Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hot air balloon ride -Cappadocia

Cappadocia is known around the world as one of the best places to experience hot air ballooning. The surreal landscapes combined with excellent flying conditions allow for one spectacular experience; as balloons  gently drift over and between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses and the unique rock formations.

The standard balloon tour offers a minimum one-hour flight time in the air. It has around 12 to 15 people in one basket and costs around 175 euros.The deluxe tour has 6 people and costs around 250 euros.There are many companies operating and they all charge pretty much the same. Remember, you can negotiate.

Things you should know-
Book in advance online. If you try to book when you reach Cappadocia,you might not get a ride on your preferred date.
They pick you up as early as 5 in the morning from your hotel. The intent is to make the flight in time to see sunrise from up above. All tour companies will offer breakfast which will be basic - cookies,brownies and tea/coffee.
The landing and take off are smooth,as the pilots are quite well trained.It is an advantage if your pilot speaks English.In the end,they give Champagne which we did not try so can't comment how it was.

Is it worth?
The ride is worth the money and as you can see from the pictures, Cappadocia is blessed with amazing landscape.It is a great experience and if you ever plan to do a Hot air Balloon ride, Cappadocia is the place.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunset in Oia(Greece)

Scarlet sky, a beautiful orange sun disappearing behind the sparkling ocean, a landscape that inspires awe - welcome to sunsets in Oia, Greece.
A beautiful sunset lends tranquility, no wonder this natural spectacle has inspired artists, poets,  photographers alike.  We have chased good sunsets in our travels too and have been fortunate to see some of the amazing sunsets(see here). And when it came to watching the sunset from a place known for it, we could not hold our excitement. As the pictures will tell you, we were not disappointed.

Vantage Points
Frankly you will get a great sunset from many places in Oia but one may offer marginally better view than other. The key to finding your spot is to be willing to stroll around for a while and not simply gather where most people already are. We found that this strategy gave us some excellent photo opportunities.There are a lot of restaurants with great views. These restaurants may take advantage of this by forcing you to buy a dinner only menu. If you are fine by that then a good dinner with a enviable view is not a bad deal.
Other option is a sunset cruise. I would prefer to watch it from the village though. the elements like the ships, cliffs, windmills together make the sunset look more dramatic and offer great photo opportunities.
Talking about good vantage points, people start flocking the Castle of Oia hours before the sunset.
 The place can get really crowded so if you have not scouted for a place and do not reach there on time then you may find yourself looking over someone's shoulder. If it is crowded at a place already, follow the strategy of ditching the crowds and find a new spot of your own. There are plenty.
Be informed-At its best, sunset looks stunning but it may not be at its full glory on all days. We saw the sunset on 3 consecutive days and our first evening in Oia was by far the best. So keep your finger's crossed.

More than Sunsets
Caldera view is most marketable offering from the establishments here - be it the hotels, restaurants or the artists painting sunsets. There are a lot of takeaways from the place however. This cliff top village looks beautiful with traditional Greek buildings and blue domed churches. Taking a stroll down the alleys is one of the major activities. You will be spoiled for choices to eat as well(fried feta with honey,seafood,homemade lemonade etc..)

Getting around- 
There are buses from Fira to Oia till midnight from 6:50AM in summers.You can also hire cars,bikes and ATVs here.

Golden hour at its best
A drink and a sunset
Fried Feta
Castle of Oia

Monday, 14 September 2015

Mykonos chora

Mykonos is famous for its architecture,windmills,nightlife and beaches.The island offers something for all ages. Stroll in the city in the mornings,soak the sun in the afternoon and enjoy the nightlife in the bars.
Picturesque cobblestone pavements with quintessential white buildings and blue doors and windows are flanked by many cafes and bars. Many of these offer stunning views. A meal here with the sun setting in the backdrop and candle lights is a must.

Those in need of shopping therapy will find scores of shops selling jewellery, local art, souvenir clothes and accessories, some from major brands like LV, MK and VS. 
Starting from the port, as you walk along the shore line, you will reach Little Venice. The 2 famous bars with the view of the famous Windmillls of Mykonos are here-Katernia and Rhapsody.Have a drink and enjoy the view.
Little Venice


Mykonos is rightly called the Ibiza of Greece.Super paradise beach is known for beach bars and is open all day,you can enjoy the beach activities and party along.Mykonos is also a gay friendly place,there are many gay bars in the city.This place never sleeps,all the bars in the city are open till morning.

You can hire an ATV,bike or car.We hired an ATV in Santorini and it was a lot of fun.As we were staying in the city in Mykonos,and everything is pretty much concentrated in the city itself you can do without a vehicle here.There are buses to and fro to the beaches and airport from the port.The new port is a 5 min walk from city.Everything you want to see-the city,Windmills and Little Venice is in the town.Take an hour stroll with a map and you will see it all.

VISA for Indian passport (Tourism)

Visa is an official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region.
 In 2014, Indian citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 52 countries and territories, ranking the Indian passport 76th in the world.

Visa on Arrival-
 The following countries have Visa on Arrival for Indians -
Bolivia – 90 days,Burundi – 30 days; obtainable at Bujumbura International Airport,Cambodia – 30 days,Cape Verde,Comoros,Djibouti,Ethiopia,Guinea-Bissau – 90 days,Guyana – 30 days provided holding confirmation, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs,Hong Kong,Indonesia – 30 days,Jordan – 2 weeks, must hold US$ 3000,Kenya – 3 months,Laos – 30 days,Macau,Madagascar – 90 days,Maldives – 90 days,Nauru,Palau – 30 days,Saint Lucia – 6 weeks,Samoa – 60 days,Sri Lanka,Seychelles – 1 month,Thailand.

You might have to fill the Visa application on arrival so carry Local currency for visa fees and 2 passport size photos.

While for other countries you will have to apply for a visa.

A filled visa application with the following documents has to be submitted to the embassy.
-    Original passport(valid for at least next 6 months and not older than ten years)
-    Filled Visa application
-    Visa fee
-    2 Passport size photographs
-    Last 3 months updated bank statements with bank seal on it.
-    Tour Itinerary.
-    Medical insurance for Schengen visa
-    Hotel reservations.
-    Confirmed return tickets
-    2 photocopy of your passport.
-    Last 3 months Salary Slip.
-    For Spouse - Marriage certificate

 You might need some specific documents for few countries.
You can find out from the embassy in your city.

Schengen Visa-If you intend to visit several Schengen countries and if you don't have a main destination or if you are going to spend an equal number of nights in multiple Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the embassy/consulate of the country which is your first port of entry.

E Visa-

Few countries give E Visas as well to Indians.
The Electronic Visa (e-Visa) Application System was launched on 17 April 2013 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. This system allows visitors travelling to Turkey to easily obtain their e-Visas online (, in approximately three minutes. 
If you hold a valid supporting document (Schengen visa or a valid visa from any of the OECD member countries; or a valid residence permit of a Schengen or OECD country).You can get the e visa.

Sri Lanka-

All applications would be submitted via a new electronic visa (e-Visa) application system that allows visas to be processed online. Applications must be submitted to any of the authorised visa agents. Applicants whose application has been approved, can have the e-Visa printed online by the authorised visa agents. 

Transit Visa-
A transit visa is a temporary short period visa during your journey. Some countries require that you have a stop over of minimum of 24 hours to grant you a transit visa. But Singapore provides a transit visa for a stop over as small as 4 hours.

United States-A citizen of a foreign country(India) traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States enroute to a foreign destination requires a valid transit visa. Exceptions to this requirement include those travelers eligible to transit the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

 Canada-Indian passport holders in possession of a valid visa to USA and traveling to USA via Canada require a Canadian Transit Visa.

Schengen countires-Transit visa types under the Uniform Schengen visa-

Airport transit visa – “A” Category is destined for the travellers that have to stop and wait for several hours for their next flight, in the international transit area of the designated airport. However, if planned to wait overnight, these travellers cannot accommodate in any place else except the transit area therefore accommodation in the city is off the limits.

Transit visa – “B” Category is destined for the travellers planning to travel through different Schengen countries by car or travel through different Schengen airports to a non-Schengen country for as a final destination. Under the transit visa one is allowed to reside in a Schengen area for a maximum of 5 days.
 Indian nationals can Transit without Visa via FRA or MUC if holding a valid visa for the destination and a valid Visa for any of the following countries-Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Romania, UK and USA (the approval notice I-797 is not valid document for visa free airport transit).

Please note: Visa requirements keep changing for every country.