NECESSARY advice when traveling in Pune!

“Situated in the West Indian state of Maharashtra, Pune (assume an accent on the e) is a city for those who enjoy a lively nightlife, hiking, and spicy and delicious street food. It is an important city to me because I’ve spent many summers with my grandparents here, and I’m back again for a six month internship with a human rights law firm.  I’ve had more time to try the street food, find the best places to shop, and discover where to get the best views of the city, which, in my opinion, is the best part of traveling somewhere new.

I can offer you clichéd advice (“Take an auto rickshaw everywhere!” or perhaps “don’t drink the water”), but there are so many other things that are worth mentioning! I am hesitant to offer advice because when I travel, I do what I want. I look at a map and I simply go exploring. I firstly recommend to never buy a single guidebook, especially with an ever-changing, growing country like India. I also don’t like having a packed schedule during my trips where I’m running from one supposedly must see attraction to the next. Take it easy when you’re here. Don’t be impatient, don’t plan your trip hour by hour; you will get absolutely exhausted. India is for the adventurous open minded soul, so the best way to enjoy Pune, or any Indian city for that matter, is to just go with it!

Yet I realize that this spontaneous way of traveling can lead to missed specialties that can only be found in that city. So I should probably give you something to start with. Let’s make this short, sweet, and to the point.

First thing first. The best time to come here is between November and February, as those are the coolest months. I was here during the summer and it reaches 105; if you’re planning to travel around India rather than stay only in Pune, you’ll bake from April to the end of May. Then, the monsoons start in June, so you’ll drench until September.

Once you’re here, take a moment or two to just soak it all in. The sights, sounds, probably not the smells; it will be like no other city that you’ve ever been to, and I can guarantee that.

Regarding the food, ease yourself into it. Don’t get the pani puri first. Pune is for foodies, and those who enjoy high end dinners will get what they want in the Kalyani Nagar and Koregaon Park areas. But street food is the real forte of any Indian city. The local specialty is the vadaa pav, a spicy potato sandwich, which I’ve literally been obsessed with. It’s doused in oil, so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is health obsessed, but still, try it just because you might just have a foodgasm (“I’ll have what she’s having!”). It can be found anywhere in the city, but the best ones are in the Camp area, on MG Road. With your vada pav, have some chai. I can’t imagine it getting any better than that combination.

drink                         food

(left, chai at Vohuman Café. Right, vada pav from Karve road, served with green chilies)

If you’re into hiking or just want to give it a try, check out Sinhagad, which has literally been a tradition for me for years. It has really nice views of a few rivers, and if you’re coming anytime between July and August during the monsoon season, then the greenery of the surrounding mountains is pretty amazing. Other than Sinhagad, there’s Parvati, with a sweeping view of the city at sunset.

Or, if you’re not into the hiking thing and simply want to enjoy rooftop bars and classy evenings, visit the Pashaa lounge at the top of the Marriot. 

temple

(Temple on Parvati)

And finally, shopping. On Lakshmi Road in Old Pune, you can find everything from precious metals to stores filled with random knick knacks. MG and FC Road street shopping can get you a shirt and shoes for less than five dollars total. Lastly, for those who want the international brands, there are the malls of Viman Nagar. But come on! Forget about huge malls! Street shopping and haggling are the proper way to shop here. 

nightlife

(Lakshmi Road at night)

Let me once again emphasize how important it is to take it all at your pace. Don’t think that I’m underestimating you, it’s just that you’ll be pushed in crowds and note the aggression on the roads with apprehension. Yet Pune is a city with beautiful people, savory foods, and scenes of daily life that will absolutely amaze you.

flower shop

(Street corner flower shop)

This post was written by Kanan Gole, if you are interested in checking out her other travels, and/or GAINING helpful advice, check out her blog & leave a comment!

kananabroad.wordpress.com

Why should you go visit Utah?

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Two best friends, Lauren, a fellow on the entertainment team for Huffington Post, and Kellie an assistant for Alain Pinel realtors & O’dette mortgage group decided to take a road trip across the United States shortly after they had both received their undergraduate degrees.  Although the adventurous duo had experienced many states (road-tripped all the way from New Jersey to California), a favorite destination of theirs was Arches National Park in Utah.

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Lauren described herself as originally not being the most outdoorsy person, but explained that it “All changed when my friend Kellie and I stopped in Arches National Park in Utah this November. The landscape is truly unlike any other in the world. There are thousands of natural red rock formations throughout the park, but the big “must see” is the 1.5 mile hike to the Delicate Arch. Kellie and I were blown away by its size and beauty. I’m truly at a loss for words to ever do Arches justice.”

In addition, a short drive from Arches National Park and a nice way to end your day is at Moab Brewery a great place for “cheap burgers and craft beers.”

Where can you take a car ride into the clouds?

cable ride

Guanabara Bay, (Rio de Janeiro), Brazil

This cable car ride provides magnificent views of Rio’s bay, city, and beaches. 

beautiful view

“The Sugarloaf cable car in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the world’s best known attractions, has received over 37 million visitors since its opening in 1912.

The ride is divided into two stages, each lasting 3 minutes. The first stage goes from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), at an altitude of 220 meters. The second stage goes from Morro da Urca to Sugarloaf Mountain at an altitude of 528 meters. Cable car speed varies from 21 to 31 kilometers per hour. Each car has a capacity for 65 passengers.”

http://gobrazil.about.com/od/riodejaneiro/ss/sugarloafcablecar.htm

Every tourist attraction has a cost: Adults= $27 , Children ages 6-12= $16 , Children under 6= No charge

Where can you comfortably swim into snow-capped mountains?

pool

The Cambrian Hotel, Switzerland

This heated pool is both beautiful by day and night with it’s magnificent location in the Swiss Alps.  While the outdoor pool features unique views where you feel as if you’re swimming into these snow-capped mountains, The Cambrian Hotel also offers an array of award winning spa services (among the top 20 swiss wellness hotels) that combine intriguing treatments like their mountain herb massage and blackberry wrap in conjunction with their relaxing atmosphere.  While the boutique hotel is fully loaded with all relaxation tools, you can escape outdoors to enjoy the more adventurous seasonal activities such as skiing (Winter), hiking, and biking (Summer).

room 2

view

hotel

cambrian

“We have 71 rooms altogether. All of them are en-suite and many of the suites have more than one shower or bathroom. Containing furniture from the likes of B&B Italia, Porada and Knoll International, as well as what was made locally, our bedrooms are the ultimate in comfort and style. All come with a flatscreen TV, DVD player and WiFi. The views from all our rooms are superb, particularly those facing south.”

If you’d like to learn more about The Cambrian Hotel take a look at their website – http://www.thecambrianadelboden.com/en/18/hotel.aspx

A unique & historic home rental in Italy

Civita di

town beauty

Located in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy “a unique destination that is a pristine Medieval village on a promontory set in a vaste valley carved into volcanic rock by two rivers. Its only connection to the modern world is a footbridge by which you will travel the last half mile of your voyage into another world, virtually untouched by modern life”.

The home rental was designed by Studio F and is called Domus Civita.

pool

cave

bed

Studio F was careful to preserve the historic charm this house contained through careful renovation.  This 3 bedroom/ 3 bathroom rental home has all the essential amenities for one to feel extra comfortable and relaxed throughout their stay while also providing an aesthetically pleasing modern interior and a historic and beautifully decorated exterior.  Each bedroom has their own unique and beautiful views of the town and surrounding landscape for one to feel truly at peace.

If you’d like to check out some more pictures, or learn more about the rental check out their website http://domuscivita.com

Where can you take a motorbike ride through terraces of yellow fields?

vietnam terraces

Vietnam

These beautiful terraces are used for vietnams staple crop, rice, which has been growing there for thousands of years.  This yellow color appears towards the end of September and/or October and typically only lasts for a few months, it signals that it is the ripen rice season.  Other times of the year you’ll see these terraces displaying beautiful greens.

The most noted areas in which you can find these terraces are Mu Cang Chai, Sa Pa, Hoang Su Phi; needless to say there are many others that may be just as beautiful just not as well-known, crowded and/or touristy.  (Most of the touring companies in Vietnam have various options to hike through these golden yellow fields!)

motorbike

A great way to let your senses truly experience Vietnam the non-touristy way is through a week tour on motorbike; although there are shorter options as well.  Not only will you be safely driven by a well-instructed driver, but you will see almost all of Vietnam (the sought after well-known destinations as well as the more remote destinations) without having to peer through fogged up windows.

A highly recommended company to do this motoride tour with is called Hue Riders.

http://www.hueriders.com/index.html

3 (unique) things to do near Naples, Italy

naples beach

La Spiaggia dei 300 Scalini – The Beach of the 300 Steps

“This beach is about 1 ½ hours north of Naples and has white sand with crystal-clear water. The catch? You have to descend 300 steep steps to enjoy this little oasis. However, it’s well worth it! Summer weekends feature beach parties and camping.”

Food, naples

Il Garum

“Il Garum is a small restaurant located in the heart of Naples’ historic district. They serve incredibly fresh seafood in a small piazza overlooking a busy street, so it’s great for people-watching. Their carpaccios are great as well as their eggplant, zucchini and mozarella-stuffed grilled squid. Yum!”

naples, Island of procia

The Island of Procida

“The island of Procida is a 1-hour ferry ride from Naples and is less famous than nearby Capri and Ischia – which means…less crowded! The best way to see the island is by boat or on foot. There are plenty of places to rent a small boat, great coves to swim in and small boutique shops with fun clothes and gifts for those not fortunate enough to travel with you to this beautiful island!”

All the pictures and information provided in this guest post was from a close friend whom I met in Tanzania, Bianca Hilary Kenworthy.

Bianca can speak Italian beautifully (fluently), and has been visiting family there since she was patiently waiting in her moms belly. Not only is she a Senior Account Executive at Auster Events but also runs an Italian Food blog that specializes in delicious homemade pastas.

Check out her blog!  http://www.pastificiodeicampi.it/blogs/linguina/

Where can you swim above a beautiful valley among the clouds?

turkey

Denizli Provence in southwestern Turkey

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Okay, well not exactly swimming in the clouds, but close to it! This is a twist on your typical beach vacation; the views from the ‘cotton castle’ are of better quality than any pool or beach;  you can receive that sun kissed tan while staying toasty in the naturally warmed spa while also experiencing magnificent views of the valley below.

bathing

You would also be relaxing/bathing in something historical, these travertine hot springs have been used as a spa since second century BC!

Where can you lock your love above the clouds?!

mttt

In order to lock your love above the clouds you must first hike up Mt. Huashan (in China) which is no walk in the park.

lock of love

I like to think of this as a twist on the “Love Lock” bridge in France!

This is a scary, endorphin boosting, and very unique hike.  This can be special for a pair or group of people whom enjoy a challenge and sentimental moment.  You can permanently lock your love above the clouds in what feels like your on top of the world while creating a memory so special and unique.

For a more detailed description of the hike:  http://www.travelchinaguide.com/package/tour-xa10.htm

Where can you take an EXHILARATING airboat ride and hold an alligator?!

air boat

The Everglades, Key Largo!!  Take a thrilling airboat ride through alligator infested waters!!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA alligator

The Everglades also has a wonderful alligator show where their expert handlers educate the audience on on all aspects of these creatures of the swamp.  After the show you can hold both a baby alligator and a snake!  (Don’t worry there is tape over the baby alligators mouth!)

*Bonus: Some of the other activities offered are- alligator feeding, and snake shows!

For information on prices and times checkout their website … http://www.everglades.com