Daily Archives: 11.02.2014

The Swarovski Factory in Wattens, Austria



The Swarovski Factory in Wattens, Austria

The Swarovski factory is the crystal factory located at Wattens in Austria. It is the second most visited place in the world. It is one of the major attraction for the tourist people who visit Austria and all over the globe. It is a museum compromising of many crystal structures and the designs made their of glass cutting. Till today no one knows the design explaination of how the design is made by cutting the glass. The museum also comprises of  Taj Mahal in its collection. Every person loves to see crystalline structure the way it shines or glitters and when the sun rays passes it glitters the natural light or vibrant colours attracts them right from a child to old people. Well there is a saying Beauty is in the eye of  beholder but I say Beauty of Swarovski beholds everybody’s eyes.

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The history of Swarovski crystal factory goes likes this. It was founded by Daniel Swarovski. He was the son of a glass cutter and an artist himself deep inside his heart. He learnt the art to carve the things in glass and gave them the dimension which glittered in crystals like shining star. The Swarovski family has its business spread in many areas like crystal glass structures,jewellery,fragrances and chandeliers. Now coming to its history Swarovski crystal factory was opened in 1995 to mark the centenary celebrations of the company and since then it has attracted as many 11 million viewers all over the world and still it continues to attract tourist all over the world.

There is a centerpiece of theme park i.e. it is the grass covered head and its mouth has a mountain. It is one of the major attraction. The most interesting part of this museum has in its history that it remains family run descendant under Swarovski families fourth and fifth generation. The multimedia artist Andre Heller designed 14 chambers of world with his artistic vision. And it’s worth the result as all experience unique with every visit.

Taj mahal

 

There is a special edition called Virtual world tour. It consists of 16 different types of categories. First one is the Entrance Hall then next comes the Mechanical theatre which has shows specially played under direction of renowned British artist and inventor Jim Whiting. The most important one Crystal Dome which is built by using 595 mirrors, it gives the feeling for visitor that they have stepped in a dome region. It is one of the spectacular beauty to your soothing eyes and the colors of light expresses its beauty in myriad forms. Next one called as Winters dream designed by Alexader MacQueen and light artist Toord Bontje during the year 2005 still captures everyone’s eyes.

The largest kaleidoscope in world known as Crystaloscope is another added feather to Swarovski Crystal factory. It is a fountain created by Andre Hellerin in the year 1995.Various images of crystal appear continuously. Another one is the crystal theatre created by artist susanne schmogner and the theatre includes various objects created by using crystals. Next is the Crystal calligraphy, this idea was popped up in order to mould all the languages into one single part. The most exotic one is Ice passage, where there is change in colours on floors and also we can listen our foot tapping sound

SWAROVSKI

 

The giants belongings is one more to watch out for. It is the creation of Andre Heller only. It consists of a picture which appears to be a mirror but later it becomes transparent. Then we have Giant in Tyrolean costume which has a stick, ring and gloves. The stick was designed by Austria woodcarver Rudi Hirt and the mysterious thing is that gloves are of 7year old, wooden stick of 12 year and ring of 35 year old. Then comes the turn of Le Primadonna Assoluta which means The wonder of Harmony and it  is a room embedded with the giant crystal and it opens up and we can see the art of Primadonna Assoluta and also we can listen the song sung by Jessye Norman. Next is 55 million crystals which is the wonder of Infinity where you can sit, listen music and take pictures. The brain behind this is Brian Eno who is a multifaceted personality musician, composer and artist. The master piece their barely lies in motion and it changes its motion like chameleon.

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The next surprise is Reflections which is nothing but the Wonder of the world where you can see 48 Polygons. Each polygons changes its colour and if you carefully observe you can see it portrays the relationships of crystals, its nature, history, religion and all information related to it. The wonder of elements i.e. Crystal Forest where there is a fusion of nature and technology. It is the idea of  Fabrizio Plessi who created it. There also lies a tree trunk which has a video installation that can crackle and glow. Next One is The Timeless Swarovski which depicts the family lineage of Swarovski, how it came to existence and all the history attached to it. Last but not least Shopping store where we can find entire things just I can say name it you will get it. The products ranging from fragrance, Beauty ,watches, fashion accessories etc.Total worth the penny you spend on it.

Flavouring every Dish with Butter: Punjabi Cuisine



Flavouring every Dish with Butter: Punjabi Cuisine

Punjab is a state in Northern region of India. The cuisine of Punjab consists of the food from India as well as a few items from eastern regions of Pakistan. It includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food with mixture of flavors. Punjabi cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in India and abroad. Any Indian restaurant, anywhere in the world, will definitely have the Punjabi food on its menu. The most important feature of the Punjabi cuisine is the diversity in the dishes. There is a difference between the home-made Punjabi dish and a restaurant-made dish. At home, Punjabi food is made by concentrating on wheat, spices, masalas, flavors, etc. while the restaurants prepare Punjabi dishes with large amounts of ghee, butter and cream to make it lip smacking. Wheat is the main and staple food in Punjab. They eat rice only on certain occasions and festivals. Also, the Punjabi food varies in the regions within the state but the overall philosophy of Punjabis is the same everywhere and that is to eat, drink and enjoy. The lively nature of the Punjabi people is reflected in the food and they are very much fond of eating. A traditional Punjabi meal is served with a plate of salad containing sliced onions, a lemon, and green chilies. Sometimes, they add a pickle to the platter which is usually made of Lemon or mixed vegetables.

paratha

Breakfast in a Punjabi home will consists of bread which is usually Paratha and beverage which is mostly lassi or dahi (curd). Paratha is flat bread round in shape which can be either cooked on the Indian Tawa (Griddle) or may be baked also. There are many types of Parathas in Punjab, most common among which are the Aloo Paratha – flatbread stuffed with mixture of boiled potatoes with spices, Mooli Paratha – flatbread stuffed with mixture of crushed radish and spices, Lachha Paratha – it is a whole wheat flat bread which is baked in tandoor and is multi-layered and crispy. Lassi is the most favorite drink in Punjab. It is made by mixing curd and milk and beating the mixture till it forms thick cream and is flavored with salt and mint. It is usually taken with breakfast but can be also included with lunch.

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Lunch of Punjab have two types: vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Vegetarian meal includes two starters, main course (two vegetables and whole wheat flatbreads) and a dessert at the end of the main course which will be a sweet dish mostly. The starters include Samosas – potato stuffing in a flat wheat bread folded in pyramidal shape and deeply fried, Paneer Tikka – Paneer cubes with a very thick paste made with ginger, oninons, chilies and tomatoes, Paneer Pakoras – fried lumps of made of Paneer surrounded by gram-flour with chillies and salt, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Kebab etc. Main course includes Palak Paneer (Paneer with spinach gravy), Dal Makhani (lentils cooked with cream and butter), rongi (black eyed peas), choley (served with naan or kulcha or batura), aloo (potato with or without gravy, an all-time favorite of Punjabis), Malai kofta, etc. The Breads are of both types: flat and raised. Baked breads are Naan, Kulcha, Tandoori roti, Lachha Paratha, etc. other breads are dry-baked and cooked on Tawa (griddle) such as the Phulka (also called Chapati), Jowar ki roti, Makki ki roti, Bajre ki roti, etc. which are smeared with butter. Some are shallow fried, which means that they are fried with little butter. Examples of these are Paratha of all kinds – aloo (Potato), mooli (Radish), Plain Paratha (without any stuffing), etc. Deep fried breads are also a part of Punjabi meal such as Puri or Bhatoora.

paneer-tikka

Snacks are served at tea time which mostly consists of the items mentioned in the starters. Mostly snacks such as paneer tikkas, pakoras and samosas are served with green chutney made by crushing the coriander and spinach with added lemon and salt.

instant-jalebi

Deserts in Punjabi cuisine are sweet dishes and most popular of all are Jalebi, Imarti, Malpua, Phirni and Sheer Korma, Gazar ka halwa (carrot cooked with milk), etc. They are very essential after a meal for Punjabis and they cannot complete their meal without any sweets. Non-vegetarian dishes include Chicken (Butter chicken is the most popular), Lamb, Kebabs, Biryanis, Kheema, etc.

makki ki roti

Some of the most popular dishes of Punjab loved by every Indian living in India or abroad are Rajma Chawal and Sarso ka saag. Rajma chawal is one of the most widely liked dishes in the main course for dinner as well as lunch. Rajma is red-kidney bean and is boiled, cooked with rich thick gravy of tomatoes and served with rice. “Sarso da saag and Makke di roti” is another very popular dish from the land of Punjab. This is the traditional Punjabi food that is made in every house of Punjab frequently. ‘Makke di roti’ means flat-bread made out of corn (maize) flour. ‘Sarso da saag’ means a dish made from mustard leaves. This green dish when served with the maize bread and butter will be a treat for your taste glands.

Punjabi food is the pride of the state and of the nation. It plays a huge role in the social and cultural events. The perfect flavors and spices can make you taste buds happy and therefore, make you happy.

The Pink Beaches, Islands of Bermuda



The Pink Beaches, Islands of Bermuda

As a child, it was hard not to dream of the chocolate rivers or the clouds of candy, the gingerbread homes and the waterfalls of cream… all glimpses of a fairytale! Equally imaginary sounds a beautiful beach, with yellow sun, blue water and pink sand! In fact this is not imagination but a true creation on this earth – the pink beaches are for real, in none other than the Somers Isles,  more famously called the islands of Bermuda.

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The Islands of Bermuda is the territory of the British and lies in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. As obvious from its name it is an island country thus, it has many beaches to offer to the tourists who flock to Bermuda not only to enjoy the sea side but also witness something which none of the beaches around the world can offer! Bermuda has 75 miles of coastline made up over about thirty four beaches – each more beautiful that the others. The Bermuda beaches are picturesque and pink in color. They have turquoise waters and have a vast stock of coral reefs, cliffs and coves to add to their beauty.

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Though all these features together make the Bermuda beaches a coveted destination, yet, the pink color of these beaches has no rocket science behind it but just a plain simple logic! The coral reefs of Bermuda thrive at such a shallow level that they are easily within the range of swimming distance. Moreover during the low tide, these coral reefs are easily visible above water as well! Now these coral reefs are a home to millions of tiny organisms which are red in color. They die on the ocean floor and get mixed with the corals and shells on the ocean bed. When the sea waves wash them to the shore, they mingle with the sea-side sand and that gives the beaches of Bermuda their mysterious pink hue.

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But over the time, the sand is further pushed back from the sea and these tiny particles are exposed to the heat of the sun. They therefore tend to lose their hue gradually and the sand attains a very faint pink color. But the sand that is constantly wet with the waves retains its deeper pink hue for a longer time. The best spot to get mesmerized with this red-pink color of sand is either the edge of the sea water where it keeps dampening the sand or around the very boundaries of the coral reefs where these tiny red organisms thrive and subsequently die. The funny thing about this sand is that if one would collect a sample of it to carry back home, eventually, the sand would lose its color and look like any other ordinary sand from any other beach! The key to let the sand retain its hue is to collect it while its wet and put it in a sealed plastic bag. It should also be kept away from sun.

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These beaches are particularly favorites for the tourists who all gather sand from the pink beaches while enjoying the yellow sun falling on the blue waters. Though the beaches of Bermuda are mostly public and open for all from dawn to dusk but camping on the beach or staying out on the beaches during the night time is usually prohibited for tourists.

horseshoe beach

Of the thirty four famous beaches of Bermuda, Elbow Beach, also called the Paget Parish is very famous not just for its pale pink sand and three whole stretches of coral reefs but also for its fascinating shape, like that of an elbow! (That’s how it got its name). Another one with a funny nomenclature is the Horse shoe Bay Beach, which has the shape of a horse-shoe! It has pink sand coupled with the coral reefs as well as large limestone cliffs which make it one of the most photographed beaches in Bermuda. The Achilles Bay Beach also, like the ones mentioned before gets its name from its shape – the shape of the heel. It is a very beautiful beach and is secluded from the other beaches. The Astwood Cove & Park is a very famous romantic destination in Bermuda owing to its serene waters, dark pink sand and a perfect and celebrated place for weddings on the islands! The West Whale Bay in South Ampton Parish is the only beach in Bermuda which offers the sight of the whales – giving the beach its name! The humpback whales can be easily spotted migrating in the early months of March and April – a rare sight which offers people even higher incentive to choose this beach over the others!

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Beside these few famous pink beaches there are others which are popular for either parrot fish viewing, or snorkeling, or swimming or even as the kid’s paradise! The Bermuda Pink Beaches offer one of the most coveted destinations for those who love nature and those who love to travel to distinct places!

Trump International Hotel and Tower – The Skyscraper Condo, Chicago



Trump International Hotel and Tower – The Skyscraper Condo, Chicago

 Chicago

The Trump International Hotel and Tower is a skyscraper condo-hotel which is situated in Chicago. The hotel is also known by the name Trump Tower Chicago or Trump Tower only and is named after its developer Donald Trump who is a billionaire. The hotel was designed by Adrian Smith, the famous architect of Owings, Merrill and Skidmore. The tower is at a height of 1,389 feet with a roof of 1,170 feet. A spectacular view of ‘Lake Michigan’ can be seen from the hotel as it is situated on the banks of the Chicago River. The hotel became popular when Bill Rancic decided to took over the construction of the Trump International Hotel. Bill Rancic was the undisputed winner of ‘The Apprentice’ (first season). In 2001, when the building was unleashed it became the tallest building of the world. But in the same year because of the terrorist attacks, Bill Rancic decided to redesign the building with some revisions.

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In 2009, the building was listed as the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and Wills Tower was listed first which is also in Chicago only. ‘John Hancock Center’ was the building with the highest apartment in the world before Trump Tower. But later the titled was passed on to Burj Khalifa. The Trump Tower is the 12th largest building in the world as per the records of 24th November 2012. The building was designed with lots of space and has a parking garage, condominiums, a hotel, retail space and ground up. On 30th January 2008, the hotel was opened but with limited hotel services and accommodation as there were only 339 rooms available in the hotel. But some extra facilities were provided in the coming months and in the same year on 28th of April they opened the hotel with full accommodation and hotel services. The construction of the building was continued till 2009. A restaurant named ‘Sixteen’ was opened on the 16th floor of the hotel. The hotel is rated as a 5 star hotel along with other two hotels in Chicago. And as per Forbes Travel Guide this is one of the three buildings which have a restaurant with a five star rating.

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The whole building was designed according to the background of the area. The three setback features of the Trump Tower are specially designed taking the surrounding skyline into account. The first setback is aligned with the Wrigley Building which is on the east side of the building; the second setback is aligned with River Plaza and the Marina City Towers which are on the north and west side of the building respectively. And the third setback is along the IBM Plaza which is known by the name Wabash Building. However the second setback cannot be seen properly from all the angles but still the rounded and setback edges are perfect. The entire building is above the Chicago River and the main Wabash entrance by 70 and 30 feet respectively. The Building is protected with low emissivity coated clear glass and the entire surface of the glass is also polished with stainless steel mullion system. The system is somewhat projected above the glass line. The projection is of about 9 inches (23 cm). The clear and crisp anodized aluminum is incorporated above the surface along with brushed stainless steel panels.

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When it comes to the main restaurant “Sixteen” of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, where everyone wants to get served atleast once, a splendid view of the Navy Pier’s Fireworks can be seen from the Sixteen over Lake Michigan. The restaurant was opened on the sixteenth floor in the starting of February in the year 2008. ‘The Terrace of Trump’, which is an outdoor veranda, was also opened on the coming year 2009 on June 25th. These openings come with the completion of the construction of the building. Designed by Joe Valerio, Sixteen gained much popularity because of the uniqueness in its décor, view, cuisine, location and of course architecture also. People described the restaurant in terms of its architecture as the place which doesn’t reveal its every card at once but surprises you by opening them one by one. The lobby of the restaurant is T-shaped and the duct to the hotel is marked with wine rooms which are red and white. These wine rooms are opposite to each other and the floor and ceiling of the way between them is designed with bronze wine racks. The terrace of the restaurant was designed specially for al fresco dining.

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2008 marked the opening of the popular ‘The Spa at Trump’ which covers an area of 23,000 square foot. This spa centre offers great oil massages which are gemstone (diamond, sapphire, or ruby) infused, exfoliating salts, a ‘robe menu’, the ‘deluge shower’ and the hydrating masques. There are 11 treatment rooms, Swiss saunas and showers and a private treatment suite for couples only. There is a health club also which is featured with a large indoor pool. This spa centre has been receiving positive reviews in terms of the physical spa and the treatment also. The Trump Tower earned the title of ‘Bentley of Hotel Spas’ by Citysearch because of this rich spa. They provide special spa guest rooms for the customers who visit the hotel for spa only. The never ending facilities, understated and contemporary looks and  the illustrious stunning views from the hotel makes it one of the best hotel of Chicago.

The Irresistible Noodles and Soyas – Chinese Cuisine



The Irresistible Noodles and Soyas – Chinese Cuisine

The-Chinese-Feast

Originating from miscellaneous regions of China, Chinese Cuisine is very famous not only among the people of China but among people from all over the world. There is definitely a history behind the Chinese Cuisine in China but the story differs from area to area because of their imperial fashions, climate and local favorites. With time, the cuisines of all the regions were overlapped and become the Cuisine of Chinese people. The Cuisine is famous by the name Chinese food, especially in Europe. The integration is done during the pre-modern time. Taste also varies according to regions and cultures just as style varies according to regions and cultures. This variation in culture and region led to supreme range of techniques to make food, eating styles, ingredients of food, the dishes and their respective names. Thus, the Chinese people are very proud of eating a large variety of food with true spirit. We call it the Chinese food culture.

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There are eight cooking traditions of China. These are Hunan, Shandong, Anhui, Szechuan, Cantonese, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian cuisines. Outside China also these are some Cuisines which have a Chinese flavor in them. The names of these Cuisines are Malaysian, American, Singaporean, Indian and Indonesian. Extensive study has been done regarding the culinary tradition of China. It was found that even the kings of China were quite famous for their eating habits. They used to appoint a major chef to his court and there used to be a competition between the cooks. The center of the Chinese Cuisine culture is the North China Plain. In the South, Yue people used to cultivate rice in their regions. The evolution of wheat happened in 2000 BC in western Asia. In Europe, people used this wheat to make hot noodle soup. Thus, the tradition of soup started. Other dishes were mutton, beef and pork. People preserved their meat by using curing, salt, ferment and vinegar. They used to cook meat in the fat of other animal.

When Shi Huangdi took over the Chinese empire and Han Dynasty was started, people started making food with greater complexity. The food was judged by its taste, color, texture and aroma. People try to obtain the perfect balance of the Five Tastes- sweet, salty, sour, pungent and bitter. And even it was being said that they consider a good meal to have all the Four Natures- cool, hot, cold and warm. The food was prepared in large size plates and in small pieces. The use of chopsticks and spoons for eating purposes was initiated by the Chinese people. The writers of the 2nd century used to eat smoked roasts and meats. During the Song dynasty, people were migrated towards south and by this period people used to eat southern Chinese staples which are congee and rice. The Mangolian and Manchurian cuisine was introduced during the Yuan and Qing culture and hot pot cooking came into fashion. Some restaurants and street vendor had the porkless cuisine especially for the Muslim communities that are living in China at that time.

cantonese

There are lots of Chinese dishes with a huge variety of ingredients and with different textures and flavors. The “Cantonese Cuisine” which includes Dim sum, turnip cakes, dumplings, rice rolls, buns, congee, soups, stir-fried green vegetables, lotus leaf rice and many other dishes. These dishes were prepared by stewing, frying, baking and steaming. These dishes are very tasty and will touch your heart. Yum Cha is a very tasty tea. The name itself means ‘drink tea’. Another famous cuisine is the “Szechuan Cuisine”. This cuisine is popular because of its bold flavor as the cuisine is from the southwestern China. This cuisine has a very different pungency and spiciness which is because of the chili peppers and garlic used while making the dishes. Ginger, peanuts and sesame paste are the important ingredients of this cuisine.

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Next is the “Anhui Cuisine” which uses the native style of cooking and is popular in the Huangshan Mountains of China. This cuisine uses the vegetables and local herbs of the areas. The cuisine is very much similar to Jiangsu cuisine. The Anhui province is gifted with variety of mushroom crops and fresh bamboos. The “Shandong Cuisine” has a long history and was once the imperial cuisine of North China and that’s why the Cuisine is very famous there and not in South China. This cuisine usually deals with sea food and its ingredients. Dezhou Chicken, braised trepan, Jiuzhuan Dachang, braised abalone, sweet and sour crap are the main dishes which are on the list of the menu of every local restaurant.  Other popular Chinese Cuisines are the Min (Fujian), Su (Jiangsu, Huaiyang), Xiang (Hunan), Zhe (Zhejiang), Xinjiang Islamic barbecue, Mongolian hotspot and the Tibetan Cuisine.

Chinese-noodles

Only some of the above mentioned Cuisines are famous around the world.  People around the world use the Staple foods of China to make some of the Chinese Cuisines. One of them is Rice. Glutinous rice or the sticky rice is the form of rice which the Chinese people use and they even like to eat the Steamed rice. No one can forget the world famous “Noodles” of china. Chinese Noodles comes in variety of shapes, textures and sizes. As per the Chinese tradition, Noodles are responsible for the good health and long life of people. Generally noodles are made up of wheat or rice flour but soybean can also be used for it. The soybean oil, soy milk, soy sauce and soy paste are the important Chinese ingredients which are used worldwide. When it comes to the deserts, Bings, sun cakes, moon cakes, Gao or Guo are famous in China. Some are simply snacks which are made up of wheat. Chinese people generally like to have less sugary, milder and hot soups and custards as deserts. Not everyone in this world knows the Chinese recipes and that’s why they try to make it in their way but the real taste of the Chinese Cuisines comes from a Chinese only.

Crippling traffic and vibrant street life – Bangkok



Crippling traffic and vibrant street life – Bangkok

 Bangkok_skytrain_sunset

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a home to eleven million inhabitants. By far it is the largest city of Thailand. People of the world know this city by many names. The city of angels, magnificent city of the nine gems, erected by Visvakarman st Indra’s behest, city of royal places, great city of immortals, seat of the king and the home of royal gods incarnate are the nicknames of the city. The city is famous for its wicked nightlife, tall buildings, intense heat and heavy traffic congestion. The city is situated on the shores of the Chao Phraya River. The city was just a small trading post during the early years when people lived there on bamboo rafts and they earned their living by selling fruits and vegetables by roaming along the water. When Ayutthaya was burned to ground by the Burmese invaders, King Rama I decided not to take over the place. And later in the year 1782, King Rama I turned the city into the capital city of Siam. King Rama I was the first ruler of the Chakri dynasty.

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The places and temples of Bangkok were the only stone structures there. By the 19th century, the Western area came into power as they incorporated many regions of Southeast Asia under their empire. The King Rama IV and V came with the idea of modernizing the country along European boundaries in order to keep the country independent. After World War II huge development was done in Bangkok. The centre of Bangkok was shifted to the city of Rattanakosin. Bangkok established itself as the driving force of Thailand and became its industrializing city. As a result of this rapid growth of Bangkok, people from Isaan started leaving the place and shifted to Bangkok to earn a better living there from 1980 onwards. Thus, Bangkok became the most happening city of Thailand.

But a huge impact of the increasing industrialization in Bangkok was on the greenery of Bangkok. Bangkok became the city to have the lowest green space. There is a huge difference between the incomes of the people who came here for a job and the people who are involved in the economic activities of the country. Common people prefer to walk across the roads as metro systems are too expensive for them. People have to visit any garden or park to grab fresh air. One peaceful sight which people of Bangkok like to visit is PAKNAM temple which is situated on PetchKasem road. This place is free of heavy crowd and has a huge canal behind its back where people go to feed the fishes. The entire walls of the temple depict the historical events of Buddhism as the walls are carved with amazing pictures. Teak woods are used to construct the temple.

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Bangkok hosts hundreds of temples but the top three temples of Bangkok are Wat Pho, WatArun and the Grand Palace. People who are visiting the Grand Palace have to keep their full day off to see the whole temple as the temple is of immense size. Wat Pho is nearby this place. Within the boundaries of this Palace there is a scared Buddhist temple, namely WatPhraKaew. The sight of this temple is very eye-pleasing as the entire temple is decorated with holy monuments and stuff. There is no space for the living of monks there. The famous statue of the Emerald Buddha is also there in this temple. This image is addressed as the most sacred Buddha image and that’s why the temple is titled as the most sacred temple of Thailand.

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The unresolved WatArun is situated across the river. People have to take a ferry to cross the Chao Phraya River and reach Thonburi to visit the temple. The temple is about 60 to 88 m tall. Four small prangs surrounds the main structure. Being referred to as the most Picturesque temple of Thailand, the inner part of the temple is engraved with charming ten baht coins. These engraved ten baht coins are the logo of TAT- Tourist Authority of Thailand. The beautiful porcelain pieces which surround these coins are recognizable. In Rattanakosin, the old city, the WatSuthat, WatRatchanaddaram and the Golden Mount temples are famous. People should use their ticket of the Grand Place to visit Dusit Palace which is in Dusit. It was said that the King Rama V build the Dusit Palace to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. People who visit the Dusit Palace spend their whole evening in the golden teakwood house, the Vimanmek Mansion.

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Now the city has grown much and is now the political, diplomatic, cultural, commercial, spiritual and educational centre of Thailand. Many museums dedicated to the history and archaeological Thai remains are also there. The National Museum, National Gallery or the Queen’s Gallery and the museum is opened recently- Bangkok Art and Culture Centre are the famous museums. For a nice experience people can even visit the less famous museums- M.R. Kukrit’s Heritage Home (Silom), Ban Kamthieng (Sukhumvit), the King Prajadhipok Museum and the Museum of Siam.  People can enjoy the beautiful view offered by the PhraSumen Fort. For nature lovers, Lumphini Park and the Santichaiprakarn Park in Silom and Khao San Road respectively have much to offer. This cosmopolitan city has many beautiful temples and places, busy markets and authentic canals that always have something in store for everyone.

Playing with Pasta and Cheese: Italian Cuisine



Playing with Pasta and Cheese: Italian Cuisine

Influenced by ancient Greek and Roman, Italian cuisine is as old as 4th century. It is one of the most popular cuisines in the world with the rich variety in taste and diverse flavors. The main quality of this cuisine is its simplicity. The dishes in Italian style are made only with four to eight ingredients and all the cooks concentrate on the ingredients instead of the presentation of the dishes. Italian food also varies according to regions and there are a lot of regional dishes which are now a part of the whole country’s menu. The Italian food was mentioned in the texts for the first time in 4th century by Archestratus. He said that Italians do not mask the flavors of their food with any species or herbs which is the unique, simple and best quality of the food in Italy.

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Italian cuisine includes a lot of ingredients from vegetables to fruits, variety of sauces, meat, etc. The main ingredients in North Italy food are fish, potato, corn, rice, pork, sausages, and cheese. These items are common in all the dishes mostly. They have a variety of pasta which is even more popular. Equally popular ingredients are risotto and polenta. Nuts and olive oils are also a main part of most of the dishes. In the varieties of pasta, we have diversity in the length, width and shapes of the noodles to make pasta. As per the shape and size, pasta are named differently such as penne, maccheroni, linguine, lasagne (thin sheets), spaghetti (thin and slim rod), linguine, fusilli (swriled), gnocchi (made from potatoes), rigatoni (tube or cylinder-like) etc. The pasta are usually served with variety of sauces and cooked by boiling usually. There are two main types of pasta: dry and fresh. Dy pasta can be stored for 2 years because they are made without using any eggs and using durum wheat flour or semolina (having a very light yellow colored tinge). Fresh pasta, on the other hand, will be useful only until a few days and that too only after you store them in refrigerator. Fresh pasta includes eggs with refined wheat flour. The taste and ingredients of the Italian food will vary according to the regions and seasons. They are sometimes influenced by the neighboring countries that share the border with Italy like France and Austria.

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Meals of Italians have three to four courses usually. Italians call their breakfast as Colazione. It contains caffé e latte with bread or rolls, jam and butter. In cookies, Italians have Fette Biscottate which is a hard bread resembling a cookie, and biscotti. Breakfast in a bar usually has cappuccino or espresso with a pastry. Yogurts are increasingly becoming a part of the breakfast in Italian culture.

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Lunch of Italy is the most important meal and is called Pranzo. Italian lunches are usually lengthy affairs and involve appetizer or aperitif as starters. The Italian lunch is composed of cheese, cold cuts, bruschetta, sandwiches, and olives along with sauce dips. After this, they have a first course which usually contains pasta, risotto, soup, ravioli, etc. after the first course they have a second course which is the main course. They usually serve meat and fish in the main course with some vegetable garnish. Then they round up the meal with some dessert or any fresh fruit.

Italians have a mi-afternoon snack which is taken around 4 to 5 p.m. It can be anything that you like it to be. The available options are fruits, yogurts, ice-cream, cookies, biscuits, cakes, nuts or brioches, raisins or mousses, etc. this meal is not taken by all but is surely a part of Italian Cuisine.

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We now come to the dinner. Italians have a lavish and lengthy and lavish dinner just like the lunch. But when compared to lunch, the dinner is light. There is an Italian salad to start the dinner, followed by a soup, risotto, etc. which is again followed by the main course. They call their dinner cena and start their dinner anywhere between 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

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Drinks of Italian cuisine include alcoholic beverages mostly. The largest amount of wine in the world is produced in Italy. Apart from producing, it is the largest consumer and exporter of wine. Beer is also available in large variety but it is not as popular as wine. Other beverages are Limocello (lemon liqueur), Amaro Sicilianos, Grappa, etc. An addition to the Italian drinks is coffee. The very popular flavor of coffee, called Espresso, is the Italian style of making coffee made by blending coffee beans grown in Brazil. The coffee beans are roasted first and this removes most of the caffeine from it and as opposed to the misconception, it has a less amount of caffeine than the other coffees.

Every region has a holiday special cuisine and special dishes for special occasions. In Italy, the major holiday feast is on La Festa Di San Giuseppe, also called St. Joseph’d Day. Fava bean is eaten on this day as it is believed that beans saved the entire population from starving to death. Other dishes of this festival are Zeppole, which are Sicilian pastries. Another festival meal is Easter meal where Italians serve ‘lamb’, Easter cakes (usually Colomba Pasquale), pizza and wine.

Sand, Sea and Sun: The Caribbean Beaches in Aruba



Sand, Sea and Sun: The Caribbean Beaches in Aruba

In the Southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the Venezuelan coast, is the island of Aruba. The dry, sunny weather of the area, along with the clear green and blue waters and white sandy beaches makes it a favored tourist destination. Taken together, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are popularly known as the ABC islands. Aruba’s stunning beauty is evident in all its beaches.

Aruba.

Whether one wants to go swimming, snorkeling or surfing, Aruba provides it all. For the less adventurous travelers, the beaches in Aruba provide the perfect ground to sunbathe, or simply laze around, or play volley ball or beach tennis. There are many options in Aruba for the beach lovers, who can decide depending on their mood and disposition.

Water Sports

Aruba beach

The beaches in Aruba cater to all kinds of water sports enthusiasts, be it beginners or a pro. The various activities which one can engage in involve kayaking, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing to name a few. Participating in these activities is not just thrilling but also rejuvenating. Exploring the diverse marine life up close, or parasailing, flying through the sky with wide expanse of blue both around you and beneath you, surfing, or the combination of speed and the waves, all provide unique and unforgettable memories. Different beaches in Aruba are appropriate for different activities.

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Boca Catalina, for instance, has shallow and calm waters. The reefs here are thus perfect for snorkeling. The abundant underwater life makes it an easy snorkeling destination even for those people who don’t have much experience. The strong currents in Boca Grandi make it more suitable for the experienced travelers. It is a favored spot for such sports as kite surfing and board surfing; both enthusiasm and experience are required for these sports. The beaches of Andicuri and Hadicurari also have excellent conditions for surfing. Baby Beach, a popular and beautiful Aruban beach, also offers suitable conditions for snorkeling owing to its calm and shallow lagoons. Palm Beach and Arashi Beach among other things are also very popular for adventure enthusiasts.

Other Beach Activities

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Aruban Beaches are not known just for the water sports activities. From sunbathing and building sandcastles, the clear and gorgeous beaches makes ones Caribbean journey worthwhile.

sunset sail

After sunning during the day time one can take a cruise after sunset. This will be one sailing experience replete with romance and beauty. Sunset sails are available for tourists around Palm Beach. The fiery skies around sunset, the darkening Caribbean waters, and the white sands at a distance all make it into an almost magical night. A walk around the beaches especially during sunset and sunrise provide you with a plethora of vivid colors, and the natural beauty adds tranquility to your mind.

There are numerous beaches in Aruba where you can indulge in any of the above mentioned activities. Some of the most popular beaches include:

Eagle Beach

Eagle beach

It is among one of the most stunning Caribbean beaches, and was even named as the number one Caribbean beach in a USA Today survey. Its shallow coastal water makes it favorable for water sports. Numerous motorized water sports are made available for the more adventurous of the visitors. There is also a tradition of camping outside, during the Easter week on the Eagle Beach. The sandy beach here is also suitable for playing beach tennis. Participating, or even watching others play, adds a fun element to any beach side sojourn.

Aruba Eagle Beach is also important ecologically, as it plays a role in protection of turtle nests. The species that can be found nesting in Aruba are Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Loggerhead. Every nest has some 80 eggs and the hatching usually takes place during the night time. These hatchlings then cross the sand and the waves to find their way to the ocean. Besides the usual beach side activities, this makes for a different and memorable experience.

The white sands and the backdrop of the pristine Caribbean waters make it a photogenic location of this island.

Palm Beach

Palm beach, Aruba

This beach is located in Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad. The calm waters here create excellent swimming conditions. All the major and leading resorts in Aruba are also located around the Palm Beach. Bars, restaurants and shops line the beach. It is also a shopper’s delight, with two popular shopping malls nearby. The night life around the Palm Beach area is also exciting, with casinos and clubs galore.

Various water sport activities are also available on Palm Beach. The views during sunset and sunrise are magnificent from this beach.

Druif Beach

This oval shaped beach has a long stretch of white sand. The Caribbean waters are relatively calm here. The busy town of Oranjestad is located nearby. But the beach itself is a quiet and relaxing place, perfect for sunbathing and to relax back, read or just laze around.

Arashi Beach

This beach is located on the northwestern side of Aruba. The calm currents, along with the rich and dazzling underwater life make it a perfect destination for snorkelers. California Lighthouse named after the steamship California (which wrecked nearby in 1891) is also located near Arashi Beach. The island also participates in the Aruba Reef Care Project; it aims at cleaning up reefs and shallow waters.

Aruba sunset

The sea, sand and sun all provide stunning vistas and relaxed days; the waves, winds and water sports all add an element of thrill to the trips to beaches. Aruba, in a nutshell, is the perfect place to indulge in the Caribbean splendor and magic.

El Caminito Del Ray, Spain



El Caminito Del Ray, Spain

This is one of the most surprising of structures in the world, well, you cannot even call it a structure as a matter of fact! Besides, there is a story behind how this path got a very famous name that it bears till date. The reason is that it has emerged as one of the world’s most dangerous and most scary of pathways. One one hand are normal roadways and pedestrian paths for people which are paved so as to provide maximum security and safety to the passersby, while on the other hand is El Caminito del Rey of Spain which stands out as a stark contrast to everything and anything you would have ever seen.

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Simply put, there is a gorge named El Chorro in the village of Alora, in the south of Spain. It is very steep and stands as tall resolute walls that deny any convenient passage to people who wish to pass through the area that lies between two waterfalls, the Chorro Falls and the Gaitanejo Falls. It was realized that there needed to be a proper route carved along these walls to enable workers to move  between the hydroelectric power plants that harvest electricity on these two waterfalls. The construction of the path began in 1901 when there was pressing need to carry materials for maintenance and supervision of both the hydro power plants.

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Though the path was completed in 1905, it was not formally inaugurated till 1921 and then the king of Spain, King Alphonso the Thirteenth crossed this path and to commemorate the royal highness’s walk across the El Caminito del Rey the path was renamed as The King’s Little Path. Over the time the path’s name has been cropped to just Camino del Rey, meaning The King’s Pathway in English.  It is one meter wide ( more than three feet) and over three hundred and fifty feet (100 meters) above the river that flows beneath. The path is made of concrete and is supported by steel rails which themselves rest on foundations that are fit into the walls of the El Chorro at an angle of forty five degrees.

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Over the years the path has dilapidated so much that many sections of the path have simply broken down and the path has vanished from those places leaving behind large lacuna which add to the dangers of walking along this track. But since this is a famous path, the large spaces are being held together with very thin steel lines as well as fixtures. Since out of the originally installed handrails, very few are still intact, the whole trail is supported by a safety wire. The King’s Little Path or the El Caminito del Rey is today one of the very popular tourist attractions of Spain. The people come and cross this whole one kilometers long path with great zeal and enthusiasm not only because the trail is very narrow but also because crossing it is actually a Herculean task that is just not a faint heart’s cup of tea!

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But unfortunately, there were many accidents on this path where many people lost their lives or were so seriously injured in two separate accidents in 1999 and in 2000 that the government was forced to take the extreme step of closing this path for anyone and everyone in the year 2000 on both the entrances to the path. People are not supposed to cross this path and entry is strictly restricted but there still are some adventure-lovers and risk-takers who sneak into the gorge through all sorts of means in order to taste the venture which is no less than a quest for testing one’s endurance because it does not only require lots of courage and patience but also a flair for trekking, climbing and descending without bothering about the steep walls that seem to push the climbers off the road right into the river that flows beneath from a height of almost 100 meters!

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The government of Spain has finally undertaken the project of reconstruction and rebuilding of the El Caminito del Rey which is estimated to cost over 8.3 million euros of investment! But the whole point of such a huge investment is to make the path safe with proper handrails, fill up the air gaps with proper steel support and concrete. Advanced protective barriers are being installed and there has been a blue print planned for lighting as well as a visitor’s center. In June of 2011 the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Malaga have together proposed to  complete this work within three years along with the construction of a car parking as well as a museum. All efforts are being put together in this venture to bring about stronger foundations of this path which not only make it fir for travel by people but also retains its flavor of being an adventurous and thrilling experience for those who dare to take the challenge!

Amalgamation of Culture and Modernization – Timphu



Amalgamation of Culture and Modernization – Timphu

  Buddha Point

Thimphu is the capital city of The Land of the Thunder Dragon, or as it is commonly known, Bhutan. It is a small, happy country tucked away in the Eastern Himalayas, with a rich and expressive culture. It is perhaps one of the few countries that have managed to retain their traditions and old-world charm inspite of the technological and social developments that world has undergone. Thimphu personifies all of this.

As Bhutan’s largest city, Thimphu is the economic, political and cultural nerve-centre of the country. It is home to the National Assembly and the King’s residence. Tourists can enjoy a number of quaint, little cafes littered throughout the city, shop in modern stores and have delicious Bhutanese cuisine in a number of restaurants. All this coexists with the old traditions of Bhutan, with Buddhism exerting a major influence. It is mandatory for the Bhutanese citizens to be dressed in their traditional garment, called the gho for men, and the kira for women. It is a common sight to see many, from young school-students to taxi-drivers, dressed traditionally. The Bhutanese love the Royal Family, and criticism against them is virtually unheard of.

Thimphu is delightful in its charisma, and the natural beauty surrounding it only adds to it. Lush green hills, sometimes covered by snow and mist, make one draw in deep breaths of freshness and vigour. The best way to explore this little heaven is at leisure, on foot. On one end are the Permit Office and the Handicrafts Market. The former is an extremely important government office as every single tourist needs to fill out certain forms and obtain entry-permits to visit other areas of Bhutan such as Punakha, Wangdue, Bhumathang, etc. The market, set against the backdrop of the ultra-luxurious hotel Taj Tashi, is a narrow strip of bamboo-shops selling all sorts of Bhutanese handicrafts, from shawls to lamps! It is a lively little place, always brimming with tourists. This part of the town also has the Textile Museum (worth a visit) and the Post Office (for all those picture postcards you are planning to send). Walking in a straight line, one can explore the main market of Thimphu, which is touristy and utilitarian both. The roads are full of locals, tourists, monks and swanky SUVs, and yet, the Bhutanese don’t seem to believe in traffic-jams and honking! The traffic is smooth and quiet, with all drivers exhibiting a very high degree of driving-etiquette. It is a pleasure to walk in Thimphu without worrying about getting run-over by a maniac!

The main street in Thimphu

Well, coming back to the local attractions, the bookstore in the main market called Junction is definitely on the list. It is modern, well-stocked and even has a cafe whose ceiling is plastered with pages from different books! The owner’s two dogs are beautiful creatures and extremely friendly. If you are a reader, this is the place for you. Books, maps, souvenirs…you name it and you will find it. Once you have satiated the reader in you, keep heading straight, and a little outside the city, you get to glimpse the huge yet beautiful statue of Lord Buddha, sitting atop a hill, popularly called Buddha Point. The drive upto it is refreshing, offering a bird’s eye view of the whole of Thimphu. Buddha Point is still under construction, but the main statue, made of gold and bronze, has been completed. A trip to Thimphu is incomplete without a visit to this place.

Two other places that should be on every traveller’s itinerary are the Thimphu Dzong (fort) and the Takin Reserve. The former is the political and legislative centre of Bhutan, and a part of the royal residence. It is open to tourists after 5 p.m., when one can see the elaborate ceremony of the flag being lowered and put away, to be hoisted back up at sunrise. The fort in itself is breathtaking, though some of its areas are off-limits to visitors. The elaborate woodwork, the Buddhist temple and the stone-floor exude the glimpses of a different era. Glimpses that have found a secure place even in the modern Bhutan. The Takin Reserve, on the other side of town, would be a wildlife-lover’s delight! Takin, which is a cross between a cow and a goat, is the national animal of Bhutan. It is a harmless-looking, gentle creature that feeds on grass and leaves. While the reserve is neither very big area-wise, nor home to a great range of species, it is still a pleasure to trek through the leafy slopes, occasionally encountering these happy little animals. And the Takin is very very cute!

It is a well-documented fact that no exploration is complete without sampling the local delicacies, and Thimphu would be no exception. The traditional Bhutanese dishes of red-rice and ima-datsi are sumptuous. Ima-datsi is a dish made of potato in gravy of cheese and white sauce, and the potato can be replaced by just about any other veggie or meat that once desires. A must-eat! Other cuisines available include Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and Continental, each with a Bhutanese flavour and very delicious. Thimphu also boasts of a number of good bakeries, though fresh items disappear off the shelves even before lunch finishes. On the outskirts of Thimphu, towards the road leading to Paro, there is the Big Bakery which is run by differently-abled people. Going there for a late cup of tea and fresh snacks is a heavenly experience, as your senses are overwhelmed by the mouth-watering aromas of freshly-baked bread, and the gentleness of the service, needing neither words, nor reproach.

Big Bakery in Thimphu

If you are a traveller of foreign lands and new cultures, Bhutan and especially Thimphu should definitely be on your list. This is where you will feel the need to not have to hurry, not be paranoid and not be harsh. The city moves at its own pace, with its ever-smiling populace always ready to lend a helping hand when needed. The monasteries here and there add to the aura of bliss that seems to envelope the city, and the colourful prayer-flags fluttering in the breeze spread the message of love and peace.

Prayer Flags fluttering in the breeze

Once could fall in love with Thimphu and never regret it.