Cyprus: A perfect holiday destination

Sailing at Agia Napa
Sailing at Agia Napa

Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for the Indian market with many varied offerings for families and leisure travellers. From beaches, to museums to archeological sites, Cyprus is the ideal year-round vacation destination.

Gulf Air offers convenient flight schedules and excellent connectivity, within 3 hours, to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus through its hub in Bahrain. Gulf Air currently flies from four destinations in India; Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi to Cyprus through its efficient Bahrain hub. The airline is adding a fifth destination; Thiruvananthapuram, commencing with five weekly flights to the Kerala capital on the 15th December. Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) has recently partnered with Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, to host a roadshow held in the Indian cities of Delhi and Mumbai. During the two one-day events Gulf Air and Cypriot travel industry representatives showcased the country’s tourism offering and most convenient travel options when visiting from India.

Parachuting in Cyprus
Parachuting in Cyprus

Nothing beats Cyprus for a beach holiday. With an expansive coastline providing a wide variety of beaches to choose from, ranging from secluded bays, to lively resorts, sandy beaches and rocky coves, you are bound to find the right one for you. Relaxing in the sun is not the only reason to visit Cyprus. There’s a myriad of activities you could indulge in and being an island, water sports feature strongly. Try the waterpark for thrills, or bungee jumping for an extreme sensation. Discover the magic of the underwater world by snorkelling or diving in the warm crystal clear seas. Windsurfing and sailing can be enjoyed all the year round, thanks to steady winds and calm predictable seas, while coastal cruising and deep-water fishing are also popular. You could even use the island as a base for a short cruise to other nearby countries.

Early Christian Basilica Kourion
Early Christian Basilica Kourion

But if you love culture than step back in time with a visit to Choirokoitia, one of the best preserved sites of a prehistoric settlement found in the Eastern Mediterranean, with its reconstructed round dwellings giving a vivid representation of what life was like at the dawn of civilisation. Admire the exquisite floor mosaics of the Roman villas depicting scenes from mythology, arguably the best in the eastern Mediterranean and the impressive underground Tombs of the Kings nearby, carved out of solid rock and decorated with Doric pillars. Or enjoy an ancient Greek play performed in a Roman theatre with the most spectacular view on a cliff overlooking the sea. Many fine examples of Byzantine art have survived on the island, which you can see for yourself in Cyprus’ painted churches with their colourful frescoes, ten of which have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Marvel at the sumptuous pageantry of Greek Orthodox religious festivals whose origins go back thousands of years.

Food & Drink: With emphasis on fresh local ingredients, a pungent mix of herbs and spices and a light spattering of olive oil, Cypriot food is essentially Mediterranean, similar to that of Greece and with a hint of the Middle East and Asia Minor. Both poets and travellers past have praised the flavours of the island. In present times doctors and health specialists have added their voices in extolling the virtues of the Mediterranean diet. The grains and pulses, sun-ripened fresh fruit and vegetables, high-protein fish, lean meat and poultry, olive oil and wine are both a healthy option as well as an irresistible temptation.

Go GOA for a Bachelorette party!!

Bachelorette Party at SinQ Beach Club in Candolim, Goa
Bachelorette Party at SinQ Beach Club in Candolim, Goa

We all know what men do before marriage? They celebrate their singlehood in the form of crazy-cool bachelor parties. Some go too wild like we have seen in ‘The Hangover’ 😉 But this ritual (yes! a ritual because we see most of the grooms do that around us these days) has most certainly picked up in India. Marriage not only brings along new relationships but also new responsibilities; specially for women. So, before you wear the hat of new responsibilities,why don’t you let your hair down and party like you never did before. Why Should Boys have all the Fun??

The concept of having a Bachelorette is relevantly new for Indian Women, but it surely is picking up too. It could be a House party, a gala dinner with all the girls, a special private place booked for you to let your hair down or a fun outstation trip with the girls!! If you opt for an outstation trip, there can be no ideal place other than GOA. Go ahead and pick the newest and one of the best party hot spot in India which is SinQ Beach Club in Goa. SinQ offers a personal pool cabana to have your craziest bachelorette party.  The most happening place in GOA has a special offer going on for all the ladies wanting to have a Bachelorette party. So ladies, girls, brides what are you waiting for? Go ahead and book your own cabana and party till you drop.

Having fun at a  Bachelorette Party
Having fun at a Bachelorette Party

Also, if you wish to add some accessories to that perfect dress that you chose for your bachellorette party, you can pick a Carnival mask, a Girls night out Party Hat and A bride to be sash for yourself and your girls from Under Cover Lingerie and you’re all set to go for a wild night. You can pick a baker for designer cakes for Bachelorettes, you will be given inputs from Under Cover Lingerie for props and SinQ Beach Club, Goa for special pool cabana deal and also may be you can pick any other resorts/restaurants also with any such deals. SinQ Beach Club offers a Personal Pool Cabana for having a fun-filled bachelorette party. Entry would be Rs. 500 per head with unlimited pouring of premium brands from the open bar. Also, SinQ will be granting a 15 % off on a la carte food ordered and drinks purchased from the VIP Bar. To make the Bachelorette party more special, there is a complimentary cake for the to-be-bride.

Pool Cabana for party
Pool Cabana for party

Goa now has its first and only micro-brewery. Taking SinQ to the next level it invitesr guests to come and enjoy tasting of their very own beer, brewed in-house at SinQ, in association with HouseBrew. All the guests at SinQ can come taste a batch of Dark Ale.

SinQ Beach Club at Candolim, North Goa, is a complete party haven for food, dance, music and leisure lovers. Launched in December 2012, SinQ Beach Club has been conceptualized keeping varied moods of party lovers in mind. It comprises of a Classy Nightclub, an Open-Air Lounge Area with a discotheque (1st of its kind in India) and Poolside area with stylish cabanas. It is an all time party club, lets you take a break from keeping your party either to the day or the night. It has become not just one of the most promising nightclubs but also a premium dayclub in Goa. With guests flocking in from across the country and other parts of the world, it has already taken Goa’s party scene by storm. One’s search for a party destination quenches here.

 

Splendid Winter Warmer Package at Wales

Walkers on Coast Path near Cwm-yr-Eglwys Pembrokeshire
Walkers on Coast Path near Cwm-yr-Eglwys
Pembrokeshire

The Pembrokeshire Coastline in Wales is the perfect year-round destination with unrivalled walking opportunities.  Why not explore our fabulous county and book Winter Warmer Package at The Grove hotel in Wales.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of Britain’s National Trails. There are 15 in England and Wales and they represent the 15 best walking trails. There are three national trails in Wales, The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Offa’s Dyke and Glyndwr’s Way. What makes the Pembrokeshire Coast Path so interesting is the variety of landscapes you pass through on your way along it, ranging from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands and flooded glacial valleys.

CoastlineThere are also some remarkably quaint towns and villages to explore, rest, refresh and recuperate in; essential for getting your breath back after experiencing some of those views! Don’t be put off by the length of The Coast Path. The year round Coastal Bus Services are specially designed for walkers. Travel by bus a few miles down the coast and walk back at your own pace. There are also plenty of smaller circular walks. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park list 130 of them on their web site.

The hotel team will pack you off in the morning with a luxury hamper complete with a flask of Chef’s traditional Welsh cawl and tasty bites to keep you warm and toasty. Return to a roaring log fire, a soothing bath and a massage courtesy of The Grove’s visiting masseuse.  Let The Grove’s expert staff look after you both, as you enjoy a delicious candlelit meal beside the fire in our award-winning restaurant.

Package from £150 per person, per night includes:

  • Bed and Breakfast for 2 nights in a Classic or Superior Room.
  • Luxury Walker’s Hamper in a choice of a basket or backpack.
  • Full Body Massage in the comfort of your own room.
  • Dinner each night from the Winter A’La Carte Menu
  • Favourable rates for upgrading also available on request.

The offer is based on 2 people sharing a Classic or Superior room.  Dinner is from the A’La Carte menu.  Offer applies to stays between now and the 27th March 2014.

Best places to go in 2014 – Ranthambore National Park among the list

Star-eyed TigerRanthambore Tiger Reserve and National Park in Rajasthan, India is among the best places to go in 2014 as per the no other than National Geographic. It has compiled a list of 20 places in the world, which ought not to be missed next year. The Best of the World list reflects what is authentic, culturally rich, sustainable and superlative in the world of travel. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan in India is one of the most celebrated tiger parks in world alongwith Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Ranthambore has been home to one of the most revered tigress ‘Machli’, a lead in one of the most well known wildlife fights between a tiger and a crocodile. Sighting a Royal Bengal Tiger in its territory is altogether a different experience. (Read: Tale of two tiger sightings)

A monitor lizard at Ranthambore
A monitor lizard at Ranthambore

Well known Tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar reccently said in an interview about Ranthambore- Tigers of Ranthambore rewrote their natural history for world to read, see and record. The first records of kin links among tigers were established here as were the first records of the male tiger in the role of father and looking after cubs.  This has also been established by  Kim Sullivan’s recording of the baby sitter in Bandhavgarh and, more recently, Balendu Singh’s record of the male tiger bringing up cubs after the tigress died. Earlier most believed that the male killed the cubs. Ranthambore also gave us the first pictures of tigers killing in water, fighting crocodiles, eating pythons & porcupines, of a bear attacking a tiger, of a secret life of mother and cubs in the first six months of the cubs’ existence… so on.  

On its selection what National Geographic says about Ranthambore-

Eyeing the Tigers in Rajasthan

On the bumpy road to Ranthambore National Park, warden Balendu Singh says, “It takes some luck to see a tiger.”

Sun sets at Rajbagh, a place famous for its tiger sightings.
Sun sets at Rajbagh, a place famous for its tiger sightings.

Not long after, he stops on the verge of a dusty trail inside the 151-square-mile reserve. Ensconced in tall grass, a male tiger, T-25, lollygags on his back in the sun, as playful as a house cat. When two chubby cubs emerge, wrestling, rolling, the bigger cat bats them away. Singh lifts his camera, recording it all. As the first male tiger known to raise cubs orphaned by their mother, T-25 is making history.

Indeed, things have changed since this temple-laden, lake-mottled, brushy expanse of land in central India served as the royal hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Back in the day, even Prince Philip shot a tiger here for sport. But since 1973, this wildlife-rich terrain has been a protected area and tiger reserve. Abundant with monkeys, leopards, wild boars, foxes, macaques, crocodiles, and birds, Ranthambore’s exotic landscape—punctuated by a crumbling, ancient fort—evokes scenes from a Rudyard Kipling tale. Here roam 24 glorious adult tigers, and the population continues to grow. “We’ve welcomed 26 cubs in the last two years,” says Singh, who blames deforestation and poaching for the decimation of India’s once plentiful tiger population. With conservation in mind, the park limits the number of visitors. Yes, one has to be lucky to glimpse a tiger, but Ranthambore makes its own luck. —Becca Hensley

Travel Tips

When to Go: Ranthambore National Park is open to visitors October 1-June 30. Daily opening and closing times vary seasonally. Morning visits are best since animals typically are more active and visible.

How to Go: Ranthambore national park is well connected with all the major cities and station in India. The easiest way to reach Ranthambore is to take a train to Sawai Madhopur. This town is well connected with trains to/from Jaipur, Bombay and Delhi.

Nearby Airports – Jaipur and Kota

Distance by rail:
Delhi – 362 km, Agra – 227 km, Bombay 1027 km, Kota – 108 km, Jaipur – 132 km

Distance by road:
Delhi – 480 km (via Dausa), Jaipur – 180 km (via Tonk)

Mist over forest at dawn, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda. Photo: Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis/National Geographic
Mist over forest at dawn, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda.
Photo: Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis/National Geographic

Meanwhile, the top 20 destinations for 2014 (in alphabetical order) selected by National Geographic are:

  • Alentejo, Portugal
  • Arbil, Iraq
  • Bolaven Plateau, Laos
  • Cacao Trail, Ecuador
  • Cape Verde
  • Cathar country, France
  • Cordoba, Argentina
  • Derawan Islands, Indonesia (readers’ choice)
  • Guyana
  • John Muir Trail, Scotland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Nahanni National Park, Canada
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Northern Territory, Australia
  • Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
  • Puglia, Italy
  • Ranthambore National Park, India
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Sochi, Russia

Don’t miss any of them.

Coming soon! Skydiving on cruise!!

Kneel laying of Anthem of seas
Kneel laying of Anthem of seas

If cruising itself doesn’t sounds adventurous to you, then very soon you will be able to add thrills like skydiving to it. Sounds amazing, isn’t it. Royal Caribbean International is working hard to make everything possible. A new class of ships will have many things more to offer.

Royal Caribbean International recently marked an important milestone in the development of its newest class of ships, Quantum class, with Anthem of the Seas receiving its first block as the keel was lowered into place. The keel-laying signifies the beginning of the ship’s physical construction. During the ceremony, a 620-ton block measuring 59 feet by 121 feet (18 x 23 meters) was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane.

Royal Caribbean International already has much to offer
Royal Caribbean International already has much to offer

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships will debut new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; transformative venues, such as The SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, which offers expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations for interior staterooms.

Anthem of the Seas will debut in spring 2015 following the launch of her sister-ship Quantum of the Seas in autumn 2014. Each ship spans 16 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Photo of the day – Chandrabhaga

Sun setting at one of the lesser known but very beautiful beach of Chandrabhaga, very close to UNESCO world Heritage site of Konark in Odisha, India. A silhouette of child playing at the beach. Konark and Chandrabhaga are just on a hour and half’s drive from coastal temple town of Puri.

Chandrabhaga

First ever concert in Bhutan next year

k.d. langOn April 22 and 23rd, 2014, k.d. lang and Bryan Adams will headline the first international concert to take place in the Thimphu, the capital city of the Kingdom of Bhutan. In the presence of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wangchuck, 500 guests will attend the two concerts, private receptions and other exclusive visits and events.

Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan near Thimphu
Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan near Thimphu

All proceeds will go to support two charities- RENEW Bhutan and The Bhutan Canada Foundation. These two charities provide critically needed assistance in the fields of education and to the relief and empowerment of disadvantaged women and children, respectively. The Bhutan Canada Foundation provides critical assistance in the field of education, including sending volunteer teachers to some of the most remote parts of Bhutan.The Queen Mother, Sangay Choden Wangchuck, is also the founder and President of RENEW. The concerts will be held at the Royal Textile Academy.

Bhutan CeremonyBhutanese musicians and artists will also perform prior to the highlighted shows by Bryan Adams and k.d. lang. Private and exclusive receptions and visits will be included during the three days of the event. Tickets start at $2,500 USD (Gold Package) including visas, hotel accommodation, meals, tickets to both events, receptions, transfers, tour guides and private visits. There is also a Platinum package worth $ 5,000 USD and a Royal Circle worth $10,000 USD.

Chortens at Bhutan
Chortens at Bhutan

Bhutan is a country of about 700,000 people in the Himalaya region between India and Tibet. Mahayan Bhuddhist, it is led by a much loved monarchy which initiated the transition to parliamentary democracy and two successful elections in 2008 and 2013. Famed for its philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”, Bhutan has perhaps the best preserved ecosystem and culture in the world.

Come and enjoy the most delectable street food this December

Indian street food has been immensely popular all around the world
Indian street food has been immensely popular all around the world

If you are in Indian capital New Delhi this December don’t forget to keep aside an evening for some delightful street food from Delhi. Promoting, professionalizing and branding street foods in its own style, the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) is organizing a grand Street Food Festival at the sprawling Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex in Delhi from 20 to 22 December. The theme slogan of this culinary carnival would be ‘Swad hai, Romanch hai, Street Foods ki Baat hi kuchh aur hai’ (It’s tasty, its thrilling, Street food is a class of its own).

Queuing up for Indian Chaat
Queuing up for Indian Chaat

This winter delight set to attract thousands of foodies across India over three days will have master street food vendors of different regions of India and other countries with their signature dishes  having age old stamps of culinary tradition and culture. Not just a unique battle of tastes, the carnival will be an advocacy event with a difference wherein the executives and functionaries of tourism, food processing, health, labour and employment departments and boards, and representatives of culinary institutes, development agencies, media and academic institutions would join together to share, acknowledge and celebrate the potentials and the possibilities of street food vending sector.

World today is witnessing a surge in street food preservation and professionalization and the street food advocates and entrepreneurs across countries are finding out ways to create new possibilities for regeneration of the street cuisine culture. The concept of traditional street food has acquired new dimensions in developed countries, with food streets/ food centres emerging as new tourist attractions. It is often claimed that the street food prepared with safe handling of ingredients and water contain more nutritional values in comparison to the foods served in hotels and restaurants.

A Japanese enthusiast taking a photograph of an Indian food
A Japanese enthusiast taking a photograph of an Indian food

The Street Food Festivals organized in Delhi in November 2011 and December 2012 evoked huge response of the citizenry and attracted a large number of crowds. A team of Singapore Tourism also joined the 2012 festival and invited vendors to participate in the World Street Food Congress. A team of eight lead street food vendors joined the World Street Food Congress in Singapore from 31 May to 9 June, 2013.

Tram Experience offers a festive menu at Brussels

Diner des Vignerons belges - Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier
Diner des Vignerons belges – Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

I had always enjoyed Belgian desserts specially the pastries. Chance for you now to have a plenty. This holiday season, from 10 December to 19 January, the Tram Experience will be serving an extra festive 3 course menu concocted by Brussels brightest culinary ambassadors, two starred chefs Lionel Rigolet from the Comme Chez Soi and Pascal Devalkeneer from the Chalet de la Forêt. The menu will be followed by a dessert by haute chocolatier Pierre Marcolini.

The Tram Experience had been a showcase for the finest food that Brussels has to offer Since May 2013, passengers can discover in just one meal dishes by two or three different chefs, sometimes in surprising combinations. This four handed cooking experience makes the Tram Experience, already a unique concept, even more unique! New feature compared to last year is that the Tram Experience is no longer just for chefs, as some menus will now include desserts by some of our best chocolatiers and pastry chefs.

Chefs for all seasons

Diner des Vignerons belges - Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier
Diner des Vignerons belges – Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

Brussels has no shortage of culinary stars, with a wide range of styles and influences. Each season, a new team of Michelin-starred chefs will come on board to create a menu. The first chef will create the amuse-bouches and the starter, while the second will be responsible for the main course.  And half-way through, so every six weeks, they will swap to keep things interesting, so the chef
behind the main course will tackle the starters, while his or her colleague will move on to the main course.  Since May, the Tram Experience has already had the honour of presenting dishes by the famous chefs such as Giovanni Bruno (Senzanome), Gaëtan Colin of (Jaloa), Stefan Jacobs (Vadouxvent) and Kamo Tomoyasu (Kamo), and desserts by the chocolatiers Laurent Gerbaud and Pierre Marcolini.

Diner des Vignerons belges - Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier
Diner des Vignerons belges – Diner van de Belgische Wijnbouwers (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

For the next round all dishes are created on board by chef Denis Roberty from the catering company Les Garrigues, following the very specific instructions provided by the chefs who created the dishes. His culinary talents and technical prowess guarantee the highest quality. The meals will be served by experienced, attentive staff who have been given very specific training for working in this very unusual environment.

As always, there are eight trips per week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 8pm, Friday and  Saturday evenings at 6.30pm and 9.30pm, and Sundays at midday. Departures and arrivals are occurring from Place Poelaert except on Fridays where the departure of the Tram Experience is at the Tram Museum, Avenue de Tervueren 364, 1150 Brussels. And for those who want to prepare their pockets well, the price for three courses, amuse-bouches, champagne, wines and water is €99 per person.