Waiheke Island

Lazing around at the Jumeirah Beach here in Dubai reminded me of Waiheke Island, near Auckland, probably one of the best beaches I have ever been to, so here are some of the pictures of the lesser known Waiheke Island.

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Waiheke is just a 35 minute ferry ride (under 50$) from downtown Auckland and is best explored on a cycle, which can be rented for 25$ for the entire day, although you’d need to be in decent shape to cycle around the many slopes. But if you can, its a beautiful place to cycle around with the many beaches and the deserted roads. You won’t come across too many people, as most of the locals work in Auckland. The ones you do come across are really friendly, helpful and mainly European. Waiheke is popular for its Wine and Sail tours which you can sign up for when you’re buying the ferry ticket.

Its one of those beaches where you can sit down on the sand after a nice ride and stare across the vast expanse of the ocean, sipping on some chilled beer, feeling completely isolated and just be there, listening to the sound of the waves.

My photographs aren’t the best and can’t do justice to this gorgeous island and like all things amazing, can only be experienced.

You can visit http://www.waiheke.co.nz/scenic.php for a more pictures and detailed information about the place.

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Merida – The Roman City in Spain

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Ancient Roman architecture

Merida is the small but beautiful capital city of Extremadura, Spain. It’s a city that takes you straight to glorious heart of ancient Spain. Friendly folk, engaged in their lively banter in cafes on the narrow streets, Roman ruins scattered across the city, the rich aroma of roasted meat in the air are captivating to say the least. The Roman bridge across the river, the aqueducts, cafes nestled in ancient Roman ruins add a historic and timeless charm.

The ruins of a Roman amphitheatre

The ruins of a Roman amphitheatre

Gearing up for a performance at the Aqueducts

Gearing up for a performance at the Aqueducts

I visited Merida in Aug 2011 and stayed with a Spanish family for all of 7 days. Such a culturally rich experience. Had a wonderful host family and even managed to pick up a bit of Spanish. Ignacio the younger son could speak English, which was such a help, considering practically no one in the town speaks English. Made our lives so much easier.

Most of the locals here work in Madrid and come back home during the Summer holidays. It’s a sparsely populated town and its practically a ghost town on Sunday especially in the afternoons. People adore their siesta and wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Ignacio, the younger son of my host family.

Ignacio, the younger son of my host family.

 

Friendly locals offering me some mouthwatering pork

Friendly locals offering me some mouthwatering pork

Narrow lanes

Beautiful narrow lanes

Pretty houses

Pretty houses

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A deserted town on Sundays

 

Practically a ghost town on Sundays.

Quaint roadside cafes – quintessential Europe

Roman Trojan entrance

Roman Trojan entrance

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Cafes  comfortably nestled in the ruins

Cafes comfortably nestled in the ruins

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Mérida is very small, and the best way to experience it is to walk through the town. Although, the summers can get quite intense, every street has a nice little watering hole to help you along your way.

Merida was my first trip outside India. And even though all my trips are amazing and unforgettable, this city along with my host family will always be amongst the most meaningful journeys.

My First Visit to a Mosque

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On Friday, I visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. My first time at a Mosque and I was blown away by it’s majestic beauty. It is the eight largest mosque in the world and its design unites the cultural diversity of Islamic world, the historical and modern values of architecture and art.

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It features 24 carat gold dilded chandeliers and and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet, 82 domes, over 1,000 columns and has a massive capacity of 40,000 worshipers. Its namesake Sheikh Zayed is buried here.

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It was amazing to see ancient Persian, Mughal and Moorish architecture blend with modern contemporary lighting and design. Reminded me of the Taj Mahal. A must visit if you’re in the UAE.