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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Embassy Row Hotel: DC’s Chic Business Luxury Address

Washington DC, the capital of the United States of America is a popular tourist destination with people from all around the world. They come to see the White House, the National Mall, the Lincoln memorial, the many museums and art galleries and to indulge in the food and lifestyle circuit of this beautiful city. On my recent road trip across the United States, I visited DC and during this visit, I stayed at the Embassy Row hotel near Dupont Circle. The below hotel review is based on this recent experience of mine.

Bridesmaids pose in front of the National Monument, Washington DC

1) This chic hotel enjoys great location. Located very close to the Dupont circle, it offers great proximity to fine restaurants, embassies, happenings bars and clubs, the metro and much more.

2) The interiors of the hotel are classy and swanky. Very tastefully designed, the hotel offers a bar and restaurant at the ground floor and a rooftop bar and outdoor swimming pool on the top and one that offers a great view of the city.

3) The rooms, which are in line with the theme of the hotel come with all modern amenities that come with a 3 star hotel. Even though this hotel is a 3 star business class hotel, it feels like it is a 4 star and it is this appeal that sets it apart.

4) The in-house restaurant of the hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the rooftop bar buzzes with action especially in the evening. However, the best of DC’s restaurant circuits are all located a short walk away.

5) Since this hotel is close to the metro and also centrally located, it offers easy and quick access to all the popular tourist attractions of this capital city and the train and bus station.

6) The hotel offers free wi-fi, parking facilities, laundry facilities and more.

Whether you are a business traveler, a holidaying couple or a family on vacation, you will definitely find great value in the Embassy Row hotel. It is definitely worth a look and it is an address that I would not mind staying at on my next visit to Washington DC.

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Ace Hotel: Retro Luxury in Los Angeles Downtown

There is always a certain charm of staying in a historic building. On my recent visit to Los Angeles, I stayed at the Ace Hotel in Downtown LA that once used to be a film studio. This hotel review is based on this recent experience of mine.

Tom Hanks star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 

1) Everything about this hotel screams retro and classic. From its rough looking exteriors to library themed reception, from its record player in its various rooms to the overall minimalistic and grunge look, this place definitely captures the eye and attention. It is made to look like how artists of the era gone by lived.

2) Even though this hotel is set in retro style, it is a luxury hotel that is set right in the heart of downtown LA. It is located close to the fashion district, jewellery district and also the metro station.

3) One of its better features is its lively rooftop bar and pool that offer great nightlife amidst sensational views of LA downtown and beyond.

4) The place comes with an in-house restaurant that serves classic American and Continental breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5) They offer free wi-fi to all the rooms and the connect is excellent all around the property.

6) They offer valet parking , parking facilities, gym, swimming pool, laundry, spa and much more.

7) Restaurants, shopping malls, boutique shops and supermarkets are just a short walk away.

8) They have their own historic theatre where films used to be screened in its heyday. Nowadays, some plays and music events take place here.

If you are looking for a classic styled luxury hotel in the heart of downtown LA, then you should give the Ace Hotel a look. It offers a special retro experience with a great rooftop bar.

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Hotel Figueroa: Plush Spanish Mediterranean Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles

Are you planning a holiday to Los Angeles? Well, if Rodeo drive, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Sunset Boulevard, Malibu, Santa Monica and others are on your radar, you might want to park yourself in a good hotel in LA. That is precisely what I did when i stayed at the Hotel Figueroa in downtown LA on my recent trip to Los Angeles. I stayed at this hotel for 4 days and 3 nights and the below hotel review is based on this recent experience of mine.

Popular Locations of Los Angeles

1) This 1925 hotel is located right in the heart of Downtown LA. Grammy Museum, Nokia Center and Staples Center are neighbours. The Financial district and the Jewellery district are a short walk away. It is next to a large shopping mall and the metro is just a 7-10 minute walk away, which means that connectivity to most of LA and its suburbs is easy. Many supermarkets, shops and restaurants are also within walking distance. In summary, prime downtown location.

2) This is a 4 star that is designed for couples and families. However, due to its proximity to the financial district even the business people seem to prefer it. Decked up in a Spanish Mediterranean design, this hotel has a classic and rich look. It comes with a verandah poolside lounge, outdoor pool, lush garden landscape and in-house restaurants.

3) The in-house restaurant serves great breakfast and dinner for an additional fee.

4) The rooms are large and come with all modern facilities that befit a 4 star hotel.

5) Complimentary wi-fi is available all through the hotel and the speeds are great. If you wish, you could upgrade to a higher speed for an additional fee.

6) They offer dry cleaning, laundry and other housekeeping services that come in handy for longer stays.

7) The front desk is super helpful. They helped me with free printouts, maps, directions, luggage storage, parcel delivery and much more.

8) The hotel also offers its parking facilities, though it charges an additional fee for it.

9) While I was staying there, I noticed people from all over the world staying here: Indians, Chinese, Americans, South Americans, Mexicans, Europeans and others.

If you are a holidaying couple or family and looking for a comfortable hotel in downtown LA, I would definitely recommend that you take a look at Hotel Figueroa Downtown LA. Apart from great value for money, you will get prime location and a great ambience.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

I am a Top Inspiring Travel Blogger

It has been raining accolades for me these last 7 days. I am thrilled to say the least!

This time I have been featured in a list of “Top 10 Travel Bloggers who inspire you to travel”. This is a global list with bloggers from all over the world and across many categories (family travelers, solo male travelers, solo female travelers, traveling couples and more), which makes the accolade so very sweet for me.



I am very sure that one of us in this diverse group will definitely appeal to your travel style. To read the infographic better, click on the above image and get a larger and more legible read.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Best 5 German Tourist Spots

When traveling to Germany, your primary concern is having enough time to visit all the places you want. Unless you are doing the proverbial backpacking trip across Europe, time constraints will influence how many places you can visit before you have to return home. Here are the five best German tourist spots for travelers.

Rust

Fun at Europa Park

Image via Flickr by Roller Coaster Philosophy

The most popular amusement park in Europe is Disneyland Paris. The second most popular is Rust's Europa-Park. So, that’s all the reason you need to want to go there. After all, who doesn’t love a theme park?

Europa-Park is 40 years old, but the owners of the facility were making roller coasters all the way back in 1921. Their expertise is on full display with The Silver Star, a thrill ride that provides a 180-degree turn at 130 kilometers per hour. You know the ride is good, because it’s sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. There are a dozen roller coasters and many other attractions at Europa-Park. It’s a perfect way to spend a day.

Bavaria
When you think of this city, your first association is probably Bavarian cream. As a tourist, that won’t help you much outside of dessert. The city does have a crown jewel, though. It’s Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th century palace so majestic in nature that it’s the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Whereas Disney imagineers use tricks of limited perspective to create the illusion that their castle is large, Neuschwanstein Castle is titanic in scope. You can spend an entire day visiting without seeing every room.

Berlin
There once was a wall in Berlin. Maybe you heard of it. Where that divider once separated citizens of the same city, there now stands a memorial, Gedenkst├Ątte Berliner Mauer. While Berlin features innumerable museums, landmarks, and tourist attractions, none of them carries greater significance than the Berlin Wall Memorial. You can stay at wonderful accommodations nearby and walk down the street to arguably the most historical significant landmark of the 20th century.

Munich
After you’ve appreciated the cultural significance of Berlin, you deserve some fun. What embodies the concept of German entertainment better than Oktoberfest? This 16-day celebration actually begins in September, and most of the events occur during this month, so you should plan accordingly. The Munich event occurs in an open field known as Theresienwiese, and there is a carnival atmosphere to the proceedings. Amusement rides are even included if you didn’t get your fill at Europa-Park.

Romantic Road
As your tour of Germany winds down, this 350-kilometer trail represents the best way to embrace the country’s culture before you leave. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the intention was for this famous travel route to connect the center of the country where the main population resided with the southern residents on the outskirts of Germany.

Nowadays, Romantic Road presents a wonderful opportunity for explorers. There are dozens of small cities to explore as you traverse the countryside. Enjoy the food and drink of the locals as you prepare to depart.
Germany is a tourist’s dream. If you follow this itinerary, you will have the time of your life.

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In the Top 100 Global Solo Men Travel Blogs Club

When it rains, it pours!

Only yesterday, I got to know that I had been featured as one of the Top 12 most popular travel bloggers in India and today, I find out that I am in the Top 100 Club of all solo men travel bloggers worldwide. This feature comes as a surprise, but brings a lot of contentment as I see my name amongst Gary Arndt, Rick Steeves, Nomadic Matt and other top quality and extremely popular international travel bloggers.

TOP 100 SOLO MEN TRAVEL BLOGS

This list has not been produced by a travel agency, but by another Travel Blog called Lash World Tour and it has scored these blogs on a variety of criteria. I have been featured at Number 31.

Thank you all for your support. I hope I can keep making this blog better!

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

I am amidst 12 Popular Indian Travel Bloggers

Hello All,
Its happy news time again. I have been featured in a 12 Most Popular Travel Bloggers from India list by Culture Trip, a one stop digital platform for global culture and lifestyle. This list puts me in the company of esteemed travelers and writers (some of whom are good friends) that you should check out if you have not already. You might get some inspiring ideas for your next holiday from these blogs.

Featured as one of the top 12 popular Indian travel bloggers

I am a popular Indian Travel Blogger

Thank you everyone for your support. It is your support that has kept me going the last 7 years and one that brings in such accolades!! Read the full article here.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

11 Gorgeous Monsoon Weekend Treks from Bangalore

I love Bangalore for many reasons. One of the main reasons I love this city so much is because of its proximity to the Western Ghats. I am into nature, forests, wildlife and basically the outdoors. This gives me the perfect opportunity to indulge in all of this every weekend. And these monsoon weekends, I think they are the best time to explore the Western Ghats. The sight of fresh green, the full waterfalls and rivers, the dense dark clouds, the floating mist and the pitter-pattering rain make it the most exotic place in the country. Of course, this is just my opinion.

The best way to experience the Western Ghats during the rains is via a trek. If you are into tropical treks and are looking forward to exploring the Western Ghats this monsoon, you might be interested in these 11 gorgeous monsoon treks that you can go on every monsoon weekend.

1) Green Route Railway Trek, Karnataka

Green Route Railway Trek, Donigal to Kukke Subramanya

I went on this trek over 10 years ago and till date I feel this is one of the most exotic treks I have done in the Western Ghats. 52 kms of railway track from Donigal to Kukke Subramanya with 51 tunnels, 107 bridges and countless waterfalls. And all of this within a green carpet. That is how exotic this trek is. When I trekked this a decade ago, the railway track was abandoned. Today, trains ply this route, but only during the night or early morning hours. Technically, trekking is not allowed on these tracks, but many adventure aficionados seem to ignore this message as the calling is strong.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 52 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: High and Long Bridges | Distance from Bangalore: 260 kms | Is Permission Required: It might be sensible to let the stationmaster at Donigal know of your plan | Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate (Strong Calf Muscles Recommended) | Starting Point: Donigal | Ending Point: Kukke Subramanya | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kukke Subramanya Temple

2) Narasimha Parvatha Trek, Karnataka

Dense Western Ghats as seen from the Narasimha Parvatha Trekking Route

The Narasimha Parvatha Trek is one of the most underrated treks of Karnataka. Trekkers talk about Kumaraparvatha, Kodachadri, Kudremukh and Mulayangiri, but they don’t seem to talk about this. I think this is the best tropical rainforest and evergreen forest trek in the state of Karnataka. And it is a dream trek in the rains. It is one of the least trodden trekking trails and it is one of my favorite rainforest treks. On this, you will see rich and true rainforest jungle. If you are lucky, you might see the king cobra mating dance during the rains.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 20 kms | Adventure Meter: Moderate|Star Attraction: Total Remoteness | Distance from Bangalore: 355 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, from the local forest office | Is Guide Required: Definitely required |Fitness Level Required: Moderate to Difficult | Starting Point: Agumbe | Ending Point: Sringeri | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Agumbe, Hebri, Sringeri

3) Blue Mountain Trek, Tamil Nadu/Kerala

Misty Trekking Trail on the Blue Mountain Trek

Tropical forests to mountain lakes and from pine forests to tea estates, the blue mountain trek from Kodaikanal to Munnar has it all. Starting in the hill station of Kodaikanal, this ancient route and prime elephant territory weaves by lakes, vantage points, dense jungle and mist forests before it ends in the tea estates of Munnar. I think this is the best way to experience the true beauty of two of South India’s best hill stations.

Duration of Trek: 2-3 days | Trekking Distance: 70 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Lake Crossing and Vantage Point | Distance from Bangalore: 450 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, Kodaikanal Forest Department | Is Guide Required: Yes, it is compulsory|Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Kodaikanal | Ending Point: Munnar | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or Basic Forest Rest Houses| Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kodaikanal and Munnar

4) Moyar River Trek, Tamil Nadu

Start of the trekking trail at Kodanad

Another off beat trek and possibly the best wildlife trek. Starting in the mountains of Kodanad, the trek is along the Moyar river and into the Masinagudi sanctuary. It definitely needs permission from the forest department and an armed forest guide, but once you have both, you will experience everything from tea estates, mountains, rivers, wildlife, tropical forests to deciduous forests. It is the best way to experience the deep jungle that is normally off bounce for regular wildlife enthusiasts.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 35 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: River Crossings and Wildlife Sightings | Distance from Bangalore: 300 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, Masinagudi Forest Department and Ooty Forest Department| Is Guide Required: Yes. You would also need an armed Forest guide |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate | Starting Point: Kodanad | Ending Point: Masinagudi | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear and Forest Rest Houses | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Red Hills, Ooty and Bandipur Tiger Reserve

5) Thadiyendamol Trek, Karnataka

Dense Green Trekking Trail to Thadiyendamol Peak

I have completed this trek 14 times. Thus, you can guess how much I like this part of the Western Ghats. Overlooking Kerala, Thadiyendamol is Coorg’s highest peak. But, I like it for its leech jungles. I started my active trekking career in these leech infested jungles and vowed to climb every leech riddled forest and mountain in the Western Ghats. I have not looked back ever since. It is easier to climb from Kakkabe, but if you want to experience tropical rainforests and leech jungles, try the trail from Honey Valley. Certain times in the monsoons, most of these forests are covered with pink flowers, thereby making it look like a pink carpet, a sight worth seeing.

Duration of Trek: 1 day | Trekking Distance: 25 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: Leech Jungles | Distance from Bangalore: 255 kms | Is Permission Required: No | Is Guide Required: Recommended|Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate for most part and difficult for one tiny part | Starting Point: Honey Valley| Ending Point: Honey Valley after you have conquered the peak| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or any of the homestays in that belt | Food Availability: Personal Food or the homestays | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Nilakandi Falls, Chalavara Falls, Nalnad Palace, Iguthappa Temple

6) Kumaraparvatha Trek, Karnataka

Misty Kumaraparvatha

Considered as the mecca of all trekkers in Karnataka, the Kumaraparvatha is a classic trek. What is lacks in view and character, it makes for in steep ascent, especially if you are climbing from Kukke Subramanya. The green carpet of rolling hills makes for a stunning sight on a clear day during the monsoons. Sometimes, you can also come across elephants here.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 25 kms | Adventure Meter: Moderate|Star Attraction: Green Carpet view from the top | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Kukke Subramanya | Ending Point: Kukke Subramanya after staying on the top | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or Bhattar Mane on the way up | Food Availability: Personal Food or Bhattar Mane | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kukke Subramanya Temple

7) Kodachadri Trek, Karnataka

On the top of Kodachadri and overlooking the Linganamakki Reservoir

Tucked away in the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, I would do the Kodachadri trek just to see the lovely aerial view of the Sharavathi reservoir. In fact, I always camp at cliff’s edge to catch the first view of the reservoir right from my tent’s window. This trek is a mix of wildlife sanctuary, grasslands, tropical forest and a temple. The Shankaracharya statue on the top is a great place for camping.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 18 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Linganamakki Reservoir view | Distance from Bangalore: 380 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Kodachadri Bus Stop enroute Kollur to Shimoga | Ending Point: Kodachadri Peak| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear or basic accommodation at the temple| Food Availability: Personal Food or at the temple | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Kollur Mookambika Temple, Maravanthe Beach

8) Chembra Trek, Kerala

Green Chembra Peak Trek

Another popular trek. This time in the hills of Wayanad in Kerala. It used to be a fairly easy trek and one could camp on the top, but due to a lot of elephant trouble, one can only do it as a day trek. It is still very much worth it. Starting in a tea estate, it crosses grass lands before it gets lost in the clouds. I would wait for it to rain 2 months before I go on this trek.

Duration of Trek: 1 days | Trekking Distance: 14 kms | Adventure Meter: Medium |Star Attraction: Heart Shaped Lake enroute | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes| Is Guide Required: Yes |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate | Starting Point: Chembra Forest Department| Ending Point: Chembra Forest Department after you have visited the top | Accommodation Availability:  In nearby Meppadi town | Food Availability: Personal Food and in nearby Meppadi town | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Meenmutty Falls, Soochipara Falls, Lakkidi, Kuruva Island, Banasura Sagar Dam, Edakkal Caves

9) Baba Budangiri Hills Trek, Karnataka

Tropical Forest Trail that leads to Hebbe Falls

I call it the wind tunnel of the Western Ghats. I still remember very vividly the night when the wind was howling at the top of its voice and we had to battle to keep our tent in one place. The Baba Budan hills are famous for their high speed winds especially in the night. Starting from the Chickmagalur Serpentine path and making it way through Mulayangiri peak, Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi, it finally lands at Hebbe Falls. This is one exotic combination of Bhadra wildlife sanctuary, Kemmangundi hill station, rolling grasslands, dargahs, remote villages and a sensationally beautiful waterfall.

Duration of Trek: 2-3 days | Trekking Distance: 54 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: Wind Tunnel Effect and Hebbe Falls | Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms | Is Permission Required: No | Is Guide Required: Not required |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Chickmagalur Serpentine Path| Ending Point: Hebbe Falls | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear, though you might find some basic accommodation at Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi | Food Availability: Personal Food, Mulayangiri temple, Baba Budangiri and Kemmangundi | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Chickmagalur, Sringeri, Agumbe

10) Kudlu Teertha Waterfall Trek, Karnataka

Enroute to Kudlu Teertha Falls

I would embark on this trek just to see the beautiful Kudlu Teertha Waterfall in full flow. Tucked deep in the Someshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, this trek makes for an excellent monsoon weekend when you couple it with the Sita Nadi river rafting trip. One day you go rafting and the other day you go trekking. You couldn’t ask for a more diverse weekend in the Western Ghats.

Duration of Trek: 1 day | Trekking Distance: 20 kms | Adventure Meter: High |Star Attraction: The Waterfall | Distance from Bangalore: 360 kms | Is Permission Required: No| Is Guide Required: Yes, as it is difficult to find the waterfall |Fitness Level Required: Easy to Moderate  | Starting Point: Hebri| Ending Point: Hebri | Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear, Hebri, Udupi or Agumbe | Food Availability: Personal Food or restaurants at Hebri, Someshwar, Agumbe or Udupi | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Sita Nadi River Rafting, Malpe, Agumbe

11) Ombattu Gudde Trek, Karnataka

Fresh green of the Western Ghats during the monsoons

Ombattu Gudde or Nine Hills is a pretty off beat trekking trail in the Kabinahole Reserve Forest of Hassan district. It is one of those treks where people seem to get lost consistently. If you are not lost, you definitely have reached the wrong peak unless you are with an experienced group as there are lots of peaks that you can be easily confused with. Throw a river, a reserve forest, some wildlife and confusing trails into the mix and you have got yourself one of Karnataka’s mysterious trekking trails.

Duration of Trek: 2 days | Trekking Distance: 35 kms | Adventure Meter: Very High |Star Attraction: Mystery and view of nine peaks at sunrise | Distance from Bangalore: 300 kms | Is Permission Required: Yes, from Sakleshpur Police Station| Is Guide Required: Definitely recommended unless you are with an experienced group of trekkers and reliable GPS systems |Fitness Level Required: Moderate | Starting Point: Gundiya Check Post| Ending Point: Hosakere Village| Accommodation Availability:  Personal Camping Gear | Food Availability: Personal Food | Nearby Sightseeing Options:  Sakleshpur

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Fashionable and Comfortable Travel Clothing with Nautica

The more I travel, the better I get at choosing my travel gear! You know the reason why? Well, that is because I seem to face all those problems during my travel days and hence need a solution to make my travels more comfortable. Over the many years of travel, I have upgraded my backpack, upgraded my footwear many times, purchased a smaller rugged laptop and bought myself many gear that either solved my problems during travels or provided me with innovative solutions.

Holding the National Monument of Washington DC in my hands
In Front of the National Monument at Washington DC.
Photo Courtesy: Corey Warren, Founder of
Live More Creative.

I apply the same logic to my clothes too. They should be utility driven. They should be comfortable of course as I will be living in them for a long time. with a backpack and sometimes in inhospitable weather. They should be fashionable so that I can mix and match them for different types of occasions.

All smiles at New Orleans 
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the US. It shows on my face too.
Photo Courtesy: Corey Warren, Founder of
Live More Creative.

And one of my top brands for choosing travel clothing is Nautica. I used their Autumn-Winter collection during my backpacking trip to Turkey and have been hooked since. And I tried out their Spring-Summer collection for my recent Europe and US trip.

Badass Attitude at Austin, Texas
Showing some attitude in front of some cool street graffiti at Austin.
Photo Courtesy: Corey Warren, Founder of
Live More Creative.

If you have been following my blog posts, you will know that I have just returned home after a lovely 6 weeks across Germany, France and the United States of America. It was summer and I was blessed with bright sunny days for most of my trip. And this is where I used the clothes from Nautica’s Spring-Summer collection.

Traveling the world like you belong at Santa Monica, California
I normally travel like I belong there. This is how I did that at Santa Monica California.
Photo Courtesy: Corey Warren, Founder of
Live More Creative.

I cannot tell you how much I loved using the stretchable fabric polo shirts of Nautica. These were super comfortable, completely odour proof, looked great on me in their popping colors, did not crease even with rough use (like putting and removing backpacks like a zillion times), dried out super quickly (either in rain or after a wash), looked clean and simple (the way I like it) and at most times I felt like I was hardly wearing anything.

At the fairytale town of Heidelberg in Germany
In the fairytale world of Heidelberg in South West Germany.

I could say the same about their regular polo shirts and jeans too, though they do crease and take time to dry. But, again, insanely comfortable.

In front of the Eiffel tower at Paris, France
This is one picture everyone gets clicked when they go to Paris. I did too. At Eiffel Tower, Paris.
 
Be it a cool and sunny day in Stuttgart, a wet and nippy day in Paris, steamy hot weather in Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans, windy in New York or super pleasant in Los Angeles, the Spring-Summer collection from Nautica kept me comfortable, presentable and going.

Enjoying a delightful Macaron at Paris
Pierre Herme’s Macarons are a world apart. I lost myself in that world many a time during my stay in Paris.
 
And for a brand conscious person like me, donning an international fashion label makes me feel good, which is an added bonus, like the icing on the cake. The clothing does the rest. I think I look wearing clothes from Nautica. I am not sure what your opinion is. But, if and when you try them out, you will exactly understand their comfort value. The clothes are a bit pricey from a regular Indian standpoint, but once you feel its comfort and revel in its young and fresh fashion sense, you will be hooked on to their clothes like me!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Santa Monica: Where Route 66 ends

I am sure you have heard of ‘Route 66’! It is one of USA’s most iconic routes that has been made famous through an innumerable number of journeys, be it on motorcycle or in a car, van, camper, RV or a truck. Starting in Chicago, it weaves and winds itself through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, till it reaches the pacific coast at Santa Monica. While the route is exotic for sure, for the Route 66 travelers, the final destination is one of their trip’s highlights.

Gorgeous street stall at Santa Monica Pier, California
Santa Monica is the only beach destination on the iconic route and may be the perfect spot for a thorough celebration as it offers the sun, beach, sand and good weather after what has been a gruelling last ride through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. While. Santa Monica is heaven for Route 66 travelers, it is also a great beach getaway for all visitors to California and the Pacific coast.

Fishing, Fun, Beach, Eating, Route 66 and more at Santa Monica
Located at about 30 minutes west of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a far cry from busy Los Angeles. It is laid back. It is blessed with lots of sunshine and great long beaches. Home to many Hollywood celebrities at Malibu, its northern extreme, Santa Monica offers a lot to the traveler looking for a quality beach holiday.

Historic Route 66 that ends at Santa Monica Pier
Most visitors start their Santa Monica trip with a visit to the Santa Monica pier, the final point on Route 66. Many restaurants, an adventure theme park, souvenir shops, budding painters and artisans and fishermen can be seen on this pier. On the northern stretch of the pier is the lovely expanse of sand called the Santa Monica Beach and to the south is the muscle beach that is popular with fitness aficionados.

Swinging about at Muscle Beach, Santa Monica
If you keep Santa Monica Pier as your bearings, Malibu lies to its north and is worth a visit if you want to see the beach getaways of Hollywood celebrities. To the south are the many surfing beaches. Venice beach and its boardwalk is one of the most popular beaches here and is known for its hipster look and feel and for its sensational nightlife. While you are at Venice Beach, don’t miss out the action at the true Muscle Beach with bulging biceps and insane bench presses.

Caricature artists at work at Santa Monica Pier
To the east lies Main street, which is famous for its various bars. Lying a couple of blocks from the Main street is Third Street Promenade, an up market shopping zone that is also a pedestrian only area. A good many restaurants and shopping malls adorn the promenade. The Third Street Promenade is packed with a great bustle all day long before it peaks during the night when the entire place is buzzing with lots of energy and lots of street performances.

Very impressive Wind Spinner designs on Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
What I like about Santa Monica is that it appeals to all kinds of travelers. The beach lovers can enjoy the surf, the sand, the sun and the drinks. The shoppers find a home at Third Street Promenade. Serious shoppers can make a trip to Beverly Hills. The nature lovers can head to Topanga State Park or the Santa Monica Mountains for some cycling or hiking. Bikers head to Venice beach for the bars and the nightlife. Surfers head to the Pacific Palisades and Malibu. Families stay at Santa Monica.

Visitors enjoying a leisurely stroll at Santa Monica Pier, California
In fact, I think one should make Santa Monica as a base while even exploring the Los Angeles metropolitan area. You might drive an additional 60 minutes while making a trip to LA, but I think the beach and the relaxed atmosphere offset the additional driving.

Route 66 ends here
Whether you are making a trip on the Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway or a trip to the Los Angeles area, you will find yourself a great beach holiday destination at Santa Monica. Totally love its diverse nature.

Trip Courtesy:
Discover America, the tourism board of the United States of America.

Trip Hashtags: #DiscoverAmerica #RoadTripUSA

Los Angeles
Facebook: @losangelesfan and @VisitCA | Twitter: @discoverLA and @VisitCA | Instagram: @discoverLA and @visitCalifornia

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Best Western Plus Hotel Schwarzwald Residenz: Good Family Accommodation in Triberg, Germany

Recently, I went to the fairy tale Black Forest in the Schwarzwald region of Germany. This whole region is insanely green and picturesque and is loaded with stories. For a part of my Black Forest trip, I based myself at the scenic mountain town of Triberg where I stayed at the Best Western Plus Hotel Schwarzwald Residenz. The below review is based on this experience of mine.

A beautiful Triberg view

1) The hotel is located on top of a hill and hence commands a great view over Triberg town. However, it is a about a 10 minute downhill walk to the city center. Everything is in short access if you are a good walker as most paths are steep from the hotel.

2) The hotel is designed keeping families in mind. They have lots of open space, cosy rooms with big balconies, a swimming pool, a sauna, games and much more.

3) If you have a car, you can park at the hotel or in front of it.

4) The hotel has great internet access and is accessible everywhere across the hotel.

5) The Black Forest Museum, the Triberg waterfall, the Baroque church, the city center, restaurants, shops, supermarkets and travel agents are only a 10 minute walk away, but do remember that the return journey will be an ascent.

6) The hotel has an in-house restaurant that serves good buffet breakfast and great local and continental dishes for lunch and dinner. It also has a great bar that is set in a beautiful space with old music records.

7) The hotel front desk are always ready to help and I found their tips really helpful.

If you are a family visiting the Black Forest region of Germany and are looking for comfortable accommodation, you might want to look at the Best Western Plus Hotel Schwarzwald Residenz.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lotte–Great Backpackers Hostel at Heidelberg, Germany

From time to time, I end up staying at some hostels that feel like home. I end up staying there for a long while and make great friends there. When I traveled recently to Heidelberg, the beautiful town in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany, I stayed at the Lotte Heidelberg, a great backpacker hostel. This review is based on my experience of staying here.

Fairytale Heidelberg view

1) This hostel is run by a backpacker who knows what backpackers look at and hence every thing that a backpacker looks for in a hostel is taken care of.

2) The hostel is set in a classic house that is located right in the center of old Heidelberg. The famous Heidelberg castle is right behind the hostel and it takes only a 10 minute walk to reach the top of the castle. Restaurants, Supermarkets, shops, visitor center and many tourist attractions are located a short walk away. Even the local train station is a 10 minute walk away.

3) The hostel has both dormitories and rooms. I stayed in a dormitory and these come with well aired surroundings, many windows, great mattresses, safety lockers, private light, table and chairs.

4) Cereal, milk, coffee and tea are available to all 24 hours a day.

5) They have an in-house kitchen where you can cook your meals at any time of the day. The kitchen is fully functional with a refrigerator, microwave, kettle, dishwasher and much more. The best part of the kitchen is that you don’t have to wash the dishes.

6) The hostel also sells cold beverages and beer that you can buy for a price.

7) The hostel has an outdoor area for smoking and an indoor lounge where you can access the internet at the home computer, read any of the many books or simply have great conversations with fellow inmates.

8) The hostel offers free wi-fi and that can be accessed in the kitchen, lounge and all dormitories/rooms.

9) All rooms come with keys. Even the main entrance door has a key. So all security aspects are covered. The reception is open from 8 AM through 10 PM and are always eager to help you with maps, directions, tips and other helpful advice.

10) The bathrooms come with all modern facilities and the hot showers are of the same quality as expensive hotels.

11) The only problem in the hostel is that it doesn't have an elevator and if you are carrying heavy suitcases and staying in one of their rooms upstairs, you might have to carry all that weight through their narrow flight of stairs. But, you will always find some kind of help.

12) The hostel has no curfew. But, in spite of that, it doesn’t have a party atmosphere inside the hostel premises and hence one can enjoy great sleep during the night.

If you are a backpacker, a budget traveler, solo traveler or even a traveling couple and if you are headed towards Heidelberg, you might want to check this hostel out. I would totally recommend Lotte – The Backpackers and would definitely stay here again when I visit Heidelberg.

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Gasthof Hecht: Cosy Family Hotel in Wolfach, Germany

Black Forest is one of South West Germany’s top attractions and Wolfach is right in the center of it. Hence, in all probability, you might want to base yourself in Wolfach for a part of your Black Forest holiday. I did precisely that on my last visit to the Schwarzwald area and at that time I stayed at a simple and nice family run property called Gashthof Hecht or Hotel Hecht. The below review is based on this recent experience of mine.

A typical Black Forest Farm Landscape

1) Hotel Hecht is right in the middle of Wolfach town. Hence, it has great access to all of the town’s highlights. It is a short walk from the train station, the traditional glass factory and museum ay Dorotheenhutte and a short drive to the 400 year old farmhouses of Vogtsbauernhof.

2) This family run hotel that is a historic timber-framed house has nice cosy rooms that offer all modern facilities and a great view of the main street of Wolfach.

3) The husband and wife duo, the owners of this hotel are great to talk to, are very helpful, offer great advice and prepare great food.

4) The guest house has an in-house restaurant that dishes out delicious traditional food and wine. Breakfast is included in the price for boarding and is yummy and wholesome.

5) The guest house has great internet connectivity.

6) Parking and laundry facilities are also available here, though I did not use neither of those facilities.

If you are a couple or a family looking for a cosy hotel for your Black Forest holiday, you might want to look at this hotel. It has all the necessary ingredients and it offers great value for money.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Travel Photo: Classic Volkswagen Van from Baltimore

There is something about classic vehicles that appeal to me. May be, it is because, my head dreams about traveling the world or at least a country in one. Won’t it be fun to travel in a classic camper van with enough space for two people to sleep, for musical instruments, for food, for travel gear and spares? Well, it would be something like the RV (Recreational Vehicle) without the size and a classic version.

Classic Volkswagen van parked on the streets of Baltimore

A lot of such thoughts were swimming in my head when I saw this classic Volkswagen camper van/bus on the streets of Baltimore. I think I will travel the United States of America, Canada and/or Australia in one. May be, even India if I find one in good condition and with a slightly higher ground clearance. Hopefully, that day will come soon.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Win a Weekend to Scotland

Have you been wanting to travel to Scotland? Are you a golf enthusiast? Well, if you answered YES to both these questions, you might want to take part in this lucky draw. Mainline Menswear and Scottish brand Lyle and Scott are offering 2 tickets to the British Open 2015 at St. Andrews and the best part is that they will be taking care of your accommodation and transfers for the weekend.

All you have to do to take part is go to the competition page, fill in your name, email and phone number and keep your fingers crossed. There will be 3 prizes on offer:

1st Prize: 2 Tickets to the British Open plus accommodation and offers

2nd Prize: GBP 500 worth Lyle and Scott clothing

3rd Prize: GBP 300 worth Lyle and Scott clothing
 


If you are already based in the UK or somewhere close by, this might be the perfect opportunity for you to spend a fully paid for weekend in Scotland.  If you win, you could either drive down or take a short flight. But, that shouldn’t stop my readers from around the world to take part in this competition. Who knows you might get lucky. After all, you anyways have to book a ticket for your Scottish holiday. This might be the perfect incentive.

So, what are you waiting for? Go on and take part in this lucky draw and win that weekend holiday to Scotland.

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Iconic Manhattan Skyline View from the Waterfront: A Travel Photo

This is one view that has been made immortal through TV shows and movies and one that I had to see for myself. And this view presented itself to me when I took the Statue Cruises boat from Battery Park in downtown Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty. There was a nip in the air and dark clouds were menacing above me, but in spite of the tough elements, I have to say that this is one skyline that I will remember and cherish for a long time.

Iconic New York Manhattan Waterfront View

The tall building that you see is the new World Trade Center 101 and to its right is downtown Manhattan, the New York Stock Exchange and most of the Wall street.  Mid town, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and other prominent buildings are in the background, but are not prominent in this picture. This is one view that you have to see for yourself on your next trip to New York City.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How I was fooled by the White House!

My jaw dropped open at the very first look! The White House was one of my main reasons for visiting Washington DC and here I stood in front of it completely dejected. I felt like I was let down. I felt like I had been fooled. It was one of those moments that shook very part of my cranial region. Even my American friend felt the same way. Both of us had explored all of the monuments in the National Mall area before reaching the White House. The idea was to save the best for the last.

The White House

But when we stood in front of the White House, we wore a completely shocked look. The image of the White House in my head is based on the many Hollywood movies that I had seen like, Die Hard, Independence Day, 2012, White House Down, Olympus has fallen, Superman II, Mars Attacks and others. Now, the irony is that from all these movies I had somehow created an image of the White House with a white dome in my head. Apparently, that building is the Capitol Building (the seat of all power) and not the White House. But, in my brain, that was the image of the White House. So when I was actually standing in front of the white house and ended up doing some Google search to find my folly, the irony hit me. And it hit me like a brick. It hit me so hard that I shared this irony with a lot of my friends and they seemed to empathize with me.  Are you one of them? Does your image of the White House have a big white dome? Did you ever get fooled at the White House like me? What is your story? Tell me…I would like to hear it.

Trip Courtesy:
Discover America, the tourism board of the United States of America.

Trip Hashtags: #DiscoverAmerica #RoadTripUSA

Washington DC

Hashtags:
#dccool #wegotthis | Facebook: @washingtondc | Twitter: @washingtondc | Instagram: @washingtondc

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Mentioned on Hindustan Times

Hello All!

Did you happen to read the edition of the Hindustan Times last Saturday? Well, the reason is that I have been quoted in an article that is titled ‘Travelling down the road not often taken’. Written by Asad Ali and Satarupa Paul, it is in the brunch stories section.

BE ON THE ROAD Mentioned in Hindustan Times

The article is about off beat travel in the mountain regions of India. It discusses topics like ‘What attracts us to the mountains?’, ‘Will it cause these places to be overcrowded?’, ‘Healthy practices for mountains’ and much more.

Sankara Subramanian C of BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog quoted on Hindustan Times

It gives me a lot of happiness to be quoted here alongside likeminded groups like The Outdoor Journal and the Devil on Wheels, who are full on adventure, outdoor life, motorcycling and the mountains.

If you did not manage to read it on Saturday, don’t worry…you can read it here on the online version of HT.

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24 hours in Austin, Texas

Are you planning a holiday to Texas? Are you driving through Austin? Do you have a short layover in Austin and looking to explore the city while waiting for your connecting flight? Are you on a business trip to Austin and have some spare time to explore the city?

Keep Austin Weird

Well, if you have answered ‘YES’ to any of the questions above, you might be interested in this article about some of the top attractions and experiences to be had in the super cool city of Austin.

Capitol Building - a popular tourist attraction in Austin

Austin, the capital of Texas is a happening city. Be it live music shows, nightlife, bars and pubs, art and culture or outdoor life, Austin has it all. Nestled by the Colorado river, this city with its universities and business district has a young and energetic appeal to it. This is in addition to its Texan character of living life king size and always enjoying oneself. 

Angry Eggroll Street Graffiti in Austin, Texas

If you have 24 hours to spend in Austin, here’s what all you can do. And since Austin is a moderately sized city, you can get to all these places fairly quickly. 

1) Music Festivals
Colorful atmosphere on Austin's 6th street

Austin is home to the famous South by SouthWest music festival. While, this is the biggest music festival of this city, Austin hosts many other music festivals, live music shows and attracts artists from all over the country. If you are in town and there is a music festival happening, you have to attend it. If there is no big music festival taking place, you can check out for the live music shows happening at the various bars and clubs in town. Basically, you will find good music all round the year in this city.

2) Micro Breweries and Bourbon Tasting

Pub Crawler Cycle with running beer tap at Austin

Kentucky might be the home of bourbon, but Austin isn’t far away. If you are a bourbon lover, you will get to taste a great set of bourbon or rye whiskeys at any of the bars in the city. There are also many micro breweries where you can taste some fine brew and some amazing bourbon whiskey. My favorite is the Harrison Brothers micro brewery on the outskirts of the city.

Roof Top bar at Austin

Lager, micro and all kinds of beer flow in the different taps of the city. If you feel adventurous, you could indulge in a pub crawl. If not, you could find a classic bar and sip your favorite drink.

3) 6th Street and Historic District

6th Street is like the center of all action in Austin. Coyote Ugly to street art, tattoo shops to roof top bars, beautiful architecture to great shopping, Austin’s 6th street is where it is all. Pick yourself a cowboy hat here and soak in all the energy of this street in true Texan style.

Classic looking theater in downtown Austin historic district

Be it day or night, this street is always buzzing with insane amounts of energy. This is the place you want to hang out at if you are looking for great music, food and nightlife.

4) Lady Bird Lake Hiking Trail

Ladbird Lake and Downtown Austin bathed in golden sunset rays, Austin

If you are an outdoor person, you will absolutely love the pristineness of Lady Bird Lake’s hiking trail. It is even better if you love the water. This lake formed by the Colorado river is at one end of downtown Austin. It is an ideal place for running, cycling, skating, kayaking, rafting, skate boarding, relaxed walks, walks with pets and much more. It is the place I would go to in the early morning and late evening hours.

Sunset from the Ladybird Lake boardwalk

And while you are here, don’t miss the sunset from over the bridge. This has to be possibly one of the best views of Austin.

5) Congress Avenue and Texas State Capitol

Texas Capitol Building at Austin

The Texas State Capitol is a national historic landmark and is one that towers the Austin landscape as soon as you reach the historic quarter of Congress Avenue. This monument built in Italian Renaissance Revival architecture is taller than the Capitol building in Washtington DC and at the time of its construction was one of the largest buildings in the world. It is a great place to learn some history about Texas. If you are not into history or monuments, I am sure that you would definitely like to take a #selfie in front of this Austin icon.

Austin Street Graffiti

Have a great time in Austin! Keep Austin Weird!
After some Texan character, if you wish for some beach, sand, sun and umbrella drinks, head to Florida’s Orlando, which offers great value for package deals.

Trip Courtesy:
Discover America, the tourism board of the United States of America.

Trip Hashtags: #DiscoverAmerica #RoadTripUSA 

Austin

Hashtags:
#trueaustin #visitaustintx | Facebook: @visitaustintexas and @texastourism | Twitter: @VisitAustinTX and @texastourism | Instagram: @visitaustintx

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Copyright © 2009-2017 Sankara Subramanian C (www.beontheroad.com)
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved

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