Monthly Archives: April 2014

Willemstad: The Golden Rock



Willemstad: The Golden Rock

Willemstad is a separate constituent country and a part of the Kingdom of Netherlands. It is an island residing in the southern Caribbean Sea and is also known as the capital of Curacao. The city was founded in the 1500s by the Spanish people and was named as Santa Ana. Later in the 17th century, the Dutch traders renamed the city as Willemstad because of its natural harbour. Previously the city was the capital of Netherlands Antilles before its dissolution in the year 2010. The city has approximately 150,000 inhabitants. The city is actually divided into four quarters: First is the Punda and the second is Otrobanda; both of these are disjoined by the Sint Anna Bay. The third one is the Sacharloo and the fourth one is the Pietermaai Smal quarter which is on the Waaigat harbour. UNESCO declared the city as a World Heritage Site as a result of its glorious architecture and harbour entries.

willemstad

The capital city is filled with casinos and this is the main attraction among tourists. Other than the casinos, the colonial architecture of Willemstad is very charming as it is designed in Dutch style and thus grabs much tourist attraction. The entire city is pastel coloured and is also known for its red roof houses. Some work of Archaeological research is also established there. Tourists who want to visit this place can travel through flights. The only major airport in Willemstad is the Hato International Airport. The national airline of Curaccao- Insel Air serves this airport. The two main quarters- Otrobanda and Punda are connected through Queen Emma Bridge and this bridge is used by cars and busses to enter the city. Another bridge Queen Wilhelmina Bridge is also nearby but is not under the proper condition to use.

The main tourist attraction in Willemstad is the Saint Anna Bay. The Saint Anna Bay is the heart of the capital. The Bay is deep enough to allow cruise ships to run between towns. There are two bridges that span the bay. One is Queen Juliana Bridge which is modern and is about 50 m high i.e. 164 ft. The bridge is also accompanied with a 4 lane modern highway. The highway is large enough to permit the largest mega-cruise ships to sail under it. Another bridge is the Queen Emma Bridge which is pedestrian only bridge. This bridge opens after every half-hour and allows the ships to pass through it. The Queen Emma Bridge is a beautiful pontoon bridge.

estatua_bolivar

The Brionplein square is dominated by the famous statue of Pedro Luis Brion. The statue is actually situated on the edge of the pontoon bridge at the Otrobanda quarter. The statue is of Brion who was born in the year 1782 in Curacao. He was best known as a war hero and was recognised as the favourite son of the island. He was a soldier and an admiral under the leadership of Simon Bolivar. He showed his bravery in the fight of independence of Colombia and Venezuela also. This statue of Pedro Luis Brion symbolises the strength and courage of a soldier.

mainmuseum

An unusual and very famous museum at Klipstraat is Museum Kura Hulanda. The museum is one of the largest in the Caribbean. The museum is situated between some 19th century buildings and is dedicated to Jacob Gelt Dekker. It is being said that the museum symbolizes the passion of this man. During his young age only he collected many historic, prehistoric and some cultural artefacts which are from the Africa, Americans and Middle East. One of his collections is an interior reconstruction of a slave ship which has tasted the fossils, fertility dolls, stone sculptures and Ivory Coast. The whole tour of this museum is guided and you will find it slow in the beginning but will quickly become an interesting one. Tourists have to pay some entrance fee also.

Climbing Christoffelberg, the highest mountain on Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

For bird lovers, the next attraction is the best one. Christoffel National Park, which is located in Savonet is the biggest park in that area, features the orchids, cacti, bromeliads and also the Dutch Leewards’ highest point. There are many different bird species as well as animals that are very rare to be found in an area like that. Curacao deer, donkeys, iguanas, wild goats and many other species of birds live in the arid countryside. Another park which is very famous is the Saint Christoffelberg. This park is open for all on weekends as well as weekdays but people have to pay some entrance charges to visit the garden. The park is very much decorated with beautiful flowers, trees and some old plantation. There is a museum also which is recently renovated and has some great artifacts on display. The view of the spectacular landscape is no doubt stunning. The place is very much picturesque; so you will find many people clicking white and black photographs.

Curaçao_Sea_Aquarium_Dolphin_Show

People who literally want to explore the marine life should visit Curacao Seaquarium which displays around 400 different species of marine invertebrates along with unique sea lions, sharks, turtles and dolphins. This large place displays the biggest aquarium ever in Curacao. To have a larger than life experience one should take a step ahead on this aquarium. Apart from the above famous places there are many other interesting and beautiful places to visit. In short, Willemstad has many things in store for everyone!!

Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius



Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius

Flic en Flac 1

Mauritius, one of the Mascarene Islands once ruled by pirates is today best known for its reasonable luxury hotels on white and pink sand beaches. It is land of Indian temples, colonial houses, botanical gardens, bird watching, sea diving and what not! The famous writer Mark Twain once said: ‘You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius’. Although the locals seem westernized, Mauritius is a conservative culture. Though a small island travelling through Mauritius needs time as the island has in store a lot of extraordinary and fascinating sites and adventures for its visitors. One such destination that keeps its audience in awe is Flic en Flac!

Flic en Flac, originally a local fishing village where people from nearby villages only came to bury the dead is today a popular tourist destination in Mauritius. The place has some of the best beaches in Mauritius. When explorers first arrived in the 18th century, the place was known as Fried Landt Flaak (Old Dutch meaning Free and Flat Land). It is situated between the districts of Albion and Black River along the west coast of Mauritius. It is the second most populated tourist area in Mauritius after Grand Baie. It is about 15 km south of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. Flic en Flac offers the best scenic view in Mauritius. It is a one hour drive from the airport to Flic en Flac. The place also has a good bus route leading to key locations In Mauritius. It is linked via road to Quatre Bornes in the East and Tamarin in the South.

Flic en Flac 2

The village is very quiet, pleasant and charming with beautiful white sand beaches and blue lagoons. The long sandy beach stretches down the west coast to Tamarin. It is one place where you can see horse riders ambling along the shore early in the morning and watch the sky turn pinkish orange late in the evening! A lot of minimum budget restaurants and supermarkets also contribute to making stay at Flic en Flac extremely comfortable. It is a fun place to spend your holiday indulged in water sports, afternoon walks and basking in the beaches. Flic en Flac also offers a quiet setting for complete relaxation.  The 65-villa Taj Exotica overlooking the Tamarin Bay offers a free daily meditation session and a four hour ‘dinacarya’ treatment: a combination of ayurveda, yoga and a vegetarian meal that will help in relieving stress. One can even go picnicking under the shades of the Casurina and Filao trees that border the coastline.

Over the past few decades, Flic en Flac has changed from being a secret paradise known to a small number of travellers to to a popular holiday destination. Today the village is home to a vast range of hotel networks, from 5 star deluxe networks to family owned bungalows, apartments and villas catering to the needs of its customers. Hilton Mauritius, Golden Beach Resort, Villas Caroline, La Pirogue and Pearl Beach are some of the main hotels found along the Flic en Flac beach. Of these hotels, the Hilton Mauritius offers the best scenic view of the village surrounded by reefs and lagoons. The hotel has an indulgent spa with face and body treatments, sauna, yoga and tai chi. Other highlights of Hilton Mauritius include indoor and outdoor games, cocktail lounge, aqua-bar and four unique Mauritius restaurants.

Flic en Flac 3

The Tamarina Golf estate that gives one an exceptional golf experience is only a 20 minute drive from the resort. Those not interested in golfing can go quad biking at Domaine de L’Etoile or trekking in the Black River Gorges National Park. Also, the Casela Nature and Leisure Park where you can discover the unique flora and fauna of Mauritius takes only a 10 minute walk from Hilton. The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden and the Medine Sugar Factory are other important tourist destinations of Flic en Flac. While Hilton Mauritius lies in close proximity to the important tourist destinations of Flic en Flac, it is only a short walk from Villas Caroline to the Casino, shopping mall, bank, local stores and the best beach club in the Indian Ocean.

Flic en Flac 4

The beach is also famous for its excellent dive sites. Sun Divers based at the La Pirogue hotels offers the best diving experience. Boat cruises, fishing excursions, undersea walks and submarine safaris are other adventurous activities available at Flic en Flac. Since Mauritius is where the east meets the west, the food served is a mixture of Indian, European and Creole cuisines. From posh and elite restaurants to fast food stores, Flic en Flac has an assortment of dishes to offer! The most popular among them is Jeanno Burgers, a small beach hut that serves home-made burgers and hot-dogs with a Mauritian smile. The Ocean Restaurant, on the other hand serves the best seafood in Flic en Flac. Chez Michou, located along the coastal road offer the best yummy ice creams and tasty pastries. Delicious and mouth watering Italian food is served in Chez Pepe.

Walks and strolls along the 8 km long beach is an unforgettable experience. The long stretches of white sand, diving and palate pleasing restaurants are incomparable. Flic en Flac is the best place to spend a nice and relaxing holiday in an enchanting environment. Unique in its style and tradition, Flic en Flac provides a very inviting atmosphere.

Grand Bazaar, Turkey: The World’s Hub Of Trade



GRAND BAZAAR  covered market, grand bazaar  

Grand bazaar is a shopping world within itself. Centuries ago, grand bazaar was created after sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles. Grand bazaar is the world’s largest covered markets. Grand bazaar is located in the district of Fatih, city of Istanbul, Turkey.

Being the world’s first shopping malls and the largest covered markets, grand bazaar raised its name in the hub of trade and commerce. Grand bazaar with its more than 3000 covered shops and more than 60 lanes is famous for the items like the traditional furnitures, antique jewelry, Turkish carpets, leather goods, lanterns, clothings, antiques, belly dancing costumes, copperware, handbags, briefcases, ceramic objects and souveniers and silverware. The culture of old traditional Istanbul and turkey clearly reflects in all the shops through their collection. With so many shops under one roof selling the same stuff, bargaining is a pretty common practice here. If your deal is not settling in, you can always try other shops around, as there is no limitation of the shops and products in the whole of grand bazaar. So, one must brush- up their bargaining skill for the best deal in grand bazaar.

grand bazaar, istanbul

In grand bazaar you can find everything of Turkish origin giving you a natural feel of you being in turkey. With its beautiful features like tiled arches and other beautiful decorative touch ups all around the bazaar, it distinguishes it from other such markets. Grand bazaar being so huge and large is organized nicely for the comfortable shopping experience. Though  Grand bazaar has many gates, there are four main gates and shops are arranges according to their wares, like all jeweler’s together, all leather shops together, all carpet and furniture shops together and names of the street are also according to the products the streets are selling.

The speciallity of grand bazaar is for selling the beautiful ancient stuff like carpets, ceramics etc. The specaility of beautiful carpets and kilims are that they were a part of Turkish nomadic household thousand years ago, the beautiful design on the carpets too reminds you of the famous cartoon Aladin, which featured the ancient life in turkey and Istanbul.lanterns and carpets, grand bazaar

Turkey has been famous for its colored tileworks since 16th centuary and hence the ceramic itmes like bowl, excellent plates, tiles etc are very famous in grand bazaar and its beauty attracts many tourists to shop those ceramic stuff having its ancient importance and for its uniqueness.

ceramics at grand bazaar

Grand bazaar is also famous for its Turkish designs in jewelry for its big, bold and old designs. Necklaces, brooches, belts etc are finer and have more delicate work. Brassware and copperware in grand bazaar are beautiful, attractive, decorative and inexpensive showcasing the origin and ancient designs.

Kilims is another traditional ancient product of turkey available in grand bazaar, kilim is a woolen mat without a nap like in a carpet. The earthly colors and bold designs of kilims are valued very much in turkey. Kilim is known as Turkish hallmark and is considered as inferior to carpets. In ancient times it was much cheaper than the carpets but now in today’s times its value has increased and is priced accordingly.

kilims and carpets, grand istanbul

Other interesting novel items available in grand bazaar are leather apparels, meerschaum, it’s a soft white stone carved beautifully into smoking pipes and cigarrete holders and also used in making necklaces and brooches, it has different uses according to the purpose. Nazar bonjuks is the other interesting thing in the market of grand bazaar, known as Turkish evil eye beads it has a traditional value and significance, a beautifully handcrafted item is known to keep the bad evils away and people wear them for good luck. People keep them in houses, cars etc.

evil eye beads

With the glance of such shopping items and the glossy tomes of grand bazaar, you will be lost in this grand liveliest market of turkey. The tiles,glasses, carvings and the beautiful tomes makes it more attractive. And since it’s the ancient of all it has more stories to tell with the significance importance of history. Grand bazaar has survived many earthquakes and fires over the centuries and has still stood strong and vibrating enough attracting lakhs of people and tourist everyday. Along with the shops, grand bazaar also has a police station, mosques, post-offices, banks etc. With such huge market for shopping which will take almost a day to finish, there are many restaurants and cafes available for the refreshment of the people. Grand bazaar thus becomes a perfect spot for business meetings and a meeting joint as it has all facilities. Though there are many things to add in grand bazaar just to enhance its beauty and significance more, a restoration project was done to renew its infrastructure and solve other problems of heating and lighting systems and thus to make it more strong to overcome any future calamities and to shine for years and years.

Grand bazaar is open on all days except for Sunday and other few holidays from 9 am to 7pm. Grand bazaar is easily accessible from Istanbul through private vehicles or trams. No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit to one of the world’s heritage and world’s largest market, grand bazaar!

Rann Utsav : Glory of Kutch



Rann Utsav : Glory of Kutch

white sand desert

‘Kutch nahi dekha , toh kuch nahi dekha,’ aptly said by the people and the Gujarat tourism.

Rann utsav is the festive glory of kutch. Rann utsav is a three month festival on the white desert starting from December and continues till march. Prolonging for three months, this annual winter festival shows its visitors the myriad color and true exploration of the culture and tradition of rann of kutch.

Apart from the hills, mountains, seas, lakes etc. in India, nature has also got its different phase altogether to treat the eyes of any nature lover. Rann of kutch is famous for its natural beauty white sand desert, located in the north part of kutch, having its various diversities of its appearance from dawn to dusk. Salt on the sand hues  of white desert,  glitters and dazzles like diamonds under the sun. The view of the white desert is just marvelous in the night on the full moon day. Since summers in kutch are very hot with the scorching sun, the best time to enjoy the beauty of place and to celebrate the festivals is winter. Thus, the ran utsav is taken place in winter.

moonscape of rann of kutch

Rann utsav is organized by the Gujarat tourism department. It’s held every year in the winters during the full moon time. The festival has lots of cultural programs, events and carnivals for three months. It reflects the essence of culture of kutch, with all its traditions and ethnical values. Its highlights the vibrant bright colors of kutch and gujarat with its diversities of the area. Various numbers of cultural events going on since morning like folk dances, music, pageantry, carnival processions, craftmanships etc keeps the visitors busy with the spirit of the festival. There are many exhibitions and stalls selling the traditional clothes, handicrafts of that particular place.

folk dances,rann of kutch

To enjoy the beautiful culture of kutch and the festival of rann utsav one must take a package of one or two night stay. Rann utsav provides amazing tents for staying with all the facilities and amenities. There are two variety of tents, one is non- ac tent with the tariff 7500 rupees and other is ac-tents ranging from rupees 8500. The experience of staying in tents rather than those luxury hotel rooms is completely different. There is no inconvenience at all as the tent provides all facilities that like of hotels. But the experience is just mindblowing and cannot be described in few words. It adds five stars in the experience of the rann utsav. Starting your day with the splendid view of white desert and nights with the beautiful moonscapes and the sand which reflects the blue sky along with all the events and activities gives you fun and enjoyment more than what you expect. Rann utsav altogether gives you the experience to discover the incredible india, as the whole of your experience is unique unlike other vacation spots where u stay in hotels, visit few places and come back with shopping and dinner.

gujarats CM gazing the sunset, rann utsav

kite flying carnival

Rann utsav keeps you engaged with its own cultural activities and other activities  like sit by the evenings along bonfires, watching artisans work live, dancing with the local folk dancers and folk music and enjoying  camel safaris. The display of the traditional stuff by local artists and NGOs of gujarat is worth buying. Rann utsav attracts many tourist every year and they are left with in incredible culture and festive spirits and bright colors of kutch and experience a different part and beauty of nature. Spending two to three days in ran utsav gives you the complete package of incrediable experience. You can enjoy kite-flying, witness the grandeur sunset, other night events, camel safari to kala dungar and you can watch the indo- pak border according to what package you select. The advance booking is a must to enjoy all the activities.

camel safari, rann utsav

Bird lovers gets a chance to explore the chance of watching different birds, specially the flaming flamingos and other migratory birds. The pristine beauty of white desert comes alive in the festival of rann of kutch where people celebrates life. The white desert is brightened with bright colors and festive zest during this time and with the music and dances in the arid lands of kutch one can just feel the varsity of kutch and historic significance of its culture.

Along with the cultural and festive zest, rann utsav has one more reason to fall in love with the culture, food is just the thing to explore. Unlike other places you don’t get a multi-cuisine food options here. You get a chance to explore the delicacies of traditional food of kutchh and Gujarat. The delicacies like khaman dhokla, sev tamatar ki sabzi, undhiya, bhakari, daal- dhokli etc are the most popular dishes you can try with. It gives your taste-buds a whole new experience like the place. Enjoying the lunch and hi- tea time and dinner on the white deserts with all the carnivals and festivals gives you a perfect treat.

Rann utsav is accessible through roadways, a 2 hour drive from bhuj, which is nearest to the desert with any private vehicle or the buses or vehicles provided by the tour agency. Prior advance bookings are required to experience the splendor view of lifetime.

Circle of sight: London Eye



Circle of sight: London Eye

Observation structures are a common feature of cities that attract tourists. It gives the tourists a bird’s eye view of the city. New York’s Empire state building, Toronto’s CN Towers, Eiffel Tower in Paris, are few of the many observational structures found around the world. But London can boast about its unique observational structure, which is a giant Ferris wheel.

Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye stands 135 meters (443 feet) tall and has a diameter of 120 meters (394 feet). The London Eye was formally inaugurated by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on 31st December, 1999. However, due to technical problems it was not open to public till 9th March 2000. Originally called the Millennium Wheel, it was constructed to mark the dawn of the new century. The idea behind making the structure a wheel was to signify the turning of the century.

London_Eye

A lesser known and a very interesting fact is that the London Eye had a predecessor, the Great Wheel. The Great Wheel was based on the famous Ferris wheel at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893. Construction work began on the wheel in March 1894 and it was opened to passengers on 17th July 1895. It had a diameter of 300 feet, weighed 1,100 tons and a complete revolution took around twenty minutes. The wheel got stuck in May 1896 when passengers were stranded for four and a half-hours. It stayed in service until 1906, by which time its 40 cars (each with a capacity of 40 persons) had carried over 2.5 million passengers. The wheel got stuck in May 1896 when passengers were stranded for four and a half-hours. It was demolished in 1906-7 because it was no longer profitable.

the.great.wheel

The London Eye was designed by architects Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, and the husband-wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks (of Marks Barfield Architects).  The Mace Group Ltd was responsible for the management of the construction, with Hollandia Corporate as the main steel-work contractor and Tilbury Douglas as the civil contractor. Consulting engineers, Tony Gee & Partners designed the foundation while Beckett Rankine designed the marine works. The cost of the entire project was around £75 million.

Hub_of_the_Eye_

The rim of the Eye is supported by steel cables and looks like an enormous bicycle wheel. The wheel has 64 spoke cables and 16 rotation rims. The lighting was redone with LED lighting in December 2006 to allow digital control of lights.

London_Eye_Twilight_

The construction of the wheel was a tedious task. It took seven years to construct. It was constructed in fragments and the parts were sailed up the Thames on large boats equipped to carry heavy weight and assembled lying flat on platforms in the river. Once the assembling of the wheel was completed, it was lifted into an upright position by a strand jack (an object used to lift extremely heavy objects into an upright position). The wheel was first raised at 2 degrees per hour. When it reached 65 degrees, it was left in that position for a week, while the engineers prepared for the next stage of the lift.

working of london eye

This project was the result of the contribution coming from six European countries: the steel was supplied by UK, which was fabricated by the Dutch company, Hollandia. The cables came from Italy, the bearings from Germany. The spindles and hub were cast in Czech Republic, and the capsules came from Poma, France. The electrical components were provided by the UK.

8Aerial_view_of_the_London_Eye

The London Eye has thirty-two sealed and air-conditioned oval-shaped capsules, representing the thirty-two London Boroughs. Each of these capsules weigh ten tonnes, with the capacity of holding twenty-five people. The wheel rotates at a speed of 26 cm (10 inches) per second and thus an entire revolution takes 30 minutes. as the rotation is slow enough to allow people to walk in and out of the capsule at ground level, the rotation is not usually stopped. It is however, stopped to help disabled and elderly people to board and get off safely.

The capsules are designed in such a way that the passengers get a 360 degrees view. On a clear sunny day, one can see up to a distance of 40 kilometer as far as the Windsor Castle. The most interesting thing about these capsules is that even though there are 32 of them they are numbered from 1-33. For good luck, the number 13 has been skipped! On 5th June, 2008, it was announced that 30 million people had ridden the London Eye since its opening. On the 2nd June, 20013 one of the passenger capsules was named Coronation Capsules to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

capsule

The London Eye has an average of 3-3.5 million visitors each year. It is said that the wheel turns approximately 60,000 times a year.

The London was lit up in pink in December 2005, to mark the celebration of the first Civil Partnership performed on the wheel. It was also lit up in the colours of the Union Jack on the occasion of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April, 2011, and also to celebrate the birth of their son Prince George in July 2013. It also provides a focal point for London’s famous display of fireworks on New Year, every year.

london.eye.pink

The ticket rates are standardized and not costly at all. There are special discounts for children between the age group of 4-15 years. No tickets are required for children under the age of 4. The option of booking tickets online is advisable as there are special discounts. A ride on the London Eye is a great experience, and one that no one should miss.

london eye-new year fireworks

The Wonder of Triglav, Slovenia



The Wonder of Triglav, Slovenia

An Insight to Mount Triglav

Triglav

The highest mountain in Slovenia, Triglav, stands proudly tall at an elevation of 2,864 metres. The mountain is located in the Julian Alps (mountain range stretching from northeastern Italy to Slovenia). The Triglav is the biggest highlight of Triglav National Park, Slovenia, the national park which gets its name from the mountain.

The Legend of Triglav

The mountain of Triglav is also popular for a legend which runs through this region. Mount Triglav or Triglav, in this legend is depicted as a three-headed man.

A Take on the History of Triglav

Mount Tiglav

Talking about the history of Triglav, Triglav has had a variety of names. Names like Ocra Mons and Krma were all associated with Triglav. But at last the name with which we call this mountain today (triglav), is the name that was finally settled upon, which means a three-headed man. During times when Slovenia was not an independent nation and was a part of Yugoslavia, Triglav was seen a symbol of “brotherhood and unity” in Yugoslavia.

Landmarks

Aljaž Tower

Talking about mount Triglav, one cannot afford to miss mentioning Aljaž Tower. The tower stands tall at the top of the mountain and acts as a storm shelter, to prevent its inhabitants from the raging storms that engulf mount Triglav every now and then. The tower is an important part of the Slovene culture and is considered a landmark of Slovenia. A shelter named as ‘Stanič Shelter’ has also been constructed on this mountain. The shelter can accommodate 8 sitting or 16 standing people at a point time. The Triglav glacier is another very popular and major landmark of this mountain. The glacier covers an area of around about 1 to 3 hectares. The size or area of the glacier depends on the season. The enchanting Triglav is visible from several parts of the country during clear weather.

Triglav and the Slovenian Culture

Saying that Triglav is the cultural pride of Slovenia might not be an overstatement. Triglav holds a lot of importance in the folk literature and art of Slovenia. A few songs or poems have been written on this mountain, Oh, Triglav, My Home (Oj, Triglav, moj dom) by Matija Zemljič is one of them. This beautiful mountain has also been a host to several film shooting sights. Also, a few artistic performances by artists like Janez Janša have been held at the summit of Triglav. Looking at the flag of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia one can easily see the presence of this mountain. The mountain is depicted on the coat of arms and thus it gets to feature on the flag of Slovenia. The mountain also gets to appear on the national emblem of Slovenia. On 26 June 1991, the day when Slovenia got separated from Yugoslavia, the Slovenian flag was unfurled with pride at the summit of Mount Triglav. The mountain is considered so important in the culture of Slovenia that a former president of Slovenia named Milan Kučan once said that every true Slovenian should climb mount Triglav at least once in their lifetime.

Triglav National Park

Triglav National Park

The mountain is located in the sole national park in the Slovenian territory, Triglav National Park. The national park was named after the picturesque mount Triglav. The national park covers an area of 838 metres and is located adjacent to the nations of Italy and Austria. The national park holds great importance for Slovenia and hence has been given the status of a special protected area by the government. Even though, this is beneficial for protecting the national park, but this leaves very little room to construct tourist attractions. The park is also under the international network of UNESCO. The park is amongst the oldest national parks in Europe. Slovenia has several mountains which surpass the height of two thousand metres above sea level and most of these mountains are located in this very national park. Triglav, Mangart, Jalovec, Prisojnik and Špik to name a few are located in this national park. Almost two-thirds of the national park is covered by forests.

Attractions of the Park

Triglav National Park Slovenia

The park has several peaks which offer a treat to all hiking lovers. During summer months the park is filled with hikers who come from different places to hike. Triglav park is well equipped with several huts and lodges for people to rest and relax. Apart from the mountains, the park possesses the biggest lake in Slovenia, Lake Bohinj. During summer months the lake is a popular destination to enjoy water sports and during the winter months it becomes a popular destination for skiing. The park also has a few more lakes. The park also has a few waterfalls. Savica and Peričnik are amongst the most popular of those waterfalls. Two of the most popular and worthwhile tourist attractions are Radovna River gorge of Blejski Vintgar and Tolmin Gorges, which is the lowest and southernmost access point to this wonderful national park. The Soča River is a host to some wonderful water sports like rafting and hydro speeding.

So, the next time you are in Europe and want to see some wonderful eye-popping wonders of nature, the wonder of Triglav should be on your mind.

The World Below: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong



The World Below: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

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You may think that it would be hard to find some blissful solitude in a city like Hong Kong which seems to be on the go round the clock but Victoria Peak will prove you wrong. Victoria Peak is probably one place in Hong Kong that is closer to nature than any part of this city is. Even though the city itself has its own charm with its lofty buildings brushing against the clouds, impeccably dressed people off to work and vendors in markets calling out to sell their fresh produce, Victoria Peak is another experience altogether. This is the place where you can hear the hum of one of Asia’s busiest cities in the distance while enjoying a spectacular vista fit for the gods.

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Locally known as ‘The Peak’, Victoria Peak earlier housed colonial administrators who wished to get relief from the constant humidity down below. In the present day plots at the peak are one of the most expensive in the world where society’s affluent members live to revel in the breath taking beauty of Hong Kong. So how do you get up to this gorgeous place? You can hail a cab or even the number 15 bus that will take you through a scenic route but the classic way to reach the spot is on ‘The Peak Tram’. The tram is a funicular railway which has been on track since the past 120 years and has been playing its part of getting the passengers up and back down on earth efficiently. The tram departs from the terminus at Garden Road, Central and takes about eight minutes to reach the top. A one way ticket will cost about 28 Hong Kong dollars for an adult and 11 Hong Kong dollars for a child but do be prepared for a long queue while buying the tickets.

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The tram ride in itself is so unique. As you climb up the hill in the tram, you can see the beautiful cityscape of Hong Kong pass by at an unbelievable angle. The hill is impossibly steep and you get to witness the steel and neon lights of the city from this height in all its splendour. If you take the bus instead you will not be at a loss as you will get to see the lush green forests and the up-scale homes built for the wealthy. On your way up to ‘The Peak’ do stop by at the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus where you will find The Peak Tram Historical Gallery. Here you will witness the history of Hong Kong and how the tram served all the citizens through the years since its inception in 1888. You will be taken back in time with a replica of the first generation of the tram carriage which has been specially recreated for the visitors to know how it looked back in the days. The gallery has a huge collection of artefacts, a few of them dating back to a hundred years re-telling stories about the journey of the tram and the people of Hong Kong.

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On the summit be ready to be dazzled by ‘The Peak Tower’. With seven floors the tower is in the shape of an anvil on the top with an array of shops, restaurants and entertainment zones. The tower has been renovated thrice to keep up with the constant inflow of tourists every year so as to provide them with au courant recreation. At the top of the tower is the ‘Sky Terrace 428’ which is the highest viewing terrace in all of Hong Kong. From up here you will get a 360 degree incredulous view of the city which will leave you speechless. The terrace also has a Sky Gallery which unfolds the history of Hong Kong’s cityscape over the years. So can you make this experience any better? Maybe dining at the topmost point of Hong Kong is another option. In the tower you have a choice between four restaurants that offer you with delectable Asian meal including sea food.

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For those who love retail therapy there is a surprise in store for you too. There are a variety of shops here that sell everything from clothes to jewellery and electronic gadgets to antiques. This glitzy building has a traditional street market inside that sells Chinese curios and artwork. You don’t have to go all the way to London when Hong Kong offers you Far East’s own Madame Tussauds. The world’s most popular wax museum is at ‘The Peak Tower’ where you can click photographs with your favourite celebrities and sport stars. Over a 100 waxwork idols are present in this museum so make the most of meeting your dream role models. If you want to experience something absolutely bizarre then try walking through the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditiorim’ known for its jaw dropping exhibits. Head back into the natural surroundings of The Peak by taking a nature walk through one of the trails that start from the top. These trails will take you through thick tropical forests weaving through mountains with an array of bird-life. The scene from points like Lugard Road Lookout and Lions View Point Pavilion is lovely and the walk is just as good.

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It is suggested that you come up to The Victoria Peak a while before sunset so that you can see Hong Kong during the day with the sun bidding goodbye in the horizon. From there you can observe the winding streets of Central, the fleet of ships docking at The Victoria Harbour, and further ahead The Kowloon Islands floating in the sparkling water. As the skyline turns darker see Hong Kong light up in neon and its skyscrapers stand out brighter against the black sky reminding you once again how wonderful the city is.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park: A Picture-Book come to life



Plitvice Lakes National Park: A Picture-Book come to life

A Brief History:

This blue-green landscape woven out of 16 interlinking lakes and lush trees is regarded as the largest natural park in Croatia. The lakes occurring as waterfalls form a ribbon of network around the Mal Kapela and the Pljesevica mountains making for a visual treat. Plitvice also takes pride in manifesting itself beautifully to the world as the oldest national park in Southeast Europe. It was founded in April of the year 1949 when it was open to public viewing. Within 30 years of its inception, it garnered itself a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Each of these lakes has a historical relevance and a story to tell behind their names adding a mystical touch to this isolated dreamscape. Historically, the Plitvice Lake area is said to have homed the Illyrian tribe (a sect of Romans) from 1000 BCE. They found the settlement first leading to many other sects such as Celts, Avars and Slavs to subsequently find home in its banks. The area has not only an ecological but also a cultural relevance as generations have walked upon this land that now is buzzing with fluttering sounds of footsteps and camera shutters.

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Geography:

The first thing one can notice upon casting eyes on the Plitvice national park is the majestic waterfalls that by natural course seems to take two separate clusters. It appears in form of an upper shelf and lower shelf divided by the coarse terrain of the mountains. There are 12 of these ‘upper lakes’ and 4 ‘lower lakes’ that look marvellously like molten turquoise.

Over several thousand years these flowing lakes that run through these limestone and chalk laden hills have sieved it out creating travertine barriers. These ‘Travertine’ are created due to the force of these waterfalls creating a rift in the physical structure of the bedrock. This water carrying calcium carbonate has left trails of sediments in these orifices which we now view as barriers. Taking a walk, dipping your feet in these cool waters makes you realize that these damns are nature’s handiwork. They have, over the centuries sprung as a series of splendid caves, lakes and waterfalls.

The total area seen through a bird’s eye view is a canvas of blues, greens, teals and subdued greys that glint in the morning sun and beholds a wonderful almost a picture book-like view in the evenings.

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Activities:

Thousands of people flock to the rare attraction quiet and picturesque nature that Plitvice National Park holds. There are 3 hotels and a campsite to accommodate the ever growing crowd that wants to beat the heat and escape into the wilderness. For all the adventure seekers, the park is a challenge to go on a run around. Roughly taking around 4-5 hours to explore, it is best done via and bus service offered to the tourists that throng the park.

Although swimming is a strict no-no, the park provides plenty of crevices to explore and slopes to trek and hike around. Its heterogeneous attractions are inviting to almost everyone from children to adults. The local cuisine that revolves around a plethora of variety in wine, cheese and coffee also catches the tourists’s eye. The paprika sausages and Croatian lamb (Janjetina) are some of the mouth watering recipes that are work their magic in the eat outs found around the Park.

Families and groups are often found spreading a picnic basket at the mouth of the dry meadows with a view of the falls. The convenience stores that line the leading road, is the go-to place for those who wish to stock up for a private picnic. For a fee that is basically peanuts, this park is graciously open from 7 in the morning till 8 in the evening. The curfew is maintained strictly as there are has been sightings of wolves and bears lurking the forest at nights. This is indeed a rare nature-site that entwines aquatic, air-borne and terrestrial creatures beautifully in its landscape without letting the movement of humans disturb a thing.

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Ecology:

This blue and green paradise also is home to a diverse variety of ecology. Due to the overwhelming quantity of dolomite networks found here, there is plenty of fresh pine, fern and beech-fir lining the falls and open up into small forests.

At each altitude of the park, widely different varieties of flora are found making for an interesting sightseeing experience. Beyond the water lilies and willow reeds are meadows that stretch like a manicured lawn inviting one to tread onwards.

Almost 126 peculiar bird varieties are spotted perching here around the seasons. Among those are the Eurasian Eagle owl locally called the ‘Bubo bubo’, the Eurasian otter called ‘Lutra Lutra’ and the curious long fingered bat or the ‘Myotis Capaccinii’ that only occurs in parts of Asia and Europe. One can also spot the track marks of the European brown bear while trekking. This is probably the one of handful of places around Europe where sighting a brown bear is possible. The little nips at our feet upon touching the cool water makes us notice the multitude of aquatic varieties that dot the lakes. The greys and orange translucent shapes rushing beneath the film of water in the middle of the swaying green trees is an experience to behold. It is indeed a visceral treat for the eyes.