In my recent New York trip I came across this beautiful 22- foot bronze arm pointing upwards, named as Unity, sculptor is Hank Willis Thomas. It is standing at the intersection of Tillary and Adams streets near the exit from the Brooklyn Bridge.
This is my entry for this weeks WPC-Liquid. These photographs are from my travel to Prague last year.
For me it is always a joyful experience to capture images of any water bodies that I come across. The play of the sunlight or the sunset on the surface of the water makes it an interesting subject to capture and one never tires of it.
For this photo challenge I am including pictures clicked from and near the Charles Bridge (famous landmark of Prague) of the Vltava river water that flows below.
I am happy to share here glimpses of my time spent on that Summer evening in such a beautiful place. Do let me know your thoughts about my entry for this photo challenge.
As soon as the school summer break starts most of the families living in this part take home-bound flights to their respective home country. With a recent visit in April I was not going to be travelling to India. The search for the summer trip destination started with many countries being virtually visited, and somehow until the end of June it was still not decided where we were heading for our holiday, some respite is a must from the scorching UAE summer. But during the Eid break it finally got decided to apply for a Schengen Visa and if obtained then go visit a few countries in Europe. Thus the summer in Europe happened in reality, and we visited Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. It is easy to tour these neighboring countries, see the many places as the rail and road network is very good and if we plan our sightseeing tour before landing in the country then it can be easily managed by ourselves (no tour operator is needed).
Plan your destination and then go through the sightseeing places online before landing.
Book hotel/accomodation near major sightseeing attractions, so as not to waste time and money in commuting.
Keep luggage to basic and minimum, we have to carry our bags ourself and be prepared as some accommodations may not have elevators. If using the metro, then at some stations it is a bit of hassle to haul big suitcases up the stairs.
Check for the day passes of the train/metro/trams, and plan your sightseeing for the day so that you can make maximum use of the day pass and cover the attractions along the route for which the ticket is purchased. (more on this in my upcoming Vienna tour post) Do check the various ticket options sold before buying any tickets.
The trip started from Prague, our first destination. We were here for 2 days,which I felt was sufficient to visit the many attractions in the city. Most of the places of interest are in the Old Town Square, so it is very helpful if we book out accommodation/hotel in the neighborhood. We landed in Prague in the morning, had arranged for the hotel pickup and by 9.30 am or so were at the hotel reception. But, as the rooms are allotted only after 2 pm, we had kept our luggage in hotel reception and straightaway started with the city walking tour. You will find offices of the walking tours in Old Town Square (they are free, but we should be tipping the guide) the guides tells a lot of history of the country, gives us a feel of the neighborhood and provides all the information about the monuments nearby. He covered the small guided tour of the monuments in and around the old town square, a stop-over for catching some coffee/ sandwich/ or a quick-lunch and then moving onto the Jewish town, the University and again back to near the square. The full tour usually lasts 1.30 hr or so. I had my first Bagel ever at the coffee shop, it was the best and now I have found a new favorite food 🙂 .
The Old Town Square and the nearby monuments and landmarks:
The umbrella holding people seen in above picture are the tour guides and the walking tour to Old town Square starts from here.
The walking tour proceeding towards the Square, seen above is the side view of Church of our Lady of Tyn. The front part of the church has two other buildings covering its view.
The above picture shows us the Old Town square and its numerous landmarks-in the center and all around it. It is a very big square, and full of many locals as well as tourists, we get to see lot of attractions and people showing their art here.
Seen below is the Jan Hus Monument.
It was very interesting to see the soap bubbles being made using the sticks and fun to see kids run and catch the bubbles. By the end of this Eu tour I noticed that we see the soap bubbles being made at every square, it is a very common sight, in other cities too.
It was funny to see this man suspended in air, the Genie from the Chirag!
The blue under renovation structure seen above is the Old Town Hall, and has the Astronomical clock.
Seen above the tall (behind the front two buildings) Gothic architectural structure is the Church of our Lady before Tyn.
The above two pictures show the Astronomical Clock, the most famous attraction of the Square. At every hour the small windows seen in the clock open, the apostles seen in the picture move, lot of crowd gathers and is seen waiting patiently in front of the clock to see this happen.
As we move ahead from the square, we come face to face with this below landmark.
Seen above is the St. Nicholas Church.
The few pictures seen below is the route we walked along with the walking tour, further away from the Old town Square,
The Tram cables seen hanging in the above pictures.
We see numerous cafe and tourists relaxing and enjoying snacks, lunch, coffee, beer, and other drinks everywhere as we walk ahead with the tour guide.
The Jewish town
I do not have the close front view of the clocks seen in above picture. The wall clock on the Jewish Town hall has Hebrew numbers and the hands of the clock goes counterclockwise (see the second from top), the one seen at top goes clockwise.
The cafe picture shows the Cubist architecture.
Finally the walking tour ends at the Old Town square, the tourists tip the guide and he bids everyone goodbyes. We roam around for some more time and explore this new city and marvel at the architecture and click loads of pictures, and finally return back to the hotel to go to our allotted accommodation to freshen up and rest for sometime before starting again to go and see the Charles Bridge.
It has taken up an exceptional long time to complete this post, it was a quite a difficult task for me to go through the numerous photographs that were clicked by all of us in the tour and separate a few to include in the post. Hope you enjoyed a glimpse of the Old Town Square of Prague through my pictures 🙂
As I stood facing the river at one of the corner walls of the Buda Castle, (towards the Museum end) I got this beautiful left-side Panoramic view of the Danube river, the Pest side landmarks (on the other side of the river), the magnificent Chain Bridge that connects the Buda and Pest sides of what we know as Budapest, and hence thought of selecting this as my entry for the WPC-Corner.
The beauty of nature in my surroundings always draws me towards it and distracts me, I have to stop and capture it in my camera.
During my recent trip to Budapest, this Ivy creeper was seen covering most part of one of the buildings in the Buda Castle area, (not sure if it was History Museum).
The ever bright afternoon sun was giving a fantastic shine and shadow effect over the leaves. (the pictures may not do justice to the beautiful scenery I saw, but I still had to frame it in my camera.) 🙂
For me traveling to different places necessarily also includes tasting the local cuisine and getting to know the names of their food dishes. During my recent Budapest visit, one of the days we ate at the local street food restaurant and the sight and taste of their flatbread totally made me think of our very own Bhaturas. They called it Lángos, it is the Hungarian street food that is a deep-fried flat bread made using refined flour, yeast, water or milk. They also use potato and sour cream or yogurt to make this and the name changes accordingly.
Through this post I wished to highlight the similarities of the breads that go by different names in two different countries, which are geographically far away from each other. In North India we have our Bhaturas that are made using refined flour and yogurt (I make use of this). I have been observing this very fascinating food fact about breads in different countries that I have traveled so far. The basic ingredients of the breads is very much common around most parts. (You can check out my older post about the Georgian breadhere.)
Sharing my Bhatura recipe and also the pictures of the Hungarian street food from my recent travels.
Refined Flour: 250 gm
Sour curd: 100 ml
Ajwain/Carom seeds: 1 Tsp
Water: 100 ml
Salt: 1 Tsp
Cooking oil: for frying
Take the refined flour and add the salt and Ajwain to it and mix. Add the curd and mix well, we get a lumpy flour mix.
Using the water make a loose dough, it will be sticky. Use some oil to prevent it from sticking to the palm and make a round ball and keep this in the bowl and cover with kitchen towel. Keep this bowl in a warm place for 2-3 hours. For these bhaturas I do not keep the dough in warm place over night. I prefer the taste and flavor of the bhaturas with short leavening time. (had seen a north Indian friend keep the dough overnight and then made the bhaturas).
Note: (I prefer to make them a bit smaller than the regular bhaturas seen in restaurants as then I do not need to pour too much oil in the Kadai for frying. It is not a healthy habit to keep the leftover heated oil for reuse)
Heat cooking oil in a Kadai and deep fry the rolled out bhaturas until they become puffed up golden on both side. Pressing them with the fry ladle skimmer while frying in oil helps to puff them up.
These were served hot with spicy masala chole.
Sharing below pictures that I clicked of the Hungarian Lángos displayed in the restaurant in Budapest.
This plate of the bread with the chicken goulash was very tasty, very close to my cooking style and taste preference. We enjoyed tasting this new dish and loved our dinner at this Budapest restaurant that evening.
I hope you all liked this post as much as I loved cooking the bhaturas and writing and sharing the pictures with you all here.
Enjoy home cooking and eating with the family at the dinning table and create memories 🙂
For this weekly photo challenge I found this picture that I had tried capturing in my iPhone camera, but was not very happy with the result as it was not very clear. I was trying to focus the Bee Hive that was formed on one of the young tree in my friend’s garden, but with the bees flying in all directions and me avoiding being stung, it was difficult to go more closer for better focus.
But I was happy clicking this picture as it sure is very fascinating to see the bees working on the hive and to see it grow this closely, a rare sight for city dwellers 🙂 .
When visiting the beautiful country Georgia, one has to include visits to the lush green vineyards, orchards, wine cellars and not to forget to taste the locally made wine.
Georgia is famous and known for its ancient traditional method of wine making, and this method is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list. Wine is a very integral part of every Georgian’s daily life with all the festivities and their different rituals. Wine making is a national occupation, almost all houses have grape vines growing in their land and the method of wine making is passed on from generations to generations. They use the wine making method in which an egg-shaped earthen clay pot known as Kvevri or Qvevri is used to make wine.(I am not sure about the spelling). The Georgian farmers use the Qvevri for making the wine, ageing it and then storing it. Hence this method of wine making is known as the Qvevri method.
Our Georgia tour package included a tour visit of a 300-year-old wine cellar as mentioned in the brochure given to us by our guide Nino. It was something new, different and a fabulous experience to visit the wine cellar.
The farmer had both the Red and White wines that he removed in front of us from the Qvevri that were buried deep in the ground in his cellar. The cellar was dark inside, no sunlight could come in, the walls were thick, stone and brick made. There were many old vessels, machinery, lamps, wine making tools and quite a number of assorted pots, pans, pitchers and jars that were displayed of which some might not be in use now.
Their were number of empty wine bottles stacked very neatly in the wall, big jars, bottles filled with liquid and lemon cubes inside.
It is a Georgian tradition to offer the local bread Shotti along with the wine, this farmer too offered us the bread. I loved the wine pots and pitchers, but unfortunately I could not buy any as souvenirs as I kept thinking I will see them some place, but did not like the ones that I came across in the souvenir shops.
Our guide Nino helped us understand how the wine is made, as the farmer could not speak English. I am writing and sharing here whatever I can recollect of the Georgian wine making method that she told us, everything was so new and interesting that I had no time to jot down each and every word of hers :).
The grapes are collected, pressed and the juice then poured into the Qvevri along with the skin, stalks, and the pips. It is then sealed and buried into the ground so that the wine can ferment for five or six months before it is opened and drunk. The wine is then kept for ageing. The Qvevri facilitates the process of formation and ageing with the minerals that are part of it’s composition. This method of wine making is found all over the country. After the wine is removed the left over chacha-skin, stalks and pip is used to make the drink called chacha through a process, and this drink Chacha (Georgian name) is also know as Vodka. We can see that nothing from the grape plant is wasted, the whole plant gets used to make both the wine and Vodka. The local farmer at whose house we ate the Georgian lunch served us all types of drinks- Wine both red as well as white, Chacha/Vodka, and Champagne. I will make another post of the Georgian feast, Supra as they call it.
The grape varieties used determine if it is Red or White wine. We visited the many monasteries in the country and could see the wine cellars using this traditional wine making methods. The Rkatsteli and Mtsvane varieties of the grapes are used to produce the White wine. The Saperavi grape variety is used to make the Red wine.
The Satsnakheli is a wooden trough usually made from a single wood that is used for as a manual foot stumping wine press.
It was no longer used by this wine maker as told by our guide. The grapes are put into the Satsnakheli, then manually foot pressed and the juice is directly collected in the Qvevri. Later the grape skins, stalks and pips left in the Satsnakheli are put into the Qvevris.
A visit to the wine cellar would not be complete if we did not buy the farmers homemade wine, and we bought one bottle of the red wine.
As we sat and chatted along with our guide, the farmer was busy with another group of tourist who had come to visit his wine cellar.
As I already mentioned at the start of the post that this Qvevri method of wine making is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list, hence, if you are visiting Georgia, do visit a wine cellar or winery and see it in person and get the joy of tasting the local wines.
I had a great trip and hence wished to share few details of the trip for those tourists who look up websites, blogs for information before traveling or picking up a travel destination. Are you one of them? I sure am :).
If you want to check out my other posts on Georgia click the below number links-
Food is an essential component of any travel that one embarks upon. If I am traveling to a new destination, my mind first searches for the food/cuisine found in that place. This is not only because I love to eat and cook, but would hold true for most travel enthusiast. Traveling is the journey that one sets upon to learn new things about the place one visits, it’s people, it’s culture and its food and cuisine, and in the process to discover or rediscover oneself too. This would be the true definition of what traveling means for me.
As already mentioned in the Georgia travel Diary : 1 blog post, the food, wine and oldest wine making method of this place was what drew us to visit the country Georgia. I would like to share the pictures that I took when I visited the local bakery.
Local bakeries making the Georgian Bread called Shoti is a typical sight that we get to see in all the streets. This local and typical Georgian bread that is called Shoti or Shoti puri can be similar to the Indian bread called Tandoor Roti or Naan, or to the Afghani Naan or the Arabic Kuboos that I see here in the UAE. All these require the Tandoors or clay ovens for baking the bread. It is customary to be serving the Shoti along with wine, the local winemaker we visited told us and offered us this bread and samples of his homemade wine-both the red wine as well as the white wine.
Wine tasting at the local wine maker, see he offered us the bread.
I saw this bread bakery in Kvareli town. After our day trip was over and our hired taxi dropped us at the hotel, we set out on foot to explore the peaceful town of Kvareli.
After stopping to taste the local ice-cream at the supermarket shops lining the road, we came across people carrying freshly baked bread in paper rolls or sheets. I followed the road from where I saw people were coming with bread and reached this bakery. It was already late in evening and the baker was busy baking the last batch of bread. I requested for clicking the snaps and he immediately agreed. He could not speak English and still we were able to communicate, this is best part of any travel. He was busy doing his job without being bothered by my questions or me moving around in his bakery to click the pictures of the bread being baked.
The oven is called Tone. It more or less resembled an Indian Tandoor, only the shape could be bit different if I am not wrong.
As we were watching the baker busy with the bread making, we saw two customers walk into the bakery, purchase the bread and walked away, it was wonder in their eye to see me busy clicking away pictures with my camera.
The freshly made bread smelled so amazing and our mouths watered and suddenly I felt so hungry. Every Resturant meal I ate I had ordered this Shoti bread. I am fond of any type of Tandoor roti or bread and hence it was perfect for me to eat this typical Georgian bread at every meal during my full tour. 🙂
Summer holidays for kids brought up the decision to go sightseeing and my elder one took up the responsibility to decide the travel destination for this summer of 2016. After having gone through a list of lot many places to select from, she had decided on Cambodia, and since the flight from UAE is via Bangkok, so it was going to be Bangkok and Cambodia. But then the scenic beauty and direct flight to Georgia was looked up, this food and wine destination stole our hearts and finally the tickets for Georgia were booked. The vineyards and oldest wine making method used in Georgia were the deciding factors for selection of this travel destination. I am writing this post after visiting the country, so I am happy to say here that it was a good choice. We went for a seven days tour, but the last two days of the tour being very hot made me think that a 4-5 days travel would have sufficed as we were going on vacation to escape from the UAE summer sun. It is a small, less populated and quiet Country with serene, beautiful scenic views of the mountains, countryside, friendly people and extremely safe to roam around even late in the night. We saw police patrols everywhere in Tbilisi when we were out having a late dinner and later roaming the streets and shopping till late in the night.
It is a direct flight to Tbilisi from Dubai, takes you 3 hrs. to reach and visa was on arrival for the UAE residents. Air Travel was okay, a short sitting time at the Dubai airport lounge, some snacks and sweets tucked in the tummy and we set out for the short three hour air travel. The passport control at the Tbilisi airport was also quick and soon we were near the exit searching for our tour guide, Nino, a young smart girl, who was waiting for us along with the driver of the vehicle that was going to be our transport for the rest of our tour. And our seven day Georgia travel started and it was a good experience with two wonderful people, one spoke English and one could not. The driver was extremely caring and though he could not speak English, but we somehow managed to converse with Nino’s help. The advantage of travelling in private hired vehicle/hired taxi is it allows us to spend more time at places that are of our interest., the kids get to relax and be comfortable so that they are not cranky all the time 🙂 !
Tbilisi city tour through my eyes: We started the city tour in the hired taxi and I got busy click pictures through the car window.
It is a city founded in 5th Century AD, named after the hot spring found here, The streets are cobbled streets as we see in any European country and is a good blend of the old and new. Here we can find Georgian orthodox, Armenian Gregorian, Roman Catholic churches, Synagogue and Zoroastrian temple in close vicinity to each other. It was sure interesting to see this.
Tbilisi means warm in Georgian and I can tell it sure was quite warm in July. Most of the sightseeing in Tbilisi is in the old town, and all the sites are within walking distance, yeah it helps if one is wearing comfortable shoes. We got down from the taxi and walked around the town on foot, yes the sun was at its peak so be prepared to carry a hat or cap and use sun block for protection of the skin.
After an anxious lunch, as I was tasting the Georgian cuisine for the first time, we started our old town Tbilisi tour on foot with our tummies full of yummy meal.
The first stop was Sulfur bath. It was amazing and also breathtaking to see the town and cobbled streets and looking up skywards to see the green lush mountains and blue sky with pure white cotton candy like clouds floating past. For me the picture was just out of a children’s reading book that show lovely mountains with beautiful blue skies. I was already getting soaked into the beauty of this city.
Abanotubani Sulfur Bath District
Water fall, coming from the Botanical gardens (as per our guide Nino)
Sioni Cathedral- considered the most sacred places in the country, holds the holy cross of St. Nino. Our guide also named Nino told us St. Nino was the young woman who converted Georgia to Christianity in the early 4th Century.
Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi is an important cathedral, and is the main Georgian orthodox cathedral. One is supposed to cover the head with a scarf and also no shorts allowed when we entered the churches in Georgia.
It was a learning experience for this traveler to know that almost all religious places be it the temples in India, the Gurudwaras, the Churches, or the Mosque that I visited in Abu Dhabi require us to cover our head, wear full length before we enter these holy places.
Narikala Fortress, a medieval fortification overlooking the Sololaki district. The panorama view from the Narikala fortress of the old town Tbilisi is quiet interesting, we get ample classic shots of the Tbilisi city from here.
These above pictures were clicked from the top near the fortress. We have a rope-way to come down into the city from the top of Narikala fortress. We drove our taxi to the top but we returned down using the cable car.
We get down from the cable car and walk out to this monument that says Europe Square.
‘Travelling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller’- Ibn Batuta
The quote perfectly describes my thoughts, and here I make an effort to take you along on the travels through my posts with the travel pictures captured by me.
This was our first day site-seeing in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hope you all liked going through the pictures as much as I loved sharing them here with you all. More about this beautiful country famous for its wine making and food in another post on the blog tomorrow.
This was the view of the Caucasian mountains that I first saw in the morning from my hotel window during my recent visit to Gudauri, Georgia.
Gudauri is famous for its Ski slopes, and the mountains were beautifully green in color at this time, which otherwise would be white as covered in snow during the winters. I could see the mountain tops covered in snow, some not even visible due to thick fog, moving clouds, in some parts the clear blue sky and the welcoming coldness in air. It was a beautiful morning, and I enjoyed soaking in the view.
As I reside in the UAE and currently experiencing the extreme summer months in this region, and when your morning starts with bright and harsh sun rays gleaming through the window and waking you , just close the eyes and visualize the perfect cold morning of Gudauri.
This picture was clicked during my visit to Mahabalipuram, Chennai, India in December 2015.
Climbing the narrow Spiral stairs is always an experience in itself, be it this one or the many others that I have got the opportunity to climb on. The most memorable one for me was the climb up the spiral staircase to the top of the dome at the Vatican in Rome.