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Goa off the beaten path, Whole Goa in One Day!

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Usually when we talk about Goa we refer to warm sea, pristine beaches, clear and sunny sky and lots of tourists from around the world relaxing and enjoying together with their family or loved ones. However, this time when I was in Goa for nearly two weeks, my Russian friend came up with an idea to further explore Goa in one day away from the beaches. She came across one Russian travel agency operating in Goa “tvoy Goa” and there we saw a tour package of Complete Goa in one day. In no time, we booked with the agency.

Their office was in Candolim, where we stayed. The place is a mini Russia in itself. The office was also giving a complete feel of a Russian office. Everything was written in Russian; receptionist, managers and all employees were Russian. It was strange and funny that to see India, I was with a Russian tour agency with my friend and her mother. They were accepting fees in US Dollars but I am glad that for me they accepted Indian Rupees as well.

Whole Goa in One Day!

The Complete Goa in One day package included a visit to Temple of Sri Mahalasa, Dudhsagar Falls, Spice plantation garden, Lunch, and Old Goa in the respective order.

Our Russian guide greeted us as soon as our trip started. After 2-3 minutes of talking, she realized I am a non-Russian and her quick question was “vse govarit po russky?” (Does everyone speak in Russian?) We all responded with yes, and she was surprised with my presence and my Russian language. Throughout the way, she was introducing the group to Indian culture, some common myths and beliefs about the Indian society and I was there to help if she needed clarification. The bus became a platform for intellectual discussion on Indian culture with everyone participating and asking questions out of their curiosity and observations.

Passing through the serene roads accompanied by the green trees and zigzagging through the Goan territory, we reached Sri Mahalasa temple. It was like seeking blessing of the goddess Mahalasa, Mohini avatar of Vishnu, before continuing with journey. The temple was shifted from the Velha conquistas (Saxty/salcette) to avoid destruction during the forcible Christianisation of Salcette, Goa.  The temple boasts a magnificent deepastambha and a holy pond. Visitors cannot go with swimsuits inside and need to cover their sleeves up to the half-length and legs up to the knees. Footwear need to be removed outside the temple. Taking picture of the front view of the temple is not allowed. However, you can take pictures in the other areas of the temple.

mahalasa-temple Whole Goa in One Day

deepastambha mahalasa-temple Whole Goa in One Day

The next stop in our trip was of course, Doodhsagar falls. I would say this was the main highlight of the trip, and it is not in Goa, :P but in the adjacent state of Karnataka. Last time I came here when I was studying in Bangalore. We trekked along the railway tracks and the view was much better from there. You could actually see the fall very close on a height! The name Doodhsagar came from Sanskrit. It is made up of two words, Doodh (milk) and sagar (sea) so you can guess why it is called so.

Private vehicles cannot go up to the waterfall. We had to get down and take a safari jeep provided by the administration whose fees was included in the tour package. As soon as you get down from the bus, number of local people will come to sell bananas and tomatoes to you for feeding the monkeys. I have fed monkeys a lot, it is quite dangerous and I do not find it exciting anymore. However, I bought it because my friend wanted to. I was unaware of the fact that feeding monkeys was illegal there and we cannot take any eatables inside. At the entrance of the protected area, government officials started checking our bags, though they were not so strict. They were asking politely and as polite was the response from all the fellow Russian tourists, “no, we do not have any bananas.”

From that point, it took another 45 minutes to reach the falls through unmetalled roads and crossing rivers that filled water up to our feet in the jeep. As soon as we got down, I was surprised to see everyone taking out bananas and feeding the monkeys. I was laughing because I thought only Indians do such things, breaking the rules! Probably it is the effect of extra freedom, which Russians enjoy now, after the 74 years long strict soviet rule!

After getting down from the jeep we still had to make our way to the fall, which required crossing fast-flowing mountainous rivers with the help of the rope and climbing small rocks. It was not as difficult as it sounds; people belonging to all age groups were doing it smoothly. Helping my friend and her mom cross all the hurdles, I started helping fellow tourists to cross whether I knew them or not. Girls, boys, men, women, babushki (grannys) and kids, I cannot remember how many people I pulled and guided or lifted to make them reach safe place. It was a bit strange for me, as men in Russia have to serve the army compulsory for one year; I assumed that it would be very easy for them, but I felt as if it was something new for them, and I had to guide them and pull them the same way.

Doodhsagar-fall The next stop in our trip was of course, Doodhsagar falls. I would say this was the main highlight of the trip, and it is not in Goa, :P but in the adjacent state of Karnataka. Last time I came here when I was studying in Bangalore. We trekked along the railway tracks and the view was much better from there. You could actually see the fall very close on a height! The name Doodhsagar came from Sanskrit. It is made up of two words, Doodh (milk) and sagar (sea) so you can guess why it is called so.  Private vehicles cannot go up to the waterfall. We had to get down and take a safari jeep provided by the administration whose fees was included in the tour package. As soon as you get down from the bus, number of local people will come to sell bananas and tomatoes to you for feeding the monkeys. I have fed monkeys a lot, it is quite dangerous and I do not find it exciting anymore. However, I bought it because my friend wanted to. I was unaware of the fact that feeding monkeys was illegal there and we cannot take any eatables inside. At the entrance of the protected area, government officials started checking our bags, though they were not so strict. They were asking politely and as polite was the response from all the fellow Russian tourists, “no, we do not have any bananas.”  From that point, it took another 45 minutes to reach the falls through unmetalled roads and crossing rivers that filled water up to our feet in the jeep. As soon as we got down, I was surprised to see everyone taking out bananas and feeding the monkeys. I was laughing because I thought only Indians do such things, breaking the rules! Probably it is the effect of extra freedom, which Russians enjoy now, after the 74 years long strict soviet rule!  After getting down from the jeep we still had to make our way to the fall, which required crossing fast-flowing mountainous rivers with the help of the rope and climbing small rocks. It was not as difficult as it sounds; people belonging to all age groups were doing it smoothly. Helping my friend and her mom cross all the hurdles, I started helping fellow tourists to cross whether I knew them or not. Girls, boys, men, women, babushki (grannys) and kids, I cannot remember how many people I pulled and guided or lifted to make them reach safe place. It was a bit strange for me, as men in Russia have to serve the army compulsory for one year; I assumed that it would be very easy for them, but I felt as if it was something new for them, and I had to guide them and pull them the same way.

This day gave me an unforgettable moment as I lost my slippers in an attempt to support my friend and save my mobile while crossing the river with the help of the rope. From that point, I walked barefoot throughout the trip: in the jungle, in the garden, on the streets and in the church. The result was red feet due to excessive acupressure by mother earth!

Our next stop was spice plantation garden. It was like a forest where you could see spices growing. It is an interesting place if you want to know a little more about the common spices that you include in your food daily. However, for an Indian there is not anything new. :) Nevertheless, it is a good concept to introduce foreign tourists to Indian spices and their richness. We were provided lunch in traditional Indian style on Banana leaf; tea and Goan feni (local alcohol) was served right on the table. I was having a friendly conversation with the guide when a group of girls came and occupied seats next to me, everyone was curious to know what was there on their plate. It was interesting to see that whenever we had free time, the conversation took a spiritual and intellectual turn. No matter if you visit Goa or Varanasi, if you came to India you will not go without taking some spiritual lessons from this ancient country.

spice-plantation-garden-goa This day gave me an unforgettable moment as I lost my slippers in an attempt to support my friend and save my mobile while crossing the river with the help of the rope. From that point, I walked barefoot throughout the trip: in the jungle, in the garden, on the streets and in the church. The result was red feet due to excessive acupressure by mother earth!  Our next stop was spice plantation garden. It was like a forest where you could see spices growing. It is an interesting place if you want to know a little more about the common spices that you include in your food daily. However, for an Indian there is not anything new. :) Nevertheless, it is a good concept to introduce foreign tourists to Indian spices and their richness. We were provided lunch in traditional Indian style on Banana leaf; tea and Goan feni (local alcohol) was served right on the table. I was having a friendly conversation with the guide when a group of girls came and occupied seats next to me, everyone was curious to know what was there on their plate. It was interesting to see that whenever we had free time, the conversation took a spiritual and intellectual turn. No matter if you visit Goa or Varanasi, if you came to India you will not go without taking some spiritual lessons from this ancient country.

In the spice garden you can see elephants, ride on them or bath with them as elephants splash water on you from their trunks. Interesting, isn’t it? My friend and I decided to take a ride on the elephant. It was for 600 rupees each (not included in the package) for a quiet small ride.

Our last stop was Old Goa where we visited some of the most magnificent churches of Goa and Asia. Cathedral of St. Catherine is the biggest church in Asia. The cathedral is known for its Golden bell, which is biggest in Goa and one of the best in the world. Once sounded, the vibration of the bell can be heard as far as 14 Km! The church belongs to 16th century, which was the time when Europeans started forced Christianisation of India. We also visited Basilica of Bom Jesus, which has the relics of the Apostle of India, St. Francisco Xavier. He is known as the most successful catholic missionary in the world in the history of Christianity.

cathedral-of-st.-catherine-goa In the spice garden you can see elephants, ride on them or bath with them as elephants splash water on you from their trunks. Interesting, isn’t it? My friend and I decided to take a ride on the elephant. It was for 600 rupees each (not included in the package) for a quiet small ride.  Our last stop was Old Goa where we visited some of the most magnificent churches of Goa and Asia. Cathedral of St. Catherine is the biggest church in Asia. The cathedral is known for its Golden bell, which is biggest in Goa and one of the best in the world. Once sounded, the vibration of the bell can be heard as far as 14 Km! The church belongs to 16th century, which was the time when Europeans started forced Christianisation of India. We also visited Basilica of Bom Jesus, which has the relics of the Apostle of India, St. Francisco Xavier. He is known as the most successful catholic missionary in the world in the history of Christianity.

It was evening already and our guide gave us options whether if we want to visit a museum or want to go back home. All of us were filled with excitement and emotions, but we were tired. We decided to return, my feet were red, with impressions of stones and rough surfaces of forest, roads and grasses. Nevertheless, I did not care, as I was lost in the bliss that Goa gave. Our guide on the way home was telling more about Indian mythology and I was lost somewhere. My friend was cutely sleeping with her head resting on the window and her mom was smiling. There was silence in the bus, not because we were tired, but we were saving the memories of the day. Thanks to Goa, thanks to tvoy goa and thanks to the guide Elena for making the day perfect!

Tvoy goa (Your Goa) is a Russian tour agency operating in Goa. Eh! you would be thinking that I am crazy. Nevertheless, the rates were reasonable, probably because it was not a British company! You can get further 5% discount if you book from their website. Children get additional 50% discount and payment can be done after the trip. Tourists, whether they have been to India or not, often have some myths about Indian culture, Indian society and religion; here is the list of top ten myths about India compiled by our Russian journalist from St. Petersburg. It is our personal recommendation for you and clear your doubts about India. :)

Your Turn!

Have you ever been to goa? Where did you go and what did you do? Share your experience, your views and tips in the comments below. Our team of international journalists would love to have discussion with you. And do not forget to share and follow us on your favourite social networking site :)

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Travel

7 Travel Safety Tips You Should Know

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aircraft flight travel packing

Travelling can be enthralling, but have you ever asked yourself what if you get robbed? What if you get kidnapped? Or you get lost? 

Leaving the comfort of your home to explore a foreign country can be an exciting experience. However, several worst-case scenarios can make you anxious when travelling overseas. From losing precious items and getting injured to theft or kidnapping, a lot can happen abroad. 

The first step is to acknowledge that bad things can happen, which is part of the adventure. With these safety tips below, you can protect yourself as a traveller and have peace of mind.

 Conduct Sufficient Research 

Research and gather a lot of information. Travel safety starts even before you board that plane. Google about your destination and know the common risks and prevalent scams in that country. Get to know the safe and unsafe neighbourhoods. 

Ensure you read reviews in the places you’ll visit or the hotel you’ll be staying in. Check if your rent property is in a safe environment. Read blogs from travel bloggers to find if there is anything written about your destination. You can watch videos on YouTube to learn a few things. You can listen to the accent, see attraction sites, and what the landscape looks like.  

TripAdvisor is also a great platform where you can search your destination before travelling. It’s great for hotels, restaurants, local attractions, and tour companies. Read reviews to get valuable information from previous clients. 

Doing research helps you feel confident and comfortable when travelling. 

Buy Travel Insurance 

A vacation isn’t a vast investment, like buying a car or house, but you still need a lot of money. Buying airfare, paying for tour guides, and accommodation needs tons of cash. The travel insurance cover protects you from lost or damaged items. 

It can be expensive to replace items like electronic devices, clothes, and medication. You might also get hurt or sick while in a foreign country. If you get hurt or sick before travelling, you’ll have to cancel your trip. With this, you’ll lose the full cost. In such a scenario, the travel insurance will reimburse the amount used. 

You may also need to get evacuated from a danger zone, and using helicopter transport can cost you a fortune. This is where travel insurance comes in. Early returns or losing a family or friend are other incidents that should motivate you to get insurance cover. 

However, ensure you get a comprehensive cover that will cater to almost every bill you might incur. Choose a reliable insurance provider to give direction and offer the necessary help. Check the reputation of the said company, their insurance packages, and don’t forget to read reviews. 

Share Information with a Reliable Friend or a Close Relative

Travelling is marred with uncertainties. Anything can happen when in a foreign land. That’s why you should let those close to you know about your whereabouts. 

In case of an emergency, you might not manage to communicate specific details. The insurance may require you to call before going to the hospital. They can help you find a reliable hospital nearby. 

It is always advisable to scan and print important documents and upload a digital cover of the insurance package.

Keep Your Money in Various Places

Never travel with all of your money in the same place. Stash emergency money throughout the luggage just in case you lose some. You can also place cash on your body but in different pockets. 

You may wear a money belt beneath your clothes or have a handy bra pocket to keep your credit cards and cash. Invest in an excellent zippered passport pocket that can hold a phone and a passport. This way, even if you get robbed, you’ll still have some cash and cards tucked away. 

More so, be mindful of purses and pockets when in a crowded place. It’s too easy to get pickpocketed in a crowded subway or bus. Criminals know their target pretty well, but you can give them a hard time trying to rob you. 

If you get into a crowded place, keep your hands-on any pocket that has your valuables. If possible, tuck the purse underneath your arm to ensure it opens towards your body and hard to access. Ensure the purse can be zipped, covered, or fastened. 

Avoid keeping stuff in your back pocket as it’s an easy target. Also, it’s recommended to ditch the purse and wallet altogether. 

Lock Your Bags

Locking your luggage can deter thieves. Zip your wallet and purse and lock your bags as well. A determined thief goes for easier targets. They know travellers carry tons of valuable items, and that’s why locking your luggage during transit is a great security measure. 

You can use non-TAS travel locks as they’re hard to break, unlike the universal TSA lock. However, you may use a TSA-approved travel lock for added security and peace of mind. 

Don’t Bring with You Your Precious Items

It’s easy to have items disappear while in transit. It could be a scarf you left in a park or sunglasses fell in the water as you were surfing. When packing for air travel, leave anything that will break your heart if it gets stolen or lost. 

For instance, leave your precious jewellery at home. Carrying education or property documents is risky. Bring cheap items like a travel-friendly necklace or wedding ring, an older smartphone, or inexpensive clothes. 

Watch Your Drinks 

When in a foreign country, you become an easy prey. No matter the circumstances, ensure you watch over your drinks. Make sure you see what’s being poured so someone doesn’t spike your drink

It would also be best to avoid getting drunk. If you usually take six drinks, reduce to two. If you didn’t travel with a buddy, go everywhere with your drink, even to the washroom.

Every day there is news of travellers who have fallen victim to several crimes while travelling. This should be your huge concern in taking the necessary measures. Don’t be too naïve or optimistic to think it can never happen to you. 

But don’t allow anything to stop you from having an enthralling vacation. Follow these travel safety tips, and you’ll enjoy a peaceful trip. 

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A unique perspective of Jamaica

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Over the last years, Jamaica has become one of the most visited destinations by tourists in the entire world. This beautiful Caribbean island with its stunning beaches, rich nature and delicious gastronomy has everything you could wish for in a holiday destination. However, if you want to experience Jamaican culture in a unique way while interacting with nature hand in hand, there is a place you can not miss during your trip: Yaaman Adventure Park.

The most original holidays

Jamaica is famous as a beach holidays destination. And who can really blame those that choose to visit the country because of this? Its white sand beaches with crystal clear waters and jungle right next to the shores make out for some breathtaking views. However, Jamaica has so much more to bring into the table. A good example of this can be found in the famous tours in Ocho Rios offered by Yaaman Adventure Park.

Ocho Rios is known as the most touristic area on the entire island. And in an area with such a wide catalogue of activities focused towards tourists, we can find Yaaman Adventure Park. Formerly known as Prospect Plantation, Yaaman Adventure Park original placement used to be an 18th Century agricultural property with a lot of history and cultural points. Yaaman Adventure Park offers its visitors the opportunity to interact hand in hand with nature in a lot of adrenaline filled adventures that will make out for unforgettable experiences. 

Do not limit yourself to simply laying on the beach, discover the beautiful island of Jamaica and its culture in a fun and original way. 

The perfect activities for everyone in the family

There are as many types of holidays as there are types of people in the world. Yaaman Adventure Park is aware of this, and that is why they offer a wide catalogue of activities in Ocho Rios that will adapt to everyone’s needs. Your age does not matter, there is the perfect activity waiting for you at Yaaman Adventure Park. Yaaman Adventure Park has a lot of fun activities that will allow you to interact with nature, as well as some more relaxing ones that will help you understand Jamaican culture better. Some of their most renown activities include:

Bird aviary tour

An activity that everyone in the family will surely love! In this aviary, you will be able to interact with exotic and local birds while they freely fly around you. The aviary is a tropical heaven for the birds that live there, and will make you feel like you have been transported to a fairytale world.

Swim with dolphins

Dolphins are some of the most beloved sea animals in the world. And in Yaaman Adventure Park you will be able to swim with dolphins in their unique shore excursions in Ocho Rios. These loving creatures are very smart and love interacting with the visitors. During these excursions, you will be able to swim with them and even hug and kiss the lovely dolphins. 

Cook genuine Jamaican recipes

Jamaica has one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. Their traditional colourful dishes are full of unique flavours that will not disappoint your palate. On the cooking tour offered by Yaaman Adventure Park, you will learn how to prepare the traditional “Jamaican Fare”. The famous chef Irie will teach you all the secrets of this dish consisting of festival, Steamed Callaloo and chicken. All of this while you enjoy some breathtaking views 1100 feet above sea level.

But these are only some of the activities you will be able to enjoy at Yaaman Adventure Park. From Mud buggies tours to tours across near stunning rivers, rides on the back of camels or a jitney ride, the possibilities at this park seem endless. So if you are looking for a fun and original alternative for your next holidays, then look no further, Yaaman Adventure Park is the perfect place to go.

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How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

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malaga andalusia spain

There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?

Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?

Spanish cities where to live cheap and well

In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.

The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries. 

In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run. 

Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors

I have already decided on the place. Now what?

Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?

Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.

To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.

And remember: a move is always a new beginning.

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