Europe Cycle Trip Passau to Vienna ( May 2018) Day # 6 & 7

We started our journey back to Passau after an overnight boat ride to Rossatz. The plan was to go to Pochlarm which is 39 Km  from Rossatz. We reached Pochlarm but had to come back to Melk as our Boat had an issue. On the way to  Pochlarm, we had coffee, cherries at a nice café run by a English speaking old couple at a place called “Oberarnsdorf”. They were surprised by we came all the way from India and US for the cycle trip. The way from Rossatz to Pochlarm is one of the best cycling track.

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We also did liquor testing made from Apricot. This region of Austria is very famous from apricots and wine.

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After reaching Melk, we had lunch at Chienese restaurant – “Wok Inn”. On the way from Pochlarm to Melk, we had some wine tasting.

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On the boat we had a multi course farewell dinner. The chefs introduced themselves in a very innovative way. Overall, we had an excellent food on the boat for last 7 days. No menu item was repeated.

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In the morning, we went Passau by Bus after saying ” “au revoir” to the Arkona and its entire crew!!

We had one of the life time experience of “Boat and Bike” in Europe along the river Danube.

 

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Europe Cycle Trip Passau to Vienna ( May 2018) Day # 4 and 5

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In the morning, we had a nice round around the Tulln City. The city has a very nice Church which is more than 300 years old.

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We also saw farmers market which has beautiful flowers, fresh Vegetables, fruits and bakery items for sale. It is very similar to the weekly market which exists in many parts of India. After the breakfast, we started to go to Korneuburg by boat. After reach Korneuburg, we had typical European lunch – Fish roasted, coffee and chip.

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( Photos from Vienna)

We started for Vienna city tour in the afternoon. The Trip organizer arranged the AC bus for take us to the city. The city of Vienna is very beautiful and constantly reminding about the past glory of the empire. The constructions of the palaces was done  several hundred years  ago but is still in a very good condition. The western world maintains their heritance really very well.  The city has typical small lanes and cafes in the lane. Near Vienna palace, we were proud to see “Café Coffee Day” – India’s premier coffee shop. We also visited Vienna on the next day. This time we used the Vienna’s metro. We saw St. Stephen’s cathedral , natural history museum, Albertina art museum.  In the museum, we saw paintings by Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Monet.  We also visited the square where  Mozart and Beethoven gave several musical performances and conducted orchestras. We walked around to experience the city.

 

युरोप सायकल ट्रिप – पसाऊ ते मुनीच ( मे २०१८) दिवस 3

सकाळी ९ वाजता ग्रेईं ( Grein ) वरून मेलक ( Melk)  ला जायला निघालो. हा पल्ला तसा लांबचा – ५६ किलो मीटर्स चा.  जाताना विरुद्ध दिशेने येणारे वारे  आणि तळपता सूर्याचा सामना करायला लागला आणि त्यातून थोडा घाट !   जवळ जवळ  २५ किलो मीटर्स  नंतर “यबबस अन  डर  दोनाउ” ( Ybbs an der Donau) ला थोडी विश्रांती घेऊन पुढे मार्गक्रमण चालू केले.  आम्ही जेवायला एका कॅफे मध्ये थांबलो. कॅफे च्या मालकाला आमच्या कडे बघून कपाळाला आठ्या पडल्या. सगळ्या ट्रिप मध्ये हा अनुभव एवढा चांगला नव्हता. त्याला बहुतेक वाटले कि आता आम्ही आमच्या बॅग्स उघडून त्याच्या कॅफे मध्ये आमचे खाणे खात बसणार !!  आम्ही तिथे ice क्रीम आणि डोनट्स घेतले, पण जरा बळजबरीनेच !!  Melk मध्ये आमच्या बोटी जवळ पोचायला ४-५ वाजले. आम्ही बोटीवर पोचल्या वर लगेचच बोट  तुलन ( Tulln ) ला रवाना झाली.

बोटी वरील आमचे सगळे खाणे अफलातून होते. सकाळी मेगा ब्रेकफास्ट आणि नंतर रात्री मल्टि कोर्स  डिनर. Tea आणि coffee कितीही वेळा घेऊ शकता !!

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Europe Cycling May 2018 ( Passau – Germany to Vienna) Day #2

Day # 2 (30 May) : Started from Linz and cycled to Grien for about 36 Kms. The cycle path was all along Danube river on a dedicated track.  We had lunch at Ardgger Markt, ( salad, Garlic Cream soup, Pasta).  One attraction in Grein is Greinburg Castle, built between 1488 and 1493. The castle was purchased by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1823 and is now owned by a family foundation, headed by Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The ducal family is living here but the castle is also open for visitors.

 

 

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Europe Cycling May 2018 ( Passau – Germany to Vienna) Day #1

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May 2018 (TR#22)

I have been doing cycling for a few years now and was dreaming of cycling in Europe after reading about the cycling trips across Europe.  Europe has dedicated cycling tracks all across Europe and a number of options for cycling trip including “Boat and Bike”.  We choose one such tour for cycling from Passau ( Germany ) to Vienna ( Austria) via “Boat – Bike Tours”.  The idea is do cycling during the day and stay on the boat in the night. While you cycle during the day, the boat will cruise to the destination waiting for you.  Our boat “Ms Arkona”,  was completely refurbished. The twin sharing cabins were self contained. The food was fantastic with everyday different menu !

 

 

From Munich, we took a train and reached Passau in the afternoon. All were very excited to spot our Boat “Ms Arkona”. In the evening, after a round of introductions, we had a fantastic 7 course gala dinner.   We realized we were the youngest group; the average age of the entire group of 100+ people will be around 65!!   We were looking forward for the cycling ride from the next day.

The bikes were very basic ( 1 x 7 gears) and those who need help on the up hill, they were provided with the e-bikes. The dedicated  cycling route of 200 Kms goes along with Danube river which runs across Europe. There are gentle up-hills at time but most of the track is flat. On the route, there were a  number of cafes, bars, restaurants and Hotels.

 

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We started from Passau around 9:30 AM after a  breakfast and briefing.  We had to cross the Danube river immediately via boat to get on to the bike track. We took a brief stop after an hour at Hofkirchen. It has a really nice restaurant run by a couple.  We had a lunch on the way and reached our first destination – UnterMuhl at 3 PM. The first day of biking was non eventful except we had to cycle more because of 2 of our members lost the road.  We were not at all tired and really enjoyed the first day ! We had a lot of fun!!

From UnterMuhl, we sailed to the city of Linz in Austria. It is a very old Austrian city with rich history. We saw the Linz via a tourist train.

 

Weekend Birdwatching Trip to Akshi Beach

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December 2017 (TR#21)

This is the first long distance drive with our new SUV – Jeep Compass  !  Really enjoyed the ride in spite of pathetic road condition !

A number of migratory birds come from colder region in northern hemisphere to Akshi beach in winter.  The Akshi beach is located near Alibaug, about 150 km north of Pune. It took us close to 5 hours to reach the beach.

The beach is slightly black and without much slope. This makes it a perfect habitat for birds.

You have to be really patient to watch and photograph these as they are very shy.  We saw the following birds:

  • Lesser Sand Plover
  • Greater Sand Plover
  • Greater Flemingo
  • Egret
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Steppe Gulls
  • Kentish Plover
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Great Knot
  • Gray Plover
  • Dunlin
  • western reef egret
  • Eurasian Oystercatcher
  • Eurasian Curlew
  • Terek Sandpiper
  • Little Stint
  • Sanderling

We stayed at ShintreWadi. I will highly recommend this place. The resort,  rooms and cafeteria is very clean. They serve freshly prepared food. The owner, Mr. Shintre, makes a point to talk to everyone.

 

Rediscovering Goa

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November 2017 (TR#20)

We explored different parts of Goa this time – Verca Beach in the South Goa and Natures’ Nest Birding/Nature resort in Surla. We stayed for 3 nights but it wasn’t enough to see the beautiful beaches of South Goa and birds in the Bondla & Surla forest.

From Pune, we reached Goa via Belgaum, Khanapur, Mahedi Wildlife Sanctuary and Anmod. The road till Belgaum is excellent afterwards it is patchy till Anmod.

Our resort at Verca – Club Mahindra – was fantastic. It has a very large area and a sea front. There are tons of things to do in and around resort. South Goa is comparatively quieter than the northern part but beaches are better in terms of crowd and cleanliness.  It also has a number of very good restaurants like Martin Corner and Fisherman’s Wharf. 

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Our stay at Nature Nest was excellent. The place is very quiet and it is right inside the Surla forest. The food was excellent and we could see a lot of birds within the resort itself.  Our birding  guide, Ramesh Zarmekar, took us to the various places in Surala to see some rare birds such as Sri Lankan frogmouth and blue eared Kingfisher.  We also saw  a very old template – “The Tambdi Surla Shiva Temple” , which was built in 12th Century.

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On the next day, we went to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. We saw some beautiful birds there as well. Our bird guide had a great knowledge of birds and habitats.

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Here is a beautiful picture of flying snake !!

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Jawai Leopard Hills of Rajasthan

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October 2017 ( TR#19)

This was one of the lifetime experiences to see  the 7 leopards in just 2 days !

The Jawai area of Rajasthan is near to the Udaipur city but also accessible by road from Ahmedabad and Jodhpur. The area have Jawai Dam, grasslands , riverbed and grazing ground.   The Hills of Jawai were shaped by lava millions of years ago resulting into natural caves and rock shelters for leopards.  With caves and abundance of food, it is the perfect area for Leopards.  As per the locals, around 60+ leopards are staying in the Area.   With no major issue/conflict with humans reported,  it seems that the Jawai leopards are living harmoniously in the midst of people.

We had planned for a 2 night/3 day trip, which includes 4 Safaris. We started our trip from Ahmadabad and it took about 6 hours to reach our Hotel – Varaval Leopard Camp.  The Hotel has 5 tents and a dining area. The rooms are very clean and they serve home cooked food. Pushpendra Singh Ranawat & his family give a very personal touch to the whole experience of staying at the camp. The menu is decided based on guest’s preferences. They served us “Dal Bati Churma”, “Sangri Vegetable” and “Pitod ki Sabzi”, which are all authentic Rajasthani preparations.

We had  a total 4 safaris, out of which 3 were successful in terms of Leopard sighting.  Our guides, Yashwant Singh Ranawat & Jasawant Singh Ranawat were knowing the area well and they put in a lot of efforts for the leopard sighting. They also have a good network to get a good intelligence on the leopard sighting in the area. We were very lucky to see a total of 7 Leopards in 3 safaris  – One on the hills of Sena, one on the way to Perwa and 5 on the hills of Perwa. In our Safari to Bera area, we waited for 2+ hours but could not get any sighting of the leopard named “Hira” . The leopard, which we saw on the hills of Sena was a female and she had given birth to 2-3 cubs a week before. We could have seen the cubs if we had planned our trip after 2-3 weeks. During our mission to spot leopards, we also saw jackals, nilgai, pecocks znd a pair of owlet.

Jawai is not a protected wildlife sanctuary.  The access to the area is uncontrolled and one can try to spot the leopards at any time during day or night. As this destination becomes popular, the tourism needs to be regulated. It is likely that the leopards will get disturbed and can move to another area.

Book Review : India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age. Author : Gurcharan Das

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This book was a birthday gift from my daughter !!

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This is great book which gives a history of the economic progress of India from pre-Independence day till modern day’s India. What was an eye opener was : In early 18th century, India was a leading manufacturing country in the world and it had 22.6 percent share of the world’s GDP. Because of the population and availability of the cheap labor, India lagged behind in technology and innovations. The productivity was also poor due to these reasons and also because of the division of the population on the basis of the religion and caste. There are no second thoughts that British Raj looted India but it did set up the institutions which helped India in post Independence. The book explains very nicely how the License Raj started because of socialist thinking & strategy and how it affected the economic growth in post Independence. It also explains the economic liberalization which started in 1991 and how it has improved the economic conditions of many Indian, which is resulting into one of the biggest middle class population in any country.

Here is a link to the book : http://www.worldcat.org/title/india-unbound/oclc/863622721?loc=10272

Bhandardara (Maharashtra, India)

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September 2017 ( TR#18)

The Bhadardara dam areas have some of the beautiful waterfalls in Maharashtra and many Bollywood movies are shot here.

It is about 220 Kms from Pune via Sangmner on Pune Nashik highway. We started early morning from Pune and reached Bhandardara at 2 PM. On the way, we stopped at Narayangaon for the famous “Misal”

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The road  condition till Sangamner is fine but from Sangamner to Bhandardara is pathetic. Be prepared for bumps and diversions. We stayed at MTDC Resort. The location of resort is very good but that’s all can be said about the resort.  The cafeteria and rooms are very ordinary for the money they charge. The cafeteria was not looking very hygienic and the choice of food is also very limited.  We couldn’t find a good restaurant in Bhadardara.

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We saw a couple of very beautiful waterfalls around area.

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We also took a 55 kms round trip around the dam area. The round trip is very scenic but the roads are too bad.  We saw “Kokan Kada”, which is the highest point from the hills overlooking Kokan area down. We also Amruteshwar temple which was built thousands of year ago.

We stayed for two nights and that is enough considering the amount of activities you can do there.