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Coimbatore Travel Guide – Top things to do in the city

Coimbatore Travel Guide – Top things to do in the city

The 5th stop of my South India travels was Coimbatore, one of the major cities of Tamil Nadu state. I made a stop here to take a break from a continuous two weeks of travel across tiny villages. Here is a detailed Coimbatore Travel Guide to help you spend your time in the city pleasantly, without worrying about the “big city” noise and pollution.

2 Days in the Nilgiris – Ooty Travel Guide

2 Days in the Nilgiris – Ooty Travel Guide

Ooty was the fourth stop of my South India travel spree in the months of June-July.
Nestled in the Nilgiri hills, Ooty is a famous hill station of South India. And despite it being touristy, the city is a sure treat to the eyes.
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.

How to reach Ooty?

I was in Wayanad before Ooty, so I had took a from there. Two buses go from Wayanad to Ooty in a day. These buses leave from Sultan Bathery KSRTC bus stand, one at 8:00 am and another one at 12:30 in the noon.

The nearest airport to Ooty is in Coimbatore (~88 km from Ooty). After flying in Coimbatore, you can either self-drive, take a taxi, bus or train to Ooty. You will find many TNSTC buses that commute between the two cities daily.

Where to stay in Ooty?

Ooty shares a border with another beautiful Niligiri town of Coonoor. Some people prefer to stay in Coonoor and drive to Ooty, but many others look for accommodations in Ooty itself.
If you have your vehicle, it doesn't matter where you stay of the two cities, Ooty or Coonoor. But if you don't have one, it is better if you stay in or near the Ooty city centre, since it is closer to the most points of interest, and you can also get a TukTuk(auto-rickshaw) from there conveniently.

I stayed in a BnB, Prabhu's Place, a 2-minute walk to the main road but in a quiet locality. The place was pretty basic but had a cozy and a homely vibe to it. There was a large organic farm as part of the property, which serves as a source of job for many local women.

Things to do in Ooty

Visit a tea factory

Ooty is well known for its tea plantations, and I can swear on the tea I had there. It was one of the best flavored teas I had.
There are two tea factories in Ooty that I know of, one is the Benchmark Tea factory which is famous among the tourists, and which is where I went. It was extremely crowded at that time, and although I was able to see the whole tea making process, there wasn't much guidance. In addition to this, the factory is commercialized so much so that it took its charm away.

The other one is on the way to Dodabetta Peak and seemed less crowded from outside.

PS: Don't miss to taste the tea of Ooty and also get some for home!

Ride through the Nilgiris in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway

If you are a Bollywood fan, you'd know the song "Chaiyan Chaiyan" has been shot on this train.
But if that does not interest you, I believe there are more reasons to take this ride. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the most scenic rides in South India. The train passes through beautiful mountain ranges and inside the caves, that makes you want to take this ride.

PS: The seats get full soon, so buy the ticket from the counter at least 4 hours before the train departure, or book an online ticket in advance.

I missed the train twice, only because all the tickets were sold out.

See all of Ooty from Doddabetta Peak

I was in Ooty in June'19, and at that time the path up the peak was closed due to ongoing construction. The walk to the starting point was very scenic though. On the way, you will also see the tea factory that I mentioned above, so make sure to make a stop there as well.

Dodabetta Peak is not very far from the city center. It will take an hour and a half to reach the starting point of the peak, and another few minutes to climb up.

Spend time walking in the market

End your time in this beautiful touristy city by walking in its crowded yet impressive market. There is so much to see and buy from the market, varying from chocolates, to tea, to intricate craftwork, organic fruits and vegetables, masalas, and so much more.

Two days in Coorg – The Scotland of India

Two days in Coorg – The Scotland of India

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. So here are the top things to do in Coorg - a 2-day itinerary.

How to reach Coorg?

If like me, you are coming from Mysore, catch a KSRTC bus from the city that takes you to Madikeri in around 4 hours. The ticket cost me around 110 INR.

In case you are coming from Bangalore, you can take an overnight sleeper bus to Madikeri that will take around 6-7 hours to reach the city.
If you are coming from a faraway city, you can take a flight to Bangalore or Mysore, and then take a bus from these cities to Madikeri.

PS: You can also rent a two-wheeler or a car from your city and drive to Madikeri. You'll need to take extra care during monsoons since the roads are a little slippery during that time of the year.

Where to stay?

Coorg is full of tourists all around the year because of its beautiful weather, and especially during the weekends when most of the people from Bangalore visit it.
Coincidentally we were in Coorg on a Friday and a Saturday, and most of the accommodations were full during that time. So we switched our accommodations on these two days, both of which were pleasant and comfortable stays.

Our first stay was at the Mayura Valley View hotel by KSTDC, with literally the view of the green valley right from our wall-length window. The hotel is very close to the market, and yet a little secluded from all the noise. The rooms were spacious, and clean, but the food, however, I think they can improve. So you can have your meals either at some restaurant outside the hotel or just ask the chef their specialty.

The second night, however, we stayed at Kushalnagar (an hour drive from Madikeri) in an Oyo room. The room was basic as opposed to the first day, but I really loved the location of the property. It was situated in a village surrounded by tiny houses, and the market was just a 10-minute walk from here. Breakfast was included as part of the reservation, which they probably got from a restaurant, but it was good though.

View from our second accommodation

Day 1 - Spend time touring the attractions in Madikeri

Abbey Falls

We started the day with the very tourist Abbey Falls. It's a little far from the main town of Madikeri, so you can either rent a two-wheeler from Royal Brothers (the only scooter rental in Coorg) or take an auto that takes you to the falls and bring you back to the town.

Since it was raining that day, we took an auto to the falls, and it cost us around 300 INR for the round trip.
Even on a Friday, the place was crowded with tourists, and you could hardly get enough place to stand. Find a corner for yourself, where you can stand leisurely for some time and enjoy the waters gushing down the rocks.
As a plus, you can also see the coffee plantations on one side as you walk to the falls.

Raja's Tomb

This is my personal favorite for two reasons, one there were not many people here, and second, the view of the city and hills are astounding from this place.
There are three tombs, two of the kings, and one is of the priest of the royal Kodava kingdom. These tombs are surrounded by a garden on all sides that gives it a beautiful aesthetic touch. Climb atop a small cliff at the entrance, and you'll get a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and the city below.

Raja's Seat

Once the leisure spot for the king to spend time at while they enjoyed the beautiful scenery in front, Raja's seat has now become one of the most famous tourist attraction in the town.
With a view of the valley and hills, it is a perfect point to sunset from.
We were there on a clouded day, and although it looked beautiful then, I think it would have been even more stunning on a clear day.

Day 2 - Explore the nearby town of Kushalnagar

The next day we took a bus from Madikeri to Kushalnagar that cost us 33 INR per person. After checking into our stay, we rented a two-wheeler from the Royal Brothers and set off on exploring the place.

Namdroling Monastery

I love visiting peaceful monasteries nestled between the hills with beautiful scenery. The Namdroling monastery is around 5 km from Kushalnagar and located within the Tibetan settlement. 

The day we visited, there was some performance happening, which we were lucky to witness - although I am not very sure of the story behind that weekly performance. I asked a few monks, but not many people knew about it.

After visiting the monastery, treat your tastebuds to authentic Tibetan food. We went to a tiny multi-cuisine restaurant in the market just outside the monastery, but if you walk a little further from the monastery, you'll see many small Tibetan restaurants that serve only Tibetan food.

Harangi Reservoir

Located at a distance of around 10 km from Kushalnagar, the roads to the Harangi Dam passes through quaint villages and green pastures. The whole place is well maintained with manicured gardens around the dam. It is a great picnic spot, but if you walk further towards the dam and away from the gardens, you'll see the secluded and the less crowded area, the pathway that leads you to the dam.

Although the dam gates were closed at the time, and there was not much water in the tributary, the whole place was quite scenic.

Apart from these places, you can also visit the Mandalpatti, Elephant Camp, Chiklihole Reservoir, Nisargadhama Deer Park, or trek to Thadiandamol Peak if you have more time in the city.

Mysore in One Day – South India Travel Guide

Mysore in One Day – South India Travel Guide

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.

Amritsar – A Detailed Tour Guide

Amritsar – A Detailed Tour Guide

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!

Places to see

Start from touring the older city of Amritsar. Walk through the narrow alleys and be astonished by the crafts work that goes on inside the tiny old shops.
After strolling through the old city, and observing little things around yourself, head to the other highlights of the city.

Heritage Street Walk

Almost a kilometer long walk that takes you from interiors of the city to the Jallianwala Bagh and Golden Temple, the street is adorned with statues and buildings signifying Punjab's culture. You'll also see numerous shops selling traditional food, clothes, footwear, and much more.

This place attracts a lot of tourists all the year round, so while it is a great spot to do the traditional shopping from, you'll get similar things at better prices in other parts of the city.
More tips in the Shopping section below!

Jallianwala Bagh

It is a historic site, signifying 1919 massacre where hundreds of Indians were murdered in cold blood by the British troops. You'll be able to visualize history as you start walking inside the garden.
There is only one point of entrance and exit to the garden, and that too is very narrow. Once you are there, you'll be able to imagine how the only point of escape was blocked by the Britishers so no one could exit the garden.

Inside the premises, there is Amar Jyoti, the flame that burns day and night throughout the year, to pay respect to the people who died on that unfateful day.

Walk a little further, and you will see the wall that bears the marks of the bullets that were fired by the troops. You will also see a well, into which many people jumped, to protect themselves from the hurling bullets.

There is also a museum that showcases the pictures with details of the freedom fighters.

Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib

You can easily spend 3-4 hours in the holy temple, Harmandir Sahib. Visited all the year around, by so many tourists, it is one of the main highlights of the city, and a must visit when you are in Amritsar.
Surrounding a sacred pool (Sarovar) is this gold plated shrine. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy literature in the Sikh religion lies inside the temple and is revered as the purest and the most spiritual authority in Sikhism.

You will see people from everywhere, without any bias, serving the visitors, by offering them water, also regularly cleaning the temple premises. You'll be amazed by how selflessly people are providing their services here.

After walking around the temple, head out for the Langar (free kitchen). The food here is cooked by the volunteers and is served to all free of cost.

Wahga-Attari Border

Wahga-Attari Border is located between the Attari village of India and Wahga village of Pakistan. It is around 30 km from the city of Amritsar. The retreat ceremony at the border happens every evening, just before the sunset.
The ceremony starts with a parade on both sides of the border and just when the sun starts setting down, the gates open and the two nations lower their flags in coordination. It is followed by a quick handshake between soldiers on both sides before the gates close again.
You'll be amazed to look at the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd that has gathered and immediately become a part of the excitement too.

PS: Reach at least 2 hours before the retreat ceremony, especially during the holiday season, as the place gets crowded very quickly and it is hard to find a perfect spot to get a good view of the procession.

You can also buy VIP passes to reserve seats in advance.

Gobindgarh Fort

Gobindgarh Fort has opened recently to the public after almost 200 years. The fort is a walk, straight into the history of Punjab. There are many attractions within the fort, including, Toshakhana or Treasure house that was once home to the Kohinoor diamond, the Warfare Museum that displays different artillery used in the ancient times, a Turban Museum that displays the turban styles around the world, and how the tying of turbans has evolved over time.

There is a stage inside the fort where you will see live performances, including Bhangra - traditional Punjabi dance form, Gatka - traditional Sikh martial arts, and much more.

You can watch the light and sound show that walks you through the history of the fort, a 7D show that shows history about Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji.

There are several small food shops that you can sit and eat at, while you take a break from walking all around the fort.

Places to shop at

There are specific areas in the city that are best for a certain kind of shopping. Here are a few places that you must visit if you want to do some local street shopping.

Katra Jaimal Singh

The whole street is clustered with the wholesale cloth and garment shops. You can buy a variety of traditional dresses from these shops that include salwar kameez, phulkari, and saree. You can even buy good quality western wear at a lesser price than the branded showrooms.
And of course, there is a lot of scope for bargaining in these shops too!

Hall Gate

The best place to buy Punjabi Jutti or the traditional Punjabi footwear is opposite Hall Gate. There are several shops lined up that offer different varieties of jutties, ranging from fancy to casual wear.
You can arrange at these shops too!

PS: Do not shop these items at Heritage Walk unless it is very necessary because the difference in the rates is very significant.
But if you want to buy Kada or the traditional Sikh Bangle, then heritage Walk is a great choice.

Places to eat at

Amritsar is a foodie's paradise, and it offers a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes with the best taste.
Find Amritsar's detailed food guide here.

The holy city of Amritsar has so much to offer, and I hope this detailed tour guide is helpful to you as you plan your visit to the city.

Jaipur – Exploring the pinks of the city!

Jaipur – Exploring the pinks of the city!

Jaipur is a beautiful city and even with all the modernization happening, the pink city remains traditional at its core.
In this post, I share tips on how to reach Jaipur, where to stay, and places to see, eat, and shop at.

Exploring Mahabaleshwar – Places to see in one day!

Exploring Mahabaleshwar – Places to see in one day!

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, you can spend an entire weekend visiting these and be taken aback by the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.

The Girl In The Shorts

The Girl In The Shorts

Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
Past the houses, the shops, the rickshaws, the autos
I walk!

There's a bunch, a never-ending bunch,
That looks at me, turns its head, then smiles, and flees!
But what do I do?
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
Ignoring the bunch, I continue to walk!

I felt a brush, or was it in my mind?
I straightened my spine, I looked up
It was that bunch, just mixed in the crowd!
I increased my pace, to walk out of it,
But it was a bunch, a never-ending bunch!
Music in my ears, I divert my attention, and
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
I continue to walk!

The bunch looks lecherously at my legs,
As if that is the only important thing in its life!
Old and Young!
Married, Unmarried!
Rich and Poor!
All beliefs alike, form the bunch, a never-ending bunch!
Hey You! You! and You!
It's my skin, it's not your meat!
I shout in my head, but
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
I keep my calm, and I continue to walk!

What is your education?
What is your qualification?
Now seem baseless questions!
Why? You ask me!
Because what defines you, is what you are at the core!

But Hey Hey!
There are people, a very few people,
Not part of that never-ending bunch!
That do not make me uncomfortable!
That do not tell me, how I should dress,
That do not scare me, if I walk alone in the streets at night!
That let me be me!

Because that's just me, a part of me,
I am the girl in the shorts!

Amritsar – A Foodie’s Paradise!

Amritsar – A Foodie’s Paradise!

Amritsar is no doubt a beautiful, and a culturally rich city, a city that takes you back into time, as you walk through its old narrow streets. In addition to all of this, one thing that sets the city apart is its delicious food loaded […]

Pillars on which the world leans on – Happy Women’s Day

Pillars on which the world leans on – Happy Women’s Day

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 […]

2 Days in Chopta – Explore the Unspoiled Land of Uttrakhand

2 Days in Chopta – Explore the Unspoiled Land of Uttrakhand

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 of the lesser explored hill stations of Uttrakhand. It serves as a base camp for treks to Tunganath Temple and Chandrashila peak, and Deoria Tal. And that's not the end of it, a few days in Chopta is an entirely new and different experience. Life in Chopta is like a stand-still, with very little access to the digital world and basic necessities of life, like electricity and warm water.

How to reach Chopta?

Depending on where you are coming from, you can either take a direct cab to the village or break it down in different chunks of travel.

Use this link to book your self-driving car

You can take a flight to Dehradun which is around 225 km from Chopta. From there you can either take a taxi or a bus to Chopta.

Another option is to take a train to Rishikesh or Haridwar and then again from there take a taxi or bus to Chopta.

Where to stay in Chopta?

We had decided to camp at "Moksha" a little ahead of the Chopta city center. But due to heavy snowfall in the area, the roads beyond the city center were blocked with a series of vehicles stuck in the snow.

There was no way we could get any further, so we decided to get down in the market and looked for accommodation nearby.

Vehicles stuck in snow after a snow fall in Chopta, Uttrakhand
Vehicles stuck in snow

Pro Tip: There are many guest houses in the city center if you are not very particular about where you want to stay.

We stayed at Baba Holiday Home which was a very minimalistic guest house.

Baba Holiday Home in Chopta, Uttrakhand
On the top left - the white and blue building is Baba Holiday Home

The best part about staying in Chopta

The is no electricity in the entire village, and everything works using the solar energy consumed during the day. So we literally spent the night in the dark with dead phones and freezing cold water flowing in bathrooms.

It was an amazingly crazy experience living a life away from our comfort zones and without any unnecessary luxuries.

PS: We paid Rs 60 for a single bucket of warm water every night for bathing.

Things to do in Chopta

Day 1

Tunganath Trek

This trek to the highest Garhwal Shiva temple gives the most spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks. While one will admire the gorgeous view of snow reflecting the sun rays in the morning, but the setting sun looks all the more stunning with a tinted orange sky. It is a must-do trek for solace seekers, nature lovers, and adventurers alike.

My Experience

The 3 km hike to Tunganath temple from Chopta, otherwise easy, gets a little trickier in snowy winters. We kept a constant steady pace climbing up, and it took us almost 4 hours to reach the top.

It was just so amazing seeing an infinite sheet of white snow reflecting the sharp sun rays.

As we reached the top, we were joined by the oh so furry mountain dogs, and they looked the cutest with their bright shiny eyes.

And once we were there, entering the temple, it was one of the most beautiful feelings. Everything that we had just passed by seemed so tiny in front of the panoramic Himalayan range.

Each step that we took to reach the top seemed worth for!

Climbing up was definitely tiring and exhausting, but getting down was even more difficult. The sun was bright and sharp the whole day because of which the snow had started melting. We had to be more careful now about not stepping on the ice.

After reaching down, we quickly freshened up and went to the closest Dhabba for dinner. Warming ourselves with the flames of the burning stove was one of the coziest feelings at the point. Our hands and feet were cold and soar, and a little warmth seemed heaven.

Day 2

Deoria Tal

While you are in Chopta, you cannot miss this magical piece of land. Just a 45-minute drive from the town and a convenient 2-hour hike from the Sari Village is Deoria Tal. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, protected by green meadows and forests, lies this beautiful lake reflecting the colors of the sky and the trees.

No picture, no words can do justice to the magic of this place. The kind of beauty that leaves you spellbound and that wants you to keep staring at it, but you still can't get enough of it, that is what Deoria Tal did to me.

The hike is pretty simple especially since there was no snow and it was a gradual steep. We spent good 4 hours relaxing at the Tal before we finally half-heartedly decided to descend back.


Trekking through snow to Tunganath temple was one of a kind experience.

Excited and scary, cold and warm at the same time.

Constantly slipping on icy rocks, helping one another to reach the bottom before it gets dark or before you lose hope of returning in one piece!


All that nauseatic feeling driving through mountains is worth for when you have the fascinating views like the one from Tunganath Temple and of Deoria Tal.

Weekend Getaway from Delhi – The Delhi – Gwalior – Agra Road Trip

Weekend Getaway from Delhi – The Delhi – Gwalior – Agra Road Trip

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 […]

Top Free Things to do in Vienna – a 2-day itinerary

Top Free Things to do in Vienna – a 2-day itinerary

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 in Vienna walking around and exploring the free gems of the city. Here is a day-wise itinerary of things that you can also do for free in Vienna.

Day 1

Relax in Burggarten

Close to city center but away from the touristy crowd

Located inside the Ringstrasse, is this greener belt surrounded by many historic buildings, including Hofburg and Albertina. The park is full of architectural statues and sculptures. But the main highlight though is the discrete statue of Mozart located right in the center of the park. If you need some time to chill and absorb in the Viennese beauty, Burrgarten is a perfect place for you.

Walk around the old city

Hofburg

Take a walk along the magnificent Hofburg - an Imperial Palace and its museums, including, Sisi Museum, Imperial apartments, and Imperial Silver collection). If you want to check all of these from inside, make sure to buy a city pass (or card, whichever fits more to your plans) - it's a great deal if you have enough time and if you want to visit many tourist attractions.

Albertina

Climb up the painted stairs to Albertina Gallery onto the terrace that looks down at the city with a backdrop of the State Opera House.

Free entry to the museum with a Vienna Pass.

Judenplatz

Right in the center of Judenplatz standing above a medieval synagogue, is a memorial dedicated to the Austrian Jews that lost their lives during the Holocaust. It bears the names of the concentration camps, where the Austrian Jews were killed.

The entry to the Jewish Museum & Museum Judenplatz is free with a Vienna Pass.

Day 2

Admire the grand Schonnbrunn Gardens

Schonnbrunn Palace and Gardens boast of magnificent Baroque architecture. The entry fee to the palace is €17,50 but it is free with a Vienna pass. You can, however, roam in the gardens for no cost at all. The gardens are huge, and you can relish its different parts, including, Great Parterre, Neptune Fountain, Gloriette, and much more.

Visit the very interesting Naschmarkt

An outdoor market with around 100 stalls of food and a few stalls that sell clothes and antiques. Take your time walking across the market, tasting food samples, buying some fresh fruits, and looking through the souvenirs.

Get Amazed by the magnificence of St. Stephen's Cathedral

Conveniently located in the city center, in Stephansplatz, is this giant gothic beauty. It takes you back in the time, and you can easily spend 30-40 minutes inside the church praising its grand architecture.
The entrance to the church is for €1 in the name of donation, and if you want to do an underground catacomb tour, or climb the 343 steps of the south tower, you'll need to pay €5 - €6 for each.

Watch Sunset over Danube river

Take a 30 minute U-Bahn ride from Stephansplatz to Neue Donau, the closest station to Brigittenauer Bridge. Walk over to the bridge, and you can see the sun go down on the other side. You can also sit by the lake in Donau Park just under the bridge for a relaxed evening.

Traveling to Salzburg – Free things to do in the city

Traveling to Salzburg – Free things to do in the city

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 3 days in Munich, one of the expensive cities, I was a little reluctant to spend more immediately and wanted to keep my budget in check.

So, when I was drafting out a rough itinerary, I decided between places or experiences that I really wanted to have and the ones that I was okay to miss and spend less.

Travel experience is all about the choices you make!!

Stay at YoHo Hostel

Just a 10-minute walk from the train station, YoHo International was a good budget hostel with clean and comfortable rooms. It had a complimentary bread, butter and jam breakfast with an option to upgrade to a full-fledged breakfast buffet. The staff was also very accommodating and readily gave amazing travel tips for touring the city.

PS: You get a free welcome shot of Apfelstrudel!

Apfelstrudel shot in YoHo Hostel, Salzburg, Austria
Apfelstrudel shot

Day 1

Visit an Alpine Salt Mine

Interestingly Salzburg means, Salt Fortress, and it has been the center of salt extraction for thousands of years. You can visit the salt mine at any of these three places surrounding the city - Hallein, Hallstatt, and Alatausee. The experience will be very similar in all of these places as the tours are organized by a single company.

I went to the mine at Hallein - it was a pretty fun experience, learning about the history of the salt mining business in the city.

Before the tour started, we were given overalls to wear to avoid soiling our own clothes. After that, we rode on a mine train that took us across the Austria-Germany border under the Alps. This was followed by a slide down deeper, under the ground. The tour ended with a boat ride across the briny water lake.

In addition to all these rides, you can also be more experimental, and actually taste the water inside the caves. And if you are lucky enough, you can also get a salt crystal from the mine to take home as a personalized memento.

Depending on the mine you chose to visit, you can plan to accommodate touring the nearby areas as well. At Hallein, you can also visit the Celtic village located right next to the salt mine and get an experience of the old Celtic times.

Tour Hohensalzburg Fortress and the surrounding gardens

I am a sunset lover and what better way to watch the sun go down - magnificent city views and the picturesque Alps in the background.
You can either hike up or take a funicular to reach the fortress. I preferred walking, and I swear the views kept getting better as I climbed up.

If you continue to walk straight towards Mönchsberg and not turn towards the fortress, you'll reach the gardens.

Now there are two reasons to go to gardens first and watch the sunset from there, one, it is far less crowded than the fortress, and the views are definitely unbeatable, second, you get a free entry inside the fortress after 7:00 pm(so if you want to save on some money!!).

Enjoy open-air Opera performance on a big screen

I was lucky enough to be in the city during the Siemens fest. The fest runs for 5 weeks (from July-August), during which the selected concerts and opera productions are shown on a big screen in Kapitelplatz. So just reach before the screening starts and grab a seat for yourself.

opera screening in Salzburg Austria

Day 2

Walk around Old Town Salzburg

Take the Love Lock bridge to go across the Salzach river and to the city center. Spend some time roaming around the streets, and see places including, Mozart's birthplace, old market square, Salzburg Cathedral, and Kapitelplatz (with a giant chess board placed on the road).

Visit Mirabell Palace and it's gardens - FREE Tour

Fun fact - A few clips of the "Do, Re, Mi" song from the movie Sound of Music are shot in the Mirabell Gardens.

I was not able to roam around the Mirabell gardens because it was raining outside, but I have read great things about it - the statues, fountains, and the landscaping that is done.

In your urge to relax in the gardens, do not forget to tour the Mirabell Palace. A grand palace with baroque architecture and angel statues adorning the 3-level staircase. You can also take a look inside the Marble Hall which is now used for weddings.

As you continue to explore the city

  • Dine in cozy cafes of Salzburg!!
  • Visit the weekly local market held every Thursday right opposite Mirabell Palace
Why is it sometimes easy to open up to strangers than loved ones?

Why is it sometimes easy to open up to strangers than loved ones?

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 […]

My Favorite 5 Restaurants in Gurgaon

My Favorite 5 Restaurants in Gurgaon

In the last few years, Gurgaon has become a big technical hub employing lakhs of people each year. With most of the jobs demanding a lot of work and time, it is very natural for so many restaurants and cafes to open up in the city to keep it a little light-hearted. Not only that, with the start-up culture growing so much, many cafes are opening up to solve the purpose of a freelancer's working space.
I worked in Gurgaon for a year and a half and for sure I needed a break on weekends to go out, sit and relax in a cozy cafe, or to a new restaurant that has just opened up or to try out different cuisine.
Below are my five personal favorites that solve the purpose of good food and cozy ambiance.

Fat Lulu's Cafe & Bar - Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4

The first thing you'll notice about this cafe is its smart utilization of area. The way they have arranged the tables with bar and kitchen on one side leaves a lot of convenient walking space. The cafe has a very pleasing ambiance with good music.
It is also work-friendly with good wifi and comfortable seats.
The food is here is really great and reasonable too!!

Cheese Nachos in Gurgaon
Cheese Nachos
Toffee Caramel Waffle Sweet in Gurgaon
Toffee Caramel Waffle

Yum Yum Cha - Cyber Hub

I am really in love with this place. The restaurant has a lot of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Asian food options, including dim sum, pho, sushi, noodles, and so on. The service is overall quick and polite with the staff open to recommending options according to your taste, just in case you get overwhelmed looking at menu items.

vegetarian pho yum yum cha gurgaon
Vegetarian Pho
Basil Noodles yum yum cha gurgaon
Basil Noodles
Spicy Jade dimsums Yum Yum Cha Gurgaon
Spicy Jade dimsums
veg sushi yum yum cha gurgaon
Vegetarian Sushi

Delhicacy - Galleria, DLF Phase 4

Crazy about street food but fear getting sick? Then this restaurant is a must go for you. Located in one of the central areas of Gurgaon, this restaurant is every chaat lover's favorite. Large portions, amazing taste, and a large variety of North Indian food options, I am a big fan of Delhicacy.

bhelpuri in delhicacy gurgaon
chaat in delhicacy gurgaon
food in delhicacy gurgaon

Ciclo Cafe - Sector 29

The first thing that impressed me apart from the beautiful decor is the cordiality of the staff.

The whole experience becomes better if the service is good.

With so many bicycles on display, the cafe is promoting the bicycle trend and a healthy lifestyle. Apart from the traditional items on the menu, the cafe also has a variety of healthy and gluten-free meals. It is one of the quieter restaurants in the noisy hub of sector 29.

Mango, Melon, and Quinoa Salad in Ciclo Cafe Gurgaon
Mango, Melon, and Quinoa Salad
Mushroom Salad in Ciclo Cafe in Gurgaon
Mushroom Salad
Nachos in Ciclo Cafe in Gurgaon
Nachos
Fresh Carrot Juice in Ciclo Cafe, Gurgaon
Fresh Carrot Juice

Burma Burma - Cyber hub

If you love trying different cuisines, then Burma Burma is a place for you.
I just love their Khao Suey and bubble tea and always tend to over-eat whenever I am here. Burma Burma offers pure vegetarian food and is generally for a wholesome dining experience.

Oh No Khao Suey Burma Burma Gurgaon
Oh No Khao Suey
Nutella Bubble Tea Khao Suey Gurgaon
Nutella Bubble Tea
Oh No Khao Suey Burma Burma Gurgaon
Khao Suey Toppings
Onion and Garlic Steam Buns Burma Burma Gurgaon
Steam Buns

A few restaurants that do not make it to the top 5 list but are a good choice for any day!

Tossin Pizza - for their over the top dips on the pizza. Large portions and really tasty.

Tossin Pizza Gurgaon

Pier 38 - one of the many bars in CyberHub, with great food and impressive presentation.

Pier 38 Gurgaon

IHOP - a breakfast kind of cafe with a variety of egg meals.

Ihop Gurgaon

The Classroom - love them for their creamy soft Kejriwal eggs and many indoor games options.

Kejriwal Eggs in The Classroom Gurgaon
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Mountain in Oils – Painting Tutorial for Beginners

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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 investment. My favorites are Camlin Oil Color box, Daler-Rowney brushes, and Camlin Linseed oil from Amazon. Visit these links to get your own oil-painting kits 😄

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Traveling To Prague – Things to do and tips to keep in mind

Traveling To Prague – Things to do and tips to keep in mind

Prague is a beautiful-budget city with colorful historic buildings, narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and a river that divides the city.
I was in Prague for two weeks in mid-August and the weather during this time was just perfect, with no rain on most of the days.
I had enrolled in a 10-day European Summer school, so it helped me experience Prague both as a local as well as a tourist. In this post, I will share the top things that you should do while your stay in Prague and some tips to keep in mind as you explore the city.

First things first - Where to get your money exchanged?

The best solution to get local currency is by using your international debit or credit card to withdraw money from the ATM, given that bank charges are not too high.
If that doesn't work for you or you have carried enough cash from home, you can exchange your Euros/Dollars that you have from trusted exchange offices. One of the biggest scams in the city is money exchange, so you need to be wary of where you get your money exchanged. There are so many exchange offices that will claim to offer you the best conversion rate but do not fall for them. Most of these places will take a commission that will leave you with much less amount after exchange than what you'd normally get.
Most accepted currency in Prague is Czech Crowns (CZK). We exchanged our money at Praha Exchange located right in the city center on Jindřišská street. It offers one of the best rates and zero commission.

PS: Many places don't accept credit/debit card for payment, so do ask before you purchase anything.

Buy a SIM card?

I decided to not buy a SIM card during my stay in Europe and it worked perfectly fine for me. You can read more details on how I managed to survive without a SIM card for 30 days here.

Buy a Public Transport Ticket

Prague is well connected by public transport, that includes trams and buses throughout the city. You can get the tickets from the vending machines or ticket offices at the metro stations, newsstands, or tourist information offices. If you are in the city for more than one day, I would suggest that you buy a pass instead. There are several options for the passes, ranging from one day to annual. Check their official site for the latest ticket prices.

Grocery Shopping

If you are a budget traveler who likes to buy and cook their own food, I am sure grocery shopping must top your list of ToDos on reaching a new city. There were many small supermarkets near my hostel, Botič Student House
on the main Vršovická Street where you could get all kinds of basic items. But a few things to be careful of are, one, if you are tight on cash and need to use the card, make sure to ask before you start selecting items. Second, I bought some food without checking and it was expired. So make sure you check the dates before you buy anything - you don't want to waste all that you bought.
Also, you can buy the same item at different prices in different places. Although, I don't exactly remember the rate difference.

If you want to go to a proper supermarket, I would suggest Tesco Express or Lidl for more trustworthy purchases 🙂

Breakfast Items from Tesco, Prague

Visit Pubs and Party in the Best Dance Clubs

Prague is famous for its beer and is often referred beer capital of the world. With frequent hopping to different pubs and clubs in Prague, I'll list down a few of my favorites.

The Pub - It had a fun concept of pouring your own beer at the table and also monitor the amount of beer you have had and the price for the same. You can also compete with other tables, with score directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed at a table. With average food and rude staff, this place is best only if you want to have good beer and hang out with friends 🙂

Hangar Bar - My personal favorite because of good music and ample space to dance. With a non-stop music, we were dancing pretty much the whole time we were in the club.

Hangar Bar in Prague

Golden Tree - Crowded yet fun, mainly because of a good choice of songs they were playing. Despite the creeps that were trying to enter our group and broken glass and beer on the floor, we didn't get bored here 🙂

Karaoke Night in Jampa Dampa - We visited Jampa Dampa on a Karaoke night on Thursday. Hidden between streets in the basement, is this small fun club. We were a group of multiple nationalities and the person on the computer was kind enough to find our countries' songs and play for us. Check out the video:

Eat Drink Repeat!

Prague is full of cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. From coffee to pizza to Indian food, the city will not disappoint you. Check out this link for tried and tested food options in Prague.

Have a Barbecue in Stromovka Park

Take some time out of visiting the touristy spots and spend an evening with your friends barbecuing in the park. There are some parks in Prague where grilling is illegal, therefore find a park that allows it and if the weather permits, then you are all set for your picnic time 🙂
We had BBQ near the Vltava Canal in Stromovka Park. In maps, you can see it as Stromovka - Grill Bod 5. Enjoy your grilled cheese and burgers with chilled beer. Go for a swim or paddleboarding in the small stream that flows nearby.

Grilled Cheese with Burger in Stromovka Park

Paddleboarding

Just a few steps from our BBQ spot was a small stream flowing. After having lunch, some of us went for paddleboarding there. You can find rental shops in the park where you can rent a paddle board from.
It was my first ever experience standing on a paddle board and river waters were quite calm for the first-time paddleboarders 😊.

PaddleBoarding in Stromovka Park, Prague

Other Points of Interest

Petrin Hill & Prague Castle

Surrounded by nature, Petrin Hill is one of the best places to see the sunset and the city from. You can reach the top either by a tram or walk up the stairs. But the best way was to climb up the hidden paths through the gardens. Once there, you can also go to Lookout Tower to get even better city views. I did not do that because the views from the hill were pretty good as well.

You can also visit Prague Castle since it is just around the corner a few minutes walk from the hill.

Charles Bridge & Lennon Wall

Flooded with tourists throughout the day, visit Charles Bridge for its history, statues, and live music. But the best way to get a good view of Charles Bridge is from Alšovo nábřeží. It is a walkway between Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge right by the river.

PS: Alšovo nábřeží was suggested by a friend and we happened to see a beautiful sunset from this place and it wasn't as crowded as well 😁

As you cross the Charles Bridge, get down a few stairs on the left and make a stop at Lennon Wall. With tons of artwork done on it, it's a must visit to reminisce about the history behind the wall, when people used this wall to express their emotions.

Lennon Wall, Prague

Museum Of Communism

I wouldn't say it was the best museum, but it worked quite well for me since I did not have a lot of information about European History. It was like a physical Wikipedia and the reading walls made it a bit boring.

Vyšehrad Hill

Get past the gardens after getting down at Výtoň station to St. Peter and St. Paul Church and then to amazing views of Vltava river and the city from Vyšehrad Hill.

Wenceslas Square and Old Town

Stroll around Wenceslas Square, Old Town, and Jewish quarters admiring the beautiful European architecture and get a hint of the city culture and history.

Day trip to Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful city just 3-hour drive from Prague. It is famous for it's State Castle, that is surrounded by Vltava river in the south and Polecnice stream in the north. After touring the castle, you can sit in a river-side bar and enjoy your beer.
End your trip with a rafting in the surrounding river.