2019 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Monday, September 16, 2019

How to enjoy Barcelona - when you can't enjoy the weather!

View over the Passeig de Gracia avenue, Barcelona

Barcelona is famous for its revered soccer club, but sports is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why the city is a favourite among locals, tourists and vacationers alike. From breath taking aesthetics, to impressive architecture, culturally diverse galleries and delectable food and music that delights and tantalizes the senses.

But what if the weather isn’t as cooperative as your ambition for the day? Although Barcelona is well-known for its pleasant and mild climate, the weather can, at times, become unstable mid-season. If your sun-filled morning soon transforms into a wet and rainy afternoon, or if the weather heats up like an unbearable oven, fear not.

This guide will help you explore how to enjoy Barcelona even when you can’t enjoy the weather outdoors. Unsure of what to expect outdoors and need to plan ahead? World Weather Online provides real-time up to date forecasts to help you plan ahead.

Without further ado, below are our top picks for enjoying Barcelona when the weather is less than agreeable…

Explore Barcelona’s many museums


The national museum of art of Catalonia

Barcelona is acclaimed for its beautiful streets and immaculate beaches, leaving many to forget entirely all that the city has to offer indoors. Museums house some of the world’s most cherished and stunning art, culture and more. Best of all, there is something for everyone! From romantic tours of artistic expression to kid-friendly explorations of science.

Prefer classical or modern art?


Palau de la musica Catalana, Barcelona

Picasso Museum:
Discover Pablo Picasso in a way like no other with a visit to this museum dedicated to the life and works of one of the greats.

Miró Foundation: The world’s largest collection of the artists’ works can be found under the museum’s roofs. Enjoy its architectural décor and a selection you won’t want to miss.

National Museum of Catalan Art
: Centuries of Catalan art are the hallmark of this unique art collection.

CaixaForum:
A cultural centre with impressive exhibitions that will sweep you off your feet with their elegance and charm.

Contemporary art more your style?

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art:
Transport yourself to a new world brimming with creativity and expression at MACBA Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture: Celebrate the contemporary culture of Barcelona and the creative expression of this unique region.

Need something kid-friendly?


CosmoCaixa:
Science is fun and educational at this museum that the whole family will enjoy.

Barcelona Maritime Museum:
Explore the high seas and all things nautical from the comfort of land at this maritime museum.

Are you a history buff?


City’s History Museum:
Turn back time and explore the rich cultural history of Barcelona on this unique tour.

Into nature?


Natural Science Museum and Aquarium:
Educational and exciting, learn about local natural environments and their inhabitants.

On a budget? – how about free!


Palau Robert:
Although lesser known by most tourists, the free exhibitions and gardens are a perfect place to explore and discover on a budget.

Palau de la Virrenia:
Always free, take a cultural break while exploring the Ramblas.

Enjoy a flamenco show!


Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona

Seeing a show indoors is a sure-fire way to forget all about rainy, storming or oppressively hot weather outside. Although this particular style of music is traditionally known as Andalusian, the area boasts a number of places where you can catch a great show.

Options include but are not limited to:

· Tablao de Carmen in the Poble Espanyol
· Flamenco in the sublime art nouveau surroundings of Palau de la Música
· The Dalmases Palace
· The Palacio del Flamenco
· The intimate hall of Los Tarantos
· The hall of Los Tarantos
· The Feria de Abril in the spring

Shopping at La Maquinista


La Maquinista is the largest shopping centre in all of Catalonia, boasting over 242 shops all within a short walking distance and easy to manoeuvre without getting wet from the rain. The centre also features a large food court including a number of restaurants to wet your palate, take a break or enjoy a nice meal. If you’d like to make a day out of it, there is even a cinema where you can sit back and relax with a movie.

Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day

Salo de Cent in City Hall, Barcelona

Relax, you deserve it. Get pampered by the best that Barcelona has to offer. From the luxurious Hotel Omm’s elegant and modern spa amenities to the Aire de Barcelona Ancient Baths with complimentary mint tea, you’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated in no time.

Options Include:
· Relaxation pools
· Hot tubs
· Massages
· Oils
· Aromatherapy
· Skin treatments
· Facials
· And more

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day


Wake up to rainy weather? Take this opportunity to have a lazy morning breakfast or brunch in a cozy atmosphere.

WePudding is a local favourite, with impressive décor and child-friendly corner play area. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Alsur Café is revered for its decadent and delectable pastries and cakes, and if you’re ready for a heavier meal, Barcelo Raval is known for its expansive buffet.

Warm-up with a Barcelona classic


The Liceu Opera House, Barcelona

With rain often comes cool brisk weather. And when things cool down there is often nothing that hits the spot like a Barcelona favourite; traditionally brewed hot chocolate.

Known locally as xocolata desfeta, or beaten chocolate in English, this drink more closely resembles melted chocolate than the hot cocoa you may be used to back home. For the more culturally adventurous you can even try a suís, which comes covered in delightfully fresh cream.

If you don’t mind a little running around – try bar or cafe hopping in El Born

El Born represents one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in all of Barcelona. As an added bonus, it’s also one of the oldest and most charming. Get captivated by old historical buildings, narrow streets and lively scene. The area is brimming with unique local bars where you can enjoy lively entertainment and company, or relax by exploring cafes in the area.

The Passeig del Born always makes for a good lift-off point, followed by the Carrer del Rec and Carrer de Montacada. From there you’re off to the races!

Let someone else do the driving - hop on a bus for a tour!


Port Vell, Barcelona

If your spirits aren’t too dampened by the weather, consider enjoying a relaxing sightseeing day from the comfort of a dry and cosy bus. Drop on and drop off buses are readily available for sightseeing, allowing you to get a taste of all the area has to offer without the stress of navigating strange streets on your own.

Let loose your culinary spirit

Ready to learn how to prepare your very own authentic Spanish paella dish or Spanish tapas? The area boasts a number of professional and amateur cookery schools and one-day cooking classes, as well as guided tours of the local food markets.

Explore all that Barcelona has to offer!


Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

We hope that you found this guide helpful and that you have an amazing trip. Don’t forget to tell us all about it when you get back!

Photo Courtesy: All the photographs in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

Monsoons in Bhagamandala and Talacauvery: Paradise of greens and floating clouds

Lush green Bhagamandala temple town

One of the monsoon giants of Karnataka, Talacauvery and Bhagamandala get copious amounts of rains during the monsoon season. These copious rains ensure that this belt of the Western Ghats is a beautiful paradise of greens and floating clouds. So not only do you get to visit a religious and spiritual destination, you also get to make utmost use of its pristine nature and ecosystem.



Talacauvery is the place inside the Greater Talacauvery National Park where the holy Cauvery river originates and Bhagamandala is the place where the three holy rivers – Cauvery, Kanike and mythical Sujyoti meet right in front of the Bhagandeshwara temple. Built in Karavali style with copper roofs, the Bhagamandala temple and Talacauvery are important pilgrimage destinations, especially for those who pray for their ancestors. Pilgrims first take a bath at Triveni Sangam, offer their prayers to the unique West facing Ganapati, Subramanya, Maha Vishnu and Ishwara in the Bhagamandala temple before making their way to the temple at Talacauvery.

The pristine route from Bhagamandala to Talacauvery wildlife sanctuary

This spiritual temple journey, which connects the 8 kms between Bhagamandala and Talacauvery is full of panoramic vistas, a sea of greenery, mighty mountains of the Western Ghats and consistent mist, petrichor and floating clouds during the monsoon season. When you are near Bhagamadala, you can see the vistas, paddy fields, spice plantations and mountains, but as you climb steadily towards Talacauvery, these views are replaced with that of floating clouds and when you reach Talacauvery, you feel as if you have stepped into a white world, a world where clouds, mist and fog usurp the entire region during the monsoons.



It doesn’t matter whether you are on a religious trip, on a monsoon holiday, on a trekking expedition through the Western Ghats or a simple weekend trip to Coorg, Bhagamandala and Talacauvery are bound to blow you over with their paradise like setting, quaint atmosphere and pristine ecosystem.

Monsoon scenes near Talacauvery

I would definitely visit them at least once during the monsoons, though they are beautiful during other seasons too. And if you are planning to offer respects to your ancestors, do visit these places during the upcoming Pitru Paksha month (Sep 15 to Sep 29). Not only would such an auspicious location for apt for remembering the dead, but the monsoon scenes will certainly relax your mind and rejuvenate your body and soul.

Bhagamandala temple as seen from the road to Talacauvery on a monsoon day

How to reach here:

The nearest well connected airport would have to be Bangalore international airport, though Mangalore and Mysore would be the closest airports.

The nearest railway station would either be Mysore (Karnataka) or Kanhagad (Kerala). The remaining distance has to be covered by road.

If you are driving from Bangalore, you can either opt for the Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Kushalnagar –> Madikeri –> Bhagamandala route or Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Gonigoppal –> Virajpet –> Kakkabe –> Bhagamandala route. Both routes should take you about 6 hours.

If you wish to travel by bus, you can either take the KSRTC bus to Madikeri or Virajpet and then take local buses from there to Bhagamandala.

You can auto auto rickshaws to reach Talacauvery temple from Bhagamandala town.

Confluence of Cauvery, Kanike and Sujyoti rivers at Bhagamandala, Coorg

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay close to the temples, you can stay in and around Bhagamandala town.

If you prefer to stay in coffee estates, homestays and nature retreats, opt for one of the many properties on either the Bhagamandala – Kakkabe – Virajpet road or on the Bhagamandala – Madikeri route.

If you prefer a heavy dose of luxury, opt for properties such as Tamara Coorg, Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa or Evolve Back Resorts.

Monsoons are the season of sowing paddy

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sri Igguthappa temple, one of the most famous Kodava temples

2) Karike ghat, a beautiful route that runs contiguous with the Greater Talacauvery national park

3) Madikeri and abbey falls

4) Nalknad palace, Chelavara falls and trek to Thadiyendamol peak

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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Kayakoy: The Ghost Town of Turkey

Ghost Town of Kayakoy, Turkey

Once upon a time, there was a bustling Lycian era town in South-Western Turkey that enjoyed great maritime trade and a beautiful location. Known as ‘Karmilassos’ (Lebessos) in ancient Greek and pronounced as Livissi in modern Greek, this town of craftsmen enjoyed prosperity and happiness from the ancient Greek era, Byzantine period to the late Ottoman empire. Made up of Greek orthodox Christians and Turkish Ottoman Muslims, they lived in peace till the early 20th century when religion based cleansing took place. Around that time, either the Greeks were killed or they were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who converted to Islam and came to be known as Greek Muslims refused to stay in this village due to fear of ghosts of those who were killed. Thus, began the abandonment of this village. All that is left today is a ghost town called Kayakoy.

Exploring the ghost town of Kayakoy near Fethiye, Turkey

Much of its current streets and buildings were built in the 18th century, but they lie in a dilapidated state today. The roofs are missing, the buildings look weather-beaten and the paths worn out. Two Greek orthodox churches, fountains, cisterns and about 350 homes now sit empty in this famous ghost town of Turkey. In spite of all this, the ghost town of Kayakoy has a unique charm to it. This could be due to the eerie quietness, its grey stone buildings, its hilly surroundings or its horrendous past. But, there is something about it that begs attention and evinces interest.

The abandoned city of Kayakoy on the southern coast of Turkey

I didn’t know much about this ghost town before I landed there as part of my Lycian way trek, but after seeing it up close and live, I think it deserves a visit if you happen to be exploring Fethiye, Oludeniz or trekking the ancient Lycian way route. It is not often that you come across such abandoned towns that are surrounded by stunning land and seascapes. Do not miss the trek to Oludeniz when visiting Kayakoy for those legendary aerial views of the coast.

On the hiking trail from Kayakoy to Oludeniz, Turkey

How to get here:

The nearest airport is Dalaman and it is about 45 minutes away from Fethiye. The nearest large city would be Fethiye and it has good road connectivity with the rest of Turkey.

If you are driving from Fethiye, Kayakoy is about 15 kms or 25 minutes away.

If you wish to trek from Oludeniz, you can follow a 2.5 km trekking trail over the mountains while enjoying some stunning mountain and sea vistas.

Scenic views on the hike from Kayakoy to Oludeniz

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay in a city, opt for any of the many accommodation options in Fethiye. If you like luxury and prefer a beach side resort, opt for Oludeniz. If you like staying with locals, opt for remote homestays on the ancient Lycian way for a truly authentic experience.

Beautiful southern coastline of Turkey

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Oludeniz beach town

2) Lycian way trek

3) Fethiye rock tombs

4) Island hopping from Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Monsoons in Coorg: A Photo Story

A monsoon moment on the Bhagamandala - Talacauvery road

Coorg or Kodagu is more than the ‘Scotland of India’. It is more than just coffee estates and spice plantations. It is a pristine ecosystem of mountains, forests and water bodies that are teeming with life. It is this very ecosystem that gives birth to the holy Cauvery river, the life line of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This bio diverse region is at its very best during the monsoons when dark clouds, multiple shades of green and persistent rains usurp our senses, but at that same time allowing nature to flourish. It is a season of aplenty and is an absolutely magnificent place to rejuvenate oneself. A hot cuppa coffee or herbal teas along with the delicious local cuisine are just added benefits. Monsoons in Coorg in itself is an experience and I hope you can get a flavor of it through the photographs in this article.

About the above photo: The scenes just after a heavy downpour are a treat to the senses. The freshly washed earth and roads, the fresh water droplets on leaves and flowers, the different shades of green that glow when the sun shines briefly after a downpour and the grey dark clouds in the background all make for a heady monsoon concoction.

Sowing paddy near Bhagamandala, Coorg

About the above photo: For a farmer, monsoons mean happiness. Sowing season begins with the onset of the rains. And for a thirsty crop like paddy, good rains are essential. Such paddy sowing scenes are common in the fertile villages of Kodagu.

A moment from rural Coorg

About the above photo: This is the highway that connects Virajpet to Madikeri. During the monsoons, foliage takes over every nook and cranny except for the black tar road. Just driving on these roads has such a calming influence. People wear big gum boots to protect them from leeches and wear head gear with plastic covers to keep their head dry.

Riding in the monsoons is pure joy

About the above photo: The route to Igguthappa temple, the holy temples for Kodavas, is an absolute joy to ride through during the rains. The recently laid concrete roads, the descending clouds, the umpteen streams and the innumerable view points make for a fantastic experience.

Monsoon clouds, dense forests and Mallalli Falls

About the above photo: Located in North Coorg and starting in the Pushpagiri mountains of the Western Ghats, the holy Kumaradhara river winds its way through lush forests of the Western Ghats before tumbling down about 25 kms from Somwarpet and this tumbling spectacle is known as Mallalli Falls, the prettiest waterfall in all of Coorg.

A monsoon view - Bhagamandala to Talacauvery

About the above photo: Such drama in the skies and surrounding nature is a common occurrence during the monsoons in Coorg. Just watching this drama is a great past time. All you need is a hot drink and a book for company.

Chingara waterfall surrounded by greenery

About the above photo: Starting in the Thadiyendamol mountain range of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary, Chingara waterfall plunges in the midst of coffee, spices, flowers and forests. It roars during the monsoons and offers a great offbeat waterfall holiday as it falls in the private premises of Chingara and Honey Valley estate.

A pitstop during a monsoon motorcycle ride to South Coorg

About the above photo: My first love in India has to be the Western Ghats. May be, it is because I hail from there or may be because I absolutely adore its bio diversity. Every year during the rains, you can see me trekking, riding, chilling, working, eating and sleeping in the Western Ghats.

The pristine environment at Honey valley estate in Coorg

About the above photo: This is where 100 acres of coffee estate, fruit orchards and spice plantations meet the forests of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary. This location is Honey valley, one of the oldest homestays in Karnataka and a pristine location where nature is literally at your doorstep.

Beautiful moss covered carvings inside Nalknad palace, Coorg

About the above photo: Consistently wet environment with floating clouds, mist and intermittent sunlight ensures that moss grows almost everywhere. It could be on estate roads, on trees, in your portico or in this case on the walls of the structure inside Nalknad palace, one of the most scenic palaces of Kodagu.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Private Chingara Waterfall that is surrounded by forests, coffee, spices and hills

Chingara waterfall surrounded by greenery

One of Karnataka’s top monsoon holiday destinations, Coorg is certainly on the popular tourist trail, but it is still home to many lesser known gems. This mighty private waterfall is a case in point. Surrounded by forests, coffee estates, spices and hills, this waterfall enjoys pristine environment and a remote location.

The route that leads to Chingara estate, Honey valley estate and Tadiyendamol peak

Located in the Yevakapadi village of Southern Coorg, it falls under the Chingara and the Honey valley estates belonging to the Chengappa family. It is a perfect place for those who seek solitude and pristine nature. It is that kind of a place where you can walk in the rain, see colorful butterflies prancing around and where you can frolic in the waterfall at leisure. The only thing to keep in mind is that it is private property, which means you will have to either stay at Chingara estate or Honey valley estate if you wish to experience and explore this waterfall and surroundings.



If you ask me, these homestays set amidst coffee estates and spice plantations and with the Brahmagiri mountain range in the background are perfect for nature lovers, trekkers and especially for those seeking for fabulous monsoon holiday destinations. It gives then perfect access to hidden attractions of Coorg out of which Chingara waterfall is one such example.

Chingara - the forest and estate waterfall

My favorite way to explore this waterfall is by slowly trekking downhill after a good breakfast while admiring nature’s abundance around and then wash off all the sweat in the waterfall. It gets even better during the rains when both the trail and waterfall seem to get better. Have you been to this waterfall? Do you know other such hidden attractions in Coorg. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lush surroundings of Chingara estate

Best season to visit this waterfall:

Chingara waterfalls has water most of the year, but it looks best during the monsoons when the surroundings are lush and the waterfall carries abundant water and falls with thundering noise. This is the best time for photography and for monsoon walks. If you wish to take a bath under the waterfall, I would recommend that you visit during the post monsoon months from October through February.

Pristine untouched environment - Chingara waterfalls

How to get access to this waterfall:

As Chingara waterfalls is inside a private property called Chingara estate, the public is not allowed to the waterfall. However, guests staying at Chingara estate and Honey valley estate are free to explore this waterfall. One can either trek to the waterfall from either of these properties or opt for a four wheel drive jeep to take them to the waterfall. The trek is very scenic and much recommended.

The beautiful walk to Chingara falls

How to reach here:

The best way to reach Chingara waterfalls is by road. It is located about 260 kms from Bangalore and the route would be Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Gonigoppal –> Virajpet –> Kabinakad –> Chingara.

Buses ply regularly from Bangalore to Virajpet and from Virajpet, one can take a local bus that connects Madikeri via Napoklu and get down at Kabinnakad bus stop. From this bus stop, it is a few kilometers to the waterfall.

The nearest railway station would be Hunsur, though Mysore and Bangalore railway stations would have better connectivity.

The nearest airport would be Bangalore and it connects with almost all of the country.

A bright sunny day at Chingara estate, Coorg

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Trek to Thadiyendamol peak, Coorg’s highest mountain

2) 220 year old Nalknad Palace

3) Honey valley estate for those who like to study amphibians, reptiles and butterflies

4) Chelavara waterfalls

5) Bhagamandala temple

6) Talacauvery wildlife sanctuary

7) Igguthappa temple

8) Trek to Nilakandi waterfalls, a pristine forest waterfall inside Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Nalknad Palace: A Kodava palace in the lap of lush nature

The beautifully sculpted elephant at the entrance of Nalknad palace, Coorg

It is surrounded by lush tropical forests of the Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary. The towering Thadiyendamol mountain looks down upon it. And it was a place where the Haleri kings of Kodagu sought solace and refuge from their enemies. This place is the simple, yet beautiful Nalknad palace that was built in 1792 AD and that is nestled in the Western Ghats of southern Coorg.



Mercara was the main capital of Kodagu, but when the Kodagu kingdom was threatened by Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and later the British, the then Kodagu king Dodda Veerarajendra decided to make his second base in a thickly forested area that is today called Yavakapadi village. It was here that he built his second palace, one that would protect his family during attack and from where he could manage his kingly operations during distress. This Nalknad palace was built in traditional Kodava fashion. It houses beautiful frescoes that have stood the test of time in spite of the heavy rains and consistent humidity. It has security outposts and beautifully designed stations to hold your gun and to aim at the enemy. It has dark rooms that are totally hidden and where the royal family can hide in case the palace comes under a siege. While the interiors of the palace are still standing, the fortifications of its boundary wall have started falling apart, especially during the heavy rains of the past years.

Beautiful moss covered carvings inside Nalknad palace, Coorg

Like I have mentioned before, the Nalknad palace is not spectacular like the Mysore palace, but it enjoys a pretty setting where nature is bountiful. I would visit this place just for its location and may be learn a little bit of history while I am in the lap of lush nature. This cultural attraction of Coorg is a must visit according to me. Don’t miss it on your next holiday to Coorg. And definitely don’t miss it during a monsoon trek to Thadiyendamol peak, one of the most beautiful treks of Karnataka.

Ornate steps that lead into Nalknad palace, Coorg

How to reach here:

The best way is to travel by road. Nalknad palace is about 265 kms from Bangalore. The route is Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Goniakoppal –> Virajpet –> Kabinnakad –> Nalknad Palace. After Kabinnakad, travel straight for one km and then turn left and then travel about 3 kms to find the palace to your left.

Hunsur would be the nearest railway station, though Mysore and Bangalore would have better connectivity with the rest of the country.

Bangalore would be your best bet for the nearest airport.

Where to stay:

If you wish to stay in a homestay located amidst coffee estates, I would recommend trying Honey valley estate and Chingara estate. If you wish for uber luxury, try looking up Tamara Coorg. There are many other properties located nearby to choose from.

Moss takes over structure inside Nalknad Palace, Coorg

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Trek to Thadiyendamol peak, the highest mountain in Coorg and the second highest in Karnataka

2) Chelavara waterfalls

3) Trek to Kabbe hills

4) Bhagamandala temple and the triveni sangam

5) Igguthappa temple, the most sacred temple of the Kodavas

6) Talacauvery wildlife sanctuary

7) Chingara waterfalls

8) Nilakandi waterfalls

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Turkey Travel Guide

Istanbul, Turkey

INTRODUCTION


Famously referred to as the meeting point of the East and the West, the one unique city where not only cultures, but two continents collide. From exquisite museums, appetizing kebabs, a plethora of historic landmarks, diverse landscapes and the warmest people you’ll ever meet- Turkey is not only one of the most fusionist countries you’ll ever see but is quite honestly the perfect place for almost every kind of traveler. So, whether you’re a young couple, a full family, a beach lover, wanderer, foodie or a history buff- Turkey has something to offer for every kind of person, every kind of traveler. This guide aims to highlight and brief you on the things you should keep in mind before embarking on your journey, and some of the vital places you can visit and experience during your time there.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR UPCOMING TURKEY TRIP


How to prepare for your upcoming Turkey trip

1.
Map out a travel itinerary

From the places you’d like to visit to the convenience of time and travel, map out the different parts of Turkey you’d like to visit and chalk out a temporary itinerary you can follow and use for the rest of your pre-travel process.

2. Plan a realistic budget

Fortunately, Turkey is not an expensive place to travel to. Even though the Turkish Lira is higher than the rupee (with 1 Turkish Lira equivalent of Rs 12.78), everything from hotels, transportation and daily needs are very reasonable. Based on your personal feasibility, plan out a budget you’d want to stick to so you can make your bookings accordingly.

3. Figure out your home away from home

Your travel experience could be largely based on the kind of places you pick for your stay. Based on accessibility, convenience and feasibility, shortlist some hotels, or Airbnbs you’d like to reside in across the places you plan to visit.

4. Secure your trip with a Turkey travel insurance

Apart from the fact that a travel insurance (especially in some of Turkey’s famous scam cities!) secures you from all unforeseen circumstances, it’s also a mandatory to get one if you want your Turkish Tourist Visa approved. So, once you’ve booked your flight tickets- the next thing to do is get your trip insured with a travel insurance you can trust. As per the Turkish visa mandate, ensure it gives you minimum coverage of at least €30,000, i.e. approximately $33,000.

5.
Get that Turkey visa stamp!

There are primarily two ways to get a Turkey Visa for Indians. If you are an Indian passport holder with a valid visa of US/UK/Ireland/Schengen, then you can easily get an e-visa processed online for a fee of US$43.70. If you don’t have either of the above-mentioned visas, you can apply through VFS for a fee of Rs 4250, which takes around a week to stamp and process.

6. What to pack?

This primarily depends on what time of the year you’re traveling in. If you’re traveling during the summer months, carry just enough summer clothes and beachwear but also make sure you carry modest clothing pieces like long skirts or tunics (if you’re a woman) for the visits to Turkey’s many beautiful mosques. If you’re traveling during the winters, based on where you’re traveling- you'll definitely need an all-purpose jacket to keep you both warm and dry.

7. Other travel essentials

Apart from clothing, make sure you have all your other travel essentials in place. The last-minute chaos is so not worth it! So right from your documents like an international driving license (if you plan on driving in Turkey), your international travel insurance to the little nitty-gritties like your jacket, travel plug converter, sunscreen, travel pillow, backpack, et al. ensure they’re all in place!

10 THINGS TO DO IN TURKEY

1.
Be captivated by the culturally rich city of Istanbul

From its exceptional Ottoman architecture and historic art and museums to its bustling nightlife and bazaars; Istanbul is the one place that meddles in both tradition and modernity beautifully.

2. Embrace enchantment at the Princess Islands

Relish an enchanting day trip from Istanbul to the Princess Islands. With no access to cars at all and home to quaint horse carriages and bicycles, it’ll be your own life’s classic you wouldn’t want to miss out on!

3. Visit Konya - the Sufi powerhouse of philosophy and poetry

Home to Rumi’s grave and his poetic museum- Konya is known for its mystic whirling dervish performances and all things you can possibly connect Rumi with.

Hot Balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

4. Take the Instagram-worthy hot balloon ride in Cappadocia

Experience a magical hot air balloon ride all the way in Cappadocia. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise mid-air, surrounded by the astonishing landscape of Cappadocia.

5.
Indulge in not only kebabs but the best kunefes and baklavas

Your trip is probably not complete until you’ve hogged on enough kebabs and given your sweet tooth a treat to the best kunefes and baklavas in Turkey. Might we suggest some warm Turkish tea to go with it all?

The legendary Turkish tea

6.
Tick off a UNESCO world heritage site off your bucket list

Known for its healing properties, Pamukkale near the city of Denizli is a must visit for its spectacular pools of milky water along a vast mountainside.

The natural wonder of Pamukkale, Turkey

7.
Go on an adventure across the Taurus mountain range

Perfect for the adventure junkies to hike around, the Taurus mountain range is in the Mediterranean region of Turkey and is home to beautiful waterfalls, underground rivers, hundreds of endemic flowers, migrating birds, ibexes, wolves, and some of the largest caves in Asia.

8. Embrace Turkey’s coastline with one of its many pristine beaches

For those planning out a trip in summer, a visit to one of Turkey’s beautiful beaches – especially of those in Antalya should be on your itinerary!

9. Fulfil that shopping wish list at Turkey’s many bazaars

Nobody leaves Turkey empty handed! So, whether it’s its range of teas and spices or its artistic ceramics and handwoven carpets, you’re going to love what the Turkish merchants have to offer, just don’t forget to bargain!

10.
Take the road less travelled

For those planning a longer trip than usual, traveling the country by road is an opportunity of a lifetime. Explore the many popular and unpopular destinations – all of which represent a culture and story of their own.

CONCLUSION

Although the above ten things mentioned are an array of options to delve into on a trip to Turkey; it’s still not enough. Given its rich and fascinating history, tourist attractions, great hospitality and diverse landscapes, there’s a lot Turkey has to offer. Use this Turkey Travel guide to assist your travel planning journey. This is only the start. Apart from this and many other online guides, you may also consider reading into some Turkish literature (fiction & nonfiction) for an insider feel of the place before you even travel (or even during). Some recommended works include Eat Smart in Turkey by Joan Peterson, Istanbul: The Imperial City by John Freely, Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk, The Musuem of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk and The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak amongst many other books by some of the most prominent Turkish and international writers. With all this in place, I hope you have an enriching travel experience and come back with not only memories and photographs, but stories and experiences that you can cherish for a lifetime.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Offbeat Goa: 5 Best Monsoon Experiences

Best Monsoon Experiences in Goa

We all love Goa for its beaches, beer, parties, flea markets, churches and sea food, but do you know that there is a side to Goa that is equally beautiful, if not more. I am talking about the tropical forests, national parks and mountains of Goa that are a part of the biodiversity hotspot called the ‘Western Ghats’. This part of Goa is a hot bed of adventure during the monsoons when this belt is drenched by plentiful rains and thus making the alive ecosystem go into hyperactive mode.

These are 5 of the best monsoon experiences in Goa that you should indulge in during this monsoon season.

1) Go on a motorcycle ride through Chorla Ghat

Motorcycling through the lush green Western Ghats of India during the monsoons

Beautiful butterflies, rare wildlife species, panoramic green vistas, stunning jungle walks and umpteen waterfalls adorn this nature hot spot. Add to it winding mountain roads with hairpins and waterfall crossings and you have a dream motorcycle holiday destination. Chorla ghat is all this and more. Located in the lush Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats, Chorla ghat is located at the intersection of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The lush omnipresent nature, the mist on the roads and the consistent pitter patter keep you company during your monsoon ride here.

2) Try your luck on a delightful casino cruise

How about going on a luxury river cruise when it is raining? Not only do you get to see Goa from a different perspective, you get to enjoy the rains from a different vantage point and last, but not the least, you get to indulge in some gambling at one of the few casinos of India. You heard me right! Yes, you can legally gamble in India and that too at a popular holiday destination such as Goa. And one of the most popular monsoon ideas in Goa is to gamble when you float on the mighty Mandovi river in a lovely cruise boat.

Be it baccarat, roulette, andar bahar, poker, black jack, mang patta, Indian Rummy, Indian flush, slot machines or any of the other games, these casino cruises offer you innumerable avenues to spend your money while living in some luxury and enjoying some lovely monsoon spectacles from on top of the river. Big Daddy Casino, Deltin Royale, Casino Pride and Deltin Caravela are some of the popular casino cruise boats of Goa.

3) Trek through lush tropical forests that lead to pristine waterfalls

The pool at the bottom of Dudhsagar Falls, Goa

Tropical jungle treks and abundant water is the norm in the Western Ghats. One of the famous waterfall treks in Goa is the one that leads to the mighty Dudhsagar falls that literally falls like a sea of milk from the heavens above. This trek crisscrossing railways tracks, jungles and mountain streams is best experienced during the monsoons when the waterfall is in full flow and the picture perfect green views are legendary. A couple of points on this trek offer the perfect view of the waterfall, the dense Western Ghats and the train that periodically passes right next to the waterfall. For those who cannot trek, you can opt to take a jeep through Mollem National Park and head straight to the bottom of the waterfalls.

Other popular waterfall treks in Goa are the ones on Chorla ghat, Hivre falls, Arvalem falls, Netravali falls, Valpoi waterfall, Tambdi Surla falls, Kuskem falls and Charavane waterfalls.

4) Cycle in the rain through cashew plantations

Cycling through the green roads of Goa

Most of Goa’s forests and national parks are flanked by beautiful plantations and spice gardens that make for a lush and aromatic getaway. Since most trails here are narrow, it is best explored on a bicycle. That way, you can experience the beauty of the cashew plantations, the paddy fields, the small streams, the rich birdlife and a quaint village atmosphere, slowly as you ride in the rain. This is as romantic and authentic as a rural monsoon holiday can get.

5) Soak in nature’s Dr Salim Ali Bird sanctuary

Cormorant at Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary, Goa

An estuarine mangrove habitat lies on the Western tip of the offbeat Chorao island along Goa’s Mandovi river. This mangrove forest is home to a diverse ecosystem of birds, crabs, mudskippers, plants and flowers. Herons, bittens, avocets, fiddler crabs, mudskippers and a whole bunch of water birds can be seen on this island. This island and the bird sanctuary make it a perfect place for solitude seekers, nature lovers, bird watchers and water lovers. Go here during the early hours of the morning to revel in the divine sounds of mother nature.

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