Monthly Archives: January 2010

My Australian Australia Day

It had been 5 long years since  I had celebrated the National Day of my country in my own country. I had forgotten what it was like to celebrate with Australians, in the heat of Summer on our own turf.  So this year had to be a big one and 2010 certainly lived up. My Australia Day was jam packed full of Aussie goodness! Beaches, bikinis, Bondi and burnt to a crisp. What a day!

I wanted to also take this time to review  my last 5 Australia Days:

2006 – Delhi India.

I actually forgot it was Australia Day until the enving as it is also Indian Republic Day

2007 – London, England

Beers at 9am, watching the movie Chopper, singing the Anthem on the train and being denied from the Temple Walkabout. An English Australia Day with all the class.

2008 – BIG WHITE, BC, Canada

Working in housekeeping until 12pm, started drinking 12.30pm, BBQ outside our snowlobile hut. Riding a Snowmobile in my Australian Bikini before heading to Happy Valley Tavern, The Happiest Place on Earth! Freezing Cold, but we still wore our bikini’s and boardies.

2009 – Monterrey, Mexico

Student Exchange in Mexico with 35 other Aussie students provided us with an unusual setting for our Australia Day Celebrations. Triple JJJ Hottest 100 on the 25th (the day before due to timezones) and all day BBQ as we returned from a weekend in the dessert, followed by a Birthday Party/ Australia Day BBQ on the 26th. VB shirt was donned and beverages were consumed. FIESTA!



2010 – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Bondi Beach, Havaina Thong Challenge (http://www.havaianasthongchallenge.com.au/), Mr Muscle Sprout (www.musclesprouts.com.au), my best girls, sun, sand and fun!

My Day in point form:

  • Up at a ghastly 7am to get to Bondi by 9am for HAVAINA registration.
  • Met Mr Mark Bouris from the Australian Apprentice.
  • Ran around with Mr Muscle Sprout to promote the Amazing China Challenge (View the Amazing China Challenge 2010 adventure brochure)
  • Lazed on the beach with my lovelies
  • Attempted a world record with 1200 other Sydney Siders
  • Got snapped by 2day FM cameras and appeared on the website – http://www.2dayfm.com.au – HOMEPAGE
  • Met with 2 other mates for summery lunch
  • MORE SWIMMING and more sun = more burn
  • Northies, Conulla at Night for Dancing with local mates

EPIC DAY! Amazing!

I am so lucky to have been able to share my National pride over 5 countries over the past 5 years. I must say though…. There is no place like home!

Thanks Sydney for a truly memorable Australia Day 2010


Melvin from Germany of Traveldudes.org

Melvin from Germany is this weeks Travel Profile. Melvin and I met through Twitter after I found some of the amazing tips of his website http://traveldudes.org. Anyone can sign up and pen their very own travel tip. It’s great! Everyone is a travel expert. It’s so nice to hear about REAL travel experiences from the people who live and breathe them.

Melvin and I have a shared love of the fabulous German City, Köln. This city has an amazing cathedral, it’s by the river and it has some of Germany’s best beer! The Christmas markets are a delight and the tasty treats on offer are sure to have you visiting over and over again. Ich Liebe Deutschland! Learn why Melvin does too!

Name
Melvin

Occupation
I’m a travel agent, but right now I just help out in an agency once a week. I’ve just got too much work with Traveldudes.

Country of Residence
Germany

Country of Origin
Also Germany

contact/ website
http://traveldudes.org/
http://twitter.com/traveldudes
http://www.facebook.com/traveldudes

Why do you love Travel?
There is this one quote, I really like: “Who lives sees much. Who travels sees more.”
I’ve traveled all my life. First with my family, later with friends or alone and now with my wife. With each single day I’ve traveled, I’ve experienced/learned something special, which made the day worth it.

Favorite place in your home country and why?
That’s Köln (Cologne). Most travelers visit Berlin, Munich, Hamburg & Frankfurt (of the bigger cities), but they should visit Köln instead of Frankfurt. The people in Köln are much more laid back then in other cities. If you go out for a beer, you could do it easily alone. It won’t be long and you’ll meet others and have a drink with them. If you go to a brewery, mostly crowded, you’ll share your table with strangers. In other cities (like Munich), people will look really strange at you, if you do it there.
Here are some travel tips for Köln:
http://traveldudes.org/traveltips/europe/germany/west

Best place for tourists to visit in your country?
I would recommend travelers to visit Berlin, Köln, Hamburg & have a nice ride through the valley where the river Rhein (near Koblenz) flows. That’s one of the famous areas in Germany, where all the great wine grapes are growing on steep hills.

What other country would you life in if you had to leave your country?
It really depends on the reason why I would have to leave. Normally I wouldn’t leave. If it would be critical politcal reasons and I would have to leave Europe, I think I would choose New Zealand. It’s so far away from everywhere and not really of international political interest. That means: Safety! The Kiwis are really nice people and a bit laid back. They take things easy. But if I could stay in Europe, then I would live in Portugal. I could imagine to have a nice surf hostel at Portugal’s Atlantic coast. I also know a nice place in Spain (north of Tarifa), which would be just my thing.

Best travelling experience anecdote in your own country?
Wow… that’s tough. Actually I haven’t traveled in Germany for some time now. I told myself that I would travel the world first, as long I’m a travel agent & I’m fit doing it. Sure, I’ve been traveling through Germany and know some nice places, but not really an anecdote… Sorry!

Favourite activity when around your city?
Tourist activity? Climb the Cologne Cathedral! Or walk across the railroad bridge to the other site and keep left. There you’ll find a nice beer garden and a fantastic view of Köln.

Do you feel you know your country well, or is more exploring of your homeland needed?
I think I know my country well, but there is still so much more to see. I haven’t really been to Dresden and the surrounding area, which must be really beautiful, too.

Any warnings for travellers visiting in your country?
Yes, don’t drink and drive! Having a glass of beer or wine is a cultural thing here. So it’s actually meant a bit serious. There is no other country in the world with so many breweries compared to residents, but I’m sure that the British gets close.

Must see movie featuring your country and Why?
There are many great german movies, but not international known. Perhaps “Der Untergang”. Another stupid world war II movie. Ok, that one is actually quite good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downfall_%28film%29

The best book to read before visiting your country?
http://www.amazon.com/Deutshcland-2007-2008-MaxiAtlas-Germany/dp/3826418034/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264114331&sr=1-4
LOL

The must eat dish or delicacy of your country?
There is so much and it depends on the region. I love the Pommes Frites with Currywurst. Forget about going to typical fast food chains. In Germany you will find many small and independant fast food “shacks”. Otherwise try Reibekuchen. That’s also very typical german. There are many restaurants with german cuisine & special menus with meals of the region.

The top three sayings to make travellers stay in your country easier?
Kölle Alaaf! (Cologne carnival saying)
Ich bin ein Berliner!
Hallo, wie geht es Dir?

Best time of year to visit?
Spring is nice (around May) as there are many flowers and all the trees got that really fresh green. Summer (July till mid September) is great for long nights in beer gardens. Autumn (September, October) is great for the wine regions & the winter (December till March) is great for snowboarding in the Alps.

The 4 words that best describe your country:
Great landscapes & friendly people!

Make sure to get more Travel tips from Melvin at http://traveldudes.org and Follow him on Twitter  @traveldudes


Havaina Thong Challenge at Bondi Beach, NSW

Australia Day is one of our greatest National Celebrations. It’s the day we all get together and feel proud to be called Australian! We have BBQ’s, parties, we drink a lot and we tend to sing. But what else do we do to revel in our country’s greatness.

This year I will be trying to break a World Record in honour of our great day at the HAVAINA THONG CHALLENGE, SYDNEY AUSTRALIA!

Each year we attempt to set a new World Record for “The longest line of inflatable airbeds”. In 2009 we set the record in Bondi with 908.  So this year it is again to be held in Bondi and we need to beat the 4 other Australian states holding the event.

The locations for all the Havaina Thong Challenges in 2010 are:

NSW- Bondi

VIC – Torquay

QLD – Mooloolaba

SA -Glenelg

WA- Cottlesloe

Sydney is Australia’s largest city so we can’t let these small fry beat us. Otherwise we have to listen to the bragging for a whole year!

2010 Beach activities to include:

  • Giant Havaianas Inflatable Thong Race
  • Havaianas Dash For Thongs (Beach Flags)
  • Giant Havaianas Relay (Running Race)
  • Havaianas Thong Throwing Competition

    Whatever you do this Australia Day, Have fun, Be Safe and Be Proud to be an Aussie!

Visit http://www.havaianasthongchallenge.com.au/registration to register or pop down on the day to try your luck.

$25 gets you entry to the activities on the beach on the day, A world Record certificate  (if we are successful, and Sydney will be!) and the giant inflatable Thong to laze about on the ocean all day!


Don’t judge a Traveller by their Backpack

The old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is equally applicable to the everyday backpacker. Don’t look at another backpacker and immediately discount them as someone you don’t want to associate with, who knows, they might be a lifelong friend in waiting.

This is exactly what happened when I was in the culturally rich city of Munich in 2006. I had been staying with a friend in a town called Raubling and now I had the day to myself to explore the big city. I decided to take the free walking tour, which I had heard so much about, to get to know the history of this very pretty European city. But before I ventured out with this new group of travellers I made a promise to myself….

“Today, you will not meet another Aussie. You have come all this way from Australia. You have spent the week with German people only and you are learning so much. Get to know the locals. All Aussies are the same overseas and you want to broaden your horizons.”

And off I went!

We wandered around the great monuments and churches listening intently and snapping photographs of everything. I did want to share my experience though and decided to chat to the gentlemen next to me. A lovely German man (Yes! A local) who I had a lovely conversation with about exploring your own city… for all of 5 minutes! Well back to the tour it was.

As we walked through a lane, we stopped at a peculiar sign, doggy parking? Yes. I kid you not. Doggy parking. I had a bit of a giggle and shared a smile with the fellow traveller next to me. He took this as a good time to start up a conversation and what came out of his mouth….. well I don’t remember the words, but they were in an Australian accent!

Great! Exactly what I didn’t want to happen today. Ok, so I would be polite, have a quick chat and get back to my cultural exploration. Until! He mentioned where he was from…… 15 minutes down the road from me. Of course. Is this not always happening in Europe? Turns out we know the same bars, went to schools near each other and have one or two mutual friends. And this was how I met my good friend Adam.

Next thing we know, we’re joined by a lovely bubbly girl, also Aussie, Nikki. We’re virtually the three musketeers…. or Bush rangers…. or something Australian. We spent the afternoon together after the tour and had an absolute ball!

Who was I to deny a possible friend purely based on their country of origin. Especially one that is my own. I could have missed out on a really great day in Munich as well as someone I now treasure as a friend. Adam is still in Germany but I swear we talk more than I do to my friends who live in Sydney.

Moral of story – Don’t judge a traveller by their backpack!


Where is the Best BBQ Pork in Sydney?

The question was raised over dinner last night, in the wonderful BBQ King Restaurant, where is the best BBQ Pork in Sydney?

After wandering around Sydney’s CBD, and being faced with many sad CLOSED signs, we were lucky to stumble across the modest restaurant BBQ King. Situated on Goulburn Street and to the untrained eye it would seem just another Chinese restaurant, but no. This restaurant is very well known amongst it’s loyal Sydney followers and for good reason.

I believe the quote was “Best BBQ Pork in Sydney”.

That is a pretty big call. Sydney is full of amazing restaurants with much choice in the Asian cuisine category. I myself am a huge fan of the Marigold Yum Cha restaurants BBQ Pork Buns and BBQ Pork pieces (located next to Market City.) I am sure there are many other people out there with opinions on this matter.

BBQ Pork Bun

When it comes to food, it seems we all are experts. The conversation quickly stemmed to where to get the best culinary bites from around the world. Somehow, the conversation always came back to the BBQ Pork!

So enlighten me, Where can we find the best? Because I’ll be heading there asap!!

If you do like the sound of the BBQ King, head to: http://www.eatability.com.au/au/sydney/bbq-king/

or Marigold for those yummy pork buns:

http://yourrestaurants.com.au/guide/?action=venue&venue_url=marigold_citymark

Also why not ask on http://www.travellr.com, for all the best travel tips!


Emma from Sydney, Australia

Emma Page is my charming, delightful and lovely friend from Sydney. We are both obsessed with travel and spend many hours a week planning our next adventures. Unfortunately, both of us have recently had our travels cut short by broken vertebrae during our travels. We are now on the mend and ready for frivolity and fun abroad!

Learn Why Emma Loves her country AUSTRALIA so much and her tips on what’s hot in the land Down Under.

Name: Emma Page

Occupation: Journalist

Country of Residence: Australia

Country of Origin: Australia

Why do you love Travel? To escape familiar settings and embrace discovery and adventure. There’s no better way to experience the world than to actually get out there and see it. You can read a one thousand page itinerary on Paris, gaze at photos of the Dalmatian Coast or watch a movie about La Dolce Vita in Rome but none of it compares with being physically present in a cultural landscape where you can taste, touch, smell and feel what it’s all about. I compel everyone to travel at least once in their life…no doubt you’ll want to go again!

Favourite place in your home country and why? There is no city I love more than Sydney. A born and bred Sydney girl, I think this stunning Harbour metropolis offers the best of everything. It combines spectacular natural beauty – craggy headlands overlooking a sparkling blue ocean and pristine national parks – with the best of cosmopolitan Australia. You’ll find the best international foods – from Japanese sushi to Persian fairy floss to Mediterranean degustations – at your fingertips. There is also a gamut of watering holes, an eclectic mix of museums and galleries, high-end and bargain shopping haunts and lots of free and cheap entertainment options. Sydney is Australia’s largest global city with a booming population but manages to retain a relaxed, chilled vibe amidst the Manhatten-esque pace of life.

Best place for tourists to visit in your country? I’d definitely recommend taking a trip into Alice Springs – the dry, dusty heartland of Australia – and spending time in Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock). Watching the rock at sunset as it changes from dull terracotta to blood orange to muted mauve is breathtaking. It’s easy to appreciate the spiritual significance this place has to Aboriginal people.

Also on the list is Kata Tjuta or The Olgas (a short drive from Uluru) and the breathtaking Kings Canyon.

Stay in Alice Springs town (Crowne Plaza recommended) to experience a unique and exciting melting pot of different cultures in the very centre of Australia. Browse the Friday night markets along Todd Street Mall, have a flutter at the Casino, nurse a python at the Reptile Centre and tour Desert Park (it’s about $20). The walk takes you on well beaten paths through the reserve where you’ll inspect waterholes with thriving bird life, see nocturnal exhibitions, cross river beds, explore sand country and get up close and personal with red kangaroos.

Here we go my sweet....
What other country would you life in if you had to leave your country? Either France or Croatia.
Everything in France is beautiful. From the opulent shop facades and finely-wrapped chocolates in Paris to the sublime Alps, romantic wine valleys and shimmering azure waters lapping the Nice coastline – France has an exquisite landscape for everyone.

My mum hails from Privlaka, a small fishing village on the northern Dalmatian coast in Croatia – about a half hour drive from Zadar and three hours from Zagreb. I have visited this village twice and I cannot wait to go back. The people are lovable characters who usher you inside their homes for homemade delicacies such as stuffed capsicums or prosciutto with Pag cheese. In summertime you can watch local lads display their incredible footsal skills, swim in sapphire blue Adriatic waters, drink Karlovacka beer at rustic bars and sing traditional pjesme (songs) to a classical guitar on the beach under moonlight. A highlight would definitely be celebrating Privlaka Noc – a summer festival with Croatian rock legends, klapa bands, food stalls, fireworks over the moonlit sea and hundreds of eager-eyed faces. Spend a summer in Dalmatia and you’ll return home with tears in your eyes because nothing can ever quite compare to that magic.
Best travelling experience anecdote in your own country? I remember visiting World Heritage Listed Fraser Island (located along the southern coast of Queensland) and being astonished that the entire island was made of pure white, fine grain sand. In fact, it is the world’s largest sand island. I travelled around Fraser in a four-wheel drive to behold spectacularly coloured sand cliffs and trekked through natural rainforests where centuries old trees had grown not from soil but sand. The island houses 100 freshwater lakes, the colour of aquamarine, which are difficult to float in without any salt content keep you buoyant. We spotted dingoes, goannas, lorikeets and an abundance of other native species roaming freely on the island. Fraser is a rare gem that ranks among Australia’s most prized natural landscapes such as The Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.

Favourite activity when around your city? If it’s hot I’ll make a beeline to the water. Yachting around Sydney Harbour is spectacular, as is finding the perfect sunny spot in the Botanic Gardens, flopping out on a picnic blanket and watching the passer bys/harbour life. Fish and chips at Watsons Bay, breakfast at Bondi, coffee at Balmoral and swimming at Cronulla are also favourites.


Do you feel you know your country well, or is more exploring of your homeland needed? I know parts of Australia well but there are still many places I’d love to explore such as Tasmania, Cairns, Darwin, the Great Ocean Road and Adelaide. Many tourists often know more about our own backyard than Aussies do!
Any warnings for travellers visiting in your country? Always swim between the flags at surf beaches. Australian waters are notoriously rough and for inexperienced swimmers, strong rips, large waves and sudden potholes in the sand can be treacherous (if not lethal!). Also, if bushwalking wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and boots if possible – we have many poisonous snakes and spiders here! Research is your best tool – read up before you go.
Must see movie featuring your country and Why? Baz Luhrmann’s epic romance ‘Australia’. It captures our beautiful but dangerous desert-country and voices important perspectives in Australian history, including the larrikin drover, the aristocratic English colonialist and the mixed race Aboriginal boy. The film is set against the backdrop of the bombing of Darwin during WWII.

The best book to read before visiting your country? May Gibbs’ ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ (a splendidly illustrated children’s classic), Bill Bryson’s ‘In a Sunburned Country’ (Audio CD) or anything by Tim Winton or Bryce Courtney – two bestselling Aussie authors.

The must eat dish or delicacy of your country? We have lots of international eats here but do try a pie or sausage roll from Harry’s Café de Wheels in Woolloomooloo. Opera Bar serves the best Sydney Rock Oysters – washed down with a glass of white wine, you can’t beat it!

The top three sayings to make travellers stay in your country easier?


– Cheers/ no worries mate (to thank someone for their help)
– Where is the nearest bus stop/ train station?
– How much does it cost?
Best time of year to visit? Spring/ summer

The 4 words that best describe your country: Vibrant, colourful, welcoming, diverse.


Salute – To a great man, To a great cause

Last night I stumbled across the documentary SALUTE. It was halfway through and I was captivated. A true story about one of the most influential moments in sporting history, but unfortunately for some of the wrong reasons.

http://www.salutethemovie.com/

Unforgettable ... Peter Norman on the victory dais in Mexico as Tommie Smith and John Carlos perform their controversial salute. Inset: Norman on the eve of the Sydney Olympics.

Many people will recognise this famous image of the 2 black american men who raised their fists wearing black gloves as they stood on the Olympic daïs. This bold, brave and daring move was something that the two men chose to do for themselves and their people. Little did they know how greatly it would affect the young Australian Athlete who shared the podium with them.

This film is dedicated to Peter Norman, a brilliant athlete whose life was changed when he won the silver medal at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Not recognised so much for his stunning achievement in track and field, but for taking part in such a strong cultural statement.

I was really moved by the story of Peter’s life and the way he accepted life and it’s people at face value. He didn’t make judgements on others, he didn’t feel anger at his loss of glory and he didn’t shun his country, though they shunned him. He stood up for what he believed in and left the rest in the hands of fate.

norman2

It’s so great that now this legend of Australian sport, and of Humanity, is being recognised.

Watch Salute. You will be inspired and moved.

For related stories see:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/10/03/1159641325056.html

http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/news/general/salute-the-peter-norman-story-causing-quite-a-stir/1262569.aspx

http://www.theage.com.au/news/film/salute-to-a-champion/2008/07/14/1215887536424.html

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,,20541398-10389,00.html


Nature’s Show at Nagarkot

Sunrise on a mountain top with the Himalayas glistening in the morning light behind you. Could anyone ask for a more spectacular view? At Nagarkot mountaintop just outside of Kathmandu you can see this spectacular sight.

The day starts at 4.30am in Kathmandu. Either by private tour guide, tour bus or by your own transportation (Taxi’s are relatively cheap) you can take the journey. It’s a 32Km drive east of Kathmandu, reaching the picturesque district of Bhaktapur.

A slow and steady climb up the mountain path in the darkness is an intriguing journey as you strain your eyes to see what is happening in the quiet, early morning world around you.

Reaching the top of the Mountain at approximately 6am, you have plenty of time to choose the best point for viewing. There are 3 options. The lovely little Tea house to the far left is a small and quaint little place with a stunning view of the sunrise to the east. The other option is to stand on one of the outdoor terraces of the Club Himalaya Nagarkot. The views from this lovely hotel are stunning and if you can’t stand the cold on the winter mornings, go inside for a nice hot breakfast and incredible view.

If you are looking for the complete package, you should head to the Tower view, the highest point at Nagarkot. From here there is a stunning view of the Indrawati river valley to the east. The area has an elevation of 2,195 meters, so you are sure to see all of the amazing surrounds of this valley and the villages that are nestled within the hills. The tower is a simple structure with coloured flags flowing from the tip to the ground, reminding you that you are in the Buddhist following country of Nepal. Apart from the tower, you have an unspoiled 360 degree panoramic view.

I must warn, that it’s not always sunshine and clear views. The morning I went up we unfortuantely were surrounded by a thick fog and the clouds were continuously rolling in and out obstructing our view. Despite the cloudy weather, we had glimpses of the famous Himalayas behind us and were able to sneak a peak at the tip of Everest. As the light begins to cover the area and it seemed as though the sun had risen, we began considering heading back to the restaurant. Then all of a sudden a little ball of red pops out from the clouds and for 5 minutes slowly rises to its heavenly position looking over the earth. Some will get a better view than this and be able to see clearly for miles around, others won’t even get to see the suns glory. On that day though, we were lucky enough to be guests at one of Nature’s most stunning shows.

The fog quickly took over and you realise that thegrand spectacle is over. With freezing fingers and cheeks we shuffled off the mountain top and took the short drive back down to the hotel for a steaming hot buffet breakfast.

A lovely idea is to reach Nagarkot the afternoon before and this way you will get both the Sunset and the sunrise. The Club Himalya Hotel is a little piece of luxury in this natural setting with a pool, spa and spacious rooms decorated in Nepali style. There are also other hotels dotted down the hill but for the full experience, I recommend this one. It’s also possible to walk to the Tower from here.

On your way back down you will see the Nepalese Army training and it’s no wonder the Gurkha army were known as the best in the world. These guys are extremely fit. For example, running up the mountain with a fellow soldier sitting on their shoulders. Look at the picture! You have to see it to believe it.

Nagarkot is a must see when in Nepal and it can be very cheap if you drive up on the same day and come back. You can also make the most of your journey by stopping the Ancient City of Bhaktapur, one of Nepal’s 4 remaining kingdoms.

If you need a guide, contact the wonderful Shadev Panday. We met this delightful gentlemen on top of the mountain. Speaking English, Spanish and Nepali and with a deep knowledge of Nepal, he is the perfect guide.

Mob: 977 9841 348750
Email: panday59@hotmail.com

Sunrise is generally around 6.30am in the winter months, so make sure you are there nice and early.

VISIT NEPAL 2011. NEPAL TOURISM YEAR 2011!


Tickled Pink by Jaipur

How one can visit Jaipur in the North of India and not be delighted by the pretty pink city is beyond me. The fort nestled on the rocky mountain range, the elephants meandering down the streets and the palace resting on the lake are splendours which must be experienced when in India.

During my recent visit to India I was told on the afternoon I arrived that the next day a tour had been arranged for Jaipur. Would I like to attend? Well I’m not going to say no! So 7am the next morning 20 of the guests for the wedding we were there to attend headed off to Jaipur.

A mere 7.5 hours later we arrived. It is no easy journey and with a large bus trying to navigate the traffic out of Delhi and onto country roads, it is bound to be a lengthy trip. I would suggest spending at least one night, if not two, if you can afford the time. The best way to do the trip is actually as part of the Golden Triangle of Rajasthan, Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.

We had a lovely buffet lunch at the Trident Hotel located in the more modern part of the city. Apparently arriving this way is like coming through the back entrance and the correct way is to arrive in the old pink city via the lake. We were met here by our Tour guide Vijay (V.V.Singh, details at the bottom) who explained the wonder that is Jaipur.

As I mentioned, it is better to go through the old city first as I was expecting to be dazzled by pink everywhere and was rather let down when the city looked like any other Rajasthan city. The more modern part of the city is actually one of the fastest growing cities in India, and is expected to take over Bangalore in terms of Business within the next few years.

Jaipur is known as the pink city because in 1853, when Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted in Pink color to welcome him. Still, the neat and wide avenues, painted in pink provide a magical charm to the city. I must say, that it is more of a terracotta colour but it still stands out and maintains a lovely them throughout the city, making you feel warm and welcome. The city was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a Kachhwaha Rajput, in 1727. Jaipur is the first planned city of India and the King took great interest while designing this city of victory.

We made a quick stop at the phenomenal palace with a speedy tour through the great archways, painted buildings and intricate and elaborate gateways. I must admit that I was more interested in taking photos of the fabulous buildings at the time with the afternoon sun illuminating their colour. For this reason, I did miss a large part of the tour and have asked Vijay to send me more information about the interesting life that went on here hundreds of years ago. Most palaces in India,especially Rajasthan, have now been turned into museums, hotels and function centres to continue earning wealth for their royal families.

After fighting our way through the crowds of hawkers and sellers, we were back on the bus and driving past the incredible lake palace. Insert gasps and expression of awe here. The palace on the lake is the true Gem of the city that is famous for it’s jewels. Afternoon is also a lovely time to see it as the water is a deep blue and the building lights up with suns golden rays.

Our last stop was at the Amber Fort in Amber 11km from Jaipur which was the original capital of the Raj who founded the city. The fort is made of brilliant white marble and vibrant red sandstone giving it a striking appearance in its high place on the mountain. A jeep or elephant ride up to the top through the narrow lanes and along the rocky path is the only way to get up there. Once there, we again had our guided tour through the Incredible fort which is till in a great condition. There are rooms, museums and many viewpoints from which you can see the entire area which the fort protected. Monkeys are also present at this site so hold on to your bags!


The view from the top through the delicately designed windows and frames is breathtaking as the sun begins to set. The dessert colours are a brilliant contrast to the white and yellow buildings dotted over the hills.

Once we were finished here it was back to the old city to visit some textiles and material outlets. The cloth wasn’t particularly cheap and we had already seen some fantastic shopping in Delhi. With limited time, this was the best we were going to get. We next went to an emporium of Jaipur arts and I was tempted to buy a swinging chair worth $7000 US. The small matter of me not having that much money did not stop me planning how I would get it home, but it did somewhat hinder the purchasing process. Alas, I will have to return to Jaipur for shopping next time.

As we waited for the stragglers of the group to finish shopping we heard the sounds of a marching band. I was familiar with the musical sounds drifting in the evening air and shouted to the others ” A wedding procession is coming”. We ran to the street to find over a hundred of the grooms family dancing, singing and clapping as they walked him to meet his bride. This is traditional of Indian ceremonies as is it tradition to invite anyone they see on the street to join. Next thing I know, I’m thrust in the middle of the circle of women dancing with the many relatives of the groom. I was then asked to pose for photos and introduced to the proud grandfather who hugged me and thanked me for joining in. A typical day in India it seems, but a genuinely unique experience for us foreigners.

It was a long trip home again and we only managed to reach Delhi at 2am in the morning. Again I suggest to stay at least one night in Jaipur to truly take in the magic this city can sprinkle into your trip. Well worth it though and glad to finally have seen Jaipur after hearing so many good things over the past 5 years.


For the best private tours in Rajasthan, contact Vijay:

Vijay
(V.V. Singh)
INDIA
+91 98290 64199
Email: vvsingh1_99@yahoo.com

For bookings and more information:
http://www.jaipur.org.uk


Graham Robertson, CANADA. Travel Profile

Our first Traveller in the new Traveller Profile series is Graham Robertson from Canada.
Graham is also a Travel writer, focusing on Technology for the Travel Industry. His blog wWw.Projectwander.com hosts interesting articles, interviews and tips for the latest travelling gadgets, news and changes.

Learn more about why you should visit Canada, based on Graham’s recommendations:

  1. Name: Graham Robertson
  1. Occupation: Outbound operations supervisor & Writer forProjectwander.com
  1. Country of Residence: Australia
  1. Country of Origin: Canada
  1. email/contact/ website:
    wWw.Projectwander.comgrayum.ian@gmail.com


  1. Why do you love Travel?
    I love travel because people are always at their happiest when they are travelling. Working in the travel industry means I am around like-minded people all the time and it’s that kinship that keeps me coming back before. By kinship, I mean the bond all us travel people share.
  1. Favourite place in your home country and why? Long Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I think Long Beach really represents what Canada is to me, it’s laid back and has some of the best ecotourism in the area. Worth the long drive, plus you can make a stop at cathedral grove on the way: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/macmillan/

  1. Best place for tourists to visit in your country? Vancouver is a pretty obvious choice- great mountains, forests and ocean all in the same place. Theres a reason why it’s always in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world! I think if you’re going to the opposite side of Canada, Montreal is worth checking out. Interesting blend of cultures and people plus great food.

    1. What other country would you live in if you had to leave your country? I have already left my country for Australia, so definitely there. Looking at moving to the UK soon, excited to be in a place with so much history as I have always lived in very young countries.
    1. Favourite activity when around your city? I was actually from a very small town on Vancouver Island and there wasn’t too much on offer for tourism, but if I had to pick I’d say either whale watching or a cultural tour focusing on the Aboriginals of Canada and their history.

    1. Do you feel you know your country well, or is more exploring of your homeland needed? I think its very common for people to take their own country for granted and I am no exception. I have seen more of Australia than I have of Canada, but I do plan to remedy that at some point. I guess the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies here!
    1. Any warnings for travellers visiting in your country? Couldn’t really think of any serious warning for Canada. If you are from a warm country, don’t underestimate how cold Canada can be! Also, spring on the west coast means about 10 degrees, so dress warm and be prepared. That being said, our summers are quite nice and usually get up to about 24-28.
    1. Must see movie featuring your country and Why? For me, anything hockey related! This is actually a difficult question, Canada seems to feature in a ton of movies and TV shows as America due to the tax breaks we give the film industry. As for a movie actually featuring Canada, I am at a bit of a loss at the moment. I’m sure I will think of an awesome one in an hour or two!
    1. The must eat dish or delicacy of your country? Poutine! Its basically fries with gravy and cheese. For those that DONT want to die of a heart attack I would suggest some Westcoast smoked salmon. I haven’t found it better anywhere else in the world.

    1. The top three sayings to make travellers stay in your country easier? E.g. How much? Too expensive or Hello. Being that we speak english (for the most part) I will go with: “Eh?” “Where is the next Tim Hortins?” and “aboot”. I think you might only get those ones if you are actually Canadian.
    1. Best time of year to visit? This is debateable. I think winter (November to January) because I love Canadian winters. If you are not a fan of the cold, hold off until summer (June to start of September). Only issue with visiting in summer is your visit will coincide children’s summer break. Personally, I say go for the winter to get the full experience.

    1. The 4 words that best describe your country: Pure, friendly, & environmentally focused

    Also contact and follow Graham on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Grayum_ian


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