Satisfying my wanderlust -one step at a time

Whenever I travel to any new city, first thing I do after checking in is to frantically figure out my way around town, the use of public transport if any, and  how do I buy and use the oyster/subway cards or on what side of the street do I catch the bus on. But I am always utterly delighted when I discover that I just need my own two feet.

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So, I just want to say a big thank you to some of the world’s walkable cities -I am pleased to meet you, and appreciate you for the fact that you allow me to explore your beauty all on my own.  I love getting lost on your cobblestone streets and quaint bazaars. I love watching the street performers and stop by to listen to them singing or playing funky music on the guitar. I appreciate the quiet privacy I get even when sitting on a busy street bench, enjoying my Gelato and people watching (Something I can never do in Delhi).

Walkable towns and cities offer so much more in terms of sightseeing, something a bus or train ride can never lay claim to. But I have to warn you that not all cities are well suited to pedestrians (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles), and offering my utmost respect for those people that prefer to get around on foot (I’m looking at you New Yorkers).

I’m amazed at just how many miles I walk by the end of my trip (always forget to turn on the app on my phone) and the excitement of exploring a new city always trumps the exhaustion of a long day on my feet.

 While I may not do enough justice by listing out all those cities here, there are some of the few here I have had the opportunity to explore on foot and are just fantastic to walk around.

brooklyn

New York

This one literally takes the cake. I am amazed at how much walking I can do in NYC even if I do not want to do all of the touristy things. I always look at Google maps and the subway app before I venture out and work out exactly where my must-sees are, in relation to each other. I feel grouping things geographically is by far the best way to maximize my time and minimise unnecessary walking. Using the subway does get you pretty close to most of the sights, such as Highline and Brooklyn Bridge, but exploring all of New York City takes more than a subway ride. Around Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center it is much easier to walk the blocks exploring this frantic city as you go by.

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Philadelphia

Consistently ranked as one of the country’s most walkable cities, Philadelphia is ripe with colorful neighborhoods, great buildings, and cultural sites to explore. Seemingly a world away from Philadelphia’s colonial sites, the South Philly section has a rich history of its own. Cheese, chocolate, spice, and olive oil stands are plentiful at the famous outdoor market, which is open daily and is America’s largest.

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Boston

Smaller when compared to New York City, Boston has its own charm coupled with  elegant neighbourhoods, historic streets, and American landmarks from the Back Bay to Beacon Hill and  the Freedom Trail. Newbury Street known for its trendy shopping, Copley Square for its beautiful open square and the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church give a cool vibe to this city. The Boston Public Garden one of the loveliest green spaces in the city also has one of the most photographed statues — the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. The North End is a captivating, lively quarter, with its many Italian restaurants and picturesque streets that transport you back in time.

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Washington, DC

One of the best features of Washington, D.C., is its walkability. Not only are many of its major sites and attractions grouped together on the National Mall, but the city is a series of true neighborhoods knitted together, easily traversed by foot. Whether it’s historic or cultural, food- or monument-centric, watching the cherry blossoms in full bloom or taking a tour of the memorials by moonlight, DC has many things to offer its tourists.

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Vancouver

Vancouver is popularly known as the ‘walker’s paradise’, all thanks to the pedestrian way finding maps that encourage a person to walk through the city. Among the most famous walks, False Creek to Granville Island takes the front position where we would stop by and shop at the Public Market for locally grown fresh produce. Downtown Vancouver, Gastown, Stanley Park and the Buchart Gardens which is an easily reachable place from the downtown Vancouver adds to the list.

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Venice, Italy

Probably the originator of the “getting lost” in Europe mentality, (which I have yet to feel) Venice is the ideal place to explore on foot.   Of course, a gondola ride along the canals is a wonderful treat; however, the true magic can be found in the streets along the canals.  Walking on the Rialto square and around St Mark’s square, you will experience the locals going about their daily business shadowed by the city’s historic structures.

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London, UK

London is one of the most foot-friendly cities in the world and one of my favourite too. Its bridges and the London Eye (on a clear sunny day) provide some of the best views in London. Central London has most of the landmark locations which are closer to each other. The City Visitor Trail also known as “the Square Mile” a guided walk maps a route through the heart of the City, taking you past a range of famous attractions on a stroll through the historic heart of the capital to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, the Bank of England, Mansion House, the Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – along with a host of City churches, like the famous St Mary-le-Bow.

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam’s flat, compact, and lively streets make the city an ideal place to explore on foot. In fact, walking may be the best way to appreciate gorgeous 17th-century canals, leafy parks, and former industrial docklands.

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Shanghai, China

With clean, wide sidewalks, and interesting sights along the way, Shanghai has lots to offer for a fun walk. The Yu Garden is the number one tourist attraction in Shanghai, and the only example of a Classic Chinese garden left in the city from the dynastic period of Chinese history. The added advantage is that it borders the Yuyuan Tourist Mart, where one can browse through a wide selection of touristy trinkets and test out bargaining skills. There are two parts of Shanghai, worth visiting –one a scenic/cultural part of Shanghai in the French Concession, and the second covers a famous temple and Shanghai’s art district through a more local route.

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Sydney, Australia

The 6km trail from Bondi to Coogee is perhaps the most famous coastal hiking trail in Sydney, New South Wales and perhaps even Australia.  Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk treats visitors to some of Australia’s best beaches and most impressive ocean views. Not only tourists but even the local Sydney-siders come to Sydney’s east coast every day to enjoy Australia’s best beaches, stunning ocean views and lots of parks, cafes and restaurants on the way.

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New Delhi, India

If you have ever been to Delhi, you will notice that it is a huge maze, and to manoeuvre it can be a task—especially if you are new to the city. The best way to soak in the rich culture of Old Delhi is to take some guided tours that are a combination of walks and cycle rickshaws rides, as you absorb the street vibe , the historical sites, and bazaars, and experience the various culinary treats and street foods. Although there are many heritage monuments dotted around the city, the Heritage Walk is an excellent way to connect the historical dots, since the guided walks are themed. That way, you learn what one monument has to do with another, as it was intended all those years ago.

Another interesting tour is the Cycle Tour where a group of 8-10 participants is accompanied by a friendly tour guide in bright orange, who will maintain a nice pace as you pedal through Old or New Delhi.

While you will definitely enjoy most of the ‘walking tours’ in some of these places, do note that you need to take heed of the following steps before you do so.

  • Walking tours usually involve long distances with each excursion lasting around two to three hours. While you’re possibly used to walking around your hometown, it is advisable to check out the general terrain of the city where you’re going. I have seen many a person who is part of a group tour getting excruciatingly tired after a few miles of walking that the entire group feels the strain.
  • Condition your body and build adequate stamina so you can enjoy exploring your vacation destination. Wear proper footwear and break in your trekking shoes by wearing them regularly for a few weeks in advance.
  • One of the prerequisites of enjoying a walking tour is keeping up energy levels and hydration. Eat a filling breakfast to fuel your body for the trek and bring bottles of fluids.

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Exploring a city or town on foot is one of the most exciting ways to get a closer view of its inherent charm. Not only do you get an immersive experience of its attractions and people, but you’ll understand it better than any conventional excursions.  Guided walks and city tours are available just about everywhere; to find them, do an Internet search, consult a good guidebook or contact the local tourist office.

Enjoy!

Madhavi

 

 

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Top of Form

A photo walk through the charming lanes of Old Delhi

purani dilliPC:Deviantart

Old Delhi, the former walled capital of the Mughal Empire, and one of the world’s most distinctive historic quarters, never fails to attract tourists for its captivating energy and heritage walks.

Being one of the city’s most crowded and chaotic areas the sights, smells, and sounds fill you up with a sensory overload. The lively bazaars, ancient shrines,  monuments, tombs and forts, bustling bazaars, centuries-old heritage sites, and winding back alleys make you forget about the chaos , the dusty lanes and the innumerable people around to relive the rich history and the lost glory of the Mughal era.

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UNESCO World Heritage the Jama Masjid-the largest mosque in India and one of Asia’s largest ,houses sacred relics of the Prophet Mohammad and an ancient transcript of the Quran. Built in a Mughal style of architecture with its Islamic, Indian and Persian influences, the mosque is known as “ Masjid e Jahan Numa”, meaning “a mosque that commands a view of the world.

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One of the most unexplored monuments of Delhi, spread Across 256 Acres Of land, The Red Fort, an icon in India’s struggle for freedom, has two primary entrances – Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate. Red Fort used to house the legendary Kohinoor Diamond in the Diwan-i-Khas.

 

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The fort’s entrance through Lahore Gate opens out onto Chhatta Chowk, aka Meena Bazaar once the shopping centre for the ladies of Mughals, has a long arched passageway that used to house the most exclusive royal tailors and merchants. It’s now a market area with many shops selling souvenirs and handcrafts.

 

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Gauri Shankar Temple built in honor of Lord Shiva, has a lingam believed to be around 800 years old, as well as statues of Shiva, Parvati (Shiva’s wife), and their sons, Ganesh and Kartik.

 

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Digambar Jain Temple-The focal devotional room (first floor) has images and statues of revered Jain figures such as Lord Mahavira and Lord Parasnath. There’s a bird hospital on the temple compound.

 

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Sisganj Gurdwara, a Sikh temple built at the place where, in 1675, the Mughals killed Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru.

Cycle-rickshaws

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Old Delhi’s main strip, Chandni Chowk-is in fact the heart of Old Delhi. It’s said that Chandni Chowk, meaning Moonlight Square, got its evocative name from the moon’s reflection in a large pond of water. Apparently, the pond existed in the square in front of the present-day Town Hall but the British built a clock tower over it (the clock tower collapsed in 1951). Gradually, the whole street and adjoining area became known as Chandni Chowk.

 

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Khari Baoli, is home to the largest wholesale spice market in Asia. Spices connected India to the West, and the market at Khari Baoli Road has been in business since the 17th century. You’ll get to see huge sacks of spices being transported and sold.

 

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Naugarha– In Hindi, naughara means nine houses and gali is alley. Naughara Gali is an alley where nine colorful Jain havelis were built in the 18th century. This little hamlet is complete with an exquisitely carved white marble Jain temple at the end of the lane. Its interiors have some magnificent murals and paintings.

 

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Walk into a bylane and you enter Kinari Bazaar which specializes in wedding paraphernalia, such as glittering tinsel decorations and ornate bridal accessories and mainly jewelry.

 

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Ballimaran has wholesale shops selling a choice of specs, stylish sun glasses and lenses. Down a quiet lane stands an old dilapidated structure which was once a Haveli. This mansion was once home to Mirza Asadullah Khan, better known as Mirza Ghalib; one of India’s most celebrated and quoted Urdu poets. Now a heritage site under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the memorial museum displays the objects and other things used during those times to make it look like the actual dwelling of the poet.

 

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Delhi’s largest books market Nai Sarak has thrived for decades by buying and selling old text books. Nai Sarak also has everything from fourth hand college books to textbooks for competitive exams, from brand new fiction to first edition Hindi non-fiction. In the midst of all this happy chaos, this road also serves writers, artists, scrap bookers and crafters. Writing and art material from foreign brands abound if you know where to look.

 

 Half the fun of visiting Old Delhi is getting there; the other half is its food.

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Jalebiwala, This jalebi shop aptly named, ‘Old Famous Jalebi Wala, has been around since 1884; having been in operation for the past four generations of the family now. A 140 year old sweet shop enormously famous for the piping hot, thick and juicy, freshly made jalebis that they offer.

 

parathewali gali

Amidst Old Delhi’s architectural marvels, rests the Paranthe Wali Gali- an enigmatic emblem of India’s culinary heritage serving a variety of the city’s classic street dishes paratha, a stuffed Indian flatbread.

 

daulat ki chaat

Known for the magical flavours, Old Delhi is known for the delicacies that one cannot forget for life. And, one of those dishes is ‘Daulat ki Chaat’-the dessert that melts-in-your-mouth and can warm-up-your-heart. Available only during the winter season (November-January). The special chaat uses milk as the main ingredient and the end result is a foam like heavenly soufflé.

 

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Right close to Chandni Chowk metro station lies Natraj Dahi Bhalla a perpetually mobbed corner stand. It offers just two items- Dahi Bhalla and Aloo Tikki. Both of these are worth a taste.

 

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If you hate summer then a refreshing lassi  is the best solution to cool you instantly. This creamy and refreshing Yogurt based drink is just out of the world. Served in one of the oldest shops Amritsari Lassi wala in Chandni Chowk there is a reason for you to put it on your “must try” lists.

 

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Where there’s smoke, there’s flavor – Matia Mahal street just opposite Jama Masjid Gate No. 1, has a number of street vendors selling Nalli Nihari, kababs and various non veg curries which will surely satiate your meat cravings.

 

 

If your world revolves around food, and you also like to spend time exploring heritage, culture and different cuisines then Old Delhi is one of the best places in the world to fulfill that desire.

 

🙂

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

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Talking Walls

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PC:Tripoto

Who needs a canvas when you have walls?

Street art have been transforming neighbourhoods and how!! Once considered destructive, street graffiti is taking the world by storm and is now recognized as a way to breathe life into dilapidated walls, by transforming entire buildings into works of art.

Created on surfaces in public places like exterior building walls, highway overpasses, and sidewalks, Street art in urban areas, convey a message of either political ideas or social commentaries.

Originating thousands of years ago, contemporary street art, can be traced back to the late 1960s.

Street art, which was initially illegal and seen as vandalism, has turned into a legitimate form of presenting artistic contents, and has a great potential to increase tourism related activities.

Murals have become the visiting cards of many cities and an important part of their tourism.

Walking tours, street art festivals and culture tours increase footfalls and generate revenue in such places that are offbeat and boast of further growth of the place through the local community engagement.

Philadelphia has become recognizable as a ‘City of Murals’ and the world’s largest outdoor art gallery.

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Internationally renowned, Melbourne has become an attraction for local and overseas visitors experiencing its creative ambience with its murals.

melbournePC:Timeout Melbourne

Cape Town, South Africa  is one of the best cities in the world for street art. The murals can be found just about anywhere.

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Montpellier, France is famed for being one of the most popular student towns in France and this incredible city is home to a plethora of amazing street art.

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Toronto, Canada known as the most culturally diverse city in the world and this diversity can be clearly seen through the street art scattered across the city.

torontoPC: City of Toronto

Malaysia’s UNESCO world heritage city of Georgetown is home to one of Asia’s most distinguishable and unique collection of hand painted murals and wrought-iron cartoons.

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London, Montreal, Mexico are just some more cities that have some of the biggest set of un-commissioned street art in the world.

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Here in New Delhi too, St+Art India Foundation  a Non Profit organisation aims to embed art in streets. It hosted its first-ever Public Art District in India, with as many as 25 street artists from India and around the world who came together to paint the walls of the iconic Lodhi Colony of Delhi,  reclaiming the cities’ civic spaces and simultaneously transforming its urban fabric.

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lo1PC: ThebetterIndia; St+art

The next time if you are visiting New Delhi or even if you are a resident, do walk or drive around Lodhi colony’s leafy lanes to admire these beautiful “talking walls” in all its vibrant glory.  You are sure to find something happening on the streets all the time, whether it’s a photo shoot, or a music video, or just the neighbours having a jolly time.

 

🙂 Madhavi

#TravelGoals

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Younger consumers today inspire the future of almost every tech dominated industry, and it’s no different in travel either.

Where they often demonstrate their love for Avocado on Toast, the millennial and ever so often their parents too, are currently driving the concept of the aspirational travel.

Today the focus of travelling for them is not just about choosing the destination anymore. It is more about creating memories and awe-inspiring experiences. They turn to their friends, co-workers, and influencers within the growing social media world to find travel and vacation insights, and deals to support their newly discovered destination.

More often than not ,it is all about going to a place your friends have visited and clicking photos that are of the same place but different than theirs. It’s like an obsession, almost bordering on showing off!

Today the focus has shifted with splurging on food and drink experiences, followed by events and festivals and not to forget extreme or adrenaline sports. Culinary experiences for example are a major draw for younger generations. Infact there is actually a huge demand for such travel experiences.

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Foodcations aka food vacations are the best way to experience a destination and are becoming more and more popular among travellers. Tasting your way through local cuisines and dining with locals are culinary experiences that can easily become a travel highlight.

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Travellers are forever searching for unique experiences such as undersea accommodations, or culturally enriching activities. And how can we leave out Destination Weddings.

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Taking a big bite of the MICE segment, destination weddings are literally eating the cake, and are considered a major travel induced experience. For instance in the context of the Indian tourism segment, it’s not rare today to see a family from the southern states of India selecting a location either in the Northern states or particularly in Rajasthan for hosting a destination wedding. In fact the fad is so contagious that many event planners are constructing replicas of Rajasthan palaces in the southern states hometowns/villages of the brides/grooms.

Innovations in transport, more flight routes, easy on-demand car rentals, as well as real-time public transport insights, the holidays are getting more varied and curated making vacations and other trips more personal and rewarding.

Social media use by the millennial has provided a significant boost in the travel and hospitality industry.  High end travel companies are curating a destination and providing a unique rooted in “something real”  travel experience for the millennial.

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Travel makes us wealthier. When we see new places, meet new people and indulge in new activities, the experiences make us a different person. Travelling isn’t merely about stepping foot on a landmark, but also inhaling the essence, the culture and beauty of the place.

Have you ever had a unique travel experience?  Or have some unusual travel goals? Do share in the comments.

Madhavi

 

 

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