Tag Archives: Explore

Trying to give Zaanse Schans a Chance….

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When I think of the Dutch countryside, I think windmills and tulips. I mean, it must be splattered all over books and the internet for a reason, because why else would I think that right?!

I imagined fields and fields of colorful flowerbeds. I saw it so clearly I could smell how fragrant it could have been! I was so excited to take picsssss and picsssss swimming inside those colorful, fragrant tulip fields with those big, huge windmill barns in the background.

I did a little research, but thought this is one of those things I want to go talk to locals about and have them direct me. This situation was like the biggest fail in life! The first piece of information person upon person told me (with smiley confusion on their faces, nonetheless – I must add here, Dutch people are extremely friendly!) was tulip season just ended. Literally by a day! My only thought was that it had to be impossible?!??! It was the middle of MAY! And you know….April showers, MAY flowers…..???????

So after tons of digging and chatting to locals etc, the whole deal is tulip season is basically only like a month and a half. After that, they cut the tulips and sell them all across Europe. And that is that. That is it. That is all. Go home stupid tourists, no flowers here. The reason the tulips get so much hype is that – for that month and a half – they are actually THAT beautiful! You just have to be there for that month and a half from around the end of March until mid-May.

The best place to go to see the tulips is in Lisse, which is in western Netherlands and considered in the Provence of South Holland. There, you will find the famous Keukenhof flower gardens (Don’t even ask me how to pronounce that, because the way I say it in my head, was NOT the way the locals pronounced it even to any degree! Dutch is an interesting language one may find entertaining if not familiar lol). I was told the best way to enjoy the tulip fields is if you bike through it! That would have been nice. Lisse was a bit far from Amsterdam, and since my schedule in the Netherlands was tight, it was a no-go. I figured if I go all the way over there, and it’s just a bunch of fields with no flowers, I would rather not waste the day traveling that far.

I ended up going nearby to Zaanse Schans, to take a chance to see the flowers (there were none!) but there were windmills!

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It was a cute little village with traditional Dutch style cottages. I’ll be honest, it looked man-made, but I heard it is not. I don’t know, that’s just the feeling I got. Maybe it would have not felt that way, had there been tulips. This place was filled with tourists as well.

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After taking a walk around for about 15 mins, I was pretty much done lol. None of my pics turned out nicely either. The sun was a little too bright, I was traveling with others who are not into photography and I didn’t have my selfie stick at that time.

I really did try to appreciate it but it just wasn’t for me. I think when you have a glorified image of a place in your mind, and it turns out to be not as magical, you can’t help feeling disappointed. In my defense, the way I see it, the world is humongous and every place you might end up traveling to and exploring may not be magical for everyone. There were some picturesque moments though….

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This is my favorite pic!

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I do have to note, as I looked out onto the open field (which should have been filled with tulips, and was the week before!) It totally reminded me of India! I have a fond memory of my cousins taking me for a drive in the countryside of Punjab on our way from picking up my nephew from his college (or “tuitions” as they call it lol) to show me the “real” pindh! Lol…

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DDLJ…? 🙂

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Sometimes you have to go to a place to understand these things so you don’t get so disappointed. Next time I go to Holland, I will know to go in April for the tulips. I will also try to research more villages I can go to any time, like Giethoorn, which I really wanted to go see but had no time. I wrote about it on my old magazine if you would like to check it out here:

http://www.hautedvie.com/discover-dutch-village-straight-storybook/

Anyways, Holland is beautiful, but you have to go on the right season if you want to experience the whole galore of swimming in tulips. That was a major thing I wanted to see. I’ll probably do some more research on some other villages besides Giethoorn to explore any time of year without the disappointment of no tulips. Europe is known for some exquisite countrysides!

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This guy made and sold fresh orange and apple juice. I posted a fun video on Instagram

Definitely on my bucket list is to tour around as many European countrysides as possible! You definitely need the time and also understand the best villages in Europe may not be the easiest to get to. Definitely do your research, plan ahead and accordingly and possibly rent a car.

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-Karen Bahri

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Kazan, Russia’s Temple of All Religions:

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The Temple of All Religions, or the “Universal Temple”, is an architectural complex in the Staroye Arakchino Microdistrict of Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia.

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As one reviewer on tripadvisor stated:

How much longer are we going to be divided by different religions? God equals Good. Here is one creation in the name of Greater Good.

Clustered tightly on a small plot of land, the complex consists of several cupolas, minarets and spires representing the religious architecture of 12 major religions of the world. There is a Christian cross, the Muslim crescent, the Star of David and the Chinese dome.

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Because it is not a functioning temple, no ceremonies are actually performed inside. The building is basically a cultural center which also serves as the residence of its owner – Ildar Khanov, and his assistants. Khanov is a local artist and philanthropist who practices spiritual healing upon willing subjects. Khanov is known for his efforts in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and various other diseases. His former and current patients help him to maintain and develop the Temple, either by direct involvement in the construction work or through sponsorship.

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Khanov believed that all religions are equal, and the Temple of All Religions was his way to bring them all under one roof. It was started in 1992 and still currently under construction.

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As the story goes, Ildar Khanov, a graduate from Kazan Art School, was an eccentric individual who claimed he met Jesus when he was just three years old. It was during the difficult years of the Great Patriotic War. Khanov almost died of starvation when Jesus saved him and showed him heaven and hell. According to him, it was then that he embarked on his journey as an artist and healer.

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The Temple has become a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, which takes pride in the peaceful combination of different cultures including Islamic Tatar, Orthodox Russian, and others. Khanov describes its mission, a “temple of culture and truth”. The Temple is visited both by tourists and by people seeking Khanov’s healing touch.

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-Karen Bahri

 

Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Ahhh Italy!!! Italy is such an amazing and beautiful country where there are sooo many famous cities/towns you have to check out. It’s like you have to take a couple months off so you can see everything! All the major cities – Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, oh my god!! Italy just doesn’t stop!!

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I’m about to make your Italian itinerary a bit more complicated (insert evil smile emoji) Forget the major cities…okay maybe not, but try for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to explore REAL Italy?! Outside the major tourist destinations? Wouldn’t it be cool to get lost and see what Italy is REALLY like? Of course it would!! Just brush up on some Italiano and follow my list of destinations in Italy that are a little less “well known” but you get away from the crowds and actually see Italy for what it REALLY is!

MODENA

The ancient town of Modena boasts to have the best restaurant in ALL OF EUROPE (Osteria Francescana) as well as it is the hub of Italian auto making.

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RAVELLO

Amalfi Coast – be damned! The cliffside town of Ravello also offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea!

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SIRACUSA

Settlements in this Sicilian archeological wonderland date back as far as 734 BC! Siracusa was once the largest city in the ancient world! It is best known for its Ancient Greek ruins as well as amazing food.

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PARMA

Home of …you guessed it! Parmesan Cheese! Parma is a foodie’s paradise as it is the first Italian city to win the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy award! It is also home of one of the oldest universities in the world – Parma University.

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MATERA

This ancient city is carved into a canyon believe it or not! It is one of the oldest still-inhabited places on earth and extremely exotic to visit!

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TRIESTE

Visiting Trieste is like pretending like you are actually in Slovenia, but actually you are not! This place is filled with Viennese coffee houses and Slavic restaurants. Uncommon for Italy, Trieste is kind of a melting pot of Italian, Latin, German, Jewish and Slavic people.

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So now which one or ones of these places do you think you want to include on your bucket list next time you are in Italy?? Let me know! 🙂

 

-Karen Bahri