Up In The Sky – Ballooning, Yarra Valley

Up In The Sky – Ballooning, Yarra Valley

Up In The Sky – Ballooning, Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is a must visit destination due to its large number of wineries, super restaurants, wildlife and national parks and also its closeness to Melbourne. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy and experience the great pleasures of good food and wine along with picturesque surroundings and inspiring art.

One of the best ways to experience the entire Yarra Valley is to take the hot air balloon ride at dawn over the assorted fields and vineyards and then unwind with some fine wine and good food at a selection of world class wineries.

I shared this fantastic experience with my partner and it will always remain one of my favorites. The entire adventure was magical with a tinge of romance and is one of my most recommended tours to take.

A hot air balloon ride at dawn means an early start for you and is worth the effort. The panoramic view of the vineyards, farms and forests is breathtaking and is sure to be a special memory that you will always cherish. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothes and carry a jacket for the ride. Also, jeans or pants for women will be more appropriate and convenient attire as compared to skirts or dresses as the weather is often windy.

The day starts at around 3.00 AM, when we first called the ballooning company and confirmed the balloon ride was on schedule as per the weather conditions. We were then picked up from our hotel and taken to the launch site. To ensure the hot air balloon ride starts on time, we were all asked to help the crew prepare the balloon, which in itself was a fun filled experience and gave us an insight into how a hot air balloon actually operates. The crew spoke to us and explained all the necessary precautions to be taken and so the ride was extremely safe and secure.

Global Balloon at Lake George near Canberra. Filming a Qantas commercial

As the balloon was inflated and the wicker basket stood erect, we only had a few minutes to quickly jump into the basket before it took off. The sky was clear and our take off was smooth and pleasant with no bumps. The higher we went the more magical and peaceful we felt. Sunrise has never looked and felt this amazing and breathtaking. The view of the beautiful patchwork of wineries is stunningly spectacular. The balloon was somehow made to revolve so that everyone got a complete 360 degree view.The landing too, was safe and smooth without any rocking and swaying. On landing, it was good fun to help pack away the balloon once it was deflated.

This impressive balloon ride was followed by a lavish and filling breakfast with lots of champagne. Ballooning over the Yarra Valley is an unforgettable experience and one that I can’t wait to do again.

This is one of my most recommended outdoor activities to do in Melbourne. It is apt for families and couples and also children above the age of 7 years. The entire experience takes about 4-5 hours and is priced at $395 per adult and $300 per child which includes the ballooning ride and the breakfast.

Contact us for more information and bookings.

Genius Packing Tips For Every Traveler

Genius Packing Tips For Every Traveler

Genius Packing Tips For Every Traveler
“Pack light” is the most apt mantra to follow while packing. This is much easier said than done. Some travelers end up packing two weeks’ worth of luggage for a weekend trip and others travel too lightly and forget taking important things like passports, debit and credit cards, medicines, etc.

Smart travelers are able to strike the right balance between what to carry and what to leave behind with help from past traveling experiences and also a multitude of packing tips found online. Here, we have compiled a list of the best packing tips to keep in mind while you start packing for your upcoming holiday.

1. Start packing with a small bag. Limited space will ensure you will pack necessary items only. We all have a tendency to fill up any available space and hence more space often leads to packing additional unnecessary items that are most likely not going to be used on your holiday.

2. Mix and match your outfits. Let go of the notion of wearing a different outfit each day. Carry interchangeable clothes that can be worn more than once and in different styles and combinations.

3. Select items that are smaller to pack. For example, consider carrying a cashmere or thin woolen sweater instead of a sweatshirt. Similarly, slacks instead of jeans and loafers instead of boots will be smaller and easier to pack.

4. Stick to a thumb rule of taking no more than 3 pairs of shoes for your holiday. You can wear one pair and pack two. Like your clothes, carry shoes that can be worn on different occasions and with a variety of outfits.

5. Carry your toiletries in smaller sized bottles and containers sufficient for your holiday instead of the large and bulky containers they come in.

6. Use plastic bags to store different items separately. You can store clothes, accessories, toiletries and medicines separately. An organized bag will make it easier for you to find any particular item and also be simpler and quicker to repack. Plastic bags also come in handy to store dirty and used clothing and protect your things from any damage due to unforeseen leakages from toiletries or medicines.

7. Carry clothes made of materials that are lightweight, easy to wash and quick to dry.

8. Instead of simply folding your clothes and packing them, you can consider rolling them in tissue paper. This rolling technique takes up less space and also keeps your clothes wrinkle free.

9. Invest in a lightweight suitcase. Don’t assume more money is better quality. Expensive designer suitcases attract more attention and are more likely to be stolen. Also, keep in a mind, a hardshell suitcase can weigh up to 4 kilos and that will add to your total baggage weight. Purchasing a lightweight, good quality and plain suitcase is an investment for any traveler. You can always add colorful ribbons, shoelaces, bag tags etc to give your suitcase a personalized and unique look.

10. Always keep scanned copies of your travel documents like passports, photographs, tickets, visas and also emergency and bank contact numbers in a web based email account that can be easily accessed in case of any misplaced or stolen documents, debit and credit cards.

11. Store your cash, debit and credit cards in different pockets, bags and wallet to avoid being cleaned out of all cash in case you are robbed.

12. Stock your carry-on bag with essential toiletries and a spare pair of clothes that will be useful in case of any misplaced or lost luggage.

Before you start packing, think ahead and create a list of all the necessary items you will need to carry to avoid packing extra and adding additional weight to your luggage. Don’t worry about any “what-if” occasions and go overboard with packing, stick to reasonable thinking and carry items that you will require while travelling.

Your passport being your most important travel document should be kept with you at all times. You can also consider keeping it in the safe in your hotel room.

Traveling and holidays are complete experiences in themselves and packing need not be a tedious task that must prelude it. Hope these tips help you as much as they helped me. Happy Packing !!!

Plan Your Next Wine Vacation With Eastern Travels

Plan Your Next Wine Vacation With Eastern Travels

Plan Your Next Wine Vacation With Eastern Travels
Enotourism or Wine Tourism has grown tremendously in the last 10 years. Today, it’s a very popular choice for a vacation in itself. Picturesque vineyards and colorful landscapes with lots of excellent wine are the key ingredients that will make your wine tasting holiday a success.

Wine tasting holidays are all about visiting the gorgeous wineries, witnessing how the wine is made, meeting the wine growers themselves, participating in the wine harvest and of course enjoying the different kinds of wine available with the regions delicacies and so much more.
Wine tasting holidays are not to be mistaken to be limited to wine enthusiasts only. In addition to wine tastings and tours, each region has a wide selection of beautiful sights, parks, small charming towns and adventure activities to offer all its tourists.
We hope to inspire your next wine vacation with the below list of the best wine destinations in the world.

1. Tuscany, Italy –
A popular wine region located along the north western coast of Italy, Tuscany is famous for its gentle rolling hills, medieval castles and lush vineyards. Here, you can experience old school wine culture at its best in its many beautiful wineries. You can also rent a bike and explore the hills and towns, take a cooking class or go for a nature hike.
Tuscany is known for its red wines like Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello and fine white wine like Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

2. Bordeaux, France –
Bordeaux, France is one of the most prestigious wine destinations in the world. Brilliant architecture, beautiful gardens, stylish boutiques, outdoor cafes, wine bars, lush vineyards with exquisite tasting rooms along with sumptuous food make Bordeaux a perfect destination for every traveler. You can also visit museums, gardens, famous sights like Dune du Pilat and Miroir d’Eau or go for relaxing spas.
In Bordeaux, you will find a variety of wines that range from the most expensive in the world to delicious table wines. The famous wines to try are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon wines.

3. Loire Valley, France –
The Loire Valley is located along the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France and is known for its superior French grandeur, royal castles, beautiful gardens, great accommodation and outstanding wines. Along with wine tastings and tours, you can also visit museums, absorb the architectural wonders, visit parks and zoos or take a hot air balloon ride and explore this beautiful region.
Muscadets, Sauvignon Blancs and smoky Cabernets are the wines to try in this region.

4. Barcelona, Spain –
Barcelona, Spain is a gorgeous wine region with its modern accommodations, excellent restaurants and medieval castles that have been redone into premier wineries. You can explore the exquisite wineries and also visit the churches and museums, watch the magic fountain show and tour the Barcelona football team stadium and museum.
Sparkling Cava is the most famous wine to try in Barcelona.

5. Napa and Sonoma, California –
Napa is the most popular wine region in the United States. It has over 400 wineries open for wine tours and also charming little towns, fine restaurants, hotels, spas and lots of outdoor activities like cycling and hiking. You can try the local cuisine and enjoy various art, music and film festivals that are scheduled year round throughout the region.
This region produces a wide range of wines and is famous for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
The next most popular wine region in the Unites States is Sonoma. Due to the similar variety of grapes produced, the wines available in Sonoma are similar to those available in Napa.
Sonoma also has enchanting little towns, superb restaurants and wine bars and boutique hotels that can be explored by renting a bicycle. Here too, you can go for various food and entertainment festivals, try the local cuisine, visit nature parks and the Pacific coastline or unwind in luxurious spas and resorts. Sonoma truly has something for everyone.

6. Finger Lakes, New York –
New York’s prime wine region, the Finger Lakes is a beautiful region with about 1000 wineries spread out in the panoramic hills surrounding the lakes.
You can fill your day by visiting a number of different tasting rooms and taking tours of the many wineries and also outdoor activities like swimming, boating, camping, tasting the local cuisine and then at night settling in at one of the many luxury hotels or charming B & B’s.
Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Vidal Blank are the different wines available here.

7. Cape Town, South Africa –
Scenic wine routes, historic wine estates and origin of a few of the most popular wines in the world, Cape Winelands, outside of Cape Town is South Africa’s premier attraction.
You can explore the beautiful cities of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek and also visit the Table Mountain Natural Park, beaches, townships, learn about the South African history, go for different events and outdoor concerts and shop for unique products.
Here you can enjoy wines like Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

8. Mendoza, Argentina –
Mendoza, Argentina with its blue skies and beautiful mountains is a great wine region that has lots to offer to everyone. Enjoy good wine and food, relaxing spas, luxury hotels, skiing, rafting and many other thrilling outdoor activities. Tour the Andes, visit olive groves, explore the city and enjoy a vibrant night life. Mendoza is one destination you do not want to miss.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah are the popular wines available in this region.

9. Yarra Valley, Australia –
Yarra Valley, close to Melbourne, is a beautiful region with huge green fields, lush vineyards and rolling mountains. You can try a variety of wines like Sparkling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio with delicious gourmet food and be spoilt for choice with a number of different outdoor activities like hiking and hot air balloon rides, parks and accommodations to make your time in Yarra Valley memorable.

Contact us to get more than just a glimpse into the beautiful wine destinations of the world and plan your next vacation.

Handcraft Your Next Vacation To Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages With Eastern Travels.

Handcraft Your Next Vacation To Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages With Eastern Travels.

Handcraft Your Next Vacation To Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages With Eastern Travels.
Europe has a lot of different travel experiences to offer for both long and short holidays. The history, culture, natural beauty, delicious cuisine, amazing nightlife, quaint villages and countless wonders and sights are reasons enough to plan your next vacation to Europe.
To experience the essence of Europe, you can plan a short stay at one of the postcard perfect villages scattered throughout the continent. Quiet canals, cobblestone lanes and bustling alleys will take you back in time where the clock stops and each moment is dreamy and feels like part of a fairytale.

For a unique and wondrous travel experience in Europe, we have put together a list of its most beautiful villages you can include in your next European adventure.

1. Folegandros, Greece –
Folegandros, in the south west of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, is a charming and sunny Greek island known for its deserted beaches, traditional white washed buildings with colorful flowers and churches with bright blue domes. You can visit the beaches, eat delicious authentic Greek cuisine and go hiking. It is the most popular destination to choose for a relaxing holiday with stunning scenery all around you.
Folegandros can be reached only by ferry. There are regular ferries from Santorini, Piraeus and Rafina. There is a local bus service available for transport within Folegandros. You can also hire a car or scooter.

2. Tellaro, Italy –
Tellaro, a charming fishing village on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Poets, in northern Italy, is often referred to as one of the loveliest villages in Italy. You can explore the maze of narrow lanes and passages with brightly painted houses, small shady squares and the small attractive piazza with colorful boats. You can also visit the churches, explore different hiking trails, swim, walk along the coastline and enjoy delicious food at several outstanding restaurants.
Tellaro is very easily accessible by road from Lerici and La Spezia. You can arrive by car or use one of the many excellent public transport links to Tellaro. The closest airports to Tellaro are Pisa Gallileo and Genova Cristofero Colombo.

3. Colmar, France –
Colmar, the Alsation wine capital, in northeastern France, near Germany’s border, is a well preserved village with its half timbered houses, cobblestoned lanes, and bridge-laced quiet canals. Explore this storybook village of medieval times by strolling through the lanes and visiting the flower decked town center. You can also visit the magnificent churches and museums, tour the regions vineyards and eat delicious food and desserts at the many cafes and restaurants.
You can either hire a car or take the direct train to Colmar from Basel or Strasbourg. Regular bus service is available for transport within Colmar.

4. Hallstat, Austria –
On the western border of Lake Hallstat, between lush mountains and a pristine lake, Hallstat, is a striking salt village in central Austria. To get an insight into the history of Hallstat, you can visit the Cultural Heritage Museum and the Bone House. You can also explore the region by visiting the fascinating salt caves and ice caves and going for boat rides and hikes. Hallstat is a dream destination with its pastel hued houses, shimmering lake and towering mountains where time stands still.
You can take a bus or train from Salzburg or Vienna to the Hallstat Railway Station and then a ferry to reach Hallstat. You can walk from one end to the other end of the village in about half an hour. Hallstat is a car free village between May and October.

5. Telč, Czech Republic –
Telč, in southern Moravia, is a small village in Czech Republic with the most beautiful squares in Europe. A perfect example of Italian Renaissance north of the Alps, Telč’s main square is surrounded by townhouses, each with its own uniquely decorated facades of similar sizes and an assortment of cafes and restaurants. You can go for hikes or boat rides and explore this beautiful region. It is the perfect holiday destination to relax and unwind.
Direct buses to Telč are available from Prague, Brno and České Budějovice every day. Being a small region you can easily walk around or hire a cycle for travel in Telč.

6. Cong, Ireland –
Cong, on the border of County Mayo and County Galway, is a picturesque village surrounded by lakes, streams and forests. You can stroll through the village and explore the regions green meadows dotted with grazing sheep, numerous stone bridges, the ruined medieval abbey, museums and the Ashford Castle – a beautiful Victorian estate that has been converted into one of Ireland’s finest 5 star hotel. You can also go fishing and take a boat ride in the surrounding lakes.
You can hire a car or take the bus or train to Cong from Dublin and Galway. A local bus service is available for transport within Cong.

7. Bibury, England –
Bibury, a quaint hilly Cotswold village in southwestern England, has hardly changed since the 18th century. It is the most beautiful village of England and also one of the most beautiful villages in the world. Arlington Row has a postcard perfect setting along the River Coln with its ancient stone cottages with steeped roofs that are clad with ivy and flowers. The Bibury Trout Farm and the beautiful Church of St.Mary are the other attractions you can visit. You can also soak up the sun by the river bank; have a meal at a classic Cotswold pub and walk or cycle to explore the woodlands and meadows.
You can take a train to the nearest railway station – Kremble and then a cab to Bibury or travel by regular bus service that is available from Cirencester to Bibury. The nearest airports are Bristol Airport and Cotswold Airport at Kremble.

8. Reine, Norway –
Reine, on the northern coast of Norway and above the Arctic Circle, is a tiny fishing village. Dramatic cliffs, towering mountains, sapphire hued bays, lush meadows and bright red and white fishermen’s houses dotting the shoreline make Reine one of the most beautiful villages in the world. It is a quiet charming village that has a range of activities like fishing, kayaking, whale watching, bird spotting, biking and hiking that will keep you entertained.
The closest airport is Narvik via Oslo, from where Reine can be easily reached by buses and ferries. In Reine, you can hire a car or cycle or use the available bus service.

Contact us for more information about the villages listed above and we will help you plan your next holiday to Europe.

World Famous Desserts You Must Try!

World Famous Desserts You Must Try!

World Famous Desserts You Must Try!
“No matter how much you eat, there is always room for dessert, dessert doesn’t go to the stomach, dessert goes to the heart” – it’s true!

A good meal is incomplete without a delicious dessert. Traditionally, desserts are served at the end of a meal to signify its completion and to leave you feeling content after the meal. There are a number of health benefits to eating desserts as well. Desserts help aid digestion, boost immunity, balance hormones, reduce blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and also act as an anti depressant.

Desserts can be chocolaty, fruity, light or rich depending on the country you are in. We have put together a list of world famous desserts that will inspire you to travel and try them all. After all, food is one of the major deciding factors of any holiday.

1. Apple Pie and Cheesecake, United States –
A double crust fruit pie made with apples as the principle filling ingredient that is often served with whipped cream, ice cream or a slice of cheddar cheese.
The apple pie is America’s favorite dessert and is an important part of the national food heritage. It symbolizes American traditions, homes and culture and hence the famous phrase “As American as an apple pie!”

Although cheesecakes are available all over the world, the best cheesecake is from New York. Cheesecake is a sweet dessert that consists of many layers. The main layer is a mixture of fresh soft cheese, sugar and eggs and the base is usually crushed biscuits or cake.
Cheesecakes are often served with toppings of fruit, whipped cream, nuts, biscuits, fruit flavored syrups or chocolate sauce.
A typical New York cheesecake is rich, smooth and creamy.

2. Brigadeiro, Brazil –
Brigadeiro is a popular bite sized Brazilian delicacy made primarily of powdered chocolate, condensed milk and butter. Once cooked, it is eaten directly or molded into individual balls with chocolate sprinkles, coconut flakes, chopped nuts or powdered sugar covering the outer layer.

3. Picarones, Peru –
Picarones are a unique Peruvian dessert made of sweet potato, local squash, flour, yeast, sugar and anise. Deep fried Picarones are served with cane syrup called chancaca.
Picarones are often referred to as a kind of doughnut.

4. Banoffee Pie, UK –
Made from bananas, cream, toffee and condensed milk and spread over a pastry or crushed biscuits and butter base, the Banoffee pie is a famous English dessert that often also includes coffee and chocolate.
The word Banoffee comes from blending the words banana and toffee together.

5. Churros, Spain –
A fried dough thin or knotted pastry that is served with dips like hot chocolate, champurrado, dulce de leche or café con leche, Churros is a traditional Spanish dessert developed centuries ago.
Churros are often called Spanish doughnuts and were originally the size of bread sticks.

6. Crème Brulee, France –
A rich and creamy custard base topped with a caramelized crust, Crème Brulee is a delicious French dessert that dates back to 1691. Traditionally, the custard base is vanilla flavored.
Crème Brulee is also called Burnt Cream, Trinity Ice cream and Crema Catalana.

7. Belgian Waffles, Belgium –
Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, Belgium waffles are a treat to enjoy with dusted sugar, whipped cream, ice creams, fruits or sauces.
Waffles from Belgium are of two kinds, the famous Belgium waffles are called Brussels waffles. Liegh waffles, the second variety, are denser, sweeter and chewier as compared to Belgium waffles.

8. Apple Strudel, Germany –
A thin layered pastry with a filling of grated sweet apple, raisins, cinnamon, bread crumbs and sprinkled with powdered sugar, Apple Strudel is a popular dessert from Germany. It is often served with a range of toppings like ice cream, whipped cream or custard.
The word “strudel” means whirlpool in German.

9. Gelato and Tiramisu, Italy –
Made of milk, cream, and sugar and flavored with nuts and fruit purees, Gelato is an Italian style ice cream that is known for its smooth texture and intense flavors. It is said to be lower in fat content as compared to the traditional ice creams due to its milk base.
“Gelato” comes from the Italian word “congelato” which means frozen.

A rich coffee flavored Italian dessert made of sponge biscuits dipped in coffee and layered with a creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar and eggs that is flavored with cocoa, Tiramisu is the most famous dessert from Italy.
“Tiramisu” in Italian means “pick me up”.

10. Baklava, Turkey –
A sweet pastry made of a large number of thin layers of flour dough with a filling of nuts and held together with a sugary syrup or honey, Baklava is a world famous Turkish dessert.
Baklava is known as the ancestor of the strudel. National Baklava Day is celebrated on the 17th of November each year.

11. Basbousa, Egypt –
A sweet cake made of semolina and soaked in syrup, Basbousa is a delicious traditional Egyptian dessert. The syrup is often flavored with orange flower water or rose water. Coconut, pistachios and whipped cream are some of the different additions added while serving this rich and moist cake.

12. Gulab Jamun and Ras Malai, India –
A famous Indian mithai that is made of milk solids and garnished with dried nuts to enhance its flavor. The milk solids are deep fried and then dipped in sweet syrup made of cardamom mixed with rose water, saffron or kewra.
The term Gulab Jamun is a mix of Persian and Hindi. “Gulab” is Persian for “rose” and “Jamun” is a Hindi word for a South Asian fruit similar in size to the Gulab Jamun dessert.

Ras malai is a popular Indian dessert of cheese dumplings that are soaked in cardamom flavored creamy milk. The name “Ras malai” comes from the two Hindi words “Ras” meaning “juice” and “Malai” meaning “cream.”
Ras malai is often described as “a rich cheesecake without a crust.”

13. Dragon Beard Candy, China –
A traditional Chinese sweet, Dragon Beard Candy is very similar to spun sugar. Its main ingredients include white sugar, crushed peanuts, coconut, white sesame seeds, corn syrup and rice flour.
Dragon Beard Candy looks like a white cocoon and was invented for an emperor over 2000 years ago.

14. Mochi, Japan –
A rice cake made of mochigome, Mochi is a traditional Japanese dessert of the Japanese New Year. Mochigome is short grain japonica glutinous rice that is first pounded into a paste and then molded into different shapes.
It is now available throughout the year and also with different fillings like red bean paste, white bean paste, strawberries or different flavored ice creams.

15. Pavlova and Lamingtons, Australia and New Zealand –
A meringue based dessert shaped like a cake; Pavlova has a crispy crust and is light and soft on the inside. It is often served with various fruit toppings and whipped cream.
Pavlova is popular in both Australia and New Zealand and is eaten on special occasions.
This dessert is believed to have been created to honor the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand, hence the name Pavlova.

A dessert made of square sponge cakes that are dipped in chocolate sauce and then covered with dissected coconut; Lamingtons are a popular dessert in Australia and New Zealand.
Lamingtons are available in different flavors like strawberry and lemon. They are also available with a layer of cream or strawberry jam in between the cake.
July 21st is celebrated as National Lamington Day in Australia each year.

Desserts are like soul food. They give you a glimpse of heaven and keep you coming back for more. Contact us to book your next holiday to a destination with delicious world famous desserts.