Tag Archives: travel

Visiting Europe in the Fall

If you are an avid traveler, then visiting Europe must essentially be on the top your wish list. Europe is considered to be a traveler’s dream come true destination. From fantastic natural locations to loads of ancient historical stuff to a plethora of man-made attractions like parks, gardens, libraries, museums, galleries, etc., Europe offers visitors and travelers a vast treasure house to explore and unravel.

In spite of the fact that Europe can be an extremely alluring vacation and travel destination for all kinds of people, yet it is often found that people hesitate from planning a trip to Europe and often postpone their visits for months. Why? Well, the main reason for that appears to be the high budget of traveling that Europe demands. Yes, that’s quite true. Visiting the well-known travel destinations in Europe like England, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Germany, etc. during the spring, summers and winters can cost you dearly – something that most avid travelers fail to do due to the budget constraints.

But not anymore. If you are eagerly waiting to visit the marvelous European attractions, it is best that you plan your trip to Europe this fall season. Yes, that’s the off season for European tourism, which is why you can get great benefits on your trip to Europe. Here’s how:

Great deals

Since the fall is the off-time for most places in Europe in terms of tourism, you can expect to get excellent discounts on fares, hotel tariffs, rides, visits, site seeing and even food. Most hotels and restaurants reduce their charges remarkably during the fall season.

Less tourists

Being the off season, the fall time attracts very fewer tourists. Hence, most places of attraction remain less crowded, in fact, quite empty. Hence, you can visit each and every attraction and have as much time to yourself as you want. No wanted people poking their heads into every picture that you want to take and no guides or guards to hurry you away. You can have the best pleasure at every place of your choice.

Excellent weather

In spite of the fact that the fall season is the off time for European tourism, the weather during falls is no less enchanting than during the other seasons. The summer heat is gone, and the chilly winters aren’t in just yet. So, you can have a great blend of summer and winter, not to mention the beautiful color panoramas that the foliage offer during the fall season. If you love nature and want to experience one of its most enthralling hues, fall is the season for you.

Amazing festivals

All through October and in November, a number of popular and exciting festivals are held across Europe. From harvesting festivals in different countries to Halloween, Oktoberfest, etc., fall is the time when you can delve deeper into the European culture with loads of food, drinks, fun, bonfires, etc.

So, if your heart craves for a visit to the famous European destinations, do not thwart it anymore. Just plan a trip within your budget this fall season.

The Pan American Highway

Do you like to hit the roads with your friends every time you get a holiday or on weekends? Do you love spending your vacation making long road trips with your near and dear ones? Well, if this is you, then the Pan American Highway would indeed be a dream come true for you. Why? Well, because it is known to be the longest stretch of motorable roads that connects all the major countries in both North and South America.

Yes, that’s true. The Pan American highway starts off from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in the far north and continues up to the south fringes of South America at Tierra del Fuego, totaling a distance of about 19,000 miles or 30, 000 km to be traveled via roads. Though there is a small gap of about 100 km between South and Central America known as the Darien Gap, yet the journey doesn’t stop as one can easily transport their vehicle via the ferry system and continue further south at their will.

The concept

The idea of connecting the Americas first materialized in 1889 when a railroad from one tip to the other was proposed. However, since the project never started, in 1923, the idea of building a continuous highway connecting the various countries in the two continents was proposed and the plan was finally accepted by the US, Canada, Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia and Chile to work together to realize this plan of connecting America.

Over the period of time, other countries joined in, and various fringes and termini were constructed all over South America. Plans are underway to include the Carribean Islands in this vast network via the means of a ferry system that would run from the present terminals and back to Puerto Rico.

The Mother of all road trips

Although the PAH was mainly constructed for better land communication between the countries of the continents of America, it turned out to be much more than just a system of interconnected roadways and highways. Over the time, the PAH has developed into a culture of its own with hundreds of road trip enthusiasts trying to complete this mind-boggling road trip atleast once in their lifetime.

A totally new road culture has developed around the PAH and enthusiastic people all around the world try to achieve this milestone – the experience of traveling 30,000 km at a stretch (except the Darien gap) on the longest motorable road that the world has ever seen. The thrill of the experience is something that only a road traveler would be able to imagine and relish.

What’s in store?

Well, practically everything. From the Alaskan tundra to the rugged Rockies, from the Mexican deserts to the tropical Central American jungles – the long, untiring roads hold a hidden treasure for those who dare to venture. Not only do you come close to the beauties and bounties of nature but you also get to experience the widely variant local culture and interact with the locals, making the trip worth remembering a lifetime.

The Shrine Of The Mevlana

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
― Rumi

Every time I read a poem by Rumi, I am filled with regret that I cannot read it in the original Persian, for I know how much is lost in the translation of vernacular poetry into English. Still the effect is profound and moving, and the sheer simplicity, stunning.

Mevlana Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī was a 13th century Anatolian mystic better known around the world as Rumi (meaning from Rome!). Born in a small town in Afghanistan he spent most of his life in Konya, capital of the Selcuk Sultanate of Rum (possibly named after Rome) and is buried there, alongside his father. It was fitting that our visit to Konya in 2007, coincided with the United Nations sponsored ‘Year of Rumi’ celebrations.

The wound is the place
where the light enters you.
― Rumi

Above the main door is the inscription ‘Ya Hazrat Maulana’, with the following verse in Persian:

Kaaba al Ushaaq Ba-en Shud Muqaam,
Har Ke Naaqis Anja Shud Tamaam

(This is the Ka’aba (mecca) of all Lovers,
It converts an unpure one into a pure one)

The shrine was once the headquarters of the Mevlevi brotherhood until it was banned by the secular government, when Turkey became a republic. It was converted into a museum in 1927 and contains the tombs of Rumi’s successors and their families, apart from his own. Each distinctly recognisable by the turbans placed over the headstones. Women’s graves had none, while the Mevlana’s and his father’s had the largest. Photos were unfortunately not permitted.

Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.
― Rumi

While their properties were confiscated, members of the Mevlevi Brotherhood continued their religious practices in secret, until their ecstatic whirling dance was acknowledged as a cultural heritage of the country, and the ban lifted in 1953.

Do not be satisfied with the stories
that come before you.
Unfold your own myth.
― Rumi

Mevlana preached tolerance, reasoning, charity and most of all love. His acceptance of all other faiths as equal, prompted Pope John XXIII to make this statement: “In the name of the Catholic World, I bow with respect before the memory of Rumi.”

I want to sing like the birds sing,
not worrying about who hears
or what they think.
― Rumi

Based on the belief that all matter in the universe revolves, that man’s existence depends on the revolving atoms in his body, the whirling dance of the Sufi’s or the ‘Whirling Dervishes’, represents a spiritual ascent, through focus and love, to connect with the divine truth.

Raise your words, not voice.
It is rain that grows flowers,
not thunder.
― Rumi

The setting of the Sema we attended in a Caravanserai was amazing, but the performance was patently touristy. With camera flashes going off despite their request to not photograph the proceeding till the end, when a lone dancer came out just for that purpose.

I wished again that I could understand the lyrics of the mournful chant. Without that connection this can be a slow, boring affair and R swore he wouldn’t sit through another one. I was, of course, totally fascinated.

Below is a video clip of a Sema with more contemporary music. You can find a description of the seven steps comprising the ceremony, and the slower, traditional version here.

Are you searching for your soul?
Then come out of your own prison.
Leave the little stream and join the river
that flows to the ocean. Like an ox,
don’t pull the wheel of this world on your back.
Take off the burden. Whirl and circle.
Rise above the wheel of the world.
There is another view.
― Rumi

And the most relevant of all, I dedicate to that traveler I met on the Nile, a girl after my own heart. And the first person I think of when I read Rumi.

Travel brings power
and love back into your life.
― Rumi