Hampi, hippies, hipsters

South India’s – what South India’s, the world’s – awe, a place that speaks hundreds years, where columns are musical and carvings are ‘God-made’. Hampi should be cheek by jowl with the Taj Mahal on any traveler’s list to India.

Far view Hampi India

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Bangalore for the fussy classy

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath Museum Bangalore India

We are traveling from A to B to C to D and then back to A again. In our hectic schedule though we want no rush sometimes. Even if we were traveling across half the globe to see it all, THE destination has to offer. So there are these let’s call lazier days but we don’t want to laze around too much. Time is ticking, tick-tock. Quite fast. So why not carve out a day when we can deepen in our thoughts while we somehow deepen in the culture surrounding us? Exactly a day like this called my slow(er) paced itinerary forward in Bangalore, but on a second thought a similar agenda can be implemented in nearly all big cities in the world. Let’s just get into it right away in a bit more detail.

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Bangalore high speed

To be honest, Bangalore is a destination for high stake businesses or simply a point of transfer on most travelers’ list. The city however is not at all short of fascinating sights and bright cultural life. Whether you are there for business or just on a short stopover try to squeeze a day in your schedule, book a driver and explore the less traveled parts of this seemingly crazy place.

Shiva Temple Bangalore India

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Silicon Valley of India – THE place to be

Bangalore peanut festival 2014

South India’s business hub, a once upon a time green and chilled hill station has become pure synonym for tech hub in the past few years. But only a few know, that the city of Bangalore has much more on offer than shared service centers and fearlessly slaloming rickshaw drivers. Traveling around four South Indian states Bangalore was my base, the one and only place to kick-start my journeys from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu to Kerala to Goa. My initial web search and first blink on the place did not buzz me up much but when I dug a bit deeper walking its streets (or rather trying to walk the streets without falling into a suddenly arising deep hole) I found quite a bunch of things it was eventually worth to be crammed in extreme traffic jams day after day for.

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Kovalam – an almost forgotten place by the sea

Fishermen pulling net Kovalam Samudra beach Kerala India

A place that not too many heard about. A crescent-shaped seaside that is often overlooked by winter beachgoers. A little oasis where tourism forms a perfect blend with age-old traditions. An exotic escape alive and laid back at the same time. Somewhere by the Arabian sea, towards the Southern tip of India, Kerala’s little beach town is something called love at first sight I guess.

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Art lies in logistics

We want to carry joy, health, love, energy – and fill in the blank – into the new year and try to avoid bringing sorrow, sickness, hate and negativity through from the past year. We are pushing and pulling and taking and dropping at a mental level and hoping it won’t have a physical effect on us. Because we don’t like to physically carry things.

But it’s way not the case when you come across some of the master transporters in India. They are literally doing all kinds of circus when it comes to moving something (or someone) from A to B. Let’s kick-off the year with a short recap on how things are carried through at this part of the world where seemingly everything is possible.

1.

“But how are we going to carry this home? Don’t worry dude, I already have an idea!”

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The Niagara of India

Monkey at Athirapally waterfall Kerala India

Tiny monkey learning the rules of nature

With nature’s scenic backdrop this natural phenomenon is worthy of its nickname. 70 km from Cochin, Athirapally has two remarkable waterfalls, the lush green Vazhachal forest and the wildlife infused Vachumaram lake on offer.

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Munnar reflects fifty shades of green

Passing by steep valleys, robust waterfalls, colorful roadside shacks and the greenest tea plantations the drive from Thekkady to Munnar is mind-blowing. In Munnar everything is pretty much about tea, the city itself is not so impressive but the surrounding area is something you don’t come across with everywhere.

Tea estate junction sign Munnar Kerala India

Do not miss the junction – tea estate junction sign, Munnar

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Spice kick and high tea in Thekkady

Touristic and off-the-beaten-track at the same time, Thekkady is a green delight you wouldn’t want to skip if you are down in the southwestern county of India. From wildlife to lush green vegetation from spices and herbs to Ayurvedic treatments there is simply an abundant list of activities you can immerse yourself in during your stay out there.

Tea plantation workers Thekkady

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Where the mysterious backwaters join the open sea

Varkala view between bamboo poles

From crowded Trivandrum we headed onto quiet Varkala in the evening. The peak season hasn’t come in yet, so there was enough and more personal space to finally experience some serenity far away from mad drivers and the freaking toots and honks.

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Ayurveda meets movie Life of Pi in Trivandrum

Trivandrum zoo

After the off-beaten trip in Quilon it was time to venture into Kerala’s polluted capital, Trivandrum. The city itself did not look like any attention puller and I would have easily skipped it if I didn’t have an appointment in Kottakkal Ayurveda hospital. It was a morning session. The hospital itself is not the typical 3 to 5 star Ayurveda resort but more like a modest looking facility. Very simple building with no fountains, no incense sticks, no rose petals, no music and shoes to be strictly removed before crossing the threshold.

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Quilon – Kerala’s hidden gem

Quilon backwaters village life

Visited by far less crowd, untouristy Quilon (or Kollam) is an authentic experience if you are craving for the real taste of the local lifestyle. During my Kerala visit I guess one of the most relaxing days of my entire stay goes for this old coastal place. If you already have some time scheduled in trendy Varkala at a 35 km distance just pop over to Kollam for a quiet day. Sure you won’t leave disappointed. Here’s how you can make the most out of your journey:

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Racing against time in Kerala

Kerala boat God’s own country taught me some lessons from the moment I landed on its territories. The lush green scenery, endless coconut palms, quiet backwaters and seemingly laid-back life made me believe I am only here to unwind and relax so I would have never thought I will be experiencing the unexpected.

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Struggle forms routines in India

India street life

Being in India after a few days made me come up with different new survival routines. I’m staying in a residential area in Bangalore to get a glimpse into the locals’ everydays. One thing is sure. Life is not at all easy out here. What we take for granted in our western comfort society is not always unequivocal this part of the world, to say the least. Being a temporary visitor I’m facing issues from a different angle, which might be pity problems in the eyes of the locals but coming from the ‘everything is a click away’ side of the world some things for me are quite challenging to cope with.

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The tradition is NOW

Axe Szalafo Hungary

When you think of Hungary do you look beyond buzzing Budapest and chilling Balaton? Well, you certainly should push a bit more to the west and just before you cross to the other side and find yourself in Slovenia or Austria there comes this region where every corner speaks a tradition dating back to hundreds of years and where tradition means not only past but real time. 3 hours drive from Budapest, Orseg is quite a hidden gem in the country and does not see flocks of tourists, which makes this ethnographic treasure not only one of the most welcoming district in Hungary but also affordable and livable. So here’s what you should be up to when you are around for a short while.

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Dudes and India and this and that

Giant

Less than 2 weeks to go to touch ground in the vibrant tech-city of Bangalore and spend the rest of this year in the land of colors and religions and languages and crowd and… let’s just say diversity. For two months I will be wandering around the incredible cities and states of India and as the date is getting closer the itinerary pretty much seems as diverse as the country itself.

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Cowboys do love Italy

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What would you trade in a grand Baltic drive followed by a two-month trip to India for? Basically I believed for nothing. And then things just started to happen and I realized that I had taken up a project in the midst of summer in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest sacrificing my European and Asian travel adventures to bring back the old-school circus, the bucking bronco and some vintage Ford Mustangs for a night.

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Let this story stand as a survival guide to any family vacations – part 2.

overpacked car

Apart from the discomfort caused by the 10 suitcases of (only) the most necessary stuff packed for this extreme long 4-day trip we were able to cover more than 50% of the distance without major headache and noise. We were silent and they were relatively silent.

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Let this story stand as a survival guide to any family vacations – part 1.

family holiday guide

Family vacation. It’s a hard call. What made me spend a chunk of my summer holidays with my loved ones? I’m still not sure… But I tell ya’ how I survived.

If you are also planning to challenge your destiny here’s my story.

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Island of Freedom keeps on rockin’ – Sziget Festival 2014

Sziget Festival craze 2014

One of the biggest, the brightest, the craziest and (…fill in the blank) music and cultural festivals in Europe attracted record number of visitors this year, turning an average August week in Budapest to a colorful, exciting and jaw-dropping 24/7 blast.

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Get lost in Maribor for 4 hours

Cat and mice Maribor

There was this cafeteria in the heart of the old town, a perfect escape with its shades on an extremely warm Wednesday. After the coffee kick I was ready to travel the city where old and new, odd and conventional, peaceful residents and loud football fans mixed surprisingly well. Pity that I only had a few hours in Maribor, but luckily I managed to make the most out of my brief stay. If you are around this Slovenian gem, this is how you can jump in the middle of the “small” city’s bustling everydays.

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An Alpine village copy pasted by China

Boat ride on Hallstatter See

Located in Upper Austria, surrounded by mountains and a crystal clear lake, the charming village of Hallstatt has not only attracted thousands and thousands of visitors from all parts of the world but the Chinese also needed one right away so they came, saw, measured and copied the whole damn thing. And the result?

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Life IS a journey

Tiszavarkony

When you just know you have to take that next step. When life starts to kick your ass and have to take the challenge knocking harder and harder on your door. When you know you can’t fiddle around in one place anymore and life anyway will sort the rest out.

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Because great ideas are born above the clouds

Short and sweet or long and tedious, plane journeys can be equally dull and frustrating when no activity is found up there to keep the hyperactive traveler’s mind on a constant spinning-mode. Preparing for a 10-hour flight or even a short hour disconnection from the ground freaks you out? No need to stress much, rather take advantage of every single minute while above the clouds.

On board

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Instant Tuscany for ‘take-a-way’

Overdosing pasta and Carpaccio Italian style – part IV.

… and the usual-unusual touring in Tuscany did not end here but rather turned into a desperate gem-hunting spree to avoid the guide-book’s top ten and get lost off-road.

Il Guerrino panorama Montefioralle Il Guerrino – a hidden gem in Montefioralle

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MadnessUnderTheTuscanSun

Leaning Tower of Pisa

OverdosingPastaAndCarpaccioItalianStylePartIII.

TenAm. WeOverSlept. CoffeeQuickly. WhatDayIsIt? ThankGodSaturday. WhatDidWePlan? NothingExtra. AreWeCrazy? InItaly? WhereShouldWeGo? NoIdea. FirstThingFirst. Let’sHaveBreakfast. What’sInTheFridge? JustAYogurt. WellWhatToDo. WhatTimeIsIt? It’sEleven. HalfDayIsGone.

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Where the lake reflects Harleys

Overdosing pasta and Carpaccio Italian style– part II.

What’s common in vintage cars, pristine landscape, Harley-Davidson and crystal clear water? I also didn’t know but pretty much seems to be it’s Lake Garda, coz all these can be easily spotted on the way from south to north, from east to west. Driving around the biggest Italian lake is feast for the eyes and food for the soul.

Surf reflection

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From AM to PM strolling the streets of Vicenza

Overdosing pasta and Carpaccio Italian style– part I.

A city pervaded by a great architect’s designs. A city amongst the wealthiest in the Northern part of the boot. With Verona to the west and Padova to the east Vicenza is often overlooked by the mass tourism, so luckily it managed to preserve its old charm. The winding cobblestone streets without the maddening crowds of visitors, gothic and renaissance arcades, hidden villas, elegant cafés, tiny shops coupled with the unparalleled architecture definitely put the city on the “must-see in Italy” list for all off the beaten track travelers. Among lots of small and medium size museums, graceful villas and churches I managed to find those hidden treasures I was looking for.

Vicenza Piazza dei Signori

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