Author: cestlavie

In sLOVEnia with lakes,caves and the Julian Alps!

Slovenia – a pocket-sized country with what seems to be a difficult-to-pronounce name for its capital Ljubljana (somewhat like : Lube-Lee-Yah-Na. Let’s address Ljubljana as LJ from now on.) However, don’t be fooled by its small size –  it has so much to offer for travellers that many don’t have any traces of regret left after visiting this charming country. Check out Rick Steve’s praise for this country on his website/blogs! You’ll fall in love with it and that’s why their Tourism Board pitches their slogan as: ‘I FEEL SLOVENIA’ Day 1 : Day Trip from LJ to Vogel (Vogel Ski Resort) (Triglav National Park – Triglavski narodni park), Lake Bohinj (Bohinjsko jezero) and Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero) Gaurav and I stayed for two nights in LJ in Hostel Vila Veselova run by a sweet lady called Vandana ( she has visited India before). We woke up quite early on 29 June to catch a bus to Vogel from LJ. We had booked the bus ticket from LJ Bus Stand the evening before and started the journey at around …

A snapshot of Japanese cuisine

This page has links to two posts I wrote for my friend Prateek’s blog. Also, some of the experiences that highlighted my short vacation in Japan may be read here . Itadakimasu! Read Part 1 here : http://www.flavorofspice.com/2016/11/guest-post-a-taste-of-japan-part-1/ and Part 2 may be found here : http://www.flavorofspice.com/2016/12/guest-post-a-taste-of-japan-part-2/ Gochiso sama deshita

Call me Ahmetović !

Bosnia and Herzegovina… This country conjures up images of war and terror, of ethnic cleansing, and of course ‘Balkanization’. I was a small child in school when the former Yugoslavia and the USSR broke apart but those images still seem relatively recent in memory! A brief history of this country since the start of 20th century is essential to get a grasp of it’s troubled state and may be summed up as follows: “Bosnia and Herzegovina annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo and World War I started because of this. Became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after World War I.During World War II, it became a part of Independent State of Croatia (World War II puppet state of Germany and Italy) under Nazism and Fascism. Became part of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after being liberated during end of World War II under leadership of Tito. After the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, war broke out. An extremely complex multi-ethnic scenario. Muslims and Serbs …

Trekking to the World’s End and back!

“Yeah, All is quiet on New Year’s Day” Thus sang the Irish rock band – U2. New Year’s Day 2015. My first outside India and what a place to be in : the UNESCO World Heritage site of Horton Plains National Park in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka! It is a place to respect nature and maintain silence because I was in a silent-zone of a national park – lest the fauna got disturbed! So the words of U2 echoed in my mind. The previous evening I was negotiating with a couple of Tuk-Tuk drivers in Nuwara Eliya regarding travel cost to Horton and back. After some discussions I finally negotiated with one and requested him to reach our Homestay in the wee hours of the morning. I was staying with my senior from Under-Grad school- Arman-bhai but he did not prefer to do the trek that day as he had already done it before with his Sri Lankan wife and did for free then.The tuk-tuk guy (let’s call him Mr. Kumar – I just couldn’t …

Japan – First impressions

In my very first job, the first dedicated customer project that I worked for was a Japanese one- Suzuki and ever since then always wanted to visit that country. Finally I could arrive there in the summer of 2016 (June) for a short vacation of 9 days. If I have to summarize : Japan is magical. Japan is mind-boggling. Japan is mesmerizing! Here are some of the things and experiences that highlighted my stay there: 1. Courtesy: The people in Japan in general are very polite. Bowing to others is almost a routine. I have bowed to almost every person after saying : “Arigatou gozaimasu!” (Thank you!) ( Pronounced – Ari-gato go-zai-mas) . The conductor in the Shinkansen (Bullet train) will bow after he leaves your coach, the food attendant girl/lady will bow after she leaves your coach. Even the people who clean the Shinkansen train at its final destination will bow at the train coach after they are done with their job. Though many people won’t understand English, they will try to help you …

4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a day!

Day 2 of my Nepal (Kathmandu Valley) Trip : Kathmandu Valley is one of the densest places as far as UNESCO World Heritage sites are concerned. The maximum World Heritage sites that I have covered in one day before was 2. (Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (including India’s largest stupa) and Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka – paintings from different periods (Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic,Chalcolithic, Early Historic and Medieval). They are in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh) This time I could manage 4 ! I started off early from my hostel and thought of walking the whole way of around 4 km to the Swayambhunath or the Monkey Temple as it is popularly known owing to the proliferation of the holy monkeys staying there. I decided to fuel me up with a tasty sandwich of canned tuna in a nearby Sandwich joint. After a while of walking I thought it’s better to hire a cycle rickshaw which would take me not exactly close to the temple but drop me to a nearby place as I could then …

(Simple) Ode to Dad

28 April, 2016 “April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing. Memory and desire, stirring. ” (TS Eliot)… You left us too soon with me hoping That it was just a nightmare – me dreaming Which actually woke me up on exam day morning. You couldn’t see me graduating And that is just one regret feeling. Thanks to you for inculcating in me my childhood taste in the Beatles and a bit of reading. However I wish we could have done together fair bit of travelling! I could visualize you up there reading And writing and writing. Living up to your passion of teaching! Till now it has been a fair bit of success and times of struggling. And I am grateful for who I am or what I am now with your blessing. Though I have miles to go in this life as I keep on inching. (My father’s favourite Beatles song was : “When I’m sixty-four” and coincidentally he passed away at that age this day many years …

“An der schönen blauen Donau !” – Day 1

7-8 June, 2015 Boo-dah-pesht – not to be confused with Bucharest! Whenever I hear the word Budapest, a famous waltz (by the great Austrian composer Johann Strauss II) plays in my mind. It is “The Blue Danube” or more commonly known in German as “An der schönen blauen Donau” (By the Beautiful Blue Danube) . Well, the Danube may not be that blue in Budapest. Don’t blame me for not telling you this! A Wall Street Journal article describes the song : “As with most waltzes, each successive episode, with its subtle change of instrumentation and mood, is repeated before proceeding to the next one. This lends a feeling of symmetry and substance to the musical architecture, while giving us the pleasure of hearing each melodic invention twice. Indeed those lilting, surging melodies, while not actually descriptive, seem inspired by the Danube’s currents and the whirlpools and swells churned up by the paddle wheels of its steamboats.” Though I can’t read music, I feel that the magnificent architecture of Budapest is as varied as musical …

First birthday outside India ( 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites)

I had actually planned this short South-East Europe trip to coincide with my first ever birthday outside my country – India. The last time a birthday cake was cut for me was four years back and I don’t care for my birthday anyway! This time also, no birthday cake was cut but however it was much special as I did not realize that I would be checking out 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that day technically (to account for IST and CET time difference!). On 9th July, I reached Country No. 8 (last country – Poland) of my trip. Kraków it is! There is some joie de vivre associated with this academic and artistic city which is an economic hub of Poland. Also former Pope John Paul II was a priest here before he became the Pope.Since Kraków was relatively undamaged in the Word War II, it retained its grand architecture almost intact and in its Old Town, it has the largest medieval market square in Europe,the Rynek Główny. My accommodation Cracow Hostel is located just at …

A Taste of Goa

In the month of April, 2014,  I visited Goa for the first time and that too primarily to attend the marriage of a friend. Before then, whenever I used to tell some friends that I had never been to Goa, they would give me a look as if I had committed a crime of not visiting Goa before! Goa is known primarily for it’s serene beaches and an active party life. Beyond that, there’s another part of Goa – the UNESCO World Heritage Site of  Churches and Convents of Goa, the greenery of the Western Ghats and a laid-back lifestyle. However, this post is focussed on a few Goan dishes that I had managed to sample during that visit. Goan cuisine is essentially an extension of the cuisine of the Konkan coast of India. Broadly speaking, the cuisine falls into two categories : Hindu cuisine and the Catholic cuisine. Since I had tried a fair bit of Konkan cuisine  before, this time I tried to sample a bit more of the Catholic cuisine . From the beginning of …