I’ve never been to Varanasi, but I did visit Jaipur and it was my favorite of the three cities of the golden triangle. Be sure to visit the old observatory if you go to Jaipur.
We visited both Fort Cochin and Trivandrum and liked them both. Trivandrum is great if all you want to do is laze around on the beach. I got an amazingly good massage just off of Kovalum Beach for $5 in 1998. We did a little side trip to the canals of Kerala from Fort Cochin and went to one of the dance performances there as well. We also took a harbor cruise in Fort Cochin. The food was fantastic in Fort Cochin.
We were in Peru from 2/22 through 3/5 this year (2007). My wife made the arrangements for our Machu Picchu trip and we went with Pachamama Explorers http://www.pmexplorers.com/ and were extremely happy. She looked at the packages offered by GAP, but they were a lot more expensive than Pachamama. When we were on the Lares Trek we had our guide, two horsemen, a cook and the two of us. We were passed by a GAP group that had about 12 to 15 hikers and their support staff. Although they seemed happy I really appreciated our more private intimate group. We also continued to see them around Machu Picchu, Aguas Caliente and Cusco.
We went on the Lares Trek because the Inca trail is closed in February. If I were visiting Peru again, I would do both the Lares Trek and the Inca trail. The Inca trail is more heavily travelled, whereas the Lares Trek is lightly travelled. The scenery was amazing on the Lares Trek and I highly recommend doing it.
Everyone elses descriptions of how to get there agreed with what I saw. If you’re going to do a trek I highly recommend spending at least two days in Cusco in order to get acclimated. I wish that we had taken one of the Sacred Valley tours while we were there. We drove through part of it to get to our trek and I felt like we missed a good portion of it.
As others have said it really depends on what you’re interested in.
Sydney was my least favorite place in Australia. I was just fine with only two tourist days there (I was working for three days.)
Sydney is a very beautiful city and we loved getting around the city on the ferries, but I was much more impressed with the other areas of Australia we
I agree with the folks who suggest going to Cairns, we had a great time there. Be sure to go snorkelling or scuba diving on the Barrier Reef. They have scuba “lessons” on many of the boats so that you can try scuba diving without being certified. My wife did it and loved it. I also highly recommend dining at the Cairns Yacht Club. It isn’t fancy, but the food was amazing.
We also spent a week around Adelaide because my wife was attending a glass conference there. Adelaide is a nice little city and centrally located to several interesting places. Our favorite excursion was a three day trip to Kangaroo Island. The wildlife we saw there was amazing and the place has lots of beautiful vistas and views.
The other thing we did in Adelaide that was wonderful was riding bicycles out to the ocean. There is a fantastic bicycle path that takes you almost the entire way there.
Adelaide had some good restaurants and the museums there were quite good as well.
The other thing we had a great time doing was visiting the Barossa Valley wine region. We stayed at a little bed and breakfast there that had bicycles. We toured the wineries on the bicycles and had a great time. There are lots of wine regions in Australia, I think
visiting one of them is a great idea.
The two things we would have liked to have done would have been going into the outback and heading over to Perth and seeing the sights there.
I was in Cuzco in Feb this year and had no problem finding vegetarian meals. I’m not completely vegetarian, I eat fish to, but I did eat a lot of vegetarian meals there as well.
Govinda is the Hare Krishna restaurant just off the main square. We ate there once and it was fantastic.
Although it doesn’t get you directly to Machu Picchu, I recommend the Lares trek from Lares to Ollantaytambo. Then you take the train to Aguas Caliente and Machu Picchu.
We did a three day trek and absolutely loved it. We went with a guide, a cook and two horsemen. My wife and I were the only two clients on the trip. My wife got it through Pachamama Explorers (http://www.pmexplorers.com) and we would higly recommend them to anyone. They were also about half the price of the Gap tours.
We were passed by a Gap tour that had about 20 people in it and they did less walking and more travel by bus.
You can see my pictures of the trip at: