currency

Converting currencies when travelling – 5 mistakes to avoid

currency
When travelling the first thing that should be on the top of your to do list, is to change your currency.  Many people forget to shop around locally before travelling, but often they find themselves already on holiday with the need to change currencies. The question now comes up,  which is the best way to change money when abroad? Shall I change with Banks, Money Exchange, or a comfortable withdrawal from an ATM? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when converting currency abroad.

CONVERTING YOUR CURRENCY IN AN AIRPORT – As you arrive in the airport, you will need local currency is for the bus, taxi or to buy something to eat or drink.

Do not get sucked in by the decision to immediately exchange your cash at the airport. The exchange rates at the airport are usually worse in the city, but if you find yourself in a country where a lot of street currency exchange takes place, do take from the airport and then organize yourself once you get to the hotel. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the exchange rate, you can use google’s currency converter here  and just take a peek at the latest forex news here.

 

WITHDRAW MONEY WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD ABROAD – One of the best ways to change money abroad is to directly withdraw money from the ATM. You have to make sure that before your departure, that your ATM card is enabled to withdraw funds abroad on the international circuits. Using Cirrus MasterCard the exchange is increased by 1% compared to the official exchange rate., Furthermore some banks charge a commission (usually 2%) on foreign conversions, thus it is important to call your bank before making a withdrawal.

If instead you want to withdraw by Credit Card, the costs skyrocket as there are additional fees for cash withdrawal on top of the currency conversion fees. If you have American Express, expect higher fees especially when transactions are not in US dollar. The American Express adds a fee of 5 Euros per withdrawal.

A very useful alternative is the one created by WeSwap that allows you to charge your rechargeable WeSwap Master Card online by paying only 1% using the travel community.

TRUST IN THE BIG NAMES – big names do not always have the best exchange rates, and often these big names pay a lot of expenses to carry these names. Much better than the Money Exchange ATMs can offer .

CONVERTING CURRENCY IN A BANK – If you choose to change your money in the bank guarantees trusting offering (no risk of receiving fake money and other kinds of) errors remember that it is better to withdraw large sums.

The exchange rate, which is the official one. What makes the expensive bank fees added onto the exchange rate, these are one-off fees and not a percentage, but they can get expensive if you convert a small amount of foreign currency.

RETURN HOME WITH POCKETS FULL OF FOREIGN CURRENCY – It often happens that you return home with a little foreign currency in your pocket. What to do in these cases? The best would be to donate to charity or to wait for your next travel. If you really want to exchange coins or cash, the best thing is to shop around your city for the best money exchange bureau near you.

 

Enjoy your travel!!

Munnar

Munnar: The whole world in one frame

MunnarAs I hummed my favorite song “I believe I can fly…” my eyes pull me back from my ‘dreamland’ into reality which, for once, was more beautiful and picturesque than my imagination. The sudden chillness in the air, the goose bumps, my alert senses welcomed me to the world of Munnar.

Munnar is among those places which one cannot stop raving about. My memories of Munnar are as fresh and vivid as though I am there right now – be it the welcoming scent of eucalyptus trees up the winding path or the fresh air, which is impossible to breathe in Bangalore. Munnar offers it all. Infact, the air seemed so pure that I wished I could breathe in enough to last a life time. At times, my lungs, so used to Bangalore’s air, would have trouble taking in such pure air. Nevertheless, I loved my stay in Munnar.

It was late into the night when we entered Munnar. I strained my eyes to pierce the surrounding darkness, but just couldn’t. However, my other senses were active enough to perceive the pleasant change. These changes made me impatiently wait for morning when I slowly drifted into a deep slumber. And what a morning it was! I did not wake up quite at my regular time because here, I was woken up by the chirping of the birds and swinging of the trees and not by my ever-so-hated alarm clock.

Imagine waking up to catch the greenery of the hills and its tea gardens as your first glimpse. I did exactly that! Usually it takes me nearly five minutes to get out of my bed but that morning I was so recharged and rejuvenated that and I was up on my feet in no time!

As I set out of my hotel to capture the image on my camera, the sight was all the more beautiful. If just a few moments in Munnar had such a good deal of positive effect on me, I was wondering what hundreds of such moments each in a couple of days would do!

The freshness of the tea gardens made us decide to go on a trek amidst the tea gardens up the Kannan Devan hills. Apparently, for any hill to be categorized as a mountain, the altitude has to be greater than 8000 ft. Kannan Devan hills, with an altitude of just 2000 ft was nowhere close to a mountain. But I still felt the thrill of climbing a ‘mountain’. Reaching the peak made me ecstatic, as though I had conquered Mt Everest and nothing less. As the first day drew to a close, I eagerly awaited the next.

My next day was nothing less memorable. My I tried my hand at rock climbing! Every bit of my body ached in the process but once on top, the experience was sublime! The relief of conquering a 60 feet rock was mixed with the excitement of having tried something new and being successful at it.

The tiring morning was compensated by a tranquil evening. Sauntering through the fields with knee length grass was something that I had only seen in movies. But here I was – sauntering, running in the field with my outstretched hands as though embracing the entire nature. Thereafter, a hot cup of tea on a river bank with a green hill and a lonely house at a distance was the icing on the cake! What more could I have asked for?

What more can you too ask for if I vouch for the fact that you can capture a flowing river, tea gardens, green hills, setting sun, shadows of the rising moon, dew drops – all this and much more in a single photo frame? If your answer is nothing more, its time you pack your bags to experience the place in India, Munnar.

RoadtoDeath

The Road of Death!

RoadtoDeathThe North Yungas Road (also know as Grove’s Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, “El Camino de la Muerte”, “Death Road”) is a 38 to 43 mile road (depending on source) leading from La Paz to Coroico, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia.

It is legendary for its extreme danger. One estimate is that annually nearly 100 travellers have died along the road. Infact, the road is dotted with Christian crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen. The road descends from approx. 14,100 ft (4300 m) to 6200 ft (330 m), transitioning quickly from cool altiplano terrain to rain forest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs.

Because of the extreme dropoffs, single-lane width, and lack of guardrails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain and fog can make visibility precarious, the road surface muddy, and loosen rocks from the hillsides above. On July 24, 1983, a bus veered off the Yungas Road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia’s worst road accident.

One of the local road rules specifies that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces fast vehicles to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely. The danger of the road ironically though has made it a popular tourist destination starting in the 1990s. Mountain biker enthusiasts, in particular, have made it a favorite destination for downhill biking.

The road was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners. It is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city. However, an alternative, much safer, road connecting La Paz to Coroico is nearing completion.

A South Yungas Road (also Chulumani Road) exists that connects La Paz to Chulumani, 40 miles (64 km) east of La Paz, and is considered to be nearly as dangerous as the north road.

Switzerland

Switzerland a dream come true

SwitzerlandSome dreams only remain dreams. Some are achieved but lose their meaning if achieved late. But some becomes dearer if you go on to live them in reality and at the time you wished for. My Europe trip was one such dream which happened early on in life. This travel came all of a sudden.
It surprised my parents, friends as well as me. Nothing much was planned till I really took off on Swiss Airways from New Delhi. So it was crashing through, planning, budgeting all on board. Switzerland has its aura in the airs and you can feel it too. I could feel the picture perfectness much before landing. The green carpeted countryside was alluring enough to raise all expectation levels.

The many 8 to 10 seater private jets at Geneva airport hangar spoke enough of a country that has been consistently ranked amongst the top 2 investment destinations by World Economic Forum. Felt good. Wondering…dreaming…visualizing my own private jet. OK…I was vacationing, so could afford to dream wild and take off some flights of fantasy! Switzerland felt like a dream home.

Everything was perfect and in its place. Geneva Lake is a point to see. It is well done with beautiful architectures and a gorgeous garden encircling all around. The lake also boasts of the world’s highest water fountain looming over the entire city. I visited the majestic WHO Headquarters in Geneva too and met up with a couple of officers I knew in their contrastingly casual cafeteria. On the way back, bumped into a school friend of mine at the tram station. Pleasant surprise. Small world, ain’t it! The following day, I set out early for Jungfrau – the top of Europe. I boarded an inviting double decker train that ran parallel to a huge lake.

It was a scenic trail all along the foothills of the Swiss Alps. I had to change the train at Interlaken to take one of the Alpine trains for the climb. Interlaken is a beautiful city located amidst two lakes; thus the name. Given the steep climb, this Alpine train had a third saw-toothed track in the centre. That was to create extra push for the climb. Otherwise, pretty much like our Toy Trains of Darjeeling. Journey up the Alps was amazingly fascinating. Having spent most of my life up the Himalayas, I hadn’t really expected to be awed by the mountains the way I really was. A good contrast to our gradual sloping Himalayas, are the steep imposing Alps.

Every second mountain seemed to have a steep cliff end. The journey got all the more interesting once we entered the snow zone. After a point, the snow must have been so thick on the outside that our train took to tunnels and remained cocooned in its warmth thereafter. And little did I realize that this tunnel took us all the way up and right into the glaciers.

The final station was just under a glacier. We had a couple of view points within the tunnel to give us the feel of the glacier outside. This final destination, called Jungfrau is also referred to as the top of Europe. It’s on the Aletsch Glacier at an altitude of 4,158 meters (13,642 feet). It’s the top most point of human occupancy in Europe. From the underground railway station at Jungfrau, there is a lift that takes you up on the glaciers.

There are many interesting things to see at this point. They have developed an Ice Palace: so it’s all ice, right from the corridors to all the statues, tables and everything within it. Remember the Ice Palace in Bond’s movie: “The World is not enough”. Jungfrau is also the originating point of many an Alpine trek into the glaciers. Treks are allowed only for some 6 months of the year. I also went to the top most point of an astronomical centre setup in this zero pollution region for extra territorial observations. It is really freezing there.

One can’t walk out without dark glasses. The brightness of glaciers all around is too blinding to keep eyes open. You do feel on top of the world there. If lucky you can also experience snow blizzards and shifting blocks of glaciers. Nature’s freezing polar chill is in constant tussle with the warmth of honeymoon couples. A must see for any body visiting Switzerland – couples and singles alike. Guess this was one place that did uncomfortably remind me that I had come to Switzerland alone. You do needs someone’s warmth amidst those bone biting chilly glaciers. This is a favorite amongst all tourists and guided tours.

We also have an Indian restaurant called “Bollywood” up there. On the way back, we took a different route. Switzerland has an amazing country side and a spellbinding snowy Alps. On our way down we took a stop at this village called Grindelwald. An amazing place it is. For anyone of you who ever plans a Swiss tour, try staying in one of the Swiss villages rather than any city. You see the real picture beauty of Swiss in its villages.

This place was a heaven of a sort. It had paragliding activities, over one of those many alpine cliffs. Due to the bad weather, this activity was suspended for the very day that. So I went on a trek stretching through some villages and up the mountains. One truly enjoys the Alps when one feels and breathes the open alpine airs. So that trek was real memorable. Ah…yes. I no more felt that I was travelling alone. There was little chance of any girl keeping pace with me up the mountains anyways.

Henceforth, I didn’t miss company. But then the Swiss beauties are always there to show you the way. Back at Interlaken, I took to the river side and walked along to the next station to take my train back to Geneva. It was beautiful all along the way. The waters too were icy grey, whitish with a tinge of gray. Perhaps I should have taken some sort of transportation. On my way back to Geneva, I stopped by Berne, The Swiss capital town. Though it was a brief stay, the stop was worth it. It was good to be finally back home in Geneva to the welcoming warmth of my bhabhi’s aloo parathas. Another thing that an Indian would be taken by surprise is the broad day light even at 10 during the evenings. Even in June dawn breaks at 0630 or 7 in morning.

One small unexpected problem in Swiss is the language barrier. A major chunk of the Swiss speaks French and not English. And then there is this French pride of proudly saying ” I don’t know English”. The French really had to bite their nails given the world take over by Brits. And they don’t seem to have come to terms to that yet. However, the language won’t really be a hindrance if you follow your instincts to a good looking girl who would most willingly respond in English. And maybe walk you down too. India is an interesting topic, you see. Depends on how you leverage that!

Celebrity Men And Women Who Should Hook Up

Lynch and SwiftThere is no better headline than gossip revolving around a celebrity’s relationship. When one is a celebrity, it is know that they will always be in the spotlight. With so many celebrity relationships, it is hard to keep up with who is dating who.

There are many celebrities, though, who have been known for jumping from one relationship to another. The biggest offender of relationship hopping is the beautiful Taylor Swift. Swift, who is a pop-country singer, is known for writing songs about her past love choices. Her songs leave fans guessing who they could be about.

Swift does not try to keep her relationship private. In fact, you will always see Swift in public with her current fling. Swift, who is currently single, is being watched by her fans, in hopes of finding a new boyfriend. Many believe that Swift should date fellow country star, Dustin Lynch.

Lynch and Swift are a pair of celebrities who should consider hooking up. Not only are they both blessed with gorgeous looks, but they also are both extremely talented musicians. In the case that this relationship ends, there could be a chance that two new songs will be released regarding their short-lived love affair.

Career Happiness: Is There Such a Thing?

woman-tablet-happy-workCareer happiness is all about how happy you are in your work environment. Just because you are studying to do what you want, doens’t mean you will get what you want. In fact, it comes down to how lucky you are landing a job straight out of school. Many people to go school for one subject but end up working a job in a completely different field.

According to a new report, career happiness is something that exists and more people are pursuing a happy career over doing something that makes sense in the moment. For example, more people are willing to drop in earnings to go after something they want, rather than work for a secure paycheck and focus on a boring job that doesn’t motivate or stimulate them whatsoever.

Career Happiness: Is There Such a Thing?

Being happy at work does some with some complications though. If you do love your job, you may experience some things that you could live without. Perhaps you love your immediate circle of workers, and enjoy how you can bounce ideas off one another. But you may not like it when your boss comes in and breaks up this unique circle of individuals. Other factors that play into being happy at work include your daily tasks, your own personal goals and what you plan on doing in the future.

Creating a happy work environment for you and a potential career comes down to one thing; are you truly happy or not. If you are not happy and working just to pay the bills, it may be time to make a big change. That doesn’t mean quitting your job. You want to make sure you can find something else. You can start taking night classes and work towards where you want to go. You don’t have to make a sudden change, but now that you are doing everything possible to change your happiness surrounding your career.

Sexiest Beach Bodies Seen In Magazines

Channing TatumIt’s almost swimsuit time again, and the magazines are beginning to have issues that feature the best bodies in swimsuits. Most television, film and sports stars look good on the beach, but some of them look absolutely incredible.

Channing Tatum has the chiseled physique that looks good on any beach. His strong pecs and cute grin seem to look even better in a pair of board shorts. David Beckham’s shirt seems to be off most of the year, but he looks exceptionally good when his skin gets bronzed by the sun. He may be getting older, but Brad Pitt is losing nothing in the looks department. His body seems to get more and more defined the older he gets. After getting in incredible shape for his upcoming film The Place Beyond the Pines, Ryan Gosling’s beach body is smoking hot.

Beyonce may be a mother, but she still looks sexy whenever she gets in a bikini. Mila Kunis must work out all the time for her body to look as incredible as it does whenever she strips down to her beachwear, and Scarlett Johansson has just the right assets to fill out any swimsuit she decides to try on

Most Elegant Looks Seen On The Red Carpet

halle berrySome of the most elegant looks on the red carpet come from some of the top celebrities. It never fails. On Emmy, Oscar and Grammy night the stars come out in full bloom. They strut their stuff in ways that it has never been strutted before. They go and get some real high fashion gowns to get their place in fashion history on the Hollywood red carpet.

People that always seem to look so good on the carpet include Halle Berry, Eva Longoria, Will and Jada Smith, Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron. These are some stars that seem to come out in some of the best garments that their high dollar salaries can afford.

Ironically, most of these stars don’t pay for the clothing that they were. Designers will drape lots of these stars in these gowns and suits just to get name recognition. This is how they make their money. Fans of these best dressed stars will hear the names of the designers and go running. This is how they may a real name for themselves. Designers can become rich just from having their names mentioned on the read carpet. Stars bring the clothing designers to life for fans.

Best Booty Snapshots On The Red Carpet

Kate WinsletThere were some great booty snapshots on the red carpet over the weekend. The prestigious Emmy awards were held and everyone was looking their best. There were a lot of winners, but there were even more gorgeous women who were in attendance. They were all wearing the most amazing designer dresses and the pictures that were taken made them look even more stunning.

Kate Winslet looked stunning in her dress. She is one of those women who just keeps on getting better with age. She was always pretty, but she has become even more elegant and beautiful as time has gotten on. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev was present, and she was looking absolutely to die for in her dress. There was certainly some nice booty there.

Minka Kelly looked amazing in her dress as well. She was one of those actresses present who showed that you do not have to go overboard. A simple dress that is not revealing can also go a long way to showing off someone’s beauty. In the days of dresses that are as high as ever and as tight as ever, Minka let hers down as much as possible and looked great for her. The blue really went with the event and she pulled it off brilliantly.

Sexiest Men Of The Music Industry

Tim McGrawThere aren-t many things sexier than a man who can sing. Most musicians will tell you that the main reason they joined a band or learned an instrument was to meet girls, so it-s a universally agreed upon fact. What follows is a list of the sexiest of the sexy men of the music industry. Some are classic crooners and some are tough bad boys but they are ALLsexy.

‘Justin Timberlake ” Sure, JT started out as a curly haired boy in ‘N Sync, but he is all grown up now and he has brought sexy back in all kinds of ways. The man sings, dances, acts and has found new fans with his talent for comedy.

‘LL Cool J ” Ladies Love Cool James and how could they NOT? The dimples, the body, the talent. Hard to believe that he ‘needs love- but okay, if you insist.

Tim McGraw – This country crooner makes a girl want to pull on her cowboy boots and hop into his truck and go wherever he takes you. Wife of 14 years Faith Hill might make that difficult though.

‘Ludacris ” This southern rapper has charm, good looks, and an aw shucks demeanor that makes him pretty irresistible. Dirty south indeed.

‘Adam Levine ” Model good looks, pop-friendly voice, plus an attitude equals one perfectly sexy lead
singer for Maroon 5.

‘Tommy Lee ” Timeless sex appeal and a classic bad boy, Lee has been rocking for over 20 years and will probably be rocking in 20 more..and will STILL be sexy.

‘John Mayer ” With boyish good looks, a sexy raspy voice, and a keen wit, it might be worth it to be tabloid fodder after you break up.