34 posts categorized "Travel"


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today, we were fortunate and blessed to travel from Sydney to Melbourne (Tiger Airways TT  251) . Shobs KG friend Lavanya Sundararajan and her husband Sriram Padmanabhan picked us from Melbourne Tullamarine airport,.Sriram was very kind to get a SUV rental to take us around and we saw the Financial district. It was great to stroll around Yarra river with their family and see MCG ground from far. Even though this is the first time I am meeting Sriram and Lavanya, they made us feel like million bucks. Thankful and Blessed for the friendship.

Why Travel?


-Karthik Gurumurthy

To wanderlust's insistent call, a traveler takes heed,
Beyond the map, a world enthrall, a tapestry to read.

New lands unfurl, with sights unseen, where senses come alive,
From bustling streets, a vibrant scene, to mountains reaching high.

A tapestry of cultures weave, in languages unknown,
With open hearts, the travelers receive, a kindness they have sown.

The compass spins, a lesson taught, not just where we may roam,
But self-discovery, dearly sought, a journey found in home.

For wanderlust unlocks the mind, with every winding trail,
A broader view, a heart more kind, a spirit that won't fail.



-Karthik Gurumurthy

The birth place of Vasco Da Gama, one of the most famous explorers during the Age of Exploration. His discovery of the sea route to India around Africa in 1498 set up a new trade route between Asia to Europe and is considered the beginning of global imperialism and colonialism.

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The Monument to the Discoveries is an imposing tribute to the bravery and innovation of the explorers who took to the seas in search of new horizons. It was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of D. Henrique, the Navigator.




-Karthik Gurumurthy


Rokuon-ji  commonly known as "Kinkaku-ji", is a Zen temple of Shokoku-ji school of Rinzai Buddhist denomination. It's famous for its breathtaking Golden Pavilion, a three-story structure covered in shimmering gold leaf that reflects beautifully on the surrounding pond. This area used to be the Salonji family's villa. In 1397, "Yoshimitsu", the third Shogun of Ashikaga Shogunate, took it over and built the Kitayama palace  centering around the golden stupa, "Kinkaku". When the Kitayama palace was founded, it was the center of politics and culture and was used to welcome the Emperors of Japan and trading partners from China (Ming).

After he passed away, it became a temple according to his will. Rokuon-ji Temple garden, designated both a Special Historic site and a Special place of Scenic Beauty. They have retained the atmosphere of those days and maintained it really well. Throughout its history, Kinkakuji has faced its share of challenges. It has burned down several times, most notably in 1950 by a deranged monk. Each time, however, the temple was meticulously rebuilt, ensuring its stunning beauty continues to captivate visitors from around the world.  It was registered as World Cultural Heritage site in 1994.

Here are some interesting facts about Kinkakuji:

  • The Golden Pavilion is covered in approximately 200 square meters of gold leaf.
  • The pond in front of the pavilion is called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond) and is said to reflect the Pure Land of Buddhism.

No Gasoline zone

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Life is different in every country, and traveling opens your eyes to all living conditions. Traveling puts into perspective your blessings and privileges as well as facing the harsh realities that many people live with.


Rosenborg Castle

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Rosenborg was built as a pleasure palace by Christian IV at the beginning of the 17th century, and quickly became the king's favorite castle. Christian IV left a deep impression on Danish history through his colorful personality, building projects and waging of war.

Christian IV ruled the counry together with the Privy council, but absolutism was introduced with his son Frederik III in 1660. Many of the furnishings in the castle reflect the pomp of the absolute monarchy. 

From the 1700s Rosenborg was no longer used as a residence, but became the place where the kings placed their oldest. finest and rarest objects. Here the king's guests could see the wealth  and status of the Danish-Norwegian kingdom in Europe. Rosenborg opened to the public as a museum in 1838. This displays the king's lavish collection of valuables, often acquired as  gifts from foreign rulers.

Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Traveling forces you to break out of your daily routine and all that you are familiar with. It might be uncomfortable, scary even; however, the rewards are worth it. The knowledge and experience you gain will outweigh any self-doubt and worry you had before you began traveling.

Travel also forces you to self-reflect and understand yourself as a person. As a result, you will be more prone to being open and comfortable expressing yourself without worrying about others’ approval.


Round Tower-Copenhagen

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Disvoveries have been made in the Round Tower. Institutions have started here. Important historical figures have come here. And people from all walks of life have passed each other in search of Copenhagen's most charming  view 34.8 metres above the street. The whole world is passing through the Round Tower and has done so since 1642, when the tower was finished. For centuries , the views of the city's roofs and sights from the top of the Round Tower have been Copenhagen's major attractions.

With its distinctive Spiral Ramp, the Round Tower is one of Denmark's best-known and most visited structures. It was built as a platform  for the university observatory and for centuries it was the centre of Danish Astronomy.  The foundation stone was laid on July 7, 1637 (344 years later MS, Dhoni was born which is a different story altogether). Five years later the Round Tower was finished as the first part of the Trinity complex, which was designed to accommodate three things : the observatory at the top of the tower, the University library above the Trinity church and the church itself  below.

The Round Tower is built by King Christian IV, who constructed its round walls in the royal colors yellow and red. The king himself also sketched the famous golden rebus on the front of the tower: Lead , God, the right teachings and justice into the heart of King Christian IV.

Halfway up the tower you will find the library Hall since its reopening in 1987. The platform on top of the tower has a great 360 degree city view  centred by the Observatory, which is still used in the winter months and thus the oldest functioning observatory in Europe.

The Spiral ramp twists 7 1/2 times around the tower's hollow core and is the only way to the top. It is inspired by both German Renaissance castles and ancient structures and is unique in a Danish context. 

The Round Tower planetarium shows the solar system with the sun in the centre. The observatory telescope dates from 1929 when the current observatory building was opened 


-Karthik Gurumurthy

The warship Vasa capsized and sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm (about 395 years back) on 10 August 1628. After 333 years on the seabed, the mighty ship was salvaged, and its voyage continued. Vasa is the world's best preserved 17th century ship, magnificiently adorned with hundreds of carved scupltures and 98% original.

If you visit Sweden, please do checkout Vasa Museum. I strongly recommend watching the short film about Vasa and take the guided tour around the ship.  All around the ship, there are exhibitions that tell the story of Vasa's history and what the artefacts, sources can tell us about the ship, people and society in early 17th century Sweden, The order you visit the different exhibitions is for you to decide. 

Christiansborg Palace

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Christiansborg Palace was the main residence of Danish monarches until 1794,when the royal family moved to Amalienborg. However, even today the royal family still use large parts of Christiansborg Palace.

If you visit the Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, you will be given a tour of the kitchen beneath the palace where it gleams with one of the Europe's largest collection of copper kitchenware. You will experience a sensory bombardment of culinary artistry, pastry cakes and colorful flower arrangements from the 1930s.


You will also get to explore the 800 year old underground ruins. The oldest ruin is the curtain wall from Bishop Absalon's 12th  century castle.Another famous ruin is the Blue Tower, the fabled prison from Copenhagen Castle.

The Royal reception rooms provide the magnificient setting for the Queen to carry out her official duties. Her Majesty receives her guests in these rooms surrounded by the green marble plasters, golden silk wall coverings and tapestries. She also signs acts of parliament into law and holds New Year banquets in the palace just as her predecessors have done over the centuries.


At the heart of Christiansborg Palace lies  the Great Hall where the Queen holds the gala dinners when there are state visits and other festive occasions. Visitors can explore 1100 years of Danish History on the walls of the Great Hall which are decorated with colorful tapestries. The Great Hall can accommodate up to 400 guests for banquets, state visits and New Year receptions. The Danish artist Bjorn Norgaard's modern tapestries were a gift to Queen Margrethe II in 2000. They narrate 1000 years of Denmark's history, from Viking times to the present day.


There is room called Alexander Hall which depicts the entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon. This also holds Queen's library which is Queen Margrethe II's book collection where many of the books date from the 18th century.


Grundtvig's Church (Grundtvigs Kirke)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is a must see in Copenhagen.

Grundtvig's Church was erected in commemoration of the great Danish priest, poet, and reformer N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783 - 1882). This monumental church is referred to in modern terms as a Gothic cathedral.

Master builder and architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint (1853 - 1930) died before the church was finished. The task was entrusted to his son architect and designer Kaare Klint (1888-1954), who completed the building of the church in 1940. Kaare Klint has also designed the chairs for the Grundtvig's Church - a chair made of beech wood with a wickerwork seat - a Danish furniture design.





Amalienborg Palace and Marble Church

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family, and is located in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Inside Marble Church (Frederik's church)



It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard ; in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.  Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burned on 26 February 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. Over the years various kings and their families have resided in the four different palaces.The Frederiksstaden district was built on the former grounds of two other palaces. The first palace was called Sophie Amalienborg. It was built by Queen Sophie Amalie, consort to Frederick III on part of the land which King Christian IV had acquired outside of Copenhagen's old walled city, now known as the Indre By district, in the early 17th century.



Marble Church, also known as Frederik's Church, is a stunning Baroque church located in the Frederiksstaden district of Copenhagen, Denmark. It was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved and construction began in 1749, but was not completed until 1894 due to various interruptions and setbacks.Today, its turquoise dome stands as a captivating focal point in the Copenhagen skyline.

Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Travel is the most amazing wrapped present - the inside is the transformation of you.

I travel because it makes my life so much better in many ways.

And because it makes my life rich and full with wonderful memories of cherished moments around the world with cherished people in beautiful settings.

Why travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, by exploring new places and things, can increase the level of dopamine in your brain. Travel opens your mind in a way that few other things can. Speaking to new people and getting new perspectives will change how you perceive the world. Engaging yourself in various topics of conversation will help you see the world from many different points of view.


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Travel brings in a fresh energy. Waking up in a new place is quite literally like hitting the reset button for your mind and body. The stimulation you get from traveling can boost your productivity and effectiveness in your daily work at home.


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Bula from Fiji, where happiness comes naturally!

Traveling offers numerous leadership lessons, especially when approached with openness and curiosity. The significance of open-minded and open-hearted leadership has become a call to action for many.

One thing you will realize through your travels is the borders that separate us are man-made, and so are the preconceived misconceptions and generalizations that we have of each other. Setting aside barriers that we have created ourselves that have long kept us divided, you will realize that we are essentially the same.




Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Travel opens up the mind and helps us question our reality, understand new cultures, and make lasting memories for a lifetime. Although some people refuse to travel because they see it as time-wasting, it opens your mind and heart to take a new perspective of life. 

In fact, travel is more than just taking a selfie. It's about understanding the world we live in, broadening our horizons as human beings, developing empathy for others, and giving us new insights into the culture. In short, it gives us a new appreciation for what makes life worth living.


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The biggest joys of traveling are the memories you make along the way. Whether they are fond memories of the places, food and the people you met. They all culminate to be some of the best moments of your life. It is indeed truly a blessing to call this planet our home for there is no picture on the internet or book that could truly capture the essence of this world.


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The biggest joys of traveling are the memories you make along the way. Whether they are fond memories of the places, food and the people you met. They all culminate to be some of the best moments of your life.




Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Traveling is a great way to let go of the past and future and enjoy the present moment. It is a time when you can be spontaneous and inspired to do things. When you travel, you notice that things are different from your routine. In this way, traveling allows you to live in the moment without thinking about the routine. 


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Shaking up your routine and seeing new sites sparks inspiration. You generate creativity as your five senses take in a new environment.

It makes sense. The more you brain gets exposed to new senses and activities, the more it generates new thoughts, feelings and innovations from the inspiration gained. Ernest Hemingway used experiences from Spain and France as inspiration to write much of his work.



Visiting Japan- Our experience and notes

-Karthik Gurumurthy


We just got back from an incredible 2 week  trip to Japan  and thought I'd share my takeaways and recommendations based on what we experienced. Would love to go back there if possible. 

As a country with a rich cultural heritage and unique customs, visiting Japan can be an exciting and memorable experience.The country offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations, beautiful natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage.To enjoy your visit to Japan, show respect for local traditions, immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, and embrace the beauty and diversity of this incredible destination.

Japanese culture places great importance on politeness and respect.Familiarize yourself with some basic customs, such as bowing when greeting, removing shoes in certain establishments, and using chopsticks correctly. Learning a few common phrases in Japanese, such as greetings and thank you, can also go a long way; or at least make your new friends giggle.  Shobana and Ashwin spent last couple of months learning Japanese and practicing them every days.  When Ashwin spoke to locals in Japanese, they were pleasantly surprised and felt more connected too. I used this link to go through the basics.

Japan has an efficient and extensive transportation system. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is an iconic way to travel between major cities quickly.Local trains, buses, and subways are convenient within cities. Consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass if you plan to travel extensively by train. Alternatively, local transportation cards like Suica or Pasmo are useful for shorter trips.


Some popular places to visit include Tokyo (the vibrant capital city), Kyoto (renowned for its temples and traditional culture), Osaka (known for its food and nightlife), Hiroshima (historically significant), Nara (home to friendly deer and ancient temples), and Hokkaido (famous for its scenic landscapes and winter sports).

We didn't follow the usual pattern of trying to hit 4+ cities in Japan. Changing hotels every couple of days is exhausting . We're more relaxed travelers who like to strike a balance between activities and taking it easy. We focused our vacation in Tokyo and Kyoto which we loved and stayed one day in Osaka. We also visited Hiroshima and Nara while staying in Kyoto.

  • For JR pass, i used https://www.japanstation.com/japan-rail-pass-value.../ to see if it was worth it for us. We ended up with the 14 day pass because we took a lot of shinkansen
  • Download the JapanTravel and JapanOfficialTravelApp apps. They allow for you to search using JR pass so you know which route to go. Jr is not always the fastest to get you to your destination. Google maps was great at navigating short walking distances but for long train rides, it didn’t have the feature to select JR rail pass (to my knowledge anyway). But I always had my partner use google maps so we could kind of bounce back and forth between the apps and we really didn’t get lost much, considering.
  • Rails are used by multiple types of trains, make sure you look at what time your train should be departing/if it’s on the top of the announcement board, that means that’s the next train departing. That lets you know if you’re on the right train. (I’m from LA and never use the train. Maybe this is common knowledge lol) if the time shown on your google maps/japan travel app does not matching exactly what is on the sign board, you’re probably in the wrong place lol
  • Make sure you also read all information on google maps, ie. What entrance to use for the station, what platform, what car to get onto for fastest exit. The information is critical. We felt like navigating Kyoto was so much more difficult because that information wasn’t given to us, but the information booths and even the locals are very helpful.
  • Get to the JR ticketing station 10 minutes early to their opening to activate your pass. Don’t know if we just got lucky or what, but we came 10 min before opening and nobody was there. By the time they opened there was a crazy line that we did not expect. So account for that.
  • Most JR Shinkansens don’t sell food, nor do the stations you’re boarding from. Always safe to grab an item or two at the combini before leaving. We went until 3 pm with no food one day because we assumed we could buy food at the station, but the station we were leaving was so small there was nothing, and we were constantly rushing to catch the next train.
  • Jr pass covers some buses too, so check that. We used it very often in Tokyo- mostly used Yamanote
  • Google was sometimes inconsistent between mine and my wife's phone. We had to work as a team sometimes to get to our destination
  • PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THE CULTURE AND BE QUIET ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.. and pretty much everywhere else. We noticed groups of foreigners just being so loud, even loud enough that we had to move seats on our 2.5 hr Shinkansen because a group was practically yelling their entire conversation. If it bothered us that much, I can’t imagine what the Japanese were thinking.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Columbia walking shoes which we all got was awesome. The first few days of walking 20k+ steps really killed me but your body gets used to it and it gets better, I promise!
  • Umbrellas are super cheap and quite a few of our hotels let guests borrow them for no charge. I wouldn’t pack one unless really indicated.
  • Don't worry too much about what youre wearing. Most people dress fairly modest here, but they also don't really care what you're wearing.
  • Traveling around Tokyo: Foreigners are easily intimidated by the sheer expanse of Japan's capital city and its 17 million inhabitants (5 million are commuters); however, due to this volume alone Tokyo has developed an unmatched public transportation system and an intricate network of visitor friendly information resources. The best way to travel Tokyo's frantic bustle is to allow the subway to lead the way. A loose itinerary will draw you into true Japanese life through unexpected encounters and more intimate experiences. For a dose of New York in Tokyo, visit  Shibuya  which is rife with higher-end shops, shrines, King-Kong-sized plasma TV screens and the busiest pedestrian street crossing in the world. Meiji-jingu is the most impressive of Tokyo's Shinto shrines; built with Japanese cypress and copper plates for the roof. Even though the shrine was destroyed during World War II, the reconstruction has not lost any of the grandeur. Spent today in Asakusa at Sensoji temple, souvenir shopping then Kappabashi Dougu Street (kitchen street) . Sensoji is beautiful and busy, but we found plenty of quiet spaces. Asakusa is definitely the place for Japanese souvenirs. There are lovely shops in the side streets too away from the main street.
  • Directly in the centre of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace (Kokyo) is an inner-city sanctuary that is home to the Imperial Family. The public can visit the surrounding East Gardens and walk along the double bridge over the tranquil moats of the palace grounds, but the palace buildings and inner courtyard are closed to visitors.
  • Kyoto  has over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. My favorite place Kyoto, the city where the ancient capital of Japan once stood, is home to countless cultural attractions and historic sites. It is also the perfect base for your visit to the Kansai region, which also includes Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Himeji. 
  • Kyoto Transportation: What a place! It took us a while to get our heads around it - the city seems to rely more on the bus system than the train system, which took some getting used to for us, as we loved the trains in Tokyo. However, they’re easy to navigate with google maps, they’re frequent..they’re just very busy at this time of year, so be prepared! We chose to walk rather than take the bus often because of this. But they work brilliantly.


  • Must see places in Kyoto
    • Kinkakuji Temple (the famous Golden Pavilion temple):Kinkaku-ji also known as the the Golden Pavilion, in Kyoto. Kinkaku-ji is one of Kyoto's most famous and iconic temples, renowned for its stunning golden exterior and serene surroundings.Originally built in the 14th century as a retirement villa for a shogun,  Kinkakuji was later converted into a Zen Buddhist temple.The top two floors of the pavilion are completely covered in gold leaf, creating a breathtaking sight that reflects off the pond in front of the temple. Kinkaku-ji is situated in northern Kyoto, amidst beautifully landscaped gardens, and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Nijo Castle (the former Kyoto residence of the shogun with spacious Japanese gardens) 10:00am 8/10 very big takes 1 hour to walk around! 400 yen Entry Fee
    • Fushimi Inari Shrine unending path of vibrant orange torii gates) amazing!! Totally worth it!
    • Arashiyama Bamboo Forest scenic natural area with magnificent bamboo grove). You have got to be there!
    • For food- a few people recommended Engine Ramen - and YES, what a place! A little different from traditional ramen as the soup is more creamy - almost Thai or Vietnamese style I’d say - it was absolutely gorgeous and Ashwin loved it too. You take a ticket and wait in line, so be prepared to wait. Totally worth it. 
    • Afterwards, head to Nishiki Market, a market with a difference. Known as Kyoto's Kitchen, Nishiki Market is filled with more than 100 restaurants and food stands selling everything from seafood to pickles – a truly local experience! Us being vegetarian just watched everything but still great experience.
      In conclusion, Kyoto boasts a rich cultural heritage and a long history, and is a great place to experience Japan's traditional life. If you do visit this beautiful city, I hope it will be a great experience for you!


Travel Goals

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Travel is one of the things  that I long to do.  I have written a poem about the twenty countries that I would love to visit in the next twenty years.

Twenty lands unfurl, a tapestry grand,
From Cambodia's temples, to Hong Kong's bright strand.
In Japan's serene gardens, find peace in your soul,
While Swiss mountains pierce clouds, stories untold.

Germany's castles whisper tales of old times,
Fiji's turquoise waters soothe weary minds.
Australia's outback, vast and wild and free,
New Zealand's fjords, a symphony.

Canadian Rockies, peaks pierce the blue,
Netherlands' tulips, vibrant and new.
Seychelles' beaches, paradise found,
Maldives' bungalows, serenity profound.

Portugal's charm, cobbled streets wind and sway,
Sweden's icy beauty takes your breath away.
Denmark's hygge, warmth in the winter's embrace,
Chile's Andes rise, a majestic space.

Peru's ancient ruins whisper secrets untold,
Thailand's smiles shine, stories to unfold.
Bhutan's happiness, a lesson to hold dear,
Indonesia's islands, beauty ever near.

Finland's saunas, cleansing body and mind,
Twenty lands to explore, treasures  you'll find.
So pack your bags, let wanderlust take flight,
The world awaits, bathed in golden light.