July 6, 2016

Kronborg Castle Helsingor Denmark

Helsingor ferry

My Second Visit to Beautiful Scandinavia, drove from  Almhult Sweden to Helsingborg.

From Helsingborg Sweden I took the ferry to Helsingor (Danish) or Elsinore (English Name), 20 minute ride by ferry and the ferry runs all day long. The ferry was packed with Swedes going to Denmark to buy Cheaper Alcohol

Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO's World Heritage Site and the main attraction in Helsingor, it is the castle of Shakespeare's Play Hamlet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronborg_Castle



Wiki Page for Shakespeare's Hamlet.




Kronborg Castle, picture taken from the courtyard.








The above 2 pictures are the Kronborg Castle chapel, the chapel is from the period of King Frederik II, he rebuilt Kronborg castle in Elsinore between 1574 and 1585. In 1567 he founded Fredrikstad in Norway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_II_of_Denmark


If anyone wants exact location of Helsingor, below is a map.



View Larger Map


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June 27, 2016

Cusco Peru Travels



Spent 3 days in Cusco, 2 days before starting my trek to Machu Picchu as I needed to get used to high altitude, (Elevation of 11,152′) and one day on the way back before catching my flight back to Lima. 


Cusco City with the Andes Mountains in the background.

Below Local Peruvians Cusco
Local Peruvians CuscoPeruvians

Plaza de Armas Cusco - The center of the city



Day 2 - I did a free walking tour of the city provided by my Hostel, I have started to like guided tours as you can see things you might have otherwise missed. The tour takes us to Plaza de Armas, Qoricancha, museums, Inca archaeological sights, and a visit to the  San Pedro traditional market.


Above Sketches are displayed at a museum in Cusco, I do not remember the name of the museum

The walking tour ended at the San Pedro Market where they sell fresh farm produce to bakeries, also any souvenirs and things you might need for your trek.



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June 21, 2016

Machu Picchu Inca Jungle Trek

Most treks to Machu Picchu start at Cusco, give your self an extra day in Cusco before starting the Trek, to get used to high altitude. I booked my trek in Cusco and my choices were Inca Jungle Trek or Salkantay Trek. The traditional trek using Inca Trail gets booked months in advanced. I picked the Inca Jungle Trek as it had Downhill mountain biking, zip lines, whitewater rafting and visit to the Santa Theresa hot springs. Zip lining was extra $$.

Day One the tour van was at the hostel early morning to drive us to the Andes mountains, my start of the Machu Picchu Trek was a mountain Bike ride in the Andes mountain, it rained on us and it was freezing. Regardless it was a great great time, once in a life time experience.



Get a good slip resistant hiking boots before going on a hike, my advice is to spend the extra money and get a good pair. Break them well before starting the hike. mine and were slip resistant and water proof. I plan to use them on several other mountain Hikes. Hopefully to Kilimanjaro.

Besides a change of clothes, a rain poncho, the few other things I carried on the hike was Energy bars, hydrating gels, band aids, flash light and alarm watch. Band-Aids came handy as with all the walking I started to get blisters, nothing to bad though. You can also buy  coca leaves and chew on them for energy and they help with altitude  sickness.

Did white Water Rafting in the Urbamba River, the rapids were not too bad compared to rafting in the Himalayas India 


Day 2 - our tour guide put some kind of a henna tattoo on us, the tattoos are washable and they symbolized Inca warriors, Picture below - The Group I was part of that did the trek with me, showing our tattoos. The sheds in the picture is where we stayed the night with a local Peruvian family.

Most of the day was spent trekking, with a break for lunch. In the evening it was time for a relaxing dip at the Santa Theresa hot springs.

Day 3 - Zip Lining in the Andes Mountains, I did zip-lining across 6 lines in the mountains. Little nervous on the fist one, but by the 3rd and 4th, I let go off my hands. This was day three.



Above Pictures are other members of my trek group Zip lining 

We trekked the afternoon to Aguas Calientes. The trek is something that cannot be described, it needs to be experienced, the beauty of the Mountains, rivers and streams along the way. One of my best travels.







Day 4 - Stayed the night at Aguas Calientes and next day the Climb to Machu Picchu started at 5 AM.  About an hour and a half up the Inca staircase to Machu Picchu. Our tour guide spent a good 2 hours giving a tour. 

If you have the energy left, I highly recommend doing the Huyna Picchu climb, below me at Huyna Picchu. Awesome view of Machu Picchu can be seen from Huyna Picchu, you will need to book the additional Huyna Picchu trek when booking your Machu Picchu trek as additional ticket is needed.

At Huyna Picchu, it was a cloudy day, still could see amazing views below 


Have you been or planning to go to Machu Picchu, Comments?
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June 10, 2016

Getting to Machu Picchu - How to Travel to Machu Picchu

Trip: Lima-Cuzco-Machu Picchu



Leg 1: Lima to Cuzco



There are two ways to get to Cuzco from Lima, with flying being much more recommended than taking a bus. The flight will only take you about an hour, while the bus will take about 20-22 hours due to the mountainous terrain. The prices found below will vary depending on when you make your reservation. Also, if you hold a Peruvian national identification card (DNI) then you will be able to obtain considerably cheaper flight prices than those listed. Finally, if you are converting to dollars the official exchange rate as of 6/9/2016 was $1 to S/. 3.30.

If you decide to take a bus, here is the One Way info

Cruz del Sur S/. 150
You can purchase tickets or ask questions on their website

Oltursa S./ 99.00-185.00
If you go this route, I recommend paying extra for the “160°” seats. Read here for more information.

Tepsa S/. 201.30
Information on Lima-Cuzco tickets can be found here

*Note: There are many bus companies in Peru, but these are recognized as being safe and comfortable, especially for tourist travel. Of the listed companies I have taken Cruz del Sur various times and have never had any problems with their service.

If you decide to go by plane, I recommend using a search website such as skyscanner.com or kayak.com to find good prices. A few notable companies that have good reputations in South America and have regular flights from Lima to Cuzco are listed below: Company Listed Price on Website (round-trip) Website

Avianca $185 www.avianca.com

LATAM $150 www.latam.com

StarPeru $216 www.starperu.com



Leg 2: Cuzco to Machu Picchu





The two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cuzco are by train or hiking the Inca Trail. The train takes a little over three hours, while the hike’s duration will depend on what version of the Inca Trail you take.

Only two train companies run from the train station in Cuzco to Machu Picchu. They are Peru Rail and Inca Rail. In my experience, Inca Rail tends to run a little cheaper. Both have multiple trains running daily. A roundtrip ticket may cost anywhere from about $150 to over $300, depending on the level of comfort or luxury you wish to experience. It is best to read each company’s website to determine which train type fits your preferences. Please know that the train station in Cuzco is named Poroy; there are other train stations in the Sacred Valley that you should not buy tickets for (and which will be cheaper since they are closer to Machu Picchu) if you plan to do a direct Cuzco-Machu Picchu route.

I recommend using a licensed tour guide company if you take the Inca Trail. Tourists are not
permitted unaccompanied on the Inca Trail. The traditional trail takes 4 days, but alternatives include a 2-day trek (which cuts out much of the beautiful scenery of the 4-day trek) and the 5-day Salkantay Trek. The Salkantay Trek is gaining in popularity because it is less used and has stunning scenery. If you want to try the Inca Trail or an alternate, a list of licensed tour guide companies can be found here. Prices will vary wildly, and generally you get what you paid for. Make sure anything you are not providing (food, backpacks, etc.) are provided by the company you choose.

I did the Inca Jungle trek which I recommend, the trek included mountain Biking  in the Andes mountain, and I payed Extra for whitewater rafting Zip lining and the Huyna Picchu climb.

One final tip: Be sure to buy your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu in advance. The website for purchasing tickets can be found at www.ticketmachupicchu.com

Climb to Huyna Picchu is an extra ticket and I highly recommend it.

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May 20, 2016

Things to see in Rajasthan India

The term ‘Rajasthan’ signifies the land of ‘Rajas’ or the kings. The witness of a glorious and romantic past and the bearer of that heritage till date, Rajasthan is the largest state of India. The majestic palaces hold the tale of courage, love, glory and win, whereas the desert holds mystery and magic.  The awesome combination of these two and much more makes Rajasthan one of the most colorful states to visit in India. The rural Rajasthan will give you a glimpse of old and traditional India, whereas the beautiful cities are to offer you the glittering palaces, the unique architectures, the colorful culture and the arts.


Rajasthan Women
Women in Rajasthan wear Colorful clothes and Men wear colorful turbans


Rajasthan Men

Transportation: I have taken trains, Buses from New Delhi, Also drove through Rajasthan on my way from New Delhi to Bombay. For buses check http://rsrtc.rajasthan.gov.in/index.php


Stay: Popular tourist destination, plenty of cheap hotels. If you want to splurge stay at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, I stayed a night there.

Let’s check out some places of this state, where you can have a real feel of Rajasthan


Jaipur


Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan. This largest city of Rajasthan is also known as the ‘Pink City’ of India. This city is famous for its excellent palaces, architecture and the colorful markets. The main attraction of this place is the palace of the winds, which was created by Rana Pratap Singh during the 18th Century. Inside this palace, the glimpse of royal grandeur can be seen. The city palace of Jaipur is another attraction you cannot afford to miss. In a one day trip from this city, visit the famous Amber Fort. While leaving Jaipur, do pick up the local trinkets from the local market Johari Bazaar

My Recommendation for Food in Jaipur: Chokhi Dhani Village

Jodhpur


Jodhpur is the second largest city of the Rajasthan. Form the color of the outer wall of the houses, this city is known as the blue city. Back in the day, the color blue outside the house used to signify the occupancy of the upper-class people, i.e the Brahmins. The fort named Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur is one of the largest forts in the country. You can also take a trip to a village named Bishnoi, to get an authentic taste of the rural Rajasthan


Jodhpur Fort
Jodhpur Fort

Apart from Meherangarh, the Umed Bhawan palace is also very famous. It is one of the world's largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present Maharaja of Jodhpur, this monument has 347 rooms and serves as the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umaid_Bhawan_Palace

Jodhpur
Photo I took of Jodhpur city from the Fort

Udaipur


The city of Udaipur is named as the city of lakes. The awesome beauty of the Lake Pichola and the royal establishments around that takes away the breath of every traveler. The city palace and the view from it are the most popular tourist attractions of this city. Apart from that, do give a visit to the Bag dore-Ki- Haveli, Jag Mandir Island, Sajjan Garh Palace etc. While visiting this city, don’t miss a puppet show which portrays the colors of Rajasthan and its glorious culture

Jaisalmer


The famous golden city of Rajasthan is called Jaisalmer. Apart from the golden fort, this city also takes you near the golden sand of the Thar Desert. The stay inside the desert in a tent with a dose of local traditional dance will give you an adventure not lesser than a tale of Arabian Night. Primarily,   the city of Jaisalmer is called the City of Gold for its awesome golden sandstone, with which the whole city along with its fort is made. The fort is called Sonar Quilla (The fort of Gold). From Jaisalmer, do take a visit to the Gadisar Lake. 

Jain Temples inside the Fort are a must see.




Jaisalmer Fort


Chittorgarh


The Chittorgarh is the place where the largest fort of India is based. Location southern Rajasthan. The Fort is a must see and is UNESCO World Heritage site.  In the temple of Mira Bai at Chittorgarh Fort, the great devotee of Lord Krishna had merged with her lord.

Ranthambore


This is the one and only national park of Rajasthan. Apart from the excellent view of the tigers in their natural habitat, this place also offers you the view of majestic Ranthambore Fort. This fort is situated in the middle of the national park. Along with the fort, the temples inside of the fort are the other important attractions of this place

Bikaner


Named after its founder Rao Bika Ji, this city is famous for the Junagarh Fort. This is one of the forts of the country which claims the honor of never being defeated. The heritage hotel Laxmi Niwas Palace is also the home of the royal family of the state. The elusive Karani Mata Temple is located near the Bikaner, where rats are treated as sacred beings

Bikaner is famous in India for its dried snacks and Sweet dishes. 

Ajmer


Ajmer is a holy place for both Hindu and Muslim pilgrims. The shrine of saint Chisty is the holiest place for the Muslims in India. The Taragarh Fort and the beautiful Ana Sagar lake is the other must visit places of this beautiful small town. 
Careful -- shrine of saint Chisty can be very crowded. 


Pushkar


I visited Pushkar Rajasthan in November a few years back, for the world famous Camel fair, details of that trip are on my post at http://www.arvintravels.com/p/pushkar-camel-fair.html

Apart from being the gorgeous, Rajasthan also holds the reputation of being one of the most colorful nations of India. So, after your visit, the trinkets of this colorful cultures is a must take with all the memories you have created here.   

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April 14, 2016

Day Trip to Tagaytay Philippines


Taal Volcano Tagaytay Philippines

Taal volcano with its lake is a beautiful caldera volcano. A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature on large central volcanoes, a special sort of volcanic crater, formed when a magma chamber was emptied. (Source: wikipedia)

Taal is also one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes of the Philippines and is being closely monitored.



Well, I did Tagaytay trip from Manila on my own, if I had to do it allover again, I'd use a tour company. Its just more convenient. My hotel was near Manila Bay, from my hotel I took a Tricycle motorcycle with a sidecar to Gil Puyat LRT Station. Tricycles and Jeepney are inexpensive ways to travel short distances in the Philippines.

Gil Puyat Light Rail Transit Station, ask your Tricycle or Cab driver to drop you from where you can take the Bus. The one thing in Philippines that is helpful is that most people speak English.

At Gil Puyat after waiting a while and finally finding the right bus to take, you'll be on your way to Tagaytay. The bus ticket is 83 Pesos one way. Important - ask the ticket conductor to inform you when to get off at Tagaytay as the bus is headed for Nusugbu.

The bus takes about an hour and a half or longer depending on Traffic. On traffic, if you think traffic is bad in the United States or Europe, visit one of the big cities in Asia like Manila or New Delhi and you'll appreciate the traffic back home.

Tricycle 
At Tagaytay, a Tricycle driver approached me as I got off the bus. After some price haggling he agreed to take me to Taal lake shores and back. Its a long road to the Lake down a hill with twists and turns.  Very Important get a fixed price for going and return with the Tricycle operator or you'll be asked 3 times the price on your way back to town from Tricycle operators, and guess what you don't have a choice as you need to get back. There are no Jeepney that will take you to the lake and back.

Once at the lake shore, at the boat office they quoted me 3000 pesos, for a boat ride to Taal Volcano and back, entrance ticket and a horse ride up to the Volcano. After some price haggling, I was on my way to Volcano island of Luzon. There are 25 volcanoes on island of Luzon.

Taal Volcano

I was short on time or else I would have picked a sunny day to go to Taal Volcano, get better photos.

Once on the island where the Volcano is, there is a long dusty path to the viewing area. Bring a dust mask or you can buy one there, locals will approach you to sell dust mask, bottle water, coconut water, and soft drinks. Local will try to sell you anything, hat, gloves, drinks, water for the horse, and just about everyone will ask you for a tip. They'll even try sell you golf balls that you can take a swing at, and let them fall in the crater. No Bueno.

The crater lake is the largest lake on a Volcano island in the world.

Crater Lake Taal Volcano

Riding a horse to the Crater Lake can be very uncomfortable, its a half an hour hike one way, if you are in somewhat of a good shape, do the hike.

The views from top of the Crater Lake are amazing and it was quiet an experience.

Happy Travels!

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April 12, 2016

Iceland South Coast and Waterfalls

It was a cold and rainy morning, still this trip was the best part of my visit to Iceland in March 2016. Below are the stops the tour bus took us.


Skogafoss waterfall - There are stairs alongside the cliffs, you can climb to see the falls from the top. You don't need to be great shape to climb up, though I was out of breath by the time I got the top. The views from the top are worth climbing the stairs.


Skogafoss waterfall Iceland

Black Sand Beaches by Reynisfjara in South Iceland

Once in a lifetime chance to see Black Sand beaches. The waves can be huge, word to the wise not to get too close to the water.



A Cave by Basalt columns at Reynisfjara beach, the cave is not too deep



A 10 minute walk on the beach and you can see the gorgeous sea arches. As per my tour guide, one person flew his plane through the Arch.

Basalt columns at Reynisfjara beach are in geometric shapes



Tourists taking Pictures by the Columns.

The tour Bus stopped by the Glacier, we got off the bus to see the Glacier, there were people doing the Glacier walk, if you are interested in Glacier walk, Check with any one of the Visitors Center in Reykjavik 



Seljalandsfoss Waterfall was the last stop on the tour, if you want to take great photos or remember the experience you had at the falls, do go behind the falls.There is a path and some stairs where one can go behind the falls, you will get wet and your shoes will get wet.



It was a cloudy day, more light would have added more color to the pictures, on a sunny day one can even see a rainbow by the falls, regardless it was pretty amazing to see South of Iceland.

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April 11, 2016

Golden Circle Day Tour Iceland

March 2016, I used Grayline Iceland for Golden Circle Classic Tour, it was around $85 USD, I booked the tour in Iceland, one can book tours online also. The tour company Van picked from my hotel at 8:30 AM, we went to the Bus depot and boarded a regular bus. Drop off was at 6:30 PM

├×ingvellir National Park, Iceland

This was our first stop, about 40 minutes outside Reykjavik, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its by Lake Thingvallavatn, largest lake in Iceland. Info on the National Park can be found on UNESCO webpage at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1152

The lake with the hills in the background is beautiful, there is a viewing area one can walk to. To get up close to the Church and buildings, on a tour you'll not be able to do that, not enough time, you'll need to be driving for that.

They have a small Cafe and restrooms there, I had a hot soup there, much needed as I didn't have enough time for breakfast that morning.

 ├×ingvellir National Park


Gullfoss Waterfall

Next stop Gullfoss Waterfall and the best part of the tour. Walked the trail and got as close the waterfall as allowed, I had a weatherproof Jacket and did get wet from the mist, incredible views made up for the cold and wet.

Popular tourist destination, they have a restaurant and clothing/souvenir shop there. The tour bus will stop there for 45 minutes, enough time to see the falls and get a bite to eat.


Gullfoss Waterfall


The water flows down a Canyon, its pretty amazing, I couldn't pronounce the name of the Canyon, Icelandic is not an easy language.


Strokkur Geyser

Next Stop was to see Geysir. Strokkur Geyser is active and shoots hot water up a good 20 feet in the air every 10 minutes, the water is hot and will burn you if you come in contact. As much as I was tempted to touch the flowing water, I resisted.

I didn't want my camera getting wet, I keep a 2nd point and shoot camera handy, shot a clip




Skalholt Church

This is an old Church, its been restored, there is a Viking log Cabin next to the Church, for history of the Church check their wiki page . The highlight was an Icelandic Song our guide sang in the Church.




Icelandic Horse Park

This was the last stop before returning back to Reykjavik, they had a cafe, got a much needed hot coffee. The horses are friendly, there is an outside fenced area where people were taking pictures with the horses to post on Social Media, or atleast the ones on the bus next to me. Some tour buses will have WiFi

Horse Show -  there is an entrance ticket to see the horse show, I did see the show, its done very well and later you can see the horses and talk to the riders. Some people in our tour didn't see the Show, I guess they didn't want to have to pay for the ticket, these are once in lifetime things to do and see, so my advise is see the show.

Remember not to call Icelandic Horses a Pony. They are beautiful.


Icelandic Horse

One can do the Golden Circle and Northern Light tours on the same day, it will be a long day though as Northern Lights end at 2 AM.

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Things to Do on a Stopover in Manchester

Beetham Tower
Beetham Tower
On my way to Iceland, I had a day Stopover in Manchester UK. I stayed at Premier Inn, half way between the city and the Airport, quiet and comfortable and they had a very good English breakfast. 

One of England’s most underrated cities is Manchester which is at the heart of the North West. Full of edgy museums and fabulous shops this is a top destination for a weekend break or even longer. Here’s the lowdown on what you can do on a 24 hour stopover in Manchester.

Head to an Art Gallery

Manchester has some of the best art museums in England. The Whitworth Art Gallery is one of the best and has a vast collection of items. Manchester art Gallery is another excellent collection of paintings, sculptures, and design. For a more modern touch head to the Cornerhouse which has art, cinema and exhibitions throughout the year. And for a local artist head to the Lowry in Salford Quays where you can see the matchstick men and dogs in these iconic paintings.

Go to the Football

Manchester is renowned for football and visitors to the city can take a tour of the United ground at Old Trafford.  There are lots of memorabilia of the Manchester United players and the club’s history here and it is fascinating for any football fan. Do check out if there is a match when you are in town so you can enjoy the atmosphere and see some of the famous players in action. The National Football Museum is also in Manchester and also worth a visit.

Sail on the Manchester Ship Canal

The 35 mile stretch of the Manchester Ship Canal shaped the city and is a very interesting tour. Boats depart from Salford Quays and there are stopovers allowed to visit attractions along the way such as the imperial War Museum North and the Lowry. These trips last 2.5 hours and are a very different way to experience the city. 

Shop Until you Drop

Manchester has some of the best shopping experiences in England and there are several great places to go. The Arndale Centre is full of high street chains whilst Market Place is also popular with shoppers. You’ll find large department stores like John Lewis too and a number of independent stores. 

Go Clubbing

Manchester is one of the best places in Europe for a night out. With a wide range of bars and restaurants there is a lot to choose from. Start with a cocktail in one of the chic bars like Alchemist and then head out to dance the night away. You’ll find a lot of the action in the Northern Quarter where you can dance till the early hours.


Manchester Cathedral
Manchester Cathedral
Deansgate Manchester
Deansgate Manchester, England

Manchester has a real vibe and is a superb place to spend a 24 hour stopover.

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