FEEL THE MANCUNIAN SPIRIT!

Most Indians would know Manchester for its passion for soccer! However, you must get under the skin of the city and explore it yourself to know what it can offer to an experimental traveller. Whether it’s swaying to alive band performance by the likes of Oasis, Joy Division and the Stone Roses,attending an international festival or witnessing a major football match,there’s a crazy variety of things to do in Manchester at all times. In fact,the buzz of the place is so contagious that you’d want to stay out all night, exploring its vibrant food and drink scene. The city’ several new independent bars and restaurants play cutting-edge live music and serve everything from sushi, baos and pizzas to fish and chips and steaks! What gives Manchester its true character is its diversity and the multicultural population. More than 200 languages are spoken in the city-that proudly houses a Chinatown, a gay village as well as a Curry Mile that infamous for its fantastic wealth of South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi) restaurants outside the Indian subcontinent.Energetic, entrancing and individual, Manchester is definitely worth a few days of exploration.

DID YOU KNOW? Manchester is a city of many firsts. This is where atom was first split, world’s first passanger railway was opened and where the modern computer was invented. It’s also the birthplace of vegetarianism!

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BELGRADE – A BALKAN BEAUTY

Visit Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, for an immersive walk from the country’s turbulent past to its liberated present

Let's meet by the horse
“Let’s meet by the horse” 
If someone in Belgrade tells you this, you must know they are referring to the sculpture of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic III riding a horse. It is one of the most popular meeting points in the city. 

A famous thought expressed by Serbian writer Duško Radovic says, “Whoever was lucky enough to wake up in Belgrade this morning can consider that he has achieved enough for life today. To insist on anything more would be unseemly.”

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BIKANER – A CITY OF GOLDEN SANDS & STARRY SKIES

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For me, the desert town of Bikaner has always been synonymous with famed Bikaneri bhujia! Overshadowed by its celebrity cousins – Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, the remote town in Thar desert remains fairly under-explored as a holiday destination. The ravishing red is lost somewhere, amid hues of blue, pink and golden! However, only when I happen to explore the vibrant city on a long weekend break with my partner, I discover that it has a lot more to offer other than the sev-like, crunchy snack packed in shiny foil packets.
After alighting the small Air India flight at Nal airport which is also the Bikaner Air Force Station, we are on our way to Narendra Bhawan which is around 16 km from the airport.
Local woman in Bikaner
During the drive, we see camel carts treading on clean, wide roads, independent houses (each one constructed in its own unique style) awash with colour and village belles sauntering in flowing skirts, with a ghunghat drawn over their faces, right till the chin. Our very first impression of Bikaner says a lot about the flavour of the city! We are delighted to see that it has a genuine untramelled vibe and a certain rustic charm.

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WHY FOOD TOURS ARE THE BEST WAY TO GO AROUND A NEW CITY!

If there’s anything humans have in common, it’s the love of food!

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Sushi, sashimi and ramen in Japan, pad thai in Thailand, cheese and chocolates in Switzerland, beer and sausages in Germany, bunny chow in South Africa, handmade pasta and traditional pizza in Italy and the list can go on.

For many, food is one of the first things that comes to mind when planning a trip to a new country. And what better than learning about the history, cuisine and culture of a place while stuffing your face with delicious food, in the company of a knowledgeable, fun-loving local?

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WALK THROUGH HISTORY IN JERUSALEM

Dome of the Rock in jerusalem

The spiritual energy of the holy city of Jerusalem, therapeutic stillness of the Dead Sea, magnificent beauty of Galilee’s green hills and valleys, impressive archaeological sites and Roman ruins, traditional and new-age Israeli cuisine, religious and cultural devotion of the Muslims, Christians and Jews and the country’s compelling politics – it all leaves a lasting impact on different facets of your life.

A land of diversities, Israel guarantees an experience of a lifetime through the rapid shift in landscapes, weather, behavioural patterns and religious sentiments of people. In less than three hours, you can be transported from a primeval desertscape to aquamarine waters of the mediterranean coast.

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CLOSER TO NATURE IN KODAIKANAL

A retreat tucked away in Palani Hills, Kodaikanal is ideal for nemophilists who find happiness in adopting the pace of nature

Layered hills of Kodaikanal
Layered hills of Kodaikanal

When I last visited Kodaikanal – a little hill town in Tamil Nadu, I was merely ten. With faint memories of enjoying a boat ride with my family, I am ready to head here again.

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This time around, I wish to explore its lesser-known, hidden gems in the company of my partner. The idea is to stay away from the tourist trap and take in the serenity of Kodai’s dense forests, lakes and high mountains. 

 

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A BUCKET-LIST CHRISTMAS BREAK IN ROVANIEMI

Snow-clad pine trees, Arctic Circle, Santa Claus, reindeer sleds, festive cheer; Rovianemi – the capital of Finnish Lapland – has all the ingredients for a quintessential Christmas holiday

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

Utter the word “Christmas” and you can instantly sketch a convivial winter scene with a pine tree bedecked in baubles! Add to it a man with twinkling eyes, snow-white beard, round jelly-like belly and a bundle of toys flung on his back! If there’s a place where this picture truly comes alive, it’s none other than Rovaniemi, the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus” in Lapland. This holiday season, connect with your inner child by planning an authentic Christmas experience in the Arctic circle! Read more

“BUDGET TRIP TO SWITZERLAND” ISN’T A DREAM

Yes, you can enjoy million-dollar Swiss views without burning a hole in your pocket!

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Switzerland conjures up many images. The best cheese in the world, magnificent snow-covered peaks, melt-in-mouth, smooth and creamy chocolates and rolling green hills dotted with grazing cows and wooden chalets. If there is one thing Switzerland isn’t synonymous with, it’s the word “budget”. The Alpine country is frequently featured in the list of “world’s most expensive countries” and a poorly-planned Swiss trip can certainly cost a fortune. However, a bit of research, smart timing, and a knack for cost cutting can make your trip a lot less pricey than you think.

Quick tips for saving big bucks in Switzerland

1. Swiss travel pass. To buy or not to buy?

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CUSCO – FOR EVERY CULTURE VULTURE

Often regarded as the gateway to the “lost” city of Machu Picchu, Cusco in Peru is a powerhouse of culture and a living monument to Inca history

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Enter the colonial city of Cusco and the first thing that strikes the eye is its archetypal architecture and stone-walled alleys. For individuals used to living in fabricated urban spaces and cities dotted with skyscrapers, a visit to South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city is nothing short of time travel!

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