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There is always an unending stream of visitors to Italy's Pompeii,
A standout aspect that can't be missed by the tourist's discerning eye,
You brace yourself for an exciting, informative tour of the site,
Whilst being aware of it's agonizing history, that is so contrite

It is like an open book on Roman civilization in medieval times,
With glimpses of their lifestyle still apparent thro' passage of time,
Tragic that the glorious town was buried by Vesuvius' volcanic ash,
Whose unique non-hard nature left the town almost intact

The sprawling impressive Amphitheater construction is nothing short of grandiose,
Aesthetically and geometrically designed, with considerable poise,
Hosting of circus shows and gladiatorial games was apparently a regular feature,
Adding to entertainment and joy for the town's populace in no small measure

That the Romans had vivid imagination in planning and construction is never a moot point,
The Amphitheater having a velarium provision is proof enough to drive home the point,
Staggered cascaded seating systems showed social classes prevalence even during those times,
While the accessways to the seats are strikingly similar to those in stadia in present times

Paved with marble blocks, the majestic Forum stands out as an architectural marvel,
Once a bustling main square with a multitude of activities for our minds to unravel,
Surrounding buildings, porticos, temples and basilicas indicate an epicenter of activity,
It is as if the pompous thoughtful design of the layout was a lesson to educate posterity

As the town's highest God, the Temple of Jupiter is a towering structure on the north side,
Flanked by the Macellum - the town's large provision market on the east side,
Justice administration and business negotiations took place in the Basilica on the south side,
The magnificent Temple of Venus made of concrete and lava stones, housed the west side

The Temple of Apollo remnants stand out in magnificent splendor,
Reportedly it was considered the town's most religious epicenter,
The fusion of Greek and Italian architecture is a virtual standout,
It's white marble altar with Latin inscriptions are a lot to rave about

The Forum Baths behind the Temple of Jupiter depict meticulous attention to designing,
Luxurious options of cold, hot and tepid baths provide glimpses of detailed planning,
Hot water circulation through imbedded pipes in wall cavities was truly ingenious,
That the Baths also incorporated a toilet, pool and gymnasium; was pure genius

Remnants of houses ranging from modest dwellings to magnificent villas were truly insightful,
The social class divide of houses of simple workmen from the elegant noble was clearly meaningful,
Varied improvements in style and layout as the middle-class evolved, was very discernible,
Thro' additional rooms replete with embellishments and decorations, making it so perceptible

Pompeii's rich pictorial heritage is a classic example of the famous Roman art,
Full of color and life, the paintings were chosen to make the rooms appear less dark,
Incremental stylistic shifts in the paintings ranged from the realistic to inspirational,
Reflecting the prosperity and tastes during those times, in no way considered fictional

Stunning mosaic ornamentation in buildings depicted battle scenes, animals and human faces,
Rich in imagination with a flair for detail in houses and even laundries, to state a few places.
Adorning floors and walls, the mosaics display considerable clarity and a sense of purpose,
As if the artists sought to portray battles and philosophical thoughts with pointed focus

Inscriptions and graffiti that abound the walls of houses are worthy of note,
Seemingly indicating electoral propaganda messages urging citizens to vote,
Graffiti correlated with scrawled caricatures, messages and jokes on disparate subjects,
That also included calculations on buying and selling of merchandise for many projects

A visit to the ruins makes one experience a kaleidoscope of emotions,
You leave with an inescapable mix of feelings of fascination and adoration,
Visitors have the opportunity to see how a medieval town was built and dwelt,
An experience that goes beyond the whole nine yards, to know how it is felt
SUNDARAM SARMA Mar 2019
When you visit Rome, it is as if history beckons,
All other thoughts are secondary to reckon,
Stunning architecture and ruins does the mind conjure,
While being tempted to look at the bigger picture

Marble sculptures adorn numerous buildings and landmarks,
Their sheer size and natural look surely leave a mark,
Said to be influenced by the ancient Greeks,
And perfected by the Romans as seen in most tweaks

Vatican is reportedly the smallest state in the world,
Christianity hails it as the holiest place in the world,
The City's museums, chapels and gardens lend a scenic splendor,
Making it an enchanted place with little to wonder

St Peter's Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world,
It's sprawling mosaic interior and impressive art is way out of this world,
The incredible Michalengalo dome will always be entrenched in one's memory,
Climbing atop the dome for a panoramic city view is anything but dreary

St Peter's Square is the vast spectacular square in the Vatican,
It is quintessential with an opulent air that no one can question,
Majestic columns and pilasters flanking the square are an architectural marvel,
That it can hold more than a quarter million people is for the mind to unravel

The Sistine Chapel is proof of Michalengelo's transformation from sculptor to painter,
Reflected in the ceiling depicting the Book of Genesis's nine episodes as you saunter,
The gallery paintings portray detailed maps of the world in the sixteenth century,
Remaining etched in visitors' memories when leaving the Vatican eventually

The iconic Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum) is a major landmark in Rome,
Majestic arched entrances and thoughtfully designed seating impress as you roam,
The arena and cages where gladiators combated wild animals bring painful memories,
Of a ****** sport that people flocked to witness, as if in a reverie

Trevi fountain's theatrical architectural marvel is a sight to behold,
Little wonder that visitors come in droves with so much to be told,
Coins thrown in the water portend a return visit in Rome's favor,
Group euphoria and endless clicking of selfies are memoirs to savor

Spanish Steps is famous for its elegance and unique design,
The Barcaccia Fountain at it's base adds to the scenic outline,
People relax for hours at this traditional meeting place,
The annual summer fashion show here though, is never commonplace

Rome is no exception to Italy's famed gelato,
People slurp on cones with considerable gusto,
Gelato is creamier and denser than ice cream,
Its such subtle differences that make it a scream

Rome, as the rest of Italy, is a gourmet's delight,
Trattorias, aka informal ristorantes are a common sight,
People swarm these eateries that offer great variety for a bite,
Can there be a better way to whet one's appetite?

It is a city that is always teeming with tourists,
With a colorful spontaneity that is difficult to resist,
Brings to mind literally the phrase "All roads lead to Rome",
As memories continue to linger long after one heads back home
SUNDARAM SARMA Feb 2019
Can you envision a city built on a lagoon?
That's Venice, a name that always makes one swoon,
It has a reputation for canals rather than roads,
And a prime reason why one will never get bored

The famed gondola ride through the labyrinth of canals,
Is a must-have experience that is far from banal,
Gliding through serene waters with hardly a tilt,
While being serenaded by the cheerful gondolier's lilt

The epicenter of Venice is the popular St Mark's Square,
Teeming with tourists with a perennial effervescent flair,
Historic buildings and stately arcades form the periphery,
With an array of cafes and accompanying music for people to make merry

Witness the serpentine line of visitors entering St Mark's Basilica church,
Gazing at seemingly endless luminous gilded mosaics inside makes one almost lurch,
The Pala d'Oro altar of gold studded with hundreds of gems is a marvel to behold,
As are the mammoth innumerable columns that are so mind-boggling, if truth be told

The majestic Doge's Palace bears the stamp of masterpiece Gothic architecture,
Resting on a double arcade of marble columns lends solidity to the structure,
Spectacular halls and staircases adorn the interior, replete with exquisite paintings,
While ornate works of art complemented by more paintings are featured in the ceilings

The Bridge of Sighs is touted as one of the finest bridge architecture in the world,
The stylish Italian Renaissance connects the interrogation room to the prisoners' abode,
The sculptured sad or angry faces while crossing under the bridge can easily be seen,
Depicting sighs of prisoners awaiting their fate, as they mulled "what could have been"

The bustling Grand Canal is the central transport hub in picturesque Venice,
Gondolas, vaporettos and water taxis cruise up and down the canal without amiss,
Flanked by colorful buildings, iconic structures, buzzing markets and cobbled streets,
Time flies in hopping to various locations while savoring the glorious visual treat

The world famous Venetian glass has a history of its own,
Murano's glass museum visit facilitates all there is to be known,
For intricate shapes, it is a treat to watch the glass blower's skill,
Colorful designed vases and sculptures are effortlessly made at will

The lengthy arched Rialto Bridge is as old as the hills,
A crossover between San Polo and San Marco districts with hardly any frill,
It's breathtaking sunrise view receives considerable emcomium,
As a popular tourist spot, it needs no second opinion

As the bell-tower of the basilica, the Campanile is the tallest building in Venice,
The ring of each of the five bells is replete with history that one cannot miss,
The panoramic breathtaking view of Venice from the tower top,
Is one of the reasons why it is a must-experience visitors' stop

The mere mention of Venice always makes the lagoon city so exciting,
Little wonder that the annual Film Festival is a much-awaited outing,
The aura of glamor, glitz and entertainment never wanes any given year,
As folks continue to throng the city from far and near, with their near and dear
SUNDARAM SARMA Jan 2019
Landing in Bali, you are greeted by the hot and humid weather,
Tourists throng from world over, going hither and thither,
The colorful atmosphere on arrival is a prelude to fun that is in store in this haven,
As excited visitors hop into taxis and head to hotels to which they are driven

The island is famous for it's yoga and meditation retreats,
Also for the vast number of two-wheelers plying on narrow streets,
The landscape greenery is so lush and refreshing as you drive through,
That the reason it is called "paradise on earth" so easily strikes you

The multitude of handcrafts on display at roadsides is such an unique feature,
The variety of intricate stone carvings is as diverse as the mind can conjure,
You cannot but admire the skill and patience of artisans working countless hours,
Carving out majestic designs in stone, wowing buyers to say "this is ours"

At other roadsides are displayed stunning hand blown slumped glass bowls on driftwood,
Each uniquely hand crafted for the specific end use that you decide if you could,
Molten glass takes on wood, creating a wonderful terrain for flowers, floating candles and an endless wish list,
The finished products are a touch exotic, making them must-have mementos for the visiting tourist

The famed rice terraces stretching across the countryside are so ethereal,
The manner in which farmers came up with this ingenious concept appears so surreal,
Steep mountains and deep gorges that were a topographic deterrent to cultivate rice,
Circumvented through creation of gorgeous terraces for water sharing, as if in a trice

Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world,
It is a Bali specialty with an interesting history that one gets to be told,
Free sampling of eight teas and coffees of different unique flavors at the coffee farm is on offer,
A must-have experience with the scenic splendor of rice fields below, on which views don't differ

Batik is considered the original Indonesian textile which has a worldwide reputation,
Visiting a Batik factory to whet the curiosity requires a bit of determination,
Such is the wide array of colorful floral and geometric design motifs seen on display,
That one cannot resist the temptation to splurge on shopping, before deciding to walk away

Some of the most mystical waterfalls in the world can be seen in Bali,
Many of them are hidden in the backdrop of rice fields and mountainous valleys,
Reaching dizzy heights that seemingly merge with treetops, make the views gorgeous and enchanting,
Waterfalls vie with one other in visual splendor, making it appear that nothing is found wanting

The majority of Balinese identify themselves with the Hindu religion,
Taking pride in their identity, prevalent over centuries in the region,
Numerous Hindu temples spread across the island is therefore not surprising,
Most with a history of their own, necessitating a visit to the more enterprising

Yoga, meditation and wellness retreats are spread all over the island in natural and exotic settings,
Surrounding jungles, waterfalls and trickling waters of rivers lend an ambience that feels so settling,
Massage treatments, spas and water healing sessions also facilitate visitors' well-being,
Such programs assist in mastering the body, mind and clarify life's purpose among other mundane things
SUNDARAM SARMA Dec 2018
A tourist's delight is London and not without reason,
If you think otherwise, you can't be forgiven,
The British culture is something in which the Britons pride,
You have no option but to take this in your stride

The famed red double-decker buses are all over the streets,
Transporting people virtually from street to street,
Their frequency is so short which is a feature to admire,
For commuters on the go, there is little reason to perspire

Systematic running of the buses is a reflection of meticulous planning,
That has been honed to near perfection for a near-perfect landing,
Hassle-free commuting is surely a plus point,
There is definitely no reason for it to be a moot point

Riding the London tube in peak hours is nothing short of a nightmare,
An experience however that tourists would surely like to dare,
Winding your way through jostling commuters in a mechanical way,
An art that can be practiced without keeping rushing fellow passengers at bay

Hordes of people keep flocking Trafalgar Square,
There is so much activity with almost nothing to spare,
The revelry is such with considerable glee,
A joy to behold and the best it ever can be

Walking by the waterfront is such a pleasure,
Whilst savoring the enchanting landscape in no small measure,
Buildings along the quay have a history of their own,
That vindicate the reasons for which they are so well renown

Boarding the Thames cruise near one of the dockyards,
Is sheer coincidence that it is opposite new Scotland Yard,
British history's glorious past as vividly narrated by the guide,
Makes for fascinating hearing with the ripples of the not-so-high adjoining tide

To see Shakespeare's first theater felt so wonderful,
That Thames river water has breached the place was equally woeful,
The adjoining new theater now hosts his masterpiece plays all year round,
A must-see theatrical show if you happen to be around

The waterfront restaurants are a haven for wining and dining,
The accompanying incessant chatter gives no cause for whining,
All one needs to do is soak in the merriment,
No way will it ever be to your detriment

The famed black cabs with their right hand driving,
Are mostly Bentleys with an unique interior setting,
The seating arrangement is something you get used to,
As you ride to your destination without further ado

Borough week-end market offers food from world over,
It would be a surprise if you are not bowled over,
The freedom to taste without any haste,
Ensures hours well spent with no guilt of waste

The variety of treats is just so amazing,
It tempts one to keep tasting instead of simply gazing,
The international flavor is also seen in the massive crowds,
That throng the market wanting to be wowed

Shopping is such pleasure that makes you shop-till-you-drop,
Spending has never been so easy without sparing a thought,
The lure of fashion is such an endless passion,
It is difficult to say there is a limit to satisfaction

Buckingham Palace change-of-guard is a popular tourist attraction,
People flock to see the daily spectacle that does merit attention,
The adjoining sprawling Hyde Park lends its own aura to the setting,
That ensures memories linger without forgetting

From Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus is just a stone's throw,
It is famous enough for visitors to take a bow,
The hustle and bustle surrounding the place,
Makes it look hectic to keep with the pace

Poetry is inadequate to describe the charisma that London holds,
It's majestic buildings and Britain's rich history are truly a sight to behold,
You always get the feeling that there is  something more to experience,
Once you are back to base and indulge in reminiscence
SUNDARAM SARMA Nov 2018
It was nostalgic while landing in early October at Zurich airport,
After twenty years, the revisit meant I could have something new to report,
It's always exciting to be back in Switzerland,
A country so picturesque that you are tempted to call it Wonderland

As always the people are so helpful and friendly,
The sense of camaraderie makes you feel warm inwardly,
Cheese, chocolates and banking system make it a country of great repute,
And these are well known facts that do not merit any dispute

Swiss precision clocks are world renown,
It is something the Swiss take pride as being their very own,
This can be seen in all aspects of their everyday life,
Their work-life balance is admirable being almost devoid of strife

The Swiss Rail system is always viewed with a sense of awe,
Vindicated by our own experience of what we saw,
A lot has been invested to ensure seamless journeys for the commuter,
With no room for disgruntlement that one may even attempt to mutter

Train travel between cities is such a pleasure,
While enjoying the scenic landscape in no small measure,
The hip-hop commute feature at stations of your choice is pure fun and joy,
That people of all ages just want to experience and enjoy

The stunning beauty of the Alps is such a visual splendor,
All that one can do is to stare and wonder,
Seemingly stretching to eternity are the snow clad mountainous peaks,
One succumbs to the temptation to take out the easel and paint, making little attempt to speak

When you think of cheese, Swiss is foremost in your mind,
The several hundred variety of Swiss cheese just blows your mind,
Almost half the Swiss milk produced gets converted to cheese,
But still one does not even wish to say "no more, please!"

Ah, the mention of Swiss chocolates brings out the inevitable smile,
You just wish to savor the taste even if it means walking a mile,
Many recipes are traditional though the taste is still unique,
Made mostly by hand - surprisingly, still a basic technique

A recommended must-have tourist experience is travel in the Glacier Express,
As the train chugs along the mountainous track, a whole lot of emotions is what one is tempted to express,
So breathtakingly beautiful is the endless luscious green landscape,
That memories continue to linger long after, from which there is no escape
SUNDARAM SARMA Nov 2018
Picturesque Edinburgh symbolizes Scottish regal splendor,
Which can be seen in buildings that are truly rich in decor,
The solid architectural structures are such a visual marvel,
Replete with history when one tries to unravel

Mary, Queen of Scots is a name we  remember from school history,
The palace where she was born speaks of tales that remain a sad mystery,
That she was ordained to be the Queen as soon as she was born, was destiny,
It was her mother's foresight and Providence that enabled her to survive the mutiny

The palace rooms and items therein portray her tragic life,
Their vividity saddens the visitor when seeing how full it was of strife,
The room in which she was kept in isolation by her better half,
Spoke volumes of the agony she endured at the hands of her bitter half

The Royal Castle has a whole history behind its walls,
The gusty Scottish winds in no way diminishes visitors' footfalls,
The audio tour reveals fascinating stories little heard of elsewhere,
Which we would never come to know if we had not been there

The prisoners-of-war cells and isolation wards that are centuries old,
Depict in great detail the meted treatment which was a sight to behold,
One cannot but wonder at the related stories of medieval times,
The mannerisms of people of warring nations, that was less than sublime

The difference in Scottish and English (London) accents is quite striking,
One needs to listen closely without too much jaw breaking,
Where the former is more subtle and measured and in consonance with word spelling,
The drawl and crunching emphasis of words in the latter is more telling

While walking through Princess Street Garden at leisure,
Taking in the floral beauty is such a pleasure,
The spectacular view of the castle atop the hill,
Screams for a photo shoot of your own free will

The Waverly Bridge junction is a busy thoroughfare all day,
As automobiles ply by and pedestrians wend their way,
The hustle and bustle is not too over the top,
As people seemingly find time to stop and shop

As a nation the Scots can be justifiably proud,
By nature they seem modest without being too loud,
Their common bond with the English is that they share the same Queen,
Their rivalry otherwise is perhaps latent and needs to be seen
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