Travel

What is the Krampuslauf?

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Culture & Festivals

I’m certainly not the only one who has been wondering what a Krampuslauf is all about and how on earth it’s relevant to the festive and happy Christmas holidays every time December rolls around.

Before visiting Graz, Austria, I had never heard of a Krampuslauf, but I’d definitely seen a few Facebook and YouTube videos float by over the last few years featuring wild demons dancing through the night and scaring the children around the streets of Austria. Initially, I was sure it was a prank, or perhaps a Halloween tradition celebrated a little too late in the season, until the film Krampus came out in 2015.

Krampus and the Krampuslauf are definitely a thing.

More specifically, it is a traditional Austrian procession that tells the story of a folklore tale about Krampus, an anthropomorphic creature (half-goat, half-demon) who punishes children who have misbehaved throughout the year.

Instead of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) leaving a lump of coal in your stocking when you’re naughty in North America, the children of Austria are whipped and punished by these horrific demons that roam the streets early in December.

Despite the fact that I feel like I’m about to write you a horror novel, the Krampuslauf was one of the coolest, wildest, most adrenaline pumping experiences of my life. So, before I go on to tell you a bit more about the stories that lie behind the Krampuslauf, I want to tell you that this is definitely something you need to add to your travel experience list when visiting Graz, Austria in the winter time.

And now it’s time to tell the story…

 

Who and what exactly is Krampus?

This horned half-goat, half-demon is a folklore figure often described to have obscenely large horns, a thick furry body, massive hooves and the devil’s eyes. He is often seen wearing and/or carrying baskets full of birch sticks, chains, horse hair and might just breathe fire when you’re least expecting it.

Fun Fact: The word Krampus derives from the old Germanic word “Krampen” which in English means ‘claw’

Krampus is said to be one of Saint Nicholas’ companions and is not just known in Graz, Austria, but around the entire country and in other neighbouring countries like Croatia, Southern Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Northern Italy.

While many international traditions are quite different, there are a number of European countries who celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. In countries like Austria and Germany, St. Nicholas comes on the night of December 6th shortly after the children have put their boots out on the doorstep and have fallen asleep, and stuffs the children’s boots full of chocolate, candy and money. However, for the children who have been bad, their boots will lay empty and they’ll have another surprise waiting for them in the shadows of the night.  

The night before December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) is known as Krampus Night (Krampusnacht).

As the story goes, Krampus will come out, punish the naughty children and then bring them down into the underworld with him where they will never be seen again.

Are you scared yet? How would you like to experience a parade of more than 400 Krampuses running through the dark alleys of the town?

 

What is the Krampuslauf?

The Krampuslauf is a traditional parade known in English as the Krampus Run. I had the opportunity to experience the Krampuslauf at the “Advent Market” close to the City Hall in Graz, Austria this year and I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it.

During this festive Christmas procession (the Krampuslauf) in Graz, many of the Krampuses were played by young local men and women. They dressed up in goat and/or sheep skin suits, strapped animal horns to their heads and often wore hand carved masks. We also found a lot of modern outfits which consisted of latex masks, fake fur and hand crafted weapons. However, regardless of which costume they chose, one thing was for sure… the Krampuslauf was terrifying!

The event started at 4:00 PM and in the dead of winter, the sun started to set rather quickly. It was only after a few Krampuses had made their first entrance out onto the streets when the sky fell to dusk and the fire breathing Krampuses started lighting the path along the Herrengasse. The parade lasted 2 hours and despite the freezing cold temperatures, I was filled with excitement waiting to see what might be lurking around the next corner. There were more than 400 gruesome creatures dancing the streets that evening. Many of them were whipping the legs of children, stealing hats and often handing out Krampus schnapps (a fruit brandy) to the adults in the crowd.

However, there is one very important part that I’m missing here, and that is that during the Krampuslauf, there were more creatures in attendance. Saint Nikolaus, Perchten, angels and old women also made guest appearances throughout the night.

The Perchten and the angels made their appearances during the Krampuslauf in white or black feathers/wings and dresses. The Perchten are typically a group of women who roam the streets in brown wooden masks and sheepskin warding off the evil and saving the children from Krampus. They also often have their own day of celebration around the winter solstice and the 6th of January, but have been known to make an appearance at many Krampuslaufen around Austria in recent years.

Fun Fact: The word Perchten derives from the old Germanic word “Perchta” which in English means ‘bright or brilliant’

To be completely honest, I’m not really sure why Saint Nicholas plays a role in his counterparts (Krampus) big procession, but it definitely made for a thrilling performance!

 

Where did Krampus and the Krampuslauf originate?

As the legend goes, Krampus is a folklore figure that dates back to the pre-Christian traditions in the Alpine regions. However, the unique part about this mythical figure is that no one really seems to know exactly where and when he made his first appearance. Though it is to be said that Krampus may have derived from the form of the Horned God of the Witches.

 

What is the Horned God of the Witches you ask?

Well, the Horned God of the Witches is known as the creator or god that was found in Wicca traditions. Wicca is a pagan witchcraft that was developed in England throughout the beginning of the 20th century and had a heavy focus on ritual practices.

This Horned God represented the masculine part of the Wicca religion, while the feminine part was represented by the Mother Goddess or the Triple Goddess of the Moon. He represented the life cycle of the people in regards to nature, sexuality, hunting and wilderness.

Or, instead of the Horned God of the Witches, Krampus could have also derived from Hel, the goddess of the dead.

What is a Hel Goddess you ask?

Well, the Hel Goddess is the ruler of Hel (or as we in English, know it as “Hell”) or the ruler of the underworld where many of the dead are laid to rest.

Fun Fact: The word “Hel” derives from the Old Norse language, a Germanic language spoken only by the Vikings. Hel in English actually means “hidden”, get it? The ‘hidden’ underworld?

The Hel Goddess has been known for many generations as being cruel, greedy and nasty. She was often recognized as half-white and half-black with a particularly gruesome appearance (similar to Krampus).

 

Or, instead of the Hel Goddess, Krampus could have derived from a pagan supernatural similar to the Christian devil.

Of course, I could go on forever about all the different myths and stories about how and where Krampus originates from, but one thing is for sure, Krampus is half-goat and half-demon and comes from the underworld (which many of us know in English as ‘Hell’).

Of course, in addition to Krampus himself, many of the objects that Krampus carries with him on the night of the Krampuslauf have significant meanings too.

  • The metal chains: signify the Christian phrase of “binding the devil”

  • The wrapped birch twigs: were commonly used during witchcraft initiations

  • The Krampus schnapps: a strongly brewed batch of fruit brandy perhaps just um…. celebrates the occasion?

 

What makes the Graz Krampuslauf so special?

The old town of Graz offers a perfect magical Christmas fairytale setting, so much so that when the Krampuses come out for a run, it sends tingles down your spine, as if you weren’t expecting it.

You can spend the entire day sipping on mulled wine (Glühwein), eating Styrian favourites and singing Christmas carols, but when the sun sets, the entire feeling of the city changes. The windows vibrate with the sounds of growls, roars and clanking chains, suspenseful music blasts out of the speakers from chained cars and wagons, and fireballs light up the night sky. The experience of the Graz Krampuslauf is truly one of a kind and can only be described as bone chilling, exhilarating and a must see for all ages!

What’s even more unique for the region of Styria, is that the wrapped birch twigs (as mentioned above) have a very special role in family households. These wrapped twigs are called Ruten bundles and are often presented by Krampus to families around the region. These bundles are spray painted gold and to be put up on display in the family household for the entire year. Why? Because this gold bundle of birch twigs will remind all the children that Krampus is never far away and will always know when you’ve done something naughty.

 

Tips to Conquering the Krampuslauf in Graz

There’s no doubt that the Krampuslauf is a popular event for locals and visitors alike. People fly from all over the world to experience this one of a kind event. That means that you won’t be the only one in attendance, so you’re definitely going to have to plan a little bit in advance.

 

Make sure you arrive 30 - 45 minutes early

When we first arrived in Graz, we assumed being 20 minutes early to the Krampuslauf would leave us plenty of room to find the best spot along the route. Boy, were we wrong! The Krampuslauf runs along the Herrengasse to the City Hall and is absolutely packed with visitors. So, remember to head there at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the procession.

 

Find the best place to stand

Even if you’ve managed to snag a front row spot for the Krampuslauf, there’s definitely better locations and sub-par locations as to where you can be standing. If you’re not too eager to snap photos during the event, this tip might not be as important to you. However, if you’re hoping to take photos, make sure you’re standing in front of the barriers at a turning point. As soon as the Krampuslauf starts, the Krampuses make a turn along the Herrengasse, this is where I was, and I can highly recommend it!

 

Dress warm!

Don’t forget that it’s the beginning of December which means the temperatures will drop and it can get pretty chilly once the sun goes down. You might be filled with adrenaline and excitement, but make sure you don’t forget to pack that warm jacket, mittens and a hat!

 

More tips for Graz, Austria

Have I sold you on visiting Graz during the winter season? Good!

Just don’t forget that there is a ton more to do in the city of Graz while you’re there. Actually, so much so, that I’ve also put together the Ultimate Winter Weekend Guide to Graz to help you create the perfect itinerary while you’re visiting.

Of course, no trip to Graz in the winter is complete without a few too many cups of Glühwein!

So dress warm, get out there and have fun!

 

Travel tip shared by Jenna for Travel Dudes.

The #VisitGraz trip was created and managed in association with the Graz Tourism Board. Travel Dudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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Traveling James Bond Style From Chamonix to La Palud

Looking for something a little different to do in Europe? A different mode of transport, perhaps?

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably always looking for a new adventure, something a little unusual.

So if you want to make a James Bond style entrance between countries then we’ve got just the adventure for you.

 

Glacier Express to Chamonix

This trip starts in the usual way with a train ride on the Glacier Express into Chamonix, but it’s no ordinary train. Think large glass windows to make the most of those stunning views through the European Alps. And if you’re lucky, the driver may just let you up in the cabin to see what’s ahead.

 

Picture Perfect Chamonix

Once you’ve arrived in Chamonix you’ll no doubt want to have a look around – the town is picture-book perfect and easy enough to get around on foot in a day. But don’t just stick to the town, there are dozens of walks you can do in the surrounding mountains, and if you’re not really a walker, cablecars will help you get to the top in no time to make the most of those views.

 

Where to Stay

We stayed just outside the town centre at Chalet Les Frenes in Les Bossons.  The Bed and Breakfast/hostel is nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc and has amazing vistas up to the Alps. There is also an outdoor hot tub with views across the mountain range so make sure you take your bathers.

 

Hiking to Lac Blanc

We walked up the stunning La Flagere and took the four hour walk to Lac Blanc, up to 2352 metres – yep, it’s all up hill. But the views are worth it and if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife along the way.  We saw two ibex, meandering around the lake.

The walk took us up into the snow line and provided stunning views across the French Alps.  The views across to the Mont Blanc mountain range are awe-inspiring, even covered with cloud.

 

Crossing International Borders

But what does this have to do with James Bond? I hear you asking.

You’ll need to set aside a day or two for this adventure, and pack lightly! You really don’t want to be lugging around a whole lot of stuff, after all that’s very un-James Bond like behavior.

We can’t stress enough how much we loved this experience – traveling from France to Italy via cablecar. That’s right, you’re going to cross international borders from your own little pod swinging across the top of Europe.

 

The Cablecar Ride

You’ll be doing a bit of cablecar hopping here, so bear with us. First up, from the Chamonix city center head up to Aiguille Du Midi at 3842m. From here you’ll have amazing views over the mountain ranges, and into Chamonix below. The views are awe-inspiring, dramatic mountains all around.

But it’s the trip from Aiguille Du Midi across to Helbronner in Italy that will really take your breath away. The journey lasts about half an hour – including regular stops so that you can adequately photograph the surrounding mountains – oh and so passengers can get on and off.

From here, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Mer De Glace, Mont Blanc  - the highest mountain in Europe - and the Swiss, French and Italian alps.

You’ll see brave souls wandering across the barren landscape, and the crevices and rock faces they’ll have to tackle.

The cable cars themselves travel in threes, with two people in each car, it’s an eerie feeling to be in such a quiet car suspended between the mountains swinging across the top of Europe.

 

Helbronner

Helbronner – officially on the border of France and Italy – sits at 3462 metres.

You could take a cable car back, but we’d recommend staying overnight in Italy and checking out the Italian Alps.

From Hellbronner you’ll need to take another cable car down through Rifugio Torino at 3335 metres, Pavillon Du Mont Frety, at 2173 m and into La Palud at 1370m.

Stay in either La Palud or the larger, nearby, Courmayeur. We stayed in La Palud, but ate in Courmayeur. Both are pretty, but there’s more choice of hotels and restaurants in Courmayeur.

We had the biggest pizza we’ve ever had in Courmayeur at the Pizzeria Ristorante Du Tunnel.

And you’ll probably want to have a martini with dinner… shaken not stirred!

 

Travel tip shared by AllAbroadAU
www.allabroad.com.au

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Going Camping in the Outback? Here’s What to Consider

I am far from an experienced camper.

To be honest, my tour through the heartland of OZ was the first ever real camping experience for me, but because of this I feel that I can share my findings with other likewise inexperienced travellers so as to prepare them for what is involved.

 

Here my tips for camping in Australia

Accommodation

In Australia, the swag is the way to go. Sure, on some tours and inbetween there will be hostel beds (whether soft and clean or not is a different matter altogether) as well as tin shed bungalows, but the real way to spend the night is in a sleeping bag. Now, it doesn’t have to be a swag every night, sometimes there are tent or safari huts, but a sleeping bag will be your essential Aussie experience. Just make sure to check the night temperatures before buying one. They need to fit the season.

Speaking of sleeping bags, the less is more clothingwise. I know it doesn’t seem to make sense, but if you want to be warm, wear less. The bags are designed to give back your body warmth, but it won’t work if you trap it in your clothes.

 

Water

This deserves its own category since it should be your constant companion. The sun is not your friend and you will easily dehydrate. Drink about a litre every hour that you are walking. I really mean it, you will need water even if you are not thirsty yet. A hat can only protect you so much from a heat stroke but dehydration through constant sweating and hiking trips should not be a problem if you carry your 1.5 to 2 litre water bottle with you at all times. There are water stations at every toilet as well as signs reminding you to drink near the big attractions so you will have no excuse not to fill up.

 

Other Essentials

Other items on your essential list should include sun lotion (seriously, put it on!), insect repellent as well as a torch. Out there in the wild you will need a light to find your way over leaves and branches, making sure not to step on a resting blackadder and over to the toilets at the other end of the camp. Sure, the lights from the moon and stars are insanely bright, but you might camp in a forest and should be prepared for darkness. Also, wallabies like to creep up and this way you can see their reflecting eyes coming towards you. Might be a bit scary, though.

Don’t bring the good clothes with you or even lightly coloured ones. The red sand will conquer them and the stains don’t wash out. I’ve tried and failed. In one of our camps they even sold dirt shirts. Maybe I should do that, too and throw some dirty socks in the mix? Would anyone be interested in buying that?

 

Wildlife

That said, even if you flash a torchlight at some creepy crawlers they might be utterly unimpressed and you still need to make the effort of moving around them. I saw spiders playing dead and wallabies trying to enter a staring contest with me. Speaking of Wallabies. Do not underestimate them. They might look cute and cuddly, but will raid or even eat through your bags to get to food. Put everything away safely and don’t be alarmed when they come running towards you and seeking through leaves next to your very ear. They actually can be scary but are harmless.

Other guests will include mozzies as the Aussies like to call mosquitos, a constant source of blowflies, lizards and grasshoppers. If you camp near a source of water in the Northern Territory there might also be crocodiles but they are too lazy and hopefully well fed to bother walking all the way up to where you sleep.

 

Standards

Another important thing to realize before deciding on camping is hygiene. It might be obvious, but there are no water pipes and soap dispensers in the bush. If there is a toilet at all, it will be a self composting one, which is basically a loo that goes to a hole in the ground with lots of bacteria turning its content into fertilizer. But that’s about it. Toilet paper and nothing more. Sometimes there is water, sometimes there isn’t. Carry a hand sanitizer with you is all I’m saying.

Sure you could also pour the water you’ve brought with you over your hands but that would be pretty wasteful since it is meant to be drunk and you certainly need it in the desert like countryside. The fill up tank in the tour guide’s van (or hopefully in your own if you drive yourself) should be used exclusively for drinking. Water is valuable out here. You could decide on carrying a container with untreated water with you if you really feel like you need it. Believe me, I can relate to your poking your nose. I used to be a germophobe. The outback toughens you up.

 

Sleeping Schedule

Dawn is your wakeup call and dusk your lullaby. Do it like in the old days before electricity became a commonplace thing: organise your day with the sun. You see much more getting up before the first bird song and being out and about. Trust me, I am a night owl and had trouble coping but at lunch time I had already been on my feet for 9 hours and had seen so many great things, it is well worth it. Plus, you can sleep on the car or bus, unless you’re driving, of course.

 

Costs

Another obvious one are price tags. Anything that needs to be brought up to the outback is more costly. Think double the price in supermarkets and liquor shops – especially the ones in small towns and – as always – at petrol stations and in roadhouses. Ice cream to go stays relatively cheap, which is handy since that is one kind of food you don’t want to be bringing with you in the heat. So, for instance, if you head out to Ayers Rock from Alice Springs, pack your groceries in a cooler bag. The resort over at the rock does have a supermarket and little stores but the prices are higher.

 

Long Drives

You are in the outback so do not expect lots of landscape changes. The longer you drive – and you will certainly drive long distances – the more the landscape does change but not radically. There might be less tress, more bushlands and ultimately just sand and a couple of grass patches but it can be a dreary ride. So make sure to stop every now and then to rest yourself if you get to weary. You might even spot a rare thorny devil or snake slithering away under a shady rock. Just don’t try to touch anything. You never know what it would do in Australia.

Even boring rides are part of the magic of an Australian road trip. In such a big country driving for hours on end without seeing more than just a handful of cars can be refreshing and should be embraced. If that makes you feel unsafe, you can always notify the authorities about your travel plans, but if you stay on the roads and keep your tank full, there is no problem.

 

Attitude

If you demand luxury and comfort from a trip to the outback you are doing it wrong. Sure, you can choose to stay at a luxury resort at Ayers Rock with exquisite dining facilities and spa but at one point you have to put on your hiking boots and go out there, getting sand into your hair, sticky sunscreen on your skin and sweating like a pig in the baking sun. And do this for hours without a toilet.  It goes without saying that you should drink enough, walk a lot and don’t complain.

Also, please be not one of those tourists that walk along Ayers Rock without glancing up, those who trample on its environment and do not appreciate the honour of being on such sacred Aboriginal grounds. Be considerate and be grateful.

Another big factor is common sense. Do not do anything stupid or reckless; the outback is relentless and can kill you in a second. For instance, do not take jumping pictures on a hanging cliff, do not climb beyond fences or walk without watching your step. It could be slithery rocks or slithering snakes, but ultimately, your eyes and brains should be fully functional and veered to where you are walking and what you are doing. It’s that simple.

 

Conclusion

I hope I haven’t scared you off. I was a bit reluctant and sceptical as to how a trip to the outback would be seeing that I always hated the idea of camping and adding to that the dangers that Australia has plenty of, it seemed like a task that might be too much. It wasn’t.

I loved it and would always do it again!

See if the outback doesn’t make you fall head over heels. I dare you!

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Top 10 Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Functional or stylish? We’ve all had to make that decision before regarding what type of daypack we should get for our next big trip.

While deep down we know we should go for functional, the strong desire to still look good while traipsing through the airport duty free section often over-rides. What ultimately happens is sore shoulders from bad straps and frustration when you can’t find anything in your bag and have to unpack everything just to find your passport!

Luckily, those days are over with a huge range of both functional and stylish daypacks on the market. These daypacks can be used for all sorts of activities, from carry-ons to bags used for your daily commute. You can now look stylish while perfectly carry everything that you need while on the go.

It can be tricky to find a decent daypack though, so we’ve done the hard work for you and asked around to find the top 10 functional & stylish daypacks currently on the market.

 

Top 10 Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Listed in order of price (from lowest to highest).

1. The North Face Vault

This one is for the slightly sportier folk. It is one of North Face’s slightly less rugged options. Featuring a FlexVent, suspension system with compression-moulded shoulder straps and a ventilated back pad. It also has a 15” laptop sleeve in the main compartment and comes in a variety of colours and patterns.

Buy on Amazon for $55

 

2. Jansport Hatchet Backpack

This daypack comes in a variety of colours and patterns, from floral designs to two-tone colours. It fits up to 15” laptops and has a spacious interior with various compartments. The padded straps make it comfortable to carry for long periods of time.

Buy on Amazon for $60

 

3. Eastpak Austin Backpack

This daykpack can easily be used for both the office and exploring the great outdoors. It has a padded back and shoulders, making it really comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It has a drawstring close and buckle-strap for aesthetic purposes. The main compartment is roomy with a padded laptop sleeve and two side pockets. It comes in a variety of colours, including a few fun floral designs.

Buy on Amazon for $60

 

4. Patagonia Ironwood Pack

This daypack is made with 100% recycled polyester with a water repellent finish, making it durable and large enough to hold everything that you’d need while on the go. The main compartment is generous with an exterior zipped stash pocked and an interior padded laptop sleeve that protects most 15” laptops.

Buy on Amazon for $87

 

5. Sydney Paige Guidi

This stylish daypack has three external zip pockets and a spacious main compartment with large laptop fleece-lined padded sleeve. The main section has a drawstring and magnetic closure, and the back and shoulder straps are padded. What’s even more awesome about this daypack is that for every bag bought, a matching backpack will be filled with school supplies and donated to a child in need!

Buy on Amazon for $90

 

6. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

This Herschel pack has a fleece lined laptop sleeve pocket, as well as ventilated mesh back padding, keeping you cool while on the go. The front magnetic buckles give it an old-fashioned rucksack feel, and this one also comes in various colours and designs (including the popular floral design). There aren’t as many compartments as some other bags, with only the main section and one outside pocket.

Buy on Amazon for $100

 

7. Sandqvist Kim Ground

This Swedish daypack was designed to work well for both Nordic escapes and city galivanting – while still looking stylish. The interior laptop pocket will fit a 14” laptop and there is a big exterior pocket that will hold a decent amount of goodies to save you rummaging in the main compartment. It comes in petrol blue, blue, and black.

Buy on Amazon for $110

 

8. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack

This backpack features a funky square look and comes in a range of bright colours – don’t worry, they also have the generic black and grey if that’s more your vibe. There is a laptop sleeve in the main compartment, along with a document sleeve. On the outside there’s a small external pocket where you can store your other goodies.

Buy on Amazon for $110

 

9. Heimplanet Monolith Minimal Daypack

If you’re all about living the minimalist life then this daypack is for you. They come in either black, navy, or white. While it looks super basic from the outside, it’s not lacking any features. It is built from 500D Cordura and lined with water-resistant YKK zippers. Overall it can carry 18 litres, and can fit a 15” laptop in its internal sleeve.

Buy on Amazon for $120

 

10. MIS Backpack

This daypack features a military backpack design. MIS stands for ‘Make It Simple’, which is exactly what this daypack is about. The exterior is water-resistant and it has a self-repairing YKK zipper. The interior has a 15” laptop pouch and a small mesh pocket for easy access and organisation (the perfect place to keep your passport!). It can also carry up to 18 litres.

Buy on Amazon for $135 

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget for Travel Dudes

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Popular Places to Visit in Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is a charming hill station located in Satara district of Maharashtra. At an altitude of 1,353 m in the Western Ghats range, Mahabaleshwar is known for its fascinating beauty, ancient temples, gorgeous waterfalls, misty hills, and valleys.

This pristine hill station is the source of the Krishna River that flows across Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Mahabaleshwar is one of the top monsoon destinations in India and also one of the best weekend getaways from Mumbai and Pune.

There are several viewpoints that are strategically located to capture the panoramic views. Arthur’s Seat, Wilson Point, Kate’s Point & Elephant head Point, Connaught Peak and Bombay Point are popular viewpoints. 

 

6 popular tourist places to visit in Mahabaleshwar

Elephant’s Head Point & Kate’s Point

Elephant's Head Point or Needle Point is one of the most popular vantage points in Mahabaleshwar. It is named after Kate, daughter of Sir John Malcom, founder of Mahabaleshwar. The overhanging cliffs of this point are similar to the head of an elephant and its trunk. Thus, the point named as Elephant's Head Point and is among the best tourist attractions in Mahabaleshwar. This vantage point is the extreme end of the mountain range and lies beyond the Lodwick Point. 

 

Mahabaleshwar Temple

Mahabaleshwar Temple is an ancient temple situated in Old Mahabaleshwar. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is one of the most popular Mahabaleshwar tourist places. The temple was built in South Indian Hemadant style. The temple is enclosed by a 5 foot wall and is divided into two areas, the sanctum sanctorum and the central hall. The main sanctum has Shiva linga made of black stone, which is 500 years old swayambhu lingam. This self-originated lingam is in the shape of Rudraksha and is called Mahalingam. It is considered to be superior to the twelve Jyothir Lingams. The trishul of Lord Shiva along with his Damru, Rudraksha and one bed has been preserved in this temple and these are around 300 years old.

 

Arthur’s Seat

Popularly known as Queen of the Points, Arthur Seat Point is the most popular viewpoint in Mahabaleshwar and among the top places to experience Mahabaleshwar Tourism. This place is named after Arthur Mallet, the first man to build a house at this point. Situated at an altitude of 1340 m, Arthur Point is surrounded by the deep Savitri gorge on one side and a lush green plateau on the other side.

The gravitational force of the earth at this point is minimum and lighter objects thrown into the valley are said to fly up due to this reverse force. One can also see Tiger's spring, the source of Savitri River. Arthur's Seat is the largest of the three parts of the Arthur's Seat Volcano site of special scientific interest which is designated to protect its important geology grassland habitats and uncommon plant and animal species.

 

Pratapgad Fort

Pratapgad, also known as Pratapgarh, is a huge hill fort located in Satara district of Maharashtra. At an altitude of 1080 m, Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj had constructed the fort in 16th century to defend the banks of Nira River, Koyna River and Par pass. Pratapgarh Fort is among the best forts in Maharashtra and among the top place to visit in Mahabaleshwar and one of the best historical forts near Pune. Pratapgad consists of two parts. The upper fort houses several buildings, including a Mahadev Temple and the lower fort houses Bhavani Temple on the eastern side.

 

Krishnabai / Krishna Devi Temple

Krishnabai Temple is an old temple situated in Old Mahabaleshwar near Panch Ganga temple. The temple was built in 1888 by a ruler of Ratnagiri on a hilltop overlooking the Krishna valley. The Temple has a Shiva lingam and a statue of Lord Shiva. The temple is considered to be the source of Krishna River. A small stream of water from a cow-face (gomukh) flows into a water tank and further joins other water sources to form a full-fledged river. The temple is also known for its stone carvings and architecturally acclaimed ceiling.  It also offers enchanting views of the Krishna valley and surrounding countryside.

 

Venna Lake & Dam

Venna Lake is a manmade lake constructed in 1842 by Sri Appa Saheb Maharaja. Venna Lake has an area of about 28 acres having periphery around 7-8 km and is fed by repeated springs. Surrounded by lush greenery, Venna Lake is a very popular spot among honeymooners as well as families and also one of the top places to visit in Mahabaleshwar town. Tourists can enjoy a boat ride in the lake or a horse ride next to the lake. Row and Pedal boats are available for the tourists.

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A Guide to Barcelona’s LGBT Community

Often referred to as the gay capital of Southern Europe, over the past twenty years Barcelona has become one of the world’s favourite LGBT destinations for tourists from every side of the globe…

The city is known for having an open and liberal lifestyle, something that is highly reflected in its vibrant LGBT scene of cool clubs, bars, and restaurants. So we thought it was only fitting that we wrote a...

 

Guide to some of our favourite LGBT hot spots in Barcelona:

Eixample

The heart of Barcelona’s gay party scene lies within the Eixample district, aptly nicknamed Gayxample or Gaixample.

The streets around Carrer de Casanova and above the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes are full of fantastic gay hangouts, restaurants, boutiques, sex shops, nightclubs, and even gay saunas. 

The area with the most gay bars and clubs is located near Carrer de la Diputació and Carrer d’ Aragó. Some of the most popular bars here include:

• Punto BCN Café 

• Atame

• Moeem Bar

However, undoubtedly the city’s most famous gay club is Arena Classic (also called Aire Club on Thursdays.) Arena Classic comes alive on the weekend with go-go and cage dancers, great music, affordable drinks, and makeshift dark rooms.

Another great option close to Arena is Metro Club, also a popular LGBT choice in the city with multiple dance floors, dark rooms, and extraordinary shows.

 

Gracia

Known as being one of Barcelona’s trendiest neighbourhoods, it’s no surprise that Gracia is home to plenty of cool bars and LGBT hangouts. 

Two of our favourites include The New Chaps Gay Bar on Avinguda Diagonal (a great spot to grab a beer with a chilled atmosphere) and Café Tenderete near Plaça del Sol, which offers craft cocktails and a delicious range of vegan tapas.

 

El Raval

Few know that the city’s first lesbian bar (La Sal) was in fact found within the many winding streets of the Raval Quarter. Today, the Raval neighbourhood is growing in popularity amongst the LGBT community and is also home to plenty of our favourite LGBT hot spots!

We recommend La Casa de la Pradera that serve a free tapa with every drink, and Pervert Club, where you will usually find a younger crowd and a range of electronic music. 

 

Barcelona's Beaches

Going to the beach is always a good idea in Barcelona, but the city also has a selection of beaches favoured by the local gay community. Platja de Sant Sebastià, located at the end of Barceloneta by Hotel W, is a beach where clothing is optional. Platja de la Mar Bella is also popular amongst the gay and nudist communities.  

Just 35km southwest of Barcelona is Sitges, Spain’s gay beach resort. This beautiful seaside town has long been a major destination for gay tourists because of its large number of gay clubs and bars. In February, the town’s LGBT community also takes a leading role in Sitges’ wild Carnaval celebrations, something that just can’t be missed...

 

Events and Festivals

Pride Barcelona

Every summer since 2008, Barcelona has hosted one of the main gay pride celebrations in the whole of Europe: Pride Barcelona. For one full week, the city celebrates with both protest and festivity, cementing Barcelona’s part in the fight for complete LGBT rights and freedom.

 

Circuit Festival

Barcelona’s most famous summer clubbing event is Circuit Festival, an 11 day party with more than 15 parties, 40 DJS, and tens of thousands of people. Every year they host a waterpark day event where you can head to Illa Fantasia water park in Vilassar de Dalt, a village just north of Barcelona. For many, this trip is the highlight of the whole festival!

 

The International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

FICGLB, The International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is held in October every year in Barcelona. Films from a range of genres (animation, feature films, short films, and documentaries) compete in a number of categories, while the festival promotes tolerance and respect for different sexualities and identities. For €4 a ticket, you’d be foolish to miss this.

 

Panteresports

Every year Barcelona sports club Panteres Grogues, hosts an international multi-sport tournament for the LGBT community. Attendees will be able to take advantage of the summer season playing sports such as football, padel, beach volleyball, squash, and yoga. There are also social events during the tournament like group dinners, brunches, and after parties.

 

Other Events

Organised every Saturday night by the Matinée group, the Girlicious Party for women takes over Bloc club, while on Sunday evenings, monthly parties like La Ká at Sala Plataforma, and Churros con Chocolate at Sala Apolo take place.

It’s no surprise that Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular LGBT cities, so what are you waiting for? Come and join the party.

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St Petersburg, Russia White Nights: The Best Time to Travel

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Activities

What's the best time to visit St Petersburg, Russia? During White Nights, of course! It happens in June and July, when it never gets totally dark.
 
Are you planning to travel to Saint Petersburg or other cities in Russia anytime soon? Then this video is for you, just make sure that you go during June and July.
 
In this first travel guide, you will see: 

Day 1 in St Petersburg

0:10 - Quick tour around
1:35 - Settling in at the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe 
3:23 - Dinner at Azia Restaurant
5:11 - Evening Boat Tour at the historic center during White Nights
 
 
Travel video shared by renatapereira
renatapereira.tv

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59° 56' 5.658" N, 30° 19' 47.4132" E

Five Beaches that are Hot Year Round

On to the beach! With rushing waves and lying on warm sand, while looking in the blue sky. A cool drink within easy reach. For many this is the dream holiday experience.

In summer it is not difficult to reach the nearest beach. Whether it's the Baltic Sea, North Sea or Mediterranean - most places can be accessed by train, car or bicycle.

But as long as bad weather prevails in Europe, an air journey must already be considered.

But then the goal must be really true: Here are tips for beaches that may not be completely secret but can still fulfill dreams - from January to December.

 

Five Beaches that are Hot Year Round

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its breathtaking nature - in addition to rainforests, waterfalls and volcanoes, it also includes diverse wildlife and plenty of beaches.

Particularly beautiful are the sheltered bays of the National Park Manuel Antonio. The Playa Manuel Antonio is just a short walk from the park entrance: the sand is white and fine, capuchin monkeys are playing in the palm trees, sloths and toucans can be discovered in the treetops. 

How warm?

  • Air: 26 degrees

  • Water: 30 degrees

 

Sanibel Island On Florida

A soft crunching and crackling, a constant rustling and clacking welcomes the beach visitors in the tropical natural paradise of Sanibel Island on Florida's southwest coast. There are supposed to be more than 350 different types of mussels in different shapes - more than anywhere else in the world. On the kilometer-long beach, young and old look for precious specimens such as the speckled olive snail or the tiger-crowned scallop - Sanibel's greatest treasure. 

How warm?

  • Air: 25 degrees

  • Water: 24 degrees

 

Seychelles

Of course, beautiful bays and beaches are many. But anyone who has ever visited the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean knows paradise - or what some people imagine. One of the most beautiful bays is the Anse Lazio on the island of Praslin. With palm trees over clear water that laps the rocks, this place is a popular photo wallpaper motif - and capable of causing terrible wanderlust. 

How warm?

  • Air: 28 degrees

  • Water: 27 degrees

 

Thailand

In the water colorful fishing boats rock, in the shade of the palm trees the fishermen sit and mend their nets. Coconut farmers peel the marrow from the fruits. The sea shines in all colors between ink blue and turquoise green. On the Thai island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Siam, such holiday dreams come true - and especially on the quiet double beach Tong Nai Pan. 

How warm?

  • Air: 30 degrees 

  • Water: 29 degrees

 

Majorca

Three densely wooded headlands stretch into the sea, and in between are two white-yellow sand bays in the Cala Mondragó on the southeast coast of Majorca. The two beaches Ses Fonts de n'Alis and S'Amarador are connected by a narrow trail. Aleppo pines and holm oaks are reflected in the various shades of blue in the sea, while rare birdsong can be heard in the bird protection zone of the Parc natural de Mondragó. 

How warm?

  • Air: 22 degrees

  • Water: 17 degrees

 

The above five hot beaches are the wonderful places where you can go in any season. 

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What to Know When Visiting New Orleans

New Orleans is located in the Louisiana state of United States of America. It is also one of the main ports of the USA. This city is slightly unique due to its varied culture. It is especially known for its French Creole Architecture.

Besides, it is also the place where the famous jazz music style was born. The cuisine of New Orleans is very distinct and one of the most notable events of the country takes place in this city.

Climate-wise, October to November is the best time to visit New Orleans. But the absence of festivals and events stops people from visiting New Orleans in these months.

 

What to Know When Visiting New Orleans

New Orleans is popular for

Long back, New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina and after that, mass development took place. Various buildings were erected and a new era began. These buildings form the basis of architectural popularity of this city. The most famous type of house styling in New Orleans is the French Creole house type.

These houses are beautifully made, have large courtyards and spacious balconies. One should also visit the Magazine Street which is filled with different kinds of stores and shops.

The music style Jazz was born in this city and that too by allowing slaves to play live music which shows how much humility this city has. New Orleans is also very famous for hip-hop music. It has been an incentive to the career of well known rappers like Lil’ Wayne, etc.

 

Recreational activities

One must definitely go for bicycling around this city because of its beautiful landscapes. New Orleans is a pretty religious city and visiting St. Louis Catholic Cathedral is a mandatory task. Football is extensively played in this city and New Orleans has a highly participating women’s football team as well.

One can also visit the National World War II Museum where one can procure information related to Invasion of Normandy. In this city, is located the Audubon Nature Institute which is home to different types of flora and fauna. 

View more activities in New Orleans.

 

When to visit

The best time to visit New Orleans is between February to May. In these four months, the two biggest festivals of New Orleans take place. These events are Mardi gras (which is more of a carnival) and the famous Jazz fest. The tourist crowd is highest in these months and the rates of stay and other facilities are a little higher than anticipated.

But, this city can be visited any time actually. There’s always so much fun happening around - in the clubs, on the streets and everywhere else, that one will never be disappointed on visiting this city any time of the year. 

Look for accommodation in New Orleans.

Top Activities That Make South Africa a Paradise for Adventurers

The nail-biting activities in South African land push thousands of adrenaline junkies every year.

South Africa is home to many awe-inspiring coastlines and mountain passes, making it the most adventurous playground in the world.  The Atlantic Ocean on the west coast and the Indian Ocean on the east coast wrap the country. Its terrain ranges from palm-tree tropical to vast-stretched sandy desert and everything in between.

So, if you’re planning an adventure travel to remember, South Africa got you covered.  

In no specific order, here are the top picks for perfect adventurous settings in South Africa for your holiday escapes.

 

Adventure activities in South Africa

Shark Cage Dive at Mossel Bay or Gansbaai

The Great White waters of Gansbaai and Mossel Bay near the Southern coast are great for shark cage diving. It’s because of their proximity to islands that host prey and boast some of the highest concentrations of sharks in all over the world. Gansbaai is known as the world’s great white shark capital. Both spots run companies that offer tours that will take you down the sea, teach you shark etiquettes and lower you down into the sea for your first closest encounter with sharks.

The most awesome thing about these dives is that during the experience, you (human) are caged, not sharks. The animals will swirl around you while you stay safe inside the cage. Keep in mind; don’t try to touch sharks.

 

Sky Diving in Cape Town

If you’re one of those for whom traveling and near-death experiences go hand-in-hand, then you must try skydiving in Cape Town.

If skydiving is something that interests you, nothing is as beautiful as South Africa. Head to Cape Town for the best skydiving experience! Parys and Plettenberg Bay are two other popular places besides Cape Town for this activity. The activity operator will tell you all how-tos, take you up high and then let you lose down in the world below. You’ll witness an epic view of Cape Town on your way.

 

Bungee Jump at Bloukrans

If you’re looking for something extremely adventures, you can jump from a place thousands of feet above the ground. Got goosebumps?

South Africa offers this incredible experience with the world’s highest commercial bridge opened for bungee jumping. The Bloukrans in Plettenberg Bay is Africa’s highest bridge arching over the majestic valleys below. Known to be the world’s highest bungee from a bridge, Bloukrans Bungee will surely give you a head rush of note.

 

Hike the Otter Trail

First thing first! You must be fit for this adventure. This 28 mile trail will take you through the scenic beauty of South Africa’s famous and one of the most beautiful places.

You will feel breathless after witnessing flora, fauna, strange rock formations and waterfalls along the way. The trail is considered unique because of its magnificent forests, clear pools and not to forget pristine South African coastline. You’ll meet wild Baboons too!

 

Motorbiking in Baviaanskloof

Baviaanskloof is a Dutch word for “Valley of the Baboons.” Located on the border of the Eastern Cape, this place is considered to be one of the world’s most adventurous bike routes. The tour will let you experience Africa’s most unspoiled wilderness, challenging river crossings, and steep passes.

 

Explore The Cango Caves

The spectacular Cango Caves are located at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. You will crawl through narrow passages and small crevasses here. The major highlight of this adventure tour is a famous “Devil’s Chimney.” An average person can easily fit through this tiny 45 cm chimney.

 

What are you waiting for? Daredevils, South Africa is calling you! Plan your adventure trip with your travel expert now! 

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