“No other city will do, its Paris indisputably ” These were my words that rang when I rolled 40, the same very words repeated on my 50th, and when it got rerouted to Goa I didn’t complain.


My 60th year was so historic. A lot of dreams accomplished the commencement of the year, almost surreal. A year chock-full of the insurmountable that simply fell into place miraculously.

Celebrating Paris on my 60th is a dream that happened. I made it happen!


I had last visited Europe two decades ago. That part of the world was going through considerable upheaval. The Berlin wall had collapsed, the aftermath of German reunification was quite a surprise, not envisaged especially by West Germany. On the other hand, the cessation of Communist Russia had a distinctive outcome historically and demographically in East Europe.


Paris, post the crumbling of the iron curtain, reunification of Germany, not to forget EU, among other historical twists and turns, and decades later is still smouldering. As I write, a few preceding Instagram posts reflected utter despair and frustration, many inveterate travellers visiting Paris were all boxed in their hotel rooms!


I was lucky, I managed to see Paris in all its glory. Disregard the fact that I got cheated by an émigré taxi driver the day we arrived (most hotels have brochures instructing not to take Taxis without the sign, and guide to stay safe in Paris). Ignore the fact that my husband nearly got nicked at the metro station {again by someone desperate to stay on illegally in Paris}, discount the fact that the Gendarmes are quite helpless against petty crime, overlook the fact the Paris is downright unsafe.
It’s the paranoid who survive anywhere, I am one among that ilk!


Novotel Eiffel as the name suggest was just a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower. After reproving the hotel reception staff for not advising us about errant Taxi drivers (we paid double the normal fare and the receipt wasn’t legit), we cooled off by heading towards the Eiffel Tower.

It was June, the evening sun was mellow and the cool breeze notwithstanding we huddled into heavy coats and hurried towards the Eiffel Tower. My husband cautioned me that there is no need to rush as dusk falls at 10 pm. Summer in Europe is the busiest time and thronging with tourists


Referring to the Eiffel Tower comparable in appearance to a TV tower, a tourism minister of a state in India could not quite grasp why it commands veneration and milling crowds! True to facts, the Eiffel Tower attracts 273 million people from all over the world each year.

Completed in 1889 by Gustav Eiffel for the Universal Expo, the design by two engineers under Gustav is credited more for designing and taking part in a competition that finally got selected. The tower construction (a little known fact) was a centennial commemorative monument to mark the French Revolution.


The ground that surrounds the tower is more expansive than the tower base. At one side of the tower, the corner had benches neatly placed around for people to sit and admire. I, for instance, could not stop staring at the gigantic steel structure from all angles, the best view is from the centre of the base, I was so amazed.

A long queue at the entrance point is to cart people to the 3rd floor of the Eiffel Tower. As the guide said one could climb 2 floors for free but nominal charges for the elevator {3rd floor height about the 80th floor of a building}. The long queue is part of the scene any given time. The sheer 360-degree view of the most beautiful city in the world from the top floors of Eiffel Tower is worth the wait.


The most famous restaurant (Michelin star) Tour 58 Eiffel is on the 2nd floor, has its own private lift. Dinner at Tour 58 is for the well-heeled, New Year party entrance fee alone is 500 euros! Tables need to be reserved a month in advance for lunch and 3 months for dinner!!!


Novotel Eiffel is very strategically located between the Eiffel Tower and the statue of Liberty, (yes the very same), Miss Liberty also exists in the hotel lobby! I was pleasantly surprised when the GM of Novotel pointed his finger towards Pont Grenelle, “ Do not forget to see Miss Liberty right there” he said.

Bridge Grenelle is a popular stop for many tourists, on one side is the Eiffel Tower pointing towards the sky, cross the road and Miss Liberty towers from the Seine.
Steps leading down head towards the artificial little “island of swans”, a smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty with faint green colour is a familiar sight to most Parisians.

IMG_7950.JPGMiss Liberty is something one might not expect to be situated here, in fact, there are two such in Paris! Many tourists staying at my hotel when asked whether they knew of the statue, replied in the negative. Miss Liberty was a gift from the American community living in France during the centennial celebrations of the French Revolution and faces the direction of the USA.

One evening when we were returning to our hotel across the Seine, I noticed an exciting photo shoot over Pont de Bir Hakeim. It was for a wedding catalogue and the road either side of the bridge was a flurry of activity. There was a rap song being filmed, a Limousine parked one side of the bridge had model brides in their flowing white gowns posing pretty.

Bir Hakeim Bridge is two-tiered, the lower one for vehicular traffic has scenic backdrop setting, it overlooks the Ile aux Cygnes (island of swans) where the statue of Liberty is situated and the other side the Eiffel Tower. The river Seine is a long river and major waterway, there are bewildering 37 bridges, some even over canals. I was pretty much confused over the many bridges I traversed across. Address location across left and the right bank was equally confounding!


The Pont Alexandre Bridge was a gift from Tsar Nicholas to France for an unpaid loan. This is a significant striking bridge steeped in history, elaborate carvings all along the pillars and streetlights is a must visit. The River Seine is the pride of Paris, don’t miss the innumerable cruises that one can journey along and appreciate the many stunning bridges. Some cruise companies offer hop- on- off excursions valid for 24 hours.


The Paragon Art collection – The Louvre Museum.
Don’t make the mistake of packing just museum visits in a day on tour. The Louvre needs one whole day if not more, it’s that extensive and exhaustive. As we alighted at Red Bus Line (Open Tour) stop 4 the distinct glass Pyramid appeared surreal. The Grand Palais du Louvre backdrop was imposing, I had to double check if the stop was indeed the Louvre Musee!

The glass Pyramid entrance long winding queue confirmed I had arrived at the largest most visited Museum in the world. Like the Eiffel Tower, the Museum is a must visit and highlight of my Paris tour. The Grand Palace of the Louvre was a fortress rebuilt as the residence for the royal family. It’s so expansive, the palace gardens and quadrangle estate add to the glorious backdrop.


Due recognition must be given to Francis 1 and Louis XIV who donated a major part of their artworks which were amassed from great masters. Augmenting with other acclaimed art collection were from the Napoleon era apparently unreturned! When the Louvre became a full-fledged museum as the palace was rarely used by the royals, many famous paintings were purchased by the French government. The vast collection that developed at the Louvre was priceless!


The Louvre Museum is astounding, it’s a haven for art aficionados, it’s the first palace turned museum in the world, it houses the worlds greatest collection of art, it’s the most visited landmark in France and the world. The list of credits to the most celebrated art paradise is comprehensive, as exhaustive as the many chambers, floors, {salles} to visit, its mind boggling.

My head was reeling as I stood in the queue, I asked my husband whether we should buy a pass for the next day too, I seriously doubted we could finish the rounds in 6 hours. The principal entrance is through the controversial Glass Pyramid, at the centre court. I was quite confused at another quadrangle palace wall opposite to the 71 ft. a tall glass and metal Pyramid entrance (also called the scar on Louvre!} The Pyramid de Louvre is a modern addition which leads you down to a world none other, it is sheer magic!

The central reception friendly staffs will explain through maps and brochures how to spend a productive day just stare walling at masterpieces. It’s advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry water to keep you going, there are many cafes at each stop. I overlooked at replenishing with a light snack and coffee as I decided which Salle to entre first and it was hands down the Mona Lisa.


Mona Lisa smiled above several bobbing heads and outstretched hands with mobiles. The lady at the reception desk pointed out, that like me there are many who land up first in the room that houses Mona Lisa. The excitement is palpable, I really could not match the frenzy of the crowd when I stared hard at the Mona Lisa. Here was the most emblematic painting of the world by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, the most expensive (reportedly insured for 30 million dollars) oil on wood, half-length (I finally figured the size, it is not that big).


Mona Lisa in real life died in obscurity, her enigmatic smile has inspired copiers at the Louvre reproducing this famous art over 1000 times under controlled copies! Don’t be disappointed if you can’t see this painting up close. A wide cordon keeps the distance, and ever since it was once stolen, this painting deserves the security with guards at all exit points of the room not to forget cameras!


Some days the Louvre permits top impressionists to sit transfixed at their easel. Copiers on a regular basis are given permission to generate art on selected most famous paintings and sculptures at the Louvre. On last count 600 ( brochure info, not sure if its an annual quota ) were churned out replicas! I didn’t come across anyone working hard on their reproductions, the security guard said, usually during offseason.


The map of Louvre Museum is very exhaustive and confounding for a first timer, it’s really daunting when you have just a day to cover. Sections Denon, Sully, and Richelieu are the principal three must visits. For easy viewing, each section is further divided into European masters, French and even Modern Art.


 We had just a few hours left and I was very keen to see the famous most talked about paintings (apart from the Mona Lisa) and sculptures. My husband had his favourites to cover, I too added to the wish list after referring to a glossy coffee table book at the bookshop (entrance level), which made it easy to cover both art and sculptures on all levels (Salle). The brochure available at the reception desk is also a good quick reckoner.


It is not an exaggeration when visitors write down their impressions about the Louvre in overwhelming sentiments and bewilderment. It is surreal, I felt like pinching myself, I was elated, gratified and emerged erudite about the great masters, I was indeed so fortunate.


Text/ Photos – Jyoti Shetty


Indonesia has a wide spectrum of regions to cover; listing it is interminable, each with their own flavour and unique landscapes, even wildlife. The abundance of natural flora and fauna, mountains, the fabled undulating rice fields, dormant volcanoes, silver sand beaches and pleasant friendly people.


Indonesia is vibrant, it explodes with culture and history, and there is so much to follow in its trails here. The list as we mention is a few to cover on my bucket list. Sumatra, Java, Central Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and the jewel in the crown­­­­­—Bali. It’s no wonder that in spite of repeated visits to Indonesia (six times) there are lots to cover and one can’t have enough of Bali and Ubud.


Bali is home to over 1000 temples, making it the highest density place for temples—one can feel the Hindu fervour in every nook and corner. The natural lush varied landscape emphasizes culture and the intense dedication of the Balinese.


A history that encapsulates religion is prominently placed for three main gods of the Hindu pantheon, following the three-temple philosophy. Brahma is the mountain god often facing the mountain, Vishnu the village god who is surrounded by lavish temples in the midst of villages, and Shiva is the Sea god who is always facing the ocean.


When in Bali, look at options of staying in Ubud to soak in art and architecture, and the true spirit of Bali. We opted for six days, many tourists soak in the sun at the favourite beach spots and Ubud as long-haul stay. Just 2 hours from Kuta, the drive is pleasant and scenic. Jakarta is en route before climbing up gentle slopes to Ubud.


Ubiquitously known as the central heartland, it is also the heart and soul of Bali. It’s home to the most talented artists, craftsmen and artisans, dancers. The proliferation of Spas and Yoga centres are evident that Ubud is fast gaining the title of holistic capital of Bali. Ubud can be simply described as the Shangri La of Bali, and Bali, paradise revisited.


A few hours domestic flight from Jakarta by Garuda airways you land at the most impressive Adisucipto International Airport located east of Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta as officially spelt, (the locals favour pronouncing it as Jogja), is a remarkable tourist destination, and like Bali is an oft-visited location in Indonesia, Jogja is fast gaining a reputation as a must visit. Yogyakarta is best known for the famous UNESCO temples, it’s the arts, culture, heritage centre of Indonesia, and synonymous with Javanese classical dance Ballet.


Yogyakarta is a busy bustling city but on a smaller scale than Jakarta. For inveterate travellers this region of Royalty, studded with ancient temples, beaches, volcanoes, choice of resorts, hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, and most importantly it has been (still is) the seat of Javanese culture.


Jogja is the fount of all religious beliefs carried down since centuries and preserved to date by the existing Sultan. It’s these Temples and ancient sites that the world descends upon to ponder on reflected glory of ancients Kings and Kingdoms in Yogyakarta.


THE GRAND TEMPLES THE WORLD COMES TO SEE– As early as the 8th-9th century Yogyakarta ruled supreme as the capital for ancient kingdoms based on the three main religions of that period in time, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. These religions engraved their beliefs in the temples that abound in Yogyakarta and today UNESCO considers them world heritage sites.



Borobudur is situated in central Java, there are two other important Buddhist temples around this complex but it is here that one visits first to see the wondrous temple etched in lavic stone. Built during the reigns of Shailendra (Syailendra Dynasty that ruled for five centuries, and must have been the golden era of that time as prolific temple building activity took place around this region). Borobudur is an architectural marvel of the most distinctive open Stupa design. Built around the Kadu hills that form a protective feature and scenic view.


Hindu Temples Add Glory To This Temple Town PRAMBANAN- Built around the 9th cent and over 300 years, this is the tallest and largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and South East Asia. Having visited Bali numerous times and completed the Hindu temple round extensively, I have always been fascinated with inroads of Hinduism this far in Asia. Yogyakarta had 3 prominent religions prevalent during ancient times, the Hindu belief was due to the patronage received from the Hindu ruler Sanjaya of the Mataram dynasty.


Our tour guide John sums up very succinctly what Hinduism in Bali meant to him and in general. According to him, every Balinese lives in fear of natural calamities that strikes Indonesia constantly. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are the most dreaded. Every Balinese, rich or poor observe daily rituals, small shrines near doorways to every household is a complete must, prayers on important days like the full and new moon is mandatory.


All this has lent stability, peace, prosperity and a sense of great pride that this independent Hindu island is allowed to practice while the rest are predominant Muslims. To most, that is what makes them immortalize the religion to every passing generation and to remain so without many clashes is the greatness that Hinduism has prospered in Bali. Ironically, much of the world around even those practising Hinduism this advantage has not passed on to the very day, and to think this was imported from India! This is why I got married in Bali!!

 Text Photos- Jyoti Shetty


Think the Maldives and what comes to mind? Sun-kissed atolls in turquoise waters, endless white beaches, a barefoot tropical paradise – enjoyed by honeymooners, celebrities, the well-heeled or the once-in-a-lifetime visitor.  Until now, the Maldives experience has been restricted to an exclusive – in more ways than one – resort lifestyle.IMG_3033IMG_2896.JPGIMG_3033

This was our repeated visit to the Maldives, and we always never stop admiring the blue halo around the myriad islands that beckoned us, and our heart just tingled at the thought of jumping into our own massive swimming pool, the surrounding sea.


These string of islands scattered on the equator in the Indian Ocean is described as Paradise by one and all. 1190 islands that are spread over 26 atolls ring like coral formations enclosing a lagoon, which gives the Maldives its unique paradise-like appearance. The Maldives is blessed with beautiful breathtaking coral reefs and amazing marine life.


It is the quintessential Island where you can just forget yourself from the outside world and live among a handful of residents from all over the world, in your own little palm-fringed, turquoise blue Robinson Crusoe isolated Island.


The Maldives has another sentiment attached to our regular visits there: it’s fast sinking. Out of the 1000 odd habitable islands the forecast for this tiny island country with a population of 445,243 the future is quite grim. The islands are reportedly sinking a couple of inches every year, global warming marking its presence to the dismay of friendly Maldivians, many of whom are already making plans of migrating to the greener pastures of Sri Lanka, India and even UK.


Meanwhile, as long as the sun shines, the clear blue water sparkles, happy tourists come in by the droves, and it is their Island home as long as the going is good.


The Maldives is blessed with year-round good weather, it does get squalls and sudden rains but doesn’t last too long. The peak season starts November well into March, and some islands are charged by the sun literally! But the most alluring crystal clear waters, scuba diving makes you feel like one of the fish. World over divers come to plunge into these absolutely amazing clear waters.


Welcome to Hulhumale one of the largest manmade community islands in the Maldives and Asia! Emerging from the turquoise blue lagoon island here is one of man’s best inventions with a purpose, costing billions of dollars, taking decades to build, Hulhumale, is just 15 minutes by speedboat from Male, offers ‘Maldivian dream holidays at dream prices’. Idyllic white beaches, turquoise lagoons, clear warm waters and coral reefs abundant with marine flora and fauna, is available to everyone regardless of budget.


Local Island Adventure, Discovery Cruises, and Local Island Scuba Diving, as well as the options that the Maldives is famous for – Resorts and Live-aboard. There are many world-class spas and wellness facilities, or you can just kick back and do nothing…. Be warned bikini and alcohol laws apply as a strict code of conduct here!


text and photos- Jyoti Shetty


I LOVE MELBOURNE- I remember the first time I spent nearly 4 weeks in this most effervescent and zippy city of Australia, it was spring, and it was not the kind of spring that I expected. The cold apart, it’s the sudden change of weather ranging all seasons in a day that took my breath away.


As weeks rolled by I got acclimatized and my initial reaction of disgruntlement never to return because of the weather was misrepresented. I revisited for the 2nd time after 9 months!


When in Melbourne, discover some of the hidden gems downtown city. Suburbia-Melbourne limits are startling locations, each having its unique sights and sounds. Epicureans Nirvana, Shoppers Paradise in many places along the streets of town/ city. Melting Pot like New York and any other major cities of the world reflecting in the cuisine and culture.


The freeway leads to some of the most dramatic landscapes and famed vineyards.  Melbourne has a rich history and background.  Some of the City Landmarks are a mute testimony- Iconic state buildings, famous spots, are a must visit in and around Melbourne.

IMG_5448.JPGThere are many sobriquets that make Melbourne the most livable lovable city year after year. Marvellous Melbourne says it all!


Sydney- London Vibes Down Under=


Many declare Melbourne deserves this title, but I feel Sydney fits in better.  Way back when Captain Cooke set foot in Sydney it is the harbour that beckoned him. The harbour today is the most celebrated location in Sydney, with the two most prominent landmarks, Sydney Harbor Bridge and The Royal Opera House. Most tourists pay obeisance to the harbour area before exploring other parts of Sydney.



Since time immemorial the harbour has held sway as the most important Centre for trade and commerce, and in the 21st Century, no harbour in the world has witnessed such action and activity any given time of the day or night.

The innumerable boats, yachts of every size even Kayaks dot the harbour, the most famous Yacht race on traditional Boxing Day takes place here, on New Year’s Eve, the fireworks are the highlight with the most spectacular display that lights up the Sydney night skies.

There are innumerable restaurants, cafes, boutiques and stores that border all around the Bridge and Opera House, food malls are jam-packed during season time and events. There are street shows, interesting sales of handicrafts and foodstuff by the local residents, musicians and jugglers vie for attention around the cobbled sidewalks making this one of the most visited exciting places to be. And can’t miss mentioning this, I found Sydney tops in the sartorial fashion quotient.



The harbour has loads of other touristy spots that are easily pointed out from harbour view. Most exceptionally the Circular Quay, Luna Park, and Anzac Bridge all accessible from the waterways, including famous islands like Cockatoo and others.


The unrestrained, most recognized spot in Sydney is the Bondi Beach, it really brings Baywatch alive!


Bondi beach on a hot summer day will give anyone out of shape an inferiority complex. I was surprised to see a few reputed plastic surgery clinics just opposite the beach road! Bondi beach is always swarming, and a great place to discreetly people watch across numerous restaurants. I just nursed a beer and enviously look at great bodies in skimpy costumes frolic in the surf waters.


Bondi Beach is Sydney’s pride, evidently the most famous of the beaches in Australia, it even ranks as one of the top beach destinations. It’s also a place for adrenalin junkies, one can spot people playing beach ball, or work out on exercise bars, its like people don’t just laze out. Yoga gymnastics by agile youngsters draw attention to a small curious crowd of onlookers.


The mantra is to take the sun and be active. Bondi’s golden sand, gentle waves is a place for all the cool chics and handsome hunks. As for people like me, just a walk along the beachfront and relaxing on the beach is good enough. Bondi Beach is Sydney’s best.


Laid Back Adelaide-

A repeat visit to Australia has its advantages, I try to log in as many cities to understand the topography and immerse in the different landscapes.  Adelaide and Sydney was one such exploration.


My niece and her husband Sachetan were longstanding residents there, presently residing in Melbourne. Both found Adelaide’s pace of life far slow paced than dynamic Melbourne.


Just 7 hours drive from Melbourne, the road trip to Adelaide was to escape from the biting cold of Melbourne. En route superhighways we halted in the vibrant lake area just halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, Lake MacDonnell. The high salt content in the lake waters reflects the pink hue, I almost expected Flamingoes to complete the beautiful scenery.


Closer to Melbourne which we did on the return is the Emerald Lake, which during a particular season and water content turns a deep blue-green. It wasn’t so when we stopped by but the tranquil lake and rolling hills afar were so peaceful.


Entering Adelaide the first thing I remarked was, where is everybody? It was so sedated, incredibly quiet, and as our car rolled into our service apartment facing the beachfront promenade, even that appeared too peaceful.

Adelaide is the 5th most populous cities in Australia and is capital of the state of South Australia. It’s also known as University town.


Adelaide may be laid back, quaint and slow-paced, is actually a bit of a hyperbole. There are extraordinary architectural buildings including University blocks, expansive parks, quaint residential homes, boutique shopping, sandy beaches which are not crowded like Bondi and Manly beach, a rocking nightlife, and great weekend getaways like the wine valleys of Mclaren Vale and Barossa.

My next Fernwey Spot is the superlative Maldives, I’ve logged 10 repeat visits here!! (cont)

Text and Canon Photos- Jyoti Shetty

 IMG_5409.JPGThere is a reason why I have called my blog Wheelsundermyfeet. Emphatically, proudly I do proclaim, that I never was a resting bug, snug in a rug kind of person! I was fortunate that my profession as PR consultant to several high-level resorts and hotels pan India gave me the edge, an indispensable experience. IMG_5479.JPGAnother obsession that I have off late established, is planning a holiday before the current one is yet to get over! It is most exciting especially the strategy stage. Some of the places I have visited countless times, quite by chance, after a long hiatus, and trust me once is not enough!

IMG_5529.JPG A repeat visit piques my curious nature to know a country further, it could be the cultural aspect, landscape, and the natural beauty, people too, and as I’ve noticed, my old passports have mapped beachside countries interminably.

IMG_5547.JPGTake for instance my recent visit to Australia, I had to put up with stumbling blocks querulously questioning my repeat visit! Since my youth, colleagues and friends migrated to the US of A, I was super keen to migrate to Australia. In the early 80’s studying in Australia was unheard of, it was expensive and it was forever shelved.

Melbourne Yarra-1.jpeg

My beautiful niece and her handsome husband reside in Melbourne, so repeat visits fulfill my long-standing desire to settle down in Australia.  I have added a few cities on my list that I’ve explored albeit briefly. Australia is a huge continent and this is why I reiterate once is not enough!

IMG_5815.JPG I can write paeans about Australia, the first time when I set foot, I was amazed at the burgeoning Indian and Chinese population quite at ease, hard-working, struggling to be accepted and most importantly have made a mark in contributing to Australia’s economy. The tourism industry here is vibrant and welcoming. I loved the Aussie experience. Here is why……(cont)

Text and Canon photos- Jyoti Shetty

A great deal has been peddled on the Penguin Parade, it’s a spectacle of waddling miniature Penguins that emerge from the sea towards eager milling crowd seated on stands and boardwalks.


There are several tours available, but a day trip is quite easily the finest and lot of other interesting stopovers to enjoy the Australian landscape.IMG_6172.JPG

Like with all the other “Day Trip tours” in Victoria, a clear day is best to set out, at least hope, taking the unpredictable Melbourne weather.

Australia’s tourism industry intensely relies on its wild side, its primaeval flora and fauna is untouched and has remained so for centuries. Tourists are naturally drawn to see the unknown, but what astonished me were the Australians who are more cognizant and proud of the abundance of wildlife and natural wealth that thrives. Philip Island Penguin Parade Tour alludes to all this and the best of Victoria’s nature and wildlife.


The tour commences from Federation Square at about 11 am, the luxury coach is a comfortable drive with a proficient driver cum guide. The drive throughout was very enlightening, and impressive knowledge of the Penguins revealed. I was totally bemused, and by the time we reached the initial stopover, I was ardently looking forward to visiting the Penguin parade straightaway!


Philip Island Koala Conservation Centre is located in Cowes, sprawling over 15 acres of bushland. The guide remarked as we pulled up at the entrance, that we were indeed lucky to see the two star attractions of this tour, first the Penguins and second the Koalas. We were hopeless to see cute cuddly Koalas up-close in their natural habitat in deep slumber.


They were so oblivious and scooching distance from the fence of the boardwalk, that prying eyes and camera flash didn’t deter them one bit. Every such footfall at the Centre is a great donation to Koala Conservation, as its natural habitat is wantonly depleting at an alarming rate.


The next enroute stop was the historic Churchill Island a small island off Philip Island. The visitor’s Centre and path to this farm gAve some insight into Australia’s thriving wool and dairy industry.

IMG_6044.JPGWalking through the gently rolling well laid out farm with the menagerie of animals including a peacock and an old well-groomed horse was delightful. During sheep shearing season, visitors are entertained with the fastest hand in shaving the entire line up of sheep.

IMG_6087.JPGI didn’t quite figure out the historic aspect of the farm visit, but immensely enjoyed the Churchill café at the corner. A relaxed, welcome lunch and coffee break followed.


Some tour buses stop over at Nobbies coastal corner to get a better view of the landscape and sometimes one can spot Penguins there too.IMG_6188.JPG I saw many Wallabies, Kangaroos and Possums.

The next and grand finale, the Penguin Parade. There was a palpable excitement as we alighted at the Penguin Centre. We assembled to attend the highlights of the grand parade, and some important do’s and don’ts. One most important announcement was no flash camera and that it was strictly forbidden. Nowhere have I witnessed such importance and respect given to wildlife, the world’s tiniest Penguins is a venerated star attraction here, I soon understood what the hoopla was all about.


Australia’s world famous Penguin Parade is home to Victoria’s largest colony of little penguins. They are the size of a small rabbit, almost palm size! As the sun sets in the distant horizon the first huddled batch of little penguins make their paths across the beach to rest the night in their sandy burrows.

IMG_6220.JPGAnd what makes this a parade? As I entered the paths leading to the stands, an enclosed cabin designed to view the Penguins had an endless stream of info blaring through loudspeakers. The announcer was also building up-tempo to the countdown of the first batch of almost scared little Penguins get swept ashore. There was a sudden hush, no chatter, no commotion, it was pin drop silence as requested.


 As soon as the first batch of nearly 20 Penguins waddled through, the next 100 Penguins made a quick dash to join the first brave batch that waddled under the walkway, giving a clear glimpse of these frail Penguins.


It was fascinating how the seashore was filled with emerging Penguins from all corners, they made these strange low-pitched meows as they crossed Summerland Beach on their return home for the night!


At the far exit corner, is a wonderful shopping arcade of everything from T-shirts, to fridge magnets and stuffed toys, depicting the star attraction, the tiny Penguins of Philip Island.

Text/Photo- Jyoti Shetty




If you are a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik overshadows Split where the famous TV series has been filmed. Both Split and Dubrovnik have been favourite locales, and the tour is touted as excellent apart from the historical aspect.


The exact places where the celebrated series was extensively filmed will take you through the streets where different scenes were shot. Along the way, you will hear many interesting facts and stories about the GOT filming time in Dubrovnik, its history and importance for Croatia.


The Old Town of Dubrovnik a famous UNESCO site is one of the most visited and photographed destinations in Europe. Known for its wonderful Renaissance and Baroque style architecture, red brick roofs and has surrounding walls, 2 Km long. According to the brochure Dubrovnik City walls that were built for defence fortification run uninterrupted for 1940 meters encircling the City, including Old Ports.


When visiting Croatia, Dubrovnik is worth more than a visit. The Stradun is the main street, which is so beautiful, one can enter the Old city through two gates, I entered the Pile gate.



Before delving into Dubrovnik Old city, I must touch upon one important fact of the drive from Hvar port to Dubrovnik, it’s the drive through Bosnia a stretch of approx 5 Km that interjects with Croatian borders, obviously an unsettled border issue and I wondered what the world would have been if there were no borders! It requires tourists to show a valid visa and a Bosnian stamp on your passport.


Croatia’s border with Bosnia Herzegovina encompasses crossing in several places, the closest to Dubrovnik being at Ivanica, just 20 min drive from the Old city, followed by another at Neum. Until recently Bosnia and Croatia’s border controls have been relatively easy and traffic largely tourism flows freely.


Passing through Bosnia was so beautiful, in fact, the group stopped by to order Pizzas at a Pizzeria, but here too the first time belligerent traveller got alarmed and we had to pack food and eat cold pizzas after the border crossing!!


I must quote George Bernard Shaw before I point out the highlights of Dubrovnik. So enchanted was Shaw with this beautiful city that there are paeans written by him, “ those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik” as well as” the pearl of the Adriatic” Situated in the southernmost part of Croatia on steep rocks and Adriatic Coast.

IMG_4763.JPGDubrovnik existed way back in the 6th cent under the name of Ragusium! With the arrival of Slavic people and other refugees, the city expanded and fortified. The Croatian name is Dubrovnik, the ancient city with outstanding Maritime trade owing to its ideal location, that is how it prospered.


This prosperity ushered in a cultural transformation attaining unenviable heights, the Old city reflects that even today.


The gates to the Old city was absolutely packed with excited crowds, most cruise liners disembark here. It is advisable to buy a Dubrovnik Card, which entails you to step inside old town according to the number of days you want, including bus trips, explore historical sites, museums and galleries for the duration of days.


Don’t miss the Tower Bell, and Orlando’s column, the Palaces, other incredible buildings steeped in history. The Dubrovnik card also comes with a booklet listing out all details to visit.


I spent two glorious days just within the city ramparts, the city walk all along the wall is very tiring over narrow cobbled paths. With surging crowds, one has to follow a straight track, and tourists going crazy with selfie sticks makes everyone behind stop in their tracks!


Don’t rush through this walk, take two days instead of one if you possibly could as there is enough to keep one occupied in the Old city. It will transport you back in time.



The view from every corner of the turrets especially those higher up are breathtaking. There is one corner of the turret area as you snake along that overlooks an iconic Cliffside restaurant called Buza Bar.


The walk along the wall offers a 360-degree view of the vertical rock face, blue Adriatic Sea, kayak enthusiasts, cruise boats and mind-blowing sunsets.


IMG_4949.JPGInside the walled city, there were handsome men wearing costumes of yore to pose willingly with tourists, some even held mock swords and knives, musicians held sway at Centre stage selling customary music in pen drives!


20170514_144737.jpgAn ironsmith at a cubby corner in traditional garb sold horseshoes, pendants, made out of metal. Everything looked vibrant, colourful, there was music in the air, lots of shopping, gourmet restaurants, it was incredibly effervescent.



I witnessed four weddings in a day in the churches that abound old city, we even joined in the dancing. The theme of GOT was played over and over again!



There were plenty of cultural traditional dances by local artists at central square here, the crowd clapped to the lilting tune and some of them tried to keep pace.



The port into which trade ships sailed into Dubrovnik can be seen from a small square in front of another Fort Revelin. Today replicas of the Karaka or galleons transport tourists to distant islands, there is even a floating restaurant (very expensive) which hosts weddings and live bands in one of the grand bedecked wooden ships.



Another port here just round the corner facing St Ivans port is the location for many scenes in GOT, I spent hours here daydreaming.



Dubrovnik was my last stop here, and 2 weeks of Croatian sojourn just flew by as I caught my flight out to India from the city’s international airport.


For many, Dubrovnik is the icing on the journey, and I can’t be impartial to the other cities that I was fortunate to have visited and loved. The most ineffaceable part of my journey was friendly, warm and handsome Croatian (men) people.

IMG_5222.JPGThis site is oft shown in Game of Thrones

Text/ Photos- Jyoti Shetty.


The highlights of the Adriatic Sea so far followed me through every Croatian Town, the natural beauty of Croatian islands, coves and caves while relaxing in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea should be on everyone’s itinerary.


I did that in Zadar and icy waters are ignored! Blue and Green Caves, and the city of Hvar are rudimentary stops in Croatia.


Hvar is one of the most popular islands in Croatia, located off the Croatian mainland, between Brac and Korcula islands, Hvar like Trogir is well known for its exceptionally mild climate, lavender fields and beautiful island archipelago.


Like all cities of Croatia, Hvar has the most scenic promenade by the sea, old-world Hvar town, Vrboska and Jelsa according to the agent are all not to be missed.

IMG_4462.JPGThe best way to reach Hvar from Trogir is by Car Ferry, it is the quickest and shortest route. Hvar has four ferry port and according to google map all car ferries alight at Stari Gard port.


Reaching the town square where rows of sweet smelling Lavender shops and restaurants, the air was thick with the aroma and usual buzz of the crowd.


The group entered a travel agency that also arranges homestays/apartments and decided to take up a studio room high up in the hills. A totally wrong move and one of the cranky first-time travellers refused to live close by to the town square as she wanted a room with a view!


I was never so resolute to travel solo next time, climbing 100 steps was absolutely a waste of time! Do note apartments higher up forming the quintessential red roofed houses command a spectacular view, there are narrow roads that can lead up the winding path to these houses.



You must have a car on hand, one of the best ways of discovering the islands hidden charms. Drive through typical old villages, see the outstanding scenery and capture the authentic Dalmatian charm of the island.


Experience untouched nature, climb the hills for beautiful views and then descend through olive groves and sample Croatian wine at the many vineyards towards the coast.

IMG_4594.JPGAfter trudging down a flight of steps from the apartment, I headed back to where the Lavender and Rosemary sellers held stalls, bought lots of tiny pillows stuffed with Lavender flowers to take back home. Stopped by to have a meal of Salmon and mixed veggies, Salmon is not from the Adriatic Sea, it’s rare to get fresh fish of this kind in Croatia.


I headed to St Stephen’s square around the corner of the Dockside. I did get a feeling of déjà vu or maybe it was similar to the square in Trogir, or simply a bit of monotony seeping in town squares and promenades.

IMG_4543.JPGIf one is inclined to see ancient buildings, Churches and Monasteries, in particular, Hvar is teeming with such edifices. I loved the walk through around St Stephens Square, many buildings side by side vie for attention.


The St Mark’s church and Dominican Monastery are other enchanting locales, the statue of St Mark is particularly striking.


Old town Grada, the Piazza, the first ever public theatre in Europe, The cathedral of St Stephen, the Franciscan monastery, the imposing palaces and many others. Hvar is a visual feast for lovers of architecture and is an open art gallery of sorts.



The Tvrdava Fortress is another stupendous climb from the apartment, for once I did not complain of the long flight of steps as it was just 50 steps fewer from the block!



A bar lounge within the hallowed fortress was a welcome break, nothing great but cosy. The fortress has some interesting features like the prison and canon guns, the herb garden below, but it’s the view from the fortress that made me realize that this sun soaked island will overpower your senses.



From atop this hill of the fortress, one can have a 360-degree unobstructed view of the entire island. You will also see Hvar’s neighbouring islands Brac, Korcula and Vis. On a clear day, you can even look out into the Adriatic and see Italy!


Dinnertime I lumbered back to the room and traipsed 100 flights down to Dalmatino Hvar for a great meal, noticed another great brasserie called Kanoba. At Dalmatino they served Croatian grappa after dessert, it was delicious as was the hearty meal of traditional food cooked in the covered pan called Peka.

IMG-20170516-WA0018.jpg Hvar needs 3 days to take in all the sights and flavours of the island.


Next day it was the Hvar port of Sukuraj to Durbanik, a quick see through of Vrboska village as we waited for the Ferry ship to arrive.

From Durbanik a 3 hours drive to Dubrovnik our final destination.

Text/Photos- Jyoti Shetty


The cultural mix of Central Europe and the Mediterranean gives Croatia a special flavour. Coastal mountains descend to the lush coastal strip, interwoven with palm trees and olive groves. Quiet bays, numerous island and fishermen village in stone allow you to feel like you are in pristine Europe.


The ferry ride from Split to Trogir was very impressive, Jadrolinija stood a large ferry ship accommodating cars and passengers on two floors. Leaving trajectories of the exact spot where Game of Thrones was filmed in Split, a mild temperate climate, quite a contrast setting welcomed me at Trogir.


The old city of Trogir was built on a small island and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the few towns in the world that are completely protected by UNESCO. Trogir is a very unique site close to Split, it has a history dating back 2000 years.


Since I was passing through and time was running short I hit old town, main waterfront, the Kamerlengo fortress. Built by the Venetian Republic in the 15th century, this fortress castle is just a shell façade running all around, it was once connected to the old city.


I personally felt 40Kunas was a bit too much to enter a hollow fortress but many climb up, circling the fortress to enjoy the spectacular city panorama and the Adriatic Sea.



The seafront is a popular hangout for tourists and locals alike. Lunch or dinner, like most water-front promenades in Croatia, the one at Trogir has the Riva front prominently displayed in all the brochures and Google photos.

IMG_4317.JPGWide paved promenade, boats passing by, regular boat cruises all around the water-front ferry tourists. Many epicurean bistros and cafes line up side by side, I had to toss a coin to check out lunch at Kamerlengo brasserie.



The pretty hostess persuaded me and even handed a sprig of lavender that was growing nearby. The lunch was divine. Do take time walking the entire stretch of this delightful Esplanade, it’s worth the effort after a hearty meal.

20170510_130040.jpgI even lingered on for coffee at the last corner café before rushing off towards the town square.



I had just a few hours left and managed to walk through the main square of the Cipiko Palace and the most important landmark here the Clock Tower. The St Sebastion Church was built in 1476 as an offering given by grateful citizens of Trogir for relief from the plague.



In front of this Rennaissance, building are superb sculptures of the St and Christ the Saviors. High above this rises the two-story tower of the town clock. St Lawrence Cathedral to the corner is another landmark building has ornate entrance carvings and statues.


I was so in wonderment of this square, the Romanesque architecture, the beautiful statues, the tower clock, the churches around here made me dawdle on.

trogir capo.jpg

The streets and narrow lanes lead you to more amazing cafes in store especially Capo really thrilled me with the antique wooden furniture. The friendly owners refused to let me keep tab of the time, some of stores and cafes on this lane are iconic.

IMG_4426.JPGAn old house on this street with the staircase branching into an arch is another iconic building and is there in most of the Trogir postcards.



One can enter here directly from the outside of the walled city through a stunningly beautiful arch. It also served as my exit from the city.

My next marvellous stop- HVAR.

Text/Photo- Jyoti Shetty 


Having travelled from Zagreb, Krka and then on to Pltivice, Zadar, Skradin skirting the Krka falls all by road, one would expect some monotony in the general landscape. Yes, there was one scene that was constant and it was the red roof tiled houses sprinkled all over the distant mountain tops.


My road trip so far covered some of the most discerning cities in Croatia, and as I approached Split, my hopes were high for more historical discoveries and natural beauty.


Croatia is mainly sightseeing places full of traces of the past, and places that have marked the history of this region will not leave anyone indifferent, that’s the high point Split left me, totally bewildered!.


Most youngsters associate Split with an effervescent nightlife, lots of lounge bars, restaurants, lights and strobe bars, and nothing can be far from the truth.



In Split I got to see the Palace of Diocletian, Peristill (open colonnade), the Eastern city gate, Prokurative (Square), the Grgur Ninski statue, the city waterfront, and the coldest ever swim on this side of the Adriatic, it chilled me to the bones!


But first, the city waterfront where all the action is. Split needs min 3 nights stay to soak in the city, it’s a vibrant, friendly easy place to roam around and the water-front cafes are the best places to people watch and have a great meal.


The city was built in 305 BC when the Roman emperor Diocletian decided to build his country home. The old city with its beautiful surroundings is a place for walking, shopping or simply sitting by the waterfront with a drink overlooking the Adriatic Sea and watching life go by.


Split old town is surreal, it was exciting and walking through one section of the well-preserved palace I realized how strong the Roman history is prevalent even in present day Croatia.

IMG_4172.JPG Diocletian Palace in Split in an architectural wonder built during a turbulent period of Emperor Diocletian.


This fortified city palace served as quarters for his staff both military and others and the southern opposite side was reserved for the Emperor’s residential and religious areas.


The upper area though intact has a huge square with present day shopping and restaurants easily blending in with the past structures.


Don’t miss the eastern wall supposedly from an earlier Imperial era, the remains of a Nymph’s shrine, marble table from Diocletian’s dining halls.



The ground halls surrounding the open courtyards served as temporary shelters and became permanent dwelling where people from nearby Salona took refuge.


I was so happy to meet one of the residents tucked away facing an open frontage remnant of the old wall, she refused to be photographed and shut the door to her house very firmly.


She was not so friendly but she said that her house is on shaky grounds and since this area is a UNESCO heritage site she is aware how precious her property is!


I had a minor setback at Split with the landlady, the beautiful Demi of Demi Apartment. I was so impressed with the comfortable floral setting room and was hoping for an extension but she was full up.


Her apartment situated near the bay area, very centrally located to the Palace was cosy and I was so keen to stay on. DemiS’s property overlooked Riva beach promenade, it was so inviting that I just jumped screaming into the icy cold waters, it was invigorating and even though it was sunny the Adriatic Sea was chill to the bones!


The group had to rush out to make arrangements in advance to take the ferry across to Hvar next day and then on another ferry to Trogir.

So Trogir here I come.


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