My latest video: A little paradise in Uttarakhand, and why our travel choices matter!
A call for help: If you've travelled to the mountains anywhere in India, you know what a huge problem waste management is. The good folks at Waste Warriors have been working in Dharamsala - collecting 4 tonnes of waste from clean-up drives & 20 tonnes from door-to-door collection every month... but come monsoon season, it becomes really hard to segregate waste and many recyclables start rotting.
To overcome this challenge, they've started a crowd-funding campaign to raise 3 lakh rupees (5000$) to build a waste segregation and storage facility with a proper rain shelter. See the link in the first comment to make a contribution... every bit counts 😇
Photo by Nikshep Trinetra - who I first met in Munsiari and who is working on this project, so I know the $$$ will be put to good use!
Walking, cycling and canoeing in the protected forests, drinking "mahua" under incredibly starry night skies, and more reasons why Satpura National Park is unlike any other in India - in my latest blog post!
My first keynote - at the So Delhi Confluence yesterday, on a topic close to my heart...
Incredibly grateful to a great audience for their overwhelming feedback, and to all you guys for being part of my journey all these years <3
Perhaps he didn't speak our language, or perhaps he didn't speak at all. After hiking up a slippery gravel path, we were walking through lush green grasslands, towards a spot that overlooked a pristine beach. There seemed to be no one else around for miles.
He appeared out of nowhere, fell in step with us, and pointed towards a different way, filled with dense foliage and some ruins of a fort that once stood here. He kept motioning towards it, until we finally turned around and started walking that way. And just as mysteriously as he had appeared, he disappeared amid the wilderness.
That way, overgrown and full of obstacles though it was, led us here, to a cliff with densely forested hills on one side, a stunning empty beach on another, and an island with a lighthouse in the far distance on the sea. A pair of Brahmini Kites put up a show above us, the stormy skies drenched us in a quick shower, the sea breeze on my face felt surreal.
And just as the sun set, we saw that guy again, down on the beach, disappear into a dense grove of palm trees where there seemed to be only one mud hut. Perhaps he only spoke the language of the palms and the sea 😇
Mornings amid betel nut, coconut and cashew plantations. Silence and bird song. Reading Tolstoy.
Maachli Farmstay in Maharashtra - my kinda place 😍
Two Indians cycled 5883 km from Mumbai to Bangkok over 60 days! A must-see short film... Kudos.
Solitude and sunsets along the Malvan coast of Maharashtra 😍
The reason I haven't written a word on the blog in almost a month... a blogger's version of a mid life crisis?
Incase you haven't read the July issue of the magazine yet, here's my story on nearly 4 years of travelling without a home - on National Geographic Traveller India.
I've been on the hunt for Goa's best thalis 😉 One of them is Vinayak family resto, with Goan style daals, veggies, kokum and a mound of rice; all for 90 rupees!
Do you have a fav thali place in Goa?
An Indian couple (ages 73 & 64) did a road trip from Mumbai to London!
Reminder: It's never too late to chase a dream <3
Humbled and honoured to be on this cover, in such stellar company... 😌
Following me on Instagram yet? I'm @shivya there, and bring you live stories (good and ugly) from the road.
Leave me yours + your fav Instagram accounts in the comments!
This time last year, I learnt what it means to call a river "alive" on a beautiful, eye-opening, thought-provoking trip through Kerala. Follow my footsteps on a similar trip with The Blue Yonder, starting 14th July!
"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."
~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Goodbye Slovenia... this time it's for real 😥 I guess it's time for the next crazy venture beneath the (monsoon) skies 🐾
Have you ever felt like you were destined to go somewhere and meet someone in particular on your travels?
I totally felt that way living with my host family in the Soca Valley, in a little village home to only 70 people! From feeling apprehensive on the first night when the host told me that he was alone at home because all his family were out that weekend for different reasons... to being let into a personal part of the family's history... to being looked upon as a messenger of sorts, being their first guest from India in 8 years ...
When I first said goodbye to Slovenia and left for Croatia and then Bosnia & Herzegovina, something kept tugging at my heart. Like I had unfinished business, like I still needed closure. So even though I really wanted to stay on in Bosnia, I just followed my heart back to Slovenia, to Soca valley, to a little village of 70 people, to the home of one kind, warm, welcoming Slovenian family. Because sometimes the heart knows something the mind doesn't 💙
In the photo --> Inspired to finish some long pending writing in the backdrop of Mount Krn 🐾
Morning walks in my neighborhood in the Soca Valley <3
With all that yearning and love, decided to spend my last week in Europe in Slovenia... because life is too short to make promises to come back 😉
And mind=blown by the unbelievably blue Soca River!
“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square."
~ Hilary T. Smith
The folks at Matrix Travel Companion recently reached out to me to try their new app. Surprisingly found some great last minute hotel / short term apartment deals in South East Asia (10-15% off in Bangkok & Singapore); can't wait to try it out on a future trip when I revisit these cities and their secrets!
In your teens or early twenties, and itching to travel? My latest blog post has a ton of practical advice.
My "home" above the River Una, handmade by a Bosnian family who wanted to preserve the tradition of wooden fishing huts on stilts, complete with a watermill below for electricity. What a unique experience! -- found on Airbnb
Best thing I've read in a while...
10 words are enough, she said with a laugh, and I agreed. 10 common words between us, in English and Bosanski, to chat without a pause for all five kilometres of our hike along a tributary of the Una River. For her to explain why she & her husband built a wooden hut on stilts on the river, complete with a watermill for electricity, because such were traditional fishing houses in the days of yore. For me to explain why I chose it on Airbnb, and travelled there, alone, because it's what I do 😉 For us to collect elderflowers so she could make tea at home, pluck wild strawberries in the bushes as a hiking snack, hang out on someone's traditional wooden fishing boat parked in the sky blue waters 🚤
We hiked up and down the hill to see the source of the tributary - a big, obscure cave tucked into the mountains. Walked along forested hills, amid purple wildflowers, past mucky paths, marvelling at the pristine blue tributary all along. At dusk, she took out her phone and opened an 'anti mosquito' app that creates a low buzzing sound and keeps mosquitoes away! And for the entire hike, it was just us, two lost souls in the vast wilderness 🐾
On the way to Bosnia & Herzegovina, I read the country's wikitravel page and was a little intimidated when it said you shouldn't venture anywhere off-road, for there are still mines from the war that might not have been cleared out. But all my apprehensions of hiking in this relatively remote part of the country were washed away in those 10 words. Because sometimes, 10 words are all you need for a soul connection 😇
A small collection of some of my fav Odisha experiences, featured on Expedia UK!
Never imagined I'd say this... but I walked across the border from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina 👋 Even as the bus stopped on the Croatian side and asked everyone to walk across with their passports, I wasn't sure I wanted to. But it was love at first feeling. Friendly people, pristine landscapes, heartbreaking stories of war in everyone you talk to... and 50% of the country is still covered in forests 🌳
My original plan was to make a quick trip to the famous Plitvice Lakes of Croatia, but I was worried it might be too touristy and disappoint me like Lake Bled in Slovenia. Two locals convinced me that'll indeed be the case, and tipped me to go to Una on the other side of the border instead 🐾
So there I was, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marvelling at the unique ecosystem of Una River - its greenish-blue waters full of river islands, connected by manmade wooden bridges. Emerald blue tributaries with not another person in sight. Wildflowers, forests stretching into the horizon, a feeling of far far away 😇
One last sunrise in Istrian Croatia... 😍
So Istria turned out to be hotter and more touristy at this time of the year than I would've liked - especially since I wasn't renting a car. But I got really lucky with my Airbnb - a most charmingly refurbished 400-year-old stone house, with a cute little sit out for people-watching and a beautiful music collection that I listened to for hours. My hosts, who had escaped Bosnia & Herzegovina during the civil war, had some incredible stories to tell. One evening, they even invited me to drive with them to some of their fav spots on the Istrian countryside - a little farm where I could buy olive oil directly from a farmer, the forest where they go to pick wild asparagus, and little gems that made them make Istria home.
Hope to come back some day - when it's cooler and less crowded - and explore more of Istria and Croatia... 🐾
Feel like I travelled back a few hundred years in Istrian Croatia!
In a tiny little village perched on a hill - atleast 600 years old, with a population of only 305 people. Cobblestoned streets, vineyards and olive fields all around, old stone houses, locals go into the forests to look for truffles and wild asparagus...
My "corner office" on the train from Ljubljana (Slovenia) to Buzet (Croatia)... I was literally the only passenger on board!
I've been asking myself a lot lately - why do I travel? These words I stumbled upon somewhat say it...
And you, have you figured out why you travel?
Sunrise from a little hilltop village on the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia <3
Woke up in a WINE BARREL in the basement of a 300-year-old building in the heart of Ljubljana! *checking for hangover* :p
Gotta love Airbnb for the quirkiest experiences!
NEW VIDEO! Ever traced the journey of your food? Experience life, hospitality, starry skies, a million fireflies, the Sahyadris and farm-to-table food in rural Maharashtra, only 3 hours from Mumbai. -- with Grassroutes
This little paradise in the Slovenian Alps was "home" the last few days. Surrounded by wild dandelions and yellow, purple, pink wild flowers. In the backdrop of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The farmstead of the sweetest Slovenian family I've met yet.
The great grandfather first started welcoming guests in 1931. Then World War II happened, and the entire farm was burnt down in 1944. Three years later, the family picked up the pieces, split the farm among the cousins, and started rebuilding in their traditional architectural style - opening up for tourism again in the 1960s. The old photos around the house fill me up with a strange nostalgia - there's even one of the grandparents with Tito, once the Yugoslavian president, who came to hunt in these forests.
I'm spending my days here hiking and cycling, and hearing stories of the days of yore. The transformation of Slovenia from a socialist to a capitalist country. The changing seasons in the Alps. What made the daughter of the family (and my newfound friend) come back after studying in Ljubljana.
Last evening, I joined the family as they planted chives, a variety of mint called melissa and a young cabbage called sauerkraut in their little garden. Then we got news that the rare Lady Slipper Orchid has just started blooming in the forest... so we went to look for it. Feel like I'm living in a fairytale 😇
My neighborhood in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps of Slovenia! And I thought places like this only belonged in stories ;-)
Live with an aboriginal Truku family, cycle Taroko Gorge, see a million fireflies... all my travel tips for Taiwan, now on the blog!
I'm not the same having seen shooting stars on the other side of the world... oh Slovenia, I <3 you!
Finding vegan food on the Slovenian countryside hasn't been the easiest... but happy to feast on a vegan version of Ajdovi žganci (buckwheat mushroom), sauerkraut soup and the local Loška weisbier - with a slice of the Alps of course ;-)
That end of the world feeling... Logarska Dolina, a remote Alpine valley in Slovenia, home to only about 30 families!
This little house was "home" in Ukanc! Traditional Slovenian architecture, all wooden from inside, a wood stove to keep warm with a fire, Slovenian music on the radio, Alpine scenery all around, and the pristine Lake Bohinj in my nieighborhood. Airbnb <3
Lake Bled... beautiful, but oh so touristy. Hideous hotels and construction on the shores, Thai massage spas, a casino in the centre, selfie-snapping tourists everywhere :(
Slovenia in 2 words: Pure beauty <3
Just a glacial river in my neighborhood this.
živio from a remote little village in the Slovenian Alps! Excited to be exploring the Balkans over the next few weeks with Eurail and Airbnb. No plans, no agenda, just follow my heart...
What an incredible 4 days with the junior Indian football team: Met Alonso & David Alaba, saw the Bayern Munich first team training on the ground next to where the Indian kids trained, the Bayern Munich vs Freiburg game at the Allianz Arena... and finally, the FC Bayern Youth World Cup where the Indian team beat China, drew with Germany, reached sudden death with USA and gave a tough fight to Austria, proving that there's no dearth of football talent in India ⚽️
To be honest, when I took on this assignment with Lufthansa India , I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it... but those action packed days turned out to be incredibly fun and gave me much to think about 😇
Now the team is flying home, and it's time for me to guzzle all this beer over delicious vegan burgers and soak in a bit of Munich 😉
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