Top 5 Cricket World Cup Destinations

With the ICC Cricket World Cup in full swing, I have decided to bring you my specially curated travel-list for the cricket-lover in you! From the first World Cup in 1975 to the one that you’re watching on your big screens right now, cricket has taken us across 16 beautiful nations, spanning 4 continents. While most will be engrossed in the game, there are many of us who yearn to go beyond the stadium and explore the wondrous sights each host country has to offer. Let’s set the ball rolling!

1. United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales)

The World Cup tradition began in England, and this country hosted the first three World Cups until India and Pakistan ended the hat-trick. Once you are done gaping in awe at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, you must grab a seat on one of the 32 capsules of the London Eye. You will get a bird’s eye view of over 55 famous landmarks of London while the giant wheels takes 30 minutes to complete a round. Don’t forget to take some selfies on the London Bridge – one of the seven wonders of the world! Then, as the Big Ben strikes six, head on over to Madam Tussaud’s and marvel at the lifelike wax statues of celebrities from all over the world. If you have more time, don’t forget to visit the Buckingham Palace and several state-of-the-art museums.

Scotland is a country straight out of a fairytale! Home to the magnificent castle of Edinburgh and the haunted waters of Loch Ness. (Remember the sea monster, Nessie?) Explore Skara Brae, a stone-age village, and ruins of imposing castles and brochs. The beaches and hills are sure to take your breath away!

Wales, not unlike Scotland, has scores of alluring castles. But the prettiest attraction here is surely Snowdonia – a visually appealing national park. You might also want to take a look at Sygun Copper Mine and National Slate Museum.

2. India

Source: maharajas-express-india.com

Source: maharajas-express-india.com

India has hosted the World Cups thrice so far, and it arguably has the highest number of cricket fans in the world. My country is one of the most diverse, both in terms of terrain and culture. You can enjoy the snow in Gulmarg, up North, or laze inside a boathouse in the backwaters of Kerala, down South. India has the mighty Thar desert, the holy land of Gaya, the crazy party-scene in Goa, the beautiful Taj Mahal and the beguiling Sundarbans all in between. Your experiences in India will be as unique and colourful as its people and cuisines!

3. Australasia (Australia and New Zealand)

Source: bonfireexpeditions.com

Source: bonfireexpeditions.com

The largest country in Australasia, Oz is a spectacle of natural and man-made beauty. The Great Barrier Reef, the 12 Apostles, the Blue Mountains and clear beaches are nature’s gift to the Aussies. By the same token, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the Eureka Tower and the Great Ocean Road are gifts from the Aussies to the rest of the world. As Australia hosts various matches for this season, let’s hope India lifts the cup again!

Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

Kiwiland is co-hosting this year, and it’s a wonderful excuse to explore its two islands. If you’re an LOTR fan, hop over to Hobbiton and feel like a hobbit yourself! NZ gives you plenty of chances to interact with its indigenous Maori people and taste their scrumptious food. After a long match, relax at one of the hot springs. New Zealand is chock a block with volcanoes and the natural geysers and hot springs come as no surprise. The beauty of it all will surprise you though! 😉

4. The Netherlands

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Holland is a small European country that has only co-hosted the World Cup once, but it packs quite a punch! The land of windmills has enough to keep you here for several days. Its charming streets are best explored on a rented bicycle and its canals, best crossed in a gondola. The Netherlands is steeped in history. From Anne Frank’s House to Rijksmuseum, there’s so much to see! Holland is also famous for its liberal laws on weed. One can order “magic mushrooms” and “space cakes” in restaurants! The best thing about “NE” of BENELUX is that it’s a part of the Schengen region, and a Schengen visa gives you the power to travel through most of Europe! 😀

5. Kenya

Source: animalorphanagekenya.org

Source: animalorphanagekenya.org

Africa’s lesser known cricket destination is a magical country which is true to its roots. The Kenyan cricket team may not have been able to beat South Africa too many times, but Kenya sure beat it to make it to my travel-list for this year! This West African country is the abode of a mind-boggling variety of wild animals and birds. Maasai Mara is a global-favourite when it comes to observing animals in their natural habitat. Animal-watching does not have to be all about roughing it out. You can opt for elegant luxury tents and try “glamping” (glamorous camping) if your budget allows it.

Do you ever plan a trip around cricket matches? Have you been to any of the destinations on my top-5? Let me hear your stories in the comments below!

This blog is part of the Blogger Dream Team.

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Must Go to Melbourne!

It is still 2014, and I’m already dreaming about the places I want to visit in 2015. I made dozens of wishlists of things I want to try and food I want to gorge on. But I threw those lists out of the window when somebody told me I could do it all in one place! Last month, my friend from Melbourne flew down to Mumbai and he couldn’t stop telling me about all the lovely things one can find in Victoria. He flew back to Australia but left me dreaming about that city down under…

Breathtaking Drive on the Great Ocean Road

That magnificent stretch of silver is surrounded by pure gold – the golden sun above, the golden reflection of the sunny skies on the Pacific Ocean, and the Twelve Apostles jutting out of the waters from a golden era! What wouldn’t I give to go on a long, long drive with my best buddies (a la ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’! 😉 )

Top Secret: The 12 Apostles change colours at sunrise and sunset! Those rock statues sure know how to rock! 😀

Squeal at the Seals or Point at the Penguins

Source: visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Phillip-Island

Source: visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Phillip-Island

Now, there are some birds and animals you don’t get to see everywhere. When in Victoria, make the best use of the opportunity and head to Phillip Island! If you go on a boat cruise, you’ll get to wave your hands at the slippery seals barking from the rocks. And once you’re on the Island, you’ll witness the wondrous sight of thousands of little penguins wading across the sand to head to their burrows on Summerland Beach! (Yes, you don’t always need snow to spot penguins! 😉 ) While we’re on the topic of wildlife, let’s not forget koalas! These cuddly furballs are only found on this continent. You can take a peek at their joeys in their pouches at koala conservation centres or treetop boardwalks that let you watch the playful marsupials scurry along trees and bushes.

Slurp some Chocolate or Swirl some Wine

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Phillip-Island/Things-to-do/Food-and-wine/Local-produce/Pannys-Phillip-Island-Chocolate-Factory.aspx

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Phillip-Island/Things-to-do/Food-and-wine/Local-produce/Pannys-Phillip-Island-Chocolate-Factory.aspx

If you are on Phillip Island, you might as well drop in at Panny’s Chocolate Factory and feel like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If the brown elixir is not your cup of tea, head to The Coffee Collective for your shot of caffeine in this coffee capital of Australia! For wine lovers like me, Melbourne has acres and acres of lush vineyards and a whopping 850 wineries! The cool climate and fertile lands of Victoria make it one of the best places to produce fine quality wines. Take a tour of a winery and indulge in some wine tasting with a sommelier.

Fly Over the Yarra Valley

Source: visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Yarra-Valley-and-Dandenong-Ranges

Source: visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Yarra-Valley-and-Dandenong-Ranges

Touring this beautiful wine region shouldn’t all be about walking. One can zip through the estates on a Segway, or even better – float in the air on a hot air balloon! The best thing about the ballooning experience is that you get to test your own balloon and watch how the hydrogen-filled giant is propped up. Yarra Valley has an ideal terroir. The harvests produce the country’s best wines with fruity notes. And, there’s always grape-stomping for the teetotallers! 😉

Pick Your Own Strawberries and Relish them with Cheese

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Gippsland/Things-to-do/Food-and-wine/Local-produce/Prom-Country-Cheese.aspx

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Gippsland/Things-to-do/Food-and-wine/Local-produce/Prom-Country-Cheese.aspx

For the ultimate “farm-to-plate” experience, spend a day at the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm which is open from November to April. They’ll let you pick strawberries straight off the ground! You can either eat them on their own or try some exotic strawberry liqueurs and jams. Melbourne also produces some interesting artisanal cheeses. You might want to try the deliciously creamy sheep-cheese varieties! However, if your are on a budget and wish to try everything under the Victorian sun, catch a tram to the Queen Victoria Market. It is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere and sees footfalls of over 10 million a year!

Melbourne is not called cosmopolitan for nothing! You will find almost every cuisine you crave for. Cafes and restaurants dot this megacity where fresh organic produces are in demand. You cannot visit Australia and not try barbecued dishes or craft beers! Microbreweries and streetfood are insanely popular with the local crowd here. And the variety you can have is mindblowing! There’s Greek souvlaki and Indian samosas in the same block sometimes! 😀

Relax in a Thermal Pool

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Mornington-Peninsula/Things-to-do/Spa-and-wellbeing/Peninsula-Hot-Springs.aspx

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Mornington-Peninsula/Things-to-do/Spa-and-wellbeing/Peninsula-Hot-Springs.aspx

Too much travel can tire me out. This is why I shall pre-book a session at the Peninsula Hot Springs and let my body and soul unwind with a mud wrap and hot stone treatment. The natural spas in this region have therapeutic properties in their minerals. After I’m rejuvenated, I shall get back to more activities in Melbourne! 🙂

Gawk at Artsy Streets

Melbourne is very progressive when it comes to street art. This is so liberating for budding artists and expressionists! Hosier Lane and a few others are dedicated to creative and edgy street art. One can lose oneself in this maze-like place full of messages displayed through spray-paintings. Even the street-name is a work of graffiti!

And Do A Million Other Things…

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Melbourne/Things-to-do/Tours/Sports-tours/Melbourne-Cricket-Ground.aspx

Source: visitmelbourne.com/regions/Melbourne/Things-to-do/Tours/Sports-tours/Melbourne-Cricket-Ground.aspx

Melbourne cannot be seen in a day. Not even in a week. And no, even a month won’t suffice! This multicultural city has SO MANY SURPRISES that you will want to move here permanently for a couple of years to truly enjoy the spirit of this place. There’s something for every kind of traveller. The budget tourist can take the hop-on-hop-off City Circle tram which is free! The well heeled can book a helicopter ride over the Southern Ocean to watch the 12 apostles from the sky. The sports enthusiast will find the Aussie Open, the ICC World Cup and many other matches to keep her busy. The History buff can take the Gold Mine Tour at Sovereign Hill, and the architecture-phile can awe in wonder at the sweeping arches and towering skyscrapers. Even little kids can let their feet hang out of a window on the Puffing Billy! 🙂 It’s hardly a surprise then that Melbourne has been titled the “most livable city in the world”! You wouldn’t just live here, you would THRIVE!!!

When I woke up from my daydream, I was so amazed with the variety of activities I could take part in that I decided to pull my friends into this dream too. Without re-creating any scenes from Inception (the movie), I simply asked them a few questions:-

I set the ball rolling on Twitter

I set the ball rolling on Twitter

My tweet got my followers dreaming on Twitterland! 😉 And I picked out some replies for you to see:-

Picture5 Picture3 Picture10

Surfing was something even I did not think of! And even though I’m not a big fan of cricket, I love stadium tours. This virtual interaction taught me I could dream better if I spread the dream to more spheres. So I threw the same questions to my fans on my Facebook page:-

The excitement spread to Facebook! :-)

The excitement spread to Facebook! 🙂

The number of replies I received did not even fit into a screenshot! 😀 See how community dreaming is better than fantasizing on your own? I don’t want to leave my WordPress followers out of the excitement, so I have a special New Year Contest for all of you!!! 🙂

All you have to do is answer the following question and send in your replies as comments to this post:-

Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?

(Psst… You can reread this article to make a decision. 😉 ) The most creative reply will win a shopping voucher worth Rs.500! (Yay!! 😀 ) Send in your entries by 5th Jan, 2015.

The Big Bird Comes to India!

I was browsing through my old photographs the other day and I noticed how rapidly I had been outgrowing my clothes. I grew so much and so fast in my preteen years that my parents always bought me a size bigger… just in case. It’s funny how this “growth” is not localized to our bodies. A lot of things keep growing in this world – incomes, aspirations, appetites, and especially for India, population!

As a country gets bigger, so does its aspiration. The rising middle class now wants to vacation abroad, try exotic cuisines, and fly higher! So, the arrival of the world’s largest commercial aircraft in India was a logical progression. What we did not expect though was that the Lufthansa A380 would not only be the largest but also one of the finest!

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

This big birdie flew into Delhi’s IGI airport last month and received a landmark welcome. I predict that aviation in our country will soon be revolutionized by a wave of giant planes cruising in our skies. And this is great news because “bigger” is certainly better for Indian aviation! This will be a slightly long post, so fasten your seatbelts as I take you on a vicarious flight aboard the #LufthansaA380! But first, watch this timelapse video of the “green giant”:-

The biggest bird in our sky is a blessing that has finally been bestowed upon us frequent fliers. Here’s why we need more double-decker planes flying in and out of India:

1. Rising Population

With over a billion people jostling for space on the Indian land, imagine what would happen if we all decided to take to the skies one fine day! And this may be hypothetical today, but in the future, as more Indians decide to fly, most of India’s residents will be airborne at any given time. So many people require multiple decks on an aircraft and a LOT of seats (not to mention, frequent flights). Lufthansa has taken one step in that direction. We need more operators to follow suit.

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

2. Rising Wealth

As our wages increase, we’re not going to put up with the cheap experiences that come with cheap flights. We’ll need our champagne and shawarmas when we make that expensive honeymoon trip to the Bahamas. This is why it is heartening to see the easy-on-the-eye beige interiors of the Lufthansa A380’s First Class. You can actually sleep on a fully flat bed under warm blankets with your privacy-partition up. After all, you need to look like a million bucks on your million-buck vacation!

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

3. Rising Stinginess

Yes, you read that right! We have become very stingy after we started making so much money. We suddenly don’t want to waste our hard earned green bills on things that hurt the environment and rob us of our natural resources. We buy energy-efficient LED lights, install motion detecting bath fixtures and only buy cars that run 20 kilometres per litre. Good thing the A380 has four turbofan engines which bring down the fuel consumption per passenger. The 3-metre diameter is quite impressive too!

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

4. Rising Love for Shiny Things

Everybody knows that every Indian family worth its salt will buy gold before they buy life insurance. This love is not restricted to the yellow metal. We now also love shiny steel parts of Harley Davidsons, shiny diamonds studded on shiny platinum jewellery, and shiny new shoes. It’s interesting to know that the Lufthansa A380 has a shiny body because of a transparent protective coat over one layer of colour. This high tech paint keeps the plane working in -60 degrees Celsius and +60 with equal ease.

5. Rising Interest in Weight-Loss

We are so busy working off our flab at the gym that we hardly noticed the A380’s single-paint design. That saves so much weight and ultimately, kerosene. (Fuel efficiency is inversely proportional to weight.) This plane is not called the “green giant” for nothing! It is giant, but surprisingly light!

6. Rising Sizes (despite that “thing” for weight loss 😛 )

The great Indian feasts ensure that all our plans of shedding those extra kilos are tossed out of the window. We have our big waists and tired feet flapping all over the place. This is why the A380 has more legroom (even for Economy), and a nice footrest in the Business Class.

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

7. Rising Tech-Savviness

With the number of tech-wizards that India is churning out every year, it’s easy to see how tech savvy our nation is set to become.  The green giant is sure to impress this group of people with its tail-camera that relays live video (on to the in-flight entertainment screens) of the sky and the view around. This camera was initially installed for the pilot’s benefit, but looks like we’ll all reap some.

8. Rising Obsession over Meditation

The concept and art of meditation was developed in India many years ago. It is in fashion again now, thanks to the world-citizens who have been popularizing this art in several countries. So when you are on that long haul flight, you wouldn’t have to miss your Yoga practice, thanks to the quiet interiors of the plane. If you wish to go further, you can also change into your Yoga-clothes and stash your travel-clothes in your personal wardrobe (first class only).

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

9. Rising Urgency to “Take a Leak” 😛

I don’t think I need to mention how many Indians without toilets have to trek miles to relieve themselves. While these are not the same people who fly high today, they will someday. It’s good to have nice washrooms aboard the Lufthansa A380, so you don’t have to avoid eating or drinking when you’re up in the air. You will forget you’re on a plane when you see the lavish fittings and spacious wash cabin for the first class.

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Picture Courtesy: a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

Now you know why we need BIGGER and smarter things to carry us around! You will certainly agree that ‘bigger is better’ for the Indian aviation industry, won’t you?