I woke at the crack of dawn (sorry 8 AM) today because it was the day we were going to see one of the most renowned sights on Earth. As a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, Emperor Shah Jahan definitely went the extra mile to create a memorial mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz.
The palace was a short walk from our hotel and we reached there in about fifteen minutes. We queued up, received our audio guides and began our sightseeing.
Once we got to the main viewpoint of the Taj Mahal we were able to take in all of it’s beauty. Ivory marble, the architecture was mesmerising with a view like that it was obvious why so many tourists flock to see it. However, that was also a negative as I was pushed and shoving trying to get a photo that I wished I had extra limbs at this point as being both short and British was not helping! Picture me attempting to find a decent angle while fending off hundreds of other people: “Excuse me, sorry, could I just squeeze past?”.
We made it to the front and took in the formation up close. If the view was amazing from the previous angle it was certainly something here. Every little detail was rich and intricate and a magnified image of perfection. It wasn’t just a case of building something beautiful no, it was carefully planning out and assembling every little structure, design and corner. Traditional patterns and mosaics covered the insides and surrounded the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Romance is clearly not dead.
Learning so many facts about the Taj Mahal in itself was great as I wasn’t that knowledgeable about the history so it was good to pick up some unique bits of Indian history. All in all, I enjoyed seeing the Taj Mahal in all its finery but didn’t enjoy the crowds and the hassle that comes with big tourist sites!
After a recommendation from the owner of our villa, we turned our sights to a venture to Krka National Park. I was not disappointed. The hike was fairly easy and allowed us to witness a stupendous, sparkling waterfall so close that I could feel it on my cheeks. Take a look:
There were a few food stalls which offered pancakes, sausages and other culinary delights as well as lots of picnic benches where you could sit and ogle the many cute dogs that were there! After we’d eaten we decided to go down the different paths and see which alternative sights there were. The views were a-mazing. Lush, scenic greenery and crystal blue-green water, my camera was loving the attention.
I love hikes because you get rewarded with lots of pretty nature in a bunch of different angles. It was a good day.
So my immediate and extended family decided to book a little trip to Croatia for four days. Picture 8 adults and 3 kids in an uber cool villa (It had a spa!) and there will be some half term antics.
The flight was an early morning one and I joined my uncle in a pint-at-the-airport-no-matter-the-time ritual. Having a beer at 5 AM turned out to be a good thing as I found myself drifting into sleep on the flight which is usually impossible for me – I rarely fall asleep on planes!
We got to Zadar airport around 10 AM, grabbed our luggage and our rental cars and hit the road. I hadn’t seen any pictures of the villa we hired so I was in full awe when we reached there. To say it was massive is an understatement. There was a games room complete with a ‘foosball’ table, a pool table and a sauna.
A few of the adults decided to do a supermarket run so the rest of us were free to hurtle into the pool or the hot tub. Naturally the adults chose the hot tub – who doesn’t want some bubbles and beer?!
When we were all pruned out and ready for dinner we decided to go and explore Zadar town. Smooth stony streets with medieval architecture with churches and cathedrals surrounded us. We took a peaceful (well peaceful as it can be with 5 kids in tow) stroll down Old Town Zadar in search of food and found a gelato store that would put some of Italy’s finest to shame.
Taking a walk on the waterfront, we heard Zadar’s sea organ attraction. What looks like ordinary stone steps leading into water is actually a piece of architecture which uses water and air to create resonant chimes of music. Clever engineering which produces an unique tourist attraction? Tick.
It was pretty windy so after taking the usual 30 photos in 20 different angles, we got some tea and tried to make sure the kids weren’t killing each other coffee. The kids were getting ratty at this point so we returned home and the kitchen turned into your bog standard workshop covered in vegetables, chopping bread and bread. Eat your heart out Gordon Ramsey!
I ended the night with a few beers and a movie. The first day was a chilled one.