Romancing Rome in Christmas – 3 Day Itinerary

” Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions and the city of yearnings.” – Giotto di Bondone

When in Europe, one definitely cant miss to be in Rome atleast for few days, else we may surely know, but would barely understand the meaning of the age-old  French adage – ” Rome wasn’t built in a day”, which was translated in English by John Heywood, only for us to have very contemptuously used this proverb numerous times while flaunting our literacy skills and nothing more :). If you are in Rome, you know that you surely havent seen such inexplicable splendor before.  It hardly matters which part of the city you are in, every corner, street, church, monument, fresco, facade, alley or edifice is a piece of grandeur. And if you happen to be in Rome during Christmas, the delight just doubles.The sheer beauty of the Roman architecture and an intriguing history behind it, will keep you longing for more. It isn’t  just about the history of this city, but also of the mankind. It certainly left me with an unquenched desire to see, know and learn more. Become more. It coaxed me to read at length about the Roman history, though it was one hated subject for me back in school 🙂

” I read. I travel. I become.”-Derek Walcott

It’s really interesting to see, how your traveling and reading experiences can transform you as a person. And I am absolutely loving this process. Some of you would have discerned that already through my regular posts on social media :). Though it’s been just a few weeks that I have been romanticizing the idea of being a traveler and storyteller for life, I credit some of these short impromptu travels, to have nurtured that thought and possibility of being one. The 12 day Italy trip certainly has bestowed me with great tales that I would be sharing in my upcoming posts, but the most remarkable experience was of spending our Christmas at Rome. So here I am, sharing with you my 3 Day itinerary which obviously covers the most awesome and practical ways to romance Rome during Christmas time. Before jumping onto our detailed itinerary, let me tell you that the usual touristy places are all closed on 25th of any December and the 1st of any January. So you certainly need to be mindful of that before you plan your travel to this ancient city during the Christmas and the new years time.

Day 1 ( Christmas Day)  – Get allured by the conspicuously beautiful Christmas celebrations around the city

Christmas mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome during Christmas

Cobblestoned street leading to the rear side of St. Peter’s Basilica

In spite of reaching Rome from Florence by the night of 24th Dec, we couldn’t make it to the Pope’s midnight mass, which if you wish to be a part of you need to book not less than 2 months in advance by sending the church a fax requesting for seats inside the church. Failing this, you may always attend the mass at St. Peter’s square which can host about 80,000 people. We had put up at a place quite far from the Vatican and were too tired to pick ourselves up to join the incredibly massive crowd for the midnight mass. What we know from people who have attended and of course the blogs on the internet that its an experience of a lifetime and the festive vibes at the Vatican around that time is profoundly pious and divine.

Nevertheless, we made it to St. Peter’s Basilica, the next morning, to experience the vibes of the harmonious gatherings on the Christmas Day. As soon as we entered the square, a huge Christmas tree which is erected there each year caught our attention. We were welcomed by huge crowds at the St. Peter’s square overlooking whom, we could catch few glimpses of the Pope standing at the balcony, who was delivering the Christmas message, the “Urbi et Orbi”, a papal address and apostolic blessing given to the city of Rome and to the entire world by the novel pontiff. A few minutes later, we were completely mesmerized by the colorful parade by the Italian Armed Forces marching band and military branch color guard units. See the video below to experience the zest and fervor.

Amidst the crowd, there stood an Indian father with an empty double stroller keenly soaking himself into these rare to see celebrations. Soon enough we saw his entire family, his American wife with 3 gorgeous kids, emerging out of the crowd. Like we always do, we instantly exchanged notes on just about everything – From parenting to traveling, Worklife, how beautiful babies are,  how much we missed Indian Food and of course the troubling weather at the US :). Its really amazing the way we have started connecting with all parents with kids, irrespective of where they come from or where we happen to meet them. Feels like we are all a part of a long-lost community who always have solutions to each other’s problems :):).

“All parents gush about what its like to be a parent. I like it.” – Liz Flair

 

Rome during Christmas

At St. Peter’s square on Christmas Day

The long queue to get inside St. Basilica was at best discouraging us parents with kids to do it the same day. Instead, we decided to explore the other churches and squares for the remaining part of the day.

Jaw dropping magnificent churches

Walk and explore the most astounding churches around, that arent called St. Peter’s. There is art, history and religious artifacts to be found in all the corners of these ancient churches. And the  Christmas festivities everywhere is an awe-inspiring sight to treat your eyes. Take a look and I promise you would be absolutely overwhelmed.

Rome during Christmas

Rome during Christmas

Rome during Christmas

Rome during Christmas

Rome during Christmas

The Calling of St Matthew (Caravaggio)

This one is a masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, depicting the moment at which Jesus Christ inspires Matthew to follow him.

Rome during Christmas

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

This definitely is not it. You may refer this link to know everything about the most beautiful churches in Rome.

Christmas evening at Piazza Noviona

After treating yourself with some delicious wood fired Pizza, head towards Piazzia Noviona, Rome’s famous Baroque square. In December every year, it gets transformed into a huge Christmas market, with stands selling all kinds of Christmas sweets, toys, nativity figures, decorations, and gifts. Originally built as a stadium in the first century for athletic contests and chariot races, this square which still retains its oval shape,  is lined with luxurious cafes and Baroque palaces and is the home to three lavish fountains. The central fountain, Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, is considered to be the most complex of all the fountains in Rome. It was created by Bernini( An Italian sculptor and architect who was credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture) in the early 1650s and was so expensive that the bread tax was raised in order to cover its high cost.

” If you think you have it tough, read history books.”- Bill Maher. 🙂

I can’t  picture myself reading through history books to absorb anything even close to what I experience during my travels to such historical places. How exciting the history books could be, if only we could just read them to know and just to score at least passing grades because it was a  forced item in our curriculum 🙁

Does this way of education help anyone?

Rome during Christmas

Infront of the fountain at Piazzia Noviona

Catch a sight of the marvelous Trevi Fountain

It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. Many men were injured and few died during the construction of the fountain. It is mostly built of travertine stone, a mineral consisting of a massive usually layered calcium carbonate formed by deposition from spring waters or especially from hot springs.Travertine was often used as a building material. The largest building in the world constructed mostly of travertine is the Colosseum in Rome.

Rome during Christmas

The Trevi Fountain

Rome during Christmas

Opposite Trevi Fountain

Day 2 -Spend half a day knowing the history and appreciating the magnanimity of this huge structure called “The Colosseum”

We walked through the city to reach Colosseum by 12 pm. Expect long queue to enter this place at any time of the year as it is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Rome. There is a lift inside to make the tour convenient for all differently abled people. I was particularly struck by the intense cold breeze that brushed my hair rough in all directions while I kept waiting along with Mayra fast asleep in her stroller,  for Sandee to come back with tickets and the much needed audio guide. To our surprise, the audio guide here wasn’t as good. So you may avoid it, rather go for the human guide.

 

Rome during Christmas

Top view of “The Colosseum”

The Colosseum is an oval amphitheater in the center of the city. Built of travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, it is the largest amphitheater ever built. It could easily accommodate 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Roman mythology. Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, it is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. Take a video tour below

 

Rome during Christmas

Ruins near the Colosseum

 

Rome during Christmas

Ruins near the Colosseum

Day 3 – Immerse yourself in the history of this iconic trove of art and architecture – The Vatican City

The Vatican City attests to a great history and a formidable spiritual venture. A unique collection of artistic and architectural masterpieces lie within the boundaries of this small state. At its center is St Peter’s Basilica, with its double colonnade and a circular piazza in front and bordered by palaces and gardens. The basilica, erected over the tomb of St Peter the Apostle, is the largest religious building in the world, the fruit of the combined genius of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno. Due to the paucity of time, we could only explore St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum, and the Sistine Chapel.’

Rome during Christmas

The modern ‘Bramante’ spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world.

Rome during Christmas

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica

The papal tombs in old St. Peter’s Basilica were the final resting places of the popes. The majority of these tombs were destroyed during the sixteenth, seventeenth-century demolition of old St. Peter’s Basilica, The remainder were transferred in part to new St. Peter’s Basilica.

Rome during Christmas

Tombs of all Popes on top of which the Basilica has been erected

The Vatican Museum displays works from the immense collection amassed by Popes throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.

Rome during Christmas

Inside the Vatican museum

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free” – Michelangelo

All of us, unless you are a history student or a connoisseur of Roman art & architecture, at some point have heard or read about the great sculptor Michelangelo, and probably had a chance to marvel at some of his work too. But you would literally freeze on seeing the most spectacular piece of art – The Sistine Chapel, with your naked eyes. It’s ceiling was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and nude, which allowed Michelangelo who was primarily a sculptor and not a painter, to fully demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure. He painted in a standing position and not lying on his back. He had designed his own scaffold( a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall near the top of the windows, rather than being built up from the floor) to do the job.The bright colors and broad, cleanly defined outlines make each subject easily visible from the floor as if one could raise a finger and touch them.

” Good painting is the kind that looks like sculpture”.- Michelangelo

This truly reflects in his larger than life painting which looks almost real and surreal.

If you are interested to know more about the painting style and the techniques he used, you may read it here.

Interestingly the church doesn’t allow any photography inside, hence I do not have any pictures to show up here. But there are numerous videos and pictures available online for you to have a glimpse of this masterpiece. You have to see it to believe it. 

” A man paints with  his brain and not with his hands.”- Michelangelo

This brought us to an end of our 4 nights stay at Rome. There is so much to see and absorb, that it really doesn’t matter how long you are able to stay here, what matters is how well do you plan your day without rushing it through and enjoying almost everything on your foot. There are several specific local Roman tours, which you can choose from depending on your idea of ” A day well spent” in this city. Or if you are there around Christmas, along with a child, and you like our type of slow travel, you may just go with the one that we did 🙂

There is a lot that I have taken back from this city which I really can’t express in as many words but would surely attempt to do so in my upcoming posts on the blog and on social media. Wishing you many more travels, adventures, and experiences till we connect again.

What is the best thing that you took back from any place that you have traveled to ? 

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

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Please leave a comment about what you feel about the above post. Would love to hear back from you.

 

Winters at Constance – Photo Essay

” What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter.” – Anonymous

When it snowed in December 2017

Lake Constance

 

When it snowed really deep

 

The usual life around during snow season

Few days were bright and sunny

 

Beginning of Autumn it was

 

What’s your favorite season at your favourite location ?

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Flickr to see more of our travel experiences in and around Europe.

Please leave a comment about what you feel about the above post. Would love to hear back from you.

 

Carnival in Constance – Photo Essay

“Tradition is the illusion of permanence.”- Woody Allen

Ho Narro! – This is how the so-called ” FOOLS”  in Constance greet each other at the onset of the carnival time and initiate a colorful, happy atmosphere all around to celebrate together traditional Fasnacht traditions dating back to the Middle Ages.

Guggen music, fools parties, and the traditional parades are the highlights of this almost a week-long celebration. It turns the city of Constance into an absolute delight. The small alleyways, the breathtaking panorama of the lake and the Alps at the harbor and the mystical morning mist create a very special atmosphere in the city during Carnival.

We did get a chance to catch a glimpse of this beautiful and colorful tradition in Feb this year. I have put together a photo essay for you to live it through the breathtaking stills that we managed to capture. There are also few videos, that I would put up on Youtube soon, for you to get even closer to the celebrations.

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance

 

Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

Carnival in Constance

I really do not know how long would we stay here, but there is more than one reason to bring us back here, and  Fasnacht is definitely one amongst the top few.

Whats the most interesting local tradition that you have come across during your travels?

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Flickr to see more of our travel experiences in and around Europe.

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48 Hours at Lanzarote – A Dream Island In Spain

Lanzarote island in Spain

” Quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never return” – Anonymous

” Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” – Anonymous

These wonderful travel quotes, written by some fabulous REAL people, who are one among us, are my most treasured travel inspirations. More power to them for being unapologetically fearless to follow their heart, defy the norm, and continue to be a driving force in many of our lives. 

Coming from a fastpaced city life of Mumbai, where one gotta be fleet-footed to survive, wandering here in Europe as a free soul with nowhere to go but to move deeper within, I can’t forgo the temptations of continuing to live a nomadic life for as long as I want to, as far as I want to. But I am also not benighted to not know what it takes to be able to traverse that path, to hit the road forever, to become a nomad for life, and I certainly ain’t ready enough. But as someone has very rightly said that – “If you can’t get over it, you will get through it.”, I am sure, I too will make my way through. So for now, let’s keep the flame alive 🙂

Without underestimating what I take back from each traveled destination while keeping an eagle’s eye on where I would go next, let me share with you our most recent travel experience in one of the Canarian Islands, Lanzarote, in the Atlantic Ocean. Sandee’s wish to run the Half Marathon at Gran Canaria and the cheapest connecting flight from Canarian Islands back to Zurich took us to this beautiful piece of land which had emerged 15 million years ago after a volcanic eruption. It’s truly a dream island in Spain. 

Lanzarote island in spain

Have you ever dreamt of being on a desert Island?

At the cost of sounding cliché, I confess that I too at some point in my subconscious mind had dreamt of being on an island surrounded by deep blue pristine water to appease my conscience and an azure sky over my head to marvel on the beauty of my existence in that space of tranquillity. Speaking psychologically, dreaming of being on a desert island actually means that you may have a craving for solitude. You need to make a little space for yourself. But isn’t that actually true? Don’t we all crave for solitude amidst the busier lives that we are forced to live? Our dreams are a reflection of these yearnings. And they sometimes actually come true 🙂

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true, that makes life interesting” -Paul Coelho

Lanzarote island in spain

Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote

Staying at Lanzarote was indeed “ A dream come true” for me. It was surreal. There were several bizarre moments, mixed with melancholy and cheerfulness. I reflected on my past, relived through all my dreams, gazed at my present, and quivered at the thought of what my future would be like. Sometimes just being at such a place can just make you feel so alive. It was short but the most fulfilling trip that one can have in 48 hours. Sharing with you our detailed itinerary and experiences of two days spent awesome well at Lanzarote.

Day 1 – Relax! Discover the Island on foot or cycle 

Be ready to be stunned by everything that you see 🙂 

A striking combination of colors

Where else have you seen such a stunning concert of colors? Coral Reef Blue Sea kissing the sky with hues of different shades of blue at the horizon. Tall green Canarian Palm trees creating a beautiful contrast with the black Volcanic Soil below and a battery of white painted houses of same dimensions and pyramid shaped roofs very meticulously constructed. The Volcanic mountains of colors ranging from light yellow to deep orange to brown, with less or almost no sign of vegetation. It’s a visual treat. You may feel nervous to have dampened the intriguing beauty of this island if you blinked your eyes.

Beautiful shores adorning the gracious Atlantic

Beaches–  Lanzarote is a beach lover’s paradise. The island is home to close to 100 superb stretches of sand, some of which are regarded as amongst the best in the Canaries, such as the huge sweeping bay at Famara on the rugged North West coast and the interconnected coves of Papagayo, located close to Playa Blanca in the south. You can a get here a complete insider’s guide to all the beaches that Lanzarote has.

Soft play parks and open gyms– Like i always say, travel along with your kid  and look for kid friendly places. Lanzarote is a best travel destination for travelers of all ages, but best for children and oldies. Soft Play parks for kids, open gym areas, and a chain of restaurants alongside the beaches makes it a perfect place for everyone to just relax and while away time. It is a great family holdiay destination.

Cycling enthusiasts everywhere

Lanzarote has been a popular destination for cyclists of all abilities for many years. Its year-round dry and warm weather makes it really conducive for cyclists for long distance biking. The island’s beautiful terrain also plays an important role in its intoxicating cycling pastime. Every year the island hosts the Lanzarote Ironman, an international triathlon competition that attracts many athletes who like to train on the challenging hills.If you take a city tour on a  bus, you will find cyclists of all ages all along the road biking fearlessly at a blazing speed. You can see me cycling along with Mayra around “Peurto Del Carmen”.

Day 2 – Take a drive around the Island on a guided bus tour.

This was a difficult decision for us because we dint want to rush through any place, even if we missed a few. But the guided tours primarily take you to all those places where you cant reach otherwise unless you cycle or drive. So if you are short on time, here is my best 3 picks on what you can’t miss when at Lanzarote.

My 3 picks on “Must See places” of Lanzarote

1. The Timanfaya National Park

It was a ” never seen before” experience for us. When we were at Amalfi Coast last month, we thought the view from the top at Ravello was the most beautiful thing that we had ever seen. But what you will see here is beyond one’s understanding of how many ways nature can just overwhelm you with its beauty and give you some pause. The volcanic eruptions that occurred between 1730 and 1736, and in 1824, gave rise to numerous structures of high volcanological interest.

The absence of a mantle of vegetation, the extreme roughness of the forms and the variety of colors that exist (red, brown, beige, black and orange) next to the silhouette of the volcanoes and the abrupt coast, give the park an extraordinary beauty. You can reach there by bus or a private car. The tour buses go along narrow paths for about 10km through the national park and a unique volcanic mountains panorama can be enjoyed.

Lanzarote island in spain

Volcanic Mountains at Timanfaya National Park

At the bus park you may get a glimpse of the crater depths, and see how a small dry bush, thrust into a hole, will immediately catch fire, how a bucket of water, tipped into another hole, will send up a great plume of steam into the air. Six metres down under the surface the temperature is already several hundred degrees centigrade.You may feel that with your own hands if you touch the volcano rocks or the stones (picón) behind the restaurant or near the fire place. It is amazing – here on the hill top is one of the “hottest” places of Lanzarote! And the volcanic mountains of the Timanfaya Park are still alive. You have to really see it to believe it. There is a restaurant ” El Diabolo” where chicken and rabbits are prepared on the grill, which is powered only by the heat from the volcano heat below.

Lanzarote island in Spain

Camel ride at Timanfaya National Park

2. El Golfo and Lago Verde

El Golfo is a half-submerged cone of a volcano, which over time has been eroded by the sea, leaving behind only the striated wall of the crater displaying a myriad of red and russet colors.At the foot of the crater wall is Lago Verde, a half-moon-shaped striking green lagoon. Its unusual phenomenon in the cove, where sea water has become trapped in the form of a lake and turned a striking acidic green, due to the algae which lives there. Its at the Papagayo beach.

Lanzarote Island in Spain

The green lagoon of El Golfo

3. Jameos de agua 

It’s an open air cave. The island born artist and architect Cesar Manrique conceived this 6 decades back. Entry to Jameos is by climbing down a stone-staircase into the first cave known as ‘Jameo Chico’, which has been turned into an unusual bar / restaurant, with views over a small lake.This natural lake has extremely clear water – regulated by the Atlantic Ocean – and is home to a species of blind albino crabs known as ‘Jameitos‘ which are only found on Lanzarote. 

Crossing the lake, by a narrow cobblestoned paveway we reached the ‘Jameo Grande’. It’s like walking out of the dark tunnel to be faced, suddenly with a huge open-air cave lined with tropical plants and the most fantastic swimming-pool you may ever see.This crystal-clear, turquoise pool is truly paradise, even if you can’t actually use it, as swimming is forbidden. From the far end of the ‘Jameo Grande‘ you can access the auditorium which has been constructed in part of the volcanic tube running down to the Ocean. The auditorium is used for classical concerts as it has excellent acoustics and for film screenings.

Lanzarote Island in Spain

Cafe inside Jameos del Agua

 

Lanzarote Island in Spain

Having a relaxed moment and marveling at the beauty of the open air cave

Where we stayed

Hipotels La Geria – This hotel is 2 min walk from the Pocillos beach, surrounded by tropical gardens, just off. They have a wide range of outdoor facilities, including tennis courts and huge swimming pool – all bathed in year-round sunshine. Here you can also simply lie back on a sun lounger with a drink from the poolside bar. Relaxation can also be found in the hotel’s on-site sauna. They have a large spread of breakfast buffet. And they have a variety of calendared events every night – Music, Dance, Magic shows, Circus etc. where you can just sit back and have a good time.

Lanzarote Island in Spain

Hipotels La Geria poolside area – Perfect to grab a book, and relax with a glass of wine while you soak some sun

Where we ate

Solymar – Though you would find many restaurants along the shore overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, I can’t resist but mention this place where we had a full course meal on Day 1 and went back the next day again only to relish this yummy homemade caramel custard we have ever had. See below.

Lanzarote Island in Spain

Savouring homemade caramel custard.

Few Intriguing and good to know facts about Lanzarote

  • The island’s name in the native language, Guanche is  Tyterogaka which may mean “one that is all ochre“. Ochre is the island’s predominant colour. Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. It ranges in color from yellow to deep orange or brown.
  • It was formed some 15 millions of years ago following the volcanic eruption that formed the Canary archipelago
  • The Island receives large amounts of sunlight and is almost never cloudy, there are usually over 3,000 hours of sunlight a year.There are five hundred different kinds of plants on the island, of which 17 species are endemic. These plants have adapted to the relative scarcity of water
  • From 1730 to 1736, the island was hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, producing 32 new volcanoes in a stretch of 18 kilometres (11 miles).
  • The colour of houses on Lanzarote is tightly controlled – all buildings are painted white, with green shutters in the countryside (for farmers) and blue by the sea (for the fishermen)

Mayra’s first time at beach

Lanzarote island in Spain

Simple joys of life 🙂

Kids can sometimes take you by surprise with their sudden outbursts of extreme emotions of love and joy. One such moment we did witness when Mayra put her foot on the sand for the very first time . She felt the chilled water gushing in and out with the waves with screaming joy. It was simply delightful. They are a powerhouse of enthusiasm and energy. They just know how to be joyous without any reason.

How do we lose these basic qualities which we are born with while growing up? What exactly happens to us, that we start looking for reasons to be joyful and happy?

Never say goodbye 

It’s an unfinished affair. I certainly can not have Lanzarote on my list of ” Will come back soon” places. It felt like home. It felt like, I could stay there forever. With a heavy heart, we took the flight back to Basel. Click on the video below to get a glimpse of the spectacular aerial view of the island.

Which are your favorite destinations, which you think you are sure you will keep going back to?

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

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5 Easy Travel Hacks- For Aspiring Travellers and Young Parents

travel hacks

Hello People!  Thank you for all the appreciation and love you have showered on me in the past week for my first blog post. I am touched beyond words. You guys are awesome and your wonderful messages are an immense source of motivation for me. Keep them coming.

” A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” – Dante Alighieri

When someone tells me how happy they are for me to have the courage to tread an untraveled path, I feel absolutely honored and blessed. When someone looks up to me to help them plan their travel itinerary, I feel I  have lit a tiny spark somewhere. When someone is inspired enough by me to start thinking about traveling solo or to take their first step to plan their first family travel, I feel responsible to keep the flame alive and burning.  

” We all deserve a little wanderlust” – Anonymous 

Yes, we all deserve a wanderlust. Don’t let your apprehensions hold you back. On that note, I would want to share our learnings on ” best ways to travel” that we have gathered in our last 3 months of travel. I have tried to touch upon every aspect that I feel would go a long way in making every small difference to your travel experience. Hope this post helps you to not only plan better but also enjoy your future travels in a far enriching and fulfilling way. 

1) Pack Light & Travel light 

” He who would travel happily must travel light.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

a) Stop hoarding things I have deduced that, our habit of hoarding things is the mother of all problems. Kill the impulse. Ask yourself if you have an alternative solution to the problem that you are attempting to solve by having one more thing to call your own. More often than not, you will find your answers in the affirmative. You would also save a lot along the way which you can use for your travels. When you have less, you need less and of course, you carry less. 

Our moment of truth –  When we moved from Mumbai to Konstanz, we were forced to pack our lives from comforts of a 1BHK into 3 suitcases and settle in a hotel room. And strangely enough 2 of the suitcases still lie untouched. We are doing just fine with this minimalistic way of living. Our life is much simpler, clutter-free and stress-free. Things that we had hoarded in our house in Mumbai is never missed.

b) Stop carrying everything everywhere – Kill the urge. Ask yourself if you really need that extra pair of shoes, or jacket, or a handbag or beauty products.

We traveled to Italy with only one carry-on sized backpack per traveler and one baby stroller for a 12 days trip.

How did we pack light? 

We chose clothes with wearability, put our winter wears on while traveling to save space, never carried any toiletries, carried baby essentials which lasted for 2-3 days and bought the rest on the go. We deliberately stopped ourselves from carrying those extras which we would have loved to flaunt and click cool photographs with 🙂 It’s a choice, we made at each step so that our trips became easier, lighter and fun.

Travel hacks

Display of local art outside a  shop at Positano. I did kill the impulse to buy to make one my own. Instead, I captured a memory 🙂

2) Travel slow  

“You dont have to go fast. You just have to go”– Anonymous 

a) Slow down. Take a deep breath – More travel doesn’t mean better travel. Aspirational travel bucket list, limited leaves, and finances can trap you in an ambitious, unrealistic, exhaustive travel itinerary. Being ambitious in all walks of life does rub onto our travel plans as well. Be cautious of this. There would be several places in the world, where you may go only once. Travel to soak up the beauty of the place that you are stepping into even if that costs spending your entire vacation in savoring it. 

Travel hacks

Listen to your heart. Trust the instincts of your foot. Let yourself get lost in the moment.

Our moment of truth – We had planned to cover up Paris, Brussels, and Luxemburg within 7 days being so ignorant of the fact that we wouldn’t do justice to having spent only as much time in each city. But we were lucky enough to not have our hotel bookings in the other 2 cities and we stayed back in Paris for the complete vacation.

b) Stay in proximity to main attractions–  Stay closer to the city centers so that you travel less and see more, experience more. 

Travel hacks

We stayed just 5 min away from this famous centre at Florence which has 5 monuments closer to each other. This is Brunelleschi dome.

c) Explore on Foot– Travel on foot to places wherever its possible. It’s best to see the city as it is and not just through the lens of a tourist. Be rest assured to be surprised more than once with what you see along your way. 

We chose to cover almost the entire city of Rome on foot instead of taking the hop on and off bus services. We pleasantly surprised ourselves to have made that decision. Every street, every corner, every building in that city left us in awe.

Travel hacks

The joy of being carried by dad while he is on foot discovering the ruins of Pompei.

dInvest in a good camera Who doesn’t like to relive good memories. Good quality pictures and videos can just make it merrier. It need not be a high-end DSLR. Life is good with oneplus5 as well:). For all you who love the pictures on my blog – All of them are shot on one plus 5 till now.

e) Invest in physical and audio guides If you really want to make your visit to a place worthwhile, read about it before you visit or at best do take the audio or physical guide. You will always thank me for this one 🙂 

Travelling slow gave us a far higher sense of fulfillment because we had the space to take back something from each place that we went to.  We could completely immerse ourselves in. Since I am back from my trip to Italy, I have spent several hours reading and exploring more about the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican City, and Michaelangelo’s life. The sheer artistic beauty of these places and the passion which has gone into building them keeps intriguing me to date. And the places we had to rush through due to lack of mindful planning  – Eg. Amalfi coast, we would want to go again and stay at least for few days to get past the eternal high that the place gives you.  

Travel hacks

We wouldn’t have understood anything about this great ” Must Visit” historic place at Rome- The Colosseum had we not invested in a tour guide.

3) Travel cheap 

Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage” – Paul Coelho 

a) Buy tickets when cheap – Use the Skyscanner app or the Secret Flying website to find out the cheapest air tickets. Always browse in incognito mode, so that the travel agencies don’t overcharge you basis your search history. All our traveled destinations in the last 3months were chosen basis our luck in being able to book the cheapest flights from these websites. They are a blessing in disguise to all the digital nomads.  

b) Travel during offseason– Book well in advance to get the best hostels and BnBs at cheaper rates during off seasons. BnBs are the best bet for parents traveling with kids. You get a kitchen and relatively larger spaces to unwind. Booking.com and Trip advisor are our go to places for booking hotels and their reviews. We do read the worst reviews of the best-rated places as well just to make sure that it’s good to stay along with a baby.

c) Get rid of costs attached to self-indulgences – Spending money on luxury shopping, beauty services, and products, eating out in spite of having an option to cook, watching movies in theatre really digs a big hole on our pockets which we rarely acknowledge.  I am a movie buff and have always loved watching my favourite movies in the theatre with a bucket full of caramel popcorn, yet when I look back, I feel I could have put those extra hours of travelling to and fro to the nearest theatre and money that I spend impulse buying and eating pre or post the movie into something more productive. Maybe I could have saved that for my travel. 

4) Travel with the Baby 

“I Read. I travel. I become.” – Derek Walcott 

Travel is the most incredible way of bonding with your little one while you are on the go. And Is there a better way of education, than reading a book or traveling to a destination? Travel awakens all your senses. It creates an alternate world where you can meet different people, stay at new places and try some tasty dishes. Do take your baby along in all your expeditions and adventures. Plan your trip to places which are kid-friendly. Don’t forget you are creating these beautiful memories of their childhood for them to cherish for life. 

Travel hacks

You seldom need to have a common language to bond or enjoy each other’s company

5) Take Travel Inspirations 

 ” I don’t want to earn a living. I want to live” – Oscar Wilde. 

Get connected to your favorite “someone” who travels – A travel photographer or a travel blogger/Vlogger on a channel of your choice-  Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or subscribe to their blogs. Life will begin to change for good. This is how I caught the travel bug.  

Travel hacks

I have found my travel inspiration in everything that I see and long to see more and long enough. Painting at Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Learning to travel better to experience more is a process in itself and not a goal.  

We are constantly looking out for more ways to make this process endearing and rewarding. If you have more tips please do share with us. 

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Flickr to see more of our travel experiences in and around Europe.

Please leave a comment about what you feel about the above post. Would love to hear back from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apartment Hotel – Home away from home

Hotels in Konstanz

” Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”. – John F Kennedy

Hello, peeps!  This is my first post on my newborn family travel blog. I am embarking on this journey to pen the stories of my escapades with a childlike enthusiasm. I am both thrilled and anxious at the same time. Hope I am able to weave my words well to give you the most real experience of the places I go to.

Being a 24*7 Mum and an aspiring travel blogger can be both overwhelming and challenging at times. I desperately wait for my daughter to take a short nap during the day or sleep a little early at night so that I can start writing. I have worked on my blog for past few days and It has been nothing short of an extraordinary experience. I feel I write only to discover what I know. It’s liberating. It’s a therapy. Well, I would keep coming back to what I have learned and experienced during the process of writing. But, for now, let me share with you a glimpse of the most splendid three months that we have spent at our new abode “Apartment Hotel”, a dwelling that we would cherish for our lives.

What conspired to get us here?

When events turn out too quick and too good to be real, you are taken aback. You just go with the flow. You seldom have any apprehensions about what the future beholds. I too was swept off my feet to say the least, when I received our Schengen Visas within a day post the Visa interview.  At the cost of sounding little dramatic, I literally felt like the universe had conjured to make this happen for us. And quickly enough we packed our lives into 3 suitcases and moved to this beautiful city of Konstanz only to be together as a family. Konstanz is located in the south of Germany bordering Switzerland.We had flown from Mumbai to Zurich and driven by road to Konstanz.

It was love at first sight and it continues to grow with each passing day as I let myself soak endlessly into these calm picturesque landscapes and postcard views. This charming historic city is the best-kept secret of Germany. It was never affected during World War II. (Stay tuned to know more about my enduring love for Konstanz in the upcoming posts ).

Hotels in Konstanz

Smitten by this colorful mix

When you are miles away and time zones apart, conversations tend to become more factual based on your immediate priorities. We always spoke about the wellbeing of our daughter on our late-night calls. Discussing Konstanz just never occurred to either of us. When you have no idea of a place that you are going to, everything about it intrigues and coax you to explore.

We muddled with our decisions of finding a place to stay in Konstanz for just a few hours before we took off from Mumbai. The idea of staying in these old historic houses, some of which date back to 12th Century, was fascinating enough for us to give in. But 24*7 domestic help and a strong family support system back in India had comforted us enough to be intimidated by the very thought of our lives minus them. So the most logical step was to quietly sneak into the same hotel room where Sandee had been staying. And thus began another love affair of a lifetime with this small little cozy room which we now call our ” Home”.

Hotels in Konstanz

View into the quiet surroundings of “Apartment Hotel”

A hotel room with the vibes of a home

This room is adorned with gorgeous digital paintings on the walls and equipped with all essentials to sustain our daily lives. The breath-taking view outside the window at times freezes me in the moment and sometimes leaves me longing for more. The leaves changing their color from green to yellow to red in Autumn, falling off on the road beneath and soon enough embracing the snow to become crystal white during deep winters just tells us how selfless nature is. Could death as slow as this be as wonderful?

Hotels in Konstanz

Autumn it was

Within no time we went from being comfortable and happy about our decision to move in here to longing to come back and relax after a day’s work or a long travel. Would there be a hotel or a room that could make one feel that way? It says a zillion about the amount of effort put in by everyone here to make sure we don’t miss home.

Hotels in Konstanz

Mayra enjoying being sun-kissed into our cozy room

This post is my little token of gratitude to everyone associated with Apartment Hotel who put their best foot forward every single day to make our stay memorable. We are completely smitten with awe by their hospitality. This is by far the longest that we have stayed in a hotel ever. And we are truly madly deeply in love with the city, the hotel and of course the people who make all the difference.

For my Fellow travelers – Why should you not give it a miss?

Apart from being centrally located, there are many reasons why if you ever plan to visit Konstanz, you can’t miss to stay at this place. I have put together the top reasons here.

Top 5 reasons to experience Konstanz staying at the Apartment Hotel 

Food made and served with love 

After having stayed at best-rated hotels in Paris and various cities in Italy in the last 2 months, its best concluded that these guys have the best breakfast buffet spread. Their scrambled eggs are a class apart. And I can trade a few Indian delicacies at times to have them for breakfast every single day.

Ancient building with modern taste

This is a historic hotel in a peaceful residential area.  It has the right mix of ancient architecture and modern interiors. The rooms have high ceilings, huge doors, huge rectangular glass windows which almost cover the entire wall on one side, and classy furniture comfortably tucked into the corners leaving out large spaces giving you an impression of a house in itself. They also have a kitchenette to amaze yourself with your culinary skills. See below.

Hotels in Konstanz

Sandee trying his hands on cooking

Awesome people 

They do listen. They do care. They make sure that they take feedback seriously and you would see it done almost immediately. They are that quick. They are an awesome bunch of people who are very warm and fun-loving.

Hotels in Konstanz

Newfound friend and budding friendship

Walk to Lake Constance

Be it any season, Lake Constance never ceases to take me by surprise. Its a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps. It was formed by the Rhine glacier during the ice age. There’s an intriguing history in the context of ” Thirty years war” on Lake Constance. Do read about it on Wikipedia.

Hotels in Konstanz

Sunset at Lake Constance

Explore the old town on foot

Constance is a town of great historical relevance. For the most part, it wasn’t affected by the wars of the last century. You can walk up to the old town in about 20 minutes to immerse yourself in the rich European culture of the past.

Soaking more into the historic culture and interesting lives of the people in this city which is a complete contrast to what we have seen in Mumbai will only make me write more and more about this beautiful place. Keep watching this space for more.

You may also read here what other guests have to say about this lovely place.

Have you also stayed in any such place which has left you in awe and you never missed home? Do share your story with us.

If you are interested to know more about us, you can read here.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Flickr to see more of our travel experiences in and around Europe.

Please leave a comment about what you feel about the above post. Would love to hear back from you.