During the autumn of 2017, my husband decided to take me to visit the Balkan, Our itinerary included Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. While we were in Dubrovnik and saw some day trip getaways, it was just a sudden plan to take a trip to Bosnia & Herzegovinia. And I am so thrilled we did this one, as Kravice and Mostar Bridge are truly hidden gems.
This country has always been a stage of war. 104 years ago in June 1914 Austrian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in the capital Sarajevo, and thus began the First World War.
Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995. During the 80 s and early 90s because of its geographical region sandwiched between the Serbs attacking the Croats and Croats defending themselves several innocent civilian lives were lost. The war between Croatia and Serbia completely destroyed Bosnia. A country having a monthly income per person of 2000 euros, today has 50 euros monthly per person.
However the country and their people are slowly picking themselves together and rebuilding brick by brick with the help and support of the United Nations and various other nations as well.
Having seen pictures of Kravice and the beautiful Mostar Bridge we decided to do a daytrip.
Our first stop was the beautiful Kravice waterfall. To me this waterfall was prettier than Niagra. The beautiful green colour of the water with reflection of surrounding nature sure was a mesmerizing sight. This place is actually called Niagra of Europe. However in this poverty stricken land food and alcohol is very reasonably priced. People here want others to give them business in order to have some kind of livehood. While you walk towards the waterfall viewing point there are a few shops, which sell home, made jams, honey and locally distilled liqueurs. The price point for some of these items is in the region of 1 Euro to 5 Euros approximately. Tourists do enjoy taking a dip in the calm green waters, when it is summer and water temperature is enjoyable.
The most famous attraction here is the Starri Most. When you see the bridge from the bottom, there is a beautiful arch, many buildings, including a minarat and a whole lot of greenery. The turquoise blue colour of the water is so inviting.
But the water is freezing cold. Here locals to clean the place up have a tradition of jumping off the bridge. All the tourists who are there collectively give them 10 euro per jump. Infact even the people who jump off the bridge, definitely need to shower, in order to regulate their body temperature, before they take the plunge.
The vibrant humanity and the persistent reminders of the terrible war during the mid 1990scombine to make Mostar a tear jerking experience when you leave the place. It is truly emotional even for the guide when they explain to tourists on a daily basis. The bridge was destroyed during the war and has since been rebuilt and open to public in 2004. In 2008, it has been declared a UNESCO world heritage sight.
Prior to the war, Mostar was famous for its Turkish style stone bridge, which was nearly 4 centuries old. The single-pointed arch was a symbol of Muslim society’s existence here. The architecture was an absolute marvel. It also signifies the town’s status as the place where East met West in Europe. In the mid 1990s, Mostar became a poster child of the Bosnian war.
The shops here definitely had a bit of Turkish influence like cobbled streets; they were more like roadside shops and a bazaar like atmosphere. You could definitely get some good bargain buys here. Some of the famous local items could include rugs, pottery and jewelry. There are lovely little riverside cafes where visitors could relax and have some delicious Turkish coffee.
We had a lovely tasty Bosnian lunch which included a couple of drinks along with starters like pita bread, harissa dip, and hummus.and main course dishes included lamb shwarama and shish touk for two people, all this along with Kawah (Turkish coffee) just for 10 Euro which in Croatia would easily be double to triple the cost.
On our way back to Dubrovnik we stopped at Pocetlji; a small Bosnian town on the Herzegovina side. It was a beautiful old mosque on one side and a bell tower on the other. Again here there was lovely Turkish accessories, and a lot of fresh fruit juices and jams. If your fond of fresh rasberries, you can get almost a ½ a kilo for just 1 Euro. Take some back and enjoy your bus ride back to Dubrovnik.
Some key points to be noted while travelling in this region:
- Since borders are close by it is important to carry passports and other documents for verification purposes.
- You may not be able to bargain too much in Croatia or Montenegro but one can certainly bargain in Bosnia but you do feel bad if one overdoes it given the state of affairs and socioeconomic scenario there.
- Walk carefully on the cobbled steps as you approach the bridge, as it can get slippery.
This definitely is a bucket list item when one visits the Balkans
My favorite time of the year is here! The month of Ramadan. The time to try out as many different tasty treats as I can across India. Without feeling guilty in the name of religion ofcourse! God will forgive me for all those extra calories I consume!During the week that just went by, I was fortunate to be in Hyderabad- the city of Nizams, and took my roomie on a couple of food safaris. The two places that captivated our palates were Toli Chowki and Charminar chowk ( the old city).
I must warn the faint heart that eating a Hyderabadi Iftar is a 6-course meal. Hyderabad is full of Iranian Muslims and this reflects in the food, which during Iftar is a mix of Mughlai, Arabic and Duccani (Deccan or Hyderabad).
So here is how we recommend you go about your meal, or as we call it – “Food Safari”!
The first thing to try is definitely Haleem. From the moment you enter the city, you will see this dish being served at every nook and corner. The reason it is eaten so much is its rich calorie content, which serves as an instant energy source. It is made by pounding meat (mainly goat), wheat, lentils into one big mix and is topped with dry fruits and saffron. Add a little lemon, to give it that tangy zing. Its origin lies in the Middle East but this dish is now synonymous with Hyderabadi food. Recommended places to try this dish are at – Mandar, Pista House and Shah Ghouse.
If the Haleem makes it past your digestive system, do not miss out on the famous Hyderabadi Kebabs! You get all varieties on the roadside stalls of Charminar. Right from Malai tikka, to Chicken tikka, to Pahadi kebabs and the list is endless. If it is a four-legged animal, they can make a Keabab out of it!
Don’t forget to try the Pathar ka ghost (mutton cooked on a granite stone over charcoal), giving it, its very unique flavor. Garnished with onion rings and lemon wedges it melts in your mouth. There is a special fluffy roti you can enjoy these with which is a must try.
Enjoy your kebabs at kebab house, in Charminar and …
If Arabic is what makes your taste buds buzz, try the chicken Shwarma & Chicken Muttabaq. The succulent pieces of chicken are eaten with some pita bread accompanied by a garlic dip, hummus (chickpea) dip or tahini (sesame) dip. Also grab yourself some Muttabaq also known as Murtabaq, which originates from Yemen. These are two pancakes joined together with some egg, spring onion and a lot of meat (chicken / or mutton) in between.Flavor these Middle Eastern dishes at Ice n Spice.
How can one get by Hyderabad without trying out the local Biryani. Now which one do you eat? There is the Nizam’s or the Hyderabadi Biryani,filled with lots of spices, or the Arabic Mandi which is a little less fiery than the former but has a wonderful and strong aroma and is full of flavour. Unlike its Hyderabadi counterpart, which is eaten with Salan ki mirchi and raita, this is consumed with garlic and meat broth and tomato chutney. The dry fruits in it add a great crunch to this. You can enjoy Mandi at Mandar, at Paradise, Bawarchi, Shahghouse and Shadaab restaurant.
And if you still have place left in your stomach for your sweet tooth, try some dessert! There are many Arabic sweets like Ummali, Baklava, or my favorite Kunafa: some seviya, held together with honey and mascarpone cheese. These are the tastiest at Four Season restaurant. Don’t like Arabic sweets? Not to worry. There is a whole lot of Indian variety with Kesar (saffron) and almond milk or the famous double ka meetha. This is very flavorful bread, fragranced with rose water and dripping in condensed milk. It gets all the richness from saffron and a whole lot of dry fruits. Grab a Double ka meetha at Pista House, its truly delicious and finger licking good. Want something closer to home, than drink up some rose Falooda at Shah Ghouse.
End this delightful meal, with some liquid, either a lassi especially from Hyderabad. Yes people here add a whole lot of rose, and dry fruit to their lassi, or some chai (tea), which is infused with Kesar. Shah Ghouse is a famous Irani chai shop. Not the liquid types? Grab yourself some paan, to get a minty flavor.
Some tips while eating here:
1. Eat in 2 areas Toli Chowki and Charminar.
2. Restaurants in Toli Chowki: Shah Ghouse, Mandar, Ice n Spice and Four Seasons.
3. Charminar has the most famous Pista House, so check it out. There are many around, but this is the original, and the best.
4. All your kebabs are mainly at the Charminar food stalls.
5. Arabic dessert is a must at Four Seasons.
6. Try and go in a group so there is more variety to try out
I`m already getting withdrawal symptoms from all that Hyderabadi Iftar! With all of this I’m also remembering my last year Ramadan feast in mumbai. Read about it here https://www.globejamun.com/ramadan-mubarak-eid-food-trail/
Can the next year come any sooner?
- Standing tall atop a hill over 100 meters above the lake, Bled castle is one of the most beautiful spots in Slovenia. Offering views of the pristine Alps surrounded by a picturesque lake, magnificent view point leaves you spellbound. This is exactly how one imagines a medieval fortress would look like!
One would inform you that visiting the castle is an hour long tour. However we couldne be more wrong It takes about 25-30 mins to climb the castle, and 15 mins to climb down. If old castles pique your interest, make sure to set aside a good couple of hours to take in all the history and breathtaking view!
Here are some of our top 6 recommendations to do once your there!
- View Point: The most obvious reason why most people would like to visit the castle is the view of Lake Bled. However, I would rate the castle as the second best viewing spot for the lake. To find out where the best spots are to catch a good view check out our other blog: https://www.globejamun.com/lake-bled-straight-out-of-fairytale/
- Experience Yugoslavia`s first printing press: The castle houses a reconstructed Gutenberg`s wooden printing machine. The master printer does a demonstration on handmade paper using wooden blocks of how printing was done in days yonder. Make sure to buy yourself a bookmark to take back home as a souvenir!
3. Get some Potica: Potica is the traditional rich holiday Slovenian cake. It is essentially rolled dough with a mind boggling number of delicious creamy fillings. I thoroughly enjoyed the vanilla sponge roll with chocolate. Couple it with some orange ice tea, to tickle your tastebuds.
4. Shop at the Bee store: Imagine a shop full of honey! A honey lovers paradise! The shope itself is a masterpiece as it is designed to replicate a honey comb. You can taste over 20 types of honey! My favorite was William Pear honey, which had a pear fruit and brandy flavor. Highly recommended are the Truffle and chocolate honey flavours.
5. Visit the Blacksmith store: After the castle was reconstructed post the earthquake, the blacksmiths engaged were given permanent accomodation in the castle. They will engrave a coin for you, that marks a thousand years of the existence of the castle. Do get one made for yourself, it costs 5 Euros for gold one, and 2 euros for a silver one
6. So much history: The museum inside the Bled Castle is a permanent display held by the Slovenian National Museum. It explains the history of Bled right from the creation of the area upto the present day. It brings together nature, everyday life, crafts, spiritual culture and all that defines life in this important part of Slovenia.
How to get here: One can either walk around the lake, take a Pletna or row a boat, to reach the foothills of the castle. After that it is a 150 step climb to reach the entry gate.
Entry fee: 11 euros for an adult and 5 euros for a child
Time required: 2.5 – 3 hours to enjoy at leisure
Nestled among snow capped peaks, Lake Bled, serene and calm, is sure straight out of a fairy tale. I felt like Princess Belle, in this picturesque place. I was welcomed by many swans at the lake; such a picture postcard moment I must say! Read on for a perfect experience in the heart of the Alps!
Things you cannot miss!
Go for a long walk: The main attraction is obviously the lake, surrounding which is a good 6 kms long paved road. It’s quite an easy stroll I promise, for all age and size.The best thing about this walk is one can experience the beauty from all angles and take multiple photographs. If you know how to cycle, you can cycle along!
Hike to viewing points: There are anywhere between 10-15 signposted hikes that deviate from the main path. Take the trail of Ojstrica & Osojnica. It’s a good 45 minute hike, and the last 5 minutes are pretty steep.
Pro tip: Be sure to take your walking shoes. But what you see at the top is a view that surely cannot be missed!
Row row row your boat: If you want to visit the church which is at the center of the island, the only way to reach is the boat ride. You either rent a boat and row yourself or get into a Pletna, a boat that carries 10-12 at a time to the church. A Pletna ride would cost €14 while self rowing would cost €10.
Pro tip: These boats have no fixed time, so try and sit in one that has a few people seated already as they wait until the boat gets 75% full before they start rowing.
Make your wish come true: The church of Assumption, in the middle of the Lake, has a bell; ding-dong it thrice, and whatever you wish for will be granted. On the island don’t forget to climb the bell tower after ringing the bell.
Pro tip: One needs to put a little effort to ring the bell. Try and try till you succeed.
Bled Cream Cake: For all of you with a sweet tooth, this is a must try! It was invented in 1950’s at the Cafe Park Restaurant, I highly recommend you try it there. The authentic one is a crispy golden crust, made with real butter, layered with pure vanilla beans cream ,bound together with a little flour. This is topped with whipped cream, a filo pastry and icing sugar. I bet you cannot stop at 1. It costs approx €7.
Pro tip: Be sure to go there early in the day, as it gets sold out very fast.
A castle that’s over 1000 years old: Of course the castle is a great viewing point at the lake, but besides that, one can spend 3-4 hours here. There is a list of things like paper printing, shopping , traditional desserts, learning the history. Read my next blog, on the castle.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep a couple of hours in hand for this experience.
Visit Vintgar Gorge: About a 4km drive away, one sure has to visit this beauty. The emerald green water between the 2 mountains looks like it’s been photo-shopped. Such a unique color. Walk the trail for about 15 mins, and don’t miss a chance to take a pic of the waterfall.
Pro tip: Carry a waterproof camera as you do get up close to the waterfall.
Some useful information:
a. Since you are in the middle of the mountains, even if it is summer, be sure to have a jacket.
b. Best way to travel from Ljubljana is rent a car, it makes traveling in an round Lake Bled easy.
c. There is also a sky diving experience, if you wish to do that, you need to book in advance.
d. Do not eat a meal , at the castle, as it’s very expensive . Do visit Gostlina Batist, a house kitchen, for some great local Slovenian food.
Read our blog on Slovenia to complete the experience!
Please leave any questions that you might have to make the best out of Slovenia! Happy globetrotting!
During the Autumn of 2017, I was fortunate to visit the gorgeous country of Slovenia. The moment I entered here, it was surely’Love at 1st sight’!The easy drive and the mountains all around kept calling me. I knew this was one of the most romantic places I have ever visited. Did you know that S’love’nia is the country with the word LOVE in its name. The capital Ljuibiana means ‘the beloved one’. And it is considered as the darling of erstwhile Yugoslavia that parted ways without any bitterness and aggression unlike other nations. With all the beauty and all the wonderful people you cannot but as the cliche goes, “It was love at first sight”. Romantic getaways are so many, but Slovenia surely gives you a reason to indulge in some self love.
Here are the reasons why wit will be etched my memory and stay in my heart forever:
Slovenians are one of the friendliest people you meet
During my several trips, never have I come across the locals being so warm and wonderful to us, apart from my home country India of course. You ask them any question and 9 out of 10 times you will get a very patient reply. One such local that I met through a Facebook group was Masa Butara. When I told her that I was planning my birthday trip to her country, she went out of her way to give me a well thought of list of do’s and don’ts – quirky things to experience, where to ring in my birthday, places to eat, sightseeing marvels etc. One such place that she recommended was Point Ojstrica which gives you an unparalleled view of Lake Bled. It was very sweet of her to include informative tips such as the difficulty level of the hike, the type of shoes one should come prepared with for treks and the little known routes familiar only to the locals. After months of intense planning and anticipation, Masa and I finally met in Ljubjana to catch up. To date we continue to have conversations online. Our Airbnb host Luka made our stay extremely comfortable. He was sweet enough to arrange a surprise birthday cake for me in Ljubjana`s most popular cake shop – Swezda. Another heartwarming incident was with our boatman in Lake Bled. Usually the boats that take you to the church drop you off to the same spot from where you get in. We had requested our boatman, Cvetko to drop us off at Lake Bled castle instead. He had made arrangements for another boat to take us to the castle after our church tour. When the other boat never showed up, Cvetko took the pains to and let go his others trips and took to the castle in his car. He definitely did not have to go out of his way but he felt so committed to us that he took it upon himself to do so. We were humbled by the hospitality and involvement. Hats off the Cvetko
A little bit of everything
Slovenia is pure pristine beauty – right from the snow capped peaks to the lush green beach and fir trees to icy cold waterfalls to clear and sparkling lakes and gurgling rivers. It’s a virgin country yet to be discovered by the masses. The sights and sounds of wilderness and nature are packed into a country less than half the size of Switzerland. Another must-visit place is the Postjona Caves which are over 4000 years old. Not the adventuring kind? Don’t worry, the concrete jungle is not lacking in any way. Slovenia also has a great food scene, modern buildings and quirky street art. The two sides of the spectrum balance each other beautifully each not butting into the other. For all those wine connoisseurs, this country has vineyards galore. With all of this and a population of about 2 million, Slovenia is soon; sure to be one of the most visited destinations in Europe.
Two countries with one stone
Standing on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia at Piran one can see two other countries at the same time. While your feet lay firm in Slovenia, a look to your left and it’s Croatia. A glance to the right and you will peer right into Italy. This was an indescribable once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Every girl’s fairytale
When I saw pictures of Lake Bled, I was pretty sure that these were all edited. But it is only when you stand there, at the center of all the beauty that you realize the photos had been speaking the truth all along. Lake Bled with its island at the center, the Church of Assumption on the island, the castle, the snow-capped Julian alps in the background, ducks swimming, people boating, the carpet of red autumn leaves and the smell of fresh morning air were nothing short of being part of a mystical fairytale. I was left awestruck! *Hint hint* to all you ladies wanting that perfect backdrop for your wedding.
Sinfully divine desserts
For all those with a sweet tooth, Slovenia is an absolute treat. Lake Bled was covered with posters of their famous Bled cream cake, invented in the 1950’s at Café Park Restaurant. To get a real taste of its authenticity, I recommend that the cake be tried only at this restaurant. Over these 60 years they have sold more than 13 million cakes in Bled and across Slovenia. This tradition of Bled, is a crispy golden crust, made with real butter, and then pure vanilla beans cream and a little flour to give it some hold, topped with whipped cream, filo pastry and icing sugar. Describing this to you, my mouth is watering, I feel like one now. Another dessert worthy of special mention is the Boozy Jack Daniels Sundae served at Stari Piskar restaurant, in the town of Celjie – an hour’s drive from Ljubljana. This banana split dessert with the bananas soaked in Jack Daniels whiskey for over 8 hours and served with two dollops of ice cream along with a shot of Jack Daniels will completely blow your senses away. With my fair share of travelling and chocolate tasting experiences from all around the world, I must say that the chocolates here, sprinkled with lemongrass, lavender, rose petals, edible flowers, full pieces of figs are one of a kind which I have never come across in my travelling life. My favorite was the chocolate with basil leaves, figs, and Prosciutto ham. I felt like a 5-year-old girl in a, well, a candy shop of course.
Value for money
Slovenia is a very pocket friendly country. You get good Italian meals at 1/3rd the price of its neighboring country, Italy. Entry into places is also about 1/3rd to 1/2 of other European countries. One can experience beauty akin to Switzerland at half the price with half the crowds of any popular touristy spot. So, for all those young and budding backpackers eager to explore the untouched beauty of the world, Slovenia would perfectly fit into your budget.
Safe to travel
Slovenia is probably one of the safest countries that I have visited. Unlike a visit to any strange foreign land which would be marred with the likes of “what if I get mugged?”, “what if I lose my passport?” and “what will my backup plan be?”. Slovenia is in my opinion, a traveler-friendly country. If you lose your way, the locals will wholeheartedly walk with you to your destination. If you drop money or your passport, it will be returned to you. You can definitely let go and gain more out of your travel experiences knowing that you are looked out for. I would highly recommend this country for solo female travelers.
Penning down my love for this country, all I can say is that the real beauty of this hidden jewel is in the warmth, friendliness and honesty of its people. Their kindness and affection made my trip even more special, and I now have many such fond cherished memories. Slovenia has been etched in my heart forever.
In end the only thing I can tell you is “Don’t listen to what they say, go and see for yourself” – Anonymous
2017 has been fairly decent in terms of travel, food and shopping for Globejamun. Between KK and me, we made it to 20 destinations in 9 countries. While we were putting together a roadmap for 2018, we quickly did a throwback to 2017 reminiscing about some fond memories about the places we visited, the cultures we embraced, the people we met and the memories we crafted. Looking forward to travel packed 2018 with many more stories to tell!
A place of global unity located partly in Tamil Nadu and partly in Pondicherry. The best part about this place is the absence of any religion and the fact that it belongs to nobody but everybody! Many artists flock together in pursuit of art and culture.
Andaman Islands, India
These islands have some interesting marine facts – house to the largest living arthropods in the world, The Robber Crab and the largest sea turtle, The Leatherback. The Radhanagar beach which features in the top 10 beaches in the world is a treat to watch and experience. We loved our time soaking up the sun!
I don’t think one can ever get bored of this place. Each time we visit, Bangkok has something new to offer. Not to forget the numerous party places, the crazy night life, never ending shopping, the dont-you-ever-stop massages and the food coma that Bangkok offers. Despite all the madness, Bangkok has some crazy laws, like it’s illegal to leave your home without underwear. What! Really?
Jim Corbett National Park, India
Known for the Bengal Tigers, this park was named after a legendary tiger hunter Jim Corbett. This is perhaps the first time I sighted one; what a magnificent beauty I must say! Apart from the safaris one can only enjoy the sounds of nature.
Los Angeles, USA
KK loves LA for everything the city offers, the beaches and of course Hollywood! The only nagging part is probably the traffic for the cars outnumber the people in LA!
Surrounded by forests, Masinagudi is a great getaway from the mundane city life. Relax in cottages amidst the jungle and listen to the chirping of birds in the morning, creaking sounds of insects in the evening and the silence of the night.
Well we have a different perspective about Mexico. While the country is associated mostly with gangsters and guns, we think this is more to this place. It is a beautiful city with a lot of religious people. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is probably one of the prettiest churches we have ever seen!
The land of ‘Thunder Dragons’ or ‘Druk Yul’ is known for it’s GNH (Gross National Happiness) and is fondly called a ‘Happy Nation’. Trust us; there is more to this country: their awe-inspiring architecture, magnificent mountains, soothing air, friendly people, reverence for the King & Queen, amongst many others.
Eat, sleep and repeat. Sumptuous food, organic and fresh produces, healthy juices, massages, Ayurveda, yoga and some more yoga. It only takes these many words to sum up this place. A great place to spend some ‘me’ time.
Another place we keep going back to is Singapore for it is truly a shopper’s haven and a foodie’s paradise. There is something new to explore each time we visit and not to forget the Universal Studios.
Koh Samui, Thailand
The island offers a unique culture and charm apart from beautiful beaches. The attractions in Koh Samui lean more towards the low-key, natural end of the scale, which best suit’s the island’s general ambiance. One can truly enjoy the remarkable sites of historic, cultural and religious significance as well as sights of breath-taking natural beauty.
We made it to the Tulip Festival! There is nothing like the colors of the tulip fields in the spring backed by Mt. Hood and surrounded by fresh country air. Every year the varieties are arranged differently in a new pattern of color. It’s such a candy to the eyes.
Bintan caters for all; whether you are an adventurous explorer or enjoy relaxing in a tropical paradise with endless pearly white beaches, a wide varieties of resorts and holiday activities including golf, spa and water sports.
The only country in the world which has the word ‘love’ in it’s name. The country has some of the friendliest people we have ever come across, extremely warm and accepting. Slovenia is pure pristine beauty – right from the snow-capped peaks to the lush fir trees to icy cold waterfalls to clear and sparkling lakes. We highly recommend you visit this place with a special someone to amplify the love!
Known for it’s surf school, Kovalam is one of India’s top surfing destination. We decided to learn the sport and camped for a couple of nights. The feeling was exhilarating and connected us deeply with the ocean.
The southernmost tip of India where one can witness the confluence of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. With long stretches of sands of many hues, the beach offers a welcome change. Apart from the many temples, the Vivekananda rock makes for a spectacular sight not worth missing.
Hampi is like a 2 sided coin -serenity on one side, full of culturally rich stories from the Vijayanagara Empire, and salvation on the other with the sin city of Hampi, the ‘hippie’ island. Once upon a time, Hampi meant temples, temples, and more temples. History and heritage served hot on a platter of sun-baked boulders and quiet village life. But today it has more to offer for the low budgets and ‘high spirits’.
Croatia is the perfect blend of everything; mouth-watering food, crazy shopping, stunning beaches and not to forget the drool-worthy men! We could go on and on about the shopping scene here, but we think its best experienced. Definitely value for money!
Sikkim is one of the most serene and peaceful places to visit. The sight of the Himalayas, the rising of the sun amidst the snow cap mountains, the clean glacial water of the valleys, the freshness in the air, the sound of the monks chanting and the simplicity of life in the north east is something that everyone must experience once in a lifetime.
Probably the best kept secret of Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin is the answer to a tired mind and soul. We parked ourselves at Aqua Outback which is a short drive from the city. Equipped with air-conditioned rooms, gastronomic food, water sports, clear blue sea and an amazing host, it is a perfect weekend getaway.
We were visiting family in Singapore and wanted to do a quick weekend getaway to Bintan Island, Indonesia. It takes about an hour by comfortable catamarans. Bintan caters for all; whether you are an adventurous explorer or enjoy relaxing in a tropical paradise with endless pearly white beaches, a wide varieties of resorts and holiday activities including golf, spa and water sports.
We were staying at Indra Maya Pool Villas at Nirwana Resort Hotel. This villas are an exquisite fusion of exotic Indonesian, Thai and Chinese architectural elements. The resort offers a huge variety of activities including water sports, spa, bowling alley, basketball to name a few.
We have just uploaded our first vlog. Would love to hear your feedback and comments.
If you tell someone your visiting Bangkok, I am sure they will say, “You must visit a floating market”. I actually heard this comment when I told someone, I just returned from Bangkok. And when my reply was, “No, I didn’t go”, they were like, “Oh noooooooo”, you missed something really fun, a fabulous experience”. The truth is I did want to visit, but to do that, you need to start your day before sunrise. On my first visit, my laziness got the better of me. So on my second visit to Bangkok, just a couple of weeks ago, I decided to visit these colorful markets.
As soon as I arrived into Bangkok, the first thing I did, was got on to the internet and booked a floating market tour. I decided to visit Damneon Saduk Floating Market. This was basis all the reviews I read. This market is one of the most visited floating markets, and one of the biggest, in and around the vicinity. This tour costs approx $80 with a pick from most hotels in the city. This market is approximately 2 hours from the main city.
I started reading a little bit about what these markets are, and why they are so famous.
There is a long history behind why Thailand has these markets?
A lot of Thailand including Bangkok, are in the low wetlands, the area around is jungle and has a tropical climate. When Thailand first got inhabited, the first areas to get populated were around these rivers. Boats would be the main mode of transport and trade would take place in them.
Even today, these boats which are so colorful and all dressed up, are an interesting trade, and attracts lot of tourists.
The day arrived and I was all excited to go visit this vibrant and colorful place. The bus came and picked me up from the hotel itself. Tour operators are very punctual and arrive atleast 15 mins before your pick up time. Why I am emphasizing this is because, I met a girl Slava, from Slovakia, who was on a 3 month South East Asia tour, and she was quite surprised because in Mynmmar her tours always started an hour or more later. THAILAND IS ON TIME !!
Before the floating market, the tour takes you to a coconut plantation. They tell you how coconut sugar is made. Your get to try it out, and it tastes super yummy. I request you to only buy sugar from there and nothing else from the market in the plantation, because you get a lot more variety at the floating market. To enter the floating market, there are 2 ways, the bus directly takes you to the spot, or you sit in Thai speed boat, and ride through the canal, with beautiful views of authentic Thai houses and lifestyle.
Tip: Please carry a waterproof camera, as a lot of water splashes inside the boat.
On the tour I made friends, with Slava, who I mentioned earlier. We decided to explore the market together.
The point where the boat stops there are very few other boats selling goods. Thats not the actual market. You need to walk a few hundred meters and then you reach multiple souvenir shops. They sell everything right from Jade Buddha to goodies made of coconut shell, to batik dresses, costume jewelry, bags and the famous tuk tuk. As we move further we could pose with the python and hold a lemur (pic with a baby monkey). At first we were very scared to take a picture, because we noticed a few people who would hold him, he didn’t let go of them. So we moved ahead and entered where the boats with traders begun. But before that you need to stop at a picture point (your at a height) and the floating market below you), and pose.
Then we walked down the steps, just to enter a place so vibrant, colorful and full of life.
The merchants in the boats sell thai fruits, corn, vegetables. On either side there are food stalls where you get to taste delicious thai food. Slava and me had some pad thai, and thai tea.we were sitting there and just soaking in the vibe of this very gorgeous place. We took a lot of pictures. The merchants in their boats will pose for you. At such an awesome place you don’t even realize how time flies.
On our way back up we ate some Dosa with egg yolk filling, that slightly sweet and Slava ate the one with carrot and basil. That is savory and a bit spicy. These dosas are unique, and are a speciality here. You can have pancakes too.
TIP: Please do not eat breakfast. There is a whole lot ion great food in the market.
On our way out, Slava mentioned, that she only came to the market to take photo with the Lemur. We both were actually scared, but then she decided to take a photo with Tichi. I too decided to go ahead. And believe you me, holding him was the cutest, most cuddly feeling. I just didn’t want to let go. I wish I could take you home, Tichi. I miss you
Some things to remember at a Floating Market:
Carry cash with you, most places do not accept credit card.
Bargain at the souvenirs shops, slash the price by atlas 60% when you start. You by the end will pay 40%- 45%less than quoted price.
Don’t forget to pose with the lemur. U need to pay 200 baht. But its sure worth the shot
Don’t eat breakfast and come, there are lots of thai delacies in the market.
I recommend to take a tour and not travel on your own, as its very far, your taxi bill will be 3 times the tour cost.
Take a tour that makes you experience the thai boat through the canal to reach the market.
If you wants pictures of the canal while your in the boat, carry a waterproof camera.
Where shorts or 3/4th as in the boats you need to sit crossed legged and bottom of pants if full, will sure get dirty.
Yes a floating market is a check on the bucket list!
As we all know, shopping is a girl’s best friend. We get immense pleasure and a certain glint in our eyes when we enter a shop and feast upon the numerous things it has to offer us. We mentally make plans on how to make space for extra clothes in the already stuffed closet or to explain the 4th pair of shoes for the month or even how to make space in the suitcase to carry home the ‘must-have-or-I-will-regret-it-later’ souvenir. For a shopping addict like myself, I found Croatia an inexpensive destination and hence could take home a lot of their local flavour with me.
Here’s what a typical tourist shouldn’t miss shopping for in Croatia:
1. The neck tie: I am sure, you will wonder “why”? Wouldn’t you want to gift your special someone a tie from the land where it was invented? Yes, the humble necktie was founded by the Croats. During the war in the 17th century, small neckerchiefs were worn by the Croatian mercenaries. This would tie and hold their jackets on their backs. King Louis XIII took a fascination to this accessory and found it very decorative. He liked it so much that he made it a compulsory accessory at all his royal gatherings. And to honor Croatian soldiers, he gave it the name, “La Cravate”, which is what the necktie is called in France, even today.
2. Sea Salt: Known as ‘white gold’ of the Adriatic, Croatia has the highest and best quality of salt producing methods. This salt is available at shops for cooking purposes, bathing purposes etc. You must definitely not miss out the very delicious sea salt chocolates.
3. Wooden Toys: In and around Zagreb, a city skirted by Hrvatsko Zagorje, you will find many toy makers who personally hand carve each toy from locally grown wooden trees. Once the men finish the carving, the women will paint them in very bright colours. Commonly found toys include trains, planes and horses. To increase the popularity and get a lot more tourists to purchase these wooden toys, they have now started hand carving wooden dolls but instead of painting them, they make them wear local Croatian clothes. This gives it a very local flavour. Infact when I was speaking to the store owner and I told her about my little globe that travels with me and makes an appearance in all my pictures, she excitedly gave me a wooden doll as gratis and asked me to take a picture of the globe with the doll at my favourite spot in Croatia.
4. Croatian Cuturica: This is a wooden flask from the outside but has a glass bottle on the inside. Owning this is a family tradition and has been carried down generations. It is used at all Croatian weddings too. I hear this legend from a local Croat.
5. Lavender: Croatia is one of the largest producers of lavender in the world. The climate and soil here are ideal for this flowering plant. The main area for growing this is around the mountainous regions of Hvar which is said to have the best quality lavender. Blooming season is in June & July. Rest of the year you can see small kiosks selling lavender in its various forms – lavender bath salt, perfumes, shower gels, dried flowers, lavender oil or fragrance bags.
6. Truffles: If you are a big fan of the mushroom kind of truffle oil flavour, you sure are going to enjoy eating in Croatia. They add this flavour in everything – from your risotto, to your pasta or scrambled eggs and even the cheese in pizza – this item sure is a delicacy. There are truffle / mushroom hunting tours in the Istria. This black or white fungus is picked from the dark woods and sold at a fortune in Croatian markets. Bring home some cheese, oils and spreads packed with this flavour, to relive your memories of Croatia.
7. Goodies: Show your taste buds some Croatian culture by trying olives stuffed with nuts, chilli & cheese, fig cakes flavoured with lavender or orange zest and last but not the least chocolates.
If you are not too much into the food scenario or maybe have more countries to travel to from Croatia and can’t carry perishables, fear not, there are plenty more souvenirs for you to choose from. From the usual magnets, coffee mugs and shot glasses that are a must to bring back home, you also get colorful hand painted glasses . One of the best place for Croatian gifts is the Dalmac market of Zagreb. For all you Game of Throne fans, there are special souvenir shops in Dubrovnik Stari Grad.
Croatia has so much local shopping, that too at such reasonable prices, that you are sure to bring home some great memories. Just be sure to carry an extra foldable bag in your suitcase to lug around your stash ;-
Wishing all you fellow travelers a Happy World Tourism Day!
So here’s our story: We are 2 girls who love to travel, Urmi from Jamshedpur and Mishky from Mumbai. We have 2 things in common: both married to Tamilians (from Chennai) and our love for travel and food! We started travelling with our folks during our younger days and right now along with our full time ventures, we are attempting to travel the world!
On realizing our common love for travel , we decided to start Globejamun, to share our passion with all of you. And yes, we have a little globe, who travels along with us.
While the Oxford dictionary defines travel in a certain way, we are very sure that every traveler has their own version. The word connotes so many different meanings.
Since today is all about tourism, we wanted to share what travel means to us!
For us it’s our life, our dream, one which gives us an instant kick! It’s a combination of a whole lot of things.
Travel to us is about,
It’s all about knowing and understanding what people in other countries do, their religion, their lifestyle, their belief, their food and everything that makes them who they are. The little insights into culture gives us a kick.One such instance, in Bhutan, they are not allowed to have a nightlife openly, so the new gen has decided to have discos underground.
We are absolute suckers of the sea, sun, sand and more so the tan. Most of the time, our travel is all about the beach. Urmi studied in the Philippines and Karishma in Los Angeles. Now doesn’t that speak for itself.
To some life is a mountain and to some a beach. We love both. That snow when it touches your palm is a magical feeling. The smell of Eucalyptus in the air gives us a happy high!
Colors of the sky:
We love to capture various colors in the sky. As children we learnt the sky is blue, but travelling taught us otherwise. Right from the green of the Northern lights, to the pink and purple in Hampi, orange and reds in Dubrovnik, we’ve seen it all.
When we travel we need some kinda adrenaline rush. No travel is complete without it. Right from jumping from 18,000 feet to going 180 feet below sea level, we’ve done all of it. Next on our list is to bungee jump. Can’t wait for that!
Aah we love those big bad cities, the glitz, the glamour, the dizzle dazzle. Be it NYC, Mishky’s favorite, she has been there 6 times and can go there again or Sydney or Shanghai. Big cities, Big highs, fast pace. Oh we love them, and want to keep returning.
Food food food:
We just love food! Period. We love trying out the local cuisines. Thankfully we are non-vegetarians so we get a whole lot of options. And believe u me, we never eat Indian food, when visiting other countries. We consider that totally criminal. We love experimenting with local flavors.
Shop till you drop. That’s exactly what describes us. But it’s all about shopping what’s local to the land. And yes we shop for our little globe too. Our aim is to burn a little hole in the hubby’s pocket.
We love to do what the locals do. We live by #liveauthentic #belocal
So that’s our travel, our life , our dream.
Do leave us a line , on what travel and tourism means to you… and of course,