February 2012 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Attractions in Canary Islands

Tenerife is the biggest island among the seven islands of the Canary Islands and it also has the highest number of residents. It is estimated that five million travellers come to Tenerife each year and it is the highest among other Canary Islands. Tenerife is an island that is sculptured by volcanic eruptions and some of the sceneries here are simply breath-taking. The island is also free from pollution and is one of the cleanest places in Spain.  This is what makes tourists come to this place again and again.

There are two airports on this island, Reina Sofia Airport at the south and Los Rodeos Airport at the north. Both these airports handle domestic flights only, therefore tourists who want to come to this place must come from other airports in Spain like Barcelona El Prat Airport or Madrid-Barajas Airport. As the island is quite big compared to the other Canary Islands, it is highly recommended that you hire a car at car hire Tenerife located at the airport, because this car hire company provides the best service compared to all the other companies available on this island.

Tenerifa was once a really poor region in Spain where the main activity was banana planting in small plantations. It was only after the airports were built in 1960s, that Tenerife became one of the top destinations in Spain in terms of tourists’ numbers. A lot of hotels and resorts were built and the government then built more and more facilities to cater for the crowd of tourists that come here. The south and north side of the island is quite different, and the southern part is more crowded with tourists especially those who come to this island in groups. The weather in the south is also more stable than the north. However, this does not mean that the north does not have the same attraction as the south.

The north offers a more vibrant local culture to its visitors and the weather here is not as hot as the south. Between the two different parts of the island lies the Teide Mountains that is also declared as Teide National Park. This mountain was once a volcano but sadly, tourists are not able to visit the crater of the mountains anymore as there are concerns about safety and security of the tourists.

If you are searching for a great place for a holiday, you can consider Tenerife as the best place you can find in Spain.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Barcelona: Spain’s rich cultural hub!

Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital is one of the most colourful and vibrating cities in Spain. Its unique location near the Mediterranean Sea and Gaudi’s impressive architecture are a magnet for people all over the world and contribute to the cosmopolitan charm of the city. The hotels in Barcelona add to this charm through its central locations, excellent service and luxury facilities.

A lot of tourists head to Barcelona to spend their beach holiday, but miss out on its famous tourist attractions and rich culture. The idea of this post is to throw some light on some of the rich culture of this Spanish city that is situated in the north-east part of the Iberian peninsula. First, there are the classic Joan Miro and Picasso Museums. Then the architecture of Barcelona’s most famous artist Gaudi who helped to develop a unique form of Art Nouveau. And, who can miss out on the long La Rambla Promenade.

Here is a list of places that one should visit to get closer to the city’s true culture.

Ciutat Vella (The Old Town)
The Ciutat Vella is the historical centre of Barcelona. In former times, Barcelona was only a small Roman village called Barcino, surrounded by a massive defensive wall. During the 14th and 15th century it grew rapidly and today the small winding streets, gothic buildings and medieval places still remember of Barcelona’s golden era. The best way to discover the Ciutat Vella in Barcelona is by foot – drift along the small streets and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Museu Picasso
The Museu Picasso is Barcelona's most visited museum. It's housed in three strikingly beautiful stone mansions on the Carrer de Montcada, which was, in medieval times, an approach to the port. The museum shows numerous works that trace the artist's early years, and is especially strong on his Blue Period with canvases like The Defenceless, ceramics and his early works from the 1890s. The haunting Portrait of Senyora Canals (1905), from his Pink Period is also on display.

El Raval
Raval is the original medieval name for the district left of Las Ramblas of Barcelona. Shabby apartment houses and dodgy bars can be found right next to modern museums and trendy shops in the small winding streets in this district of Barcelona– Raval is a traditional workers area that is constantly changing. Once known as poor and dangerous area, it is now growing in popularity for its central location and its shops. El Raval is the home of many immigrants and the multicultural atmosphere contributes to the charm of this district of Barcelona. Some streets in El Ravel make up the red-light district of Barcelona. 

Barri Gotic
The Barri Gotic contains a concentration of medieval Gothic buildings only a few blocks northeast of La Rambla, and is the nucleus of old Barcelona. It's a maze of interconnecting dark streets linking with squares, and there are plenty of cafes and bars, as well as the cheapest accommodation in town. Most of the buildings date from the 14th and 15th century, when Barcelona was at the height of its commercial prosperity and before it had been absorbed into Castile.

Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is probably the most famous boulevard in Barcelona. The street is two kilometres long and right at the heart of the city. It divides the Ciutat Vella starting from the buzzing Plaça Catalunya right to the harbour of Barcelona. The wide pedestrian area in the middle of Las Ramblas is the ideal place to meet people, watch the busy traders or street performers. The numerous birds and flower stalls underline the colourful atmosphere of Las Ramblas.

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is truly awe-inspiring - even if you don't have much time, don't miss it. The life's work of Barcelona's favourite son, Antoni Gaudí, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. They are encrusted with a tangle of sculptures that seem to breathe life into the stone.

The hill Montjüic (Jewish mountain) is one of the most significant landmarks of Barcelona. The huge park lies 213 metres above the harbour and is today one of the major tourist attractions in Barcelona. Montjüic hosted the World Exhibition in 1929 and the Olympic Games in 1992, remains of these big events in Barcelona can still be visited. The impressive view of Barcelona and the sporting and cultural devices on Montjüic are worth more than one visit.

La Pedrera
Another Gaudí masterpiece, La Pedrera was built between 1905 and 1910 as a combined apartment and office block. Formerly called the Casa Milà, it's better known now as La Pedrera (the quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade that ripples around a street corner - it creates a wave effect that's further emphasized by elaborate wrought-iron balconies. Visitors can tour the building and go up to the roof, where giant multicoloured chimney pots jut up like medieval knights. On summer weekend nights, the roof is eerily lit and open for spectacular views of Barcelona. One floor below the roof is a modest museum dedicated to Gaudí's work.

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Blog and Photography Portfolio…Now on Mobile!

The mobile is becoming the new web!! And most of us travellers are smartphone users. So why am I missing on catching the ‘mobile’ bus was the question that was plaguing my mind for a long while. Both my travel blog and photography portfolio could be seen on the mobile, but it was the web version that was rendering on the mobile. This web version on the mobile brought with it a unique set of problems. My travel blog used to take a lot of time to load on the mobile and the widgets on the site would add to the misery. And my photography portfolio, where the slideshow runs on Flash failed to render properly on the mobile and again was very slow.


To overcome these problems, I put my limited technical knowledge and ‘Googling’ to full use and tried various 3rd party tools, mobile templates and native mobile apps. But, none of them solved my purpose as they were either too slow or directed my online properties through their site or ended up showing unwanted Ads.


After a lot of online research and permutations and combinations, I finally ended up using the default mobile template provided by blogger for my travel blog and built a custom template for my photography portfolio. The mobile template for the travel blog is lean and hence loads quickly. It works on all mobile platforms as certified by Google. And it provides a simple user interface for the user to see my photographs, read my content and comment through the commenting system. The navigation is also pretty simple, though doesn’t have the flexibility of the web, but what the hell, how much can I browse on the mobile.


The mobile app for the photography portfolio offers a whole lot more functionality. My slideshows are there are so are my picture thumbnails. My site navigation has been retained and offers great flexibility in navigation. And all these have been perfectly morphed for the mobile. But, it does have its limitations. This mobile view is currently limited to the iPhone and the Android devices. And the videos do not play exactly the way I want it to. Right now, I have to click the back button to get the video to load. Still some more work is needed here, but I am very happy with the progress so far.

Would love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the new mobile views!! Here is the URL again for your reference.

Travel Blog: http://www.beontheroad.com (All mobile platforms)

Photography Portfolio: http://photos.beontheroad.com (iPhone and Android)

Do remember to enter this in your mobile browser!!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Top Free Things to do in Australia for Backpackers

Especially in today’s economy, many travel as inexpensively as possible. Visiting world renown destinations does not necessarily require great financial sacrifices. Backpacking is a popular form of sightseeing and touring among the younger set. Budget conscious travellers enjoying Australian holidays find dozens of locations around the country’s largest cities that do not require fees. Beaches and coastal walks do not cost travellers anything to visit and many museums welcome guests without charging admission fees. One city in particular offers tram services around the metropolis free of charge.

Australia’s largest cities lie along the coast, offering amazing views and the opportunity to view local wildlife. Melbourne developed on the southern coast and offers guests on Australian holidays the chance to see the city by taking the free City Tram. Passengers may board and exit anywhere in Melbourne and take limitless rides throughout the day. The NGV International is the oldest museum and art gallery in the country. Exhibits and artefacts include pieces from ancient Egypt and Roman times to contemporary art. The Yarra River meanders through the city and features a free outdoor art exhibit, in addition to amazing sights. The Queen Victoria Market, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets, welcomes visitors five days a week. Journey through the many areas that house approximately 1,000 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and homemade foods to clothing and pets.

Situated along the south eastern coast, Sydney offers the chance to enjoy a coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Walk. Indulge in a refreshing swim at Coogee Beach, relax in the sun, or visit one of the many cafes located along the boardwalk. Tour the world famous Opera House inside and out, or journey to Darling Harbour, where street performers often provide live entertainment. Located in the heart of the Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens encompasses over 30 hectares with displays of native and international plant life. The Rocks Discovery Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Sydney Observatory all welcome guests and do not charge entrance fees. The Australian National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art are also free of charge to visitors.

Further up the eastern Australia coast lie Brisbane, Gold Coast and Rockhampton. Brisbane Museum and the City Hall Art Gallery not only do not charge admittance, but both facilities also provide free tours on certain days of the week. The city’s 52 hectare botanic gardens offers visitors on Australian holidays the opportunity of strolling through numerous gardens containing subtropical plants. All of the National Parks in Gold Coast are free and provide the chance of seeing picturesque landscape while trekking through rainforests on the many trails. Springbrook National Park is noted for having a variety of waterfalls. Cool off from the heat by taking a dip in a cool mountain stream. Many Rockhampton visitors enjoy climbing Mt. Archer, which rises to 604m at its tallest north peak. Anglers might drop a line in the Fitzroy River, for the chance to catch native barramundi. Enjoy the antics of animals from all over the world at the Rockhampton Zoo.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Ladakh Moment!

Ladakh is a place where one can get stupefied by its beauty at every turn. Be it its people, its landscapes, its penchant for adventure, its rarefied atmosphere or its religious fervour. And I got to see this in plenty during my winter trip to this exotic Himalayan locale.

Reflection of the Himalayan mountains on the Hemis Monastery window 
It was such a moment one fine evening at the Hemis Monastery. I had finished exploring the monastery and nearabouts and was heading back to my car when I saw this excellent reflection of the mighty Himalayas on the monastery window. The brightly coloured windows of Ladakh, in itself are quite a sight and to top it I got to see the colours of the setting sun on the Western Himalayas as a reflection in it. And the bare trees just added to the moment. In essence, a special Ladakh moment!!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hemis Monastery: Ladakh’s richest monastery

Ladakh is the land of monasteries. Once upon a time, the entire region of Ladakh used to revolve around these monasteries. In fact, most of their festivals are celebrated with a lot of fervour in these monasteries. While the ones at Lamayuru and Alchi are the oldest, the one tucked near the Hemis high altitude national park is the richest in the region.

The houses of the monks next to the Hemis Moanstery 
The Hemis monastery, situated about 45 kms from Leh is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage. It is situated on the right side on the road that leads from Leh to Manali and is about 10 kms from Karo. The monastery and the rest of the Hemis town is unbelievably colder than the rest of the region owing to its higher altitude and the fact that it doesn’t get much sun in the winters.

Hemis Monastery - one of the richest monasteries of Ladakh 
While I was there this winter, the cold factor was so harsh that pressing the camera shutter even with a couple of gloves itself was a challenge. As the sun hardly hits this town, most of the town never warms up and the cold bites right through you.

Colourful murals inside the Hemis Monastery 
But, keeping the weather aside, the monastery and the place is quite exquisite. This is where the annual Hemis festival honouring Padmasambhava is held every June. The views of the Western Himalayas from the top of monastery is spectacular. The murals inside the monastery are very ornate too. Even though this monastery began in the 11th century and then re-established in 1672, this monastery still exists in pristine condition.

The sun sets over the houses of the monks at Hemis 
In the summer and during the festival days, this place is completely happening, but if you can bear the chill factor, then even the winters can be enterprising with its calmness, its frozen streams, its spectacular views and serene atmosphere.

The barren Himalayas as seen from Hemis Monastery 
I would definitely recommend a visit to this place if you happen to visit Ladakh. A day trip would be ideal to explore this place and if you have more time, you can continue from here and continue towards the Hemis High Altitude National Park and spot some wildlife, especially the snow leopard. And if you are interested in trekking, you can go on the exciting Markha valley trek that begins from the Hemis High Altitude National Park and ends in the Zanskar region.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Wildlife Photography: Wild Water Buffalo crossing the jeep track

It was late evening in the Western range of Kaziranga National park. I had just finished my evening elephant safari and was getting ready to head back to my camp for a hot cup of tea when I noticed this wild water buffalo crossing the jeep track.

Wild Buffalo crosses the jeep track 
He was quite far away and the light was pretty low. But, then I somehow managed to take this shot hand held. There is a slight shake in the frame, but I feel it gives a special effect. I like the way the jeep track meanders in the centre of the frame and the beginning of mist forming in the background. And amidst all this there is this wild water buffalo staring at me. It is such moments that fuel my passion for India’s wildlife.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Monochrome Landscapes of Ladakh

Monochromes are a great way to portray a classic moment and it works wonders when applied to landscapes. Initially, I was not keen on taking landscapes in monochrome. Instead, I would take portraits and street photography in monochrome and landscapes in full colour. This went on till I happened to change a colour landscape picture to monochrome during post processing and ended up totally liking it.

Hence, this time when I was in the thin air of Ladakh, I consciously took a lot of photographs in monochrome and ended up liking them. I hope you do too. There is something about landscapes in monochrome that I never seem to understand. There seems to be some mystery around them that you end up watching them intently for long hours, especially if they are large size prints. Or at least it has that effect on me.

And what better place to join together landscapes and monochromes than Ladakh, where every sight is a Himalayan vista, the lighting nearly always fantastic and blues that no place can beat.

So whether your object is a mountain, a valley, a river, a lake or open skies, monochrome landscapes look stunning. It is difficult to pin point a favourite in monochrome landscapes, but I would think of wide open monochrome valleys.

Such valleys give a sense that it never ends. Something like monochrome shots of people or building structures or automobiles, wherein people call them classic or never to die.

Such expressions are difficult to get in landscapes, but monochromes seem to elicit such a response even in landscape photography.

Now, I am not sure if I like these monotones, because they are monochromes or because they are landscapes of Ladakh. Either ways, I am happy that I ended up living the moment and capturing it in treasurable monotones. I hope you too enjoy the treasure.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Guest Post: Bike Insurance Comparison Website to Enjoy Great Britain's Great Motorcycling Roads

The Ministry for Transport requires all motorcyclists to obtain adequate insurance cover before they are allowed to ride their bikes on Britain’s roadways. The amount of insurance cover needed to meet this requirement varies because each motorcyclist has unique needs that vary based on your age, the type of motorbike you ride, and the place where you live. 

The best way to meet these motorcycle insurance cover requirements is to visit our bike insurance comparison website. This is the case because we can help you find the right insurance cover to help you meet local and national requirements before you get caught in a bind whilst on the road. 

It’s a good idea to use our bike insurance cover comparison website to find adequate bike insurance cover because it can help you explore some of Britain’s finest roads that are keen for bikers who want to explore all that the U.K. offers. 

For example, we can help you explore the A6 road path that goes from Manchester to Bakewell. This route is suitable for beginners because it features few twists and tight turns that can be difficult for beginners to master. 

Moreover, we can help you explore the A217 roadway path that leads from London’s New Kings Road to Wandsworth Bridge. This path is a lot of fun to explore because it takes your through many of London’s fun shopping districts and pretty residential neighbourhoods. 

If you enjoy sightseeing, be sure to explore the interesting path that lays between Whitby to Malton via the A169 roadway. This path is ideal for sightseers because it features several shops, pubs and small villages that offer bikers a great selection of things to do all year round. 

We can help more adventurous bikers explore the A64 and B1249 roadways that are located between Driffield and Staxton. These roads feature fewer stops and interesting changes in topography that will challenge your driving skills in a fun way. 

Finally, we can also help you explore the A19 motorway that leads from Thirsk to York. This motorway is famous for its lush scenery, its biker-friendly terrain, and its quick path through Easingwold that is famous for its tour of the town’s market square. 

As you can see, it’s important to use a bike insurance comparison website to help you find the best deals on motorbike insurance cover. This is the case because it can help you find the insurance cover you need to enjoy some of Britain’s finest motorcycle-friendly roads effortlessly. 

As a result, be sure to use our handy bike insurance comparison portal today to save money on the insurance cover you need to explore Britain’s motorcycle-friendly roads effortlessly. 

This guest post has been provided by comparethemarket.com.

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Oriental Guest House: A Great Homestay at Leh

Guest houses and hotels are aplenty in Leh, but finding a fully functional hotel or homestay for a winter visit is tough. Most of the hotels in Leh shut down in October with the onset of Winter and only re-open in March/April. This annual phenomenon can be attributed to the following reasons: low inflow of tourists in the winter months, difficulty to get running water as all pipelines freeze in the extremely cold weather, high expense to arrange heating facilities (government electricity is available only for 5 hours a day) backup diesel generators are expensive and kerosene or gas is not that safe) and one has to store a lot of vegetables for cooking food. But, amidst all these problems, the Oriental Guest House, situated at Upper Changspa in Leh remains open round the year and provides excellent service.

Oriental Guest House - a great budget family run home stay in Leh 
But, do not take this homestay for granted as even in the winter months, it runs near full occupancy. Such is their hospitality and service. And if it is the summer months, one needs to book at least 3 months in advance. The Oriental Guest House is a family run homestay that was started in 1987. It is located right below the Shanti Stupa and offers great access to Leh Market and Shanti Stupa. This guest house caters to the needs of different kinds of travellers through their 3 different building groups. Building ‘A’ with a common bathroom at Rs 200 per night is for backpackers and for those who are on a shoestring. Building ‘B’ with an attached bathroom at Rs 500-600 per night is for the budget traveller. Building ‘C’, with its large rooms, centralized heating and satellite television and at Rs 1800 per night/room is for the ones who wish to indulge in some luxury.

Entrance to Oriental Guest House in Leh 
However, even the Oriental Guest House cannot afford to run all 3 buildings during the off season and hence only operate the Building ‘C’ during the winter months. Running water is not available in the winter months, but the guest house staff ensure that the rooms do not run out of water at any time. No room service is available throughout the year. Instead, food is served in a well designed dining hall. Breakfast and lunch is A la carte, while a buffet dinner is served. Food is mainly vegetarian, but upon request, they do dish out some good chicken, mutton and egg items. Food prices are very reasonable costing between Rs 120 and Rs 200 for a full meal.

Road from Shanti Stupa to Upper Changspa

The homestay comes with a well stocked library, an internet cafe, an international and local calling booth. They also offer laundry services. The Oriental Guest House also provides tour and travel services, which helps one arrange their permits, treks, rafting expeditions, sightseeing, car services, etc. This service is fairly useful and helps one avoid all the other not so great travel agents. The travels is part of the homestay and hence cannot afford to fool around.

Oriental Guest House, Upper Changspa, Leh 
I stayed here for more than a week during my recent winter backpacking trip to Ladakh and thoroughly loved this place. In fact, I liked this place so much that I have decided that whenever I go to Leh, I will always stay with them. The omnipresent smiles of the homestay family and their readiness to help you always is something that appealed to me a lot. If you wish to book your Leh stay here, you can call Dawa or Phunsuk at +91 – 1982 – 253153 or reach out through their website. Julley!

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Aerial view of the Western Himalayas

A trip to the Himalayas always seem to send an adrenalin rush through your body. And this adrenalin rush increases even before you set foot on the Himalayas. Personally, I have been many times to the Western Himalayas, but have always reached there by road. Hence, a new experience awaited me when I took the flight from Delhi to Jammu to Leh.

View of the Western Himalayas from the aircraft (Jammu to Leh) 
Delhi to Jammu was fairly uneventful, but things took a ‘U’ turn when the plane left Jammu and made its way to Leh. The aircraft was flying at 21,000 feet, but the land was not more than 4,000 feet below as we were flying right above the mighty Himalayas.

The Himalayan vista as seen from the aircraft flying from Jammu to Leh

It was a maze of white as we flew over the tall peaks and glaciers of the Western Himalayas. It felt like the aircraft had stopped and we were floating above this heavenly sight. These aerial views set the tone for the Himalayan visit and sends your heart racing. These views stay right on till you reach the Leh airport. One should definitely experience these views even if you do not get the opportunity to land in the Western Himalayas.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wildlife Photography: 3 different generations

I am sure a lot of you are aware of the tantrums that the pachyderms throw up in Assam, especially during the paddy harvest season and locals having to chase them off by bursting crackers. But, this is one side of the story. On the other side of the story is the peaceful living elephants of Kaziranga National Park. These massive mammals also look a bit weak and thin as they don’t get variety in their diet.

Three Generations of Pachyderms 
But, amidst the good and the bad, you can appreciate the aura of Indian Wildlife by seeing these elephants exist in total harmony in the Kaziranga National Park. And on top of this, if you see a special moment, you are totally transfixed. Such a special moment it was when I saw these 3 generations of Elephants during my jeep safari inside the central wildlife range of Kaziranga National Park.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

An Iconic Kaziranga Moment

The one-horned Rhinoceros is the main speciality here. In fact, no where in the world is it found in such large numbers. Here, at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, North East India, one is assured of a good sighting always. And this is irrespective of whether you are on the jeep on atop an elephant.

The Rhino checks out the intruders 
The Rhinos roam the swamps of Kaziranga in healthy numbers. Such is their strength that sometimes you think that they are like cows, available in such huge numbers and always grazing. But, having said that, do beware of the charging Rhino as it may topple your one plus tonne jeep unlike the docile cow.

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