I have seen beautiful places in the world…and then I have seen Pamukkale. I separate those two because Pamukkale, with its stark white travertines and milky blue water, needs to be put in a category all its own. It’s downright otherworldly, one of those places whose beauty is so off-the-wall and unexpected that you think Mother Nature must have been a little tipsy when she dreamed it up.
Make no mistake about it; Pamukkale was a place that had been on my bucket list since the day I put it down on paper, and it was one of the things that put Turkey above a few other places for my summer vacation destination of choice. Even though a few months have passed, the views I took in there remain unbelievably beautiful in my mind, undimmed and undiluted.
It’s amazing how much good a solid night of sleep can do. After contracting a pretty nasty stomach bug and getting twelve or thirteen hours of sleep so deep that corpses were probably jealous, I awoke on my first morning in Lumbini, Nepal feeling approximately eight million times better. I was positively bursting with verve and vigor, a huge contract from the previous day, when I thought I was going to pass out from walking across the border to Nepal. (Forgot to mention that in my last post. At Sunauli, you make the land crossing from India to Nepal on food. So I can now technically say that I walked from one country to another!)
Unfortunately, my stomach issues were (spoiler alert) not completely over, but at the time, I was back on my feet and thrilled about it. Lumbini is a village famed for being the birthplace of the Sakyamuni Buddha, and I basically just bounced around the giant temple complex. Part of my energy came from my stomach no longer threatening to erupt, but the larger component of my excitement came from the fact that Lumbini is one of the coolest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Some destinations are so hyped up, so seemingly magical and otherworldly, so commonly listed on bucket lists that they sometimes can lose their luster when you finally come face-to-face with them. So high are your expectations that the reality cannot possibly measure up with the image that you’ve built in your mind.
The Taj Mahal is not one of those places.
No, the Taj Mahal fulfilled every bit of my sky-high expectations and then some. I was expecting it to be easily one of the highlights of my week in India, and I wasn’t disappointed. Taj Mahal means “crown of palaces” in Arabic, and it’s a fitting name. It’s the crown architectural jewel of Agra, of Uttar Pradesh, of Rajasthan, maybe even of the entirety of India. You can’t argue with the fact that the shining white marble mausoleum, with its bulbous dome and the spindly towers that flank it, is one of the most impressive and iconic buildings in the entire world. Continue reading Taj-struck in Agra→
Like so many twenty-somethings who grew up reading about the adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of their wizarding cohorts, it still breaks my heart a little bit when July comes and goes and still I haven’t received my owl from Hogwarts. Such is life as a lowly Muggle. But a small consolation comes from the fact that, for all intents and purposes, you can waltz off to Hogwarts for a weekend. And no, I’m not talking about the theme park in Florida.
Nearest Metro Station: JLN Stadium on the Violet Line
Admission Fee: 250 rupees for foreigners, 10 rupees for Indian citizens
Opening Hours: Sunrise to sunset, daily
With nearly a full day to myself to spend exploring Delhi, I was determined to see as much of the city as I could before meeting up with the rest of my group. My successful navigation of the metro system on the previous day did wonders for my confidence, but I still did a hefty amount of research and Googling at a nearby coffee shop before making my way out into the city. Continue reading Glimpses of Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb→
I suspect that Hamlet must’ve been smoking something hallucinogenic, because I couldn’t find a single thing rotten in Denmark while I was there. It’s a country full of impossibly beautiful people, breathtaking coastal scenery, and a relaxed, accessible cultural vibe that I fell in love with. One of my friends once remarked to me, “If you really want to achieve the American dream, move to Denmark.”