Sunday Special – Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India


While in India, D and I were told that we should see the Rock Garden of Chandigarh. When I first heard of it I immediately thought of a flower-related rock garden since that is what is in my mom’s front yard. This rock garden is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is a very cool and interesting 10 hectare/25 acre outdoor sculpture museum. The garden and its artwork work was created solely by Nek Chand, a self-taught artist. He began to make sculptures in secret beginning in 1957. He found inspiration in the debris found during the construction of the city of Chandigarh. He utilized objects such as tiles, glass, ceramics, wires and the like. He scoured demolition sites and steadily formed art from all these recyclable items. Since the location he chose for his garden was on a protected conservatory (near Sukhna Lake), what he was doing was illegal. As a result,  he created his art at night for almost 20 years. When local authorities found out about the then 12 acre garden its future was uncertain.  In hopes of saving his art, Nek Chand turned to the public to garner support and it worked. And then in 1986 it was designated a public space. Today it is one of India’s most visited sites and I am very grateful and glad I had a chance to see this unique place. Nek Chand who, sadly passed away in 2015, shows us that art can be make from just about anything.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju/Wanders The World

Sunday Special – Goa, India


Beaches, waves and a hippie-esque laid back vibe gives this former Portuguese colony a unique flair. The smallest Indian state but one that attracts people from all over to enjoy the mix of its former culture with that of its present one. I was in Goa in June which was the start of the rains. And rain it did!  Although much of the beaches were not suitable for lounging it was great to see waves crash and watch magnificent cloud formations while the rains were at bay. Despite that and long power outages due to the long and heavy downpours I am keen to return to Goa, however that will be in the drier months of November to February.

Located in Western India, facing the Arabian Sea this area sees an influx of over 2 million tourists yearly. A very lush area that is dotted with hotels, villas and hostels it has something for all beach lovers. The largest city is Vasco de Gama and Panaji is the state capital. My familiarity with Goa is definitely the beach “towns” as I visited a few of them including Anjuna, Baga and Vagator, the latter being one I stayed in. The following photos of mine will show a bit of it.

Photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju/Wanders The World

It Made My Mouth Water


We must eat in life in order to survive. Sustenance is a requirement, so might as well enjoy what you eat. While on my big trip I did just that. Now of course there were times when the food was not so great – like the time I made a horrible pasta dish at my hostel. I don’t know how I mucked up pasta but I did. Then of course there were some dishes that just were not to my liking due to my taste buds. But then….oh then, there were some amazing dishes. Many were homemade and others were at restaurants. Below is a list of some of dishes that appeased my palette and made me want seconds. They are in no particular order, however, it bears mentioning that the food I loved the most was in India. Homemade vegetarian food in Punjab was the single best food moment of my life. True story. It rocked my mouth’s world.

So here is my list of fav foods and where I had them:

  • Halusky – potato dumplings with sheep’s milk cheese & bacon. Comfort food at its best! I went here 4 times.  Old Slovak Pub in Bratislava, Slovakiahalusky
  • Rasam Rice – My friend Vidya made this while I stayed with her in England. It’s a southern Indian dish that has kick and flavour. OMG it was good & spicy. Actually all her cooking was good!
  • Svickova – meat and dumplings in a yummy sauce/gravy. Again, comfort food that is great. Only problem was that it was so filling that I couldn’t finish it all. My friend Vilem took me to a traditional Czech restaurant in Prague for lunch and I tried this at his suggestion. It was so yummy.svickova
  • Lettu – So this one isn’t really part of my big trip but it is. Lettu are Finnish (buttermilk) pancakes. They are similar to crepes in that they are very thin however they kick those crepes’ butts. I add them to this list as I did have them, at home visiting my parents. My mom makes the world’s best lettuja (plural for pancakes) and I must include them.  And don’t argue with me who makes the best ones – my mom does. You won’t win this argument.
  • British Ham – forget what you know about ham. My sister and I went for a pub lunch with some friends while we were in Chester and it was suggested to me to try the ham and eggs. Wow – tender, not very salty and definitely not like processed ham that you can buy in the grocery store. The only ham that tastes better is a Finnish “Joulu kinkku” (Christmas ham that is brined and then cooked low ‘n slow).
  • Almost all the food in I had in Punjabb, India – okay so I don’t know the names of my fav dish, I think it’s Bhindi Masala (it’s made with okra) and then pretty much all the dahl recipes. And Roti…homemade roti. The family Dempy & I stayed with grew just about everything and it was so fresh that it made all the difference. I miss that food and it is what I remember most about my time there.
  • samosa

okra dish

  • Belgian Waffles & Frites – These 2 are a tie for this country. The waffles really are amazing – light yet crisp. I had mine with just a dusting of sugar and it melted in my mouth. The frites were equally good. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Add a side of spicy mayo and they may very well be the best fries you’ve ever tasted.wafflesfrites

 

  • Crepes – had sweet ones (nutella and banana) while in Paris at a cafe near the Notre Dame. It came with a sparkler. A perfect amount of sweet.

crepes

 

  • Shopska Salad – simple is best. This salad I enjoyed in both Macedonia and Bulgaria on a couple occassions. It is similar to a Greek salad but way better. I think it may be the sirene cheese that makes it so good. Cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and peppers tossed with the cheese. Add a splash of oil and it is heaven. I tried re-creating it here at home. It failed miserably (sad face).
    IMG_5568
  • Tarator – I had this cool yogurt soup while taking the free Balkan Bites tour in Sofia, Bulgaria. Wow! I loved it. I made it a home too as they share the recipe. Not bad at home but way better in Sofia! Actually, all the foods I tried on the Balkan Bites tour were fantastic.

tarator ms brown

 

  • Smoki – okay so not really a food but junk food. They are basically like cheese puffs but peanut flavoured – and so addicting. Love them.

smoki

 

  • Belgian chocolate – need I say more?
  • Beglian Chocolate

That is my list of fav foods while I was away. I wish I could describe to you the wonderfulness of it all. I hope the few pictures I have can give you an idea of how happy my mouth was. So, what are your favourite food memories from travelling?

Next up – best drinks…

All photos taken and owned by Wanders The World/Eeva Valiharju

Dirty Hands


I had planned to wander around Chandni Chowk but the rains were coming down hard. I was already partly soaked from just crossing the street. I thought it best to head back to the New Delhi subway and back to the hotel. I sent Dempy a message on WhatsApp to see if she wanted anything. She asked me to pick up a snack and a Limca soda. As I made my way to the subway I stopped at one of the vendors selling soda and sandwiches, relieved that it was a covered section to save me from the oncoming downpour.  I grabbed a couple of bottles of pop and some bags of chips. As I was putting the items into my bag a young girl, no more than 4 or 5 came up beside me and pointed to the sandwiches behind the glass and looked up at me with soft brown eyes. Thinking about it now, she may have been wearing purple and flimsy flip flops but I am not certain. I can’t remember if she was wearing a dress or sari or anything else for that matter. I couldn’t tell you if her hair was pulled back or hanging down by her face. What I do remember was that she was so small and had dirty hands. I turned to the vendor and asked him for a sandwich for her and handed him the money. As soon as the sandwich was in my hand 2 young boys came running over and asked for items. For a second I thought to buy them something as well then thought it would attract more of a crowd and I’d be overwhelmed and suddenly change my mind.  To help her, to help this young girl was the one thing that I could do. I said to the boys “No. Just her…because she’s a girl”. Often girls can have it tougher, no matter where in the world they are. This one I could do something small for.  We stepped away from the vendor and I handed her the food and napkin. It was packaged in plastic. Her tiny fingers struggled with the plastic so I opened it for her, noticing how dirty her hands were. I wished for a wet nap or something to wipe them clean. I pulled out half of the sandwich and she smiled, took a bite and walked away into the crowd. I stood there for a moment before heading on my way. A man touched me on the shoulder and said “God bless you” and smiled. All I really remember are her dirty hands.