WINTER BREAK-CHILLS & THRILLS-LAKE WORLD-LEURKERBAD VALLEY-ISTANBUL-adventure in QUEENSLAND-JAMAICAN BEACHES-Travel in LOUVRE-Kenya's AMBOSELI PARK,Mount Kilimanjaro,Africa- Discover IRELAND-VENICE-Enchanting life
DISNEY Castaway Cay-Bahama-
Winter Break Holiday Destinations
If u like to slip and slide on snow without risking altitude sickness,then u may choose between some of the gentler snow sport resorts in the Alps and the Canadian Rockies.The twin mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb in Canada as the best skiing places in the world.With about 200 ski routes and 8100 acres of skiing area.U do not suffer shortage of breath that slows u down at most ski-spots because of high altitude Whistler is only about 1530-m high and the Blackcomb only 1609 m.Being far up north is the key.Both mountains offer nearly vertical slopes of about a kilometre forhe skilled skiers.The resorts also offer facilities for snowboarding and heliskiing.Night owls can ski at night on Blackcomb.However for a complete Alps holiday,Switzerland gets its nose in front.The Jungfrau region of the country offers a combination of snow sports,glacier walking,a train journey inside a mountain,and an exceedingly spectacular view of the Alps.One of the lowest and largest ski resorts in this mountainous region is Grindelwald-it is only 1033 m above the sea level and offers more than 150km of skiing paths.Nestled amidst Jungfrau,Monch,and Eiger,and Wetterhorn mountains,it still offers the thrill-seekers the option of starting from as high as 3000 m.For the relatively lazy,there is 50 km of sledging area,including the world's single longest sledge run of 15km.However ,the highlight of atrip to this region has to be a visit to Jungfraujoch,a 3.5-km high mountain pass,just below the 4.1 km high Jungfrau peak.Jungfraujoch has a weather lab and a viewing platform at its highest point at 3.7 km and from there one can see festoons of Alpine mountains through to Germany and Italy.There is also an ancient glacier at the pass that one can walk on.Astonishingly,only a train can take u to Jungfraujoch.The train travels most of its 9-km route inside the Eiger mountain's north side,which is like a wall.Enroute,the train stops to allow the passengers to take a peak at the Grindelwald valley below through a hole in the Eiger's side.
To The Bottom Of The World
Perito Moreno Glacier
If u are feeling more adventurous and are willing to swap snow with ice,go south,really south-to Antarctica.It is summertime in the southern hemisphere and the northern tip of the frozen continent is accessible to the tourists.U need at least a couple of weeks for this 1000 km trip,10 of which are taken by the roundtrip from Argentina's and the world's southern-most city,Ushuaia.This trip takes u through the Beagle Channel that separates Ushuaia in Argentina and Puerto Williams in Chile.It also goes through one of the trickiest ocean passeges,called Drake's Passage.Drakes Passage is a lumpy voyage-it is serene like cruising a lake sometimes ,and turbulent like being in a storm at others.U can catch the first sight of icebergs,three days into the voyage,as u approach the Southern Shetland Islands.U get to spend about five days exploring a number of varied islands at the northern peninsuls of Antarctica.For the bird watchers,King George Island,the largest of the Shetland bunch,is like a fantasy -it is populated with rookeries of penguins,gulls,and giant petrels.The beast lovers can stakeout near the Paradise Island for a variety of whales-Humpback,Mink,Sperm-and that whale like dolphin,Orca,also called the killer whale.If u like to do something more strenuous,there are the options of kayaking,climbing,glacier-walking,and even swimming.At the volcanic Deception Island,u can catch a glimpse of what an icy moon wood look like.It has a caldera,a collapsedmouth of a volcanic crater,with ashen glaciers flowing into it.U can collect some bragging points by taking a dip or even swimming in Antarctica waters.Another highlight of the tour is the passage through Lemaire Channel between two rock cliffs where water tends to be nearly still and reflects the surroundings perfectly.
Souther Comfort-Ushuaia Shores
The Patagonia region that runs across Argentina and Chile contains exotic mountains,sweeping grasslands,placid lakes,and spectacular glaciers.One of the must-see places in Patagonia is Perito Moreno Glacier in the southern Argentina,about an hour's drive from El Calafate town.It is a rare glacier in the world that is not retreating despite global warming.It melts into Lago Argentina((Lake Argentina) and ruptures every few years but regains its ice quickly through regular snowing in then Andes mountains.At the viewing point,u get a nearly 60-m high wall of ice visible above the turquoise blue waters of Lago Argentina.About 170-m of it stays under water.The entire glacier face runs across about 8km.U have to walk a bit to get to the front seats for one of the natures greatest shows on earth.Those willing to to strain their sinews can also climb up the glacier from the lake and get some exclusive panoramic views.If u enjoy glaciers,then there is another ice hunk in the vicinity of Calafate,Upsala.It is an hour's drive by boat.If u want to visit a penguin colony on mainland South America,u can do so ata Punta Tombo in the Valdes Peninsula area of Argentina,the largest penguin colony on the continent,with nearly 8 lakh Magellenic penguins.For the hiking-inclined,there is the trek to the twin mountain ranges of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre from El Chalten village.These treks offer a great view of rock spires and glaciers and take a day each.
If trekking in your mind ,walk up the highest free-standing mountain in the world,the 5896-m high Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania.Surrounded by dusty plains of Tanzania and Kenya,and just 3-degrees south of the Equator,the mountain is made up of three dead volcanoes-Shira,Mawenzi,and Kibo.There are many trekking routes to get to the top,but the five main ones are Marangu,Shira,Mweka,Umbwe,and Machame.Most of these involve walking through rain forests at the start,trudging up screes in the middle,and climbing into a snowy crater at the top.If u are not experienced then take the tourist route called the Marangu or the 'Coca Cola' route.Typically,the round trip to this 'roof of Africa' takes 5-8 days.
Sniff The Beast
The best killing machine nature-the great white shark.The best place for this adventure is the Shark Alley.off South Africa's southern shores.Shark Alley ,also known as the killer zone for being the favourite hunting waters for the great white sharks,is a narrow channel separating Dyer Islands and Geyser Rock.It is a day trip from Cape Town-2 hours drive oneway to Gansbaai fishing village and from there less than an hour's boat trip to the Shark Alley.
U can just chill on the exotic beaches of tropical Cuba.Its Valdero beach is rated as the best beach in the world by many.Valdero is partof a 21-km long strip of soft,white sand jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.The water here is turquoise blue and there is a constant sea breeze that keeps it cool despite unhindered sun.If u get bored of snoozing in the sun on the beach,u can go fishing or swim with dolphins.
So,get busy,do your bookings now.There is a surfeit of moneyed people now and the world is running short of places to hide from the maddening crowds.Have a good trip!
THE BEST WAY TO INDULGE-WALK AND WALK
The best thing inwhich one can indulge on a holiday is to walk around the place u are visiting.
Be it Mardrid or Barcelona,being in Spain is an extremely stimulating experience.It is not just known for its bountiful scenic beauty but also for being a shopper's paradise.
The country has an interesting mix of art and cultureBeing an amateur painter and art admirer,i can connect myself well to this place full of quaint museums and interesting sculptures.
LOVE ON THE LAKE
Think of romance and i think of the UK's Lake District.
HOT SPRING TO LIFE
Oasis:Hot springs in cool valleys in the heart of Leurkerbad
Better known for its snow and skiing,the Swiss winter offers a not too well-knon pleasure-thermal water pools in the middle of snowy slopes.In the Leukerbad area in the middle of the Valais district,ther are healing thermal springs that replenish your body.Almost four million litres of warm water gushes out of Leukerbad's several natural hot springs.The Romans were using these springs for wellness thousands of years ago.The adventurous may trek to the main source of the thermal springs in the Dala Gorge on the edge of Leukerbad.Alternativel,one can simply walk into one of the 150-odd spas in the area for an indulgent massage and healing bath in te water from thermal springs..Many spas offer the Roman-Irish style bath.This involves a series of alternating baths with steam and water of varied temperatures with subsequent rest wrapped in steamy towels.One is free to drop the towel on the premise,literally,if it makes one feel liberated.The more indulgent can enjoy champagne breakfasts in thermal water in the neighbouring Burgerbad.
Gonna soak up the sun:
Sunny days,cool breeze,blue ocean waters.The Jamaican beaches are a fantasy getaway.
CALL OF THE WILD:
To the west of Mount Kilimanjaro,in Kenya's Amboseli Park you can see the biggest bull elephants in Africa.
TRAVEL IN LOUVRE
Parisians would tell u that it takes mnths to visit all paintings and sculptures kept at Musee du Louvre or simply,the Louvre museum in the city.And they would be right.
Yet,do not get disheartened if u are travelling to Paris on a tight schedule.Doing a highlights-only day trip is one option.The best way to use your couple of hours at the Louvre is to pick a thematic section-Italian Renaissance,Islamic Art,or the trail of Robert Langdon of The Da Vinci Code.The dining-minded ,however,have the option of exploring the Art of Eating at Table:The Rituals and Symbols of the Meal,through paintings and sculptures.And hihlight seekers may pick the tour of the Masterpieces of the Louvre that takes about one & a half hours.Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Mona Lisa is a must see.Do not miss the way her outlines are softly shaded against a misty background to accentuate the light on her face.Also see the sculpture of Aphrodite,the love goddess and Michelangelo's statues of men.Even a glimpse of the Louvre masterpieces is a memory for a lifetime.
THE ADVENTURE CAPITAL
At Queenstown in New Zealand,u can race jet boats,bungee jump,ski,paraglide,and skydive,all at one place.
Blue Mosque: Istanbul hosts history and fashion with aplomb
Mediterranean nations,such Turkey and Egypt,now figure prominently on world tourists' itineraries.This Winter,the Turkish city of Istanbul has emerged as one of the favourite destinations of Tourists-more than 20 lakhs tourists visited Turkey last year.Istanbul is a city like no other in the world-it straddles two continents-Europe and Asia-and is the thriving showpiece of secular lifstyle in a country that is increasingly returing to the fold of Islamists.Young executives accessorised with Burberry jackets,Dior shoes,Gucci handbags rushing to catch the metro are as much a part of the city's takeaways as its historical monuments such as Blue Mosque or the Church of Hagiya Sophiya.For those lookin to splurge and indulge,Takshim,the city centre,is the place to visit.Kapali Carsi(Grand Bazaar)is another lively place-a covered market with over 2,000 shops.The city has a beautiful bay where u can relax on cruises and yachts.Make a day trip to the ancient of Ephesus,which was founded by the Greeks.However ,Istanul is pitched as an exclusive destination.
THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY IN IRELAND
U can take the coastal route from Belfast via the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to the Causeway.On one hand,the ruthless force of the Atlantic washing away everything that stands in its path.On the other, rare six-sided basalt rocks meshing together in a defensive fortress above the water.Back and forth they tussled and have so relentlessly since the beginning of time.Tides changing and tilting the balance in favour of one over the other.
Trek to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland-a natural world heritage site.To discover more breathtaking landscapes,visit www.discoverireland.com
If you are in the mood to give your heart away,looking deep into smiling Irish eyes,then this is just the deal for u.Thomas Cook has a Glimpse of Ireland tour for 8 nights/9days at 1,000 euros per person on twin-sharing basis.U get to visit Dublin,Mayo,Connemara,Bunratty Castle,Killarney,Waterford and the it is back to Dublin again as u finish the trip.Prices include accommodation in three-star hotels,seven breakfasts,one morning coffee at the Rathbaun buffet breakfast and five three-course dinners.The package also includes services of a professional Irish driver or guide,tours and entrance fees as per the itnerary,sightseeing,transfers throughout the programme in a private car(including driver and fuel) and English-speaking guide during city tours.Airfares and ticket taxes are excluded as are any applicable surcharges,travel and medical insurance,tips and porterage.personal expenses on phone calls,laundry,drinks etc.For details, log on to http://thomascook.in
MAGIC OF VENICE
Carnival masks and bobbing gondolas,Art galleries and an enchanting city life.Venice is all this and much more....
If u are content to merely wander the streets and absorb the magical atmosphere,Venice may be one of the best places on earth to visit.To discover its true character,u should first see the main sights-THE GRAND CANAL,St. MARK'S SQUARE and the DOGES' PALACE.The BASILICA DI SAN MARCO is one of the most visited places in Europe and should not be missed-the exotic BYZANTINE-VENETIAN structure is perhaps one of the world's greatest mediaeval buildings.The church's greatest treasure is the magnificent altarpiece known as the PALA D'ORO (Golden
Altarpiece),a Gothic masterpiece encrusted with close to 2,000 precious gems and 255 enamelled panels,was built as early as the 10th century.It is located behind the main altar,whose green marble canopy on alabaster columns covers the tomb of St.MARK.
Sailing into the sunset
A leisurely cruise along the canal from PIAZZA SAN MARCO to the FEROVIA (Train station),or the reverse,is one of VENICE'S must-do experiences.Take a vaporetto (water bus) in the late afternoon when the busy traffic of delivery boats,vaporetti and gondolas that fills the city's main thoroughfare have eased somewhat.The sheer number and opulence of the 200-odd palazzi,churces and imposing buildings dating from the 14th to the 18th centuries is enough to make any visitor's head swim.
Dreams in glass
Venice has been known for its blown glass since the Middle Ages,and the tradition continues on the island of MURANO where u can visit one of the several glass-making factories and watch masters carry on a nearly thousand-year-old trade.
For a great range of mini-panini (sandwiches or bread rolls) with all sorts of fillings,pop into Al Rusteghi near St.Mark's Square.
L'Incontro is a long-standing favourite in the busy Campo Santa Margherita area and for once the food mostly is not Venetian.Try the wonderful Sardinian specialities like culurgiones (big potato-and-mint-filled pasta pockets doused in a tomato sauce).
How to go there:Fly to Rome and then take a train to Venice.
Best season:June to September
Where to stay:Venice has a number of luxury hotels.Among them,Hotel Ca'Alvise,Hotel Ai Mori Di'Oriente and San Clemente Palace Hotel and Resort are popular.
Indulge yourself in the romance of a gondola ride at sunset.
A mid-morning coffee in Europe's finest square,Piazza San Marco
Peggy Guggenheim's former home has a fantastic collection of Cubist,Abstract and Surrealist art.
Venice has a plethora of smart clothes shopslikeEmporio Armani,Fendi,Valentino,Gucci,MaxMara and Versace.
Venice' is the city of Antonio Vivaldi.If u are a classical music fan,there are nightly concerts around the city in interesting venues such as centuries -old-churches.
Disney Castaway Cay
Disney's private island resort offers a magical getaway with a Bahamian cruise,facilities for snorkling and many more--
A haunt of World's Tourists,this luxury hotel complex is located on the tiny peninsula of Sveti Stafan in South Montenegro
The jet-setting sorts like to book themselves into the Chalet Atlantic and the Chalet Hermine-two of the sumptuous chalets here in the exclusive Hameau du Cospillot area of the French Alps.They offer personal chefs and chauffeurs.The experience at Courchevel 1850 covers extensive skiiing on the not-less-than-perfect pistes (ski trails),dropping into designer boutiques,tucking into lavish spreads at Michelin starred restaurants and partying at hip pubs,discotheques and piano-bars in the Alpine town.And at the end of it all,retire to the intense privacy of the chalets.
HOT TICKET !
Aweek at Atlantique comes at a starting price tag of 18,000 pounds.At Hermine it is 15,000 pounds.Both chalets offer ' 10 sleeps'(accommodation for 10 people).The tag takes care of daily breakfast,afternoon tea while six nights in the week u will be served a four--or five-course evening meal with fine wines.To complete the experience,the resort works hand-in-hand with companies offering private jets and helicopter transfers.Travel to and from the resort is not included in the prices.
The rich and the famous love to vacation at Sir Richard Branson's 74-acre island in the Caribbean.The island is usually hired by an individual or group,but then there are celebration weeks when it is thrown open to couples who can share it with others.Up to 28 people can put up at either the Great House on top of Devils Hill or the five Bali Houses that are dotted over the island.Thre of the Bali Houses offer al-fresco-style living.Take a look at the island(www.neckerisland.com) and u will almost definitely want to book yourself in-though u probably can not afford it.Gear up for dancing the night away to the strains of a local calypso band,sway lazily on hammocks,give in to the bliss of the Bali Leha spa or just soak up the serenity on a secluded beach.
HOT TICKET !
Rooms are priced at $47,000 per night for private hire upto 28 people,included in it are all food and beverages (alcoholi/non-alcoholic),a private chef,a staff of 50,laundry,wireless inetrnet,phones,fishing equipment including boats,local calypso band for one party evening and entertainment.However for couple bookings,the tag starts at $22,000 per couple per wek.
AL MAHA DESERT RESORT
It is socalled the 'Romance of Arabia'.The traditional Bedouin-styled encampment is in the heart of the Arabian Desert and is a 45 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport.Its Presidential Suite boasts of luxurious amenities.Read : a private pool,a large courtyard,'his and her' vanities,Bvlgari products,private staff at your beck and call and he like.Take your pick from traditional desert pursuits.
HOT TICKET !
Accommodation at Al Maha (www.al-maha.com)comes with a tag of $8000 per night which also lets u avail of two complimentary onsite activities such as falconry,camel treks,horse riding and archery.However u have to pay extra if u want to try some off-site activities that feature mountain safaris in the rugged Hajar Mountains and visits to the 200-year old village of Hatta.
HUGH HEFNER'S SKY VILLA
If price is no object,book yourself into the fun-themed hotel room (Hefner has stayed in his namesake room once)atop the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.It happens to be a two-storey villa spread over 10000 sq.ft. with a $700000 cantilevered Jacuzzi that justs out toward the LasVegas Strip.Equally fascinating is a rotating bed placed strategically beneath a mirrored ceiling.
HOT TICKET !
At a hefty $40,000 per night,it's a dream in luxury-two bedrooms with incredible views,a personal swimming pool,a sauna,a private gym,a glass elevator,huge flat screen monitors in every room,full complete bar for alcohol lovers and a poker table.
DROMOLAND CASTLE; STOP HERE TO TRAVEL 400 YEARS BACK IN TIME
The spectacular Cliffs of Moher towrds Galway city in the west of Ireland ,u can notice Dromland's imperial gateway proudly standing out amidst the lush green Irish scape.Courtrooms have given way to award winning restaurants,royal chambers into deluxe suites battlegrounds tempered to a chimpionship level golfcourse.U will be introduced to The Dromoland Castle Hotel ; rated amongone of Europe's finest five star luxury destinations and once home to the acclaimed King O' Brien.The rooms are majestic,the service and cuisine only befitting the likes of a king.U will be realized that nothing has been changed in Dromoland Castle in the last 400 years.TO DISCOVER MORE HISTORIC CASTLES,VISIT www.discoverireland.com