Monday, 12 September 2016

My Top 5 ‘Petra’ Experiences

Petra has an obvious magic. For me, it’s the soul of Jordan. There is a certain enigma about it. The pink rocks, the caves, the history and the Bedouins make Petra a mysteriously beautiful city. The fact that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World evoke curiosity to visit it and when you do, it just spellbinds you!



When I was about to visit Jordan, all I knew about it was Petra. The sight of Petra Treasury was imprinted in my imagination. I was obviously fascinated by it. But, I had no clue that it would be so unfathomable and full of magic.


I wish I had more time to chew on Petra’s mysteries, but let me share some of my best experiences in Petra –


Visiting Little Petra                     
I found Little Petra absolutely remarkable. As the name suggests, it is a small version of what the main Petra is. However, the magic is not at all little. Yes, even Little Petra is equally evocative and dramatic.


According to Wikipedia, Little Petra is an archaeological site located north of Petra and the town of Wadi Musa in the Ma'an Governorate of Jordan. Like Petra, it is a Nabataean site, with buildings carved into the walls of the sandstone canyons. As its name suggests, it is much smaller, consisting of three wider open areas connected by a 450-metre (1,480 ft) canyon.


The Petra walk by night
My most favourite part of the Petra trip was walking towards the treasury in the dark. The walk leads you to the show called ‘Petra by night’, which is an event to showcase the treasury rocks in the laser light.

The ‘Petra by night’ show didn’t really impress me much, but walking the entire Siq to the Treasury with candles lit throughout the way was definitely thrilling. Though I was with my fellow travellers and bloggers, I deliberately chose to walk alone for some time to take in the aura around. The ‘stillness’ that accompanied me as I marched along the rocks was kind of awe-inspiring.


The Petra Treasury by day
The next day, we walked towards the Petra Treasury in the morning as well, and it was equally mesmerizing. In fact, it fascinated me even more when I saw the rocks and caves in the daylight after having walked amidst them in the night. Perhaps I gasped at each rock that I came across – they were massive!


The feeling of just being…
Petra is a kind of place where you just want to be. It reminded me of Jaisalmer for some reason. I guess the aura of rusticity is quite similar between the two cities. I loved the arid air of Petra.  


Snapping photos
Of course, photography is always a joy for me, but there are places that just drive me crazy. Petra is one of them for sure. If you ever get a chance to visit Petra, make sure you have the best camera, tripod (I didn’t carry one, and I regret it) and a good camera phone, too.
Petra is simply irresistible for a photographer.    


Petra is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to.

What do you say? What’s the most inspiring place you have ever visited?
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Lesser-Known GOA In Photos

As I mentioned in my last post, Olaulim Village is a secret of Goa. I got to discover it through Olaulim Backyards, a beautiful home stay in North Goa. It’s a kind of place where I’d like to go back over and over again. Olaulim’s verdant charm kept me from visiting any of the beaches in Goa. I was smugly happy exploring and capturing the green pastures, the pristine landscapes, the quaint chapels and churches and the old Goan houses.

Let these pictures refresh you –


Would you give the lesser-known Goa a chance on your next visit?
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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Olaulim - A Secret Of Goa

Can you really imagine ‘Goa’ without beaches? I know it’s hard for some people to even picture Goa without its coastal side. But, let me tell you the truth – Goa has plenty of natural treasures that are still hidden. Fortunately, I was able to unravel one such haven of lush beauty – Olaulim, a small village in North Goa.


My ‘monsoon’ trip to Goa was long due, so when I checked in at Olaulim Backyards last weekend, my curiosity for a Goan monsoon was quenched to the brim.


Why Olaulim Backyards is a perfect stay in Goa?

Well, if you want to stay in the midst of trees, walk on the grass, bathe in the river and savour fresh home-grown fruits for breakfast, Olaulim Backyards is your home in Goa!

Olaulim Backyards is a home stay run by a couple called Pirkko and Savio, who don’t just open their home for their guests but their hearts, too. They are exceptionally warm hosts with two kids, four dogs, three cats, a goat and a donkey. Yes, it’s a sweet little family to take care of you while you stay with them.


It’s your ‘do-nothing’ time.
Brush aside the itineraries and those check-lists while you stay at Olaulim Backyards. Just be lazy and laidback. Simply sit and gaze. Take a dip in the pool or read a book by the riverside.   
   
Enjoy the nothingness.

So yes, Olaulim Backyards was totally my kind of a place. I didn’t have to think or plan anything. I just enjoyed being.


Conversations with Pirkko and Savio.
As I mentioned earlier, Pirkko and Savio are great hosts. They do their best to make each guest feel at home. It was wonderful talking to them at the dining table and the bar. They unleash a great deal of history about Goa, which is interesting. You would learn a lot more on Goa from Savio than from a guide book. Also, Pirkko is a sweet lady who extends a lot of love to her guests. You can talk to her about anything and she would be your best buddy in no time.


The delicious prawns and the beef dish.
Though I had been to Goa quite a few times, I had never tasted the real Goan cuisine until I checked in at Olaulim Backyards. From the local bread Poi to Goan-style chicken curry, I got to relish some amazing dishes. But, the star dish was the Beef curry, which was so tender and delectable. The flavours were so balanced and nice. And of course, the prawns were so fresh and succulent.    


Party time in the evenings.
A sprinkling of music and Feni completes the experience of being in Goa, right? It was my first taste of Feni, the Goan spirit, which is made with either cashew or toddy palm. Though I don’t really drink, I loved the experience of having a Feni.


Enjoy the open showers and get close to nature.
The cottages and the bathrooms have been given a nature-driven theme too, to match the feel of the entire property. Each room has a portico or a balcony for you to lounge and take in the lushness. But, the most fun part is the open shower attached to your room, which gives you a feeling of being in a forest.

So, it’s a true rendezvous with nature!


Top 5 highlights of staying at Olaulim backyards (in no particular order) –

·       - It’s a river facing home stay in Goa, which allows you to enjoy many activities – swimming, kayaking, canoeing and boating.
·         - Olaulim Backyards has a swimming pool, too. So yes, it’s a favourite place for water babies.
·         - The hosts are excellent. Their hospitality just adds to the pleasure of staying at such a beautiful place.
·         - The food is delicious. It’s home-cooked, simple and the ingredients used are locally produced.
·         - Olaulim is a picturesque village, which you can explore on foot or on a bike.


Practical Information – Olaulim Backyards is located 11 km from Panjim and 42 km from the airport. To book a room at Olaulim Backyards, click here.

Note: I was hosted by Olaulim Backyards. But, as always, all opinions are my own.

Where has been your favourite stay so far?
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