The colours of Jaipur

After a conference earlier this year, I had a weekend to spend in or around New Delhi, India, before continuing with my journey. Visiting the Taj Mahal is one of the activities that has been in in my wish list for a long time and I was ready to cross it off my list that weekend. However, a wise man, that I met at the conference, recommended to visit Jaipur, instead of Agra – home of the Taj Mahal. After some deliberation, I decided to follow his advice, and a few hours after that I, was boarding an early train to Jaipur. Such a wise man…

After four and a half hours of journey on the Jaipur Express, I arrived in Jaipur. As it happens when visiting a new place, the first few hours in the city can be a little daunting. Especially for those without previous experience traveling around India, as it was my case. Temperatures can easily reach 35ºC or even 40ºC before noon, and the roads can be a little intimidating with all types of vehicles – including buses, cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, elephants, and even camels – traveling in all directions. It only takes a little bit before starting to immerse in the charm of Jaipur and to start to discover everything that the city has to offer.

The old city center is encircled by a wall and a number of beautiful gates. These gates, along with a number of buildings situated within and around the old city center, display a distinct pink colour that give Jaipur the name of the ‘pink city’. Visiting the old city center is a delight for all senses: the colourful bazaars, the amazing architecture, delicious street food all around, and the beautiful traditional clothing that a large number of people continue to wear.

Eating in Jaipur is also a treat. I had the pleasure of trying homemade food, prepared by the welcoming and warm family that hosted me during my stay in Jaipur; street chai and tasteful snacks from a number of street vendors; and traditional and modern Indian food from amazing restaurants that would easily be in the top ten restaurants that I have visited across the globe. I especially recommended Tapri and the terrace of the Grand Peacock Restaurant. Also, in case you are interested in high-quality home accommodation in Jaipur, I strongly recommend checking-out Shan’s place. Shan and their family are amazing hosts and their house is beautifully decorated.

About 10 km away from Jaipur, lies the small town of Khania-Balaji. The town is home to the pilgrimage site called Galta Ji, commonly known as ‘Monkey temple’. The route to the site through the small village is really beautiful, and the architecture and sights from the top of the temple are just breathtaking. Not to mention, the fun that it is to watch the playful monkeys that abound around the temple.

A short ride away from Jaipur, lies the magnificent Amer Fort, one of the six Jaipur forts declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The location, dimension and architectural beauty of this site, alone, make it worth a visit to Jaipur. The only regret that I have about this trip, is not having had more days to visit the other forts and the many other sites spread across the city.

The colours of Porto

Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit Lisbon for the first time in my life and I completely fell in love with the city. A few months after that I had the fortune to visit Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, and I experienced the same infatuation. There is something magical about Portugal. People are warm and friendly. The mediterranean climate makes it a very hospitable place. The Portuguese mediterranean cuisine is superb: a combination of simple and healthy food, with very high-quality ingredients, with a super rich wine culture, and delicious bread always fresh from the oven. Architecture is another strong feature in the country, as I had already described in my post about Lisbon.

My visit to Porto was brief, as I was there for work and only had the weekend to visit around. However, the things that I enjoyed the most from my visit were:

  • The bridges: The city of Porto expands along the Douro river in the northern part of Portugal. There are six main bridges that connect Porto with the neighbor city of Vila Nova de Gaia, better known as Gaia. Most of the bridges are impressive both, at day and night. However, the (Dom) Luís I bridge is probably the most representative bridge in the city. The (Dom) Luís I bridge was designed by Théophile Seyrig, a German architect and former business partner of Gustave Eiffel. The bridge, whose iron structure resembles the structure of the Eiffel tower in Paris, is an architectural and engineering gem that carries pedestrians, cars and even the Porto metro trains.
  • Ribeira: Ribeira is the core of the historic centre of Porto, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Sitting along the side of the Douro river, Ribeira encompasses a seemingly endless number of colorful alleys, steep medieval streets that connect to the upper part of town, and a tunnel. Ribeira is full of street cafés, artists and restaurants and getting lost in its small streets is a must when visiting the city.
  • Molhe e Farolim de Felgueiras: The Felgueiras lighthouse and quay, situated in the Foz do Douro district, is another architectural gem in the city of Porto. Situated at the delta of the Douro river, the quay breaks the waves coming from the atlantic and mark the beginning of the Douro river. While the architectural style of the quay is very simple, it is an enormous concrete structure that made me think about the magnificent things that humans have built for centuries, and yet, how they remain small when we compare them to the vastness of the ocean and nature.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. With this, I hope that some of the pictures below will inspire more than one to consider visiting Portugal.

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