X’mas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ―Norman Vincent Peale
Come December, and world awaits Christmas and gifts. X’mas is celebrated on December 25th every year and continues till New Year. Living in India and having an unseasonably hot November, you may have almost forgotten that we’re actually inching close to the winter break. That’s one time of the year when everyone is ready to pack their bags, put on their luggage tags and fly off far away from reality. It’s the celebration of the coming year and with it, the possibilities of a more prosperous and happier future ahead.
As the holiday season approaches, many cities across the world transform themselves into winter wonderlands, straight out of Disney fairy tales. A white X’mas is the romance of winters that we have seen so many times on screen and trust us, it’s not overrated. Let me paint you a picture: a hot cup of cocoa, snow-clad streets, warm fireplaces, cozy blankets, and X’mas trees decorated with twinkling lights and baubles. Doesn’t that sound idyllic?
Unfortunately, the prices of flights and stay also surge this time of the year so you have to think ahead and plan your holiday. So, if you and your beau are planning a romantic, snowy getaway, now would be the perfect time to make your bookings.
We’ve selected eight cities, where you’ll be able to celebrate X’mas and New Year’s Eve by making snow fairies and romancing under the glimmering lights.
In winters, you will experience polar nights in Finland, when the sun doesn’t rise at all. As soon as you cross the Arctic circle, you’ll be able to witness this phenomenon and it’s a once in a lifetime experience. If you’re lucky, you’d be able to catch the breathtaking Northern Lights (aurora borealis) and enjoy the magical views when the sky is all shades of green, purple, soft pink and blue. The temperatures are freezing and are usually between -5C and -30C, so carry all the down-feather jackets you own.
Salt Lake City, United States Of America
Spreading Christmas cheer and holiday joy in the States is also a great idea. Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is the place to be if you want to sing carols, go for plays and enjoy ballet. Go on the Heber Valley Railroad North Pole Express, a historic train ride through the Heber Valley while sipping hot chocolate and munching on cookies and visit Santa. You should also not miss out on on the Festival of Trees that happens at that time of the year, where over 1,000 Christmas trees get decorated in beautiful wreaths, laurels, lights, and baubles.
The temperatures in Iceland fall to -2C at night, so if you want to feel like you’re in a snow-globe, then Reykjavik is the place for you. Here, too, you can catch glimpses of the Northern Lights and enjoy a White Christmas. Take a dip in the man-made pools near Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier for a spectacular view. You have to eat at the award-winning restaurant Grillmarkaðurinn that only serves food made from the organic produce from close-by framers’ market. Meat lovers, the beef, trout, and quail are must-tries here.
Quebec City, Canada
Canada is another option to consider for a White Christmas with your loved ones or even as a solo traveller because it’s a safe country. Go on a shopping spree at the German market and devour all the rum cakes and cinnamon rolls you can get your hands on in Quebec. A must-visit for drinks is the Christmas themed pop-up bar Miracle, which serves holiday-centric cocktails. You can even go ice-skating at the rink in Place d’Youville. For an authentic Qubecean meal, go to La Bûche and have their Christmas buffet – their pie is all the Christmas goodness you need
While many people miss out on the quaint town of Salzburg for Vienna, this place should definitely be on your bucket list for a snowy holiday vacay. It’s romantic and stunning and the baroque old town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the birthplace of Mozart, so music and culture lovers will find plenty to do around here. It’s a cultural capital defined by music, theatre, and there is a whole lot to do here. Visit the Christmas markets in winding roads of the city and sing Do-A-Deer while you’re at it because The Sound Of Music was hot completely here.
The holiday celebration is a sight to see especially because there was a time the city was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by archbishops. Look out for mangers and representations of the Nativity scene in the charming lanes and sip hot chocolate to get the full wintery feel.
If you want to go somewhere in Russia, Moscow would be the best bet for a holiday. The entire city is blanketed with white cover like whipped cream on the hot chocolate you’ll be drinking. You have to take out a day to witness the famous Moscow Christmas Festival, where Christmas trees are decorated, street art is displayed, and plays are performed. Don’t miss the ice ballet because it’s enchanting. For New Year’s Eve, you can also join the cheerful crowd at Moscow’s central Tverskaya Street to count down the seconds to 2020. Dance and celebrate because the party carries on till 3 a.m. on the streets. Sounds fun, right?
Arguably one of the most gorgeous cities in northern Europe, the capital of Estonia could be your holiday getaway if you don’t want to spend as much. The medieval stone walls, sky-scraping church bell towers, and cobblestone roads are every traveller’s dream. Go to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral or St Olaf’s Church for Christmas mass and have a holy experience. Compared to western Europe, the food and nightlife are cheaper; try out the local beer and Baltic cuisine at Restaurant Ribe and Rataskaevu 16.
So ready to enjoy the X’mas like they’re supposed to be?
Dog Travel Tips: Travel Long Distance With Your Dog!
Who doesn’t love travelling with their furry friends? And for that some dog travel tips are very important! Long road trips are enjoyed by some dogs, while others quiver at the mere prospect of getting into a car. But anyway, if you want to drive long distances in a car with your dog, then good preparation and attentiveness is required before and during the trip.
These are few dog travel tips to help your furry friend!
Make sure everything is packed
You need to make sure you’ve got everything they may need on their journey to keep your dog happy. Usually on the long road trip and once you’ve finally arrived at your destination.
Never take them on trips during vaccination
Although travelling with puppies is great, ensuring you get them used to car trips ahead of any long road trips can be tough. Make sure you wait until all their vaccinations are full. Usually, this will be by the time they are around 14 weeks old.
Waiting until your puppy is completely house-trained is also advised, so you don’t run up a big hotel bill!
Start with Short Trips
Take your dog to a quick drive to the store, veterinarian, to another doggie park or even to training lessons for puppies. This ensures that your dog gets used to car trips as best as possible.
And hopefully some trips are expected to take them somewhere fun and exciting, so they understand that the car is fine.
Protect them from Sunshade
Temperatures inside cars will still be much higher than outside temperatures, even though it’s not a especially hot day. It is recommended to put a sunshade inside your windscreen before you drive so that inside the car it’s a little cooler.
You can also buy some sunshades for the back windows. So that during the car ride your dog will not be lying in patches of sun. Install these the night before your trip as for windscreens above.
Tire up their energy
By making sure your dog has used up all their pent up energy, he’ll be more likely to just go in the car to sleep.
Keep them entertained
Keep the radio on if you don’t talk for the whole ride. Also, let your dog chew on an antler bone. Else, a kong filled with delicious treats, or some of their favourite toys. The act of chewing alone, after a while, should tire them out.
Don’t forget toilet breaks!
Have plenty of toilet breaks specifically, every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Also, this will need to be reduced if your dog is less used to long road trips.
You should also let your dog do their business as soon as possible when you arrive. If they are desperate, even the most toilet-trained dogs could go inside.
Carry plenty of water
Dogs would also need plenty of water as they ride in vehicles. In case of traffic or delays, you can ensure you have enough to cover the entire journey plus some extra. And if you buy a bottle that has a bowl compartment attached to it, it will make things simpler for you. Mainly, because the dog can almost drink straight from the bottle.
Belum Caves: An Underground Hidden City
From sheltering men to their Gods, caves in India have been special right from ancient times. Indian cave systems usually bring to mind the north-eastern state of Meghalaya with its extensive network of caves; surprisingly the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has the second largest system of caves in India, the inconspicuous Belum Caves. The word Belum derives from the Sanskrit ‘Bilum’ which means caves, so it is just a repetition to call these caves Belum Caves. Belum Caves is a network of underground calcareous caves at the deepest point, more than 3 kilometres long and 29 metres deep.
Moreover, at present, about half of this length is publicly available. Visitors from nearby Gandikota are attracted to this site. Mainly those who intend a day trip that will visit both of these locations. This area has made the availability of limestone and water very suitable for cement factories.
Best Season to visit Belum Caves
Here the hot climate is as rugged as the terrain. Belum caves, situated in the southern part of India, remain hot for most of the year. Also, the best time to visit it will be between the months of October and February when the weather is good. Further, the temperature in the underground caves is marginally higher than the temperature at ground level. It is due to continuous carbon dioxide accumulation at the bottom of the caves.
How to reach Belum Caves
Gandikota is usually carried out as a day trip from Chennai or Bangalore, the two major cities nearby, in combination with a visit to the nearby Belum caves. The best choice is a day trip from each of these cities and it can be achieved using a hired taxi, but if you want to make it back on time, you have to start very early. The nearest railway stations are Tadipatri, 30 kilometres from here, and Banganapalli, 33 kilometres away. You can find taxis and buses from Tadipatri, while there are frequent buses from Banganapalli. Most of the buses stop at Kolimigundla, from where the Belum Caves shuttle service is open.
Punnami Hotel, run by the Andhra Pradesh government’s department of tourism, APTDC, is the only choice if you want to remain close to Belum Caves itself. But Punnami only offers dorm-type accommodation, and if you want a decent bed, you’d better go to Tadipatri which is a little far away.
The citizens here speak Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, and even English to a good degree. You will be shocked at the number of multi-lingual guides available here. Even the people are courteous enough to ask us what language you would prefer.
The canteen owned by it is directly next to the APTDC hotel. The canteen serve a multitude of offerings. As well as a few breads, both North and South Indian. It would be a shame not to taste the world-famous mango of Banganapalli after visiting a place so similar to Banganapalli.
To know more about the historical importance, main sections etc, checkout their official website.
Don’t forget to look at our travel section for more such posts.
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