If there was no travel where would the world be? Travel or the change of air or a break from routine life is as essential as food and drink to the Homosapien. Mad evenings, tunnel nights, no thoughts of tomorrow, just life at the moment, is what the travel bug does to you. So, tighten your seat belt, grab your partner and let the rabid winds ruffle your hair just a little bit. Experience the spicy aroma coming from the local markets, trek to your hearts content, chat with the locals like never before and experiment with the local cuisines. Join five couples from Vizag, who have on various occasions travelled to foreign exotic lands of Peru, Turkey, Croatia, New Zealand, and London. Experience these locales firsthand, with the fulfilling, fun and enriching memories from the vacation of these couples from Vizag.
5 couples from Vizag go on a fascinating vacation to exotic foreign lands
Beautiful and Magical
Paridhi and Anshul
Reason for the vacation: To celebrate the first wedding anniversary
No. of days: 12
Cost of trip: INR 5 Lakhs
The decision making
With Asian destinations ruled out due to April summers, we literally sat with a World Map, browsed through a few Instagram travel pages, and then decided on one of the world’s most unique and scenic places to travel to. Turkey was so much more than we had imagined! A beautiful coastline, spectacular icons, exciting events and cultural festivals, it had lots to offer. Luckily for us, it was also the flowering season of Tulips. Going from Antalya, a beautiful beach town, to Cappadocia was akin to travelling back in time and visiting an ancient civilization. Istanbul, the perfect blend of Europe and Asia, was a large and culturally diverse place, just like most of its western counterparts.
When we travel, we generally look forward to discovering the culture and experiencing the city. We love trying local cuisines, indulging in unique traditions, revelling in adventure sports and absorbing the local heritage. In Turkey, we enjoyed exploring the town by strolling down the high street and occasionally stopping to grab a drink at a local bar or coffee shop. For dinners, we would try a more formal place for relishing the local cuisine. Turkish tea and coffee are the most important part of the local fare along with Gozleme, Pot kebabs, Doner kebabs, Mezze platters and of course the Baklavas for those with a sweet tooth. With unique versions of Italian and Chinese dishes, vegetarians can easily scrape through with Sebji noodles (Vegetable noodles) or pasta with red or white sauce.
Malls like Zorlu Centre and Forum house all the major brands. Shopping avenues, like Istiklal in the Taksim Square of Istanbul have standalone outlets of most of the brands. However, street shopping was the best, and the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, are great for Turkish specialties like bedspreads, carpets, lamps, spices, dry fruits, tea, coffee, etc. Those were the actual souvenirs we brought back home as they held the essence of Turkey.
A hot air balloon ride on our anniversary morning in Cappadocia was the best moment for us. This city is famous for its tall cone-shaped rock formations also known as “fairy chimneys”. A kilometre above the ground level, gave us a vantage view of the world’s oldest natural wonders, the volcanic caves and all of Cappadocia. Pamukkale (meaning cotton castle) is a town famous for its hot springs and large white limestone terraces (known as travertines). The view of these, as well as the Cleopatra pools, was breathtaking.
Another memorable ride was the cruise along the Bosphorus strait, which displayed stunning views of the city’s skyline. In Istanbul, we also attended the mesmerising religious dance of the Whirling dervishes, which is performed by Sufi saints, belonging to the Islamic sect of Sufism. It is a culture which is found nowhere else in the world.
A memorable trip, Anshul and I will certainly treasure the memories of Turkey, for a long time.
Relaxing and enjoyable
Sandhya and Ravi
Where: London, Dublin, Edinburgh
Reason for the vacation: A detour while returning from the US
No. of days: 10
The one thing we always agree upon is our decision to travel. Our friends joke that our next travel destination is often the result of a dart that we throw at a world map. Our recent trip in May 2019, was to the U.S to visit family. Since we travelled by British Airways, every long-distance flight has a stop-over in London, and it made perfect sense to take a break, in London on our way back from the U.S. The relatively short flight of 9.5 hours and the break in U.K would also help in reducing jet lag once we returned to India. With Brexit looming large, it also seemed a good time to visit U.K before it goes into the labour pains of separating from the European Union. Trying to maximise the break of about ten days, we did take a look at Europe on the world map, and decided to cover London, Scotland and Ireland which a U.K visa covers.
Our 9.5-hour British Airways flight brought us into London from where we took the low cost Flybe airlines to Edinburgh (pronounced Edenborough but sounds like Edinbra in a very Scottish accent). Selecting a hotel in the centre of the town is very important when travelling by oneself, as opposed to conducted tours. Our hotel was a short 10-minute walk from the most important landmark in Edinburgh – the Edinburgh Castle with its tales of its most famous occupant – Mary, the Queen of Scots. We took a day trip into the highlands and went past more castles, which were mostly in ruins, with some being still habited. Scotland with its castles, history, legends of Mary, the Queen of Scots and highlands was more beautiful than we had expected. Walking along the royal mile, we shopped for tartan scarves made of pure wool and some knick-knack memorabilia. I seriously contemplated buying a tartan kilt for my husband, but figured it would be a waste of good money.
Our 50-minute Ryanair flight to the Irish city of Dublin took us to our next destination and to the Waterfront hotel. Dublin is extremely enjoyable while seen on foot. The highlight of our Irish sojourn was the day trip to Giants causeway, a natural formation of a volcanic eruption, formed hundreds of years ago. Other highlights included, the Dark Hedges, a row of old Beech trees with its claim to fame being 6 seconds of screen time in a Game of Thrones episode; and the Carrick-a-Reade rope bridge. Each experience was unique and awe-inspiring in its own way.
Another Ryanair flight took us to the British capital of London. Going around London and coming face to face with the city’s well-known monuments was like a live game of Monopoly. The city seemed very familiar, yet it was a new discovery on almost every street. Fish and Chips, Bangers (sausages) and mash (potatoes), pies with different fillings, sticky toffee pudding were some of the local delicacies we tasted.
If time wasn’t a constraint, we would have loved to stay longer to explore more of the countryside and take long, leisurely walks to discover more of the cities, perhaps take in another play, and enjoy the beautiful weather, which luckily did not literally rain on our holiday.
Exhilarating and memorable
Vikranth and Nitya
Where: New Zealand
Reason for the vacation: A road trip in New Zealand
No. of days: 15
Route: Vizag-Mumbai-New Zealand
Budget: INR 4.5 Lakhs
New Zealand is a country that both of us always wanted to explore and so we planned our trip in September 2017. With road-travel rated to be the best way to explore the two islands that make up New Zealand, we planned to do just that, and so we looked up blogs and researched online for exact information. We were super excited and were looking forward for an exhilarating road trip that would take us through breathtaking destinations.
Our 14-hour long flight took off from Mumbai, with a 2-hour layover in Hong Kong. On reaching New Zealand, we first booked a car, a Citroen C3, which offered a really comfortable ride. From taking in the stunning sceneries, to driving through national parks, a personal vehicle is the best way to explore these islands. Also with driving here being on the left, just like in India, it was easy. Using Google Maps to navigate, we booked Airbnbs during our stay for the local flavour. We came across really friendly locals and hosts, and it was very nice to be a part of their home and experience their culture.
Our itinerary included places like Cathedral Cove, and the Hobbiton movie set. For all The Lord of the Rings junkies, New Zealand is heaven. Most of the movie was filmed all across the islands and while most of the sets were taken down, a bit of the Shire and some of the hobbit houses still remain. Also, the Hot Water Beach near the Pacific Ocean, where naturally heated mineral water bubbled up as we dug into the sand, was an experience to remember. The cafes and art galleries along the beach added to this very Kiwi experience. Yet another memorable experience was attending a Maori show which portrayed their unique culture. But perhaps the best part of our trip was the scenic flight to Milford Sound, a fiord that is known for towering Mitre Peak, rainforests and waterfalls. With our scenic flight to Milford Sound followed with an equally mesmerising cruise, it was an experience to remember. For curios and mementos, we visited Queenstown, which has an impressive variety in shopping. The city is surrounded by beautiful peaks, has narrow streets and pedestrian lanes filled with shops and restaurants.
Our takeaways from the trip were many, and places like Milford Sound, Frans Joseph Glacier, the Hot water Beach, Hobbiton Movie Set, and the Queenstown Casino will stay in our memory forever. So will the delectable salmon fish, which is a must-try for those visiting New Zealand. This country may look like a small place on the map, but the sheer variety of things to see and do here is huge. With some of the most varied scenery in one place, given a chance, we would definitely plan to visit New Zealand again.
Experience of a lifetime
Ananya and Rakesh
Reason for the vacation: Birthday celebrations
No. of days: 14
Cost of the Trip: INR 4.5 Lakhs
Croatia had been on our list for a long time but Instagram pictures, movies and GOT further piqued our curiosity! With thorough research on where to go and what to expect there, our trip covered Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. With May-June and September-October being the best times to visit, we planned the trip in the month of June as it coincided with my (Ananya) birthday. While all places had their own charm, the Croatian experience in Split and Dubrovnik was the cherry on top.
Generally, we research before visiting a place so we knew exactly what to expect – sapphire blue coastline and beautiful ancient walled palaces made of limestone and marble. However, the beauty of Croatia really exceeded all expectations! Every nook and corner of the Old Town of Split and Dubrovnik was gorgeously exquisite.
It’s a playground for architecture buffs with a mixture of Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Sauntering down the limestone streets transports you to another era. No amount of research can however get you ready for the steep steps in the Old Town, so a humble suggestion to anyone planning a trip here would be to not forget packing their comfiest shoes! The people here were welcoming and friendly. With the local language being Croatian, most people in touristy places can communicate in English and will help you with recommendations and directions. What we enjoyed most was just walking around the old town of Split, and experiencing romance brewing in the Sunset Cruise! Views from the city walls of Dubrovnik, also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, had an extremely charming effect on us. Most locals live outside the city walls, whereas the Old town is a buffet of hotels and restaurants. We highly recommend staying inside the old town (of Split and Dubrovnik) to experience the charm and grandeur of the cities.
With both of us being major foodies, our daily itinerary besides sightseeing, revolved around trying local food and restaurants. Every region in Croatia has its own cuisine, and has a strong influence of Greek, Istrian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Roman and Italian food. The black risotto with cuttlefish is a must-try; the squid ink provides the dramatic colour and taste. Likewise, the Istrian pasta with truffle sauce is delicious. Croatian truffles are said to be more flavourful than the more famous Italian ones. You have truffle chocolates, chips, Croatian olive oil, fresh seafood, honey, beer, sweet liqueurs etc. However, one must try the freshly baked items like Strukli, Borek and Zaljanica in the local bakeries and Tapas in local taverns called Konobas.
Croatia is famous for its earthy smelling dried lavender and lavender products. Our shopping spree included the fragrant lavender products as well as Rakija which is a sweet fruity brandy, olive oils, truffles and honey.
Having been to Croatia, I would say that this destination must be on everyone’s bucket list, especially those who enjoy architecture, serene blue shores and tranquil islands. As our trip also included Austria and Slovenia, we were pressed for time and didn’t cover the north-western part of Croatia. If only we could have stayed longer and the temperature would have been slightly cooler!
Diverse, historical & unbelievable
Abhignya and Rahul
Reason for the vacation: Honeymoon
No. of days: 16
Route: Vizag-Singapore–San Francisco-Lima
Cost of the Trip: INR 7 Lakhs
As an adventurous couple on our honeymoon, we sought after a different experience altogether. After reading through several reviews and holding long discussions with people who have been there, we zeroed down on Peru. Being animal lovers, architectural and archaeological buffs, we booked a 16 day trip to Peru. It was the best decision, which would result in a visit to many great historic sites like the Incan tribe, architectural marvels, varied wildlife and enjoy the South American hospitality.
The month of September was dedicated to our Peru adventure. In total it was a 14 hour journey from San Francisco to Lima, the capital city, with a short halt at Panama City. Since we had arrived in California in due time, the commute had not tired us out. We looked forward to our routine of relaxing, trekking and hiking, while enjoying the pleasant weather Peru offered. Food was another deal entirely! Accompanying the delicious gourmet dishes came the South American hospitality. Peru gave to us much more than what we had envisaged.
Places, food and learning
As we happily strolled through the streets of Cusco, Lima, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Ollantaytambo, we experienced the country side, local markets, a couple of local stores, streets bustling with music, local dances, a few taverns and the warm locals of Peru.
From the local cuisine and other gourmet dishes, our most favourite was the Peruvian Ceviche, which is a raw seafood dish, that’s appropriately marinated in sauces and local spices. We also tried the Guinea Pig, a Peruvian delicacy, but that I wasn’t a big fan of. The must try drink here is Pisco Sour. We also did a class with a bartender and learnt how to make it.
This was honestly the last thing on our agenda, but we managed to buy some very interesting artefacts like, the hand carved soap stone and chullo hats. Although what really stole our heart was an Alpaca Fur jacket.
As a couple, the best part of Peru for us was Machu Picchu. While the hike is rather tiring, once you reach high up, the panoramic view of one of the biggest architectural marvels ever, is simply unbelievable. The Amazon rain forests were plain brilliant, with its complete view of tall green trees and the Amazon river. The evenings were highlighted with some Pisco Sour and the beautiful sound of the wildlife. The chirping birds, the hustle and bustle in the hedges and the occasional visit from the Capybara will forever remain imprinted and treasured in my memory.
Our trip to Peru was the best holiday ever, and should be a must do for anyone who wants to do something out of the box! Relax and soak in generous quantities of nature and the mesmerising archaeological wonders, while you create memories of a place that is diverse, historical and unbelievably beautiful.