Tag Archives: Travel

Interaction with Agustin Gainza

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I recently had the pleasure to interact with Agustin Gainza, a Cuban-American visual artist and painter. Based in Miami – FL, this artist has held exhibitions in Europe, United States and other parts of the world. Graduated from National School of Arts he finds himself comfortable with painting, drawing and ceramics. Gainza’s work is well recognized, represented & awarded in private and public collections.

Although Gainza has been very creative since childhood, he shares, “My best work was during my school days. I use to score maximum points in arts. I love to sketch however I was scared of colors in the beginning, until I passed by the School of Arts in Cuba and the smell of paint made me go inside. That’s when I realized where I belong”. It took him many years to listen to his creative soul, and become an artist.

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When asked about the most precious artwork in his life, he answered, “It will be the next one. I always dream of my art to be better and better and when I finish I always think about the next one. How can I make it better?

Every artist has a different way of portraying his mind, different imagination and different inspiration, in Gainza’s case his ideas strike him under a shower. Once he gets his inspiration he does not know which form he would paint it down. He starts with water colors and makes a rough sketch and then later on decides his medium on which he is going to work. He takes his chance and chose from paper, canvas or a tile.

While I was talking to him, I realized that he loves to travel. For him some cities are more special than the others. While he is traveling, he is always waiting for that moment when he gets his inspiration and can put it down on a paper. He quickly makes a rough sketch from whatever inspires him and then fairs it down later. While showing me some of his rough sketches he adds,” I have to be real quick in making these else my wife would burn my credit cards down”. (Hahaha…no offence Mrs. Gainza)

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He also shares that some of the artists criticize him for using modern day digital media to produce art but for him he believes that in today’s world a balance is important. He loves the contemporary way but the digital media is easy to present, reproduce and save his work as he never erases anything.

Gainza family has the most interesting gallery but they are trying to make it even more interactive. The plan includes a lively bar which will be ready soon. They both are working on this unique concept and in my opinion it would be a great success. I can already imagine few people on the bar, the artist, his colors, imagination and conversations. Just my kind of a thing!

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Can’t wait to go back and chill with you wonderful people again.

A special thanks to Mr. Alex who was translating everything from Spanish to English for me, as Gainza is not very smooth with English.

To know more about the art gallery, visit:
http://www.agustingainza.com/

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Keeping your travel memories alive!

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Imagine you just arrived in a new town. All excited to explore and discover. You will have fun for sure, but it’s only half of it. The other half is in looking back at all those fond memories you created while you were there, years ago. How will you store all those memories for your entire life, in a functional way?

Collecting souvenirs is actually a lot of fun. It not only takes you back in the memory lane but also reminds you how lively and wonderful the trip was. Not to mention that the once with a practical use can be a part of your daily life.

The first few things I started to collect on my trips were coffee mugs.
However my brother from another mother believes in collecting artifacts and shot glasses.
(Ron, are you happy now?) 😉

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For a coffee lover like me, buying a coffee mug as a souvenir is a complete win-win because while I am enjoying my coffee or cocoa, I am already thinking about the good time I had in Vienna, Australia, Singapore or wherever.

Souvenirs could be for free, cheap or a bit expensive but in the end what you collect after few years of traveling becomes a priceless gift to yourself. Other than mugs I also pickup fridge magnets and recently I started to collect local recipe books.

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When we travel we collect countries, destinations, stories and experiences rather than things to take home, but a small souvenir from everywhere will remind you of special moments and also will hold evidence of those special moments for the rest of your life.

So next time you travel, find a souvenir that fits your lifestyle and preserve the fond memories of your trip for years to come in the memory box of your mind.

Feel free to share with me what other souvenirs do you collect?
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The Adult Paradise – Las Vegas.

Photo 29-09-15, 10 39 27 PMThe moment you start outlining your first trip to Las Vegas, a string of thoughts will crawl through your mind. There is definitely some sin in the sin city and its time for you to plan it really well.
When you come to this adult paradise you might encounter things probably which shouldn’t be there. If you’re easily offended by things like adult services, topless pools and smoke filled casinos, then you might want to stay away from the Strip. Otherwise, just take a deep breath and go with the flow. Participation in all of the above is not a must however keeping an open mind is advised.

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The first thing you should work upon is booking a right hotel for yourself. Choose the hotel which is right in the center of the strip. No need to go towards the far ends as it has nothing much to offer. My suggestion is to stay anywhere in Zone 1.
HotelZones1The hotels are much far from each other than they appear but still walking down the strip is a good idea. In my opinion everything here is based on the tips. More generous you become better treatment you get. Throw money around and see the good things coming your way. Room upgrades, quick return of the casino cocktail waitress, complimentary mini bar etc.

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In a place like Vegas staying away from gambling is a little tough. It’s a place where you will see 100’s of artfully designed and digital slot machines inviting you with pure  lust for those dollars you got in your pocket. If you would like to try your hands on some other card games the opportunities are endless my friend. Just remember, gambling is fun when you’re playing with the money that you can afford to lose. Don’t get tempted by the free drinks or by the glamour around you, pick a limit and stick to it.

Keep a day to explore popular places in and around Vegas. One of the most popular activities in Las Vegas is to explore the majestic Grand Canyon. You will be able to book a tour from anywhere and it should be including The Grand Canyons, Lake Mead, and Hoover Dam. After the tour if you still have some energy left the Vegas downtown or Fremont Street is definitely a Go!

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There are a lot of shows to be seen in Vegas. Some of them are really famous but before you buy the tickets make sure to compare the prices online or visit a nearest half price ticket store. Taking a taxi is another expensive affair in Vegas due to long hauling. The best way to avoid it, use Google maps & make sure your driver sees that.

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Speaking of taxis, finding a taxi could be a task sometimes especially when you need it desperately. Don’t try to stop one at the strip. It is illegal for them to stop there. Instead just go to the nearest hotel taxi stand and you’ll find a line of taxis waiting to take you wherever you need to go.

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If like me some of you share this mad love for clubbing, Vegas is the place. Some of the best clubs can be found on the Las Vegas strip. Remember to dress up appropriately as here people believe what they see. Most of the time you have to choose from these 2 options – buy a table with a bottle service or stay in the queue for hours, and have your 20$ drink in a cramped up corner. Decide! If you want to have some fun then go for the first option and yeah, you can thank me later.
Ladies, you enter for free!

Do whatever you wish to do in Vegas but just don’t get married when you are drunk. If still somehow you wish to then the Las Vegas Marriage Bureau is open till midnight every night. Just remember your wedding the next day. 😉

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There is always plenty to do in Las Vegas so just try to get some rest in between your action packed nights and hangover filled days. Have fun and remember what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

To book show tickets visit:
http://www.tix4tonight.com

To book a tour:
https://www.pinkjeeptours.com

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Glenburn Lodge in Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa is home to many ethnic and racial groups, many of them migrant communities. These groups have all contributed to the rich cultural mix of the country. Johannesburg being one of the largest urbanized cities has also maintained its natural attractions and indeed has so much to offer: there are parks, gardens, wonderful restaurants, relaxed cafes, busy shopping malls, nature reserves, casinos, nightclubs, and more…

Johannesburg’s entertainment and leisure options are vast and varied and during my 6 days stay here I tried my best to see and explore but reserved just one day to relax and laze around.www.glenburnlodge.za

DSC00341Not far from Johannesburg, in little under an hour’s drive Glenburn Lodge is situated near the Zwartkops Mountains, on the banks of the Crocodile River. It not only offers guests spectacular scenery and absolute peace but also stylish accommodation, fine dining and exclusive tours and activities – all included when you book your stay.
DSC00334This was an ideal option for a carnivore like me. With its braai (barbeque) facility it was very easy for me to do steaks and other meat I bought from pick & pay. Moreover, a lovely patio overlooking the river was adding to the leisure, I enjoyed the whole day self-catering. The kitchen was equipped with a two plate stove, fridge and microwave oven. A well furnished lounge has a fireplace, ideal for winter nights.

The natural scenic beauty of Glenburn Lodge makes it an excellent place to host a romantic wedding and other celebratory occasions, or simply relax and enjoy some pampering. One can also explore this place on a guided game drive, bush walks or simply staying by the river side.
DSC00347 DSC00339Expect a very delightful welcome as the staff here is very polite and always at your service. All in all it is one of the finest places if you want to spend some relaxing moments in the lap of Mother Nature.

For more information refer to-
http://www.glenburn.co.za

Joy of Christmas

Europe in December may be chilly but the reception is very warm. The aroma of hot Glühwein and other delicacies with the Christmas lights glittering get everyone into the holiday spirit at these European style Christmas markets.
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Beginning in mid November these markets promise unforgettable events, mouthwatering food and a variety of seasonal gifts. I witnessed this age-old tradition in Vienna during a short stay. Walking towards the City Hall (Rathaus) I saw several Christmas markets with festively decorated stalls offering traditional hand made goods, Christmas decorations and souvenirs.
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It is altogether a very romantic affair; streets bustling with people in high spirits, city beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, artisans showcasing their craft in wooden stalls and that amazing smell of roasting sausages.

This is how Christmas celebration should be.
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Food, drinks, music or shopping whatever your reason is, visiting a Christmas market anywhere in Europe is definitely worth it. Few of the best Christmas markets can be found in Germany, Austria, Sweden and France. So, choose a market which best suites your mood and have fun!

A Scottish Experience

While I continue globetrotting, this time my stop was Athens of the North, Edinburgh.
Also, home of the Scottish Parliament!

I started my day with a lavish breakfast buffet at Edinburgh Marriott Hotel and then straightaway took bus# 100 (24 hours service/Wi-Fi enabled) to the city centre. The bus dropped me at Princess Street which is 15 minutes ride and apparently the last stop. From there I started walking using a route planner available at www.walkit.com.
My plan was to cover all the main tourist attractions and interesting spots before the day comes to an end. My on foot journey included:

Princess Street Garden:
a beautifully landscaped public park in the centre of Edinburgh. Various concerts and other events are also held here during the festival time.

Edinburgh Castle:
a magnificent historic fortress.
For ticket pricing and timings refer to – www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk

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Scotch Whiskey Experience:
a large tourist attraction, offers a whisky tutoring session that takes place in the form of a virtual tour.
For ticket pricing and timings refer to – www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

Grassmarket:
the Grassmarket lies to the south of the Edinburgh Castle and is famous for a lot of pubs and cafes.

Greyfriar’s kirkyard & Greyfriar’s bobby:
a graveyard related to multiple paranormal activities.
For people who like adventure you can also book a ghost tour at – www.cityofthedeadtours.com
(Strictly Not For The Faint Hearted)

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Royal Mile:
the busiest tourist street in the old town.

After walking so much already, it was time to have lunch. What could be better than the traditional Scottish delicacy – Haggis?
Now, I admit that the description of haggis may not sound all that appealing but it’s definitely worth trying if you’re ever in Scotland.

“A haggis is a simple dish prepared by using the lungs, heart and liver of a sheep, to which is added suet or fat, oatmeal, onions and a little stock and seasoning, filled into some sort of casing or skin (traditional way is using a sheep’s stomach) which is then boiled for several hours.”

I headed straight to Whiski Bar where I was welcomed by Ms. Karen and was given a comfortable, cozy place to settle down. By the time chefs were busy preparing the dish for me, I was being introduced to few of the many scotch whiskeys they have. Established in 2012 this place has bagged many awards already in the past few years. Promising to give everyone fresh Scottish food using the very best local produce this place is mostly crowded with locals and tourist. Keeping in mind this large footfall per day advance reservation is recommended and could be done here – www.whiskibar.co.uk

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At last my most awaited dish was presented on the table with absolute finesse. Honestly speaking I found it very tasty and the scotch was pairing well with it. For the sweet finale I tried cheese cake of the day and must say it was extremely pleasurable!

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Lastly, to conclude the day and to digest the food I started walking towards the Holyrood Park which is adjacent to the Holyrood Palace. The parks highest point is Arthur’s Seat, a massive hill just outside of town providing a bird eye view of the city and is popular for hill walking. Within the park you can also visit St Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th century medieval chapel, as well as Duddingston Loch – a natural fresh water loch (an important site for bird breeding)

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Edinburgh is definitely an ancient city with interesting history and a cosmopolitan capital with a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, shops and active nightlife spots. It is not the most exotic destination but different in terms of culture. Flashes of tartan can be seen on the kilts of men playing bagpipes to the shortbread packs displaying a true Scottish character. In Scotland, traditions run deep and locals are more than happy to share them with you.

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Will surely visit again!

Augustiner Keller – Munich, Germany

Beer is one of the oldest drinks produced by humans. Historians believe that the grain was first fermented to produce beer, almost 2000 years before it was used for baking breads as a staple. Beer not only being used for celebrating events but was also used as a payment or as gifts at that time.

While I was in Bavaria’s capital city, I got an opportunity to meet Mr. Christian Vogler. The landlord of the oldest and the finest beer garden in Munich. He is an internationally known chef by profession and said to have been a master of the legacy Augustiner – Keller (in Hackerbrucke) since April 2010.

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It was brought into existence in 1812 after the official order by King Max Joseph I was passed, that these gardens could be places where both beer and food could be served. Since then this award winning place has lived to the reputation of serving freshly tapped beer and other Bavarian delicacies keeping the tradition alive and following high standards of service.

This place is also very much recognized amongst the locals and the tourists for its unique atmosphere. The first thing which you might notice here is the multiple seating options starting from the terrace to the unique vaults or if you like your lager under the shade in the open air then finding that perfect seat under one of the many chestnut trees should not be a problem. These trees were planted years ago so that the shade they provide could cool the ground and prevent the beer in the ice cellar from getting warm in summers.

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The beer at Augustiner is served straight out of wooden barrels and the strike of a bell marks the announcement of the opening of each new barrel.

Along with the selection of international specialties, light snacks and vegetarian dishes their beer selection is amazing as well. Majorly you can choose from Augustiner Edelstoff, Augustiner Weissbier, Augustiner Pils, Augustiner Dunkel or Augustiner Heller Bock. If you visit this place during the Oktoberfest you will also find Augustiner Oktoberfestbier and Augustiner Maximator two additional types of beer especially brewed for the festival time and cold weather.

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It also fascinates me that being the smallest brewery in Munich 70% of population drinks Augustiner and all this is without any publicity as the management  believes that there publicity is the quality. So if you are in Munich and looking for a casual place that works for dates, hanging out with friends or just grabbing a beer this place is to be!!

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For more information refer to: http://www.augustinerkeller.de/

Thank you for joining in with the interview, Mr. Vogler!

 

Traditional Viennese Schnitzel – Figlmueller

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So, my next stop was Vienna, Austria and as they say “No kangaroos in Austria” I dint find any but instead a lot of well groomed horses. The hotel (Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel) not very far from the airport also had a history related to horses as it was a military riding school back in 1850’s.

After a well deserved rest it was time to explore the city and taste the Viennese cuisine. It’s said and believed that Viennese cuisine is second to none in all of Europe.

Vienna is very much known for its coffee houses serving creamy coffees and rich chocolate cakes. Both indoor and outdoor seating’s are available; choose depending on your mood and company.

The best way to discover a city is to walk your way through; it not only gives you a panoramic view but also a chance to discover the hidden streets and alleys probably very famous amongst the locals for various reasons!  😉

This well-appointed city is full of architectural excellence. While I was walking, I crossed the famous Belvedere Castle, Russian Liberation Monument and made St. Stephen’s Cathedral my last stop for the evening as just behind this historic icon is Figlmueller – The home of the Schnitzel.

For over 100 years the chefs at Figlmueller are serving perfectly crisp & tender schnitzel and now it was time for me to try one.

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A schnitzel is a boneless meat(veal, mutton, chicken, beef, turkey, pork), thinned and flattened with a hammer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried. This popular dish is garnished with a slice of lemon and served either with potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter.

The reason why this restaurant is popular in the area is the originality of the recipe, fresh and best quality ingredients, the traditional presentation, and ambience. Talking about the ingredients, even the bread crumbs used for the coating is made exclusively of the Austrian emperor roll which is again made to order.

After the mains I also tried the Kaiserschmarrn with stewed plums from the dessert section. Loved it completely!!

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The staff is absolutely polite and speaks German and English. You might have to wait for few minutes before you could get a seat as this place is mostly crowded. For me the overall experience was worth the wait and money but for people who don’t have much time to wait it is always better to reserve a seat in advance.

For more info logon to http://www.figlmueller.at

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