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Archive for December, 2011

I’m sure many of you have heard of Toastmasters International by now. No, it is not a Golf tournament as one of my colleagues at UPS thought it to be. 🙂 It is a worldwide organization dedicated for improving Public Speaking, Listening and the Leadership skills.

Since most of the Fortune 500 companies have local Toastmasters clubs, I also had an opportunity to be part of Toastmasters at UPS. I found the experience so enriching that I’m planning to be associated with it (one way or another) till the rest of my life. The organization is not just about improving our public speaking or presentation skills, it also helps us grow in many aspects.

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I had promised at the time of starting this blog that I would share with you our travels to some unique and interesting places, so here is the first one.

Radhadesh, “Spiritual India in Belgian Ardennes” has been on my mind for the last few years. Visiting a castle in the European countryside with all the spiritual goodness around it, what’s there not to like about it?

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I think it is worth sharing some of the planning and research I did for our recent Europe trip. Most of this info can also be used for other international destinations.

The weather: This is the most important factor for any vacation that I plan. There’s nothing like being away when most of the days are sunny and the temperatures are in 60-80 degrees. That’s the reason I pin down the final destination only 4-6 weeks ahead of the actual trip. Surprised?? 🙂

It is not only the weather but mood factor as well. I usually have few destinations in mind but will know for sure which tempts me the most only before a month or two. Such short timeframe gets me excited and focused. This strategy has worked very well so far. For example, France and the surrounding countries had bad Summer this year but the Fall weather was beautiful.

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I heard over the years how expensive Europe is and sure enough I got the taste of it during a recent trip to the continent.

Actually there were quiet a few shockers, not just an incident or two. So let me share the key ones.

Hotel in Brussels: We thought it would be a good idea to visit the capital of European Union as we had a stopover in Brussels. We spent weeks hunting for a hotel but weren’t able to find any that had good reviews and would fit our budget. Finally we found a small boutique hotel tucked away in one of the alleys in the fashion district.

Cost? Cool 300 Euros (approx $400) a night. We were able to reduce the damage though by using our miles (paid a combination of miles and $$).  To get an idea, a similar hotel in the US would not cost more than $150.

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