THE MOST SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT EVERYDAY INDIA LIFE FOR A TOURIST?

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Have you been curious about seeing this historic nation filled with priceless traditions, lifestyle, spices, and amazing festivals and attractions? Well, why not? One way or the other, you must have seen and heard about this iconic country. Hence, you decided to have a firsthand view of this place, to share their lifestyle and rich heritage. We believe your position is right; this is why this article focuses on bringing to tourists awareness, interesting facts on nations that will help them better adjust, and appreciate the country they wish to explore. Today, we bring to your awareness daily facts that will shock your mind. These are happenings you never knew occurred in India.

FACTS ABOUT INDIA

  1. LEFT HAND IS CONSIDERED UNCLEAN

When you get to India it is important you do know which hand is appropriate to eat with. For those who love to use the left hand when dining, these action is frowned upon. Traditionally, the natives perceive their left hand unclean and never uses it to eat. This action is as a result of their preference in utilizing their left hand to clean up themselves by utilizing the toilet.

  1. KILLING COWS IS A TABOO

During your stay in India, you will find a lot of cows walking freely on the streets. This occurrence is as a result of the high value placed on cows. In India, cows are seen as one of Humans seven mothers. This perception lies in the fact that we thrive on cow’s milk as we survived through our mother’s milk. Hence, cows are not killed, they are rather reverenced and worn the Tilak for good fortune.

  1. SHAMPOOING BEGAN IN INDIA

Yup, the word shampoo was derived from the Sanskrit word Champu; this word means to massage, and before the world developed their shampoo products, India has been making use of their herbs to clean the hair. Hence, one of the things to do when you get to this beautiful land is to try their herbs shampooing. Indian herbal medicine called Ayurveda has been a subject of numerous studies of modern western scientists. If you are willing to research this topic further, you can check custom essay writing Eduzarus to get professional assistance.

  1. THE LARGEST POSTAL NETWORK

India, till date, remains the country with the largest postal network. As a tourist, you will be amazed by the amount of functioning post office settled in the country. Some of these offices float above water, which is one of the beautiful things to see when you get there. These postal offices serve an average of 7175 people each per day.

  1. THE WETTEST PLACE IN THE WORLD

The wettest place in the world is housed in India. When you get to the country, you should check the Mawsynram village on Khasi Hills, Meghalaya. This village is recorded to have the highest rainfall average in the world. If you decide to check out Mawsynram, endeavor to go with your umbrella.

  1. THE LARGEST NUMBER OF VEGETARIANS

Indians have the numbers for the largest population of vegetarians in the world. When you arrive at the country, you will find out that 20-40% of the people resident there are vegetarians. This surprising occurrence does not stray away from religious beliefs and personal choices. Hence, the land remains the most vegetarian-friendly country in existence.

  1. A SPA FOR ELEPHANTS

As a tourist in India, you might be unaware of this unless you are looking. India treasures elephants, if not more than the same way they treasure their cows. Hence, it is not far-fetched to come across an Elephant Spa in the country. One of these Spa establishments is Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard Rejuvenation Centre, located in Kerela. Elephants receive food, bath, and massage in this establishment. You seeing it, will not will not only be a fun thing to experience but one of the things you should do when you get there.

  1. THE LOTUS FLOWER IS SACRED

The lotus flower is a sacred symbol in the Country. When you get there, you will find its design on some Hindu and Buddhist temples. Currently, the Lotus Temple also known as Baha’i, situated in Delhi, is built to look like a lotus flower. The Temple has a 27 mammoth lotus petals structure covered in marbles. It is a fantastic sight to behold.

  1. LOTS OF SPICE

Spice is integrated into everyday India life. Currently, the country produces 70% of the world’s spice consumption, which makes it the highest spice producer and exporter in the world. When you get there, certainly you will see lots of stuff to buy when it comes to spices.

 

 

 

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Chinchero, Maras Salineras, and Moray in Peru

CHINCHERO, MARAS SALINERAS, and MORAY: This was our first day-trip in Peru after spending a night in Lima and landing in Cusco the following morning. These small villages are not so touristy but has magnificent Incan sites. While the highlight of Chinchero is its colorful outdoor market, Maras Salineras is an awe-struck site of thousands of years of salt fields, and Moray Terrace displays the innovative and scientific minds of the Incans.

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

The cab drive/tour guide was reserved before we reached Cusco airport. It was relaxing but once we were near Moray and Maras, I felt the altitude sickness little bit with dizziness and light-headed feeling. My girls and I fell asleep during our drive from Maras Salineras to Moray because we were feeling really dizzy.

Also, if you are going to be in Peru for few days and are planning to visit multiple Inca sites, it’s cheaper to buy the Boleto Turistico pass for 130 Sols for adult and 70 Sols for kids, which gives you free access to many ancient sites for 10 days.

Scenic drive to Ollantaytambo at the end of the day

TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Peru end of August, 2017. It was winter there and very pleasant for us. We did carry sweaters for all of us since it can get a bit windy in the mountains and chilly at night.

OUR HOTEL: We really didn’t stay in any of these places, since it was just a day-trip on our way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Please check my upcoming post on Ollantaytambo to see our hotel. Tourists don’t usually stay in these places and I’m sure there aren’t many options here either. Ollantaytambo is within an hour drive and has lots of choices for lodging.

EATING and SHOPPING: We had lunch in the open market of Chinchero before visiting Santa Cataline Monastery on the hill. The food in Chinchero market were all street foods and women were cooking right there…openly. Food was very cheap with a nice big portion. We had fried trout with rice and potatoes. I also ordered a stuffed bell pepper with vegetables (deep fried). Don’t expect nice sitting arrangements and cleanliness, but it’s an experience we loved. We were just happy to actually get a table with 4 plastic chairs and sat down with few other locals and tourists.

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Chinchero is a good place for buying small trinkets and hand craft items. You can find jewelries, home decors, wall hangings, shawls and sweaters, potteries, stuffed llamas, and lots of local goodies here. But do bargain, especially if you are buying multiple items from one vendor. When you are in Maras Salineras, buy few packages of natural salt from the mine at the entrance.

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: As I mentioned before, we were picked up from the Cusco airport in the morning by a previously appointed tour guide and went off to explore ancient and present Peru with all the luggage and backups. We reached our hotel in Ollantaytambo in the evening after visiting the below sites. It was not packed or tiring at all. We took it slow and enjoyed every bit of these country-sides and majestic Peruvian Andes.

Just one thing to remember is that, some people may get mild to severe altitude sickness in these areas. So, it’s better to drink some chlorophyll or coca tea right from the beginning of your trip. We got ours from the Vitamin World and coca leaves can be found in all the hotels or departmental stores near Cusco. I even saw free coca leaves in the airport also. It’ll help a lot, better to be feeling good than drowsy in your trip.

  1. CUSCO TEXTILE: It’s called Figueroa Alpaca Textile. As we entered the complex, we were greeted by llamas, baby alpaca, and guinea pigs. There was a small shaded area with all the materials to demonstrate how alpaca wool get processed into making different items. A lady in traditional Peruvian clothes walked in and introduced herself with her broken English. As she started to demonstrate the process, another lady walked in with 4 cups of mint tea in beautiful blue and white clay-made tea cups (which inspired me to buy those tea cup from Chinchero market). One thing that was really remarkable is that they use all natural product starting from cleaning the alpaca wool (juice from a plant) to dying them in different colors (all natural colors), to weaving them into different products.
A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

After the demo, we were taken to a lady who was knitting a shawl from the alpaca wool. I was just eager to get to their store and explore some goodies. We ended up buying ponchos, shawls, sweaters, table clothes, and few small things for really good price. Items made with baby alpaca are very soft (softer than lamb wool) but can be expensive depending on location and complexity of the design.

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

  1. CHINCHERO: Chinchero is situated on higher ground than Cusco at almost 12,500 feet elevation. The Inca ruins here consist of nested terraces rising up to a plateau which can be viewed from the Santa Cataline Monastery. This is a church that was built in the early 1600s. We didn’t go inside and not sure if it’s even an active church or a museum. The site is included in Boleto Turistico pass.
Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Before climbing the hilly path to the monastery, we stopped at the open market area which is a heaven for souvenir hunters. Prices are not necessarily cheap here, but most of these items are hand crafted by the surrounding villagers. You can find potteries, shawls, table clothes, and other decors. I bought two traditional tea cups (without handles) for 20 USD both…not that cheap.

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

  1. MARAS SALINERAS: About an hour drive from narrow mountainous roads of Chinchero was the Salineras. This is a natural terraced salt mine in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We could see the salt terraces from far as we were passing thru the mountains. Once you are at the gate, you have to walk for few minutes to get to the site, which I couldn’t do because my exhausted girls fell asleep in the car. You have to see the nestled salt pans in the canyon to understand how the salt from water at the Salineras spring has been transformed into salt crystals for thousands of years.
Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Salineras can be done in less than an hour.  Enjoy the high mountains and the drive to get here, it looks dangerous being so high up on the mountains and driving by the edge. But breathe in and trust your cab driver/tour guide and enjoy the peaks, cliffs, valleys, and fresh air.

Salt pans of MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

  1. MORAY TERRACE: Moray is very close to the town of Maras and sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level. This was more like an experimental site for different types of produces for the Incans. Other than this archeological site of Moray, enjoy the surrounding giant Andes Mountains and small farms.
MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

We stayed in Moray Terrace about half an hour. We didn’t go down to the terraces, but there are stairs for that. The site is included in Boleto Turistico.

The Czech Republic For Those Into History

Steeples of St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle from Charles Bridge in Prague

Steeples of St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle from Charles Bridge in Prague

Slap bang in the middle of Central Europe, if there we had to describe the Czech Republic in just one word it would have to be ‘cocktail’. No no no. This has nothing to do with its fame and notoriety among stag parties or thirsty backpackers but rather its history. You see, the Czech Republic is a cocktail made up of its Bohemian past, Moravian splendor and Slavic charm. It is a city that celebrates the historic diversity that blends all things Gothic and Baroque and that is what makes it an absolute must see nation for anyone that has even the slightest interest in what came before us.

St Vitus Cathedral

There is only one place to start your cultural exploration and that is the St Vitus Cathedral, so get book your cheap flights to Prague, pack your camera with plenty of films and then head to this magnificent structure that has been built over a 600-year span. Hidden within its thick walls you will find a mosaic of The Last Judgement and the tombs of people you have heard legends about, like Charles IV and St Wenceslas, among many more.

Veletrzni Palac

If you are caught in the tough decision over which Prague museum you absolutely must explore, you’d do well to find a better contender than this National Gallery. The collection is just a mind-boggling array of art that stretches back as far as the 1800s, including pieces from little-known artists like Van Gogh and Picasso and Klimt. What’s more, there are four floors for you to wander about with your mouth as wide as it has ever been.

Charles Bridge

If you were to stop a local on the streets (hopefully one that speaks English) and asked them what their most savored simple pleasure is in life, they will tell you it is the eight o’clock stroll across the Charles Bridge. It is just the most stunning place in the city; fresh snow at your feet, a sea of pastel-coloured buildings stretching as far as the eye can see and architecture of every kind. The reason they say eight o’clock, however, is because the circus comes to town at nine and by circus we mean tourists.

Prague Castle

When you are a kid and you imagine what a fairy-tale castle to be like, chances are it was something akin to this. It is magnificent. The ranks of tall spires and enchanted towers and palaces that could melt your heart a thousand times over. But it isn’t just something nice to look at from the outside, for within the walls lay galleries and museums and buildings of old. This place is celebrated by the locals as being one of the greatest treasures in all of Central Europe and for good reason too.

Old Town Hall

If it is old that you are after then you need to carve out time to see the Old Town Hall, which was founded in 1338. It is a patchwork of medieval buildings that have been sewn together over a series of centuries, each adding their own eclectic charm. In terms of the centerpiece, that title definitely goes to the Gothic tower that looks over it all with a salute, not least because of its Astronomical Clock.

Update Your Bucket List To Include These Breathtaking Locations

If you have had a bucket list of travel destinations for some time now, you will probably be making some very good progress on it. You may even be running out of ideas! But don’t worry, though; this is where this blog post comes in. Below is my list of some of the best destinations to visit this year. They are all very worthy of a spot on your bucket list!

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Picture: Pexels

Czech Republic

If you are a very keen traveler, you will have probably already been to Prague and seen all of its historic sites and attractions. But the city isn’t all there is to the Czech Republic, though! There are in fact a lot more locations dotted throughout the country that should be on your bucket list. For instance, how about heading to one of its many wine regions? Czech wine may not be too popular right now, but that is all set to change as its wine industry is improving year upon year. Take a trip to Moravia to sample some of the country’s best wines.

Iceland

Iceland is incredibly popular with tourists who want to glimpse the famous Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. Not sure about what time of year can you see the Northern lights? Most travelers head there in the autumn and winter, when the longer nights give you a better chance of spotting them. These aren’t the only reason to head to Iceland, though. You can also chill out in a geothermal spa, or soak up the culture in the capital city, Reykjavik.

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Picture: Pexels

Hadrian’s Wall, England

Fancy a camping trip? Then why not head up to Hadrian’s Wall in England. It has been mentioned as one of the Lonely Planet’s travel picks for 2017, so you better get your trip booked quickly before everyone is trying to go! This ancient Roman wall was built to keep the Scots out of England by Emperor Hadrian. It is surrounded by some absolutely stunning countryside so there will be plenty of chance to go out hiking. There are also a number of Roman museums and dig sites dotted along the wall so you will be able to learn about the history of the area.

South Australia

When you think of holiday destinations in Australia, you probably instantly think of Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. But there is so much more waiting to be discovered as well! Most notably, the state of South Australia. This state features a large wine country so there will be many chances of sampling some local tipples! Not only that, though, but there are also miles of beaches, and none of them are as busy and crowded as the famous ones on the west and east coasts. If you do fancy experiencing life in an Australian city, you can always make Adelaide, the state’s capital, your base for your trip.

Hopefully, this post has helped to stoke your inspiration for some exciting travel plans this year! Who knows where you will end up?!

Itinerary Florence: the Chianti Wine Route – Discover Tuscany in a unique way

It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful panoramic drives through Tuscany: the Chianti Wine Route. Chianti is one of the oldest and famous wine regions in Italy. This route, the SR222 (Strada Regionale 222) passes five small Chianti Classico towns and is about 100 km’s (62 miles) long. For a long time it was the only road between Florence and Siena.

This winding road takes you along the most spectacular sceneries Italy has to offer. View the typical rolling Tuscan hills filled with tall cypress trees. And see thousands hectares of fertile soil, ready to grow the sangiovese grapes for the divine Chianti wines. Touring the area let’s you experience the true ‘la dolce vita’. Do some wine tasting, try out the olive oils, visit the medieval towns and enjoy the local specialities along the way. These little towns are also perfect for a daytrip from Florence or Siena.

Before you take this trip it’s wisely to book your rental car in advance. Find further information at EasyTerra. Also book a B&B or agriturismo, so you can literally can eat, sleep and drink Chianti. Do remember: it is not safe to drink and drive at the same time.

What’s a Chianti wine?
The Chianti is one of the most sold Italian quality wines, recognisable by it’s Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) Label. It used to be bottled in a typical curved wine bottle in a straw basket (called fiasco), nowadays it’s more and more produced in a standard shaped wine bottle.

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Typical Chianti wines bottles

Image Source: 123rf.com

The red wine is so special because of the use of sangiovese grapes. A minimum of 80% and up to a 100% must be used, supplemented by other grape varieties.

It has a characteristic intense aroma of fruit and flowers. A typical Chianti wine has a soft aftertaste and an intense color. The taste and quality can vary due to microclimates (height and location of the vineyard). The best Chianti’s come from the Chianti Classico region and have an DOCG-status to ensure the best quality.

Florence
Start your road trip in Tuscany’s capital: Florence. Or as the locals say Firenze. With millions of tourists a year visiting, it’s one of the most popular cities in Italy. And no wonder: it’s a perfect mix of history, art and culture. Book yourself a hotel and get lost in the city for a few days. Read more about Florence’s attractions.

After wandering around in Florence, it’s time to get into your car and hit the road: on to Greve.

Greve
Greve is also called ‘The Gateway into Chianti’, because it’s the first Clasico town to come across from Florence. The triangular square, Piazza Matteotti, forms the heart of the town. Each side is surrounded with small indoor shops, galleries and restaurants. There’s a large market held every Saturday.
Each year, around mid September, Greve organises the famous Expo del Chianti Classico. The Piazza gets filled for four days with stalls of all the local Chianti Classico wine producers. A tradition of nearly of half a century! For about €10 you can buy a empty wineglass, which you can refill 7 or 8 times.

If you can’t make it to the Festival, visit Le Cantine di Greve (Enoteca Falorni). Buy a ‘wine card’ for a certain amount and fill your glass with an automatic dispenser. You can choose from over 140 different kind of wines! To learn more about the history of Chianti’s wine culture, visit the Museo del Vino. For some historic sightseeing you walk or drive up (1,5km) to the old castle of Montefioralle, a medieval village nearby. On your way up you will see some great panoramic views.

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Cobbled street in Montefioralle – Greve

Image Source: 123rf.com

Don’t forget to check out the many small shops at the Piazza Matteotti like Antica Macelleria Falorni, an old butcher shop. And try some of the local delicacies. The shop has been there since 1809. And don’t miss La Bottega dell’Artigianato, a shop known for it’s hand-woven baskets and olive wood carved products.
Take a relaxing seat at one of the little bars and watch the town’s life go by.

Panzano
Next stop is Panzano. A little hilltop town situated exactly halfway between Florence and Siena. Due to it’s location is the perfect stop to take a look at the charming scenery of Tuscany.

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View – town Panzano

Image Source: 123rf.com

Take a walk through Panzano’s historic cobbled streets and visit the castle, built at the highest part of the town. The modern market square, Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli, is now a meeting place for the locals. Panzano has quite a few bars and restaurants who offer wine tasting. You can also visit Fattoria Le Fonti and Fattoria Montagliari, just a few minutes drive outside Panzano. At Fattoria Montagliari you can also take a cooking lesson or spend a night at their farm.

Panzano’s main attraction is the butcher’s shop, Antica Macelleria Cecchini, owned by butcher and chef Dario Cecchini. He’s a lively personality and very welcoming. Across the street is his restaurant, Solociccia, where you can try his famous specialities. He also runs Dario Doc. Make sure to make a reservation!

Panzano also has an annual Chianti Wine festival, Vino al Vino, held on the third weekend of September. Just like the Expo in Greve you can taste several local Panzano’s wine products.

Castellina
Castellina’s Rocca castle is the evidence of once being a strategic strategic headquarters between Florence and Siena. Despite multiple attacks and destructions of the city, the castle is still standing tall. Climb the tower of the castle and get a great view over the town and countryside. Inside the castle is the Archeological Museum of Chianti. Showing all kinds archeological findings from the region from the Bronze Age, Etruscan and Medieval times. Next to the castle, is the Via delle Volte, an arched passage round the eastern part of the city.
Here you can find small artistic and food shops.

Worth visiting is the church of San Salvatore, rebuilt after WW II, and displaying a 14th-century fresco of Lorenzo Bicci. Not far from Castellina’s center is the Etruscan excavation of Montecalvario, dating from the 6th century BC. You can enter the tomb and see four burial chambers facing the east, west, south and north. Some remaining tombs artifacts are shown in the museum.

In Castellina you can also do some wine tasting. Try visiting Gagliole and Villa Trasqua.

Radda
Radda is quite a small village situated upon a hilltop, situated 600 meters above sea level. Surrounded by woods and located between the valleys of the rivers Abria and Pesa. The streets are narrow and mostly traffic free, so you can feel free to wander around by foot. Radda is charming, peaceful, quiet and ideal for a short stop. The ancient city walls, cobblestone alleys and the cities architecture take you right back to the Middle Ages.

Like the Palazzo del Podestà (Palace of the Major), located in the middle of the town. It was almost destroyed in 1478, but it still has the original facade displaying the Medieval architecture. Or visit the Pieve di Santa Maria Novella, this Roman church is considered to be one of the best examples of Roman architecture in Tuscany.

Also visit the Castle of Volpaia, a sandstone castle with a rare dark color. Complete your visit with a glass of wine in it’s winebar. Other great places for wine tasting are: Castello di Albola and Casalvento Winery.

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Radda – View from Castelo Alboa

Image Source: 123rf.com

Gaiole
Gaiole is our last stop of the Chianti Classico towns before heading to Siena. Because of it’s position at the lower part of the valley, it has never been a strategic place like Radda or Castellina. So the Gaiola developed more into a marketplace for the nearby castles and churches.

One of these nearby castles is Castello di Brolio. Take the winding and narrow driveway of the Castello and watch this pentagonal fortress appear. For 8 euros you can enter the castle and gardens (wine tasting included) and enjoy the views of the Arbia valley. In the distance you can see Siena (20 km/12 miles away).
Or visit the Castello di Meleto. Nowadays it’s an hotel and also available for parties. You can get a guided tour at the ground floor of the castle which also has a theatre. At the end you can taste three wines. When you’re a hotel guest the wine tasting and tour are included. It’s the perfect place to spend the night and end your Chianti tour in a unique way!

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Chianti wine route

Image Source: 123rf.com

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