Going Our Separate Ways

Wow what an amazing year we have had! It feels like only yesterday we arrived back home after our pic overland adventure from London to Melbourne. So in honour of being backa year we have reposted our blog from our arrival back into London in 2014!

 

What an amazing journey the last five months have been. From London to Beijing then back to Delhi all overland by train, then some incredible memories through Myanmar, Australia and the Philippines. Sadly however all good things must come to an end.

For ‘The Smart Way Round’ that means it is now time for Natalie and I to go our separate ways.

Wait a minute, didn’t we just celebrate our first wedding anniversary living it large around London? We certainly did, going our separate ways simply refers to heading back to work. For Natalie that means back down to Somerset to start work again in the office for Oasis Overland, while for me, I fly out to Munich to take my first group of Guests around Central Europe for Trafalgar Travel.

Now I know what you are thinking, both working for travel companies and Dean running around Europe having an awesome time, that doesn’t really sound like work does it?! After five months together 24/7 it will certainly not be easy and getting back into a structured routine will take some time.

With us back in Europe The Smart Way Round is also going to change a little. We will be dropping back to one blog a week now, we still have some great stories to share about the London to Melbourne adventure, and Natalie will be posting a summary of all the statistics relating to our journey, but work kind of gets in the way right? We will also be sharing stories from Europe and introducing a new category of our blog called ‘Hometown Tourist’ sniffing out all the cool, quirky and different things to do around London. So really this is not the end of The Smart Way Round but only the beginning!

Exploring new places in London

Exploring new places in London

Thanks again for everyone’s support, comments and love over the last five months, because of you The Smart Way Round has grown bigger than we could have possibly imagined.

– Dean

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Oktoberfest 2014: Top Day Trips out of Munich

It is now less than two weeks until Oktoberfest begins and if you followed are Pre Oktoberfest Checklist you should hopefully just about be ready to go! While a week-long beer drinking binge sounds good on paper, after a few days of being jammed into the Oktoberfest tents you may be looking to get out-of-town and rest your liver. Below we have listed a number of great day trips all within a couple of hours journey from Munich.

1. Ludwig II’s Fairytale Castles.

‘Mad’ King Ludwig’s castles are the jewels in the crown of Bavarian tourism. Neuschwanstein is the most famous, with an estimated 1.4 million visitors every year. Neuschwanstein was also the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle and has captured the imagination of tourists since the King’s mysterious death in 1886.

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary’s Bridge

However, while most people flock to Neuschwanstein, his other two castles are equally as impressive. Linderhof, near the famous Bavarian religious town of Oberammergau (also worth a look if you have time) is the only castle Ludwig ever completed. Much smaller than the other two, it is a far easier visit than Neuschwanstein and also doesn’t get the crowds. Nestled amongst the mountains and surrounded by lovely gardens, Linderhof would have to be our favourite of the three.

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The final castle is situated on an island in Bavaria’s largest lake, the Chiemsee and is situated almost half way between Munich and Salzburg. Herrenchiemsee was built to be a living breathing museum dedicated to Ludwig’s idol, Louis XIV of France. An almost exact replica of the central sections of Versailles, Herrenchiemsee is probably the least visited of the three but has an idyllic location and can only be reached by a boat ride out to the island.

Numerous companies offer day trips from Munich and often combine Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Oberammergau. If you do go with theses agencies double-check what you are booking, as a lot of the tours DONT include entrances into the castles themselves.

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

2. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Visiting a concentration camp is not something you will necessarily say you enjoyed, but it is something you will be glad you have experienced. Dachau was the first camp set up in the 1930’s and now days is part memorial and part museum, dedicated to all those who suffered under Hitler’s regime. Getting out there can be a little tricky on public transport, however a number of local tour companies offer trips out to Dachau normally meeting in Marienplatz. We highly recommend the audio guide.

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

3. Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

According to legend when God was creating the earth he gave all the natural beauty to the angels to distribute evenly around the world. As you can imagine this is a time consuming job. With the angels running behind schedule (he did only give them a week after all), God bellowed out “Hurry up!”, and the angels dropped all the natural wonders in Berchtesgaden.Or so the story goes.

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

Approximately two hours from Munich the region of Berchtesgaden is stunningly beautiful. Dramatic mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers and of course Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Specially designed local buses drive you up one of Europe’s most amazing, and somewhat hair-raising roads to the base of the Eagle’s Nest. From here it is a short walk through a tunnel to the original elevator made of polished brass before arriving in the building itself. Eagle’s Nest has a little something for everyone, incredible alpine scenery and photo opportunities for the nature lovers and some very interesting history for the history nerds (like me). Our tip, try to get there early, queues for the buses and the elevator can be very long if the weather is good.

4. Salzburg

The hills are alive! That’s right, after only a two hour train journey you could be yodeling away Julie Andrews style in the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . Salzburg makes for a great day trip from Munich if for no other reason to just ‘pop’ over the border into Austria.

Salzburg's gorgeous Old Town

Salzburg’s gorgeous Old Town

Combine the imposing Festung or fortress towering over the city and the charming medieval streets and alley ways, Salzburg is a photographer’s dream. There are plenty of sights from ‘The Sound of Music’ to keep you amused or for something totally different head out to Hangar 7, the home of Red Bull. For great views of the old town and fortress head to the Cafe Sacher and enjoy a slice of the famous chocolate cake, Sacher Torte.

Sacher torte, yum!!

Sacher Torte, yum!

There are numerous other possibilities that we haven’t mentioned her as well. Nuremberg has a great old town and huge city walls, while from Garmisch-Partenkirchen you can catch a cable car up to the top of Germany’s highest mountain. If you fancy staying in Munich there are also some great experiences to keep you busy. We love Mike’s Bike Tours, a great way to see loads of the city and have a seriously fun time doing it. You can also hire bikes from them and they also run trips to Neuschwanstein and Salzburg.

Remember (if you haven’t had too much beer), Munich is a great city and so is the surrounding countryside, so make sure you take time out from Oktoberfest and get out there and explore!

– Dean

Prost!

Prost!

 

Hometown Tourist: Travel Inspiration in the Heart of London

The best thing about living in London is there is always something going on regardless of what you are into. So with a day off work together and a quick Google search we discovered that the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition was on at the Royal Geographic Society, how could we not go?!

The best thing about this exhibition is it is free!

The best thing about this exhibition is it is free!

The exhibition showcases the best photos and some honourable mentions of the 1000’s of photos that are sent to the Royal Geographic Society every year. From stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife shots and intimate local interactions, the winning photos come from all around the world.

Every year there are different briefs and categories and you can even win an award taking photos with your mobile phone. If ever you where in need of some travel inspiration, this exhibition is for you!

Set in the courtyard of the Society’s London headquarters, there are about 50 photos on display. Combine that with books on show of previous years’ award winners the exhibition makes for a great escape for an hour or two. There are umbrellas on hand should you need to borrow one (we did!) to continue browsing the pictures in the outside courtyard. Wandering around an outside gallery was a novelty in itself!

The Society's courtyard

The Society’s courtyard

Sadly the Exhibition finishes this Sunday (August 17th) before it begins to tour the UK and then the world. However it is a great prelude to our favourite photo exhibit every year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum which starts every October. If you have a spare hour at lunchtime, then its well worth a wander!

 

Our Favourite Wildlife Experiences So Far… Part 2

Last week we began looking at our favourite wildlife experiences around the world, if you missed part one you can catch up by clicking here.

This week we round out our list with five more of our best experiences around the world.

6: Snorkelling with Whale Sharks, Tofo Mozambique

While we have been lucky to see them several times now, our first experience of the world’s largest fish really stands out. Their amazing markings and huge gapping mouths are stunning as they glide by almost in slow motion. Almost oblivious to your presence the grace with which they swim by looks out of place when compared to their size. When we were in Tofo the Beach Club had weekly seminars about whale sharks and manta rays, well worth sitting on if they still run.

The beautiful markings of the world's largest fish

The beautiful markings of the world’s largest fish

7: Chasing the Big 5 in South Africa

You can’t compile a great wildlife list without mentioning Africa and the Big 5. There are some great National Parks and reserves in South Africa to see Africa’s incredible wildlife. We loved Ado National Park for Elephants, we were almost trampled by a family when we couldn’t get our car started! Hluhluwe for Rhino spotting and you can’t miss out on Kruger. The best bit of advice we can give you is to sty in the parks overnight. We didn’t on a couple of occasions and really missed out, but when we did we had breakfast with elephants one morning and were woken by the roars of lions another!

One of the many elephants in the Kruger National Park

One of the many elephants in the Kruger National Park

8: Australia’s Unique Wildlife along The Great Ocean Road Victoria

It is easy for me to pass judgement and say how amazing Australia’s wildlife is but I still get excited when I see kangaroos or koalas in the wild. From our ‘home base’ in Australia (thank you Mum and Dad) we can see kangaroos from the balcony at happy hour or a short drive sees them grazing on the local golf course! Koalas in abundance live along the great ocean road and there are some fantastic reserves and shelters for native wildlife.

Kangaroos on the local golf course along the Great Ocean Road

Kangaroos on the local golf course along the Great Ocean Road

9: Orang-utans in Borneo
This is one of Natalie’s suggestions and unfortunately Borneo is still a place on my ‘to-go’ list.  Natalie said, “The famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo is known across the World for their efforts with Orang-Utan rehabilitation.  This fantastic centre provides a base to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals, before a staged approach to reintegrating them into the 43 sq KM reserve begins.  As you walk through the reserve you see the Orang-Utans staring back at you – equally as interested in you as you are them!!  It’s impossible to forget their bright orange coat and distinctive stare.  Such beautiful creatures who so deserve to be protected”.

Minding his business - a snoozing Orang-Utan at Sepilok (taken on a film camera)

Minding his own business – a snoozing Orang-Utan at Sepilok (taken on a film camera)

10: THE WISHLIST: Manta Rays

While we have been incredibly lucky with our travels to see so many amazing animals in their natural habitat there is one that has eluded us, the Manta Ray. Whether it has purely been wrong place at the wrong time or adverse weather conditions they remain at the top of our animal bucket list. Guess that’s the beautiful thing about travel, the more you see the more you want to see, and that list never seems to get any shorter!

– Dean

South Africa 610

Just remember to watch where you go!

Just remember to watch where you go!

Melbourne: Seeing your home town differently

Having lived and worked in Europe for the past 11 years, married to Natalie and armed with my UK Residence Permit I guess I would now be considered to be an ex-pat.

While I am lucky enough to live in one of the Worlds most amazing cities, London, a part of me will always call Melbourne home.It is only when you live away from, and then return, do you truly appreciate your home town.

Working in Europe I always wondered if Parisians strolled down the Champs Élysées and gave the Arc d’Triompe a second thought, or as the Romans wizz past the Colosseum on their Vespas they realised what an amazing piece of history their city had, even if Londoners appreciated having the greatest public transport system in the world, the Tube? (I can tell you the Londoners don’t!).

So over the last few years I have had the opportunity to experience Melbourne in a different light, I have had the chance to be a tourist in my home town.

Melbourne's Flinders Street Station

Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station

Put simply, I love Melbourne, it really is the best city in Australia. OK, city rivalries aside, Melbourne doesn’t have the ‘Big Ticket’ wow factors like Sydney does, such as the Bridge, Opera House and Bondi, and probably needs a little more exploration but once you do it is an incredible city.

One thing Melbourne is famous for is its cafe scene and it’s love affair with coffee. We can thank the Italian immigrants after WWII for really kick-starting this. One of the best places to experience Melbourne’s cafe culture is in Degraves Street. A small little pedestrian alleyway running between Flinders and Collins streets, it is filled with outdoor cafés and has an amazing energy and ultra cool vibe.

Degraves Street in the Melbourne CBD

Degraves Street in the Melbourne CBD

The Yarra River is the heart and soul of Melbourne and a stroll from Flinders Street Station down to the Casino and docklands area is also a must. Great restaurants, quirky bars and modern art awaits you, but it also gives you a great feel for Melbourne’s redevelopment over the last 20 years.

Natalie with one of the modern art pieces along the Yarra River

Natalie with one of the modern art pieces along the Yarra River

Now if you are more adventurous you can head out to various suburbs for a different taste of Melbourne. Carlton is the ‘Italian’ district and Lygon Street plays home to some of the best Italian restaurants in the city. Or perhaps down to St Kilda for some city beach chill time. Every inner suburb has a different feel and is famous for something different, and only after exploring a few of them do you truly understand what Melbourne is all about.

Of course Melbourne is also famous for its love of sport and if you are lucky enough to visit during a major event you quickly learn Melbourne loves sport almost as much as coffee!! We finish our visit coinciding with the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix – one of the jewels in the city’s sporting crown. Much like Kevin Costner’s movie Field of Dreams, in Melbourne, if you host it, they will come! In fact half of Melbourne will still turn up to watch a sport they know nothing about.

Gearing up for the Grand Prix

Gearing up for the Grand Prix

Great shopping and great museums also contribute to the Melbourne experience. Every time I visit now I see something different and I have a greater appreciation for my home town. It makes me want to get out and explore London more, a promise Natalie and I have made repeatedly on this trip.

Now while I love Melbourne I am the first to admit it is not perfect, but no city is. Apart from the trams, in particular the Circle Line Tram which does a loop around the city and is free, yes free, ask any Melbournian and they will tell you the  public transport system is not great, (Londoners take note). Australia, not just Melbourne in particular is very expensive for tourists but these are small considerations. It is no wonder that Melbourne is regularly voted one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Melbourne's famous old trams

Melbourne’s famous old trams

If you have never been a tourist in your home town get out there and explore, visit the famous sites, eat at the famous cafés and restaurants, go and see that show or museum you have always said you would, who knows, you might just discover you live (or have lived) in a pretty incredible city and you never knew it!

– Dean

A nice drop of red… Or white!

Vineyards in Myanmar? They aren’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of this beautiful country, but sure enough they are there and they grow grapes that make a top notch drop!

Whilst staying near Inle Lake, we found out about a couple of local vineyards, one of which was accessible on our pushbikes – perfect! The hot sunny days, rain at certain times of year and critically a cool breeze blowing off the lake make the terrain around Inle ideal grape growing country and these vineyards are booming.

We went out to the Red Mountain Estate. Conveniently located about 5km out of town, it’s easily reachable by bike. As we got closer and closer I saw a beautiful red property UP on the hill…. All of a sudden cycling in Myanmar no longer reminded me of Holland! We turned into the drive and the road up hill to the bike park was littered with bikes from those who had given up and walked the last bit! I wanted to make it to the top so I could enjoy the ride down later!

Red Mountain started way back in 2002 with grape plants imported mainly from France but also Italy and Israel. It has gone from strength to strength and as we took a tour of the factory area, we were proudly told where all the equipment was from. The ‘bottler’ machine was Italian whilst the bottles and screws were Chinese (in Myanmar they seem proud to tell you an item is ‘made in china’!) and the labels were printed in Thailand. I’ve never been a wine expert so choosing a bottle by the label has been something I have done in the past! These labels would definitely catch my eye! These days I know what I like a bit more – age has made me appreciate wine more!

Just making sure its ok!

Just making sure its ok!

After our tour we took a seat overlooking the vineyards, Lake and neighbouring mountains. The sun was beginning to dip and the light just perfect for photos. However we had more important things to do – taste four wines! Our tasting glasses cost less than £1.50 and we sampled a Sauvignon Blanc, Shirraz-Tempranillo, Syrah Rose and a late Harvest sweet dessert wine. All of which were great.

Tasting time

Tasting time

As sunset beckoned we decided we better make sure we had a favourite and so had another glass of the Sauvignon Blanc. Always a favourite of mine this one was no exception. It was very fruity, smooth and frankly quite delicious!!!

A glass of the best!

A glass of the best!

Once the sun went down we breathed a sigh as we remembered we still had to cycle home… I’m not sure we cycled in quite such a straight line as the way there and fortunately it was more downhill on the way back, but we successfully negotiated all the cows, dogs, roadworks, people and cars on the way back! I kept having flashbacks to my cycling wine tour several years ago in Mendoza, Argentina.

A snapshot of Red Mountain Estate

A snapshot of Red Mountain Estate

Sadly Red Mountain don’t currently produce enough wine to export but I’m hoping one day they will as it will be top of my list! It’s definitely a name on the up after winning a ‘Best Chardonnay’ prize in an international wine competition in 2013. If you do see a Myanmar wine anywhere make sure you don’t overlook it. From what we saw the wine makers here are immensely proud of their drop, and a lot of care goes into making each and every bottle just perfect.

Cheers

Cheers!

– Natalie

Chapter Eight: India Part 2 – Iconic India, Tigers, Temples and the Taj Mahal

After our enjoyable few days exploring Jaipur we headed down to Ranthambhore National park, the best National Park in Rajasthan to see Tigers, or so we were told. We had not had much luck in Chitwan in Nepal, and that bad luck followed us to India. The Naturalists, guides and park officials all told us tiger sightings had dropped off significantly over the last week and nobody knew why. We think that someone had tipped off the tigers about our arrival! We gave ourselves the best chance and headed out on four different safari drives but the tigers continued to elude us. It was probably a conspiracy with Indian tourism to ensure we return to search them out again, (our must return to list is getting bigger and bigger!).  Despite the lack of tigers the National Park was beautiful, and we did see loads of deer, monkeys, a few crocodiles and many different species of birds, including the stunning Kingfisher and the Indian National bird, the Peacock.

Natalie chasing peacocks

Natalie chasing peacocks

Leaving Ranthambhore, we began what was supposed to be two train days up to the Punjab capital of Amritsar, breaking the journey up by overnighting in Delhi.  After a brief afternoon exploring Delhi, the following day we arrived out to the station to be met with some potentially disastrous news. Our train was delayed, well not just slightly, but 10 hours delayed! In fact it was due to arrive into Delhi at roughly the time it was supposed to arrive in our final destination! If we waited for it, the train may have been delayed further or even cancelled and we only had one full day in Amritsar. This is where ‘Organisation Natalie’ took over. After a quick run-around, and some frantic negotiations, Natalie found a car and driver to take us to Amritsar.

Early on in India we had agreed that we were not going to take night buses if possible, but short on time and facing losing our visit to Amritsar, we decided the car was the only way.  Mid-afternoon we began our eight hour journey north. Occasionally when you travel you find yourself doing exactly what you promised yourself you wouldn’t do, and that’s what happened to us. To say that we had our hearts in our mouths is an understatement. Zipping in and out of traffic, horn blaring we were looking at setting a record pace. That was until we diverted to Chandigarh to swap drivers. Our new driver was worse than the first, if that was possible, in fact we stopped three times to ask for directions to get out of Chandigarh and Natalie read my mind when she said, “do you think he even has his licence?”  I won’t lie, there were a couple of moments with headlights bearing down upon us where I thought ‘This is it’. Yes we could have got out, but we were in the middle of nowhere and it was one of those occasions where you have to go with the better of two options, and that was to stay with our rookie driver.  So close to midnight we pulled into the not so grand Grand Hotel, better late than never and had somehow managed to arrive into Amritsar roughly on time.

Amritsar is home to the Golden Temple complex and was without doubt one of the highlights of India. I had seen the temple on a TV feature during an Australian vs. India cricket series a few years ago, and from that point I have always wanted to go there and see it for myself. The Golden Temple far exceeded my expectations, and put simply it was stunning. Sitting in the middle of a pool of water this shimmering golden structure is surrounded by striking white marble on all sides. It is one of the holiest of sites for the Sikh religion, with people make a pilgrimage to bath in the waters. It was fascinating to watch and another one of India’s photographers delights.

The magical Golden Temple

The magical Golden Temple

After the morning at the Golden Temple and a little time spent wandering the bazaars we spent the afternoon on a side trip out to one of the region’s main tourist attractions, the Pakistan and Indian border. First stop out towards the border was the most bizarre temple we have visited, dedicated to a local Saint. Comprising room after room of colourful glass mosaic paintings, door entrances shaped like lion’s mouths, and faux grottos we discovered that this temple was visited by local women wanting to fall pregnant! It certainly was something a little different and unlike anything else we had experienced in India.

Then it was on to the border. Every day the border with Pakistan hosts the ‘Retreating Ceremony’, or official closing of the border for the day. We had never experienced a border like it, as it had stadium seating, a DJ warming the crowd up, and music rocking out. Soldiers, all well over six foot, paraded around like peacocks, before doing high kicks and then speedily marching up to the border where they threw their arms in the air, threw down some of their best moves at the Pakistan border guards, (who were doing the exact same thing), all while being cheered on by the crowd who were being whipped into a frenzy by the resident DJ! It had the atmosphere of a cricket match rather than a tense border crossing and it culminated with the lowering of the flag. Before we knew it the ceremony was over and the border guards who had been goose stepping around in an incredibly camp fashion all of a sudden turned into normal border guards forcibly and angrily ushering people towards the exits. Our day concluded with another visit to the Golden Temple to see the sun set and the Temple illuminated at night. Another Incredible day in India.

It was then back to Delhi for a few days to explore the capital. We took it pretty easy in Delhi as Natalie had been hit by a virus which knocked her around quite badly. We still managed to visit all the main sites including the Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque, India Gate and several of the old Mughal tombs including the Humayun tomb which was allegedly the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.

Hu

Humayun Tomb

The tombs were a great introduction for our trip down to Agra. We had organised India to finish with the Taj Mahal, and what a way to finish! On our arrival day into Agra we visited many of the city’s other sites such as the Agra Fort, the ‘Baby Taj’ which was incredibly intricate in its carvings and was the first marble building in the city. We finished off watching the sun set on the opposite bank of the river from the Taj itself. We could just tell the following day was going to be something special.

The alarm went off at 6:00am next morning to give us ample time to get to the Taj Mahal for sunrise. To say the Taj Mahal is amazing is an understatement, in fact every superlative and cliché you have ever heard about it is true. It truly is one of, if not the most beautiful building in the world. To see it in the early morning sun light is a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life, it was exactly like I had always dreamt it would be and rightfully earns its place as one of the seven wonders of the world. Our morning was spent walking around the gardens, finding great photo spots and watching the light change on the white marble Taj. Natalie had worked out a great way for getting people to take our photo for us, ask them if she could take a photo for them first. It worked a treat with the obligatory ‘Can we take one for you’ after Natalie handed them back their camera. After a break back at the hotel for a few hours we returned in the afternoon and this time were greeted with totally different weather conditions. The sky was clouding over by created an amazing marbling effect with the clouds and with the sun being blocked gave a whole new lighting effect for our photos. At last count I took some 600 photos so hopefully there is at least one good one in there! Words cannot do this day justice, all I can say is everyone should visit the Taj Mahal once in their life and only then when they have been there can they truly understand why no words will ever do it justice.

No introduction needed

No introduction needed

At first light

At first light

After our incredible Agra experience we bordered our final train journey back to Delhi. There was something bitter sweet about this moment, firstly we had successfully negotiated the Indian rail network, a feat that shouldn’t be underestimated. Secondly, it earmarked the end to our overland adventure, sure we still had some great places to visit, but our first flight in three months was looming, so it was a rather reflective ride back to Delhi.

Great trains... too much luggage!

Great trains… too much luggage!

Our final two days in India were spent exploring more of Delhi. First we visited the Akshardham complex. It was a little like Disney meets India, built next to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village it was a showcase of Indian architecture. Sadly however photos were not permitted so we had to settle for the cheesy tourist photo instead (which of course they do allow you to buy!)

On our final day we first visited the Laxmi Narayan temple and then it was down to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial and museum to learn a little about this amazing man’s life. Probably one of the most interesting things I saw there was a quote regarding everyone in India being equal. I wondered what Gandhi would make of modern day India, because 60 years on it felt like very little if anything has changed.

At India Gate

At India Gate

We finished our time in India with something very colonial, we headed out to the Imperial Hotel, one of the most famous in the city, for afternoon tea. Sitting there enjoying our tea and scones we couldn’t help but wonder what people staying here made of India, they were so secluded and isolated from the realities of the country and wondered if they got a real sense of what India is all about.

Enjoying the finner things in life!

Enjoying the finner things in life!

So after that it was out to the airport and our first flight, while our time in India was relatively short we had experienced some amazing things. You could honestly spend years in India and never see everything. For the independent traveller India is hard work. The trains, the hotels, the touts all start to wear you down, but visiting the Golden Temple, searching for tigers and of course  the unbelievable Taj Mahal more than makes up for the difficulties. As India’s tourism board claims, India is Incredible…..

– Dean