Family friendly holidays

Summer-Family-Holidays-Family-on-the-Beach

Summer is just a few months away. It’s about time to plan that vacay with the family. Travelling with your wee ones need not just be mainly resorted to theme parks. Some ccities make great getaways—short or long—for families. They are hubs for direct flights, ample accommodations, top-notch restaurants and iconic, innovative attractions as well as some of them provide a touch of history, making them both educational and fun and appealing to all ages.

So let’s dust off your passport and pack up your kids for adventures in these family-friendly world cities.

Orlando

disney

Why it’s great for kids: Orlando’s an absolute paradise for kids of all ages, with home to not one but four action-packed Disney theme parks.

Put it on your itinerary: The fun doesn’t stop once you’ve explored Disney World, as the Kennedy Space Center is just a short drive from Orlando. The kid-friendly museum displays America’s space rockets and even lets you touch a piece of moon rock! The museum’s located on Florida’s Space Coast, which boasts tons of gorgeous beaches. However, when it comes to nature, it’s not just sandy shores that impress children and parents alike. Florida’s famous for its marshlands, and the whole family can glide through the swamps on an air boat. Be sure to keep an eye out for gators!

London

londres-legoland

Why it’s great for kids: With a host of historical attractions and many contemporary exhibits, the British capital city just screams ‘kid-friendly’.  There’s no language barrier, the food is kid-friendly (those chips!), and there’s lots to do around one of the major characters of modern childhood—Harry Potter.

Put it on your itinerary: Many of London’s main attractions, like the Tower of London and the British Museum, are geared to be family-friendly, so they’re incredibly interesting for both you and your little ones. Your kids will love spotting red telephone boxes, exploring Tower Bridge and following the River Thames as it meanders across the capital. If any of you are Harry Potter fans, you’ll all be in your element at the Warner Bros Studio Tour; and just outside of the city are theme parks like Lego land and Chessington World of Adventures which are easily accessible by public transport. There are also plenty of whimsically themed high tea experiences (try the Mad Hatters Tea Party at the Sanderson) and endless free museums, including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

Cancun

cancun

Why it’s great for kids: You’ll get the best of both worlds — a bustling city culture and a beach vacation.

Put it on your itinerary: Parque de Palapas, the city’s central park, offers food carts, performances, and the kiddo essential, playgrounds. Mercado 28 is a bustling marketplace where you and the kids can bargain for local treasures to bring home. Isla de Mujeres lets you get away from the city’s hustle and bustle with a trip out to this laid-back island just off the coast — the Garrafon Reef Park there lets you swim with dolphins or stingrays or take a ride on a zip line. When you’re not busy lazing on the beach, make sure you head out to tour Chichén Itzá, the Mayan Ruins nearby.

Copenhagen

copen

Why it’s great for kids: Denmark’s capital is literally a fairy-tale city — it’s where Hans Christian Andersen wove his classics, like The Little Mermaid. And if your kids are even mildly Lego-obsessed, they’ll probably be thrilled at a chance to visit the country where the blocks were first created.

Put it on your itinerary: Copenhagen is home to the Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park that is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s amusement parks. With gorgeous gardens and architecture and one of the world’s oldest still-in-use wooden roller coasters the Tivoli gardens, with rides and games, is an awesome place to take kids of all ages, and adults that want to indulge the kid in them! There are roller coasters for older children and kiddie rides for wee ones. And if your children don’t like rides, there are musical performances and pantomimes to enjoy. When it’s lit up at night, the park is a joy to stroll through.

Other than Tivoli Gardens, children will enjoy viewing the statue of the Little Mermaid from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and posing for a photo with her. Watching the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace is wonderful. And if you and your family are looking for a green space to enjoy, the King’s Garden is the ideal place to go. You can picnic on the grounds and enjoy some chill time here. Copenhagen is a fun destination and very family-friendly.

Dubai

dubai

Why it’s great for kids: Full of architectural superlatives, the Emirate with the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), vastest sand desert, and largest mall, is great for adventure, relaxation, and even good old-fashion theme park fun.

Put it on your itinerary: The city isn’t all fancy cars and glittering skyscrapers (although there are plenty of both). It’s also home to adventures your kids (and you!) will love, from feeding a three-foot-wide turtle at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project to catching a free show at Dubai’s massive musical fountains. Once you venture outside the city limits, there are camel rides, sand skiing (think of it as hot-weather sledding!), and dune-bashing (where your Jeep guns it over sand hills, so you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster) through the Arabian Desert. Check in at Atlantis The Palm for loads more family-friendly activities: There’s the Middle East’s largest water park, an aquarium holding more than 65,000 creatures, and evening programming for kids age 3-12  You can also explore the souks of Old Dubai where you can shop for textiles, spices, and even gold on the streets alongside the Dubai Creek.

Sydney

Sydney

Why it’s great for kids: Sydney is one of the most family friendly cities in Australia. The city has plenty of things to do for all the ages. For the smaller kids, there are extraordinary zoos, great aquariums, wildlife parks, plenty of playgrounds and there is even a Luna Park as well.

Put it on your itinerary: Admit it: You’ve always wanted to visit Australia. If your kids are old enough to make it through the long plane ride out there, now’s the time: There’s plenty to make you feel like a giddy little kid, from being blown away by the Scienceworks Museum to checking out the march of the penguins at Phillip Island to seeing the forest and fern gullies from the century-old Puffing Billy Steam Railway. There is a ferry trip on the Sydney Harbour, iconic Sydney Opera House to explore, Darling Harbour, tonnes of museums, Blue Mountains, beautiful beaches and even a Haunted Sydney walking tour to check out. Sydney Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 marine animals, including dugongs (sea cows). And there are a ton of ways to see Sydney’s sights, whether you and your family venture up to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or Skywalk on a glass-floored platform above the city.

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The fact is that kids — even young ones — love traveling for the same reasons we do: They get to have a new routine, spend time with the people they love, and eat fun snacks. Plus the parents get to experience places that can make them feel like a child again, which is gratifying.

 

-M

 

 

PC:Pinterest;WaltDisney;VisitLondon;LonelyPlanet

 

“Adults Only” – Grown up Getaways

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Komandoo Maldives Island Resort

At first it seems like the sort of thing you would associate with the category of a movie rating, and not the hospitality industry.

Adult only holidays is definitely a thing. Popular worldwide, the concept, though a novelty in India, is becoming quite the rage.

The segment is not associated with licensed yet racy ‘good times’ for grown-ups unhampered by children in the background. Usually “Adults only” resorts and hotels might have different characteristics, but they all agree on one thing and that is kids below the age of 18 are not allowed.

Canny industry operators have showcased its appeal to the wealthier traveller on the lookout for some quality downtime, and to sub-sets of aspiring tourists, like women’s-only groups, sports fans or alternative therapy seekers.

The facilities, as well as all the small details and comforts, are designed considering the needs of this audience in depth. Some adults only hotels are livelier while others are more tranquil, relaxing and romantic. They offer an upscale and sophisticated vacation experience and take care of every last detail, guaranteeing that guests enjoy a blissfully relaxing holiday.

If you are looking for the answer to your quest of finding a child free environment some of these hotels/resorts may appeal to you

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Komandoo Maldives
  • Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, Maldives.
  • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  • Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, Grenada.
  • Excellence Playa Mujeres, Cancun.
  • Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji.
  • Excellence Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
  • Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua.
  • Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Playa Del Carmen.
playa
Hotel Senses Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Closer home The Park Hotel Goa Baga River which caters exclusively to couples and the honeymooners is a boutique hotel, with its ‘adults only’ tag.

the-park-baga-river-goa-11

Although hoteliers are of the opinion that considering the fact that Indian families hardly travel without kids and such restrictions are generally looked down upon, The Park has taken a ‘bold move’. But nonetheless with having almost 60% occupancy, the hotel has been a trendsetter of sorts.

According to TripAdvisor, there is only one other hotel in the country with entry restrictions Ananda – In the Himalayas, in Rishikesh. But Ananda is not an ‘adults-only’ place, it simply doesn’t allow children below 14 in order to maintain its tranquility.

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Ananda in the Himalayas

Globally, however, the line between family and adults-only hotels is getting sharper. While package tours catering to family groups with a long checklist of things to do and see on vacations continue to be popular, the hospitality industry is discovering the benefits of nurturing a child-free, or more accurately, ‘adult-only’ clientele.

Secrets-Wild-Orchid-Master-Suite
Secret Wild Orchid Montego Bay 

But having said all of this do you think the “adult-only” tag will be considered discriminatory? I would like to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

-M

 

 

 

 

PC:Hotels own website

Azerbaijan-Is it on your bucket list?

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“Where?” Azerbai… “What?”

If you plan to visit Azerbaijan, prepare to answer that question.  A lot. No one seems to know where Azerbaijan is.

Well to brush up on your geography, Azerbaijan is in Central Asia. With Russia to the north, Iran to the south, The Caspian Sea to the east, Armenia and Georgia to the west.

Having said that comes the inevitable follow-up question “Why?”

Now this is the interesting one.

Why would you want to go to Azerbaijan, a place with the conviction of a bright future, a place of development, a place of natural beauty, a place no one really knows anything about?

So here’s the thing. On the cusp of a tourism boom, Azerbaijan is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.

Azerbaijan is a little bit weird. It’s like Rome, it’s like Paris, and it’s like London- a charming mix of architectural styles, genuinely beautiful buildings that line the city’s traffic-choked streets.

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Stroll into the centre of Baku, and its appeal reveals itself, in its most impressive sight, the Flame Towers.

Inspired by Azerbaijan’s nickname, the “Land of Fires”, these three flame-shaped towers dominate the skyline, and have become something of a national symbol since they appeared in 2012. By night, huge LED displays give the appearance of flames licking the sides of the buildings.

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The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre fills you with an absolute “WOW” when you see it. Being one of the most recognized architectural landmarks worldwide, the Centre is one of the signature architectural landmarks of modern Baku. It is perfection. This building is one of the pinnacles of modernity. It flows in all directions in line with how a natural landscape should be. And no matter where you stand as you walk around it, it looks completely different in shape.

Azerbaijan also has money. At the bottom of one of the Flame Towers there’s a Lamborghini shop. Wander around near the lake and you’ll find names like Gucci, Tom Ford, Bulgaria and Tiffany slapped across the storefronts.

All set to bill itself as the “new Dubai” Azerbaijan has relaxed its tight entry requirements, allowing tourists to apply online for an e-visa rather than post passports to an embassy. More than two million people are now venturing to the country each year.

Some will come to experience a rich culture that finds its expressions in food, and in the intricately woven carpets. More still will come to wander through Baku’s charming Old Town, with its 1000-year-old Maiden Tower and its ancient history. There are some who will come here for the natural beauty alone.

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Also the Azeris boast that their country is home to nine of the world’s 11 climate zones, from semi-desert in the central lowlands to rainforests in the northern hills and Alpine tundra in the Greater Caucasus.

You can scuba dive in the Caspian Sea, sun yourself on a beach, or ski in resorts in the nation’s north.

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Azerbaijani food, with its mix of influences from Iran, Turkey and Georgia, may be still unfairly anonymous on the world scene, but it’s definitely tantalizing the taste buds with its rich and traditional cuisine. And how can you forget about the caviar. Famed beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea is treasured here and regulated even more zealously than oil – however, walk into any market and you’ll hear soft calls of “caviar, caviar” from black market sellers seeking to offload their goods.

An Eastern country with a Western outlook, it’s capital city ,Baku is known as the Pearl of the Caucasus. Combining history, culture and modernity, the vibrant city offers a safe and attractive setting along the Caspian Sea. From outdoor activities, phenomenal shopping experiences, luxury hotels, and beautiful venues and locations for weddings and honeymoons, Azerbaijan is a perfect destination for couples, families, and friends.

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You would definitely want to ‘Take another look’ and say ‘salaam’ to Azerbaijan, as the country rolls out the hospitality red carpet to unveil its incredible revelations and attractions. I know I want to.

M

 

PC:AzerNews;LonelyPlanet;TripAdvisor;CultureTrip

 

 

Check your Visa before you board your flight

indianvisa

Recently on our travels, while we were standing in the queue to board our flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi, there was a passenger ahead of us who wasn’t allowed to board the flight as due to an issue with his E-visa.

Apparently he hadn’t received a confirmation/approval of him being issued an E-visa  and was refrained from boarding.

Not to be confused with Visa on Arrival, E-visa must have an approval electronically, which is later stamped on the passport on arrival.

The Government of India, has now extended its e-visa facility which is an electronic authorization to travel to India for citizens of 165 countries at the 25 international airports and 5 seaports.

Check the country eligibility here-

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html

The Indian e-Visa is issued for single double or multiple entries for visits with a duration of stay up to 90 days from date of first entry for tourist purposes, and up to 180 days for business purposes. Canada, Japan, UK and USA nationals are allowed stays of up to 180 days for tourist visits.

A traditional visa is obtained through an application process where the traveler must submit their original passport along with application materials in order for the visa to be approved. It is stamped inside the passport. While the process itself takes longer and requires more paperwork, the visa that is issued has a longer validity and allows multiple entries.

Eligible citizens traveling for leisure/tourism, business, or medical purposes have the option to apply for an Indian visa online, and have their visa granted electronically. The visa will then get stamped in the passport upon arrival in India, at which time biometrics (fingerprints) will also be taken.

No, it is not possible to apply for an Indian visa at the airport after you land.

All visas, including e-Visas, must be applied for before travel. Most airlines will not let you board without a valid visa.

There have been cases in the past where passengers have applied for an evisa and have booked their travel without waiting for an official electronic confirmation of their visa being granted. They have concluded of their application confirmation as a visa confirmed status.

However as I was researching for this I found that the information on the website is lacking in some clarity regarding visa on arrival and evisa directives.

It’s better to cross check the details with the airlines and travel agents, in case of any doubts, before embarking on your journey.

For more information on tourist visa on arrival click here-

https://www.india.gov.in/spotlight/encouraging-inbound-tourism-tourist-visa-arrival-tvoa-scheme#tvoa2

For more information on the Indian E-visa click here-

https://visacentral.com/about-india-e-visa

evisa

-M

Travel Traits of an Aquarian.

Picking a destination for your next vacation should be simple. Ideally you should be able to tick off as many places as you can on the globe.  But if you’re looking for something a little more, let’s say, unconventional, how about choosing something based on your zodiac sign. For example an Aries probably thrives off of some sort of activity with an adrenaline junkie kind of element, or a Virgo who loves to go on well planned and executed travel itineraries, and an Aquarian who is always known to be unconventional, loves to immerse themselves in a completely different culture.

I understand that this may seem a little hocus pocus and weird, but why not indulge in it just for the fun of it.

Aquarius-woman

Let me just give you an insight into the world of an Aquarian (AKA ME) with this post today.

While children make wishes on rainbows, artists paint them and dreamers chase them, an Aquarian is way ahead; not only do they live on a rainbow they even believe in it!

Being an air sign, Aquarius beings crave the numerous rich and varied experiences that travelling has been known to offer.

It’s often been heard that the Aquarius prides itself on being unique and different— whether it be in dress, thought, behaviour, or even choosing a travel destination.

Knowing how determined, intelligent, and charming Aquarians can be, it’s not surprising that Aquarius travellers seek qualities in their trips that mirror their personalities.

Anchorage-Skyline

So, unexplored landscapes such as the one-of-a-kind and full of adventure over the permanently snow-capped mountains and volcanoes of the Alaskan hotspots are a perfect destination for that “inner-maverick” wanting to do things differently. With tons of culture, sophistication, and stunning natural beauty in the large port city of Anchorage, makes it the ideal location for sight-seeing or taking on traditional Alaskan rendezvous.

Machu_Picchu

Shrouded with age-old mystery, Machu Picchu, Peru offers a good dose of rich history, as well as the chance to breath in some mysterious Incan ruins. Travelling to this Peruvian citadel where mountaintops and archaeological wonders are all around, this awe-inspiring ancient city perched atop a high plateau deep in the Amazonian jungle would be the perfect getaway for the dreamy Aquarian.

tech museum

Having being blessed with loads of energy, a hunger for steady mental stimulation, and a love for innovation with a constant need to change the world, it really is not surprise that Silicon Valley, the Northern Californian technology and research hub is a fitting motivation for any innovative and visionary Aquarius being-the revolutionary, the genius, the scientist, the eccentric artist, the truth-sayer, and the ultimate inventor.

computer museum

Engaging in tours of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, as well as long walks through the spectacular campus of Stanford University near Palo Alto fuels their inspiration.

northern-lights-finland

Always on the lookout for a world away from the daily grind of working nine to five, the enchanting Northern Lights, in the Land of the Midnight Sun— a.k.a. Finland comes closest to an utopian paradise for all Aquarius individuals.

A modern state with well-planned out cities and towns, along with pristine landscapes, awesome latitudes and vast spaces of ripe wilderness to explore and breathe in, offers a wintry, European experience that’ll fulfill any Aquarian’s childhood fantasy, and cast a magically powerful spell that’ll haunt the imagination and memory for years to come.

disney

Doing anything too ordinary or going anywhere too touristy will bore dear Aquarius individuals to the bone– so it’s important to keep these water carriers excited with a highly adventurous vacation. What better place than Orlando to bring out their inner child, and let loose the excitement in places such as the Florida Kennedy Space Center, the Great Barrier Reef, or, for little Aquarians, the Magic Kingdom and Disney World’s Epcot Center. There’s nothing ordinary about this place. It’s truly magical!!

Water bearers love to find solace in places filled with rich doses of spirituality, serenity, and harmony. Getting close to nature and indulging in unique pampering indulgences which take a load off their shoulders, leaves them feeling invigorated and beautiful.

Spa-Four-seasons

To calm their over active mind and always craving for more ‘alone’ time, enjoying a soothing luxury spa treatment at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, would perhaps top the charts. The “Let it go” is just an indulgence found few other places in the world. This signature Let It Go 8 Handed Massage treatment” originating in Ayurvedic treatment takes place in an overwater villa and is the perfect opportunity for the water bearer to indulge in an exclusive treatment, where four highly trained therapists work in synchronicity, like a “dancer’s choreography,” on the body to release stress, emotional weight, and offer a sense of total rejuvenation. WOW!! Can there be anything better than this?

Aquarians love things that are unique and uncommon more than anything else. Something that’s off the wall and unconventional, something peculiar that’ll blow their minds.

Hawaii rainbow

Natural wonders offer the ultimate experience these free spirited beings are looking for. It goes without saying that the hills or the oceans have an inspiring affect on their creativity, and the Aquarian positively respond to the calming effect nature provides.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Where you would like to travel to based on your Zodiac sign? Do share in the comments.

-M

 

 

PC;AlaskaTourSaver; LonelyPlanet;VisitSanJose;HouseofLapland;Tripadvisor;LuxuryMauritius;TravelAndLeisure

 

 

 

Festival of Lights

diwali_festival_india

Known as the ‘Festival of Lights’  Diwali is the biggest festival celebrated all over India , with everybody getting into the festive spirit with religious rituals, sweets, celebrations, gifts , parties and grandeur.

Similar to Christmas and Thanksgiving it is a time for families to come together in this celebration of life.

Like most festivals in India, Diwali’s date changes from year to year as it’s based on the lunar cycle and not a fixed date. This year (2019) it’s October 27. .

If you happen to be in India during this festive time here are some suggestions which will make your experience absolutely awesome.

Celebrate with an Indian Family.

diwali getty

While you can choose to stay at a hotel but to enjoy an absolutely heartwarming experience, it is highly recommended, if you could opt for a home stay during Diwali. That’s where the most meaningful celebrations take place. You can be a part of traditional Diwali family rituals and Lakshmi Pooja and get a real insight into Indian culture. Since people usually love wearing new dressy clothes for the festival it would be really nice if you could invest in traditional Indian attire.

Enjoy the local markets.

Lajpat-Nagar-diwali-market

So much of the beauty of the festival comes from the warm glow of lights and lamps which adorn streets, homes, and shops. Most of the Indian cities have dozens of bazaars and special Diwali Melas (fairs) to shop for clothes, trinkets and so many more traditional Indian artifacts.

diwali jaipur

One of the best places to experience a Diwali Bazaar is in Jaipur Rajasthan, where not just buildings but whole markets are illuminated. Each year, there’s a competition for the best decorated and most brilliantly lit up market, and the government foots the electricity bill. It’s a dazzling display that attracts visitors from all over India.

Go Gambling and Watch Demon Narakasura Get Burned.

goa

In Goa, the focus of Diwali celebrations is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Competitions are held in every village and city to see who can make the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon. Some are really huge! They’re burned at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali. And as Gambling being popular activity during Diwali, you could also try your luck at one of Goa’s top casinos.

Amritsar: A Sacred and Golden Diwali.

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You may be surprised to learn that although Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, is predominated by Sikhs; Diwali is celebrated in a grand way there too. The occasion has been incorporated into the Sikh religion and is particularly significant because it also marks the return from prison of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, in 1619. What’s more, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali, in 1577. Expect to see a mesmerizing display of fireworks over the Golden Temple. The temple complex is also draped in lights, and the edge of the lake fringed with countless oil lamps and candles, lit by devotees.

Udaipur Light Festival.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Udaipur is a popular place to spend Diwali with rooftops and doorsteps illuminated by lights, and fireworks over Lake Pichola. Devotees head to Mahalaxmi temple in Bhatiyani Chauhatta to pay their respects to the goddess of wealth. The Udaipur Light Festival is the star attraction. The festival features performances from various singers and DJs across genres, art installations, food stalls, fun activities and paper lanterns.

Celebrate Dev Deepawali in Varanasi.

dev 

Celebrated fifteen days after Diwali on the Full Moon night, Dev Deepawali offers a surreal experience, when Varanasi truly seems like an abode of the Gods, not just of temples. Often known as the City of LightDev Deepawali is probably a manifestation of this very epithet. There’s a procession of Hindu deities through the streets and the ghats are lined with more than a million clay lamps. With firecrackers and fireworks going off all night long, you have a fabulous view over the Ganges. Other highlights are the special Ganga Aarti, and the ghats illuminated with candles, and diyas (earthen lamps) that are floated down the river.

diwali-india

A word of caution though! Do be aware that air quality unfortunately reaches hazardous levels in Delhi and the north India around the time of Diwali. Hence, if you’re sensitive to air pollution, you may prefer to avoid visiting the city at this time of year or carry a quality pollution mask.

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali !! 

-M

 

 

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