Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ways to save money for the upcoming long weekend

I recently received a forward via WhatsApp stating that October has five Mondays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. My first thought—much like most others who realise that October 2014 has several long weekends—was to plan some fun, short getaways. However, I’m sure not everyone planned things in advance and chances are they will end up paying exorbitant amounts of money because of it. So, in a bid to help fellow travellers save money they would otherwise spend on last-minute bookings, here are some websites that can help with potential discounts and provide some good deals.

MakeMyTrip: for flight tickets and complete holiday deals
For the past few years, I’ve been using MakeMyTrip to book all my flight tickets. It’s easy to navigate, the ticket prices are usually cheaper than other websites (seriously, I would check before booking), and they have good deals every now and then. While I know there are many others who swear by other websites like ClearTrip and Yatra, but I have always found MakeMytrip more convenient to use. The customer service is also fairly reliable. 

redBus: for bus bookings
When you make last-minute plans, most often getting train tickets becomes difficult as the waiting list is too long, and flight tickets are often too expensive. For those who’d rather not spend on flight tickets, buses become an easy mode of transport for nearby destinations that are ideal for weekend getaways, such as Goa from Mumbai, Manali from Delhi or Coorg from Bangalore. redBus, founded in 2006, offers bus services in 15 states across India with 700 bus operators and 10,000 buses listed on it. They also have a tie-up with Uber—a premium car hire service—to offer free rides to bus stops.

CupoNation: for promotion deals and discounts
One of the best ways to save money on travel and other utility items is using promotional deals, voucher codes and discount coupons. CupoNation is especially useful because it prevents you from looking at various websites for different deals and provides them all on one platform. From MakeMyTrip and Goibibo to redBus and Travelyaari, CupoNation has a wide variety of saving options to choose from.

So don’t wait anymore and plan your trip now!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TRAVEL TIDBITS: Friends’ Central Perk will pop up in New York this September

 One of my all-time favourite TV shows, Friends, is turning 20 this year (it premiered in 1994). My love for this show has gone from purchasing memorabilia like the huge coffee mug from Central Perk to T-shirts to visiting the set at the Warner Bros studio in Los Angeles. And now, the iconic Central Perk set is about to make its debut in New York. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of its premiere, Warner Bros Television Group, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Eight O’Clock Coffee are coming together to recreate the Central Perk experience for its fans.

Aside from the excitement of being able to take selfies on the bright orange couch that is a trademark of the coffee house, you may get lucky enough to be served coffee by James Michael Tyler, who played the character of Gunther, Central Perk’s barista. Free coffee, photo ops, musical performances, signature props from the show, contests, giveaways and even a limited-edition ‘Central Perk Roast’—this is a dream for Friends fans!

The pop-up shop will be located at 199 Lafayette St and will remain open from September 17 till October 18. The timings are:

Weekdays: from 8 am to 8 pm
Weekends: from 10 am to 8 pm

Monday, September 1, 2014

TRAVEL TIDBITS: Amsterdam’s Eenmaal restaurant—only for solo diners

One of the few things that I don’t really enjoy as a solo traveller is eating alone. I don’t mind it, but I don’t always like it. Having grown up with a huge family in India where eating together was a norm, eating by yourself doesn’t quite capture the fun of eating with a group of people. However, being a solo diner is good every once in a while because it lets you focus on the food and savour it instead of gulping it down.

Marina Van Goor, creator of Amsterdam’s Eenmaal restaurant, summarises this feeling accurately, “I wanted to break the perception that eating out alone isn't very attractive. Solitary dining can actually be an inspiring experience, because you get a chance to disconnect for a while in our hyper-connected world.” Claiming to be the world’s first restaurant made purely for solo diners, this temporary restaurant offers a fixed €35 (₹2,800 approx) four-course menu that includes cocktails and wine. The d├ęcor is very simple and minimal with just a few chic desks and chairs laid out in a huge industrial space. Whatever reason leads you to try this, it would be a great way to relish your meal without distractions.

Eenmaal is set to open in Antwerp this November. Find out more here.

Photo courtesy: Eenmaal.com