Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Venice – The City Of Love (In 30 Photos)

Love, if it could be personified, it has to be Venice and only Venice. The cliched idea that it’s one of the most romantic cities in the world is absolutely true. Yes, Venice is soaked in romance – every nook and cranny of it. I’m fortunate to have experienced it with my husband. I’m happy that I didn’t care for what the naysayers have got to say about it. No, the canals don’t smell bad (not anymore, if they ever did). I think Venice is a must-visit place for the sheer poetry it exudes.

It rains 'romance' in Venice.
If you are someone who appreciates art, architecture and history, Venice is a treasure for your inquisitive soul. It is, indeed, an open-air museum. But, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for your eyes beyond the historic sites. While the rundown walls of the old buildings whisper sweet nothings of the past, Venice is very much urbane and trendy. So, take in the romance!
Now that gondola ride is true to its hype - slow and romantic. Who doesn't want time to cease when romance is in the air?
The hues of time.
The unfading beauty of the canals.
Hot tip: The best time to visit Venice is during February to March when it's relatively less crowded.  
Choose to dine at a ristorante by the canal.
This is one of the most photographed sites in Venice. 
St Mark's Basilica at Piazza San Marco.
Two's company.
Even the water taxis are a good way to see around.
That's how the city looks - serene, quiet and poetic.
Roaming around is the best thing to do in Venice.
Venice is a secret conversation of the old buildings, the canals and the gondolas.
Grand canal - the main site from where you can catch an overview of the city.
That's how time ceases in Venice.
The vintage nuances of Venice wait to greet you in every alleyway. 
The city has so much of character, so much of magic and charm that it's hard to soak all up in one visit. 
There are so many interesting bridges along the way that make you stop and wonder...
Even the birds squeak love in Venice.
The balconies from the dream era.
A hint of spring - now who wouldn't want to walk those streets?
A square in Venice.
San Giorgio Maggiore - one of the islands of Venice.
Santa Maria della Salute
Leonardo da vinci museum
The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
A cute florist shop in Venice.
Shopping on gondola? Not a bad idea!
The Venice Certosa Hotel, located on Certosa Island, is one of the best places to stay in Venice if you are looking for a romantic, 'away from the crowd' time with your sweetheart.  
That's me looking at the Grand Canal, while 'my love' takes the picture. :-)

Did you enjoy Venice through my eyes? What's YOUR favorite romantic city in the world?
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Friday, 10 February 2017

Pali – A Peaceful Jewel Of Rajasthan

The first thing that I reminisce about Pali is the quality of peace it has. Of course, it’s rustic, colourful and interesting just like the rest of Rajasthan, but there’s definitely a scent of serenity in the air. Although there’s a lot to do and see in Pali, the better idea would be to not do anything at all. Places like Pali are meant to be explored by just being.


So yes, be spontaneous when you are in Pali. Choose a comfy and experiential accommodation, and stay long. To begin with, Pali is mostly rural. I don’t know if there is any bustling, noisy market, or city-like posh restaurants. The air is clean, the life is slow-paced and the people are unruffled (as far as I know).

Get smitten by the landscapes
The enchanting Aravalli hills add a lot of depth to the landscapes of Rajasthan. I just love waking up early to watch the sun rise and also set in the evenings. I remember one of the best sunrises on my travels has been in Jodhpur, and one of the best sunsets in Jaisalmer and Udaipur. The landscapes of Pali just get more beautiful towards dusk.  

   
Soak in the bucolic air
The rusticity of Rajasthan is magical, and Pali is fabulously pastoral. There are vast farm lands and also arid fields, where nomads live in tents. You can amble as much as you like. The discoveries are endless.


Admire the simple way of life
I had a chance to stroll through a local market in Haripur (Pali), which introduced me to the subtle facets of the everyday living there. Everything from the sweet shops to the blue and green doors in the narrow alleys looked charming. Both men and women seemed unaffected by being photographed, which I liked.


Dig into a bit of history
As you walk towards the end of the Haripur market, there’s a fort with white walls. Most of the fort is in a rundown state with some interesting old stuff, such as olden style fans. The last lineage of the royal family still resides in a portion of the palace. You can perhaps have a small chat with them.


Relish the fresh, farm-produced food
I can say it with confidence that the food that I had in Pali was one of the best. Make sure to eat what the locals eat – the variety of chapattis, chutneys, fresh veggies and fruits. It’s simply awesome!


Visit the villages
To have a brush with the real rural Rajasthan, visit the villages of Pali. I had a chance to watch the rural women cook. Their faces hid behind their veils make me wonder if they are really shy or they feel obligated to act so. Anyway, I love what they serve on your platter.


The best part about exploring rural India is that it’s devoid of traffic, chaos and noise. Plus, you can have unique experiences, memories of which last a lifetime.

I anticipate venturing into the rural Rajasthan soon again.

Have you been to Pali, or any other rural part of Rajasthan? What’s your favourite memory about your trip?
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Where Should YOU Travel In 2017?

I often get asked where I am going next. Well, I have answered that in my last post. If you are wondering where YOU should be going next, this post is for you. I keep receiving emails asking where to go for solo travel, couple travel and all sorts of travels. So, here I am with cool destinations for you to explore in 2017.


While it’s fun to travel, it can be challenging and exasperating at times. In order to avoid the challenges on the road, you must be well-researched and well-planned about each and every aspect of your trip – accommodation, food, transport, sightseeing and insurance. You should also lookup travel insurance with medical conditions before setting out on a long vacation.

Where should you go solo?

My top 5 recommendations in India – Kutch, Hampi, Mechuka, Kashmir and offbeat places of Rajasthan

Kutch (Gujarat) is my top favourite when it comes to solo travel. It is so huge and so unique. And yes, it’s safe and comfy in terms of commuting.

Kutch

Hampi (Karnataka) is an absolute stunner. Go there for carefree afternoons, charming rural atmosphere, lots of heritage, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Hampi is a place where you wouldn’t miss anybody’s company.

Hampi

Mechuka is a dream portion of Arunachal Pradesh. Though I haven’t been there, it’s one place I’d want to go on my next Northeast expedition.

Kashmir is a solo traveller’s paradise. The people welcome you with open arms. Take the aggressiveness of tourist touts in your stride, connect more with the locals and you will love your solo sojourn in Kashmir, ‘the heaven on earth’.

Kashmir

Rajasthan is, any day, a perfect destination for solo explorers. But, skip the beaten path and head to the lesser-known regions to be rewarded with some rare experiences.

My top 5 recommendations abroad – Southern Italy, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Croatia and Tasmania

If you are contemplating on travelling alone overseas, Southern Italy is the first destination that I’d like to mention. It’s scenic, peaceful and charismatic. Plus, it’s not so touristic.

Southern Italy

Slovenia is a not-so-popular country of Europe. It is absolutely beautiful and not as expensive as other more popular European countries. It would be a great option for solo travel.

Sri Lanka is beautiful and interesting with friendly locals.

Croatia is another lesser-known, yet beautiful country of Europe.

Image sources: Tasmania, Slovenia & Croatia

You should also consider Tasmania, one of the most beautiful regions of Australia, as your solo travel destination. It is so full of character and wild beauty.

Where should you go as a couple?

My top 5 recommendations in India – Hampi, Lakshadweep Islands, Coastal Karnataka, Shillong and Thar Desert

I’d pick Hampi for a romantic holiday, too. It’s a place to just be. You don’t have to have an agenda on mind. Just succumb to the magic of Hampi, and each other.

Lakshadweep Islands, I believe, is the perfect gift of time that you can give to your partner. So, think about it this year.

Coastal Karnataka

Coastal Karnataka is one of the most picturesque places in South India. You will love being with your ‘love’ in the solitude of unspoiled beaches and bucolic beauty.

Shillong (Meghalaya) is an ideal blend of hilly beauty and the metropolitan buzz.

Thar Desert is your blissful romantic escape with just the desert and the sky for company.

Thar Desert

My top 5 recommendations abroad – Morocco, Scotland, Countryside of France, Istanbul and Krabi Island

I think Morocco is so appealing – the desert, the souks, the alleyways and the people. There’s definitely a romantic quotient to it.

I associate Scotland with mature romance. Perhaps there’s some whisky connection in my mind. I think Scotland is a great destination to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary. What do you say?

Paris is known to strike love in the hearts, but I’d recommend the hidden villages of France for a romantic getaway. That would be something different.

Istanbul would be romance with a hint of mystery. Besides there are so many things that you can do together – wandering the streets and markets, soaking in the history, watching the sunsets and noshing through the bars and restaurants.

Krabi Island (Thailand) is just so gorgeous. It’s a perfect escape for honeymooners.

Images sources: France, Istanbul, Morocco & Scotland

Where should you go as a family?  

My top 5 recommendations in India – Goa, Kerala, Kodaikanal, Himachal Pradesh and Dandeli

Well Goa is an obvious choice, but it is always fresh and exciting. Take your family on a jungle safari or a secluded island tour.

Goa

Kerala has so much for your family to enjoy together – backwaters, beaches, tea gardens, heritage and food.

Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu) has many beautiful hotels/resorts for a relaxed stay in the midst of picturesque surroundings. Besides you can go for hiking and other nature trails together. 
   
Skip the hackneyed destinations like Shimla and Manali to explore the hidden places of Himachal Pradesh (North India). Your family would thank you for taking them on an offbeat ‘Himachal’ adventure – Tirthan valley, Gushaini and the Great Himalayan National Park.

Dandeli

Dandeli (North Karnataka) is a destination for those who crave nature and some free-spirited adventure.

My top 5 recommendations abroad – Australia, Florida, the UK, Denmark and New Zealand

In my opinion, Australia is the best family holiday destination in the world. Whether it’s the love for the Kangaroos and Koalas or the many water sports, Australia is a haven of wildlife adventure and outdoor fun. 

Florida makes a fun family holiday with Walt Disney World, museums and parks, and a plethora of outdoor activities due to its waterfront.
Image sources: London, Denmark, Florida & New Zealand

London (the UK) is always a great family destination with adventure playgrounds, parks, museums and shopping options.

Denmark is a relaxed, peaceful and a free-spirited ‘explore-it-on-a-bike’ kind of country.

New Zealand is known for adventure and outdoor fun. It has to be on your list if you are considering taking a family holiday.

You can also check out top budget destinations for 2017 recommended by Forbes and Lonely Planet.

Hope you found my recommendations helpful. If you have a destination (or destinations) to recommend, please share it in the comments!
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Monday, 16 January 2017

My Travel Plans For 2017

I have nothing on my mind right now. I don’t have a list of destinations to tick off this year. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not craving to travel. My itchy feet can’t wait to set off on a new voyage. There are places where I have been longing to go for a while now, such as Kerala, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Then I have a backlog of places (Ladakh) from my old wish-lists. Oh Ladakh…when will I get to see you?

Anyway, I really don’t care to tick off anything this year. I just want to travel on impulse. What I’m going to focus on is making enough money to be able to fund each trip in one shot. My style of travel is to book one thing at a time and not worry about what is to come. But, I’m going to change that now. I’ll have funds available for each part of my trip – travel, hotel, local transport, food or any other miscellaneous expense in advance, so that I’m more at peace. No adventure for me from now on (in terms of money).


So, what do I anticipate in 2017?


Set foot on at least one new state of India
Although I don’t have a list on mind, I’d like to work towards visiting at least one new state of India. It could be one of the seven-sister states – perhaps Meghalaya. I was able to travel to Arunachal Pradesh, and also got a glimpse of Assam last year. I aim to head to the Northeast at least once a year. It is definitely a different world altogether.


Revisit Australia
Besides my own whims and fancies, I have Australia in the pipeline. Though it’s going to be for personal reasons, I’d try and make it a travel blogging trip as well. I have certain destinations in mind, which I’d like to explore on my own. So, I’m going to do a bit of solo travelling in Australia and of course, quite a bit of couple travelling as well.


Some hidden, offbeat trails in Maharashtra
Since Maharashtra is my state now, I believe I should explore it. I’d love to discover some lesser-known places of Maharashtra. I think it’s always easier to travel within your own state than travel to far-flung places – it’s less expensive and it doesn’t really require too much of planning. Besides, I’m aware that Maharashtra is beautiful.


Get a new stamp on my passport. Who knows?
I have a ready suitcase to board a plane to an international destination. Although I’m focussing on India and there’s no planning and saving for a destination abroad, I’d jump at the idea of visiting a new country in 2017.

Well, if you are looking for an international holiday this year, Flamingo Travels has some nice international tour packages. How about Dubai shopping festival?

What about you? Is there any particular destination that you are planning to tick off in 2017?
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