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.

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

Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite- Greek Goddess of Love!

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You will find a Mangalorean in almost any part of the World! When I decided to go on a family vacation far away from the home – at the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus, little did I realize that I can end up with a tour operator from Mangalore!

Yes, meet Mr Rudolph Crasto, a Mangalorean who is happily settled in Cyprus. His wife Ms Constantina (Tina) helps him manage his tours, accompany tour groups. Together, they offer tailor made holiday packages at Cyprus. With their meticulous planning of tour destinations, which include visiting ancient Greek amphitheaters, Byzantine churches, Spectacular waterfalls and busy yet relaxing beaches of Cyprus. The best part of their package is the meticulous “food” planning. Every meal, is custom selected, with local food and beverages. Whether it is tasting a farm fresh signature “Haloumi cheese” or a “slow food” – Meze spread…which you can savour over couple of hours…they offer it all!

If you are thinking of a next family holiday or a get together of friends, think of Cyprus, leave the rest to Mr Rudolph Crasto! (Rudolph Crasto, SEA-HAT travel @ tours ltd. Email:    info@seahattravel.comseahat@zenonndc.com)

Some highlights of the package I chose for my family:

Day1: After a relaxation following Mangalore-Mumbai-Amman-Larnaca flight, an evening at a Greek Tavern – Alonia at a village, transfer from the hotel in a Bed Ford old bus. Farm fresh food – lavish Meze spread, with live local entertainment by dancers, acrobats…

Day2: Mountain Safari with Land Rover. Stopover at Skarinou (Olive oil museum), Lefkara village (Silver and Lace), Omodos (Lunch: Local food with Pasta Rice, Egg Plant, Curd and Mint Salad, visit to the Ancient Wine Press), Avakappa (Byzantine church of Amatiki), Millomeri (waterfall). Evening at the Indian restaurant, a session of Gelato…

Day3: Quick stops at St Lazarus church at Larnaca, Hala Sultan Tikis Mosque. Proceed to Nicosia – the capital of Cyprus (Lefkosia) : Laiki Geitonia (The Laiki Geitonia traditional neighbourhood is a pedestrian area, just inside the city walls) museum and visit to the famous Green Line, which separates Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus (Nicosia is the world’s last divided capital. The barbed wire and guardtowers of the Green Line cuts the town in two, with the northern side being the capital of the self-proclaimed Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.), Visit to the Arch Bishop Makarios Palace & Museum, Lunch at the “Just Italian” – memorable Italian food. Evening at the sea on the cruise dinner, with local food & traditional Cyprus wedding enactment!

Day4: Visit to the beach town Limassol, Phassouri (Citrous plantation), Kurion (Amphitheater), Episkopi army base, Petra Tou Romiou (Birthplace of Aphrodite- goddess of Love!), Pillar of St Paul, Pafos Harbour and Meze Lunch at Christos (lasts for 3 hours, 26 dishes brought to you in succession, unlimited food for only 15 Euros!), Shop at the Municipal Market of Paphos (beware: you might get lost in this place).

Day5: Return with fond memories of Cyprus

Things to do apart from sights & food: Stroll on a local beach in the evening, to witness the laid back music and BBQ loving locals. Nightlife: Active at Larnaca, Limassol, Ayia Napa. Take a vintage bus party (involves ride into an isolated spot during sunset, set up BBQ, and the party begins! Contact: http://www.boombustik.com)

Things to buy: Souvenirs, Replicas of Greek statues, Lefkara Lace & Silver,  Loukoumia (Cyprus Delight – like Turkish Delight), Ceramics, Sesta (Wheat stem weaving), Pottery

 

A tribute to my Guru : GSShenoy

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A friend of my father Dr VSA, G S Shenoy was way ahead of his times in many aspects. Brought up in the conservative temple town of Udupi, he was the first to get the formal training in JJ School of Arts, Mumbai. Though he ran a photo studio (Shrungar), his primary focus was art, art promotion, experimenting with various media (yes, way back in 1980`s, he was playing with aluminium sheets, ceramic tiles, fevicol & sea sand!). He pioneered the concept of art gallery in Udupi. He was instrumental in speeding up the construction of Venkatappa Art Gallery at Bangalore. He brought celebrities in the field of art & music to Udupi, to share their wealth.

He was never content with these activities alone. As children we would never forget the lively Children`s Day painting competition held every year, with music, great prizes and the Payasam from Ambalpadi Temple! He was the backbone of SKAC (South Canara Art Council), which brought together talents like U Ramesh Rao, U Bhaskar Rao, UJ Devadigar, Mr Sherigar, PN Achar, Milind…

He was a great organizer of art events with attention to detail. He knew not just the art, he also knew the art of mounting, framing…most of his paintings were framed by himself! Gurudas (son of GSS) and myself used to enjoy the excursions with GSS for “spot painting”, Evenings at his home in Laxmindranangar with live Hindustani music concerts…

In spite of his busy schedule with the photo studio (he used to work in the dark room as well), various art shows in metro cities, hosting big names in the art scene…he still found time to teach us at “KalaBharathi” art foundation.

Orthopaedic surgery is not only a science, but an art. I am sure, the formal art training in my childhood has helped me in my academics (scoring better marks than one deserves- due to neat diagrams; many of my college record books have been kept on display at departments!), and at my work related to Orthopaedics & Arthroscopy.

Know more about G S Shenoy…@ http://www.gsshenoy.com