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Early morning in Punta Cana

We are hardly early birds when it comes to travel, especially less so now because the mornings are spent dancing to the tunes of the pint-sized dictator who is our 17 month old.

But once S and I did wake up early and rushed to the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to catch the sunrise. We did not want to miss it and so I did not even stop to change out of my pajamas, and it did not matter as we had the deserted beach and calm ocean all to ourselves. That was a memorable morning

(posted in response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Morning)




Visiting the Harlem Meer and northern Central Park

It’s not the side of the Park that you will see in the movies or in the tour guides. It is also not the area where you would see brides being photographed for the customary New York wedding photography, much to the amusement and delight of the onlookers.

Such a slice of Central Park exists and its charming and unassuming if not glamorous and over-photographed. I’m referring to the northern side of Central Park starting at 110th Street and 5th Avenue. About a month back, in a renewed attempt to be a tourist in our own city, we took the 6 train up to 110th street and Lexington avenue, and walked 3 blocks to the north-east corner of the Park. We were greeted by a pretty lake, the Harlem Meer with a neat walking path edging it. It was great taking pictures of the lake from a distance because we could get the Swiss chalet styled cottage (which actually is the Dana Discovery Center) into the frame. img_7007

After enjoying a quick picnic of ice-cream and iced-tea at a bench near the Meer, we started walking southward only to stop for more food – this time, for hummus and falafel from a Maoz Grill kiosk close to the Meer (very average falafels by the way, from New York standards).

As we continued our journey southward, we stumbled upon a circular garden which was a total riot of colors, thanks to neatly arranged patches of tulips of different hues, all with petals unfurled in full bloom. We had inadvertently walked into the Conservatory Garden. Now, my love for gardens is only surpassed by my love for bridges and trains, and thus this was a real treat. The centerpiece of the conservancy is a sculpture/ fountain – Three Dancing Maidens, which has three ladies taking great joy in being splashed by the fountain in their midst. img_6469



Once we left the garden, moving further southwards, we chanced upon a rectangular green lawn, flanked on both sides by cherry blossoms bending due to the weight of the cluster of flowers. The western edge of this lawn was a real legitimate will-soak-you-with-it’s-spray fountain, framed by a shaded balcony. It’s all very pretty, and after a long time, I got the exhilarating feeling of being a tourist again seeing new things.img_6484


Further south, we came across yet another pretty sculpture, flanked by a tiny pond, which was covered with cherry blossom petals. img_6498

We ended our tryst with northern Central Park by lying under the shade of a cherry blossom tree, in full blossom.img_6521

The northern part of the park doesn’t get many visitors, but that is just well, because this oasis is tranquil and serene, very unlike the city within which it dwells!

Practically speaking:

  • is an amazing website, and do spend time on this website to make the most of your time in Central Park. Since there are quite a few attractions, you can always find some treasure nearby the entrance closest to you.
  • Read my earlier blog for more Central Park info (more on the western/ southern side).

Beautiful Scotland

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Earth, my mind immediately went to the unspoiled and pristine beauty of Scotland. These photos were taken on the drive from London to Edinburgh and back, where we literally stopped in our tracks to capture the gorgeousness around us.




Evening shots from South Bank, London 

It’s dinnertime in London! I had seen the majestic Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, before but seeing these gems lit up against the pink-purple-grey evening sky was a sight that took my breath away.

This post is inspired by the WordPress weekly photo challenge, Dinnertime. See more amazing photos submitted by talented photographers here.






Q&A with Andy’s World Journeys

Thank you for noticing the feathers of this bird! The very prolific Andy from Andy’s World Journeys has posted a Q&A with me on his blog, which covers, among other things, the reason for why I blog.
Thank you Andy! To quote Andy’s favorite line – May the Journey Never End!

Travel Bloggers – Shikha from It’s a Wonderful World

The travel bucket list

What is that one place (or more) that tugs at your heartstrings – the one that makes you wistful, or the one that makes you work harder at whatever you are working at in the hope that it will all lead to you visiting that destination at some point in your lifetime? Do you dream of city scapes or scenic beauty? Are you a culture vulture or are dreaming of doing nothing more than watching a stunning sunset? What makes your travel bucket list?

Well, here is mine. I had once heard that if you really want something, as in really really want something, the stars will conspire to make it happen. In order to nudge the stars in the right direction, I am really opening up here:


Amalfi Coast, Italy – One place visited and loved that I have put back on the list, because 2 days are just not enough.

  1. Iceland
  2. Alaska
  3. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming and Montana
  4. Acadia National Park, Maine
  5. Bryce Canyon National Park or Arches National Park – to see the canyons
  6. Big Sur, California
  7. The scenic beauty in New Zealand (the place Milford Sound comes to mind)
  8. Santorini, Greece
  9. Piltvice lakes, Croatia
  10. Dubrovnic, Croatia
  11. South of Spain
  12. South Africa
  13. Equador and the Galapagos Islands
  14. The Canadian Rockies
  15. Glacier National Park, Montana
  16. Crater National Park and more of Oregon
  17. Amalfi Coast (only place that I have already visited, that it so good that it deserves a place on this list)
  18. Salzburg, Austria
  19. The lavender fields in full bloom in South of France
  20. Costa Rica
  21. The volcanoes in Big Island, Hawaii
  22. Na Paali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
  23. Lake Como and surrounding villages, Italy
  24. The Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
  25. Hallstall, Austria

I have told you mine… you must tell me yours – all of them or top three or atleast the top one! Maybe I am missing a gem of a place that you have discovered or can’t wait to explore.

Landscape photographs in Prague

Prague, the capital of the Czech-Republic, is any shutter-happy traveller’s dream city. I was inspired by this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge – Landscapes to “dust-off” some landscape shots taken in Prague in March 2012. It was about time I showed these pics some love.



This panaromic picture of Prague was taken from a cafe tucked away in the back of the Lobkowicz Palace within the Prague Castle. We would have completely missed this hidden gem of a cafe, had it not been for the diligent reading of a guide-book.


Prague Castle framing the Vltava River, shot from the Charles Bridge.


Charles Bridge and the Vltava River, shot from a cruise boat.


When in Rome…..

When you are in Rome as a tourist in the month of August, you would feel that you are in a mythical place where all the locals have disappeared and the tourists have descended in such large numbers that they are everywhere, and I mean everywhere…. You could go into the most narrow and sleepy looking alley, hoping that it would lead to a deserted piazza, but visitors would be there too.

Such was our experience in August of 2010, when we landed in Rome during the time when the locals escape to the seaside for their own vacations. But even with tourists everywhere, I found Rome to be hot, gleaming and amazing, because it was my first time in Europe (barring a 2006 trip to Ireland), and the beginning of a love affair with Italy.

Here are the happy memories of the Roman holiday:

– the Trevi Fountain is gorgeous, the crowds notwithstanding. Its enormous, really a fountain complex. There is some significance to the amount of coins you throw at its incredible Baroque architecture – one guarantees a return to Rome, 2 coins would lead to a new romance, and 3 coins would lead to marriage. And me, being married and on this maiden Italy trip with the husband, made it a point to throw just the one coin.


– I would gladly loose myself again in the sun-soaked piazzas in Rome. If you are a proponent of slow travel and not too keen on checking off all the touristy items in this very touristy city, just relax at the piazzas – there is so much beauty and history everywhere that there is nary a need to enter a museum or gallery. In the shiny but not glaring sunlight of late afternoon, these piazzas acquire the warm tone of a perfect Instagram filter.  A prime example is Piazza Navona with another beautiful fountain, Bernini’s the Fountain of Four Rivers (“Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi”). The four rivers personified in this very intricately carved fountain are the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges (or Ganga) and Rio de la Plata.





– When you are at Piazza Navona, why not visit the adjoining church of the martyr Saint Agnes in Agony? Another great example of Baroque architecture, this church is beautiful from the inside as well, without the long lines of the Vatican.


– One of the best things we did was visit the Vatican late in the night, where we were able to take photos of the very elegantly and romantically lit  San Pietro basilica and Piazza San Pietro. Not to say that you should not visit during the day, if only to take in Michaelangelo’s beautiful work of art – the Pieta.


– One gallery which would not be found in every tourist to do list is the Villa Borghese, which has a formidable collection of sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Alas, photography is not allowed inside the gallery, and thus I have no photos to show why even All-I-know-about-art-I-have-learned-from-the-movies person like me could tell that these sculptures were truly exquisite and thus the entry to the gallery made limited to a small number each day (Tip: book your tickets online in advance). The one sculpture that I loved was the “Apollo and Daphne”. The intricate details of Daphne turning into a tree to escape Apollo are quite simply amazing.

– We were quite smug as we passed the long line of tourists queuing at the ticket counter of the Vatican museum, as we had booked the tickets online in advance. However, there really was no research on my part going into the Museum, which was a rookie mistake. Other than knowing about Michelangelo’s pivotal Sistine Chapel ceiling, I entered this great collection of art completely clueless. It’s no surprise that I can only vaguely recall passing through an gallery containing very old maps, and being in a room covered from floor to ceiling by work of Raphael. But I still remember excitement when we saw with our own eyes the Creation of Adam, with the iconic two hands, on the ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel.


All in all, Rome turned out to be everything we had hoped for and then some. But after rounds of the museums, galleries and basilicas in the Italian capital, we were ready for the shimmering blues of the Amalfi Coast. But that’s another blog post for another day.

Fall colors in Hudson River Valley

Currently our little toddler is front and center in our lives. I immediately thought of her for this week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge – One Love, as she represents an all encompassing and all engulfing love.

I wish that she grows to have curiosity, inquisitiveness, a sense of adventure and a respect for nature and all cultures and above all a strong wanderlust.

In this photo taken in the beautiful town of Cold Spring, New York, she is absorbing her first fall colors.

Sunset at the Eiffel Tower

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I find harmony in sunsets, in the graceful culmination of another day. You get a sense of peace even if your vantage point is behind the iron lattices of the Eiffel Tower.

This post was prompted by the weekly photo challenge – Harmony

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