Monthly Archives: October 2013

View from my room at Le Meridien Beach Plaza, Monaco

Le Méridien Monte Carlo is the only beach resort in Monte Carlo with its own private beach directly connected to the hotel. It’s a huge, comfortable, beautiful hotel ‘minutes away from Monaco’s key attractions’ as the website says (hey, but then any hotel in Monaco would be close to key attractions, considering that the principality is just 2 sq km or so!). The Med cuisine at their signature restaurant is out of this world, thanks to Chef Emmanuel Lehrer, and I am not saying this just because the hotel hosted me. A bus stop is located right across the street. Best to get a day pass for just 3 Euros. DSC_0095

A pretty street in Crieff, Scotland

Crieff is the second largest town in Perthshire, Scotland. I am sure it is second to none in beauty, though. It has been a holiday resort since the 1600s and once you’re here, it is easy to see why.  

To reach Crieff from Glasgow and Edinburgh, make for main Stirling motorway. At Stirling follow A9 direction to Perth and branch off at Braco (A823). Follow signposts to Crieff. From other parts of Scotland, simply follow the A 85 motorway.

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The sign that had me salivating!

I have a thing for clicking signboards. This pic was taken somewhere in Scotland, I’m pretty sure; one of those click-as-you-go sort of shots which you come back and wonder about. One thing is for sure. When I look at it now, I want to become a biker or have a hangover and go back to wherever this was and enjoy their ‘fab cakes and hangover shakes!’ If any of you can identify the place for me, I’d be grateful!

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This is what you see when flying from Paris to Nice.

These snow-flecked mountains are called ‘pre-Alps’. Because they are not very high, they are nicknamed ‘cow mountains’. I travelled to France in the month of February. I wonder if the snow melts off in the summer months. It would be interesting to gaze down my plane window then, and see how nature repaints her canvas with the changing seasons.  DSC_0005

A beautiful book store in Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland Book ShopEdinburgh is easily one of the most elegant and enchanting cities I have been to. Walking down Victoria Street, I came across this gem of a bookstore, which houses books, maps, prints and etchings dating back from the 1650s. The tall lady you see in the picture is Johanna Campell, who drove me around some of Scotland’s most stunning countryside. Together with her writer husband Gilbert, she runs customised tours across Scotland.  Interested? Get their details on http://www.scotlandinaweek.com. 

An Irresistible glimpse of Ireland

What can I say that this picture does not?! But when it comes to Ireland, words are hard to resist. The scenery makes you want to paint, write poetry, or just sigh. This pic was clicked on my way to the Giant Causeway. Carncastle, or Cairncastle, means ‘castle on the mound’. It is a small village in the Antrim county of Northern Ireland. In 2001, the population of this village was: 66! Even if that number has doubled now, and I somehow doubt it, you can imagine the peace and beauty of this crowd-free spot.  Town 2

A Spanish tavern that serves only mushrooms!

DSC_0269 Don’t these mushrooms look absolutely irresistible? They are! Filled with extra virgin olive oil and flavoured with garlic and herbs, they are served in a lovely little tavern called Maison del Champinon (House of mushrooms)  in Madrid’s Old Quarter, very close to the famous Plaza Mayor. Part of the fun is to not follow the map, but the winding cobbled alleys that lead you to some of Spain’s oldest and most fabulous pubs and taverns.

If you are in Scotland, take a quick course in glass blowing.

Glass blowing workshop

Glass blowing workshops abound in Scotland. You need no prior experience to sign up for most of them. I walked into a studio where they were crafting exquisite baubles, paperweights and tumblers in a relaxed and friendly setting. Alas, I was pressed for time. But on my next trip, I am going to set aside one day to learning a new skill.  

The best way to tour Ireland: rent a car!

Belfast Airport

The best way to see Ireland is by driving around.

Ireland is the most breathtaking place I have set foot on.  It is impossible to drive through this exquisite nation without wanting to stop and explore, or just inhale, all that beauty every few kilometres or so. To be able to do that, you need a car. Sure, you will save a lot more money if you were to take a bus tour, but you won’t be able to stop and go as you like. So, pay a little more, but make sure you hire a car. There are scores of good rental companies to choose from. And keep at least 7 full days to soak in the clean, serene environs of Ireland. It will rejuvenate your very soul.