TRAVEL: JETWINGS INTERNATIONAL/JUST ONE PLACE


                                             Just One Place

If time constraints forced you to choose just one city in a country and just one place in that city, what would it be? Here’s a quick guide to one set of special delights.

England/Oxford


                                               Photo: Sheila Kumar

 
Looming spires hallowed halls, cyclists with their robes billowing in the balmy breeze- this is Oxford! Walking through its cobbled lanes is the best way to ‘do’ the place. Visit the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library; gawp at the ancient universities. Pop into the Alice (yes, the Wonderland girl) memorabilia shop or just stop by a bridge with weeping willow ornamentation that stands over the Cherwell River. Take in a play. And don’t miss the Gargoyle Walk. Almost every building has statues of these creatures poised atop balustrades and columns.

France/Paris/A Boat Ride Down the Seine


                                  Photo: Sheila Kumar

 
Just the boat ride in a city famed for its many attractions? This one‘s a tough call but there’s something about Paris as seen from the gray-green  waters of the River Seine. On a sunny day, most of Paris comes to the river, stretching out on the banks, reading, lovers canoodling, walking their dogs or fishing. The Seine meanders through 32 ponts (bridges). See the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) and Rive Droite (Right Bank), Notre Dame, bookstalls, Isla de la Cite, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. If Paris is an unforgettable feast for all the senses, the Seine is its main course.

Italy/ Venice


                                   Photo: Yaj Malik


 
Ride in a vaporetti, a motorized water boat, on the waters of the Laguna at night when the Murano chandeliers send prisms of light through the open windows of the palazzos, onto the glimmering waters of the Grand Canal and straight into your heart. Walk in the footsteps of Citizen Casanova, visit the Rialto Bridge, eat tiramisu and sip Prosecco (or grappa, if you are particularly adventurous) in the small cafes. Gaze at the world’s most stylish open-air drawing room, St. Mark’s Square.

Greece/ Mykonos


 
White buildings glimmer atop the sapphire waters of the Aegean, with an alluring blue sky is suspended above --- a dazzling mix of austerity and opulence. Visit Delos for its villages that remind you of Zorba the Greek. Park yourself at a tavern, sip ouzo, nibble on feta cheese and journey back in time to a hedonistic civilization.

Australia/Sydney/ Darling Harbour


 
People who see the Harbour for the first time wonder aloud at the possibility of immigrating to Sydney. If you are fit, sign up (make your bookings online well in advance) for the three-hour walk atop the bridge. Go for a cruise around it or sign up for the Harbour Circular Walk. In the evening, sit at the Circular Quay, crack open some oysters and gaze at Port Jackson, the Sydney Opera House and the stunning setting.

Australia/Melbourne/ Great Ocean Road


                                   Photo: Sheila Kumar

 
Wondering why Oz rates another entry? It’s because the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic routes ever. The road hugs the cliff atop the coastline from Melbourne to Adelaide, and affords breath-taking views of churning waters hitting the Shipwreck Coast, open Downs, kangaroos, even a whale sighting if you are lucky. At Port Campbell are spectacular rock formations, the London Bridge and the Twelve Apostles.

Thailand/ Wat Pa LuangtaBuaYannasampanno Forest Monastery (Tiger Temple)

 
Big cats, well-fed, somnolent tigers, with a Zen-like calm. Not surprising, as these felines are cared for by Buddhist monks. The Tiger Temple, 200 kms west of Bangkok, is a full-fledged wild animal rehabilitation centre and a tiger conservation project. Under the supervision of trained volunteers, tourists can touch the tigers and have their pictures taken with them.


Czech Republic/ Prague/ Charles Bridge



 
Sitting on the banks of the Vltava River, with the Prague Castle in the background and picturesque bridges spanning the city, Prague is gorgeous. See the Astronomical Clock, St. Vitus Cathedral and the quirky Dancing House. Once the only way to go across the town, the Charles Bridge is famous for its stunning views, Gothic towers and Baroque statuary that lines the 516-m long, 10-m wide Bohemian sandstone structure.

China/Beijing/ The Great Wall



 
The Wall over the Forbidden City is the world’s longest structure, almost 4,000 ft long, with 10,000 watchtowers, demarcating Northern China from Inner Mongolia. Climb those steep steps, arduous though it may be, for the sublime satisfaction you get when you reach the top.

Dubai/ Gold Souk




It’s a lot of gold for your dinar. Filigreed earrings, necklaces, rings, pendants that run the gamut of patterns and bracelets that range from wafer thin bangles to sturdy cuffs… all that glitters here really is gold!

Africa/ Kenya Game Reserve




 
There really is nothing as soul- satisfying as seeing wild game in the wild. At the Masai Mara Reserve, the open savannah puts on a show featuring innumerable animals and birds, the tall, red-robed people of the Masai tribe and striking rock formations. Don’t skip the ride in a hot air balloon.

Tibet/Lhasa/ Potala Palace



 
It rises proud and serene, and the traveller who sets eyes on it is never the same again. Perched upon Marpori Hill, 130 m above the Lhasa Valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 m and is today a state museum of China. Luckily, it was only slightly damaged during the Tibetan uprising in 1959. The venerated statue of the Arya Lokeshvara is housed in the PhapkaLhakhang.


India/ Agra/ TajMahal

 
Visit Shah Jahan’s tribute in marble to his beloved Mumtaz. It is not for nothing that Rabindranath Tagore called it “a teardrop on the cheek of time.” The trick is to examine the Taj without haste, to take in the fact that it shines blush-pink, then pristine white, then it is touched with gold later in the day; by night, it is pale, luminous, lovely.

USA/ Manhattan



 
One of the most memorable places in America, its steel towers, orderly streets, magnificent bridges, smorgasbord of eateries and Central Park, the green lung of this city, make Manhattan a marvel. A man-made marvel.

Peru/ Machu Picchu


 
Redefining “jaw-dropping,” the Incas actually settled a civilization up here in the Andes 9,060 ft above sea level. It is invisible from below but once you climb to the site, there it lies before you, hundreds of stone structures high above the Urubamba River. Clouds weave in and out of the well-packed stonewalls and the Intihuatana, which is a stone column, looms tall. At midday on 21 March and again on 21 September,  the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. Pay your respects to an evolved people who lived long ago.

                                         Jetwings, Jan-Feb 2007