Step wells – or Baoris, is one of the things we were looking forward to seeing in India.
Step wells could be seeing as a flipped pyramid surrounded by stairs. They were build with the purpose of storing monsoon rain water.
The construction of step wells in India dates from at least 600 BC (though the first rock-cut step wells in India date from 200-400 BC) with its peak between the 11th to 16th century.
The step wells had social and religious activities significance, but after British domination, authorities forced the abandonment of the wells, for sanitary reasons.
Ever since then the step wells acquired the connotation of being hunted places.
We have been to Chand Baori in Abhaneri, a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan, situated around 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road.
Chand Baori consists of 3,500 steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 m. into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.
The Rajasthan area is extremely arid, and the design and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible.
At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5 to 6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.
In Delhi we have been to Agrasen ki Baoli .
With 103 steps, this Baoli is among a few of its kind in Delhi. The visible parts of this historical step well consist of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.
The atmosphere is always kind of heavy when you are inside a Baori.
The air is quite humyd, and you keep going from extreme sunshine to cold shadows, where you may find a good amount of bats, not a pleasant surprise…
But though the odd atmosphere, this ´negative-spaces’ is beyond interesting.
Visiting the Baoris was for sure magic, and if you are plannig to travel around India, dont miss out the step wells on your way!
talk to you soon,
I am back! Finally!!!
And also, I just got back from two weeks in India… the trip I have been planning – ok, wrong word… let’s say: the trip I have been looking forward for the last two years – and it couldn´t have been better (actually it could…because there are still many places to visit, but a second trip is already being planned, and now I mean the word I just tiped!!!).
So, to get this conversation started, let me explain our itinerary:
We have been to the so called golden triangle – Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – plus Dhaka trough Kolkata and Chandigarh.
Dhaka and Chandigarh because of architectural reasons: The National Assembly Hall from Louis Kahn in Dhaka – Bangladesh (1982) and of course Le Corbusier’s City in India (1950´s).
Later posts will follow this one talking only about both buildings and its cities.
Today I would like to give you guys a quick overview of our trip!
First of all, due to the short time, It has been a very good choice four us to get to know India trough the golden triangle cities, which are full of history, different cultural backgrounds, food, citizens and behaviors.
To make a long story short: we have managed to visit 5 different regions of India plus a neighbor country in two weeks so you may see bellow:
PUNJAB – Chandigarh
UTTAR PRADESH – Agra
RAJASTHAN – Jaipur
BENGAL – Kolkata
BANGLADESH – Dhaka
Though time was short our time was used in a very efficient way, and by that I only mean… no time at all to rest! We have managed to move around by train, car airplane and of course tuc tucs and riquixas when moving around inside each city.
THE TOUR BEGGINS:
We have started our visit in Delhi, which was very good choice for our first stop.
Delhi has an interesting mix of old and new India. It is not so rural or spiritual as other locations we have been to, and it does have some elements from the occidental world… very few but the necessary amount for you to start your transition into the Indian reality.
In Delhi people speak good English, specially taxi and tuc tuc drivers, so if you go to Delhi just try out riding tuc tucs and riquixas, you will have lots of fun!
Food in Delhi was amazing, no matter where BUT: We have been to BUKHARA, known as the best typical restaurant in India, and I have to say: There we have had for sure our best dinner in India!
From Dehli we flew to Dhaka trough Kolkata.
Since we had not much time in Kolkata, we decided to hire a driver, and so we managed to visit all buildings in the BBD area, Victoria Memorial and the Pareshnath Jain temple of Kolkata, where we met this lovely old guru, and he provided us some of our sweetest laughs in India, as he said himself: There is only one thing we should all care about in life…happiness!
In Kolkata we tried for the first time Thali food.
Our next stop was Dhaka and it was a chock for me! First thing we did was to visit The National Assembly, but after that… things got really hard when we tried to find someone to drive us around the city, which was very difficult once it was almost impossible to find a driver able to speak English.
The helpful guards on the Assembly helped us with the task and we managed to move to our next stop, the Jantar Mantar (kind of observatory you can find on every city in India as well) and on our way it was kind of clear that unlike India where some humble poverty is all around in Dhaka we were facing something else… an unequal reality where people either drive luxurious cars or beg starving on the sidewalks, and that’s what bothered me the most.
Our second day in Dhaka was better, we hired a driver so getting from one point to the other was not such a drama… but the fake reality was bothering us a lot! Out of that it was funny to notice that people don’t visit Dhaka that often! We were stopped all around and people were asking for photos with us, asking where we came from…
Before heading back to the airport we had biryani food with our driver, the traditional food from the Bengali area.
From Dhaka we flew back to Delhi and caught a train to Agra, and there I found myself again back into the trip I was looking for! We could walk again on the streets!!!
Agra is a touristic city, things are more easygoing and visiting the Taj Mahal is an unique experience.
From Agra we went by car to Jaipur stopping on our way to see Chand Baori, a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri and also Fathepur Sikri an old Mughal walled city.
Now in Jaipur we had again a very good time but what must be visited in this area is for sure the Amber Fort, from where you see Jaipur from above, and if you are up to, going up is something you can do by yourself or by riding an elephant.
And the elephants!!! They are the most magnificent thing one could ever experience!!! I am still looking for proper words to express how I was amazed by them!
The street markets in Jaipur were also a must experience!
From Jaipur we flew to Chandigarh and there besides Le Corbusier´s city we had the pleasure to experience Holi!
It was magical, funny, and of course colorful!
From Chandigarh we flew back to Delhi and spent our last day between Chandi Chowk and Kahn Market buying all the gifts and spices we were waiting to buy ever since day one! Then we got back to our hotel, filled our bags with gifts, clothes dirty by dust, sweat or colorful powder from the Holi festival of colors, and of course with our best memories from our two weeks around India and headed back to Delhi Airport to catch our flight!
India was extremely intense! The colors, the flavors, the people…
Many posts should follow this one and even that might be insufficient to explain all we have experienced on this travel.
The time was short but I wouldn’t recommend an even longer trip to India, but many 2 week trips. I think there is far too much information for your body and mind… but that’s maybe only my point of view!
I have to come back soon to talk about each city and the places we vised and the food we ate there!
But I think this introduction is a good start for you all and also my way back to a light delight!
Lots of love,
Some photos are mine but most are a kind courtesy from my favorite photographer, the very talented Jonathan Howell Davies.
I know I might be a little (just a little bit) delayed… nevertheless: I would like to propose a toast : H A P P Y N E W Y E A R !
Where the h**** have I been? And what the h**** have I done lately?!?!
I am pretty sure any of you guys should ever ask me such unkind words, but here is the truth: As ending/beginning of year time allows us to be a little (just a little bit) lazy… there is actually the place where I’ve been… and what I’ve done for the last couple of weeks! S O R R Y …
But you know what? Somewhere in between laziness and Laziland I’ve factually been to Wien …
and Salzburg, where we spent respectively Christmas and New Years Eve.
It was heartbreaking to spent both holidays without our relatives, but I can not deny: we had a beautiful and beyond romantic time together, although (or fortunately) without snow…
I´ll be back as soon as possible with further details and tips about these delightful destinations!
As I told you a couple of times, I live in Basel – the most charming city in Switzerland… – and it is time for the Herbstmesse (fall fair) around here!
I love this time of the year! Between my birthday (24.10) and Christmas we have Herbst and Weihnacht (Christmas) Fairs, and that means: giant-wells, lots of treats, winter and Christmas market, and of course a real good time!
Today I’ll share some pictures from this …
and last weekend with you guys.
Pictures of Munster’s fair (the fair is spread all over the city trough different spots: Munsterplatz, Barfusserplatz, Messe, Kasern and Peterplatz…
Here you can see from Munsterplatz’s giant-well the lights from the Messe fair, just around the corner of my place (what means: fair everyday : yehhh!)
Unfortunately sunday was Herbstmesse’s last day…
Fortunately Weihnachtsmesse will start anytime soon!
I can’t wait!
Talk to you soon,
In Milano we stayed at the ‘Concoct‘ , and it was one of our best choices ever!
There are six different apartaments and we stayed at the ‘Huomo 2’. Quite nice, right?!
What is so nice about Concoct is the concept of the hotel: They refurbished an old house in the middle of Milan’s ‘china-town’ (those are my words…) and comissioned six different young italian architects do design each of the rooms as if it was his or her’s own space at Milano.
Each appartement have a particular character. Ours was a very delicate mix between old and new. I loved to see that the old beams and doors were a central point of the project, but also found the new elements: colours and materials – plus objects – quite nice.
The neighbourhood is fantastic! Especially if you are inn-to ‘thay massage’… or not – seriously: I couldn’t miss the joke – .
It was also nice to have a kitchen, so we could have a late breakfast in our room, with a lot of good fruits. I mean: If you have been to Italy, but never bought actual food on a supermarket, then ( I am so sorry to tell you) you have never been to the real ‘eataly’: the fruits are so delightful and juicy… you can not even imagine: you have to taste it!
SO YES : I was happily ever after my fruity ‘collazione’: the best way to start the day and also end this gorgeous ‘happy-birthday’ weekend!
Of course, the day wasn’t over after breakfast: we also went to the Castello Sforzescco , enjoyed a concert ‘a capella’ and then it was shopping time! I mean: shopping time on Sunday !!! Can you believe it? ( yes, I have been living in Basel for quite a while… so for me it is – ‘unglaublich’ – unbelievable to find open stores in Europe on a sunday).
extra tip: If you happen to be in Milano and have enough time, you should save a whole day to visit the Castello Sforzescco because it is GIGANTIC, and encloses four different museums, plus: if it is a week day you can also schedule a visit to the library that is already quite impressive from outside!
Hello my dear ones! To start this week I bring to you not the last… but the last post of this sequence about Amsterdam … tadadada:
(I still have a post about Silodam and some architectural tips coming up soon… )
Well, walking around Amsterdam really is a nice thing, but I could never actually appreciate it before, once the last couple of times I’ve been to Amsterdam I was really short on time, and the weather was terrible…
But this last time, everything was different: Much more than enough time: I had an amazing whether to count on, and of course I spent a large amount of my free time just hanging around in between canals, corners and local shops.
I especially liked two neighborhoods: Jordaan (up and down pictures +related ones): an old neighbourhood on north-east Amsterdam , where there are a lot of old beautiful houses, and also great shops, cafés and bars. especially those around the Brouwersgracht (brewers canal). On this neighborhood you may find also The Noorderkerk (north church); The West Indisch Huis ( The Dutch West India Company); Anne Frank’s Hause; The Westkerk (west church); and the most amazing Ijs Fabriken (gelateria) ever: Monte Pelmo.
At Monte Pelmo I had the best Sesam Ice cream ever, you should R E A L L Y give it a try when in Amsterdam.
Look! There you can see it , underneath a mouth-watering raspberry Ice cream layer… sooo delicious!
Well, of course I have also been to the flower market and the red light district, but I really enjoyed myself better when walking trough the ‘off the circuit’ streets. (I mean: actually they are not out off the circuit at all! There you can find a lot of people, most of them citizens from Amsterdam hanging out (of course some visitors as well… ) and you don’t have to deal with ‘human traffic’ on the streets (except for the always gigantic line in front of Anne Frank’s house…).
The first two images on this post are from the other neighbourhood I really enjoyed: The area around Funnenpark, especially the Blankenstraat. Really near to Lloyd Hotel, where we had the pleasure to stay during this trip (click in here if you haven’t read my post about Lloyd Hotel and cultural embassy yet!)
In Amsterdam we stayed at Lloyd Hotel and cultural embassy… And I would love to share the story and the history behind this very interesting place with you guys.
Back in 1918 the shipping company Royal Holland Lloyd built what is today’s Lloyd Hotel as temporary accommodation for immigrants (That’s why you find an imposing ship luminary at the entrance of the hotel). The space was used from 1921 to 1936 but in this same year the KHL went bankrupt and the building was purchased by the City of Amsterdam.
From 1938 it was used as a shelter for Jewish refugees and later became a juvenile detention center. Later during the 80’s the detention center building was occupied by artists and completely forgotten, until a competition was held to decide what the building would best be used for.
It was decided that the building would be used as a Hotel and also cultural embassy and the Rotterdam-Netherlands-based architecture office MVRDV was responsible for the project.
The rooms were preserved pretty much as they used to be, except for the very nice pieces of furniture, but what is really impressive about MVRDV intervention, is the big gap on the building where a bar/restaurant + library/meeting spaces were placed.
Trough this gap you are able to cross the whole building, and interact with temporary expositions, nice pieces of furniture, and some very playful spaces as this ‘resting-jungle’. Nice place to read a book by the way!
The library lays upon the restaurant, and both spaces interact in a very pleasant way. The ‘never ending ceiling’ and the big windows from ground floor creates a very nice atmosphere.
I loved the almost ‘never ending shelves’ on the back of the bar, just as much as the gigantic ‘spider lightening display’.
When walking trough the corridors that leads you to the rooms the situation is quite different: no windows, spear light, and a feeling of being in a hospital, or an old school… Especially when you face some beautiful/nostalgic fragments from old Lloyd:
The thing is: Before staying at Lloyd Hotel, I was told that the place used to be an asylum, and I got is as a ‘madhouse’ … so: many times when walking around I couldn’t help myself from feeling at ’12 monkeys’ locations… I mean… take a look:
Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience, and I completely recommend staying at Lloyd when in Amsterdam.
It is an extra ‘time-travel’ inside your travel!
Tip.: When staying at Lloyd, it is quite logical, and also common to use the lifts or the library to cross the building upside down, but the thing is: You should take the side stairs, where besides gorgeous vitral-windows you may find this kind of ‘self-tour’ trough Lloyd’s history!
I will come back soon with extra tips about Amsterdam!
Oh… Amsterdam!!! What to say about this beautiful city and it’s canals???
A lot, of course, first of all the same old thing we all read or heard at some point : The museums; Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt… The red district, the caffes, the canals… and what about the beautiful flowers, delicious cheese, and ceramic pieces?
Yes, of course I’ll talk about it, but later! Right now I would like to share something delicious and unusual!
A delightful treat tip, and also a great and engaged brand: ‘Tony’s Chocolonely‘.
Cute, right?! And D E L I C I O U S !
The thing is: When walking around Amsterdam, I kept seeing people with Tony’s bars all around, and after a while I was obsessed… I mean: The label is quite something, and the brand has my dad’s name, so I thought it would be the perfect ‘thought about you’ kind of gift…
So I started chasing for Tony’s! And eventually I found it!
Mission accomplished! And then, surprise:
When I opened my very own bar (of course… it wasn’t only about dad’s bar) I found myself amazed by the interesting information about Tony’s mission, and character… So I decided to share it here on the blog, and I hope you guys to prove Tony’s choco-bar when in the Netherlands. It is more than delicious chocolate: it is a great cause for us to support!
I’ll come back soon with other tips and stories from Amsterdam,
lots of love,
I’ve been hiding something from you… Before going to Brasil and the Netherlands. Even before: before going to Oporto, I’ve spent a couple of weeks going around Switzerland (ok…it doesn’t count!) and Germany with Jonathan, his brother and father!
And now that we have no more secrets! – Wowwww, I am so relieved !!! – I must tell you about this trip before any other (except for the ones I’ve already posted about – sorry for the mess!) Ok, let’s do it!
So: what about Frankfurt? – You may ask.
The thing is: I am not an expert, since I have been there only for a couple of days, but I really liked the atmosphere.
Frankfurt is a clear example of a city who was destroyed an then rebuilt, as so many cities in Germany. The new buildings are quite impressive, but they are not so far from the old city, and the mix – I must say – is really interesting, because of the size of the city.
So you don’t have different parts of the city, you have mixed neighbourhoods, kind of connected in a very fluid way.
Actually I can not say it by walking trough the whole city, but we saw it from above and that’s how it looked like. And of course: the much we walked (and we walked a lot) also felt like it!
So here you can see Jonathan foto-shooting (isn’t he lovely?!) and right bellow you can see part of the view he was capturing.
Here you can see the central station, and a little bit further the end of the city.
Here you can see my fellow companions and right below the other side, the older part of the city, where you may find Frankfurt’s Cathedral and paulskirche an old church who was and is very important to Frankfurt cultural and political life.
The glass windows from paulkirche are just marvelous!
As I said before… we walked a lot…
The lockers at the grids are quite common in Germany. I first saw it in Cologne and found it all over ever since! They are ment to bring luck and an everlasting love!
Here you can see Frankfurt’s – Saint Bartholomew – Cathedral.
And here is a funny shoot from the flea market!
Other thing I really loved about Frankfurt (ok – it was the weekend… but even though) the life in the city. During the weekends a lot of squares are converted into big playgrounds! I just loved the idea!
An old classic.
And a picture from the old city.
Where we had the most delicious traditional dish ever!!! This local cheese baked and covered with sliced onions.
Cheesy?! Yes, of course, and I loved every bite!
We also walked trough the city market and had some delicious and fresh frozen yogurt with wild berries compote …hummmmm.
I hope this few words and tips about Frankfurt may be helpful for those planning a trip to the city!
talk to you soon,
well… I thought this would never happen, or at least not so soon… but the truth is: It has been a long time since my last post, yes… I’ve been away… actually I have been coming and going across the globe… And please note: I am not complaining – NOT AT ALL- But I have to organize lots of thoughts and information before saying a thing, so today I’ll share a wordless post, with delightful images from my trip to Rotterdam!
That’s it: some of my shots from Rotterdam:
(comments and references may come later – I mean… that’s also what a blog is all about: loyal readers…hehehee) Please stay with me and I won’t disappoint you!