Barcelona

To celebrate our friend Alex’s 30th birthday, half-a-plane-load of us went to Barcelona.

Ok, it was more like a dozen of us, but that’s still a testament to 1) Alex’s popularity and 2) Barcelona’s popularity. This seaside city is full of great architecture, beautiful views, and endless tapas bars, making it a world-class destination for merry-making.

But Barcelona doesn’t need any endorsements. In fact, the residents of Barcelona probably want people like me to stop raving about how amazing their city is. Barcelona is attempting to tamp down its tourist arrivals. Approximately 32 million visitors came to Barcelona last year, which is home to a mere 1.6 million. Continue reading

Taipei

I popped over to Taipei for a night during my visit to Hong Kong. Taiwan has been on my bucket list for a long time, largely due to one reason: food.

I’ve been thinking of re-adopting vegetarianism, but I was in full carnivore mode when I went to Taiwan in February. The best way to experience Taiwan is by eating everything that’s put in front of you. It’s going to be delicious – and cheap!

I intended to eat my way through the whole city, but little me only managed to scratch the surface in the 36 hours I was there. However, I got overexcited and researched enough for a week’s worth of meals. So here’s a non-exhaustive list of places you need to eat at while you’re visiting Taipei.

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Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca

My Erasmus girlfriends and I have a bit of a tradition: we like going on trips for our birthdays.

For my last birthday we all met up in Amsterdam and the year before we went to Krakow. And now that we don’t live under the same roof anymore, it’s even more crucial to plan holidays where we can catch up, overdose on coffee and check off another place on our bucket lists.

Somehow it came up that we go to Palma de Mallorca for Nina‘s birthday. Palma was never on my must-visit list, but it should have been.

By going in the spring, we avoided the hoards of rowdy summer crowds and were able to admire the beauty of this Balearic island at leisure. Inspiring architecture, buzzing squares, delicious food, sea breeze and the company of my two darling friends: how was I not supposed to fall in love with Mallorca?

Palma de Mallorca streets
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the first order of business in Palma was celebrating Nina’s birthday.  Continue reading

Eat Pray Love: Bangalore

No, I haven’t pulled an Elizabeth Gilbert. But I have eaten a lot, prayed a little and loved every minute of my time in Bangalore.

I arrived here at the start of the week with a jam-packed schedule. Unfortunately, sight seeing was a very small bullet point on my agenda. I was researching my Masters thesis and reporting for a London-based publication. So, I was rushing from interview to meeting to event.

But, obviously, I found some time to get my tourist on.

Roop Gill
Bangalore – or Bengalaru – is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. It’s the third largest city in the country and an international IT hub. It has managed to acquire a couple of nicknames: Silicon Valley of India, Pub City of India, and Garden City of India. What it lacks in picturesque tourist sights, it makes up with its happening vibe, (relatively) progressive locals and an overwhelming number of dining, drinking and shopping options. Continue reading

Hobart: what the locals love

Two weekends ago I started working on my Aussie Bucket List and flew (even more) south to Tasmania. My home base for the next four days was Hobart, a cute city at the base of Mount Wellington and a good launch pad for many Tassie activities such as Port Arthur and MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). I travelled around the Huon Valley and checked MONA with my gracious hosts over the weekend, but on Monday, they all went to work so I was left with the ever-exciting challenge of exploring Hobart on my own.

My trusted Lonely Planet guidebook has less than two pages on things to do in Hobart, but after visiting over 20 countries in the last five years if there is one thing that I have learned it’s this: the best kept secrets never make it to guidebooks.

I started Hobart’s cultural exploration on Salamanca Place. I’d visited this restaurant-packed esplanade with my friends on an earlier evening and thought it would be a good idea to check it out during the day.

Hobart: Salamanca Place

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The Andes vs. The Amazon

From the coastal metropolis of Lima to the majestic Andes and the adventurous Amazon, going to Peru feels like you visited three different countries in one vacation. Upon my return when I told friends about my trip,  the most common question I was asked was, “What was your favourite part?” to which my politically correct answer usually was, “I loved every bit of it, even when I got sick in Cusco.” But, that got me thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to compare the highlights from the trip to discover what my favourite part was (and it would probably help me plan future trips, no?)

The biggest problem in conducting that exercise? You can’t really compare all the unique elements of Peru; it’s almost like comparing Asia and Europe. In fact, packing for Peru felt like packing for a trip around the world – I had to make sure I had warm sweaters, windbreakers, hiking boots and thick socks, while also stuffing my bathing suit, sweat absorbing T-shirts and flip-flops into my backpack. I had to stock up on a supply of both altitude sickness pills and bug repellent (Alas! Despite all those layers of bug spray, they still got me!)

I narrowed down my favourites to two exotic regions of Peru – the Andes and the Amazon – and compared them based on completely random categories. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading