We all love holidays, don’t we? And for each one of us, there is always something that makes that one place in the world really special. It may be a place you’ve read about, or heard about from friends, or always dreamt of visiting since childhood. And when you finally get to go there, the feeling is out of this world. We spoke to a few well-travelled celebs who shared with us what makes some spots in the world their favorite holiday destinations, and why they love going there again and again.
G Venket Ram (Photographer)
“I travel a lot. If I were to name a favorite place, I would say that for me, Scandinavian countries are by far the best destinations that I’ve travelled to so far. The reasons are many. Right from the visual beauty of the places, to the cultural experience, you have it all.
The fjords of Norway which covers Stavanger, Flam, Gerianger, and places like Kiel, Denmark and Oslo, are wonderful places to visit and stand out in my memory. A lot of them opened my eyes to brand new energies. The understated elegance of European culture against the breathtaking backdrop of the fjords and lush greenery just bowled me over.
While the cities with their stately buildings, beautiful arches and colorful shops are a fabulous experience, the rural backdrop we passed in our travels are a complete contrast. Huge vistas of open meadows, some covered in snow, lonely cottages against gray skies with smoke billowing from their chimneys…were all scenes straight from a fairy tale.
This is definitely a region on the planet with so much character and soul that I’d love to experience it again! If you are making travel plans, then a Schengen visa would cover your trip depending on the countries you choose to visit. For those planning to travel in summer, prepare well with a bit of warm clothing. It is pretty cold in May and June.”
“When I am not making music for my album, gigs and Tamil films, I travel around Malaysia in my free time. One of my favorite holiday destinations so far in Malaysia is this place called Langkawi which has 104 islands in south east Asia. It’s truly magical to see clusters of islands all scattered around one place. It’s a chill vibe place for relaxing. I enjoy watching the scenery and love the feel of the mountains all around.
In Langkawi, I enjoy snorkeling and island hopping, I also remember the experience of the ride on the longest free span and curved bridge there. I also love the cable car ride to the top of mount Mat Cincang which is a 708-meter tall peak, where I enjoyed the cool breeze. You can enjoy the most breathtakingly beautiful view from the top of the hill.
I love eating and Langkawi Is well known for serving some of the best local delicacies in the country. So, I really enjoyed eating local authentic food which made my trip all the more special.”
Sri Priya (Actor):
“For someone like me who has travelled extensively during my film career, two destinations stand out in memory. One is Singapore and the other is London. Both places are very close to my heart. About Singapore, I have the earliest memories. Ever since I
became a heroine in my teens, Singapore was the one ‘big foreign country’ for us residing in Chennai. It was the place one heard so much about from everyone who had been there. When I finally did get to visit the place, I fell in love with it. It was so clean and for us Indians, a very affordable foreign country to visit in those days! It felt like home yet it gave you the good vibe of having travelled abroad. I started getting all my cosmetics and clothes from Singapore. Shopping on Orchard Road had a special charm. The longest I stayed there was two months, with my good friend, veteran actor Vijaya Rani. I just chilled out and even did a hair cutting and dress designing course there. Even later when I had the opportunity to shoot in America, it was Singapore which still held the most special place in my heart. Going there, was like going to the moon and back!
The other much-loved destination for me is London. The city has fond memories for me, since my daughter is currently studying there, and so I visit her often. I like the fact that there are so many Indians there and you get lots of different types of cuisines. It feels familiar since I have read about the city in so many books and since the colonial times, we have been familiar with British history. One factor that makes London very special as a holiday spot for me is the opportunity to attend various classes there. I plan my trip sometimes to coincide with courses that interest me. You have to research on the Net for the right ones, their locations, duration and fees. So far, I have undertaken courses in calligraphy and watercolor painting and even tapestry making. As a kid, I couldn’t study much since I branched out into acting as a teenager. We were middleclass Indians and my mom couldn’t afford the after- school special art classes at my alma mater, Church Park Convent. So now, since I have time on hands during my visits, I gleefully take the opportunity to do there what I missed out on as a teenager.
Shopping at Selfridges and Harrods and on Regent and Oxford Streets has its own charm. I enjoy shopping for art and craft items at John Lewis and all my winter clothes and lingerie at Marks and Spencers. I enjoy eating out with my daughter at Royal China, Bella Italia and the Saravana Bhavan in London. Raasa on Oxford Street has yummy Kerala cuisine. One more thing that makes London special is the public transport. I love taking the well-organized underground tube trains and the bus service which I feel is the best in the world. Sometimes, I just sit in a bus and travel up to a point and back home, just to enjoy the bus ride around London!”
Ganesh Venkatraman (Actor):
“My favorite holiday destination in recent times is Queens Town in New Zealand. Queens Town sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. It is not only an amazing romantic destination with nature’s beauty all around, but also the adventure capital of the world. My wife and I had a wonderful and really memorable trip together. And the serene and breathtaking surroundings made it one romantic holiday we will always cherish in years to come. Apart from taking in the peace and beauty, there is lots to do when you feel a bit adventurous as well. You can indulge in every possible adventure sport that you can think of! Right from bungee jumping, sky diving, jet boating, paragliding, and white water rafting, to zip lining and trekking, we did them all!
Overall, we spent about 10 days there. We actually went well prepared, after proper planning. Several months earlier itself, we researched on the Net about all the activities available. Once we found what we liked, we booked the sports we wanted to try, two months in advance. In fact, the internet gives you some wonderful and detailed information on all the different adventure sports there and how to avail of them. You can also choose convenient time slots. It’s actually a fun process – deciding on activities together – and the holiday started for us from there itself in a way! Good discounts are also available if you book online in advance. The best part was that there were videos online, showing us in detail how each adventure sport actually felt like while doing it. So we could make informed choices. I told my travel agent what all we wanted to do and he then customized our trip.
We will never forget the wonderful time we had there. I love bungee jumping and I learnt that in the 1950s the sport originated at the Kuwara Bridge there. We did our bungee jump from there, as a couple, where they tie you together and you fall into a lake. For the more adventurous, there is the paragliding experience that we also did, from the top of Bobs Peak. They take you in a gondola sky lift from the base of the lake to the mountaintop and then you paraglide from there. It’s a very steep mountain so the adventure is all the more enjoyable! Another amazing sport was the 6-lane Zip Lining. The longest zip lines in the world are in New Zealand. They tied us to a harness which was connected to a cable. This cable is connected to the top of the tallest trees in the forest. New Zealand is home to some of the tallest trees in the world, so you can imagine the height we were cruising at! Then, taking off from a mountaintop, we were gliding along on this harness, from one tree top to another! It felt like we were flying! It was breathtaking and an out-of-this-world experience! They also have options like one leg zip lining and hanging upside down zip lining!
We both also tried scuba diving together and did the Sea Walk, where we are taken to the sea bed and can walk on it. We were given glass cylindrical helmets that had perforations through which fish feed kept coming out. So dozens of fish would come rushing at us to eat the feed and we could touch them and even feel their skin texture since our hands were not gloved! It was amazing! The jet boats we tried had Ferrari engines which go so fast that they just skim the lake surface at 160 kms an hour! I am really lucky that my wife Nisha and I both love adventure sports and could enjoy all the activities together.
The food too was amazing as the city is known for a variety of cuisines right from Moroccan and Lebanese to Indian and local food. The world famous Ferg Burger is one thing we tried. It’s so much in demand that the people stand in line from 5am till the eatery opens at 10am! Even the dark chocolate pastry with a chilly bomb is something that commands a huge queue and which we enjoyed tasting. I would say, that’s been my best holiday ever, more so since I could share it with my life partner.”