Tag Travel

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Must have Portuguese drinks

Portugal’s best kept secret

By far Lisbon is one of my favourite cities. I cannot wait to visit again. One of the quaint features of Lisbon, is the tiny little bars at every street corner. Like our Indian ‘Tapris’ however, instead of Chai (tea), they serve alcohol! What a concept right? With this article I will highlight some of the must have Portuguese drinks, when you visit the country. Before my trip, everyone recommended the port wine. However, two other portuguese drinks were the highlight for me.

Enjoying Ginjinha liquor, bought from Lisbon, back in Mumbai. This should be a must have when you are exploring Portuguese drinks.
Opening my bottle of Ginjinha in Mumbai

Ginjinha– The Ninja of Cherry liqueurs

Nobody tells you about this very special alcohol –Ginjinha!  The ‘unofficial’ official drink of Lisbon. Maybe you have had cherry liqueur before, but I can guarantee that you have not had anything till you have the Portuguese one! This Portuguese drink is made by infusing Ginja berries in alcohol and adding sugar and other ingredients to it. Served in little plastic cups, on the streets, it is full of flavour.  Have the one with real cherries at the bottom, it will give you a good kick! Locals have this drink throughout the day. We had it on a windy, cold day in the city and it set us in the right mood for the rest of the evening 

Pro Tip: Look for the places that serve the Ginjinha in a chocolate cup, the two together will get you swooning!

Check out Moscatel

Moscatel is another drink you should be looking for. Unlike Ginjinha, it is had throughout Portugal and is the real winner. At first I thought Portuguese drinks consisted only of Port, but the Moscatel I tasted here, took it up a notch. Moscatel has a lighter more citrus flavour. It makes for a great drink after a meal. Hence I bought back 2 bottles for my ‘mae’ and she is still raving about it!

View of Quinta da Bomfim winery from the river different
View of Quinta da Bomfim winery and vineyards beyond, from the river

Porto – the wine producing region of Portugal

These days the Portuguese don’t want to focus on their Port wine. They would prefer you taste their world class wines. Also it’s good to note that the wines in Portugal, come from the north, given the hilly region as compared to the beaches in the south. Porto, in the North, is the second largest city after Lisbon. Port wine is named after Porto, given all the wine producing regions here.

Wine tasting at Quinta da Bomfim in the Douro valley,Portuguese drinks namely their wine are truly world class
Wine tasting at Quinta Da Bomfim

Must Visit- Douro valley & Quinta Da Bomfin

I went for a local wine tasting tour from Porto. We visited the Douro valley, which should not be missed. There are a lot of Vineyards in the Douro valley and‘Quinta da Bomfim’ is one of the oldest, going back to the 17thcentury. Thus, it is one with the largest land holding in the region. We tasted a LOT of wine on the tour. Considering the amount of wine I tasted I have no specific recommendation. However I can tell you, enjoying well-made wine in the beautiful hills of Douro is definitely worth it! 

If you want to read my post on eating like the locals in Portugal: Click here             

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Kochi with a twist

“This is your time to travel, you may not get this much time again.” Encouraged by the husband to travel, I researched on where I could possibly go. As luck would have it, there was an art festival happening in a city, I always wanted to go back to.

Sunsets in Kochi

The Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 is in its 4thyear. Having read about it over the years, I thought this would be a great time to visit. The trip was surprisingly easy to plan. I managed to convince a friend, she booked us cheap air tickets and I booked a cheap Bed& Breakfast. We were set. Sometimes taking the easy route is a good decision.

The first thing you will notice is the way the Biennale is spread out in Fort Kochi. It lets you soak in the culture of the place. The art has Dutch, Portuguese and Keralite venues as the backdrop, not to mention the sea following you throughout. Truly a beautiful setting!

As mentioned the choice of Fort Kochi to host this Biennale is spot on. Some of the reasons to attend:

Beautiful settings to take a break at, Dutch building -David Hall and fresh catch on display, at Fort Kochi!
  1. The place gets properly intertwined with the show and leaves you feeling as if you have got a proper taste of Kochi
  2. Kochi is one of the safest places I have travelled to in India. I would recommend it for women travelers  
  3. Kochi can be as affordable or expensive as you like and the quality of the south Indian fare will still be good. This is my experience after my second visit.

My travel partner asked me if I think the theme of the Biennale ’Possibilities of a Non Alienated Life’ went with the art that was on display. For me it did make sense. It opened my eyes to the conflict in different parts of the world. We may not be touched by it directly, but it is important to be aware. The art was engaging and composed of paintings, installations, movies and experiences.

I highlighted artists that were memorable to me. However I would not want to judge one over the other. I commend the Biennale for the number of topics dealt with from across the world and India, that made me a more knowledgeable world citizen. 

So, in no order of importance some of the artwork that stayed with me includes: 

Walid Raad- ‘I thought I escaped my fate but apparently’
Waalid Raad’s tongue-n-cheek work – ‘Comrade leader comrade leader

Artist Walid Raad– ‘Comrade leader comrade leader- you’d better be watching the clouds.

This artwork made me outright laugh.Quite aptly his political commentary is satirical. I loved the idea of middle eastern leaders appearing as flowers, which in reality has been used as a code for their names. And the piece ‘I thought I’d escape my fate but apparently’ are quotes taken directly from the media and represented in the artwork

Shilpa Gupta- ‘However For in your tongue, I Cannot Fit- 100 Jailed Poets

Shilpa Gupta’s – ‘However For in your tongue, I Can Not Fit- 100 Jailed Poets’.

This installation is beautiful beyond belief. It does not allow you to view it complacently, but you will get pulled into it. It features individuals incarcerated for their politics and poetry. You hear their voices all at once above the mikes. It makes one think about the freedoms we take for granted were what someone else sacrificed their life for. The stories make you feel grateful for being born in a democratic nation, where it is not the rule but rather the exception that the government will snuff out your voice.

Shirin Neshat’s -‘Turbulent’.

We didn’t sit through all the videos as there were many and we didn’t have enough time. However, this video touched me. The explanation said that in Iranian culture women are not allowed to sing to an audience. Then watching the woman singer, sing her unintelligible song to an empty audience, bought home the point of female oppression so clearly. (No picture available)

Henri Dono- ‘Smiling Angel from the sky’

Henri Dono- ‘Smiling Angel from the sky’ and the ‘Trojan Ships’

This artwork fascinated us with its light, movement and colour. This installation came alive because of a button on the door and yes, we kept pushing it. No wonder this form of Indonesian puppetry, is considered visual art.

While I love visiting new places, I also love getting deep into oft visited places especially if there is more to explore. So here’s a shout out to the universe to make it happen many more times with Kochi.There were also student & collateral pieces that were housed in different places off the main Biennale venues. We tried to take in as much as possible and I will be doing a pictorial representation of more of the artwork- so stay tuned.

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Terima Kasih Bali

Planning a wedding is exhausting. I was looking forward to recuperating on our honeymoon. But the destination was constantly changing. When we finally booked our tickets to Bali, I was happy.

While researching we discovered that there were trips to islands close to Bali, that were both accessible and fun. An hour’s ride away from Bali are the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Cennigan. The first two islands gave us some delightful experiences. We chose to stay at Nusa Lembongan for a night, so that our trip wouldn’t feel too rushed. Some people may do it as a day trip, however you may not get a feel of the place. It is an ideal getaway and has some pristine white beaches with no one around for miles. Not only that Bali is quite touristy, whereas on these islands, we got glimpses of the authentic Balinese way of life.

Balinese Hindu burial ground
Balinese Hindu burial ground

For ex; While travelling in Nusa Lembognan we were suddenly assailed with the sight of open umbrellas standing tall on the ground. That’s when we realized that some Balinese Hindu’s bury their dead. They did this, as earlier, it was too expensive to cremate the bodies. Umbrellas are then put over the gravestones, because their ancestors can take care of themselves against the sun and the rain in the afterlife.

Hi there T. Rex!

A short boat ride away from Lembognan island is Nusa Penida Island. On our visit, it reminded me of the south of Europe, in specific the Algarve coastline, with its   rock formations in the sea. Nusa Penida is most famous for the ‘T Rex’ beach (Kelingking beach) that has a rock formation that looks like a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex. To get to the beach you have to walk up and down steep steps, at some places they are at a complete 90-degree angle. Clearly not for the faint-hearted. Rest assured no matter where you are at Kelingking, you are bound to enjoy the view of the spectacular coastline. We also visited Broken beach and Angels Billabong which is again a series of picturesque rock formations in the sea.

These islands, off Bali, given their lovely beaches are a hive of water activities, diving and snorkeling being most popular. Since we did not have much time we opted for snorkeling. Once you get the hang of it, it’s fun. If you are a swimmer, you will know that being on the surface of the water makes the activity safe as well. The coral and the multicolour fish were a memorable sight. However, the waters in Bali are not calm and my husband who has snorkeled before was not too happy with the experience. The crashing waves and the extra tumbling, doesn’t allow you to easily enjoy the views that the sea bed has to offer. But for a first timer like me I enjoyed the uniqueness of seeing the ocean from such a close angle.

Striking a pose at Broken beach

So, my advice would be get off the main island for some offbeat and relaxing fun. As for me I look forward to flopping on a beach doing nothing for my next visit to Bali!

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