Ooty has welcomed tourists from all around the world for leisure and recreation for more than 50 years. And many people say it still looks the same – serene, quaint, and beautiful.
Use this travel guide to make the best of your time in Ooty.
Ooty has welcomed tourists from all around the world for leisure and recreation for more than 50 years. And many people say it still looks the same – serene, quaint, and beautiful.
The first and foremost thing that caught my attention was the ideology behind Poornodaya. It resonated with my idea of education. Read more about my experience!
If you are from India or a tourist in India, a place that you would never want to miss apart from the chilly mountains, is the God's Own Land, Kerala. And so like many others, Kerala had been in my "must-visits" since a very long time. After a few years of failed plans, I was finally visiting this beautiful green land of India.
The first city I visited in Kerala was Wayanad, and I instantly fell in love with its endless greens.
Here is a detailed itinerary to help you plan your trip and cover the beautiful places of Wayanad in 2 days.
How to reach Wayanad?
There is no direct bus that goes from Coorg to Wayanad. So, I planned to go to Mysore first, spend a night there, and then take a bus from Mysore to Wayanad.
Regular KSRTC buses leave from Mysore to Wayanad. It takes around 4 hours by road to reach Wayanad from Mysore, and the general KSRTC bus ticket costs just Rs 140.
Many KSRTC and private buses go from Bangalore to Wayanad that take around 7 hours to reach.
From anywhere else:
If you are coming from far away, you can either take a flight to Bangalore and Mysore and choose the options mentioned above.
And finally, you can always rent a two-wheeler or self-drive car, or hire a cab to reach Wayanad.
Where to stay in Wayanad?
Wayanad is full of hotels, retreat centers, resorts, hostels, and homestays. I chose a homestay for myself, Kudajadri Drizzle, in Kanyambetta, a village near to the main town of Kalpetta of Wayanad district.
It was the first time I was staying in a homestay, and I could not ask for a better experience.
Kudajadri Drizzle is amidst the greens, and it was great waking up to the chirping of the birds every morning. My room had an attached bathroom, and it gave a feeling of rural lifestyle combined with the comforts of the urban world. The daily home-cooked Kerala food and endless conversations with the family made the overall stay a very comfortable one.
Places to see in Wayanad
You can hire a private taxi, or rent a scooter, or a self-drive car, or take local buses to tour around the city. Most of the viewpoints are within the range of 30 km from the city center, so it is better to either rent a two or a four-wheeler or take a private taxi. This way you can save some time commuting to the viewpoints.
And it goes without saying, the roads are beautiful and some times more intriguing than the actual destination.
Sit by the serene Karlad Lake
Famous amongst the adventure seekers, Karlad Lake was opened to the public some time in the starting of 2016. Apart from the many adventurous activities that the place offer, you can boat in the calm and serene waters of the lake or just sit by its quiet surroundings.
There are a few paid parking spots just outside the lake entrance, and also a few restaurants by them.
Visit Asia's second-largest dam, Banasura Dam
Apart from being Asia's second-largest dam, Banasura dam also had India's largest floating solar power plant. Located around 3 km from Karlad lake, you can visit both of the places in one day.
With magnificent views of the water, Banasura Dam is a perfect place to adore the vast greens and blues of Kerala.
It was raining when I visited the dam, so the views though beautiful, were quite misty.
Enjoy the magical greens of Kerala from Phantom Rock viewpoint
This was a completely unplanned stop that I made on my way to Eddakal caves (another commonly visited tourist point).
As I mentioned before that the roads and the scenic views on the way to your destination might grab your attention, and you could have one of the best experiences of your trip. My stop at Phantom rock viewpoint was one such example.
I was driving by when I saw a beautiful turquoise color water body that was so enchanting that I couldn't resist stopping by. While I was enjoying the view when the owner of a restaurant opposite to where I had parked, signaled me to go further and climb up a few rocks, to maybe get a better view. I followed his instructions, and I was welcomed by the most mesmerizing views I had seen so far during my whole trip.
There was not a single person on the trail and at the viewpoint, and I had the whole place to myself.
PS: It was on my way down, that I realized it was the Phantom rock viewpoint.
Walk back into the pre-historic times at Edakkal caves
I skipped Eddakal caves, because at the time I had not researched the place thoroughly, and didn't know what it was famous for. Assuming that it will also have a similar valley view as was from the Phantom Rock viewpoint, I decided to skip my visit to Edakkal caves altogether.
But when I saw pictures of the caves later, I regretted not visiting it. Edakkal caves have ancient scriptures and carvings of the pre-historic time, which make them all the more interesting apart from the scenic views.
Visit the ancient Sultan Bathery Jain Temple
Sultan Bathery Jain temple dates back to 13th century. It served both as a religious site as well as a place where Tipu Sultan kept his armory (or battery) when he invaded Kerala. And this is where the town got its name from, Sultan's Battery (Sultan Bathery). The temple is now a protected site under the Archaeological Survey of India, but you can still visit it inside and see the old temple ruins and statues of Jain Tirthankaras.
Hike to the highest peak of Wayanad district, Chembra Peak
Famous for the heart-shaped lake that you see on your way up to the peak, the climb up to the Chembra Peak is very scenic, surrounded by lush green tea plantations.
You need prior permission from the forest department for this trek. During monsoon, the hike to the top of the peak is forbidden, so do a little bit of research before you make your plans.
And as for the heart-shaped lake, I saw one on my way to Banasura dam. So if you are most excited about just that lake, you can skip hiking to Chembra peak.
I could not visit the peak because of lack of time and the required permissions, but I am sure the hike and the views from the top are gorgeous.
Crazy greens, cozy homestay, lovely hosts, and scenic views - my experience in Wayanad was full of it.
I am currently touring across South India, and Coorg (or Kodagu) was the second stop I made after Mysore. Also known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is a perfect stop for nature lovers. It is a hilly district of the Karnataka state, which is why the temperature here is a little more cooler.
I met my friend from college, Ankita here and we spent two days exploring this beautiful town. Read the post to know how our experience was and also get tips to plan your trip to Coorg.
Having stayed in Bangalore for some time, I had heard a lot about the city of palaces from friends. Mysore had been in my “must-visit” list for a long time, but somehow I never made a deliberate plan to visit it.
I was in Hyderabad when at an impulse, I decided to do a South India tour before I returned home. I planned Mysore to be the first city that I’ll visit as part of the “official” tour. Here’s a complete personalized guide to help you plan your trip to the “City of Palaces”, Mysore.
The top places to see in Mysore.
I don't remember when and why the name of the place popped up in my mind, but since that time, it was under my to-visit radar. I reject 2-3 travel plans - my own and a few with friends because I wasn't going anywhere else until I see what this valley of death has in store for me.
At the time, I was in Seattle and, I along with 2 of my friends in the city, my sister who'd be coming from Irvine, California, and one of her friends, who'd join her in Irvine, planned a 4-day trip to Death Valley and Las Vegas (best combination ever - nature, adventure, and fun).
More about Las Vegas in another post. In this post, I'll share with you a 2-day itinerary to tour Death Valley National Park, and also any other handy tips that I have.
How to reach Death Valley?
Depending on which corner of the United States, or the world, you are coming from, the mode of transportation might change.
If you are coming from a little far within the States, you can take a flight to Las Vegas or Los Angeles, whichever is more convenient for you. From there, you can rent a car, and drive to Death Valley National Park.
You can also book one day trip around Death Valley from Las Vegas, in case you do not intend on driving.
A few things to keep in mind, before you hit the road to Death Valley.
- Fill your car's fuel from the city, reasons being, you'll not find many gas stations, as you enter the desert region, and second, the fuel price is notably high at those gas stations
- Download an offline map of the place, because there is no network
Where to stay?
There are 4 hotels located inside the national park, including, Stovepipe Wells Village, The Oasis At Death Valley, The Ranch At Death Valley, and Panamint Springs Resort. These hotels provide rooms, as well as camping, and RV accommodations. Other than these, there are a few options outside the park, which are at least 25-30 miles from the park.
We, however, stayed at Longstreet Inn & Casino in Amargosa Valley, which is around 25 miles from the Death Valley National Park.
The hotel rooms were decently clean with an outdoor pool and view of the mountains. There are not many restaurants around the area, so the only place to eat was at the hotel restaurant. The food was average for vegetarians, though it had better options for non-vegetarians.
Once you have sorted your commute and stay, this is how you can plan your travel itinerary in Death Valley.
Our flight had landed in Las Vegas, and we reached Amargosa Valley by noon. The day was cloudy, so we didn't plan a lot of places on our first day, just one, Badwater Basin. And since we took a longer route, we had to drive almost 90 miles (actual distance from our hotel is 50 miles) to reach the Badwater Basin.
The lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin is a vast dried up land with hexagonal salt formations created as the water from the scarce rains evaporated. The point is almost 86 m below sea level. You can see a spot marked "Sea Level" on the mountains facing the basin.
Apart from the Badwater Basin, we got down at several points in between to appreciate the magnificent dry landscapes. I am not very sure of the exact locations, but you'll find many such spots on your way too.
The second day was much more clearer than the first day with clear blue skies and scattered clouds throwing their shadows on the mountains below.
Formed due to water washing off the rocks and forming gullies giving it a landscape that exists now. You can also take a walk around these badlands - it is around a 2.5 hike that takes you to Gower Gulch and back to the Zabriskie.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
A vast stretch of dunes, one of the fewer places in Death Valley that had sand gathered from rock erosion and winds. The dunes are not too high, and you have to walk further into the stretch to experience slightly higher dunes. Stovepipe Wells resort is nearby, and you can make a quick stop here for snacks.
Ubehebe Crater is one of the younger craters, and possibly still active that was formed due to magma eruption. The groundwater that had come out as steam exploded the rocks above, and thus created the crater cavity. You can also walk around the crater, it is approximately 1.5 miles. You can also climb to the top to get a better view of the crater bottom.
Wait for the starry night in the desert before you head back to Las Vegas.
I have lived in Amritsar for almost 18 years, and the city has changed so much over time. But the things that remained constant are the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah/Attari Border retreat ceremony, and of course the crazy food of the city.
In this post, I show you around Amritsar, and give some insider local tips, that you might not find anywhere else!
Mahabaleshwar is one of the most visited hill stations in the western ghats, especially by the people from Mumbai, Pune, and few places in Gujarat.
Also known as the strawberry city, Mahabaleshwar is full of strawberry fields all around, and even one of the most famous sharbat/squash brands, Mapro, started here. With so many viewpoints and places to see, you can spend an entire weekend visiting these and be taken aback by the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.
The best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is after the monsoon, for a greener scenery. But I visited the city in March when the weather was mildly hot, and the hill ranges were not so green.
How to reach?
I had taken an overnight bus from Bangalore to Mahabaleshwar. But there are many other ways to reach the city, depending on your choice of transportation mode.
If like me, you are coming from a distant city, you can book a flight to Pune or Mumbai, and then take a bus from there to Mahabaleshwar. You can even hire a local taxi or drive yourself to the city, especially if you are coming from Pune because the Pune-Mahabaleshwar distance is not too much.
If you are also coming from Bangalore like me, you can take an overnight bus till Satara and then from there take a local taxi to the Mahabaleshwar. Other options are to take a bus till Wai or Nipani, depending on whichever place is closer to your hotel.
The nearest railway station to Mahabaleshwar is in Pune and from Pune, you can take bus, taxi, or bike to the hill station.
PS: It is very hard, maybe not even possible to rent bikes in Mahabaleshwar because of a strong taxi union that wouldn't allow this. So taxis are your answer when you need a conveyance to tour the city and do have one of your own.
Where to stay?
There are many beautiful resorts, hotels, and homestays in Mahabaleshwar. You can check the list of accommodations here.
I stayed with Hotel Mahabaleshwar Fragrance and while the building was fairly new, the rooms were very neat and spacious too. The highlight though was the location of the building and the view of the hills from the room.
There is an adjacent strawberry farm, a free tour of which is included as a part of your reservation.
The staff was also really polite and quickly accessible.
The two things that you would need to consider though, one there is no elevator in the building, but the staff will help you shift your luggage, and second not all the rooms have best views, so make sure to check with the management before you make your booking.
Places to see
I had my friends from Pune also visit the city at the same time. We effectively had only one day in Mahabaleshwar, so we tried to fit in as much as we could on that day.
We started off the day by visiting Mapro Gardens. Located in the neighboring town of Panchgani, it is a massive garden, with a restaurant, and a retail outlet for Mapro products.
We had our breakfast here and also the Strawberry Cream Ice Cream - Fresh cream, strawberries, and ice cream all layered up in a glass.
It is a great place to sit and relax with your friends amidst scenic views of the hills and strawberry fields, and good food
You can also buy Jams, Syrups, Chocolates, and Juices from their outlet.
Triveni View Point
My hotel’s manager had suggested us to visit Triveni point, hike to which started right opposite to the Mapro Gardens. So that is where we went next with our tummies full till throats.
Not many tourists know about this place - apparently, it is not shown or suggested as part of the tour packages that some people take. But it is a perfect location for both sunrise and sunset.
A small trek through jungles and you are welcomed by the crazy 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks.
Also known as the mini Kashmir of the west, Tapola Dam would definitely be a treat to the eyes during monsoon. I could not see the mini Kashmir as it'd be, but it was still quite impressive. A vast stretch of clear blue water, sparkling with yellow colors of the sun.
The ride from Mahabaleshwar to Tapola is even more incredible - passing through jungles and crossing tiny villages. We made multiple photo-stops in between just because each view looked prettier than the other.
We stayed at the dam for a little time and had tea from nearby stalls before we headed back to the city.
Sunset Point or Bombay Point
It is a typical touristy point, I would say. We reached the point way ahead of time and much to our surprise, it was full of people - I have never seen a viewpoint so much crowded.
While the sunset view was good enough, I'd suggest you to explore other viewpoints for the sunset.
As we rode back to the city, the sky got darker and the stars brighter. We made a "not so quick" photo-stop to capture the starlit night. It was one of the best moments ever, standing by the road and looking above to an absolutely silent star bed.
I so wish I had a few more days in the city. There's just so much more to see!
Civilizations have withstood the vicissitudes of time and so have its member species. Owing to the contemporary debates, we have realized the struggles of each of the genders of our species have been starkly disproportionate and paradoxical. The 50:50 playground has been one of the most pertinent utopia that we have been chasing. Nations & organizations have actively sought & fought to take measures, and many of those bore fruit, not in full measure though, but definitely substantially.
So it raises the question upon us that, have we understood the question well enough?
I personally had a half-lit idea around the question before I read Lean In. But though it's immature to boast this, I do feel a changed person, more importantly a changed man. The best thing about the narrative in the book was that it totally leant in, living up to its title. It aims to trigger an epiphany among women to realize the roots of their ‘cultivated’ psyche and then offers solutions around them. The solutions offered, I felt were far too diplomatic and called out women to walk a very thin line, for example, ‘you have to be nice and feminine just enough to not come across as rude, while arguing for what you want without making it seem like you’re selling yourself too hard!’. But this is quite a convincing middle ground proposed by Sandberg.
The book caused me to slip into a retrospection of my past experiences on the scales of gender parity. My first reaction was to go from appreciating my mother to worshipping her. She has, for almost half-a-century walked that nano-lines Sandberg talked about, with remarkable poise. I can also connect more with her frustrations(in & around the family!), achievements and so-called failures.
Then, there were countless instances where it was convenient to stereotype women without really understanding the short-sightedness. A most vivid instance of this was my aggressive sigh at my sister when she would want to be mediocre and avoid the limelight. I also felt guilty of having applied the similar branding on other women on other accounts.
I formally apologize to you all!
A doctor mom of a friend reiterated a popular notion in my native region that a teaching job is ‘best suited’ for girls since it allows them to manage family while having a comfortable & fulfilling career. It reflects that even a ‘life saving’ doctor feels that she has not fulfilled her duties towards society. I bow down to this humble and caring trait of women.
Though the book advocated action more to female readers, it also highlighted how contributions from family, friends & mentors helped out.
So, I also want to be part of this ‘next wave’ such that it's the ‘last of all waves’. Apart from acknowledgement of the under-representation of women across careers, the society has a long way to go. I totally agree with the author that we cannot legislate our way out of it. We need to start from being better sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands and dads. A radical change on individual level would be to share the underrated, yet most important, role of being the ‘family’ guy. Then as a society, we can curate an environment which allows women to study & then work safely, efficiently and without the feeling guilt of her trinity roles of ‘a daughter, a wife, a mom’ .
Welcomed by a Himalayan background, serene lakes, and lush green forests, Uttrakhand is unmistakably nature’s paradise. Visited by tourists all the year round, there are still some unexplored parts of this divine land that you can visit for a truly enthralling experience. Chopta is one […]
I had spent almost a month of solo backpacking in Europe, exploring its mountains, fairy-tales villages, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, historic palaces, and much more. Click here to read more about my Europe adventures Before even returning to India, I had made plans with my […]
Budapest was the last stop of my Euro trip, and though it had been almost a month of traveling, I was all fresh reaching this quieter yet one of the most happening places in Europe. Budapest is the largest city of Hungary and is flooded with tourists all the year round, especially in the summer months. With so much to offer, Budapest is an ideal place for a budget traveler who wants to get an essence of European life.
Here is how I spent two days in the city, exploring its historic places, watching the gorgeous sunsets and, taking a dip in the old Turkish baths.
Where to stay?
Accommodation in Budapest is quite budgeted - in fact, the cheapest accommodation I stayed in during my whole trip.
I stayed at GoodMo House hostel - conveniently located close to a tram stop and a walking distance from the city center. The main highlights of the hostel are, its colorful common room and local tips ranging from places to visit, to foods to try compiled by the staff in a booklet.
Though the rooms are very standard and there is no elevator in the hostel, but the hostel is overall very nicely maintained. Its clean premises stood out for me other than its price.
Pro Tip: Take the hostel provided Airport Shuttle. It costs around 7-8€, but is a better option than taking the City Airport Shuttle which costs around 3€. Less wait time and you get a comfortable seat to sit!
You can use this link to make a booking with the hostel!
Stroll through the city's Jewish Quarters
Walk to the largest Synagogue in Europe (in fact the second largest in the world) crossing the narrow streets and old buildings that were once occupied by the city's Jews. Treat yourself with bits and pieces of history as you stroll through the area.
Make a quick stop at St Stephens Basilica
Come back for an open-air screening, if any
As you continue to walk around the city, make a stop at this incredibly beautiful church, located in the downtown Pest. With a small donation fee of 1€, you can see the church from inside. Spend some time praising its architectural marvel.
There was an open-air movie screening later that day, so I came back in the evening for the same.
You'll generally find people setting the space if there is a screening or a concert in the evening.
As my long 26-day trip was coming to an end, though mentally still fresh, I was a little tired physically - daily commuting on foot, hiking to unknown places, missing buses, and then running to catch them, it was now time to treat myself to some pampering.
Thermal baths are believed to be medicinal that can cure just about any illness.
I decided to go to Lukács Thermal Baths and, I swear it was 3 hours of complete bliss in just 11€. There are four indoor pools maintained at different temperatures, a steam room, and an ice-cold plunge pool to cool down. Other than that, there are two outdoor pools and a sunbathing terrace that you can use as part of your ticket.
Walk by the Kossuth Square - home to Hungarian Parliament and other notable buildings
Walk back from the Margaret island to the Kossuth Square and spend some time appreciating the grand architecture of the surrounding buildings, including the Hungarian Parliament.
Shop at Central Market Hall
The intricate architecture of Vienna is so intoxicating that you can spend hours just staring at the artistic marvels in the city. But that’s not it, Vienna also boasts of baroque styled gardens and parks visited by tourists and locals alike. I spent two days […]
“I had always fancied the idea of going to a random place and exploring it on my own. And when I finally did it, I learned to overcome my own inhibitions that not only concerned travel but so many other things too.” Before moving to […]
Excited and nervous, I ran towards my hostel from where the cab dropped me. I took a cab at 9 am from Ubud to Kuta where my hostel and surfing class was - Pro Surf School and Hostel.
It took almost 3 hours to cover a distance of 1 hour because of heavy traffic.
The surfing class was to begin at 12 and it was already time when I reached my hostel. I literally threw my luggage at the reception and walked towards where rest of the students were standing. I quickly changed and now the whole group was ready for the initial surfing instructions.
After almost an hour class, we took our surfing boards and walked to the beach.
Now a little about me before I proceed - I am scared of the waves
Though from outside, I tried to be very confident, my heart throbbed every time I saw a huge wave coming towards me. And all my faith in me also swept away with the waves. And there I was, off the surfboard and in the water, trying to come up, struggling for a breath!!
But that's not the end of the story, during the instructions, we were told about RIP. No, it is not "Rest in Peace", but it will surely mean Rest in Peace if you don't know the waters that well.
So what actually is RIP? A rip is a current of water that moves away from the shore. The moment you enter the rip, you get pushed away from the shore and no matter how hard you try to find the ground and swim hard, you will just get swayed away unless you swim to the left or the right. And once you are out of the rip, you start swimming towards the shore.
So, yes I along with a few other was caught in a rip. So the little time I had to overcome my fear of the waves, I was caught in an unwanted region of the sea.
Btw, I was able to catch a few waves successfully, a very few I mean!!
While this is all I have from the pictures clicked during the lesson, I really hope I do better in my next class!
Salzburg – a heaven on earth. Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and for the filming of the movie, Sound of Music, but there’s so much more than that, that you can see and do for free in the city. Having spent […]
I would have never known about Villach if I didn’t choose a cheaper bus option from Salzburg to Bled. With 5 hours in hand before my bus to Bled, I decided to explore the city rather than waiting at the bus station. A tip before that: You […]
A lot of you must have had the experience of opening up to strangers, be it talking about your problems, your life goals, or sharing your deep dark secrets, or just being more yourself.
I have had this feeling quite often in recent times. One when I was planning to leave my job, the only person who knew about it was a friend I made on my trip to San Francisco. And then, when I was traveling through Europe, I met several people in front of whom it was easier to be just me without any pretense.
On one of the self-reflection days, I started wondering why it is so easy and why I don't think twice before opening up in front of the person I don't know so intimately and am able to form that inexplicable bond with. Why words and stories come out naturally while talking to a dorm-mate, to an Uber driver, to a fruit vendor, and the list is endless.
As I pondered over the topic, I came up with a few reasons that I could relate to.
We expect our loved ones to understand us and our problems, and assume that they will give the best solution or suggestion in such a case. But when this doesn’t happen, we tend to momentarily hate them (Hate is a strong word here!) and avoid having further discussions related to that topic with them.
But in the case of a stranger, we don’t really expect a perfect response from them, as a matter of fact, there is no or very little expectation that they would even understand us. At the time, we just want to talk out and maybe not expect anything in return, just a mere acknowledgment that they are listening. Just in case, if the person suggests something, we'd know deep down that the other party is not aware of the entire situation and hence it doesn't really matter if they have a positive or a negative or even a neutral response to it.
Breaking of expectations hurt, but again most of the expectations are irrelevant!
It is great to know the viewpoints of a person with a lifestyle completely different from ours or a person who has a different take on the whole situation. Sometimes an unbiased opinion given without knowing the complete story can actually turn out be more useful.
I have talked to several people lately about my blog, and long-term ideas, and for sure I have been able to receive many encouraging suggestions on how to continue working towards my goals.
Lack of context
Sure every conversation has some follow-up questions, but with a stranger, most of the times there are no follow up questions given the comfort zone. At other times, it is easier to dodge questions and change the topic or just say we are not very sure of the answer.
Basically, there is no digging of a situation or any uncomfortable conversations as there would be in case of a friend or a loved one.
The fear of being judged is one of the most prevalent fears and most of the times, it is difficult to overcome this innate quality of ours.
A stranger's opinion about us does not really matter in the long run, even if it does at the moment. We know deep down that there is a rare chance that we'll meet the person again. It is easy to ignore the judgemental comments if there are any because we have a choice to judge them back based on however illogical assumptions we have about them. We can easily end our conversation with them and be chill about the whole situation.
I remember talking to someone I met on a flight where I discussed with him my idea of leaving the tech industry and moving to arts. Incidentally, he was just a step away from offering me a job when I blabbered my plans about quitting and trying something new. And when he heard me, he was shocked and made such expressions that I had to stop talking about my big plans. But all of this didn't matter me at that point because I was happy to be able to talk myself out. That person's opinion didn't really matter that much as he didn't know the ins and outs of my life.
It is okay to sometimes listen to your heart and not the people outside!
No obligation to maintain a relationship
As I mentioned above, that sometimes when close ones fail to understand us, we start to avoid talking about the similar situations with them, in fear of judgment or a negative response.
But in the case of a stranger, there doesn't exist a relationship that can be broken. If they don't like our decisions or actions, we'd just not talk any further about the situation with them or not talk at all, without thinking about the impact on our non-existent relationship.
The end of the conversation would be the last thing to bother us.
But I'll admit it is great to have a friend who knows everything about you and you are comfortable talking about anything that goes on in your life!!
How to manage to travel while working full time? Tips from my own experience – 7 new cities in 7 months
.”I wish I could travel as much as I wanted.” “You are not working full-time, so it’s easy for you to travel so often.” “I don’t have time to travel. There’s just so much work that I need to finish.” These are a few common […]
Where to stay?
Walk around Old Munich
Relax in the Gardens of Nymphenburg Palace
Gardens of Nymphenburg Palace
Statues in the gardens of Nymphenburg Palace
Watch the sunset from the hills of Olympiapark
Indulge yourself in the country's art and history
PS: All the museums in the city are closed on Monday
Visit the Jewish Museum
LOCAL PRO TIP: Enjoy a cup of coffee with a good city view at Café im Vorhoelzer Forum, inside the Technical University.
Visit Dachau - Concentration Camp, or Gardens or both
Love Indian Food?
Visit any other museum of interest
Chill at a Beer Garden
A must have experience.
If you are in the city at the time of Oktoberfest - the largest beer festival that happens every year in Munich, make sure to be a part of it!
This is an oil painting video tutorial suitable for beginners. PS: I have used a brush to paint the mountain instead of a knife. I have used very basic oil colors perfect for you if you are just starting and not looking for a big […]
I am the kind of girl who jumps on every opportunity to travel to a new place. As much as I’d be excited about the trip I’ll be apprehensive about the challenges that I might face – be it from a very basic one like […]
Seattle was getting colder every single day and there were no hopes of a warm day anytime sooner. I was getting impatient and bored sitting at home, so I started planning my next travel.
I had to decide between Dallas, Austin, and Houston. I did a lot of research and concluded that Houston is a big corporate kind of city, whereas Dallas and Austin, promised more cultural experience. Out of the two, Dallas and Austin, I decided to go to Austin because internet claimed it had better transportation. Apparently, it wasn’t even average.
I wonder what Dallas public transportation had been like
Landing in Austin
I booked the flight tickets for the worst ever time, at a very less price though. My flight from Seattle was at 11:20 pm and it reached Austin at 5:15 am (3:15 am in Seattle).
All that was compensated for when I landed in Austin and got out of the airport. Coming to a mild temperature from freezing cold was so relieving. Despite a little drizzle, the weather seemed just ideal!
I am glad the hostel was pretty close to the airport. It took me around 20 minutes to reach my hostel from the airport.
Where to Stay in Austin
If you are a solo backpacker like me, hostels must be your first choice as well. They are in budget and you meet and make friends with people from everywhere.
I stayed in HI hostel (Hosteling International) on the eastern side of Austin along the Ann and Roy Butler Trail by the Lady Bird Lake and not too far from the city center.
Hostelling International is a global chain of hostels and if you are a member, you can get special discounts and deals.
My experience with HI Hostel
My very first impression of the hostel was not very good. The lady at the reception was a little too impatient and irritable, maybe because of the lack of sleep. She couldn’t find my correct booking. It took her some time to retrieve partial booking and re-book for the total no. of days I was going to be there. Overall I got very negative vibes after entering the hostel, which no doubt, got better with time.
The room had a lake view and was kept clean. The beds were also quite comfortable. The free breakfast included bread, butter, and jam, milk, and fruits.
All in all, it was an above average stay - I would recommend this hostel if you want to be away from hustle bustle of the city and in a close proximity to nature.
Do a Group City Tour
I had my breakfast in the hostel around 8:00 am and left for the city tour that I had booked through Viator. I wanted to do this tour to get an overview of the city early through the trip so that I am able to plan the rest of it. I walked to Austin's Visitors Center where the tour had to begin. It was 2 miles from my hostel, so I decided to walk and enjoy the scenery around.
I was tired and sleepy due to an overnight flight, but I pushed myself and kept walking till I reached the visitor's center and got a seat in the van. Unfortunately, because of a smooth driving and one person speaking all the time, (that, of course, our tour guide and driver), I fell asleep in no time. I switched on the recording to at least record and later listen to it while deciding places to visit - I later lost it.
So basically I slept for 60 minutes of the 90 minutes of the tour, without gaining a lot of information!
This tour is really helpful if you are a lazy planner, and want to know the city from a local's point of view
Eat at Blenders & Bowls
After the city tour, I walked to this super healthy restaurant, Blenders and Bowls where I had some coffee and an avocado toast. They had a huge variety of smoothies and acai bowls. It's a must go place if you are seeking a healthy yet filling meal.
Visit Olive Industry Orchard in Dripping Springs
Just when I thought of going back to the hostel and taking some rest, I realized I had booked another tour of an olive industry that had cost me 6 USD. The location was 24 miles away from where I was having lunch. Tired and sleepy, I still booked a cab to this place.
While it was too late to realize that I have booked a 40 USD one-way cab for a 6 USD tour, I felt at ease when I started talking to my Uber driver - Mohsen from Iran. We talked non-stop for 45 minutes about similarities between Iranian and Indian culture and our lives in the US. It was like I have met an old relative of mine. As we were going towards the country-side, he got excited about the horses and the cows that we saw on our way. He was simply the sweetest.
Dripping Springs is not very far from Austin, but I had to take an Uber because of poor connectivity through public transport
Texas Olive Industry was situated in Dripping Springs, far between the farmlands. It was an amazing feeling standing in between rows of never-ending farms.
The tour was very informative. We were introduced to different varieties of olives, and ideal conditions for growing and harvesting them. Then we looked at the olive orchards where we learned more about the planting and the growing process. We could not enter it because of damp soil, but normally you can take a stroll inside the orchard and take a close look at the trees.
After that, we went inside to see the mill that is used to extract and process olive oil. We also learned about the difference between pure, light, virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and how to identify a fake or adulterated olive oil.
In the end, we were offered samples of different olive oils and balsamic vinegar to taste.
I was a little worried about if I’d get an Uber back to Austin. But luckily, the cab I got was already headed my way to drop someone in Dripping Springs. I drowsed off within 5 minutes after sitting in the cab.
I had big plans for attending a live music performance at night. I decided to take a small nap and re-energize myself before leaving again. Unfortunately, my "small" nap lasted for almost 4 hours and I woke up around 10:00 in the night. So, I decided to stay back and postpone my plans for some other day.
Take a Free Austin Art Tour
Austin is one of the most colorful cities in the US. You can find such beautiful murals and graffiti around every corner of the city. Make sure to take some time out to see and appreciate the street art - a significant part of this city.
I booked a free East Side Art Tour with Tipster - you don't actually need to pre-book but it's polite to do that. We walked through Eastern Austin and stopped at various points where Natalie, our tour guide, gave us insights into the artworks and their creator.
It is a free tour but a generous tip is recommended if you like it
Visit HOPE Farmers Market
Austin is all about promoting local businesses and that's why you'll find a lot of people in a weekend farmers market.
HOPE Farmers Market operates on every Sunday in East Austin and you can find a variety of things there, including farm-fresh produce, food vendors, live music, yoga groups, and much more.
I treated myself with a Ginger Orange Juice, and I'll admit it was one of the best juices I have ever had!
Eat Texas Tacos
Tacos were in the top of my list of Texan delicacy that I wanted to try. Torchy’s Tacos was a common suggestion in several food blogs for best tacos in Austin. So, I decided to go there. I went to the one closer to the university. That was not the best choice though, as it was super crowded with all the students. I ordered "Independent Taco", one of the vegetarian options they had. I personally found the taste very average. But I would appreciate their quick and organized service despite being so full.
Go For A Hike At Mount Bonnell
After my lunch at Torchy's, I booked an Uber to Mount Bonnell. I had to take a cab because the location was a little far from where I was and the buses as I said before did not have a very good connectivity.
The hike was really easy. Once you reach the top, you can sit and enjoy the spectacular views of the lake and the city.
After coming down, I decided to walk to the nearest bus stop and take a bus back to my hostel.
Visit Texas State Capitol
A perfect example of a royal and antique architecture. After touring the building, you can spend some time strolling in the surrounding garden.
Later that night, I made friends with a Norwegian lady, who was in her 50s and a solo traveler since so many past years. She was super inspiring. We went to dinner together and called it off a night.
Eat at Via313
I would like to admit that I look for pizza places anywhere I go. I had a light breakfast in the hostel and decided to have brunch at Via313. There are around 5 locations of the restaurant in Austin, and I decided to go to the one near my hostel. But I was too early for dining there since it opens later in the evening - so check the timings before you decide a location.
Partly disappointed, I took an Uber to the one near Texas University. I was hungry and craving for food that I ordered more than I could have eaten alone. Their pizza and garlic bread were too delicious and their tomato sauce was worth dying for!!
I got the remaining pizza packed and headed off to the next stop, Bullock State Museum (I won't highly recommend it as it wasn't very exciting - only if you are a history buff, then you can visit it).
Visit HOPE Outdoor Gallery
During the Art Tour on Day 2, our guide, Natalie told us about the HOPE Outdoor Gallery and I made sure that I visited it before I left Austin. After touring the museum, I went there and spent some time looking at the art and appreciating the art culture that this city supports.
Watch Mexican bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge
Later in the evening, I went for the Bat Watching and Sunset Tour with Capital Cruises. The perfect time to view a large number of bats is between March till November. I was a little early for that timeline, but I could still witness a few of them emerging from underneath the limestone bridges.
Apparently, it is the largest bat colony that migrates from central Mexico every Spring.
Attend a Live Music Performance
I was in Live Music Capital of the World and I had already missed attending live music in the last two days. Today I had to make sure, I go to one. As soon as the tour got over, I walked to The Continental Club for The Peterson Brothers performance they had that day. The music was great and it was the first time ever, that I danced without company (feeling of a mini accomplishment).
PS: You can check do512 to know about the events' schedule
Watch a piece of the band's performance below.
I did not stay after the performance and walked back to my hostel. Later, I finished packing and was ready for another early morning flight back to Seattle 😬
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Before leaving for Prague, I did a quick online search to see if I would need a SIM card in Europe or could I survive without it. Both options seemed feasible, but I decided to not buy a SIM card and avoid the hassle of reading too many details on what company's SIM card and what recharge plan to buy.
Countries that I had planned to visit were, Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary, although I did not stick to the plan.
The two things that I relied on were offline google maps (that is the most important thing), and free WiFi hotspots.
I downloaded Prague's offline map before I reached the city and had taken a screenshot of the directions on how to reach the hostel, i.e, the bus, and the tram options.
A funny story: When I reached my hostel, I spent around 5 minutes standing outside a wrong building and feeling desperate about not having a phone network. Incidents like these might happen a few times, but don't be discouraged because you'll be able to figure out a way 🙂
Google Offline maps were a great help throughout my trip and I made sure to download an offline map of the city that I'd be visiting next.
Another thing that I did was, have a rough plan of my next day ready including the restaurants that I wanted to visit that day. I would add all the stops in my maps and select the walking option (because that's what I normally do) and follow that route.