Saturday, July 21, 2012

SOUTH INDIA CIRCUIT: Bengaluru, Madurai, Cochi, Ooti, Mysore

For those who are only used to developed countries first impression could be a bit of a shock. Even if you have some travel experience around the world you might be impressed the first time you step into an Indian city. Those who were here 20 years ago told me that things have changed a lot, that things look much better, so wowww....

These were my impressions:
- Chaotic towns and villages, driving follows the hardest law of the jungle "only the strongest survive". Do not get scared if in the middle of a curve you come with a truck speeding on your way... You'll get used to that, Indians know how to get away with that. I just wonder how they manage to drive like this. I absolutely wouldn't recommend to rent a car here...They horn every 5-10 seconds, so people and drivers are immunized for strident horn noise. Will you be able to stand it? Take it easy pal. Auto rickshaws are the easiest and cheapest way to move around cities. But you'll have to bargain the price if they don't want to put the taximeter on. However reliable and I found them charm. At least a trip by train is a must, to see how Indians travels, what trains means for them. But I wouldn't take the cheapest ticket for trains or you might regret it. Trips by road are at least twice as slower as it'd be in your home European country.

- Do not expect great cities with a sense of planned intelligent built streets. I had the impression that they are very slowly coming out of extremely poverty, so little by little, please do not complain if you don't meet your European standards, because otherwise this is not the right place for you where to go. Roads half constructed, huge potholes everywhere, no indications, no pavements in streets, etc.

- Sometimes it can be hard, you might see scenes which you won't like to see, so just get ready for that. Many Indians wait for tourists at front of the top touristic places. Although they can be quite annoying, relax, keep cool, if you are not interested for what they offer or want to sell you, just say no and the third time they'll go away. No need to be rude, really, you wouldn't like to be at their position, so please respect and treat them well.

- You'll find people almost everywhere, little places where you can find some relax, better bring your earplugs for sleeping. Most of Indians are Hindus and is easy to get into their temples. You may find someone who'd like to guide you through, better if you check that is an official guide, otherwise they'll rip you off, but we are talking of just 2-3 euros maximum, so don't really worry.

- People stare at you, but is not that bad as in countries as China.

- The best of Bengalure is the Sultan Palace, but overall India needs a couple of days before you feel acclimated. Madurai has a superb temple, amazing, the rest of the city is hard to see sometimes. Cochi has a great colonial part, but again shoppers will try to drag you in their shop. It is also very worth to pop into the Chinese fishing nets. Just great spot and you can even buy the fish you like and they'll cook for you in a restaurant. Even with very small budgets, you can afford most of things in India. For European is really really cheap. Ooty is in the mountains. It has a great places to see, but nothing you have never seen if you have travel a little bit around. Mountains are very crowded over here, but still worth to have a look if you have the time. Mysore is probably the best city I found of all of this circuit. Maybe because I felt better in India, maybe not, but they have a great Maharaja Palace and a few other amazing temples in "closer" town (about 150 km away).

For me it was such an experience. India is vast, if you connect with it you may spend a great time, but if you are looking for comfort no way to come over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Si no puedes ir a España, haz que España venga a ti!

Cuando en verano el calor NO aprieta en las antiguas tierras del Rey Arturo, que mejor que un vinito, unos taquitos de jamón y unas almendritas para sentirse como en casa. Londres es una ciudad cosmopolita a no poder más, una ciudad totalmente engalanada de actos culturales, entre ellos los hispánicos. Un evento a no perderse al menos una vez, el festival español en plena Oxford street para hacerse sentir un poquito más cerca de Spain! Todo un clásico ya cada Julio en el mismísimo corazón de London!

Los tamborileros del Norte
Churros and chocolate con un inglés muy españolizado

y que no falte ese jamoncito, por favor!
Nadal o lo que pretende ser nuestro embajador del tenis

olé y olé!

un día a la spanish!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A truly "paella valenciana" in deep UK

Once I heard a Portuguese intellectual claiming that it is easier to witness the most deeply-root culture of certain region precisely far away from that region! This statement is obviously arguable but I do not think that by saying this he was totally wrong. For example, the first 'flamenco' performance I attended to happened in Leiden, a little town of Holland more than 2000 km further away from the flamenco birthplace in South Spain! After many years in Spain I never saw a 'flamenco' concert!

In his speech the Portuguese gentlemen also included 'gastronomy' as part of that culture. Well, 'said and done' a group of 50 people had the privilege to taste a pure authentic and traditional 'paella valenciana' in the backyard of a brit house lost in the landscape of Reading, a town stuck between big brother London and historic Oxford.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


And here it is, the champion team of the 6th division Table Tennis Reading League. Excellent performance demonstrated during the whole year by all the team, with Jean-Noël, Gabor and Joaquín being among the top 10 best averages of the division! Next year won't be so easy in 5th division. Lads, now it's time to get ready things for next year, train those tricky services and top spin balls!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


For some people the word Greenwich is a synonym of Meridian zero. What do I mean ? Many years ago, the Royal Observatory of Greenwich was internationally adopted as the reference point to refer to Universal Time (UT). This is an astronomical concept and in practical words, Greenwich gives name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich mean time, from where all countries refer their local time. If for example Greeks say "our local time is UTC+2", it means that in Greece it is two hours later than the reference, i.e., Greenwich. The line that goes through Greenwich is naturally imaginary, or perhaps not that much as I can show in these pictures ! The green line spitted by the Greenwich Observatory is the supposed Greenwich parallel !

The "real" Greenwich Meridian zero

Darth Maul under the Meridian zero

But Greenwich is much more than that "imaginary" line. That people not very attached to sciences may not have ever heard about this astronomical landmark, but however about their great cultural richness. Indeed in 1997, Maritime Greenwich was added to the list of World Heritage Sites, for the concentration and quality of buildings of historic and architectural interest. Many of them can be found at the riverfront on the south bank of the river Thames, next to greater London. Many of these buildings are free to visit, with amazing doms and paintings. An easy catch by a combination of London tube and DLR extension within the area 2 of London metro network, or otherwise said, just 1.60 pounds to reach with Oyster card ! Worth to visit !

The Paint Hall of the Royal Naval College of London

The riverfront of maritime Greenwich

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Skiing in Pohorje

Pohorje slopes

La hormiga atómica

Most of people who live far enough from those white winter mountains and fancy some skiing, they target big, huge ski resorts for their holidays. Why this ? These ski spots are very popular (Alps and Pyrenees in Europe) and they benefit of a lot of publicity about their incredible landscapes, fantastic slopes... But, let's face reality. Did you ever think about the disadvantages of these resorts ? They are usually very crowded during holiday periods and weekends, they are very expensive and you can hardly find a parking place or a seat in a restaurant at "human times". Far from chill out holidays. Furthermore, many of these casual tourist can hardly keep stand up on their "robocop" boots. So what's the point to pay very expensive ski passes for large ski complexes, when at most they'll hit some few, not too much steepy slopes with the blue sign at the beginning ? What's the point to pay for endless resorts when we won't even see 20% of their slopes? So why do we need to pay so much for those huge ski resorts ? What about hitting a smaller, more familiar, less expensive and less crowded mountain in a much less tourist resort ? I'd like to recommend one of the them which recently I hit by myself, situated in Slovenja, next to the Maribor city : Pohorje. Winter climate over there is very much influenced by convective freezing weather cells coming from the Balkans. This assures snow until certain limit at almost every altitude. The ski resort is small, not very high, but worth to visit and very beautiful. Moreover, prices are further down when compared to Alps for example. Even in Christmas holidays you can enjoy slopes very little populated, quick (not always) ski lifts and some free table in any coffee at the head of the slopes at almost any time. Just enyojable !!!

shinning slopes

the enchanted forest

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A little taste of London

From the architectural point of view I don't like London. There are astonishing buildings with remarkable decorations and great seals, heritage of the amazing legacy left by the old British Empire. But facing these buildings you can find horrible dark structures from the 70´s and in some cases the (in)harmony is completed when these buildings are scratched by an ultramodern top technology skyscraper. That's London and that's part of its center. On top of that, I don't like the color of the brick, a dark brown that gets even hazier when is wet, what in London it occurs pretty much often. Comparisons are hateful, but in this case I'd rather stay with the exquisiteness of the Parisian blocks.

However, London is a wonderful capital, one of the most important cultural centers of the world. Whatever you go, whatever you may think of, you'll find in London. There is always something going on and for sure no time to get bored in this city. What could you do in a cloudy Sunday day with nothing prepared in advance ?

Get up late (is Sunday!), then have a shower and go to a French bakery to have a midday brunch: delicious homemade cakes covered with based on wild fruits jams, a crunchy croissant filled in almonds, squeezed oranges coming from Valencia and and why not, accompanied by a delicious cappuccino with a taste of ginger or scented Japanese thees. Then take the subway and "mind the gap !". The first stop over could be an art gallery. In the wharf opposed to Waterloo you can find several cultural centers. Right now I wouldn't miss the world press photo exhibition. Just amazing ! After that why not enjoying in the same cultural center of some live music played by a new band of young talents. Next walk into the center and its charm, browse some books in an open-air old library settled in the Thames promenade and on the way towards St. Paul cathedral drink a pint in a cozy brewery. Move on to the museum of London. It is very interesting getting known about the fire that devastated the city in the XVII century. After that lose yourself up at the Barbican center. Who dare to design this ? Because I still have no clear what is it ! Either you'll love it or you'll hate it. But worth a visit.
If your body still needs a bit more let´s get back to the Southbank Center. There is always something going on there. This time there was a BBC jazz festival. Here you have an exemple of two bands that were playing. First one, an alternative grumpy jazz metal band. Something that you'd never dare to buy, but a life is worth to listen once... And second, Richard Mitchell elegant jazz.

(...tomorrow I'll hang here these two passes of the gigs...)

And let's finish this journey with a just cooked crunchy taste of pork marinated in rosemary and other spices with homemade appel jam. Gozzzzz !!! And ei, this is just a little of all that can be done ! Did you have enough for this Sunday ?
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