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#OnTourWithVeenaWorld: See The World Through Vivek Kochrekar's Eyes

11 mins. read

Well, if someone tells you that he/she has visited 100 countries, that may be an exaggeration for most of the time. However, at Veena World, we have someone who has actually visited a whopping 98 countries, with now just two more left for him to complete his century (damn pandemic!). It’s really intriguing to know someone who’s enriched with such a wide and diverse array of travel experiences, isn’t it?

Vivek Kochrekar, one of our most popular tour managers has been a friend, philosopher, and guide over years now to thousands and thousands of our guests on their tours across all the seven continents of the world. So, if you are already wondering about the favourites of an extreme globetrotter like Vivek and seeking some expert recommendations from him, we have done the needful for you.

Here’s an interesting chat with Vivek, wherein he opens his heart to us and in a way shows us the world through his eyes… Read on!

1. You have tasted the world cuisine… Which one’s your favourite?

If there’s something that manifests the culture and geography of a place at its best, it has to be the local food. No wonder, diverse culture is often expressed in terms of a ‘melting pot’. Each part of the world has its own speciality and is unique in its own way. Well, if you ask me which is my favourite cuisine, I’ll say, it’s Thai food. ­­I love it for its tantalizing aromas and also find it quite close to our savoury Indian preparations.

Talking about my favourite Indian dish, well, I and Lord Ganesha share the same taste… The absolutely irresistible Modaks! :)

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2. Which is the best city you have been to yet?

I am head over heels in love with Innsbruck in Austria… Once in Innsbruck you realise, ‘Life ho toh aisi!’ The quality of life you get to experience in Innsbruck, even though for some days of your tour, is simply unmatched. This straight-out-of-a-fairy tale city is surrounded by the majestic and lofty Nordkette mountain range and almost every corner of the city you turn affords its spectacular views. These mountains are covered with snow for most of the time of the year. Moreover, in Innsbruck, you are always surrounded by fir and pine trees. It’s like rejuvenating your senses and soul in the cosy and warm lap of mother nature. What’s more, there’s the soothing Inns river flowing by and you’ll always find someone playing music on the streets and people indulging in joie de vivre as they sip in their coffee and hot chocolates at the many street-side cafes.

My favourite city in India in Pahalgam in Jammu & Kashmir. With the famous Lidder River, Chinar trees, and Mountains in the backdrop, I feel, one gets to experience nature at its best in Pahalgam. If you are seeking some peace of mind, head here right away!

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3. What are your best memories from India?

In India, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is closest to my heart… Truly my ‘Dil ke Kareeb’ destination. Visit here as a pilgrim or simply as a holiday-maker, Kedarnath is bound to win your heart and make a permanent place in it forever. Be it the many rivers that originate here or the awe-inspiringly beautiful sunrise happening behind the Shiva temple… I’m pretty sure, mother nature has blessed Kedarnath like no other place on this planet. Of course, it doesn’t come with the quality of infrastructure as one would expect at a tourist place, but I think, it’s this very rugged and virgin beauty of this place that makes us get up close and personal with pure delightful nature. In fact, when I visited Queenstown in New Zealand for the first time, with all the nature and herds of sheep around, I could instantly draw parallels between the city and Kedarnath. Every time I visit Kedarnath I weave in some great memories that’ll be cherished forever.

Kedarnath
Kedarnath_Photo by Sanjiv Nandodkar

4. Which has been your best island getaway yet?

My best island getaway so far has been Seychelles. Seychelles is again a best-kept secret not explored by many and therefore remains blessed with some truly untouched nature’s bliss. Since it’s a relatively new destination for Indian travellers, there are many things to do and explore on the island. It’s here that you get to witness the many shades of water, that absolutely seems out of a painting. The beaches are so unique that you can easily walk your way for even 2 km into the sea and can still see the seabed through the crystal clear waters.

I find Andaman in India to be very similar to Seychelles. Again, it’s virgin beauty is a big draw for nature enthusiasts. Moreover, people might limit their visit and stay only at Port Blair, however, I’ll say a greater delight awaits them at lesser-known places like Havelock and Neil islands in Andaman.

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5. Which 5 destinations will you recommend everyone to visit right away?

Needless to say, last year has indeed taken a toll on all of us. None of us would have felt the urge to rejuvenate our mind, body, and soul as we are feeling now. Travel simply has no substitute and we all have come to realise it very well. With the new normal in place, travel has certainly changed, and seeing the glass half full, it has only changed for the better. It’ll certainly be more responsible for henceforth. We all have seen nature heal over the past year and the catastrophe we have endured has only brought us closer to nature. Today, travellers and holidaymakers are looking for destinations that are less-crowded, at times off-beat, and even those which would let them indulge in all the delights and bliss of nature.

Considering this, and also the fact that, at least for some more days to come, people would be a little sceptical about crossing the domestic borders, the 5 destinations that I would recommend are Gulmarg in Jammu & Kashmir, Coorg in Karnataka, Havelock Island in Andaman, Meghalaya, and Tarkarli in Maharashtra. All these 5 destinations are special and unique in their own way, which would redefine holidaying for holidaymakers and would certainly make for their perfect much-needed time off. One simply needs to, ‘bag bharo, nikal pado’ to these destinations right away!

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6. And, which would be those 5 destinations that you would recommend everyone to visit once life’s back to normal?

Ah! That’s the day we all are waiting for, aren’t we? And I’m sure, it’ll happen sooner rather than later. We have kept our bucket list waiting for almost a year now and our big beautiful world seems to be beckoning us like never before. It’s time we get started with fulfilling our long-time dreams, if not together, at least, one at a time.

The 5 destinations that people seriously need to visit once life’s back to normal are South Africa, Greece, New Zealand, Alaska, and Norway. Each one’s a slice of heaven on earth and unimaginably enchanting in its own way. While South Africa is world-famous for its wildlife and chic cities, the ancient history and dramatic islands of Greece are its biggest draw. While New Zealand is home to the adventure capital of the world and radiates nature’s pure bliss, Alaska and Norway are both worlds apart with their absolutely soul-stirring landscapes and natural wonders like Northern Lights and Midnight Sun.

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7. One funny incident that has happened on your tour, which you can never forget

Life as a tour manager presents a bouquet of experiences… Some funny and some not so funny! The best thing about being a tour manager is you get to meet so many different people from as many different walks of life… It’s ultimately these people's experiences that enrich your life in so many ways. At the end of the day, it’s places and people that together make for all the beautiful memories you weave in your life, isn’t it?!

I can never forget an incident that had happened on one of our Europe tours, a couple of years ago. As we all have known by now, on our tours abroad, our passport is our biggest asset, which we safeguard more than anything else. However, on this tour of ours, we had a gentleman travelling, who happened to have lost this most valuable possession, not only of his but also of his wife’s.

Needless to say, you can imagine what a sinking feeling of panic must have swept over them at that time. Our entire group was empathetic towards the elderly couple and I just wanted to relieve them by finding out a solution to the problem at the earliest. All of this was unfolding in London and we were supposed to take the Eurostar for Paris the next day. It was an emergency and the most obvious thing we did was we lodged a complaint in the local police station the same night. You just won’t believe what happened next. On reaching the hotel from the police station, the gentleman and I were taken by extreme surprise when he put his hand in the inner pocket of his jacket only to find both the passports there within J All in all, it was a completely, ‘bagal mein chhora, gaon mein dhindora situation’. From that point in time, the gentleman grew so possessive about his and his wife’s passports that he placed them safely in his neck pouch and even seldom removed the pouch from around his neck. Although the incident may sound funny today, it was indeed a heart in the mouth situation back then. Mind your passports, guys!

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So, guys, this was straight from the heart of someone who has actually visited nearly 100 countries! Hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of the world through his eyes. Watch out this space for more such heart to heart conversations with Veena World’s very popular tour managers. So, are you up for some great stories and greater inspiration?! See you soon!

January 18, 2021

Author

Jitesh Ghag
Jitesh Ghag

An optimist to the core, he constantly seeks the best out of everything he experiences in life. He believes, 'Emotions' is the most valuable asset of mankind and thinks the best destination to travel to is always one's fond memories and sweet nostalgia. Deeply in love with all that is living and non-living, he considers Love and Life to be synonyms.

More Blogs by Jitesh Ghag

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