Barcelona is art city indeed!

You might have read our previous posts where we reminisce our honeymoon in Madrid and journey through to the south of Spain. Having made a circular route that included Portugal, we were back in Madrid. There we bade farewell to tour mates from the trip, some of whom we are still in touch after so many years.

But our honeymoon was far from over.

For an hour’s flight later we had arrived in the city of Barcelona. Distinct in language, customs and traditions, Barcelona had always been an artful city in our minds. This is because its most famous son is Antoni Gaudi. Now before we were there the impression we had was the mosaics. For aside from the Sagrada the only other thing we knew about back then was what WE call the “Salamander”… el drac as it might be otherwise be called.

How long did we stay in the city?

A week! And we took it slow. While we did not visit all of Gaudi’ iconic buildings, we did see quite a few of them. And next time take the lift when you are at the Sagrada. It’s definitely easier on the knees and a whole lot faster too unless you had time like we did. Heheh. People spend a few hours here. We were almost here the whole day, peeling off only for lunch at the nearby tapas restaurants. Read all about it and more of what we did here.

We wrote about the city becoming really congested and overwhelmed by tourists. How would you recommend managing this much love from tourists?

Driving across Spain

Did you know that the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian were both born in present day Spain? It was considered one of the most important provinces of the Roman empire. How about the fact that most of Spain was under Moorish rule until the late 1100s before the reconquista gradually regained most of the peninsula?

Well, we were on a tour that would take us due south from Madrid.

Through the cities that inherited moorish legacies coupled with a Spanish resurgence. Especially during the 16th century as Spain established colonies in the Americas and exploited resources far beyond the dream of other sovereign states in Europe. You just need to be there. And for those who were, are or about to, we are sure you will enjoy the journey as much as we do. Read all about ours here.

We’ve read about many others who have explored these beautiful cities. And we do regret that it was a group tour that did not leave us a lot of time to dig deeper. Unfortunately all we had were snippets of the country, though an excellent introduction for which we will use as foundation when we find a way back.

Where in Spain have you journeyed to and touched?

Thundering into Hungary

The reason we used the world ‘thundering’ is because the country’s name would suggest a connection to the Huns. Now you might not be a fan of history, but let us tell you that these folks (the Huns) were known as ferocious horse pack warriors that literally struck deep into Europe during the end of the Roman era in the 5th century.

Their arrival signed the collapse of the Roman empire in western Europe and heralded in an age of “darkness” (hence the dark ages) when there was little or no political stability let alone social and personal safety.

But today the lands that are called Hungary is inhabited by the descendent of the Magyar tribes. Some try to link them to the Finns and Estonians, but apparently the languages are not mutually intelligible. And it became part of one of the largest European empire : Austro-Hungarian empire of the Habsburgs.

We “thundered” into Budapest in a quieter fashion, making a cue for the medieval constructs in Buda before taking a cruise on the Danube and settling in Pest. For the river divides both sides of the city today, when just about 140 years ago they were two. Enjoy the café culture of the city, and let the cool vibe of the city sink in. That’s what we did. Read all about it here. So much has changed since the time we were there.

Did you enjoy your time in Budapest? And if you had still been, would you be tempted to do so?

What is Bali to you?

If one were to do a search, Bali is probably one of the destinations that has been written about so much that there seems nothing new anyone can add to it. So we cannot profess that what we are about to share with you will.

In fact, this post is a ‘throwback’ (some folks like this term huh?) to the two occasions we did get acquainted with the island. Have a look (here) at our time there if you like.

Today our post is ask the question: what is Bali to you?

Do you have images of Hindu temples and people in traditional dress participating in ceremonies flashing in your heads? Or do you dream up of the beautiful surf that laps the white sand beach with a cocktail in hand? Yep. Those are surely two very different visions!

Some folks write about the wonderful time they spent in the forests, being robbed by monkeys (macaques really). Yet others tell of intriguing temples in seemingly nowhere, at least when one reaches the ‘entrance’ that leads to them. There are those who seem enthralled with the terraced rice fields (padi we call them), while some stay up late into the wee hours partying away.

Did you know that in Bali

  • Local vineyards produce and bottle their own wine
  • There many different craft villages where you can see artisans at work
  • Royal palaces of extinct Balinese lineages are gorgeous
  • Some of the best backdrops for golf can be attractions in themselves

What is Bali to you? What did you do when you were there?

Tourists go where Pilgrims go

Today’s handprint story is not so much about our sharing, but more about how the people, ideas and religion had crossed the deserts, mountains and of course – the seas. In particular it was an intriguing way to combine not just sightseeing, eating (compulsory) and relaxation on any journey you embark on.

The Indonesian archipelago.

You might have read our series on the Philippines some time back. You will then know that there are 7,107 islands according to offical Philipines records. But this is dwarved by that of Indonesia. Depending on who you ask, there can be between 17,508 to 18,307 of them all over the entire territorial space of the country. Obviously this means one of the most important mode of communication (and transport) would be by sea.

What would neccessitate folks sailing the seas to another far off island? Fishing? Perhaps. Visiting relatives? A long shot. Mostly likely it would be about trade and diplomacy. And it was this way that ideas and religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) along with the physical goods traveled to Indonesia.

Nearby the city of “Jogja” are two heritage sites, one dedicated to Hinduism and another to Buddhism. Despite the ravages of time and natural disasters, they have endured. And they are magnificent indeed! We enjoyed being here to take in the history and in awe of effort people more than 1000 years ago put into their faith and devotion.

Why not have a read here to and sample what you might see and do here? Perhaps be inspired to make your own journey to these UNESCO sites?

The Caucasus. Could that be next for us?

Recently (well 3 months back), a friend of ours got on a 3-week journey across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. You cannot imagine the amount of ‘jealousy’ (heheh) we had when we heard about that. First things that came into our mind was : “oooh it would have been wonderful to get around with your own group of friends“, “why did you not rope us in?“…

So why didn’t she?

For one reason it was a religious group. So we were reticent about joining and she knew that. Second we are completely spent bankie-wise… and thirdly, we are in the midst of a lot of work – officewise and lack of vacation leave days… Thus, the reason we were left drooling over what could have been. Don’t you have those feeling too sometimes?

But let’s get back to the matter at hand. In recent months we’ve heard and read ever so often about red dotters who have been to the Caucasus. And independently too! Now the length of time they spent across the various countries differed, they showed us how ‘old’ we’ve become… whatever happened to that youthful sense of excitement over adventure to get out there?

Shall we consider to take a plane into Baku and then map out a way to Yerevan from there? Or do we need to have detailed plans on the mode of transportation, accommodations and sights prepared before we embark? Lots of questions today. But as you might know (from our past posts) when we blog about it, we mostly actually will do it.

Have you been to the Caucasus countries before? How did you plan you journey?