Croatia, something for everyone!

From courteous “What is there to see”  to the most extreme “where is it”, those are the kinds of responses you elicit from people, when you tell them about your last visit to this beautiful place. I would not say, this one is a hidden gem of a place waiting to be explored or a cheaper way of exploring Europe (which it is).  It is much more than that. 

It is a complete package in itself. It has everything to cater to beach bums, outdoor suckers, history buffs, adrenaline junkies, foodies, and culture vultures. Quite literally, there’s something for everyone! If you like touring vineyards, dining in artsy cafes, swimming in clear water, trekking in national parks, exploring medieval towns, watching beautiful people, dwelling into history behind city walls, climbing up on forts, sailing in the Adriatic sea, then this is the place for you. Here are my top picks, which should be part of every itinerary for Croatia.

 

Wine tour in Istria Peninsula   For Foodies

Istria is a tooth shaped peninsula on the western corner of Croatia, so it is exposed to the winds from the east and the west. This is good for the vines and makes for great wine. The Istrian peninsula is a gentle land of rolling hills, olive groves, babbling brooks, and small vineyards (it has uncanny resemblance to Italy). Famously fertile, over 110 small-scale wineries and 145 olive oil producers have sprung up across the region in the last 20 years, developing its reputation as Croatia’s best corner for foodies. It is easy to plan a wine tasting trip, given high density of wineries, comprehensive network of biking and hiking trails and proper signage.

Image Source : Shobhit Agarwa
Image Source : Shobhit Agarwal

 

The Extra Mile : Go for trufle hunting. If you really want to experience forest to table concept. Book a truffle foraging trip, spend an hour in the woods with a hunter and his dogs, dig out few truffles and then return to the restaurant to savour them. Season starts in September and typically lasts through January.  


 

 Trekking in Plitvice National park.   For Outdoor Suckers

It is arguably the most beautiful national park in the world. It’s comprised of 16 cascading lakes, separated by natural (travertine) dams and connected by a succession of waterfalls, giving it a beautiful terraced appearance. Surrounding it all to form a gentle pocket are mountains covered in dense woods. The lakes float crystal water, which changes colours from crystal clear to azure, to turquoise. This along with crisp clean air, truly is a feast for your senses. It  is crisscrossed by wooden boardwalks and can be covered only on foot, they do have boats and bus to ferry you from one point to another, when you want to jump the route. Clicking an awe inspiring shot is easy when the place brims with beauty.

Image Source : Shobhit Agarwal
Image Source : Shobhit Agarwal

 

The Extra Mile : Do it again. Its an experience of lifetime and second time is much more fun. Simple reason is, now you know the obvious and you are able to appreciate the nuances like water is icy cold, park is inhabited by interesting birds and animal, there is option for cannoing in the park.


 

Strolling in Diocletian Palace in Split.      For History Buffs  and Culture Vultures

Split is the unofficial “capital” of Dalmatia. It is the economic hub of the eastern Adriatic. Wandering the historic centre of Split you can still clearly see the Roman walls, squares, and temples from the time of retired Roman emperor Diocletian. It is hard to imagine Croatia without Emperor’s palace as it would be Rome without Roman Coliseum or Cairo without Great Pyramids of Giza. There are not many cities in the world that can be proud such as Split of almost two millennium history. The difference is that this history is not just a written record but fully present in nowadays Split. Wandering aimlessly around the palace is one of  Split’s essential experiences. There is no ticket office or protocol – you just stroll in.  Split’s seaside promenade, known informally as the Riva. It’s the place where people go to enjoy coffee and be seen. The cafés and shops here are built onto the south side of the old palace walls.

Image source : Shobhit Agarwal
Image source : Shobhit Agarwal

 

The Extra Mile : Make a day trip to Trogir, less than hour drive from Split. The Greeks, the Romans and the Venetians all contributed to make Trogir the wonderful medieval city that it is. UNESCO also recognised it’s history and culture giving the town world heritage status in 1997. Its golden age is visible everywhere.


 

 Island hopping in Hvar.    For Beach bums and Party animals

Hvar is one of the most beautiful island, we have every seen. It has everything you can ask for. Parties (Even an edition of Ultra Music Festival), multi cuisine restaurants, hilltop forts, greenery and clear water to swim. It’s the most luxurious island, and the sunniest place in the country.  The island of Hvar is home to spectacularly beautiful landscapes, punctuated by pine forests, fields of lavender and scenic olive groves. Apart from enjoying Hvar, you can rent a boat for full day for island hopping. Places to be covered are :- 1.) Stiniva Bay on Island Vis 2.) Green Cave 3.) Blue Cave 4.) Pakleni Islands.

Image Source :- Shobhit Agarwal
Image Source :- Shobhit Agarwal


The Extra Mile :  Party at Hula Hula. Hula Hula, a rustic wooden beach bar is an amazing place for winding down and partying. Crystal clear sea, beautiful beaches, magical sunsets have only helped the cause. The place organises after beach parties that start every day at 5 pm and last until sunset. In 2011, Hula Hula beach bar hosted Beyonce and Jay-Z, so that might be an additional reason to check it out.


 

 Watch sunset from the rooftop bar of in Korcula        For relaxing

Reputed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, the beautiful island of Korčula has a fascinating past. It is ideal for carefree meandering, as you can cover the whole of old town in one hour on foot. Just around the corner, you will find one of the most interesting rooftop bars in the world. The bar is lodged in a turret and is built on a crumbling city wall. To get to the rooftop, you have to climb a steep wooden ladder, wriggle through a trapdoor and voilá! You have the unhindered view of sunset. Your drinks are hauled up using a rope pulley. Drinks are not particularly exotic and bar doesnt offer the bird’s eye view of the town but the view of sunset and the sheer drop to the sea is thrilling nonetheless and enough to give you a high, literally.

Image source:- Shobhit Agarwal
Image source:- Shobhit Agarwal

 

The Extra Mile : Do a day trip to Mijelt Island. Over 70% of the island is covered by forest; the western half is a protected national park. Mljet is the epitome of pristine, unspoiled nature.  This is the perfect place to recharge the batteries in between your cultural and historic sightseeing in Croatia. While visiting Mljet your time can be spent bicycling around the island, enjoying extensive walking trails, relaxing on the crystal-clear seashores, and going swimming in the warm, saltwater lakes.


 

6.)   Climb the City walls of old town in Dubrovnik   For History Buff

Welcome to the old town of Dubrovnik- the pearl of the Adriatic, Lord Byron’s paradise, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Ask anyone what you should do in Dubrovnik and this will be the first thing they say. It is touristy but for a reason. Admission is 90 Kuna and it takes at least an hour or two to make the most of this 1.2 mile loop. You get memorable views in all direction. Viewing Dubrovnik from the walls gives you the chance to see the damage from the war up and close. Dubrovnik was sieged from late 1991 through early 1992, and the city was in ruins. It was painstakingly rebuilt, but you wouldn’t know it unless you were looking for the two-toned roofs. You can either take a tour or do it yourself.

Source Image : Shobhit Agarwal
Source Image : Shobhit Agarwal

 

The Extra Mile : Do the Game of Thrones Tour. King’s Landing, home of the kingdom’s capital city and the Iron Throne, has been filmed in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, a fitting choice with its seaside locale, atmospheric city walls, imposing forts, medieval town and bloody past.  Dubrovnik also doubled as the location of Qarth, an ancient port city featured in the second season of “Game of Thrones.”


 

A Gooey, Cheesy adventure through Europe

It has been constant in our lives, from childhood, to wherever we are now. Cheese has been our favorite food since the beginning of time, it has found it’s way into pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, wontons, dosa, nachos and God knows what. However, the best way to sample cheese is to have it just the way it is. For beginners to cheese, and connoisseurs alike, here are 7 trips you should take to sample cheese from around the world. There’s more to life than processed cheese!  Featured Image by Mikael Sundberg

Cheddar
Where: The UK

A lot of us know it as the fattening, unhealthy, orange American cheese, but it actually originated from a town of the same name: Cheddar, Somerset in the UK! Now however, it is produced in a lot of countries. The cheese is pale colored, ranging from yellow to off-white unless it has added colors (Like the Orange, American version) and tastes acidic! Try it in the UK, from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company.

Do not be mistaken, since the name and related intellectual property (IPR) are not protected, Cheddar may be thrown around as a loose term. Be sure you find the right one!   Image: Wonderopolis.org

Cheddar, The most renowned cheese from around the World!

Camembert
Where: France

It was originally produced and is still found in Normandy, France. There are also Hungarian and Slovak variants. It is white in color, made from cow’s milk and takes around 3 weeks to age, before consumption. The name “Camembert” is protected by the AOC in France so only a few types of cheese made in a particular way can qualify to be called Camembert. It is accompanied by light Normandy Cider or Red Beaujolais wine. The cheese is soft, and when young , tastes buttery and sweet

The best variety  of this cheese goes by the name of Camembert Le Châtelain. Image: Tryophile.wordpress.com

Camembert, with love from France

Idiazabal
Where: Basque Country, Spain

This cheese is made from Sheep Milk, and is made in Basque Country and Navarre, Spain. Even though it isn’t smoked, it has a smoky flavor, similar to that of Bacon or Caramel, this cheese is really hard and is wrapped in a brown rind. A must eat, with quince jam. This cheese’s name is also protected by the Spanish so to qualify as Idiazabal, the cheese must be made in a particular region, by using a particular type of sheep as the source of the milk.
This cheese too draws its name from the village that made it popular.
Image: Wheycoolcurds.wordpress.com

Round, hard, and smoky Idiazabal from Spain.

Gorgonzola
Where: Italy

Lombardy’s product, aged Italian blue cheese made from unskimmed cow’s milk has a salty taste to it, biting into the blue veins releases an even stronger taste! It feels buttery in the mouth and crumbles easily, often leaving behind a nutty taste. It is among the oldest blue-veined cheeses and is protected in Italy, under their naming and registration of IPR provisions. It is made from unskimmed cow’s milk and has 2 varieties. Gorgonzola Dolce and Gorgonzola Picanté. It goes with wine too, but it is often used with short pasta, or with risotto too. To sample it on food, your best bet would be a four cheese pizza. (Pizza ai quattro formaggi)
Image: pizzadelivery.org

It’s a work of art.

Parmigiano
Where: Italy

The finest and most popular of Italian cheese, the famous Parmigiano (or Parmesan) is made from cows’ milk and is hard. Only cheese made on the west and south of river Po in Italy is allowed to be classified as Parmigiano, can you believe it? There’s Italian government regulations on how cheese should be named! This one is every Cheese lover’s and connoisseurs first love, and for good reason. It is a snack on it’s own, and can be grated on pastas, but beware, there’s plenty of copycats out there for this type of cheese too. Image: cheeseunderground.blogspot.com

Parmigiano! Mamma Mia!

Gouda
Where: The Netherlands

This Dutch yellow cheese is named after the city of the same name, the local way of saying it is similar to saying “How-da”, it is hugely popular around the world, accounting for half of the world’s cheese consumption. It is served with Dutch Mustard, as a snack or even consumed with sugar or apple syrup! Unlike other cheese, gouda’s taste depends on the time it has been aged, it doesn’t therefore have a uniform taste. This is among the types of cheeses whose name isn’t protected. The cheese has a level of curiosity around it, given that it has a colored covering, the colored covering ranges from red, yellow, orange, dark blue to black, the darker the color, more mature the cheese!
It is a popular dessert cheese that goes well with deep wines like Shiraz, or Merlot. Image: goldenagecheese.com

Yellow Gouda with a colorful rind makes it easy to recognise.

Gruyere
Where: Switzerland

Yes, this is Swiss cheese, it is hard, and aged typically for 6 to 12 months. It derives it’s name from Gruyeres in Switzerland. It has a sweet and salty flavor, often tasting nutty when young, the best quality however, is that the cheese is light. The cheese can be prepared even in 3 months, but like the finer things in life, cheese takes patience. Upon aging, it develops cracks, and has a more earthy taste. Le Gruyere Premiere Cru is the best variety. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Swiss Gruyere.

Among other popular cheese from Europe, there’s Edam, Brie, Roquefort, Feta and many others.

 

Engage all five senses to experience true Istanbul

Istanbul appeals to you like no other city. It is a melting pot of culture, has an extremely rich history and literally lies between two continents. Chances are that it will evoke positive emotions by appealing to one or more of the five senses :- sight, hearing, taste, smell or touch. If you are planning a trip to Turkey, here is our five “must do” experiences in Istanbul, that will appeal to all your five senses.

 

1. Smell   Visit the Spice Bazaar

This is the second largest covered market after the Grand Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar has a grittier feel.  As expected the air inside is aromatic.  The frequent stalls displaying carefully arranged brightly colored pyramids of spices have a pleasant exotic smell. Here you’ll be able to pick up spices, nuts, dried fruit, Turkish coffee, loose leaf tea, and even Turkish delight! The smells and colors are a feast for your senses. A great experience, truly what you would expect in Istanbul.

Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

2. Touch  Get naked at Hamam

Dont get us wrong but this is one thing, you definitely need to experience in your life time to hate it or love it. It goes like this, you lay on a heated platform, work up a sweat, then you are scrubbed clean as if you have not taken bath since ages, then comes coarse mitt to remove layers of dead skin and at the end the soap. Also, in between icy bag is used to create bubbles so that you are covered from head to toe with white frothy bubbles. Truly a cleansing and muscle relaxing experience for your body.
Hamam in Istanbul
Hamam in Istanbul

 

3. Listen   To the call of prayer between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

One of the most beautiful call of prayer, that you could ever listen to is between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (which although is no longer a mosque, still keeps a prayer room). One muezzin would sing out part of the prayer and then the second muezzin would respond from the other minaret. It is one spiritual experience, which you should not miss. So if you find yourself there during the prayer time, grab a seat at one of the park benches, soak in the view and just listen.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Istanbul

4. See    Go to a whirling Dervish show

The dervishes spin themselves into a trance-like state that brings them closer to God, and it’s a unique religious ceremony to witness. The centuries-old ceremony is a spiritual performance featuring graceful choreography, Persian chanting and traditional Turkish music, played by the on-site orchestra. Enjoy a drink and some Turkish delight from the bar, and then sit captivated as the dervishes glide around the stage in their eye-catching robes; it’s the perfect evening out for a taste of age-old Istanbul culture.

Dervish dance in Istanbul
Dervish dance in Istanbul

 

5. Taste  Eat Kumpir and drink Pickled juice

A kumpir is a loaded baked potato. The server will mix the potato with cheese and butter until it’s light and fluffy, and then you can choose from an assortment of toppings including olives, hot dogs, pickles, corn, peas, bulgur and more. It’s the perfect snack to go. Just don’t let C word cross your mind at that time, else you wont be able to enjoy a single bite.

Slurping pickles and pickle vinegar while ambling across Galata Bridge. How heavenly is that? Pickle appreciators everywhere will appreciate that one! If you’re a pickle juice slurper, Istanbul is the city for you. Pickle juice is an amazing concoction sold by street vendors in Turkey. Pickled juice tastes like sour, lemony pickles

Kumpir in Istanbul
Kumpir in Istanbul

Beautiful Natural Pools of the World

We bring to you, our pick of natural pools, around the world, the way they are meant to be.  Tiled swimming pools with chlorinated water are passé. They may have an infinity edge or a great ambience but  will not create memories or inspire stories. Don’t miss a chance to see these places! If you are a water baby, you will surely love these natural pools. Take a dip, admire, or just let your feet dangle in.

The Devil’s Pool
Where: Zambian Victoria Falls.            For: Friends, Solo Traveler

This is a natural pool which is dubbed the “Most dangerous natural pool” because it is a pool (as the name suggests) that flows into a waterfall from a great height. This natural infinity pool requires you to be careful, but doesn’t compromise on the fun! It has been given the name of devil’s pool because you never know when the current increases, or there is a rock chute that may lead to grave and unfortunate events. Either way, it is a sight to behold.  Image: Fabien Lemoine

It’s known as the devil’s pool for a reason, don’t fall into the abyss below!

Sua Trench
Where: Samoa             For: Couples

This ocean trench in a Samoan village (Lotofaga) is a magical getaway for couples. It is in a lava field, has crystal clear waters and is not too deep either. The people of the place take around $15 to let people enter, but it is worth it. What caught our attention was the beautiful ladder that leads down to the trench, it is as though the ladder descends into heaven, where we’re greeted by sparkling, blue water.  Image: Daniel Gong

Samoa’s treasure.

Dudu Blue Lagoon
Where: Dominican Republic          For: Friends, Family

This beautiful pool in the Dominican Republic is what reignited our faith in magic. Gleaming blue water, surrounded by rocks, and what matters here is not the size or depth of the pool, or it’s surroundings. What matters is the fact that you can have loads of fun here! It is the typical hang out spot that you probably went to with your friends, just the way they show it in the movie “grown ups”, jump of rocks, mess around, have a good time, that’s what the Dudu Lagoon is all about. Image: Totalmixx.wordpress.com


Tat Kuang Si
Where: Laos      For: Family

A popular attraction for visitors of Luang Prabang in Laos, Tat Kuang Si is known for it’s Jade water and pristine environment, a good visit for families, and flocks of tourists in general, the Tat Kuang Si is a natural pool you should definitely take a dip in! Most of the travertine pools are open to swim in, but one is closed as it is considered sacred. It is also well maintained with walkways so you don’t feel disconnected even when you relax and unwind here.
Image: Drew Hopper

Travertine pools of Tat Kuang Si.

Giola
Where: Greece             For: Solo Traveler, Couples, Friends

This Greek natural pool in Thassos is hidden away from the world, and is difficult to reach too, so you’ll hardly find tourists here, it takes dedication to get here. The green water of the pool and rocks within make it a unique sight, it isn’t even very deep.
This is one of the perfect places to find solitude or sip wine with your partner.
Image: Evgeni Dinev

This is real, no kidding. Emerald waters exist.

Cenote Ik-Kil
Where: Mexico     For: Friends

This site in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and is used for Mayan rituals, however, it is also open to people. There are black catfish found here, it is a pool with walls around it, so people can choose between going through the stairwell or diving in from the top! Another favorite for couples and “Thinkers” in general, this one is our favorite.  Image: Anthony Shane

Yucatan’s popular attraction, for tourists and locals.

And a sixth one, this one has been featured in so many places so we chose to write about the lesser known ones, but it is beautiful. Turkey’s Pamukkale is a collection of travertine pools on stunning white rocks, this is a hot tourist attraction, and deserves a mention in our list!
Image: Aleksandra Bandomir

Travertine pools have an otherworldly charm to them.

 

Travelling With Lady Luck

Enjoying thrills at the roulette table or savouring fine dining, doubling down at black-jack tables or indulging in spa treatments or wrangling with one armed bandits or unwinding on the beach. With these casino resorts, you won’t have to give up either.

Stay where you play.  When you’re not striking it rich, you can treat yourself to a spa treatment, gourmet meal or a shopping spree with these casino hotels. Bet on our selection , because this is one gamble we promise you won’t lose.

 

1. Ibiza Gran Hotel , Spain

Adorned with elegant design elements and a collection of commissioned modern artwork, the hotel offers the added appeal of a great location, overlooking the port, marina and Old Town. Best known for its jet-set tourism and exuberant nightlife, Ibiza is the perfect spot for a casino. Classy and understated (words not often used to describe gambling joints), Casino de Ibiza is a stylish venue that suits its Ibiza Gran Hotel settings.

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2. Trump Taj Mahal, USA

The name says it all here. Once owned by billionaire Donald Trump and themed on the Taj Mahal, this casino is a glorious sight, boasting a stunning interior fit for any palace. There’s no shortage of gambling space either, with over 2,500 slot machines, 200 game tables and a huge poker room.. Whether you rake in the chips in the exclusive high limit gaming salon, place a bet in the smoke-free poker room or simply toss a few coins into the slots, you’ll relish the action at this impressive property.

PHI+trump+taj+mahal+strip+club


3. The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas

This all-suite hotel’s European-inspired casino features everything a gambler’s heart could desire, including a race and sports book, high limit poker salon with butler service and 112,000-square-foot poker room showcasing hand-painted frescoed ceilings. As for the suites, they define pampering, with their sunken living rooms, marble-clad bathrooms and tastefully palatial décor.

The-Palazzo-Las-Vegas


4. The Venetian Macau, China

Macau really can rival Las Vegas in terms of glamorous gambling. Perhaps the best of all in this remote region is the Venetian Casino, modelled on Vegas’ own Venetian complex. With over 530,000 square feet of floor space, spread across four themed gaming areas, it’s the world’s largest casino.

Source : The Guardian

 


5. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

At Marina Bay, it holds its own in this extravagant setting, with more than 2,300 slots and almost 500 gaming tables. There are high-end productions ranging from The Sound of Music to Beatlemania and a collection of large-scale installations that make this sprawling property feel like a living art gallery. In the realm of fine dining, expect only the best.

marina bay


6. Sun City Rustenburg, South Africa

Sun City is more of a resort than a casino but it still offers a great gambling experience. Its list of table games include craps, Let It Ride, Stud Poker,bacarrat and single-zero roulette, along with just short of a thousand slot machines. The resort itself boasts hotels, nightclubs, and two 18-hole golf courses, both designed by legendary golfer Gary Player.


 


7. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

This is a Roman-style luxury hotel complex complete with marble columns, famous spiral escalators, and over 150,000 square feet of casino heaven. Table games, poker and slot machines make up one of the finest gambling venues around, with a dedicated sports and horse racing betting area that’s filled with flat screen TVs bringing bettors the latest sports from around the country to the comfort of their private booths.

800px-LasVegas-CaesarsPalace-Mall1


8. Hotel De Paris, Monaco

After a decadent meal of Riviera-inspired cuisine at Le Louis XV — Alain Ducasse, you can dress up and head for Place du Casino’s legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo, a Belle Époque landmark that served as a setting in the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.Famous for its jet-set lifestyle and magnificent casinos, Monte Carlo is ideal for a high rolling holiday.

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9. Foxwoods Resort Casino, USA

While Foxwoods Resort Casino bustles with activity, its surroundings are serene with lush green scenery. It is located in the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut. It features 4.7 million square feet of gaming space. It has more than 380 gaming tables available, offering games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker. It also has 6,300 slot machines.

Foxwoods-Resort-Casino


10.  Bellagio, Las Vegas

One of the most famous casinos in the world, the Bellagio sets itself apart from the rest with its opulence and elegance. The eight-acre lake that separates the building from the Las Vegas strip is made even more beautiful by its world-renowned dancing water fountain, seen in films like Ocean’s 11. The casino itself is probably best known for its high-stakes poker room which hosts World Poker Tour events, but it also offers a stylish gambling experience, probably more suited to the high rollers.

 

5 Youngest Nations of The World.

These newbies to the world have been welcomed with open arms, after so much of struggle and strife, blood, gore and tears, they’ve finally found their place. It is time the rest of the world checks them out. Before you embark on your journey, know this, it is not always safe to venture into “newly” created or recently contested territory, but it is not always the case. Please plan a trip to these places carefully! 

Here is the list of 5 of the world’s youngest nations.

Timor Leste (2002)      Where: Southeast Asia       For: Beachbum 

Timor Leste or East Timor was declared independent, after being previously under Portuguese and Indonesian Colonial Rule until 2002, It is among the newest countries of the world. It has some beautiful beached and is known for diving.  Since it is relatively “New”, it doesn’t have flocks of tourists travelling here, so it attracts non-mainstream divers. Travel is also really economical here. Best time tim visit is July to September.  Images: Christopher Newley

We found Nemo, In Timor Leste
We found Nemo, In Timor Leste

Serbia (2006)       Where: Europe       For: Altitude Seeker, History Buff

Having split from Montenegro in 2006, Serbia is less than a decade old, Serbian mountains attract a lot of tourists, both locals and foreigners, Belgrade too is a popular destination for those that decide to visit Serbia. Serbia is again, not frequented by many tourists simply because its overlooked due to its more neighbours (Croatia for beaches, Kosovo for churches an Montenegro for scenery). But if you like to be the only person to check out the world heritage ruins of Gamzigrad,or eat in the lovely cafes of Belgrade, then this place will surely appeal to you.  Image : timetravelturtle

Deserves place in any itinerary to Balkans!
Deserves place in any itinerary to Balkans!

Montenegro (2006)        Where: Europe        For Altitude Seeker, Outdoor sucker

Paired with Serbia till 2006, this country too became independent after the split. After losing its popularity due to violence and strife in the 80s, Montenegro is putting itself back on the travel map by marketing itself as a luxurious destination. It is situated south of Croatia. Despite its small size, Montenegro offers great diversity and abundant natural beauty, mild beaches, clear lakes, gorgeous mountains. This little country combines features of both the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Best time to visit is April to September. Image :- Fedorova Julia

Quite town !
Quiet town !

Kosovo (2008)         Where: Europe     For Culture Vulture

After years of struggle and strife, Kosovo has been declared independent, effective from February 2008. It fought gruesome wars and is finally free, it produces both red and white wines which one ought to sample! Kosovo in terms of  tourism however, isn’t yet established, partly because they are focusing on stabilizing themselves, and partly because there are still questions being asked about the safety in visiting Kosovo. Visitors will find an energetic mix of Balkan bazaars, Ottoman architecture and a quaint centre filled with the chatter of cafe conversation. Prizren and surrounds are also home to several churches and Ottoman-era mosques.  Image : Christian Michel

Decane Monastery !
Decane Monastery !

South Sudan (2011)     Where: Africa   For Wildlife Enthusiast

The latest member to join us on Planet Earth, after having been declared independent in 2011, South Sudan is an African nation with rich history of war, self governance and culture. Oddly enough, South Sudan’s civil war didn’t have that grave an impact on it’s wildlife, which means we can thank our stars for still having brilliant flora and fauna to witness. This country is yet to capitalize on it’s tourism industry and potential, but will be a hit with Wildlife enthusiasts as soon as it does! It boasts the second largest migration in the world. Image : Roberto Bombardierie

Storm is coming !
Storm is coming !

 

Word of Caution :-  Please do check for travel advisory before planning a trip to all these places.

Food Trail of Freedom

India is turning 68 soon, but the legacy of India, and Indians in terms of food has been timeless, be it spice and coffee trade or the multitude of flavors in all our dishes. India has put itself on the culinary world map. On the eve of independence day, we decided to list some of our favourite places, which have stood the test of time and taste, and have served the men and women during the British Raj and continue to do so, even today.  This is the food trail of freedom, Happy Independence Day to all of you!

Featured Image by Kanishka Samrat

Karims      Where: Old Delhi

The place that draws its name from the Islamic god that represents bounty and generosity, Karims has been known for it’s scrumptious, liberal portions. It is rumored that the origins of Karims lie with the chef of Bahadur Shah Zafar, among the last of  the Mughal Empire, the chef taught his sons recipes which are in use even today, Karims spice mix is easily among the most guarded secrets in the history of Delhi. This place has been around for 101 years now. Image: Ankur Bordoloi 

TANDOORI CHICKEN
Tandoori Chicken

 


 

Wenger’s           Where: Connaught Place, New Delhi

Standing strong in all it’s glory on Connaught Place, since the 1920s is Wenger’s. Wenger’s was the first bakery to introduce French bread, Swiss chocolates and margarine pastries to New Delhi. The Swiss couple that owned Wenger’s made it popular among British Bureaucrats, Indians of a higher economic class and people with a taste for “fancy”
After Independence however, they could never make that mark on the people, they lost their huge ballroom and now, you will probably find this place to be less than half the size it used to be. You should try this hidden gem nonetheless, especially if you have a sweet-tooth! Image: rediscoveryourdreams.wordpress.com

Wenger’s at CP

 


 

Paranthe Wali Gali              Where: Old Delhi

Even though the food here didn’t shoot to fame till the 1960s, it has been around for quite some time. Since the first shop Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan Paranthewala was established in 1872, these narrow lanes with large glasses of lassi and different innovations and versions of the parantha have been frequented by Indians alike, it is even rumored that Pandit JawaharLal Nehru and daughter Indira Gandhi would spend time here, feasting on parathas and “kele ki saunth”

Lip Smacking Parantha
Lip Smacking Parantha

 


 

Kwality and Embassy             Where: Connaught Place, New Delhi

Technically, these two places are as old as India itself, having been established in 1948, they have seen the capital come up and become what it is today. They have seen decades pass, and yet their reputation is such that “the name is enough” to remind our grandparents of their childhood days. Personally, I have eaten here so many times simply because my grandparents knew it since decades, and for them, the place never changed. Both places are known to serve exceptional non vegetarian fare and heavy dose of old Bollywood music. Image :- Cooking in Tounges

Excellent non vegetarian Selection
Excellent non vegetarian Selection


 

United Coffee House             Where: Connaught Place, New Delhi

United Coffee House, established in 1942 was a melting pot of sorts, where young and old india collided, socialised and made it a happening place of the time. From Artists to tycoons to politicians have sipped a fine blend of coffee here and it’d be a shame if you don’t give this beautiful, Victorian styled coffee house, a chance to impress you. Forget Starbucks for once, try United. Image : Gastronomebychoice

United Coffee House


 


 

Leopold Cafe         Where: Colaba, Mumbai

The one place no foreigner will miss when visiting the maximum city has found it’s way deep into the heart of the city. The very first place people want to try when they come here, the place where there are lines to see the bullet holes from the tragic 26/11 attacks, the place that is always noisy and crowded, but equally exciting; Leopold Cafe has cemented it’s place in Mumbai’s memory and the hearts of Mumbaikars since it opened in 1871. Image: iseldomblog.wordpress.com

Bun maska and cutting chai with Mr. Boman Kohinoor? It’s a date!

 


 

Britannia & Co.                    Where: Fort, Mumbai

Set up in 1923, the owner of this cafe is now 94 years old, and Boman Kohinoor aims at providing classic Iranian food to the people. Till around 1950s, there were reportedly 550 Irani cafes in Mumbai, now, there seem to be less than 50, and so the survival of such a landmark makes it historic in its own right. Image: Singforyoursupper.in

Berry Pulao in Britannia
Berry Pulao in Britannia

 


 

Bademiya                          Where: Colaba, Mumbai

Set up in 1946, this place is the one everyone flocks to for their late night grub. With two separate counters for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and an endless line no matter what time you go, this place serves the most mouth watering kebabs in all of Mumbai. The street where this is set up also has a church, which goes to show that Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, old and new. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Crunchy Paneer Tikka !
Crunchy Paneer Tikka !

 


 

Olympia Coffee House                         Where: Colaba, Mumbai

This coffee shop was set up in 1918, Typical of India at the time it was set up, Olympia is a no-frills place, its crowded, but serves delectable non-vegetarian fare other than beef. They also strictly prohibit alcohol but is it truly necessary when your motive is to feel the rush of Mumbai while sampling mutton gosht? Feeling gutsy, go for the bheja fry!  Image: http://lamborghiniegoistaxtremecollections.blogspot.com/

Kheema Pao
Kheema Pao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Flury’s                                   Where: Park Street Area, Kolkata

Founded in 1927 in one of the most upmarket locations of Kolkata, and frequented by Satyajit Ray, these two things were probably enough to guarantee Flury’s it’s success. Their reputation was cemented because of the European food on offer, and most importantly, their cheesecakes.  Image: Deepa Kumar

 

Kidney Bean Toast at Flurys
Kidney Bean Toast at Flurys

 


 

Gupta Brothers                                  Where: Ballygunge, Kolkata

Known for it’s specialty, Abor Khabo, It is one of the oldest sweet shops in Kolkata, having been set up in the early 1900s, what makes it special is the fact that for a state in the east, it serves up delicious North Indian sweets too! Image: Gupta Brothers

 

Strawberry flavoured and chocolate flavoured rosogollas are now quite popular.
Strawberry flavoured and chocolate flavoured rosogollas are now quite popular.

 


 

Ganguram                                        Where: Chowringhee, Kolkata

Having been set up in 1885 on a small plot of, this joint is run by non-Bengalis, they however, are known for creating the best Bengali sweets in Kolkata. They claim to make the best Chocolate Mishti Doi in all of Kolkata.
Image: bowlsofshtoof.wordpress.com

Mishti Doi from Ganguram.

 


 

Mavalli Tiffin Room                               Where: Lalbagh Road, Bengaluru

Set up in 1924, this joint was opened up by three men from Udupi. It is a vegetarian restaurant. This place set a standard for South Indian fare at low prices, often utting even expensive places to shame. The reason you should visit this place though, is because they claim to be the inventors of the Rava-idli. Image: http://blog.nomadhq.in/

Masala dosssaaa...
Masala dosssaaa…

 


Happy Independence Day to all of you, if you know of more places that have existed and been popular since the era of the British Raj, let us know in your comments below!

 

10 Awe Inspiring Bridges around the World

The tallest, longest, most artistic wonders that man built to truly connect with the other side. These bridges are leaps in architecture, art and technology. They literally “Bridge the gap” (pun intended) between aesthetics and utility. 

Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Opened in 1849, sitting as a suspension bridge on the Danube, it connected the two sections of the city, Buda and Pest became Budapest. Hungarian stunt pilot Péter Besenyei even flew upside down under the bridge in 2001! It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, it has even appeared in Katy Perry’s music video of the song “Fireworks”. Image: Daniel Cristian Maris, 500px

Chain Bridge
Széchenyi Chain Bridge, in Budapest, Hungary

 

Nanpu Bridge

Where: Shanghai, China

Known for its futuristic and innovative spiral approach, it’s designers brainstormed and worked with the novel idea to save space. When you can’t build out, build up! This cable stayed bridge opened to the public in 1991, and yet doesn’t have a bridge that matches it’s qualities. It sees a lot of traffic everyday. The game featured in the popular video game “Need for Speed”. Image: Jordan Winey, 500px

Nanpu Bridge, in Shanghai, China

 

Henderson Waves Bridge

Where: Singapore
Art meets utility in Singapore’s Henderson Waves Bridge, the bridge’s curved wooden “ribs” provide shelter from the sun to the pedestrians that walk across it every week. The bridge does look like a wave, hence the name. At 118 feet in the air, this is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge. The bridge is lit up with LEDs daily, making it look even more beautiful than it is. Image: Andhi Priatmoko, 500px

Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore

 

Magdeburg Water Bridge

Where: Magdeburg, Germany
This bridge in Germany is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world, it allows large ships to pass through, saving time, and resources. The sight of seeing a ship on a bridge is marvelous. This bridge spans the German river Elbe, and has been important to German business and development. Image: Wind Watcher, Flickr

Magdeburg Water Bridge, Germany

 

Øresund Bridge

Where: Malmö, Sweden
This bridge in Malmö, Sweden is unique, it’s shape is like any other, but it is part bridge, part tunnel. So it is on land, and under water! It connects Sweden to Denmark without passport checks. This 8 kilometre bridge and tunnel passes through the øresund strait, and is used by road and rail networks. The reason this bridge is part over and part under water is because they didn’t want to interfere with Danish airspace near the Copenhagen Airport.  Image: Cosmin Stahle, 500px

Øresund Bridge, from Sweden to Denmark

 

Chengyang Bridge

Where: Lizhou, China
Among the most beautiful pedestrian bridges around the world, it opened in 1916, the builders didn’t used nails or rivets but dovetailed thousands of pieces of wood. The artistic appeal of this bridge is such that Guo Moruo, a Chinese author even wrote a poem on it. It is untouched by modernisation, since it is connected by 2 villages, thats another reason to check China out!  Image: Khanh Nguyen, 500px

Chengyang Bridge, Lizhou, China

 

Charles Bridge

Where: Prague, Czech Republic
This iconic bridge in Czech Republic is a must see, you have probably seen it in the very first Mission Impossible movie! It looks stunning in the night and is a spot for couples to take pictures on. What makes this bridge special is it’s age, it opened in 1402! The bridge is lined with 30 gothic styled statues. Image: Andreas Thierschmidt, 500px

Charles Bridge, in Prague, Czech Republic

 

Helix Bridge

Where: Singapore
This Singaporean bridge is made to look like the helix of DNA, it is lit up with LEDs at night, adding to it’s artistic charm. Opened in 2010, it is a must see when you visit Singapore. At 280 metres, it was made to compliment the area nearby, such as the Marina Bay Sands resort. The bridge, like Henderson Waves, is lit up at night and the stainless steel bridge almost immediately comes to life. Image: Retha Tahir, 500px

Helix Bridge, Marina Bay, Singapore

 

Millau Viaduct

Where: Millau, France
It stands at an incredible height at 1,125ft tall to become a modern marvel, the Millau Viaduct in France gives the best views, even the feeling of driving in the sky when the fog is beneath it. Ever since it opened in 2004, it has helped countless people travel from Paris to Montpellier. One of the piers of the viaduct is even taller than the Eiffel Tower.  Image Credits: bart, 500px

The Millau Viaduct, Millau, France

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Where: Kobe, Japan
A modern engineering feat, the Akashi Kaikyo has remained the world’s longest since 1998. It stood a true test of strength even before it even opened, it survived the Kobe quake of January 17, 1995. The bridge has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world. Japan has always delivered with innovation and technology, this is a clear example. Image: Moaan Photography, 500px

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan

Other favourites in our list are : The Golden Gate Bridge ( San Francisco), Brooklyn Bridge (Newyork) , The Bridge of Sighs (Venice), Stari Most (Bosnia) and Pont Du Gard (France) and the Tower Bridge (London)

 

 

10 Places for Dark-Tourism with horrific pasts.

Chills are what you get, if chills are what you seek in these horrific places from the past that have been turned into dark tourism hotspots. Dark Tourism, in its essence, is visiting places which are either considered haunted, or associated with lot of pain, and suffering, or even death. Here are ten such places you should surely check out if this fascinates you!

  1. Pere Lachaise Cemetery: The largest cemetery within Paris, at 110 acres, this one has 3 World War 1 memorials, however, neither the size, nor the historic monuments lure people here. For tourists, it is a fascinating place to visit because it is where a lot of famous people have been buried, to name a few, there’s Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Frederic Chopin, Moliere and Jim Morrison. The cemetery has attracted the most famous and successful people of their ages to be buried here.  (Image: Franck Champenois, planetpixel)

     

    Image: Franck Champenois, planetpixel
    Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris

     

  2. Capuchin Catacombs: The catacombs or underground cemetery of Palermo, in Sicily (Italy) are a fine tourist attraction if you want to be locked underground with the dead. The last internment was a 2 year old girl who died in 1920, after which, no other person has been buried here since. The catacombs have lots of dead bodies in different tattered clothes, and some are even finely preserved. It was originally meant as a crypt for nobility, but soon was opened for the general public. (Image: The Telegraph, UK)

     

    Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo.

     

  3. Jack The Ripper Tours: The most popular serial killer of the 1880s, known to have terrorized WhiteChapel and have murdered prostitutes, often by slashing their necks and abdomen, Jack the Ripper has been voted to be the worst Briton in history. He was never caught, but there are plenty of tour operators that give “Ripper tours” taking you to places where the Ripper committed murders while enlightening you about the Ripper! This one is a must do for serial killer fans, or those who want a peek into British History. (Image: London-attractions.info)

     

    Jack the Ripper walks, cover the crime scenes of Jack, in Whitechapel

     

  4. Karosta Prison Hotel: Originally, this Latvian property was just Karosta Prison, it has been converted into Karosta Prison Hotel where guests can opt to be treated like prisoners, while doing so, they sign an agreement with the hotel, which means they will live in a room with iron bars and a toilet and nothing more, they will be insulted at will by hotel staff and will be made to clean things or do physical labor should they insult hotel staff back during this time. This sounds like a unique experience, more so because many prisoners here were shot in the head and the prison hotel is rumored to be haunted. (Image: Urban-review.com)

     

    Karosta Prison (And Hotel) in Latvia.

     

  5. Pompeii: In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius, a volcano in the ancient city of Pompeii erupted, literally causing the city to crash and burn. Within a few hours, life here, had no trace. It was again rediscovered in 1599, but now it is just a forgotten city, with ruins and burnt remains of dead bodies. Tourists flock here to see what life and civilization was like in 79 AD, and to see the remains of so many people, lying here since centuries. (Image: BBC.co.uk)

     

    Ash covered bodies, from Pompeii

     

  6. Okpo Land: This Korean amusement park was shut in 1999, after a series of fatal accidents. It is however, a place to visit, since the joy of an amusement park meets the horrors of abandonment. There is a hotel, scheduled to be constructed here, so you might want to try your luck before this place is wiped off the map. (Image: FinalGirls, Tumblr)

     

    Creepy Ducky, Okpo land, Korea

     

  7. Pripyat: This Ukrainian town fell victim to a nuclear disaster in 1986, the city was just 16 years old. It still is a radioactive zone so tours here are monitored and require special equipment. Pripyat tours are a must if you want to witness ruins, and get chills of a city that has been abandoned for years now. (Image: Farm6.Flickr.com)

    PRIPYAT
    The horrors of an abandoned city. Pripyat, Ukraine.

     

  8. Aokighara: This Japanese forest is among the most horrific in the world, it is known as the “Suicide Forest”, The forest is exceptionally quiet due to it’s wind blocking abilities. The forest is known as the most popular place to commit suicide in Japan, it is worth checking out, especially since it is rumored that the spirits of the dead haunt the forest. (Image: AnneTrent.com)

    Aokigahara Suicide Forest

     

  9. Cambodian Killing Fields: The most painful and horrific sight in Cambodia, a reminder of the Khmer regime which led to the death of more than a million people in Cambodia, the killing fields were used by Khmer Rouge to kill and bury ethnic Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodians. Adults were killed using sharpened bamboo and spades, while their children were killed by smashing their heads against trees, the reason behind this was to not let them grow up so that they can take revenge for their parents’ death. (Image: Pommietravels.com)

    Bones of the dead, in Cambodian Killing Fields

     

  10. Auschwitz: The network of concentration camps built by the 3rd reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany show the most horrifying sights from the holocaust. It is said that 1 in 6 victims died here, from 1940-1945, a lot of people were either killed or were starved, or worse, used for medical experiments. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

     

    Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany

     

     

8 Bizarre Foods from around the World

The ickiest, wackiest, yuckiest foods from around the world that you definitely shouldn’t try! (or try, if you’re a mutant)

  1. Hákarl: This is the name given to decaying sharks that are fermented and are hung to dry out, for almost 5 months. It has a pungent odor and is not for the faint at heart; Andrew Zimmern described it in an episode as a “hardcore food” that’s “not for beginners.” Anthony Bourdain too, said that hákarl is “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he’s ever eaten. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
    Hakarl
    Hakárl From Iceland

     

  2. Kopi Luwak: This is among the most expensive varieties of coffee in the world, It is made from coffee beans that have been defecated on, by Civets, small mammals native to Southeast Asia. It even found it’s way into the Morgan Freeman film “The Bucket List”  (Image: CoffeeBeanExchange.com.au)
    Kopi Luwak
    South East Asian Kopi Luwak

     

  3. Casu Marzu: This one hails from Sardinia, Italy, it is a dish best described as sheep milk cheese containing live insect larvae. Although the larvae are only about 8mm long they can launch themselves up to 15cm when disturbed. All cheeses from around the world are full of germs and bacteria, but this really is the next level. (Image: geniuscook.com)
    Casu marzu
    Italian Casu Marzu

     

  4. Live Cobra Heart: It isn’t common, but it is certainly eaten in Vietnam, people think eating a Cobra’s heart will give them it’s strength. Cobras are beheaded, their heart is pulled out, cooked a little, and eaten. The odds of feeling it beat in your throat are very high. (Image: ahbing.com
    Live Cobra Hearts from Vietnam.

     

  5. Century Eggs: This Chinese delicacy is quail, duck or chicken eggs left in a mixture of ash, clay and salt for many months. The process turns the egg’s albumin turns to a jelly-like brown mixture, while the yolk turns into a green cream. Century eggs emit a powerful smell of sulfur and ammonia, and their taste is strong and complex. This definitely needs an acquired taste. (Image: mokkymok18.blogspot.com)
    Century Eggs
    China’s Century Eggs

     

  6. Sannakji: This one is served raw. The chef dismembers a small octopus before your eyes and seasons the pieces with sesame oil, if he can hit them that is, because many times they are still moving on the plate! We are still not sure if this dish is dead, or alive. (Image: chicagoreader.com
    Sannakji, from Korea

     

  7. Nakji: A lot like Sannakji, but in this case, the octopus is eaten whole. The tentacles on the octopus are known to stick to the tongue and mouth are a choking hazard. It requires really skilled people to cook them, since it is so risky, and dangerous, there are several deaths reported every year as a result. (Image: ning.com)
    Nakji
    Nakji

     

  8. Balut: This Filipino dish takes it too far on the gross-ness scale, it is a developing duck embryo, cooked while it hasn’t hatched. 17 day old eggs are taken so that they are less feathery and so that the bones don’t develop. Basically, it is eating an unborn duck that still in it’s egg. (Image: BizarreFood.com)
    Filipino Balut

     

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