An excerpt from Gozo

Don’t know how we came up with the idea of exploring Gozo- the sister island of Malta , am sure it was Tom’s idea. He is the kind to pull places off the map that no one has heard of, and I am more than eager to make that obscure place of interest an unforgettable vacation. That could be for the right or the wrong reasons, but hey, I promised it to be an unforgettable one ūüėÄ

We left on our new adventure in the right month. In my opinion the best time to visit is in the month of November. It’s the perfect weather to travel to the Mediterranean. Getting to Gozo was very simple. We arrived at Malta International airport and right away jumped on bus X1 that took us straight away¬†to Cirkewwa – the gozo ferry terminal. The bus ride was almost an hour but well worth it, as we got a good sense of how the¬†Maltese¬†drive. Total nutters, just the way I like it.
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The ferry was a free ride going over to Gozo, you are charged a fare of¬†‚ā¨4.50 on your return to the main island, making it a very easy hop skip over. The water wasn’t choppy and after a full day of flying all the way from Canada to Uk and then to Malta, the cool breeze on the face felt wonderful and the ferry ride of 35 minutes a very short ride to our home away from home for the next 9 days.

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View from the ferry

We grabbed a taxi from the ferry terminal in Gozo to our Airbnb accommodation. Our taxi driver was born in Canada, raised in Australia and now settled back into his hometown of Gozo which is where he originally was from. After seeing different parts of the world, he wanted to returned back to his roots. I would dig my roots in Gozo too if i had the means to!

Our Airbnb accommodation was in the perfect little town of Xaghara that immediately took to our fancy. The first day was spent in recuperating from the long journey. After taking proper rest and replenishing the lost fluids we were set to explore this beautiful little gem of a place. Talking to locals we came to know that people from Malata don’t need to travel far to go on vacation. The lot of them chooses Gozo as their preferred vacation host, and why not? The¬†island may be small but it’s 14 villages have their own impressive cathedral – unique in style and grandeur. This was our little village cathedral and our little area that we frequented at all times of the day, made friends with its stray and enjoyed home cooked meals in a family settling every day.

Ramla beach-¬†the largest and the sandiest beach¬†on the Island of Gozo was 15 minutes walk from our house. This ended up being a place we frequented at the end of the day at all hours.¬†In the middle of the beach is a large statue devoted to the Virgin Mary known as¬†Our Lady of Hope.¬† Just over looking the beach is an unfinished hotel, actually after doing some digging around on Google, i found this link that made me giggle… it’s more of an abandoned villa than a hotel. this link was posted in 2015, but by November 2017 this place is in complete shambles. We walked through the whole place and I took some updated pictures.

https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/abandoned-villa-ramla-bay-gozo-island-malta-september-2015.t99420

And this is what the villa looks like today -:

Bit creepy but very intriguing at the same time, telling a story and making our imagination go wild. Giving us ideas to explore at an odd hour of 1:00 am one night, ending it with a fantastic bonfire to remember the experience with. I have to admit I was looking over my shoulder most of the time while Tom was talking it all in. CAREFREE!


Gozo, and what it offers, cannot be described in a single blog post. From hiking the highest cliffs in Gozo (¬†Ta’Cenc Cliffs) to realizing that as much as I love birds, unfortunately bird trapping is a national hobby in Gozo. In contrast to most of the other trapping areas in the Mediterranean however, the song birds caught do not end up in the pot but are kept as cage birds in dark garages of supposed ‚Äėbird lovers‚Äô. Bird trappers also make a successful business out of the capture and sale of wild caught birds, and often live birds from other countries are smuggled into Malta for use as decoy birds for trapping. As sad as this is, one has to respect the age-old traditions that the Gozitans have been following. Something that I had a hard time with.


By complete chance we came across the most beautiful narrow road that led us to a hidden gem, a place mostly frequented by snorkelers and divers. Mgarr ix-Xini bay is situated between Ta- Sannat and Ghajnsielem. We had the most delicious burgers while having a chat with the owners jealous dog and the lazy cat! It’s the only cafe / food joint in that bay with an extraordinary view overlooking the pristine water. The perfect family run restaurant with the most friendly hosts and pets alike.

Fun fact:  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filmed their movie here called РBy the sea-  as if that even matters?
After a heavy lunch, it was time to burn the calories and we decided to do the hike around the bay area. Soon enough we came across an old abandoned coal-fired water-pumping station which once supplied fresh water to the whole island. Of course we had to explore.

This is an island that literally caters to all adventurers.  A place where you can bike, hike, kayak, boulder, dive, swim, snorkel, all within a short distance from one another. The island is still largely undiscovered by mass tourism, especially in low season.

Looking through all the photographs I took, it’ll take me days to type out all the fun we had. It’s amazing to have pictures to re-live the memories you created. Thank you Gozo for this unforgettable vacation.

Next stop Provence….

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Croatia- Land of magic and Sun Screen diaries. Dedicated to Carl aka Carlito/ Carl Poppa/ Carleee

I don’t exactly know how this plan came into being but before I ¬†knew it, i was booking a one way flight from Dubrovnik to Rome in the month of Feb 2017 for October 2017. That’s how far back this was planned and probably even before, as all I remember is talking about visiting Croatia this whole summer with my work colleague, travel partner and friend Carl!

Carl was THE chosen one. We have done several work trips together and enjoy the fact that neither of us is clingy, both have a thirst to see places, hike & bike and both of us respect time and are on the same beat.  Besides traveling with my own self and Tom (the 2 perfect travel partners), family (my best friends), he probably is the only other person I would even consider undertaking a trip with. Meticulous, easy-going, honest and respectful, thank you Carl for sharing this trip with me.

Now the real adventure begins.

Itinerary followed : Plitvice Lakes- Zadar- Krka National Park- Roski Slap- Split- Hvar ( ferry)- Mostar- Ston- Orebic- Korcula (ferry) РDubrovnik 2017-10-05 (2)

Total distance travelled : Roughly 1000 kms
Expense per person: (This includes all the airfares, ferry transfers, car rental, gas prices, entry fees, accommodation and food) – $ 949.00 CAD
Best month to travel: End September into October
Dates: September 26th to October 4th 2017

DAY 1- Sept 27th 2017

Western Europe gets way too much credit for being beautiful, and rightfully so BUT Eastern Europe’s beauty is unmatched and is nothing short of captivating. Our trip started by getting on the company plane and leaving Toronto for Zagreb on the night of the 26th September. The flight was 8 hours long. I slept for 6 hours and spent the remaining 2 hours finishing up the movie :-Paris can wait- that I had started watching at home¬† in the beginning of the month. I had an hour left to watch and this was the perfect time to finish it. By the time we landed I was fresh like a daisy and well rested to start out on our adventure. We picked up our rental car from the Arrivals level and before we knew it, were heading over to our first point of interest – PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK.¬†It made sense to settle into our Airbnb in the lovely hamlet of Mukinje, relax and explore the area around and call it a day early enough, so we could be in shape for the following full day of burning calories.

DAY 2- Sept 28th 2017

Mukinje is not even 15 minutes drive from the Entrance no 2 of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It was the perfect place to start our journey from, early in the morning at 7 am. Ours was the only car in the car park!
The route that we undertook worked in our favour. People tend to go to the small lakes making their way over to the big waterfall. We started in the reverse order and I managed to get good shots minus any humans in most of my pictures. We parked at Entrance 2 – South gate – upper lakes. There are several trails you can walk depending on your level of fitness and time available at hand.

  • Trail E (2-3 hours – 5.2 km – easy) upper lakes to Proscansko Jezero starting with a short boat ride across the Kozjak Lake.
  • Trail F (3-4 hours – 4.6km – easy) walk the upper lakes and sail across lake Kozjaka, then visit the lower lakes – take shuttle back
  • Trail H (4-6 hours – 8.9km – moderate) starts with a bus ride to your starting point, walk the upper lakes then sail across lake Kozjaka, to the lower lakes – take shuttle bus back.
  • Trail K-2 (6-8 hours – 18.3km -difficult) like Trail K-1 – explore the whole park.We undertook trail H and trail E. Our day started everyday at 7 am ( in the car en route) and ended at 7 pm ( reaching our rental airbnb accommodation par excellence)

After exploring this UNESCO world heritage site, we made our way over to ZADAR¬†– the oldest inhabited city in Croatia on the Dalmatian coast. It’s well-known for its¬†12th-century St. Anastasia‚Äôs Cathedral & the bell tower and the round, 9th-century pre-Romanesque Church of St. Donatus. I climbed some 180 steps to reach the top of the freestanding bell tower for amazing views over the city and the sea. After wandering the city I bumped into Carl by the city walls and we decided to walk the port and take a little under water tour in the cutest yellow submarine. I didn’t capture any amazing pictures of the crabs or the sea creatures under water but surely managed a breathtaking shot of the sun setting over the Adriatic sea.

DAY 3- Sept 29th 2017

Idea was to head over to Split but it was nearly impossible to bypass KRKA NATIONAL PARK and ROSKI SLAP. Plitvice was beautiful, but Krka took my breath away. Named after the Krka River, the Park covers an area of just over 142 square km and includes 2/3  of the river itself. The top attractions of the Park are its magnificent waterfalls, including the famous Skradinski Buk falls which are one of Croatia’s most famous sights. The Skradinski Buk waterfalls are a collection of 17 waterfalls that range in height by over 45 metres. Unlike Plitvice, it is possible to swim by this magnificent waterfall. Roski Slap (slap being Croatian for waterfall) is another famous sight within Krka National Park. We had the option of taking a boat ride ( included in the entry fee) but instead decided to drive over to Roski Slap instead, so we could explore the park on foot and  climb up the 600 steps to get the best view of the park down below and of course justify eating a heavy lunch in Krka.

After spending over 11 hours walking, hiking and climbing steps, it was time to head over to our airbnb accommodation in SPLIT. Another UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most impressive Roman Monuments. The day ended for us at 7 pm. Lights out by 8 as it was time to rest and gear up for the following day. On the agenda was to take a ferry across from the Split harbor to visit the beautiful island of Hvar, to return mid day & explore Split.

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DAY 4- Sept 30th 2017

By 7:40 am we were sitting comfortably on the back deck of our ferry taking us over to HVAR. It was one of the faster ones as I was already walking up the fortress in Hvar by 9:15 am. There is no short cut to reach the top. It’s good to meander off, exploring every dirt path as you get to see pretty beautiful sights overlooking the harbor down below and the calm sea. There were hardly any people up there at that early hour so I spent a good few hours just taking pictures till I spotted Carl, sitting in a corner, sun screening himself. It became a joke between us as I would spot him throughout our trip at the most unexpected times, sun screening.
There are several vendors of pure Lavender essence for a mere¬†‚ā¨1¬†a bottle that’ll last you a good few years.¬† It is rightfully called the “island of lavender” as lavender cultivation along with fishing and tourism is what sustains this Island. A party hub for young people and a docking port for expensive yachts, this is a happening place in the peak of summer season. After exploring the center and the area around on foot. it was time to catch Jadrolinija back to the mainland and visit SPLIT.

Diocletian’s Palace, rather an old fortress over being a palace, covers almost half of the old town of Split. It’s quite an impressive UNESCO world heritage site. Lined by loads of coffee shops and red cushions along the stone steps of the courtyard, you would be served drinks and finger food of your choice if you decide to rest your backside on one of these inviting little beauties. There are several walking tours that are available for groups but nothing beats getting lost in your own company and discovering areas of interest and chatting up locals. Climbing the bell tower of Saint Domius deserves a blog of its own. It was quite crowded but there was no way that I was not going to climb up the top to get the perfect view. The climb was actually very scary as there are only 3 metal rods separating you from the fall below. I was amazed at this one daring woman who was standing at the ledge of the tower taking a 360 video of the old town below. I spotted her again, over 30 minutes later and managed to capture her “balls”. Was she mad or was she mad brave?


For all those who believe in luck and good fortune, don’t forget to rub the toe of Gregory of Nin statue. It’s supposed to bring good luck. I’d say even if you don’t believe in good-luck, go and rub that toe. If you are like me and are not a big fan of too many people surrounding you all the time, it’s good to wander off outside the old town and visit the¬†park¬†Strossmayer. Perfect green spot to relax and go over the beautiful sites you captured in your camera and memory’s eye.¬† It was an amazing day well spent and by 7 pm it was time to head back and get ready for the following day.

DAY 5 – October 1st 2017

Since I had to cut short my vacation, ( work missed me!) we were discussing if visiting MOSTAR in Bosnia was a good idea or not, seeing that we were short on time. That would also mean that we wouldn’t be able to visit the town of Trogir. I had decisions to make. After googling Mostar the night before, there was no way that I was going to be so close to that magnificent place and not get to visit it. We were heading over to Mostar and in return sacrificing visiting Trogir.
At the border crossing we were asked if we were heading over to Mostar. I was impressed. Turns out all Canadians and Americans always go to Mostar while all Italians/ Portuguese and French always head off in the direction of Medjugorje  Рa pilgrim town. I was quite tempted to visit Medjugorje but was feeling more adventurous than religious that day.
Mostar is BEAUTIFUL. It is named after the bridge keepers Рor Mostaris- who guarded the old bridge and is one of the most recognized landmarks of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I wish I was interested in history as there is so much interesting information regarding all that Mostar went through from being a part of the Roman empire to being taken over by the Ottoman empire, the influence of which is quite visible till date,  with waitresses dressed in the most exquisite traditional fashion and the call of prayer from the minarets. The old town is buzzing with handmade jewelry, colourful lanterns, handmade leather handbags, pashmina, copper artwork and turkish rugs. The prices are fairly reasonable and people simply so talented.


Stari most bridge jump attracts loads of tourists. I noticed this man standing on the other side of the bridge ready to jump. He had been ready for over 1 hour I realized and decided to sit across from him at the bottom of the bridge from where I could capture him on my camera. I got talking to 4 men who were traveling over from Hungry. They informed me of a tradition that Bosnian men follow.¬†Locals say a man will be a complete life failure if he doesn‚Äôt take the plunge.¬†But this tradition, causing them to hit the water at about 80km/h in three seconds, is no longer just something for Bosnian men.It‚Äôs now an attraction for daring ‚ÄĒ or idiotic ‚ÄĒ backpackers passing through.The Mostari diving club pretty much mans the bridge daily and charges tourists a hefty fee of 25 euros if they want to jump.If a tourist successfully plunges, they are hailed into the club and can jump for free for the rest of their life. If not, well then I don’t really want to know the outcome of such a feat.


Mid afternoon, and it was time to head off to OREBIC but not before stopping over to climb the old walls of¬†STON- the European wall of China.¬†Crossed a lovely couple from Argentina while walking the 5.5 km wall only to see them back on the other side of Mali Ston and hearing Carl singing – don’t cry for me Argentina, to grab their attention from down below. Ah, memories! We called it a day by 7 pm in the comfortable airbnb accommodation in Orebic.
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DAY 6- Oct 2nd 2017

This day ended up being the most hectic of all days. We had been stair climbing since we arrived in Croatia to hiking uphill almost every day. But this day was a day of cycling. Cycling off the beaten path on stones and wondering why the shoulders were hurting the following day!
We headed off in the morning on the ferry that took us, along with a fair amount of school kids, to the lovely island of Korcula. By 7:40 am I was already walking the quite inroads of Korcula, taking pictures of the St. Marks Cathedral. We then decided to rent bikes and ride over to the little town of Racisce. This also marks the day that I almost lost my wedding ring and successfully managed to put my cycle chain back on after it fell off.
Carl made a pit stop at the fruit store so he could stash up on his supply as that’s all that he was eating most of the days. I went on with my journey to¬†Racisce, however along the way my bicycle decides to give me trouble. I had never fixed a fallen chain before only coz I knew how dirty your hands get in the process. But, when you are solo you need to suck it up and get dirty. By the time Carl rolled passed me my hands were black with grease but thankfully he had all the supplies needed to clean them up. A good splash of rubbing alcohol and tissues did the trick. I had removed my wedding ring and left it on a rock , later securing it in the inside pocket of my camera bag.¬† That evening after returning back from our full day of cycling I noticed I didn’t have my ring on my finger. Panic of losing my ring set in and i tried replaying the events of the day in my head. Finally the penny dropped and I remembered that the ring was not left on the rock as I originally thought but, was in my camera bag!

The evening after a full day of expending calories it was time to grab a bite. We stopped at this cafe, which is where I had found Carl in the morning, drinking his coffee while I was looking around for a washroom. We decided to grab a bite at this same cafe as our day came to an end.  Sitting there going though my pictures of the day I suddenly had this huge desire to eat a 3 egg cheese omelette. My body was craving for protein and fat. I just spoke my thoughts out loud. Next I hear this gentleman sitting parallel to where we were  sitting say

” I am positive the chef can make you that!”.
me: “Can he? Could you translate it to the waitress that all i want is simply a 3 egg omelette with loads of cheese in it”
Him: ” no need, he will understand you.”
me: “should I go to the kitchen and tell him that myslef?”
Him: “You already did”
Me: ?

“Oh! you are the chef?????”
Him: Yes, Ma’am
Me: THANK YOU SO SO MUCH! You have no idea how happy I feel right this moment.
Him: You are very welcome. I’ll be back with your omelette in 5 minutes
I have to say it was the best Omelette I have ever eaten in my life, made with love and kindness. Needless to say I wanted to always remember this kind chef so decided to take his picture with his permission of course. If you ever wander over to Korchula please visit Cafe Marco Polo.
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DAY 7th – 3rd Oct 2017

As always we left at the crack of dawn, listening to our favourite music channel on FM3 – Otvorenti, belting out tunes that would drive any musically inclined ear completely deaf and mad, and us, probably dead – prematurely hahaha


It was, as always, a lovely start to the day. I saw a partridge crossing the road and thought of my very own Partridge back home! We drove past the Old walls of stone and it made me feel a bit nostalgic knowing that I might never see this place again. So taking it all in, I bid it farewell in my heart and longed to see how the day would unfold and all the adventures that awaited us. We were heading to Dubrovnik – UNESCO world heritage site.¬†The drive itself is under 2 hours but we decided to take a little detour just so we could pass through Bosnia – we crossed the border twice in one day and loved that little adventure. Arriving in Dubrovnik wasn’t hard at all but finding a parking spot was a whole different adventure. It is best to park way outside the city center, the parking is still pricey but cheaper as compared to what you would be paying if it were in smack city center. We walked towards the old town of Dubrovnik, and decided to walk the city wall together before splitting to undertake our individual adventure and later converging at a designated spot for the afternoon lunch! We purchased the¬†Dubrovnik¬†Card which includes free visit to¬†City walls. The adult¬†entrance fee costs¬†150 HRK (visit to Fort Lovrijenac is included in the price). I decided to forego exploring the fort, and after our 2 hour walk around the city wall I decided to head over towards the opposite side of the wall to get a better view of the whole old city from Mount Srd.¬† With some 400 m altitude, Mount Srd dominates Dubrovnik.¬†There is an option of taking the cable car right up to Mt. Srd but the hike up there, in my opinion, is a way better option. It is a beautiful path uphill and you can stop and take as many pictures as you like – getting the best view without any glass hindering¬† or anyone’s head coming in the way of your camera lens. From the top of Mt. Srd the view overlooking the old city is simply awe-inspiring. After 4 hours of legging around I decided to meet up with Carley to see what he had been upto. We had a hearty lunch and exchanged notes. While I was climbing mountains, Carley was climbing all the stairway alleys that Dubrovnik had to offer.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the old town and soaking up in its beauty.  Admiring the architecture and counting the number of stray cats that have made Dubrovnik their loving home. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful experience, a beautiful vacation.

Sun screen diaries, dedicated to Carl ūüėÄ

 

Reflection

“I don’t want to live to live… I want to live to see this world.”

Woke up this morning, my first morning back from an amazing trip visiting Croatia. The first thought that came into my head was food and the above mentioned quote. I am unaware if it has already been blurred out by someone before, but it is my first thought of the day. Waiting at the airport in Dubrovnik to catch a flight back to Zagreb, I met this wonderful Australian woman and we hit it off. She was 55 years old and was visiting Croatia to take a little break from her cycling trip around Europe. She was heading back to England to continue her journey over to France and beyond… her partner was undertaking a cycling trip from England to Australia and was meeting up with her in the UK. They were to ride together till march after which she was flying back to Australia and would only be seeing her man after a year.

Talking to her made me realize that dreams will only remain dreams unless we get up and make them a reality. Thinking and acting on that thought has never been something that I’m good at. It works better for me when I get to do something and later on in the tranquility of my house can reflect on my actions – often a very pleasant memory. People we meet on our journey living this life, inspire us, motivate us and enthrall us in the most fascinating way. Giving us that drive to do what we can only dream of.

Go fish Moondog !

Moon dog came over! Her visit was the highlight of my month, because you know, her presence = F U N

Our time together was long overdue. It always happens spontaneously, and that’s what makes it so memorable.

Plans were being hatched as to what we could do in the short time we had together. The weather was supposed to be decent except it wasn’t. Rain and thunder was on our tail and we couldn’t let anything dampen our spirits. After dropping the bags at home and changing into comfortable gear we decided to hit the road, not knowing where we were going and what we were doing. Then suddenly, she blurs out

JAS, I WANT TO GO FISHING!

What? Fishing?? OK! Swung the car in the parking lot of a shopping area and we were on our phones looking for a place to go fishing. BURDS FAMILY FISHING got 4.6 stars and 30+ reviews suggested that there is no place like Burds. It was 45 mins away and well, we had nothing better to do than to explore. WE were on our way. What followed next is an experience I will forever remember as that day I murdered and stabbed my favourite worm and yanked out fish that tasted so good.

We were greeted by Anthony (moon confirm the name plz!) who was a young man in his early 20’s and was the only employee available that day and was not expecting to see anyone come over in the middle of a weekday to fish. He was kind enough to give us a cup full of worms, free of cost, along with 2 fishing rods. We were only charged for 1. It was our lucky day. ¬†A quick run down of how to use the rods and reminder that this is a fish and keep farm, we were on our way over to the pond to fish for our supper. Anthony gave us gloves to handle the worms in case we were not comfortable handling them with our bare hands. I wasn’t comfortable handling anything with my bare hands and had the gloves on the whole time.

This was the most daunting task. Moon was sitting there breaking her long earthworms in two, stabbing them and hooking them on and was ready to cast her bait. I on the other hand was dry heaving and cringing at the mere thought of breaking my earthworm in two. Ever since I was little I have a soft spot for earthworms. It didn’t always start off being like that. This myth that I had heard when I was younger, and of course I had to try it out, said that if you throw salt on earthworm, it melts. Earthworms are highly sensitive to salt, they breath through their skin and being exposed to high concentration of salt causes mortality as it destroys their skin. Ever since that myth was confirmed the feeling of guilt for killing these harmless creatures was so strong that till date if I see an earthworm struggling to make its way into the soil or after rain is lying helplessly on the concrete, I will pick i up and leave it in a safe area.

Knowing that I now had to tear this worm into two and hook it so I can catch a fish was a bit overwhelming but I came around it. After pleading numerous times to moon, asking her to give me her broken worm, it was finally my turn to toughen up and tear the worm. It was done. Over and over again.

It took forever to get the hang of fling and release so that the line could be cast. Finally after seeing the pro in action (moon of course) it sunk in and we were both on our way to catching our first fish of the day. Moondog caught her fish first. The excitement and the screams that followed were something out of a horror flick. This fish was huge and heavy and needed the support of both hands to reel it in. As it was hanging on the line, Anthony after hearing our screams of excitement and horror came running to our aid. He pulled the flapping fish off the hook and handed it out to moon so she could pose with our dinner.

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moon with her fish

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yes, it is yucky!

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I caught my first fish

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My dinner and me

Next was my turn. This was the moment I had been dreading after I got over the initial shock of splitting and stabbing earthworms. 10 minutes after moon caught her fish I had mine bite my bait and run off with it. The little thief left me nothing on my hook and after securing another worm, we were back to reeling a fine catch in. It was HEAVY. My spindly arms were tugging on that rod and fingers were fast turning the handle. There emerged a flapping silvery cold blooded aquatic sea creature, looking more like a monster to me. He was secure on my rod. As I pulled him in, its flapping body was following me all over, rightfully so. He was still attached to my fishing rod.

Unlike moondog, I was not brave enough to hold my fish still alive in my hands. Anthony came over and after pulling the trout off the line he slammed its little head against the rock and knocked him out stone cold. What followed were more shrieks and gagging, though it doesn’t seem so in the pictures. ¬†After securing our fish we made our way over to Anthony where he scaled them and beheaded the poor thing and ripped its heart out. Getting it ready for us to cook later that evening.

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Moon staring at the fish heart

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fish heart

He placed the beating heart on the table and moon proceeded to give it CPR with her little finger. The heart beats on being touched and that went on for a good 45 seconds or so. Who would have known that this day would have ended up being so brutally educative. We thanked Anthony for bearing up and being so kind to us. In our hands we left with 3 trouts that we devoured later that evening and memories of the day we shall never forget for a long time to come. Never a dull moment when moon is in town.

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Come back again, your room is ready XOXO

He shot me, so I shot him! Hope he knows he is famous now.

There is something relaxing about blogging. As we all know, the trend that I follow is nothing short of random but there is still something comforting about typing out whatever random thought enters my mind.

The title of today’s blog suggests something sinister and intriguing at the same time. It all started when I decided to make my way over to the small walled market town of Conwy in Wales. It is around 1h50 minutes by train from Manchester Piccadilly station to Llandudno Junction from where you can walk over to this beautiful town not even at a distance of 20 mins. The walk over is pleasant and along the way if you are a fan of antique furniture then do make a stop at Collinge Antiques. The gentleman who owns the place is very pleasant and even if you are there to browse, you won’t feel rushed or unaccepted. The store is open 7 days a week and is worth checking out.

As you approach Conwy, this imposing 13th century castle stands majestically overlooking the Conwy River. Interestingly the people born in Conwy are called jackdaws – bird in the crow family. I remember taking care of an injured one when I was a teenager. A very intelligent bird, and a very predominant feature strutting the walls of Conwy castle. The entrance fee to the castle is under ¬£6.00 and is well worth visiting to take in the awe-inspiring views of the mountains and the sea. It was here that the incident occured. As I made my way over to the top of one of its 8 massive towers, the only one that wasn’t full of tourists, I was able to take this stunning picture.
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Standing there taking the view in and literally blocking the entrance from others getting to the top, I was enjoying my moment of solitude when this nasty seagull decided to excrement on me. It matched well with my maroon trench and white silk scarf. Couldn’t even tell what hit me till I felt it’s warmth trickle down my hand and then a reaction so ghastly that it caught his attention. Well this smart arse on the other tower captured everything on his camera. When i turned around I was met by this cheeky grin so I had to return the favor! So I shot him back!
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Voil√†, that’s the story behind the title. Carrying forward, the rest of the day was quite uneventful. A stroll down the town center took me to this most delicious gluten free fish and chips place that I’ve ever tasted. The batter was perfect, the place equally pleasant called The Archway. Not far is the¬†Elizabethan townhouse in Conwy from the 16th Century. It’s best to buy a combined ticket for the castle and the Plas Mawr, ends up being of better value. The house is very well preserved and you are truly transported back in time. The gardens are amazing though flowers were not yet in full bloom but the view from the stairs to the attic are quite breathtaking, don’t forget to close the windows when you have finished.

 

Another historic building, though¬†3.05 metres x 1.8 metres in dimensions is the Smallest house in Britain. The line up outside is long but if you have the time to pop in, it’s quite quaint and won’t take an hour to complete the tour. The entrance fee is¬†¬£1 and you have to see it to appreciate how living there could work. The house is still owned by the descendants of Robert Jones, a 6ft tall fisherman who had to abandon his abode on issues of hygiene.
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And finally the first thing you see entering into Conwy is the magnificent Suspension bridge, an engineering marvel from where you can capture pictures of the harbor and the river.
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View of the Suspension Bridge from one of the Castle Towers.
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The day was well spent exploring this wonderful little gem in Wales. On my way back as I gave a last glace to what I had experienced, nature thanked me in it’s own way. I heart(ed) my visit and Conwy heart(ed) me

 

It’s time to press it!

When in Manchester…

Right, that’s how i wanted to start this post. I have no excuses at all for disappearing like i did, i call this ” life happens”. From being so productive in writing down random thoughts to being so non-productive in the last few months, but then again, who says I have been non-productive? Things have been rolling in the right direction and that’s all there is to it. As i sit in my bed with a head cold and clogged up sinuses, a cup of green tea on my bed side, I am here to talk about my past few months.

I attended my first Symphony Orchestra in the month of May, thanks to a colleague who mentioned that he was going. Something that I wanted to see for such a long time and finally had the chance to, in Manchester UK. The whole experience was a bit emotional and I am not necessarily someone who understands symphony. However, that being said- the stings of my heart were definitely plucked opening the flood gates only because it was simply so beautiful. An experience worth remembering.

Manchester always keeps me entertained. There is tons to see and do around the city that doesn’t cost money and is culturally enriching. If you are laying over in MAN for more than 48 hrs, be sure to visit the Manchester Art Galley. Not even a stones throw from the crew hotel is this fantastic art gallery that is a host to over 10,000 paintings and is a perfect place to spend your day admiring art and photography.

Another one of my favourites is the Chetham’s Library. Not many know this but believe it or not I do have a degree in Library Information Sciences. Who would have thought?! This is one of the oldest public libraries, situated in the city center providing access ¬†to a huge collection of books FREE OF COST. You will find rare and antique books and even if you are not a book lover, just visiting this library will make you one. It’s one of Manchester’s hidden gems and definitely merits you sitting in one of the library’s reading rooms taking in all the knowledge you can. Knowledge is heavy so make sure you use both your hands in lifting it off the shelves.

This one probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but Manchester has this amazing Donkey Sanctuary. I got hooked on to donkey’s ever since i realized my handsome husband had a soft spot for this animal. It’s not an ¬†animal not many think about, an animal that is abused and ill-treated and not given the respect it deserves for being head strong ,stubborn and sure of itself. Well, after visiting my first Donkey Sanctuary in the south of Spain, I have made it my mission to visit every donkey sanctuary I can, and it just so happens there is one – a very good one- in Manchester. This place has ended up being one of the most successful international charities today, providing donkey assisted therapy to children across the UK and internationally. Animal therapy is long used in providing vulnerable people with opportunities for emotional connection, social interaction, communication and confidence-building and I am glad to say that this charity has achieved this and much more. A must visit for all those who love and care about animals.

Then of course there is always the train that can take to Wales… that’s for another time. This post has been sitting on my laptop for over 9 hours, it’s time that i press it.

Beautiful villages in Andalusia

Talk about neglect! It has been over 5 months and i have not posted on my blog site. My apologies to my readers ( if there are any!). Not to say that I have not been busy, on the contrary, the new years resolution was to travel every month and that has been achieved so far. It is hard not to achieve that one when you work in the travel industry.

Every year I take a trip with my creator. We went back and forth deciding where to go. Pacific coastal drive was on our agenda till Trump messed up our plans by simply “being”. Right now I am sitting in my favourite place in the world, my living room, looking out at the pouring rain, drinking a cup of original and pure Kangra tea and gearing up to put my thoughts in words.

This trip was simply AMAZING and wouldn’t have been as easy as it ended up being if it were not for my loving in-laws. They were kind enough to set us up and lend us their lovely home in Nerja. Now, nothing was planned… I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, the rest depended on how well my mum would take to cities. Turns out, I realized very soon, that tourists infested towns/cities and clicking pic of the same old touristic joints wasn’t something that mum was interested in. It made it way simpler for me to hence plan out our itinerary and see the beautiful villages of Andalusia and share them with someone I dearly love.

First stop : Nerja and Frigliana

Nerja, pronounced – Ner-kha NOT Ner-ha but ‘kha’ ( k and h are pronounced together, if that makes sense.) 68 kms east of Malaga lies this amazing little ¬†resort town of Nerja. This was our starting point for all the subsequent trips we took. There are plenty of places and areas of interest in Nerja itself, that I’ll leave for you to explore. The Balcon De Europa is a must if you are visiting Nerja. The views are incredible and it gives you a great sense of where you are and what King Franco experienced. We decided to go pay the –¬†cueva de nerja ( caves of Nerja) a quick visit. Cueva de Nerja, a nearby cavern with unusual stalactites and stalagmites, hosts popular summertime concerts. It’s also known for its paleolithic paintings, viewable by guided tour.¬†The entry fee was¬†‚ā¨10 per head. Since the tourist season is yet to start, there was no problem as far as gaining access to the caves was concerned. No flocking of eager tourists, no rush in any way.
The afternoon was spent exploring the beautiful little village of Frigliana or ” the white village” which is at a distance of less than 20 km from Nerja.¬†The quarter is made up of steep cobbled alleyways winding past white houses resplendent with flowers.

Capileira


Capileira is the  highest of the 3 villages in the Poqueira Valley with the back drop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Only at a distance of 80 km from Nerja, a must visit for those who are in love with nature and hiking. Known as the Santorini of Spain, this place is the perfect spot to visit if you wish to be taken aback by the dramatic setting and fascinated by the beautiful labyrinth of narrow whitewashed streets, splashed with colour by geraniums, and wide open to spectacular views down the gorge and up to the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada.

Alora and Ronda

111 km west of Nerja lies the quaint little hilly town of Alora. Easily accessible by hourly train service from the city center in ¬†Malaga ( only 40 kms west of it), this makes for a good day trip for all my Flight Attendant friends who wish to explore a new place, and get their dose of daily exercise in. The climb into the village is pretty steep and the walk up to the Alora castle is beautiful. From the castle you’ll be able to admire the beauty of village with the mountains in the back drop.


The cliff hanging footpath Camino de Rey  is located at El Chorro in the municipal district of Alora.  Continue another 75 km and you will reach the birthplace of modern bullfighting and the oldest town in Spain- Ronda. The most conspicuous feature of Ronda is its location on a big sandstone hill that is cut in two by the El Tajo gorge, in which the  Guadalevin rivers runs some 120 m below. The views of the gorge and the surrounding countryside are breathtaking, and worth the visit in itself. Hiking down into the gorge is very much possible, make sure to have the right gear and right camera equipment.

Iznajar and Almodovar del Rio

140 km North of Nerja likes the lakeside gem of Iznajar. Meandering streets of this flowery village will lead you to its 8th century castle next to its 16th century church. On your walk up to the castle you can stop by the Patio de las Comedias and enjoy a cup of cafe frappe while over looking the picturesque landscapes below. What was really enthralling was the orange trees lining the streets in all these little villages that we visited. Not only did they add colour and character to the beauty of these villages, but also provided a weary traveler some much-needed Vit C along the way.

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Further north of Iznajar, some 125 km¬†away, past the historic and the touristy town of Cordoba lies this round castle of Muslim origin in the town of Almodovar del Rio. Built by the Arabs in the 8th century, this castle underwent a lot of wear and tear and finally was restored to its current condition ( while maintaining its original integrity and look) under the architectural direction of Adolfo Fernandes Casanova. The only reason I remember his name is due to the mention of Adolf(o) and Casanova together, bridged by good ol’ Fernandes. The entry fee to the Castillo is¬†‚ā¨8, giving you access to the priceless view of the town below.

Baeza and Udeba ( 10 km distance between the two towns)

227 km¬†to the north of Nerja, in the Jaen province of Spain lies the “Olive oil capital” town of Baeza (UNESCO). We happened to be there on the day of the celebration of Semana Santa.¬†The Holy Week of Baeza was declared Fiesta of Tourist Interest in 1980 and of National Tourist Interest of Andalusia in 1997. We were lucky to arrive right on time to witness this first hand, and to capture the inspiration behind the garb made popular by the KKK ( for all the wrong reasons!). The Cathedral of Baeza is also an essential attraction as is the Town Hall, which was declared a national monument. Both these towns reflect Renaissance style that visitors could believe they are somewhere in Italy.

Out of the 8 provinces of Andalusia, we were able to explore and drive around 4, covering the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen and I have to attest that not only were we smitten by the varied landscapes of these regions we drove through, but the most that stood out was the hospitality of its people and their friendly approach and openness, making it one of my favourite places to visit over and over again. This love affair isn’t over, it just started ūüôā
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