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

37BN8159

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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Twelve days ’round Italia

Currently I am on another 12-day trip in Italy to immerse myself in the beauty, culture and cuisine of the country as summer kicks-off. On my list are exploring Milan’s tranquility and side street cafes, marveling the enthralling architecture in Palladio’s Vicenza, driving around Italy’s biggest freshwater, Lake Garda, walking the roads of the ancient university town of Padova, getting lost in the center of Shakespeare’s love story, Verona and hopping from train to train, bus to bus to see anything I can squeeze into my travel schedule developing on the go. So bring on the sunshine, bring on Italia!

Vicenza streetview

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art (and something more)

Henna Bangalore IndiaHenna artist – Bangalore, India

So many things can be considered as art. Just pop into a contemporary gallery in New York, London or Milan and you will be jaw-droppingly wondering how on earth the artist visualized that piece of art standing in front of you made out of toilet rolls. I could do that! – you think and wanna shout it out loud. Yeah, sure but you did not… The most unsettling exhibitions I’ve seen so far were in some of the contemporary galleries of Nürnberg where I came across all kinds of components used from a girl’s hair to tampons and to a bulimia Barbie doll boxed in along with a plastic toilet. Well, they created something original for sure.

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Egypt high five

Luxor Egypt

Some of us go to Egypt to fulfill a long-term dream by seeing its monumental symbol, the Pyramids and visiting the remains of the ancient building complex, the Luxor temples on the bank of the Nile. Some others opt for the country for its abundant sunshine and blatantly affordable 5-star luxury to worry about nothing else during the holiday but to avoid overeating at the all-inclusive buffet. But is there anything else you can do beyond the comfort of the hotel walls and the air-co seats of the tour bus? Sure, there is.

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Once upon a time in Kerala…

Traveling without your camera is traveling without shoes. You are physically able to do it but you constantly feel something is missing.

Luckily even in my early years of traveling I thought the same and even though the photos are a far cry from being professional they are good enough to recall the moments of my wanderings in this astonishing South Indian state.

Kerala Chinese fishing netsFishermen at work – Chinese fishing nets in Cochin

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Worn down shoes do inspire

How would you discover big cities’ mysterious corners, the countryside beauties and rural island paths? If I’m not wandering around alone, I definitely opt for an original kind of outing, rather than following the red umbrella. So here’s the deal.

India walking tour

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Breaking prejudice

street life india

Prejudice is all around, walking hand-in-hand with us. For some it’s stronger, for some it’s less. Our exaggerated generalizations get a lot more intense when we travel abroad. We haven’t even visited the country but ‘we know’ many about its people. We heard that the French not for all the tea in China speak English, the Swiss will never be your best dudes, India is all a sizeable slum, the Africans are hungry and wild and fill in the blank.

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When waiting takes over

Waiting Malta

We are all waiting for something. Always, ever. We are waiting to be 18 and we are waiting to finish high school. We are waiting to get to university but soon after waiting to graduate. We are waiting to get a job and we are waiting for a promotion. We are waiting for the perfect relationship and we are waiting to get married. We are waiting to set up a family and we are waiting to buy our first home. That’s how we stroll through life. Waiting can be exciting but might also turn frustrating. Sometimes we have to wait only for an hour or two, e.g. when at the airport, but it can be longer when we missed our connections. This is the frustrating kind of waiting. Life goes on out there and what we do is just sit and wait, because

“what else can we do”?

Too much waiting in life is like a slow killing poison. It gets into our home, our workplace, our everydays, drags us down and slowly takes control of our life. When waiting too long the moments of present are missed. Slowly we get completely disconnected from the reality since all we do is sitting idle. Either literally or at the back of our mind. When an unplanned event happens, that turns our life suddenly upside down, people tend to say

“time will sort things out”.

But how much time? How long we have to stand still for time to sort our things and let us live our life again? Shouldn’t we just be more flexible and take things as they come? Not that we should take everything easy but just a little more flexibility? Shouldn’t we just let us go with the flow sometimes and cherish every little moment of our precious life? Why do we want to turn 18? Isn’t it better to have a carefree life? What’s the problem with high school? It’s so much fun! Uni is a cool place, so many interesting folks you get connected with. When waiting to get our first job or just lost our job the lots of free time can be used to live for something we always enjoyed doing or always wanted to do. And the list goes on. Working towards our goals is important but instead of the void waiting game you are better up living, breathing, exploring and enjoying.

Let’s rock the island! Mind-blowing clubs in the middle of the Southern seas

When was the last time you totally let your hair down? When was the last ‘burn the house down’ kind of night out with your friends? Dancing the night away is something that keeps us going in our teens, essential in our social life in our twenties, gets us connected in our thirties, brings some memorable weekends in our forties. And so on. And how is all that when you do it on an island?

Two Brothers Bar Zakynthos

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Cycle around pre-season. Cycle around Lake Balaton.

As spring is knocking hard on our door (actually we’ve already let it in), we are itching to get out to nature more than ever. Probably with this in mind, I caught myself looking at photos of lakes the other day. Not a particular lake but all kind of lakes. Then memories were flooding back all of a sudden of last summer’s family vacation.

Pre-season holiday around the lakePre-season lake holiday

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Paris lies in the details

This is the place where modern meets traditional and Gothic meets Art Deco. The fascinating architecture of Paris makes the city one of a kind in Europe and throughout the world. Be it Renaissance or contemporary, stone or metal structure looking at the details will make you adore the city more than ever before.

Paris and Seine from aboveParis from bird’s eye view

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Paris – eclectic mix of cultures and art

No time would be long enough to discover all the beauties, major and off-tracks, splendid buildings and tiny shops Paris hides. To try to make the most out of it, a well-constructed list and a detailed map were my best travel companions when I visited (came in very handy indeed). Yet so many things left undiscovered for now but not for ever.

Paris Eiffel Tower from sidestreet

Eiffel Tower sneak peek

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When you walk the roads alone

Before not at all I would have considered traveling alone as an option. Ok, that was long time ago. I was thinking (way too wrong!) that you need company, people to talk to, to go out with, to be protected by and so on. But traveling unaccompanied no way means you are a lonely wanderer. There are so many unprecedented things waiting for you out there so are the pros of walking the roads alone.

Duck walking

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