Best time to visit Greece, is NOW!

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Travel at Greece in May 2015, just before the economic crisis

Travel at Greece in May 2015, just before the economic crisis

With alarm over a possible Grexit reaching near hysteria, there’s never been a better time to show solidarity with this beautiful, fascinating country. And the welcome will be warmer than ever, says Kevin Rushby There are some practical objections, however, to visiting during this particular crisis. I don’t want to carry so much cash. There’s money in the banks, but many operators are advising taking more cash. It might be necessary: time to dig out the old pre-ATM money belt? But many places, hotels included, are still accepting credit cards. Nothing will be open. Rational voices from within Greece say this is untrue. Food will be hard to find. Will the sardines not be in the sea? Social unrest could happen, I might get stuck. It can happen anywhere. It has happened in Mumbai, London, Paris, Bangkok, Istanbul…if you are scared of such events & fussy about food…better stay at home! Here are some images from our family holiday at Greece, just before the “crisis”. Itinerary & Travel tips at the end of the post.

Itinerary: Day1: Reach Dubai: 9W 816 IXE 1635 BLR 1725; EK 567 BLR 2045     DXB 2305 Day2: Dubai to Athens: EK 105 DXB 1005    ATH 1405, Stay at Fresh Hotel, Athens, Stroll in Plaka, Night out in Athens 1950hrs to midnight Day3: Delphi day tour 0750 (return to Athens by 2000hrs) Day4: Athens city tour (with Acropolis and Museum), Shopping at Plaka. 0750 PM Lycabettus- sunset Day5: Reach Santorini by flight. OA 6354 ATH 1015 JTR 1100, Stay at Andromeda Villas, Imerovigli, 84700 Santorini, Walk to Fira town, dinner at Fira Day6: Day Tour Santorini 0845: King Thira Tour with cruise (Volcano, Swim in hot springs, Thirassia island, Sunset at Oia) Day7: Car rental at Santorini & Island round trip (including the visit to Pyrgos, Kamari etc) Day8: Santorini: Walk in Oia, Evening at the Spa Day9: Santorini to Dubai: OA 6355 JTR 1140 ATH 1225EK 106 ATH   1300    DXB 2135 Day10: Dubai to Mangalore: EK 564 DXB 0330 BLR 0905, 9W 815 1505 IXE 1555 Tips for travel: Book Hotel, Ground transport & Packages on Prepaid basis, prior to leaving your country, Carry Euro currency for shopping and eating out. Credit cards & Cash cards should work in most restaurants. Stay tuned with news for latest updates, stay away from political protests. Travel plan: Alefiyah Motiwala (Zest Tours), Assistance during previous visit: Ms Barbara (Athens Express)

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Barcelona: Gaudi Magic at Sagrada Familia Basilica

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Nature versus Gaudi

Milan Centric Italian tour 2015

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Food, Fashion & Football…Milan is famous for these! However, just few hours away from Milan, are the most magnificent places of interest. Lake Como– a glacial lake, with its stunning views, luxurious villas of celebrities and the rich & famous….Cinque Terre, a UNESCO heritage site, comprising of five seaside villages, connected by a railway (with lost of tunnels!), tortuous walking paths with breath taking views… Cinque Terre, due to to its location was hidden from the rest of the world. Connectivity was done in 1930`s in the form of railroad and roads connecting the villages from the mountain side. (Purpose of travel: attending WCO IOF ESCEO conference at Milan Congress centre- MiCo.)

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Tour credits: Planning: Alefiyah Motiwala, Zest Tours, Chauffeured tour of Cinque Terre organised by Angelo Perut, Belt Limousine System Srl.

More info on itinerary & things to do coming up soon.

Postcards from Netherlands!

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Netherlands!

Bike & Boat: Two wheeling is a way of life here. It’s how Amsterdammers commute to work, go to the shop and meet a date for dinner. With all the bike rental shops around, it’s easy to gear up and take a spin. If locals aren’t on a bike, they may well be in a boat. With its canals and massive harbour, this city reclaimed from the sea offers countless opportunities to drift. Hop in a canal boat (preferably an open-air one) or one of the free ferries behind Centraal Station for a wind-in-your-hair ride.

Wander into the Past: Amsterdam is ripe for rambling, its compact core laced by atmospheric lanes and quarters. You never know what you’ll find: a hidden garden, a shop selling velvet ribbon, a jenever (Dutch gin) distillery, an old monastery-turned-classical-music-venue. Wherever you end up, it’s probably by a canal. And a café.

Admire Art: You can’t walk a kilometre without bumping into a masterpiece in the city. The Van Gogh Museum hangs the world’s largest collection by tortured native son Vincent. A few blocks away, Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures fill the gloriously restored Rijksmuseum.

Guilin, China

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Guilin (桂林; Guì lín) is a city in North Guangxi, China. It is a scenic town and one of the best-known tourist destinations in China. There are many scenic places within short traveling distance of Guilin. These include Longsheng with its famous Longji rice terraces; the Lijiang River, a scene of which is printed on the back of ¥20 bank notes; Yangshuo, a small county downstream from Guilin; Reed Flute cave and many other river formed cave formations…and much more. This makes Guilin an excellent base for exploring the northern end of Guangxi Province.

Guilin is a beautiful city. The town center is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and studded with sheer sided karst mountains. Outside the city center, real village scene unfolds. The main industry in the city is tourism so the city is much cleaner than other Chinese cities.

Guilin itself is like most other medium size Chinese cities, other than that it has a large number of western-style hotels, tourists and is relatively free of air pollution. Many Chinese domestic tourists also flock to this area. What makes it special is its proximity to many picturesque limestone mountains and formations. What is disturbing is the construction of apartments in the outskirts of the city centre…

Reach by flight from Shanghai: 135 minsA simple three day itinerary can give an introduction to this stunning natural beauty! Day1: Explore Reed Flute Cave, walk around the lakes. Day2: Day cruise of Li River (fron Zhu Jiang Wharf 27 km from Guilin, drive of 40 min), Lunch on board, explore Yangshuo old town. Return to Guilin by evening. Explore elephant trunk hill, get the birds eye view of Guilin. Day3: Longji Rice terraces

Yang Shuo 20 RMB image Reed Flute Cave Reed flute cave Swan Lake Old town Ideal locale for photoshoot Guilin City Guilin city park Cruise braft Around the lake

Snowshoeing Hike @ ValDisere, France

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Been there, Done it…amazing in retrospect!Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the peace and quiet of snow-filled landscapes. Nature-lovers  can admire some of the most breathtaking scenery that the mountains have to offer, savour the back-country that begs to be explored. Easy to learn, snowshoeing opens up a world of wild valleys and craggy summits…

I was lucky to get ace snowshoeing leader Michel Gavet (http://raquettesvaldisere.com) as my guide. On 24th January 2012, at 0900 hrs we started our snow shoe hike. Little over 20 minutes of drive from my Hotel L’Aigle des Neiges at ValDisere, we reached the new skiing town of Bonconseil. After donning the oversized Raquette (snow shoe- works by the principle of distribution of weight over a larger area- thus preventing sinking in fresh snow) over my trusted Skechers, i was given a 5 minute tutorial on walking on snow. It looked easy, but after few steps I realised the difficulty of wide based gait…also realised the difficulty in walking on a slope, where your right foot is at a lower level than the left…First few steps were like a duck walk. Fresh snowfall compounded my problems…it would crumble if you don’t place your foot flat on. First destination was L`Echailon, with few summer houses (abandoned during winter). Second river side village was Chenal Gite with St Lawrence Church. Here we took a 20 minute break for a hot cup of Lemon Tea brought by Mr Gavet (Lemon Tea never tasted so divine- whether it is the altitude or the setting, which made it so tasty, I still do not know!), Orange and sandwiches. Our base here was the balcony of an abandoned house. Mysteriously even in freezing weather, there was a tap with running water! Third stop was at Le Monal – probably the highlight of the snow shoe expedition…with stunning landscapes. Landscape changes quite quickly in the mountains! Then started the painful downhill walk…which was a bit faster. Reached the start point at 1530 hrs. I could not wait to get rid of all the layers of thermal wear…After a sumptuous dinner at the Hotel and a warm hot water soak in the bathtub, slept like a baby for next ten hours!

(Logistics: Private expedition with Mr Michel Gavet with hotel pickup & drop: Euro 280 (Group tours cost less Euro 80/person), Peak Performance Thermal Jacket Euro 300, Thinsulate Gloves Euro 48, North Face thermal headgear Euro50, Overall experience: Priceless! Carry Enegry Bar, warm beverages, fruits for the refreshment break. Dark glasses with UV protection, sun screen are absolute essentials for personal care). Make sure you have a good camera, which works even in extreme cold. My Sony Nex500, did well!

Click here: Earlier post on ValDisere

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul !

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kirankatte

Istanbul! Colorful, historic, chaotic, mesmerizing city torn between Asia & Europe…The strategic position gave its strength as a hub of trade in the past…Many who transit through Istanbul are confused…what to do in Istanbul?

If you have a short transit, just do Blue Mosque, Aya Sofiya, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace & of course a visit to the Spice Bazaar!

An unexpected rain during winter forced me into this amazing bazaar…and I was lost wandering inside its long yet crowded corridors. Built in 1664 to help pay for the construction of the Yeni Camii, or the New Mosque, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar has for centuries been a marketplace for food products. It’s name comes from the spices that came through Egypt via the renowned Silk Road out of central & southern Asia. Nowadays, vendors still sell such items here – fresh spices, fruits, nuts, meats, & candy, as well as other…

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