Showing posts with label #DTTOT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #DTTOT. Show all posts

Monday, 31 December 2012

High Speed Train between Beijing and Guangzhou


 
China has set a new world record with the world’s longest high speed train which opened on Boxing Day between the northern capital, Beijing, and the southern commercial hub, Guangzhou (formerly Canton). Every day 155 pairs of trains will make the 1,430 mile long journey linking five major economic zones, 35 cities and 30% of the population, and the line will eventually reach to Hong Kong by 2015. The journey takes around 8 hours instead of 21 on the old line, with an average speed of 186 mph, and at a price of 865RMB for a standard class ticket which on the old trains cost 251RMB but which is still slightly cheaper than a flight, and 2727RMB for business class.

Whilst there are concerns about the burdensome cost of the project, corruption in the awarding of construction contracts and whether safety measures were compromised in the haste to complete the work, the economic and commercial benefits to the country will be massive. Rail freight will increase fivefold to 88 million tons a year and thereby lessen the burden on the roads and the environment, and industries in central China will have better access to new markets, and a more competitive workforce.  In addition the line will offer greater convenience to the millions of migrant workers in Guangzhou alone who undertake long journeys every new year at the Spring Festival back to their ancestral villages to be with their families, and who will benefit from the huge increase in capacity.  During the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year, the whole country often seems to be travelling and on this route 32 million journeys are expected to be made next year.

In less than 10 years China has built nearly 6,000 miles of high speed rail track and has plans to double that figure by 2020 with four east-west and four north-south lines, with the opportunity to extend further into Central Asia and Russia.
 
For more information about trains in China or day tours in China please email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com
 
 
 
 
 

 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Stopover Day Tours in Delhi


If you have a few hours to spare between flights at Delhi and you already have an Indian visa, you can make a quick sortie to enjoy your own Delhi city tour instead of hanging around the airport. And the shopping is better too!

Private day trips in India, ReadyClickAndGo, day tours in India, stopover day tours in India It costs around 300 rupees to leave your suitcase for 24 hours at the Left Luggage Office at Indira Gandhi Airport. Take the Metro Airport Express Link, the orange line, to New Delhi Station, it costs around 80 rupees and takes around 20 minutes to cover the 12 miles. There are both machines and counters to buy tickets. When you get out of New Delhi station you can either turn north into Old Delhi or south into New Delhi, either way you will embark on a tour that takes in some of the city’s finest monuments and fascinating markets. If you have lots of time, a full day, you can combine the north and south tours. Take motor-rickshaws (tuk-tuks) often instead of walking as the heat and crowds will sap your strength. For fares, have a look at this website which will give you an idea of how cheap they are;http://delhigovt.nic.in/autofares/Transport.asp

Half – Day Tour: North into Old Delhi, 3-4 hours

From New Delhi metro station head north through one of the ancient city gates, Ajmere Gate, and onto the street called Chawri Bazar, lined with small shops specialising in brass, copper and paper souvenirs (you would bargain hard here). Navigate to the Jama Masjidmosque by looking up for its minarets which you can see from everywhere. Jama Masjid is one of largest mosques in Asia and you can climb one of the minaret towers for great views of Old Delhi (note that women have to put on one of the long garments handed out at the entrance).

From here head north east past the Lahore Gate to Red Fort – a huge, sprawling red fortress, once the residence and headquarters of the Mughal Emperors, now home to a bazaar and the Indian War Memorial with exhibitions of guns, swords and armour. The rest of the complex is a military barracks now, and much of it is off-limits – Agra Fort is much more interesting to visit if you are heading to the Taj Mahal.
Leading west from Red Fort is Chandni Chowk street, lined with small shops and crisscrossed by lanes that specialise in particular goods such as silver jewellery such as along Dariba Kalan, paper and books at Nai Sarak and so on. As you walk along Chandni Chowk there isDigambar Jain temple with its bird hospital, the Sikh Shauri Gankarand Sisganj temples, and at the end is Fatehpur Mosque. Beyond here you arrive at Khari Baoli spice market which is the largest wholesale spice market in Asia. If you’re tired by now, hop in a tuk-tuk and head to the historic Oberoi Maidens Hotel for refreshment in stylish surroundings. The concierge there will help you hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk to return to New Delhi metro station to get back to the airport.

Half Day: South into New Delhi, 3-4 hours

Day tours in India with ReadyClickAndGo, private day trips in India From New Delhi metro station head south into New Delhi, first toConnaught Place which was built by the British as the central business district of Delhi in the 1920s and is still one of the city’s major hubs. Built as a huge circle divided by 8 radial roads and 3 ring roads into blocks numbered A-N, it’s filled with shops, restaurants and offices, and there are several great shops for fixed price goods. 

FabIndia andAnokhi both sell stylish, good quality and very affordable east-meets-west clothes and homewares, whilst Central Cottage Industries Emporium in block N has 6 floors of all sorts of goods that make excellent presents and souvenirs.

If you go round Connaught Place and exit to the south you will come toJantar Mantar, the first open-air observatory built in 1724 by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur who later built the much better one in Jaipur, and you can admire the large stone instruments placed to observe the heavens and make astronomical calculations. Call at the legendaryImperial Hotel for refreshments if you have time on the way down to Rajpath, the road running east to west that connects India Gate, the symbol of New Delhi, with Rashtrapati Bhavan, once home of the Viceroy, now the largest Presidential Palace in the world. India Gate is a 42m high stone arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It bears the name of the 85,000 Indian Army soldiers who died in the campaigns of WW1, the North-West Frontiers operations and the 1919 Afghan war, and below the arch is the memorial to the unknown soldier. You may prefer just to pass by the palace and India Gate, or get your taxi or tuk-tuk to do a circle so you can take pictures.

From here you can continue further south by tuk-tuk to upmarket Khan Market where you can find bookshops, tailors, good food, silver jewellery, shops such as FabIndia and Anokhi as well as the big western brands, or to Lodhi Gardens. These shady gardens surround the crumbling tombs of the 15th century rulers of India and make for a pleasant respite from the city.  From Lodhi or Khan market you can then continue to Humayun’s Tomb built in the mid 16th century of red sandstone in the traditional Mughal architectural style, set amidst peaceful gardens.

From here, you really should be heading back to the airport unless you have loads more time for shopping and sightseeing and a car to travel in, in which case, there are a couple more great markets stretching south from Lodhi gardens, the first being Lodhi colony main marketlocated in a former war infirmary in an upmarket suburb, where Indian designers offer luxury fashion in distinctive surroundings. Further south again is Dilli Haat, an open air arts and crafts market where you can buy direct from the artisans who rent one of the stalls for a fortnight at a time. And further again is Haus Khaz Village, an arty, upmarket suburb with boutiques, galleries and restaurants, very pleasant to explore on foot and with some old monuments scattered around. Continuing south you will arrive at Qutab Minar, the Afgan victory tower, the highest stone tower in India at 238ft high dating from the 12th century. From here, your car can take you back to Indira Gandhi Airport.

The best way to enjoy a carefree sightseeing or day tour of Delhi is to hire a private guide, car and driver to meet you at the airport, take you and your luggage and shopping around and return you safely and on time for your onward flight. ReadyClickAndGo can arrange city or shopping tours in Delhi to suit your interests, budget and timetable.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kovačica, centre of Naive Art in Serbia


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We crossed the only bridge in Belgrade over the Danube River – the old metal, heavy thing built in 1935.  Once on the other side of Belgrade we continued towards Pancevo city, well known for its accident-prone factories which sometimes pollute the whole of Belgrade. As it was Sunday, the day for the local antiques market, we couldn’t resist stopping for a quick browse for a “good deal”. We didn’t get anything except an old CD for 50p which worked until song number four. Regardless, we considered it a good deal.
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Crossing the Danube River means entering the flat Pannonia Plain where you orientate yourself only by the next tree or lonely house.  Considering that the official alphabet in Serbia is Cyrillic and that road signs are rare then that tree or house takes on more importance during your journey. Nature at this time of year (May 2012) generously painted everything in a lush green cloaking the trees and houses from sight. Everything looked the same especially for four city girls.






Day tours in Kovacica, ReadyClickAndGo
Confused and tired by the oppressive heat we decided to stop along the way at Salas, called Sekin Salas which means Sisters Ranch. If you want to experience the real Serbia you should try to stay at one of the many ranches which offer a combination of rural Serbia with good food, clean air and lots of activities – horse riding, fishing, cooking classes…embroidery classes…During our hour stop we managed to meet the loveable Rasha, a ginger corgi who we considered stealing away, but after realising that Rasha has friends on the Ranch – three cats, two goats, a pheasant, an over-protective chicken with eight yellow chicks and two more dogs lazily asleep in the front garden – we decided that Rasha had a better life than we did, so we left him in his natural surroundings.

Rashas Friends, day tours to Kovacica, ReadyClickAndGoAfter refreshments and taking photos of everything that represented the old, disappearing Serbia that was so generously on display in the house, we continued driving towards Kovacica, a place well known for its Slovak naive art.


The Museum of Naive Folk Art is situatedday tours in Kovacica, ReadyClickAndGocentrally on the main street. The Museum itself is very small but very rich in the numbers of paintings they own so the exhibition keeps changing all the time. The first one to strike you is a huge, colourful and lively painting by Jan Glozik illustrating the 200 years since the Slovak people moved from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the eastern border, nowadays Serbia, by order of the Emperor. The painting consists of 200 people representing each year since they moved to this part of the world. If you have a very good eye you can see a self-portrait of the painter incorporated into the maze of colours.

Day tours in Kovacica, ReadyClickAndGoThe left side of the museum has an exhibition of another famous naïve art painter, Martin Janos, whose paintings emphasise the hands and feet and thereby the hard manual work on the farms of the region. The third room is dedicated to the Queen of naïve art, Zuzana Halupova. There are 31 paintings exhibited here, most of them oil on canvas. She, as with Martin Janos, has a leitmotifwhich is that each painting has a girl in a pink skirt somewhere in it. Zuzana never had kids of her own and so she put one in every one of her paintings. She was member of the children’s charity UNICEF and in 1974 she painted the UNICEF Christmas Card which was sold worldwide.  She left more than 1000 paintings to the museum but due to the lack of the space only a certain number can be shown. There are talks about a new, bigger Museum to be opened in a different location.

Outside the Museum there is a courtyard with three galleries, in one of them Day tours in Serbia, ReadyClickAndGoyou can have your own portrait painted. All the galleries are run by local painters who can tell you about local life and how they have preserved their culture and traditions for over 200 years. Mr Pavel Babka, a successful painter who exhibits all around the world and is the owner of the largest gallery, pointed out that even when a painter becomes worldwide successful, he still stays in Kovacica, within very strong Slovak Community.

Day tours to Kovacica, ReadyClickAndGoTo create your own perfect day tour of  Kovačica email Tara at Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com for ideas and we can customise a tour to suit you with a private guide to show you around. See our website www.ReadyClickAndGo.com for sample sightseeing tours of Serbia.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

How to see Japan’s Snow Monkeys on a day trip from Tokyo



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You’ve seen the photos of these cute, pink-faced hairy monkeys with frosted whiskers bathing in steaming hot springs in the middle of the snow? You can visit them all-year-round at ‘Hell’s Valley’ near Nagano on a day trip from Tokyo – it’s a bit of an expedition, but here’s how;

The Snow Monkeys, Japanese Macaques, live at Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Park near Nagano which is easily reachable from Tokyo by Shinkansen train, from JR Tokyo Station. There are around 25 trains throughout the day, and the journey takes around 90-100 minutes each way, you can use a JR Rail Pass on most of the Shinkansen trains except for the super-fast Nozumi ones. If you do not have a pass, the ride is around 8,000 yen.

From Nagano Station, look for the Zenkoji exit from the station and the subway for the Nagano Dentetsu train (Nagano Electric Railway, a private railway so you cannot use a JR Rail Pass) to Yudanaka, this takes approx 50 minutes and costs 1,230 yen each way, and there are 7 express trains per day, at 0908, 1046, 1208, 1338, 1457, 1714 and 1941. The return Nagano Dentetsu trains back from Yudanaka to Nagano are at 0934, 1011, 1138, 1327, 1446, 1556, 1818 and 2049. In addition to these express trains there are slower ones in between that take about 20 minutes longer.

From Yudanaka, take a bus or taxi to Kanbayashi Onsen. From there, it’s about a 30 min walk to the Jigokudani Yaen-koen entrance, entrance 500 yen adults, 250 yen children, open 9-4 November to March, and 8.30-5 April to October. There’s no snow obviously in the summer, but the scenery of Hell’s Valley is still spectacular.

When you get to the park, there are pathways through the forest and to the special hot bath that was built for the monkeys, you’ll see them lazing in there and in the trees and as you walk around. There are about 200 monkeys living here and roaming free through the park, they are perfectly friendly and you’ll be able to get very close to them, although you should not try to feed them. You should allow a couple of hours to explore the park, you will need footwear that can cope with lots of snow in the winter, mud and monkey poo the rest of the year!

If you would like help planning a private day tripin Japan from Tokyo or Kyoto, please see our website www.ReadyClickAndGo.com or email us at Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com ReadyClickAndGo arranges private day tourswith your own English-speaking guide in Japan and throughout Asia.


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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Visit to the Spa in Serbia - Visit to the Vrnjacka Banja


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 I had decided to spend ten days in Vrnjacka Banja which is a spa situated in central Serbia, 200 km south of Belgrade close to Mount Goc and in the valleys of the Vrnjacka and  Lipovacka rivers. 
The return bus fare to Vrnjacka Spa is 850 dinar which is about £8 including the seat reservation. With your tickets and seat reservations you will get a small coin which gives you access to the departure platform for the bus. The buses are comfortable, clean and with air conditioning which is very important during the hot months of summer. At the moment, the Serbian Government is investing a huge amount of money in the motorways. Driving though the countryside is very pleasant, picturesque and during May when everything is in full bloom, very lush. The journey lasts around 3 ½ hours with short stops in the cities of Kraljevo and Krusevac to pick up other passengers. There are no toilets on the bus and the only snag is that you have to rush out of the bus station in either city, buy one of the special coins from the ticket office where queues could be a mile long, then run to the toilet! If you haven’t told your driver about your toilet excursion there is a good possibility he will leave without you!

We booked one of the best hotels in Vrnjacka Banja called The Breza, which was one of the hotels built for senior army officers. As times changed the hotel lost its glory but it’s still functional.  Officially the hotel has 3 stars but I think it should be rated lower, or refurbished. The carpets are not very clean, the hallways are dark, almost dirty, and the electric wires in some rooms look very scary – connected by isolation tape. My bed was a mattress which was ripped in the middle (I only found that out on our last day). We stayed in one of the apartments which overlooked the promenade and the park. Outside our windows there was a small balcony covered in the grass and fems. We had a TV in the room which during the day had only two channels and both of those in Serbian but during the evening you could get CNN. Our phone line was working and the fridge made a really strange noise so we decided not to use it at all. The bathroom was huge but really 1970s style. After a week the receptionist moved us to a different room which was much better – spacious, with a better mattress, a sofa, and extra bed. The TV worked during the day but we didn’t have a fridge. I preferred this room. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool, internet room with fast connection, library, restaurant and a room for table tennis, and, most importantly, a hairdresser – a cheap and good hairdresser. A cut and blow dry is only £4!!! The hotel accepts major credit cards but they prefer cash.  Breakfast is very basic – eggs, cheap salami, bread, cheese, butter, marmalade, jam, tea and coffee. As we were on half board we decided to have dinner as well which was freshly made, with different dishes every day and two choices. Also the staff was so friendly they would give you anything you asked for and if you are spoiled like me then you are in heaven. During our stay the hotel hosted two big conferences with people from all around Europe. The hotel was very accommodating and staff marvellous: hard working and always ready to put guests first. For that reason I am planning to go back and stay with in the Hotel Breza again regardless as to whether there are newer, more westernised, or better equipped hotels in the area.

I decided to take my mum on this trip to Vrnjacka Banja as she had a operation there years ago and the doctor recommended that she visits a spa regularly.

The Romans first came here for their health between the 2nd and 4th centuries, calling it AQUAE ORCINAE. The natural mineral waters here are an intrinsic part of the treatments – either by drinking them, inhaling steam, bathing, colonic irrigation and so on. You see a doctor when you arrive, and he prescribes the best utilization of the spa waters for you.    
      
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The central part of Vrnjacka spa is a well kept park, and we found there a memorial to the British doctors and nurses who helped Serbian soldiers during WWI. 
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Just outside the park is a castle called Belimirovic which is today a museum with three permanent exhibitions: photographs from 1914- 1918, a room with furniture before WWI and an exhibition of Easter eggs. Also concerts, ad hoc exhibitions, and plays take place here during the summer in an event called “100 days – 100 cultural happenings. On the opposite side of the castle on a small hill, there is the oldest building in Vrnjacka Banja- the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God built in 1834 by Prince Milos Obrenovic, and well preserved.

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The tourist office at Vrnjacka Banja is on the main street and easy to find. The girls are very well informed and happy to help with any enquires. As it was out of season I asked to hire a bike and she recommended a person near the Hotel Kralj whose main business is to repair old bicycles. He was happy to rent me one, in good condition, pink, girly as he said for 90 dinar which is £1 an hour on condition that I gave him some form of ID. I gave him my driving licence. He looked in his 70s but very fit for a man of his age. He also recommended a route to take. Of course I didn’t get a helmet - they are not obligatory in Serbia. Cycling up to the Hotel Borjak which is just outside Vranjcka Banja and in the hills wasn’t easy. Firstly I didn’t have a map and secondly I asked a small kid for directions who just said yes and brought me almost to the Goc Mountain which is opposite of where I wanted to be. An elderly lady sitting outside her house advised me in a motherly way that bikes are not for girls and that I was too far away anyway, which made me to turn back and cycle downslide which was a fantastic feeling. Nature is pristine here, and you can easily sit in the middle of the forest watching birds or admiring stones packed with different minerals. On the way down I stopped at a restaurant on the river and with a huge garden. It was very refreshing and I had 2 course meal for less then £8 including drinks and tips. 

The next day I arranged to visit the Zica Monastery which is around 25 km outside Banja.
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The Zica Monastery is an endowment of King Stefan the First Crowned and built between 1208 and 1220. Zica was the first seat of the autonomous Serbian Archbishops and it was there that 7 medieval Serbian rulers were crowned. It is painted in red – the royal colour of Serbia. The most significant part of the church is formed by the latest frescoes painted between 1309 and 1316. Nearly nothing has been saved from the once rich monastery treasury except the holy relic – the right arm of St. John the Forerunner laid in silver, which was brought to the monastery by St. Sava. Today it is preserved in St. Mary's Cathedral in Sienna. The Monastery was heavily bombed during WWII by the Germans and set on fire during their occupation.  Today it is a women’s monastery and there is only one fifth of the frescos left. The nuns support themselves by working on the land, making teas and honey which they sell. Worship takes place every day at 5 pm and I would recommend it to anyone. The singing is beautiful and the acoustics in the church are very good. The whole atmosphere is made more mysterious by closing the entry doors and the ancient rituals at the end of prayers.
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There are other Monasteries in close proximity to Vrnjacka Banja such us Ljubostnja , Studenica and newish one - Sv Petka. Also it is possible to organise a wine tour and horse riding.
Evening life in Vrnjacka Banja includes lots of walking up and down or sitting in the gardens of so many cafés and restaurants. Alternatively you can listen to live music, a concert or go to the cinema. Or even better just go to bed!
                                                     

                                                                                      
For more information regarding travelling in Serbia please email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Today is a Day for #DTTOT


WHY #DTTOT

We don’t talk about hotels, about flights, about food - we talk about small but most important part of your holiday - day trips, shore excursions, sightseeing, travel experiences, activities...And we talk about it on twitter...

The #DTTOT was started by Tara from @PrivateDayTrips and now the talk is hosted by many other fellows obsessed with day trips, shore excursions, sightseeing, travel experiences, activities...

HOW TO TAKE PART

JOIN US by signing into your twitter accounts and by following #DTTOT. Simple!
We hold chats every Tuesday between 6-7 PM GMT (Greenwich Mean time)
Come and join us when you can. It’s fun and it’s free.