13 Lucky Travel Tips

Excitement for Travel is extremely High! And invariably we forget to check the most important lists before leaving for the Journey :

1. Get Your Medical Check Up Done : Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies.

2. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT :  If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship. However, there are umpteen incidences when travellers forget to carry passports and only remember while reaching airport

3. Money Matters :  Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of what the conversion rate is at. Carry enough permissible currency to avoid hassles of exchange on arrival

4. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting : European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.

5. Always have local cash : Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses. You must carry nominal cash for sundry expenses

6. Call your bank or credit card provider : Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Jersey, and they will turn off your card as a security measure.

7. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees : Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. For example, Nairobi airport charges USD 100 in cash. We had to leave the queue, go to ATM and withdraw the money last minute

8. Buy tickets online for places you know you want to visit or see : By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.

9. Bring a charger adapter : Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. Do take a Multi plug adapter if possible

10. Check the voltage of your electronics : From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.

11. Purchase a Local SIM Card with Data : There’s usually a charge for doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.

12. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag : Just incase your luggage gets lost or undelivered, you should not be stranded in same pair of clothes for 2-3 days

13. Most Important : Be Happy and Cheerful, avoid personal fights if trip not as per your flow. Make the most of it, while you are there!

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Living in the Savannah – Maasai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya. When it was originally established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara covered only 520 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover 1,821 km2 (703 sq mi) and converted to a game reserve.

About the place : The Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) covers some 1,510 km2 (583 sq mi)[1] in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

How Many Days Should I Spend? – There are multiple forest resorts which are completely electromagnetically fenced to prevent any animal entering the resort. Therefore, once you are in the resort, you are technically cut off from any movement outside and are restricted to some indoor activities in the resort itself. The Game Drives generally happen twice in a day (early morning and 3pm). Rest of the day could get a little boring as there is no TV or wifi connectivity in the rooms. Thus, an ideal of 2Night3Days should be best.

Resort Recommendation Mara Serena is where we stayed and no complaints about the place. The resort is run by Agha Khans and therefore the cuisines cater to the taste of Indian very well. The Rooms are situated in a way that you could actually use a durrbin to spot wild animals at a distance from the bed of your room.

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Game Drives – This is the Main attraction while being cut off from city life. Rise at dawn and leave without breakfast in your jeep into the densed savannah. You should be lucky to get a good enthusiastic driver to be able to have maximum viewing. Generally, the jeeps are interconnected with a teleconnect and inform one another of the spottings. Ensure that you do watch the The Big 5 – Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards, Buffalo, besides the others numerous spotting of cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, giraffes, zebras, vultures, wild birds, crocodiles, hippos — the last I took so many animal names only during school days 🙂

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Best Season to Visit the Park – The best wildlife viewing months in Kenya are during the Dry season from late June to October. The wildebeest migration reaches the Masai Mara in July and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ for some parks.

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Maasai Mara is also known as the 8th Natural Wonder of The World! A Must Visit as a Traveller!

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. Stonehenge’s ring of standing stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. One of the most famous landmarks in the UK, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon.

Distance from London : Located on the outskirts of London (approximately 90 miles and 2.5hours), a tourist having more days at the Queen’s City must surely plan a day’s visit to this place.

Importance of the Spot : Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge’s sarsen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument’s use and demonstrates that it was still very much a domain of the dead.Mike Parker Pearson, leader of the Stonehenge Riverside Project based at Durrington Walls, noted that Stonehenge appears to have been associated with burial from the earliest period of its existence.

Stonehenge Solstice : Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C. and its purpose remains under study. However, it’s known that if you stand in just the right place inside the Stonehenge monument on the day of the northern summer solstice, facing north-east through the entrance towards a rough hewn stone outside the circle – known as the Heel Stone – you will see the sun rise above the Heel Stone, as illustrated in the image below.

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Stonehenge is tied to the winter solstice, too. At Stonehenge in England on the day of the northern winter solstice (always around December 20), people watch as the sun sets in the midst of three great stones – known as the Trilithon – consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third, horizontal stone across the top.

In the case of Stonehenge, this great Trilithon faces outwards from the center of the monument, with its smooth flat face turned toward the midwinter sun. In fact, the primary axes of Stonehenge seems to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.

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Recommended? – If you have interest in ancient history and culture, you can spend around 2-3 hours at this place, else it is surrounded by ample greenery which makes a great background for photo stop (y)

Camping by the Riverside – Rishikesh

Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas‘ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.

Embark of this Journey Only if you are Adventurous!

The Route– Approximately 300kms from NCR [Gurgaon Region], it takes around 8-9 hours of road journey with 3-4 stops in between.

The Riverside Camps – Enjoy the natural and beautiful stay near Holy River Ganges in camp facility provided by various facilitators. To enhance your stay and make it wonderful, these tents have been decorated to provide you a homely stay. Each tent can accommodate two beds that are available in the Riverside/Beach Rafting Camp Tents like Lifemission Camp Shivpuri,Camp Valley View, Deluxe Camp Shivashish, Camp Roller Coaster Shivpuri, Marine Drive Beach Camp,Shivpuri Beach Camp, Brahmpuri Beach Camp, Jungle Camp, Luxury Jungle Camp, Devprayag Camp and School Summer Camp. Nutritious food is served, that is cooked in tent kitchen and served to you steaming hot. As tents are near Ganges no electricity is available in these tents. Though, lanterns will be provided after 7pm. For all those people who love fun and adventure, it is an opportunity they would scarcely like to miss.

Rafting on the Ganges – After Breakfast, check out of your camp and go to rafting side. Start on a River Rafting from Shivpuri to Rishikesh (16 kms). Today, we hit some of the most exciting rapids on the Ganga i.e. Return to Sender, Roller Coaster, Golf Course, Club house, Initiation, Double Trouble and Hilton. One can try Body Surfing and Cliff Jumping also in this section. In the later part, we float past temples and ashrams and Ghats. Enjoy the riverbank life along the Ganga with some masala tea and hot maggi during the break. Arrive in Rishikesh and the tour ends.

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Recommended For?

  1. The Adventurous and the Fit
  2. Preferably a group of friends or family
  3. Kids below 10-12 maynot be allowed in the rafts
  4. Corporate Workshops

Marseille, France

Marseille, is the second largest city in France after Paris and is situated to the South of France.

Attractions :

  1. The Calanques —- a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets. It is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast. A calanque is a steep-sided valley formed within karstic regions either by fluvial erosion or the collapse of the roof of a cave that has been subsequently partially submerged by a rise in sea level
  2. The city’s main thoroughfare (the wide boulevard called the Canebière) stretches eastward from the Old Port (Vieux Port) to the Réformés quarter.
  3. Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard) is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France. This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of an ancient fort. The fort was located at the highest natural elevation in Marseille, a 149 m (489 ft) limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille. It is an important local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year.

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Weather – Unlike Paris, Marseille is warmer, being situated on the coast line. While the temperatures from December from February may not dip below 4degrees, July and August are the hottest months with temperatures ranging between 28-30 degrees. An ideal time for a tourist to visit the place will be April-June when the weather is pleasant yet not too cold or warm.

Culture – Marseille is a city that has its own unique culture and is proud of its differences from the rest of France. Today it is a regional centre for culture and entertainment with an important opera house, historical and maritime museums, five art galleries and numerous cinemas, clubs, bars and restaurants. Marseille has a large number of theatres, including la Criée, le Gymnase and the Théâtre Toursky. The Alcazar (fr), until the 1960s a well known music-hall and variety theatre, has recently been completely remodelled behind its original façade and now houses the central municipal library. Marseille has also been important in the arts. It has been the birthplace and home of many French writers and poets.

How Many Days to Spend? – Two Nights will be ideal for one to explore the various points around the city. Evenings look beautiful around the port area, which is completely lit up.

Choice Between Marseille and Nice – While both cities are in the coastal areas, Nice is more commercialised whereas Marseille will give you a feel of modern plus ancient. Both cities have their own characteristics and if time permits, a visit to this city must be ticked off!

 

Visit to Wagah – A Footstep Away from Pakistan

Wahe Guru Da Khalsa, Wahe Guru Di Fateh! Yes you are in the Holy Place of Amritsar when you hear these chants often.

What’s Special About Amritsar? – A Small City in the North West Frontier of India in the State of Punjab, Amritsar, is the home to the Sikh Community across the globe who come here to offer their thanksgiving to their prophet Guru Nanak Saheb. However, one should NOT MISS the visit to the Wagah Border [30 kms approx] when you visit this city.

About the Wagah Experience – What is it about? Travelling 30 kms just for a 15-20 minute ceremony? No, Hold On! – It has much much more to offer — The Feeling of Patriotism, The Waving Indian Tricolour, The Enthusiasm and Pride for our Motherland, The Patriotic Songs and a feeling of Numb while the Sun Sets in the West! A beatutifully conducted ceremony anchored by the BSF DJ from our side, this is one time in the day, when the border gates for both countries are opened up and the “Golden Handshake” taken place.

Do You Need to Pre-Book? – No, there are no tickets for this ceremony for the general seating, however, there are a few VIP Passes available if you would know someone directly at the camp. But best recommended is to sit along with the general public and be a part of the loud cheers and dance while we cherish our country’s pride!

Across the Border – While the Indian side was completely filled up by 4pm, we could hardly see seats occupied on the other side. However, by 5pm, they too showed up their might in numbers and danced and enjoyed equally to their local songs.

No Recommendation Required – As an Indian, you need to create an opportunity to visit Amritsar, even if you are not a Sikh and thereby visit this border ceremony. Everytime even now, when I see these pictures, I have shivers pass down my body making me emotional for my country.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in Scotland!

 

Wonder what caught your eye 1st! SRK or Me….or let me Guess, the beautiful Brick Tantallon Castle Behind the 2 of us.

Where – A Tip to the extreme Northeast of Scotland

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Tantallon+Castle/@56.0563593,-2.6528075,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x488706e38d5f9631:0xf3ac121dbfc1c5b6!8m2!3d56.0563593!4d-2.6506188?hl=en

How did we Explore? – On my Visit to the Scottish Land last year, I had jotted down the usual points of visit — Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and so on…We were to arrive at the Lake District [between Scotland & London] via a road journey. Bypassing the maps provided to us which took us through the centre of the country, we decided to take a detour via the east coast before reaching our destination. It was by chance that we were browsing the Google Guide to take us to some points of interest through the journey and to our surprise we arrived at this really old rubbled castle. Not striking us even at that point, we were only enlightened about an Indian connect while we purchased our entry tickets. The manager at the counter told us in his Scottish accent –

“You are Indians? Your Popular Movie Koooch Koooch Hota Hai was shot here!”

And we were taken back to the flashes of 1998 when Karan Johar’s Potboiler movie had released.

Forget the Castle, Remembering SRK – While entering the huge green lawn [seen in the pictures], the 1st thing we did was once again browsed the net downloading Images of the song and trying to explore point by point where SRK touched our chords!

Should You Visit? – Scottish Tours are generally very tight scheduled, however, if one has some time on hand with a self drive car, you could perhaps explore driving through the Eastern Coast and on the way stop for a PhotoOp at this place. It is difficult to pen our emotions remembering the famous Bollywood movie in a completely alien zone at that point in time. Its more about the comparable Visuals than Entertainment!

 

Island Living – Mauritius!

Le Maurice or Paradise on Earth or commonly known to Us Indians as Mauritius! The minute we hear about this place, we visualize the colour BLUE! I share with you my experience of living for a couple of years on this beautiful tip on the map.

Location & Connectivity to India – Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 2000 kms off southeast coast of Africa. It takes around 7.5 hrs from New Delhi and 5.50 hrs from Mumbai to land on this island via Air Mauritius. There is a flight daily to India and fro from one of these locations in India [from Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai].

Tourist Friendly for Short term & Long Term Stays – To us Indians, when we here of Mauritius we generally visualise some of our famous Bollywood songs pictured and shot on the crystal clear sandy beaches. However, the island is not only about the turquoise waters but also about a dense green patch which can make you wander and wander. You may choose to visit the place for a mere 7 days or maybe extend your European winter stay for about 3-6 months. Remember, Mauritius falls below the Equator, therefore, the seasons here are exactly opposite to that in the norther hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline is covered by beautiful plush beachfront resorts, which welcomes tourists from across the globe, mainly, Europe, Asia, Africa and to some extent Western Australia. A Number of fully equipped service apartments allows you to set up your home virtually in this paradise for a period of 3-6 months and extend it even upto a year.

Heaven for the Retired! – With a life not too hectic, a mere population of 1.2 million, no pollution and surrounded by multiple Golf Estates, Mauritius tops the list for a retired couple to to set up their home there. The Government of Mauritius offers multiple schemes such as IRS and RES under which a Non-Resident can purchase a property for his stay or even rent it out for short term stays through the year.

Tourist Life V/s Resident Life – In those 2 long years that I lived on the island, my friends in India would give an arm to live my life, however, let me tell you, it is a different experience altogether when you are on the island beyond a week’s time. As Indians, we are brought up in a fast life atmosphere, need to keep embracing change and development every now and then, work in dynamic cultures, etc. However, comparatively, an island living is much slower, almost dead after 4-5pm, not many places of entertainments {baring 2-3 malls in total}, etc. Also, the island has a lot of French Influence, therefore the culture, language and warmth could be not as easy for an Indian residing there.

My Take : The Images of the Island are almost mesmerizing and trust me they are even prettier than what you see online. They might just prompt all you singles there to tie the knot and book you honeymoon package here and for the families, there are lots of water sports to explore 🙂

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND

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Where Mountains meet the Sea…..Sailing from the North Island to the South Island, just before touching Christchurch in New Zealand, we had an overnight stay at a small place called Kaikoura (150 kms approx to Christchurch).

Location : Assuming a small place could be a small town, was pleasantly surprised to see just a long street overlooking a beautiful sea. Pic 2 above is the view from our balcony at the motel. The place is inhabited with only 3800 residents, which probably would be less in number than the marine mammals and seabirds which are found in abundance.

How to Spend you Day?You can either book yourself for Whale or Dolphin Watching or if you have the adventurous streak in you, trek up to the mountains to get a breathtaking view of the blue landscape below.

Hungry? – The street has some good Europeans restaurants which you could visit, some great Wines and French cuisines. We had an opportunity to have a hot Egg Breakfast overlooking the sea across the street. Near to our dine time, since we had been munching bread for past 10 days, the Indian tastebud in us encouraged us to find out an Indian Restaurant at Kaikoura! Yes you heard that right. Run by an Indian gentleman, the Kaikoura Indian Restaurant made us feel completely at home. And yes we did gobble up some Hot Dal Makhani and Steamed Rice in the dipping temperatures.

Recommend? – Strongly for tourists who love a lonely walk, a calm evening completely cut off from human life virtually and ready to explore!