Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boston Apartment (Apr 19, 2009)

I am taking a break from my travels and just to fill in the time I thought I would note down the best journeys I have taken so far. These are personal favorite moments in my trips and I hope they do inspire you to take the journey you always wanted to.

These are in no particular order:

1. The Overseas Highway:

This was the most beautiful drive of my life. Nothing beats the 3 hour drive from Miami to Key West on US1. This drive takes you over most of the small islands of the Keys and finally terminates in the southernmost point in the Continental US – Key West.

You are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on both sides, and especially when you drive on the 7-mile bridge the view is panoramic. This is not a very long route – it is barely over 100 miles, but this is a two lane highway and you will be stuck behind cars for hours. This should not deter you from one journey you really must take.

2. Pembrokshire Coast

Readers of my blog should have known this was coming. This hilly coastline on the south west of Wales and spread over a large area is a scenic and wonderful route. Ideal for cycling or hiking, this is one wild coastline where the sea is right next to you hitting the rocks.

If you are a fan of nature, and do not mind the outdoor exercise this is something which you should do. There may be similar or even better coastlines, but in my short touring life nothing has come closer.

3. Las Vegas

I started this blog in 2007 and it was initially meant to be a help for people to get around Las Vegas. Las Vegas was my first city I stayed in outside of India, and this city had had an incredible effect on me.

Standing in the middle of the Nevada desert this small city is a place of marvel. Yes, Vegas has it casinos, its night life and just about everything you could expect in Sin City.

But, the more important part of Vegas which people tend to forget is the nature around it. No trip to Vegas is complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Lake Mead and Hoover Dam should also be must see stops on your Vegas itinerary. Finally, a drive in the desert with the sand dunes, the beautiful landscape is a must for every family.

I end this with a note to all my nerd geek friends out there – if you are in Vegas and staying for a decent amount of time do not forget to take the drive on the Extraterrestrial highway to Area 51. Aliens Rock!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Boston Apartment (Apr 4, 2009)

In my last few posts I mentioned that I had been to UK (just incase you did not see it written all over). This post is mainly about how to apply for a visa to get there. I thought this might be of help to a few of my peeps.

Note: Citizens of most European countries and USA do not need a visa to enter UK. The list is mentioned on the UK Visa site:

This is for those unfortunate people who do need one. Luckily the process is not that drawn out, especially if as in my case you were applying in the US.

I applied online and for this you need to go to the above mentioned site, and click on the link for applying online. There is an online document which you need to fill, and the process of filling this may take from 1-2 hours. Keep your required documentation ready while filling this out. You can save in between and resume this process. This is quite handy.

At the end when you are done you can immediately pay online by using a credit card. Once you are done, a biometrics interview is set up for you ranging from within a few days to a week or two.

At the biometrics test which usually is at a centre in your city the fingerprinting and photographs are done/taken. After this was done I had to courier my stamped form, passport with US visa and I-94, along with all the supporting documents to the UK consulate in New York.

I was initially hesitant to this, but this looks to be a safe process. The embassy informs you when they receive the passport, and they also mail you when you either get approved or rejected. For me this was the next day, so I was very happy.

The passport is mailed with the new visa by overnight courier and thus as I said this process is quite smooth.

Usually the first time around you should apply for a 6 month visa, although a few of my friends did apply for a 1 year visa. This visa is multiple entry visa marked by ‘MULT’ on your visa.

Also while applying if you want the visa to start from a particular date (e.g.: date of travel) mention it at the end of the online form. Else, the visa will be valid from when it gets stamped.

The supporting documents are the usual - employment, salary, bank statements, flight tickets and either Sponsor letter (if staying with friends/relatives) with their passport and visa copy, or hotel accommodations if you are travelling by yourself.

This was the first tourist visa I applied for and it was a nice, smooth and painless process.

Drop me a comment if you need to know more, but I hope this should be sufficient.

And oh yeah, the 6 month visa should cost you around 130USD at the time of writing this post.