Dublin through booksHomestay high
Literature being an integral part of Dublin's everyday landscape, no wonder UNESCO has named it a City of Literature.
While Dublin tourist guides attempt to coach visitors in the pronunciation of the Irish greeting, 'howaya?', the equally common accompaniment to this-the enquiry, 'what's the story?' reveals the remnants of an oral tradition which is alive and well, while also demonstrating the Dubliners' appetite for the written word. Ever eager for stories, the city's sensitivity towards literature is acute, reinforced by an awareness of the materpieces of the past and the knowledge of contemporary offerings. The city has everything that it takes to take you on an engrossing journey through the world of literature. Follow in the footsteps of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde; browse through manuscripts at the Dublin Writers Museum or visit the beautiful Book of Kells at Trinity College. With literary history at every corner, it's easy to see why UNESCO named Dublin the world's fourth City of Literature. Why now? The Dublin Writers Festival in May is Ireland's premier literary event celebrating the very best of Irish and International Writers.
The Festival offers a unique opportunity to experience literature through readings, discussions and talks. The six-day (from May 23 through 29, 2011) literary festival, now in its 13th year, features over 40 illustrious writers who will read from their most recent works and take part in curated conversations about their writing. The Festival is an initiative by the Dublin City Council Arts Office, supported by The Arts Council. www.dublinwritersfestival.com.
In the upper reaches of the Himalaya, at an elevation of 2,298 m, lies the quiet hamlet of Munsiyari. Its name translates to 'the place with snow'. But in this tiny settlement in the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand, warmth in the human heart isn't hard to find. The villagers have opened their homes for tourists to provide them with an experience like none other. Consider the Sarmoli Village Homestay (Rs 500 per person per night including all meals; Mob: 09411194041), located at the edge of an oak-rhododendron forest. It provides homecooked meals and nature guides, porters and cook-staff for treks. What's nice to know is the homestay programme is a genuinely cooperative venture run by the womenfolk of the village. The group also functions an outlet for selling their homemade products like locally spun wool and marmalades.
The art of time travel
The Orient-Express and the National Gallery of London has teamed up for what seems like a once-in-a-lifetime excursion titled 'The Art of Travel'. On select dates till October 22, 2011, thirteen different five- to-seven-day journeys will focus on either the Impressionist movement; the great works of Italian artists Canaletto, Bellini, Titian, and Veronese; or the collections of the 18th-century Holburne Museum in Bath, which has recently been restored. Travellers will be guided by the knowledgeable staff of National Gallery, and will receive tutorials on artistic masterpieces and tours of all the places that inspired the artists-all this while rolling in the lap of luxury, Orient Express, and staying in some of Paris and London's finest hotels. There are three itineraries to choose from: The Venice of Canaletto (seven days; Rs 4.58 lakh for a person in a double cabin); Venetian Painters (six days; Rs 3.88 lakh for one in a double cabin); and Impressions of Paris (five days; Rs 3.47 lakh for one in a double cabin). All tours begin at the National Gallery, and include all table d'hôte meals and accommodation on board.
For dates and bookings visit: www.orient-express. com/nationalgallery Sri Lanka at its best
When author Sir Arthur C Clarke made his home in Sri Lanka in 1956, he claimed the 'Island Jewel of the Indian Ocean' was the best place in the world from which to view the universe. The author of 2001: A Space Odyssey couldn't have been more eloquent while describing this haven that offers a plethora of experiences as varied as its terrain and climate: palmfringed beaches with stilt fishermen toiling for their day's catch, mist-clad cool hillside terrains, lush rainforests, and elephant-filled national parks.
The Sri Lanka tourism industry has declared year 2011 as the official year of 'Visit Sri Lanka' in order to give a boost to its tourism sector. On offer are many tour packages that range from 2N/3D to a week-long and is suited to various travel appetites-adventure, culture, and luxury. The tours typically cover prominent destinations like Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala, Negombo, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, and Mount Lavinia.
For details on getting there, visa, weather and more visit www.srilanka.travelEscape route
Looking for a perfect way to escape the Indian summer? From May through July this year, travel portal Makemytrip.com in collaboration with the Tourism Council of Bhutan and Drukair is set to offer a whole host of new chartered flight service to Bhutan as a part of a 'land of the Thunder Dragon' holiday package. These chartered planes fly out of India's Maximum City, Mumbai, making it the first direct flight to Paro. This is the travel portal's fourth such venture, following the charter services to Andaman and Nicobar islands, Maldives and to Ladakh. The 'Land of the Thunder Dragon' holiday package is priced at Rs 33,000 per person inclusive of travel, accommodation, and sightseeing arrangements. Now here's a good deal! Log on to www.makemytrip.com for bookings and details on travel dates.