Road to Eternity

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We followed the surging crowds that seemed to be heading in just one direction – towards the Sistine Chapel. With masses of people packed like sardines inside the chapel, it was hard to imagine it as a quiet place of deliberation. But cardinals have gathered here in conclave for centuries to elect new popes, broadcasting their results through smoke signals from a chimney. It’s also the only place in the museum where photography is prohibited. A world of discovery awaited us as we entered the Sistine Chapel – the pinnacle of western art.

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Mesmerising Melbourne

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Though Melbourne doesn’t have any iconic claim to fame, its ‘liveability’ is one of its greatest attractions. It’s a laid-back city with an endearing mix of old and new-world charm… an easy-going, yet sophisticated style. It’s not a place where you need to do something to feel you’re experiencing the city. So you needn’t wander around Melbourne just to tick off ‘must-see’ items on your list!

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Doha: Bridging the Gulf

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Nevertheless, Doha’s a well-planned city for sure. The roads are wide and traffic is quite organised. The best thing about Doha’s roads is that pedestrians are always given right of way. Since I was not aware of this on the first day, I stood on the pavement, waiting for the traffic light to turn red. To my surprise, all the cars stopped to let me cross. For a moment, I hesitated. Only when one of the drivers signalled for me to pass did I realise what was happening. Guess our desi car-owners can pick up a tip or two from Doha’s drivers!

However, our hotel was a complete letdown. It was supposed to be a five-star hotel, but didn’t seem to be worth even two stars. For one, it was just an unassuming brick building, lacking the grandeur and polish usually associated with Indian five-star hotels. Second, the bathrooms didn’t even have a bar of soap, leave alone any toiletries. When we asked for some water, the bell-boy, who happened to be an Indian, advised us to buy a mineral water bottle from a general store, which would cost us 1 Qatar Riyal (QAR), while the hotel would charge us 5 QAR. Rs 70 for a glass of water? What a rip-off!

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Sizzling Sydney

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Though the view and ambience at Darling Harbour are nothing compared to Sydney Harbour, the former has one thing that the latter doesn’t – the Lindt Café at Cockle Bay Wharf. Here, the mouth-watering array of pastries, milk shakes, ice-creams, macaroons and other desserts prepared from Lindt chocolate is to die for! Yummm… sinful, did I hear someone say?

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Vegas to LA: Entertainment Unlimited (Part 1: Las Vegas)

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A trip to these two cities is a must if you’re visiting the west coast of USA. From hip-hop Gen Y to grey-haired grannies, from the rich and famous to everyday citizens, there’s something for everyone in Vegas and LA. But first things first – those of you who think Sin City is just a gamblers’ paradise, think again. Apart from the lure of the lucre, there are a number of wondrous sights to be seen here, and many of them, surprisingly, do not involve semi-clad women!

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Niagara Falls & Grand Canyon – Grandeur of nature

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“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” This quote by the great African-American botanist and humanitarian, George Washington Carver, never ceases to inspire me whenever I’m travelling. So much so that my one-month long trip to the US seemed incomplete without a visit to two of the most spectacular natural wonders – the Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

Even though they’re both completely different works of nature and are situated on opposite coasts of the country, they strike a common cord due to their sheer enormity, beauty and the overwhelming experience they provide to visitors. And being intrepid explorers, neither my husband nor I wanted to miss either of these attractions.

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Ground Zero

New York: The Big Apple

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The only sound in this serene neighbourhood was the constant whirring of the security choppers patrolling the Hudson. Though there wasn’t much to see in New Jersey, I found its peaceful charm quite endearing. Whether it was driving through Harrison, or checking out the sprawling campuses of New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers Institute at Newark, or bagging great discounts at Newport mall, Jersey Gardens mall, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, BJ’s and Shop Rite, or simply walking along the Pier… New Jersey really appealed to my senses in a way that very few can comprehend.

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Venice: City of Dreams

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The buzz of the place, sparkling water, numerous boats, quaint buildings – all combined to create an image like nothing we had seen before. Venice is enchanting, romantic and iconic, bustling with life yet crumbling and ghostly. Everywhere we looked, it seemed like we were inside a painting or a film set arranged around picturesque canals.

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Balle Balle To Amritsar!

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We got more proof of people’s devotion when we saw children happily mopping the marble steps as people left or entered the hall. Then there were volunteers who were continuously cleaning candle wax from the marble pavement, even as new visitors kept lighting more candles.

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