Radisson Blu Hotel, Ranchi, India: hotel review

Radisson Blu hotel is the only five star hotel in Ranchi, the "City of Waterfalls" in India. I go there almost every year to visit the ashram of Paramahansa Yogananda for a yoga and meditation retreat. The Business Class room is very comfortable and quiet with all the amenities like tea and coffee-maker, complimentary mineral water, cookies and fruits and an evening turndown service that I enjoy very much. There is nothing like getting fresh towels and having your bed made again, when you return to the room late in the evening!

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5 things to know about the Eurostar between London St Pancras Int'l & Paris Gare du Nord

Eurostar tickets can be purchased 4 months in advance and become more expensive the closer you are to your travel date. I bought my tickets two months in advance from www.eurostar.com and paid as less as 29 GBP from London to Paris and 44.50 GBP from Paris to London! There is also a special price for youth under 24 years of age. Tickets can either be downloaded and printed at home from the Eurostar website or picked up at the railway station. In my case, since I had booked two passengers on one ticket, I was not able to print them at home and could only pick them up at the railway station. This meant arriving half an hour earlier to ensure I had enough time to pick them up!

2. Boarding at St Pancreas

The Eurostar between London and Paris runs between London St Pancras International and Paris Gare du Nord. Boarding at St Pancras involves scanning your tickets at the automated check-in gates, x-ray screening and passport control. Sometimes the queues are long which is why you need to ensure that you have enough time to check-in before boarding the train. My train's departure time was 8:31 a.m. and I did not have the slightest idea about the check-in process. I reached around 7:40 a.m. to pick up my tickets and meet my friend (who was traveling with me) for breakfast at the railway station. However, when we saw the long queues at the check-in gates, we had to sacrifice our breakfast and get in the queue to make it in time for our train! We eventually did get our breakfast-to-go - hot croissants with cheese and tomato with coffee, which we had in the train! I would give it atleast an hour before the train's departure time for picking up tickets and checking-in for the Eurostar.

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Ibis Edinburgh Centre, Royal Mile, Scotland: hotel review

I visited Edinburgh, Scotland in the summer and booked my stay through AccorHotels.com at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre, Royal Mile. Even though I booked three weeks in advance, I got a rate of 133 GBP per night, which I thought was very expensive for an Ibis. But I guess since it was summer and peak time for tourists to visit Scotland, I did not have much of a choice. At least, the location was good and I had read some great reviews on TripAdvisor about this property, so I went ahead and made the booking.

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Urquhart Castle, Lochness, Scotland: my day trip there

Urquhart Castle is a ruinated 13th century castle in the Scottish Highlands located on the banks of the Loch Ness, the largest (by volume) lake in the British Isles. It is one of the most picturesque landmarks in Scotland lying close to the village of Drumnadrochit and easily approachable by road from Inverness. The castle, situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness, is one of the largest in Scotland in area. It was raided through the centuries and was completely abandoned in the 17th century. In the 20th century, it was placed in state care and opened to the public and is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.

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Bus ride from Inverness to the Urquhart Castle in Loch Ness: Exploring Scottish Highlands

Even though I had only one and a half day in Inverness, I could not leave without a visit to the Urquhart Castle in Loch Ness. There is a regular shuttle service that runs between Inverness and Loch Ness, and it is a good idea to get your bus tickets in advance. In case you can't get your ticket in advance, you will have to wait in line to get on the bus, and if the bus gets full, you will need to wait for the next bus - this is exactly what happened to me. However, I did not mind it so much because it gave me enough time for a quick visit to the nearby Victoria Market, which was recommended to me by the Mercure hotel staff where I was staying. Also, I was able to take time and relax on a nice cup of coffee before getting on the bus.

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Victoria Market, Inverness, Scotland

Hi friends, if you have been following my blog, here is another post on Inverness. Victoria Market is a charming shopping mall in Inverness that dates back to the 1890s. The original market was destroyed by fire in 1889 and rebuilt over the next two years. Here you will find shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, kilts, flowers as well as fish and meat. This market makes an ideal spot to enjoy a cup of coffee at one of its cute little cafes, especially when it is raining outside. In the short time I had at Inverness, I made sure to visit the market as it was strongly recommended to me by the Mercure hotel staff where I was staying. Here are some pictures of the market.

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Inverness, Scotland : 5 things to do in one day!

I was in Inverness, Scotland only for two nights earlier this summer and even though it was a very short stay, I was able to do quite a few things there! Arriving at the Mercure Inverness hotel in the late afternoon, I enjoyed magnificent views of the old town of Inverness from my room window. Then I decided to take a walk around the old town, till it began to rain and I had to run back to the hotel, ending my day with a nice cup of hot chocolate in bed, while enjoying the breathtaking views of the city from my room window.

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Edinburgh to Inverness, Scotland : Scottish Highlands

I am back with my pictures of the Scottish Highlands taken from my Nikon D810, while I was traveling by train from Edinburgh to Inverness, Scotland. The highlands dotted with castles, cattle, picket fences, wild flowers and cloudy, blue skies are breathtakingly beautiful. If you haven't already been there, I highly recommend Scotland as your next holiday destination. People are friendly, the vibration is lovely and there is beauty all around - even though the Scottish accent is hard to get at first!

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Edinburgh to Inverness, Scotland: North Sea

Hi folks! This is the first part of the picture tour that I shot with my Nikon D810, on train from Edinburgh to Inverness in Scotland. However, I have to confess that no photos can do justice to the beauty of Scotland - from seas and rivers, to the Scottish highlands, each view is breathtakingly lovely. Hopefully, I will be able to return there soon! From Inverness, I traveled first class on Virgin Trains East Coast to London Kings Cross, a total travel time of around 8 hours. This was an experience in itself and for those of you who missed this post, you will find it here.

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Edinburgh Waverley in images

Edinburgh Waverley railway station, often simply referred to as Waverley, or as Edinburgh, is the main railway station in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. For those of you who want to have an idea how this railway station looks like, here are some pictures I clicked, when I was there last time. Before boarding the train, you need to double-check what platform your train is arriving and I figured out that they don't have this information on the TV screens, sometimes not even up to 15 minutes before the train arrives; then you need to rush with your bags and have your tickets ready to be validated at the entry point of the platform otherwise the gate may not open for you!

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Morning Coffee at Starbucks, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Old Town, Scotland

I visited Starbucks, Royal Mile, twice when I was in Edinburgh, once in the evening and another time very early in the morning. While it was super-duper crowded in the evening, morning was almost empty and I was able to snap some real nice pictures for my blog! Located in the center of the Edinburgh Old Town and housed in a lovely, old building, the first floor seating area affords great views of the Edinburgh Old Town. Coffee was good and I especially enjoyed the old-world charm of this ancient building matched with the interiors of the cafe. I have a small story to tell that accompanied my morning coffee at this very enchanting Starbucks cafe!

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Edinburgh, Scotland: Old Town, Royal Mile & Princes Street

It had always been my dream to visit Scotland, fancying it to be a land of warriors and knights in shining armour, who rode their horses through mountain wildernesses interspersed with valleys and lakes. Even though I did not meet any knights there, I was completely bewitched by Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. Edinburgh was also the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century that transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Later, a friend remarked to me how she felt that Scotland was haunted and wanted to know my own feelings on the subject.

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First Class on Virgin Trains East Coast from Inverness, Scotland to London Kings Cross

Scotland by rail is an experience to make and I strongly recommend traveling First Class on Virgin Trains East Coast from London to Scotland or back, to get the best out of your visit to the U.K. I traveled First Class from Inverness, which is a city on Scotland's northeast coast, to London King's Cross on Virgin Trains East Coast and had a journey to remember. From the moment I boarded the train in Inverness and till the time we arrived in London, a journey of almost 8 hours, I enjoyed every moment of the comfort and luxury the first class had to offer. The thing to do is to plan your journey in advance and get really cool deals on ticket prices - you will be surprised how little you have to pay for the extra first class comfort!

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Mercure Inverness hotel, Inverness, Scotland: hotel review

I stayed at the Mercure Inverness hotel from the 27th-29th of July, 2016 and booking on accorhotels.com, paid 327 GBP (170 GBP + 157 GBP) excluding breakfast for the two nights I was there. Despite the Accor Hotels member's discount and considering that Mercure Inverness is only a 3 star hotel, I found the price per night very expensive but that's what happens when you visit a top tourist destination in Scotland during holiday season and book last moment. Traveling by Scot Rail from Edinburgh Waverley, it took me approximately 3 1/2 hours to arrive at Inverness. The ticket cost me only 16.20 GBP as it was an advanced single valid only for the train I was traveling on. Even though Mercure hotel is only a 6 minute walk from the Inverness train station, thanks to my heavy suitcase, I was forced to take a cab.

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Visiting Bicester Village, the shopping outlet near London, U.K.

It was my first Saturday in London when I casually mentioned my desire for a Burberry jacket to my cousin sister that set the course for the events of the day. In half an hour, like two excited children, we were on the road driving to Bicester Village-the designer shopping outlet near London! Somewhere during our drive to the Village, my cousin mentioned how lucky we were not to have husbands who would have otherwise dampened our spirits in making such a trip on my very first day in the U.K.--I couldn't agree more! Of course, this is a very personal thing and if you have a non-interfering husband who would without any fuss let you make such a trip on your first day in London and also sponsor it, you know you are the luckiest girl in the world....such husbands are a rare find and perhaps only occasionally bless the earth. :)

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Designer outlet Roermond, Netherlands: 6 things to know before getting there!

Hello everybody! I was at the Designer Outlet Roermond in Netherlands, a few weeks ago and it has become one of my top shopping destinations, thanks to some great deals I found there on shoes and bags at Gucci and Prada! Here is a little insight from my trip-some of the things you might want to know before planning your trip there.:) P.S. I am wearing jeans from True Religion and pure cashmere kimono sweater and pure cashmere infinity scarf, both from Jjill.

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6 reasons you absolutely need to visit Baden Baden in Germany

Baden Baden is a beautiful spa town located at the foot of the Black Forest mountains in South Germany, not very far away from Germany's border to France. It is famous for its curative waters and healing baths and has attracted the likes of Queen Victoria, Barrack Obama and many more celebrities over the years. I spent a few days there recently and totally fell in love with the place! Here is why I think you absolutely need to make a visit to Baden Baden!

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First class train travel in Europe: 5 things to expect on board the Deutsche Bahn ICE, the German high-speed train

Some of the most precious moments in my life have been spent in solo travel through Europe on long distance trains. It's my retreat from the world, an almost Zen-like experience when I can be alone like this, silently concentrated on the beauty of the picture-perfect quaint European villages as they roll dreamily past...Recently I was traveling in Germany by the German high-speed train ICE (Inter City Express) and for those of you who want to know more about the Deutsch Bahn first class compartment and service aboard the ICE train, here are some pictures and some information from my very recent visit.

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Visiting #Babaji's cave in the #Himalayas in North India: a photo essay

For those of you interested in making pilgrimages to holy spots across the world and meditating where saints have meditated, a visit to Babaji's cave in the Himalayas is a must. The cave is a 45 minute trek from a place called Kukuchina located in the small town of Dunagiri in North India, not so far away from Dwarahat. Infact, my recommendation would be to stay at Dwarahat and hire a cab for the day to drive to Kukuchina. Here are some pictures from a trip I made there with some friends some time back.

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#VisitBerlin with me: 15 pictures from my trip to #Berlin

A couple of years ago I was in Berlin for the first time and took the hop-on-hop-off Berlin bus tour to see Berlin's top tourist attractions. The weather was cloudy but I still managed to take pictures of anything and everything as the bus driver took us to the most important places to see in Berlin. The guide did a good job of explaining to us the historical significance of the places we visited, even though his accent was a bit difficult to get at first. What I understood was that most of Berlin had been destroyed by the war and then build again exactly the way it was before war. For those of you who are interested in art, culture, history and DDR, you will really enjoy your visit here.

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