Sometimes when you walk into your hotel room tired and exhausted after a long flight, all you want to do is sleep for a long long time. However, my room at Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss was so uniquely wonderful that I kept my bags on the side and took pictures! And later I made some nespresso, sat by the window and gazed outside at the Dresden Castle. In fact I did this quite often, I mean sitting by the window and gazing at the life around.

review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
Entrance to Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss

History of Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss

Located in the heart of the historic city center of Dresden and surrounded by numerous buildings in the style of late baroque architecture, the Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss is an ideal starting point to explore the city with all of its facets. The hotel building itself is seeped in history and is full of stories. It is located in a historically significant location: even Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann (1662 - 1736) - court architect of Augustus II the Strong and builder of the Dresden Zwinger - lived in the same location. To honor him, a larger-than-life statue was affixed to the façade of the former building complex in 1936. A reconstructed sculpture of Pöppelmann today again adorns the Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss.

The building which was destroyed in 1945 previously served as a so-called 'spiritual house' of the Dresden chapel boys as a boarding and training school. In 2010, the true to the original restoration of the building complex began, which was completed with the opening of the Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss on April 01, 2012. The outside of the hotel today is composed of 12 different façades from various eras, some of which were reconstructed according to the historic paradigm and some of which were replaced by modern elements.

review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
Lobby of Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss

At the hotel

The restaurant Wohnstube indulges its guests with authentic Swiss cuisine with a Saxon charm. Fixed components of the seasonal menu include traditional Swiss dishes, such as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes and original Swiss butter Rösti [potato dish] with various sides. Many of the dishes offered, such as Swiss cheese fondue, are perfect for sharing, thereby promoting sociableness and communication at the table. Special care is placed on the use of high quality, mainly locally sourced, products when preparing the food. The characteristic design of the Wohnstube as well as the adjacent Wohnstube Lounge invite you to enjoy and get comfortable.

Opening hours:
À la carte: Mon. - Sat. 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Breakfast: Mon. - Sun. 06:30 am - 11:00 am
Brunch: Sunday11:30 am - 3:00 pm

The Pürovel Spa & Sport area at Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss is another corner of this awe-inducing hotel that will reward careful exploration. An original vaulted cellar from the 15th century has been meticulously restored and finely balanced with the contemporary design.

The term ‘Pürovel‘ comes from Romansh – Switzerland’s fourth official language – and means ‘pure Alpine river’. It is a metaphor for Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts’ spa concept: natural materials like stone, wood and water are used to boost vitality.

review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
Purovel Spa - a 15th century delight!

I had a rather funny experience at the spa when I went in wearing a towel for modesty, but had to then enjoy the steam in the buff with many others all around. But hey, that's story for another post :)

The hotel offers a total of 235 rooms in 4 different room categories. I was in one of the simpler room but I was still bowled over by it. Though located inside such a historical building, the rooms are modern in every possible way. I also loved the inclined roof of my room - it was a childhood fantasy and I was so happy to live it in Germany :)

review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
My wonderful room!
review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
So relaxing...
review Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss
View of my room at midnight :)

Other travel stories from Saxony

Enjoyed this review of Swissotel Dresden Am Scholss? Check out more stories form Saxony, Germany below:
Moritzburg Castle - from hunting lodge to a royal castle
Dresden by the night
Spinnerei in Leipzig - journey from cotton to culture
Bastei - the jewel of Swiss Saxony National Park
The majestic Weesenstein Castle
Christmas Markets of Dresden
German Watch Museum


Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourist Office and Saxony Tourism Board. Needless to mention, all views expressed are unbiased and based on my own personal experiences.
Located in the Fort area of South Mumbai, Ideal Corner Restaurant has been a favourite with city's Parsi community for over 25 years now. A ration shop during the British era, the restaurant has been serving authentic Parsi food exclusively and is considered to be one of the finest in Mumbai.

parsi food mumbai ideal corner
Food at ideal Corner Restaurant
parsi food mumbai ideal corner outside hornby view
Hornby view - the art deco building 
parsi food mumbai ideal interiors
Inside the restaurant

However, it's journey into making delicious food started on two wheels. It's owner, Parvez, told me all about its history when we met recently over lunch and discussed everything from Parsi food, culture, clothes and more.

"I am a bike freak and have always been in love with riding bikes. Way back in the 1970s, this place used to be a retail and servicing outlet for Ideal Java India Pvt. Ltd., an iconic bike company during those days, which later became Yezdi. Once the bike business went down, I decided to move into something new and so this restaurant was born."

Why is it called Ideal corner?
"Well, that's a very interesting story as well. It's called ideal as the original motorbike company used to be known as Ideal Java India Pvt. Ltd. Corner came from the fact that it's located right at the corner, just like many Parsi shops from that era. Now, Hindus considered corners as inauspicious and didn't want such shops and so they were cheaper. Parsis saw an opportunity there and bought them for business."

Just as we were chatting food started coming in. We started with Akhuri - which is anda bhurji, but not quite. There were two versions and we decided to try them both - the regular one with resins etc and the spicy one. I loved them both :)

parsi food mumbai ideal akhuri
Another integral ingredient of a Parsi meal is flavoured soda, and two companies which excel at it are Pestonjee and Duke, though the latter is almost gone from the market after Coca Cola takeover a few years back. I took the most typical one - ice-cream soda and drinking it literally felt like drinking ice-cream. I strongly recommend it with every Parsi meal :) Sadly Parsi soda is longer served in those iconic glass bottles, and plastic has replaced them. Kind of end of an era...

Next on our table was Sali chicken which was served with bun. Now Sali chicken is gravy chicken with crispy fries. The oohs and aahs on the table told me that it was excellent, but since I do not eat chicken, i just looked at them and waited for my food.

parsi food mumbai ideal corner sali chicken
Sali chicken

Luckily for me, I do eat fish and was very excited when Patra ni Machchi was served next. It's one of the most iconic Parsi dish and a treat to the senses. It's basically Pomfret cooked in banana leaf with a very special chatni, which is a bit sweet in taste. Interested in making at home? Here is a great recipe on BawaBride.

I was so intrigued by the fish that I completely forgot to take any pictures at all! The fish is literally unveiled by the diner with hands and so be prepared to get your hands immersed in the fish and chutney when you eat, but that's the whole dun of it as well :)

Next was Chicken Pulao and daal, which is again skipped. And finally it was time for desserts and we had the special Lagan nu custard. The name says it all and this was traditionally eaten at the weddings and it's actually quite rich. I have a major sweet tooth, but was a bit disappointed by it. It wasn't bad, but somehow I was hoping for something out of this world at the end of the meal.

parsi food mumbai ideal chicken pulao
parsi food mumbai ideal corner lagan nu custard
Lagan nu custard

It was raining heavily and we decided to head back quickly before the roads flooded. People were already talking about keeping extra stocks in case Mumbai gets flooded, and I didn't want to be stuck out in the open. Eventually, though, the rains subsided and I could go out again in the evening.

parsi food mumbai ideal corner
With my gang :)

Planning a visit to Ideal Corner

Ideal Corner Restaurant
12 F/G, Hornby View, Gunbow Street,
Fort, Mumbai

parsi food mumbai ideal corner
The entrance to the restaurant

Lunch - 12 noon to 4pm
Dinner - 7pm to 10.45pm (started dinner recently - six months back)
Monday's closed

Keep a budget of about Rs 450-500 for two people.

Special meals during the week:
The restaurant serves special Parsi food items on different days of the week and it's good to know that before you plan your visit.
Monday - closed

Dhun Daar patio - steam rice served with yellow dal and tomato tangy gravy fish
Railway mutton - mutton cooked with dried spices served with potato cubes. Age old recipe when rail was the main means of travel.

Roast chicken with potato - quarter chicken roasted with brown sauce and potato

Chicken Biryani Dal - tender chicken spiced and topped with long grain rice
Masoor Gosh - Full masoor with skin cooked hand pounded masala with mutton
masoor - Full masoor with skin cooked hand pounded with masala
Chicken and cheese patty - Shredded chicken and cheese mixed with finely chopped chillies and fried in egg batter

Papeta Gosh - cubes of mutton and potatoes cooked together snad spiced
Jardaloo Salli Chicken - Quarter chocken cooked with apricots

Pulav Dal - Choice of meat cooked with fragrant rice in aromatic light gravy and served with lentils

Khichdi Saas Papad - Fish stock cooked with rice flourm eggs, flavoured with cumin and garlic served with yellow rice and papad

In conversation with Antoine about Parsi Food

The next day I bumped into Antoine Lewis, the curly-haired Food and Wine expert of Mumbai and decided to tickle his mind a bit about how Mumbai's Parsi food was evolving.

"Parsi food was the original Fusion food of India. So you take food with Iranian food, and add to that a bit of Gujarati, Portuguese, Konkani and English influences and you have the Parsi food. Parsis were basically traders and also went beyond India to China for Opium trade during the British era, so you will also see influences from Chinese, and also Malay food.

Now Parsi restaurants are primarily located in South Mumbai, especially in the Fort area, though they are in itself a rather new phenomena. Actually at the turn of 20th century, Iranian restaurants started opening in Mumbai and they are meant to give a flavor of Iranian food to everyone. On the other hand when the Parsi restaurants came up later, they still catered to the Parsi employees of the big business houses in the area. Later, of course, they became a darling to everyone who loved good food and still co-exist with the traditional Iranian food joints as well."

How has the food evolved over the years?
"The recipes have not changed much in all these years. The food is anyway already very Indianised - the spices are Indian, the vegetables are Indian. Though Parsis eat both pork and beef, no traditional Parsi dish has these and this made sure that none of the major communities (Hindus and Muslims) were offended."

What I found most intriguing was the fact that though Parsi food evolved into what it is by fusion with Indian food, now there is much less inclination to change more and evolve further. The food is now considered traditional and much value is given to keep it pure and as it is.

In any case, I am a big fan of Parsi and hope to explore many more such wonderful joints in near future. And of course, I will bring stories here as well :)
German Watch Museum at Glashütte started in the year 2008 and celebrates the exemplary German watchmaking industry that flourished in this region. Located within the legendary watch-making school of Glashütte, the museum has a motto of - The fascination of time, experience time. I spent a wonderful morning at the museum exploring it's various facets and artifacts, but most importantly it's history which closely reflects the history of the region, and to an extent the history of Germany as well.

german watch museum Glashütte saxony
German Watch Museum at Glashütte (pic credit: René Gaens)
german watch museum Glashütte saxony
Watch in gold

Before I even start sharing the story, let me confess that before my visit to Saxony, I had absolutely no clue at all about the luxury German watches. However, it didn't surprise me when my guide and friend Wolfgang decided to take me on a day's trip to Glashütte and exposed me to a completely new world of precise German watches.

I am an engineer and a designer, so these marvelous pieces of craftsmanship were already very interesting. But when you add to all this the rich, and often tumultuous history of German watch manufacture, especially during the East Germany era, the concoction gets really flavorful.

However, we didn't start our trip from the watch factories or the watch museum, but with a rather interesting ride up on a hill overlooking the historical town. Wolfgang was keen on getting me a birds-eye view of the factories and homes that have become household names, especially in and around the region. The one-way ride up to Wempe Observatory was wonderful and the cold breeze up there was refreshing. The observatory was actually built in 1910 as a time signal so that all the watches made at Glashütte matched the exact time.

wempe observatory glashutte saxony pics
Wempe Observatory
german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
View of Glashutte from Wempe observatory

As we drove down and then walked a bit in the town, history was revealed to me in parts. Wolfgang showed me various buildings which were once small factories for making watches.

The legend of Glashütte 

Till the 18th century, the area of Ore mountains was dominated by mining and all industry was based on it. But as the ore reserves started dwindling, the need for other industries was felt. One such industry was toy making industry in the town of Seiffen, and the other was that of luxury watch making in Glashütte.

german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
German Watch Museum
german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
The watchmaker - an iconic toy here

In 1845, the foundations of this industry was laid here by entrepreneurs like Adolph Lange, Julius Assmann, Moritz Grossmann and Adolf Schneider, who set out a vision for an independent Saxon watch industry. Among these Adolph Lange was the most prominent who traveled to the region of Geneva in Switzerland and was most impressed by the watch industry there.

The industry grew tremendously till it was partially destroyed by Soviet bombing towards the end of the Second World War. Much of the high end precision machinery was dismantled and taken away by the Soviets and this crippled the industry here. Germany was divided and Glashütte became a part of East Germany. In 1951 all the surviving companies were merged into one - VEB. The focus shifted from making just luxury watches to more utilitarian designs. Plastic was also introduced and some really cool designs came in that era. This changed only in 1990 with the fall of Berlin Wall and in the same year Lange Uhren GmbH was formed again by Lange's grandson.

german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
Inside the museum
german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
A masterpiece watch...

All the history is now wonderfully captured in the museum within the town.

I could spend only a few hours at the museum, and was tempted to check the prices of some of these watches in the shops around. Of course, better sense prevailed and I only looked at some pretty toys at the reception. Here are some of the most interesting masterpieces at the museum:
1. Astronomic clock by Hermann Goertz
2. Men’s pocket watch made by Union Glashütte in splendid decorative case
3. Precision pendulum clock from Strasser & Rohde with reversed construction

german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
Some masterpieces at the museum (pic credit: museum website)

The day was stunningly beautiful and we decided to drive ahead and continue with our road-trip.

Planning your museum visit

Glashütte German Watch Museum
Schillerstraße 3 a
01768 Glashütte/Saxony

The Glashütte German Watch Museum lies in the eastern Ore Mountains around 20 km south of Dresden. It is easily accessible by train, bus and automobile.

german watch museum Glashütte saxony pics
A wonderful sculpture just behind the museum building

Arrival by car:
Take the A4/E40 to the Dresden West interchange and from there take the A17 in the direction of Prague. Follow the A17 motorway to the Dresden Südvorstadt exit and from there take the B170/E55 in the direction of Dippoldiswalde / Bannewitz / Possendorf / Freital. Proceed through Bannewitz, Hänichen, Possendorf and Karsdorf to Oberhäslich. Shortly after entering Oberhäslich turn left and take the country road (Glashütter Straße) via Reinholdshain, Niederfrauendorf and Luchau to Glashütte.

Alternatively, from Dresden take the B172 in the direction of Pirna to Heidenau and proceed on the Müglitztalstraße via Dohna, Weesenstein, Mühlbach and Schlottwitz to Glashütte. (You may also take the A17 motorway to the Pirna exit and then proceed through the Müglitz Valley – Weesenstein, Mühlbach, Schlottwitz – to Glashütte.

If coming from Altenberg proceed through Geising, Lauenstein, Bärenstein and Bärenhecke to Glashütte.

Arrival by train:
It can be reached by train, too. One has to take the S-Bahn communter train towards Schöna (Saxon Switzerland) and change at Heidenau into a train to Altenberg. Glashütte has ist own station right opposite the Glashütte Original mnaufactory and just a few steps away from the German Watch Museum. The train station building itself is also a watch manufactory, run by Mühle.

Opening hours:
The museum is daily open from 10 am to 5 pm.

Adults - 6 Euros
Children upto 6 years - free
Guided tours 90 minutes (German) - 40
Guided tours 90 minutes (English) - 60

Other travel stories from Saxony

Enjoyed this story from the Watch Museum? Check out more stories form Saxony, Germany below:
Moritzburg Castle - from hunting lodge to a royal castle
Dresden by the night
Spinnerei in Leipzig - journey from cotton to culture
Bastei - the jewel of Swiss Saxony National Park
The majestic Weesenstein Castle
Christmas Markets of Dresden


Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourist Office and Saxony Tourism Board. Needless to mention, all views expressed are unbiased and based on my own personal experiences.
'Sid why don't you try this?', TI asked.

Already devastated with the lack of champagne at the reception, I looked suspiciously at the bottle which contained a fizzy pink soda like liquid. I guess my disappointment showed, and so TI added, 'This is something really local and special to this part of the world. It's from a plant called Rhubarb which grows in the backyard of almost all Scandinavians. Right now is its season and you won't get it at any other time of the year. Try it out.'

Now I was intrigued and decided to pick the bottle and take some quick gulps of this refreshing drink. In a way I was glad there was no champagne as with it around there was no chance I would have tried something so local (while champagne comes from far away France).

Best Rubharb recipes raw with sugar
Rhubarb stems

Two weeks later as we all sat together after dinner to enjoy sun (haha...some new habits have to be developed when you are in Norway), Rhubarb came up again in the discussion and I asked TI if he had it in his garden right now as well. Quite enthusiastically he took us around and showed Rhubarb plants. In fact he even suggested that we must try it as well, just as he did as a kid more than thirty years back - Rhubarb dipped in sugar!

But what exactly is Rhubarb?
Well Rhubarb is actually a vegetable but it's often treated and eaten as fruit. It has think stalk which is green or red and color and wide open canopy like leaves. But beware - the leaves are poisonous and must be discarded. The stems, on the other hand, are fleshy and juicy, though with a tart taste. Most often the stems are cleaned and used for making delicacies like tarts or crumbles.

rhubarb plant backyard norway
Rhubarb plant

The plant is often tiny and almost everyone with a garden, at least in Norway, grows it. It grows very easily and its flavor depends on exposure to sun.

Eating Rubarb like kids :)
Coming back to my romance with Rhubarb, once we decided to eat it like kids, the next few steps were easy. TI cut a few stems for us, and I helped him in washing and peeling them. Peeling is important to remove the small thorns which can be present on the stem. We took small cups and a bowl of sugar, and voila!, we were ready to be kids! Well, at least that's how kids in Norway grow up - they eat many dishes made with Rhubarb during summers, but often their favourite is to eat the stems dipped in dry sugar. Think of it like what we do with raw mangoes in India, also something that's typically done by kids.

freshly cut rhubarb
Freshly cut Rhubarb stems
peeling rhubarb stems
Peeling off the stems
Best Rubharb recipes raw with sugar
Rhubarb stems with a bowl of sugar :)

As we all took bites of tangy stems dipped in sugar, our senses opened up! TI confessed that he was eating it like this for the first time since they were kids!

Before I finish, let me make another confession - the best food that I ate in Stavanger was also something made with Rhubarb - a crumble pudding at TI's place :)


Oh by the way, this is a part of my mini-series, #StavangerDiaries - tiny stories of daily life from the Oil capital of Norway, Stavanger. And what am I doing here? Well, mostly working, but also collecting these snippets of life.

Here are some of the others in the series:
Little boy and the swans...
Potholes, strangers and randomness
Random street art from Stavanger
Breakfast at Skagen Bakery
Curious window of Per Inge's house

Assam's love for fish is legendary, and it's mighty river Brahmaputra is a wonderful source of some really good river fish like Kurhi, Rohu, Puthi, Kawai, Goroi and many many more. The river is also famous for many ornamental fish, and as I completely opposed to fish trade for ornamental purposes, I won't dwell on that much.

highway drive assam guwahati
On the highway...

However, when it rains people across the state catch fish, not just in the main rivers, but also their numerous tributaries. As we drove out of Guwahati one early morning toward the bamboo forests, I came across this scene of young men and boys screaming, laughing and pulling each other's legs. We stopped the car and I got off to have a look at the scene, and was very intrigued to see the local men using bare hands and simple fishing nets to catch fish in a tiny river tributary. The river water was muddy because of the monsoon rains and the flow a bit strong, but cheered by the boys the men went on collecting more and more fish.

catching fish assam guwahati brahmaputra
Bunch of boys and men gathered around...
catching fish assam guwahati brahmaputra
Fishing with the simple nets works very well here!

The Assamese countryside and gray clouds behind them made the perfect background. I took a few pictures, but couldn't go down and talk to the fishermen as we were already late for an appointment in a far away village. But I met a local boy who told me a lot about the local fishing practices and about his own life.

Soon, it started drizzling and I rushed back to the car and my patient driver. We drove off on the wonderful highway, leaving behind local catch.

When I came back to Guwahati later in the night, I was already craving for fish. Any guesses on what was on my dinner plate that night? ;)
I was alone and had been walking for a while in the inviting February sun of Spain and exploring Street life in the town of Cardona. I had skipped the multi-course lunch in the Castle of Cardona just to be by myself, but now I was hungry. Trust me it wasn't at all easy to skip the sumptuous meal (with an assortment of wine, cheese and desserts) and some excellent company, but I felt compelled from within to just have some time by myself. Cardona was just the kind of town I dreamed of, and there was no way I was just going to have a meal there and not walk the streets...

coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
Selection of breads at the cafe-bar
coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
My gracious host :)

The town was practically empty on a weekday and it took me a while to find the city-square. To my immediate relief there were a few cafes and bars open and I walked right into the first one! A smiling lady welcomed me and asked me something. In Spanish!!! Well, I think she saw the confusion on my face and said something else, again in Spanish. She was quick to realize that despite my drop-dead gorgeous looks (???) I wasn't Spanish at all and I smiled apologetically. Thankfully buying coffee in non-English speaking countries in Europe is super easy, and that's exactly what I did; and added a dash of calories with a yummy chocolate croissant. I only had a few coins in my pocket but thankfully it was enough.

coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
Croissants :)
coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
Breads and lots of other local produce! Yum :)

I sat alone in the sun for a long while and ate slowly. Coffee was just perfect and my spirits were high. I was happy with the pictures I had taken, but I already had enough for the day. Now it was time to do nothing, but look around, smile at strangers and maybe sleep for a while...

So where was I? I was at a small cafe-car called Bar Sant Jordi. Here is the address: Square Fair, 7.

coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
Look how beautiful (and empty) this all was...
coffee cafe sant jordi cardona spain
My coffee in the sun :)

Enjoyed this tiny story of solitude in Cardona? Read some of my other travel tales from Spain below :)

Barcelona at Sunset
In love with Barcelona Streets
I need Spain! You do too :)
The Beautiful Barcelona cathedral


Disclaimer: I was in Spain on invitation of the Catalan Tourism Board. All views expressed above are unbiased and based on personal experiences.
I fell in love with the Monastery of Les Avellanes from the moment I entered. Much of it had to do with the fact that I was in a bus for a long time in desperate need to use the loo. So the moment I reached here, I ran right into the washroom to do my business, even leaving my bags behind like orphans.

monastery hotel of Les Avellanes review
Monastery of Les Avellanes

When I walked out again I finally saw how stunning the place actually was. Founded in the year 1166, the monastery has been a center of influence in the region since then. It was also a strong center of power during the medieval ages. The monastic order founded lived on for 650 years and from 1910 onward the Marist brothers have been continuing this tradition. Read more: Monastery of Les Avellanes.

It was still late afternoon and not completely dark so I took my tripod, walked across the road into the open fields and took some shots. Even though my balls froze in the cold, my fingers somehow managed to click the shutter! In an hour it was pitch dark and too cold to stay out, and I walked baby into my room.

monastery hotel of Les Avellanes review
The stunning monastery from outside
monastery hotel of Les Avellanes review
I stood here and took pics, and froze as well :)

All the rooms at the monastery hotel are actually rooms which were originally used by the monks. And that's the reason why they are so simple and basic. I loved this part and felt connected to history. My room belonged to a monk as well, but sadly I forgot to capture the details about him there.

The only thing which disappointed me was the lack of good wifi in the rooms. Every time I wanted connection, I had to walk to the reception (thankfully close to my room) and get online. But on second thoughts maybe it was better that way, it certainly made me spend more time being offline :)

Guided tour of Monastery of Les Avellanes

Later we were given a short guided tour of the place, and that's when the entire history of the place came right in front of my eyes. The monastery also has an old chapel and we also saw some monks praying in a room on the upper floor. This was really interesting because the abbey wasn't just a relic from the past converted into a hotel, but a real functioning monastery which was still inhabited by the monks and was a center of learning for them. It was really sad that I didn't get a chance to interact with them.

The oldest part of the monastery is the Romanesque cloister and it's quite a beautiful place. It's calm and serene and with a small park in the center, it's a perfect place to look for inspirations.

monastery hotel of Les Avellanes review
The central garden...
monastery hotel of Les Avellanes review
Watch tower of the monastery

As a traveler you can also take guided tours of the property. The tour consists of a walk through history from the monastery buildings, sculptures and other details in the environment of the monastery. The duration of the visit is one hour. The duration of the visit is one hour and the language is Catalan, however, do check with the reception if they can do one for you in English (we had our tour in English). Timings: 5pm (Saturdays) and 11.30pm (Sundays).

It wasn't high tourist season and there were very people around at the property and I could just walk around aimlessly, click and sit around till it was time for dinner. We ate at 'The Cloister', a lovely dining place at the heart of the monastery. Happily for me the vegetarian selection was good and the wine even better. Over multiple glasses of wine we all interacted even more freely and the evening became even more fun.

Getting to the Monastery of Avellanes:

Monastery of Avellanes
Ctra. C-12 Kms. 181
25612th of Balaguer (La Noguera, Lleida)

If you come from the C-12 (from Lleida) to reach Balaguer, always follow the directions towards Ager (C-12)
Coming from the C-12 (from Barcelona, ​​exit A-2) Balaguer enter the first exit, then Roundabout Road of Andorra (C-13) straight on (2nd exit) following Balaguer. Tavesseu straight Balaguer (provided by C / Urgell). Once you reach the river pass through the bridge (Old Bridge), then continue to the right (you'll see signs Ager C-12).

Note: The C-12 towards the monastery, once you reach the diversion of Os de Balaguer, do not leave the C-12 and continue straight. After a few kilometers you will see the Monastery of hazelnuts.

Room rates of Monastery of Avellanes:

The rooms cost anywhere between euro 59 to 79 for a night for single occupancy. Of course, these rates are current ones and change with season as well.

Check more updated rates here.


Disclaimer: I was in Spain on invitation of the Catalan Tourism Board. All views expressed above are unbiased and based on personal experiences.
Built sometime in the 13th Century, Weesenstein Castle has long been the pride of the free state of Saxony. The castle was with the  Bünau family for 12 generations and they are largely responsible for the way the castle has evolved over the centuries. With a turn in their fortunes they had to let go of the castle and it evolved into a private property in the 19th Century as a secret residence of the Saxon kings! Did I mention I like 'secret' residences? Especially when it's connected to the Royalty, as they are often quite scandalous :)

Schloss Weesenstein, 1 germany saxony castle
Weesenstein Castle (pic credit: Rainer Lippert)

The castle has a special place in the history of Second World War as well, especially in relation destruction of Dresden in 1945. Most of the art and photography collection from Dresden was moved and safely kept here and that's believed to be the reason why the castle was spared the wide scale destruction of city. Thank god the castle lived's destruction would truly have been a loss.

Apart from the castle itself, there is also a chapel which is popular with the travelers. However, it's the baroque garden close-by which is not to be missed! It was commissioned Count Wackerbart in 1719 and completed by Augustus the Strong after 1723 (read more). The garden is one of the most authentic in Germany and if you are a baroque fan and visiting Dresden to explore baroque art form, this should certainly be on your plate. Interested now? Read more about the garden here - Baroque Garden.

Located at a convenient distance of just 20 km from the capital of Saxony, Dresden, the castle is a convenient day long trip. I was there in peak winters, yet the place was magical, though, unfortunately I missed the snowfall there...maybe another time :)

Weesenstein Castle scholoss saxony germany
Weesenstein Castle in Saxony
Weesenstein Castle scholoss saxony germany
The tower is the oldest part of the castle


Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourist Office and Saxony Tourism Board. Needless to mention, all views expressed are unbiased and based on my own personal experiences.
Located in the heart of the autonomous region of Catalan in Spain, La Roca Village is one of the few places which offer multiple shopping options for high-end luxury brands in the country.

La Roca Village is part of the Collection of nine Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages by Value Retail. It has more than 140 luxury brands which offer travelers unprecedented options to pick from.

la roca village shopping barcelona spain
La Roca Village, Spain

From Adolfo Dominguez to Bally to Coccinelle and Lupo, the options to shop are simply mind-boggling. There is also Fossil, Burberry, Escada, Gant and many many more. In fact if you plan to visit the village to shop, you must check out this link to read more.

la roca village shopping barcelona spain
Shoppers at La Roca Village
la roca village shopping barcelona spain
A busy shopper :)

The good news is that many of these stores also have products on sale, which means getting a good deal for your buck isn't exactly impossible! :)

Beyond shopping at La Roca Village

Not a big fan of luxury products or even shopping? Well, in that case it's perhaps not worth coming all the way to the village. However, if you do end up here with friends or family, there is still much for you to do - especially if you love food, like I do! Haha...

Both me and my travel partner, Anwesha, are not fans of shopping we sat around in cafes, drank gallons of coffee, looked at people passing by with extremely large number of bags and simply chilled. It was February but the weather was perfect to laze around in the afternoon sun to keep us warm.

food la roca village barcelona spain
My sumptuous meal! 

I also did a fair bit of window shopping and was almost tempted to buy sunglasses. Thankfully I remembered on time that I rarely wear them (as my style quotient is practically zero), and so saved some money.

Food at La Roca Village

There are multiple dining options at the village, from traditional Catalan delicacies to healthy options to simply cafes serving tiny portions. We ate our lunch in the open at Pasarela and I would strongly recommend it to everyone who goes there. There is also Mori by Parco which is expeiclaly famous for sushi and sashimi.

To top it up you can either go to Starbucks or Lobby cafe or Cafes and Tapas, for coffee and mini-snacks.

Architecture of La Roca

The village is actually quite new, though it looks like a typical old Catalan village, on which it's modeled. The beautifully colored shops, and lanes, all give the feel of a medieval town in the 21st century.

The place looks so authentic that for half my time there, I was under the impression that I was in an ancient town! Oh...this is quite embarrassing :P

architrecture la roca village shoppig barcelona spain
Looking around at the life passing by...

How to reach La Roca Village

If you love shopping, you must come here and splurge. It is located just 40 minutes from Barcelona and is also easily accessible from Girona, the Costa Brava, France and Andorra.

From Barcelona, Girona, Costa Brava, France and Andorra
Leave the AP7 Motorway at Exit 12A (Cardedeu) and follow the signs for 'Centre Comercial'.

Essential details:
Address for Sat Nav is:
La Roca Village, s/n
08430 Santa Agnès de Malanyanes (La Roca del Vallès)
Barcelona, España

Lat. 41.610694
Long. 2.343342


Monday 10.00 - 22.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 22.00
Wednesday 10.00 - 22.00
Thursday 10.00 - 22.00
Friday 10.00 - 22.00
Saturday 10.00 - 22.00
Sunday 10.00 - 22.00

For more details, check here - Directions to reach.

architrecture la roca village shoppig barcelona spain
We had a meeting in this gorgeous room...
architrecture la roca village shoppig barcelona spain
Everyone enjoying a bit of sun :)


Disclaimer: I was in Spain on invitation of the Catalan Tourism Board. All views expressed above are unbiased and based on personal experiences.
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