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Travel Secrets

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Travel and Tourism

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.”

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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

 

What’s socca, the famous French street food?

Team TS first heard about–and tasted–Socca in Nice, France.

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(Image: www.thegoodlifefrance.com)

Made primarily with chickpea flour and olive oil – ingredients plentiful around the Mediterranean – Socca  is a quick, cheap, and delightful snack served along the French part of the coast and all the way into Liguria in Italy, where it goes by the name Farinata.

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Image: www.myfrenchlife.org

To be authentic, socca should be baked over a fire. It is best served piping-hot, and raked as it is baked, which makes the surface extra-crispy. When the giant disk is yanked from the oven, it should arrive at your table or in your hands seconds later. Don’t wait—dive right in! Pair with a chilled rosé.

And now, a little secret of our own: in India, we make something very similar to socca. It is made with chickpea flour, and we call it cheela or poora. To make this, we make a thinnish batter composed of chickpea flour, water, salt, red chilli powder (we’re Indian!), powdered cumin. It’s cooked like a pancake and best enjoyed with mint and cilantro chutney. 

Something fun for Harry Potter fans visiting Edinburgh?

Of course! 

Let’s take you to The Elephant House Cafe in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland’s pulsating capital city!

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It looks like an unlikely spot for the blockbuster it secretly housed. But yes, J.K. Rowling sat here, scribbling furiously over cups of coffee and we are sure, Scottish scones.

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(Image: pottermore-news.com)

Do visit the loo here: the walls are filled with ‘letters’ scribbled to the author from women across the world!

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Image: niamhinlondon.tumblr.com

Besides inspiration, the Cafe also serves full breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the menu are pizzas, salads, pasta, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties (Scotland’s national dish), and something called Lucas of Musselburgh Ice Cream which we did not taste but are sure is a delicious secret in itself!

http://www.elephanthouse.biz/

21 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EN
Tel. 0131-220-5355
Fax. 0131-220-4272
contact@elephanthouse.biz

What’s the best way to explore Northern Ireland: train, bus or car?

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Rent a car! Northern Ireland is a nature lover’s fondest dream come true. You don’t want to be restricted by train timings and connections. Or look longingly out of your bus window,  wishing you could stop and take photos, or just linger. Renting a car is easy and will allow you to enjoy this slice of paradise in the fullest way. For more information and inspiration, check out this article.

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