Ramakalmedu Viewpoint

Ramakalmedu is a hillstation and stands at a height of 3,500 ft above sea level. Ramakalmedu offering a panoramic view of hills and picturesque view of villages of Tamilandu. Ramakalmedu access by Thekkady - Munnar route.
Ramakalmedu include places like frog rock, turtle rock and the highest twin-statue in Kerala; called kuravan and kurathi. The place gets its name from the impressions of the feet found on the rock surface here, which is believed to be of Rama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as told in the Indian epic Ramayana.
Although Ramakkalmedu has potential for it to become an international tourist destination, and already attracts more than 100,000 visitors. However, as of 2015 not much had been done for the improvement of basic facilities nearby. The government of Kerala has announced plans to develop this tourist station by improving transportation facilities with buses, upgrading of the Kerala police and other measures.
Ramakalmedu is a historic site with a Monument to Kuravan and Kurathi - a large statue that depicts the Sangam Period and Sangam landscape of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The monument provides a panoramic view of Tamil Nadu villages and towns, including Cumbum, Theni, Kombe, Thevaram, Uthamapalayam, Bodinaykannor and Vaiga. Rolling green hills and the fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu an enchanting retreat. The view is striking at dusk when all these towns are lighted. Rama - kal - medu literally means "Land of Rama's Stone" or "Land where Rama kept his leg" (Rama is a Hindu God in the epic Ramayana). One story says that Lord Rama kept his feet at the tip of Ramakkalmedu to search Ravana the King of Lanka, who abducted his wife Sita.
The statue by C.B Jinan was erected on the top of the hill in the year 2005. The statue depicts two historical characters behind the construction of the Idukki Dam. The rocks between the Idukki dam are named after Kuravan and Kurathi, who helped authorities to find the right place for constructing the dam. Constant wind is another factor which makes Ramakkalmedu unique. Wind blows at a speed around 35 km/ hour at Ramakkalmedu throughout the year irrespective of the season and time.
Villages like Pushpakandam and Kuruvikanam near Ramakkalmedu is the second place in Kerala where wind energy farm is installed,though it is private holdings. Currently the capacity is at about 14.25 MW of NEG MICON Make Wind Mills. This electricity is distributed to Kerala State Electricity Board. Even though Ramakkalmedu has potential to produce much electricity, as it is said to be one of Asia's largest wind blowing area.

Best Waves in the Mentawai Islands

Very few surf destinations boggle the mind quite like the Mentawai Islands do. Known in the surf world for its picture-perfect waves, the main season runs from April until October, when you can expect the biggest and best conditions. If you're someone that might endure the long & costly journey to this remote corner of Sumatra, make sure you add these 6 waves to your hit list..
1. Kandui
Once overlooked as being too fast to ride, Kandui is a mesmerizing full throttle wave that is still referred to as "No-Kandui" simply because it's so hard to out run. Long, hollow, lightening quick & down right heavy, try and time a session on the higher tide and be mindful of the inside section that can end your trip in the blink of an eye. This is one of those waves that the rewards are unbeatable but with consequences to match. Only advised for the most experienced of surfers.
2. Rifles
Just a short boat ride around from Kandui, you'll find one of the best waves in Indonesia. Surfers will literally travel to the Mentawai region purely on a whim of surfing this iconic right hander. Rifles breaks best above head high & can hold pretty much whatever you throw at it. It will endlessly reel down the reef for hundreds of meters given the right combination of wind and swell. A fickle beast, this wave is sensitive to most wind conditions (apart from a light north or west wind) and requires a south swell. Expect a crowd if you're coming in the main season. And bring a big board as well as spare on the boat.
3. Telescopes
If Tele's was a little more consistent it would certainly be home to several surf camps. But the fact that it's even more fickle than Rifles, means that only a handful of locals offer budget accommodation. But time it just right & you'll discover that Telescopes is one of those waves that will be etched in your mind forever. Unlike many waves in the region, this wave is relatively user-friendly especially when its around head high. A wave of decent length, it produces both perfect barrels & long carvable walls without the deadly end section that many of the other breaks have.
4. Lances Right (aka HT's or Hollow Trees)
A short paddle from a palm fringed white sand beach, Hollow Trees is another wave that relies on a south swell to light up. Waves refract close to 180 degrees around the reef pass before producing some of the best right handers ever seen on the planet. More advanced surfers will sit deep in the line-up hoping to score waves in the "office" - where it unloads its fury in picture perfect fashion delivering some of the longest and cleanest tubes you can imagine. When the tide draws out, be mindful of the infamous surgeons table that can turn a dream session into a horror show.
5. Lances Left
It might not make the headlines quite like the other waves in our list, but Lances left is not to be missed. Found around the corner from HT's in Kingfisher Bay, the wave is way longer and much more consistent than most waves in the region, producing long, down the line walls, & numerous tasty tube opportunities. 2 or 3 distinct take-off areas eases the pressure in the line-up, Lances breaks across the tides and when the swell is just right will link up with another wave further up the point called Cobras. Although a favorite spot for passing surf charter boats, there is only 1 camp in the whole bay - Kingfisher Resort.
6. Macaronis
Referred to as the funnest wave on the planet, Macaronis breaks with such rhythmic beauty that only after a session or two it'll usually become every surfer's favorite wave. Maca's is the type of wave that most dream of when heading to the Mentawai Islands. At chest to head high it'll offer zippy walls and countless opportunities to get barreled. A slight increase in size will deliver a tube from start to finish. And anything over double over head the lip tends to thicken, and the line-up thins out. It roars into a beast.
One of the most consistent waves in the Mentawais, not only is it a swell magnet, it also handles onshore winds very well. Intermediates should head out in the off season where chest to head high conditions prevail.

Sumatra: An Untouched Paradise Full of Adventure

Unlike its neighbouring islands Bali or Java, Sumatra doesn't attract a lot of travellers and even though this is exactly what drew me to the island, it's hard to understand why. It's the largest island in Indonesia and it has plenty to offer; jungles, orangutangs, elephants, volcanos, waterfalls,... Briefly: an untouched paradise full of adventure!
Gunung Leuser National Park
Home to the orangutang and the Sumatran tiger, Gunung Leuser National Park is a wonderful place for a jungle trekking. Don't be disappointed that you - most likely - won't see any tigers though, as my guide told me no one ever sees one and it would probably be the last thing you'd ever lay eyes on anyway.
Leaving early from Bukit Lawang, it didn't last long before we were surrounded by orangutangs and Thomas Leaf monkeys climbing the trees. It was amazing to see how well the guide knew how to behave around each orang tang, as they all have their own personality traits and some of them like stealing bags!

This peaceful village at the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park really stole my heart. There's plenty to do here; washing elephants, river tubing, swimming in the waterfalls,... all this being surrounded by the beautiful tropical forest. A perfect place to connect with nature.
Although Indonesians are particularly friendly people in general, this is undoubtably the place where you will meet the most kindhearted people ever. Always ready to help and keen to tell you about their culture, the guides will do everything to make your stay truly wonderful.
Also, elephants are wonderful animals and I want to see them happy. I'm not an expert but I do think I saw happy elephant faces in Tangkahan.

Sibayak Volcano, Berastagi
Mount Sibayak is one of Indonesia's active volcanos and the view hiking up to its crater is astonishing. As you climb up to the top, the smell of sulphur gets stronger and there are steaming vents with yellow coloured rocks all around.
Funnily, as I was applying sunscreen my guide asked my why on earth I was covering myself with this white cream all the time. He first looked at me in shock, then started laughing uncontrollably when I said I'd turn red if I didn't.

Samosir island, Lake Toba
An island on an island! You will not only find beautiful landscapes here, Samosir is also home to the Batak people, an ancient tribe that will gladly teach you about their culture. With their traditional dances, colourful ensembles and beautiful houses decorated with geometrical designs, their culture will astonish you.

Banda Aceh
I was a little hesitant at first to put Banda Aceh in my list of favourite destinations in Sumatra but the culture shock I experienced there and the tsunami remains the city holds turned my visit into an unforgettable experience. One day in this city, as a transit point to Pulau Weh, was enough though!
Being governed by strict Sharia law, this destination is not for everyone but if you decide to go there, it will surely leave you in awe.
Banda Aceh was hit by the tsunami in 2004 very badly and the impact it had on the city is still visible. You will find the unusual sight of boats in the middle of the city or on top of a house, left untouched as a memorial here. The Tsunami Museum offers an insight to the horrifying experience the people endured and it's worth visiting too.

Pulau Weh
This is a tiny island located right above Sumatra, easily accessible from Banda Aceh by ferry. With its crystal clear water and white sanded beaches, Pulau Weh is a paradise to snorkel, dive or to relax. There are so many exotic fish here that I felt like I was floating around in a natural aquarium!

Travel Guide to Toulouse, France

Deciding that France is the country that is your next destination shouldn’t be difficult. Filled with abundances of charm, culture, colours and cuisine there are always tons of things to choose from. Paris has the romance and Bordeaux has its wineries but there is one place that has often been overlooked until now, France’s fourth largest city: Toulouse.

About Toulouse

Toulouse is situated in the country’s south on the Garonne River, a short trip away from the Spanish border and neighbouring minnows Andorra. Notoriously used as a stopover city, in particular for business travellers, tourism is on the rise in Toulouse and the city is finally getting the recognition it has long yearned for.

From Basilicas to Spaceships and the Capitole to Cassoulet, Toulouse is a city of contrasts making it ideal for a city break. Due to many of the buildings constructed with the pink-clay coloured bricks, Toulouse is also dubbed as La Ville Rose (The Pink City).
The city is easily accessible within Western Europe and flights only last about two hours.
Here’s why Toulouse should be your next city break destination

Wandering made easy

Wandering through the centre of Toulouse is fairly easy. The centre point is Capitole de Toulouse. Steeped in history it is said the bishop of Toulouse, Saint Saturnin was martyred here in 257AD. The Capitole was also the centre of the Toulouse riots in the late 1500’s.

Today, the Capitole houses many works of Renaissance art. It is used as a city hall, a wedding venue (Toulousains marry for free) and also houses theatre and opera companies.

Preserved heritage

As you’ll soon notice Toulouse is a pretty place with the colourful buildings down Rue d’Alsace a prime example. The city’s preserved cultural sites include buildings such as the Saint Sernin Basilica and Church of Jacobins.

All within walking distance of each other, the century-old architecture adds that historical element to the city, making it one for the cultural cats. Saint Sernin, from the 11th century, is the largest Roman church in Europe and since the turn of the century is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Church of Jacobins, home to the relics of philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, has had many uses over the years including being influential in the creation of the first University in Toulouse and more recently used as an army barrack during the French Revolution.

The future is here

Whilst the Gothic wonders of the past are clearly earmarked across the centre of the city, there’s plenty of innovation happening on its outskirts. Toulouse has a large aviation industry with Aeroscopia Museum being home to the Airbus and also including the famous Concorde. With a timeline of aviation history and aircrafts of all sizes at hand Aeroscopia is fascinating for most.

Going one step further and into orbit, Cité de l’Espace is a park museum all about human interventions in space. This includes the life-sized model of spaceship Ariane 5 and Mir Space Station. Within the museum, learn about how it’s like to live in space, along with many interactive exhibits and activities to go with including Sputnik Earth’s first artificial satellite!

Both museums are located beside Toulouse airport and are reached via metro and tram services.

Delicious Culinary Scene

Toulouse is full of quirky restaurants and cafes yet the most famed dish here is the Cassoulet and no one does it better than at Emily Restaurant. If you are unsure, friendly waiters can recommend great dishes.
For tapas options head to Monsieur George, where the decor and vibe are modern and the ham and cheese croquettes are a must!

Take note of Le Glastag Restaurant too, tucked away down a side alley. It has a contemporary art setting with some tasty dishes and fancy cocktails.

Markets, Markets and Markets

France wouldn’t be France without its markets and Toulouse is no different. Victor Hugo Market is the most popular in Toulouse. The market is the centre of Toulouse’s food market scene, so if you’re hungry make sure you eat your way around here.

If you want to visit a market that is a tad offbeat for visitors, head to St Aubin Market (St Aubin Church), the place where the local Toulousains visit like clockwork.
Check out the street food, tea stalls, handicrafts and entertainment goods. Don’t be surprised if you see a local busker jamming out some tunes in the midst of it all either!
The Victor Hugo Market is open Tuesday – Sunday 6am-2pm and St Aubin Market is open Sunday 7am-1pm.

Starling spectacular

At Pont Neuf Bridge in Garonne, a natural event occurs most evenings just before sunset. Gallops of Starling Birds flutter above in what almost seems just for show, swirling from right to left as they settle for the night in their respective tree habitats.

For the best views, opposite Pont Neuf is St Pierre Bridge. Take up a spot here and get the camera out!

Breezy gardens and parks

Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden) offer a Far-East escape epitomised by its Guzei (Red Bridge). Another option is Grand Rond Park, wonderful on a typical spring day especially with its extravagant flushing fountain in the centre.

Review St. Moritz, an adventure in fine dining and gastronomy

With its lavish 5* hotels and high end luxury shopping St Moritz, once the preserve of aristocracy, is one of the swankiest ski resorts in Europe.
Fortunately St. Moritz is no longer just a place for the upper classes, and the atmosphere nowadays is relaxed and welcoming. It’s no surprise that the resort has a gastronomic heritage to match with at least five Michelin starred restaurants that jostle for attention.
All you need to truly enjoy your stay is a sense of culinary adventure, plenty of cash and a hearty appetite.

Eating out in St. Moritz

St. Moritz has attracted an impressive pool of young, passionate (mostly male) chefs trying to make their mark on the world. They are driven, inventive and resolute in providing more than the classic staples of truffles and caviar. Their arrival on the scene could explain why the restaurants nowadays have a lively, rather than stuffy atmosphere.

We were fortunate enough to sample the delights of one such Chef, Silvio Germann, at Restaurant IGNIV, which is located at the 5* Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. The restaurant’s inventive and delicious take on the act of sharing food has earned Silvio a Michelin star.
We gorged on over 20 different dishes including a light and airy egg royal with cauliflower, black air bread with langoustine (like a tiny calzone) and some wonderfully sticky spare ribs. Each course came with an excellently paired wine. At the end of the meal, we were offered a selection of colourful sweets and macaroons from their very own mini sweet shop.
The offering at the newly renovated Kulm Country Club is a little more traditional. The restaurant overlooks an outdoor ice hockey pitch so you can watch local teams battle it out while sipping a glass of champagne. The menu is reasonably priced for the quality. My personal favourites were the lobster with saffron sauce and a starter of quinoa and mushrooms with edible flowers.

To help you on your gourmet quest through St. Moritz, we have also included a useful guide to the other four Michelin starred restaurants:
  • Ecco on Snow ** is located in the hills above Lake Maggiore in the luxury Hotel Giardino Mountain where diners create their own personalised three to eight course meals.
  • Talvò by Dalsass * offers a fine selection of Mediterranean dishes such as white truffle tagliolini and baby turbot with artichoke.
  • Cà d’Oro * is based in the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains and also serves a delicious selection of Mediterranean cuisine. The seven course menu is particularly tempting, with options such as langostino, red mullet and Wagyu beef.
  • Da Vittorio St. Moritz * is an upmarket restaurant located in the Carlton Hotel and specialises in classic Italian cuisine.

Annual Gourmet Festival

One of the highlights of the year in St. Moritz is the annual Gourmet Festival, celebrating the scrumptious world of fine dining. The festival takes place over eight days every January and has an extensive programme of food and wine tasting, kitchen parties and even a gourmet safari. The latter involves a tour through St. Moritz in a limousine, stopping at five different locations each with a specially selected menu to served at the Chef’s Tables in the kitchens.

This year marked the festival’s 25th anniversary, which culminated in The Great BMW Gourmet Finale. Around 250 guests decked in couture gowns and suits congregated at the stylish Suvretta House for a five course gala dinner each prepared by a guest master Chef. The evening began with champagne and nibbles including delights such as cherry tomatoes stuffed with Fois gras. This was followed by a beautifully fresh starter of crab with orange and celery curated by Three Michelin Star Chef, Jacob Jan Boerma. Live music graced the scene and there was a particularly poignant tribute of French chef, Paul Bocuse, who passed away on the day of the Finale.