Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Landscapes Of Jordan

Jordan is a pure delight when it comes to landscape photography. The landscapes of Jordan are unique – they are not just beautiful. They exude mystery. They inspire something in you. The rocks and hills seem so unruffled, yet they evoke your imagination.

Jordan is a small, landlocked country, which has many distinctive geographical treasures. From Petra’s pink stones to Madaba’s brown mountains, Jordan spellbinds you!

Enjoy the photos –

The last hues of sunlight paints the hills of Petra. 
The rock erosion that mesmerizes. 
Wadi Rum - a place that looks like Mars.
Films like Lawrence of Arabia, Red Planet, Passion in the Desert,Prometheus,The Last Days On Mars, The Martian, Theeb and Krrish3 were shot in Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum is also called 'The Valley of the Moon' for the way it's cut into the sandstone and granite rock.
Wadi Rum is known to be the dwelling place of the Zalabia Bedouins.
So fascinating that it leaves you speechless...
Rock climbing is one of the favorite activities of travelers in Wadi Rum.
A sight to behold!
It looks like an indefinite poetry of nature.
That's how the sun sets in Wadi Rum.
The desert of Wadi Rum.
Perhaps 'beautiful' is just the beginning of what I witnessed...
Looks like another world altogether, right?
A mirage that just got hooked on to my lens.
On our way to Little Petra - an arid, mountainous desert region.
There's a feeling of abandonment that you get when you see the landscapes of Jordan. 
How benignly the last rays of the sun touches the rocks...
The sunburst shot
The sky, the hills and the sunset.
Who gets tired of sunsets?
The barrenness enthralls and how!
The brown mountains of Madaba (Don't they remind of Ladakh?)
The Nebo Valley - where Moses got a view of the Promised Land.
The city of Amman - that's the amphitheater you can see on the right.
The Dead Sea - a salt lake whose banks are as deep as 400m below sea level, which makes it the lowest point on the earth.

Did the landscapes of Jordan inspire you?

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

7 Jewels Of Jordan

When I landed in Amman, the capital of Jordan, I had a vague idea about what Jordan had in store for me. I was obviously curious because it had been on my bucket-list for a while, and also because it was my first taste of the Middle East. I have to say that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan grows on you. I thank Jordan Tourism Board for inviting me and unveiling to me a fascinating country.

What I loved the most about Jordan is that each city has its distinctive aura. Amman is so different from Aqaba. Petra has its own mystery, while Jerash has its own secrets. Now that I’m back home and looking back at my trip, I have resonances of all the places that I visited in Jordan.

So what makes Jordan an alluring land?

The ruins
The rundown sites of Jordan capture your heart pronto. I particularly loved Jerash, which has the traces of the Bronze Age. The 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns, the oval Forum, the communal baths and the theatres exude the never-fading grandeur of the ancient ages.   

The barrenness
I believe the most outstanding facet of Jordan is its barren beauty. The eroded hills that are scattered across the country have their own charm. Petra looks fabulous with its caves, tombs and temples, while Wadi Rum oozes magic with its sandstones and rocks.

The Bedouins
Perhaps the most intriguing part of exploring Jordan was meeting the Bedouins. The Bedouins are Arab nomads, who dwell in the Arabian and Syrian deserts. They are known for herding camels and goats.

Also, it was a pleasure meeting Marguerite van Geldermalsen, a New Zealand-born nurse who came to India in 1978 and married a Bedouin. Later, she wrote a book named ‘Married to a Bedouin’ based on her own life in Jordan.  

The culture
I have always found the Middle-eastern culture remarkable – the camels, the desert, the belly dancing, the music, the mint tea and the hukka. There’s something about the way the Jordanian men and women dress, their lifestyle and the aura that they exude.  

The art
Jordan is passionate about art. I discovered some beautiful mosaic work in Madaba, which is renowned to be the Mosaic capital. I was fortunate to visit a mosaic shop, where I got to see how Mosaic is made – they assemble tiny square pieces of coloured stone or glass called tesserae. Also, I loved the coloured sand bottles and ceramics that make excellent souvenirs.   

The food
Food is epic in Jordan. Although I have mixed opinions about the food in Jordan, it is definitely an experience to dig into a Jordanian platter. There are so many colours on your dining table that it’s like a visual feast. They eat plenty of fresh veggies, olive oil, eggplants and breads.  

The people
Jordanians are warm and friendly people. It was nice to interact with a few, who glanced at me with welcoming eyes and asked, “Are you from India?” They seemed to be quite happy to see foreigners travelling in their country.

Do you have Jordan on your bucket-list?

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Sunday, 8 May 2016

My Travel Plans For 2016

Yes, I know that I’m talking about my travel plans quite late. The first half of the year is almost over. Anyway, I really want to talk about what I anticipate this year travel-wise. Last year, I was pretty clear about where I wanted to go. I was able to tick off Gujarat and Kashmir. I couldn’t materialise Ladakh. So, some hits some misses there. But, this year I’m not so particular about where I want to go.

My marriage brought lots of travel for me.

Fortunately, I got to travel quite a lot since I got married. Thus, I have nothing to whine about. 2016 started on a good note when I visited Goa for a couple of days (with my husband), and then later I got an invite to review a resort property in Pali (Rajasthan), which gave me an excuse to visit Ajmer and Pushkar, too! And of course, I went to Italy for my honeymoon. So, the year has been good to me, so far!

Some travel plans lie in the backseat.

Though I’d like to tick off Ladakh this year, I’m not really hell-bent about it. I’ll certainly do it, but when everything is favourable – when I have sufficient funds to execute it. Also, I have Arunachal Pradesh on my mind, which I’d like to visit whenever I can.

A group tour is in the pipeline.

Besides my own travel plans, I’m contemplating on a new project. I’m planning to experiment with my tour planning skills and take group tours to destinations that I have been to. So yes, now my readers can follow my trails and live the unique experiences of the road with me!

My upcoming trip is to one of my “bucket-list”destinations!

I am so, so happy that I got an invite from Jordan Tourism Board to visit their country (along with other bloggers). I can’t believe that I’ll be in Jordan in a couple of days! To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. I’m super thrilled, which makes me a little introspective at the moment and look back on my early days of blogging. There was a phase when I really slogged to build my blog. It has been an amazing journey… Well, it’s not a post to dwell on travel blogging. So, back to my travel plans of 2016 – I’m going to Jordan.

I’m looking forward to a lot of impromptu travel plans this year.

As I mentioned earlier, my travel plans for this year are not very specific. I’m relying heavily on surprises, proposals and quick trips. But, I will definitely plan a solo trip to Arunachal Pradesh if my bank account allows me. Also, there is a possibility of a trip to Australia. The year seems to have a lot for me. I’m just wondering how each plan would work out. Phew!

What are your travel plans for 2016?
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Why BARI Didn’t Appeal To Me?

Well, Bari lacked what the other towns of Puglia offered in abundance – the vintage feel, the little cute elements, the slow life… But, don’t get me wrong! I’m not implying that it’s hard to like Bari. My husband loved it. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t like it much. It didn’t fascinate me the way Ostuni or Lecce did.  

Bari is the capital of Puglia and a metropolitan city, which is why I guess it’s different from the rest of the region. I enjoy smaller and quieter places to bigger and noisier ones. That being said, I do like big, glitzy places also. I loved Sydney and I’m living in Mumbai. But, when I’m in Italy and that too, a lesser-known region of Italy, I don’t want the usual buzz. I mean that’s my perspective. You are free to differ.

Theatre Margherita

Bari isn’t devoid of history.
If you think I didn’t like Bari because it lacks history, that’s far from the truth. In fact, it has quite a lot of history. I did visit the Swabian castle, St. Nicholas Basilica and the Bari Cathedral. (St. Nicholas Basilica was so gorgeous.) So yes, it has its share of old architecture. But, even that didn’t woo me.

St. Nicholas Basilica seen through the buildings (an exclusive photo essay on the churches of Puglia soon)

Bari has an old town, too.
I have to mention that though Bari is urbane and commercial, a part of it is still old and ordinary. As you pass by the traditional homes of Bari, you can see the everyday living of the locals, which would appeal to you (if you are someone like me).

The everyday life in the old town of Bari

Bari is for shopaholics, fashionistas.
Yes, if you are someone who can’t do without shopping, Bari is for you! You will find all the high-end brands you could think of. So, go there with a motto that says – “Have money, will shop” and you won’t regret it.

Haute couture of Bari
Stunning bakeries 
Souvenir shops in the old lanes

Bari is a port city.
Bari has a pretty waterfront, which you can enjoy while walking on the promenade. You can grab yourself a bench and sit for a while to take in the Adriatic beauty, or just keep sauntering.    

Punta Perotti seaside

I’d say if you choose Bari for your Southern Italy trip, visit it with awareness that it won’t caress your heart the way a typical European town would.

Is there a city that didn’t appeal to you as a traveler?
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