20 November 2009

Quebec City: a Romantic Escape

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Quebec City is a romantic, beautiful old city with cobblestone streets and the Chateau Frontenac sitting like a castle next to a wide boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River. Horse-drawn carriages ply streets lined with stone inns and houses with shuttered windows and flowerboxes. Surrounded by high stone walls and ringed by cannons, the city has seen many battles; it was conquered by the British in the Seven Years' War, but successfully repelled American forces during the War of 1812.

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