It’s that time of the year when you have to get away. Not only to avoid the noise, crowds and mayhem that cities offer on New Year’s Eve but also for that new experience, that thrill of discovery of a place and of yourself. Isn’t that what travel is about?
We have some ideas for you!
No, lets NOT head to Goa this year and let’s NOT try anything close to our big cities either. The places we have in mind do not court you with lavish parties, the latest music or hip people. They entice you with breathtaking beauty and help you welcome the New Year with hope, zest and an invigorating freshness.
Head to the Himalayas…
Can you ever tire of those handsome peaks? There are so many options, but narrowing the funnel – head to the Lake District of Himachal. There are many lakes and each of them is gorgeous. The air is deliciously crisp and the cold? well, nothing a hot chai and additional layers of clothing cannot conquer. Start at Nainital then head to Binsar for quiet silences, go further up to Jhaltola for a breathtaking view of the Himalayas and end at Bhimtal for some trekking and sun.
The Cottage (Jeolikot): A cross between a homestay and a hotel. Expect great food and warm people. It is a lovely starting point to exploring the Lake District.
Two Chimneys (Gethia): A boutique hotel, with the feel of a rich man’s holiday home. There is a rewarding trek to Nainital, a must-do for active holiday-seekers.
Misty Mountains (Jhaltola): Simple and charming, go for the pristine views of the Himalaya. You are 3km from the nearest village; this is truly remote.
The Retreat (Bhimtal): A sweet and ‘untouristy’ family welcomes you into their home and hearth. By far one of the most real experiences there is! A vintage charm flows around the house, whether in the food, décor or your hosts – the Smetaceks!
For more, pick up a copy of Short Escapes from Delhi.
Head to the hills in the South…
The Nilgiris can give you that much needed ‘pause’. Ooty, Kotagiri and Coonoor are the three main hill stations that sit high above the southern plains. Go on, get yourself that strong filter kaapi.
Rainforest Retreat (10km from Madikeri): Set in an organic plantation they offer basic and rustic eco-cottages. You can choose to go on a trek, or lie on the hammock and eavesdrop on the chirping birds. Environmentally conscious, this is a great option for those who want to travel green.
For more, pick up a copy of Short Escapes from Bengaluru.
Or just head out to Bhutan…
Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is no ordinary place. It is a traveller’s ultimate dream; a Himalayan kingdom replete with myths and legends, where the best of traditional culture thrives and the latest global developments are enthusiastically embraced. Bhutan suits all kinds of travellers – from the luxury-seeker, to the culture junkie, to the trekking enthusiast. Spend a week, or two, or even more, there is a lot to keep you wide-eyed and thirsty. Your journey begins on the flight to Paro when the captain tells you to look out of the window and says those never-to-be-forgotten words, “that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Mount Everest.”
For a luxurious holiday, indulge in a couple of nights at Uma Paro. And definitely steal the amazing shower gel – it smells divine!
For more, pick up a copy of Bhutan travel guide.
So pull up your socks, start blocking the people and dates! Get out there in the last week of December and make it a great start to a travel-filled 2014. But if those early birds have got all these places covered, leaving you literally stuck with the worm (read: no options for the New Year’s)…don’t fret, we have some great armchair travel options for the bibliophiles. Watch this space for more.
Bhavani is a traveller by choice, a photographer by interest and a writer by desire. She blogs at merrytogoaround.com and tweets @bhavan1. She is in a long term relationship with chocolate!!! (and loves exclamation marks).