Monday, May 19, 2014

Top 10 tour place in canada

Are you scheduling to visit the great country of Canada but have no idea where to get started? Set your journey by including some of the most well-likedTourist attractions in the country, as measured by the number of visitors they receive each year. Each has something distinctive to offer tourists, whether you’re in the area for a few days or longer.

1. Niagara Falls – Ontario

The folks in the City of Niagara Falls in Ontario estimate that Niagara waterfall receives more than 12 million visitors every year. We truly weren’t surprised to find that it’s such a well-liked attraction – it’s one of the most famous in the United States as well. What we don’t do is attempt to decide which side – Canada or the US – gets more visitors.

2. Harbourfront Centre – Toronto

The waterfront in Toronto consists of 10 acres of pure beauty. Here you’ll find an amazing ice skating rink, a large boardwalk, and a number of great ships on display. One such ship, the 1812 War Privateer of the North Atlantic, allows visitors to come on board and look around. Approximately 12 million people visit the waterfront of Toronto annually.

3. Grandville Island – Vancouver, B.C:

Granville Island was once a major epicenter for those working in the slaughterhouse or saw milling industries. Over time the island changed and for the past 30+ years has drawn visitors to its progressively growing collection of artist studios, galleries, theaters, restaurants, and artisan shops. The island receives more than 10.5 million visitors each year and it is consider that only 29 percent of those visitors are British Columbia natives.

4. Stanley Park – Vancouver, B.C:

The 1,000 acre Stanley Park dishonesty within the city limits of Vancouver. Visitors come to walk among the cedars, hemlocks, and gardens or to watch their children in the playgrounds. There are even a few small restaurants scattered within the park grounds. More than 8 million people stroll the park grounds on an annual basis.

5. Vieux Port – Montreal

Vieux Port, also known as Old Port, draws nearly 6 million visitors each year. The riverfront is completely separate from the nearby Port of Montreal but has its own distinct and attractive allure. During the summer months there are circus shows and dances while during the winter months patrons stop by to see the Montreal High Lights Festival and fireworks shows.

6. Exhibition Place – Toronto

Exhibition Place is a large urban park spanning over 192 acres of land. The park sits on the seashore of Lake Ontario and frequently hosts special shows, including the Canadian National fair. The Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music calls Exhibition Place its home year round and is proud to cater to the 5.2 million visitors who flock to the park every year.

7. The Forks – Winnipeg

The Forks is another unbelievable park found at the point where the Red and Assiniboine rivers come together. The park has a lot of history, having once served as an Aboriginal settlement and then later as a major fur trading stop. Today the park draws more than 4 million annual visitors to its skateboarding park, plazas, and concerts.

8. Banff National Park – Alberta

Banff National Park was the first national park established in Canada. The park consists of 2,500 acres of land in the Canadian Rockies and frequently attracts nature lovers to its glaciers and meadows. There are two towns within the park: Banff and Lake Louise. Both are filled with galleries, museums, and cultural attractions designed to occupy visitors in between treks into the wilderness. Approximately 3.3 million people visit the park, to explore and to ski, each year.

9. Canada’s Wonderland – Maple, Ontario

Canada’s Wonderland is home to the largest wooden roller coaster subsistence in Canada. It’s also the location of the only “flying coaster” in the country – the Time Warp. More than 3.35 million people visit this incredibly fun theme park each year and, according to news sources, the park is still expanding.

10. Mont Royal Park – Montreal

Mont Royal Park is situated at the highest point in the city of Montreal. Within the park you’ll find a ski trail, an oratory, and a Roman Catholic Basilica – amongst many other attractions. The park, named for the city itself, captures the attention of more than 3 million visitors each year.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cheap tour in India : Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, approximately 200 kilometers south of Delhi.  The most common way of getting here is to fly to Delhi, and then arrange a car and driver to make the rest of the trip.  It is a grueling 5-hour drive from Delhi, though supposedly, a new expressway is open or will soon be opened that will cut travel time in about half (it had not been constructed when we visited in 2009).  You can usually arrange a tour guide and vehicle through a travel agent that specializes in India, or can take your chances and try to arrange one when you land at the Delhi airport.  Generally, you will pay between $20 and $50 per day for the car and driver, depending on the type of vehicle you want and the number of people in your group.

You can also travel by inter-city bus (not recommended) or by train from Delhi.  Numerous local and express trains run between Delhi and Agra, with travel times ranging between 3 and 6 hours, with fares in an A/C compartment ranging from $15-25 per person one way.  Check the Indian Railways website for full schedules and fares; unfortunately, foreign credit cards or bank accounts are not accepted for payment, so you'll have to either call a travel agent or try your luck once you get to India if you want to take the train.

Finally, Air India does offer flights from Delhi to Agra, for about $60 per person one way.  However, flights only run 3 days a week, so double check and make sure that the planes are running on the day you plan to be in Agra, and more importantly, on the day you plan to return.  Air India also has a history for spotty service and timekeeping, so keep that in mind.

How to Tour the Taj Mahal/How Much it Costs
Back in 2009, entrance fees were 750 rupees ($12.50 at today's exchange rates) for foreigners, or 100 rupees ($1.60) for Indian nationals, or in our case, people who look local enough to fool the ticket taker.  I would imagine the fees are pretty similar today, as historically, India hasn't exactly updated its prices on a regular basis.  Regardless, entrance is a bargain, relatively speaking.

Unless you have friends or relatives in Agra that you plan to stay with and have help get you around, I would recommend arranging a tour through your hotel if you are spending the night in Agra, or through a travel agent if you are driving, taking the train, etc. from Delhi.  Your tour guide will take care of obtaining tickets, and give you a thorough tour of the premises at your own pace.  If you have arranged a "package tour" in advance that includes other sites in Agra or Delhi, the cost of the tour guide will be included in the package price, though the tour guide (as with pretty much everyone else in India) will expect a tip.  The going gringo rate is about 250 rupees per person.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can just have a taxi or your driver drop you off at the entrance, and hire a tour guide at the gate.  If you go this route, MAKE SURE TO NEGOTIATE A PRICE BEFORE GETTING STARTED; otherwise, you could be in for a rude surprise when the guide demands an outrageous sum of money at the end.  Guides at the Taj Mahal are more expensive than other tourist sites, but you still shouldn't pay more than 500 rupees per person.  Start out at, say, 200 per person, and go from there.

Once you get inside, beware that hawkers will attempt to entice you to be your personal photographer during your tour.  They will take nice photos, but again, remember that you will be charged for the privilege, so negotiate a price upfront.  We once got burned in Shimla by this scheme, and had to cough up 3,600 rupees for a bunch of (admittedly nice) photos.

Where to Stay
Two hotels in Agra tend to be considered THE places to stay if you want to overnight in Agra.  The Taj Group offers The Gateway Hotel, located approximately 3 km from the Taj Mahal.  Prices currently range from $70-150 per night, with prices generally lower during monsoon season (June-September).  If you REALLY want to treat yourself, the famous Oberoi Amarvilas offers stunning views of the Taj Mahal right from your room - but you will pay for the experience, with prices ranging from $265-625 a night, depending on the season.  If neither place strikes your fancy, there are a multitude of 3-4 star, Western-quality hotels that you can get for less money; contact a travel agent that specializes in India for more details.

When to Go
The best time to visit is November through February, when the nights are cool, the days are pleasant, and rainfall is rare.  By far the best month to visit is January, when daytime highs in the 70s make for a pleasant walk around the gardens (however, beware of fog in Delhi, which can cause major delays with air and rail transport).  April through mid-June tend to be extremely hot, with afternoon temperatures often exceeding 110 degrees, and crowds tend to be an issue because it coincides with summer school holidays.  Monsoon season (mid-June through September) is actually a good time to visit.  Crowds are smaller, hotel prices are much cheaper, and this far inland, you're more likely to run in to an occasional afternoon thunderstorm than anything else.  Of course, if you get unlucky, you could end up in town the 2-3 days per month that it rains continuously the whole day.

Dawn is generally regarded as the best time to visit the Taj Mahal, as the early morning light produces unique colorations and shadows among the buildings.  Be aware, though, that this means arriving at the Taj in the neighborhood of 5:30 A.M.  If you aren't a morning person, plan accordingly.

Other Things to Consider
Be especially cautious outside of the Taj Mahal grounds.  In addition to being a dump in general, Agra has quite possibly the most aggressive collection of beggars and hawkers anywhere in India.  We were followed for a good quarter mile by both someone trying to sell us a carriage ride, and someone trying to sell costume jewelry, which was an unnerving experience.  Stay in groups and just keep walking if a hawker tries to bother you.

In addition, as is the case pretty much everywhere in India, your driver will take you to a carpet shop, a jewelry shop, a curio shop, or a combination of the two at some point during your trip.  Sometimes you can get good stuff, but remember that your driver is receiving a kickback from everything you buy, so shop accordingly.  It goes without saying, NEVER pay list price; start off at least 50-60% less than what the tag says.

And of course, drink only bottled water, and be careful eating from street stalls, especially if you're on the first few days of your vacation.

Other Things to See in Agra
Agra is also home to Agra Fort, a typical Mughal-era fort similar to the ones you will find in places like Delhi and Jaipur.  I love historical places, and Indian forts in particular are really an experience for their architecture and stories, so I would recommend visiting.  If you have more time, you can also visit Fatehpur Sikri, the site of a fort and also briefly the capital of the Mughal empire under Emperor Akbar during the 16th century.  It is located approximately 35 kilometers from Agra, and will take 45-60 minutes by road.

Some visitors also visit Agra on what's called a "Golden Triangle" tour, which includes stops in Delhi, Agra, sometimes Ranthambore National Park (tiger reserve), and Jaipur, which range in duration from 3-10 days. 

What do in Goa on a short trip with friends? What to see? What to do? And how to get there from NITK Surathkal?

Well, on being asked these questions time to time, I have decided to document it, and put it up here, on my blog. So here’s what I would tell you if you had to ask me these or other related questions. And you can use the info relevant to your doubts.

Age old question: Where to stay? North Goa or South Goa?
=> Well, there’s not much of a doubt actually. Go straight to north Goa. It doesn’t take one more than a week in Goa to realize that’s where the fun is. You are basically comparing Panjim and Madgaon, and Panjim is a better place to hang out. Also south Goa has beaches, nothing more special than the north Goan beaches and a few antique heritage sites.

North Goa has Panjim, which is better place to stay; also most of the top beaches of Goa are along the north coast, namely Calangute, baga, anjuna, etc. So go north. Many guys have gone south and then told me they regretted it.

Where to stay? Panjim or Calangute?
=> Stay in Panjim:
Pros:    1. Better food options, specially for veggies.
            2. Cheaper accommodation options available during off season

Cons:   1. No night life whatsoever.
            2. Just one beach in Panjim city.

=> Stay in Calangute:
Pros:    1. Plenty of options for late evening activities (clubs, shows, galleries, etc)
            2. Most popular beaches located close by.

Cons:   1. No great food options. Mostly goan food. Problem for veggies.
            2. Accommodation can get expensive during season (eg: December)

My say: If you have transport arranged for, stay in Panjim. Calangute is just 15 kms away. You can always drive back. If you’re walking your way around, stay in Calangute.

Public transport in the form of buses and autos exists. But the bus system isn’t as good as Mangalore, there aren’t a lot of buses going into the inner parts of the city. Autos are out to loot you, don’t expect them to stick to the meter. 

If you have a driving license, you could rent bikes, scooters or even a car. Car and bike rental shops available, or ask at whichever hotel you stay. They will be able to provide it to you right there.

What to check out?
In Panjim, check out Dona Paula and go to Miramar beach. You could visit Panjim church if interested. Something interesting to do would be to go for the Evening Cruise which is available near the bus stand, below Mandovi Bridge. There are quite a few cruises available, which take you for a spin along the banks of the Mandovi River, and you can admire the city as you do that. There’s music and other fun along with it too. It’s not as expensive as it is perceived to be, tickets should be less than Rs. 200 for sure.

You could also catch a movie at inox in Panjim, or go for Go-karting in Verna, but if you’re from a metro or something, maybe you wont like to do that.

Try boating at Mayem lake. Approx 20 kms from Panjim, if you use a ferry boat.

Churches: Check out the 2 churches located on either side of the road at Old Goa. One of these churches is the one which houses the preserved body of St. Francis Xavier. Nearby is St. Augustine’s cathedral, it’s the ruins of a large cathedral from Portugese times. It’s a heritage site now. The main wall of the ruin makes most people say wow. There are a lot other churches you could visit, ask the hotel guys about it or google it.

Temples: Plenty of big temples located specially in South Goa, google for “temples in Goa” for more details.

Beaches: Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Miramar if you’re in Panjim, Colva if you’re in Madgaon, Palolem etc. it’s a state with 105 km stretch, and it’s full of beaches. These are just among the popular ones.

Visit Fort Aguada at Calangute. It’s popular for the fort, the jail and the lighthouse. The view from the lighthouse is a personal favorite of mine.

Nude Beaches: Now this is the question I have been asked most number of times. Since 1st year of engineering! Well, its obvious nude beaches do not develop coz of the locals or Indian tourists, its coz of the foreigners. So you have to be in Goa, in the season when they are. But beaches where you’ll find nudity in high probability are Arambol, Betalbatim and Assolna. (I have personally not been there). Nudity is also found on popular beaches like Calangute during season time.

Ask your hotel for info on boats with transparent floor to view coral reefs and about paragliding / parasailing. These are value for money in the off season or mid season times. So are other water sports.

If you are really more interested in making the most out of your day at Goa by sightseeing, rather than chilling out, visit the tourism office near Panjim bus stand and inquire about their 1 day Goa sightseeing packages. It could be 1 day north Goa or south Goa, or the whole state itself. Again, it’s a government venture, so it won’t be too expensive and variable.

Clubbing: Mambos and Tito’s are the most popular clubs in Goa. And there are plenty more in the same area.

How to go to Goa from NITK Surathkal?

=>        Passenger train from Mangalore to Madgaon at 7.30 am (Surathkal station)
            Matsyagandha express from Mangalore to Mumbai at around 1:30 pm at Surathkal. It was at 3:30pm in the recent past. Do check before you decide.
            Netravati express at 12:45am or so from Surathkal station. Drops you off early morning at Madgaon.
My Say: Take the morning passenger train. Though you’ll have to wake up early and make it to the station, the train is comfortable and the fare is just 50 bucks. You can’t get better than that.

Don’t like train? Book a bus from reddy’s. Bus options: Ganesh, Paulo, KSRTC, Mahabaleshwar. Take Ganesh. Insist on Ganesh unless there is absolutely no option. These buses are clean and reliable. Paulo has had incidents you don’t wanna hear about.

Well, I may have forgotten about certain issues. So if you do need to know, leave a comment and I’ll reply. There are quite a few websites which provide details, so check them out as well. This is just a native’s perspective. The above info is not googled or obtained from other sources, it’s just what I’d tell you if you asked me.

So if you do come to Goa, Have fun. That’s just the way of life here.

Cheap Tour to Cox's Bazar, the longest Beach in the World

Cox's Bazar is considered as the longest beach in the world, with a total of 121 kilometer length sea beach. The beach is located in the south division of Bangladesh, also known as the Cox's Bazar district. The name Cox's Bazar was derived from its founder, Captain Cox. He founded the very attractive beach in 1798. The Cox's Bazar beach started only as a small port and health resort.

Though the beach is considered to be the longest beach in the world, it has been the least crowded among the other beaches. Here, visitors can enjoy the relaxing breeze of the ocean and the peacefulness of the place. The weather here is always in a good condition so people can visit here anytime of the year.

The Cox's beach bazar definitely has the finest leisure it can offer to each of its visitors. People can take a timely stroll along the lengthened stretch of the beach and enjoy the view of the amazing seascape. Visitors can also enjoy water sport activities like scuba diving, surfing, and try some boat rides.

The beach is well appreciated during sunsets and sunrise, where people can witness the sea as it changes its colors twice in a day. There are also establishments around the beach where visitors can shop for fine hand-made clothes, shoes, dresses, and other fancy showpieces. Cox's Beach Bazar also offers the finest foods. There are restaurants around the area offering the finest foods for its guests.

There are also other wonderful places to see around the Cox's beach bazar. One of these is the beautiful Himarachi waterfall, located 18 kilometer south of Cox's Bazar sea beach. This is the most visited place in the district, with its beautiful refreshing green hills and the wonderful water fall, where visitors can bathe and swim apart from the sea itself. Another is the Moheshkhali Island near the Cox's beach bazar coast. The island can be reached via speedboat. Here, visitors can view the breath-taking view of the island. With the bright green color of its mangrove forest that will surely amaze everyone who come to see the place. This is definitely the next best thing to explore after one's beach trip.

Cox's Beach Bazar really is the place best recommended for people who seeks for serene and relaxing vacation. Every Cox's Beach Bazar trip will surely please and satisfy everyone who visits here.

Montego Bay in Jamaica

Montego Bay, located on Jamaica’s northwest coast, is the capital of the parish of St. James and the second largest city in Jamaica by area and the fourth by population. It is a tourist destination with duty-free shopping, a cruise line terminal and several beaches. The city is backed by picturesque low mountains.  Columbus sailed into the area in May 1494 he was the first European visitor.

Does food define a culture, and a culture the food?

Culture is a learned way of life shared by a group of people, which includes language, food, celebrations, behaviors and interactions artistic expression, the arts, sport These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group.
From observation and various studies food has been known to be part of one’s culture however is it a very significant factor that promotes culture? Or is it insignificant?
Many may argue that food does play a very significant role in culture and it does define their culture and don’t intend to change their eating habit, taste, style of cooking in order to socialize.  Rather many would stick to their own ethnicity to avoid embarrassing moment of having to say “I don’t like that” or “What’s this I am not eating that” 
However many people are becoming more diverse sharing others people food but not necessarily their belief etc.

Question is does food have an effect on you or perhaps it is hardly likely to influence your social preferences? Let’s share our comments.