Travel during Pregnancy – should I or not?

Awaiting the moment

 

The joy of giving birth, in itself is no less than a miracle.

The delicate happiness that you carry inside has to be well protected from any sudden unwarranted actions.

Travel mediums/planners have invested a lot of time in framing safe-guarded rules and policies around welcoming this young traveller on-board and the safe house that carries it.

Special precautions and extra measures are taken to ensure safety of the special lady.

Apart from passenger safety and special attention, the pregnant-in-command must also take extra care of do’s and don’ts while on a journey through any mode.

If she is aware of safe-travel tips during these times, it supplements the authorities to assist them better and provide hassle free journey.

Safety Advice: The 1st and 3rd trimester demand extra care and caution in travelling, uneasy at the beginning while weight sensitive towards the end! Avoid travelling during this period!

 

We both await

 

 

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Yes, definitely!

It depends on mother’s condition and pregnancy stage, though understandably, it sometimes becomes unavoidable. Precautions are to be taken in accordance to your comfort.

This ecstatic life-giving happiness has 3 terms, where you get a cute one as a certificate in the end!

The 1st trimester (First 3 months of pregnancy – Tiny pop to Week 14) – The Tricky one – is filled with excitement and bumpiness around what’s going on in your body. Very uncomfortable, nothing seems to make you smile, as you start repelling tastes and smells (which you loved earlier)

The 2nd trimester (Mid 3 months of pregnancy – Week 15 to Week 28) – ‘The Honeymoon of Pregnancy’ as it’s the least disturbing phase, where a mother enjoys her emotions to the fullest, best for travel or babymoon! You start craving cuisines that you never had (or heard)!

The 3rd trimester (Final 3 months of pregnancy – Week 29 – Baby-on-lap) – ‘The Exam of Pregnancy’ as it’s time for your cute one to see the world! An uneasy period, where you go through weight gain, swollen feet, a whole bunch of bashing from your little one inside!

 

Happy Fact: During early days, you may not discover you are pregnant until you are into 3rd Week. Be cautious before you plan travel!

 

Endless internal changes and developments make a mother go crazy. The by-product of all this happiness is

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Morning Sickness
  • Increased Urination
  • Heart Burn
  • Food Aversions
  • Smell Aversions
  • Constipation
  • Emotional Changes

 

Therefore, the common travel measures applicable across any transport mode for your journey are

  • Stay stress free, enjoy your baby’s first ever journey!
  • Carry enough stock of fresh fruits, light snacks and nuts to keep on munching until the journey ends
  • Carry a tissue roll (wet & dry) and a sanitizer all the time
  • Take your medicines and carry your test reports and medical certificates
  • Additionally, carry basic medicines for headache, vomit etc. (consult your obstetrician before taking them)
  • Have bottled water or carry boiled water
  • Have an alternate doctor’s contact of the place you are visiting
  • Take a pillow for back support (inflatable one, if that works)
  • Have your doctor’s number saved and assign a speed dial
  • Do not lift any heavy stuff, ask passengers or staff to help around
  • If travelling alone, always let 2 contacts know about your travel plans, as emergency
  • Carry a note in your bag having doctor’s detail, your blood group, emergency contact person’s details, your home and visiting address, your family member details along with their contact numbers
  • Always carry an extra battery or a power bank
  • Wear comfortable light clothing (preferably cotton)
  • Check expiry dates of all the consumables that you buy on-board
  • Purchase travel insurance (a mandate, go through fine prints)
  • If sitting for long durations, make sure you exercise you feet and ankle all the time to let the blood flow, this is very important for you and your little one inside

The above mentioned measures have to be adhered to by default, to minimise any risk stemming out of your own actions.

 

Road travel in pregnancy

This mode of journey is explorative and enticing, but not recommended when pregnant. The comfort of stopping over any time, is far outweighed by the cautions you need to follow while on road.

If self-driving, concentration on road and body simultaneously is challenging. Opt to have somebody drive you. Road & Traffic conditions are few of the many external uncontrollable factors. If it is the road-less-travelled, better off switching to other modes.

 

How to make my road travel enjoyable?

  • Advised not to consume roadside snacks
  • Take a note of all major hospital’s on way
  • Check GPS (Global Positioning System) before leaving to make sure there are no traffic diversions or jams
  • Make use of public toilets with tissues (as they might be unhygienic)
  • If you have a driver, sit on the rear seat to lessen the impact of jerks
  • Better to begin your journeys in the morning / afternoon to save yourself from any issue in dark
  • Keep a handy tool kit in case you encounter flat tyres or broke vehicle
  • Seat belts help you in all the cases, they help in absorbing shock and sudden jerks, thus it is advised to wear them all the time (have diagonal and cross-strap seat belts in your car)

Avoid self-drive by hiring a cab or a chauffeur / chauffeuse as that helps in breaking long tiring journeys into multiple stops and drivers.

 

Train Travel

 

Train travel in pregnancy

Rails tend to be more convenient and safer to travel as they offer stable momentum during a journey. A traveller has options to select from sleeping bed or chair car as per comfort and length of the journey.

The chair cars can be opened up as a semi-bed (extended reclining backrest) which gives you ample space to move your feet and ankles.

The expectant mother also has access to handy washroom to her comfort.

Having said all this, extra measures should always be taken to ensure smooth journey.

 

How to make my train journey admirable?

  • A train journey has certain measure of jerks and momentum swings, stay alert!
  • Minimise the impact of jerks by placing extra pillows and blankets around you
  • Reach your station early to avoid any hustle or rush, it is better to stay calm and relaxed
  • The wobbly effect of a moving train can be offset by holding objects around which act as shock absorbers
  • Have your luggage carried and tucked under your seat by a porter while boarding and de-boarding
  • Try to book trains which have lesser stops to your destination, considerably taking lesser time to reach
  • Do not try to walk through the train and its carriages when on the move
  • Inform the ticket checker in advance about your condition, as it helps in keeping a travelling doctor’s contact handy by surfing through his ticket list, or cross check if there is a railway doctor / train doctor available if required
  • Book a lower berth while reserving as it is comfortable to sit and move. If you don’t get, inform your ticket checker who may help in swapping with someone
    • To have your luck for availing lower berth while in pregnancy, try making your reservation under the option of ‘Lower Berth Quota’, though you need to show a certificate later to the ticket checker
  • Avoid having dairy products in rail meal as they deteriorate quickly and may cause uneasiness
  • Switch on your passage night-light before heading to washroom

 

Fact: For Pregnant Women, Senior Citizens and Female passengers above age 45, Indian Rail has a reservation of 4 lower berths in Non-AC class and 2 lower berths in each 2AC and 3AC classes

 

Flight Travel

 

Flight travel in pregnancy

Air travel allows you to reach your destination in the fastest possible way. But cabin air pressure, passing through x-ray machines, walking through endless airport corridors, radiation produced by aircraft signals and waiting for the aircraft can make you think twice.

Many airlines have different policies for pregnant ladies on-boarding their aircraft after 32 weeks. They seek medical and fitness certificates of the passenger, where a doctor’s fit-to-fly letter is a must.

 

How to have a hassle-free flight?

  • Check-in Aisle Seat with extra leg room (you might have to shell out extra, but it helps)
  • To avoid bloating, stay away from gas generating foods and drinks
  • The process of air journey is very dehydrating, keep your body adequately hydrated
  • As you have to be seated for maximum part of your journey, perform subtle exercises as mentioned above
  • Consider flight only when the journey is short, up to about 1.5 hours, else consider train
  • It is best advised to get a travel insurance. Read the policy fine prints to see till what weeks and how much has been covered for your pregnancy.

 

Important: If it’s an international travel, ask your doctor for any specific medications / vaccines you need to have before hitting the foreign land.

 

Few Airline Pregnancy Travel Policies

Jet AirwaysEmiratesIndigo

 

Bus travel in pregnancy

Travelling by bus is never suggested due to road quality, driving skills and speed bumps. As you stay seated behind, the passenger never comes to know the inertia of the vehicle. Unlike self-drive, you have no control on the vehicle and its momentum.

Hence you definitely experience jerks and lateral movements, leading to increased and sudden uncontrolled body movements.

Even if it’s for public transport within the city for short distances, a lady should still consider other options like hiring a cab or calling someone to drop you off! Board women-only buses for public transport as they are less-crowded.

Be it for inter-city or long distances, this mode is not really recommended at any stage of your pregnancy!

You might feel suffocated, fatigue and nauseated in the journey. Plus the swaying movements throughout the journey will make you crazy!

 

How to ensure a smooth bus ride?

Feeling terrified to take a bus? Humans are born to evolve, manage and face situations they are not comfortable in!

Still if this daring act has to be carried out (just unavoidable in some cases), below are the pointers to ponder over:

  • Try booking coaches which have in-built washroom / toilets (yes, they are available these days, though not on all routes and less frequent)
  • If it’s a seated coach, book a comfortable reclining seat
  • If it’s a sleeper coach, get a lower seat (ask for extra pillows to cushion yourself or carry one)
  • Let the staff know about your medical condition (probably during ticket booking / boarding)
  • Have some pre-research done on the route, what type of terrains are you crossing
  • Try to get a companion to avoid travelling alone
  • Ask for stopover points for washroom from the staff
  • Have a power bank, buses hardly come equipped with charging points

 

Sea Travel

 

Sea travel in pregnancy

Travelling by sea is another mode of transport used by people living in far islands to hop onto mainland for services. Pregnant ladies are ideally not suggested to travel using this as an option as the sea waves tend to be rough at times.

If you are in your 1st trimester, morning sickness may get worsen by the wavering movements of the boat / ship.

This unevenness creates uneasiness and a lot of discomfort among pregnant travellers as sudden bumps can be expected anytime. Though there are certain measures that you must take to calm down the nerves.

 

How to ensure I sail like a sailor?

  • Book a seat with sea operators who offer comfortable reclining seats
  • If you are booking a cabin, reserve the one with large beds
  • Reserve a place in the middle of ship, it offers more stability
  • Go with bigger ships, as they tend to be more steady and balanced
  • Have sea sickness medicines with you all the time (after consulting with your doctor)
  • Try to perform journeys which are up to a max of 2 hours
  • Confirm with staff whether you have a doctor-on-call on-board
  • Have a list of nearest sea ports in case of emergency
  • As you board, try those life jackets whether they fit in or needs adjustment

 

Fact: India has a very generous maternity leave policy of 26 weeks, miles ahead of other major nations across globe.

US: 12 weeks, China: 14 weeks, Singapore / France: 16 weeks, Brazil / Canada: 17 weeks

 

Worth Noting: Japan issues pregnant ladies a badge to make them easily identifiable in public places and transport. The idea is to offer them seats and priority, even though she would be in her early pregnancy fancying a small or no bump! (she may be shy to ask for seat too!)

The pregnancy bulge

 

Expectant Moms with any of the symptoms below should give a second thought on travelling plans

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Placental Problems
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple Pregnancies (more than one foetus)
  • Elder Pregnancy (age above 35)
  • Any issue with past pregnancy
  • Pre-eclampsia

 

Relax! Pregnancy travel is all safe, just be extra cautious and enjoy your journey!

In this nomadic and shrinking global world, everyone is bound to travel for livelihood. We cannot imagine a world of no-commute!

Understandably, a pregnant lady is also an employee, a woman, a mother who comes in same bracket. She has to be taken care of during this fabulous stage of her life. Giving birth is by no means an easy feat!

The joy of motherhood makes forget all the issues surrounding her! Lets make her pregnancy journey grand, by comforting her whenever possible.

For those who are reading this, give seats or help out pregnant ladies near you. They might be travelling alone, sitting just next to you.

 

For husbands having a pregnant wife, mood swings are part of normal behaviour! It’s the baby who is trying to tell you something through her. Be prepared! Do what she says!

 

Let me know your views on this article by commenting below.

Been through or going through this phase in your life (i wish you all the best), do share your suggestions so that it helps the community at large.

 

Not yet ‘planned’ a trip? Visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands

How do i pack my stuff for a trip?

Travel PitStops – July

 

Hello readers! The Indian monsoon system is very active and has covered the peninsula  17 days early! The country is getting battered with heavy downpours and fresh-post-rain-greens! It’s absolute bliss to visit places which get enriched with natural beauty, but at the same time it proves to be a dampener due to heavy rains.

It is time to enjoy this natural spectacle at places where it looks best. Hop onto a destination which remains accessible with pleasant climate and would add to the fun. Get ready to feel splash along rainy zones and experience the majestic scenery mother nature has to offer.

 

WITHIN INDIA:

COORG

 

Kodagu or ‘Coorg’ in the blessed state of Karnataka in South India, is one of most famed destinations to visit. It is the smallest among 30 sub-divisions of the state, which was merged with Mysuru in 1956.

Rightly known as ‘Kashmir of Karnataka’, this place enthralls you with its opulent beauty and natural habitat, also being the top visited place in state.

Lushed with dense green forests, natural vegetation and coffee plantations, this place just gets picturesque. The native of Kodagu – Kodava’s – are a sporting ‘okka’ (clan) having major contributions to the country’s national hockey team.

 

The Kodava Hockey Tournament is the largest regional tournament in the world. It is held every year and hosted by families to promote sports and culture.

The event gets lots of sponsorship and media attention as it is being successfully organized since 1997!

 

The Kodagu district is ranked among top 5 literacy districts in the state. Madikeri is the headquarter of Kodagu district.

 

How to Travel?

The geographical terrain hinders rail and air connectivity. But the elevated rugged paths, present a beautiful journey to the destination.

Nearest Railway Stations:

Kerala: The nearest railway stations are Kasaragod (110 kms), Kanhangad (124 kms)

Karnataka: The nearest railway station is Subrahmanya Road (85 kms) but connected with Mangaluru as the main hub. Mysuru and Hassan (both 105 kms) are the other 2 major stations.

Nearest Airports: The destination does not have an airport, but regular flights from major cities connect Mysuru (121 kms) and Mangaluru (156 kms)

Road Connections: The main transport authority of the state KSRTC operates regular buses from Bengaluru (5-6 hours, 265 kms), Mysuru (2-3 hours, 105 kms) and Mangaluru (3-4 hours, 150 kms).

The most common way to reach Coorg is by road as you have to de-station or land at nearby cities. Karnataka & Kerala both have good road connections leading to the place.

 

The ghat (hill) sections describes the experience that awaits you at the destination.  The 3 main ghat  roads that make you reach Coorg are:

  1. Sampaje-Madikeri ghat road from Mangaluru
  2. Panathur-Bhagamandala ghat road from Kasaragod, Kanhangad
  3. Iritty-Virajpet ghat road Thalassery

 

What to do & visit?

The most visited places here are Talakaveri (place of origination of River Kaveri), Bhagamandala (located at confluence of 2 rivers Kanika & Kaveri).

Triveni Sangama is the spot where above 2 rivers and a 3rd river Sujyothi from beneath the ground joins.

 

Nagarhole National Park

(In Pic Above: Elephant sighting on a beautiful misty morning in Nagarhole National Park)

 

Other places of visit

Nisargadhama – 28 kms away, a beautiful river island to visit along the banks of River Kaveri, this scenic place is home to varieties of bamboo trees

Abbey Falls – 23 kms away, multiple small streams gush down from a height of 70 feets from a cliff, presenting stunning views

Dubare Elephant Camp – 17 kms away, a natural treat, watch elephants bathe and play, learn their behaviour from trainers here. These elephants are used in renowned Mysuru Dasara Festival

Nagarhole National Park (in pic) – 75 kms away, a perfect wildlife treat, a potential candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Irupu Falls – 61 kms away, also known as Lakshman Tirth Falls

Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple – 34 kms away, also known as Namdroling Monastery (full name being Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Daryeling), serves as the centre of Buddhism in South India

Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary – 78 kms away, it is home to rare birdlife. Being one of the 21 sanctuaries in the state, it is surrounded by Kukke Subramanya Forest on one side and Bisle Reserve Forest on the other

Madikeri Fort – 17 kms away, this historic fort is a perfect spectacle of past and present, rebuilt by Tipu Sultan after taking over from Muddu Raja who built this in 17th century. In 1834, the fort was captured by British

The Raja’s Seat – 18 kms away, a famous sunset point, was used as a gazing and entertainment spot by the erstwhile rulers. The place is enhanced by a toy train that gives a ride in the park and further magnified by beautiful landscape surrounding the seat

Tadiandamol – 45 kms away, highest peak of the Kodagu district, good for trails and trekking

 

Regional Languages: The native lingual tone is Kodava. Takk and English are other languages spoken among the demo-graphs

Tip: You might come in contact with ‘Leeches’ during monsoon as they stay in leaves and wilderness. These are small blood-sucking animals, but less harmful than mosquitoes. If you encounter one, spray some salt or apple cider vinegar on it to repel you immediately.

Regional Festivals: The planting of rice crop, Kailpoud, is celebrated on September 3. Puttari (new rice) is the rice harvest festival celebrated late November / early December.

Food: Kadumbuttu and Pandi Curry (Steamed Rice Balls and Pork Curry) is a famous local dish here.

Clothing: As this place offers aplenty close-to-nature activities, it is suggested to wear light and comfortable clothing so it becomes easy to trek and traverse. Do carry jacket to protect yourself from cold evenings/nights, raincoats if in case you are visiting during monsoons.

Temperatures: The temperatures remain pleasant and ranges from 16° C to 22° C. It starts getting cold by night.

Fact: Kodagu is one of the highest coffee producers in India. The district became rich post coffee revenues, as it produces some high-quality export stuff. It is the highest producer of a coffee variant Robusta, accounting for approx. 45% of the total national production. Apart from Robusta, this region also produces Coffee Arabica.

 

 

OUTSIDE INDIA:

UNITED KINGDOM

 

Though we have a bitter history with them, but this nation offers unparalleled travel experiences to its visitors. A developed nation having gentle highlands, the unending motorways, the infinite grasslands, plethora of proud history and gothic architecture, all present a bouquet of memories to cherish.

No more a part to modern-day European Union (as they opt out), this nation has rich colonial legacy and vivid aristocratic stories. At some point in time in history, the ‘British Raj’ had mastered 25% of the global map.

The ruthless aggression and military advancement they possessed made it easier for them to capture land and monies.

 

The country referred as ‘Kingdom’ is a union of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

London, a global city, is capital to the kingdom. Wales, Scotland and England are collectively known as Great Britain.

Edinburgh serves capital to Scotland, Cardiff to Wales and Belfast to Northern Ireland.

United Kingdom is a classic example of bi-polar political systems, a monarchy in parallel to democracy.

 

How to Travel?

Having one of world’s extensive transportation system, traveling locally within the nation is a no-brainer. A barrage of travel options like domestic airports, trams, metros, public buses, inland waterways, bicycle paths and efficient cab systems make it a convenient destination to explore.

The country has some global cities which are superbly connected with regular flights from corners of the world.

 

London is a global aviation hub with 6 airports (Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Southend, Luton, and City Airport) as it handles roughly 60% of UK’s air traffic.

Heathrow is the major of them and was world’s 7th busiest airport handling 78 Mn+ passengers annually in 2017.

 

The nation’s other major international airports are Manchester, Birmingham & Glasgow. The country has navigable rivers like Thames (largest here, London ki Ganga!), Severn, Trent, Mersey and Tyne.

 

What to do & visit?

A list of tourist places await you to discover this crown. UK has multitude of things to offer to visitors of all generations and taste. The immaculate neo-classical and modern architecture just pulls you towards itself.

Plenty of lakes (known as ‘Loch’) in the north-western parts of UK, give breathe taking nature views, also allowing to do boating and fishing.

The country is home to some iconic dots on globe along with renowned people from history and literature. London is the epicentre of all major tourist attractions. The best way to hop around the city is by using Tube (Metro) and Public Feeder Buses from metro stations (more about this in the travel section below).

 

William Shakespeare, JK Rowling, Harry Potter, Manchester United, Chelsea, Madame Tussauds are few of the embossed brand names that this country has given to our globe.

 

Westminster Bridge with Big Ben

(In Pic Above: The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben at the backdrop of Westminster Bridge on River Thames in London)

Places to visit in:

England

London – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, Warner Bros. Studios (Harry Potter), Madame Tussauds, Royal Albert Hall, Wimbledon, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace

Birmingham – Cadbury World (Yes! Here you can see how your purple bar has come of ages)

Plymouth – The Eden Project (largest indoor rainforests)

Liverpool – The Three Graces

Manchester – Manchester United Stadium

SalisburyStonehenge (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Stratford-upon-avon – Royal Shakespeare Co., Anna Hathaway’s Cottage

 

Scotland

Edinburg – Edinburg Castle, Deep Sea World (Longest underwater viewing tunnel), Palace of Holyroodhouse (Official home of queen of Scotland), Arthur’s Seat

 

Wales

Cardiff – Cardiff Castle, Snowdonia National Park

 

Northern Ireland

Belfast – If you are a GoT Fan (Game of Thrones), visit Winterfell. Also visit St. Patrick’s grave and Titanic Belfast (where this giant ship was made).

 

Tip: United Kingdom follows Imperial Scale of measurements, hence they use Miles (1 mile = 1.6 kms approx.) and Yards (1 Yard = 0.9 meters approx.)

Clothing: If you arrive from tropical / sub-tropical / dry climatic countries, the temperatures might make you feel cold. Better advised to have layers of clothing, cardigans, jackets, mufflers. The country receives good pour annually, but this month holds intermittent rainfalls.

Basic Communication Snippets:

Ace – Awesome | Wotcha – Hi | Ta – Thanks

Naff – Uncool | Hiya – Hi there | Cheerio – Goodbye 

 

Temperatures: The range remains from 12° C to 21° C making it pleasant throughout the month.

Food: Common cuisines among Britons / Brits (the way netizens are called) are fish and chips, roasted beef, Chinese and Pudding. The other famed eats are Welsh Cakes, Smoked Haddocks, Shortbread Biscuits and traditional Ulyster Fry breakfast.

Currency: Great British Pound / Pound Sterling (GBP), 1 GBP = 91.24 INR approx. at the time of writing

Driving: Left side of the road, Right hand drive. Thinking to drive in UK?

Transport:  London has the oldest underground Metro ‘The Tube’ founded in 1863. Glasgow Subway is the 3rd oldest subway in the world after London and Budapest, founded in 1896. Liverpool has similar metro type system.

London Tube is divided into 9 zones, where zone 1 and 2 hold most of the top tourist attractions. Referring to London Tube Map, you can find your destination stations. Additionally, cities are well equipped by Public Buses, Cabs, Cycle Tracks, Trams, DLR (Docklands Light Railway), River buses, Cable Car and Rail. Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) is connected through national railways.

Buy a Brit Rail Pass (cannot be bought by people holding UK Passport) to explore beautiful landscapes and rugged countryside. The London-famed Double Decker buses operate in every corner of the city and also organize city tours.

It pays to buy contact less Oyster cards for tourists valid across transport channels. These cards cannot be bought once you are in London, so buy it before you reach. Oyster cards can be bought at airports (Stansted and Gatwick), Eurostar trains to London, UK embassies in your country. Additionally, this card offers discounts with partners too. Cash is not accepted at most of the transport channels in the cities.

Visa: Check visa rules & fee for your country here! It may vary depending on the type of passport you hold.

Fact: London has 8 Mn Population but 19 Mn annual visitors! 

Visit Government of UK Website

Buy Visitor Oyster Cards

 

Guys, this is all about Travel PitStops Series for July.

Let me know your thoughts about the blog.

If you want me to add any other details going forward in this series, just comment below & don’t forget to subscribe! Kindly share with people who are intending to travel to these destinations. 

If you are travelling / have traveled to any of these destinations, i would love to hear your experience and story. 

Read Previous Editions

Travel PitStops – May

Travel PitStops – June

Andaman & Nicobar Islands – are they surreal?

 

Pearls are found in the ocean, goes the saying for these gems located off the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. The clear blue-turquoise and endless waving waters make it one of the most undisturbed places on earth, to soak in, and enjoy nature.

My personal visit to Andaman in April 2016 has left me spell-bound! One life, one visit, is all it requires!

Where are Andaman & Nicobar Islands?

This archipelago sits right amidst sea, on eastern-most side of India, a string of 572 islands, of which only 38 are inhabited. Nestled between Bay of Bengal on the west and Andaman Sea on the east, this place is a nature lover’s paradise. If you are looking for complete overhaul in monotonous life for even a few days, just grab your travel gear and make a move. The destination is as quaint and peaceful, just like it’s serene and picturesque!

 

Andaman & Nicobar Coast

(In Pic Above: The beaches here will rejuvenate you, just like this one in Havelock)

 

Indian Subcontinent is blessed to have this pearl in its necklace. The tourism potential is immense as it offers aplenty activities from deep-sea diving to paragliding over sea.

Being one of the 7 Union Territories in India, it is centrally governed too! The islands are located in proximity to Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia (separated by Andaman Sea) than to India.

This stunning beauty has its share of dark past during the erstwhile colonial days of India. The island host’s Cellular Jail aka Kaalapani in Port Blair, where rebels of British rule were kept far beyond the Indian mainland in dismay and darkness.

 

How’s the island structured?

The archipelago is mainly split into 2 distinct regions: Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands.

North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman and Little Andaman form the Andaman group. The most habitable islands of Andaman’s are Middle and South Islands of which Port Blair being the capital, is also the major city with connectivity.

Moving northwards 160 kms and 230 kms from the capital, Rangat and Mayabunder in Mayabunder Taluk are next in line, followed further 298 kms north is Diglipur. Diglipur is the northernmost city of Andaman Islands.

North Andaman is home to India’s only active volcano ‘Barren Island’, which last erupted in 2017.

Moving down south, a group of Nicobar Islands lie scattered across the ocean, mostly uninhabitable. The Nicobar Islands consist of Northern Group, Central Group and Southern Group.

Car Nicobar being capital, is the only major city, which lies in the Northern Group. Indira Point in the Great Nicobar Island (Southern Group) is the southernmost point of the Indian Sub-continent, just 150 kms off Sumatra, Indonesia!

The Great Nicobar Island is one of the largest island in Nicobar and is also one of World’s Network of Biosphere Reserves as designated by UNESCO. Campbell Bay National Park is a part to it.

 

Natives of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

The islands are home to 400+ different native groups of which Jarawa, Onge & Sentinelese are most prominent in Andaman Island. The Nicobarese and Shompen are native to Nicobar Islands. Majority of the island population (more than 80%) lives in Andaman while a handful have made Nicobar (less than 15%) as their home.

The Andaman Islands are host to one of the most primitive group of mankind, the ‘Jarawas’, located in the dense forests of Baratang Islands. They live a life of seclusion, detached from our gadget-slavery world in complete darkness. They still hunt using old stone-age tools, wear nomadic clothes, should feel lucky if you spot them. Since the area is restricted and confined, special permissions are required to visit their territory.

Best time to visit: Winters are the best time to visit this pristine address starting October until February. The mercury starts rising rapidly from March until May, causing intense sunburns. As monsoons invade the islands in June, it is not recommended to visit considering the high seas and rough weather.

The facilities are not yet comprehensively developed in smaller islands leading to power outage. The sky is clear throughout the year barring rainy months, providing ample sunbathing!

 

Pristine Neil

(In Pic Above: Small glass-bottom boats anchored at a beach in Neil Island)

 

How to travel? The Veer Savarkar Airport of Port Blair (only airport in the island) is adequately air-connected to major big cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam, through direct and indirect connections.

The main transport here are the cruise operators, as they help in shuttling between islands in the region. Major cruise operators are Makruzz, Coastal Cruise (part of Makruzz), Green Ocean Cruise and Makruzz Gold.

Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair is the main dock port for all sea connections. Connections are available from port cities of Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam through M V Swaraj Dweep, M V Nancowry, M V Nicobar, M V Akbar and M V Harshvardhana (check sea port timetable for departures).

These ships take an average 3-4 days to complete one leg of the journey. The tickets can be booked at STARS (Ship Ticketing Advance Reservation System) Counters in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Port Blair. Schedules are released at least a month in advance, so be sure to book early.

Owing to scattered land pieces, rail connections are not present in the island!

Fact: Distance of these islands from countries: 45 kms from Myanmar, 90 kms from Thailand, 160 kms from Indonesia and 1,200 kms from India!

Where to stay? Port Blair is the most habitable city, with infrastructure and facilities in place. The city is small, less crowded and it gets silent by early evening. Aberdeen Bazar is a busy marketplace, the area has many food joints and shopping spots. Also, it is easy to get taxi / auto / public buses. Here you can buy local art and handicrafts specific to the island.

Port Blair acts as a base for tourists, so one can shuttle between islands, stay there and comeback to this main South Andaman Island for all sorts of connectivity.

Places to visit: Well, lots of! The most talked about are Port Blair, Havelock Island, Neil Island, Ross Island and Baratang Island.

 

Cellular Jail

(In Pic Above: The identical cells of Cellular Jail, a total of 698)

 

Port Blair is very scenic and natural, aided with a spice of history. Cellular Jail, a historic national monument, which stands brave to the hardships faced by Indian brave hearts who rebelled the British Raj. The prisoners were put behind bars in this solitary confinement known as ‘KaalaPani’ or Black water. The construction of this penal settlement was primarily done to make prisoners suffer and stay miles away from mainland.

The premises houses world war memorial, art gallery, image gallery and a library on freedom movement. With the introduction of online booking process to purchase tickets, one can book in advance prior to visiting.

 

Cellular Jail Promenade

(In Pic Above: Cellular Jail, as seen from the entrance)

 

This living spectacle is a must visit, each brick and corner brings alive the hardships of our great people. Additionally, the Light and Sound Show (son-et-lumiere) that happens every evening that tells you the real story behind and what exactly used to happen inside the jail. Book now!

 

Also to visit in Port Blair are Corbyn Cove’s Beach, Chidiya Tapu (known for its scenic sunsets), Wandoor Beach, Andaman Water Sports Complex, Chatham Saw Mill, Ross Island, Viper Island and Naval Museum, Samudrika Museum, Mount Harriet National Park (backside image of a 20 Rupee note), Jogger’s Park, Sippighat Agricultural farm and Sagarika Cottage Industry Emporium.

 

Islands near Port Blair: Ross Island, Viper Island, Baratang Island

Islands to stay: Havelock Island, Neil Island

 

Ross Island, named after Captain Daniel Ross, also hosts a sound and light show (except Wednesday) to showcase the historic past it had. It is located just 3 kms east of Port Blair. The island was in itself a city, home to Administrative headquarters of the island which was abandoned after a quake in 1941. The ruins of magnificent past can be seen when you visit, a plethora of old branched trees have tightly held onto legacy!

The islands’s first penal settlement was constructed in Viper Island, now abandoned, still has some ruins of the past and is just 4 kms west of Port Blair.

 Havelock Jetty

(In Pic Above: The stunning views of Havelock Island Jetty)

 

Havelock Island is the most visited tourist island. The collection of beautiful beaches like Radhnagar Beach (Asia’s Best Beach 2004), Govind Nagar Beach, Vijay Nagar Beach and Kala Pathar Beach, make you glued to the immaculate beauty of the island. The island is famous for snorkelling and scuba diving.

 

Welcome to Neil

(In Pic Above: This is how you are greeted on arrival at Neil Island Jetty!)

 

The next in queue is the Neil Island, a smaller version of Havelock, having stunning beaches like Laxmanpur Beach and Sitapur Beach. You can go for glass-bottom boat tour to check out the corals and underwater marine world, not far from beach.

On way to Baratang, Mud Volcano is one spectacle to watch for, an active mouth, spewing mud and gases!

Baratang Island: The ‘Jarawas’ have their habitat in Baratang Island, a restricted entry zone. They hunt wild forest animals for their livelihood, latching on fishes when they hunt in sea. They are a small community of 250-300, fearing extinction after the construct of Great Andaman Trunk Road in 1997 through dense jungles. The project has created a lot of uneasiness and unrest for the community as it invades their life and territory. What’s more, it risks spread of diseases to both the natives and visitors. Tourists and private operators make commercial tours to visit the place and thus disturbing their natural habitat.

To combat this, the administration has started a sea route to Baratang in 2017, but as enthusiasm doesn’t seem building, Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) remains a primary choice and is being promoted more by operators.

Another spectacle, Limestone Caves in North Andaman in Baratang Islands is a natural treat amidst dense forests. The untouched beauty is still well-preserved as you sieve through the mangroves providing an ecosystem for flora and fauna to thrive.

Tip: Don’t visit remote places on any island till late night, as there is dearth of transport services after sunset. Be well-planned and keep your driver partner (if you have one) in loop with your plans.

 

Neil Sunset1

(In Pic Above: A dreamy sunset in Neil Island)

 

What to eat?

Non-Vegetarians will feel home as they will be spoilt for choices. No dearth of seafood options makes it a gastronome’s kitchen. Sea fish, Lobsters, Prawns and Crabs are few of the many options for diners. For Vegetarians, South Indian Basics, North Indian are available aplenty with regular Indian Cuisines. A number of food joints are present in Port Blair. Islands on the other hand have a scarce presence of such outlets, so you have to rely mainly on your hotel and a handful of shacks for dining options.

Suggested to carry some reserve food always, especially if you are travelling with kids or old people, as you have to also deal with early night and late mornings for commercials to open.

 

Neil - Lazy Tree

(In Pic Above: Untouched sand beaches at Neil Island)

 

Taxi/Cab: Private Cabs / Buses are easily available from airport and hotels. Though Ola / Uber don’t have services here.

Seasons: Monsoons / Rain – June until September, Winter – October until February, Summer – March until May

Temperatures: Moderate oceanic conditions prevail, making extreme temperatures a rarity. The range annually remains in 22° C – 32° C. The rainfall is heavy in monsoon seasons and the seas are not safe to travel too. But for rest of the year, you can have pleasant temperatures with soothing breeze.

Driving: Left side of the road, right hand drive

Currency: Indian National Rupee (INR)

Visa: No visa required if you are an Indian National. Though you need a permit (for an Indian too) to visit Nicobar Islands, since the area is regulated.

Note: All foreign nationals are mandated to have RAP (Restricted Area Permit) while visiting the islands. RAP can be taken on arrivals at airport or seaport, or from Foreigner Registration Offices / Immigration Authorities at airport at any of the 4 metros (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata)

Hey guys, i hope this read inspires you to visit the islands. Its an experience of a lifetime. Let me know if you want any other information, i would love to help you.

Read more:

Tell me about Dubai

Should i visit Rishikesh?

Travel PitStops – June

A couple walk-by jetty

Hello readers! Its time for some rains to pour and why not, we need an escape from this scorching heat! A travellers’ journey never stops, though seasons keep changing!

The last 2 editions of Travel PitStops series featured hilly destinations (domestic) as they were ideal for travel in summer months.

This edition onwards we switch on to beautiful rainy months ahead. India has a great monsoon and rainy season. 70% of our people are directly/indirectly employed with the agricultural sector for their livelihood. God bless them with abundant rains!

So lets explore the changing colours of leaves from golden to fresh new green and feel that smell of mitti (soil) right through the air by visiting some amazing places.

So keep your windcheaters, umbrellas and crocs handy to travel along rainy paths.

 

Within India:

Goa

If you ask anybody in India who has never travelled a km outside their city, where does he want to go?

The ecstatic reply will always be “Goa”!

Yah, this destination is such talked about, the energy, vibe and aura of this place is so inviting.

Your visit this month will be greeted with monsoon showers, marking a low tourist season. On the flip side, you can make a budget trip as everything gets cheaper in the slack period, so you can explore more.

Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, post which it was taken over by the Indian Army by running Operation Vijay. The state of Goa came into existence in 1987, until which it was a Union Territory.

7 rivers bathe the state, flourishing it with absolute greenery and dense mangroves, providing a biological ecosystem for thriving flora and fauna.

The coastal area is dotted with numerous shacks, giving a pleasant setup to unwind and relax amidst the cool sea-breeze. Hiring a vehicle is the best way to move around locally in Goa.

 

Goa_Immaculate Conception Church

(In Pic Above: Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim)

 

How to Travel?

Located in Vasco da Gama, Goa International Airport is the only serving airport of Goa with connections to major cities and metros. Almost all Indian domestic airlines and few international airlines fly in here.

The state is well-connected with rail routes penetrating smaller towns. Vasco da gama is the terminus for trains coming from south whilst for others the terminus is at Margao.

It is always advisable to pre-book to protect fares (in case of flights) and make advance reservations in trains.

 

What to do & visit?

Endless spots to visit. It not only offers pristine beaches, you will come across artistically built cathedrals, forts, dense greenery for eco-lovers, Portuguese-styled mansions and a lot more. Read ahead for a refined list of places to visit.

Panjim, Margao, Vasco da gama, Mapusa and Ponda are the main cities of Goa.

Goa is as simple as black and white. You can visit historically old constructions of old Goa on one side and glitzy-disco spots, beach-side restaurants and lively shacks on the other. It purely depends on the travellers taste.

 

Churches – Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Basilica of Bom Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of the Rosary Church

Forts – Chapora Fort (‘Dil Chahta Hai’ movie scene was shot here), Fort Aguada, The ruins of the Fortress of Colvale, Corjuem Fort, Cabo de Rama, Fort Gasper Dias

Beaches – Miramar Beach, Calangute Beach (most famous, at the same time crowded), Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Ozran Beach, Vagator Beach, Chapora Beach, Morjim Beach, Ashwem Beach, Mandrem Beach

 

Special Mention: Party Hard @ Tito’s, LPK (Love, Passion, Karma), SinQ Nightclub, Club Cabana

Tip: Boozing in Goa is much cheaper than other places. So eat->drink->party->drink (don’t forget to sleep to party next day). Goan’s have a local popular liquor ‘Feni’, can give it a try!

Food: Goan Fish Curry, Khatkhate (vegetable stew), Bebinca (Sweet Dish), Ros Omlette

Clothing: Pull out all your flashy party wears from your wardrobe! It’s a partying-people’s paradise. Tourists prefer to keep it loose due to humid conditions. Make sure to have cotton apparels more as they dry quickly. Suggested to keep rainy-wear handy, prop it up with smart umbrellas and waterproof footwear.

Temperatures: Range from 20oC to 30oC, quite humid, keep yourself hydrated at all times

Fact: Goa is the smallest Indian state with an area of 3,702 square kms!

 

Also Read:  What exactly is Rishikesh?

 

Outside India

Portugal:

Did you love Portuguese Architecture in Goa?

It’s time to visit the architect’s dome then!

Ranked 3rd most peaceful country (after Iceland and New Zealand) in 2017, visiting this destination is a no-brainer.

Portugal, a south-west European nation bordering Spain, is the 18th largest nation in the zone. Rich in heritage, culture and architecture, this marvellous destination attracts tourists from around the globe.

One of the top 20 countries to be visited globally, Portugal greets 13 million inbound tourists annually. Lisbon or Lisboa is the capital city of Portugal.

The archipelago (group of islands) of Madeira and Azores complete Portugal. The highest peak Mount Pico, an ancient volcano is situated in the Pico Island in Azores.

June 10 is observed as the ‘Portugal Day’ on the death of their national literary icon Luis de Camoes in 1580, who is regarded as their language’s greatest poet.

 

Lisbon_Belem Tower

(In Pic Above: The Torre de Belem in Lisbon on a dreamy sunset!)

 

How to Travel?

Portugal’s major cities are Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Amadora, Braga and Setubal. From here, one can connect to all other towns via rail / bus. Scores of International Airlines fly to Portugal’s 3 International airports of Lisbon, Porto and Faro.

Iberia, TAP Air Portugal, SATA are few of the many domestic airlines flying here.

Borderless travel across Schengen countries makes any European trail a delight. Portugal is part of the Schengen Pact thus allowing seamless travel in Euro zone. Though the archipelago of Azores & Madeira are part of Portugal, they still are not part of the pact, but follow Schengen Visa Code. 

The major seaports are Lisbon, Aveiro, Faro, Setubal and Leixoes.

CP (Comboios de Portugal) is the major rail services provider in here. The different types of train are Intercidades (Intercity), Alfa Pendular (High Speed), Urbanos and Regional & Inter-regional. Check railway connections in Portugal and make your bookings.

Travellers who are from Europe but outside Portugal can buy One Country Portugal Pass from Interrail, giving unlimited travel for the number of days you select with partner rail providers. Remember, for travellers outside Europe, you can only buy Eurail Pass.

These passes also come with additional benefits of discounts on tour buses.

Additionally, stations have bike (aka bicycles) parks where you can park them while coming to and leaving stations.

 

What to do & visit?

Portugal has some scenic beach fronts, 850 kms of long coastline, medieval castles, dense forests. Porto Santo in Madeira Islands is one such quaint destination.

Lisbon in central Portugal is rich in history, Faro in South Portugal has pristine beaches while Braga in North Portugal has an eminent presence of Roman architecture.

 

Visit in Lisbon: Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Monastery), Castelo de Sao Jorge (Castle), Torre de Belem (Tower), Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira (Palace)

Visit in Porto / Oporto: Igreja de Sao Francisco (Church), Palacio da Bolsa (Palace), Casa da Musica (Concert Hall), Museu da Misericórdia do Porto (Museum). The term Port Wine is derived from the name of this city.

Visit in Sintra: Palacio Nacional de Sintra (Palace), Quinta da Regaleira (Estate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Palacio Nacional de Pena (Castle cum Palace), Castolo dos Mouros (Castle)

 

The city cards offered by Porto & Lisbon are very economical and effective way of seeing these city for less.

The Lisbon City Card also offers free Metro, Bus, Trams, Lift (Elevators, Ropeways) services.

The Porto City Card (can buy in app or Porto Tourism Offices) bundles free entrance to museums, discounted dining, free use of public transportation and many other features.

Marinha Beach in Lagoa is one of the topmost beaches in Europe and among 100 most beautiful beaches in the world!

The 17 kms long Vasco da gama bridge on River Tagus in Lisbon is Europe’s largest.

 

Tip: If using a metro in Lisbon or Porto, buy a day pass, which proves to be cheaper and economical.

Clothing: As the temperatures remain moderately pleasant, light summer casuals works well. Do not forget to carry a sunscreen and a sunglass while venturing into beach areas.

 

Basic Communication Snippets:

Ola – Hello | Bom dia – Good Morning | Boa tarde – Good Afternoon

Boa noite – Good Evening / Good Night | Obrigado – Thank You

Por favor – Please | Bem-vindo – Welcome | Adeus – Good Bye |

Ate logo – See you soon

 

Temperatures: Range from 20oC to 30oC (Pleasant)

Food: Bacalhau (National Dish, Salted and dried cod), Cozido ( Mix of Meat, Vegetables and Sausages), Pastel de nata (Custard tart)

Currency: 1 Euro = INR 78.63 approx. at the time of writing

Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive

Transport: Metro (Lisbon & Porto), Tram (Lisbon & Porto), Public Bus, Taxi / Cab, Uber (Lisbon & Porto), Rail

Visa: Check visa rules & fee for your country here! It may vary depending on the type of passport you hold.

Fact: Portuguese is the 6th largest spoken language globally. 9 more nations use it as their official language.

 

Guys, this is all about this month’s Travel PitStops Series. I have added Food and Basic Communication Snippets to better understand the place you are visiting.

Let me know your thoughts about the blog. If you want me to add any other details going forward in this series, just comment below & don’t forget to subscribe! Kindly share with people who are intending to travel to these destinations.

 If you are travelling to any of these destinations, i would love to hear your experience and story.

 

Read Previous Editions

Travel PitStops – April

Travel PitStops – May

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Rush to Russia

The FIFA Football

 

In addition to being a sports-loving nation, the passion to watch FIFA World Cup certainly exists in india. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) stages this mega event every 4 years. The put-up for this event is done in different countries to promote tourism, economy and explore opportunities globally. The 21st edition of month-long FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia starting June 14 this year.

Being a travel platform, I will tell you about the bouquet of panoramic cities you can explore. Apart from traversing the length and breadth of Russia, travellers can explore unheard places of the giant nation as they play host to a number of matches.

 

High Five Moment:

As a FIFA tourist to Russia, you get to use the public transport services free-of-cost on the match day, along with visa-free access to the country till the duration of the World Cup, provided you have a document named ‘Fan ID’. Consequently, you get multiple entry/exits to/from the hosting country unlimited times right from Day 1 till the Final match of the tournament (July 15).

 

FIFA fever is gripping everyone!

FIFA fever is gripping everyone!

How to go about for FIFA World Cup 2018 Fever?

Step 1: Decide which matches to go for by looking at the match schedule

Step 2: Go to FIFA.com, register yourself and follow the procedure to buy your tickets

Step 3: At this point you have your FIFA Ticket numbers handy

Step 4: Visit the Fan ID Website, input your personal details along with the Ticket Number.

Step 5: Fill in the details very carefully, as any mismatch will lead to re-iterations and spoiling your experience.

Step 6: Once the Fan ID is generated and you have an email, take a printout.

Step 7: You can collect your Fan ID directly at any of the Fan ID Distribution Centres across cities in Russia or request at any Russian Centres of Science and Culture globally or at VFS centres in your specific country. (You can select a method for the way you want to receive your Fan ID, it takes 45 calendar days from the date of request to reach you)

Important: A Fan ID will not be issued until you have a match ticket, vice-versa a Ticket number is mandatory to apply for a Fan ID. No FIFA Spectator is permitted inside the stadium without this, Fan ID is basically a replacement of Visa till the duration of the tournament.

On reaching Russia, make sure you register with the immigration authorities within a day. As a rule if you stay at a hotel, the hotel does it for you. For more information, click here.

 

Book FIFA Train Tickets

Book before it’s gone!

How to book free Public Transportation?

Public Transportation here includes additional trains run by authorities, city buses, trams, metros and any other public transport not mentioned, excludes taxi/cab.

You need to book only for trains through a website, follow the steps listed below.

Step 1: Visit Train Reservation Website

Step 2: Create an account (ideally keep the credentials same as the one you used for creating an account with FIFA, for easy remembrance)

Step 3: On the homepage, you will see a grid showing cities on left, dates at the top, with match schedules in the grid boxes.

Step 4: Select the one for which you have got your tickets.

Step 5: Upon selection, you will see a list of trains before and after the match, make a selection according to the time that is convenient for you. (Book early to avoid paying, as they have limited inventory)

The matches have been majorly scheduled towards the European part of Russia or West Russia to reduce travel time.

As a FIFA Visitor, do keep in mind:

To enter the country, you need Passport and (Laminated Fan ID or Electronic Format of Fan ID)

For Free Travel, you need a Passport, Laminated Fan ID and Match Ticket

To enter the stadium, you need a Match Ticket and Laminated Fan ID

 

Which are the Hosting Cities & Stadiums?

All-in-all, FIFA World Cup 2018 will be hosted across 11 Russian cities in 12 stadiums. You can also watch matches at the FIFA Fan Fest spots located in all the host cities during match days.

 

City 1: Kaliningrad: An exclave of Russia, implying, it is a part of Russia but not attached with the Russian mainland, separated by Latvia and Lithuania in Europe. In 1991, it came into existence post the collapse of Soviet Union. A rich heritage city, the connections to this land (military or civilian) pass through special travel agreements between Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

A google map screenshot showing Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia

(In Pic Above: A google map screenshot showing Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia)

Distance from Moscow: 1,264 kms South West

To Visit: Regional Museum of History and Arts, Kaliningrad Amber Museum, Puppet Theatre, Königsberg Cathedral, Juditten Church, King’s Gate, Friedrichsburg Gate

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Tram, Public Buses

Temperatures: Min 8° C, Max 20° C

Venue for FIFA Matches: Kaliningrad Stadium, max capacity 35,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Central Square, max capacity 15,000

 

City 2: Kazan: Situated at the confluence of River Volga and Kazanka, is the 6th most populous city of Russia.

Distance from Moscow: 816 kms South East

To Visit: Kazan Kremlin (World Heritage Site), Kazan Riviera, National Museum of Tatarstan, Palace of Agriculture, Pyramid Concert Hall, Temple of all religions, Palace of Marriage (Chasha), Qolsarif Mosque, Annunciation Cathedral

Temperatures: Min 9° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Metro, Tram, Public Buses, Bicycle-sharing services

Venue for FIFA Matches: Kazan Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Family Centre Kazan, max capacity 25,000

 

A beautiful sunset in Moscow showing Kremlin along the banks of River Moskva

(In Pic Above: A beautiful sunset in Moscow showing Kremlin along the banks of River Moskva)

 

City 3: Moscow: On the banks of River Moskva lies the capital of this huge (literally yyyuuggeee) country! This most populous Russian city, is also one of the 3 federal cities in Russia after St. Petersburg and Sevastopol. Apart from being the power of political seat, it is the cultural, economic and scientific capital of the nation. Having a cover of 40%, it is one of the world’s greenest capitals, also featuring world’s deepest metro system. The subway stations are designed intricately to reflect the Soviet-era style of living, making way to some of the most magnificent stations on the planet.

Distance from Moscow: NA

To Visit: Moscow Kremlin, Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Bolshoi Theatre, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Pushkin State Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Gorky Park, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Temperatures: Min 10° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airports (4), Rail, Tram, Monorail, Metro, Public Buses, Trolley Buses, Taxi / Cabs, Car / Bike Sharing Providers

Venue for FIFA Matches: 1) Luzhniki Stadium, capacity 80,000; 2) Spartak Stadium, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Vorobyovy Gory, capacity 25,000

 

City 4: Nizhny Novgorod: Located at the picturesque confluence of Rivers Volga and Oka, a centre for river-tourism in Russia, Nizhny is the 5th largest city population-wise and the administrative capital of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.

Distance from Moscow: 417 kms North East

To Visit: Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, 16th Century Novgorod Kremlin, Chkalov Stairs

Temperatures: Min 10° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Public Buses, Tram, Taxi / Cab, Trolley Buses

Venue for FIFA Matches: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Minin and Pozharsky Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 5: Rostov-on-don: The administrative capital of Rostov Oblast, this strategically located port city serves as the logistic hub for the country. Located just 32kms from the Sea of Azov and on the banks of River Don, the city serves as a natural and commercial waterway. With plenty of green parks, this city is also one of the rising cosmopolitan’s of Russia.

Distance from Moscow: 1,076 kms South East

To Visit: Rostov Academic Drama Gorki Theatre, Rostov Zoo, Rostov-on-don Circus, Don riverside, Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral

Temperatures: Min 14° C, Max 28° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Trams

Venue for FIFA Matches: Rostov Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Theatre Square, capacity 25,000

 

The world's largest museum - Hermitage Museum as seen from Palace Square on a majestic evening in St.Petersburg

(In Pic Above: The world’s largest museum – Hermitage Museum as seen from Palace Square on a majestic evening in St.Petersburg)

 

City 6: St. Petersburg: Dubbed as “The Venice of North”, welcome to the “Beer Capital” of Russia. One of the most modern cities apart from being the cultural capital. Situated on Baltic coast, it is one of the biggest port cities and second largest city of the country, serving a gateway to Europe. Also, it is one of the 3 federal cities. River Neva flows through the city.

Look for the most poetic phenomena, White Nights (nights with daylight), in the city from mid-May up till mid-July, when you join in the city for FIFA fever! This happens typically because of the geographic location of the city on the globe. (Similar to Oslo, South Greenland)

Distance from Moscow: 709 kms North West

To Visit: Hermitage Museum (Largest Art Museum in the world), Palace Square, Church of the saviour on Spilled Blood, Field of Mars, Peter and Paul Fortress, Winter Palace, Mariinsky Theatre, Smolny Cathedral, Peterhof

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 23° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Sea Port, River Port, Tram, Metro, Public Bus, Trolley Bus

Venue for FIFA Matches: St. Petersburg Stadium, capacity 67,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Konyushennaya Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 7: Samara: The capital of Samara Oblast, the south-eastern city on the banks of River Volga is an important business and cultural centre for Russia. The city played host to EU-Russia summit in May 2007.

Distance from Moscow: 1,050 kms South East

To Visit: Samara Academic Opera, Samara Embankment, Samara Cosmos Space Museum, Stalin’s Bunker

Temperatures: Min 14° C, Max 25° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, River Boats, Metro, Tram, Public Buses, Trolley Buses, Car Sharing

Venue for FIFA Matches: Samara Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Kuibyshev Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 8: Saransk: The capital city of Republic of Mordovia is also its financial and economic centre.

Distance from Moscow: 649 kms South East

To Visit: Mordovia State National Drama Theatre, Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov

Temperatures: Min 11° C, Max 22° C

Transportation: Airport, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Rail

Venue for FIFA Matches: Mordovia Arena, capacity 44,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Sovetskaya Square, capacity 20,000

 

The altitudes of Caucasus range makes it a perfect spot to have skiing resorts in Sochi

(In Pic Above: The altitudes of Caucasus range makes it a perfect spot to have skiing resorts in Sochi)

 

City 9: Sochi: Dubbed as ‘Summer Beach Resort’, a city in Krasnodar Krai, host to Winter Olympics in 2014, this place has gained notable importance on the global map. Located off the Black Sea, and serving as a seaport, the area landscape is dotted with Caucasus Mountains, providing altitude for Ski Resorts.

Distance from Moscow: 1,622 kms South East

To Visit: Sochi Seaport, Winter Theatre, Sochi National Park, Roza Khutor (Ski Resort), Dolphinarium Riviera

Temperatures: Min 15° C, Max 27° C

Transportation: Airport, Public Bus, Cab / Taxi, Sea Port

Venue for FIFA Matches: Fisht Stadium, capacity 48,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: South Mall of the Seaport, capacity 10,000

 

City 10: Volgograd: The administrative capital of Volgograd Oblast, situated along the banks of River Volga and the city which resisted ‘Battle of Stalingrad’, this place is sometimes also referred as Stalingrad. Volgograd is home to the world’s tallest woman statue ‘The Motherland Calls’. Volgograd River port is Europe’s largest river port.

Distance from Moscow: 969 kms South East

To Visit: Mamayev Kurgan War Memorial, Panorama Museum, Volga-Don Navigation Canal

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 28° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, River Boats, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Trams (Russia’s only underground tram system), Cab / Taxi

Venue for FIFA Matches: Volgograd Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: The 62nd Army Embankment, capacity 15,000

 

City 11: Yekaterinburg: The administrative capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast, is also the 4th largest city of the country. It serves as headquarters for Central Military District. It is one of the largest financial and industrial cities in Russia having highest average monthly wages. The cost of living is marginally higher than other developed Russian cities with a population over 1 million. The city has a thriving catering scene, having a huge market of restaurants, bars welcoming guests. The city acts as a starting point for the exploration of Ural Mountains.

Distance from Moscow: 1,784 kms North East

To Visit: Rastorguyev-Kharitonov Palace, Yekaterinburg Zoo, Church of all saints, Aqua park Limpopo, Museum of Architecture and Design, Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 22° C

Transportation: Airport (2), Rail, Metro, Public Bus, Trams, Trolley Bus

Venue for FIFA Matches: Ekaterinburg Arena, capacity 35,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Mayakovsky Central Park of Entertainment and Culture, capacity 17,000

 

Weather: Summers start from June until August with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 22°C (pleasant temperatures to watch matches in stadium). Autumn stays from September until October (for a very brief period, Temperatures range 10°-15° C) post which the tough winter sets in from November until February, completely blanketing the country into crisp white snow (high probability of a white Christmas!).

The temperatures in winter range between -10°C to 5°C (yes, it is chilly, but you’ll love wearing those fur cardigans and warm jackets amidst endless snow). March onwards the temperatures start rising a fair bit to nudge in spring with some showers until May.

 

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(In Pic Above: Interiors of a metro station in Moscow, they themselves are worth a visit!)

Tip: Avoid Metro in business hours from 8am-10am and 5pm-7pm!

Clothing: Warm, leather, multi-layers are recommended, as temperatures might seem pleasant, but you may feel the chill as sun goes down. Cardigans, Jackets, Woollens are a must.

Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive

Currency: Russian Ruble (1 RUB = INR 1.08 approx. at the time of writing)

Visa: Not required if you have a Fan ID. For non-FIFA visitors, check your visa rules here

Fact: No other country in the world has as many time zones (11) as Russia

 

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(In Pic Above: A bridge opens in St.Petersburg to let ships pass amidst lowly-lit backdrop on a white night)

 

The White Nights: The sun blesses this nation with over 18 hours of abundant sunlight (literally)! This experience can be seen at the time of FIFA World Cup, where the phenomena of ‘White Nights’ kicks in, posing nights as days with different hues on horizon.

 

Guys, I have tried to cover the FIFA World Cup 2018 details in its entirety. Should you need any assistance in details or any particular information, just comment below or send me an email directly, would be happy to assist you.

 

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