Reasons why Travelling is therapy

 

We are often see ourselves caught up in a routine that doesn’t allow to think further, it’s like being stuck in a cycle. We start losing perspective, and slowly before me know it depression and anxiety hits us. I have experienced this for myself, and talking to therapist does help but I did not find that as a permanent solution because you are again trapped in the same surrounding that is not making you happy. The times when I actually felt good was when I took a break from the monotony and got out, it could have been only a weekend get away, or a vacation to a destination that’s been on your list for the longest time. I am listing down reasons why travelling has been therapeutic for me and how it’s really helped me in many ways I probably didn’t realise.

Out of your comfort zone
I realised I got too comfortable in one place, be it home or work, even if the space I was in wasn’t making me happy, I was just to comfortable where I was in that moment. The time I decided to travel, have different experiences and see the world that’s beyond my problems and comfort zone is when I could put in a lot more perspective to my life. Being in a city, opening up maps to locate places and area, communicating with sign language and overcoming the language barrier, experimenting different cuisines that your palate was probably unaware of. All of this opens up your mind to other things in life, you start becoming more open towards different ideas and things that would be out of your comfort zone.

Makes you more confident
The moment you start experimenting and experiencing different things in life, the times when you get lost and find your way back, or manage to make a friends that may not communicate in your language. All these small things unknowingly starting making you more confident, it’s an unconscious confidence boost because you’re somehow doing things you feared or thought weren’t possible. Eventually this reflects upon you as a person, you are not seeking for validation from anyone for this. You’re simply just going to a place that’s been on your list for the longest time and you weren’t sure if you’d ever actually go.

Change of surrounding
A getaway or a much-needed vacation brings you a change in your surrounding, you always return from a holiday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Sometimes, we need this break to feel good about where we are mentally and physically. When work gets too dragged or there is meaningless night outs going to the same places, non of this helps in refreshing your mind, you feel stuck and that’s when there must be realisation for change. Utilise those holiday leaves before they expire and book your next holiday! 

No judgments
Let’s be real, you’re out of your city at a place where you don’t know people, and holidays come’s with no rules which equals to no judgements! For me this means not worrying about what I wear, what I eat or how I look, not being bothered what someone might think. This really makes us stress free and let’s us live and enjoy to the fullest, you could be waking up at noon to pizza’s and beers as your breakfast and hangover cure and no one cares till you’re having the best time, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

Explore yourself
At times, we forget about our capabilities and other things we can do because we don’t give ourselves that time, this often leads to a lot of frustration. Long weekends and time away from your routine gives you time and space to explore your hobbies, think about the things you are good at or a skill you may want to learn. For me, taking a break post college, a few weekend getaways and holidays was the time I realised that I enjoyed photography and writing, this time away I was able to explore things of my interest and just to figure out things you may want to do, a vacation away allows you to be in a head space where you think beyond deadlines, you think about your passions, interests, hobbies and different ideas.

Travelling has definitely helped me in a lot of ways, and I hope this article inspires you to travel and leave your worries behind xx  

 

Sziget – Island of Freedom

just for youMy holidays are probably incomplete without a festival! Last year, during my Eurotrip I had a chance to visit two festivals, Sziget being one of them and it was surely one hell of an experience.

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Sziget is Europe’s largest music and cultural festival takes place on an island by the Danube river over a week. This was a spontaneous plan during my stay in Budapest and the best part was tickets being available on the spot at the festival.

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Getting to the Sziget from Budapest:

We used public transport to get to the festival using a tram and bus. We got off at Filatorigát station and walked to the festival from there. It was pretty easy to reach the festival. However, there are other modes of transport available here.

Now about the festival, along with your band you receive a ‘Sziget Passport’ which I personally thought was an amazing souvenir. You can get this passport stamped on every stage you visit, and it’s a great way to keep a track of the stages you have visited as there are over 20 stages at the festival. With only one day to visit the festival I did try to cover as many stages as possible.

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Once we were on the Island, the festival was so colourful and artsy, and luckily we headed to the main-stage right in time for the beach ball party! There were 1000’s of beachball that were being thrown up in the air together, it was such an amazing atmosphere and it was of of the highlights of the festival for me.

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Moving on the different things you can expect from Sziget, since it’s a music, cultural and arts festival. There are a lot of exciting things that are happening, my advice here is especially if you are attending the festival for a day or two download the Sziget application, browse through everything happening at the festival, short list the things you want to do. Let me warn you, there is a lot of walking as everything is spread over an island.

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My highlights from Sziget:

Attending a circus and theatre show, I managed to attend two shows and not just one.

Just chilling by the river and vibing on the music, this was the perfect place to catch the sunset and meet a lot of like-minded people.

Writing on the before I die wall – it’s a great picture and insta spot as well

Admiring all the art, culture and madness!

15 minutes of the beachball party at the main-stage 

And lastly, Wiz Khalifa stealing the show.  

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If you are traveling to Budapest during Sziget, it’s a festival you must visit even if it’s for a day and there is no planning required for this, since the festival is SO big, tickets are usually available on the spot without having to a pay a premium price which I think is amazing!! Hope you’ll have a chance to visit this festival and make your Eurotrip even more eventful.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About My City

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So for today’s post, I decided to talk to about my city Mumbai. Most of you’ll know this where I have been born and brought up in South Mumbai, so I thought why not give you’ll an insight about this magnificent city. Mumbai isn’t your average big city; it’s very different from any other big city. It is definitely the city of dreams in India; it’s the city where the magic happens. This dynamic multi-cultured city that never sleeps, all year round you can experience different festivals being celebrated from various regions and cultures across India.

This city is has got something in store for everyone, no kidding! From the famous starry Bollywood industry to millionaire slums (however ironic this sounds, it’s pretty damn true) this is not it, if you’re a finance brainchild or a creative media person, Mumbai has it all for you. For a foodie, there are endless options, from the famous street food like our vada pav and chaats to some of the best fine dine restaurants. But for food, I think India itself has so much to offer like literally, every state in India has it’s own cuisine and speciality. Read more about Mumbai’s street eats here.

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But, apart from all this what makes this city so special, it’s the PEOPLE that make this city what it is. I have never come across people that are so humble, helpful and they just don’t fail to make you feel comfortable. If you tend to interact with people in the city, there is story everyone will have on how they made a living in Mumbai. Everyone here is so approachable and friendly, language, age barrier isn’t even a problem to ask someone for help here, cause irrespective of that people will always offer a helping hand. One thing I have noticed over the years is that most people in the city are extremely energetic and passionate about what they do, A story of a driver coming to Mumbai with absolutely nothing, he even spent nights on the railway station taking up odd jobs, soon he got employed as a taxi driver and he noticed he was catering to a lot of foreigners as he used to work near the airport. He felt the need to learn basic English, which he did, thereafter he could communicate with a lot of people and this expanded his horizons. Little did he know, in a years time he bought his own car and started a personalised tourist taxi service in Mumbai and couple of years later he even opened his own Indian fast food restaurant in the city. This was pretty inspirational that from having nothing to owning a company and restaurant, for this he had to say “this was possible for me to do only in Mumbai as in a smaller city, he wouldn’t have the aspirations to become big”.  Well, that being said I believe that if you are truly passionate about something, there’s nothing that can stop you in life.

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This was a little glimpse into my city Mumbai,  which is the fourth most populated city in the world and on of the fastest growing cities, and the city of dreams in India. And it’s the only city that gives me the feeling of home.I would love to know about your city and what makes it special.

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20 Holidays to take in your 20’s

20 holidays in your 20'sYour twenties are all about exploration, finding yourself and maybe getting lost again. There is no better way to make the most of it other than traveling. These are the years, where we can take the plunge and just book a ticket to an adventure. Prior this age, we are too young to go crazy and after this we will be old and responsible. I have made a list of 20 destinations I want to visit, while I am in my 20’s, these places will literally cover everything I have been wanting to do, from partying to adventures to teaching.

Here, are my top 20 trips to take in your 20’s:

Full Moon Party in Thailand

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The Full Moon party takes place once every month throughout the year, and new years is the best time to attend it. Here, everyone’s going crazy on the cheap buckets of alcohol, covering their bodies in neon paint and fireworks everywhere! It’s a holiday not to miss in your twenties.

Trekking to the Himalayas

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Once you get older, your knees are going to get weak, you’ll be out of breath and stamina to do this trek, trekking up to the Himalayas is once in a lifetime experience, traveling through the highest motor-able road in the world and camping at the Everest base camp, things like this will never be forgotten.

Teach English Abroad

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As students, graduates we can put our language skill to some use, teaching English in a non-English speaking country could add a lot of value to you and someone else’s life, and you get perks for this as being well paid to sponsor more travels. If you look up on the TELF website, there are a list on countries you could teach English in.

Summers in Europe

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European summers are the best, this one trip you have to take with your best of friends or do a study abroad in Europe to spend enough time here. The variety of holiday destination is vast, you could chill on the beaches in Spain or indulge in wine and cheese in Italy or go for the hot tub parties in Budapest or have a summer love affair in Paris or get high in Amsterdam. Basically there’s a lot you could do in Europe, just spend a month here with your friends and make the best memories.

Tomorrowland in Belgium

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Tomrrowland, is one of the most talked about and popular EDM festival. As you get in your 20’s the few things you want to do is rage at these massive music festivals and enjoy the vibes there, and Tomorrowland should be top on your list and can’t be missed.

Backpack across South East Asia

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While we are in our twenties, one thing I suggest is being open-minded and learn about various cultures around the world. One of the best trips to get a different cultural exposure, this will surely be an enriching experience. The countries backpackers visit in South East Asia are Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. So, get those backpacks out and book this trip!

Roadtrip to Iceland

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This road trip would probably one of the most scenic road trips in your life, rent an RV and driving across Iceland’s Ring Road, surrounded with volcanoes, rainbows and northern lights. This is once in a lifetime, and is surely on my bucket list to do in my 20’s.

Hike up to Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is the world’s most famous and popular Inca archeological ruin, and now voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The best way to discover the city is through the Inca trek and trails, it’s surely not an easy way to get up here. This trek would be exploring mountains, flora and fauna, sacred valley of Machu Picchu and the culture of course. Your twenties are the best time to explore this city and hike up.

Burning Man in Nevada

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Burning Man isn’t an average festival, it’s a weeklong cultural festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. This includes camping in the desert, self-expression art from all over the world, music and a lot of cultural influences are found here. Well, this weeklong festival isn’t easy as camping in the desert is difficult and requires you to be well prepped for this exceptional week.

Experience the great barrier reef in Australia

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The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living space on Earth, with over 1500 different types of species found on a 3000km long marine stretch, this and unbelievable sight. This is the up close experience with the underwater world, undoubtedly Australia is the best place for this experience.

Scuba diving lessons in Indonesia

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Do you love the ocean? The best thing you could do is take Scuba Diving lessons and maybe even become and instructor. Gili Islands in Indonesia is one of the best places to learn scuba diving, a week-long of training to become a pro yourself, and maybe a month-long training to become and instructor. Can you leave a desk job to become an instructor later in life? In the real world it seems unlikely, so go take this leap while you can.

Party in Ibiza

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Yes, our twenties are meant to party are asses off! We will be working hard in the future, so what better place to let hair down other than Ibiza, one of the best party islands having the most chilled vibes and that’s all you need. The beach, music and a little bit booze to let lose.

Volunteer in Africa

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So, I am a big believer of giving back to the world. I mean, for the ones reading this and the ones who’ve had chances to experience even half this list, are really fortunate. Sometimes, we could give back by volunteering in countries like Africa, it could be teaching students, working in a Safari, helping in the fields and experiences like these will make us realise how bless we actually are, so make sure you get a chance to do something like this before responsibilities take over.

Spring break partying in Mexico

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I bet most students have this ticked off their bucket lists, spring breaks are where you’ll are going to prep for summers but in style, Cancun is where most students go party till sunrise and just begin their twenties. Spring break party holidays are the best way to start your twenties travels.

Get wasted on a Yacht at Yacht Week

Yacht Week

Yacht week is a weeklong of sailing, island hoping, diving and partying. You and your group of friends get your own yacht for a week, and this experience is filled with being drunk in the middle of the ocean to waking up on a new island. This could definitely be a perfect bachelor party!

Attend the world’s biggest carnival in Rio

Rio Carnival

This is the biggest carnival in the world, in Rio Brazil it’s even known as the Carnival city. This 5 days long party has over 2 million visitors per day and performances, parades performed poor neighbourhood that make this carnival a world-class event. Before you’re too old to move those hips to samba, attend this street party and be awestruck by Brazilian performances and the samba parade.

Learn Spanish in Spain

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Well, in our twenties we are quick learners and the best thing we can learn is a new language, to how about spending a summer in Spain, learning Spanish and immersing your self into a different culture. And this will open so many doors for you in the future in terms of being able to connect with people from different countries, jobs abroad and so much more. Give this a shot in your early twenties!

Get lost in India

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They say you need a lifetime to experience India, and I wouldn’t disagree as India has got such a vast culture and so much authenticity. This is one trip that should be on your list in your twenties, exploring different cities, food and seeing the most stunning places. Maybe one trip wouldn’t be enough to explore this large country but starting in your twenties will always have you going back to India for a new adventure every time.

Underground clubbing in Berlin

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For all those who love deep house and underground music, this one trip you must not miss out on, Berlin is known for having the best clubbing experience in Europe. It’s not mainstream, they are dark underground clubs that make sure you party till 8 am, also it’s got clubs with the strictest door policy in the world. And let’s be honest, as we get older our partying capacity reduces, partying till dawn is something your older self wouldn’t want to do.

Take an Adventurous leap in New Zealand

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Your young and pretty damn courageous, this trip will give you that adrenaline rush. New Zealand is known for having the best adventurous exposure, having the ultimate bungee jump, to sky dives and ocean walks. These are just to name a few activities here, but there’s a lot more! Seriously, I don’t even need to explain why you should be doing this trip in your twenties, go take this adventurous journey.

Your twenties are probably going to be the best years of your life and these are a few experiences you shouldn’t miss out on, take these holidays abroad the experiences and make some unforgettable memories in these years.

Stereotypes and misconceptions about India 

Stereotypes & Misconceptions about India

Recently at a bar in Mumbai, I had a strange encounter with these white guys from Europe traveling across India for a month. Well, it was strange cause, I was surprised what they though of India and us Indians to be, and it made me realise how every white person who comes to visits India or even interacts with us, has a few preconceived thoughts and stereotypes about India. This wasn’t my first experience, while living in the UK I’ve had people ask me questions like “are you allowed to date?”, “why don’t you have an Indian accent?” and the list could go on. I had to keep explaining that India is not what they see in movies or they hear about. It’s really big and diverse, and they’d be so surprised with what I would tell them. Not everything you’d hear about is false, but there is a lot of stuff that’s exaggerated and has just created a bizarre image about India, which is why explaining myself about India, that it’s not what you may think it is.

Indian isn’t a language:

So a lot of foreigners, assume Indian to be a language, and it isn’t that’s our nationality. I was communicating with a taxi driver in Hindi (our national language) and I was asked by one a foreigner, if I was talking to them in “Indian” well they meant Hindi which obviously I corrected. So, a fun fact here, Hindi is our national language, besides this there are 28 official languages spoken across India and over 200 dialects. Yes, this would be probably one of the most diverse nation in the world.

Curry isn’t the only Indian food and not every Indian eats spicy:

India has mastered the art of making curries, but there are debates and conflicts about curry being originated from England (does England like taking credit for everything we do?) non the less, if you’re visiting India, curry isn’t the only thing you should be trying, there is a variety of dishes such as South Indian food like idlis, dosas or chaats like bhel, aloo vada and there’s lot more you could find here. Now getting to our spice tolerance level, for the record not everyone in India can eat spicy, example myself, I have tears streaming down my face if my food has too much chilli. So next time you’re hanging with an Indian, don’t assume they’re spice superman, you’d be surprised to see that you could probably eat spicier food than your Indian mate.

Dating is a taboo:

So, I encountered this experience twice once in London and in Mumbai when I met these blokes from Amsterdam, who tried flirting, but I wasn’t responsive and the next thing they said to me was, “Oh you’re not allowed to date right, you’ll have an arrange marriage.” To he honest, this really pissed me off, cause you know nothing about my life to comment and coming back to our culture, arrange marriages do exist, but as time has passed by, everyone’s allowed to date find who they like and this doesn’t mean if someone’s flirting, I need to give them what they’re looking for. Times have changed, and arrange marriages exist in the rural areas of India and those marriages seem to be lasting a lifetime so I don’t see what’s wrong in that. Guys, honestly watch out before passing comments like this, it is quite personal and offensive.

Every woman would be in a Sari:

When I was a part of an exchange program in college, while talking to these students they told me they didn’t carry their normal clothes as it would be “too revealing” for India and most girls and women would be dressed in saris is what they heard. This has been one of the most false statements I’ve heard, like my mum doesn’t even know how to drape a Sari forget wearing it everyday. Saris are beautiful and elegant, they are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals, not on everyday basis. In big cities like Mumbai and Delhi girls would be dressed in normal jeans and tops, or even dresses for night outs. And working women wearing indo-western clothes to work which would be wearing a scarf along with your jeans, or a longer top known as “kurta”. We live a pretty updated fashion world, so please get this mindset off and Saris are beautiful.

The Indian Accent:

So every white person thinks the Indian accents in very think and loud, how they mimic us in all the American tv shows saying “what are you doing?” I’m sure you’re imaging the accent while reading this. Now, open up your mind, not every Indian has that accent, we are very well spoken and let me repeat myself about the diversity in languages in India. Literally accents in English change from city to city, people in UK were pretty surprised by my accent as it wasn’t the thick accept you’d have imagined and wouldn’t guess that I was Indian. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the best education which allows me to speak well, but seriously that accent you’d very rarely find across India, maybe if you go down to south India (which is also the most literate part of the country).

These are a few stereotypes I’ve come across, and what people thought about India and sometimes I found it really frustrating about having to explain my about things like this, and such stereotypes did exist but but everything has evolved over time, and sometimes a lot of things could be offensive if you have failed to be opened minded about a country and its culture. So, if you’re visiting India with an open mind I can assure having a life changing experiencing the culture here, seeing two sides to India and be mind boggled with diversity in one country its self.

Student Travel Planning Guide

Students, this one’s for you or rather for anyone who wants to travel on a budget but still have one of the best experiences. Ground rule for traveling as a student I experienced was budget myself, and it’s difficult, as you want to explore the city, party and we can’t forget a tad bit of shopping. Budgeting with so many quests is a task, so here I have a perfect guide that will allow you to do all of it just with minor compromises.
Let’s get started now!
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  1. Decide an Estimate you want to spend:
    This should be the first step in to planning your vacation, have an estimate of how you want to spend on your trip, this will allow you to pick a destination, the kind of hotel/hostel you would want to stay in, transport and the duration of your trip. After having an estimate, you could plan out 2 to 3 options laid out to make the final choice. As much as I love spontaneous holidays, here it’s advisable to plan at least 3 months in advance, as a student you will curb and budget your daily expenses for the coming months to have extra cash for this trip and besides you will get good deals with the advance bookings.
    Here, you will be able to find sites that will help you decide a budget for your holiday.
  2. Book Hotels/Hostels & Flights:
    This is obviously the biggest and the main expense of your trip, once a destination has been finalised it always good to keep a tab on flight deals and offers, book as soon as you get a good deal, For hostels, it’s the same prices tend to be inflated closer to peak season or the hostel you’d be hoping to book could be sold out, its preferable to complete hostel bookings along side flights and bag a good deal.
    For hostel and hotel booking, compare prices from HostelBookers, Booking.com, HostelWorld and for flights the best sites to compare various airlines would be Skyscanner and Kayak, so I would suggest look up all these sites, compare prices and book.
  3. Visas (if required):
    Depending on where you’d be traveling a visa may or may not be required. Incase there is a visa requirement, the best thing to do is do the application as soon as your flight and hotel bookings are done. I would suggest this as you can apply for visas three months prior to your travel and from past experience, the closer you apply for your visa to the holiday season there are chances of delay in your visa arrival. Just to be safe and assured about your holiday, don’t be lazy and leave the visa for the end.
  4. Make A To-Do List:
    For me this is one of the most fun and exciting part of planning a holiday, do a little research on the places you’re going to be visiting, make a list of what you want to there. This would include activities/water sports, museums, restaurants, bars and clubs that you’d like to cover. After this is done, check prices (budgeting needs us to do this). This will give you an idea how much you should keep aside for you expenses per day. My favourite bit would be finding stuff to do for free, I mean besides being on a budget who doesn’t love freebies? Imagine a museum is on your list and then you know it’s got free entry for students (excitement right there), I would be buying couple of beers and fancy cocktails with this saved money. Also, before I forget, it’s good to find out if places give student discounts and offer good deals for a group incase you’ll are traveling in a bunch.
  5. Let’s get packing:
    Girls, this is probably for you’ll. You have to be smart while packing on budget holidays, check the weather forecast, bars and clubs you would be headed to and get an idea of the local culture then start with your packing, letting it be appropriate and minimal. I have made this mistake in the past of carrying heels along with me by just assuming all the clubs else where would be like London and guess what it was the complete opposite. Silly me, let those heels take up so much space in my bag that I could barely shop and had the worry of paying excess baggage with cheap airlines. So just be smart while packing.

    So this how you students will be able to plan in a budget but still have a sick vacation, and trust me you’d be surprised by how much you’ll end up saving following this planning process for your holiday.

 

Should I call it luck or destiny?

Should i call it luck or destiny-So I was meant to be traveling to Europe this week, and things just didn’t work in my favour for this awaited trip of the year which included attending Tomorrowland on my birthday.
I can’t explain how excited I was for this trip, and on Friday evening I realise my visa was still being processed at the embassy, to be honest I was pretty upset and panicking considering I was meant to fly on Monday afternoon. There was no way I was going to be able to leave on Monday without my visa.
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Being pretty mindf*cked, I could barely sleep that night cause missing my trip was the only thing playing at the back of my head, all the imaginations of what I would be doing during my vacation was just not allowing me to sleep. And obviously at 3 am, social media is your best company. I opened twitter and read about the Military Coup in Turkey and the airport had been shut down, men dressed in their uniforms were all of the streets and there was complete chaos, and it struck me that damn I was flying Turkish Airlines and had 15 hours to explore Istanbul one of my favourite cities, I was taken back with what was happening and wondered if the coincident of not getting my visa in time was a good thing or not.
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Knowing the stubborn me, I would yet board the flight to Istanbul irrespective of what was happening, not cancel my holiday and have my family and friends worry about me. Obviously traveling while there are political turmoil happening is probably not a wise decision to travel. This is when I thought about me probably be lucky or destined of not being able to travel and risk my life.

Whining and mourning over my trip went on for the weekend, Monday I got an update from the airline that they started operating normally, but my visa hadn’t arrived yet so it didn’t help. Where as on the other hand my parents were quite relieved that I wouldn’t be flying during these dramatic situations.

But, I guess there is something I learnt from this experience, which I would like to share with you’ll.

Apply for your Visa at least one month in advance:
It’s peak season for European holidays, and just to get everything done in time its advisable to apply for your visa a month in advance, sometimes it could take upto three weeks to process it, I was hoping to get mine in two weeks clearly it didn’t work in my favour.

Travel insurance is important:
Irrespective of where you’re traveling, getting travel insurance is essential. I mean, the Istanbul incident for me was quite unexpected, having travel insurance would recover my expense to a certain extent, missing flights can happen cause of multiple reasons and being insurance the probability of being backed is pretty good.

Flexible booking could be helpful:
I made another mistake of booking non-refundable flights, I mean just imagine if I made a flexible booking, I would be able to re-book my flights to another date by paying a small difference when my visa would arrive, here I have no choice but get notifications of the plane taking off without me. I know sometimes, flexible booking comes with an extra price but if you’re a last minute planner like me its better to do a flexible booking rather being stuck like I am.

Booking.com can be a saviour:
Luckily for me, most of my hostel and hotel bookings were done on booking.com I could do free cancellations for my hostels in Budapest, Prague and Amsterdam for no charges. I mean it would hurt me to pay for absolutely nothing. This cancellation facility they provide is actually helpful, and besides you can get good deals as well.

Lastly, don’t be depressed:
I know, its hard to deal with your dream holiday being called off after having it all planned, but being depressed and constantly whining about it wouldn’t help much(take it from my experience). Rather try and bare minimum loss by speaking to airlines and hotel bookings for refunds, once that’s in place start planning another adventure. Maybe this trip wasn’t meant to be for me but I’ll soon be on the road on another trip, exploring a different city and hoping for it to be even better than I would’ve planned or imagined.

 

High Tea At The Taj Falaknuma Palace

The Falaknuma Palace represents the luxurious lifestyle of the late Nizam, this palace was built-in the 1890’s with Italian marble, timeless architectural design is spread over 93,971 square metres.
What are truly admire about palaces in India is the intricate details to everything even in those times, this palace was no exception to this. Located up hill in Hyderabad, this iconic palace is now taken over by the Taj Group and converted into one of India’s luxury hotels giving you a Nizam style living experience.

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Reception area at the Taj Falaknuma Palace with Italian marble interiors 

While I was visiting the palace I happen to meet a couple of people staying at the hotel and I really wanted to know what it was like living in this fabulous crib, and they told me its an experience that comes with the hefty price tag, but is truly worth it if you can afford paying £350 a night.

Well, what comes with that price is a king size stay with butler services, spas, breakfast in bed and all the prince and princess pampering that you’d imagine of.

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Stairs that lead you to the ballrooms 

But, don’t be disappointed you can get an essence of the luxuries at the palace by opting for high-tea or dinner with a guided tour around the palace just for £30 this is the fair deal I opted for, and this the only way you would be able to get into the palace. I must say they are quite stringent on rules to let people come visit ever since the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel, which is understandable.

So my evening started by being warmly greeted and taken to the palace in a chariot (how I wish that was true), but as you go up, there is a chariot right outside the palace for visitors to take pictures. After strolling around for a bit, we were all called in to take the palace tour, I got to be honest here I felt like I was in school doing this with another bunch of tourists or locals coming to dine here. This tour comes free along with high-tea or dinner.

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Chariot at the entrance of the palace 

As the tour starts, I noticed the high ceilings at the reception and the grand staircases going up, and now it was time to absorb all the facts and figures of this beauty. So, to begin with the palace consists of 22 halls and 60 rooms lavishly furnished and decorated with paintings, artifacts, one of kind master pieces and chandeliers. Falaknuma is known for its largest Vientiane chandler collection with 40 being only in the hall. It’s also known for its unique jade collections and paintings of well-known personalities.

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Crystal Ballroom with an infinite chandler reflection 

Thereafter, we arrived in the Nizam’s games/activity room, this room was where he would spend most of this time with friends playing chess, billiards on the one of a kind billiards table which is designed by Burroughs and Watts who designed two identical billiards tables out of which one being in the Buckingham Palace and the other at Falaknuma. Then, I noticed this massive hookah pot which had five pipes and was probably two feet tall. Wow, the Nizam could smoke quite a bit I must say.

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Burroughs & Watts Billiards table 

Now, we moved to the ballrooms, it’s absolutely magical with beautiful tapestry and glittering chandeliers, imagine having your party or wedding in one of these ballrooms it would be a complete fairytale. Moving on to the dining hall where the worlds longest table is with 100 guests can be seated on the table at once, here the chairs are made of carved rosewood and green leather upholstery and the tableware is made of gold and crystal. This is open to guests with a minimum booking of 20 guests.

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100 seater dining table – worlds biggest dining table 

The tour was about to end, and I almost lost my way around wandering in the palace, the only bit that was left was the bedrooms and library which was a replica from the Windsor Castle having the best Quran collection here. Going back to the reception, it was time for tea at the coffee shop.

 

I was really excited and hungry about by this time, after a day of work, walking around the palace I needed this to fuel me. There are two types of high-tea that you can choose from The Nizam Special – this has a variety of arabic teas and indian snacks along side or The English Tea – you can choose from a variety of green & black teas which are served with sandwiches, scones and parties. Knowing my palette I chose the English Tea.

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High-tea with a view

I have to talk about the great hospitality I was provided here, at first my tea was served indoors and it was about evening time. I noticed there was a terrace area and requested to be shifted there to enjoy the city view while the sun goes down and I sip on my tea. Though there was dinner setting being laid out outside, the staff made arrangements for my tea to be shifted there, which I thought was nice, they ensured all the guests were provided with first class service.

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And finally, managed to get someone to take my picture (even though its unclear)

This was definitely a blissful experience and of the best ways to spend my evening in Hyderabad. Whenever you would be visiting this city, a visit to the Taj Falaknuma would be a must. Make sure, you call the restaurant and make reservations as they could deny you entry at the palace if your name is not at the entrance.

And if you’re staying here, I am pretty sure you’d have a once in a life time king size experience.

Middle Eastern Layover

During most of my travels, I am flying Emirates or Eithad airlines. Now these airlines fly only via their respective countries Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you haven’t visited any of these Middle Eastern countries it’s a good way to add them in your itinerary just to get a glimpse of Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

To begin with, anyone traveling from a western country i.e the United States, Canada, Europe, UK, Australia etc. can get visa on arrival while traveling by Emirates. This allows you to explore Dubai for a couple of hours, which is more than enough if you have an 8 to 12 hours layover. It’s the same policy for Eithad Airways as well.

Both these cities are fantastic and there is a lot you can explore and see in a couple of hours since everything in the city is in close proximity.

Things to do in Dubai during a layover:

Burj Khalifa

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Fancy a drink with this view at Atmosphere on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa

First on the list would be the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building. I would recommend going there first, it would be only a 15 – 20 minutes drive from the airport. This is located at Downtown Dubai, one of the prime areas with a lot of high rises and the Dubai Mall of course.

Going up to the Burj Khalifa should be on the top of your list, there is a coffee shop called Atmosphere if you fancy having coffee on top of the world with a breath taking view.

 

Dubai Mall

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Underwater Aquarium & Zoo at the Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is located right next to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, you could easily spend 4-5 hours here with a complete shopping spree, to lot of restaurants to go to and for kids there are a lot of attractions here, like the underwater aquarium and zoo, watch the beautiful fountain show outside the mall and by the Burj Khalifa its one of the best ways to spend the evening in Dubai if you’re visiting for the first time.

Jumeirah Beach

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Sunset by Jumeirah Beach 

For the ones that want to explore something outdoors, you could go to Jumeirah Beach side and explore that part of the city, by tanning on the beach or doing the water sports by the beach. This isn’t enough, families with kids can go visit Wild Wadi Water Park and spend the entire day splashing into those notorious water rides. If not this, relaxing on the beach and enjoying some sheesha would be ideal.

Things to do in Abu Dhabi during a layover:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

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Iconic Sheikh Zayed Mosque 


This is one of the largest mosques in the world, and has the largest knotted carpet in the world. This mosque is majestic and an architectural beauty, this one is a must visit during your layover, it’s the best way to appreciate the culture and this piece of art. You could take a guided tour to understand the history, architecture and purpose of the mosque.

Ferrari World

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Fastest roller coaster in the world at Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi

Ferrari world is a Ferrari themed amusement park, which has the fastest roll-coaster in the world. Yes, it’s actually the fastest at 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. This ride is definitely gives you an adrenaline rush by the end of it. Apart from this attraction Ferrari world has a lot other rides, car shows, movies to enjoy for the day. It would be a perfect way to spend your day during a lay over in Abu Dhabi. One-day ticket would cost 350 AED, which would be 65 GBP and the timings are from 11 am to 8 pm.

These are a few things I did during my layover in these middle eastern countries, personally I feel layovers which allow to go explore a new city are amazing, its one of the best ways to explore a new place, get an essence of a different culture and have another destination to add on your list without any extra cost.