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Archive for December, 2008

With New Year around the corner, everyone is scrambling to find the
ultimate location to welcome the new year.

We at Great Escapes bring to you the top five hotspots from South
India to celebrate the New Year based on the number of requests
received by our travelers.

Top 5 Destinations to visit this New Year – 2009
1. Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu – This quiet little town is on the top spot
for its mind blowing location with a view of the Nilgiri hills from
its many resorts spread across the foot hills of Ooty. Travelers also
have the option of taking a short ride to this famous hill station
from Masinagudi or try the jungle hike to spot some wildlife.

Masinagudi - Nilgiri Hills

Masinagudi - Nilgiri Hills

2. Coorg, Karnataka – This popular district has been the hotspot for
many travelers who keep coming back for its natural beauty. From river
rafting to elephant bathing, this small district has more to offer
than many popular destination across the country thanks to the river
Cauvery which originates from here.

Tibetian Monastry

Coorg - Byalkuppe:Tibetian Monastry

3. Wayanad, Kerala – Located adjoining the Bandipur forest range and
about 250kms from Bangalore, this everygreen mountain range is an
ideal getaway from the hustle n bustle of daily life. Stay at one of
the many resorts amidst thick palm and coffee plantations and enjoy
the fresh cool breeze right thru the day.

Wayanad mountain range

Wayanad mountain range

4. Baga Beach, Goa – Undoubtedly the best place to party anytime of
the year, but with the clamp down by police on beach parties, this
location has slipped down to the 4th spot. Goa still manages to
attract crowd from across the globe with some of the best DJ’s playing
at the popular hotspots across North Goa. For a quiet celebrations,
head toward the south and stayover at one of the many homestays or
boutique resorts.

Goa - Baga Beach

Goa - Baga Beach

5. Chikmagalur, Karnataka – Chikmagalur is a fantastic weekend getaway
from Bangalore – far from the madding crowd and a perfect refuge from
the hustle bustle of the city. A couple of old friends and I wanted to
experience a ‘good drive’ and spend the night at a place with ‘no
mobile range’, a little bit of monsoon showers and nature.

Chikmagalur forest

Chikmagalur forest

Team GreatEscapes wishes you all a very Happy New Year 2009

Dance, Drink, Party hard but use a driver to get back home

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Alexandria, as I mentioned before, is a good place for you to start your sightseeing in Egypt. It does not have too many places that can be classified under ‘must-see’s’ and hence does not really warrant a trip back and forth from Cairo (where a lot of other flights land).

 

The winner in the Alexandria ‘must-visit’ list is the airport! Yep, you heard right. This quaint little single block building is probably only a little bit bigger than your neighbourhood McDonald’s and definitely old-world. (though the exterior has been spruced up). Manual checking of luggage seems all the rage while the single luggage X-ray track is largely ignored by the Egyptians and is only availed of by us ‘foreigners’. With a single flight landing and taking off in a day – the funniest part was watching all the airport officials pack up and leave for the day once we were done with our immigration formalities.

 

Again – be very careful about getting duped by the cabs standing near the airport. Our cab guy asked for about 250 LE (Egyptian Pound) for a trip from the airport – catacombs – city railway station with an hours wait at the catacombs. We brought it down to 180 or so and were off on our way feeling really proud of our bargaining skills. Little did we know that we had ended up paying about 100 LE extra!

 

The Catacombs lie in the district of Karmouz to the east of Alexandria and are a maze of underground burial chambers with the main chamber containing three sarcophagi. The cemetery dates back to the 1st century A.D and consists of levels cut into the rock containing a staircase, a banquet hall (where relatives of the dead supposedly met for feasts!), a vestibule, an antechamber and the burial chamber with three recesses in it. Though most of the chambers look like holes in the wall, the main chamber is an interesting visit with its carvings of the Sun God (Amon-Ra –you’l here a lot about this dude in my next post) as well as the Anubis – a famous Egyptian figure that is half man and half jackal (Remember them from The Mummy Returns?). You don’t really need a guide for this. If you are very keen on knowing the nitty-gritties then just hover within hearing distance of some of the other groups who have guides and shamelessly eavesdrop (the key being to look rather disinterested in what they are saying).

 

After a brief visit we stopped for our very first sip of authentic Arabian ‘chai’, hot and sweet, at this roadside café appropriately painted with Pharaoh images. You will get to see identical such cafes peppering all the roads of Egypt – with small wooden tables and chairs, lots and lots of sheesha and men who seem to have all the time in the world!

A typical cafe in Alexandria, Egypt

A typical cafe in Alexandria, Egypt

For those who want to linger…my friends have recommended a visit to the ancient library. Once the largest library in the ancient world – today only a modern emulation of it can be found near the original site. We however, took off for the station…on our way to Cairo (more about that in my fourth and final post)

Contributed by Payal

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