VACATIONS Newsletter – November-2022
Month’s theme Introduction: Doing the Off-beat
In today’s time, when everything is available to anyone at their fingertips, what really is off-beat anymore? It seems as if everything is becoming mainstream. All the hidden gems have been discovered, off-the-beaten-track is rapidly becoming yet another beaten track and everything is in top 50 things to-do list.
This is a very concerning situation for an intrepid traveller. For someone who consciously wants to stay away from ‘touristy’ places and does not want to do the ‘touristy’ things, it is important to find those places, those things, those experiences which are yet not a part of a travel guidebook, travel blog or on Instagram reels. The good news is that these off-beat experiences can still be found. All one needs to do is to avoid the “marketing” push.
They push Europe in Summers, you go in Fall. They push Paradise biryani, you find Shadaab. They push Paris, you go to Bordeaux. When you just step away from the need to explore only the best places, indulge in the top 10 things to do as per the trends, you start finding gems that are not done to death. It is possible to see a place with a new perspective, even if you have been to a place many times.
It is not the place, it is your perspective and the research, the desire to go deeper that makes it a hidden gem. And trust us, there are millions to be found yet!
Soul Trip: Off-beat is win-win
What is the charm of doing the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ travels? Is it to earn bragging rights? Or is it to find a quieter place where you don’t have to crash into hordes of tourists with a selfie stick? Or perhaps it is a desire to really give back to the locals, understand their true culture and lifestyle – not the one that has been put up for tourists.
What is off-the-beaten-track travel anyway? In travel marketing speak, one might call these emerging, recovery or even under-discovered destinations. But at the core, these are simply fascinating places that travellers are either unaware of completely or sometimes actively avoid from a travel perspective because of certain stereotypes or fears. They are the sort of destinations that push you emotionally, sometimes physically and always challenges you mentally — all with the end goal of returning from the trip with a different view of the world and quite often with a different view of yourself.
This kind of travel is far more satisfying and enriching than doing the regular, top-billed, mass packages. They provide a deeper experience. And offbeat travel also helps destinations ease out excessive pressure from a few select top spots and spreads them all over other places. This is a win-win situation.
The world over, the most visited countries are trying to dissipate tourist concentration from the most popular places to some of the less popular ones. This is beneficial for all concerned. Chioggia in place of Venice. Dhanushkodi in place of Rann of Kutch, Yoho instead of Banff, Raja Ampat instead of Bali and instead of Paris, go to Arles or Dijon.
Discover Your World
Most people would not think of France when choosing a destination to go to in November because for most people, Europe is good in summers. But, trust us when we say, in November, France becomes a paradise. It truly becomes what France is known for – natural beauty, amazing food, wonderful art and great wine! Only if you can bring yourself to explore France beyond Paris and all its touristy traps, then we can help you experience France like most people cannot even imagine. Don’t believe us, read on.
The historically significant capital of Duchy of Burgundy, Dijon is now the capital of modern-day Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region in the Eastern part of France. It is located along the Saone River in the Rhone River Valley, close to the vineyards of Burgundy, which are considered one of the best wine-producing regions in France.
Most of the city is a pedestrian-friendly region with a dynamic street scene that encompasses all of its antique heritage in little cultured pockets. Who here has not eaten or heard of Dijon Mustard. Now let Dijon immerse you in its flavours. Dijon will display all aspects of the French good life in all their glory and in an authentic way devoid of the tourist rush. In keeping with the sleepy, snail-slow vibe enveloping the region, monuments and museums are blissfully empty. However, the food and wine markets are abuzz with activity.
Not only can you partake the beautiful autumn colours on the trees, but also the exhibitors who are there to show off their wares: wine, beer, sweet things, chocolate, cheese and more. There are chef demonstrations, tastings and a whole lot more.
However, there’s no party bigger than the third Thursday of November in Dijon or anywhere in France. At midnight, the famous Nouveau Beaujolais is released. The Nouveau Beaujolais arrive sign appears in restaurants all over the world and though the wine is not the greatest (far too young), it’s a fun evening.
Under French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of every November at 12:01 a.m., just weeks after September’s “vendage”, when grapes are harvested. At that stroke of just after midnight on Nov 18, 2021, oenophiles all over France begin their jubilant celebration in honour of the uncorking of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Well over 100 events throughout France will be held with fireworks, music, and, of course, tastings, as “tout le monde” (the whole world) vies to sample the new batch of Beaujolais.
One of the other places to celebrate is Lyon, capital of the Beaujolais region in the Place des Terreaux. Organised by young wine producers, it’s a festival with fireworks, tastings, street theatre and more. All the local bouchons (restaurant in Lyon) offer special menus. The celebrations run over 5 days throughout the country. It’s one of the major global celebration of events in November in France. If you are not in France, you can officially buy the wine wherever you are at 12.01 a.m. on the day of release.
This year, Lyon is also hosting the Contemporary Art Biennale. This major event covers painting, sculpture, photo and video. Discover different disciplines in venues from the Contemporary Art Museum and La Sucrière to La Veduta, a cultural laboratory with exhibitions and artists’ residences. Fringe events are at Résonance. This year’s theme is Fragility, which gives plenty of scope for those impressive, if rather convoluted explanations about life and art, which the French love.
Still staying away from Paris, you can be at the Salon Gourmand in Rouen or at The Herring and Coquilles Saint-Jacques Festival in Dieppe around mid-November. It is a fabulous and odorous celebration of these famous fishes, so necessary to Normandy. Join the 100,000 odd enthusiasts for two days of tasting, discussing the merits and enjoying every kind of cured herring and Coquille Saint-Jacques, if you truly treasure the more tasteful things in life.
Events in November 2022 in France:
Nov 1: All Saints Day
Nov 1 – Nov 6: The International Garden Festival, Chaumont-sur-Loire château, Loire Valley
Nov 1 – Nov 7: Halloween celebrations at Disneyland Paros
Nov 1 – Nov 13: Dijon International & Gastronomic Fair, Dijon, Burgundy
Nov 11: Armistice Day: End of World War 1, Arc De Triomphe, Paris. At exactly 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice Day, one-minute’s silence is held and France stops as people reflect on the past. The Armistice was signed at the Armistice Museum in the forest of Compiegne in Picardy
Nov 11-13: Salon Gourmand, Rouen, Normandy
Nov 17: Jethro Tull - L'Olympia, Paris
Nov 20: (TBC): Christmas Lighting up ceremony at Champs Elysees
Nov 17: Beaujolais Nouveau Day, midnight, all over France
Nov 28: The Cure - AccorHotels Arena, Paris.
Till Dec 31, 2022: Contemporary Art Biennale, Lyon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
*Please confirm all event and festival dates and venues before booking.
COVID UPDATE: At the time of writing, the following protocol is being followed for international arrivals into France: Travellers are now exempt from any formalities prior to entry into France, be it in mainland France or overseas, and no longer required to present a health pass, regardless of the country or place of departure. Justification of travel (the “compelling reason”) is no longer required. Travellers are no longer required to present a sworn statement of non-contamination and an undertaking to undergo an antigen test or screening upon arrival in the country. However, the originating countries, airlines might follow different protocols.
For any latest update, please check your airlines’ site or https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/covid-19-international-travel
Travelling light is travelling right – Part 1
Have you ever thought about the impact the way you pack for a trip can create on your entire journey? Right from airport check-ins to choosing the day’s outfit, it is the most important part of travel. It influences all the decisions you’re taking throughout the trip. Travelling light is the best hack for having a stress-free trip and enjoying every moment.
Here are the advantages:
1. It is known to everyone that overweight luggage or taking an added luggage ticket can cost you so much extra
2. With one backpack of maximum weight of 7 kgs and a handbag, you can skip so many steps at the airport. You don’t have to wait in the long check-in queues. You also don’t have to wait for the bags on baggage pick-up counters
3. No worries or stress about losing the luggage. You can have all your luggage safe with you on the flight and once you land you exit without wasting any time
4. Once you are at the destination, you can walk or travel using a public transport
5. Planning ahead of the trip and packing only the essentials can help in staying organised throughout the trip and you don’t have to waste time thinking at the moment
6. Having a limited number of clothes means you have to choose from limited options, which automatically makes your decision easier and helps you travel light
7. Having less luggage means you can carry it on your own and you don’t need to bedependent on anyone to help you every time you have to carry them. On train stations or if you are travelling with someone else.
All in all, it makes you feel free, independent and liberated. In part 2, we will share some tips about packing light. So stay tuned.
Sustainable Travel Tip of the Month
Let’s all be responsible travellers
To get a sample itinerary for France, Click here
HOW TO FIND LOCAL, AUTHENTIC, OFF-BEAT EXPERIENCES
Research on your own: To find cultural authenticity, do your homework ahead of time. Search online for travel recommendations from experienced travellers and bloggers who have been there. Check the online travel forums, blogs, reels etc. on the net. Stack the deck in your favour to help get as close to the authentic, local culture as you can get. Your travel agent should not be required to find this for you
Show real interest in the people and local culture. Ask questions. Be a sponge and soak in as much as you can
Find commonalities with people. If there's a language barrier, roll with it, laugh about it and find other ways to communicate. Get to know basic phrases beyond Hello, Please and Thank You. Fun phrases like Two beers, please, Where’s your favourite place to eat? and Where can we catch a cab are good ice-breakers and invite conversation
Limit your use of non-travel-related technology and be present in the moment. Take a digital detox and make it all about the learning experience
Listen to local music
Always, always eat the local food, no matter how odd it may appear. Even if it’s your regular brands like Pringles or KFC – they will have some local variants which are fun flavours to try. It's all part of the travel experience and no less authentic because you're experiencing it there. For example the Wasabi KitKat in Japan
Make friends. Learn people's names and those of their children. Ask them about their daily life, school and family. Don't be afraid to talk about politics or ask about religion. You'll be amazed at how much we all have in common
Be open to receive! If you're searching for a more authentic connection and meaningful experience, be open and authentic yourself! Anyone can have a deeper travel connection no matter how much time or money you have, simply by opening yourself up to it.
‘Vacations’ is powered by OneShoe Trust for Responsible & Mindful Travels – a social enterprise that promotes travelling as a means to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Incubated at IIM Bangalore, OneShoe is the source of most authentic travel experiences around the world.
Link to: oneshoetravels.com
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