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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station

Madrid 2

MADRID 2 - the Mecca of  bullfighting by Biswajit Sengupta Image of Spain gravitates around football, bullfights, and flamenco. On the Iberian Peninsula and in Latin America football remain the most popular spectator sport, followed by bullfighting even despite movements by some sections to ban it. Although the largest bullfighting ring is in Mexico followed by the one in Venezuela, Madrid is regarded as the Mecca of bullfighting because of its tradition. During the early part of the twentieth century, bullfighting had picked up tremendous momentum in Madrid. In order to accommodate more spectators, a monumental bullring was built. Las Ventas bullring with a capacity of around twenty-five thousand spectators has an imposing fa├žade – the largest in Spain and third largest in the world. From Sol Seville, Las Ventas is around ten minutes commute by underground metro from Sevilla station. Trains to Cuatro Camina las Rosas stop at Ventas. The famous bullring is just ato

A Drop of Calm

L'Oasis De L'ile at Quebec by Madhumita Chakola   We were weary, we were tired. Long hours at work hunched at the desk with minimal social interaction was taking a heavy toll on us. We needed a vacation oh so badly. Earlier in the year with the lockdowns and stay-at-home restrictions, we had thought a ‘staycation’ would be the ideal answer to all our yearnings. We would relax at home, pursue our hobbies and excel in doing absolutely nothing. At the onset of spring, just as the world exploded into different hues of green, we decided to book a whole week off for our vacation at home. In the itinerary were long walks in the trail, singing with the birds, connecting with friends and family across the globe, bingeing on Netflix, firing up the barbeque season, and of course, napping here and there. No routine, no restrictions, no structured life. On the first day of our ‘staycation’, all our dreams were blown away and scattered amidst the sprouting grass. My husb

Madrid 1

  Madrid - the Royal Spanish Capital Nico and Eva. A lovely Spanish couple from Madrid. Nico is a banker and takes care of their apartment in Madrid. His wife Eva mostly takes care of their apartment at Tenerife Island, but she is impeccably superb as a hostess. Unfortunately, we could not meet her during our visit to Madrid. But she made it a point to coordinate our visit and stay from her WhatsApp handles. After receiving our arrival details, she sent a carefully worded text which included a way to the public transport terminus after alighting from the ALSA bus at its terminal station.   Many a time  I fall prey to my impatient nature. In this case, I overlooked the word ‘escalators’ mentioned by Eva. We took the escalator which connected the platform to the concourse. Once at the concourse we felt lost, not knowing where to get our bus from. Since my wife knows Spanish, she got help from the locals. At the opposite end, there were a series of ‘escalators’ as well as a l

Fishy Affair

  A Delectable Tale for Fish Lovers by Rajat Sarkar,Hamburg Some days back a friend told me that the ‘fish’ in ‘some’ restaurant was good. She got to know about it from her brother. She is herself not a fish eater. I said to her, “Never say anything to a Bengali about fish and their quality. Leave the Bengali alone! Fish exists in the Bengali psyche from the womb to the tomb! Satyajit Ray even made use of fish scales in one of his movies.  The world, including Hamburg, may boast about its fish but none can match the Bengali’s affairs, both licit and illicit, with fish. While the EU and Britain may continue to fight over fishing rights on the North Sea, Bengalis handle fish with care so that there is no real culture clash, domestic disharmony, marriage mistrust, relationship rupture, and sport strife. Fish exists in the everyday existence of a Bengali. Fishy politics ensure pride of Bengaliness. And a Bengali eats fish with his/her hands – not with cutlery or chopstic