Vienna in two days

Vienna is a historic city. First, a pivotal battle between the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe was fought in 1683, and then, during the second world war, significant support to Hitler came from Vienna.

Some tips for the first-timers

  1. The dominant spoken language is German, but it is not hard to find English speakers.
  2. Public transport is great and a 24-hour pass costs 8 Euros.
  3. Most of the good spots are near the city center, so don’t stay too far away.
  4. Toilets inside shopping malls, big grocery stores, and restaurants are usually free. Outside ones charge 0.5 Euro.

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Prague in Two Days

Prague, or “Praha” in Chezch, is probably the most famous city in Eastern Europe. The city boasts medical castles, museums, and quite a few quirky attractions.

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Maui (Hawaii) in 4 days

Maui is a small but beautiful island of Hawai’i. Here is a recommended 4-day itinerary for Maui. This itinerary is a slightly modified version of what I was able to do. The public transport on the island is poor. For solo travel outside the rainy season, I would recommend renting a moped to go around. Otherwise, rent a car.

The island has a much more developed western part consisting of Kaanapali and Lahaina, which have major resorts.

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Cruising in French Polynesia

We sailed on the Windstar cruise in French Polynesia. On a 7-day cruise, we stopped on six different islands, including two days in Bora Bora.

The cruise ship has a crew of 99 and 74 staterooms for~150 passengers. This ratio ensures exceptionally personalized service, and you get to know pretty much everyone else on the ship. The crew members learn everyone’s name pretty quickly, and, especially, in our case, we got custom orders for vegetarian food of our choice regularly.

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French Polynesia – the basics

Getting to French Polynesia

Getting from the US to French Polynesia used to be hard and expensive, with Air Tahiti Nui being the only option from the Los Angeles airport (LAX). In 2018, French Bee and United Airlines started direct flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Papeete (PPT). Papeete, the main island, is relatively dull, and there is nothing much to do on it. The two best islands are Moorea and Bora Bora. Alternatively, one can take a 10+ day-long cruise from New Zealand or Australia.

Do check whether you need a TOM visa or not on the official website. For some nationalities like India, a French Schengen visa suffices.

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A trip to Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is probably the most photographed canyon in the world. Located in the Navajo Indian preservation, only guided tours are permitted.  We took a trip to Antelope Canyon Tours. The tour lasts about an hour, and it takes ~20 mins one-way drive to reach the canyon. There aren’t any hikes, just simple walks in the canyon. Everyone is crazy running around and taking photos, so it does become a bit hard to enjoy in the mad rush. Even then,  if you are in the area, I would recommend booking a tour in advance to visit the canyon.

 

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A vegetarian lunch at French Laundry

For the uninitiated, French Laundry is one of the best restaurants in the world. I got a chance to try the tasting menu. I had a vegetarian, or to be precise, a lacto-vegetarian (milk and cheese but not eggs) meal here.

The restaurant looks nondescript from the outside, and it is easy to miss it while driving.

French Laundry

French Laundry

It was an 8-10 course meal, depending on how you count a course. Portion sizes were small but delicious. And there was a gap of about 15-20 mins before each serving. So, a commitment of 3-4 hours for the full course.

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