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To the well-worn traveller, Europe, for all its worldly wealth and cultural hauteur, still retains a small town charm. There is none of the race against time, food on the run, fixation of big, bigger, best that is so visible in other parts of the globe. At least, not overtly. Most cities, including the buzzing capitals, are ‘walk-friendly’ Baroque jewels, neatly laid out with green parks and glistening lakes and avid nurturers of their unique arts, historical legacies and regional cuisines. Even today, in the time of skyscrapers and flyovers, in large chunks of the continent, the fairy tale vistas of fortified perched villages, fountain-drenched boulevards and café-lined squares provide us with some riveting holiday memories.
It was not always like that. History is witness to the ravaging wars and disease that plagued much of Europe when it was swamped by marauding invasion and deep poverty and almost bombed into nothingness. But history also proves how a buoyancy of spirit and natural bounty lifted these cities out of desolation turning them into must-experience, money-spinning destinations of the future.
Journeys are all about collecting memories. And some memories coax us into making the same journey again. So in this issue we revisit parts of Europe. Copenhagen, supposedly one of the happiest places in the world, affords a serious study in modern design; Stockholm rules Scandinavia with a natural legacy so divine that reverence for its pristine beauty is an instant reflex; Brussels and Frankfurt beckon with their robust, traditional spreads; Lisbon constantly makes merry and dances till dawn; Barcelona just unabashedly serenades you with its style-driven, flamboyance. And what can be said of Ireland? One of the top travel destinations since 2012, the 20th largest island on Earth and the third largest in Europe, raises a glass of Guinness and casts its medieval spell on the unsuspecting visitor.
Then there are the voyages masterminded by life’s little circumstances. Timeless screen sweetheart Juhi Chawla reminisces on her wanderings through Bollywood and the serendipitous turn that has led her to playing a wicked woman for the first time. Theatre’s enfant terrible Shilpa Shukla dwells upon the spiritual sojourn that helped her negotiate the tough path to fame and fortune. Isabelle von Boch, the effervescent heiress of Villeroy & Boch, speaks candidly about her artistic legacy that has taken her striding across cultures and continents.
May this issue of Verve too prod you off the armchair and away from the office desk!
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