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Ever done a Snowmobile Ride with Dog Sleds?

For most of us, riding through the snow on a dog sled would be a new kind of thrill. For residents of Grey County, Canada, it is a routine mode of transport.

Grey County is bordered in the north by the impressive Georgian Bay, 220km by 100km, making it almost as large as Lake Ontario, one of Canada’s five Great Lakes. It is just 150 km away from Toronto, west of the Blue Mountains area of Collingwood, where skiers take on snowy slopes.

Mike Keenan took a thrilling ride across Grey County. The idea of Corporate Honchos going to work in Snowmobile excited him.

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Driving on a snowmobile is a lot like cross-country skiing: an opportunity to observe nature’s pristine fields bordered by naked deciduous trees shrouded in hoar frost, providing a mystical dimension. The trees glow along the carpet of snow; their crystals beam in jewel like fashion, a sparkling dance in strong sunlight, glistening and forcing to stop to revel in magnificence of it all.

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Snowmobiles are machines that transport you deep into the woods, offering vistas of partly-frozen creeks and snow-clad pine and spruce, uneven land, large rocks and limbs providing a unique gestalt. They are responsive and easy to drive, right hand controlling gas and left hand, the brake. As promised, the machine virtually stops on its own with the release of gas.

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There are 3,000km of groomed trails in the Grey-Bruce area, with no dangerous lake or water crossings. Trails are signposted and easy to follow. Mike witnessed myriad tracks, a large hare, perhaps a wolf but no actual wildlife, and although the trails he travelled were graded ‘Limited,’ they are fine with deer, white owls and the sheer beauty of nature in Grey County’s winter wonderland. Gloves, pants, helmet and boots kept them warm. There are two kinds of snowmobile enthusiasts: hard core, racking up as many kilometers as possible and the recreational, out of pure enjoyment. Many people even show up in business suits, the office goers.

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Next it was ‘Hike!’ that they repetitively shouted as teams of dogsled raced along a circular route at Doug Nixon’s Rob Roy Dog Sledding Adventures. The Alaskan and Siberian huskies, harnessed in two teams of two dogs per sled make you wonder how four dogs are able to carry each sled and the large musher. Mushers stand on two thin runners with a brake pedal in the middle. After a few sprints you get the feel of it, leaning into the turns, the sled easily maneuvers on the terrain.
It was minus 2 C, but the owner, Doug, said that these snow dogs liked it colder at minus 10-15 C. They are born outside and live outside.

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This experience was shared in the November-December 2012 issue of Travel Secrets magazine.

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How to Sleep Like a Baby On a Long Flight

Here are some simple things you can do to make your long-haul journey comfortable.

  1. Say no to carbonated drinks.
    The bubbles in carbonated drinks expand at high altitude, making you feel bloated. Enjoy some fresh fruit juice and plenty of water instead.
    Source: http://www.seriouseats.com/
  2. Don’t chew gum.
    It tends to make you swallow as you chew on it, which can cause gas. Source: http://thewinglet.boardingarea.com/
  3. Eat food that contains Tryptophan.
    Tryptophan is a calming amino acid and food items that carry it in high levels tend to induce sleep naturally. So start munching on dates, cottage cheese, turkey and fish once onboard. Source: Thrillist
  4. Ditch gas-producing foods.
    Gastrointestinal discomfort is one of the biggest problems typically associated with long distance flight. Flatulence can be a cause for discomfort and embarrassment for you as well as your co-passengers. The best course is to cut out on food items belonging to the cruciferous family such as brocolli, cauliflower and potatoes which encourage intestinal expansion.

    Source: http://www.wellnessbyzoe.com.au/
  5. Choose vegetarian meals.
    Vegetarian meals are served first, so you’re done faster, thus cutting out unnecessary wait before you go to sleep. Simple! Source: American Airlines
  6. Eat something light before boarding.
    Rather than a secret, this is more of basic common sense. If you find yourself really tired and don’t want to wait till your meal is served, grab something to eat before you step onboard and let the flight attendant know that you don’t want dinner.
    Goodnight!

    Source: chow.com
  7. Always carry earplugs and an eye mask.
    These wonderful sleeping aids are easily available and affordable too. An inflatable pillow is another good investment.
    Source: Alamy
  8. Choose a window seat.
    The benefits of choosing the window seat is three-pronged. You can lean against a solid surface for support while sleeping and not get disturbed by a co-passenger wanting to go to the loo. Plus, you don’t miss out on the view outside. Source: Thrillist
  9. Try and get a seat up front.
    By getting a seat in the first few rows, you can avoid the disturbance caused by engine noise which is loudest towards the rear. You can do this by checking-in online. Most airlines allow web check-in 24 hours before take off. Source: Telegraph
  10. Don’t be tempted to take a sleeping pill.
    A sleeping tablet can increase the risk of a blood clot from sitting in cramped spaces for too long. Besides, it’s good to be alert, not inert, when flying.
    Source: Huffington Post

This story was published in our Nov-Dec 2012 issue. Re-edit: TS intern Siddharth Birla
To subscribe, visit http://www.magzter.com/IN/Grapevine/Travel-Secrets-India/Travel/

What is “shoulder season” and why is it good for travel?

Shoulder Season falls between peak season and off season. So, you get many advantages. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. The crowds have thinned out but are not absent. Airfares and hotel tariffs tend to dip slightly, so you have more money for shopping! The local tourist industry is now free from the pressure of catering to throngs, and you can expect better service.

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According to Rick Steves, “Shoulder season varies by destination. Because fall and spring bring cooler temperatures in Mediterranean Europe, shoulder season in much of Italy, southern France, Spain, Croatia, and Greece can actually come with near peak-season crowds and prices. For example, except for beach resorts, Italy’s peak season is May, June, September, and October, rather than July and August. Paris is surprisingly quiet in July and August.”

Venice (43)

We at Travel Secrets try and stay away from even the best destinations during peak season, because the crowds can be simply too overwhelming. Last year in Florence and Venice, we found ourselves jostling and gasping for the most part. Taking photos ended up being a Click-and-Move affair in places, with the next person breathing down your neck.

A shoulder season trip to Switzerland, on the other hand, was pure relaxation. Under the mild September sun, it was blissful to walk down the quiet streets of Basel, taking in the crisp cool air and lazing by the Rhine. We could feel our lungs turn pink again:)

Basel by the Rhine River (1)Posted by Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan

Pix: TS Photo Editor Nitin Gopal Srivastava

 

I’ve seen most of the touristy Switzerland. Somewhere fresh this summer?

You can always come to us for just the right advice! Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan discovered a stunning Swiss gem on her recent trip. It’s the Klosters region, quiet, lovely and relatively tourist-free, unless you count Prince Charles, who is a regular guest!

Why Klosters

If you are taking a holiday in Switzerland, you probably have greenery and serenity in mind. Klosters ticks those boxes in bold! And if it is adventure you seek, there’s plenty of that to be had here, too.

Nestling in what has remained the rural part of the Prättigau (Graubünden), Klosters, with its romantic village-like atmosphere, stands in stark contrast to the nearby Alpine metropolis of Davos. It’s a tiny town dotted with shops selling outdoorsy sportsgear, and cosy restaurants. A silvery river streaks across the town, and big mountains gaze indulgently down upon the town.

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Hotels and homes all over Klosters are laden with flowers. The combination of wood, greenery and brilliant blossoms is heady and irresistible!

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The photo above shows Hotel Alpina: we stayed here and totally loved it. Not only is it beautiful, but located right across the small railway station. The cable car up to a gorgeous mountain is also across the road. The rooms have a homely touch, breakfast is delicious, and the staff warm and welcoming. This hotel is proof that you don’t need to be a five-star to be a five star experience!

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See? This is a house in Klosters…one among dozens we gaped at! So much beauty, sprinkled all over, just like that!

Lazy, sunlit lunches in Klosters are a food lover’s dream come true. Our dream came true at this one:

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Every delicious dish here reflects the freshness and beauty of the region.

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And how can you ever leave without indulging in Switzerland’s best-loved comfort food, starring potatoes: yes, we’re talking about Rosti!

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Paired with local wine and sunshine, all this good food is the perfect recipe for an afternoon snooze. We took our cue from this bovine beauty and treated ourselves to a nap, too!

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The valleys of Klosters will take your breath away. It is easy to lose track of time gazing in the distance and feeling your soul heal. Far in the distance, on gleaming tracks, the bright red streak of a train passing by, is stunning against the green backdrop: quintessential Switzerland!

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A whole mountain of adventure awaits to be explored: your kids are going to be floored!

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To hear more of our adventures in Klosters, grab a copy of Travel Secrets magazine’s May-June 2015 issue.

Take me to an Irish cafe that the locals love!

Just a few minutes out of Belfast airport, and you have a fiesta of Irish treats laid out for you. Rhubarb pie with homemade ice-cream, to begin with. At a pretty tucked-away place that overlooks the endless sea, and doubles as a local nursery. Called Harrisons, quite simply. Harrisons-Restaurant-201207280453 DSC00590 That pie. It alone is worth a trip to Northern Ireland. The rhubarb is nice and tart, and the pie crust is perfectly crisp. And the ice-cream, it tastes like the cow was milked a few minutes ago and the hens just laid their eggs and all of it was churned quickly together and frozen swiftly up to create this fresh, fantastic dream in cream. Sorry, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re reminiscing about a treat so delicious. DSC00591 Many days after I arrived back in India and Googled it, I was blown away by the story of Harrison’s! It is owned by a family that lives on 90 lush acres of land. The location is called Ards Peninsula, one of Northern Ireland’s most picturesque locations. (But then, I was there for nearly a week and did not see one spot that would not qualify as that! All of Ireland, Northern or not, is an ode to natural beauty.) And I am not the only one determined to go back for that ice cream. Apparently, 30 per cent of its customers drive more than an hour to come and eat at Harrisons. I suspect that statistic will quickly crawl upward soon. I have to admit I wolfed down the entire pie and ice-cream, and those calories were worth lunch and dinner both. And I was too hungry to take photos of the treat! Shubhra Krishan

How to dress right for a long flight

Artist Bipasha Sen Gupta gives us the key to a comfortable and successful travel, so that you look and feel “ready to go”.

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  1. Wear loose and dark trousers with a wrinkle-free shirt- full sleeves because of the levels of air conditioning in a flight. Avoid jeans if you can.
  2. Always carry a stylish pashmina stole or shawl which can be used as a wrap or a pillow. It also works as a great accessory. (We love Janavi’s vibrant cashmere scarves and stoles—outlet at Emporio Mall Vasant Kunj, Delhi). Keep jewellery minimal.
  3. Use basic or no makeup at all while travelling, as cabin air dehydrates your skin (carry a thick moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm for regular use).
  4. Wear a comfortable pair of slip-ons or one size bigger shoes, as feet swell up during long hauls. Don’t forget to pack a comfortable pair of socks.
  5. Carry one big tote bag to hold the things you need during the flight. It’s a nuisance to reach for your cabin bag every time. Da Milano has an irresistible collection of them!
  6. Pack these in your hand luggage- (a) a comfy pair of pants, preferably sweat pants or something similar.(b) a warm pair of socks.(c) a t-shirt.(d) a warm sweater (e) spare underwear (f) toothbrush and toothpaste (Check out Woodland’s new range of summery t-shirts for men and women)
  7. Make sure all products that you take on board comply with the hand luggage restrictions. You can always put some of your favourite products in handy travel size bottles. Deodorant is a must.
  8. Replace your contact lenses with glasses so your eyes don’t dry out from arid air plane air and the contacts don’t bother you while sleeping.
  9.  Women’s Special: Take a nail file and nail varnish with you, so you get through at least 30 minutes of the flight without getting bored!
  10.  Pack some cleansing face wipes to remove all the airport grim and help you freshen up before landing.

Why you shouldn’t order the ‘soup of the day.’ 5 Dirty restaurant secrets: spilled!

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  • The ‘restaurant special’ or ‘soup of the day’ is often special only because they are trying to finish it off before it goes bad.
  • That slice of lemon in your drink—looks lovely, but isn’t clean. Everybody touches it, and nobody washes it. Cheers!
  • If you ask ‘Is this dish made from vegetable stock?,” many waiters will say ‘Yes,’ which is a lie. The truth is, you cannot tell the difference, so they don’t bother clarifying.
  • If you ask your waiter ‘how’s this dish,’ and she says, ‘It’s one of our most popular,’ chances are she hates it, but isn’t supposed to tell you that. Ask her to recommend a good dish instead.
  • If you’re worried about how clean the kitchen is, visit the restaurant’s loo. If that is dirty, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.

(Secrets spilled by veteran waiters to Readers Digest magazine, USA )

A few years back, a restaurant in Tampa had a major roach problem. We don’t want anything like this happening to you.

For more nasty secrets, take a look here.

Q: “My feet are swollen from 8 hours of flying. My husband says my black pump shoes are to blame. Is he right?”

A: Yes he is, especially if you wore those shoes throughout your flight.

Learn from Lady Gaga’s mistake:  she reportedly wore a pair of scarily high and tight armadillo shoes on a flight, and soon felt her feet beginning to swell.  The cabin crew immediately made her slip into comfortable slippers, and she was saved from Deep Vein Thrombosis, a very common and life-threatening condition that develops when blood clots form in the veins of the legs.

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