Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Friday, January 6, 2012


We left Goa. On the last day we stayed in our villa until 6 pm then we had a quick taxi ride to the market in Mapusa. Several buses pulled in and to our surprise we ended up in a feeder bus. That would take us to Panaji, half an hour away, where we would change for the good bus. All in all it took some 15 hours, a long overnight bus ride, bumpy and noisy. We had beds, that could have been great, but it wasn't. My bed was 1B and all over the night people would step over it to squeeze in and out the driver's cabin, through a half size door. The driver's cabin is so big, at times there were seven people there. It even had a bed above the driver, and at one point there was one guy sleeping fully extended on the dashboard!
At a rest stop, the guy on the dashboard and two more behind him
The funniest thing is that lying horizontally in the direction of the movement makes one very susceptible to slipping right or left, depending on how the bus turns. I never fell out of the bed, but it was close many, many times. The only reliable point of support was the bed above me, pushing into it with the arm fully extended. In the bus there were many young people, all reading Lonely Planet. There is one top recommendation for sleeping, Padma Guesthouse, and I had a feeling that a lot of people would be headed there. So we moved fast, off the bus, getting the luggage straight on two rickshas and we were first in the guesthouse. We didn't call in advance, but they gave us two rooms. A minute later people with reservations came in and had to be moved around!

Despite the discomfort of the bus travel, as soon as we left the villa, we were back on the road and we perked up, we were happy and energetic. After the placidity of our vacation, we didn't want to leave, I felt that we should have stayed more, but watching how we all came back to life, maybe we should have stayed less.

Hampi is a tiny village in the middle of India. As the center of a great empire five hundred years ago it has some of the most amazing ruins in India on par with anything anywhere else. A surreal landscape is dotted with at least 80 monuments, representing everything, from in situ carvings of animals, to temples, palaces, baths, stables. At its peak, Vijayanagar, as it was named back then, had a population of about half a million people and it was an important cultural and commercial center. Yep, they did something to upset the gods, because they were conquered and razed off the face of the earth in 1565.
Despite the methodical destruction of this city, the ruins appear in very good shape. There is some clear effort to conserve and restore this incredible treasure. It is an World Heritage Site and under the patronage of the Architectural Survey of India.

Walking through these places I tried to compare to other famous sites, the Parthenon, the Roman Forum or Machu Picchu. It has everything and then some, including what seems to me as a pretty decent imitation of the Inca walls. Makes you wonder where this world would be if we would have had no wars and we didn't have to start all over all the time.

We stayed two days, a short and a long one, but we could have spent another couple of days. It can be visited by foot, by rented bike or with rickshas. The first day we walked to the Virupaksha temple in the morning and the Achyutaraya temple in the afternoon. As the girls chose to return home, the three left of us went up the Matanga Hill and watched the sunset. Descending the hill we met an Aussie-British couple - traveling for a year by bike. They were in Romania in April, in Mongolia over the summer, in Tibet in October and for the the last three months have been biking in India. They were great and I told them that "I read about people like you but I never met one in person". They were pretty impressed with our travel as well.
Inside Virupaksha Temple

The cheapest and most effective ophthalmology consult, getting a third eye
Behind Virupaksha temple

The road to Achyutaraya temple

Alone, one of the structures inside

Starting to climb the hill
Sunset on Matanga Hill
The guys that took us from the bus drove us around on the second day. We started to see all the attractions, one after another. They are close so we went by ricksha one minute, got down for five or ten, then back on and on and on. At 2 pm they dropped us at the Mango Tree restaurant for lunch and then at 3.30 they took us to the archeological museum. I think we saw everything and in the end they left us at the Vitala temple and we walked one mile among ruins - on the river bank, getting home in the dark. Despite being a little out of the way, Vitala temple has the emblematic stone chariot and it was the grand finale to an amazing day.

We loved Hampi and it will remain with us as one of the top places we've ever seen. 
First stop next morning

Krishna Bazaar

This and many other walls do resemble some inca structures

Watch tower, next to Ranga temple

Steeped tank 
The emblematic chariot at Vitala temple

Vitala temple

Returning to the guesthouse

Sun viewed from Earth

Last picture from Hampi

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