Tag Archives: Lonely Planet

In pics: Wildlife in India :: Lonely Planet India


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India is home to a rich and diverse wildlife. From the tigers, rhinoceros, leopards to various species of birds, wildlife enthusiasts will always have something to explore.

Here is a series of images to keep you in touch with nature.

A herd of deer at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand

A herd of deer at Jim Corbett National Park in UttarakhandImage courtesy: ©Dchauy/Shutterstock.com

The national animal- Tiger- relaxing in its natural habitat at Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan

The national animal- Tiger- relaxing in its natural habitat at Ranthambore National Park in RajasthanImage courtesy: ©Cezary Wojtkowski/Shutterstock.com

Watch the Indian leopard on a tree-top at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This is an endangered species.

Watch the Indian leopard on a tree-top at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This is an endangered species.Image courtesy: ©Santanu Banik/Shutterstock.com

Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is rich in flora and fauna

Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is rich in flora and faunaImage courtesy: ©Dreame Walker/Shutterstock.com

Mudumalai National Park is the best place to spot wildlife in Tamil Nadu.

Mudumalai National Park is the best place to spot wildlife in Tamil Nadu.Image courtesy: ©Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.com

Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to India’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros.

Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to India’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros.Image courtesy: ©PACO COMO/Shutterstock.com

The Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a bird lover's delight.

The Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a bird lover’s delight.Image courtesy: ©manisa/Shutterstock.com

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Domestic flights to resume operations, here’s what to keep in mind :: Lonely Planet India

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As the world begins to accept its “new normal” as relaxations from the Covid-19 lockdown begin, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken the decision to resume flights from 25th May 2020. This news has come as a respite to many. Here are some “flying” guidelines that have been released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Follow the norms

Social distancing and minimum touch

Digital payments and use of authorized taxis

Baggage limitations – only one check-in bag and one cabin bag allowed

Do’s:

Ensure web check-in and obtain a boarding pass

Ensure wearing a mask before entering the terminal

Take all precautions during transit to airport, to prevent infection

Dont’s:

Passenger should not travel if he or she is staying in a containment zone

A passenger who has been tested positive for Covid-19 should not travel

For detailed information into the guidelines issued by the government, check here.

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Photo story: Virtual travel from home :: Lonely Planet India


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While most of the world is staying indoors during this global pandemic, some die-hard travellers are waiting for things to get back on track and step out of town for a short break.

Let us draw our imaginations to where we can travel with our minds while staying at home.

Journey to your place of choice

Get onboard an imaginary train or a flight to reach your destination of choice.

Image courtesy: ©Liam Morrell/Shutterstock.com

Reading a book or munching on some spicy snacks will add-on the virtual experience.

Image courtesy: ©K.Janjira/Shutterstock.com

A visual treat for your eyes

Scrolling through YouTube, you may find numerous videos of the outdoors to give you a close ‘mind travel’ experience.

Recreate travel memories

Image courtesy: ©Protasov AN/Shutterstock.com

Want to relive your best travel memory? Organise your photo gallery trip-wise and get started…

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The food lovers can also treat their taste buds as they cook their favourite meal relished on a trip.

Pick your way of travelling from home and keep us posted!

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8 changes to expect when flying after COVID-19 :: Lonely Planet India

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One thing seems clear with COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes it: we’re in it for the long haul, and it has already changed the face of life as we know it. Airlines, which are always in a perpetual state of change, are no exception. Aviation journalist John Walton looks at the changes we can expect when we start flying again.

Costs will change

The first thing you’ll notice is when it comes time to book: the pricing of flights is likely to be different from what we’ve been used to.

You might have seen some really inexpensive flights at the moment, especially in the US where airlines are running empty planes as essential services as directed by the government. But once it makes sense for anyone to fly for non-essential reasons it will take quite some time — a matter of years, probably — to spin aviation back up to its 2019 levels.

As soon as we start getting into the phase of living with COVID-19, for the most part you can probably expect airlines to be pretty conservative about the number of planes they bring back into service, and at what speed. That will affect the number of seats they can offer for sale, and so prices are likely to rise.

You’re also likely be seeing smaller planes to start with, and if you’re not travelling from a major hub you’re more likely to have to connect.

There may well be nobody sitting next to you

One of the interim ways that airlines are trying to add some physical distance between passengers is by blocking off the seat next to you, sort of like what happens in European business class. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s part of the puzzle to try to keep passengers as safe as possible.

This isn’t sustainable long-term — it would mean that airlines could only sell two thirds of the seats onboard your average Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 — and if it continues you can probably expect ticket prices to rise accordingly.

Expect wearing face masks to be mandatory

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Masks, even non-medical ones, help to prevent people spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to those nearby. Canada is already mandating face masks when on the aircraft and when physically distancing themselves is not possible. So are some airports, including San Francisco.

You can expect other national aviation regulators to follow suit, and airlines themselves to get in on the act, either providing masks to passengers who don’t have them or requiring people to bring their own from home.

Bigger allowances for hand gel

We’ve all had the “liquids, gels and creams” rules drummed into our heads, where you can bring only bottles or pots smaller than 100 millilitres or 3.4 fluid ounces on board, but expect there to be a bit of a carve-out for hand gel.

Other regulators may well follow suit, which would be good news for anyone hoarding their last little bottle of hand gel for travel. Make sure you’re up to date on what you can bring.

Passengers are likely to be tested for symptoms

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Don’t expect to be able to get on a plane any time soon if you’re showing a fever or displaying any of the common symptoms of COVID-19.

During this time of travel restriction we’re already seeing passengers’ temperatures being taken, and airline staff are watching out for anyone who looks ill even more so than they already were.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has even been working on self-service kiosks that check respiratory and heart rates as well as their temperature.

Expect even more stringent tests in some places

Some airlines may require — or be required to ensure — passengers are checked in even more thoroughly. And on arrival, travellers should plan on being quarantined.

Many countries have been implementing two-week quarantine for arrivals, whether that’s through some sort of tracking bracelet device at their home or a hotel, or being taken directly to a quarantine location by authorities and being required to stay put.

Be prepared for airlines and governments to require new documentation

Scientists are learning more about COVID-19, how it spreads, how it affects people and how best to prevent people becoming infected every day.

As individual countries’ progress in slowing the disease’s progression continues — and continues to vary — it seems almost certain that they’ll be taking new and different measures. Some of these will be technical, like Singaporean-style track-and-trace applications on arrival, for example, and some will be medical, like quick testing at the airport.

That will lead to uncertainty and inconsistencies — even more so than travellers are already used to. Country X may require paperwork, while country Z requires something entirely different.

And that leads us to…

Image courtesy: ©travellight/Shutterstock.com

Expect all the uncertainty in the world

The key will be to stay as up to date as you can on the various requirements of the countries you’re travelling from, to and through, the airlines you’re flying and the airports you’re walking through.

At the end of the day, anyone travelling in the next phase of our COVID-19 reality will need to come to terms with the uncertainty and inconsistencies, to prepare the best they can, and to roll with them when they arrive.

This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.

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Virtually travelling to the birthplaces of famous painters and musicians :: Lonely Planet India


Monument of Ludwig van Beethoven in his hometown BonnImage courtesy: ©INTERPIXELS/Shutterstock.com

Whether it was ‘The Starry Night’ or ‘Eroica’, the 3rd symphony, they’ve had us regale in their art since time immemorial.

Here’s a look at the birthplaces of the most popular and revered artists the world has seen.

Beethoven: Bonn, Germany

Home to the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven, Bonn was the capital of Germany before it got shifted to Berlin.

Beethoven-Haus at Bongasse 20, where he spent his early childhood, contains a comprehensive collection of his works and has been turned into a museum. A short walk away is the Beethovenhalle, which holds a concert regularly by the Beethoven Orchestra.

An hour from Cologne, Bonn is a potpourri of culture, art and nature. The mile-long stretch called Museum Mile is a heady immersion into a variety of topics, from World War II at the Haus der Geschichte (or House of History) , art at the Kunstmuseum Bonn (the art museum) to Mathematics at Arithmeum that lays down the history of math.

Amrita Shergil: Budapest, Hungary

Eminent painter and artist extraordinaire of Indo-Hungarian parentage, Shergil spent much of her childhood in Budapest. The city of sparties, Budapest is a heady concoction of westernization and the Soviet legacy.

Hungarian parliament, Budapest at sunset

Hungarian parliament, Budapest at sunsetImage courtesy: ©TTstudio/Shutterstock.com

Separated by the Danube, the twin towns of Buda and Pest have a distinct personality. Buda’s Gellert Hill and Pest’s flat terrain! Buda’s quietness and Pest’s buzz and merrymaking! Buda’s air of imperial wealth resonates through the air as does Pest’s bourgeois vibe. Budapest is an eclectic mix of history and frolic.

The Parliament of Budapest is a remarkable spot often visited by the tourists. As is the historic wine cellar underneath the Buda Castle that houses many of Hungary’s wines and is a sommelier’s dream come true. While on the other side, Neo-Baroque Szechenyi baths or the popular Rudas Bath are de rigueur.

Leonado Da Vinci: Vinci, Tuscany, Italy

The small village of Vinci is a stark reminder of the slow life, one where you walk past the streets with no agenda in mind.

Aerial view of the small village of Vinci in Italy

Aerial view of the small village of Vinci in ItalyImage courtesy: ©stefano marinari/Shutterstock.com

Leonardo was born in the town of Anchiano, about 3 kms from Vinci. A walk down the picturesque olive-replete trail of Strada Verda, leads you to Anchiano. The Leonardo museum, a commemoration of his paintings and life, takes you on an audio-visual journey to witness the ‘Renaissance Man’.

Vinci is also known for its vineyards and olive grooves. There’s some hotels and agro-tourism farms as stay options. Vinci is easily connected to Florence, the journey which takes about an hour and 40 minutes to reach.

Mozart: Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, literally meaning the ‘salt fortress’ is a Unesco world heritage site nestled in the foothills of the Alps.

Mozart statue on Mozart Square in Salzburg

Mozart statue on Mozart Square in SalzburgImage courtesy: ©Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock.com

Dotted with several Baroque architecture buildings, the Hohensalzburg Castle; an ancient fortress with stunning white exteriors and the Mirabell Gardens; a verdant expanse of green that made them a rather picturesque setting for ‘Sound Of Music’, Salzburg is undoubtedly one of Austria’s most inspiring towns.

What makes it most popular though is the Mozart Museum, a three storey building that contains details of his childhood, his friends and patrons, the clavichord he used while composing ‘The Magic Flute’, his passion for opera and his symphonies.

While the old town reverberates with classical music, the eastern area of Salzburg is home to the Gaisberg Mountains, the perfect place to get a visitor’s adrenaline roaring.

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Teach your kids how to plan a city break :: Lonely Planet India

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If your family is missing travelling and your kids are knocking around at home due to lockdown or social distancing measures, maybe now is the time to teach them some of the essential skills needed to plan a trip. From research and budgeting to time management and some basic knowledge of the local language, preparing for a trip involves brainpower, and children from ages eight and up can start to apply theirs to create their dream city break.

To help them (and you) along the way check out our ideas below. Depending on everyone’s levels of enthusiasm you can create a simple fact file with some of the key things you need to know, or you can go all the way to a fully-fledged scrapbook with every aspect covered, pictures and annotations to accompany the plans and a career as a travel agent in the offing.

You can, of course, apply this approach to a bigger trip than a city break – but a shorter trip to a recognisable and geographically limited area is a good starting point. From there, the world’s your oyster when it comes to ‘Project: Plan Your Trip!’

Where to go?

As any experienced traveller will know, deciding where to go in the first place can be the hardest job. Under normal circumstances you might get the children to scan the offers from airlines for a good deal, but for now start with brainstorming a list of cities the children have heard of and get them to write down why they would like to visit.

A good place to start could be Lonely Planet Kids’ Cities Book, which gives a double-page guide to 86 different cities or simply use a map to see which cities are relatively near your home. Develop their decision-making and prioritisation skills by getting them to create a shortlist with pros and cons for each destination.

Book the basics

Once your new travel agents have decided on where to go, they need to think about some of the basics for the trip: when to visit, how to get there and where to stay. When to go will be largely determined by the weather so a quick google of ‘average weather in xx city’ will give them a good starting point. Tourist board sites for destinations will also provide a useful steer in terms of big events, depending on whether the kids want to avoid them or attend them!

When it comes to travelling, if you are lucky enough to have more than one transport option to your destination, this again necessitates the creation of a list of options with pros and cons – and the chance to have a discussion about sustainable alternatives to air travel.

Finding a place to stay

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The last key element that needs to be sorted is where to stay and, with the internet awash with accommodation options happy to take your money, this is where some important research skills can be taught. This is not a job to be rushed: the children need to work out whereabouts you want to stay (often articles in newspapers on a destination or sites such as Lonely Planet can help with this overview), and then plug the dates and location into a hotel site such as Booking.com to see what comes up.

Do not forget to start a budget tracker where all the main costs are included and noted. There are plenty of templates available on the internet which older children might find helpful but for younger children, it might be easier to keep it simple with lines for transport (including to and from the airport or train station), hotel, costs per day for eating, admission, and souvenirs.

Plan your time

Even if your family normally takes a more spontaneous approach to their trips, for the purposes of this exercise it pays for the kids to work out what you will do each day. A three-day plan is a good starting point: they need to establish a key highlight or attraction for each day and locate some good lunch and dinner spots which reflect the local culture and cuisine.

This could also be the point to throw in some language learning. After all what better way to remind the kids about why it’s good to know at least some words in another language than to role-play asking for a sandwich and a drink as part of your trip planning?

Create the packing list

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Another useful exercise which develops independent thinking, as well as planning skills, is to ask your mini travel agents to create their own packing list. This means thinking through what is needed for each element of the trip, from clothes to essentials such as money and passports, and onto anything entertainment-wise (cameras, books, chargers, but also specific clothing if you plan to do something that involves covering your shoulders or being smart, for example).

Telling the tale

With all the hard work that has gone into planning this trip, it seems a shame not to be able to take it. Unfortunately, we can’t magic up the ability to travel again but you could utilise a combination of virtual tours, images of the city, blogger sites and your kids’ amazing imaginations to get them to create their own recount.

Add imagery through sketches of famous landmarks or pictures from the web and get them to interview, via video call, people they know who have visited the city to build up a good sense of the place. This could even be the time to start them blogging.

This article has been taken from www.lonelyplanet.com.

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How this couple travels with a full-time job without exhausting savings :: Lonely Planet India


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We are a couple working on a 9 to 5 job, paying our bills, doing our taxes, and travelling out of passion. Travelling has been part of our life ever since we were kids and we enjoy everything about travelling. During our graduation and post-graduation days, travel became such an essential part of our life, we didn’t want our work to hamper our travel. So we figured out an amazing equation of “Work-Travel Life”, where the work we do pays off our bills and the travel refills our soul.

In order to get this right, it is essential to balance your work and travel well. To keep this sustainable, it is equally important to ace at your work. We strive hard towards achieving our goals, putting in those extra hours in order to build the organisation’s trust and confidence on us. We communicate about our planned leaves to our seniors and before setting off on those leaves we complete the task assigned to us, thereby acing our work and remain burden-free on our trips.

Planning Well

How is this possible? Well, the little secret is in planning. We plan trips for the entire year in the beginning of the year itself when we receive our holiday calendars. This helps in identifying those weekends and public holidays, with which we can club our leaves with and find an extended holiday. Combining one or two days along with public holidays and weekends gives you a good 4-5 days for your travel, and trust us, since we started our jobs, we have managed to cash-in on at least 8-9 trips in a year. That is how we manage to prioritize our work before going on leave and also save our leaves from getting exhausted.

Budget Prediction

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Coming to the tough part, how to not exhaust your savings? Well the key to that is accurate budget prediction. While we block our calendars for the year we also account for the locations to be visited during that time of the year along with the budget of the trip. This assigning of budget helps in allotting sufficient funds from our salary towards the trip and we stick to that budget during the trip. Planning in advance also guarantees you confirmed seats on the train and cheaper tickets for flights, not to forget best offers on stays. We also effectively use the reward points earned on our credit cards, which takes care for a trip or two for the year.

Go Local

The hotels and stay form a major part of the expense on the trip. So we choose the stays depending on our itinerary of the place. If our itinerary includes sightseeing and exploration, we opt for a mid-budget hotel or home stays. If the itinerary is a relaxed one, we opt for a luxury stay. Food is another aspect that many of us do not take into consideration. We always go for local dishes from local outlets instead of eating at hotels. This not only saves your money, but also makes you bond with the culture of the place.

Research Thoroughly

Finally, intense research about the place will definitely save a lot of your money. This includes expenses incurred on entry tickets, tips, local transportation, shopping and miscellaneous things. A dime saved, is a pound earned!

When we started our career, we were also influenced to take travel as a full time activity. But then we figured out we can enjoy the best of both worlds. So, for a full-time career and an enthusiastic & relaxing holiday to be in sync, all you have to do is figure out this simple equation of managing your finances and leaves. That way you can have a perfect “Work-Travel Life”.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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Six smartphone apps for budget travel :: Lonely Planet India

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Whether it’s spending hours pouring over airfare, sleeping in noisy hostels or battling through the red-eye squished in coach, travelling on a budget can feel like a hustle. Thankfully there are a handful of travel apps that can help save a few bucks on your dream trip – and help you plan for your next one. These are six of our favourite apps for budget travel.

Tripcoin

The best way to save on travel is to know where your money is going. Tripcoin is an expense-tracking app that works offline, which is great for international travellers who aren’t buying a local SIM card. A geo-location feature breaks expenses down by country, and a currency converter automatically converts new expenses into your home currency. Helpful graphs also outline daily expenditures, and you can create unlimited trips to track how much each jaunt costs.

Skiplagged

Skiplagged capitalizes on a loophole airlines hate: hidden-city ticketing. It works like this: sometimes booking a flight beyond your intended destination is cheaper than simply booking a nonstop flight. For example, say you want to fly from San Francisco to Washington, DC. A regular round-trip ticket would cost $340, but a route from San Francisco to New York, with a layover in DC, is $140. You simply walk off the plane in DC. Airlines have gone to great lengths to put a stop to it (United sued Skiplagged in 2018, and lost). Skiplagged advises not tying any purchases to frequent flier accounts, as airlines have been known to invalidate air miles you’ve accrued with them.

Splitwise

If you’re traveling with friends, Splitwise can help keep track of who owes what to whom. The app keeps a running total of IOUs, so everyone gets paid back at once, rather in than a bunch of smaller transactions. Automatic email reminders keep the misers in check, and makes settling up friendly debts a breeze.

Hopper

There are several apps that analyse historical airfare data to determine whether it’s the right time to buy your airfare, but few of them are as cleanly presented and feature-packed as Hopper. Features like notifications when the airfare for a specific route drops, price prediction advice that gives you an idea when it’s the right time to buy, and an option for flexible dates give Hopper a leg up on airfare deals. Put in your home city and destination and Hopper displays a calendar for the year ahead, with color-coded dates indicating when prices should be at their lowest.

HotelTonight

HotelTonight allows travellers to arrange last-minute accommodations, often at prices lower than if they’d booked in advance. These last-minute reservations often have deep discounts so hotels can increase occupancy on rooms they weren’t able to book in advance. A ‘Daily Deal’ feature also unlocks a reduced-priced hotel that must be booked within 15 minutes. If you don’t mind waiting until the day before or day of stay to book your hotel, this app can save bundles on accommodation.

AirHelp

Lost luggage and delayed or cancelled flights can be a costly experience, but many travellers are eligible for compensation when something goes wrong. Often, however, there are dozens of hoops to jump through – forms to fill out, phone numbers to call and lines to wait in. AirHelp takes care of most of the process: you add your trip details, AirHelp determines if the airline owes you money, and then they send you the money. The catch: AirHelp takes a cut of the compensation as the price for convenience.

This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.

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25 surprising travel facts that’ll make you see the world in a whole new light :: Lonely Planet India


Railways connect India very well.Image courtesy: ©Yuliya Ozeran/Shutterstock.com

Travel: we sort of know all about it, right? Wrong. Scratch beneath the surface and it turns out we know nothing of this world. Do you know how long the world’s shortest commercial flight lasts, for example? (clue: shorter than the time it takes to boil an egg.) How about which country has no rivers? Or what unconventional pizza topping is popular in Sweden?

With international travel currently off the table, why not use this time to swat up on surprising travel trivia, offering a few precious minutes of sweet relief from the constant news cycle and providing some fun facts to fill awkward pauses during video calls with friends and family; trust us, nothing plugs a silence better than a stat about how many steps from the nearest trash bin you are in Disneyland at all times.

Without further ado, here’s 25 travel facts that are certain to shock and surprise.

Trains, planes and automobiles…

1. The world’s longest commercial flight took around 30 hours.

The so-called ‘Double Sunrise’ service by Qantas, which ran from Australia to Sri Lanka from 1943-45, often lasted over 30 hours, with passengers seeing the sunrise twice. Today the longest commercial flight is the Singapore Airlines Singapore to New York route, with an average journey time of 17 hours and 50 minutes.

2. The shortest commercial flight takes less than two minutes.

Incredibly, the shortest commercial flight, operating between the neighbouring islands of Westray and Papa Westray in Scotland’s Orkney islands, takes around one and a half minutes. With the fastest recorded flight taking less than 50 seconds.

3. Japanese railways hand out ‘certificates’ for delays of more than five minutes.

Japanese trains, reputedly the most punctual in the world, issue passengers with a ‘delay certificate’ if a train is running more than five minutes behind schedule. The documents can be shown to bosses or teachers to explain a passenger’s lateness. Delay certificates are also issued on some trains in Germany and in Paris.

4. The most expensive airport to city taxi ride costs around £190.

Any budget traveller worth their salt attempts to avoid airport taxis at all costs, but anyone keeping an eye on their finances should certainly avoid jumping in a cab from Tokyo’s Narita Airport. According to a study by Moneycorp (a currency exchange company), the ride is the most expensive airport-to-city transfer in the world, costing an average of £191/$235 one way.

5. India’s trains transport roughly 23 million passengers each day.

That’s the entire population of Australia. Additionally, if laid out in a single line, the tracks from India’s railway network could circle the world one and a half times.

Things you didn’t know about countries…

Image courtesy: ©MS555/Shutterstock.com

6. Saudi Arabia has no rivers.

The country in the Arabian peninsula has no permanent rivers. It is one of the 17 countries in the world without a single river flowing through it.

7. In Ethiopia the current year is 2013.

Ethiopia maintains its own calendar, which, due to a difference in the perceived date of the Annunciation (the proclamation of the birth of Christ), is seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar (which is used as standard across most of the world). In Ethiopia the new year also begins on either August 29 or August 30.

8. It is the same time at both ends of China.

Despite spanning five geographical time zones, China only has one set time, which is observed throughout the country. China Standard Time is UTC+8.

9. The UK has the world’s longest country name.

The UK’s official title of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland makes it the longest recognised country name in the world.

10. Alaska is both the westernmost and easternmost state in the USA.

Alaska’s Aleutian Islands are actually located west of the 180th Meridian (the line that divides the eastern and western hemisphere), making it the only US state to be partly located in the eastern hemisphere.

Foodie facts…

Image courtesy: ©Hans Geel/Shutterstock.com

11. The most ordered meal on Deliveroo, a leading takeout app, in 2019 was a Hawaiian dish of raw fish.

Of all the restaurants served by the app, which operates in over 200 cities around the world, the most ordered meal was the Poké Signature Super Protéiné – a Hawaiian dish with raw fish as the core ingredient – from restaurant Pokawa in the city of Paris. Less exotic, a humble cheeseburger from the London branch of chain restaurant Five Guys was the second most ordered dish on the app.

12. Russia only classified beer as an alcoholic drink in 2011

Remarkably before then any drink with less than 10% alcohol was considered a ‘foodstuff’.

13. Pilots and co-pilots do not eat the same meal before a flight.

As part of standard convention, pilots and co-pilots do not eat the same food before a flight in case of food poisoning (or worse). If one of the pilots is incapacitated (unable to leave the bathroom) then the other pilot can take over.

14. Banana is a popular pizza topping in Sweden.

Often paired with curry powder, believe it or not!

15. Instant noodles topped a Japanese poll of the country’s greatest inventions of the 20th century.

In the poll, conducted in the year 2000 by Fuji Research Institute, respondents placed instant noodles at the top of the list, followed by karaoke in second place. Incidentally karaoke translates from Japanese into English as ‘empty orchestra’.

Lesser-known aspects of famous landmarks…

Image courtesy: ©beboy/Shutterstock.com

16. Despite what people say, the Great Wall of China is not visible from space.

Even from low Earth orbit the structure requires magnification to be seen by the human eye.

17. The Eiffel Tower was initially greatly disliked by the Parisian art community upon opening.

The iconic tower was labelled as ‘monstrous’ and ‘ridiculous’ after it was unveiled to the world. It’s even claimed that contemporary writer Guy de Maupassant disliked the structure so much that he ate lunch in the tower every day because it was the only place in Paris where the landmark was not visible.

18. The scenic Great Ocean Road, that sweeps along the coast of Victoria, Australia, is actually a war memorial.

Built by soldiers and dedicated to those who lost their lives in WWI, the road serves as the largest war memorial in the world.

19. Sudan has more ancient pyramids than Egypt.

Sources vary, but Sudan is claimed to be home to around 250 pyramid structures, that were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms between 2500BC to 300AD. Egypt is thought to have just over 100 pyramids.

20. The minarets of the Taj Mahal lean outwards slightly.

This was done deliberately to ensure that if the structure collapsed the minarets would fall away from the central tomb, and not destroy it. It’s also true that a team of 20,000 artisans and craftsmen built the iconic structure, but the popular story about them all being amputated by Shah Jahan, the ruler who commissioned it, upon completion (so they’d never build anything as beautiful), is most likely a myth.

Everything else…

21. There are currently 320,000 people learning ‘Klingon’ (the fictional language featured in television show Star Trek) on language app Duolingo.

English is the most popular language on the app, with 34 million people undertaking lessons since the beginning of 2020.

22. On the island of Yap, a state of Micronesia, rocks are used as currency.

Each rock’s worth is based on its size and its history (where it came from). Though US dollars have now started to be used for everyday purchases on the island, rocks are still used for ceremonial transactions (during weddings, for example). Yap also uses turmeric, shells and cloth as official currency.

23. If it was as densely populated as New York City, the entire world’s population could fit into the US state of Texas.

We wouldn’t have all that much room, but, with the rest of the planet uninhabited, there’d be plenty of places to go to escape the crowds.

24. You’re never more than 30 steps away from a trash can in Disneyland.

The story goes that Walt Disney used to observe visitors in the park and see how many steps they took before littering, as a result a litter bin is never more than 30 steps away in any Disney park. Another of Walt’s lesser-known Disneyland additions was the creation of a secret bar hidden inside the – then otherwise ‘dry’ – park, which he used to entertain personal guests and sponsors. The speakeasy-style venue, located behind a large door in the New Orleans Square section of the park, now runs as a private members club with an annual membership fee of $10,000.

25. You don’t need to wait an hour after eating before you can swim safely.

Despite what your mother always told you, there is no medical data that suggests you can’t swim on a full stomach. It can, however, feel uncomfortable, and potentially lead to a feeling of nausea, so it’s best to take a short pause after polishing off your sandwich before you go crashing into the surf.

This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.

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How the hotel industry is stepping up to help during lockdown :: Lonely Planet India

Image courtesy: ©The Oberoi Bangalore

India has entered the third phase of the lockdown period raising hopes that it will soon be over. But many will need support to navigate the pandemic for months. Among those who have truly risen to the occasion at this time of immense need is the hotel industry – whether by whipping up meals for daily wagers and health care workers or by extending a much-needed helping hand to the elderly and the differently-abled.

Packed meals

Their kitchens may be more accustomed to gourmet cooking but luxury hotel chains are meeting the need of the hour by distributing wholesome, nutritious meals to those who struggle to make ends meet. Among those on the frontlines of the initiative are The Oberoi hotels, Marriott Hotels, Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), The Leela, ITC Hotels, Hyatt, Roseate Hotels & Resorts, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, THE Park Hotels and The LaLiT group.

The numbers they distribute with the help of NGOs are significant – for example, IHCL of the Tata group has distributed more than one million meals to stranded migrant workers and healthcare providers.

And as the lockdown grinds on, the hotels are scaling up their efforts. “We are doing our bit for society in this time of crisis by providing cooked food to 1000 underprivileged people everyday and hope to increase the number in next few days,” says Ankur Bhatia, Executive  Director, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.

The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata has been offering meals to the underprivileged through the Missionaries of Charity while The Oberoi Bengaluru sends food to the staff at St. Philomena’s Hospital. The police force doesn’t have it easy either so The Leela Ambience Gurgaon offers hot beverages twice a day to those posted at the Delhi-Gurgaon border.

Standalone hotels are also doing their bit – The Grand Dragon Ladakh has been giving fresh packed lunch and dinner to the SNM Hospital-Leh.

Packets of dry ration and essentials prepared for distribution

Packets of dry ration and essentials prepared for distributionImage courtesy: ©The Leela

The initiative does not stop with cooked meals – some hotels are also distributing dry rations. Marriott and Leela hotels have made care packages of essential rations for those without the means to buy food.

THE Park Bangalore has started a ‘Free Food Hour’ where from 5pm to 6 pm they give a food bag to the needy.

Masks and shower caps

Did you know that besides masks, even shower caps can play a crucial role to protect health care workers? So hotels like ITC in Jaipur and Goa are donating shower caps to hospitals who are running short of it. Some are stitching up thousands of masks – The Grand Dragon Ladakh has given 5000 double layer washable masks while JW Marriott, Mussoorie has made 500 using sustainable linen.

Helping senior citizens and differently abled

Tiffins ready to be sent to the needy ones.

Tiffins ready to be sent to the needy ones.Image courtesy: ©The Leela

It is tough for the elderly living on their own to step out of the house for groceries and medicines. So the Park Hotels launched #THEParkHeartOfHope in Bangalore, Chennai, Goa and Hyderabad. “Anybody, especially the senior citizens can call us for any help, be it groceries, medicines or food. Our team responds to the request immediately, taking all safety precautions,” says Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Limited.

The Clarks hotel in Shimla is distributing dry food items for two weeks to the needy with the promise of replenishing them.

Accommodation and Quarantine Quarters

There is an immense challenge faced by doctors and healthcare workers who often cannot even go home since they are treating Covid-19 patients. Hoping to ease their burden, some hotels have welcomed doctors with open arms offering them a comfortable resting place. These include Trident at Nariman Point in Mumbai, The Lalit in New Delhi, Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Delhi among several others. The housekeeping protocol is very strict and the cleaning staff wears Hazmat Suits while cleaning the rooms.

The Noor Mahal hotel in Karnal is providing doctors free stays, meals, laundry and pick-and-drop services to their work. Also, some IHCL hotels are offering rooms to medical workers, while some Ginger hotels are being used for quarantine purposes.

The LaLit has gone a step further to focus on mental health. The Keshav Suri Foundation has launched the ‘Queering Quarantine’ series of online workshops and talks by counsellors and psychotherapists. You can even take a free counselling session.

We do not know when we will be able to go back to these hotels but even without guests to welcome, they have truly lived up to the spirit of Indian hospitality.

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