“I m having a relationship with my pizza.”
If you have ever said that or something similar for the food in your plate, I advise you to pick up Julia “Lizzie” Roberts Eat Pray Love trail. Starting from the food haven that is Italy, this trail will take you right from Rome’s culinary wonders to India’s stark yet calm realities to the very gorgeous and romantic Indonesia.
Tracing the Eat Pray Love trail from Italy to India and then Indonesia, this story also has some of the best places in the said countries to send you Eating Praying or Loving. Enjoy.
Julia Roberts’ Italian Trail
For this is where the writer had the great awakening, writing some of her best words -“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” Built, broken down, rebuilt, again broken down and again built, this amazing piece of architecture is more about a dream that was lost and found again and again rather than architecture.
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Naples, Italy
Considering true the writer’s claim that this doled out Italy’s first pizza and Italy doled out world’s first, the first Pizza ever came from here. So, when you dig into a pizza here, pride yourself on the fact that you’re eating from the ovens of pizza’s birth place!
Julia Roberts, as Lizzie, visited just one museum in Italy – the Museum of Pasta. Built right on the corner of Piazzale delle Belle Arti, Rome, this will tell you why food is an art in Italy.
Via Condotti, Rome
Remember the shopping scenes in Eat Pray Love? If you too were bowled over by the fashion labels that were all around those scenes, Via Condotti is your call. Italy’s most loved market for fashion shopping, Via Condotti became a huge hit with Julia Roberts even off the screen.
Ciampini, Piazza San Lorenzo, Rome
If the writer thought that Italy was in the middle of a gelato renaissance, the thought might have sprung from Ciampini’s handmade gelato! Not as trendy looking as the other cafes and gelato places in Rome, it has some of the most fantastic flavours on the menu!
Julia Roberts’ Indian Trail
While neither the book nor the movie version of Eat Pray Love explored India outside the ashram, rumoured to be Gurudeva Sidha Peetha in Maharashtra, where the writer spent four months, there is quite a lot on India’s spiritual side. Other than hopping to India’s best spiritual retreats, there are some places that should be on your must-visit list if you are on this trip to find yourself. Starting with –
Somanth Temple, Gujarat
Though there is no lack of temples in India, there is none like the Somnath Temple of Gujarat. Precariously sitting by the Arabian Sea, it’ll take away your breath with its sheer grandeur. A must visit if you’re seeking some spiritual thrill in India.
Ganga Ghats, Rishikesh
All the foreigners might be trailing towards the calm that they say you find in Varanasi, but dingy lanes, half burnt human corpses and hordes of tourists do not sound like calm to me. If a rendezvous with River Ganga is on your mind, head to Rishikesh, the quaint, calm town that’s also the Yoga Capital of the World.
Dhankar Monastery, Spiti
The only reason that would have made Julia Roberts skip a foray into the Indian Himalayas was the fact that she was portraying the journey of writer Elizabeth Gilbert; not exploring the best of India that Glibert herself missed. You cannot skip Spiti’s Dhankar Monastery if soul-searching is what you are taking a trip for. A labyrinth of meditation caves await you at this monastery that stands at the confluence of Pin and Spiti rivers.
Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer
They say that no wish ever goes without being granted at the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer. A fascinating symbol of Sufi traditions, a visit to the dargah is a must for anyone planning to “pray” in India. During Urs, an annual festival, the dargah and its surroundings come abuzz with Sufi whirling dances by dervishes that come from all over the world.
Julia’s Indonesia Trail
Though I cannot assure that you too, just like Julia Roberts or Elizabeth Gilbert, would run into a charming Brazilian fellow and fall in love, the gorgeous landscapes of Bali might have you swooning over in delight. A whole lot of expats would be your first glimpse of the motley crowd that makes Bali; though, after that, you are free to pick a bicycle and search for love!
If you wish to tread the same ground as Julia Roberts did, go to Ubud. A far cry from the more touristy places, Ubud is the town where the movie was majorly shot. This is the town where everyone comes to spend a week or so and doesn’t leave for years! Words enough right?
Gili Islands, Lombok
Remember the gorgeous island that Julia Roberts sails away to in the movie end? Well, that postcard perfect scene was shot at Gili Islands, the three dots of land stretching out in the sea near Lombok.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bali
Located in Kuta district, this is one of the nine temples that were built to protect Bali from evil spirits. Built atop a cliff, it wooed both Julia Roberts and Gilbert as well as millions of their fans. If you are following the Eat Pray Love trail, take a pit stop here for it got a well-deserved place in the movie as well as the book. With some luck, you might witness one of those very fascinating Kecak dance performances here.
Cycle trails around Mount Batur
If there is one scene from Bali that stands out from the movie, it’s the one that had Julia Roberts cycling her way across paddy fields and strangely alluring landscapes. That region, to be precise, belongs to Mount Batur and the many trails around it. Good to fall in love with, provided you steer clear of the infamous monkeys of Bali.
How to plan your Eat Pray Love trip?
If you’re starting from closer home, that is India, you can complete the spiritual circle first. You can, perhaps, try going around some of the best temples in the south of India or settle for months in one of the best spiritual retreats in India. Italy would be a good bet after India as the visa regulations are comparatively tougher for Italy than Indonesia( where you can easily opt for a visa-on-arrival).
If you’re heading to Italy before Indonesia, you need to apply for visa at least 15 days prior your departure.
Next is Indonesia if you’re willing to step in Gilbert’s “love” shoes. Start from Ubud (where tour agents are also giving away “EAT PRAY LOVE TOURS”) and then move towards Gili Islands and the other attractions featured in the story here, most of those being close around. If you’re an Indian, rejoice in the fact that Indonesia grants visa-on-arrival to Indian tourists, reducing most of the hard work. Your visa would be for valid for 30 days, extendable by another month on request.
Now, as you plan your Eat Pray Love trip, I’ll scoot away to find more such inspiring travel tales for you. A trip to Malgudi, or perhaps, a stroll around Sherlock’s London! Write down a comment below if you have one such fantastic travel tale on your mind and wish it to be covered in the Travelling With Legends series here.
Till then, happy travelling.
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