Friday, October 12, 2018

A Blind Date with Europe`

EU Rail Global Pass
It was cold weather in January when I had just returned from a trip to Kerala, the God’s Own Country. It had been a trip full of surprises like watching the Kathakali( A dance), Kalaripattu( Traditional Martial Arts) performances besides a brush with tea plantations, cruising in backwaters under idyllic cocoanut groves and much more. I was sipping the morning tea when my eye caught the sight of an advertisement from European Rail about a promotion which was open for a short time window. It sounded very lucrative with 3 additional days of travel included in the fare for a 21 day Global Pass, across the EU. There were no riders except that it was not possible to retrace the route once the journey commenced until one returned to the starting place. It was a true ‘blind date with Europe! My mind was racing as I booked the tickets for self and wife for the trip in the coming days. 

I did not know from where the journey would commence. Soon the dilemma ended, when another scheme of a discounted return ticket to Zurich came my way. Without losing any time the booking was done.
The lovely, punctual EU Rail
At least now, I had a foggy idea of the forthcoming trip. Endless hours of browsing over the internet to search the, EU Rail timetable, hotel sites, places of interest, the local train passes, and distances of places that we planned to visit finally fructified into a plan resembling a project about to be executed. In 21 days we intended to visit more than 10 cities starting from Zurich, onward to Lyon, Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, and Padua, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin and back. The round trip of exploring the world’s major destinations in Europe fired my imagination like nothing before.

The booking for hotels, city bus/ train passes, local sight-seeing trips and detailed planning had to be done. This was to ensure long-distance train connections to avoid upsetting the travel plans. We left for Zurich on 02 June and after a brief stopover at Muscat reached there later in the evening. The first thing was to endorse the Global EU Rail Pass at the Swiss Rail terminal located at the Kloten International Airport in Zurich.

It was late in the evening amidst glitter on the streets when we reached the hotel close to the Zurich Central Train Station. There was no one at the hotel and the place was very quiet. We managed to extricate the room key from the main gate after using a code to enter the premises with the help of a girl who was passing by.
The Glacier Ice Cream at Rene Nardone-Lyon
Next morning we woke up and rushed to the train station to take the train to Lyon. Due to some repair works the trains were re-scheduled, so we left by an earlier train. The journey through Switzerland is a visual treat of green meadows, tiny villages and lakes. The scenic beauty changed rapidly as the train rumbled through the farmlands and vineyards of France. After two changes at Geneva and Gar de Chambery Challes Les Eaux, we arrived in Lyon Part Dieu in the afternoon. The whiff of freshly baked pastries at the Paul Boulangerie had a magnetic attraction difficult to resist. The next 2 days were spent in exploring the amazing beauty of the Traboules (Secret passages), ancient amphitheatre, parks and having a bite of the signature glacier ice cream of Rene Nardone.
A Flamenco Dancer- Barcelona
We then boarded the high-speed TGV train for Barcelona, an unforgettable experience. The train zipped through the natural paradise to reach in just a little over five hours. The city of Gaudi has so many attractions. The notable ones like Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, La Rambla, Barceloneta beach were packed in the itinerary. The colourful market of La Rambla, delectable fruit smoothies and the nightlife were irresistible. How could we leave Barcelona without witnessing a Flamenco dance and sipping ‘Sangria’?
Notre Dame de la Garde- Lyon
The next halt was the port city of Marseilles where the beauty of the Vieux Port( Old City Port), the cobbled streets of La Panier, the stiff climb to the Notre Dame de la Garde church topped by a 10m  gold draped idol of the Virgin and Child statue, take the breath away. The minibus that we took to climb the grand cathedral had most people in the ages 85 or more, an experience in itself to admire their grit!
Le Strade Nuove -Genoa
The time kept flying as we hopped into trains to head for the remaining destinations. The port of Genoa, the cathedral that has withstood the test of time despite a direct canon hit by British Navy during WW2, historic streets of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, the brass fountain of Piazza de Ferrari, are some places not to be missed. The land of the advent of pesto sauce, macaroni and pizza has so much of variety of food that one is spoilt for choices.

The train journeys through the French and Italian Rivera is a feast for eyes where the train almost kisses the sun-drenched golden beaches as it moves along. The train station of Monte Carlo resembles a discotheque!
The Rialto Bridge-Venice
As soon as we reached Padua, I realized that I had left all my documents and tickets at the coffee shop when stepping out of the station. My heart missed a beat, as I rushed back to find my belongings untouched. My belief in God and goodness of people was strengthened further. A stay in Padua not only helped in seeing a new place but proximity to Venice gave us an opportunity to take short train rides to visit the grand canals, the Rialto bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, a ferry ride on the canal, admire the sculpture of Doges Palace, San Marco basilica among several things.
The Austrian Parliament Building-Vienna
 The train journey from Padua to Vienna was a long one, over five hours with the change of lines at Verona in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria. Vienna will be best remembered for witnessing a colourful LGBT parade through the heart of the city where perfect strangers came and hugged us. An impromptu military band performance at The Hofburg Palace was a delight for audio-visual senses. The architectural beauty of the Schonbrunn Palace, Opera house and St Stephen’s Cathedral left us wonderstruck. Some locals asked if we knew Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood movie star?
Szechenyi Thermal Bath- Budapest
The next halt was the massive Keleti station of Budapest.  A plainclothes policeman accosted me as soon as I stepped out to change the currency assuming that I was a drug peddler. After a lot of convincing, I was left off. It was a scary start but the friendliness of the people for the remaining stay more than made it up. The tram ride on the illuminated historic monuments on Route 4 along the Danube at night, an opera performance at the Erkel Theatre, a live band performance at Hero’s Square, exploring the Fisherman’s Bastion and a splash in the Szechenyi thermal baths were the highlights of Budapest.
The beautiful city of Prague along the River Vltava
 The journey through the Czech Republic in Prague was laced with a long chat with a Malaysian couple our co-passengers in the train and admiring the beauty of Bratislava and Brno en-route. The train station Hlavni Nadrazi in Prague resembles a huge museum for its architectural beauty of the main foyer. The Prague Castle, Old Town, Astronomical Clock and cobbled streets have a bewitching unparalleled beauty. The Bohemian musicians who were playing in the Old Town Main Square soon converted the place into a huge dance floor where many couples danced with abandon. The glass work of the country is very alluring!
The Berlin TV Tower by Night
The penultimate destination was Berlin! A visit to the Brandenburg Gate, The Parliament, Check Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall brought back the memories of the World War2 about which I had seen in movies and read so much during growing up years. A splendid view of the city by night can be admired atop the Berlin TV Tower.

We were nearing the date of return and with heavy hearts took the train from Berlin to Zurich, the longest journey. It was a treat watching the German countryside as the train went past Frankfurt and Basel before reaching Zurich.

We had traversed on more than 40 major regional and intercity trains on carriers like SBB, DB, Renfe to name a few. It was time for curtains down for a dreamlike blind date with tons of enriching experience, treading the less travelled paths, exploring new cultures, experimenting new food and above all oneself.


PS-This my submission for the Lufthansa/Indiblogger sponsored #TheBlindDate ,#SayYesToTheWorld contest 
2. All pictures in the post were taken during the trip

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Mathura-A Foodie Delight

After a train ride of just over two hours from Delhi we reached Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. There are several trains and buses that take 2 to 3 hours to reach the place. Mathura is an important railway junction where several trains heading to all parts of the country pass through. In the morning hours, the station was not too crowded. A beeline of auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws accost the incoming travellers to take them to their destinations.  A rickshaw to Holi Gate in the heart of the city is the best place to start exploring the town. This post is not about a trip to visit the temples, museum and other attractions strewn all around Mathura but about the food and gastronomic delights that one can experience here.
 As the rickshaw winds through the narrow roads and gullies, the innumerable cows keep the company, constantly reminding of the love Lord Krishna had for them.

The sight of huge cauldrons of boiling milk, earthenware utensils full of fresh curd and different sweets prepared by small shopkeepers en-route is not unusual. After about twenty minutes of the ride, we reached the Holi Gate which is in the heart of the city. The traffic was gradually building up and constant tinkering of bells and honking added to the din in the street. An early morning vegetable market was in full bloom and the vendors were selling the fresh produce grown around the banks of the river Yamuna. Seldom will you see such freshness in cities where most of us live!

There are several small shops around Holi Gate that sell Namkeen ranging from Besan Sev, Chips, fried peanuts and several other mostly freshly prepared and their aroma attracts many buyers. A family favourite is a small Gujarati shop selling Tam Tam Dhokla, a much spicier cousin of the Dhokla most of us have known and enjoyed.

As we entered the Holi Gate a huge banner of one of the most prominent sweet shop, Brijwasi, greeted us. It is perhaps one of the biggest shops in the town with a constant flow of people. The range of sweets from Pedas, different varieties of barfi prepared from, dry fruits like Kaju, Badam, Chocolate, all kinds of Namkeen, Dhokla, Samosas, Milk flavoured with Badam, Kesar and Pista, Imarti and a mind-boggling range greeted us. The tempting sight had triggered the brain to send signals to olfactory senses and taste buds for the incoming onslaught that awaited. It is very difficult to pick and choose having been spoilt for choices. In a few random selections, it was very difficult to judge which one overtook another selection in terms of ratings, never below 'Excellent'!

Across the road, there are twin shops selling just Jalebi( prepared in Pure Ghee) and Kachori with Aloo Subzi. The length of the queue is an indication of their popularity. The golden brown crisp kachoris come out piping hot from the boiling hot oil in  'kadhai'(cauldron) and are served with a very tangy 'Aloo sabzi'. Do not forget to have a bite of Jalebi equally crisp till it melts in the mouth without a trace, except the salivating taste buds, asking for more.

We kept walking down the street towards Dwarkadessh temple and the number of varieties of sweet shops left us bewildered. Surprisingly there are virtually no medicine shops but many 'Churan' shops that offer a dazzling array of 'Churans'. The Anardana Churan & Hing Vatti are a recommended must buy!

Near the Dwarkadeesh temple, there are many tea vendors that prepare 'cardamom and ginger' tea which is served in an earthen glass called 'Kullar' a use and throw traditional glass. The aroma of wet earth and the flavour of the tea gets etched forever.

The bank of River Yamuna is adjacent to the temple and a trip by boat is highly recommended to admire the riverfront. The old bridge reminiscent of the British era provides a magnificent view,  silhouetting the sprawling green field on the bank of Yamuna. There are many temples around the ghats where the priests perform the rituals while commoners take a holy dip in the river.

On stepping out of the boat, we moved along the bank of the river next to the ghats. A wide array of shops ranging from trinket sellers, 'bhang'(an intoxicant drink), chaat( Golgappa, Dahi Vada, Aloo Tikki and many others abound. Also, there is a more than 100-year-old shop, 'Gusain Sweets" that prepares some amazing traditional 'Pedas' ' Malai Khurchan' among many savouries.

How the time flew we did not realize till we noticed the setting Sun. It is time to witness the Yamuna Arti at Vishram Ghat, a unique devotional experience amidst the huge rush of devotees, the sound of conch shells and ringing bells. Anyone still left with an appetite for dinner should head to 'Shankar Sweets' near Holi Gate, after circumambulating around the town. There is a big variety of food but the most popular is a 'Thali' comprising of Aloo Sabzi, Boondi Raita, Pumpkin vegetable, Pooris and pickles.

It will be an understatement that all the highlights of the best foods have been covered in the town.
After having made more than 50 trips in almost as many years I am still discovering new places and new things to eat in the town. If you have not yet tried, do make a trip to explore the bylanes of Mathura for some more hidden gems that I have missed.

PS: Images Kind Courtesy Google

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rejoicing Independence

The news broke out about the conduct of underground nuclear tests without any fanfare by the prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to a world that looked in disbelief. On the momentous day of 11 May 1998 three nuclear devices including a thermonuclear device were detonated underground at Pokharan near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. 

''I have a brief announcement to make,'' he said. ''Today, at 1545 hours, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokharan range. The tests conducted were with a fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermonuclear device.' were the words of Mr Vajpayee. 

''The measured yields are in line with expected values,'' he said. ''Measurements have confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like in the experiment conducted in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out the successful tests. Thank you very much indeed'', he concluded his brief address

The next morning the global dailies flashed the messages like the ones below:

1998: India explodes nuclear controversy is what BBC World said.

After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, this was perhaps the news that changed the game of nuclear non-proliferation for all time to come. The group of P5 nations that had set the tone for the rest of the world regarding the rules of nuclear non-proliferation got a rude shock. India which had been marginalized by these nations now stood shoulder to shoulder in its capability to not only deploy the nuclear weapons but also had the capability to launch these warheads on the surface, air and sea-launched missiles. 
Quickly, the prime minister assured that rest of the world on the following days in the parliament that India would adopt the policy of "No First Use" against the nations that had the similar capability.
Not only the myth of the Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT) was broken but the voice of a poor and the marginalized nation was heard with a thunder. This was followed by a series of sanctions by the developed world to restrict the flow of dual-use technology into India. 

In the long run, India has stood its ground. Aghast at India's explosions Pakistan the neighbor retaliated by conducting similar explosions in just a fortnight after Indian experiments.
There have been repercussions in short-term due various sanctions but in the long run, has gained in terms of the tremendous boost to the morale of the populace. The armed forces now equate themselves with the best anywhere in the world both in terms of the quality of manpower and technological edge. 

In recent times India has managed to give its neighbor a bloody nose by striking inside its territory in a midnight surgical strike. They now think twice before carrying out major terrorist strikes in fear of the repercussions that may follow. It is a matter of pride that India has lived up to its image of being friendly as well as tough as warranted by the situation.The capability of developing indigenous 
technology and adopt the best practices elsewhere in the world will usher in a new era off prosperity and self reliance.

PS: This is my blog post for Zee Cinema/ Indiblogger sponsored campaign to promote the movie "Parmanu" that highlights India's accomplishment of Pokharn 2 atomic tests

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A New Begining

The agonizing moments were slowly ticking away. She looked at the watch it was half-past three at night. There was pitch darkness all around except a distant bulb that had a dim light underneath. Her breathing was heavy as her heart was still pounding and she could almost feel that it will rip open her chest. The hair was still dishevelled, and her eyes had a swell of tears which had dried on her cheeks. She rested her back against the dark wall on the street that was deserted. She was trying hard to regain the composure, as her mind drifted to and fro from the tumultuous events of the last one hour.  Nitin had returned home late like all other evenings and seemed to be unsteady on his feet. She could smell of liquor the moment he opened his mouth to hurl abuses.
'Why have you not warmed the dinner' he shouted
' I was awaiting your return, will go to the kitchen and heat it'she replied trying to maintain her cool.
Not satisfied, he picked up the curtain rod that had been left on the sofa, earlier by Nisha when arranging the curtains. He charged towards her in a fit of rage.
They had been married for two years and except for a brief period of four months the situation had continued to deteriorate. Nitin had worked as a sales executive in a private firm and earned a good salary. However, he was constantly pestered by his parents as they felt enough dowry was not paid at the time of the marriage. This had worked as a slow poison in Nitin's mind who was initially, a loving husband. Since, his marriage to Nisha, he wanted to buy a flat of their own but did not have enough finances to get one. He started pestering Nisha to ask money from her parents. She informed her parents who were in a quandary as they had still not repaid the loan they had raised for the marriage.
Realizing that it would not be easy to get money, Nitin became more short-tempered and abusive. Nisha then joined a school to keep her occupied during the day, but every evening was nightmarish. Though Nisha tried her best to conceal the upheaval in her life, her parents were aware of the situation as she talked little, when asked about her domestic life.
Nisha and Nitin lived in a multistorey flat on the 12th floor and her immediate neighbours Mrs and Mr Singh were an elderly couple, would often hear raised voices as tempers flew in the adjoining house.
So far, Nitin had never physically assaulted her, but today he appeared to be in a vicious mood. He swung the rod which narrowly missed her but landed on the television that was playing. There was a cracking noise as the glass broke when the TV fell with sparks flying. Nitin, lost his balance and fell face first on the broken glass and passed out. Nisha was terrified as she looked at the mess of Nitin lying on the ground unconscious.

She ran out of the house in fear of what may happen next! She got down from the lift and ran towards the deserted park and then followed the road for next half of a kilometre. She sweated profusely but was determined not to go back to the house of evil. There were no possessions except a wristwatch and a mobile phone. She had a little money in her purse, that she had picked up while fleeing the home.
She walked in the direction of the railway station that was two kilometres away. She kept walking towards it, with a resolve to make a fresh start not knowing how she got the courage to move away. Her leaden feet suddenly felt stronger, as she saw the breaking of dawn. She silently prayed that she could make a fresh beginning with her strength to meet the challenges as she was strong.

PS-  Image kind courtesy Google

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The World of Stamps

The greatest fun activity in the childhood years after playing and reading was the hobby of collecting stamps. I do not exactly remember at what age I was fascinated by stamps. The earliest recollection goes back to the early school days perhaps in Class III or IV when every mail that landed at home in an envelope with a stamp pasted drew the immediate attention. Next, the tedious process of removing it with dexterity to ensure that it does not get damaged in the process was followed. A swab of cotton dipped in water was carefully applied around the edges of the stamp till the dried glue softened and the stamp was set free eventually. Sometimes heartbreak followed as the stamp was either damaged or destroyed in the process. It would be allowed to dry and then stored in the file and finally find a place the 'Stamp Album' that I possess till date, though has seldom seen the light of the day for many years.

The hobby, I vividly remember also involved spending the precious rupee or two to buy from the stationery shops some rare stamps that were either triangular or in diamond shapes. The stamps of certain countries gave an insight about the leaders, the flora and fauna, a glimpse of the culture and historical events. One of the rare possessions was the First Day Cover( Normally issued on the day of release of the stamp) with Gandhiji's picture released in 1948 that my father handed me over. I was told that it had a value worth a few hundred rupees, but that was more of an academic interest. I was lured into buying many more First Day Covers from the Postal van that would come close to my house every day to sell the postal stationery, stamps, envelopes etc. Some of the notable collections include the First Day Cover issued by the Post and Telegraph department on the death of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1963 and the first landing on the moon in 1969.

In today's digital world this pursuit is a futile one but on a personal level, I can vouch that the learnings that followed from this hobby were phenomenal. I would play the game of locating the countries on the world map and learning about their capitals and currencies with my friends and sometimes with cousins visiting us on vacations. I got into the habit of reading titbits of information related to information on the stamps from dictionaries and encyclopaedia, by making regular trips to the Delhi Public Library not far from my home.

Some of the greatest people in the world have been avid stamp collectors of their time and some notable few include King George V and Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Farouk I of Egypt, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and President Franklin D Roosevelt of USA. No surprise that it was considered to be a princely hobby. Smithsonian Institute Library in the USA, Singapore Philately Museum and National Philatelic Museum in Delhi boast of some of the biggest and rarest collections of the stamps in the world.

Stamps have now become a part of a bygone era especially in the digital world where the new norm of communications is the email, and text messages. Even the art of writing is slowly dying and digital books and Kindle have replaced the conventional books. The world of stamps will still continue to charm aficionados from across the world in times to come

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Travel Blues

One has heard a lot about the Monday blues but am certain no one is familiar as yet with the Travel blues!This has nothing to do with any phobia associated with travel, but just an uneasy feeling each time one travels! For some it is the anxiety of reaching the terminal in time, for others the questionable contents in their bags that may come up for scrutiny or just any other. In my long years of travel the list keeps getting longer as I associate with more fellow travelers and hear their stories. I too have had my share of unusual travel blues which I would like to share.
I roll back a little in time. I landed at Changi Airport in Singapore and after a quick clearance picked up my baggage and hailed a taxi to reach my destination. Some pleasantries were exchanged after reaching home and I started getting ready for the night. I tore off the baggage tags and the maid promptly cleared them and dumped them down the chute.I struggled with the locks as the key refused to budge and in desperation I gave a harsh tug and the lock opened. It was a horrendous sight to see cakes of Rin and Neem soaps, Colgate toothpaste, unfamiliar looking night suits and more. My wife exclaimed ‘When did you pack these, mistaking them for the monthly provisions ‘.She continued ‘ I had told you not to pack, this ridiculous redshirt ‘and the barrage continued. Suddenly it dawned that the contents were not ours. Had the bag got exchanged at the airport? The bag appeared to be a Siamese twin of my own bag. No wonder the lock was so reluctant.To salvage the situation we hunted for the tags which for once had got rid off in a record hurry. The tags were no where to be found. It then dawned on me that the maid had just thrown the garbage down the chute. It was dark and gloomy so the search required a light. With a torch, the hunt started and fortunately did not have to go far to recover the garbage bag containing the baggage tags. I took them back home and realised that a wrong bag had been picked. I am sure the owner of the bag must have gone bonkers in search of his bag. Since it was getting late I decided to visit the airport the next day,
In the early morning hours I left with the bag for the airport and after narrating the sob story to the Security and the Customs team, I entered the airport and went to the lost baggage counter.After a brief discussion and declaration, I was allowed to look for my bag in the reclaim section. There, it stood mocking at my foolishness . An hour later, I returned victorious with my bag firmly in my possession.
I also vividly recall that when I had started to travel to foreign destinations, I was transiting through Amman, the capital of Jordan on way to Tel Aviv. The baggage had to be collected from the belt for screening. I saw that my suitcase looked as if it had been hit by a truck and it was bandaged by securing tapes. I collected it and, complained to the staff. They asked me to examine the contents and check if anything was amiss. I opened and found all belongings were there except an ordinary camera that was missing! I filled in the claim and also for a bag that would eventually have to be replaced. Almost two months later I received a pleasant surprise in form of a bank draft from the airlines as a compensation.
I am sure most readers would have had their own share of such Travel blues! One gets stronger with every such incident and learns to be more cautious. There is however no guarantee that some new surprises do not come 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Cambridge Holiday

A View from Parker’s Piece
The flight landed at Heathrow and the long queues at the immigration was the usual and familiar sight. The onset of holiday season sets off an avalanche of tourists to this sought after destination.An hour long wait and we stepped out of the terminal. A quick cup of coffee was refreshing after the long     flight.By the time we boarded the bus for Cambridge it was almost 10 pm.

The flickering lights around the airport and nearby hotels, a few cars rushing to their destination gave us company besides the few passengers who boarded and disembarked on successive stops like Luton before the final destination. A short ride brought us to the apartment where we were to spend the coming days

The chilly wind with overcast sky greeted us in the morning.The breeze was redolent with fragrance of roses and rhubarb in the neighbourhood. The eerie silence was interrupted by an occasional chirping of the birds.The vicinity of small houses with velvety green grass was soothing to eyes having seen a fiery summer back home. A lovely breakfast of freshly baked bread, blueberry jam and butter with steaming hot tea and muffins was a perfect way to start the English holiday.

A short stroll through the meadows past a small brook where the lazy cows grazed were a sight that I was eagerly awaiting to see. Later in the day a walk to the main market square a short walk away was very fulfilling.The tall spires of the Church of Our Lady and English Martyrs, Chapel of the King’s College, dot the beautiful landscape as the River Cam quietly flows through the vitals of the city with punters and small rowing boats. A number of cute bridges separates the banks of the river like the Mathematical bridge and Bridge of Sighs. More than 30 portals of great learning can be seen when going around the town or punting down the river like The King’s College, The Trinity College just to name a few. Some of the greatest brains and intellectuals have walked down the alleys for more than 800 years on the cobbled streets. It has perhaps produced more Nobel Prize winners than any other place on the earth, close to a 100!Among some of the luminaries are Lord Rayleigh, Ernst Rutherford,S Chandrashekar , Amritya Sen and Stephen Hawking who hailed from Cambridge and rose to astronomical heights in their careers 

There are a huge number of attractions for all age groups ranging from Fitzwilliam and Sedgwick And Polar museums that are mostly free.The Botanical garden provides a glimpse of some rare flora and fauna.

Mill Road has eateries from all over the world and one can find Turkish, Lebanese an Bangladeshi food with as much ease as ,Fish and Chips in any part of the city.Do not forget to have the best coffee at Fitzbillies and scones and cakes in many a bakeries in the town. 

Innumerable pubs scattered all over the town is a best place to have an intellectual conversation with students and rub shoulders with the cosmopolitan crowd from all over the world.

A visit to the Market Square where the fresh produce from nearby regions like fruits,vegetables, bakery products made by locals is a pleasure beyond words for the olfactory and visual senses.Last but not the least, the most delightful aspect of the city is the cleanliness, pollution free environment and cyclists doting the city and very little traffic! A true Mecca for unhurried holidays.