My train gets into Bari, the port city of Italy’s southern region of Puglia located on the Adriatic Sea. It’s late evening and I’m glad to be picked up by friends who then drive me to their rented apartment in Monopoli.

Monopoli is a charming, quiet town about 40 kms southeast of Bari and is best known for its Baroque Monopoli Cathedral also known as the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia or Santa Maria della Madia. This imposing cathedral was erected near the site of a Roman temple and burial site and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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God distributed soil through a sieve and used the remaining stones to build Greece states a Greek legend.   So when ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (643-548 BC) said “the world is wonderful because it is a creation of God” he probably was referring to his own country.

My flight from Bari, Italy touches down in Athens at 12:25 p.m., and 50 minutes later, I check in to the Elegant A1 Apartment in the heart of Plaka.

Plaka is the oldest historical neighborhood in Athens and was originally developed mostly around the ruins of the ancient Agora. It is known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” and lies beneath the northeastern slope of the Acropolis and stretches almost all the way to Syntagma Square.

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I am off to spend my last few days in Nepal at the Chitwan National Park. My wish is to see the elusive tiger. My fingers are crossed! 

I get to Tribhuvan International Airport, which also serves as Kathmandu’s domestic airport. There’s a kind of organized chaos at this airport, but I weave my way through and get onboard. 

Twenty minutes later I am at the Bharatpur Airport.  Read More

Fringed by fabulous landscapes of the Himalayan mountain ranges, Nepal has some equally exciting medieval city squares. Located in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, these centuries old Durbar Squares comprise of royal palaces and courtyards, stupas and monasteries, and historical value , decorated in the most intricate woodwork and temple art imaginable.   

Although most of these places suffered considerable damage after the 2015 earthquake, there is a sense of relief and gratitude that all was not lost. 

I drive over to Patan City in Lalitpur to see its ancient royal palace. It is dusty and hot but thankfully not too crowded. There is a big ‘do’ happening this evening and the outside courtyard is being ‘set up’ with sounds and lights. Some people have already taken their seats along the parapet walls, in the hopes of getting a better view, I guess. 

The city is surrounded by four stupas at the four corners, which are said to have been built by Emperor Ashoka. This is one of the most elegant architectural treasures of which Patan is very proud. Read More

Here I am, in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, the highest plateau on Earth. Apart from a mild headache, I am handling the altitude of 3,650m rather well, thanks to the Diamox substitute (for altitude sickness) twice a day. I am looking forward to spending the next six days in this contentious region.

On arrival, I have been given a ‘notice’ which tells me to refrain from any political activities, drinking alcohol or doing any strenuous exercise (in order to acclimatize better), and to expect very basic living ‘conditions’, etc. I am also under supervision of a Tibetan travel guide because restrictions require foreign travelers to pre-arrange a tour with a guide and transport for their time in Tibet, making independent travel impossible. This is because of China’s stronghold on Tibet and its people, which led to the deposition of the Dalai Lama in 1959 

Yak Hotel

I check in to the Yak Hotel, an understated, yet comfortable hotel located in the center of the old town. 

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