Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Travel New Years Resolutions

Life is an adventure, so why aren't you having any? This is the year to get out, stop dreaming and start doing. The following New Year's resolutions, if embraced can get you out of the house more, open you mind to new adventures, and fill your life with memories rather than regrets.

1. Do it! Many people love planning vacations, you speak with them and they have all of these grandiose plans for that perfect trip to South Africa, that magical trip to Egypt etc and yet years go by, and then decades, and suddenly they're wishing they had gone but it will be really hard now as they feel that they are too old.

Life is short, it is finite. Nothing happens from wishing. Put away money, or vacation days, or frequent flier miles, or befriend someone on the internet who lives where you want to go - whatever it takes, just, as the cliche' goes, do it!

2. Explore your own backyard. The number of adventures both small and large left on the table because people forget that that their own home town/state are worth exploring is astonishing. Don't wait for the perfect trip to Rajasthan to take that camel back ride, or rent a bike to explore Ladakh from a new perspective. Explore your own local sites and your local museums. Make adventures out of day trips, the country is loaded with small towns each boasting something, whether it's Agra  with the largest monument of love, or a trip to Hampi for a tantalizing slice of history and religion. India is loaded with the fun, the bizarre, and the outlandish.

3. Embrace curiosity. If the world is one never ending scene of amazement then the TV will seem hollow and sad, a thing reserved for nights without stars and days when the winds are whipping rain against the eaves. Make a list of every thing you have ever imagined doing, everything from bungee jumping to paragliding, from visiting the Museum to sitting on the edge of a gorgeous scene and trying to paint it, and do it. Stop waiting for the perfect day, or perfect excuse. The perfect day is today, and the perfect excuse is that tomorrow may be to late.

4. Eat your travels. Give up on the familiar when you explore. Exploration is more than what can be captured on a camera, it is the conversations you have (or hear), the people you meet, the scents of the streets or the flowers, and the tastes that are wholly linked to place. Delhi has chole batura, Indore has poha-jalebi , Mumbai has everything under the sun, and then some. And that is just India! Taste your way through the world.

5. Become an armchair traveler. Reading about places, whether in the pages of a Travel Mag, or an episode of a Travel channel isn't as good as the real thing, but, most people will never travel the world, most will never cruise down the Nile, or explore the Himalayas, or visit Easter Island, there is nothing wrong with a little vicarious travel, it can even introduce you to your next "must see" destination. Also, reading the works of those that have loved and lived in a place can help create a more fulfilling trip for you when you do arrive. Certainly people will see Italy different after reading Under the Tuscan Sun, or Moab differently after reading Ed Abbey's Desert Solitair. A book can round out your experieces, making your whole trip richer.

These are just a few tips to help your new year be one filled with amazing adventuries, grand stories and beautiful memories. Life is short so get out there and explore it with Mercury Travels! Experiences that take you far. Experiences that bring you closer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Enjoy your 'Players' Holiday in New Zealand

For everyone who needs an extra dose of the good life, New Zealand is the place to go – after all what else can you expect from a country which has the word “zeal” in its name itself? This island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean was amongst the last places in the world to be settled by humans. Couple that with its colonial past and you have a distinctive mix of exotic biodiversity and a vibrant culture renowned for its warmth. The country comprises of two main landmasses – the North Island and the South Island along with numerous smaller islands. With a population of only about 4 million people, New Zealand is refreshingly uncrowded. Is it any wonder then, that the country was selected as the location of the upcoming high-octane Bollywood flick “Players” starring Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor and Neil Nitin Mukesh.

This stunningly breathtaking country has a diverse geography encapsulating glaciers, mountains and even volcanoes. Visit Rotorua and you can see spouting geysers, hot water pools and bubbling mud pools. The mountains are dotted with rivers and lakes which accentuate the natural beauty of the place. New Zealand is the natural habitat of many varieties of whales, dolphins and a vast selection of interesting birds. If you are curious about the island nation’s flora and fauna then you should include one of the smaller islands on your itinerary. For instance, Stewart Island conjures a pristine picture of New Zealand forests at their prime. The island is also home to the famous national bird of the country - the kiwi. You can sit back and enjoy the Aurora Australis or the “Southern Lights”on this small island making it the perfect spot for a camping adventure.

There are plenty of activities for everyone in New Zealand. You can take advantage of the wonderful natural scenery and go on a guided tour or kayak the beautiful rivers of the area. Cave diving is an especially popular sport for those who are looking for something out of the ordinary. It is easy to find a guide who can teach you the basics so that you can embark on your own adventure within a short period of time. The extensive coastline of the country provided the perfect backdrop to Bipasha Basu sizzling bikini scene in “Players”. New Zealand also boasts of a diverse culture with both indigenous and immigrant populations. There are various throbbing metropolises in the Northern Island and small communities which lie off the beaten tracks on the smaller islands.

Once you have explored the natural beauty of New Zealand, you can venture into its world-class urban centers. There is a lively entertainment scene with nightlife, cafes, bars and top class restaurants. Most cities stage first class concerts and shows. The country offers everything from exclusive designer stores along with traditional arts and crafts markets and even large chain stores. Auckland is renowned for its museums and shopping malls. While there, you can also indulge in the traditional food of New Zealand. There has been an attempted revitalization of Maori culture and prominent exhibits in the local museums of Auckland testify the same. These feature an abundant variety of ancient artifacts and modern information on the lifestyle of the Maori. Furthermore, Auckland offers conventional entertainment as well in the form of casinos and sightseeing tours.  The Sky City is a must-visit – this enormous glass tower overlooks all of Auckland.

Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and has been dubbed the 'coolest little capital in the world'. It has a vibrant café scene and some of the best restaurants in the country. Wellington is a city which enjoys fine dining and good coffee. It is known as New Zealand’s arts and cultural capital - there are many interesting and contemporary public sculptures around the city. The waterfront of Wellington houses the “Te Papa Tongarewa” (meaning “Our Place”) which presents New Zealand’s story through art and interactive displays.  “Players” has been extensively shot in Wellington and takes advantage of the varied terrain of the central city with its steep streets, leafy suburbs, dramatic coast and natural harbor.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the country's third-largest urban area. The large number of public parks has resulted in Christchurch earning the moniker of “The Garden City”. The Willowbank wildlife park lies to the north of the city. Travis Wetland - an ecological restoration program designed with the aim of creating a wetland - lies to the east of the city centre. The city is known for its many live acts and has a professional symphony orchestra. It is also the seat of the experimental music scene in New Zealand.

Let MercuryTravels whisk you away to this fascinating destination – we promise that you will never be the same again!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Southern Touring Route: An Iconic Australian Self-drive Holiday

See some of Australia’s most spectacular sceneries and live some of its best experiences on a self-drive down the Great Southern Touring Route.

Geelong, an easy hour’s drive along the Princes Freeway from Melbourne, is the eastern gateway to the dramatic coastline of the Great Ocean Road.

It is also Victoria’s second largest city. One of the ‘must dos’ for any visitor to Geelong is to take a boat ride on, or a flight over, sparkling Corio Bay. The Geelong Waterfront has excellent restaurants and cafés with tables looking out over the water and the impressive display of colourful bollards telling the history of the city.

Torquay is Australia’s surfing capital as well as being the official start of the road. Surf World Museum tells the story of surfing in Australia and an all surfing-shopping precinct welcomes visitors year round.

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s great coastal drives; Conde Nast travel magazine says it is one of the top 20 journeys of a lifetime. Hugging the seaside on the south-west coast of Victoria, it passes through some of the most dramatic scenery in Australia, including the world famous Twelve Apostles.

The Twelve Apostles, the gigantic limestone rock stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean are a ‘must do’. Boardwalks, viewing platforms and an interpretive centre make it easy to see and understand this truly awe-inspiring scenery.

For the best view a helicopter ride over the coastline to see all the magnificent limestone stacks is highly recommended.

The city of Warrnambool overlooks the deep blue of the Southern Ocean and has a long,
fascinating maritime history. These remarkable times are recaptured at the city’s major attraction, Flagstaff Hill, a recreated maritime village and port representative of 19th century
Warrnambool. Flagstaff Hill also features a spectacular sound and laser light show ‘Shipwrecked’ recreating the tragic story of the Loch Ard disaster more than 125 years ago.

There are more than 400 million years of history in the Grampians, the verdant mountains rising from the vast landscapes of the Western District plains. They are the setting for the largest collection of Aboriginal rock art in Australia.

The Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Halls Gap provides a detailed insight into the culture of the original inhabitants of the region. A visit is one of the region’s ‘must dos’.

There are a number of waterfalls, the best known MacKenzie Falls, one of four in the
MacKenzie River Gorge. Spring, when it is framed by wildflowers, is the best time to
visit Beehive Falls, an easy walk from Roses Gap.

A walk at twilight, or even at night offers the chance to see some of the nocturnal native animals including owls, possums and koalas. More than 200 bird species live in the Grampians and kangaroos abound throughout.

Ballarat is the gateway to the Goldfields region. The city’s classic colonial architecture stretched out along broad, tree-lined streets reflects the riches taken from the ground after gold was discovered in the 19th century.

The city is also regarded as the birthplace of Australian democracy. Ballarat was the setting for one of just two civil uprisings in Australia’s modern history, the Eureka Rebellion. This battle between troopers and miners has left a stirring legacy in Ballarat.

Blood on the Southern Cross, a dramatic and fiery sound and light show, retells the story of the bloody uprising which killed 22 miners and four troopers, each night at Sovereign Hill - one of the finest tourist attractions in Australia. Constantly upgraded as a finely detailed recreation of a gold mining town, Sovereign Hill provides an interactive experience for visitors, allowing them to pan for gold or ride on a stagecoach.

The Great Southern Touring Route offers visitors the best of Australia’s natural attractions, coastal scenery, history and heritage – all in a flexible, compact touring package with Mercury Travels.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ISRAEL: The Extra Dimension

There are so many reasons why people are attracted to Israel. For some, it’s the sun-drenched climate. For others, it’s the rich variety of sites and sights – historical, archeological, religious or just beautiful. For still others, it’s the fascinating contrast between the ancient and the modern. But for absolutely everyone, Israel has a special hard-to-define something – an extra dimension – that turns every visit into a truly memorable experience.
Israel is a modern country that combines a rich history with a tourism infrastructure that caters to every vacation taste. From the time you step foot in this legendary land, you realize it's a far cry from anything you expect. It's a land of bustling cities and nature reserves. Fertile hills and arid deserts.  Gilded temples and glistening skyscrapers. Sacred shrines and glorious Mediterranean beaches.
No other city on earth means so much to so many people as Israel's capital, Jerusalem. Home to more holy spots than you can count on two hands, it exudes an electricity all of its own. Experience the special thrill of walking in the footsteps of history as you retrace the steps of Abraham 4,000 years ago, King David 3,000 years ago, Jesus 2,000 years ago, and the Crusaders 1,000 years ago.
Jerusalem has something for everyone. You can spend days on end just visiting the museums and archeological sites. Roam through the Jerusalem Forest and Jerusalem Mountains that surround the city. Check out the year-round cultural festivities in the streets, concert halls and at historical sites.
Israel's west coast is home to one of the Mediterranean Sea's most glamorous cities. Part beach resort, part full blown metropolis, Tel Aviv has got it all. A New York's worth of shopping. A London's worth of culture. And enough golden sand to compete with the Mediterranean's best beaches.
With its sidewalk cafes, fine museums, lovely parks and beaches, concert halls and theatres, elegant restaurants, chic shopping malls and boutiques, Tel Aviv was made for strolling. Known as the “city that never sleeps”, Tel Aviv has clubs, pubs and piano bars that stay open until very late.
For a full-on holiday haven, head south to Eilat. This is the place for that all inclusive holiday on the Red Sea. Top hotels, world class diving and that all important blend of sun and sand. Eilat offers endless list of activities: water sports, glass bottom boat rides, yachts, the Underwater Observatory Marine Park, the Dolphin Reef, parasailing, camel safaris and many other activities.
Need a break with a rejuvenating edge? Israel has the answer – the Dead Sea. A lake so saturated in salts and minerals, you can't sink in it. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 400 meters below sea level. The healing properties of the Dead Sea and of the nearby mineral spring have been known for millennia.
Enjoy the pollen-free atmosphere created by the high barometric pressure and filtered sunlight. Float unsinkably on the highly saline water, immerse yourself in the sulphur pools, coat yourself with the natural black mineral mud on its shore works that is known to work wonders on any complexion. A 100% organic spa experience!
In the North is the Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest freshwater reserve. At 213 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second lowest point in the world after the Dead Sea. It is fed by underground springs, but it mains source is the Jordan River. The dark basalt sand at the bottom of the lake gives the water a dark blue color when you look at it from a distance. The Sea of Galilee coastline and surrounding hills are a year-round vacation resort, with nature trails, historical sites and holiday spots.
With a tradition of making visitors feel welcome that goes back to Biblical times, the friendly people of Israel await you. Travel to Israel – quite simply, there's nothing else like it.

Check out our different packages at Mercury Travels

Monday, December 5, 2011

Macau, a Happening Destination

Experience the fascinating blend of 400 years of Portuguese influence and 3,000 years of Chinese influence in architecture, cuisine and customs of Macau.

Macau is where east meets west. A former Portuguese colony, Macau was handed back to China in December 1999. An important trading post of the European colonisers, Macau has had an eventful history since the latter half of the 16th century. The European influence due to its long and deep contact with Portugal and other European countries blends well with the Oriental charm.
Located on the south-eastern coast of China, at a distance of around 75 km west of Hong Kong and around 150 km off Guangzhou (Canton), Macau comprises a peninsula and two islands of a total area of 29.5 sq km. Though small, it bursts with history, culture, shopping and family entertainment.
The central focus of the town is the busy Senado Square. The Leal Senado and the church of St. Dominic, some of Macau's famous buildings surrounding the Square lend Mediterranean flavour to Macau.
Overlooking the busy town centre from their hillside perches the ever-impressive Ruins of St. Paul’s and the historic Mount Fortress offer a commanding view of the cityscape. The Museum of Macau, located within the fort takes one back to the times of the Portuguese rule.
For those who love history, a visit to the ever-lively A-Ma Temple is a must. Many say the name ‘Macau’ was derived from the Chinese ‘A-Ma-Gau’ meaning ‘Bay of A-Ma’, referring to A-Ma Temple. Another must-see is the imposing Guia Fortress, within which lie the Guia Chapel and Guia Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse which is still functional.
Another unique attraction of Macau is the Fisherman’s Wharf, a theme park and complex with over 150 stores and restaurants built in the style of different coastal towns of the world like Miami, Cape Town, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Venice, Spain and the Italian Riviera. It also includes six rides, a slots hall, a 72-room hotel, and a casino.
With many world-class entertainment complexes, Macau is today the entertainment capital of Asia. It boasts of grand and luxurious casinos at par with Las Vegas. Other entertainment options include golf, spas, horseracing, greyhound racing and abundant nightlife.
Apart from the nightlife and the glittering shows, young adventurers can get an adrenaline rush at the Macau Tower by plunging down the world's highest commercial bungy jump at 233 m, sky jumping or by embarking on a sky walk along the tower's outer rim. Another highlight is the Macau Grand Prix held every November with races around a 3.8 miles circuit around the picturesque city.
Shopping is a key element of central city life. St. Dominic's Market fills the alleyways off Senado Square. The items one can buy here range from clothes, silk, jewellery, toys, electronic gadgets, antiques, porcelain, watches and cashmere shawls. Gold shops by the dozen line the main thoroughfare running between the square and the Leal Senado.
Savour the sumptuous Macanese cuisine, a blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines. The most famous snack is the Portuguese-style egg tart. It is widely popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The most famous Macanese dishes are the Galinha à Portuguesa, Bacalhau, Macanese chilli shrimps and stir-fried curry crab which are served with many local wines.
If a quick vacation is what you need, Macau is an ideal destination. With no visa required for Indians holidaying in Macau and great flight connections into Hong Kong, which is less than an hour’s ferry ride away from Macau, planning an exciting holiday here is most convenient.
Experience Macau on a spectacular and entertaining holiday that is specially packaged just for you with Mercury Travels