Manchester: Sculpture Walk, 2016

Manchester is a city of wonders. Every where you look, the buildings are beautifully constructed. From colonial architecture to gothic spirals and domes, you would find them on all houses. Even the contemporary apartment buildings have been made on the grounds of erstwhile important commercial markets or have unique designed which need to be noted. I am not an architecture student, but definitely am interested in the atistic architecture of the houses of Manchester. In fact, each architecture and sculpture has its own story. While some are symbols of power, some have been gifted and others are lone remains of flourishing trade. This post is on the Sculpture Walk of Manchester where,  I travelled to some of the known and unknown alleys of the city and captured the sculptures and its histories. I have done it only for Manchester, but every city has something to say through its sculptures and it can be conducted anywhere on Earth. 

Manchester pubs are really cool places to be in. You can sit inside on cold and windy days and enjoy the view over a glass of wine and a delicious platter. You can sit outside on the chairs provided in the pavement on sunny days and enjoy the rare natural warmth of the weather. The third thing that you can enjoy, is the architecture of the pubs. Some of these pubs have been built in the original infrastructure of the buildings. Thus, even if the interiors are modern, the outside architecture has sculptures and artworks all over it. The one taken above is from a restaurant in the Northern Quarters (It serves awesome pizzas BTW😛 ).  This beautiful sculpture appears at the entrance to this eatery. 

This has been shot from the wall of an under-renovation building off Rochdale Street. The walls of this building is adorned by beautiful graffiti’s  and artworks.  The vents (as the one  above) has semi circular sculpted patterns. 

Travelling back to 1872, the Smithfield area, now known as the Northern Quarters housed the wholesale markets dealing in fish , vegetables and fruits. There was not a moments peace in the area . The whole street got busy since the wee hours of morning in loading and unloading items. The hustle and bustle of those markets only added to the vibrant and lively atmosphere of the place. These markets were relocated in 1973 to the Openshaw area and what remains today are the sculptures and gates of the erstwhile market. This photograph (above) is from one of the gate. Today, large modern apartments have been built to accommodate the growing population of the city beyond those gates. 

When in Manchester, do not forget to scan the buildings around you quickly. You never know which building has beautiful sculptures engraved into its walls. These sculptures were found on the walls of an office building just off the Picadilly Gardens. In fact, it is not unusual to have sculptures of the buildings’ founder’s engraved on the walls . For instance, the University of Manchester as a sculpture of its founder and so does the Town Hall of Manchester. 

This floral pattern has occupied most of the walls of another office building near Picadilly Gardens. This long column joins the ground floor with the top floor balcony. Columns are important parts of the architecture here and why waste the space by leaving it blank when you can fill it with beautiful artwork? 

Queen Victoria needs no introduction. Known as one of the longest reigning monarch of the UK, many sculptures and statues have been built to honour her. One such statue is the one sitting at the Picadilly Gardens, Manchester. The erstwhile Queen herself sat for the artist Edward Onslow Ford so that he could build her a beautiful sculpture. Unfortunately, the Queen’s statue was unveiled only ten months after her death in 1901. Today, there are other sculptures besides The Late Queen in the Gardens  but she stands tall as an overarching sculpture in a raised platform. 

This sculpture has been shot from the gates of the Hidden Gem or the St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. This is called the Hidden Gem because it is situated in a narrow alleyway away from the hustle and bustle of the daily life. In fact, it did take me quite a few rounds to find it, the first time I went there. 

Taken outside another eatery in St Anne’s Square, this sculpture deserves a place here because of its neat details and intricate carvings. I especially, liked the two cupid styled sculptures ‘up in the air’. 

These four sculptures and work of arts are scattered around the city. I found them very unusual and thought that they deserve a place in this post. The first photo (from the left) is of The Big Horn on Tib Street and Church Street junction. It symbolizes the introduction of development and newness in the city. It is built by David Kemp. The second photo is unusual as it is a sculpture made of cardboard box cartons. The third is a beautiful artistic impression constructed on the walls of a building. The fourth, is a lovely walkway in Exchange Square. It feels really nice to walk on those disorderly pavements but care must be taken with children lest they fall down and get hurt.  

I hope you like this new endeavor of mine and would support me the same way in which you like my travel posts. Do let me know  which is your favorite among these sculptures.   I would be back soon with another adventure of mine in no time. 


Bury: Art, Memories and Black Pudding

I have a habit of picking up brochures about interesting places, tours, exhibitions, walks and so on. Thus, while browsing one such brochure, I came across the Bury Art Museum. Having done further research it was revealed that Bury is not very far from Manchester and can be easily squeezed into a day trip. What was even better was that the Bury Art Museum and The Fusilier Museum were both a two minutes walk from the bus station.  Hence, without much ado, I choose a bright weekend and boarded the bus to Bury. If you are travelling from Manchester, then the buses 163 and 135 leaving from Church Street are the best buses to catch.

The Metropolitan Borough of Bury rests on the bank of River Irwell. It is most famous for its Bury Markets, museums, arts and culture and of course the Black Pudding. In fact, former Bury resident Sir Robert peel had also served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Bury is well-connected to nearby boroughs through buses and metro links (trams)  I had gone in mind to visit the Bury Art Museum and The Fusilier Museum. Unfortunately, time did not permit me to stay and visit the open air markets or taste the black pudding as it started raining with thunderstorms.

Bury Art Museum:

One of the most famous art museums in the UK, the Bury Art museum was formerly known as the Bury Museum and Art Gallery before being given its revised name in 2011. The gallery consists of over 200 paintings and sculptures including water colours, oil paintings and sketches. Here are glimpses of some of the best photographs. The section I liked the most was the exhibition of a local photography competition. The photographs were truly inspiring and there was so much to learn about the technique from each of those photographs. At times, it seems that the vision is more important than the camera but one cannot rule out the improvement in the quality of the photographs due to a better camera. The Bury Art Museum is free to enter and would take around an hour and a half to visit all the galleries of photographs, paintings and sculptures. There is a souvenir shop that you can visit to get little tit bits for yourself. You can also order prints if you would like to have them for your personal collections. That apart, you can enjoy some tasty dishes in the local café.

The Fusilier Museum:

This museum commemorates the more than 300 years of history of the Lancashire Regiment. With the history of the Lancashire Regiment and the World Wars, it is an interesting museum to dig up the past and see how the brave hearts who fought for the country survived and lived. With almost human –like figurines at the exhibitions, at times you get confused whether they are humans or statues. The various artefacts of those days help us in transporting back to those times and almost reliving them. The Fusilier Museum is just opposite the Bury Art Museum. There is a nominal fee of 4.95 for adults and 3.95 for children and concessions. The ticket is valid for twelve months from the date of purchase. When in the museum, you must have a look at the beautiful gardens with gravestones, sculptures and beautiful daffodils in bloom.


Bury is a lovely place to take a walk around in the city centre. As the bus station and both the museums are just in the city centre, we decided to have a little walk around before catching the bus back home. The Bury Church which was unfortunately closed is another must if you love to steal sometime and spend it in the quaint company of the almighty. You can also visit the World Famous Bury markets and pick up little souvenirs for yourself and of course try the black pudding. The Railway Museum is also another place worth visiting but it is more towards the interior of Bury and you would need to catch another bus or a cab to go to the museum.

Bury is a nice place to spend some time with friends and family. It is a melting pot of history and culture. I would not recommend spending the night here unless you have friends or relatives  but I would certainly recommend a day trip covering all the main sites and activities as it is totally worth it.


My First Liebster Award


This post is way different from what I usually post about. This is not a travel post and for the first time I have been nominated for the Liebster Awards by a fellow travel blogger at Not All Things Touristy!. I thank her for this nomination and  recommend you guys to check out her blog . So, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers by the blogging community in order to praise their hard work in this field as well as to get to know them better. In this post, as per the rules of the Awards I would have to answer ten questions asked to me by my nominator, nominate ten blogs on my behalf and request them to answer some questions about themselves.

Here are the questions that she asked me :

Where are you from and where are you currently based out of?

I am from Kolkata, India and currently I am in Manchester, UK for higher studies.


What inspired you to start blogging?

 A combination of love for travelling, photography and writing motivated me to start my own travel blog. Also, the fact that before I started my blog I used to read other travel blogs and was in full awe of them.


For blogging, do you feel more creative at day or night?

 I don’t really have a suitable time when the words come to me. It can be at midnight or even while watching a movie on a similar subject that I would blog about.


Are you active on other social media platforms? Which ones?

 I am active on three main social media platforms:

Instagram: subhadrika007

Twitter: @sensubhadrika

Facebook: (Page) www.facebook.com/trekkersoftheeast


What are your must haves before you start blogging? (What kind of environment do you prefer for blogging?)

 I need to have my laptop, a diary to scribble and plan out the post, a pen (of course J ), pamphlets of places I have been to so that I can add in more information for future travellers. There should be strictly no noise in the room because I work best in a quiet atmosphere.


Do you have a particular favourite blogger?

 I don’t really have any particular favourite blogger. I like to brose through travel blogs mostly and other genres life lifestyle and food.


Would you like to pursue blogging as a full-time career eventually?

 I don’t think so, because I want to be a journalist. My professional priority would always be journalism and second to that would be my travel blog.


Have you ever attended a blogger’s meet-up in person?  Tell us more if you have.

No. I have never attended a bloggers meet up.


What are the top three things/places in your bucket list and why?

  1.  Vatican City- I can lose myself in the beautiful architecture of the Pantheon and the other churches. It has been on my list for a long time.
  2. Benaras/ Varanasi- Something about the evening arati (prayers) on the banks of River Ganga draw me towards this place. Although this might soon be struck off from my bucket list as I have a trip planned.
  3. Austria- ever since I have seen the hills and landscapes of ‘Sound of Music’ it has been on my list.

Tell us about your best/worst travel experience till date?

My best travel experience was a travel vacation I took recently to Wales with friends. It was liberating and culturally uplifting having met tourists from all places and corners of the world. We met, chatted and shared our travel experiences with each other knowing that we might never meet again in this world.

My worst travel experiences are always with the transport delays. In Jaipur my flight was on hold for nearly eight hours and I reached Kolkata ultimately at 4 am. In Manchester, my train to Lake District did not have a coach and I travelled for two hours standing.


Furthermore, here are my nominations:

1. Zishan Asad


3.Faded Spring


5.Vagrants of the World

6.Ana’s World

7.The Stylish Voyager


9.The World in My Pocket

10.A Busy Bees Life


Here are my ten questions to my nominees:-

  1. Please introduce yourselves and your blog.
  2. Describe how did you first get into blogging?
  3. Who/What has impacted you most in blogging and how?
  4. Do you have any favourite bloggers?
  5. How would you rate your blog out of ten?
  6. If there was one thing you would want to change about your blog, what would it be?
  7. What are your future plans with your blog?
  8. Tell us about your best and worst blogging experience till date?
  9. Which Social Networking Platforms are you active on?
  10. If not blogging, what can we find you doing most of the time?


I would request my nominees to follow the rules of this award and nominate other lovely bloggers so that each one feel recognised for the hard work that they put in to maintain their great blogs. I would eagerly wait to read their responses. As for me, I will be back soon with another one of my adventures next week.


Legendary Llandudno

“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli 

After spending a great time  exploring Cardiff, we called it a day . We had a train at 5 am and were well aware of the fact that our breakfast and half of our sleep would have to be continued in the train. After bidding goodbye to Cardiff,  we decided to take a quick nap to greet Llandudno with high spirits and enthusiasm. It was a long train journey – almost four hours and I stayed awake only to take some photographs of the sunrise (probably my second sunrise in the UK😛 ) and a sneak peek of the beautiful Tintern Abbey. Of course, the main Abbey was far from the train station but the fact that I got to see the land on which William Wordsworth composed Tintern Abbey , even from a distance, is an honour in its own way. 

“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. “- Lao Tzu 

Unlike the day before, where most of the time was spent travelling , today we reached before 10 am and had the whole day to explore the seaside and the city. Llandudno is a very small city consumed by the beach and the pier. Most of the economy runs by through the hostels, lodges, restaurants and tourist curio shops. It was impossible to roam around with our luggage thus we requested our hostel (Llandudno Hostel) to let us keep the baggage and set out to explore the city on foot. It is best to acquire a map of the city but even if you don’t have one, it would not be very difficult to navigate your way . 

We headed to the beach to soak in the essence of the beautiful day and some sunlight (which is rare). This photograph was taken at the Llandudno Promenade. Most of the buildings in the photograph are hostels and hotels for the tourists. Notice, how they are all painted in pastel shades. It is because by the rule of the Government they are to stick to the pastel shades. Further, the houses are not very tall – at a glance around three storeys.  Again by the Rule of the Government the houses were not to exceed the breadth of the adjoining streets and thus they are not very high. 

This is the Llandudno pier. It hosts many curio shops, restaurants and activity centres for the children. I would highly recommend stopping by to enjoy a nice scoop of flavoured clotted cream ice cream. In fact, you might often find a nice nook and corner saving yourself from the prowling eyes of the seagulls and enjoy the ice cream. Oh yes Seagulls eat ice cream too and they do enjoy it😛 . 

We had not planned our day at all. After walking for a while we figured out that hourly Hop- On Hop- Off buses leave from the Promenade and so we hopped on one of them. It takes a nominal fee of £7 -£10 and tickets can be purchased on spot. The running commentary on the bus gave various historical information about the place and introduced those customs and stories which are not even found in the hundreds of internet pages. Below, is a photograph of the West Shore of the city.

This structure was the erstwhile tram/train station. After the introduction of the bus in the city, it was closed down. Interestingly, it is assumed that the last tram/train driver became the first bus driver .

This play park and the adjoining residential area hints of Romanian architecture. This is because the, then Queen was close to the Romanian Royal family and thus Llandudno has  glimpses of Romanian architecture in certain parts of the city like this.

Llandudno and its adjoining lands were owned by the elite Mostyn family. This particular grave is the family grave of the Mostyn family.

The great Conwy Castle is a must when in Llandudno. The Hop -on Hop- Off bus has a stop in the Conwy Castle and those who wish to explore it more closely are welcome to get down here and board the next bus to continue  their journey. Apart from the castle itself, one can take some time out and explore the town of Conwy. Let me be honest, the grand architecture of the Conwy Castle was what attracted me  in the first place. Due to non availability of accommodation in Conwy we decided to stay in Llandudno and pay this castle a visit.

This is a skyline shot of the narrowest doorway in the world. I had seen the tallest doorway in Fatehpur Sikhri, India and then I saw the narrowest one in Wales. In fact, just before this doorway approaches, the audio guide mentions safety precautions as it is indeed difficult for the bus  to go through this narrow doorway without making frequent stops .

One must not forget that Llandudno was being developed in a patriarchal society. Thus when the Lady of the Mostyn Family, referred to as Lady Mostyn, decided to build a hotel and maintain it, most men laughed at her. Interestingly, today decades later this hotel (below) is the most luxurious and sought after hotel in Llandudno and the rooms are booked months in advance .

This is a view of the city centre/ market street of the city.

The entire city tour takes around an hour for a full ride. It takes you through the towns of Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Deganwy Village and Conwy . It was almost noon when we came back to the Promenade and thought of strolling around the pier. If you want , you can settle for a nice live show of the Codeman’s Punch and Judy and spend an hour laughing your heart out. 

While most of us who have read Alice in Wonderland have known that Lewis Carroll composed this famous prose in Oxford, but not many know that the inspiration was taken from this quiet seaside resort of Llandudno. In fact, when you take the tour of the Great Orme the commentary includes the ruins of the house Carroll stayed in and befriended the owners daughter who was the inspiration behind Alice. Throughout the city, you would find sculptures dedicated to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland including the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts. You can walk around the city and follow the Alice Trail and uncover many hidden stories about it. This photograph was taken in the Llandudno Station. 

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

This is a photograph of the Great Orme from the pier. ‘Orme’ means sea monster and the way the rock juts out of the land and into the sea it has found an apt name for itself; being called a monster which engulfs the sea. On the other side of the city near the West Shore, lies the Little Orme. You can actually opt to trek all the way up to the Great Orme or take a nice tram ride (like we did). Again, tickets can be purchased on  spot for a minimum of £5-£7. This ride takes around an hour and a half with a twenty minutes halt at halfway point for refreshments. 

The Great Orme has some beautiful caves which are open to the public for self exploration (free of cost). It also has a fully functional church . This is the oldest in the area and is made by clearing the rocks from the Orme. 

This photograph  was taken at the Halfway point.  This place has a little restaurant and parking space wherein those driving all the way up can take some rest and click beautiful photographs . We took up most of our time climbing the Great Orme and taking photographs . It is said that a pair of Kashmiri goats were presented to the then British Queen but since she had many goats , she presented them to her friend in Llandudno . Thus in the Great Orme if you spot Kashmiri Goats, do not be shocked. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any ! 

“It is not down in any map; true places never are. “- Herman Melville 

As we continued our journey forward from the halfway point, the beautiful outline of the Snowdon Mountains emerged in the horizon. According to our commentator, the Snowdonia mountains host many rare species of flora and fauna “and if you are lucky enough you might spot some rare species of Pokemon hiding in there. ”😛 . 

“Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness. ” – Ray Bradbury 

After descending from the Great Orme and having a bite we relaxed at the hostel before going out again to explore the promenade. This time, it was nearing sunset and most of the people were getting ready to leave. Many tourists had come for a day trip to the sea and were making their way to the train station. The Promenade guards were vigilant about the tourists clearing the area for Coast Guard practice sessions. We took a walk around the shore and settled for some nice Welsh Orchestra which was being played by the Town band. 

Thereafter we had an early dinner and went out for our customary night walk. This photograph was shot during the walk at the promenade . It was interesting to see how a place which was full of activities had become so quiet. The pier , although lighted was closed and locked . The shoreline was made inaccessible in parts due to the approaching high tides. We wandered around the town for a little longer and saw most of the hotels were having karaoke dinners and dancing in their common rooms. Soon, we called it quits as well and went back to our hostel . We grabbed a movie ‘ Out of Africa’ and went ahead to watch it, thus ending a beautiful day. 

I have a habit of trying to explore the early morning hours whenever I am travelling. Usually, at home, no one sees me wake up before 9 -10 am.  This photograph of the sunrise (below) from the Promenade was taken around 6:30 ish. Not many people were present and those who were there had come to walk their dogs . I spent almost an hour here witnessing the beauty of this place before catching my homeward bound train . Though I was happy to go back home, I was also disheartened that this experience came to a close so soon. 

Taking a vacation for the first time on my own with friends had opened me up and in the true sense made me a traveller. To imbibe the various customs, cultures, traditions that the people of Cardiff and Llandudno had to offer was an experience in itself. And I think it has made me more confident as a person to handle life in a way I want to without being a slave to the dictates of the world. 

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey . “- Pat Conroy 

I would leave you with this beautiful quote and sunrise till I come back to share my next adventure. 



Exploring Cardiff

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust 

Cardiff, the Welsh capital is a known place for many travellers. A casual discussion with a friend lead to the creation of a travel plan to Cardiff and Llandudno (more about it in a later post). So, here I was waiting in the queue of Manchester Shudehill bus stop to board the bus for Cardiff. The Megabus service (https://uk.megabus.com/) runs daily buses from Manchester to Cardiff although the timings are different for weekdays and weekends. I must say the almost five-hour journey was strenuous, but the thousand thoughts that came to my mind while travelling made it less painful. 

I passed through Birmingham where the bus stopped for twenty minutes . After giving the passengers a chance to stretch their legs, it moved on to Bristol and finally reached Cardiff late in the afternoon. I now had even less than a day to visit the place as we had an early morning train for the next day. We decided to go where our road lead us. Our first destination was the Cardiff Castle. 

So, this was the grounds of the Castle. It was almost 3:30 pm so we decided to skip wandering around and head straight to the museum, which was beautiful and the Arab Room with its ornate ceilings caught my attention. This (below) is a photograph of the ceiling of the main hall of the Castle. The beautiful and ornate decor of the room made me want to settle there  and never leave the place. In fact, the walls had sculptures, paintings and murals all depicting the rich history of the city and the Castle.  

Thereafter, we headed to the watch tower (photograph below). On the way to the watchtower there was a beautiful moat and well. Let me share this with you, I have extreme ill luck falling over every moat I have visited till date. Thank God this was a nice one and prevented me from creating a hat-trick.

Its one steep climb to the top of the Watch tower but its all worth the amazing view from up there. We took some time in exploring the grounds of the castle which was hosting a small fair. From children’s archery to dressing up like the medieval men and women everything had its exemplifying aura. I captured this young kid with his mom playing happily in the castle grounds. 

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware. “- Martin Buber 

My friend and I are both fans of Doctor Who. Having known that the Doctor Who Adventure Centre is in Cardiff, how could we have not gone there. We started making our way to the Doctor Who Adventureland. On our way, we crossed the market place. It was buzzing with people and tourists. The colourful shops were tempting with its little curios. The small and cozy cafes were full of people enjoying a drink and evening snack. I present to you two of my most favourite shots from the market. 

I love bubbles. Many of us do. But such huge ones. . . Wow! 

This young man was teaching the little girl how to make beautiful earthenware. Though we wanted to stop and make one for ourselves , Doctor Who was calling us, so we decided to give it a skip. 

Interestingly, after looking several times at the map, getting lost, taking the parallel way round and asking about a few people, we reached the Doctor Who Experience . . . . ..  only to find out the last admissions were at 3:30 pm. *SIGH* . On the positive side, we could at least see the place from outside and with a little peek inside the blue windows we could see huge replicas of the Daleks. 

“We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair. “- Mignon McLaughlin
We decided to stop over at a pub in the Cardiff Bay to catch a drink, from where this photograph (below ) had been shot. 

Thereafter, we decided to wander around the Cardiff Bay. There were lots of activities to do considering that we went in the middle of the Cardiff festival. We had a great time viewing the city from the Barry Eye (Cardiff Eye). This was my first time getting up on an Eye and the view was amazing.  We attended the fair and saw some of the stalls. Most of the stalls were pirate themed and were ideal places for children to enjoy themselves in. Below is a photograph of the Cardiff Bay from the Eye. 

This (above) is a photograph of the Cardiff Festival near the bay. It was taken from the Eye again. 

“How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.”- R. Buckminster Fuller
 If you thought our journey was nearing the end of its time in Cardiff, you are wrong. It had just begun. We had to find our hostel. Though we had our maps with us, being new to the city and having found out that the roads have  really less road signs , we decided to go with our understanding of the map. The Result: We were lost in the middle of a highway with no footpath! Being a Sunday, there was not a soul in the streets to ask for directions. Thankfully we saw one hotel and asked for directions. But messed up again. We decided to start all over from the pierside. Luck was at our side when a nice fellow, whose run we disrupted , helped us find our way back. Even then, we had to walk for quite sometime to find our hostel. This photograph was taken while we were hunting for our hostel.

We stayed at the YHA Cardiff which was an amazing hostel and I highly recommend it. Their website is http://www.yha.org.uk/ .

Having freshened up we decided to go out in the city for dinner. It was almost 9pm and thankfully my friend enquired if the city would be opened. Our friendly receptionist answered that being a Sunday it was difficult to find anything open. So, we had dinner at the hostel ordering it just a minute before their kitchen too closed😛 .

Then we set out for my usual late- night travel walks. . . . . the last one was taken in London and then this one in Cardiff. The city was quiet, a stark contrast to what I saw in London. But the few pubs that were opened in the city -centre had rows of guests standing outside with drinks in their hands. After roaming aimlessly around the city for almost two hours, we decided to call it a day as we had to catch a 5 am train for the next day. Below is a photograph that I took at night. 

My next destination was even more thrilling -Llandudno. While Cardiff was in the extreme South, Llandudno was in the extreme North. But it was an amazing experience. More about Llandudno in my upcoming posts. I leave you today with a photo of the Cardiff Central station. It is empty because not many people board trains that early in the morning. But it signifies that the journey continues. . . . . 

Have you visited Cardiff before? Do let me know in your comments what you think of the place. 


A Day in Bradford

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill 

I could not have agreed more with this quote. A very casual conversation about travel with a friend led to the plan of visiting Bradford, my friend’s hometown. Bradford is just about an hours distance away from Manchester by train. Thus, my plan was to catch an early train to reach early and get more time to explore the place. It was a day trip so I was to return the same evening. 

It is my habit to check on the places I would be going to before actually going there. This would give me a little background about the place as well as inform me about the places to visit. However, I left the Bradford Tour completely on my friends shoulders. Being her hometown, she was the best person to take me around the city. 

There are great places like Keighley and Bronte Parsonage a little outside Bradford, for which buses had to be boarded . This did not really suit our time tables so we decided to keep to the city centre and skip going outside the city. Missing out on halls, moors and museums was never a regret because there was so much to see and explore in Bradford city itself. 

Here is a listicle of what I did and would recommend anyone doing for a day trip in Bradford. 

1.National Media Museum

Formerly known as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, the National Media Museum is a short walk from the Bradford Interchange (Train Station) . This was a personal favourite, being a student of journalism and photography. It hosts about 3.5 million exhibits in its seven floors of galleries. It focuses on the history and development of photography, film, media , internet and video-gaming. Some of its exhibits give special stress on the principles of light and colour. apart from the museum itself, the building is home to three full screen movie theatres. 

2.Bradford City Centre

Right outside the National Media Museum is the City Centre Park. I happened to be present on a relatively warm day in England, where children were taking a nice swim in the fountain waters . The best part of the city park is that there are provisions of changing so the children can actually change, swim, change into dry clothes, snack on a yummy lunch from the nearby restaurants and cafes or even watch a nice movie in the open air theatre. 

3.Peace Museum

I have seen a lot of  Museums which highlight the effects of war, the society and culture during wars; but rarely does one find a museum dedicated to peace. The Peace Museum Bradford,  may not have one of the most elaborate structures of a regular museum dedicating series of floors to its exhibits; but what it has hidden in a little corner of the third floor of a huge neo gothic building is commendable. 

4.Bradford Cathedral

One of the most beautiful and quaint Cathedrals that I have seen is the Bradford Cathedral. It is about a five minutes walk from the Peace Museum and can be called a Cathedral set upon a beautiful hill. Well not literally set upon a hill, but the architectural marvels make it look as such. It is always great to spend some quiet time amidst the Almighty in daily life, or in between a hectic day trip. 

This is how the Cathedral looks from the street. Adjacent to the Cathedral, is a Cultural Society called the Kala Sangam. While we were visiting , we could see from the open windows that they were rehearsing, probably for a show.

5. Bradford Town Hall

My friend did show me the Town Hall from outside while we were taking a walk to one of our destinations but it was closed. Considering that the Town Halls, are administrative seats, I did not expect to be able to go in there as well. While we were relaxing at the city centre after a hearty lunch and dessert;  by luck we got to know that there is a self led tour of the Town Hall with a Fashion Show at the Banquet hall. How could we have missed this opportunity? This is a model of the Town Hall . 

This is a sculpture which greets you when you enter the Town Hall. What seems like a beautiful sculpture actually has an interesting story behind it which I wanted to share with all of you. If you look carefully to the left of the sculpture , you’ll see a man holding the head of a boar and towards the right, a man holding the tongue of the boar. The story goes that this boar was causing havoc in the city and the landlord offered a price to the man who was brave enough to kill it. One man was brave enough to fight it and kill it. But the boar was too heavy to carry so he cut the tongue and went to the landlord. In the meantime the second man saw the dead boar and became greedy for the price. So he cut the head of the boar and took it. However, he reached earlier than the first man and was about to be given the price when the real hero enters with the boars tongue and explained the whole situation. The landlord came to know of the lie that the second man had said in order to get the reward. He was subsequently punished and the other man was given a hefty price including several acres of land. The land was passed onto his descendants and over time came to be the property of the Government. 

This sculpture is the judgement scene from the story. 

6. Sights of the City

This is  a collage of some of the great sights I came across in Bradford. Starting from the top is the Alhambra Theatre, The Broadway Shopping Centre, The Bradford Cathedral Cat (who has an interesting story behind her) , A statue of J.B Priestley . Beside it, is a sculpture in front of the Margaret McMillan Tower, children enjoying a day out in the city centre, above which is a poster of a bonded man outside the Cathedral and ending the collage with a sand sculpture. 

Now back to the cat, After taking the photograph I put it on Instagram . a few days later, her owner comments . . . . .  She was very happy to see the photo and even gave me permission to keep it. The cat’s name is Poppy and is almost 15 years old. She loves a nice sun bath at the Cathedral and visits it often. Incidents such as these make me wonder how small the world has become due to Social Media. One photograph can actually lead you to meet new people and develop new friendship. Have you ever faced incidents like this? I would be most happy to hear about them. 

My Bradford Tour ended at the Town Hall from where a short walk led me back to the Train Station. It was a great day spent with a great friend and visiting some of the best places in Bradford. However, I still do have a weakness regarding the Bronte Parsonage Museum and would love to visit there in the future . . But then the whole planet is on my bucket list isn’t it😛 ? 

Before I say goodbye and greet you with another post soon, I will leave you guys with a glimpse of the Fashion Show from the Town Hall. 


Vintage Fair @ Manchester Cathedral

The High Walls of the Manchester Cathedral hosted the amazing Vintage Fair on the 26th and 27th of August 2016. This two-day affair was full of fun and frolic. Not only were there vintage items for sale ranging from dresses, hats, post cards and jewellery but also a drinks stall to grab a cool glass of gin or whatever you fancy. The main highlight of the fair, in my opinion was the dance floor where the heart of the fair resided. It is said that a man never grows old ; he always retains the child in himself. the dance floor was a personification of this statement.

I would rather let the photographs do the talking in this post instead of me detailing it.


One of my furry friends came to visit the fair as well. Didn’t really get a chance to speak to him though.


With the summers slowly fading away into Autumn/Fall coats are a necessity in Manchester. These collection of fur winter coats were a beautiful range.


Beautiful lamp shade isn’t it? Straight from the yesteryear collection.


This beautiful puppet caught my attention, I do not really know for what particular reason. I am not really fond of dolls, but at times these puppets and dolls do catch my attention. I loved the look on the face of this one coupled with his (I assume his) beautiful clothes.


This lovely doll too caught my attention. The beautifully created headgear with so many different colours bring in an atmosphere of colour, positivity and cheerfulness while looking at it.


Pretty umbrellas to carry with you! And one sure did have a whole of dresses to choose from to match this umbrella with🙂

vintage photos

This is probably my favourite part of the fair. beautiful dresses. I couldn’t decide which one I liked more. I would be glad to know which ones you liked.

And lastly, didn’t I tell you about the dance floor. . . . . . . Hold your breath more to come . . . A live trailer of what happened on the dance floor.

Hope you enjoyed this small post about an amazing fair and would be able to join in next year. You can check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1735068660104183/  for more updates and photographs🙂 I would be back again in no time with another one of my adventures.🙂



Southport: To Do List for a Day Trip

After my tragic train ride to the Lake district, I was a bit apprehensive towards taking the ride to Southport. But, by God’s Grace this ride was unlike the previous one and though very early in the morning it was a comfortable and pleasant ride. As usual the scenery changed from Manchester to  its outskirts; the fields with horses and sheeps grazing around; the lush open greenery restricted by the likes of one lonely house at the end of the horizon. After about a nearly one hour journey, we reached Southport. As summer approached Manchester, at times the temperatures rose quite an extent with long rainless days; thus the prospect of visiting a beach was quite refreshing. Alas! The sun decided to be moody that very day and evaded the sky. It was cloudy, dark and windy but not bad enough to affect the high spirits of the people. There were still lots of amazing things to do in Southport without the Sun.

Here is my list of top 10 things to do in Southport (with or without Mr [Read Moody😛 ] Sun )

  1.  Visit Model Railway Village and Adjoining Parks 

A short walk from the train station leads you to the model Railway village. It is quite an interesting experience visiting this exhibit. From miniature villages, trains, train station to people, churches and canals everything was beautifully recreated in this museum. There is a nominal fee of £4 per adult and £3.50 per child/concession to visit this museum. It reminded me of the Cartoon Thomas and his Friends . this would be an ideal place for children. You can also collect an activity sheet from the reception and have fun solving it with your child. The kind lady at the reception handed me one too, which i politely passed onto my parents and started playing with my own puzzle- my camera (Why I called it a puzzle? everyday I discover new features and wonders of this little machine ; it sure deserves to be called a beautiful puzzle).

Adjacent to the Railway Village is a children’s park. From bungee jumping, rope-way travelling and swings , care has been taken that your child does not get bored. Adult supervision is always given while the children are playing and the grounds are large enough to actually have a mini-picnic there itself.

2. Boating in the Lake 

Southport Promenade provides family boating facilities in the Lake. A minimum fees is to be paid for hiring a boat for a certain amount of time from the ticket booth nearby. This boating experience offers great views and an experience of a lifetime.

3. Golfing 

Perhaps not something usually heard of near a sea beach, but Southport does have a golfing centre as well. In fact, to not offend the children, there is also a children’s Golf arena beside the one for the adults.

4. Eating out in the open air pubs/inns/restaurants with Live music

One of the best ways to chill and enjoy the cold wind of the beach is to visit an open air pub/restaurant and relax with a glass of beer/ soft drinks / food ; listening to live music and dancing (well not literally) to its rhythmic beats. And Yes Southport Restaurants serve Fish ‘n’ Chips which is a must try. Since I do not eat fish, I am giving you the opinions of my parents who have tasted it and testified it as good food.

5. Walking the length of the Southport Pier 

Walking along the entire length of the pier would take around an hour. It is actually very interesting how the scene changes on both sides. From restaurants, Funland, Golf Course, Main Road, Beach and then finally endless water on both side- everything can be seen in this one hour walk. Interestingly, you even get to see the Blackpool Tower from the Southport Pier, which is a sight that cannot be missed !

6. Taking a tram ride along the Pier 

Another brilliant way to explore the pier within ten minutes is to take the tram which runs the entire length of the pier. For just a £2 fee per person you can ride the entire pier within minutes. We decided to walk till the end of the pier and take the tram ride back to the starting point.

7. Trying your luck at the Games 

Let me tell you, my luck is not very good with these games. However I would not discourage you to try yours.  Apart from Funland, there are several Game booths scattered all over Southport where you can play games and if luck is on your side, WIN SOMETHING!!!!

8. Visit the Beach 

Instead of heading towards the pier, if you take the road below it , you would reach the beach. I had not gone to the beach but witnessed most of the interesting happenings from the pier itself. Kids, building sand castles running about in the water to fill in their tubs , dogs running about here and there playing catch the ball, children holding their parents hands and enjoying the touch of the cold water on their feet, some brave hearts even joined in for a little swim – these sights and more filled the beach scene on both sides of the pier. Just beside the beach is the Southport Eye and the Amusement Park. Though we skipped it but if at the beach then it is one of the recommended activities to do.

9. Shopping at the Wayfarers Victorian Arcade

This glass roofed Victorian shopping mall hosts a lot of labels – fashion, lifestyle, food and the likes. My personal favourites were an antique shop selling interesting curios of Southport and England and a beautiful stone jewellery shop.

10. Taking a stroll around the town 

After visiting the pier and having lunch, we still had sometime before our train arrived and decided to take a stroll along the city. We did not deviate too much from the Southport Station so as to be able to return in time for our train and yet managed to catch some exciting sights. The Fountain built in the middle of a park in the Memory of the people’ s princess Lady Diana, had become a local shower for the kids to take a bath of sorts. The various beautiful buildings and sculptures including several obelisk reflected the history of this port city. Interestingly, the Wishing Well was on a sabbatical from granting wishes. And when in Southport, you cannot miss its more-than-30-flavours of ice creams available in every shop.

Southport is very much a city whose essence can be enjoyed whole heartedly within a day. I recommend it as a day trip for anyone who would love to go to a beach during summers and otherwise. Let me know in a comment below which activity/s  did you like the best amongst the ones listed here or if I have missed anything that you particulary enjoyed in Southport. I hope you enjoy the sights of Southport till I come back with another one of my adventures. I would leave you with a photograph that I shot from the pier. . . . . . .




GUEST POST: Five Places to Visit in Italy

I’ve written extensively on my blog about how much I love Italy! I often joke that I should have been born Italian – I love good food (pasta in particular!), I love everything beautiful and I love dolce vita lifestyle. Going to Italy is always such a delight and today I am going to share my top 5 favourite destinations in Italy.



Source: www.thestylishvoyager.com.

Source: www.thestylishvoyager.com

OK, this one is a must as “all roads lead to Rome.” Every tourist’s exploration of Italy should start with its capital that has rich historical, artistic and cultural past. Every street lives and breathes history and there is a lot to see. At the very least, I would recommend checking out the Colosseum; Trevi Fountain (my hubby says it’s the most beautiful thing he has ever seen); Vatican with its museums and Sistine Chapel (totally worth the wait in long queue to see The Creation of Adam); Pantheon; Roman Forum and Villa Borghese. All of these are located in the centre of the city and can be easily covered in a couple of days.

What I really love about Rome, however, is its small side streets and ability to get lost and finding yourself in a random neighbourhood with its own piazza, churches of unparalleled beauty and some of the best Italian food. One of these areas is Trastevere (translates “across the Tiber”), a beautiful old neighbourhood across the river and away from the loud tourist crowds. It has its own vibe and to me represents real Rome, letting you take a peek into the life of regular Romans and how they live and socialize. It’s very green, cosy and bohemian with great (cheaper than touristy!) restaurants and cafes to visit.


…Or Firenze as Italians call it. Besides being a beautiful city, to me Florence is the cradle of Italian classical art, Renaissance in particular, and holds some of the greatest artistic assets. This is where some of the most talented and well-known Italian artists studied and perfected their skills. So don’t be surprised to walk into a church or palace to find out that some renown Italian painter decorated its walls and ceilings.

Once you check out the Duomo, Florence’s main attraction and most stunning cathedral (its rooftop provides great views of the city but be prepared for a steep hike over 463 steps), I suggest you head to Uffizi Gallery and the Academia. In Uffizi you will find the artwork by Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello among many and see famous paintings such as The Birth of Venus, which is absolutely stunning when you see it in person! The Academia is home to and is most famous for Michelangelo’s David. He is indeed very handsome! There is another David in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, but don’t be fooled – it’s just a replica and real David can only be found in the Academia. Here you will also find paintings and sculptures by great artists, such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, del Sarto, Allori and Orcagna. And if you hadn’t had enough, I advise visiting few grand palaces, like Palazzo Veccio and Palazzo Pitti, while churches such as Basilica di Santa Croce and Basilica di Santa Maria Novella will leave you breathless.


One of the Italy’s top attractions, Venice is crowded most of the year which somewhat takes away its infamous sense of romance. Be prepared to join millions of tourists admiring beauty of its numerous small and big canals and medieval architecture. Once you get to Venice you will quickly discover that Piazza San Marco with its Basilica and side square opening to the lagoon are probably one of the most beautiful places you have seen. Other top attractions include Gallerie dell’a Accademia with its vast collection of Venetian paintings, Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) that was the center of political and legal system, Grand Canal and its decorative Rialto Bridge, Murano island world famous for its glassblowing, and other numerous churches, museums and palaces worth visiting.

This historic city is filled with a sense of mystery – as you navigate its hidden passages, narrow alleyways and bridges, you can feel many secrets and stories they hold. Yet it’s very busy and vibrant – wherever you go, you see Venetian ball masques and elaborate costumes, Murano glass creations, little side markets and stalls with locals doing their daily shopping, and singing gondoliers skilfully manoeuvring their gondolas through narrow canals. I personally was on the mission to find the house of Casanova, world’s famous lover. When I asked one of the old waiters at the restaurant I was lunching at, he smiled and answered with a smirk: “Every house in this city is Casanova’s,” which is probably not far from the truth! But you can still find the house where he was born on Calle Malipiero, just off Campo San Samuele.

Cinque Terre


By now most of the avid travellers have probably seen the photos of Cinque Terre’s picturesque villages nested on dramatic seaside cliffs. Set along the coast of Ligurian Sea, Cinque Terre is a vibrant collection of five medieval finishing villages: Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola. Each village has its own character and charm: Monterosso is a larger village with its own beach and seafront promenade (check out Statue of Neptune aka the Giant, Old Castle and the Church of Saint John the Baptist), while Corniglia is located at the top of the cape and is a great place to stop for drinks and try some local wines. Vernazza has a small but beautiful harbor, which is a great place for a meal especially around the sunset, but also make sure to check out its Doria Castle and the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Reggio.

Next is Manarola, one of the smallest villages but its houses are very colorful, while its vineyards and orchards are rich and fruitful. Finally, fifth village – Riomaggiore is one of the most popular among the tourists and has its own castle, an old church of San Giovanni Battista and even a natural park. All five villages are connected by a monorail since cars are not allowed in the area, so allow extra time for travel, while exploring each village without rush and enjoying stunning landscape. Also, don’t be surprised to hear English everywhere as monorail carriages tend to be full of trekkers, especially Americans. Cinque Terre offers excellent trekking routes, while food and wine (“Sciacchetrà” wine is produced here) are excellent. Here I tried my ‘black’ squid ink pasta for the first time. It didn’t look or sound appetizing but was in fact very tasty!


Having visited it a couple years ago, I am in love with the Puglia region in southern Italy. I was lucky to meet up with a fellow traveller who had a car and we were able to explore a bit of the region (Alberobello, Ostuni and Lecce) together.

Alberobello is one of the most unusual places I have been to thanks for its whimsical architectural style. This small old town with only 10,000 population is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a home of the trulli culture. Wherever you look you will see white fairytale like traditional houses, trulli, with conical roofs made out of stones. What’s really special about these roofs is that they are made without mortar or any kind of the bonding material and are kept in place by a key, a round tip at the top of the cone. There is a reason behind this ingenious invention. According to the legend, trulli houses were built this way on purpose – to avoid paying taxes on the new settlements. The minute king’s tax inspectors arrived, they could be easily dismantled and then just as easily put back together once unwelcomed visitors left. The houses are quite small inside for modern lifestyle but some locals still live in them while others turned these into shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to visit and take your time to walk on small pathways between these traditional houses and have a meal in one of the local restaurants to try some local delicacies.

Author Bio: I am Lana aka The Stylish Voyager. I am a fashionista, voyager, geek, wife, foodie, PhD graduate, cat lover, and part-time wonder woman, and I document my discoveries on The Stylish Voyager as I explore the world each day. For more about me and my adventures, please visit my blog: www.thestylishvoyager.com.


GUEST POST : The South American BackPacking Diaries

Caitlin with her husband, Sam

Caitlin with her husband, Sam

Last February, my husband and I look a leap of faith. We quit our jobs to travel.

And now, a year later, I’m here to report that we’re okay- great, in fact! Quitting your job can be a scary thing, especially when you don’t have a real plan or a ton of money. We didn’t have a plan, and while we had saved for a few years, we also didn’t have tons of money. But we knew we wanted to do it, and we were at a turning point in our careers where we knew we wanted a change. So rather than transition like most people do from one job straight into the next, we decided to quit together, take a break by backpacking through Central and South America, and then start a new job once we felt refreshed and motivated again. It was VERY doable, and I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who is considering it.

Below is a summary of our trip and where our adventures led us. As I said, we didn’t really have a plan. We made (most of) it up as we went. We knew we wanted to go to Guatemala to practice our Spanish, to Buenos Aires to see the big city culture, and to Machu Picchu to see one of the Wonders of the World. But outside of those things, we were winging it. Once we started traveling, we met lots of awesome people who guided us to incredible cities and sites, tons of delicious restaurants and street food vendors, and to getaway locales we didn’t even know existed. It was a magical trip.

During our travels, I wrote a personal blog that chronicled our trip and our experiences mostly to keep friends informed of our whereabouts (and to ensure our parents that we were safe). When we returned, I realized that I liked and wanted to continue blogging, so I brainstormed about the type of travel website that could be useful for other people- and especially for travelers like me. And eventually, I decided on the concept that is now Trust the Locals (http://www.trustthelocals.com). Trust the Locals aggregates travel advice from locals around the world to provide quick, concise tips on what to see and where to go in the cities you’re planning to visit. Because most of the time, locals know the secrets and the cool new spots that aren’t in the tours or haven’t made it to the guide-book yet! I hope you’ll check it out before your next trip, and if you don’t see the place you’re about to visit, send me an email and we’ll find a local to interview!

Isla Verde Hotel in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Isla Verde Hotel in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Guatemala is an incredible country. Arriving there set me into “travel mode”; it was so strikingly different from the world I know in the US. We started our trip with a weekend in Antigua, and then drove to Quetzaltenango (nicknamed ‘Xela’) for a week of Spanish lessons. The people we stayed with in Xela were incredibly warm and welcoming, and they taught us so much about Guatemalan culture and history.  After a week in Xela, we spent a long weekend lounging at Lake Atitlan (an AMAZINGLY beautiful lake surrounded by volcanos) before heading back to Guatemala City and then flying to Montevideo.

 Important Lessons from Guatemala:

Take Spanish lessons here! There are many programs throughout Guatemala, and they are cheap! We picked Celas Maya in Xela based on a recommendation, but there are also programs in Antigua and Panajachel that offer classes and private tutoring. The Spanish in Guatemala is slow, clear and “traditional”, making it a great country to learn the language.

Take probiotics! Or eat lots of yogurt before you go. The bacteria in foods there is different, and sometimes the veggies aren’t cleaned as thoroughly as they are at, say, Whole Foods. You’re still likely to have an upset stomach from time to time, no matter how careful you are. Nothing pepto can’t handle:)

Favorite Accommodations: Hotel Isla Verde; Santa Cruz La Laguna- at Lake Atitlan

Favorite Restaurants: Slow Food Cafe at Hotel Isla Verde- Breakfast, lunch & drinks a la carte, or 3 course dinner. Santa Cruz La Laguna, Lake Atitlan,Sabe Rico– Beautiful outdoor dining in Antigua, Guatemala

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

We only had a few days in Montevideo- enough to spend time at the beach, wander the streets and the parks, go to a few restaurants, and then take the ferry to Buenos Aires. It was a STARK contrast from Guatemala. Uruguay, in comparison, is a very wealthy, developed country, and Montevideo is the biggest city in Uruguay.

Favorite Restaurant: La Cocina De Pedro, Barrio Sur, Montevideo

Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

Argentina was the country I most wanted to visit, and once we arrived, it was hard for me to leave. Buenos Aires is a massive city, and wandering through it, I sometimes forgot where I was. A bit like Europe, but with brighter colors, more sun, and of course, the tango. Before leaving for our trip, my husband and I did some credit card point research, and we were able to book a few luxury hotel stays in places we knew we’d be visiting.

The first stay was in Buenos Aires, using a combination of Hyatt points and cash. Arriving Buenos, we were able to head straight to the five-star Park Hyatt in Recoleta, known as the Palacio Duhau. The hotel was a welcomed luxury after staying at a cramped hostel in Montevideo, and provided every amenity we could have imagined, including a marble bath tub, plush robes, an espresso machine, turn-down service, and complimentary shoe shines, plus, three restaurants, an on-site florist, whiskey bar, and a beautiful terrace with tango performances each night.

After checking out of the Palacio Duhau, we decided to book an Airbnb in the MicroCenter so that we could stay a bit longer and check out more of the city, including San Telmo, La Boca, several museums, an electronic tango called Fernandez Fierro, and of course, a steak dinner at Fervor.

And, even after three more nights in the city, we decided we hadn’t had enough, so booked one last stay at another Air Bnb back in the Retiro neighborhood, close to the Recoleta Cemetery.

Although we didn’t have the hiking equipment in our packs to visit Ushuaia or to hike the W, we did want to get down to Patagonia, so decided on Bariloche. The concierge at the Park Hyatt thought we were crazy, but because of the cheaper tickets, we opted to take a 22 hour bus ride instead of a flight. I’ve seen many photos of Patagonia, and I’d heard about Bariloche, but hadn’t done much research before arriving. Thankfully, it was fairly easy to navigate the small town once we arrived; the tourist office in the town center helped us pick a couple of hikes, including Refugio Frey and Parque Municipal Llao Llao. We also took a chair lift called Cerro Otto to a restaurant that gave us an aerial view of Bariloche.

Although I’ve traveled all over the world, Bariloche continues to be one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The landscape has the best of everything. Turquoise blue lakes, purple mountains, lush green hills and clear blue skies. Plus, crazy views of the Andes mountain range, hikes to hidden lakes, and forests with rare, giant trees. It sounds cliche, but these views on our hikes took my breath away.

Another 20 hour bus ride northwest took us to Mendoza, where we decided to spend one day relaxing at our hotel- the Park Hyatt- and then the next two days visiting wineries. Tasting wine in Mendoza was very different from any other wine region I’d visited, and spending two days with private tour guides at Mendoza Wine Camp taught us a lot about these differences. Because wine makers in Argentina don’t follow the strict guidelines that the French do, there’s lots of creativity and unusual blends that you don’t hear about in other parts of the world. And, while the Malbec is the star of the region (and were all delicious), we left with a new favorite- Torrontes, a crisp, bright white wine.

Lessons from Argentina: Eat the steak! This advice is on every Buenos Aires travel blog for a reason. Fervor was the restaurant we chose, but if you can’t afford a restaurant and have a kitchen to cook in, the meat is also cheap at the grocery- we estimated that our 10oz cut of ribeye from the grocery was $4. Expect very different eating schedules- breakfast in Argentina is small or non-existent, lunch is at home, followed by a nap. Tea is around 4 or 5pm, followed by dinner at9pm if you’re staying in, or at 10-11pm if you’re going out. If you’re going out, dinner can also be at midnight, followed by drinks and bar hopping starting around 1pm. If you’re in BA, “going out” can continue until sunrise.

Bariloche has incredible chocolate (Rapa Nui was our favorite shop), and Mendoza produces more than just Malbec. Who knew!

Favorite Accommodations: Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, Recoleta, Buenos Aires
& Mendoza Park Hyatt

Favorite Restaurants: Fervor– Steak and Seafood- HIGHLY Recommended! in Recoleta, Buenos Aires; Cafe Tortoni– Oldes Cafe in Buenos Aires, Balvenera, Buenos Aires; Antares Brewery, San Carlos de Bariloche; 1884 Restaurant Francis Mallman– Winery/Fine Dining/Patio, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza; Nadia O.F./ BRÖD City Center, Mendoza

Favorite Wineries: Giminez Riili– Uco Valley, Mendoza; O. Fournier– Uco Valley, Mendoza

Wine tasting in Santiago, Chile

Wine tasting in Santiago, Chile

The third 20+ hour bus ride we took was from Mendoza to Valparaiso, a port town in the northeastern part of Chile, known for street art and colorful hills created by the painted houses built along the coastline. Valparaiso was a city of contrast- the port was dirty, fishy, and dangerous, while the wealthiest, most beautiful houses and restaurants were nestled high on the hills. In my mind, it was the San Francisco of South America, but without the bridge to wine country or the expensive real estate.

Our favorite spots in Valparaiso were Cerro Alegre and Cerro BellaVista. We also visited Pablo Neruda’s home high above the city, and learned a bit about the famous Chilean philosopher and poet.

Leaving Valparaiso, our bus ride to Santiago felt incredibly short- only 5 hours! In Santiago, our plan was to site see, get some exercise and sleep in, and regroup before heading to Peru. Highlights in Santiago were Cerro Santa Lucia, Centre Gabriela Mistral, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and Parque Forestal. We also went on a wine tour at Concha y Toro, but it was too touristy for my taste.

Lessons from Chile: You cover a lot of Valparaíso in three days. Visit Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Bellavista. Wander the graffiti-filled streets. Ride an ascensor. Go to Viña del Mar to soak up the sun on their beautiful beaches. Then head to one of the many other contrasting landscapes that this skinny country has to offer.
Pay attention to your surroundings in Valparaiso- petty theft is common. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry- l left all of my flashy earrings, necklaces and even my wedding rings at home!

Favorite Restaurants: Tiramisú– Pizzeria/ Dinner/ Local Spot in Santiago; Café Bijoux- Lunch/Live Music/ Dinner on Cerro Concepción, Valparaiso

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Coastline of Lima , Peru

Coastline of Lima , Peru

We planned to go to Peru because of Machu Picchu, but many people told us to spend time in Cusco as well, so we flew into Cusco, took the Peru Rail to Aguas Calientes, hiked Machu Picchu, and then went back to Cusco to explore that city afterwards. Our return flight to the states was from Lima, so we also spent a few days there before the end of our trip. It was a bittersweet final few days, as we realized it was a city we wished we had more time to explore. Just like with Patagonia, we didn’t have the gear or the time to do a full trek in Machu Picchu, so we instead hiked up to the ruins and then hiked up Huayna Picchu to experience a bit of how the trek would have felt. In all that day, we hiked 265 flights and walked 11 miles! And we saw one of the Wonders of the World!!!!!!

Lessons from Peru: Go to Machu Picchu. Soon. It’s only getting more touristy. The proof of the beauty is in the pictures you see all the time, but it’s much better with your own eyes. Also, Don’t skip Lima! Pisco Sours, the beach, Miraflores, and a burgeoning foodie scene make this city worth a stop for few days before or after your Incan trail trek.

The elevation in Cusco can get you- the city’s elevation is over 11,000 feet! Many places offer tea with cocoa leaves to make you feel better. Drink with caution though- it made my husband sick. And last side note- bring toilet paper with you wherever you go… as it’s not always readily available in public restrooms or even in private bathrooms! This tip is true for almost all of the places we visited on our trip.

Favorite Accommodations: Casa Suyay, Miraflores, Lima

Favorite Restaurant: El Mercado– HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! in Lima



Author Bio: Im Caitlin. I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri but now live in Denver, Colorado with my husband. Last year, I had an amazing experience backpacking through South America that inspired me to start a travel blog, called Trust the Locals (http://www.trustthelocals.com). Today, I work at a startup in Denver from 9-5, and then blog in my free time. When I’m not working, traveling or blogging, you can find me exploring Denver in search of an appetizer better than Osteria Marco’s burrata or a treat sweeter than Little Man’s Salted Oreo ice cream.