Monday, December 08, 2014

Of Volcanoes, Squalls and other Natural Phenomenon

The husband, having spotted a great deal on a low-cost airline had booked us on a spate of holidays, the last of which was to Naples. The idea was to catch the last ferry out to Capri the same evening. 
However the last ferry, this being winter wasn't going out this late anymore. so we ended up having to stay at Naples for the night. I though we were going to catch the first ferry out. But the Husband being the husband, decided to throw in a surprise. We decided to catch an active Volcano before catching the ferry. 
The route to Ercolano (that's where you need to catch the bus to Vesuvius for) was nothing if not colourful. People obviously have a lot to say here.  

They say it with plaques

and Graffiti. yes, Even love poems. 
Don't you just love this little car?
The buses to Vesuvius will take you to the bottom of the hill and you have to make a short trek to the top. We met a lovely Canadian family on our way to the top. The kids were so nice, even my little bossy boots forgot to grumble as we walked up the volcano. Vesuvius was smoking gently as we reached the top. Fascinated young Pickwick no end, as I fended off a zillion questions from him. 

The way down was a slightly different story as poor little bossy boots took a slight stumble. And would only cheer up once she was safely perched on daddy's shoulders. Poor daddy. 
But we had not time to lose- after waving a fond goodbye to the Canadians and promising to keep in touch, we raced to catch the ferry out to Capri. There can be just one word to describe Capri - Beautiful. It doesn't matter what you click a picture of or where from. It's all beautiful.
Capri Porta
We were staying at Anacapri- which was a bit higher up than Capri and the only way to get there was by a tiny little bus. And if you though the bus was tiny, I wonder what you'd make of the streets. Lets just say that if I were Van Damme, I'd have no problems doing splits across the breadth. 
Once in Anan Capri, we walked an uphill 10 minutes to reach our lovely B & B. The view would have been lovely if the weather hadn't been so grey. 
The alley may look eerie, but it was perfectly lovely as we made out way up to the B &B. 

The town center of Anacapri is beautiful, even in the nights, with half the shops shut on account of this being off season.

we decided to have dinner at this lovely little Pizzeria - Aumm Aumm which had traditional wood-burning oven resulting in lovely pizzas made from the freshest ingredients. Made up for all the walking we did in the day. That and the Limoncello. :) Ooo...Yumm. 

The next day after a casual stroll around Anancapri to soak in the sights, we made out way to the chair lifts for Monte Solaro
Casa Rossa
They do love their ceramics here... and such a lovely selection there was to see.
The view from the top was, needless to say, lovely! 
Yes. that's right. a chair with one rickety bar across your lap. Kids are so thrilled at this complete disregard for safety
The View from Monte Solaro
And since we are an adventurous little lot, we decided to walk it down from Monte Solaro to Capri via the Phoenician Steps. With a brief interlude at the Axel Munthe house. 
The sculptures and the Axel Munthe Museum

The sphinx and the view from Axel Munthe
Only, we got sort of lost  and we ended up walking all the way to the Port. Right. So we need to stock up on the carbs again with another round of pizzas and pastas all around. Not to mention a swig of Lemoncello. 

By this time, the tiny ones were protesting quite vehemently at the the idea of walking it back up, so we took the Funicular to Capri. A quick round of gelato and Coffee (for the eldest moaner) quickly quelled the brewing rebellion and we made our way to more lovely sights around Capri. 
The view from Tragara
Faraglioni. The seas were too rough for boats to take us around, so we could only admire it from afar.
Faro di Punta Carena
The Faro di Punta Carena or the light house at dusk was a lovely place (albeit a tad windy) to end the day and head back to the B& B for a, yes, you know it - Limoncello. 
We wanted to explore Sorreonto and the Amalfi coast the next day, but choppy seas meant no ferries out until 1pm in the afternoon. 
Finding ourselves at loose ends that morning, we decided to visit the gardens of Augustus, and quite miraculously the weather cleared up for some more fabulous views. (I know, more views, but you have to admit, they are fabulous!)

We spotted lots of interesting bits and bobs in the island as well, All adding to the charm of this wonderful island.
yeah, a bit of ghost writing to entertain the kids...
Just randomly. In the middle of nowhere. 

Doesn't he look like he's saying 'whatchoo lookin' at?'

Pickwick and his bugs


The rest of the trip I'd much rather forget - lets just say involved a lot of chasing after buses only to get off  because we didn't have tickets - and not being able to purchase said tickets because everything was shut! Also muchly delayed flights,  icy landings in zero viz conditions and very very sleepy babies trying to get into random cabs.  
Still, all part of the fun, eh? Took us only a week to recover from this one :)

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Dear Hair...

Dear Hair, what is with you and your love affair with the bathroom drain?

Recently, someone complimented me on my hair. Their exact words were, “Have you done something to your hair? Looks good.” Now, considering this wasn't uttered by the hubby as a quick let-me-say-something-so-she-doesn’t-kill-me compliment after an argument, and it was a genuine compliment, I felt much like Child #1 feels on unlocking a new level in a video game without cheats. It was a milestone, right up there with baby births. Let me explain why.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

9 Things That Indians All Over The World Are Forever Explaining To Their Friends!

Going to an international school for the most part is a privilege my kids are lucky to have. They adore their friends, who are from different parts of the world, and the number of languages you hear during drop-off are astounding! But occasionally, you can’t help but sit back and marvel at how Rudyard Kipling and Danny Boyle have ruined India for an average European. Here’s a sample:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A trip to the Carpathians

The husband is a meticulous planner. Especially when it comes to holidays. No, really, we're talking months, even years in advance. But, just occasionally he will decide to break the pattern and do an impulsive one. Thats was this was. Very spur-of-the moment (that is planned just about 5 days in advance).
Sibiu. A good 5 hour drive away. Luck - and traffic was on our side and we made it in four. Our apartment, just a few minutes walk form the main square was very comfortable. and I wasn't quite the eager beaver to go exploring. Still, there was a full moon. And We did travel four hours to be here. Sibiu was beautiful in the evening light. positively aglow, the main square - or the Piata Mare, as it is called.

But, driving, kids demanding ice cream and last-minute packing took its toll on us. We were asleep before our head hit the pillow. 
Breakfast and a early start saw us hitting to read again, this time, out to Balea Falls, The sky was have a conversation with the mountains. And when nature speaks, you listen.

We reached Balea Falls and the lady at the only shop that was open there informed us that the falls were just a kilometre away on foot. That's not too bad, we thought. The kids were certainly gung-ho about it all. Until we were some way up the trail. Well, calling it trail would be a mild exaggeration. 
Yup. That's the 'trail' . Pretty sheer drop on the right. Strewn with logs and boulders along the way. The kids, of course LOVED it.
The trail had my heart hammering pretty hard, half the time praying the kids make it through in one piece, the other half, thanks to a lack of fitness that would make a couch potato proud. 
The falls weren't gushing to their full extent. They do that only in the spring when the Balea Glacier melts. But it was a pretty decent waterfall anyways. mainly because it remains so unspoilt. The water was crystal clear and ice cold. One wished one had the foresight to get a couple of wine coolers along. But on the other hand, the trek down wasn't really meant to be undertaken in a wine-induced haze.   

After we made our way back down. we feasted on Gogoși, from the shop we spotted going up. Nice. much like chocolate or cheese-filled bhatura, if I were to describe it. We also gathered from the chap that the Transfăgărășan road was actually open upto Balea lake. (It is usually closed in the winter), and we wasted no time in tightening our seatbelts and setting forth to the lake.

This trip, strangely was as much abut the journey as the destination, and what a good thing that was, considering the amount of time we spent in the car. But we weren't complaining. Here's why:
The world-famous Transfagarasan road. One more tick off the bucket list
The Autumn colours in all their glory. 
Balea Lake was beautiful and serene. The kids wasted no time in trying out various gross noises so it would echo across the lake. Me, I didn't want to leave the place. Despite it being pretty freezing. 
If you look carefully, you can see half the lake (towards the mountains) with a thin covering of ice
 We eventually made it back to earth, Eventually,

Sunday. The day we needed to head back home. *sigh*. So, the morning was spent walking around the pretty little town of Sibiu. Where a fellow Indian spotted us (Actually heard us, before he spotted us, with the kids screaming and me yelling at them to quit screaming.) and asked us about the sites. He was slightly disappointed to know that we were as new to all this as him, and that Google was a better bet than us. We did tell him to try the Gogoși though. 
So, here's what the morning looked like.
How can any city tour be complete unless we chase Pigeons?

Piata Mare

The bridge of lies. No clue why we have locks here as well. 

We were sipping on coffee, watching the kids chase pigeons when Arun suddenly has this idea. He wanted to head back via a short detour. Via Vidradu to be exact. Which wouldn't exactly be a short detour. It would be positively the other way. I blame the coffee and the husband's sunny smile for rashly agreeing to this adventure. 
En route we came across:
Andrei and his flock of sheep
A dusty dirt track that was supposedly a major arterial road, people waving to us (and looking at us strangely for being foolish enough to traverse those roads on any vehicle that wasn't and SUV), cows, hens, ducks, turkeys, dogs, cats and pigs, all wanting to throw themselves under our wheels.
A road that was closed for this event:
The policeman informed us that it was a sort of rememberance day for the village ancestors - who I'm guessing is the Gentleman posing with sword resplendent in silver
Very picturesque valleys

Very impressive roads
  And I must say I was sorely tempted to ask Arun to turn back several times during this journey. But I'm so glad we didn't. Because here's the view that greeted us at Vidradu Dam (Which the sat- nav insisted was still a good 25 minutes away)

 We drove back to Bucharest in absolute silence. Both of us still savouring the sights of the weekend, reluctant to get back to the daily grind (the kids were probably dreaming of video games and cartoons, and none of this natural beauty nonsense).  
So much beauty, so many places to see...and yet, people as me why I love living here.