NEW YORK CITY-CAPE TOWN-VIENNA-PRAGUE-HONG KONG-SINGAPORE-DUBAI-LIMBE,CAMEROON-St.PETERSBURG,RUSSIA-ATHENS,GREECE-QINGDAO,CHINA-DOHA,QATAR-EGYPT,MISSORE-ISTANBUL-TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD-VENICE-SIMPLON ORIENT EXPRESS-TAKE A HIKE-ADVENTURE-Walking in Britain-BIKING IN CHINA-
WATERY WONDER-THRILLING SEA SAFARIS-Whale watching near BOSTON-SHARK DIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA-ISTANBUL-A Visit to OXFORD is to Experience Living History-
NEW YORK CITY
MECCA OF MODERN CULTURE
Strolling in Times Square,watching a Broadway show,taking a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty,popping in to see the brilliant works on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,and shopping on Fifth Avenue.u may have been there.But there is more to New York City than just that.Take for example,the Cloisters-America's only museum dedicated exclusively to medieval European art and architecture or the Top of The Rock,the marine-themed observatory atop the Art Deco skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza,which gives u the best view of the Hudson and East rivers among other NYC landmarks.
Wandering through the areas of East Village,SoHo and TriBeCa,lead u to discover multi-ethnic eateries and artists' studios.
The high point of Cape Town is its unique flat-topped Table Mountain.One of the must-dos in Cape Town is a drive from the bottom of Table Mountain to Cape of Good Hope,the south-western tip of the continent.It passes through Chapman's Peak drive,one of the most scenic drives in the world with the sea on one side and the steep crumbling mountain on the other. Cape Town is also Africa's wine country.Durbanville,on the outskirts of the city,is a good place to stay for wine seekers as it is close to some of the oldest wineries in the Cape such as the 17th-century Durbanville Hills Winery U must visit Desmond Tutu's church if u feel thirsty.
VIENNA A GREAT ARCHITECTURE
Europe's leading cultural centres and one of the prettiest cities.Vienna flaunts its 1,500-year vintage every bit through its varied museums,such as Funeral Museum.However must-see museums include the Kunsthistorisches Museum that displays paintings from 16th-18th centuries,including Rembrandt and Pieter Brueghel.The inner city attractions-Romanesque Ruprechtskirche,theBaroque Karlskirche and St.Stephen's Cathedral.
Situated on the banks of the River Vltava,the city is home to eclectic architectural styles-the Convoluted Gothic,the ornate Renaissance,and the functional Communist.From the Prague Castle one can walk down to Charles Bridge,where one can treat oneself to traditional Czech beer.
HONG KONG FANATSYLAND
From cruises to amusement parks teeming with marine life to spritual retreats,discovering HongKong could be an unexpected experience-
VICTORIA HARBOUR CRUISES:
Approach HongKong from the sea and u can get a spectacular view of the glittering new skyscrapers.There are moring,afternoon,evening and sunset cruises and each follows a different route and has a different itinerary(by one or two hours for getting a cruise).U can travel on boats like the 1920s-style Shining Star ferry.Or, u could try one of the Chinese Sampans.
HOT TICKET:Rs.900/- to Rs.1400/- per head for a cruise.
OCEAN PARK:Ultimate high of plunging down from a point as high as 20-storey building is just one of the thrills in store at Ocean Park,situated on the southern side of HongKong.Watch out for the marine theatre,the largest in the world.,where u can get a glimpse of all types of marine life from sharks to penguins.There is also hair-raising ride at the amusement park spread out over 870000 sq meter.And if u like heights hop on to the Ocean Park Tower(72m high)and catch a panoramic view of the park as the tower rotates fro the ground to the top,amazing!
Hot Ticket:Rs.1000/- for adults and 500/- for children (age 3 to 11),free entry for senior citizens and children under age 3.
DISNEYLAND:Located on the northern tip of Lantau Island the park offers all the usual Disney attractions.It has four themed parts including USA,FANTASYLAND,ADVENTURELAND and TOMORROWLAND each of which offer different magical journeys.And there is something for Broadway music lovers with shows like Festival of the Lion King and The Golden Mickeys being staged.
Hot Ticket:Tickets cost between Rs.2800 and Rs.3100,2100,2400 for senior citizens aged 65+,free entry for children under 3.
NGONG PING:Skyrail ride take u Ngong Ping village located on top of a mountain plateau on Lantau Island ,adjacent to Lantau's Big Buddha.U can vist Tea house to see the Chinese tea ceremonies.There is the Monkey's Tale Theatre animated presentation.In an open courtyard u can watch the story of three monkeys on a voyage of greed,gluttony and friendship.
HOT TICKET: Rs.100/- for for children and 200/- for adults.
MACAU MAGIC:55 minutes away from HongKong.There are ferries after every 15 minutes to cross.Macau is worth seeing for its new giant casinos and portuguese -influenced culture.The Venetian is a giant Las Vegus style casino and hotel .The newest attraction is the huge childrens' corner where kids can try out the Golconda Ride or watch movies on a giant screen.
Hot Ticket:Rs.1200/- to Rs.2000/- (to&fro) per ticket for the ferry rides between HongKong and Macau.
There are plenty of night clubs in the city.Much of them concentrated in the Wan Chai and Central areas of the city.Lan Kwai Fong,a small square in the Central area.For the restless,there are 262 islands around Hong Kong,less than half-an-hour ferry ride away.
While the Sentosa Island,the Duck boat ride and Merlion are the main attractions in Singapore,the Jurong Bird Park is highlight for bird enthusiasts.
As the sun begins to dip and the day's heat gives way to a balmy coolness,drive off to the giant sand dunes 45 km away from Dubai on Hatta road.U can round off your evening by treating yourself to a feast of belly-dancing and Bedouin dinner under the desert sky.
Located an hour west of capital Yaounde.On a clear day,u can see right out to Equatorial Guinea-a hilly,oil-rich island that rises out of the AtlanticThe adventuturous sort could try conquering Mt.Cameroon,which towers behind the tranquil town.For dinner,dig into a sublime local speciality-fried fish and baked plantations,served with what the locals simply call "special sauce".
The city was built from sctratch by Peter I, a 17th-century tsar.The best way to enjoy is by walking through the city centre.Main attractions are the Bronze Horseman monument and the Winter Palace across the Neva River.
Amainstream tourism spot for Europeans.In fact,the spectacular ruins of Parthenon that sit atop the Acropolis are visible from almost anywhere in the city.The walk down the Acropolis leads to the ancient theatres of Herod Atticus and Dionysius.U can get to Monastiraki Square,one of the most vibrant places in the city,where u can sample some of the best souvlakis- the Greek version of the burger.U can go for a swim in the brilliantly azure Aegean Sea,or see the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon in Sunio,or visit the Benaki Museum.
It is the home of the famous Qingdao (Tsingtao) beer.Make a trip to this city in the Shandong province special.Qingdao has a beautiful sea front with the Yellow Sea to its east.
Holidaying in a desert city in summer might seem like an oxymoron.There are 11 souks or open-air markets close to each other between the city airport and the southern corniche,the crescent road along the harbour.Don't ,of course,forget to try out delicious Arabian food.From a tabbouleh (chopped parsley,mint and crushed wheat) to a hummmus to a shawarma to dessserts,such as Umm Ali(type of bread pudding) and mehalabiya(pudding with pistachios and rose water),the gourmets can have their fill here.
An Egyptian Diary
Cruising the Nile on a plush ship while watching the sun set over the Land of Pharaohs.....Sounds romantic!
Egypt,especially Cairo,is both a budget souvenir and a kitsch-shoppers'dream come true.The bustling bazars of Egypt are a training ground for haggling.
Must Picks:Alabaster pyramids,lapis lazuli king Tut,granite scarabs for good luck,black basalt Ramses,onyx Pharaonic cats and papyrus paintings
COLOSSI OF MEMNON
Egypt largely has Mediterranean cuisine but in big cities like Cairo.
Must Trys:Foul(Egyptian dry beans),molokhia (soup of molokhia leaves and chicken) or mashi (assorted vegetables stuffed with rice and meat)
Getting there:Catch a flight to Dubai and then change for Cairo or fly by Egypt Air to Cairo.
Best Time To Visit:October-May;December to February is cold and rainy while March-May is famous for dust storms
THE SERENE NILE
Monet Talks:The maximum amount of Egytian currency that can be brought in or taken out is 1000 Egyptian pounds.
Wear Wise:Loose cotton clothing is essential.Carry water bottle,sunglasses and eyedrops for the dust when visiting the temples and pyramids.
,Must Visits:LUXOR for Luxor Temple ,Karnak Temple,Colossi of Memnon,Hatshepsut Temple
ASWAN for Temple of Kom Ombo,Temple of Edfu,Philae Temple
ALEXANDRIA for Castle of Qaitbay,Pompeii Pillar,Catacombs of Ei-Shouqafa,Amphitheatre of Kom Ei-Dikka and Hurgada and Sharm-EI-Sheikh for a spot of diving,boating and snorkelling .
PALACES ON WHEELS
How about taking a trip aboard two of the world's greatest trains?
Possibly the grandest train journey of all is the Trans-Siberian Railroad,which even has a Faberge egg named after it.The most famous route is a 9,200-km journey from MOSCOW TO VLADIVOSTOK in Russia's far east.For the economy conscious , it has the four-berth Kupe,and the two-berth Spalny Vagon for the luxe-loving.It is wise to load up on books and music for the six-day trip.
VENICE-SIMPLON ORIENT EXPRESS
There is no train in the world to match the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.The original version of the train took place people across Europe from 1883 when it ran from Paris to Giurgi in Romania.It became a legend in the 1920s and 1930s when it ran from Paris to Istanbul and was patronised by royalty and celebrities.Actually,a British Pullman train takes u across the channel to Paris,where u board the blue and gold coaches of the Orient Express.Overnight u travel through France and the next day u enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful Swiss and Austrian hills and countryside.U reach Venice in the evening.
IN THE TRAIN OF WANDERLUST:Travel aboard these trains is full of old-world charms
TAKE A HIKE-ADVENTURE
If walking is too slow for u,hop on to a bike and do a cross-country trip,better way to know a country.Here are a couple of suggestions:
Walking in Britain
Britain has amongst the most picturesque countrysides in the world.Locals have routed,plotted,graded and mapped some of Britain's most beautiful walks for the benefit of visitors.If u are looking for a gentle walk,head to to the Peak District in northern Derbyshire.Trails such as Deepdale and Upper Dovedale,usually 6-12km long,take u through beautiful limestone cliffs and green dales over hills.U can head up north towards the beautiful lake district of Cumbria.Among the trails,the one to Langdale valley is particularly absorbing.Also do the 8-day West Highland Way trail in Scotland then stick to the scenic Glencoe and Kinghouse section.
BIKING IN CHINA
Start early from Beijing to avoid the morning rush.Take the North-westerly Badaling expressway to the Great Wall 70km away.The ride gets steep after this,so have a bike with the right gear ratios.Another 35km will take u to the Kangxi plains.Here u can rent a traditional Mongolian yurt for the night.The next day,take a horse to the plains and the nearby reservoir.Cycle out by afternoon towards Longqingxia,a holiday resort near a gorge with a river ,take a burge on the river,and u can get off at some points for bungee jumping,zip lining and rock climbing.The next day will bring a 120-km ride back to Beijing.
THRILLING SEA SAFARIS
Nothing can be more exciting than watching whales and sharks,live
Whale watching near BOSTON
During summer , whales migrate from the warmer south to the cooler north,travelling about 4000km along the coasts of America.U can take a catamaran from the Long Wharf next to the New England Aquarium.It can rateher chilly as u go farther into the Massachusetts Bay,carry extra clothing on the trip.In catamaran,the whale-watching area is 40-50km off the coast.The odd whale may even swim across the bottom of your catamaran allowing u a closer look.
SHARK DIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA
U leave for the habitat of South Africa's native great white sharks from Klein Bay near the Gansbaai village.The shark-diving boats take u to Dyer Island about 8km inside the sea..Once u throw chum into the water,which brings up the sharks to feed.And if u are the courageous kind,u can get into a steel cage and get lowered amongst the feeding sharks for a really close look.
WHALE OF A TIME:Experiencing the world of great sea creatures pleases tourists no end
For nearly 1000 years,as Byzantiurn and Constantinopole,Istanbul was the urban center of the Western and Near Eastern worlds,with a population of around 1 million -10 times the size of its nearest European rival.Istanbul is a great merchant city on the crossroads of two continents;loathed the perpetual motion of a city whose salesmen never sleep.Ataxi can take u the coast road from the airport,entering the city by its richest land route,which follows the railway of Agatha Christie and Graham Greene along the Sea of Marmara to the Sirksci Station,terminus of the Orient Express.Only Islam's architects,the artist-builders of the Ottomans,perfected the equation between art and nature and got the scale right.The city's topography has been its salvation.The blue Mosque,named after the glowing Iznik titles of its interior,is one of Istanbul's most spectacular sites.The taxi drivers have a sixth sense for the flagging stamina of the sightseer and are always there when u need them.Every great city has at least one legendary hotel and Istanburs is the Pera Palace,where Agatha Christie wrote 'Murder on the Orient Express'and international spies,including Mata Hari met to conspire and the pre-war guest list reads like 'Who's Who in Europe'.The Grand Bazaar ,with its domed and painted ceilings,is a beautiful boilerhouse of consumer lust.
Turkish Airlines,today has a fleet of 64 aircraft and flies to a total of 77 international destinations. There are trains from Sofia,Belgrade,Bucharest and Budapest(connections from Munich and Vienna)to Sirkeci Station in Istanbul.
Fishing boats and cruisers share the Bosphorus with international liners from Europe.
Tourists should,however ,avoid visiting mosques midday on Friday because of Muslims Pray.
Men should avoid wearing shorts as well.For women,bare arms and legs are not acceptable inside a mosque.
In Istanbul,traveler's checks are rarely accepted.The streets of Istanbul are more safer than USA/WESTERN EUROPE.
OSLO - Viking Art
Rising out of water and looking like an iceberg,Oslo's new opera house is an architectural marvel.It was first planned 127 years ago.
Japanese Buddhist priests ride an outrigger canoe as they release lanterns dedicated to victims of war and natural disasters during the Buddhist Floating Lantern Ceremony in Honolulu,Hawaii.
TORONTO - Yonge forever
Explore Toronto's main artery.Yonge Street,a 1900-kilometre-long expression of the city's vibrant and welcoming spirit.
Walking Through Wisdom
A visit to Oxford is to experience living history. Housing the Buddleias library to Hog warts, the town’s culture is ever expanding
We arrived at Oxford on a particularly sunny day in April. Our first stop was Magdalene College, which has some of the most beautiful buildings and grounds in Oxford. Originally founded as Magda-lene Hall in 1448, the college sits amid a hundred acres of woodlands, riverside walks and lawns.
HISTORY IN MOTION:
The town has a wonderful selection of quiet country pubs, traditional inns and lively bars serving British classics as well as modern cuisine. If British food doesn’t tickle your palate, you can always opt for Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Thai or Middle Eastern fare. We walked leisurely past New College and under the Bridge of Sighs, a 1914 copy of the famous bridge in Venice. We soon came across the Radcliff Camera, quintessential Oxford landmark and one of the city’s most photographed buildings, a spectacular circular library that was built in 1748, named after John Radcliff (1652-1714), an Oxford graduate and royal physician to William and Marr. The Sheldon Ian Theatre situated nearby is the university’s main public building. It was erected in 1665 to a design by Sir Christopher Wren, at that time professor of astronomy to provide an appropriate secular venue for meetings and public ceremonies of the university. Visitors may climb to the cupola for impressive views of the town.
Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their building, some of which have remained in use since the Middle Ages. Among them the Buddleias, the chief among the university’s libraries, has a special place.
First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library erected by the university in the 15th century. It has expanded with increasing momentum over the last 150 years to keep pace with the ever-growing accumulation of books and papers. Books here can be read only on the premises. This restriction is taken seriously. Even King Charles I was refused permission to borrow a book!
OF WIZARDS AND WONDERLAND: The Divinity School at Buddleias Library doubled as the Hog warts Sanatorium and Duke Humphrey’s Library as the Hog warts Library in the Harry Potter films. And the dining hall of Christ Church College will look familiar to fans of the bespectacled wizard.
The dining hall, with its long wooden tables and impressive portraits lining the walls, is truly majestic. The hall is sometimes closed between noon and 2 pm and so times your visit when it is open.
1. Explore the colleges on foot in the company of a qualified guide.
2. Climb the 99 steps to the top of the Car fax Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the Dreaming Spires.
3. Shop for kitchenware, stat-ionery, books, games, toys or ornaments as the en-chanting Alice’s Shop.
4. For an excellent introduct—ion to the history behind the city and the university, visit the Museum of Oxford.
5. Oxford hosts plenty of clas-sical concerts in beautiful venues such as the Sheldon Ian Theatre. Grab hold of tickets in advance!
Christ Church is one of the largest colleges in the university and, at the same time, the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford. Founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1524, the college was home to King Charles I during the civil war. His court sat in the deanery and the royalist parliament was con—vened in the Great Hall.
Among the students at Christ Church were John Locke, W H Ayden and Albert Einstein. The college has also produced 13 prime ministers and numerous cabinet ministers and civil servants!
DID YOU KNOW?
Blenheim Palace, home to 11th duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Chur-chill, is located a few miles away from Oxford. Set in 2,100 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brow, the exquisite palace of offers a memorable day out. So, why not combine your trip to Oxford with an outing to the fabulous Blenheim Palace?
Another alumnus was mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson or Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland for Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church from 1855-1891.
A walk around the college is a cultural exercise. Artists Edward Borne-Jones and William Morris created stained glass windows for the cathedral. The ancient seven-ton bell in the tower, named Tom or Great Tom, chimes 101 times daily at 9.05 pm to mark the curfew time of the original 101 students.
How to go: Take an Air Indian flight from Kolkata to London. Oxford is only 56 miles away from London. There are many buses plying between London and Oxford.
Best Season: July-August
Where to eat:
1. Treat yourself to hot and spicy Indian delights at Mirabai Restaurant on St Michael’s Street. Prices are moderate.
2. If you want something straight out of Naples, step into Mario and Mario on Cowley Road. Prices are fairly reasonable.
Where to stay:
1. The Tree Hotel situated in the tranquil village of iffley. It is a mere 1.5 miles away from Oxford and has an excellent restaurant. Rooms are $ 60 onwards, tradition-al English breakfast included.
2. Victoria Hotel on Abington Road is a pleasant 15minute walk from the town center. Rooms are $ 60 onwards.
The Great Quadrangle, known as Tom Quad, with its statue of Mercury, is the largest in Oxford.
It’s an experience all right!