New & Improved -> Menu
**Updated on 05-Jan-2018**
This post was originally published on 17-Oct-2017, but some of the classification has hence changed, so I feel the need to clarify 🙂 While the menu stays, I have added Middle East as a new geographic region based on this Wikipedia article. Hence, Turkey and Cyprus join the United Arab Emirates under Middle East. Hope you agree 🙂
Sunny District just updated its top menu, do check it out! “Where’s She Going” still holds its own page. What’s new are the dropdown menus so that my travel checklist is now categorized a little bit better, based on
continent broad geographic regions. So far Sunny District has been in Asia, Australia, Europe and Middle East. While building the menu, I gave myself a little refresher course in Geography. Since some of my entries could be perceived as incorrect, I feel obliged to share my logic here 🙂
- By landmass, 95% of Turkey lies in Asia and the remaining 5% in Europe.
so I’ve placed Turkey under Asia on my list.By region, however, it falls under Middle East.
- Until as late as 1997 Hong Kong used to be a colony of the United Kingdom but was then handed over to China. Similarly Macau (posts coming soon!) used to be a Portuguese colony & was handed over at the same time. Both Hong Kong & Macao are set retain their own currency, administrative & legal systems for at least 50 years hence i.e. till 2047. It seems alright to treat these as special cases, so you’ll find them as separate entries on my list here.
- Monaco and Vatican City have their own entry as they are recognized ministates / microstates, not to be confused with micronations like Christiania!
- You’ll find England on the list, after I decided that this was the right name to use, given the complicated nomenclature used in that region 😉 You see, UK, short for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or simply United Kingdom, is a sovereign state made up of four countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Which makes Ireland and Northern Ireland two separate countries. Great Britain on the other hand, consists of the big landmass made up of England, Scotland, Wales. And the British Isles includes all of the above i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, plus several other islands counting over 6000 in numbers. This link explains it quite well.
- Australia is, well, complicated. Is it a country or a continent? What are the other countries, if it’s a continent? And what is Oceania made of? All in all, I’ve only been to the main island by the same name, so for now I’ll keep it together as a single entry. If, or rather when, I visit more around that part of the world, I’ll fix that category, too.
So that’s that! Hope you like the new details & enjoy traveling with me 🙂
Photo Challenge : Window
Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. It looms over the city of Jodhpur, in the state of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is a beautiful city with royal forts, beautiful lakes and gardens, bustling bazaars and a hearty appetite for delicious food. This city is also famously called the Blue City on account of a majority of houses in the older part of town being whitewashed in a blueish hue. The best ways to see proof of this are to either amble along the streets at ground level or hike up to the Mehrangarh Fort and enjoy a bird’s eye view from the ramparts. By the way, Jodhpur is Mr.A’s birthplace & childhood home, enough reason to be all the more special for me 🙂
This post, however, zooms in on a distinct attribute of many forts and palaces in India , a special kind of window that you see in the pictures, called the jharokha. It is a typical feature of Indo-Islamic architecture which is at once an enclosed balcony as well as a window. It served various purposes – beautifying the building facade with its intricate designs, pillars, and mini-roofs; providing a screen against the outer world through covered lattices; providing ventilation as well as shade against sun and rain.
P.S. I posted another picture clicked at the Fort in a previous entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge, when we talked about an ephemeral moment caught on camera.
Check out more from the Weekly Photo Challenge at Sunny District!
How I traveled visa-free to St.Petersburg
Remember those gorgeous snapshots I sent you from St.Petersburg? I promised to tell you about how Mr.A & I traveled visa-free to St.Petersburg. Here’s the whole story.
Since we hold Indian passports and Schengen visas, nearly all our travels in recent years have been in and around Europe to countries that acknowledge the Schengen. (Do you want to check out all the lovely places we have been?!) We’d need a visa to visit Russia but that’s a pity considering how close it is – a flight from Stockholm to St.Petersburg is a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes! So we’d always fantasise about going there someday when we had more time to fix all the paperwork.
But one fine day Mr.A came across some new info – a cruise liner called St Peter Line that allows visitors into St.Petersburg without the hassle of applying for a visa, upon a ship named ‘Princess Anastasia’. It follows a fixed weekly itinerary docking at four ports around the Baltic Sea, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and St.Petersburg. Of these, all but Russia accepts a Schengen visa, which we both hold on account of living and working in Stockholm for the past few years. We had visited Helsinki during an excruciatingly cold December a few years ago, and in spite of the weather, had managed to see most of the places that interested us, so we weren’t too keen on Helsinki again. Last year I was in Tallinn for the first time but for Mr.A it was the third, so we ruled that out, too. But then, St.Petersburg was a whole new proposition and we were both instantly saying, as we almost always do, ‘Let’s go!’.
In case you decide to take this route, here are some practical suggestions that might help with your planning:
- The cruise liner’s website provides you most of the information you need including visa free rules, day by day itinerary, etc.
- You don’t have to stick to the whole journey but can opt for any leg of the journey. Since our goal was St.Petersburg, we decided to fly to between Stockholm & Helsinki, and cruise between Helsinki & St.Petersburg.
- Need I state the obvious? Remember to carry your passport and any other resident permits that you hold.
- The cruise itself is on the average side but there are enough options to eat & drink & pass the time. The evening dance performance we watched was quite a good show. Taking bigger & better cabins on the higher decks might considerably improve your experience but the ones on the lower deck are obviously cheaper. Your pick!
- Since you stay overnight in the city, you can either book a hotel in the city or choose to return to the cruise for the night. We chose the latter option. Not only was it terribly cheap to add the extra night, it also eliminated the hassle of carrying our stuff back & forth and the time constraints of checking in & out of a hotel.
- Before boarding, you check-in at the terminal and they provide you with the boarding cards that couple as room keys as well as three other cards required for the visa procedures. The personnel explain all of this pretty clearly, bottom line being, carry them with you at all times & hand them over when asked to.
- When you get to St.Petersburg expect some rather longish queues (assuming the cruise was packed) at the terminal because this is where the border control happens and you get your passport stamped, yayie!
- Mini-buses transfer you free of charge between the terminal and a couple of drop off points the city – the one outside of St.Isaac’s cathedral brings you to the heart of the city. Bus schedules are provided when you board or you can simply ask for one at the reception on the ship. These seat 20 eager passengers at a time and ply every 15 mins, so it might be a bit of challenge to get on the first one that comes by – people don’t really follow the queues here, not even the Europeans, everybody is impatient to get their trip kicked off. Taking a taxi into town would be a quicker way out. Might be a good idea to check with the reception about the most suitable time to leave or return to the ship.
- Once in the city, we were off on our own. I’ll tell you the highlights of our trip in another post soon. Promise!
- Return to the ship in good time on the day of departure, since there might be a bit of queuing then as well, though I noticed it was way less than on the day we arrived. Watching the ship sail away from the docks with a refreshing drink in hand is very relaxing & enjoyable. Especially while leaving St.Petersburg, you get to watch the ship graze by inches below a bridge. They do this every week, but it’s nearly impossible to hold back a whoop & a cheer for the captain 🙂
Is St.Petersburg on your travel wishlist too? Then I hope you find this post helpful. I’ll be more than happy to share my two cent’s worth on this journey, in case you have any questions, fire away!
Weekly Photo Challenge : Order
Mr.A & I are not big collectors of souvenirs, except for that one customary fridge magnet that marks every country that we have visited. However, there was one memento that I always wanted to buy whenever I got to Russia – the Matryoshka or Babushka, aka Russian nesting dolls. You see, travelling though eastern Europe, you’ll find these everywhere, but that’s not their true origin, is it? What’s the fun in buying a tiny Eiffel-Tower-keychain anywhere else than Paris, right? So I told myself I would get a set of dolls when I actually made it to the right place. And so I finally got mine in St.Petersburg. For all I know, it is highly possible that the wood, paint & craftsmen were not Russian at all! Nonetheless, I felt quite happy for having found an ‘authentic’ piece. Yes, sometimes I’m silly like that. Never mind me, look at these cute dolls arranged in the order of their heights. Of course, there was lots to choose from but I stuck to the classic style. But it was fun to observe that apart from ladies with fancier dresses, they even had some very creative version featuring cats, dogs, Harry Potter, Trump & Putin!
Sunny District has so many more entries to the Weekly Photo Challenge, I hope you like what you find!