You searched for luxury - Bruised Passports https://www.bruisedpassports.com/ Offbeat Travel and Fashion Blog Thu, 16 May 2024 10:17:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Planning the perfect city break to Munich, Germany https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/planning-perfect-city-break-munich-bavaria-germany-itinerary https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/planning-perfect-city-break-munich-bavaria-germany-itinerary#comments Sun, 03 Dec 2023 07:24:07 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19767 Nestled in the heart of Bavaria, Munich, is ideal for a short city break or as a gateway to some...

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Nestled in the heart of Bavaria, Munich, is ideal for a short city break or as a gateway to some of the most gorgeous day trips and road trips in Europe. It offers a unique combination of rich history with contemporary cosmopolitanism. Known for its architectural splendour, the city showcases a blend of medieval charm and modern sophistication.

From the iconic Marienplatz and its bustling markets to the grandeur of the Munich Residenz, every corner of Munich has a story to tell. But that’s not all – beyond the city’s historical tapestry, Munich embraces innovation, exemplified by cutting-edge museums, technology hubs like BMW Welt, and a vibrant arts scene. Read on to plan that perfect trip to Munich:

Beautiful Munich

Getting To Munich

Lufthansa flies directly to Munich from Delhi and Mumbai and recently launched direct flights from Bengaluru too. The flight is on an Airbus A350 – one of my favourite aircrafts as it is so quite. The business class cabin offers full-flat beds, a 1-2-1 configuration (favourite) and an extensive menu full of Indian and continental delicacies, and a wine list with some really nice German wines! Munich Airport has recently been awarded the best airport in Western Europe, so you can expect seamless immigration, fewer queues, lots of natural light, and shopping opportunities for both inbound and outbound passengers.

Comfortable home for 8 hours 🙂

Where to stay

We suggest staying in an apartment or hotel in the city centre of Munich as that will make it easier for you to explore the city centre and commute to other places on this itinerary. We stayed at The

München, located in the heart of Munich. With a rich history dating back to 1858, this five-star hotel seamlessly blends timeless elegance with modern comforts.

You can expect a unique blend of traditional Bavarian elements and contemporary amenities – the rooms feature plush furnishings, marble bathrooms, and cutting-edge technology, ensuring a truly indulgent stay. Don’t forget to have dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Schwarzreiter Tagesbar & Restaurant and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the elegant lobby. The Jahreszeiten Bar is a perfect spot for an evening cocktail. The Kempinski München also has a world-class spa and wellness facilities, including a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the city. With its central location near iconic landmarks and cultural attractions, the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München stands as a symbol of unparalleled luxury and hospitality in Munich.

Plush and comfortable rooms at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski
You MUST dine at the restaurant even if you’re not staying at the hotel

 

Day 1: Exploring downtown Munich

  1. Munich Residenz: Start your day by exploring the Munich Residenz, the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs. Dive into the rich history and opulent architecture. The interiors will leave you awestruck
  2. New Town Hall & Marienplatz: After the Residenz, head to Marienplatz, Munich’s central square. Visit the Glockenspiel at the New Town Hall and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. You can consider joining a guided tour of New Town Hall to learn more about its history and architecture. You can have lunch at one of the many cafés here and spend your evening people watching and enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown Munich
  3. English Garden & Hofgarten: Spend the afternoon at Hofgarten, a beautiful garden adjacent to the Residenz or the English Garden, one of the world’s largest urban parks. Relax by the serene lakes, watch surfers at the Eisbach wave (this is super cool), and stroll through picturesque paths. The gardens of Munich are at their best during summertime and during autumn months when leaves turn yellow
  4. Sunset at St. Peter’s Church: As the day winds down, visit St. Peter’s Church for panoramic views of Munich during sunset. This is recommended only if you’re really fit as you have to climb almost 14 storeys to get to the top and there is no elevator
So much history and gorgeous architecture in Munich Residenz
Marienplatz on a sunny day is all kinds of gorgeous 🙂
Check out the surfers at Eisbach river
Or just walk through these beautiful arches
Enjoy a beautiful sunset from the top of St. Peter’s church

Day 2: Cars, Football, and Munich Neighbourhoods

This is a fun day packed with experiences and activity. Choose the ones that you and your family will enjoy the most

  1. BMW Welt/ BMW World: If you enjoy your cars, you must begin your day at BMW Welt, a fascinating exhibition space showcasing BMW’s innovative designs and technologies. The entire space is an homage to vintage and current BMW automobiles and is a sight to behold
  2. Allianz Arena + FC Bayern Museum: Alternatively you can visit the Allianz Arena, home to FC Bayern Munich, and explore the FC Bayern Museum to immerse yourself in the football culture.
  3. Volkswagen Tour of Unique Neighbourhoods: Next take a truly unique city tour in a vintage Volkswagen to explore distinctive neighbourhoods like Haidhausen and Au, each with its own charm and character. This tour also includes a picnic at some of the most scenic viewpoints in Munich and you can further personalise it to your taste – highly recommended!
  4. Beer Hall – Hofbräuhaus München: Wrap up the way by experiencing Munich’s beer culture at Hofbräuhaus, one of the city’s most famous beer halls in the city centre
For all the car geeks there 😉 Vid had a gala time here
Check out some beautiful vantage points and cool neighbourhoods in a vintage VW Bulli camper

Day 3: Day Trips to Fairy-Tale Castles and Alpine Views

Plan a spectacular day trip for yourself – if you have just one day then we recommend beginning your day early for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. Explore the fairy-tale-like castle that inspired Disney and its surroundings. You must walk to Marienbrücke for a stunning panoramic view and capture memorable photos of Neuschwanstein Castle. And if you enjoy going offbeat, you must explore Hohenschwangau, a lesser-known neighbouring castle with its own unique history.

If that isn’t something you can, then consider a day trip to Lake Tegernsee & Mount Wallberg. Travel to Lake Tegernsee for a relaxing day by the water. Take a cable car to Mount Wallberg to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over Lake Tegernsee and the Alps.

The other option is to head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a beautiful alpine ski town – combine this with a walk down the Partnach gorge and a cable-car ride up to Zugspitze – the highest mountain in Germany. The view from the top is absolutely beautiful.

Whichever day trip you choose, you can easily return to Munich in the evening.

However you have some more time in Germany (at least 4-5 days), we highly recommend renting a car and driving the Deutsche Alpenstrasse – one of the most beautiful and scenic roads in the world. We have a detailed day by day guide for it

Road Trip of Germany - Bavaria
This road trip in Bavaria is full of stunning Castles that seem to appear out of nowhere
Emerald lake on a road trip through Bavaria in South Germany
Beautiful lakes just an hour out of Munich

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide for Munich – the city is ideal for a short city break or as a gateway to some of the most gorgeous day trips and road trips in Europe. And if you go in December, you’ll witness some of the most charming Christmas markets. Have fun exploring 🙂

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8 Must Visit Places In Greenland https://www.bruisedpassports.com/greenland/8-must-visit-places-in-greenland https://www.bruisedpassports.com/greenland/8-must-visit-places-in-greenland#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2023 07:58:38 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19679 Greenland’s remote and stunning panoramas ensure a trip you will not forget in your lifetime. Even though Greenland is geographically...

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Greenland’s remote and stunning panoramas ensure a trip you will not forget in your lifetime. Even though Greenland is geographically close to the likes of Iceland, Norway, and Canada, the fact that there are no highways in the country makes it a very different experience to any of those countries. Think of it as the land of vast ice and stunning beauty, perfect for travel lovers and adventurers seeking remote and breathtaking landscapes

The isolated country is the largest island in the world and the majority of it is covered by the polar ice cap. All the villages, or settlements as they are known in Greenland, are not on the ice-cap but around it. This ensures some stunning sights and cultural experiences that can not be found anywhere else in the world.

Since it is hard to get to Greenland and explore it, there is very little information about it online. So here is the visa information and a list of 8 absolute must dos that you should keep in mind while exploring the country

Visa For Greenland

If you have an Indian passport, you need a visa for Greenland. If you do not have a Schengen visa, you will need to apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. This will allow you to enter all Schengen states and Greenland. Even if you DO have a Schengen visa issued by any country other than Denmark, then you still need a visa for Greenland. You can apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. I submitted all the documents requested at the VFS Centre in CP, Delhi and it took 6 weeks for my visa to be processed.

 

Things To Do In Greenland

1. Sisimiut

Tucked along the shores of Davis Strait, Sisimiut is a picturesque town known for its colourful houses, cultural heritage, and proximity to the surrounding natural wonders. As the second-largest settlement in Greenland, Sisimiut offers an intriguing blend of modern amenities and traditional Inuit lifestyle. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by participating in dog sledding during winter time, exploring the colourful handicraft markets, or embarking on hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding fjords and mountains.

 

2. Kullorsuaq

As you sail further north, you will come across Kullorsuaq, a remote village with a population of just 450 people. It is also one of the most scenic villages in Greenland, nestled amidst a striking landscape of towering peaks and dramatic cliffs. Kullorsuaq provides a unique opportunity for nature enthusiasts to experience the Arctic ecosystem up close. Hiking trails wind through the rugged terrain. One thing is for sure – you will feel completely disconnected from the modern world here

The village mayor comes in a Kayak to officially welcome the ship and its passengers 🙂

 

3. Siorapaluk

Continuing northward, the settlement of Siorapaluk is one of the northernmost inhabited places on Earth. The population here is just 45 people, mostly hunters. Its isolation and breathtaking surroundings create a sense of awe-inspiring wonder. This is the perfect place to learn more about indigenous Inuit culture and their traditional hunting practices and age-old superstitions. If you visit during summer time, you can expect 24 hours of daylight. Siorapaluk boasts of the midnight sun during the summer months and the gorgeous aurora borealis across the night sky during winter months.

The beautiful (and remote) village of Siorapaluk

4. Thule Region

Home to the Thule Air Base, a visit to the Thule Region is a must during your time in Greenland. The rugged beauty of this region includes vast tundra, icy fjords, and towering mountains that seem to touch the heavens. You can witness the remains of ancient settlements, evidence of a rich history that spans millennia, and folklore that is central to Inuit culture. This is also the perfect place to spot rare Arctic foxes and elusive polar bears.

The Thule Region (pronounced Thoo-lay) is one of the most remote places on Earth

 

5. Disko Bay

Further south lies Disko Bay where colossal icebergs produced by Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO Heritage Site, drift silently along the sea currents, to feed the rivers of the world. The contrast between the azure waters and the dazzling white ice formations creates a surreal atmosphere that needs to be seen to be believed. Disco Bay is a must visit place in Greenland because no photos or videos can do justice to the sheer expanse of this place! You can also hop on a boat tour here to witness these giant icebergs and ice sculptures up close – this is an experience you might never forget! You can also stay in the town of Ilulissat for a few days.

Humpback whales right from our cabin balcony in Disko Bay. Surreal!!

6. Eqi Glacier

One of Greenland’s most impressive natural wonders, the Eqi Glacier is a massive wall of ice that seems to touch the sea. Here it is possible to see massive ice chunks calving into the water below, especially if you visit during summer time. Hiking to viewpoints near the glacier provides an opportunity to marvel at the enormity of this natural phenomenon. Seeing Mother Nature’s beauty this close will make you determined to protect its beauty and never litter the places you travel to in the future 🙂

The two of us staring at Eqi Glacier

 

7. Akulleq

Providing a respite from the icebergs and glaciers, Akulleq is a must visit place in Greenland. Here the landscape is rugged and desert like. Mineral deposits have coloured the hills here yellow and orange. Go for a hike and drink in the views of the surrounding  Baffin sea.

Looks like another planet!

8. Savissivik

In the northernmost reaches of Greenland, Savissivik is full of pristine landscapes and home to a small, close-knit community of less than 100 inhabitants. The village truly epitomises the resilience of the human spirit in the face of extreme conditions. Visitors can engage with the locals and gain insight into their traditional way of life, which revolves around fishing and hunting. Savissivik is also home to the largest graveyard to icebergs in Greenland, a sight that needs to be seen to be believed. Here some of the icebergs are as tall as skyscrapers and Arctic wilderness takes centre stage. It is sights that these that truly make Greenland one of the most unique and remote destinations in the whole world.

This is the view at 2a.m. 🙂

 

And that’s it – a list of 8 must visit places in Greenland. From colourful settlements and some of the northernmost villages of the world to icy landscapes and rare wildlife, Greenland has it all. As you spend time in the country exploring Sisimiut, Kullorsuaq, Siorapaluk, the Thule Region, Disko Bay, Eqi Glacier, Akulleq, and Savissivik, you will gain a deep appreciation and gratitude for Mother Nature, which is in its purest form here in Greenland. We hope this inspired you to contemplate a visit to this remote corner of the world

 

Did you know there are no highways in Greenland & internal flights are extremely limited! Cruises and polar voyages are the most convenient option for exploring the country and seeing all the breathtaking places mentioned above. If you’re contemplating a polar voyage, check this out for the best offers right now

Love cold weather? Check out our tips for spotting the Northern Lights in 2023 🙂

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5 BEST cruise itineraries offered by Ponant https://www.bruisedpassports.com/cruises/5-best-cruise-itineraries-ponant https://www.bruisedpassports.com/cruises/5-best-cruise-itineraries-ponant#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2023 07:31:01 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19697 Ponant, a leader in luxury expedition cruising, offers a range of unforgettable journeys to some of the world’s most remote...

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Ponant, a leader in luxury expedition cruising, offers a range of unforgettable journeys to some of the world’s most remote and unique destinations. From the icy wilderness of Svalbard to the pristine beauty of Antarctica and the vibrant cultures of French Polynesia, Central America, and Papua New Guinea, Ponant cruises provide travellers with a unique blend of luxury, adventure, and exploration that is hard to find elsewhere in the world.

Since there are some unmissable offers on Ponant Cruises going on right now, we thought we would give you a lowdown on 5 of our personal favourite cruises offered by Ponant

1. Svalbard Cruise: Exploring the Arctic Wilderness in one week

A Svalbard cruise with Ponant is a journey into the heart of the Arctic wilderness. Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, is a land of stark beauty and untouched landscapes. A Ponant cruise to Svalbard offers travellers the opportunity to witness the mesmerising Northern Lights, encounter polar bears and other Arctic wildlife, and explore glaciers and fjords in Zodiac boats.

The Svalbard cruise experience with Ponant is characterised by the comfort and luxury of the ship’s accommodations and amenities. Ponant’s expedition vessels are designed for both adventure and relaxation, offering spacious staterooms, gourmet dining, and well-appointed lounges. After a day of Arctic exploration, guests can unwind in the onboard spa or enjoy informative lectures from experienced naturalists and scientists. You can read our detailed Svalbard Cruise experience here

Polar Bears in the Arctic wild in Svalbard

 

2. Antarctica Cruise: A once-in-a-lifetime journey to the White Continent

An Antarctica cruise with Ponant is an expedition to the ultimate wilderness on Earth – this is an experience you will never EVER forget. Antarctica, a land of ice and wonder, beckons adventurers with its pristine landscapes and unique wildlife. Ponant’s Antarctica cruises provide travellers with the opportunity to explore this frozen continent in ultimate comfort, with fine dining and all creature comforts.

The unreal beauty of Antarctica’s icy landscapes is hard to describe- we literally felt like we were on a different planet. This cruise gives your the opportunity to visit research stations to learn about ongoing scientific endeavours, learn about responsible travel in Antarctica via a series on onboard lectures and talks, and observe colonies of penguins and seals in their natural habitats.Trust me when I say this – no travel experience will come close to seeing a colony full of thousands of emperor penguins. Ponant’s small expedition ships are designed to navigate the challenging waters of the Southern Ocean, ensuring an intimate and immersive experience for all travellers. You can read a detailed account of our voyage in Antarctica here 

Seeing Emperor Penguins in their natural habitat – truly majestic

 

3. Belize and Honduras Cruise: An affordable itinerary full of culture

If you would like to experience Ponant’s bespoke service without breaking the bank, then start with a 7 day cruise to Belize and Honduras. This offers travellers the chance to explore the rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty of the Central American region. This cruise takes guests to vibrant coastal towns, ancient Mayan ruins, and some of the world’s most renowned coral reefs.

Exploring the underwater world of the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a highlight of this cruise. Snorkelling and diving enthusiasts can discover a kaleidoscope of marine life, including colourful coral formations and exotic fish species. Onshore excursions allow guests to immerse themselves in the local cultures, with visits to historic sites and encounters with indigenous communities

Expect detox bars, spas, and gourmet meals cooked with the finest ingredients on Ponant’s cruises

 

4. Greenland and Thule Cruise: Discovering the Arctic’s Cultural Gems

If you, like us, love exploring remote Polar regions, then consider this itinerary! This 16 day expedition takes travellers to Greenland and the Thule Region. This cruise with Ponant explores the rugged coastline of Greenland, where towering icebergs and majestic fjords provide a stunning backdrop for adventure. Guests can embark on thrilling excursions, such as kayaking among ice floes and hiking in the Arctic wilderness.

One of the highlights of this cruise is the visit to the Thule Region, one of the northernmost inhabited areas on Earth. Here, guests can immerse themselves in the indigenous Inuit culture and learn about traditional hunting practices and age-old customs. The cruise also offers opportunities to witness the incredible biodiversity of the Arctic, with encounters with polar bears, narwhals, seals, whales, and seabirds

Beautiful panoramas await in Greenland – this is the village of Kullorsuaq 🙂

 

Get up close and personal with Arctic wilderness in zodiac cruises on each landing

 

5. Papua New Guinea Cruise: A Cultural Odyssey in the South Pacific

A Papua New Guinea cruise with Ponant is a journey into the heart of the South Pacific, where travellers can explore the vibrant cultures and stunning landscapes of this diverse region. Papua New Guinea is known for its rich tribal traditions, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches and you can combine this cruise with a road trip in Australia or New Zealand

This cruise offers guests the opportunity to visit remote villages and witness traditional dance performances, mask-making, and other cultural expressions. Explorations into the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea reveal unique wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Ponant’s luxury expedition ships provide a comfortable base for travellers to relax and unwind after their cultural and natural adventures.

Expect all creature comforts on-board – from detox smoothies to 24 hour room service 🙂

 

And that’s it. Of course there are many itineraries offered by Ponant – from Seychelles to Japan to Australia – but since Ponant cruises offer a remarkable opportunity to explore some of the world’s most remote and beautiful destinations in style and comfort, we suggest starting with one of these 5 itineraries. Whether you’re drawn to the icy wilderness of Svalbard, the pristine landscapes of Antarctica, the vibrant cultures of Belize and Honduras, or the rich traditions of Papua New Guinea, these expertly-curated cruises will provide an unforgettable blend of luxury and adventure that will keep you coming back for more

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Exploring Greenland, Canada, and Thule Region on Ponant’s Polar Expedition https://www.bruisedpassports.com/greenland/greenland-thule-region-ponant-laustral https://www.bruisedpassports.com/greenland/greenland-thule-region-ponant-laustral#respond Mon, 04 Sep 2023 14:29:17 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19691 We first visited the remote Arctic North many years ago. Svalbard in Norway was a revelation! Over the years we...

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We first visited the remote Arctic North many years ago. Svalbard in Norway was a revelation! Over the years we have had many new experiences and explored dozens of countries, but we find ourselves drawn to the Polar North repeatedly! It’s a love story in the making and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Keeping our fascination for remote Arctic regions in mind, we decided to go on a 16 day itinerary of Greenland, Canada, and the remote Thule region offered by Ponant this summer – read on to find out what we saw, what we learnt, and the highlights of this special trip to a remote part of this world.

Greenland is one of the hardest countries to reach and explore as flights are limited and there are no highways in the country. But it is also the most rewarding. Due to the lack of highways and limited connectivity via flights, it is easiest to explore these areas via a polar cruise. We opted for the 16 night Greenland and Thule itinerary, offered by Ponant! This itinerary includes flights from Paris to Greenland, 16 nights accommodation, all meals, and all excursions in a luxurious setting. Read on for the details and see if it is right for you 🙂

There are no highways in Greenland but beautiful panoramas await 🙂

Here are some highlights and must-do experiences from our time in Greenland, Arctic Canada, and the Thule (pronounced Thoo-lay) Region

 

Ship and Dining

From hiking glaciers and cruising next to icebergs to learning about Inuit traditions and visiting remote settlements, every moment in Greenland made us fall even more in love with the Arctic regions. On board our cruise ship, an intimate vessel with less than 200 people, we made lots of friends and spent each evening drinking and dining to our heart’s content. You can see all details about the ship, including cabins, restaurants, dining, spa, and entertainment in this article on Ponant’s L’Austral which I wrote some time ago. This will give you a detailed overview of the ship and its offerings. But if you have any questions, just leave them below and we will try to get back to you asap.

 

Stateroom with balcony on Ponant L’Austral

 

Visas For this voyage

If you have an Indian passport, you need visas for Canada and Greenland for this voyage. The Canada visa is straightforward. So is Greenland. If you do not have a Schengen visa, you will need to apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. This will allow you to enter all Schengen states and Greenland. Even if you DO have a Schengen visa issued by any country other than Denmark, then you still need a visa for Greenland. You can apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. I submitted all the documents requested at the VFS Centre in CP, Delhi and it took 6 weeks for my visa to be processed.

 

Incredible Highlights & what to expect

Every day in the area brings a new adventure. Everyday we went on 1, sometimes 2 excursions and saw so many surreal places! But here are some of our favourites – highlights that will give you an idea of what to expect

 

1. Hiking next to glaciers: Exploring Frozen Giants

Greenland is home to some of the world’s most impressive glaciers, and seeing these frozen giants up close is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Among the standout glaciers is the Eqi Glacier, known for its stunning walls of ice. These can be explored on guided hikes that lead you to vantage points with awe-inspiring views of the surroundings. The sensation of standing on millennia-old ice, surrounded by pristine wilderness, is an experience that stays with you forever. Another popular glacier is the Russell Glacier, which offers a unique opportunity to explore ice tunnels and crevasses under the guidance of experienced guides.

Hiking next to glaciers

 

2. Zodiac Cruises Next to Icebergs: Close Encounters with Arctic Ice

Greenland’s coastlines are dotted with colossal icebergs, each a masterpiece sculpted by nature. One of the most exhilarating ways to get up close and personal with these icebergs is by taking a Zodiac cruise, which were included in our polar expedition with Ponant. These sturdy, inflatable boats allow you to safely get close to the towering ice formations and admire them.

In Savissivik and Disko Bay at Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its icebergs, Zodiac excursions offer an opportunity to weave through a surreal landscape of floating ice sculptures. Expect intricate ice-formations, blue waters, and wild birds by the dozen. Make sure you keep your phone or camera ready to capture the vivid colours and intricate shapes of these natural wonders.

You feel tiny compared to these icebergs. Look at that blue colour

3. Learning About Inuit Culture: An Insight into Arctic Traditions

One of the most unique aspects of this Ponant Polar excursion was the insight it offered into Inuit culture. To truly appreciate Greenland, it’s essential to learn more about the unique culture that has been thriving here for centuries. We visited several local communities in small villages such as Sisimiut, Kullorsuaq (my favourite!), and Siorapaluk to gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. The culture here is build around fishing and hunting, and it is very different from any other culture you might have seen! We loved learning about oral traditions, myths, and legends, which have been passed down through generations in Inuit culture.

The village mayor comes in a Kayak to officially welcome the ship and its passengers 🙂

4. Visiting the Northernmost Settlements on Earth: The Edge of the World

Greenland is home to some of the northernmost settlements on the planet, offering a glimpse into a life lived on the edge of the world. Places like Siorapaluk, Qaanaaq, and Thule are not only stunningly remote but also culturally rich. These communities provide a unique perspective on life in the Arctic, where hunting and fishing remain essential for survival.

Siorapaluk, in particular, stands as one of the northernmost inhabited places on Earth and has a population of less than 50 people. The only way to get here is via boat! The stark beauty of the landscapes and the isolation ensured an unforgettable experience. Exploring these settlements and interacting with the resilient locals offers a rare glimpse into a way of life that has endured in the harshest of environments. It is truly a lesson in perspective.

The northernmost settlement in Greenland – only 45 people live here

5. Seeing Polar Bears, Narwhales, and Arctic Birds: Wildlife Encounters in Thule Region, Greenland, and Canada

Greenland’s pristine wilderness and the remote Thule region is a haven for Arctic wildlife, and spotting polar bears in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience. The Arctic Circle, especially in the northern reaches of Greenland and Canada, is one of the few places where you can see these magnificent creatures in their native environment. Expedition leaders onboard our ship alerted us every time there was a polar bear or Arctic Fox in sight and provided binoculars so we could observe them safely and responsibly from the ship itself, without disturbing the animals. We spotted the maximum number of bears while sailing through Arctic Canada.

Another unique,  yet rare creature we spotted is Narwhals, often referred to as the “unicorns of the sea” due to their long, spiral tusks, can also be found in the waters around Greenland. Additionally, the Arctic skies are home to a diverse range of bird species, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Birdwatching enthusiasts will find Greenland to be an incredible destination.

We saw a total of 7 polar bears through the voyage. Lucky 🙂
..and humpback whales right from our cabin balcony. Surreal!!

6. Midnight Sun and Northern Lights

If you visit Arctic Canada and Greenland during summer months (June-July), you can expect 24 hours of daylight here, which makes exploring it so easy and joyful! If like us, you visit during August, there are also chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. While we got the midnight sun and 24 hours of sunlight for more than half our cruise, we started getting a couple of hours of darkness each night towards the end of August. And on a couple of these short nights, we ended up seeing the most magical Northern Lights. We’ve included a photo but it is hard to describe the feeling of the sky lighting up as you are in the middle of the water, surrounded by mountains on all sides.

This is the view at 2a.m near Nunavut, Canada. 🙂
couple under northern lights in greenland canada on a cruise ship
And we were so lucky to witness Northern Lights on the last 2 nights of our voyage. Bliss!!

And that’s it – the end of an amazing polar expedition to Greenland and Canada with Ponant. We came back from this trip with our eyes swimming with visions of polar bears, northern lights, and rainbows in the Arctic wilderness. And I can’t wait to tell my friends and family about it and force them to experience it for themselves 😉

 

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If you’re contemplating booking a cruise to Antarctica or Greenland, you MUST check out our writeup for the best offers right now

Want to pack for an extreme winter holiday? Here is The Ultimate Packing Checklist

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Luxurious Expeditions Around The World With PONANT and Bruised Passports https://www.bruisedpassports.com/ponant-bruised-passports-luxury-cruises-arctic-antarctica Sat, 19 Aug 2023 19:16:52 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?page_id=19646 We have been Ponant customers for over 4 years now, but in 2023 Ponant appointed Bruised Passports as its first...

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We have been Ponant customers for over 4 years now, but in 2023 Ponant appointed Bruised Passports as its first ever ambassadors in Asia. Given our love for the brand, this felt organic to us. And the first thing we wanted to do, as part of this, was get Bruised Passports readers deals that weren’t available anywhere else in the market. Read on below for how you can avail them

About PONANT

Ponant are world leaders in making their guests experience remote panoramas responsibly in ultimate luxury. Their Polar expeditions – to the North Pole and Antarctica – are legendary in the industry. And not just because of the polar bears or penguins you might see!

Think innovative and cutting-edge hybrid electric vessels, no single-use plastic, 5 course menus, 24X7 butler service, the finest of wines and cheeses on board, educational talks by researchers and scientists that work with Ponant to protect remote Polar regions and promote responsible tourism in the areas. It is a combination that is truly hard to beat in the industry. For lovers of warmer tropical adventures, Ponant have introduced several shorter voyages to South America, Australia, and French Polynesia too.

Exclusive deals and offers on PONANT for Bruised Passports Readers

Here are some exclusive offers available exclusively to Bruised Passports readers, valid for all new bookings made till 30th June 2024:

    • Offer 1: EUR 900 flight credit per person (which you can use to book your flights to Paris) on the following sailings to the Arctic region of Svalbard  (we have done this voyage a few years ago and can’t recommend it enough – you can read about our experience here)
    • Offer 2: EUR 1500 flight credit per person (which you can use to book flights from your hometown to South America) towards Antarctica sailings listed here. We strongly suggest the one starting on 2nd March as this is a great time to observe the penguins and seals
    • Offer 3: EUR 250 per person onboard credit – you can spend this when you are aboard your PONANT voyage – be it massages in the onboard spa or in the onboard boutique to buy your favourite things. You will always get this credit irrespective of any other offer listed above that you will be availing

Note: OfferT&Cs apply. You will always get Offer 3 , no matter which other offer you choose. More importantly, there’ll always be exciting offers that might not be listed here, so always recommended to reach out to the email address mentioned below along with your preferred voyage/expedition 🙂 

couple under northern lights in greenland canada on a cruise ship
And we were so lucky to witness Northern Lights on the last 2 nights of our voyage. Bliss!!

How to avail the special offers on PONANT available for Bruised Passports Readers

If you’re contemplating making that bucket list trip to Antarctica or perhaps a Northern Lights cruise to the Arctic North, here is what we suggest doing:

  1. Head over to ponant.com and shortlist the voyages that interest you.
  2. Email bruisedpassports@ponant.com with your shortlisted voyage and include the code BPVIP_PONANT in your email.
  3. An exclusive Ponant travel manager will contact you, answer any questions you might have, and help you process your entire booking from start to finish

We have written several detailed articles about our experiences with Ponant, that will help you understand what exactly to expect when you go on a Ponant voyage. Here are some of our favourites so far and we are constantly adding to that list:

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Exploring the surreal Arctic North on Ponant’s L’Austral https://www.bruisedpassports.com/cruises/svalbard-norway-luxury-cruise-review-ponants-laustral https://www.bruisedpassports.com/cruises/svalbard-norway-luxury-cruise-review-ponants-laustral#respond Sun, 06 Aug 2023 09:49:24 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19629 It is not often travellers get to experience unparalleled luxury in remote panoramas. To us, that unique combination is something...

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It is not often travellers get to experience unparalleled luxury in remote panoramas. To us, that unique combination is something French luxury brand Ponant has mastered over the years. Where else will you find haute cuisine and menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs serves in remote wilderness with sightings of Polar Bears, penguin colonies, or whales, and icebergs.

We’ve been on several voyages on Ponant vessels, including an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica, but today we wanted to talk about another memorable and educational voyage – to the Arctic North. Ponant offers various itineraries in the Arctic North that go to Svalbard Islands, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean; Greeland; and the Thule region in Canada (more on that below)

Polar Bears in Svalbard

 

L’Austral itineraries visit Longyearbyen, one of the Northernmost settlements in the world

 

Packing for an Arctic Voyage

It’s a truly tricky to pack for an Arctic Voyage because you need to pack everything from thermal leggings and tops to black-tie outfits and medicines. Fortunately for you, we have a detailed packing list for winter cruises right here – treat it as a checklist and it will make sure you are absolutely well prepared for your voyage 🙂

Just in case you forget something, there is a small shop onboard with clothing items and accessories. However we would recommend double-checking your packing before departing on your Arctic voyage -, especially medicines, toiletries, and tech equipment.

Packing well is important for this cruise – read our detailed list before you pack!

 

Ponant’s L’Austral – Rooms, Dining, and layout

Embarking on a cruise aboard Ponant’s ship L’Austral promises an unparalleled experience of luxury, sophistication, and world-class amenities. Think of it as a journey that redefines modern cruising.

Dining options on L’Austral: A Gastronomic Adventure at Sea

Dining is truly the highlight of Ponant voyages and L’Austral takes dining to new heights with its exceptional culinary offerings. The ship boasts multiple dining venues, each promising a unique gastronomic journey. The main restaurant usually has a buffet style setting, with menus that change each day – expect everything from gourmet French delicacies to pizzas and a large salad bar.

Dinner is usually a more intimate and exclusive experience as L’Austral has a specialty restaurant that offers sit-down dinners with carefully curated menus. Expect premium ingredients and exquisite presentation and truly exception wine lists.

But that’s not all. The main lounge offers live entertainment, cocktails, and panoramic views, making it an ideal space to unwind after a day of exploration. The outdoor bar, situated on deck, offers refreshing drinks, allowing guests to savour panoramas while socialising with fellow travellers. My favourite part is the view from the swimming pool, next the bar, on L’Austral. Elegance and sophistication are the two words we would use to sum up the dining opportunities on board!

 

Expect gourmet meals cooked with the finest ingredients on Ponant’s L’Austral

 

Outdoor snacks with views to match in Svalbard

Rooms on L’Austral

The staterooms and suites on L’Austral exemplify luxury and comfort – think plush furnishings, neutral colour palettes, bedside lights and luxurious yet refillable Diptyque toiletries, refillable glass water bottles that ensure a restful and responsible holiday. Beds are comfortable and we slept like babies most days at sea. Most cabins are equipped with balconies (a must for this part of the world!). And offer butler service to all guests – room service is free, 24 hours a day. The room service menu has a range of salads and comfort food such as burgers and sandwiches, which can be delivered to your cabin free of charge, anytime of the day.A true luxury at sea!

But if you want even more space, the suites offer additional space by way of a living area and storage. These are ideal if you’re travelling with family or for a special occasion such as a honeymoon.

 

Stateroom with balcony on Ponant L’Austral

 

Spa & gym facilities on L’Austral

You can spend all your time staring at panoramas, but you must take out some time to exercise to those views at the gym. And if you’re in no mood to exercise on holiday, then do book yourself a relaxing treatment at the onboard spa on L’Austral. From rejuvenating massages to invigorating Sothys facials to Kerastase hair treatments, the spa’s skilled therapists pamper guests with personalised therapies. Nothing comes close to the unique combination of soothing aromas, and ocean views – the ideal environment for unwinding and recharging.

 

What to expect from Svalbard and the Arctic North

Ponant offers several itineraries, ranging from 1 week to 3 weeks in the Arctic North. These go to some stunning places such as the Northernmost town in the world, the remote villages of Greenland and Canada’s Arctic North. However if you are short on time, there is one we would highly recommend, it is the one week itinerary to Svalbard that offers all the highlights of the Arctic North in just a week!

As most of these areas are well and truly remote and the weather unpredictable, it is hard to know what exactly to expect on a day. However here are some highlights visitors can expect

  • Polar Bears: Whichever itinerary you pick you are bound to have polar bear sightings in the Arctic North. Let me tell you – there is truly nothing that comes close to observing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat
  • Northern Lights: If you choose a winter voyage, then you will be able to see the incredible Aurora Borealis, not just on the ports but from your ship too. Goosebumps are bound to follow
  • Sailing and kayaking between ice floes and icebergs in remote areas is truly an experience like no other. The fjords are so beautiful that it almost seems like you are in a picture postcard or a film!
  • You will experience what life looks like in some of the northernmost villages in the world
  • From Beluga Whales and Orcas to Seals and Humpback Whales, you can expect some amazing sightings each day – it was this that left us completely awestruck!
  • From puffins to sea gulls to skuas, you will see dozens of gorgeous birds in Svalbard and the Arctic North

 

I hope this gave you a great idea of what to expect on Ponant’s L’Austral. This voyage was truly one that we won’t forget in a lifetime. If you’re looking for unparalleled luxury in some of the most remote areas of the world, this voyage is the one for you!

Want to book an Arctic Expedition on Ponant? We have a lot of unmissable offers right now – do check them out before booking your trip

Wild birds on ice sculptures in Svalbard

Imagine seeing the Northern Lights from Ponant’s L’Austral during winter time

 

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5 Unbeatable Reasons to Plan a Road Trip in Karnataka, India https://www.bruisedpassports.com/india/5-unbeatable-reasons-to-plan-a-road-trip-in-karnataka-india https://www.bruisedpassports.com/india/5-unbeatable-reasons-to-plan-a-road-trip-in-karnataka-india#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2023 13:17:19 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19571 There’s something magical about hitting the open road, and Karnataka, a state in southern India, offers a plethora of stunning...

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There’s something magical about hitting the open road, and Karnataka, a state in southern India, offers a plethora of stunning destinations that make for an unforgettable road trip. From majestic waterfalls and colourful flower fields to luxury retreats and rich historical sites, Karnataka has it all. Here are five unbeatable reasons why planning a road trip in Karnataka should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

If you’ve already made up your mind about a road trip in Karnataka, then read this detailed guide to a road trip in Karnataka. You can also check car rentals and compare prices here 

Karnataka is ideal for a road trip

1. Waterfalls in Karnataka: Natural wonders by the dozen 

Karnataka boasts some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in India, and embarking on a road trip allows you to witness nature’s symphony at its finest. One must-visit destination is Jog Falls, located on the border of Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts. Cascading from a height of over 800 feet, Jog Falls is the second-highest plunge waterfall in the country. The roar of the water as it plunges into the rocky gorge below is a mesmerising experience that will leave you in awe.

Another gem is the stunning Abbey Falls near Madikeri in Coorg. Surrounded by lush greenery, the water plunges into a picturesque pool, creating a postcard-perfect scene. The drive to reach these falls is an adventure in itself, with scenic routes cutting through coffee plantations and misty hills.

Karnataka has beautiful waterfalls

2. Flower Fields in Gundlupet: A Kaleidoscope of Colors

If you have a penchant for vibrant landscapes, a visit to the flower fields in Gundlupet is an absolute must. Located at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Gundlupet is renowned for its vast stretches of colourful flower fields, especially sunflowers and marigolds. These fields paint the entire region in a kaleidoscope of colours during the month of August. The exact date of bloom varies from year to year, but the month of August is a safe option to plan this trip!

The best time to witness this breathtaking sight is during the winter months when the flowers are in full bloom. A road trip through Gundlupet will not only captivate your senses but also provide an opportunity to capture picture-perfect moments amidst the blossoms

Flower fields in Gundlupet, Karnataka

3. Evolve Back Coorg: Luxurious Retreat in Harmony with Nature

No road trip is complete without a bit of indulgence, and Karnataka’s luxury hotels, such as Evolve Back Coorg, offer sustainable opulence amid the tranquil surroundings of Coorg’s coffee estates. Formerly known as Orange County, this lavish resort takes pride in its commitment to ecological conservation, providing guests with an exquisite stay that embraces the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Evolve Back Coorg allows you to unwind in private pool villas that blend seamlessly with the natural environment. From rejuvenating Ayurvedic spa treatments to fine dining experiences that showcase local flavors, this sustainable luxury hotel ensures you experience the best of Coorg’s charm and elegance. There are also so many coffee and spice plantations int he area, so make sure you reserve a day for exploring those.

Sunset at a luxury hotel - Evolve Back, Coorg
Sunset at a luxury hotel – Evolve Back, Coorg

4. Ideal for Romantic Honeymoons and Family Holidays

Whether you’re planning a romantic escape with your significant other or a fun-filled family adventure, Karnataka’s road trip destinations cater to all types of travelers. The picturesque landscapes, serene backdrops, and myriad of activities make it an ideal destination for honeymooners seeking intimate moments.

For families, the region’s diverse offerings ensure that everyone has a memorable time. From wildlife safaris in Bandipur National Park to trekking opportunities in the Western Ghats, every member of the family can find something that piques their interest.

Karnataka is the ideal place to plan a romantic getaway or a family holiday

5. Amazing Views and History in Hampi

For history buffs and landscape admirers, a road trip to Hampi is a treasure trove of wonder. Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once the capital of the historic Vijayanagara Empire. Today, its ruins stand as a testament to the empire’s grandeur and architectural brilliance.

Exploring the vast expanse of Hampi on wheels allows you to witness awe-inspiring views of ancient temples, royal complexes, and rock-cut monuments. The iconic stone-chariot of the Vittala Temple and the Virupaksha Temple’s towering gopuram are among the must-see historical marvels.

As you drive through the surreal landscapes of Hampi, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time, surrounded by the remnants of a glorious past

Karnataka has history and views for days

 

To sum it up, a road trip in Karnataka is an adventure like no other. From witnessing natural sites like waterfalls and flower fields to indulging in luxurious retreats and immersing yourself in history, Karnataka’s diverse offerings promise an unforgettable journey. So, fuel up your vehicle, pack your bags, and hit the road to discover the true essence of this captivating Indian state. Whether you seek romance, family fun, or a rendezvous with history, Karnataka welcomes you with open arms and boundless beauty.

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Wine country : Plan a relaxing holiday or honeymoon in Tuscany, Italy https://www.bruisedpassports.com/italy/wine-country-plan-a-relaxing-holiday-or-honeymoon-in-tuscany-italy https://www.bruisedpassports.com/italy/wine-country-plan-a-relaxing-holiday-or-honeymoon-in-tuscany-italy#respond Sat, 15 Jul 2023 12:52:03 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19398 Tuscany, with its rolling hills, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, is a region in central Italy that has a...

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Tuscany, with its rolling hills, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, is a region in central Italy that has a firm fan club in pop culture – you’ve probably seen it in countless TV shows and movies. But let me tell you – it deserves all the hype – and more!  A holiday to Tuscany offers an excuse to experience Italian life beyond popular cities like Florence and Rome.

Tuscany offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly Italian way of life – La Dolce Vita. The best way to experience the region’s charm and authenticity, in our opinion, is through rustic stays and exploration of offbeat villages. In this article, we will delve into that perfect road trip in Tuscany and the concept of agritourismo. We will also highlight some offbeat villages that unveil the hidden treasures of Tuscany. Let’s go….

Views for days – Tuscany makes for the perfect road trip in Italy 🙂

 

Renting a car in Tuscany

If you’re keen to explore authentic Italian life in Tuscany, we highly recommend renting a car from the airport you land at. You can compare prices and book a car here

 

Hotels and Agro Stays in Tuscany

Agro stays, also known as agriturismo, provide a distinctive opportunity to experience Tuscany’s rural life firsthand. These accommodations are often charming farmhouses or country estates, where visitors can stay and embrace the region’s agricultural traditions. Agro stays offer comfortable lodging, traditional Tuscan cuisine, and a chance to participate in farming activities like grape harvesting, olive picking, or cheese making. Do not underestimate the luxuries offered by these stays – a lot of hotels in the area walk the fine balance between maintaining their rustic charm while offering bespoke luxury really well.

The most popular region for agro stays is the Chianti region, famous for its vineyards and wineries. Staying at a Chianti agriturismo allows guests to witness the winemaking process, taste exquisite wines, and enjoy breathtaking views of the vine-covered hills. An amazing option here is Villa Sassolini. But since Chianti is one of the most popular options, it can often be quite expensive during peak season! This is why we would recommend visiting Chianti on a day trip and staying elsewhere, especially if you are visiting Tuscany during peak season.

A couple of such options include Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort or Borgo San Vincezo in Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its picturesque landscapes. Agriturismos and hotels in this area provide a serene escape amidst rolling hills, cypress-lined roads, and vibrant sunflower fields. Guests can relax, enjoy farm-fresh meals, and explore nearby villages, making it an idyllic retreat. We stayed in the hamlet of Castelnuovo Barardenga and would highly recommend a cute villa in this part.

If you are on your honeymoon or budget is not a constraint, we highly recommend a stay at Castello Di Velona – a truly special hotel that captures the essence of Tuscany! It is the kind of place you wouldn’t want to leave – and truth be told, you needn’t leave it. The views, the experience, and the food will leave you spellbound!

Agrotourismo hotels in Tuscany are perfect if you enjoy rustic luxury

 

Iconic sunsets in offbeat villages – this is Agriturismo Baccaleno

Offbeat Villages in Tuscany

While larger Italian cities like Florence and Milan often steal the limelight, Tuscany’s offbeat villages offer a glimpse into a quieter, more authentic side of the region. These hidden gems are brimming with history, local traditions, and charming architecture. We highly recommend exploring a few of these during your time in Tuscany

  1. Pitigliano, also known as the village with ancient caves. Visit the Orsini Fortress, explore the Jewish Quarter, and indulge in local delicacies at the village’s quaint eateries.
  2. Montepulciano, a medieval hilltop town known for stunning views. Stroll through its narrow streets, visit the beautiful Piazza Grande, and explore the ancient wine cellars that produce its famous Vino Nobile wine.
  3. Volterra, a testimony to the rich history of Tuscany. Visit the Roman Theater, the Etruscan Arch, and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. This will give you an opportunity to witness traditional alabaster craftsmanship, a specialty of the region.
  4. Anghiari, a charming village famous for its medieval character. Wander through its stone-paved streets, admire the 13th-century walls, and visit the Museo della Battaglia. It is so peaceful here, you’re bound to fall in love
  5. San Gimignano: Known as the “Town of Towers,” San Gimignano is famous for its medieval skyline adorned with 14 remaining towers. Explore the UNESCO-listed historic center, sample the local Vernaccia and drink in the Italian air!

 

Things to See and Do in Tuscany

Tuscany is a region of extraordinary beauty, where every corner seems like a postcard-worthy scene. From rolling hills and vineyards to medieval villages and breathtaking coastlines, Tuscany offers countless photogenic spots. Here are some beautiful and photogenic locations in Tuscany:

  1. Val d’Orcia: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a photographer’s dream. The gentle, undulating hills, cypress-lined roads, and charming farmhouses offer a quintessential Tuscan landscape that you will definitely want to photograph.
  2. Pienza: Known as the “Ideal City of the Renaissance,” Pienza offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The Piazza Pio II, with its well-preserved architecture and panoramic vistas, is a must-visit spot for photographers.
  3. San Gimignano: Famous for its medieval towers, San Gimignano’s skyline is an enchanting sight. Explore the narrow streets, capture the ancient architecture, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top of the town.
  4. Cinque Terre: Although technically not in Tuscany, the colourful villages of Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast are a short distance away and you can combine a visit to Cinque Terre with your trip to Tuscany. The vibrant houses perched on cliffs, overlooking the azure sea, provide endless opportunities for stunning photographs.
  5. Florence: Chances are you will land at Florence airport in order to reach Tuscany. So do spend a day at the beginning or end of your trip exploring the birthplace of Renaissance. Florence offers iconic landmarks like the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Piazzale Michelangelo. The city’s architecture, art, and picturesque streets make it a treasure trove for photographers.
  6. Montepulciano: This medieval hilltop town is not only famous for its wine but also for its photogenic qualities. The Piazza Grande and the surrounding streets provide captivating backdrops for capturing the essence of Tuscany.
  7. Lucca: Encircled by medieval walls, Lucca is a charming city with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and well-preserved architecture. The city’s unique atmosphere and stunning views from the Guinigi Tower make it a photographer’s paradise.
  8. The Leaning Tower of Pisa: Located in Pisa, this iconic monument is a must-visit spot for photography enthusiasts. It is also easy to combine a visit to Pisa with a relaxed vacation in Tuscany. Play with perspectives and capture creative shots with this famous leaning tower.
  9. Abbey of San Galgano: The roofless abbey, with its Gothic architecture and a legendary sword in the stone, provides a dramatic and mystical setting for capturing ethereal images.
  10. Saturnia Thermal Baths: The hot springs in Saturnia offer not only relaxation but also a stunning natural backdrop. Capture the cascading waterfalls and steam rising from the thermal pools for a unique photography experience.
  11. Everywhere you go you will find olive oil, wines, cheeses, and pastas sources from local vineyards and groves. Make sure you take your time to relish all the local food as it is truly the highlight of any stay in Tuscany.

 

Tuscany boasts of so much history

 

One thing is for sure – you will fall in love with the slow life in Tuscany and not want to leave

 

And that’s it. Everything you need to plan an amazing trip to Tuscany. Tuscany is a visual feast, offering countless photogenic spots at every turn. Whether it’s the landscapes, historical sites, or cultural gems, Tuscany’s beauty will leave you so inspired. One thing is for sure – you will definitely not feel like coming back!

Have a few extra days? You can combine this trip to Tuscany with the most scenic roadtrip in the Dolomites, Italy

 

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A slow week in Luang Prabang, Laos + Why you should visit Laos https://www.bruisedpassports.com/asia/one-week-guide-luang-prabang-laos-laos https://www.bruisedpassports.com/asia/one-week-guide-luang-prabang-laos-laos#comments Mon, 10 Jul 2023 11:51:53 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=17882 Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While its neighbouring countries, such...

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Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While its neighbouring countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam get so much hype on social media, Laos is still relatively under-rated! However with its lush landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and serene atmosphere, Laos offers a unique and authentic travel experience.

Instead of packing our itinerary and making it hectic, we decided to spend a slow week in Luang Prabang. We based ourselves in Luang Prabang and spent our time exploring new things everyday. The city boasts of French influences and has some of the best cafés and bakeries in the country.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore a 7-day itinerary for visiting Laos from India, with a focus on the enchanting city of Luang Prabang. From accommodation options and must-visit attractions to delightful culinary experiences, let’s dive into why Luang Prabang needs to be on your travel bucketlist

Laos is an offbeat gem

Flights and visa information

Luang Prabang is well connected to most major cities. If you are flying from Delhi, there are convenient flights to Laos while Thailand. If you have an Indian Passport, Laos offers an easy e-visa. Apply a week before you leave and make sure you carry a print out of your e-visa to the airport as well.

Best Restaurants in Luang Prabang

  1. Tamarind is well known for its authentic Lao cuisine. You can also take cooking classes and learn local recipes here.
  2. Manda de Laos offers an elegant setting and traditional Lao dishes with a modern twist.
  3. Night Market Food Stalls in Luang Prabang are in a league all their own. Sample a variety of local street food, including grilled meats, noodle soups, and a really cute hotdog lady who has a fan club of her own 😉
  4. Saffron Coffee brew a great cup of coffee. Try their falafel wraps and lattes – thank us later!
  5. Joma Bakery Café also has decent coffee. The pass is a mixed bunch – their breakfast burritos are great but we would suggest avoiding their burgers!
  6. Due to the lasting French legacy, Luang Prabang is home to the cutest bakeries – try fresh baguettes and pastries at the likes of La Banneton Café
You must explore the dining scene of Laos – whether it be the small cafés or the night markets

 

Saffron Coffee in Luang Prabang is perfect for a cuppa

Day 1- Arrival in Luang Prabang

Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, settle into your chosen accommodation. For a blend of luxury and traditional charm, consider staying in one of the city’s boutique hotels, such as Maison Dalabua or 3 Nagas Luang Prabang MGallery. Take a leisurely stroll along the quaint streets of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, soaking in the French colonial architecture and vibrant markets. Make sure you acquaint yourself with all the landmarks of Luang Prabang such as Sunset Point, Bamboo Bridge, and Big Bridge.

In the evening, visit the bustling Luang Prabang Night Market, a vibrant display of local handicrafts, textiles, and street food. This is the perfect place to taste small portions of local foods and also acquaint yourself with the rhythm of Luang Prabang.

 

Day 2: Exploring the Temples and Kuang Si Falls

Start your day with a visit to the sacred Wat Xieng Thong temple, known for its ornate golden stupa and intricate carvings. Continue to the Royal Palace Museum, which showcases the country’s rich history. In the afternoon, head to the stunning Kuang Si Falls, a series of cascading turquoise pools amidst lush forests. Take a refreshing swim or simply enjoy the serene beauty of the falls. You can opt for a guided day tour with a local company or rent your own scooty and drive to Kuang Si Falls

One of the must-visit destinations in Laos is the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall. Located near Luang Prabang, this multi-tiered waterfall cascades down into azure blue pools, creating a picturesque and refreshing oasis. Visitors can take a dip in the cool waters, surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sound of nature. The site also includes a rescue center for Asiatic black bears, allowing visitors to observe these magnificent creatures up close.

Kuang Si Falls is a perfect day trip from Luang Prabang

 

Day 3: Alms Giving and Mekong River Cruise

Witness the ancient Buddhist tradition of alms giving as saffron-clad monks make their morning procession through the streets of Luang Prabang. Afterward, embark on a scenic Mekong River cruise, where you can admire the picturesque landscapes and visit the sacred Pak Ou Caves, home to thousands of Buddha statues.

You can rent a scooter, walk, or hail a tuk tuk to explore Luang Prabang

 

Day 4: Pak Ou Caves and Traditional Arts

Start the day with a trip to the local morning market to experience the vibrant local culture. Then, venture to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, where you can learn about the diverse ethnic groups of Laos. In the evening, indulge in a traditional Lao dance and music performance at the Royal Ballet Theatre.

Day 5: Mount Phousi

Climb the 328 steps of Mount Phousi to catch a breathtaking sunrise or sunset panorama of Luang Prabang. Explore the hill’s sacred temples and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.

Day 6: Cooking Class and UXO Museum

We love taking cooking classes and learning new cuisines when we travel, whether it be in Cambodia or in Peru. And Luang Prabang was no different. If you have an extra afternoon, you can immerse yourself in Lao cuisine with a cooking class where you can learn to prepare traditional dishes like sticky rice, laap, and green papaya salad. Afterward, visit the UXO Museum to understand the lasting impact of the Vietnam War and the history of the area

Day 7: Morning Alms Giving and Departure

Experience the morning alms giving ritual once again if you want before bidding farewell to Luang Prabang. Take a final stroll through the town’s vibrant streets, collecting souvenirs and memories, before heading to the airport for your return journey.

Luang Prabang is ideal for slow travel and you will not want to leave

Extending your stay in Laos

Laos is often known as the “Land of a Million Elephants” and it truly has it all – from serene waterfalls to mystical caves and charming traditional villages. Slow travel in Laos is a unique and enriching travel experience but if you want to pack your itinerary, then here are a few offbeat scenic spots in Laos that you must visit:

  •  Kong Lor Cave in central Laos is a hidden wonder. This 7.5-kilometer-long cave system stretches through limestone mountains, and exploring it by boat offers a truly otherworldly experience. As you navigate through the dark and surreal caves, you’ll come across stunning stalagmites and stalactites, underground rivers, and hidden chambers. The cave is steeped in folklore, adding to its mystique and allure.
  • The Plain of Jars, located in the northeastern part of the country, is another unique attraction. This vast archaeological landscape is dotted with thousands of ancient stone jars, believed to be burial sites dating back thousands of years. The purpose and origin of these jars remain a mystery, creating an air of intrigue and fascination. The surrounding countryside offers stunning vistas, with rolling hills and rice paddies providing a serene backdrop.
  • If you enjoy homestays or traditional village life, a visit to Muang Ngoi Neua is highly recommended. This remote village, nestled on the banks of the Nam Ou River, offers an authentic glimpse into rural Laos. With no roads and limited electricity, Muang Ngoi Neua exudes a peaceful ambiance. Visitors can embark on scenic hikes through the surrounding mountains, explore nearby caves, or simply relax and soak up the tranquility of the village.
  • Another unique experience in Laos is the Bolaven Plateau. Located in southern Laos, this fertile highland is known for its coffee plantations, waterfalls, and ethnic villages. Trekking through the lush greenery, you’ll encounter thunderous waterfalls like Tad Fane and Tad Lo, where you can take a refreshing dip or simply enjoy the awe-inspiring natural beauty. The plateau is also famous for its coffee, offering opportunities to visit coffee plantations and learn about the traditional production methods.
  • If you love experiential travel, then one of the most unique festivals in Laos is the Boun Bang Fai, or the Rocket Festival. Held annually in various villages across the country, this vibrant event celebrates the arrival of the rainy season. Locals construct giant rockets and launch them into the sky, accompanied by music, dancing, and colourful parades and parties everywhere. The festival is not only a spectacle to behold but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and traditions.
Luang Prabang is under rated and absolutely gorgeous

That’s it – everything you need to entice you into planning a trip to Laos – we promise you the country will offer a wealth of experiences that promise an unforgettable Asian vacation. Whether it’s exploring mystical caves, immersing yourself in traditional village life, or witnessing unique festivals, Laos has something for everyone. With its untouched natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, this lesser-known destination is waiting to be discovered and appreciated by intrepid travellers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures. Hope you make it there soon 🙂

 

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Laos, don’t forget to leave them below. We will try to answer them asap 🙂

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5 reasons you MUST visit the East End of London https://www.bruisedpassports.com/london/5-reasons-you-must-visit-the-east-end-of-london https://www.bruisedpassports.com/london/5-reasons-you-must-visit-the-east-end-of-london#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2023 05:19:39 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19451 The East End of London offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and vibrant urban experiences – it is one...

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The East End of London offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and vibrant urban experiences – it is one of the most dynamic areas of London. From delectable fish and chips to eclectic markets, indie clubs, street art, and specialty coffee, this area has something to entice every visitor. In this article, we wanted to touch on five compelling reasons why you should make the East End of London your next travel destination

Spot Savi?London’s East End is colourful, exciting, and a must visit
  1. Poppies Fish and Chips: No visit to the East End is complete without indulging in the quintessentially British dish of fish and chips. Poppies Fish and Chips, located in Spitalfields, offers a delightful culinary experience that takes you back to the golden era of the 1940s. From the authentic retro decor to the perfectly fried fish and crispy chips, Poppies provides an atmosphere of nostalgia and satisfaction. The generous portions, diverse menu options, and friendly service make Poppies a must-visit for food enthusiasts seeking a taste of traditional British cuisine.
  2. Spitalfields Market: A bustling hub of activity, Spitalfields Market combines history, shopping, and delectable food all in one place. This vibrant market dates back to the 17th century and continues to be a lively space filled with boutique shops, independent designers, and unique vendors. From vintage clothing and handmade crafts to contemporary art and antiques, there is something for every taste. After exploring the market’s offerings, you can treat yourself to a diverse range of cuisines, including street food stalls offering international delights. With its vibrant atmosphere and a mix of old and new, Spitalfields Market is a must-visit for any traveler seeking a vibrant and eclectic shopping experience.
  3. Indie Clubs and bars in Shoreditch : The East End of London is renowned for its thriving nightlife scene, and Shoreditch is at the heart of it all. Shoreditch is home to a plethora of Indie clubs, where you can immerse yourself in cutting-edge music, live performances, and a unique atmosphere. From intimate venues to larger spaces, Shoreditch offers something for all music tastes, from electronic beats to live bands. The area attracts talented musicians and DJs, making it a hotspot for emerging artists and an excellent opportunity to discover the next big thing in music. Whether you are a dedicated music fan or simply seeking a vibrant night out, Shoreditch is a must-visit destination in the East End.
  4. Street Art and Food in Brick Lane: Brick Lane, often referred to as the cultural heart of the East End, is a captivating street that showcases the area’s vibrant diversity. One of the most prominent attractions in Brick Lane is its stunning street art. Renowned artists have transformed the walls into captivating canvases, creating an outdoor art gallery for visitors to explore. The ever-changing artwork reflects the dynamic spirit of the area and offers a glimpse into the creative pulse of East London. Alongside the street art, Brick Lane is also famous for its diverse culinary scene. From Indian curry houses to bagel shops and trendy cafés, this multicultural hub caters to all tastes and budgets. Exploring Brick Lane’s street art while sampling delicious food from around the world is an experience that should not be missed.
  5. Specialty Third Wave Coffee at Nude Coffee Roasters: For coffee aficionados, a visit to the East End would be incomplete without experiencing the specialty Third Wave coffee culture. Nude Coffee Roasters, located in the heart of Shoreditch, is a renowned coffee destination that caters to those seeking an exceptional caffeine fix. Nude Coffee Roasters prides itself on ethically sourced beans, expert roasting techniques, and skilled baristas who craft each cup with precision and passion. The inviting ambiance and knowledgeable staff create a welcoming environment for coffee enthusiasts to indulge in the finest brews. Whether you prefer a classic espresso or an intricate pour-over, Nude Coffee Roasters will satisfy your cravings and elevate your coffee experience.
Poppies Fish n Chips is the perfect stop for an English meal

 

There are so many iconic food stops in London’s East End that you will be spoilt for choice

I hope we’ve convinced you The East End of London offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and culinary delights. From the retro charm of Poppies Fish and Chips to the vibrant street art of Brick Lane, and from the eclectic atmosphere of Spitalfields Market to the Indie music scene in Shoreditch, this vibrant district has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of experiences that the East End has to offer and create unforgettable memories in one of London’s most exciting destinations

Want to stay in the hip East End of London – we suggest Citizen M Shoreditch or One Hundred Shoreditch – both amazing options. The hotels have all the amenities you would expect from luxury hotels with a giant dose of cool!

Want to read more about London? Don’t forget to read The Ultimate Guide to London here

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