Dheeraj Sinha, Group CIO, JSW Group, tells us why every traveller worth his salt must visit Cairns, Amsterdam, and Cairo at least once. By Satyaki Sarkar
Frequent travel is one of the perks of Dheeraj Sinha’s job, thanks to which he’s been almost all over the world, from North and South America, to Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, the whole of Europe (with a special love for Vienna, Rome, London and Edinburgh), Egypt, Russia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, etc. While Japan and New Zealand are still on his to-do list, he plans to strike them off very soon. In this interview with Bonne Vie, Dheeraj talks about his three all-time favourite travel destinations— Cairns, Amsterdam, and Cairo.
1. Cairns, Australia
“My first international trip was to Australia, and I found the city of Cairns to be like God’s own country. It has excellent beaches and beautiful rainforests; nature has been very generous to sprinkle the land with the best it can offer. The Kuranda Rail and Rainforest experience is unforgettable. The sky rail on top of rainforests, the hot air balloon ride and the Army Duck wildlife amphi-vehicle are lifetime experiences. The best time to visit Cairns is in August, when the clear blue skies and bright sunny days make it perfect for the wide range of outdoor adventure activities that the city offers. Seafood is Cairns’ speciality and you can indulge in everything from prawns and crabs to lobsters in various preparations. If you’re going on a family trip to the city and aren’t very adventurous or not in a camping mood, then the sightseeing would cost you around $200 per person per day including stay. This is for an average family of four people.
“Australia has always held an immense charm and attraction for me. Other memorable experiences there include the long drive down the Great Ocean Road, one of the most beautiful drives in the world, accessible through Melbourne. It runs right alongside the wild and windswept Southern Ocean, and it’s an experience you will never forget. Among other attractions, there’s also a ropeway that takes you right over the vast Australian rainforest, and a dolphin swim where you are alongside wild Dolphins, riding on an amphibious vehicle. Yarra Valley is another place in the hills near Melbourne where you would love to stay amid forests and is a photogenic beauty. It’s also next to the beautiful chocolate factory. When there, get into the spirit and let some of the chocolate spill all over your clothes!”
2. Amsterdam, Europe
“Amsterdam is a wild city in all sense of the word. Possibly the hotspot of Europe, you will find all nationalities there, and there’s not a second of the day that the streets aren’t bustling with people. It has cultural festivals involving singing, dancing and celebration; it is the most vibrant and energetic city that I have ever been to. In Amsterdam every single hour is an experience in itself, and you will not find so many people on the streets and so much activity at any point of the day in any other city in Europe or even in India. The city also has beautiful infrastructure. There are canals connecting the entire city, since Netherlands is situated below sea level. The incredibly efficient architecture and water management lets you travel all over the city via ferries, and is definitely worth admiring.
“The best time to visit Amsterdam is from April to May or from September to November. While not many people are aware of this, Amsterdam is the birthplace of French fries, and while walking around you’ll come across a small stall literally every two steps! There are over 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. That’s more bikes than people! Cycling in Amsterdam is a way of life, made easier by the city’s unbeatable network of cycle routes and flat landscape. Amsterdam is home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, with Museumplein being the cultural beating heart of Amsterdam.
“Amsterdam’s UNESCO protected canal belt is the quintessential picture-postcard vision of Amsterdam, an unbelievably pretty sight by both day and night. During nights, the bridges are lit up by fairy lights and the whole area takes on a magical feel. Floating along the canals by guided boat tour is a great way to get under the fabric of the city, and one learns a lot of fascinating facts along the way—such as why the tilting homes along the canals are known as ‘dancing houses’.
“But Amsterdam’s speciality is definitely cheese, and you will find the most exquisite varieties imaginable. Another speciality is a raw herring preparation that is a must-try. Amsterdam, with its countless attractions and experiences, might get expensive if you do not keep count, but on average, a trip to all the major attractions would cost around $200 per day as living and travelling expenses.”
3. Cairo, Egypt
“Cairo is like almost any other Indian city, but the moment you start looking at it from a historic point of view you simply cannot help but be in awe. You should visit the incredible natural museum in Cairo to understand the history of the city. With its 4000-year-old fabrics whose colours are still bright, to the fascinating mummies, you will be dumbstruck. The way that it has all been preserved is also praiseworthy. The culture and heritage of the city really gets to you. Whether you visit the pyramids, the Sphinx or the markets, the local and cultural attractions of Cairo are simply too many and too enchanting to behold. It’s also a wonder how the ancient Egyptians managed to construct sprawling structures like the pyramids 3,000 years ago, using huge, heavy stones without any kind of modern machinery.
“March, April, October and November are the best months to visit this city, thanks to the comfortable weather and cool breezy evenings, along with fewer crowds. Cairo is also known for its beautiful Mediterranean food with a hint of the Islamic, and everything from hummus and the national dish called Fuul were an absolute delight to indulge in. Egyptian cuisine is characterised by dishes such as Ful Medames, mashed fava beans; Kushari, a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and other ingredients; Mulukhiyah, chopped and cooked bush okra with garlic and coriander sauce; and Feteer Meshaltet. Cairo is a cheaper city to visit, and would roughly set you back by around $150 for the entire tour.”