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Day 5:

On reaching Antalya early morning from Cappadocia, we decided we had enough of organized tours and we wanted to do some exploring after all we belong to the clan of back packers. Plus we wanted to relax a bit, it’s a vacation after all. So we decided to go to the nearby town of Kemer. On reaching there we realized this is where all the ‘real vacationing tourists’ are. We booked a slot the next day for some scuba diving off the beach of Antalya. Then we took a local bus to the spot of Cable cars in Kemer, where we boarded the Cable cars to the Mt. Tahitli. This was one of the rides which leaves one breathless and amazed at the visual magnificence of what one sees. After all the best things in life can only be experienced, nothing else really does justice. The car took us 2465 metres high and to our surprise we realized this is also the highest Parasailing point on the Earth. Naturally we did that too and that more or less sums up the best day of the trip so far. The ultimate experience of flying as a human being was the one experience I will recommend to everyone. After the fun at Kemer, we decided to have a quite dinner with wine savouring the experience in our minds.

Anatalya, Turkey

The next day, we had our appointment to Scuba Dive in the Antalya beach. We had an hour long crash course on scuba diving and then we were fitted with the diving equipment which though a bit heavy on land was not felt at all in water. The instructor took us on a basic diving trip for an hour showing us the sea bed, activity of sea creatures and what not. It was the best experience for me on the whole trip and I cannot wait to scuba dive again.

Anatalya, Turkey

We were so motivated by the experience that we ended up travelling by the evening bus to Pammukale and checking into our hotel “Dort Mevzim” at night.

In the morning, our hotel manager dropped us off at the Pammukale tourist spot which is known for its geological heritage in the form of its hot bed springs, geological formations and also the historical remains to be found there. The town is famous for its pagan connections through the hot bed springs which are supposed to have healing powers.

Pammukale, Turkey

It is a very peaceful place and after half a day’s sightseeing, we took our next bus to Bodrum.

This time it was a planned move as Bodrum, a modern port town is known to be the most happening place in Turkey known for its night life and we reached the place at 9 P.M. which would fit in the JIT (Just in Time) category in Operations Management. We showed our instinctive side finally in Bodrum when we went berserk shopping. Even the food in Bodrum was amazing with the town being famous for its Waffles and Baked Potatoes.

Turkish cuisine

Bodrum, Turkey

All in all it was one of those places you just do not want to leave.

Finally we were back in Istanbul, this time we had had enough of the old quaint idea and stayed in the Taksim area in a hotel called Santa Hill. This area is the exact opposite of Sultanahmet but we still managed to get an ancient hotel room in keeping with the trend on our trip. After resting for half a day, we got out to go to the Taksim square expecting a noisy place with a lot of orthodox Turks, but we found the place to be a cut down version of the Times Square in New York, with all kinds of people who were all in flashy attire. So much for thinking Turkey is a quaint old place where the East meets the West…Almost…!!!

Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

Then we went back to the instincts Mother Nature bestowed up on our gender when travelling and went on a shopping spree that lasted till the end of our trip the next evening. We shopped for just about everything possible, souvenirs, fashion accessories, sweets and what not. Do not miss out on the Turkish Bath as it completely relaxes you.  Finally it was time to return and our 10 day vacation was finally at an end.

On the whole it was a very refreshing experience to tour Turkey with its cultural values and its amazingly beautiful locations. Jokes apart, the food was much better than what it was made out to be above. I would definitely return to Turkey and the next time I come, I know where I want to go. Definitely carry a friend along… After all, you would rather fight a friend than a passionate Turkish football fan who might just bring half of Turkey crashing on you 🙂

This post is contributed by one of our readers Harsh

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Photo

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters, India

PANAJI (Reuters Life!) – A small state on India’s Western coast, Goa boasts of quaint Portuguese colonial charm, sun-kissed beaches and great seafood.

Goa is also favourite haunt for domestic and international travellers, and Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this beach town.

FRIDAY

7 p.m. – Start off your holiday in Goa the way you are meant to — sipping a beer or cocktail, and watching the sun go down at Baga beach, one of the many beaches that dot the coastline. If you are the more adventurous sort, indulge in some water sports or para-gliding, popular activities on this particular stretch.

9 p.m. – Dine at Britto’s, one of the many shacks located right on Baga beach. Don’t be fooled, however, by the modest surrounds: Britto’s is not just a shack, it is more of a local institution. Try the pepper prawns and their trademark baked crabs and finish with their fabulous home-made desserts, especially bebinca, a traditional Goan sweet made of jaggery and coconut milk.

11 p.m. – Burn off those calories with a walk up to Tito’s, one of Goa’s most well-known — and packed — night clubs. Frequented by tourists and locals alike, the energy and buzz around this place more than make up for the claustrophobia you might experience amid the hordes that turn up every night. If you prefer something slightly more crowded, head over to the Butter Lounge, in nearby Candolim. It may not have as many people, but the music is equally good for dancing the night away.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. – The best, and cheapest, way to get around in Goa is to hire a motorbike. You can get them in most places, even in the smaller towns. Make sure you have a valid licence, put on lots of sunscreen and head out towards Old Goa, or Goa Velha as it is locally known. Visit St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Basilica of Bon Jesus on the other side of the road. The 16th century basilica, built by the Portuguese, who ruled Goa until as recently as 1961, houses the body of Goa’s patron saint St Francis Xavier. The body has been preserved for more than four centuries and devotees from all over the world flock there to pay their respects. This is one of the best places to get a sense of the Portuguese influence that pervades most aspects of Goan life.

12 p.m. – Take the opportunity and explore the countryside a little more. Goa’s beaches are its most well-known feature, but there is more to the place. Green fields dotted with coconut palms, quaint houses with red-tiled roofs, and winding roads make for a great ride. Stop at a local bakery and sample some “pao”, traditional Goan bread, and buy some locally made pottery.

2 p.m. – Head back towards Panaji, but not before you make a detour at Star Bar and Restaurant. Yes, it isn’t the most imaginatively named place, and nor does it have any ambience to speak of, but this place can boast of the best fresh shrimp in all of Goa. Order a full Goan meal and wash it down with the feni local liquor as you watch boats sail along the river.

4 p.m. – Panaji, Goa’s capital, is a charming town set on the banks of the river Mandovi and well worth exploring. Visit the Panjim Church, an imposing structure that looks down on the city, and old quarter of Fointanhas for some traditional Portuguese architecture.

7 p.m. – Goa is also home to off-shore casinos, so if you fancy your luck, try your hand at the slots.

9 p.m. – Have dinner at Fiesta, another North Goa institution, which serves up Mediterranean and continental fare. If that’s not your style, try The Republic of Noodles at Candolim. Located near the Taj Palace hotel, this restaurant boasts of great interiors and delicious South East Asian cuisine.

11 p.m. – If you still have any energy, rev up the motorbike and make your way to the Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora. A huge, chaotic, throbbing market, this place comes to life past midnight. Expect to find everything from trinkets to clothes to watches and even luggage. There are also food and beer stalls. Don’t forget to bargain hard.

SUNDAY

9 a.m. – Start off your Sunday with a traditional Goan breakfast of pao-bhaji, bread and vegetables in gravy, at one of the many eateries that dot the Baga-Candolim stretch (or you can visit Infanteria which serves great breakfast on the calangute baga rd). Get on the motorbike and head towards South Goa, which has some of the best beaches on India’s Western Coast.

11 a.m. – Palolem beach is one of Goa’s most pristine beaches and is located at the southern tip of the state. Soak in the sun, do some swimming, read a book and just relax – that’s what most people come to Goa to do.

2 p.m. – If you can rouse yourself from your slumber, treat yourself with a Sunday buffet lunch at the Taj Exotica or the Park Hyatt, both in South Goa. If you prefer to do some celebrity spotting instead, ask for directions to Martin’s Corner, a small shack located in the village of Betalbatim. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and actor Shah Rukh Khan are regulars to this family-run restaurant.

4 p.m. – If Goan food has intrigued your palate, perhaps a visit to a spice farm (www.sahakarifarms.com) might be appropriate. Spices play a vital role in Goan and Indian cuisine and an insight into what it takes to cultivate these spices is a good start towards understanding the local food.

8 p.m. – End your holiday with some drinks and people watching at the Taj Aguada Resort, one of Goa’s best luxury hotels. Watch the sunset, breathe in the ocean air and start planning your trip back.

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-44827520091218?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

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Marvanthe Beach Drive Dec 2008


Well it had been couple of months since I had been to Mangalore, so I thought I’ll do a short post on how my last weekend drive was.


It was a bleak Sunday evening when we decided to rid ourselves of boredom and make a trip to Mangalore. Though only 360 kms from Bangalore, somehow, it was time we went on a drive as a group indulging and enjoying the scenery and firmly believing in the drive rather than the destination.


Before I get on to what the weekend drive to maravnthe was let me introduce my travel mates. Starting from the top left is Anjali, Ramya, Sridhar, Shalini, Silky, myself, Shenoy, Subbu, Jo, Sirish and Shyamoly (missing)

The Gang

It all started when a bunch of us sat to decide on what the weekend plans should be like. I was not too keen when “Mangalore drive” popped out as an option…being from Mangalore myself…thought Mangalore wouldn’t show the charm it once had, there wasn’t much to Mangalore except those dirty looking beeches with whole lot of construction work, pathetic roads, thought all this on a steaming day was a waste of time. But there stood shenoy… I remember the smile and the look on his face when he said “ill show u the Mangalore uve never seen before”… for one thing I was very sure…if it was shenoy planning it would undoubtedly be good…


So we left on Saturday morning at 3.30 AM…3 cars (a Zen Estilo, a Swift and a Honda city) 11 people were ready to hit NH-48 from Nelmangala circle which goes straight to Mangalore, this circle is 16km from Bangalore on Tumkur Road (NH-4). NH-48 goes straight to Mangalore via Hassan (190km from Bangalore) and Sakleshpur. We didn’t take the straight road. Instead we took the Bangalore-tumkur road with some pit stops in between until we reached Jog falls through shimoga and Sagar – a total distance from Bangalore of about 380kms.

The great jog had lost all its appeal since there was little water than we had expected. After Jog, we took the Honnavar road, and the drive was good with exceptional scenic beauty with ghats all around and kishore kumar playing. It was wonderful.


Rejuvenated, we continued along the highway and soon entered Honnavar and took NH-17 towards Murudeshwar. It was turning out to be a Mangalore via North Kanara trip. Once on NH-17, we drove on for 25kms till we reached Murdeshwar. With the skies clearing, the beauty of the surrounding seaside was a sight to behold.


Since we started early in the morning, by the time we reached Murdeshwar, it was almost 5PM – we had already been on the road for over 13-odd hours. And at this time with the approaching twilight, the beauty of the beach was beyond description

Temple

Many people are aware of the temple’s existence, so you are not alone to pray and spend some peaceful and serene moments all by yourself. Even before you see the temple, you are welcomed by a prominent restaurant by the beachside.

Largest Shiva statue in the country
Largest Shiva statue in the country

But by the time we were through marvelling over the place, the sky was darkening and we had to be content with a few glimpses in passing by these sites. Reluctantly, we made up our minds to stroll down the beach to capture the sunset.

Sunset at Maravanthe
Sunset at Murdeshwar

Next stop was Trasi beach at Maravanthe (in Udupi dist., 45 kms from Murdeshwar on NH-17), where all three – beach, road and river – run parallel!! Situated a short 5 minute-drive from this beach is the Turtle Bay resort we spent the night at. It’s easy to miss Turtle Bay if you don’t know where to look. Since we did have the expert, who had been there before, we were given the right directions.

Sunset

An evening at the beach with friends and some chilled beer and some vodka was simply what I had dreamt off! At 9pm the resort attendants offered us some beach refreshment. We ordered Pomfret rava fry, Surmai masala fry, Prawns dry and Prawns Masala and Chicken. A little on the spicy side, but we loved it.….. After refreshments we again went to the beach and stayed there till 1am.

Beach at Turtle Bay

We woke up at 6.30 in the morning the next day. It was a fine sunny morning. Had some fun at the beach. On a Sunday morning life seemed to be at a standstill in the even otherwise quiet town. Got back to the resort and had our breakfast and set out for Bangalore at 11.

Driving down NH 17 is a truly blue trip… A view of the Arabian Sea on one side of the road glistening in the sun and the serene Souparnika River on the other side. A few resorts dot this virgin beach.

Turtle Bay Beach

On the way back stopped at Kapu and went to see the lighthouse. Its quiet a different experience! We were spellbound to see the beauty of this place from the foot of the lighthouse, on top of the rocks. Rocks + coconut trees + a nice beach made this place a visitor’s delight. It can’t be explained by words one has to be there to relish its beauty.

The day was sunny and bright and we were enjoying driving under the warm sun leisurely. But the drive back was a bit of a pain in the arse, Sridhar was driving and ive never heard the number of s***’s and F***’s ever on a single day… You will curse yourself for having decided to drive through that road…on a long drive, with pothole strewn roads, we settled at roadside stall for a cup of chai... The roads were a mess we agreed and subbu warned us, “Just wait till you see the roads until you reach sakleshpur”.

If I ever complained about the roads in Bangalore, I take back all my complaints. One must be happy with what one gets. What used to be a 45 minute drive has stretched into a neat 2 hr ordeal. Those manganese and iron ore laden over loaded bloody trucks ought to be taken off these roads! Never again will I crib about the state of bad roads in this city.


This is probably my nth trip to Mangalore. But this time, it had been a city in transit and never quite the destination. It is a city that I’ve seen in bits and pieces and this time it was no exception.


Next time you are in and around Mangalore do make it a point to visit Maravanthe and Kapu, and stay at Turtle Bay. If not for anything just to experience stillness, you can do that peacefully without being pushed around...Spend as much time as you want in peaceful surroundings listening to the some nice music, read a book and admiring nature. You will realize how miniscule we are compared to what else is there in the Universe. I am glad I made the trip. It was a wonderful experience will love to repeat the same trip once again. At the end of the trip our cars Odo reading was 1065km and now back to the grind of everyday life.

Posted by

Flavia Leedya Pereira

flavialpereira@gmail.com

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Last week we got an opportunity to use one of them hotel vouchers in North Goa.. who can resist any opportunity to visit this lovely state. So with our backpacks we boarded a private Volvo bus which eventually left town around 10pm after a small pooja since it was a brand new bus. This driver was so careful that we reached Panjim two hours late at around 12noon, but can’t blame him completely cos parts of this road is practically non existent due to the heavy monsoon.

Not wasting any more time, we quickly grabbed a cab to Baga-Arpora (Rs 300 one way) and checked into our posh cute resort (Sun Village) which is about 2 kms from Baga. After having a very sad lunch (at the resort) we hired a Honda Activa scooter  (Rs200 per day) for the next three days and headed straight to Baga Beach – north end (where the backwaters begin) to catch the sunset. September being off season, most of the shacks are shut so our first exotic dinner was at Suza Lobo’s at Calangute which is known for its live music and tasty seafood.

Day 2 began early with a quick breakfast at the hotel (complimentary) after which we started to shop along the Baga and Calangute rd for people back home. From here we decided to travel all the way to south goa just to eat at the very famous Martins Corner. It was a good 1.5hr bike ride to this restaurant which is neatly tucked away from the main road very close to Majorda Beach (Pls get proper directions before you venture out looking for this restaurant). After having satisfied our appetite for goan food, we decided to chill at the Majorda beach which is free from people or hawkers. The weather was just perfect with mild rains every now and then, but the rain gods took mercy on us especially when we were out riding.

Another hour and half later we were back at our resort to freshen up and out before you know it. Time is of the essence and no point stayin indoors when u have this beautiful landscape all around you. Dinner was a bit different at one of the only 2 beach shacks that were open. We had a wonderful time interacting with the owner and cook of this shack until late at nite.
Our third and final day started with a positive note as we indulged in a full fledged breakfast at the resort followed by a quick dip in the pool (Be advised, its not safe to enter the pool right after consuming food). Must say that the pool was very well maintained even during off season. After exploring our resort from end to end (very few visitors do that) we headed out for some more last min shopping (wine, cashews) and for our last goan meal at Brittos. Sitting right at the beach sipping on breezers & munching on roasted prawns & fish fingers was the most relaxing moment and totally worth the trip.
Soon it was time for us to head back to the grind and our KSRTC volvo ride back was not exactly comfortable. The entire front end was rattling every time our bus went over a ditch and with the present road condition, our entire journey was sleepless. However, true to its track record we reached Bangalore bang on time regardless of the passenger comfort. This was the only sore point in our entire journey. Overall, a wonderful break especially during the monsoon.
Our 2N/3D trip cost us about 9000 Rs excluding hotel accommodation which would be worth another Rs 8000 or more for this duration.
ur escapist
ATTENTION!
This post is almost one and half yrs old and a lot has changed in GOA since. We are hearing stories of women being attacked, raped and teased on the once popular beaches of goa. Its sad to state that, this attractive holiday destination is not save for tourists anymore especially for women and young girls.
Pls read this news about a 9 yr old girl being raped by an Indian tourist here and the subsequent travel advisory by the Russian government here.
During one of our recent visit to Calangute & Baga beaches in North Goa, we observed a large influx of young males from certain central and northern states whose behavior was out of line. We saw them staring at women (foreign and indian) and hooting at them. Some even approached these women asking if they’d like to join them and tried to hold their hands.  Though we did intervene, the sheer number in their groups gave them the courage to rebel us.
The worst part was that not a single cop was in sight especially after 8pm while the beach is open all nite.
These incidences are happening more often but the government is still not waking up to this menace. Hope they get their act in place before its too late. Till then, let us all be careful when we travel to this state and always stay in groups.
Pls share your experiences here if any.

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