Five weeks. Five cities. One New Travel Companion.

I truly enjoy trying out something new when I travel, especially if it's something which helps me travel smart. So about a month and half back when an interesting opportunity came my way to apply for American Express Membership Rewards® Credit Card during the golden offer period, I wasted no time and got myself a card for which I don't have to pay any annual fee ever. But not just that, the new card became my new constant companion as I traversed across the country from Pune to Delhi to Hyderabad to Mumbai and finally to Kolhapur last weekend! Being the digital guy I am, the card became my constant companion for booking flight and bus tickets, hotel rooms as well as some online shopping for my travel gear. I not only saved while I booked, but I also accumulated reward points which I can use later to get even more savings!

The visit to each of these five city also came with some special stories, and I am sharing five such stories. Each one is unique, yet represents my style of travel - to go with the flow!

five indian cities travel
Five cities. Five stories.

Pune - City of cafes

Let's start with home, shall we? Now who doesn't love home - as much as I love travelling, I also love coming back home to re-gather my thoughts, read up a lot, edit my pictures, and pen down my travel stories. So my story of Pune is about the cafes here - a truly millennial city with a fairly young population, Pune boasts of some great cafes from the more traditional areas hangout like Koregaon park to the upcoming Baner.

pagdandi book cafe pune
Pagdandi Cafe, Pune

Being a coffee lover myself, I also spend a lot of time at home hopping cafes and sampling new flavours. There are always some new cafes coming up in the city, and two of my favourites is called Cafe Peter Donut and Pagdandi.

And what do I do at the cafes? Often I simply sit with a book and relax, or pick conversations with strangers. Or read a book.

Hyderabad - Heritage and Food

The other city that I have already visited twice recently was Hyderabad. On my earlier visit I had come back with one key impression - Hdyerabad is hot, but this changed dramatically this time. yes, the city is hot, but you can easily ignore that part and immerse into the vibrant culture of the city. It's a historical city and my favourite part of being there is to explore the old town - especially the areas around Charminar. Of course, culture is never quite complete without food, and in the department of food, Hyderabad excels many other Indian cities. The biriyani is to die for, but then there are numerous other local delicacies which need to be explored as well!



Delhi - Architectural legacy

I think I have a love-hate relationship with Delhi, and in my case, love easily triumphs hate. But what do I not like about Delhi - well it's the heat! Delhi is a city which is best explored on foot (though it's huge) in each locality, and heat makes it almost impossible to do that.



However, what I like the most about the city is it's rich architectural heritage - pre-Mughal, Mughal and Mughal (colonial). It's simply astounding how much beauty exists in this city and maybe even a lifetime is not enough to explore it all. So during the last few visits to the city, I have been exploring the architectural marvels at sunrise and sunsets and falling head-over-heels in love with the city.

Here are some great suggestions for long-weekend ideas from Delhi this summer. Do check them out :)

Kolhapur - Kushti

This was never a city on my radar as a traveler, but after moving to Pune, the place became an interesting place to visit considering the stories I heard about the place. So when I recently visited the city, I explored tons of things - Kolhapuri food, palaces, chappals, temples, but one story that was really interesting was the visit to the Akhara (called taleem here) where local wrestlers sweat it out and start their journey to stardom.

kushti akhara taleem kolhapur maharashtra langot
Kushti in Kolhapur

In fact, Kolhapur is actually known as the wrestling capital of western India. It was a great visit as I made friends immediately - and almost all the wrestlers, both young and old, were intrigued by my camera and my hair! Lot of pictures, and some great memories - that's how I will summarise my trip there!

Mumbai - Bandra-Worli Sea Link

And finally the fifth city that I visited a couple of times is the one closest to home - Mumbai! Recently I spent a long weekend at Taj Landsend in Bandra and the experience was truly wonderful. Great food, excellent hospitality, but most importantly some gorgeous views of the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link.



So every morning, I walked to the coast at the bottom of the Sea Link and looked at the clouds flying, birds catching their prey, people taking selfies and waves hitting the rocks. Oh and I also saw a few morning shoots happening too - here's one from a lovely couple on their pre-wedding shoot!

Amex Card - my constant companion

I already mentioned how I used Amex Card for all kinds of bookings and payments, and here is one such example when I booked my hotel in Gurgaon and saved some good money!



A detailed review of the Amex card as well as tons of tips on how you can use the card to save money during travels is coming up soon, but for now enjoy this video:




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Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Amex Cards. All the stories shared above are my own and based on my own personal experiences.

Comments

  1. All look like amazing cities Sidd. We just visited southern India so it was Pondy, Bangalore and Chennai, with Kovalam Beach and Muhamma tossed in. Fun region and really friendly people down there.

    Ryan

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  3. The architecture in Delhi looks gorgeous, a reason to try to tolerate the heat. Interesting to learn that Pune is a younger city, and that it has a cafe tradition. I had a chance to visit Pune this summer that I wasn't able to take - this makes me want to try to make that happen.

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  4. Each of your pictures captures the true essence of the five cities. Specially love the Delhi Humayun Tomb evening shot. The colors and the angle are great.

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  5. Your photos are beautiful. I suspect what I know of Indian food from restaurants is probably far from the regional specialties, much like Italian food is really Italian-American in the US. You mentioned Hyderabad is known for the food. What kinds of things would you eat there?

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  6. This post was great. Five cities, five stories, and five great photographs to accompany them, I might add. Just followed you on instagram.

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  7. My AMEX Platinum card is also my best travel companion - it's there to book everything, though to also collect rewards for free travels to come, and get me into international lounges while waiting at the airport. Love it! Sounds like a fun trip through each city - I would love to get to Delhi, though have heard that many people have a love-hate relationship with it too. But as far as rich architectural heritage goes, I hope to visit soon :)

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  8. I haven't been to either one of those cities but your beautiful images sure make me wanna go to India. Will go follow your Instagram now :D

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  9. First of all the pictures look beautiful and the five cities that you have listed are truly beautiful -
    no doubt in that. Re American Express - I totally agree that it is the best companion when you are traveling. What I love about Amex is the additional frequent flyer points that I get. But what I have seen is that sometimes many operators do not accept Amex or take extra surcharge for Amex cards, how do you manage that?

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  10. The five cities look amazing! Would love to explore Pune and Delhi. I dont use credit card much when traveling but I see that it's also a good travel hack if used responsibly.

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  11. Loved the story of those cafes in your home town. I'm a fan of relaxing in cafes with a book or a laptop, and if it's somewhere by the river, that would just be my favorite spot for taking a break during a busy day! :) And have to say, you got me curious about the American Express card. ;)

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  12. I didn't know about Kushti in Kolhapur, for me, Kolhapur is famous for many other things. Things you write about Pune really amazes me. Mumbai has to learn a lot. :)

    I don't own an AMEX card but can guess what all benefits it can bring you. Looking forward to the detailed post on it.

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  13. After your descriptions I would like to visit Hyderabad. It looks the kind of place perfect for me, despite the heat! Good you found all those good deals with the amex. In Europe is not used that much so it was difficult to find places where it was accepted and spending the minimum to keep the card for free was hard :-(

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  14. I always love finding a great travel card. So helpful. And I love how each of these cities is known for something different. I love coffee and would love to sit and write at some of the cafes in Pune or explore the architecture of Delhi.

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  15. Amazing stories. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your informative and educational post!

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  16. What a fascinating journey! Hyderabad most stands out to me, as it's a place I've read about in news contexts, but not enough from a tourism perspective. Such cool photos!

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  17. Very nice, thanks for sharing these stories. I plan to visit India at some point to make a few memories of my own. Not sure I'll have an Amex card but what a great example of a sponsored post/product placement. Thanks for the inspiration from this travel blogger!

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  18. Awesome that you found a rewards card with no fees! I love the look of that cafe in Pune with all the books. It would make for a perfect and quiet afternoon.

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  19. Sounds like this is a great card for a traveller. I love your little snapshots about these five cities, I only know a couple of them personally, though I have a first cousin in Pune I have not yet visited. Lovely photos you have taken to illustrate each one.

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  20. I don't have current plans to visit India, but all of these five cities each have intriguing places to visit. Good tips about the American Express card!

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  21. Omg..ur pics wat shud I say...no words really...amazing man... #sid

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