Coorg

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TR# 25 Dec 2018

Coorg is a hill station near Mysore ( Karnataka, India) and famous for nature & coffee plantations. We booked a Zipcar from Bangalore airport and drove to Coorg which is approximately 250 Kms. It took about 6 hours to reach Coorg. On the way, we stopped for breakfast at Kamat restaurant, which is about 50 km from Bangalore. If you have not visited Kamat before, I strongly recommend stopping by. This is the third time we stopped by Kamat and it didn’t disappoint us.

We stayed at Club Mahindra. I think this is one of their best resorts spread across the valley with lots & lots of trees and coffee plantations. The day starts with the dawn chorus of birding singing excellent melodies. Throughout the day, a variety of birds are entertaining you with their beautiful songs.

We stayed for 3 nights and visited a number of places – Abbey Falls, Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastery) & Coffee plantations. The city is also good to take a stroll. It is famous for spices. When we visited Coffee Plant, we could talk to the plant owner and she could explain to us the whole process on how the coffee gets ready for the market.

We couldn’t get much time to do bird photography but definitely, planning the next trip.

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Niagara Falls

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TR #24 , June 2018

We flew to Buffalo from Dallas via Atlanta.  Buffalo is the closest big city from US side to visit Niagara. If you have Canada visa, you can go via Toronto as well. We got a very good deal at Hotel Hyatt which is right in the center of Buffalo city. 

On the next day, after breakfast, we started out to see the Niagara falls. The whether was good but slightly hot & humid. The drive to Niagara falls is about 45 minutes from the city.  While the drive is good, the Niagara falls city area is not that great. It is very typical tourist place ! We parked our car in the parking garage and then headed out to the Niagara falls garden to view the falls.

 The view of Niagara falls is spectacular !  The width of the fall is amazing. Some part is in US and some part in Canada. We took the “Mist of the Meadow” ride which takes you right close to the fall. It is too good and definitely a life time experience.

We went back to Buffalo for some rest and came back in the evening to see the falls in the night. The falls is lighted and it looks amazing  !!  Both governments, have done a great job on the lighting. If you are from US side, you can see a lot of casinos from Canada. I wish we had a Canadian visa to try our luck at casinos.

There is not much to see in Buffalo than the Niagara falls. I think 1.5- 2 days visit  to Buffalo is good enough.  We also visited Buffalo University to meet one of our acquaintances. The university is very beautiful and with summer time, it is looking more beautilful.

Buffalo Univeristy

New York

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TR # 23, June 2018

I think the best time to visit New York is in the summer – Good food and  a lot of places to roam around !

We stayed in Ramada Inn at Newark. The good thing about this Hotel that it is close to “Journal Square” PATH train station,  relatively cheap and a lot of Indian restaurants in walking distance. You can get direct train to World Trade Center and Madison Square. The best part of roaming around New York is its metro. It is one of the largest metro network in the world.  We saw World Tread Center memorial, Statue of liberty, Brooklyn Bride, Times Square, Empire State building and Central Park.

We all are foodies and explored a Thai  restaurant near Madison Garden called ” Thai Villa” . It is one of the best Thai restaurant !  We also had a pizza at Juliana.  Juliana’s is a pizzeria located in BrooklynNew York considered the best pizzeria in the United States as of 2015 according to TripAdvisor

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.

 

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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