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March 28, 2014

Venice, in 40 pictures & 20 songs.


“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”

― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities



Please press play. Enjoy the pictures and the memories…





40 pictures. 20 songs and 1 little video to finish.


Hope you enjoyed the pictures and selection of songs. If you have any feedback to share or suggestions for the Venice playlist, please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Also if you enjoyed this post, please share on Facebook or Twitter. You may also want to check out my earlier instalment of Paris, in 40 pictures & 20 songs 

July 18, 2012

Iphoneography: Copenhagen to Ljubljana, by Interrail


Copenhagen to Ljubljana- I present to you some of my best moments from my Interrail Tour with the help of my Instagram pictures.



Sunset at Nyhavn, 17th century waterfront of Copenhagen


1. My Interrail trip starts in Copenhagen with a sunset of all sunsets


Sunset in Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s stunning 17th century waterfront.

Picture says it all. Period.


Euro 2012 Fanzone park. Copenhagen. June 2012.



2. Copenhagen Fanzone, Euro 2012: I discover that Danes really know how to let loose and celebrate


9th June, 2012.

Danish fanzone goes nuts as the Danes beat the fancied Dutch.

Everyone starts hoisting their friends on their shoulders and running around the field like mad.

The pale blue evening sky briefly darkens under the cloud of flares.

I see a sea of smiles, of red and white.

It was great interrailing through Europe , seeing the Euro 2012 championships in every country.

Loved the fanzone-the atmosphere, passion on show and that shared sense of pride, patriotism.

I had an enviable 100% success record-every country I visited won during the championships ending with Spain beating the Italians.

Move over Paul the Octopus!



The first entry on my Interrail ticket. ICE 36, Copenhagen to Hamburg,
The journey begins…



3. Historic moment:

The first entry on my Interrail Ticket. Copenhagen to Hamburg on the ICE36.



Crossing the wide Baltic sea


4. Copenhagen to Hamburg on ICE 36

One of the epic moments of the Copenhagen to Hamburg journey with ICE 36  is crossing the Baltic Sea .The train gets swallowed into the Rodby-Puttgarden ferry.



Move over Ringo! Beatlemania, Hamburg


5. RIP Beatlemania, Hamburg


It was sad to learn that Beatlemania-one of my favourite museums in Hamburg was closing down.

Given how strong the roots the Beatles have in Hamburg, it’s a puzzling decision.

Here I am rocking the drums, just 2 weeks before they closed it’s doors to the public.

Move over Ringo!!


Obenci Dum, Prague


6. Obenci Dum, Praha


Obenci Dum is a stunning Art Noveau Cafe in Prague-I love going to this place for coffee and people watching whenever I’m in Prague.


Vienna loves nature


7. A hot day in Vienna, in the park

No museums.

I spent the  day in the park, drinking some awesome beer .Was perfect.



Cafe Sperl, Vienna


8. Cafe Sperl. Vienna


Beautiful Vienna kaffeehaus. You feel like you walking back in time, the moment you enter this cafe.

For movie lovers, it’s also the scene for that confessional telephone game in the movie Before Sunrise between the lead characters, Jesse and Celine.



Railjet- Wien to Budapest


9. Finally, I discover free wifi on a train!

On the railjet train from Vienna to Budapest.

Takes just 2.30 hours and is one of the best trains I’ve been on.

Unfortunately , the free wifi stops when your cross the Hungarian border.


Sunset over Danube. Budapest



10. Watching sunset over the Danube in Budapest was unforgettable.



Langos and Borsodi- Market Hall, Budapest


11. Lunch in Budapest- you have to try Langos.


It was midday . I’m at the Market Hall in Budapest.

Roasting outside , about 36C.

Inside, it was stuffy and the food area was overrun with tourists during lunch hour.

Luckily, I managed to get a seat.

Along with my very tasty Langos, got an awesome chilled pint of the local Borsodi beer.

That first sip was amazing.

Cost of the beer and Langos: £5.


12. Ticket booths. Budapest Nyugati Palyaudvar Station

Budapest’s Nyugati Palyaudvar Station



Budapest to Ljubljana-Epic.


13. Budapest to Ljubljana


Out of my 1 month Interrail Odyssey, the 9 hour Budapest to Ljubljana train ride was probably the most memorable train journey.

Part of the train track is not electrified .

The train changes it’s engine three times.

Plus it stops at every station along the way.


This trip is all about taking it slow and just enjoying the moment.

That is if you can keep your cool in the 36C heat , that too with no air conditioning.


I was lucky to have the company of local and FT journalist, Kester Eddy who’s been reporting from the region for last 40 years.

Every landmark or village passed, Kester had a great story to share.


Best moment: Engine change at Pragersko.

We weren’t sure how long the engine change was going to take but both me and Kester were thirsty, dying for a cool drink.

Kester reckons he had at least 10 minutes so he scampered off and grabbed a few Lasko’s for both of us and a bite to eat.

That beer tasted great Kester. One of the best beers I have ever had in my life. Thank you!



14. Picture postcard pretty Ljubljana.


I loved this city.

Maybe I got lucky- Ljubljana was relatively free of hordes of tourists that had plagued me since the beginning of the trip.

Could it be due to the fact that Ryanair or any other low-cost airline haven’t launched a route to Ljubljana yet>

It was quite neat , compact and easy to get around.


Cacao, Ljubljana- Best gelato outside of Italy



15. Gelato in Ljubljana – best I’ve tasted outside Italy.


There’s only one place to go- Cacao Gelato Bar.

You can sit by the riverside, watch the people walk by, watch the boats go by and stare upwards at the fairytale castle turrets soaring in the infinite blue sky.

Taste your gelato. You can choose from over 30 flavours.

Close eyes.

Drift away.






January 27, 2012

Brighton Pier : Photograph of the week


Two photographs of Brighton Pier from my trip this week.


Even in Winter, the Pier looks stunning.


Brighton Pier. 26th January 2012. 9:30am : First time I saw the sun in two days there. Luckily just as I arrived at the Pier, sun started breaking through the clouds.


Large and noisy part of the local population, The Seagulls are very much a key feature of Brighton with the local football club nicknamed the 'Seagulls'

January 19, 2012

2 days in Paris. With £100.





Welcome to my guide to PARIS….OFF THE BEATEN TRACK.

With just £100 spending money.

Just 2 days, 48 hours in Paris.



Only in Paris: Watch the world go by.....


Paris in Springtime is nice.

Bit muggy.

Crowds of tourists everywhere .

Not everywhere.

Especially, if you are willing to go off the beaten track.


Which was exactly my plan.

However 48 hours is not a lot of time to explore Paris.


On top of that I had set myself the challenge of a daily budget of £50.

Excluding accommodation.

More than enough…. I hear you say.


Trust me £50 does not go far in Paris…as you will learn soon.

Here is a diary of my 48 hours in Paris.


Day 1: 27th April 2011


Edinburgh Airport


Never leave buying your euros till last minute. I just got 105 euros for £100 today at Travelex. Biggest rip off.




48 hours and counting- I land in Charles de Gaulle Airport.

I head into Paris on RER B Train.

35 minutes is the journey time.

Cost of my ticket is 17.40 euros rtn!

Left: 86.60 euros.




I check into my home for the next 2 nights: St Christopher’s Inn Paris.

First impressions are good.

Receptionist is pleasant and welcoming.


The hostel has it’s own Bar called Belushis.

They are showing the Barca-Madrid game.


I check out my room for the night- a 12 bed dorm. For the price, I can’t complain.

You have your own reading light, blinds and luggage locker beneath your bunk.


9 pm

I’m off for a pint at Belushis.

Place is heaving and packed.

Good game so far.

Beer price alert: Pint of Kronenburg is 4 euros.

Just flash your room key, otherwise if you don’t show it , price creeps upto 6 euros ( which is the standard price across most of Paris let me warn you )


1030 pm

Half Time.

Drinking that pint got me really hungry.

I check out Belushi’s menu: 10 euros for a burger!

No thanks.


I head out for a snoop around the neighbourhood.

The hostel is by the canal , I spot  some very cool bars and restos to eat.


Eventually I plump for home comforts and decide to go for an Indian: Crepes Chaudes on 182 Rue de Crimee


I know. Coming all the way to Paris to eat at an Indian?

However, I have a good feeling about this place.

Looks clean, I get a good waft of the food from the street.


I have Chicken Curry with basmati rice, dessert is crepes with Nutella after.

All for just 10.50 euros.


I can’t complain. Nice curry and those crepes were yum.


Left: 75.50euros


Day 2: 28th April 2011 




Morning! I had a dream that I was surrounded by a swarm of snarling hyenas.

I wake up with a cold sweat.

Actually, it’s just a bunch of Brazilians snoring in my dorm.

Too many caipirinhas last night I guess.



I drag myself downstairs. Not much of a morning person to be honest,

Free Breakfast at St Christophers- not bad.

The breakfast counter is lined with a shitload of golden brown crispy baguettes.

I grab a few and and wallop tons of Nutella on them and wash it down with a gallon of orange juice.




Buy a Paris Mobilis Pass. For 6.10 euros you get unlimited travel on zones 1 and 2 for 24 hours.

Left: 69.40 euros




Cold, grey day.

I’m in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

It’s a beautiful place.

You do need a map to get around this place- very confusing layout.


Jim Morrison. Pere Lachaise Cemetery


I meet Jim Morrison in the 6th Division.





Love the Art Noveau entrances of the Metro stations in Paris.

Next stop: I’m off for a taste of the macabre: The Catacombs!




Queue MASSIVE in front of Catacombs.


@katyabroad tweets me


“Ugh, Catacombs does not sound like a fun day out! Have you got anywhere to go a little less ‘touristy’?”




I abandon the Catacombs queue.

Tip: Come early to avoid the crowds. I head off to see where Joyce, Hemingway lived in rue Cardinal Lemoine





Quick but v tasty lunch at Moisan in Place Maubert: Baguette with saucisson & chocolate tart: 6 euros.

Left: 63.40 euros




I’m at 71 Rue Cardinal Lemoine: courtyard where Joyce finished writing Ulysses.

Closed to public now sadly.




‘This was how Paris was in early days when we were poor & happy’ ( A Moveable Feast)

74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine



Around the corner from Rue Cardinal Lemoine: 39 Rue Descartes.

Hemingway lived here from 1921 to 1925.




I need a pickmeup.

I go for a double espresso at Cafe Delmas on Place De la Contrescarpe.

Hemingway describes this place as a ‘cesspool’ where all the prostitutes, drug addicts, pimps and sailors used to hangout.

Espresso sets me back 6 euros!


I have now left: 57.40euros




Had a cool chat with Remi Lemoner,owner of Hotel Vieux ‘Beat Hotel’ where Ginsberg, Kerouac stayed.

The hotel is located in 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, an unassuming street in the Latin Quarter.

Remi Lemoner- Owner of the 'Beat Hotel'


Remi was a real character and had a ton of interesting stories to tell me- a true adventurer. He was one of the first westerners to step foot in Mongolia back in 60’s when there were heavy restrictions on foreigners entering the country.




I’m at 7 Rue Des Grands Augustins: Picasso finished his masterpiece Guernica here.



Tres cool! I come across a Taschen bookstore at 2 Rue de Buci




Cafe Flore bursting at seams.Favourite hangout for intellectuals Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir.


RT @h_dumigan: Considering unfollowing @BudgetTraveller ’cause of the tantalising updates on 2 days spent exploring Paris. Envy is a terrible thing. #100Paris

RT @arpimay: #100Paris this is a literary, artistic and cinematic Parisfest! Enjoying it.




More of Hemingway’s Paris.

44 Rue Jacob. Hotel Angleterre : Ernest spent his first night here in Paris on 14/12/1921



Later on 56 Rue Jacob Hotel York I witness a plaque that is a reminder of an important moment in history….

On 03/09/1733 this is where David Hartley Benjamin Franklin signed the treaty for American Independence.




I’m at Dans Les Landes – the 5th’s hottest joint.

Just steps from the Rue Mouffetard market and the charming St Médard square, this smart little spot is full of varied tapas-style tastes from France’s southwest.

At just 8 euros for a mojito & charcuterie, I can see why this place is so popular.


Left: 49.40 euros


Day3: 29th April 2011


12 hours left. 49.40 euros left.


It was the day of the Royal Wedding.

Not a confetti or Union Jack in sight across Paris.




I buy another 24 hour Mobilis Paris Metro Pass. Cost 6.10 euros. Left 43.30 euros



Great to see Hollywood movie posters when travelling: always translates into something completely different.

Hangover 2 translated in French : ‘Very Bad Trip 2′





I’m in the very chic Le Dome restaurant ( also known as the Angle American Cafe in the heyday) where Picasso & many luminaries used to hang out.

Here’s a picture.

I feel like the Antichrist on the day tweeting about #100Paris challenge.

My whole feed is jammed with female followers raving about Kate Middleton’s dress- boring!



Enroute to St Germain, I stop to admire the beautiful tower of Eglise St Sulpice




Lunch –I wish I had remembered the name of this place- food was fantastic.19euros. ( Left: 24.30 euros) Fixed 3 course menu with a half a carafe of wine. Food smells great +diners speak in French: good sign. Just saw someone having Crepes Suzette with Grand Marnier-wow.


Starter of warm Sausages w/ garlic fresh cream cider sorrel & spinach sauce-nice.





‘We are sum of all the moments of our lives’

Jesse’s famous quote from that stunning movie: Before Sunset


I am at the famous Shakespeare & Co where Jesse + Celine reunite


As a souvenir from my trip I splurge 8 euros on a book of Neruda’s poetry at Shakespeare & Co.

I’m down to just 16.30 euros with 5 hrs left of #100Paris challenge




My legs are like jelly walking around Paris.


I take it easy and just beach myself on the banks of River Seine to right of Notre Dame.

Suns out.

I spend a few hours just lazing, reading my book of Neruda poems and watching Paris pass me by.



I meet an old university friend at a very flash cocktail bar in St Germain.

16 euros- buy one get one cocktail. Got myself a mojito.



Left: 0.30 euros.



Au revoir!

PS: If you enjoyed this post have a peek at my post Nostalgia is a seductive liar: Remembering Paris for the 1st time




December 12, 2011

Iphoneography: Scenes from a Bengali Wedding






Something different…..

In my second instalment of ‘ Stories from the road : the Kolkata Diaries ‘  is a tribute to my dear childhood friend Kamalini who got married yesterday in a stunning ceremony to a wonderful guy called Souvik.

This photo essay is a selection of some of the many memorable moments of the evening.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story ;)


November 4, 2011

Travel Photo of the week : Brandenburg Gate, Berlin




Brandenburg Gate

Berlin.February 2011.


This week’s travel photo of the week comes from my February trip to Berlin. The picture is taken in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

People dressed on funny outfits for some sort of a charity fundraiser added colour to the proceedings.




October 6, 2011

Red is the color: Falling in love with La Rochelle

‘The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love.’


Color Psychology via


Red is the Colour: The French Flag and the Lighthouse of Ile De Re


One of the joys of travel for me nowadays is exploring new local cuisines and expanding my culinary horizons

Plus expanding my waistline too :)


My recent trip to La Rochelle was such a gastronomic extravaganza.

Every meal here is a celebration.

A celebration of food, of local identity and of life.


Visiting La Rochelle was a sensory explosion.

Not just taste :  on the first day of  the trip first that hit me while wondering the streets was the smell of food here and the colours….


Red is the colour: Strawberries from the local market, La Rochelle.



The smell, colour and variety of local food is vibrantly on display in the local market square within La Rochelle.

The moment I walked in the first thing that captured my eye was the juicy RED colour of the strawberries.

Even though we had a hearty breakfast at our gites I just couldn’t resist picking up a punnet of the strawberries and I kid you not- was the sweetest and juiciest strawberries I had ever tasted.

2 punnets for just 3 euros- bargain! Who says you can’t enjoy luxury on a budget….


A great spot for lunch just a few footsteps from the market is the fantastique La Cuisine de Jules ( Rue de Thiers)

Seafood dominates the menu. Other specialities that Jules offer include his special tartare ( enjoyed as starters, recommend)  veal kidneys and foie gras. Menu changes with every season and all products are locally sourced where possible.


As Jules says

“Le produit c’est comme une femme …si on ne le respecte pas il ne donne rien.”

( The product is like a woman. If we do not respect it does not work )


I enjoyed a delicious seafood risotto with squid, prawns, mussels, olives- delicious.


Red is the colour : Champagne and Pomegranate Cocktails at Cuisine de Jules


The apertif was excellent: a champagne and pomegranate cocktail. I see red again.

Please note here readers a pattern emerging: An almost elaborate a la Amelie Poulin style seduction going on here.


With Lunch Menu starting at 14 euros and excellent fixed priced menus available ( 3 courses for 30 euros) this place offers really top notch food for excellent value.


One of the highlights of the day was our sunset cruise on the catamaran- the Kapalouest.

One of the packages they offer on the cruise is a seafood platter.  ( 49 euros for sunset cruise, apertif and seafood platter)

However given the possibility of a rough ride, the seafood platter had to wait after in a local restaurant.


I am no seadog like Captain Haddock so the prospect of a rough ride was not very enticing.


However contrary to intial fears, was a smooth ride and I experienced possibly one of the most memorable sunsets in my life- was wow or as the locals would say ‘C’est Magnifique!!’


Fiery Red Sunset over the Atlantic, La Rochelle- C'est Magnifique!



I don’t believe in any travel experiences being a must see….however seeing sunset out at sea is unique and something you got to experience soon.

As the sun drowned in the horizon, the fiery red embers still glowering across the sky suddenly I felt this intense sense of happiness, of gratitude… a quickening pulse.

Perfect timing : the skipper of the Kapalouest then treated to us to the apertif of all apertifs- a taste of the local Pineau des Charentes.



Overshadowed by it’s more celebrated big brother Cognac, the Pineau is a bit of unknown gem.

I plumped for the Red Pineau.

Made from the unfermented juice of red grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Red Pineau was quite refreshing ( served chilled) and fruity.


A nice warm buzz in my belly, we trooped off the catamaran towards seafood heaven.

Another apertif minute later, landed on my table the most amazing platter of seafood you could imagine….


Colour is Red: Fruits de Mer, La Rochelle


Fruits de Mer as it is called- or fruits of the sea, this had everything from Oysters,Mussels, Snails in Garlic Butter, Langoustines and a red crab in the middle. It was a treat- everything tasted so fresh and of the sea.


My belly full, heart content I headed back to my rooms at the Best Western in La Rochelle.


I close my eyes but still not ready to sleep. I remembered  all the wonderful things I had tasted and experienced. I felt my heart glowing. Pulse quickening, I saw the colour red again.

It was official. I was in love. I couldn’t wait to wake up and see La Rochelle again.


Where I stayed

Autumn/Winter is when you can get some amazing deals on hotels in La Rochelle compared to summer peak season rates.

I stayed in the elegant and very comfortable 3 star Best Western Hotel in La Rochelle ( Champlain France Angleterre) where searching via Booking.Com I found rates for November 2011 for double (room only) little as 79 euros.

Slightly more affordable and comfortable is the Hotel Kyriad in La Rochelle where in November 2011 I found double rooms for as little as 59 euros.


Over the next few weeks I will be presenting a series of feature of how to discover this beautiful region on a budget so stay tuned to the BudgetTraveller!

If you missed, here is my earlier installment of getting lost in the streets of La Rochelle.


Merci beaucoup! to  Sandrine from Poitou Charentes Tourism Board  for hosting me and also Sue Lowry + Magellan PR team for organising this epic trip.  Plus this trip would not have been so epic without the company of  the amazing travel bloggers:  Melvin, Astrid and Titus from Traveldudes, Isabelle from IsabellesTravel and Iain Mallory from MalloryonTravel 

Thanks for the memories and hope to ride with you soon!

Disclaimer:  Please note that this trip was sponsored by Poitou Charentes Tourism Board but the views represented here are my own.


October 3, 2011

Exploring the streets of La Rochelle : The perfect city to get lost in






With it’s picturesque old fishing port in the heart of the city, Renaissance town hall and other old buildings La Rochelle is a dream city to walk around in and get lost.

We were blessed with the perfect afternoon, mellow late summer sunshine and the clearest blue sky with fluffy clouds made it a joy to photograph the buildings and minute humdrum existence of this lively seaport town.

With its 17th Century arcaded streets, there is a feeling of walking back into history in La Rochelle.

It’s architecture has been well preserved and looked after.

The best streets to roam include the rue du Palais, la Rue du Temple, rue Chaudrier and rue des Merciers.

The street names reflect the unique history of the place- la Rue du Temple reflecting the town’s association with the Knights Templar for whom La Rochelle was a key base.

Rue des Merciers was the haberdashers street and even in the present day, it is the shopping heart of La Rochelle with many trendy upmarket fashion labels and boutiques setting up shop here.

I thought I’d show some images to give you a more visual feel to my experience: here is the link to the BudgetTraveller Flickr album and below a selection of my memories of my walk around La Rochelle- enjoy!


Over the next few weeks I will be presenting a series of feature of how to discover this beautiful region on a budget so stay tuned to the BudgetTraveller!

Merci beaucoup! to  Sandrine from Poitou Charentes Tourism Board for hosting me and also Sue Lowry + Magellan PR team for organising this epic trip. 

Rue du Temple


The Blue Door

Rue des Arcades: The 'Haberdashers' street

Sunday breakfast at the local market, La Rochelle

Streets of La Rochelle: Perfect for drifting and getting lost...

Dreamy La Rochelle: Fluffy blue skies & the stunning renaissance facade of the local buildings

Pussy Galore

Back alleyways of La Rochelle


September 27, 2011

iPhoneography: Gdansk. Part 1





I wasn’t sure what to expect of Gdansk.

Being the hotbed of the solidarity movement I expected it to be quite industrial and gritty like most port cities.

Far from that, Gdansk was a city brimming with history: beautiful stepped gabled houses typical of the Dutch Renaissance and its quaint cobbled streets.

Unlike other cities that had been heavily bombed during the Second World War, Gdansk has been meticulously restored to its former Hanseatic glory.

Gdansk will be one of the hosts for next year’s Euro 2012 games.  On the evidence of what I’ve seen, it’s unique history, the warmth and friendliness of the locals I met- it’s going to be a brilliant host and a great place to be for the games.

‘Gdansk’ for dropping by and enjoy Part 1 of my tribute. Part 2 follows tommorrow :)

Non-doing manifesto I discovered at an art exhibition within the Shipyard: No 19- Think more, produce less



Lech Walesa's Workshop

Marek Targonski exhibition, Gdansk Galleria

Streetart in Gdansk

Lost in a grey sky: Metallic sculpture near Amber Museum

Gdansk by night

Twilight over the beautiful stepped gables houses of Gdansk

Ul Mariacka Street- Gdansk's prettiest street facing onto St Mary's cathedral: Europe's oldest brick cathedral


PGE Arena, Gdansk. One of the host grounds for the Euro 2012 championships

Love is in the air, in Gdansk