The monkeys swim here!

We huffed and puffed our way up to the fabulous Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu – reaching the top to see those watchful eyes look benevolently over the city.

Swayambhunath

And on our way down, we took a shorter and easier route and discovered this swimming pool for monkeys. A group of them swinging from trees, somersaulting into the green water and in general, behaving like monkeys.

Monkey swimming pool

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The really fascinating sight was that of monkeys sitting by the water an splashing it vigorously to and fro and on each other. Introspective monkeys, playful monkeys, scardey-cat monkeys – we found them all in the course of the few minutes we spent there (I had to, of course, drag my husband away)

Monkeys frolicking

Hullo monkey

Swayambhunath has large groups of monkeys and is known to some (read, Westerners) as the monkey temple. They truly reign over the place – see this one munching on a bar of Snickers. Totally accustomed to human company, these monkeys were indifferent to fascinated passersby who stopped to play (what a bad idea) and photograph (a few monkeys posed obligingly).

monkey bars

So, have you found a swimming pool for any animal anywhere?

Happy 125th, Eiffel Tower!

Paris’ most recognisable landmark, the structure that graces a million postcards, recently turned 125.

The Eiffel Tower. Love it or hate it. You cannot ignore it. When you walk through that part of Paris, it feels that any corner you turn, there it is. What is so charming about a tall tower of metal, that it welcomes 7 million people a year, paying a steep fee of €15 to take the lift to the top?

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That’s what I wondered before I saw it for myself. And then I found myself wanting to go there again and again, especially loving it late at night when the lights come on and twinkle in time to the merry lights of the carousel ride on the opposite side of the road.

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And then there are the views of the city from the top, the breeze that threatens to blow you right off and just that happy feeling of being on top of the world…

Here is some great reading on the man behind this engineering marvel – Gustave Eiffel.

“The tower sways around six to seven centimetres (2-3 inches) in the wind” – this and more fascinating facts about Eiffel Tower here.

And finally, some interesting photographs from the time of the construction of this icon.

Lock your hearts and throw the keys away

I have been seeing love padlocks on bridges everywhere I go, especially in Europe. Of course, Paris is the most famous for these love locks but I spotted them recently in Ljubljana and Venice (anyone seen any in India?)

Ljubljana

Venice

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So couples affix locks to railings on bridges – I think they write their names on them – and throw away the key. And voila! undying love.

I can’t find anything definite on when and how this custom came into being. This story in the WSJ says that it grew in popularity in the wake of the 2006 Italian novel ‘I Want You’ featuring two Roman lovers who immortalized their bond on a bridge in the Eternal City and threw the key in the Tiber.

Turns out though, not everyone is a fan. If Rome trod carefully around this phenomenon, Florence tried to get them removed from Ponte Vecchio a few years ago. Parisians thought of these locks as nothing better than graffiti and sought to have them removed (they made their way back quickly though) while Chicago had a cutting response.

Me, I like them – they make for great photographs and I am going to keep my eyes open every place I visit.

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