48 HOURS IN DUBLIN

Dublin City centre (2)

“In Dublin‘s fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh…”

If you’re planning a trip to Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, you must already start humming the above lines. The unofficial anthem of Dublin city, it is sure to set the mood for what’s coming. Yes, the Irish love their songs. Many an Irish town, street, landscape have been immortalised in melody. While Dublin may not appear in the list of prettiest cities in the world, it certainly packs a good deal of variety for every kind of traveller.

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Think cobblestone streets, the handsome towers of Trinity College, ample green spaces, the Georgian-period buildings, quiet squares, artsy cafes and more.

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GOING SLOW IN ST GALLEN

In the hilly, pre-Alpine landscape set against the imposing backdrop of the Alpstein Massif by Lake Constance, St. Gallen is a place where the air is still pure, grass meticulously trimmed, green and lush and stress is a relatively unknown concept. In other words, it’s the perfect place to take time out of your hectic schedule and just be on your own timetable.

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A STEP BACK IN TIME   

When in St Gallen, you’re just an hour away from Zurich yet far away from city vibes. Spend a day walking at your leisure, admiring its one-of-a-kind architecture you get to see at every turn.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Abbey Precinct houses the cathedral and the library, and is a real treat. With its twin towers, the Baroque-era cathedral defines the cityscape of St Gallen. Know more about the monumental sacred building that has a lavishly-painted interior, richly decorated with stucco work and paintings. Once there, let the stillness of prayer and meditation envelop you

SWISS CITIES - ART & ARCHITECTURE

In the beautiful rococo hall of Abbey Library, marvel at 1,70,000 printed books, more than 2,000 original medieval handwritten manuscripts and ancient maps. After all, there’s a reason it’s known as the “pharmacy of the soul”

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GET HIGH ON HIGHLANDER LIFE

To describe Zakopane in three simple words, you can easily call it ‘heaven on earth’. Here’s more about the little country town – situated in the shadows of the Tatra mountains – in Southern Poland.

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Even before you reach this modest peasant resort town, you want time to slow down and gradually come to a standstill. The scenic road route from Krakow to Zakopane is enough to keep you up throughout the two-hour journey. What you see on both sides are little picturesque hills bespeckled with pine trees and country-like mustard-brown wooden chalets – topography that’s bright and yellow-green in summer and buried in purple-white snow during winter months. In front of you, the view of the towering Tatra mountains – that seem to come closer as you progress towards your destination – is spectacular. And once you’re there, all you wish to do is stand and stare at what lies in front of you and take deeper breaths to feel the unadulterated air.

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JAISALMER – THE CHARMING SANDSTONE CITY

The rainy season certainly isn’t really the right time to visit Jaisalmer, especially if you wish to enjoy a camel safari and a night of camping under the starry sky. But that did not deter the curious rain chaser in me who desperately wanted to experience the monsoon magic in the ‘Golden City of India’. After living the Maharaja life at a 550-year-old haveli in Jodhpur, we decided to take off to Jaisalmer by road. I must say that our 300 km drive was quite rewarding. The highway was stark empty with open spaces on either side, and no visible economic activity for miles and miles; we almost felt like we privately owned the beautiful surroundings. To make the trip all the more pleasant, peacocks, camels and blackbucks occasionally made an appearance, gorging themselves on the fresh green grass, courtesy the random bursts of rain.
The city that is entirely constructed by yellow sandstone is much more laid-back and hassle-free as compared to cities like Jodhpur and Jaipur and untouched by globalisation. Retaining the rural Rajasthani aura and culture, the city has no fancy malls or popular food chains and is hugely dotted with ruins. We started our day with a walking tour of the city’s major heritage spots which are within the radius of 2 to 4 km. Even if you’ve hired a car or taxi, you’ll have to walk up to most of the places as the streets are quite narrow. When you look at the magnificent, carved havelis and the unique fort perforated with winding lanes and lined with houses and temples, you’ll be transformed to a bygone era and would never wish to return to reality.
After savoring a few local dishes like Ker Sangri and Daal Baati at one of the small joints near the fort, we proceeded to Sam Sand Dunes for a desert safari which was just the perfect way to end the evening on a delightful note. It wasn’t raining that evening and we just got lucky. When it rains, you can’t recognise the desert – heaps of sand are eroded, leaving behind bare nut-brown earth and a camel or jeep safari remains a distant dream. But we got to experience both and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, the ride is likely to take a toll on your back if you tend to become too stiff and don’t move in the same rhythm. Post the safari, you can either get back to your hotel or book an overnight stay at one of the desert camps to witness the breathtaking sunset and spend the night around a bonfire or simply appreciate the rustic performances by the folk dancers of Rajasthan.
My trip to Jaisalmer was indeed a memorable one as it felt like I was travelling back in time. Too hard to believe? Here’s a glimpse

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A panoramic view of the Jaisalmer city from Canon Point
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Jaisalmer Fort Road enclosed by honey-coloured sandstones. Can’t take your eyes off the unsurpassed architectural marvel?

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8 ABSOLUTE MUST-DOS IN MACAU

While Macau is only famous for its casinos, it has many hidden treasures that are waiting to be explored. From lip-smacking Portuguese food prepared by Michelin-star chefs and adrenaline-pumping adventure to larger-than-life live shows and quaint architecture, Macau has something in store for everyone

IMG_20150826_154900_HDR (2)1. Hang around at Senado Square
They say: If you haven’t been to Senado Square, you haven’t been to Macau! It’s named after the Leal Senado Building and has been Macau’s urban centre for centuries. It is a lovely place to simply relax, may be, have cup of coffee or an ice-cream and take photographs. It is also a shopping and eating hub with numerous bylanes selling different things like souvenirs, clothes, cosmetics and local food items. The square is paved with beautiful Portuguese cobblestones and surrounded by pastel-coloured neo-classical buildings, creating a very European feel. All in all, this place is a splendid blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultural traits. Senado Square is at a walking distance from Ruins of St Pauls.

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