Articles

  • Your Guide to Melbourne, the Coffee Capital

    The Tilba Teapot Cafe at Tilba, Eurobodalla, South Coast, NSW

    The Tilba Teapot Cafe | Photo Credit: Melbourne Sydney Drives

    Melbourne is a city obsessed with coffee. Cold drips, aero-press and cupping are common words in the local vernacular thanks to a widespread passion for the bean, complemented by a number of leading provedores who call Melbourne home. This long and eventful love affair began when Melbourne’s first espresso machines landed in the city in the 1950s. Today, the passion for the bean is at an all-time high thanks to a ‘third wave’ of specialty roasters and multi-roaster cafes.

    Coffee hotspots in Melbourne and surrounds
    Specialty coffee roasters Market Lane recently opened its fourth outpost in the historic Deli Hall at Queen Victoria Market. The spot where Market Lane stands housed a pharmacy for 80 years and maintains some of the original art-deco style fittings. The sleek design is the perfect platform for a long filter coffee bar, a classic espresso machine and a selection of some of Melbourne’s best beans on sale to take home.

    Located in the burgeoning foodie precinct of Collingwood, Everyday Coffee is the result of a collaboration between three young coffee enthusiasts who have worked at some of the city’s top cafes. Carefully selected beans from Melbourne’s top roasters are matched to specific brews. A small selection of pastries and cakes from surrounding bakeries and a clean, minimalist interior compliment the star of the show – coffee.

    Not far away in Fitzroy, Industry Beans is a roaster which also offers extensive house teas and juices as part of the industry offering. The industrial style fit out of the space matches an inventive menu that uses coffee in the cooking process.

    PATRICIA - coffee pour

    Freshly brewed coffee | Photo credit: Hidden Secrets Walking Tour

    Code Black Coffee in the Brunswick precinct around 10kms north of the city center offers visitors an insight into the theater and craftsmanship behind specialists roasts. A roaster that can roast a whopping 20kg of beans at a time captivates in the sleek interior. A generous food offering creates an extra reason to stick around.

    Stand up espresso bars
    These days a number of hole-in-the-wall operators and standing-room only espresso bars are popping up throughout the city, where the floor space and menu is scaled back and the quality of the brew and clever design really matter.

    Located in the Flinders Street underpass Cup of Truth  is the original hole-in-the-wall coffee spot, a one-by-three meter space that opens its doors before 7am to brew some of the city’s best coffee and artisan pastries.

    Dukes Coffee Roasters in Windsor opened Dukes Espresso Bar on Flinders Lane with a dedicated filter bar, La Marzocco espresso machines, recycled tiles, timber and minimal seating. It’s a coffee and pastry affair, located in Ross House – a self-managed, community-owned and non-profit commercial building.

    Patricia Coffee Brewers is a sharp and slick, pocket-sized standing-room only venue with a coffee menu from Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Proud Mary. Order it straight-up, black, white or filter.

    Located in eclectic city laneway, Crossley Street, Traveller is the small-format initiative by local coffee heroes Seven Seeds. The tiny stand up espresso bar mimics its Milano counterparts with shiny mirrors and a teak-touched fit out in contrast to its highly modern coffee offering. Other hole-in-the-wall coffee spots to visit are Tom Thumb, Sbriga and A Little Bird Told Me.

    07Coffee

    Morning cup of coffee | Photo credit: The Lyall Hotel

    Coffee Tours
    Walk Melbourne Coffee Tours are hosted by ex-barista and coffee aficionado Monique Bayer. The tour takes visitors to locations with a focus on origin, roasting and brewing, showcasing the diverse offering of the city’s coffee specialists. Alongside expert commentary and four hot handpicked venues, the tour offers sampling of four different styles of coffee and is conducted in a relaxed, small group.

    Barista judge and coffee connoisseur Maria Paoli runs Melbourne’s popular Evolving Success Historical Coffee Trek. Paoli’s tour hones in on the history of coffee in Melbourne and the techniques used by pre-war immigrants in the “espresso revolution” of the mid 1950s, bringing the tour up-to-date by showcasing the city’s thriving cafe culture and the success that local baristas enjoy in international barista competitions.

    Tour participants sample a wide variety of coffee blends and learn about what makes a perfect cup of coffee. Coffee connoisseurs will appreciate the finer details of brewing methods, coffee roasting and the history of coffee beans and domestic coffee making machines.

    Where it all began – a brief history of coffee in Melbourne
    Caffeine has been pumping through the arteries of Melbourne’s city center for many years. Starting with the original Pelllegrini Espresso Bar which opened in the 1950s, a thriving Italian influence helped the spread of coffee culture in Melbourne over the decades to follow, until the new wave of specialist roasters and baristas emerged in the early 2000’s. Today it is almost impossible to walk around a corner in Melbourne without the familiar scent of a perfectly brewed espresso wafting down a laneway.

    Mr Tulk cafe

    Mr. Tulk Cafe in Melbourne | Photo credit: Hidden Secrets Walking Tour

    Melburnians have become discerning coffee drinkers and while many still favour espresso coffee styles – caffe latte with rich crema – some cafes offer a tantalizing array of alternatives, including syphons, filters and French pressed coffee.

    Coffee fast facts
    Melbourne’s love of coffee just keeps growing – the volume of coffee beans imported from around the globe through the Port of Melbourne has increased by around 780 per cent over the last decade!

    Every day, on average, the Port of Melbourne handles 30 tonnes of coffee beans. This makes the equivalent of 3 million cups of coffee each day – that’s enough to give every metropolitan Melburnian a daily coffee fix.

    Some quintessentially Melbourne cafés

    • Market Lane Coffee
    • Seven Seeds
    • St Ali
    • East Brunswick Project & The League of Honest Coffee
    • Auction Rooms
    • Proud Mary 
    • Manchester Press – 8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne
    • Pellegrini Espresso Bar – 66 Bourke Street, Melbourne
    • Cup of Truth

    Article courtesy of Visit Melbourne– Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    October 25, 2016 • Articles, Australia, Destinations • Views: 2368

  • Boutique Distilleries in Victoria

    Widely renowned as home to some of Australia’s top micro-breweries, Victoria’s thirst for local, hand-crafted drinks is nowhere near ending. Over the past couple of years a number of distilleries offering everything from gin using native botanicals to small-batch whiskey have emerged and have been readily embraced by the bartending community and the public. Even more unique to the story is the fact that many of these are located within an hours’ drive of Melbourne’s city center. Turning the notion that great spirits need be created at the far ends of the Earth or near a snow capped peak on its head.

    HST - Hihou bar - Melb City

    Hihou Bar | Photo credit: Hidden Secrets Walking Tour

    Four Pillars Gin
    This small, distillery located in the Yarra Valley which launched late last year but has already received global accolades, Four Pillars Gin produce their well-received gin in small batches of just 420 bottles. Stocked in some of Melbourne’s top bars, the gin is renowned for using native Australian botanicals alongside international counterparts. Each bottle is individually numbered and hand labelled. The distillery will hold regular open days starting from mid-June. Learn more about Four Pillars Gin here.

    Melbourne Gin Company
    This locally produced gin launched mid-last year using botanicals that come from the garden at Gembrook Hill Vineyard also located in the Yarra Valley. The Gin is made using Gembrook rainwater creating a very unique and localized flavor and is available for purchase online.

    New World Whiskey Distillery
    Located in an old airport hangar in Essendon in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, this distillery’s Starward Whiskey is developed using Australian barley and barrels but integrating maturation techniques from around the world, that along with the Victorian climate creates a distinctly Melbourne flavor. The New World Whiskey Distillery also conducts a range of Whiskey MasterClasses, dinners and open days at their workshop each month.

    Bass & Flinders Distillery
    Founded in 2009, this distillery is located on the Mornington Peninsula, just over an hours’ drive from Melbourne’s city centre. They produce a number of spirits ranging from Limóncello to grappa but are widely known for their gin. The gin is produced using alcohol from grapes instead of grains and the distillery conducts regular Gin Experience events where visitors can make their own gins using a wide range of botanicals.

    Other boutique distilleries in regional Victoria include Timboon, Bakery Hill and Triptych Distillery.

     

    Article courtesy of Visit Melbourne– Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    July 13, 2016 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Travels • Views: 2451

  • New Zealand, Every Day A Different Journey

    New Zealand can feel like an epic, once-in-a-lifetime dream trip. But in fact, it’s the type of place worth returning to repeatedly—and one where even during a single visit, each day is intriguingly different from the last.

    How, you wonder? Well, your week in New Zealand may go something like this…

    Monday: Giving it your best shot at Over the Top Golf—what a view! Gotta be the world’s most remarkable par-three hole.

    Wednesday: Navigating the Dart River in a Funyak inflatable canoe. Around the next bend? A film location used for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbiton movies.

    Friday: Waking up to a scenic helicopter ride that whisks you away to a secluded alpine setting for a gourmet picnic paired with fantastic views.

    Saturday: Experiencing Maori culture, starting with the traditional greeting known as hangi. Done with a pressing of the noses, hangi means we are considered family.

    At home in Middle-earth_LOW_RES

    The film location used for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbiton movies. | Photo Credit: Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour

    Such thrilling activities are just one aspect of the New Zealand journey; the range of accommodations also comes into play. Take your pick among award-winning luxury lodges, intimate B&B’s, and architecturally stunning private homes. What they have in common are welcoming hosts who really know how to deliver outstanding service and experiences. On the North Island, Wharekauhau Lodge, which is also a working sheep station, provides insight into a livelihood that still exists today.

    Wharekahau Photo Grant Sheehan (7)

    Wharekauhau Lodge | Photo Credit: Wharekauhau Lodge

    New Zealand’s lodges are also a fantastic jumping-off point for embracing the outdoors, with hiking trials and wildlife encounters just beyond the doorsteps. A great example is Blanket Bay, located in Glenorchy on the South Island. From here, you can indulge in activities including fly-fishing, heli-skiing, and horse riding. If you prefer to meet the local wildlife, head to the North Island’s The Farm at Cape Kidnappers for a Kiwi Discover Walk, which brings you up close to the farm’s native bird population.

    The-Dramatic-Coastline

    Cape Kidnappers coastline | Photo credit: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

    Your Kiwi experience starts, however, even before you check into your room. It starts when you board your flight with Air New Zealand. You are encouraged to ask the flight attendants about their favorite breakfast spots or an out-of-the-way hiking trail. Moreover, you can expect a warm, informed response from proud locals happy to share their insider knowledge. It comes straight from the heart, from an airline that is constantly renewing and reinventing itself. Air New Zealand now serves five North American getaways (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Honolulu, and Vancouver), connecting to a network of 50-plus cities in 15 countries.

    Over The Top - Milford

    Over The Top helicopter tour of Milford Sound | Photo credit: Over The Top

    The final ingredient is enlisting the service of experts who can put together your ideal New Zealand experience. Swain Destinations creates tailored, independent vacation packages, and our dedicated staff shares a unified passion and commitment to providing exceptional service to every traveler.

    Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking to go on a one-of-a-kind vacation, Swain Destinations will personalize your journey from start to finish —in New Zealand and beyond.

    June 25, 2016 • Articles, Destinations, New Zealand, Travels • Views: 1850

  • New Zealand, Every Day a Different Journey

    Let us take you, let us show you around. This place, where wonder grows. Let shores of gold greet you and islands that lead to lakes. Where spirits of the land tell you tales. Let us take you by the hand and lead you to secrets hidden beneath green hills. Where fruits of the land thrive and your next ride, is always close by. We will hoist you up high, carry you like a feather in the sky, to somewhere like nowhere you’ve ever seen. Our land will whisper your name, and tell you stories from ancestors long ago. So let it take you, let it wake you from inside, and show that your dreams are here, waiting.

    Experience a journey through New Zealand and let us guide you to something new around every corner. 100% Pure New Zealand.

    June 9, 2016 • Videos • Views: 1907

  • All in Auckland

    The North Island of New Zealand’s epitome of diversity; Auckland shines with a laid-back atmosphere, incredible natural wonders and a healthy dose of history. Aptly nicknamed “The City of Sails” for its vibrant maritime culture, the delightful city of Auckland is home to one-third of New Zealand’s population and is the country’s main gateway. With a unique undertone of Maori influence, this waterfront city is a cultural and architectural gem, filled with bustling markets, world-class restaurants, and locals who are well known for their welcoming and relaxed lifestyle.

    June 9, 2016 • Videos • Views: 1542

  • Explore Hampi

    A few weeks ago, I was in Hampi in Karnataka, South India, which is a World Heritage Site. I arrived at Toranagallu by overnight train from Bangalore. After a wash and change at the Hyatt Place, my guide and I headed towards Hampi. The first impression is of the magnificent large landscape with huge boulder rocks.

    Boulder Landscape

    Boulder Landscape | Photo Credit: Bela Banker/Swain Destinations

    There were intricately carved temples all over the place. We then took a wonderful coracle ride on the Tungabhadra River.

    Coracle Ride

    Coracle Ride | Photo Credit: Bela Banker/Swain Destinations

    The ruins of the 14th century Hampi, and seat to the Vijayanagara kings, covers an area of 10 miles. Hampi sprawls across a spectacular barren and boulder strewn landscape. The remains of palaces and baths and audience hall tells a tale of a kingdom that was grand and of fabulous wealth. There is an awe inspiring image of Hindu God Lord Vishnu which is carved from a single boulder and is the incarnation of half man and half lion. Watching the sun go down between the boulders, captures a moment in your heart that will stay with you.

    Ruins of the 14th century Hampi

    Ruins of the 14th century Hampi | Photo Credit: Bela Banker/Swain Destinations

    The Boulder Resort, where I stayed offers a stunning view of the rocky terrain. The luxurious cottages at the resort fit perfectly with hiking trails , organic gardens and delicious food.

    March 29, 2016 • Bela Banker, Bloggers, India • Views: 1852

  • Three Days in Bangkok

    This was my second time in Bangkok. I was 16 during my first visit. I was young with different priorities. Remembering the tiny and beautiful details of the sights, services, smells, tastes and experiences were unfortunately not high on my list. I was in the mind-set now of a first-time visitor.

    Hourly wake-ups defined my first morning. I ultimately rose from bed towards the floor-to-ceiling windows. I knew the sun would eventually rise – I would be there to great it. I have read watching the sunrise corrects your internal clock while abroad. I am no scientist, but I did read it on the internet – so it is more than likely true.

    Our suite had a wall panel that displayed the outdoor temperature and humidity. That morning it was showing a temperature of 94 degrees and a humidity reading of 100%. I did not know this was possible. I learned that day that I was ill prepared for that level of public, personal sweat containment.  Lesson learned.

    Our first day was flat out. The Grand Palace, River and Canals and a heap of temples filled out the day, with Thai boxing closing out the evening. Mindy met us in the lobby that morning. Energetic, fluent in English and our insider for the next three days. She went through the do’s and don’ts, cultural etiquette and some other key points to keep me out of trouble.

     

    Day 2: The Grand Palace and Temples

    Waves of tourists flooded these ancient palaces. I was told this is always the case. At 6’ 1,” I had a height advantage. I peered over a vast sea of trendy travel visors, plotting my perfect course through the herd. Though crowded, these sacred places are worth the visit. You’ll feel amazement while walking into the golden draped temples with ancient relics of Buddhist culture. The spirituality almost overwhelms with each step. We knelt before a monk who wrapped string around our wrists. He blessed us with sacred water and a Buddhist chant. All I could think about was how to make a joke about being literally “hashtag blessed.” What has social media done to me.

    The palaces are spectacular. The detail to the outer walls is nothing short of incredible. I would describe it as gorgeous, tedious and precise. I barely have enough patience to complete a paint by numbers, let alone to hand-plaster gold leaf on inch thick scales on a building with “Grand” in the name.

    I did feel the use of gold is a touch excessive. Like, OK, we get it.

    _MG_6836

    Cruising the Canals

    We set off onboard our water chariot, clad with Pepsi promotional banners and adorned with sacred flower offerings to Budha – for a safe voyage. A wonderfully unusual blend of the times. Our captain coolly sat on a stool towards the stern, effortlessly steering the large converted pick-up truck motor across the busy Bangkok canal. Everything about him was calm and casual. Barefoot, with aviator shades and a salmon t-shirt. No fear, no distraction, just life. We were in good hands.

    Along the way, we were told tales of the canals and the early developing Bangkok. Years ago, these canals were the heart of the city. Home to floating markets, temples of worship and travel routes. As the Kings changed, so did the city. The river was expanded and canals were built connecting different regions. The city began to grow outward with residential districts growing rapidly. The markets moved further outside the city.  Now, Bangkok is a bustling metropolis.

     

    _MG_7037

    Thai Boxing

    The full-day adventure did us in. We returned to our hotel to freshen up. A quick 10-minute rest turned into a 3-hour afternoon nap. Jet lag was a bitter mistress and returned swiftly with a punch in the face. Regardless, it was time for Thai boxing. A few slaps in the face, a splash of cold-water and then downstairs to join Mindy for a bit of organized violence.

    I’m happy I was able to attend a Thai boxing match. Our event was no premier match-up. The ring was mostly empty. The Thai boxers battled in front of fellow foreigners sitting ringside with us while local gamblers shouted their coaching from the stands – hoping they made the right bet. With a nice cold Singah Beer, we sat back and watched one of the more aggressive shows of my life. After each match, bloodied and bruised, each fighter smiled and congratulated the other as if they were best friends. Love and violence, an embodiment of our current world, eh.

    _MG_7619

     

    Day 3: Floating Markets

    Our 2nd The Floating Markets, my favorite.  We set off at 8AM on an hour’s drive outside of Bangkok. We briefly stopped at a Thai Salt Plantation and a Coconut Farm. Both stops were engaging and educational. I ate so many coconut candies and drank the freshest coconut juice. I have an unnatural coconut obsession, and on a coconut farm – I was in paradise.

    We journeyed onwards before arriving at one of the many entrances to the canal system. Kristen and I boarded a little jet canoe – much smaller than the one from the previous day. It was just us. Mindy and the captain.

    Leaning back and the wind in our hair, we glided across the canals. The canal was lined with local homes, small shops and at-home shrines for worship. Large temples could be seen in the distance. Many homes were donned with beautiful flowers and shrubbery. Other homes had not recovered from the large flood a few years past.

    We cruised for a half-hour before literally arriving into the floating markets. It was a bit overwhelming at first. These markets are still used heavily by locals, and now a popular location for travelers. I was most excited to eat strange foods. A mix of tourist shops and local markets line the interior. On the canal front, boats with grills served up rice bowls with meats and fish. Fruits were available everywhere.

    While wandering, I was approached by an older women in a plaid shirt and wide-brimmed straw hat. She had oils or lotions. Before I could react, she began applying these unknown lotions to my face, arms and neck. She pointed to parts of my body and spoke in Thai. I could only gather that each lotion was used to treat different ailments or promote good health. For five minutes, I was being massaged in the middle markets by a stranger with foreign lotions. Kristen sat idly by, laughing behind the camera snapping a few pictures (below) of this intimate encounter. When my immersive experience was over, she placed jars in my hands and started naming prices. This would not be her day for a sale, but I did thank her for the free massage.

    We found a man selling Coconut ice cream. He would take a machete, half the coconut and scrape the interior. Coconut ice cream was placed inside along with sticky rice and some jellies. It was as close to godliness in a food item that I had come across. We sat canal-side sharing our coconut ice cream and watching the vendors float by.

    _MG_7885

    Patpong Night Market

    That evening we met with a colleague of ours for dinner at a restaurant called Hemingway’s. Owned by an Englishman and housing an Aussie Chef, this is the place you go to find ex-pats if you’re feeling a little homesick. Drinks and stories took over the evening before immersing our self back into Bangkok.

    Patpong Night Market, we had arrived. The whispered notorious phrase, “ping pong” echoed along the night market. Neon signs illuminated the scene as sporadic sound bursts of house music clashed together. Within moments, I knew the legends were true. The streets were lined with tourist nick-knacks and men holding up strip club menus. Couples, backpackers, families and confused or concerned traveled walked up and down the wide avenue. The diversity of the scene was unmatched to any life experience I’ve had yet.

    We were linking up with a colleague of mine of travels to Bangkok regularly. We quickly met up at a moderate bar as he was entertaining a great bunch from the travel industry. Not one to turn down a free drink in a strange foreign place, we joined the bunch.

    At 12AM, we found ourselves in the company of an old man sitting in a dark corner receiving a foot message from  Thai strippers – sex undetermined. It’s these moments that you question the choices you’ve made that led you to this moment.

    Do check out Patpong Night Market. Probably don’t get a lap dance. Unless, you know, that is your thing – then do get a lap dance.

     

    Wrap it Up

    Bangkok was a blast. The locals were friendly and welcoming – cultural brims throughout the entire city. Mix touring and solo-adventure. A guide will ensure you see the must-see things the right way, and help you weave your way through entrances and crowds. Do make sure you spend time adventuring on your own. Talk to the locals and engage some uncomfortable scenarios. You can do it in three nights. I would recommend at least four nights. Start the touring or adventuring during the afternoon of your first real day there.

    Where I Stayed: The Peninsula Bangkok exudes classical old world charm. It seems quite grand as you walk in. The hospitality and service made everything so comfortable and easy. Lock in a river view to enjoy watching boats and barges cruise around each morning. We stayed in one of the Deluxe Suites, very spacious with multiple views overlooking the river.

    My Favorite Meal: Coconut Ice Cream with Sticky Rice at the Damneon Floating Markets. Your life will change.

    My Favorite Moment: Wandering through the Damneon Floating Markets and engaging with the locals selling their fruits and meals. This half-day is definitely a must for any traveler to Bangkok.

    How I got there: Qatar Airways PHL – DOH – BKK

    • Philadelphia to Doha on Qatar Airways – 12 hours
    • Airport Time – 2 hours
    • Doha to Bangkok on Qatar Airways – 7 hours

    Cheers,

    Ian 2

    _MG_6836

    IMG_7773

    IMG_7752

    DSC00701

    _MG_7922

    _MG_7910

    _MG_7885

    _MG_7882

    _MG_7881

    _MG_7863

    _MG_7853

    _MG_7850

    _MG_7847

    _MG_7845

    _MG_7843

    _MG_7834

    _MG_7831

    _MG_7784

    _MG_7742

    _MG_7619

    _MG_7110

    _MG_7104

    _MG_7088

    _MG_7086

    _MG_7072

    _MG_7069

    _MG_7067

    _MG_7062

    _MG_7051

    _MG_7039

    _MG_7037

    _MG_7018

    _MG_7005

    _MG_7003

    _MG_6996

    _MG_6995

    _MG_6986

    _MG_6927

    _MG_6921

    _MG_6912

    _MG_6907

    _MG_6844

    _MG_6842

    May 29, 2015 • Articles, Asia, Destinations, Ian Swain II, Travels • Views: 6390

  • Experiencing Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses

    As I flew into Blenheim from Auckland over the small islands that start the South Island of New Zealand, the lush green countryside began to unfold amongst the crystal clear water, separating the finger-like peninsulas jutting out. Budget had my car ready and off I drove for the 70 mile journey to Kaikoura. It is amazing how this coastline is almost as untouched as it was when the Maoris first came here; a real treat. As I approached, the Treehouses and Lodge at Hapuku Lodge came into sight. Continue Reading

    April 9, 2015 • Bloggers, Destinations, Ian Swain Sr, New Zealand • Views: 3732

  • Why Travel to India?

    ss-india-taj-camels-web

    A few years ago, when I started planning travel journeys for Swain Destinations to my home country – India, I came across a local friend of mine-who wanted to challenge herself, to open her heart and travel to the unknown. She wanted to do something significant to mark a transition in her life. She craved for adventure, something that would make her feel alive! So the place to have that experience is India. Why India? One has to be ready for India, mentally, culturally, spiritually and romantically.

    It is like no other country.

    It is so colorful. You will get mesmerized by the vibrant display of flower garlands everywhere that are offered to the Hindu gods.  The saris and comfortable ‘salwar- khameez”  – Punjabi dress – tunic that they wear over baggy pants with a matching dupatta or a scarf draped around their neck are beautiful.

    India is slow travel. In order to immerse in its’ culture – you need to travel at a slower pace.  Everything takes time. You need to see and feel each place that you visit.

    The greatest thing about traveling in India, especially coming from the west – is that you will be constantly surprised by what you see every day.  Like a cow standing on a sandy beach. It may be strange sight for you for the first time, but it will soon become normal after you see a few of those unusual sights.

    The food is fresh and full of flavor. There is a wide variety for people who can stand the spice, and those who cannot.

    The sunsets in India are stunning. No two are alike. Be it in the city or at a beach, the colors of the sky merge from hues of orange, reds and maroons.

    I have visited the Taj Mahal three times, and every time I have been blown away.  The story of Taj is a touching love story. I have to pinch myself to really believe that something so beautiful exists in this world.

    India is a great place to shop. Colorful linen tops, carpets, brass items, gems and more.

    Mumbai’s film industry, Bollywood, is the world’s largest – bigger than Hollywood. These movies provide a fascinating insight into Indian pop culture.

    Harvard, Stanford and all the top business schools make it their business for all their students to spend time in India. It is one of the fastest growing economies and is making an impact globally.

    Some of the Palace hotels are magical! Like the Umaid Bhavan in Jodhpur and the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.  Kerala’s backwater cruise is incredible.

    Ladakh in the Himalayas is perfect place to travel from June to October and from October to March the rest of India.

    A trip to India is life – changing, it is a trip good for your spirit and soul.

    Let me plan your trip to India!

    Happy Travels,

    Bela

    February 13, 2015 • Articles, Asia, Bela Banker, Destinations, Travels • Views: 3746

  • A Foodie Adventure in Taiwan

    My week in Taiwan was a whirlwind adventure. From the incredible sights we saw to the luxurious accommodations, we packed a lot of action into our seven night trip. To give a little background, Taiwan is a small island nation located in the South China Sea. A warm climate, friendly people and an ever-growing economy fuel this country. From lush tea fields to rugged coastlines boasting turquoise waters, Taiwan is a country packed with diversity. The one thing however, that stood out thoroughly in mind is the incredible food that seems to take over the culture of Taiwan. Continue Reading

    February 3, 2015 • Articles, Asia, Danielle Dranoff • Views: 4199

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.