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India Summer Days return to Karlsruhe and lot more in SouthWest Germany


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On the weekend of 14th to 15th July 2018, the INDIA SUMMER DAYS return to Karlsruhe under the heading ‘Baden-Württemberg meets Maharashtra’: a small piece of India right in the centre of Karlsruhe, with all its sumptuous colours, music and dance. India fans can indulge in live music, an Indian bazaar, culinary delicacies and numerous other cultural highlights, as well as Ayurveda and yoga workshops.  Last year India Summer Days were held for the first time alongside the “Pre-Festival” in the middle of the Günther-Klotz-Anlage.

SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is right in the heart of Europe and is bordered by France, Switzerland and Austria. Easy to get to, easy to get around, easy to have fun: that’s SouthWest Germany, a real four-season destination! With history and high-tech, romantic palaces and vibrant cities, natural beauty, glamour and fun, SouthWest Germany guarantees something for everyone. 

Also Read: Germany Unplugged – Holidaying in the SouthWest

Due to its varied historic and cultural heritage, South West Germany is abound in cultural monuments. Six of 42 UNESCO World heritage sites in Germany are located between the lake of Constance and the northern part of South West Germany. Ice Age Art in South West Germany, Historic Stone Age lake-dwellings on Lake Constance, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire , the Maulbronn Monastery and the Monastic Island of Reichenau. Worth mentioning as well, are the apartment buildings of the French architectLe Corbusier in Stuttgart, „the Weissenhof Estate“. Le Corbusier designed as well the master plan of the Indian City Candigarh in 1952 which was declared by UNESCO as World heritage in July 2016.

Wherever you go in Southwest Germany you are never far from a grand palace, a romantic castle, half-timbered houses – and something good to eat and drink. Stop in a café for coffee and cake; linger in a beer garden over a locally-brewed pint; taste wines at a traditional wine festival; sample schnapps and world-class gin in the Black Forest. Order traditional dishes in a Weinstube (tavern) and gourmet meals in Germany’s most Michelin-star studded region. In 2018 there are many foodie reasons to come to Southwest Germany, or Baden-Württemberg, as we call it.

Europa Park

In the heart of the border triangle, between the Black Forest and Vosges, lies the best theme park worldwide- Europa-Park. Whether Ireland, France or Spain ‒ 15 European themed areas with exemplary architecture, gastronomy, and vegetation are waiting to be discovered by visitors from around the world, embarking on a journey of discovery through Europe with over 100 attractions and shows and the promise of lots of fun and adventure for the whole family. The park’s own 4* hotels provide everything visitors need for a perfect family holiday or romantic wellness weekend with an authentic atmosphere and ambience unique to each themed hotel.

Shop till you drop! Read: Munich is a ultra-chic shopping destination

At India Summer Days, visitors will experience the great diversity of Indian culture and tradition in an authentic way. The focus will be on Maharashtra, Baden-Württemberg’s partner region in the heart of India, which has been linked to Karlsruhe for years. Last year Balaji També and a team of Ayurveda doctors, yoga teachers and cooks traveled from Atmasantulana Village, India, to the summer festival in Karlsruhe and offered many informative workshops on Ayurveda, Ayurvedic products, pulse diagnosis, Ayurvedic nutrition, healing music, meditation and yoga. Numerous other artists and musicians as well as yoga and Ayurveda experts will be arriving in Karlsruhe directly from India. This region has got special relations with Maharashtra. Stuttgart meets Mumbai wine festival also celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014. The long and enduring town-twining between Mumbai and Stuttgart which dates back to 1968.

India Summer Days, Credit: jowapress.de

Susanne Schlung, Marketing Director of the State Tourist Board said after her recent visits to Mumbai and Delhi that  she could see a lot of interest in traveling to Europe and especially the interests of travellers who travel the second or third or….time to explore a region of Germany – such as SouthWest Germany. She was really surprised that a lot of the people she met during our stay, know of Cuckoo-clocks, the Black Forest with its delicious Black Forest cake and Baden-Baden with its Spas and Casino.

Sharing culture! Read: A culture feast at Upper Rhine Valley

Susanne said, “Due to the demand for smaller family groups, apartments and smaller busses for more people are more relevant. Small groups and individual travellers also like to try our lovely traditional food and beverages (beer and wine) as well as our high level cuisine in lots of Michelin starred-restaurants. But on the third or fourth day of their journey they need to have Indian food again. No problem; south west Germany has a lot of Indian restaurants to offer! Indians also like Shopping! So, in south west Germany they have lots of possibilities to go shopping – from traditional souvenirs , e.g. the Cuckoo-Clock at the Tiitisee-Shops up to designer wear in the Outlet City in Metzingen which is a 30 minute drive to Stuttgart or Wertheim Village in the north of SWG. Outlet City Metzingen offers at about 80 different luxury designer brands (such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Nike, Michel Kors, Armani, Burberry, Gucci & Jimmy Choo).”

Europa Park

German cars, especially Mercedes Benz and Porsche are well-known and loved in India. There are two museums in the capital city of SWG, Stuttgart, were one can see a lot of cars and learn something about the history of the cars. Traveling by train, which is very fast and convenient in Germany is also very popular with travellers.

Have you visited SouthWest Germany or Europa Park? How was the fun? Please share with us all!

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Getting pulse of Bali’s buzz!

Well, Mercure Legian Bali hotel is located in the area, where heart of Bali beats. When we were in Nusa Dua area, we were in a sort of exclusive zone with all sort of luxury and privacy. But this hotel lies in an area, where as soon as you step out of the hotel, you find yourself in the hustle & bustle of a busy tourist destination like Bali. Hotel is just a five minutes walk from the beach. Hotel is close to Legian, Seminyak and Kuta areas. Mercure has two hotels in the area. There another property Mercure Kuta Bali is located right on the Kuta beach and is slightly away from the, what few people may call as, chaos of Legian area.

Hotel is located on a busy intersection on Legian street. Running parallel to a long coastline this street is just a five minutes walk from famous Legian and Kuta beaches. This street is quite close to Bali’s international airport. With hotels suiting all sizes of pockets in close vicinity, this place is famous among tourists who prefer being close to beach. That makes it one of the busiest places in Bali.

You will find constant stream of tourists from all around the world, flowing up and down the street. You will find here everything- from massage parlours to money changers and from souvenir shops to 24 hour departmental stores. Street is lined up with number of restaurants offering all types of cuisine to take you to a rich gastronomical experience. Being one of the best places for shopping, you need to bargain hard to get best prices.

Also remain aware of the strangers offering services of escorts and ‘more’. Its a busy tourist place so all the pros and cons of such places are to be taken care of. There are many shops selling tour, tattoos, clothes and spas. A lot of people will try to stop you for a sale. Need to be careful about, whom to cater and whom not. Since Legian is more famous for some street shopping, therefore more serious shoppers might like to go to Kuta or Seminyak markets nearby.

The way to beach passes through the busiest tourist market of the Kuta area. So staying at Mercure Legian is like enjoying everything day out and night and then relaxing in comfortable environs of your room.

This hotel might not be so spacious like hotels in Nusa Dua area or Ubud region of Bali but it still provides enough luxury to enjoy stay in romantic destination like Bali. Rooms are descent and service is excellent. Highlight is the rooftop pool and the nearby bar. Either go for a poolside room or a room high up with a balcony to get best of views. There is another bar near restaurant at lobby level. We didn’t had the opportunity to dine here, but had breakfast in two mornings and they were quite relishing. Overall, we had a thoroughly enjoyable experience of stay at Mercure Bali Legian.  We didn’t dine here, as we tried some Indian food at Queens.

Well, it might quite be OK if you are a non-Indian and searching for an Indian restaurant in Bali and land at Queen’s. But if you are an Indian and love your taste, than you will feel a bit disappointed here, especially for the taste of Indian foods you love. Ambience is good but lot more needs to be done for the food items and also in terms of service. The staff needs to know about Indian food, when they are serving in an Indian restaurant.

10 Unexpected delights to discover in Europe this winter

Europe in Winter, what springs to mind? Rainy grizzly grey skies, huddling under blankets and endless cups of tea – right? WRONG. Forget the preconceptions and the naysayers, as Europe throughout the winter months (we’re talking Autumn, Winter and Spring) is literally where it’s AT. Here are 10 unexpected delights Europe offers up in Autumn, Winter and Spring (our new favourite seasons FYI):

1 – INDIAN SUMMERS

image002Just as the seasons turn, the leaves become golden and the days begin to drawn in, BAM – Indian summer hits. Known as a period of unusually dry, warm weather occurring in late Autumn, Indian Summers are Europe’s last summer hurrah. Make the most of the warm days and balmy evenings with alfresco drinks along the Seine, sunset strolls along the canals of Amsterdam and snap happy times at the Colosseum or the Vatican, capturing sunsets of epic proportion.

2 – OKTOBERFEST

image003Admit it, wearing a dirndl whilst listening to German folk music and eating bratwurst is up there on your 10 things to do before you die list. Or at least it should be. Oktoberfest is the beer festival of beer festivals, but is also so much more than just beer swilling and um-pah-ing. Explore endless market stalls, release your inner child at the fun fair or chat to locals about the history of the festival whilst chomping on every type of sausage known to man.

3 – ANCIENT CASTLES

image004If Game of Thrones has done one thing, it’s make us wish we lived in a land where castles and dragons were as common as studio flats and internet cats. The dragons we admit defeat on (sadly), but the castles are alive and kicking. Our top pick? It has to be Edinburgh castle. Over 2,000 years old and built atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh castle is one of the most haunted locations not only in Scotland, but the whole of Europe. Look out for the missing piper, the ghostly drummer and the tortured prisoners of centuries past.

4 – MULLED EVERYTHING – BUT MAINLY WINE

image005AKA our winter drink of choice. There’s literally nothing better than exploring the twinkling Christmas markets of Munich or Berlin or cosying up after a hard days skiing with a steaming hot cup of fruity cinnamony alcoholic goodness. As your Grandmother used to say, it’ll warm you to your cockles! Best enjoyed with some German cakey treat and a roaring, crackling open fire.

5 – ICE SKATING ON (YES ON) THE EIFFEL TOWER

image006When it comes to the Eiffel Tower and ice skating, you have two options. 1 – you can skate UNDER the Eiffel Tower, looking up at the magnificent beast or 2 – you can skate ON the Eiffel Tower, directly a part of the magnificent beast. Both options are obviously pretty cool. Option 1 is the Trocadero rink and the bigger option of the two, ideally positioned near a Christmas market. Option 2 is a once in a lifetime experience, skating on ice 57 metres up the tower itself. Tough decisions (#firstworldproblems).

6 – AUSTRIAN DELIGHTS

image007Ever wanted to wake up amongst the snow-capped mountains of the Alps, carve powder all day then unwind at night to the backdrop of good friends and a crackling open fire? Thought so. Exclusive to our ski Austria trips, you can stay in a Contiki owned traditional Austrian Gasthof (AKA a super cool wooden lodge). Complete with yummy local food and your very own on-site team, life in the Austrian hilltops is pretty damn awesome.

7 – HOGMANAY

image008New Years Eve is celebrated all over the world, but for a totally unique experience, try out Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Steeped in tradition, Hogmanay celebrations can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times (or in other words, a LONG time ago). The legendary street parties are reminiscent of ancient folk lore, which states each New Year should be brought in with warm hospitality to friends and strangers alike. The music’s also pretty great, with the likes of Django Django, Chvrches and the Pet Shop Boys playing last year.

8 – SPLURGING IN LONDON

image009London is known for many things – the Queen, big ben, big red buses. But topping all these things is the SHOPPING (ladies, you know you agree). From the lavish and wildly expensive (Harrods, Selfridges) to the very best of the high street (Topshop, COS, Whistles), London is a shoppers paradise whatever your budget. To make your money go further, plan your spree in early January so you can literally go wild during the biggest sale season of the year. Credit cards at the ready.

9 – AMSTERDAM FLORALS

image010Spring is a beautiful season across all of Europe, but at the first hint of sunshine it’s Amsterdam that really turns on the WOW factor. Flowers bloom, parks and gardens wake up from their winter sleep and the world famous Keukenhof Gardens opens its doors. With the warmer weather, why not indulge your active side by hiring a bike, heading out of town to explore Old Holland or even hitting the beach. Or you could just chill on a sun terrace and soak up some Spring rays.

10 – ALL THE FOOD IN SPAIN

image011If you’re a little bit of everything kind of person, a trip to Spain in Spring will be right up your street. The weathers warm and lovely, unlike the intense heat of the summer months, so you can stroll around the markets of Barcelona, Seville and Madrid at your leisure before taking up residence outside a tiny tapas bar, tasting everything and anything on the menu.

Contiki brings you more of such fascinating journeys. Contiki is the world leader in youth travel experiences, a brand that is all about discovery, epic moments and making every second count. Their journeys unlock the local way of life in each and every destination we visit, and with over 300 trips in more than 50 countries, we see every day as the start of a new adventure.

Contiki is also a part of a joint initiative with The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation established by The Travel Corporation to encourage sustainable tourism within our own family of brands and in the places we visit. To date, TreadRight has donated more than US$2 million to sustainable tourism projects around the world.

Munich is a ultra-chic shopping destination

Muenchen-Shopping Fuenf Hoefe- A. BardehleKnown as one of the best 10 cities to live in the world, Munich offers a plethora of shopping options to visitors. When in Munich, shop at some of the world’s most creative boutiques or visit Munich’s traditional stores.

Munich, with its air of polished prosperity, is quintessential Germany. The old and the new co-exist here with cherished traditions like Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, rubbing shoulders with designer shopping, sleek cars and high-powered industry. Indeed Munich today is the flavour of the year. The Bavarian capital on the Isar river has strong roots in the past. Its Baroque and Rococo architecture, lush parks, museums and historic venues such as Schloss Nymphenburg, the summer palace of the rulers of Bavaria, are the favoured haunts of tourists and locals alike.

Shopping_Odeonsplatz_Foto_A_KupkaThis gracious German city is just an hour’s drive from the snow-crusted Alps that frame it so beautifully and lend it an air of enchantment.

Main Shopping Centres

Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse in the city centre have large department stores and global chains. Smaller and more exclusive shops can be found around Maximilianstrasse and Theatinerstrasse. Leopoldstrasse is a trendy shopping street with tasteful boutiques on the surrounding streets. Even window shopping is fun here!

Shopping in Muenchen - Louis Vuitton Foto Werner BoehmHigh-End Shopping in Munich

Turning back across Marienplatz, you come to the high-class shops in Kaufingerstarsse and Theatinerstrasse.  In addition to fine shops and cafés, you will also come across the premises of the Hypobank Cultural Foundation, an art gallery famous for its spectacular exhibitions. Munich’s ultra-chic shopping area also encompasses Perusastrasse, Residenzstrasse, Brienner Strasse and Odeonsplatz. You will discover gems in the shop belonging to the Nymphenburg Porcelain factory, which has been based in Munich for over 250 years.

Bavarian Gifts

Typical Bavarian gifts might include traditional clothing such as Lederhosen (Knee length Breeches) for men and a Dirndl (traditional attire of skirt, apron, bodice and blouse) for women, Beer Mugs wood carvings, pewter-ware at Geschenke Kaiser, Rindermarkt 1.

Shopping Marienplatz Muenchen Foto Christoph MukherjeeMust buy

• Porcelain figurines are a must to buy at Schloss Nymphenburg

•Go for those hand-made chocolates and other sinful sweets at Elly Seidl’s shop. Try champagne truffles.

•The shops in Munich museums sell fine reproductions of works of art, limited editions, posters, and reproductions of designer  pieces from both their own collections and those of their museums.

•The museum shop at the Deutsches Museums carries an outstanding selection of unique toys, from building sets to robots-enthusiastically received by children and adults alike.

•Antique dolls, fashioned with artfully painted porcelain heads and draped in precious fabrics are collector’s items

•Dukatz cups and saucers, inscribed with humorous and subtle quotes by Bavarian author Oskar Maria Graf, can be purchased from Dukatz café.

Thailand Grand Sale 2014 to be the biggest ever

ThailandGrandSaleIndians love shopping and India’s favourite shopping destination is going on a three-month-long sale!! After lifting of curfew from the tourists hotspots comes the news that the annual Thailand Grand Sale has returned and will take place between 15 June and 15 August 2015 across Thailand’s. It means just a ten days from now! Discounts range from 20% to 80% across shopping malls, department stores and also accommodation, beauty & wellness and entertainment centers.

A record 15,000 establishments in seven of Thailand’s most important tourism cities are participating in the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2014”, making it the biggest ever. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a special website to promote the grand annual shopping event, which will be held in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Samui. Participants include department stores, shopping centres, accommodation, spa and beauty, golf courses, entertainment centres and restaurants. As in previous years, the Grand Sale is designed to boost tourism and visitor expenditure, further building the image of Thailand as a major shopping destination, and contributing to job creation and distribution of income nationwide.

Enjoy the free coupon
Enjoy the free coupon

TAT Governor, Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik said, “This year’s Grand Sale has a special meaning because it will be an important part of our tourism recovery strategy for 2014. This campaign will help provoke an income to tourism sectors and entrepreneurs in the participating areas and we hope visitors will take full advantage of the great discounts.”

There are two activities during “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2014”:

• Up to 80% discounts at department stores, shopping centres, shops, spas, hotels and other Grand Sale participants.

• Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Shopping Challenge; On June 18, 2014, well known celebrities in various fields from Asian countries will have a shopping competition in participating complexes and centres. A total of 15 teams from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar,Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea are competing this year. The winner team will receive a cash prize of 100, 000 Baht.

This year’s Grand Sale has also been enhanced by two lucky-draw prizes of Travel 365 days in Thailand for two couples (one from abroad, one local) to enjoy a trip within Thailand. Visitors will get a coupon from participating partners, which upon expenditure of every 500 Baht by cash or any credit card at any one place. However, if they pay by VISA card, they will get two coupons. The coupons can be dropped into the lucky draw drop box. The winning couples will get free Thai Airways’ return air-tickets and accommodation at Centara’s hotels & resorts. As for the prize, the winning couples can take their trip any time within 365 days.

Street Market in Bangkok
Street Market in Bangkok

Sethaphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office said, “Among Thailand’s inbound markets, Indians top the list of big shoppers. Shopping sprees are a priority on any Indian itinerary to Thailand. Moreover, Indians tend to respond well to the concept of shopping festivals and I foresee a good response to the Thailand Grand Sale 2014. The unbelievable bargains and the chance to win is certain to prompt travelllers to plan a visit between 15 June and 15 August 2014.”

TAT estimates that tourist spending on shopping via credit cards alone will grow by 20% over last year. In 2013, Thailand attracted 26.5 million international visitors, a good growth of 27.03% over the 2012. India’s contribution was over 1 million travellers at 1,049,856 travellers, a growth of nearly 4% over 2012.

Amidst MH370 crisis Malaysia allays fears for tourism

Tourism Malaysia roadshow in Delhi
Tourism Malaysia roadshow in Delhi

Despite worldwide concerns on whereabouts of a flight with 239 passengers on board, Tourism Malaysia went ahead with its road show to  attract more Indian tourists. Four city roadshow  started from Kochi on 12th March and ended at New Delhi on 20th March 2014. Although it was  a scaled down effort, owing to impending situation- mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on Saturday 8th March, with no signs whatsoever so far, even after two weeks. Malaysian tourism minister was himself to attend the event but he had to skip.

A few trade visits have been cancelled from India  after the incident, but Tourism Malaysia Director General Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab dismissed possibility of major impact on tourism arrivals in Malaysia.  Malaysia is actually celebrating its fourth Visit Malaysia Year in 2014. India tourists are among top 10 of incoming tourists in Malaysia.  Malaysia has been very popular among Indian tourists. This year almost 8 lakh Indian tourists are expected to visit Malaysia.

redang islandMalaysia is popular as a dream travel destination all along the world. It is among the top 10 most visited countries in the world and second in Asia after China. Malaysia was also ranked no 1 in homestay programmes by UNWTO. What may attract shoppers about Malaysia is the fact that whole of Malaysia offers duty free shopping except for three items- cigarettes, liquor and crystals. If this is not enough, it can be interesting to know that among the top 10 largest shopping complexes in the world, three are located in Malaysia.  On the Globe Shopper Index for 2012 Malaysia was ranked as 2nd in Asia-Pacific region. CNN survey 2012 also declared Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur as 4th best shopping city in the world.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is the defining authority in fashion, dining and urban leisure
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is the defining authority in fashion, dining and urban leisure

Well shopping is not the only reason to be in Malaysia. It is the only country in Asia to be listed in Top 10 of Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2014. Penang has also been named as the top culinary spot in the world for 2014. CNN’s list of World’s  100 best beaches for 2013 included three from Malaysia- Perhentian Kecil island, Terengganu at No 13, Juara Beach in Tioman island, Pahand at no 21 and TanjungRhu in Langkawi, Kedah at no 49.