Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Reasons Why You Should Book with the Alternate Atlas

Being a travel blogger, my friends often call me up to take suggestions for their trips and how should they go about making their travel bookings. I am myself on a lookout for travel companies who have something interesting to offer and not just the usual 'touristy' itineraries. I came across a homegrown travel company Alternate Atlas and after making bookings with them and interacting with the owners, I concluded that they are just brilliant at what they do. So next time you are looking at being a traveller and not just a tourist you must give them a call. If you are not convinced, here are five reasons why you should book with them.  

1) Because they do offbeat, experiential tours

Get over run-of-the-mill tours, Alternate Atlas will take you to offbeat destinations. Whether it is photography tours at wildlife parks, cycling by the river on your honeymoon, angling in the Tirthan Valley , food trails from Delhi to Koch or driving from Delhi to Nagaland to attend the annual Hornbill Festival. This list is definitely not exhaustive. So you could add some more life to your upcoming family vacation, weekend getaway or honeymoon by getting in touch with them. Sounds interesting and inspiring right?  

2) It’s run by two avid travelers 

Alternate Atlas is the brainchild of Karan Jung and Jatin Kapoor. While Karan is a professional motor rally driver and has won Raid De Himalyas and other motor sports events, Jatin is a trained naturalist with a keen interest in conservation. They have worked on various documentaries of BBC and Discovery and successfully led groups.

Karan Jung is a professional motor rally driver 

They live to travel, how else would you justify covering 40000 kms on roads in India just to find a new resort, a new destination , a new pic nic spot or a new camp site.

Jatin Kapoor is a trained naturalist and has keen interest in conservation

So the crux of the matter is, Karan and Jatin are not armchair holiday specialists. They have been there, done that. Actually they are out there, doing it even as I write this blog post. 

3) They pay attention to details 

Whether it is looking after your food allergies or handing out mosquito patches for an evening dinner or getting your favorite chocolate fondue served to you at breakfast during a game drive. The honeymooning guests are often surprised with a bottle of wine which arrives when they are spending time at their private pool villa. They take care of minutest of the details so that your holiday is a memorable one! 

3) It is an eco-friendly company

Alternate Atlas is committed at being an environmentally responsible travel organisation. In order to raise the bar they invest in carbon reduction projects whether it is afforestation or creating organic manure and distributing it among their guests to use in their kitchen garden. They certainly want to leave a better world for future generations.

5) They ensure safety and comfort of women travelers! 

From Spiti to Shillong, Kovalam to Kanha and from Goa to Garhwal-They have planned exclusive trips for women and looked after them extremely well.

They have had a team member accompany solo woman traveller on an overnight train journey, a female tour leader to look after the logistics when a group of women is on an adventure trip and often had out a list of shopping stores to women travellers. Girls when was the last time a tour company, run by men, was so thoughtful!    

Recently one of my acquaintance's wife based in Mexico was visiting India and asked me for a travel company to book her India tour. She was quite skeptical about the safety aspect and we exchanged several emails where I tried answering her pertinent question "Is India safe for a solo woman traveller". I did try answering all her questions and having booked with Alternate Atlas earlier, I recommended her the company. She gave me an awesome feedback about Karan and Jatin. Not only did they attend to all her queries patiently, they ensured that a person from their company accompanies her on her train journey from Delhi to Varanasi, her flight timings are not erratic and accommodation is safe. 

On their group tours, including adventure trips and jungle safaris, Alternate Atlas ensures not only safety of women but their comfort too. 

One of the many testimonials on their website
I must say Alternate Atlas is quite famous among women travelers as I have seen several testimonials from women on their website and social media pages. Of course then there is me- a woman travel blogger myself- recommending them. 

Get in Touch with them : www.alternateatlas.com 

Have a look at their Blog: www.alternateatlas.blogspot.com 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Decoding Discounts and Deals on VoucherCloud

It's no secret that I love traveling. Considering my frequency and love for travel my friends on social media often ask me where am I headed to next. So friends, my next destination is the city that is home to the icon of love- Taj Mahal. Yes Agra it is. 

Agra is just two hours (ok considering Delhi's traffic three hours) from Delhi, so you will ask me what's so exciting about that! So I will tell you the story to get you a bit excited. 

I stumbled upon this great website www.vouchercloud.co.in that has discount coupons and deals for various categories- fashion, electronics, entertainment and travel, to name  a few. I quickly logged in, using my Facebook account. After exploring a bit, I went to the travel section which had deals and coupons for air tickets, hotel bookings and even car hire. There were many tempting deals and coupons for air travel but it was a weekend holiday out of Delhi on my mind so I went to hotel discount vouchers.  

I decided visiting Taj Mahal during the month of love- February- was a good idea. It also happens to be my husband's birthday this month and I thought a surprise visit to Agra will be just perfect. I usually book hotels on www.hotels.com so that was my first choice obviously. VoucherCloud had a whopping 55 per cent off  for bookings on Hotels.com but it was valid only for hotels abroad. Similarly there was a great deal for Expedia- a 50 per cent off on selected hotels. But none of these deals covered a five star hotel in Agra. Finally I came across a coupon code that offered 33 per cent discount if you book on Travelguru. I copied the code and used on the website and voila got a room at the stunning ITC Mughal property. On my check-in date the room tariff was 50% lower than on a weekend and on top of that a 33 per cent discount worked wonderfully. So I managed getting a room, with breakfast, at an unbelievable price of Rs 6500! 

Vouchercloud not only helped me in getting a great discount but also introduced me to a great hotel booking site Travelguru. I would have never logged on the site otherwise as hotels.com and makemytrip.com have always been on top of my mind.

The booking experience on Travelguru too was fast and smooth. Planning your next holiday? Don't forget scouting for a deal on Vouchercloud guys. 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Food Review: Quote, the Eclectic Bar and Lounge

On a Monday night we hit the Quote Bar and grab the lounger couch opposite the DJ console where he is belting out popular English numbers. The wall facing me says 'Trust Me You Can Dance-Vodka'... This Quote is for sure going to help me beat Monday Blues, I think.

The Quote Bar is the quirky new bar and lounge in town located in Connought Place. It's got all the elements right- quirky wall art, two spacious floors, great music, delectable food and drinks that won't really hurt your pocket on weekends.

Quote Bar: Relaxed Interiors
Frankly Speaking (sorry Mr Arnab Goswami I couldn't find a better phrase) every time I get a review invite which says it's a 'bar' that serves awesome cocktails, I prepare myself for a below average meal. But Quote Bar not only scores for being a cool hang-out joint but has great food as well, to go with the tipple.

Getting down to the details, here is what the grub was like. We started with Bar bites and loved the Crispy mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese (Rs 199), Wasabi Chicken (Rs 215) and Shrimp Poppers (Rs 235). If you are a vegetarian and averse to mushrooms like many people are you can go with the Cottage Cheese Poppers (Rs 185) and trust me you won't be disappointed. They also have an elaborate Appetizers, Soups and Salads menu. I shouldn't be recommending a salad but then I still can't get over their Indonesian Citrus Salad that I ordered with chicken and told the Chef to not add palm sugar. It tasted nice. For main course they have variety of burgers, pizzas, pastas and their specials that are served with crackers and salads. The must try items from the #QuoteBar Specials are Chicken with Shitake and Asparagus in oyster chili sauce that is served with Pineapple rice and the Herb Crusted Fish Steak grilled in lemon butter sauce. The sole fish was grilled right and the accompaniments made it a complete hearty meal.

Looks Good Tastes Good: Smokey Barbecue Chicken Wings 

I am not a big Indian cuisine fan when it comes to eating out. Plus being a woman it's a bit difficult to handle red lipstick, wine glass, stilettos and Indian main course. But the Special Dal that they serve is a must have!

Talking about the Bar bit..the alcohol is priced right though the variety is not as elaborate as some of the other new bar and lounges in town that are high on alcohol. Though the Bar Menu is good enough to keep the spirits high and make it a fun filled evening.

#QuoteBar (that's how it's branded) is refreshingly different. They haven't compromised on food, music or tipple to get it going. In times when Hauz Khas Village and Cyber Hub rule the roost, CP is losing its sheen among bar hoppers and Gen Y. Maybe cool new places like Quote Bar can help CP gets its tag of restaurant hotspot back.


Address:  2nd Floor, 44 Regal Cinema Complex, Outer Circle,Connaught Place, New Delhi

Cost (Meal for two including alcohol) : Rs 1500 plus taxes

Seat Covers: 95

Cuisines: North Indian, Italian, Continental