About Barcelona

Set against a backdrop of culture and history, Barcelona has emerged as Spain’s most cosmopolitan city. Its glorious Gothic architecture, medieval style layout and fascination with art portray only one side of the city. This city is a year-round holiday destination. Ideal weather ensures the beaches are always buzzing, the markets are always bustling, and the avant-garde chefs always have plenty of mouths to feed. A city of pleasures, whether you’re there for the sights, the cuisine, the culture or the beaches, the pulse of this city guarantees a good time.

Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities, Catalonia being one of them. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and one of its four provinces. It is the second most populous city in Spain after Madrid, and one of the Mediterranean’s busiest ports.

Home to legendary architect Antoni Gaudi, much of the city’s landscaping reflects his typical charming style. The city was also home to Picasso for a while and showcases much of his work. Legendary football team, FC Barcelona, calls this city home as well, and has a museum dedicated to them.

Places to See and Things to Do

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 214 user reviews.

This article is written by Debarpita Mohapatra. Debarpita is originally from Orissa, moves between London & New Delhi and is an avid photographer, traveler & travel blogger.

If I remember correctly, some 4+ hours and we were back to Slough at my sister’s place from a 150 mile ride and having lunch at Brighton. This particular place is called ‘London on Sea’, as it resembles the feel and culture of capital city. Brighton was never in my place-to-travel list, but on a lazy day when we were getting bored, then just decided to go out for lunch and ended in Brighton.

This particular place emerged as a health resort in 18th century and became a popular tourist destination with a densified population along with the coast. Being only 50+ miles down South from London, it has the advantage to be on the sea.

The sea-front is definitely a place to be enjoyed. Unlike some other sea fronts in the country, Brighton is quite wide with proper public amenities. If you want to see a sea-front development then this seems to be the place. I personally have not explored the place, neither do have many clicks as I was there for an hour or two.

The pebble beach is the most unique feature of the place and it is natural.

Here is Brighton Pier, originally built in 1823 for easy landing of passengers from ships and later converted to a commercial entertainment hub.

Did you know, Brighton is the nudist beach of United Kingdom 😉

Debarpita Mohapatra

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 189 user reviews.

This article is written by Chetna Prakash. Chetna is a London-based traveler & travel blogger.

To Dipti Kharude, who is stopping by Vienna on her way to Italy.

A friend, art critic and travel writer, Girish Shahane, described Vienna in his blog as “the Aishwarya Rai of cities, extraordinarily beautiful but cold and rather boring.”

Unfortunately, his description is quite apt. Of all the European cities I have visited, none left me more underwhelmed than Vienna.

The city is beautiful: Wide roads, parks, gardens, huge palaces, elaborately sculpted buildings, baroque public sculptures and the wide blue Danube flowing through the city. But for some reason, it just doesn’t have enough people to bring all that extravagance to life. To Sid and I, it simply looked like an elaborately planned party which the guests forgot to attend.

(In a way, the theory fits. Vienna is one of the few European cities, whose population has fallen dramatically since the 19th century. So it was built for a lot more people than it houses today.)

If you are visiting Vienna, here’s what I would recommend. Don’t waste too much of your time trying to soak in the city’s street atmosphere. It doesn’t have any. Instead, head for its cafes.

Now, Vienna’s cafes (or Kaffehaus, as they are called) are another story. They are full of atmosphere. Most hark back to the 1920s and before, and are sumptuously furnished in rich wood, heavy curtains and diffused sleek lights. The waiters still dress traditionally in full-sleeved white shirts, vest jackets and black trousers and swirl around the place elegantly balancing coffee-and-dessert trays in their hands. And you actually see people around you, chatting, laughing, playing board games and reading newspapers. I guess, that is why you don’t see any Viennese on their streets. Because they are all sitting in the cafes!

In fact, recently the Viennese cafes were listed by Unesco as an intangible world cultural heritage.

Here’s a good guide to some of the most atmospheric Viennese cafes. If you can find any of the ones mentioned, great. But even if you can’t, just pop into the nearest one that looks interesting. You will have a good time.

If art is something you find intriguing, you can visit the Museumsquartier (or Museum Quarter). It is basically a collection of old and ultra-modern museum buildings in the city centre. The one museum Sid and I visited and would definitely recommend is the Leopold Museum, dedicated to Austrian artists, particularly Egon Schiele. His works are frighteningly stark. You will come out loving him or hating him, but react you will. The museum will also have works by other famous Austrian artists, Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka etc. Give it a shot!

Other than that, the most popular tourist destination is the Schönbrunn Palace, home to the Austria’s erstwhile monarchy that went down with the First World War. The building is uber-ornate and the gardens are  beautifully manicured. If shopping is critical to your travels, head for the fasionable Kaerntner Strasse (Strasse being street in German). It begins at Stephanplatz, the city centre.

Staatsopera, Vienna

Vienna is also very famous for its western classical music (Mozart being its most famous progeny). The State Opera (Staatsopera) has the best performances, though the city is littered with smaller music houses. However, if you want to catch some western classical music for free, visit any of its churches on a Sunday morning. The service will have some beautiful classical music to go with it.

That should be enough to cover a day or two in Vienna. If you plan to spend more time there, you’ll struggle to find things to do.

To find out more, check Wiki Travel. Among other things, it explains very well how to get from the airport to the city centre, Stephanplatz, using the cheap metro service, S Bahn.

PS: Remember to pick a good map of the city from the airport.

2 June 2011


Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 266 user reviews.

This article is written by Chetna Prakash. Chetna is a London-based traveler & travel blogger.

Blame in on Yash Chopra. But thanks to his Song “Dekha Ek Khwab” from the Bollywood movie: Silsila, my mother cannot imagine the European landmass without immediately conjuring visions of endless tulip fields. Any visit to Europe – she is yet to come here – will have to comprise tulip expeditions.

Only, unlike my mother’s expectations, tulips are not omnipresent in Europe. In fact, you will have to take a detour to The Netherlands in order to see never-ending stretches of them, Silsila-style. Also tulips are notoriously short-lived. They bloom in April and – I was shocked to discover – die within weeks. After that it is a wait for another year.

You will find tulips everywhere in The Netherlands, but the largest fields of tulips – of the kind that would inspire romance in Bachchan and Rekha – are at Kuekenhof, a half-day trip from Amsterdam. And Silsila isn’t the only Bollywood connection it has. You can even find a variety of tulip named after our own Aishwarya Rai in these gardens.

It is open to public from March 24 to May 20, and for details of timings, how to get there and prices, click here.

But this is what we guarantee: if you do make it, the absolutely stunning fields will meet all your expectations and more.

For more on Yash Chopra, Switzerland and romance, read our article here. If you are looking for specific DDLJ locations in Switzerland (“that church” and “that bridge”), here’s some help.

Chetna Prakash

17 Apr 2012


Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 261 user reviews.

I just got my Russian visa today and i’am super excited about it. For a long time it was not very sure if i’d get to travel to Moscow or not. But I’m not going to bore you with details and i cant tell you how excited I’m about going to this unexpected place.

Growing up, i had a strong connection to Russia. I remember all the book fairs in my school where most of the books would be from Russia. Stories about Tzars, valiant peasants, princes and princesses they were similar to any other fairy tales i guess, but i loved reading them and all the illustrations that came with the books. My grandfather in chennai also had a strong bond with Russia, he knew a little Russian and kept lots of Russian novels and magazines.

So that was then, long back before we got MTV and Discovery channel. Russia slowly faded away and replaced by a new found obsession with everything american. Not that anything is wrong with that, just that i know very little about russia now.

So before i travel, i’am planning to pick up a few books to read about the country, its history and its people. Ideally i prefer to read a story (either fictional or non-fictional) set it some particular time/place. And any background information can be usually found on wikipedia. Books like Wolf Totem, Kite Runner and Seven Years in Tibet come readily to mind.

So, here’s my short list of books on russia.. suggestions are welcome and the list is likely to grow a bit bigger over the course of the next few days.

My friend also talks highly about “Inside the KGB” but the review’s i’ve read on the net are not so great. Anyway, i think i’ll borrow it from him in Beijing, if he still has it.


28 Aug 2009


Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 174 user reviews.

This article is written by Parmanu, an Indian writer based in Germany

Since a week and a half I’ve been wrestling with the Oslo piece. The word processor tells me I have three thousand words; I think most of it is rubbish. An image from a nameless movie takes shape: a man is slumped over his desk, in front of a typewriter; crumpled pages are littered on the floor. That image carries a certain weight: physical traces of work done, of time spent. I do not have even that.

My first problem is with photographs of our trip. I cannot get them out of my head. The photographs bend the narrative around themselves, like gravity bends light, and soon they take over the narrative, making me write this or that episode about an image. I’ve had enough. I want to float free of gravity. Forget the photographs – there aren’t any in this piece. If you’re looking for an easy impression of Oslo, go elsewhere: Google some pictures, or visit Flickr.

My second difficulty is with tone. I do not know who is telling the story. Is it a tourist? A wanderer? A traveler? A historian? An academic? An observer? An enquirer? A poet? An adventurer? The choice – or choices – here will determine the tone, and influence the voice. Don’t be dismissive, this isn’t a small matter: your impression of Oslo depends on this choice. The tourist, you see, is superficial. The wanderer digs deeper, but is selective. The traveller is more holistic, comprehensive. The historian delves into the past. The academic spells out theories. The observer gives you details without judgement. The enquirer probes, analyses, passes judgement. The poet, purely instinctive, relies on images. The adventurer does, then speaks.

How do I get out of this mess? I could set aside these fancy tone-related notions and begin, for instance, with a simple description. I’m sitting in the balcony of our holiday-apartment in Oslo. The balcony faces south, and the morning sun on my cheeks makes the cold bearable. I can hear, over the rumble of some nearby motors, seagulls cawing. To my right is a small canal and a tree-lined path that runs along it. Occasionally a jogger passes by. Beyond our block are other plain-looking apartments and commercial buildings, about seven or eight storeys high. Two cranes, with long brick-red tentacles, signal ongoing development and re-development. In the distance, beyond the box-like structures with aluminium chimneys sticking out like cake-candles, a small hill rises gently from the east and tapers steeply to the west. I can see settlements – apartment blocks, clusters of single cottages – in the eastern side of the hill, and the west is covered with a dense foliage of pines.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 183 user reviews.

Ireland’s colourful history has led to a rich tapestry of architectural styles, with Norman castles and neo-classical mansions sitting side by side with cosy farmhouses and contemporary wonders. All around the island, these interesting, charming accommodations are packed with character — and characters! So in the spirit of turning your Ireland trip into a real journey, here are some of the most memorable places to stay along the way.

Cullintra House, Inistiogue, County Kilkenny

The Cullintra House, a cosy, 19th-century home in the Kilkenny heritage village of Inistiogue, offers a warm welcome – but you will soon discover you are not the house’s most important guest. Here cats are king, and the owner’s feline friends quite literally have the run of the place. You will find cat memorabilia galore and little furries in the bedrooms, in the dining room where guests eat communally and rambling the gorgeous grounds, like they – quite rightly – own the place.

Grouse Lodge, Roesmount, County Westmeath

Grouse Lodge, the rambling stone farmhouse and beautiful outbuildings that act as a residential recording studio for Irish and visiting bands, became Michael Jackson’s secret hideout for six weeks in 2006. REM, Shirley Bassey, Manic Street Preachers and Sinead O’Connor have all recorded in this reasonably-priced midlands village property, complete with an indoor heated pool, jacuzzi, nine double bedrooms and an on-site organic chef. Come for the rock ‘n’ roll stories, retold in the small hours at the on-site pub.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 275 user reviews.

This article is written by Shivya Nath. Shivya is an India-based writer who loves to seek out offbeat travel destinations that few have been to and fewer have written about.

The beautiful town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Greetings from Chamonix. If you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in the clouds, surrounded by stunning snow-capped peaks,  you’ll be just a little close to what I’ve experienced in Chamonix. I use the word breathtaking perhaps too liberally, but if anything does justice to the word, Chamonix does it.

A postcard valley surrounded by the French Alps on all sides, Chamonix teased us with surreal views of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps and every mountaineer’s dream. We took an almost vertical cable car & gondola ride up to Mont Brevent, and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ve not seen anything so spectacular in my life before.

Shivya on the roof of France at Mont Brevent.

Chamonix is where mountaineering tourism originated, back in the early 1900s, and the concept of responsible travel came into being. It’s no wonder that Chamonix’s original beauty remains so preserved to this day.

Shivya Nath

13 May 2011


Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 183 user reviews.

The emptiness of the Falklands’ landscape is deceptive. Its shores are home to remarkable wildlife, and the islands are as welcoming to visitors as they are remote. In this extract from an article by Rory Goulding, first published in Lonely Planet Magazine, we show you how to unlock the beauty of the Falkland Islands.

1. See the sights in Stanley

Stanley’s Scandinavian-style houses

Stanley, the islands’ capital, may be no bigger than a large village, but it feels like a metropolis compared with ‘camp’ – the term for anywhere outside the capital. The sights of Stanley include Christ Church Cathedral, with its whalebone arch built in 1933, and the Falkland Islands Museum (FKP3; falklands-museum.com).

Make it happen: from RAF Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA), take a bus transfer into Stanley (FKP17, book before flying to the Falklands). Car hire is available in Stanley. Find transport details and contacts at falklandislands.com. Rest your head at the Malvina House Hotel, Stanley’s most upmarket place to stay, which also has a popular restaurant (from FKP132 in peak season; malvinahousehotel.com). Local B&Bs and homestays cost around FKP40-FKP100.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 261 user reviews.

This article is written by Shantanu Ghosh.

One of the charms of Europe is its well-preserved history. Being a history buff, I love ambling through those narrow, cobble-stoned alleys, trying to visualize how these old towns and city-square must have looked during their prime. I had spent the better part of a day traipsing through Gaudi’s unconventional buildings and monuments; and then on the last day here, I discovered the more familiar Gothic architecture in Barri Gotic. Barri Gotic is the center of what used to be the old city of Barcelona, with several buildings and churches dating back to the Roman empire. The most famous landmark here is the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia.

The Cathedral is large, impressive and still a functioning church. As the story goes, Saint Eulalia was actually a very young girl, they say thirteen, when she was killed by Roman soldiers in a barbaric manner. Another reminder of how much blood has been spilt in the name of religion over the ages. Apparently after several rounds of torture, she was stripped, put in a barrel with knives stuck into it, and then rolled down a street. The cloister within the walls of the cathedral still has thirteen white geese to remind people of her age when she was martyred.

We took a tiny elevator to the top of the cathedral to get a panoramic view of the surroundings before strolling down the alleys with their quaint little shops. Masks, antiques, clothing, jewellery, pastries and legs of Iberian ham jostled for attention. Sunlight barely entered these narrow alleys until we reached Plaça Reial, a square with several open air cafes.

Plaça Reial

After glasses of Sangria we continued on looking for a place to have lunch. We finally decided to try a tiny place called Meson Jesus. This family-run restaurant was exactly what we were looking for. We could see the owner busy chopping greens one one side, while red checkered table-cloth added color to the cosy little room filled with old artifacts. The menu was fixed but the food excellent. By the time we got done, the place was filled with locals – not one tourist in sight.

I started with chilled gazpacho which was so good! The main course was sausage with chips followed by a delicious dessert of Catalan Creme, a local version of Creme Brulee. The house wine and bread were pretty good too. Dare I say perfect? If you are in the Gotic area at lunch time, do try. Meson Jesus is located at C/ Cecs de la Boqueria, 4, 08002 Barcelona.

The spices and fruits reminded me it was the Spanish who brought so many of today’s staples into the rest of the world when they accidentally discovered the Americas. They went hunting for black pepper and nutmug but came back with chilli peppers, vanilla beans and tomatoes!

Shantanu Ghosh

29 Oct 2011


Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 174 user reviews.