• Rome collisseum
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Europe,  Italy,  Travel Bag

    A walk through the touristy sights of Rome

    Rome is the last city on our European travel ticket. We have saved the best for the last, the grandest of all the sights and the most ancient of all the historical places we’ve visited so far. We alight from the notorious Bus no 64 with our pockets intact and start walking. Our trolley bags make quite the racket as we drag them towards our hotel on Via Giulia, the cobbled roads proving to be the most difficult surfaces that we’ve faced till now. These square stones are quarried from volcanic mountains and our luggage wheels going down and up the gaps between adjacent stones, emanate sounds that remind me…

  • Quintessential Tuscan countryside
    Europe,  Italy,  Travel Bag

    A whirlwind tour of Tuscany – Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino

    Tuscany ! The mere mention of the name conjures up images of gently rolling hills, acres upon acres of vineyards, with tiny beige and yellow settlements clinging to the top of the hills. So it is no surprise at all that out of one of our days spent visiting Florence, we make a day trip to the countryside to visit the Tuscan hill towns of Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino. How to get to the Tuscan countryside The Tuscan countryside can be a little difficult to get to as there are no major train stations in the region. So the easiest, and the laziest option is to book one of the…

  • View of Florence from Piazzale Michaelangelo
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Europe,  Italy,  Travel Bag

    Exploring Florence in 3 days

    Florence hits the top spot in most travel listicles with amazing regularity. Not only is it’s reputation as the Italian cultural center-piece and as the birthplace of the Renaissance reason enough for the faithful hordes, it’s proximity to the unique topography of Tuscany’s rolling hills and the Tyrrhenian sea makes it the perfect spot for a lot of countryside and seaside getaways. “This is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the…

  • San Giorgio Maggiore Venice
    Europe,  Italy,  Travel Bag

    Exploring Venice in a day

    Venice, the city of canals, romantic gondola rides and ballad singing gondoliers, James Bond movie sequences and a playground for the rich and famous is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Prestigious events from the art, architecture, music and film fraternity, like the Venice Biennale (a part of which, is the Venice Film festival that awards the ‘Golden Lion’ – we’ll revisit this later) are conducted here. No wonder then, that this is a place where the rich and famous often hobnob. The seducer Casanova had Venice as his playground. Ernest Hemingway was fond of the place, so was Henry James, Charlie Chaplin, and a whole horde…

  • Hallstatt village
    Austria,  Europe

    Hallstatt – The picture perfect village of Austria

    Hallstatt’s reputation as a UNESCO world heritage site and as a contender to the prettiest village in Europe. It’s trademark pastel and wood houses built on the steep hillsides, overlooking the crystal clear lake are now a famous tourist destination. But Hallstatt first gained fame in prehistoric times for it’s salt. Salt, a natural preservative for meat, was quite valuable then and Hallstatt’s mines brought it considerable trade and fortune. Even as late as the 20th century, it’s salt mines continued to be active. How to get to Hallstatt Hallstatt is perfect for a day trip from Salzburg. It is about 2 – 2.5 hours depending on the mode of…

  • Peaceful Gosausee
    Austria,  Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Europe,  Travel Bag

    Exploring Gosau and Gosausee in Austria’s Salzkammergut

    Gosausee is one among numerous lakes dotting the Salzkammergut landscape in Austria and arguably, one of the prettiest. Fed by melt water from the Dachstein glacier, these are actually 3 lakes, the most famous of which is the Front Gosausee. On a clear sunny day, if the waters of the lake are placid and calm, it reflects the Dachstein glacier on the massif above. This is a photo op that has been captured for posterity a lot of times, but tourists can seldom imagine the colors reflected in the Gosausee. And coming from somebody who has been to extremely pretty Himalayan lakes as well, this shade of green, surrounded by alpine…

  • Schafberg mountain railway at the summit
    Austria,  Europe,  Travel Bag

    What to expect on a ride up the Schafberg Mountain Railway

    The Scahfbergbahn or the Schafberg mountain railway first caught my attention in one of Michael Palin’s travel documentaries and ever since, I’ve harbored an ardent desire to get on that chugging train up the scenic railway built on the Schafberg mountain. This wish finally came true in September 2017, when I visited the famous Salzkammergut region in Austria. The Schafberg mountain railway first came about in the 1890s, as a result of the desire to replace the use of mules and palanquins to transport nobles and citizenry up the Schafberg that rises from the shore of the Wolfgangsee lake. Evolving over the century to follow, the Bahn used coal powered…

  • The village of St Gilgen
    Austria,  Europe,  Travel Bag

    St Gilgen – Things to do and sights to see

    The Salzkammergut is our itinerary. Initially, I had planned a self-drive in the Salzkammergut. But owing to India’s archaic IDP regulations, that plan had to be shelved. My next best option was to stay either at St Gilgen or St Wolfgang or Bad Ischl. Bad Ischl easily tops the connectivity charts in the Salzkammergut. It enjoys rail and road connectivity to most of the attractions in the lake district. However, it reminds me of Salzburg due to it’s traffic and while it’s streets don’t really bustle all that much, the villages of St Gilgen and St Wolfgang offer a more peaceful, charming getaway to the lake district. Moreover, who in…