To Universe, with Love

It came home: A red evening bag

Posted on October 15, 2014

As a part of my Simplify resolve, i decided to come clean about any incoming ‘clutter’ in my life. I hope the fact that i have to put it out here will refrain me from purchasing too many things.

 

Something small. Something shiny. Something quilted. Something red.

 

This has been on my mind, for a little while. Been looking for an evening bag. LBD and a red bag, i envisioned would be elegant and romantic. It started in 2010 when “Oxblood” became the color of the season. There were so many beautiful options but i couldn’t afford any that i liked.  Winters went by and the hunt continued. And this year, reality kicked in. I may never want to spend a lot of money on a luxury item. Not anymore. And i wanted something that wasnt in-your-face recognizable designer bag. ( growing older ? ) I loved the color of burgundy ps11 but do not like the hardware to bag ratio on it. A pre-loved Chanel? Finally decided against it. Its the ‘it’ bag and generally arrives before the person does. Its beautiful and almost perfect. It cant help but steal the spotlight.  Valentino rock stud evening bag? I didnt like the studs, they dont age well. Mulburry did a beautiful chain bag this season. Again, the ratio of hardware to leather is a bit much.  The more research i did on it (proof !), more i think i liked oxbloods over the true reds. And more i was reaching the end of it all where i would tell myself, the one i like doesnt exist out there. And . . .

stella mccartney falabella hand bag

This was it. I saw it on Farfetch. Which i think is one of the most amazing ecommerce business model. They ‘recruit’ boutiques all over Europe. The items in the boutique have a listing on this site and get taken down when sold online or offline, which ever happens first. Whats unique about the items is the fact that boutique owners are tad more risk takers than buyers for stores like Barneys. They scout one of a kind items that dont end up in departmental stores. And its all available to us ! A study revealed that almost 30% of the products on there are hard to find elsewhere. I saw it here. And sadly, i cant find it anywhere anymore. Stella McCartney‘s mini quilted Falabella.

Then came a bigger problem. It is not leather ! I have always made a case against non-leather shoes. I still do. They are not comfortable. Without a leather upper, lining and sole, the shoes does not mould well to the foot nor does it let the foot breathe. And leather ages beautifully with certain amount of upkeep. This is a bag. I do not need it to mould or breathe according to my body. I would need it to hold its shape as it ages and continue looking beautiful. I always spent more money on durable products and not just because its made of leather. More i thought about it, more i liked the idea of this bag. Stella is a staunch vegan and makes a stand against animal cruelty. Again, something to respect. She worked on creating synthetic material that mimics leather in appearance but is made of durable man made material that does not sag as it ages. It is lighter than any of my leather bags (good for long nights of dancing). The biggest contributor to the weight/balance is the hardware. A few cons: its way over priced for what its production value would have been. And on par with good leather bags. Not very eco-friendly with all the plastic based polymers  …. And when i saw it in person, i just had to keep it.

P.S: I have a beautiful little red bag.

Some wisdom for our next big trip: Tips and Tools.

Posted on October 13, 2014

When we started planning our trip, i poked everyone i could, to obtain information. I asked people about best ways to save money, accumulate miles/points, itineraries, list making, what to pack, what to wear, what to carry, … etc. I want to write this down so that maybe i can help another person going through this phase. And keep this wisdom for our next big trip. 

 

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Inspiration

I am huge fan of every thing Nat Geo and Travellers on Instagram. A few of my favourite travellers on Instagram: Travis Bruke, Chris Burkard,  Jason, Corrine Thiessen, Charles Post . Most of the guys listed here are nature lovers or culture lovers. Chilled back vacationers, don’t inspire me much.

Budget

I truly believe it is possible to make a great trip out of not so lavish budget. I have a cousin who survived 6 months in various continents on 13k dollars and had some left. I know a guy, cycling from Oregon to Patagonia on very little money and sleeping on the road, for the last 16 months. The world today lets you live any way you want embracing your quirks. It can be done depending on how badly you want to.

Saving

We did put some money away every paycheque so that we could go. Used tax returns. I know people at the university (ASU) who live in a squalor with 6 roommates and use all the money they can save to go travel. Going away when you are single is much cheaper, from what i was told. I think its true.

Fitness

I was having this conversation with this Indian guy who wants to go backpacking. And was convinced he can never do that with a girlfriend/wife because it would require some amount of stamina and fitness. And he is heading towards an arranged marriage where he may not filter out his potential brides based on this criterion. I have to agree, its hard to travel if you are not fit. Vacation, yes. But to be constantly on the move, requires lot of energy and some amount of fitness. Carrying a backpack around is taxing on the shoulders. Falling sick in an alien place is not fun. I worked on mine, but had to struggle to keep up with Harsha. He has a lot of energy. On the other hand, yoga helped me strengthen my back and he was struggling with his backpack towards the end of the journey when the fatigue had set in.

Zeroing on the places

I have a list. He has a list. But we picked places based on the season, economy of flights, diversity in places. We had too many places on the list and were flexible. We were too happy to pick something off our list and go. We tried to fit in some city life, country side, some mountain side, etc.

Getting the mind ready

I have been subscribed to the show: Sonia travels for a while now. She covers a lot of aspects of travel and makes beautiful travel videos. Travel videos on vimeo like: A tribute to discomfort are a great source of inspiration for me.

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Make a list of what’s important and do the research. For me, i did not want to go to see the buildings or go on a vacation. I wanted to do what the locals do. Eat where they eat. Shop where they shop. Do the activities they do on an everyday basis. Understand life out there as much as i can in my limited capability. Or atleast try. My list was as follows:

The markets

Flea markets ( learn some history ) & Farmers markets (eat some local fruits and veggies ). I wanted to look through old stuff. Own something from the history. Wander a little. Look at old objects.

Something touristy

Town Plazas/Centers ( history, architecture, lots of working people, people watching) : We did not read up extensively on the history of the countries we visited. But every time we saw an old building, wiki told us the significance of it and the changes that occurred as civilizations went to war or modernized. End of the journey, we knew a little on who invaded whom, changes in perception of art over the years, etc.

Shopping districts

oh well… I did not go out shopping to buy stuff. Partly because i dreaded the idea of carrying a backpack that was even a little heavier. Partly because we didn’t want to spend when not needed. But i was hearing myths about Europe Vs America Vs Asia when it came to consumerism and quality of objects. I had to check it out to see for myself.

Food

A Grocery store (learn mundane everything things) : Again, when you live in America and read about health, there is quite a bit of bashing that American people and food take. For the commercialization, for the amount of processed food, for the size of people who eat such food, for the cruelty of animals, etc. I am very interested in food and i had to check it out for myself. Also, we wanted to pick up some local food to snack on when on the go. So it worked out fine. We also got to pick up food to snack on like local fruit and nuts.

Pry a little

A local kitchen (learn something about everyday life): Living with a family is the only way this can be done. Renting a room in a local home is a good way to go about it. Again, i love cooking and food history, and hence this was on my list.

Climb a little

A Mountain: A new place is not just the people but nature too. Difference in flora and fauna interest me/us. Its easy to drive by a place but going on foot/bicycle makes you notice things that you don’t otherwise. And having a camera trains the eye to see more. We always make it a point to bike and hike where ever we go. Harsha takes it a step further by going out to get a paper map with topology of the place. And as we wander, figures out where we are and tells me interesting things about the location like the elevation, faults in the tectonic plates, etc. He is a great travel companion.

Street food

Youtube is a great resource. It is good to show up in a new place and explore without a map or a plan. But when it comes to street food, i think its good to go with some knowledge. Else, its very easy to miss out on trying new food. Videos were better coz they helped us learn to say the words. And made us more confident to ask for it in places. A few of my favourite street food channel’s: Anthony Bourdain (whom i would like to nominate for Wonders of the World). Street food India. Tastemade.

Night life

I was really excited to go dancing on the weekends. And check out the music in the clubs that are different from the American/Indian club scene. But we never did made it. We would wake up early morning to catch the sun rise in the Alps or head out someplace. And be exhausted by end of the day and fall asleep. And one day, we did make an effort to make it to the meatpacking district, but the clubs posted the music list to attract the tourists. And it felt like America. So we skipped it in favor of sleep.

A treat

Decadent stay and an epic dining experience: I have to credit Harsha for putting this on the list. We balanced our hostel stays, over night sleeping on trains, etc with treating ourselves to nicer stays and a few fine dining establishments, from time to time. We are older (read old) and we needed some slow days to reboot, stop running around, slow down and spend time with each other. We celebrated an anniversary by staying on a vineyard in Krems and sampling Chef Patrick Friedrich’s creations. We wanted to stay on the lake in St. Gilgen which meant having to pick an old aristocratic establishment full of 50 year olds in golf attire. We stayed with a 100 year old manor converted into apartments and run by a hostess, in Prague. Looking back, we could have done without it and been fine. But it was a good balance.

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These websites have reviews. They have itineraries. They have pictures. They have essays on places. Between these three, there is plenty to make an initial outline and start working upon. Harsha things the forums on Tripadvisor are the most valuable resource.

Travel bloggers who write day to day accounts

There are quite a few people in the world who travel for a living. Or live in different places and when its time, move on. Their accounts i found, were more helpful for me when i was trying to figure out what i wanted to do in the new place. Locals may take a few things for granted about their home land, tourists may do way too many popular touristy things. But the ones who live for short periods of time in a new place seem to have found a way to balance both. Google blog search was very helpful in connecting me with people who could also answer my questions.

We noticed that lots of people walk up to the ticket counters in train stations and obtain a list of hotels in the city. We met people who were biking from town to town and would knock on hostels whenever they were too tired to ride for the day. I do admire the ones who just showed up and found a place to crash. We picked ours before we landed. And close to the train stations.

This is my favourite way to choose where to stay when travelling. More than hostels. The hostels are great places to meet people from different countries but living with a local family is better, in my opinion.

Booking dot com

“This is how we found all the awesome hotels we stayed at” – Harsha.

Book keeping

An app i wish we had known about: Tripit ! We were carrying a stack of papers that were printed confirmations of train tickets, hotels, flights, insurance, etc. And it was no fun trying to find what we need from the stack when situation demanded it. And i would do anything to have a lighter backpack. Tripit has a free version that aggregates all the confirmations in one place and makes it easy to pull up when needed. All you have to do is sent confirmations to a certain email address and the app takes care of the rest. I find this better than my making notes in EverNote.

Emergency Contact

I wrote down my itinerary and shared with my dad. I knew if something went wrong, i could call him up and he would help us. And he wanted to know enough details so that if we went missing, he will have something to work with. Dads can be such dads ! and are totally awesome. “We are not running off to the South Pole, why is he so worried?”- Harsha.

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This was the most useful application during our trip. As it turns out, we did our research on the places we were visiting over a period of time. When ever we found something interesting, i would clip it into a notebook in Evernote. We would do individual research and later discuss and narrow down our options. I have all of this stored in my notes. And  I used this application to create a packing lists, to-buy lists, schedules, to-photograph lists, etc. This app can be used offline and we could reference it when needed.

Transportation

We used the local trains a lot. A euro rail pass would have been a great choice. But we got local passes everyday in the train station. And got our inter country tickets in person. We recommend getting tickets ahead of time if possible, so that they dont sell out.

Water

Our travel research told us we can find water everywhere and American tourists are the only ones walking around with watter bottles. Boy were we wrong. We had so much trouble finding water. And water that wasn’t sparkling. And not having water by bed side in hostels or during inter country travel. Or during long bike rides. We did have to carry some along if we wanted it.

Offline Google Maps

We did not opt to enroll in a data plan, thanks to AT&T’s ridiculous pricing. We knew we would be in places that might require us to use the GPS and maps. Google maps can be downloaded to the phone: tutorial. I think this is one of the best hidden features. And the one that helped us the most in terms of tools.

Budget Keeping

With the conversion rates, being away from home, being hungry/thirsty, etc factor into slipping away from having a set budget. We did not do this but i wish we did use an app like Mint or iXpenseIt to keep track of our expenses. We ended up spending 20% more than what we intended.

Money

There is no one way to carry money that i know of. If someone has advice for us, please let us know in the comments below. We both carried our credit cards and some cash on us. We prepared a family member to wire us money incase of an emergency.

Language

Each new country we went to, we would find the friendliest and most cheerful person in the train station/help desk/information, and ask them to translate a couple of phrases for us. We would record it and try learn from it during our stay. It not only helps with the language, but everyone we stopped to asked this liked doing it for us, and we had a good excuse to interact with them. We also used iphone apps to pick up some phrases.

Safety

We tried to be mindful of the place and not act like gawking tourists. We did not carry easy to snap bags. On that note, i think ONA’s Bowery bag is the perfect bag to hide a DSLR, has a thick strap with good weight distribution, is unisex and looks good with most casual outfits. We were also mindful of our alcohol consumption. It was not only about safety or being in control. But being dehydrated the day after, when travelling is not fun.

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Accumulate miles

This is something i wish we did. But we are now looking into credit cards that will give us miles based on everyday spending. I now know we will be doing this a lot and are looking into it.

Flexible Ticket Finder

I have head stories of people finding great travel deals and taking them up in short moments notice. And folks pick places on the go while on the move when they figured out a good route at a great price. I wish we could do that in the future. I have head good things about websites like Travelocity, Jetsetter, etc. And Travelzoo keeps sending me great deals weekly. Something to keep in the loop for the future.

 

We did our best. We, by no means are seasoned travellers or experts at this. We did what we could. I would love to learn from someone who has more experience doing this. We will get better at this the next time, i hope. Start from here. Anyone reading this and with travel wisdom, please share. Thank you !!

Side effects of travel that linger …

Posted on October 13, 2014

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Physically stronger.

I went to my yoga studio after a month of absence. And was dreading it all day, before class. But to my surprise, i had gotten better. The teacher came up to be at the end of the class and asked me what i have been doing lately. Well, active life ! Carrying around a backpack is stressful for the shoulders but builds a lot of strength. Climbing mountains and wandering in new places all day == strong legs and butt lift. I can do more pushups now than before. And i am not toiling away in a gym or in a yoga studio for it (though i enjoy both in moderation). Life did it !

Stories and the romance.

“We will always have Krems“, i tell him. “I have goosebumps remembering that day“, he says. I know every couple has their ‘little stories’ that make them. I felt like we were making these stories too often and a lot of em. And the stories linger in our heads.

See divinity in all.

Is the gist of the scriptures, according to my yoga teacher. I keep hearing it a lot from time to time. It means a lot more to me now. I appreciate the diversity and people’s idiosyncrasies. They make this world more interesting. I will not hate on someone who is not like me or doesnt believe in what i believe. There is so much to learn !

Shift in likes.

Dream life vs Dream house, i would pick life. I veto the American dream. I feel i have learnt what i dont need to be truly happy. When i get lectured on the beauty of the American dream: large house, sports cars, big toys, instagram/pinterest inspired lifestyle, etc ( yes, it happens! Shoo! ), i can always go back into my head, keep calm and ignore.

The interaction.

I don’t meet a lot of people who see the romance in doing things i do. Finding someone to travel with, makes me think i am the luckiest girl in the world.  You can vacation with anyone. Go sight-seeing with anyone. But to travel, i need someone who equally loves exploring. Been meeting and connecting with people who feel the same. The ones who think sleeping bare back in a tiny tent in the forest, are the best nights ! The ones who discuss beer and the local food it pairs well with. The ones who went the extra mile to see the sunrise. The ones who take beautiful photographs. The ones who discuss history of civilizations. The girls who revere their hiking boots as much as their stilettos ….. I am filled with gratitude for it all.

Language.

Learning a few phrases of the local language can go a long way in breaking the ice with strangers. The effort indicates reverence to the place and culture. And its part of the learning you do, for travel. And i seem to listen to music that is not english, hindi or telugu and pick up a few words every day. I want this to last.

Experiences/Learning over things.

I was a fashion addict. I purchased a Proenza Schouler PS1 this year that i don’t care for, like i thought i would. And after seeing what money can buy in terms of experiences, i almost regret it. Old habits die hard. I see Chanel bags that i would have wanted in the past and see where the money they cost would take me. Not in that place anymore. Its easy to slip up and go back there.

I write this post for me. And just for me. So that i may remember who i want to be and not take it easy. Not to slip into the old ways that take me away from the path i want to be on. 

Set an intention: Learn to cook

Posted on September 26, 2014

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The case of Chefs Vs Food Bloggers with pretty pictures:

Bloggers have a lot of influence on me. Maybe its the relatability. They are not chefs and they seem to be able to make good looking food with everyday ingredients. But after years of reading food blogs, all i have learnt is about new ‘in’ ingredients, food trends and recipes. I am discontent. Another gripe of mine: bloggers with beautiful food photographs are more popular than the ones who don’t photograph well, inspite of not so good recipes. The ones discussing techniques and food combinations are practically non existent (I found two so far: TheKitchn, MyGoumetConnection’s How-To series. Any recommendations? )

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Techniques Vs Recipes:

I dont want recipes. I want techniques that chefs know. If i am reading something to help me with cooking, i want it to discuss things like why a recipe works, how various methods to cook may effect the end result, the balance in the ingredients like the ratio of acid to oil, etc. These are things great chefs seem to know and when they create new recipes, they use the classics as a base and play with the ingredients. Maybe take an acid out, and use a new acid. Add peppers that have a lasting taste, modify the texture, etc. This is what i want to learn. The science behind cooking. Cooking and not recipes. I think spending more time with the classic cookbooks, farmers, mom and chefs will help me find what i am looking for.

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Elaborate Vs Easy:

Simple 10 minute recipes. Thats the punch line i see all over. Thought #slowliving is having a moment lately. Instead of going the route of simplifying it, i want to learn to streamline my cooking process. And i think if i make it enough times, its will become easy. This requires some effort in the beginning, which is an over head. But eventually, it is worth it, for what i want to learn. That is how all the women in the family cook effortlessly. After years of toil. Ofcourse, i am not a housewife or a chef. I do draw a line at what’s achievable in the time i want to allocate and what will drive me crazy chasing perfection.

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Learn the kitchen dance:

” Max and Eli communicate and navigate the kitchen with synchronicity. One lights the fire under a pot on the stove. A few minutes later the other turns and stirs what is simmering within. Soon after that the other approaches and lowers the heat. ……”    – Page 008, Kinfolk Table.

This is what i call the kitchen dance. It requires a true partner. Harsha and me are pretty efficient in working together. We get each other and pick parts after each other. But one day, i want us to perfect the kitchen dance. Its no fun without him. My own quote: “Never cook or travel with people you don’t love.”

Wabi-Sabi: There is no definition for this word. It vaguely describes the beauty of imperfection, of things made using intuition, appreciating the old and rustic for their familiarity,acceptance of transience. Not an exact recipe but by using the soul. While ratios and proportions work, going with the heart and mixing also works after enough basic knowledge. There is a romance in making food. I intend to not chase perfection and kill it.

I want to start from scratch. Learn how to boil an egg. Make the perfect stovetop fluffy rice, … learn things like how grain size and heat effects the end result. Why certain combinations of ingredients work and why they don’t. I am employing my mom, a few books written for Chef schools and lots of experimentation for this purpose. I know lot of these will be learnt as you cook over and over again and observe the variations. Maybe doing both will help me get there faster.

TO- DO:

1. Read.

2. Cook more. Observe more.

3. Write some food essays here with my observations.

Wachau valley, Austria

Posted on September 15, 2014

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Wachau valley is located on the banks of the Danube river. It is the home of ancient towns, vineyards, cobbled stone streets, orchid farms, bike trails, …. I saved this post for the last because it is my favourite. This is one place where we pushed ourselves a lot to experience the place. This region lies between the town of Krems and Melk. It became popular in the 19th century, attracting artists from all over the region. It also became popular for filming and region serves as a backdrop for more than a dozen films. Apparently, the lighting condition and feel of the villages worked as a charm for all these artists. I totally see the appeal.

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And we were going to bike it all. Town hop from Krems to Melk. 50 kms. Harsha wanted to bike both ways and was really excited to do it. The realization that i am married to a younger guy with a lot of energy hit me hard. And i was holding him back.  We were reaching the end of our journey and the fatigue had set in. I negotiated a one way bike ride and he agreed. We found a boat that would let us carry our bikes for 3 euros each. It was a beautiful day to sit back and watch all these castles pass by on either sides. We saw the bike paths along the river, the bikers and couldn’t wait to be on our bikes again.

2014-09-15_0005 What makes an awsome bike ride? Enthusiastic happy people. Pretty bike basket to rest the camera. Free food magazines that decorate the basket. Fruit that you find along the way. And cold lemon beer, that you save to celebrate half way. And a bike path with a view. We had it all. There he was, zooming ahead. And me struggling to keep up.

2014-09-15_0004 Above: The topography of the bike ride: Vineyards. Old towns with cobblestone paths. Elevated valley paths with a view. Orchards with a variety of fruit. Fellow bikers from all over the world.

2014-09-15_0006 What dampens a beautiful bike ride? Someone with a camera who wants to stop and click pictures by the mile. Thats me. But Harsha managed to contain the photobug by making me keep up with his pace. He did catch me sulking from time to time and I was given photo-stop coupons that i was asked to use wisely. And i did….. when we spotted …… the horses chilling out by the bike trail. The sunflower farms. And the fruit farms that are famous for making Snapps. But my favourite view is the beautiful path with this guy ahead of me, setting the pace and challenging me to ride hard. We both were really exhausted by the end of it, but it was all worth it.

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This is one of the last Europe travel posts. I realized i do not want to over share and make a post for every place we have been to. These are a select few. I want to make one more post talking about the tools that helped us plan the trip and helped along the way. And about some travel wisdom acquired. “Are you a changed person?”, i keep getting asked. The answer is yes. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as i loved making these photographs and writing about my/our experiences. 

Hallstatt, Austria

Posted on September 15, 2014

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One day, Harsha and me climbed into a time machine and decided to check out medieval  Central Europe. And ended up in the town of Hallstatt, an ancient salt mining village. Or that is how we felt. This town looks like it is physically untouched by modernization since the 12th century. It is so unbelievably cute that the Chinese built a replica of it ! It is actually not hard to believe after visiting the place. I would love a replica close to where i live too ! This town was reachable only via the water or through narrow passage like roads. And the village exhausted all the viable real estate that there was no where to grow. And it remained that way for centuries. Now, it looks like a toy village and made us wonder if any real people lived out here or it exists solely for the tourists. We were here to find out. I needed an apothecary and was told tourists dont have such needs and hence they dont have one. The streets are lined by stores selling souvenirs. Most of the houses seen are vacation homes or hotels or restaurants. Fast food here is Kebabs. And the rest of the space is occupied by antique buildings like churches, town hall, etc.

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Questions we asked each other: “Its all made of wood. How does it not rot? will it all crumble?”. “How on earth does this place exist ! its like a toy town”. “Is every local we see here an actor to please the tourists?”. “There is some mediterranean influence, how?”. “Go Kebab is fast food here? I wonder what they would say if they saw the fast food in America”.

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I romanticize the past a lot. I wonder what it would be like to have lived a few hundred years ago. I can even name a few periods and respective countries i wish i lived in. But seeing an ancient relic makes me happy to be alive now. With so many choices in front of me. And all the travelling i can do to experience anything i want, if i put my heart into it.

Dachstein Mountains and J.R.R Tolkien

Posted on September 15, 2014

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“The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


“At the heart of the Salzkammergut region, in the centre of Austria, lies the captivating World Heritage region of Dachstein Salzkammergut. The unique combination of the culture and settlement with breath-taking natural views won the region the UNESCO title of ‘historic cultural landscape of Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut’ as a World Natural Heritage and Wold Cultural Heritage site.” Here in the Inner Salzkammergut region, the diverse landscapes of the Alps are reflected within a small area and the cultural significance of Hallstatt and its salt-based economy date back into pre-history. Even in the Bronze Age, this ‘white gold’ was mined and traded in the upper valley of Hallstatt. Exquisite finds from the so-called ‘graveyard’ confirm this and led researchers to name the entire culture of the time the ‘Hallstatt culture’. Later, salt became an important trade item for the Habsburg Monarchy – causing Salzkammergut to achieve special status within the Kingdom. A rich architectural and cultural heritage is derived from this long-standing tradition of salt mining and trade – all of which contributed to the region being named a World Cultural Heritage Site.

 

2014-09-14_0009 We ended up at the base of this mountain to explore. After doing most of the ascent in a cable car the previous climb in St. Gilgen, we badly wanted to do a long hike. Climb a mountain in the Alps, was a total bucketlist item for me. There were quite a few people at the base of the mountain and all of whom were taking the car up. Everyone we met discouraged us from climbing because they thought we were not equipped for it, didnt look the part and the area was slippery from the rain from the previous day. I started sulking and Harsha obliged. He was especially mad at me for my choice of shoes. In the name of minimalistic packing, i left my vibrams at home. And i paid the price for it along the hike. Everyone who advised us against it was right. We were under equipped, it was a hard climb and very slippery all along. But we had to do it.

“Adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

2014-09-14_0010“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien.

2014-09-14_0011“Little by little, one travels far” ― J.R.R. Tolkien.

2014-09-14_0014 “Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien.

2014-09-14_0013“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”  

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

2014-09-14_0012“In western lands beneath the Sun
The flowers may rise in Spring,
The trees may bud, the waters run,
The merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night,
And swaying branches bear
The Elven-stars as jewels white
Amid their branching hair.”

2014-09-14_0015“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King.

IMG_7146“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

IMG_1819“For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

IMG_1830“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on on the story.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

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