If you ever wished to be transported in time and visit one of the old English towns to see how they were, then Cotswold is your answer. Set in central south England, Cotswold is a small village cum town about 2 hours driving time from London. Most tourists visit London to see the London Eye, central London and other tourist places but if you are visiting London this summer and have a couple of days in hand, I highly recommend you visit Cotswold and stay a day there. Your first impression of the town as you walk into it is amazing – the entry into the village starts with a stream flowing through the town with tiny English houses lining up the stream on both sides. Made of Cotswold stone (the town takes its names from these Cotswold stones), these houses are tiny and really beautiful with ornate decorations, carved iron gateways and beautiful gardens. As you walk in further, you will notice ducks in the stream following you to give them some food and they may follow you till the end of the stream so it may be a good idea to buy some Duck food from one of the tiny shops around and feed the ducks (a duck food bag cost 50pence). If you are traveling with kids, they will love playing with the ducks.
Further down the stream you will see little shops called “nooks” where you can buy locally made artifacts and handicrafts. I bought a little while sailing boat for 6 pounds but you have a lot of options from choose from including fridge magnets, wall decorations, sign boards etc. The Cotswold village also houses a small automobile museum where you can see cars from an era long gone ago. The town has a lot to keep you busy but I recommend just strolling around the town and checking out the little shops – the cafes are great, so sit by the stream and enjoy an ice-cream or a nice cup of coffee. Weather is cold, so either is just perfect.
If you are visiting over next two months, you may find a lot of sun too! On a final note, Cotswold is also countes amongst England’s one of the most haunted locations so if you are the daring types then you can try the night too! I didn’t J but that’s upto you. Overall, the town is awesome, I loved it and felt it is a great, happy and relaxing place to be in.
Bhimtaal is one of the lesser visited towns simply because of its more popular and touristy sister-destination called “Nainital” in the state of Uttaranchal- which is extremely popular with domestic and International tourists. But if you are looking to step away from the crowd and find some peace, then it’s a good idea to skip Nainital and head to Bhimtaal directly- It’s higher in altitude than Nainital and is completely surrounded by dark, thicks forests! (totally stunning!). If you plan to travel from New Delhi, take the route via Haldwani to Roudrapur which goes on to Bhimtaal without crossing Nainital. It takes about 5 hours (300 kms in all) to reach Bhimtaal from Delhi and the roads are pretty okay other than the Bilaspur stretch where the road is in a extremely bad situation for upto 15kms! so drive slow and safe in that area. Drive on the “sides” of the road if your car allows you to do that. Enroute to Bhimtaal, you can eat at most “family dhabas” but a good dhaba to eat at is “Shiv Dhaba”. It comes about an hour and a half from Delhi and you can see it on the main road. The Gobi (cauliflower) Parathas at the dhaba are quite good and service is very efficient. (see Shiv Dhaba picture). PS: If you are wondering what’s a “family” dhaba then you need to know that there are two types of dhabas that you will see while traveling – one frequented by truck drivers – these will be small and not so nice and you should ignore them and then there are “family” dhabas which will be more hygenic than the truck dhabas and you will see many families and tourists eating at these dhabas. These are little things that you need to note to make sure you pick the right dhaba.
If you are looking at complete zen, a good idea would be to cross the Bhimtaal city and go higher up where you can find resorts to stay or you can even check with residents of Rakhsha Retreat in Bhimtaal if they would like to accomodate you for a week or so. Rakhsha Retreat is a gated defence colony in Bhimtaal and has an amazing view of the city. Renting of accommodation is not allowed but you can “take help or favours” from relatives or friends in case they have a house there. Many people have brought homes but do not live there all the time but its a good, safe colony and houses are quite nice. If the retreat is not possible, then you can explore many nice resorts in Bhimtaal or on your way from Bhimtaal to Raksha Retreat (CountryInn Bhimtal, Amod Resorts, LakeInn, Emerald Trail etc). Bhimtaal has its own lake so you can travel to the city and indulge in a bit of sightseeing around the lake – there are a couple of shops selling wooden artefacts but that’s pretty much about it. There are some small restaurants around the lake and they offer good food. You can have your meal and then walk around the hills to enjoy the scenic beauty. Overall, Bhimtaal is mostly about walking through forests, smelling the trees and just being at peace with nature. For more on Bhimtaal you can visit official website link: http://www.euttaranchal.com/tourism/bhimtal.php
If I had it my way, I would have a harley davidson, a cottage in the hills, a dhaba alongside it and just drive around but that's sometime in the future. For now, its an office in tall, steely building in crazy dust and traffic ridden Gurgaon. Nevertheless, on my goal and will get there. Until then, these musings will help me stay okay :)
Professionally, I run a Public Relations firm but that’s about work! Personally, I believe wanderlust came inherited to me. My mom is a voracious traveler, she travelled all over the world and I guess the travel gene came down to me. Coming from an armed forces background..
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