Barcelona Diaries Part 2: Of Gaudi and Flamenco

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Barcelona is renowned for its arts, culture, sports, architecture and food. One of our stops, which really is on top of the list for everyone who comes to Barcelona, was Park Guell designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi – someone who has now become synonymous with the city of Barcelona.

On day 2 in Barcelona, we woke up to torrential rain and grey skies. Oh oh, the (in)famous Barcelona rain! For today, our tickets for Park Guell were already booked much in advance. Park Guell sees a lot of tourists and entry to the Monumental Zone is regulated, allowing only strict number of people every hour, so a lot of online forums had suggested that tickets be bought in advance.

I was skeptical whether it was a good idea to leave the plan to visit Park Guell to the moods of the weather gods, or cancel our ticket. As we got ready and devoured delicious breakfast at our hotel, I kept refreshing the weather app on my phone to see if the weather gods had had some sympathy for us!

By the time we left the hotel, the rains had subsided a little and we boarded the bus to take us to Park Guell. The park has three entrances and depending on where you want to access the park from, you can choose different bus and metro lines. We took bus number 32 right outside from our hotel to take us to Lesseps, where a 10 minute walk takes you to an escalator to get to the top of the hill where the park is situated. Even with the escalator, the walk uphill is really inclined, sure to test your fitness levels! Every few levels up, I would stop to catch my breath and see how far up we had come. It was quite a sight when we finally reached the entrance to the Park.

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Barcelona Diaries Part 1: Hola Barcelona!

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Spain! Ah! This one word had me day dreaming of sunny day for most of the (rather long) winter. So soon as the first sign of spring came, the thought of glorious sun-kissed beaches was enough to get us excited to plan our next holiday. And we found ourselves checking every travel guide to decide what destinations should be part of our Spanish adventures. One fine evening, we even found ourselves propped in front of the television one night watching ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ for inspiration! (The filmy part of me just couldn’t have it any other way, now would it!) That was easier said than done! Spain is a huge country and it is time consuming to travel from one coast to another. With just about a week in our hand, we were struggling, debating (okay, okay, arguing!), and finally settling down for two destinations – Barcelona and Palma De Mallorca. And last week of May was finalized for our most awaited holiday yet! I was more excited to be finally going on a holiday where my snow jacket wouldn’t have to follow me! 😉

So read on as I take you through our three days trip to Barcelona. Stay tuned for the rest of the parts to follow.

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Herzogenaurach’s ‘Mittelalterfest’ takes you back in time!

I woke up this morning thinking of it as just another quiet weekend in our quaint town of Herzogenaurach — good luck trying to pronounce that! Usually when we say our town’s name to someone back home, their first reaction is ‘Herzo-whaaat?! Most expats, like us, take the easy way out and call it ‘Herzo’.  Anyway, so this beautiful cozy Bavarian town is best known to the world as the home to Adidas and Puma. Most weekends, particularly Sundays, are rather quiet, with no soul in sight!

So, this morning too, as we made our way to the grocery store, going about our weekend tasks as usual, the town was buzzing! Every few minutes, we saw flock of people, dressed in costumes straight out of a History book, going towards the Altstadt (old town). Curious as we were, we found ourselves following the crowd and into the Altstadt.

And it was some sight! It was the annual ‘Mittelalterfest’ (literally translated as the Middle Ages fest), which is organised on the first weekend of August by Hezogenaurach’s state administration.

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12 Reasons I Love London

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I love London. Yes. There it is. My love declaration for the city. I first visited the city in October 2008, just for day, as a 19-year old travelling abroad alone for the first time. It was grey, rainy, and cold – characteristically London! But I had the best time! I was taken in awe of the city – as a tourist perched on the top deck of the open air tourist bus, London and I got acquainted. And since then it is my favorite city. It draws me back to it again and again, like an obsessed lover! After six long years, I finally made my way back to the city and it felt like it welcomed me back!

There is no place I’d rather be than here. I am taken by the city for so many reasons and I wish there would come a day when I can call London my home! For now, here are 12 reasons why I love London.

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Hotel Review: EA Hotel Manes, Prague

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Our home in Prague for a weekend break to celebrate my 25th birthday was the EA Hotel Manes. We reached Prague’s main bus station from Nuremberg, from where we changed one train to reach to the district where our hotel was. Centrally located near the Vltava River, the hotel had a grand exterior and soon as we entered our room, I knew I didn’t want to leave!

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City Focus: A Weekend in Prague

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I ringed in my 25th birthday with my husband in the city of Prague, on a rather sunny January weekend. Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, is a favorite with travelers in Europe, perhaps because of it’s location, which connects it easily to other European cities. From Nuremberg, where we are, it is just a three-hour comfortable bus ride. We left early morning on Saturday from Germany, where for the most part of our journey a dense fog enveloped our drive. With no great scenery to look out to, I soon fell asleep (as were most of the fellow passengers!) and by the time I woke up we had already entered the Czech border. From there on, there was hardly a minute where I wasn’t looking outside the window. It looked like we had entered a different time — the city looks straight out of a beautiful painting. The red-roof houses, the Medieval look, the narrow cobbled lanes, and the bridges, Prague entices you at every corner. Romantic? I don’t know. But it is definitely a great weekend escape. (Really, what is with me not finding cities romantic! — more on that later as you keep reading Backpacking Croissants 😉 )

Prague can be easily covered on foot and public transport. Just grab a map and get ready to explore the best sightseeing attractions in Prague if you only have a weekend: Continue reading

City Focus: Explore Berlin in a Day

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Every city has a character, expressed through its urban spaces, it’s images, the landscape, and the history. But in Berlin, it is a different story. Here, history stands in front of you. A somber reminder of the most volatile phase in international political history, Berlin today stands as a melting pot of past and present.

Berlin has a lot to offer. A great city of culture, art and history, it is also an important hub for business travelers. You would need atleast a weekend if you truly want to know Berlin. But if you are in the German capital only for a day and want to explore the highlights of city sightseeing in just a few hours, there’s no reason why you can’t.

I really feel that one of the best ways to explore the city in a limited time is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus. That way, you save time trying to figure out how to reach from one destination to other via public transport. Perch yourself on the top open air section of the double decker bus and experience the sit. Just get down at the spot you want to explore and spend some time at, and hop back on. Even if you don’t want to get down from the bus, you still get a feel of the city and see the important and popular landmarks.

There are many city tour buses that run within the city. We took the Berlin City Tour bus from Alexanderplatz. There are four different tour options. We took a combination of two tours — the classic route which took us around the famous landmarks of the city, and the ‘wall and lifestyle’ tour which gave us a chance to explore the former East side (here we saw an original World War II bunker!)

Here are some suggestions on top must-sees of the city, so that you take back some great memories and picture postcards from the best of the city.

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Hotel Review: Vital Hotel Wiedemann at Füssen

Image Copyright: Vital Hotel Wiedemann/ http://www.hotel-wiedemann.com/

Image Copyright: Vital Hotel Wiedemann/ http://www.hotel-wiedemann.com/

In my last post, I wrote about a fantastic weekend that I spent at Füssen. Our trip was made more memorable because of our stay at a charming little hotel we stayed at in Füssen. We had our bookings for the weekend at the Vital Hotel Wiedemann, located at a short walk from the main train station.

Read the review after the jump

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Why Your Next Holiday Should Be to Füssen/Neuschwanstein Castle?

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Dreamy, splendid, beautiful, romantic, magnificent…. adjectives fall short when I start to describe the Neuschwanstein Castle. Set in the beautiful Bavarian Alps of Germany, the Neuschwanstein Castle is a picture that weaves a thousand adjectives around itself — often many fall short to summarize the beauty that it stands for. One of the most popular sites of Germany to the world, the Castle stands tall and proudly so! You would have seen it on the television, or the internet, but you have to see it to believe it’s splendor.

Late March, when the icy winds had died down and the sun had begin to shower its warmth on us, my husband and I decided finally to embark on a trip that we had been planning for the last two months. After numerous debates on going by road, or taking the train, taking a day trip or making it a weekend rendezvous, we finally planned our much-awaited holiday — and I was thankful for the decisions we made.

First things first. Neuschwanstein is often visited as a day trip by many tourists. But I strongly recommend you to make it a weekend trip, so that you can truly absorb the experience called NEUSCHWANSTEIN!

We decided to take the nearly four-hour train journey from Nuremberg to Füssen (the nearest stop). And you will be glad for the train journey. Like much of the Europe, the train journey to Füssen paints a dreamy picture. As the train chugs, you take in the quaint countryside, the lone cottage on a farm, the clear skies, and the gentle unfolding of nature.

We arrived late afternoon to the town of Füssen. The train station is conveniently located to walking distances to various hotels in the city. We had our bookings at the Vital Hotel Wiedemann, which was at a scenic walking distance from the city centre. [More on the hotel in the next post].

We decided to explore the town of Füssen that day and saved the best (the Castle, that is) for the next morning. There are buses that go from here to the base town of Schwangau. Once you reach this town, you can buy the tickets at the ticket center for both Neuschwanstein as well as the Hohenschwangau castle. The castles can be viewed only as a guided trip and you would need plenty of time in hand to fully experience. If you are short of time, then I would suggest to just visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle can be reached via horse carriages, bus or on foot from the ticket center.

Here are five reasons why Füssen and Neuschwanstein Castle need to be on your list of places to visit this year.

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