Stories about mountains

To Baku and beyond: A melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture

Known as the city of winds, Baku offers warm hospitality, rich culture, inspiring architecture and natural beauty to amuse all kinds of travellers. The city is soaked in history, and almost every turn you take will give glimpses of its glorious past and aspirations for the future. The architecture and food are inspired by the millennia of cultural influences from Romans, Mongols and Turks. Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture. Baku ticks all the boxes on the list of any discerning traveller and I couldn’t resist the first opportunity I got to visit ...

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Walking with the Incas in Machu Picchu, a land where the ancient gods still reign

“Ama Sua. Ama Lulla. Ama Quella.” “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy.” This age-old quote from the Andean highlands defined the code of life for a nation that rose from oblivion to become one of the greatest cultures of its time – the Inca. Today, after 500 years, one of its architectural marvels, Machu Picchu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cusco, the ancient capital of Inca, was my first stop on the way to Machu Picchu. Situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres, this acted as a stopover and helped me acclimatise to the ...

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Cinque Terre: The heavenly villages of Italy

I suppose I should begin with a disclaimer: I have never been a ‘sea person’. My husband on the other hand, being a ‘child of the coast’, mocked me for my aversion towards oceans and beaches. Sometimes, however, destiny has a different plan for us than the one we expect. So one fine morning, we decided to drive, and drive we did! The Ligurian sea Starting all the way from Brussels to breathtaking Interlaken in Switzerland, then Como in Italy and finally heading towards the five enchanting villages of the Italian Riviera, known collectively as Cinque Terre ...

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Stepping into the void: A magical journey to the picturesque Swiss and French Alps

The mountains are calling and I must go – this is what I told myself while planning my summer vacation. Selecting Switzerland was a no-brainer, as it remains one of the most sought after and popular destinations for tourists around the world, thanks to its alpine peaks, mountain vistas and magical landscape. I started my European journey from Chur, reportedly the oldest town in Switzerland, and made my way to the Glacier Express, dubbed the world’s fastest slow train. This is a panoramic train which reaches Zermatt, a Swiss mountain resort, passing through spectacular lakes, enormous mountains and breath-taking landscapes. [caption ...

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A day trip to the micronation of Andorra, a jewel hidden between European giants

Sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains, very few have heard of the micronation that is Andorra. I too only came across this tiny European country on Google Maps while I was planning my Euro tour. With a total area of only 468 kilometre square and a population of almost 77,000 people, it attracts over 10 million tourists annually, which is where 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) comes from. Seeing its beauty and its unusual size, it didn’t take long for me to include it in my itinerary as I planned to visit every single state in ...

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Musa ka Musalla: Pakistan’s playground where fairies come to play

Not a single thought flitted through my mind, I was completely at peace. My feet were touching the cold green grass and my mind could feel the chill permeating through them. The cosiness of the sunshine was withering away as the grey clouds shielded the ferocious sun rays. The picturesque valley of Dorh was about to pull my soul in when the motel owner called out for lunch. Before I proceed any further, let me tell you how we ended up in Dorh. Dorh Valley My friends and I had just returned from Chitral and someone decided to show us ...

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The long road home: A journey from Chitral to Islamabad

It’s a journey that gives perspective to your life. The endlessness of the Qaqlasht mountain meadows, the sky and the snow-capped peaks make you feel very small. The story of Qurban, an illiterate lady in the village of Booni – who runs three shops and supports the education of her nieces and nephews despite having been threatened by an acid attack, makes you realise how quotidian your own challenges are. And the cancellation of the flight to Islamabad with the prospect of being stranded in a dark, brown, tube-lit, hotel room in Chitral – beautiful though the town is ...

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23 reasons why I love Pakistan and you should too!

In a country with a population of over 188.2 million people, a lot can go wrong, but a lot can go right too! Here is a list of 23 things that make Pakistan home. 1. The men Photo: AFP We may belong to a patriarchal society, but not all men are alike. They don’t all suffer from the disease of misogyny. True gems like Abdul Sattar Eidhi, Ansar Burney and Imran Khan also exist in our society, individuals who play a pivotal role in the betterment of society. 2. The women  Photo: AFP Contrary to the patriarchal outlook of ...

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A foreigner’s perspective on Pakistan: The land of the misunderstood

As someone who grew up in the United States, I have sadly grown accustomed to hearing about drone attacks, suicide bombings and terrorists whenever Pakistan is mentioned. To an average American, Pakistan is nothing more than the place where Osama Bin Laden was killed or one of the most dangerous countries in the world with its mountains and caves inhabited by terrorists. Most Americans grow up knowing and believing this image of Pakistan with no compelling reason or need to challenge this perception. I am half-Colombian and have had the pleasure of spending a lot of time in the South ...

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Naran and Shogran, a winter wonderland

Recently, with the help of Royal Tourism Pakistan, I got the chance to visit one of the most popular and beautiful vacation spots in northern Pakistan – Naran and Kaghan. Considering it was May, and peak summers were around the corner, I expected it to be as hot as it is here down in Karachi. However, it is interesting to note that May is actually the tail end of winter in northern areas. We were travelling by bus and started from Rawalpindi passing through Mansehra and Abbotabad before reaching Naran. Since the journey was long, we decided to stay a night in a ...

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