Satisfying my wanderlust -one step at a time

Whenever I travel to any new city, first thing I do after checking in is to frantically figure out my way around town, the use of public transport if any, and  how do I buy and use the oyster/subway cards or on what side of the street do I catch the bus on. But I am always utterly delighted when I discover that I just need my own two feet.

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So, I just want to say a big thank you to some of the world’s walkable cities -I am pleased to meet you, and appreciate you for the fact that you allow me to explore your beauty all on my own.  I love getting lost on your cobblestone streets and quaint bazaars. I love watching the street performers and stop by to listen to them singing or playing funky music on the guitar. I appreciate the quiet privacy I get even when sitting on a busy street bench, enjoying my Gelato and people watching (Something I can never do in Delhi).

Walkable towns and cities offer so much more in terms of sightseeing, something a bus or train ride can never lay claim to. But I have to warn you that not all cities are well suited to pedestrians (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles), and offering my utmost respect for those people that prefer to get around on foot (I’m looking at you New Yorkers).

I’m amazed at just how many miles I walk by the end of my trip (always forget to turn on the app on my phone) and the excitement of exploring a new city always trumps the exhaustion of a long day on my feet.

 While I may not do enough justice by listing out all those cities here, there are some of the few here I have had the opportunity to explore on foot and are just fantastic to walk around.

brooklyn

New York

This one literally takes the cake. I am amazed at how much walking I can do in NYC even if I do not want to do all of the touristy things. I always look at Google maps and the subway app before I venture out and work out exactly where my must-sees are, in relation to each other. I feel grouping things geographically is by far the best way to maximize my time and minimise unnecessary walking. Using the subway does get you pretty close to most of the sights, such as Highline and Brooklyn Bridge, but exploring all of New York City takes more than a subway ride. Around Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center it is much easier to walk the blocks exploring this frantic city as you go by.

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Philadelphia

Consistently ranked as one of the country’s most walkable cities, Philadelphia is ripe with colorful neighborhoods, great buildings, and cultural sites to explore. Seemingly a world away from Philadelphia’s colonial sites, the South Philly section has a rich history of its own. Cheese, chocolate, spice, and olive oil stands are plentiful at the famous outdoor market, which is open daily and is America’s largest.

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Boston

Smaller when compared to New York City, Boston has its own charm coupled with  elegant neighbourhoods, historic streets, and American landmarks from the Back Bay to Beacon Hill and  the Freedom Trail. Newbury Street known for its trendy shopping, Copley Square for its beautiful open square and the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church give a cool vibe to this city. The Boston Public Garden one of the loveliest green spaces in the city also has one of the most photographed statues — the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. The North End is a captivating, lively quarter, with its many Italian restaurants and picturesque streets that transport you back in time.

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Washington, DC

One of the best features of Washington, D.C., is its walkability. Not only are many of its major sites and attractions grouped together on the National Mall, but the city is a series of true neighborhoods knitted together, easily traversed by foot. Whether it’s historic or cultural, food- or monument-centric, watching the cherry blossoms in full bloom or taking a tour of the memorials by moonlight, DC has many things to offer its tourists.

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Vancouver

Vancouver is popularly known as the ‘walker’s paradise’, all thanks to the pedestrian way finding maps that encourage a person to walk through the city. Among the most famous walks, False Creek to Granville Island takes the front position where we would stop by and shop at the Public Market for locally grown fresh produce. Downtown Vancouver, Gastown, Stanley Park and the Buchart Gardens which is an easily reachable place from the downtown Vancouver adds to the list.

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Venice, Italy

Probably the originator of the “getting lost” in Europe mentality, (which I have yet to feel) Venice is the ideal place to explore on foot.   Of course, a gondola ride along the canals is a wonderful treat; however, the true magic can be found in the streets along the canals.  Walking on the Rialto square and around St Mark’s square, you will experience the locals going about their daily business shadowed by the city’s historic structures.

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London, UK

London is one of the most foot-friendly cities in the world and one of my favourite too. Its bridges and the London Eye (on a clear sunny day) provide some of the best views in London. Central London has most of the landmark locations which are closer to each other. The City Visitor Trail also known as “the Square Mile” a guided walk maps a route through the heart of the City, taking you past a range of famous attractions on a stroll through the historic heart of the capital to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, the Bank of England, Mansion House, the Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – along with a host of City churches, like the famous St Mary-le-Bow.

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam’s flat, compact, and lively streets make the city an ideal place to explore on foot. In fact, walking may be the best way to appreciate gorgeous 17th-century canals, leafy parks, and former industrial docklands.

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Shanghai, China

With clean, wide sidewalks, and interesting sights along the way, Shanghai has lots to offer for a fun walk. The Yu Garden is the number one tourist attraction in Shanghai, and the only example of a Classic Chinese garden left in the city from the dynastic period of Chinese history. The added advantage is that it borders the Yuyuan Tourist Mart, where one can browse through a wide selection of touristy trinkets and test out bargaining skills. There are two parts of Shanghai, worth visiting –one a scenic/cultural part of Shanghai in the French Concession, and the second covers a famous temple and Shanghai’s art district through a more local route.

BondiCoogeewalk

Sydney, Australia

The 6km trail from Bondi to Coogee is perhaps the most famous coastal hiking trail in Sydney, New South Wales and perhaps even Australia.  Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk treats visitors to some of Australia’s best beaches and most impressive ocean views. Not only tourists but even the local Sydney-siders come to Sydney’s east coast every day to enjoy Australia’s best beaches, stunning ocean views and lots of parks, cafes and restaurants on the way.

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New Delhi, India

If you have ever been to Delhi, you will notice that it is a huge maze, and to manoeuvre it can be a task—especially if you are new to the city. The best way to soak in the rich culture of Old Delhi is to take some guided tours that are a combination of walks and cycle rickshaws rides, as you absorb the street vibe , the historical sites, and bazaars, and experience the various culinary treats and street foods. Although there are many heritage monuments dotted around the city, the Heritage Walk is an excellent way to connect the historical dots, since the guided walks are themed. That way, you learn what one monument has to do with another, as it was intended all those years ago.

Another interesting tour is the Cycle Tour where a group of 8-10 participants is accompanied by a friendly tour guide in bright orange, who will maintain a nice pace as you pedal through Old or New Delhi.

While you will definitely enjoy most of the ‘walking tours’ in some of these places, do note that you need to take heed of the following steps before you do so.

  • Walking tours usually involve long distances with each excursion lasting around two to three hours. While you’re possibly used to walking around your hometown, it is advisable to check out the general terrain of the city where you’re going. I have seen many a person who is part of a group tour getting excruciatingly tired after a few miles of walking that the entire group feels the strain.
  • Condition your body and build adequate stamina so you can enjoy exploring your vacation destination. Wear proper footwear and break in your trekking shoes by wearing them regularly for a few weeks in advance.
  • One of the prerequisites of enjoying a walking tour is keeping up energy levels and hydration. Eat a filling breakfast to fuel your body for the trek and bring bottles of fluids.

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Exploring a city or town on foot is one of the most exciting ways to get a closer view of its inherent charm. Not only do you get an immersive experience of its attractions and people, but you’ll understand it better than any conventional excursions.  Guided walks and city tours are available just about everywhere; to find them, do an Internet search, consult a good guidebook or contact the local tourist office.

Enjoy!

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Visitphiladelphia;Planetware; Touropia;Sydneywalks;Spinmonkey

 

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Lazy Much? Chill with a “Horizontal Holiday” with my pick of India’s best places to do nothing!

There are times when you feel like packing your bags and taking off somewhere, and do absolutely nothing at all. All you want to do is, laze, sip a beer or a coffee while watching the sunset, read a book or lie around in a comfortable bed with room service only a call away

Check out some of these places in India that will get you out of the hustle and bustle of city life to unwind in nature and calm your nerves, and not worry about the never ending to-do-list, the time, work or anything at all.

Goa

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While Goa is considered as the party capital of India, its tranquility is hidden in few of its non-commercial beaches. Agonda Beach in Goa is one such beach with its long and desolate shoreline, bordered with palms and casuarinas. It’s not unusual to see some tourists to bring a tent and set an overnight camp for getting a real thrill of living by the sea. If you are seafood lover you will be able to enjoy some mouth watering dishes available at nearby restaurants. However, strong undercurrents, can abstain you from indulging in swimming at Agonda Beach. During the month of September, the beach serves as a nesting ground for Olive Ridley sea turtles. With some water sports like Surfing, Water Skiing, to add some excitement to an otherwise dull day this beach which is apprx 70 km from Panaji, is picturesque and calm.

Kalimpong

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The first thing that strikes the traveller visiting Kalimpong is its quiet atmosphere. A modest hill-station for a relaxing break with its tea plantations and scenery filled with old churches and monasteries, and with little ambition, gives you full freedom to choose the way you want to unwind yourself. Yes, there are some bustling bazaars selling traditional handicrafts if it gets too dull for you. On a very clear day you can view the majestic Kanchenjunga peaks at sunrise.

Rishikesh

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Ever since the Beatles visited the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late ’60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers, and today is the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Rishikesh becomes what you want it to be. It could be your spiritual nirvana, a wisp of adventure, chilled out cafes or relaxed time off in yoga ashrams. With its so many faces, you choose which one you want to lose yourself in. Rishikesh is not all spirituality and Yoga, it’s also a popular white-water rafting centre, backpacker hang-out and Himalayan-trekking gateway.

Dhanaulti

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Dhanaulti is a small town near Mussoorie, beautifully nestled amid the lofty Himalayan peaks. It can be a destination in itself, but it’s more of a serene pit stop for travellers heading for longer journeys or leisure Uttarakhand holiday. Thus, places to visit in Dhanaulti are not any grand attractions, but small and beautiful places that offer solitude and peace, close to nature.  Devoid of fancy hotels and modern cafe-style eateries, this is the place if you are seeking a weekend of privacy in the hills.

Munnar

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The idyllic hill station Munnar once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India is famous for its sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and exotic lush greenery, is located in the Western Ghats, in the state of Kerala. It has a host of well-maintained trekking trails and picnic spots . Munnar also has many protected areas which are home to endemic and highly endangered species like the Nilgiri Tahr-an ungulate that is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the special Neelakurinji flower that blooms here once every 12 years. The hills turn blue and nature lovers come in large numbers to view this natural phenomenon in person.

Coorg

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Proudly called the Scotland of India, Coorg is situated on the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka in India.  Coorg is the largest producer of coffee in India. With its Lush green vegetation and forests covering up the hills, Coorg has some famous trekking and scenic wonders like waterfalls and viewpoints.  Resorts in Coorg have their own charm, having multiple choices for homestays in Coorg provides for the homely feeling and an unmatched hospitality by the locals, the one that always ends up attracting people to spend in the lap of nature an wake up to the smell of fresh coffee coaxing them out of sleep.

Pondicherry

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History just doesn’t leave this town called Pondicherry, where time stopped a bit when its streets, shops, food, styles, and architecture borrowed inspiration from the French. The French know the art of doing nothing better than anyone in the world and Pondi has preserved the art of living a laid back life. There are more than one ways to relax here from its beaches, ashrams to yoga and meditation.

Havelock Island 

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Havelock Island is one of the most pristine and scenic islands of the Andaman and Nicobar group. Its sparkling white sand beaches, transparent sea water, plush greenery, and serene surroundings are tempting and fascinating. And is an ideal nirvana for peace loving travellers. Popular as a backpacker’s heaven, this splendid island can be a perfect destination for a super romantic honeymoon or a lovely family holiday

Awarded as the best beach in India and world’s 7th most beautiful beach by the Time Magazine, Radha nagar Beach is the showstopper of Havelock Island in Andaman. The beach is adorned with snow white sands, sizzling shores, crystal blue water, and pristine forests.

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The untarnished beauty of the Kalapather Beach or Kaala Pathar Beach makes it one of the most scenic splendours of Havelock Island. The sizzling coastline is dotted with black rocks, sparkling silver sand, and aqua green waters that create a surreal contrast.

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A moderately calm and gentle retreat, the Elephant Beach is a perfect escape for honeymoon couples and solo travellers. Tourists love to explore this place that is known for its navy colour clear water and tranquil surroundings. Travellers can indulge in swimming, scuba diving and coral spotting or merely relaxing on the beautiful beach.

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Have a chilled out break doing nothing !

🙂

Madhavi