Inside every adult there’s still a child and I think that’s one of the many reasons that the amusement parks are a popular form of entertainment, globally.
Every year millions of people visit different amusement parks to celebrate the fond memories of their childhood.
Universal Studios, Hollywood is one such place. The overall atmosphere and ambiance can make anyone forget the regular monotonous life for at least few hours. People of all age find something or the other to entertain themselves. Movie fans will definitely not regret visiting, as the most amazing studio tour begins here and gives all an equal opportunity to learn about movie making. The Signature Studio Tour is a 45 minutes ride through live shoots, and well preserved – functional movie sets. The star attraction is the King Kong 360 3D experience.
Crashed Boeing 747
This theme park also has a lot of rides based on popular movies including
Transformers: The Ride – 3D,
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem,
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,
Revenge of the Mummy,
The Simpsons Ride &
Jurassic Park: The Ride.
May be you haven’t seen the movies but you will still love the rides. I went on each and every ride; some of them even thrice and I enjoyed all of them.
For all the techies out there, the Special Effect Show can be an interesting event. Go behind the scenes to learn about CGI, stop motion and 3-D technology and there use in the latest few Hollywood releases.
Universal Studio is one of the top most tourist attractions in Hollywood. If you are not on schedule then you are for sure missing a part of it. Situated not very far from the Union Station, it has good connectivity by metro. Driving is always considered the best option in Los Angeles. It could be very crowded sometimes and you might have to queue up for up to an hour. Plan it well and you will be sorted. Buying tickets is easy. Simply do it online and skip the queue at the main gate. I strongly recommend a minimum of “Front of Line” passes during a busy weekend. Trust me, you will thank me later!
Inside the park you have free WiFi, lots of kid’s friendly attractions, reasonable dining outlets and a variety of shopping options. Just remember to check the weather before and dress accordingly. Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes might help here. Start early, and prepare to ride the exciting world of movies and get amazed with the magnificent experience.
The best feeling lies in discovering places which you have heard or read about and thought that you will see for yourself some time. I was amazed to experience one such city. A city originated in the middle ages and holds many memories of the Danube monarchy, today known as the political and cultural heart of Croatia!
Zagreb has something interesting to offer whenever you visit. But the best time to enjoy Zagreb is in spring and early summer. October to December is equally good, especially around the Christmas time when you can find a lot of stalls and activities happening in many of the city center’s squares.
You can experience the history of this city without much walking. Thanks to the brilliant network of trams. First encounter with my surprise was when I was not able to find tram tickets; but it was easy to locate. Newsstands around is the place to buy them or you can buy it straight from the tram driver. I also noticed that this city has lot of ‘men on horse’ statues. One located at the central square. Zagreb cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and is visible from mostly all the parts of this square. It is a beautifully done architectural marvel. Another interesting place right next to the square is the Dolac Market or the best farmers market. It contains colorful range of products from flowers, fruits, souvenirs, cheese, meat & local wine. It is truly an experience for all the senses.
Closely situated to the Dolac is the popular Tkalčićeva Street, an old lane famous for garden facing cafes and several bars. This street has a wide variety of food and drinks to try from but if you would like to try a traditional štrukli then head to La Štruk located in the adjoining Skalinska Street. Don’t forget to order few shots of Rakija!
Run up the stairs from Tkalčićeva Street towards the stone gate which connects the upper town to the lower town and houses a painting of holy Mary and baby Jesus. This painting is significant because it survived a great fire in 1731. Everything was destroyed except this painting. Since then people believe that it holds some magical powers and it became a popular spot for offering prayers and lighting candles. Not very far from here is another gothic landmark, St. Marks Church. One of the most photographed tourist attraction known for its beautiful roof.
Another interesting place to stop by is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum is stacked with random items & placards telling the true stories about the failed relationship and what that item meant. The museum was started by two Zagreb artists who broke up and it picked up fast. People from all over the world started donating their items with a brief of their unsuccessful relationship. It’s a new concept but at the same time was funny and depressing.
On the left side of the museum are Lotrščak Tower and the Grič cannon. This spot offers panoramic view of the city and the canon fires every day at noon making it a thrilling experience for all. At the same place is the funicular, a cable run trolley to transport people from upper town to the lower town. Lower town has a wide variety of branded stores and number of historic buildings each having a story of its own. Amongst the many eating outlets in the area is also a famous ice cream & cake outlet, Vincek. Trying a few scoops is a must!
Zagreb is a special city which has witnessed 1000 years and has something to explore in every street. My favorite thing to do in Zagreb is to walk around and absorb the culture and tradition as much as I can. If you have been to Zagreb and know any interesting place let me know. I will be happy to give it a visit!
300G. Chicken breast (fine shredded) 2T. Olive oil
2 ½ C. Vegetables (chopped, I used carrots, peas, sweet corn & beans)
½ C. Spring onion (chopped)
¾ C. Rice
10C. Chicken broth
4. Eggs (white separated)
1. Onion (chopped)
3. Garlic cloves (minced)
¼ C. Coriander (chopped)
Salt & pepper
In a pot add olive oil and sauté onions with garlic till fragrant. Add the shredded chicken and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the chicken starts turning white, add the rice and roast along for few minutes.
Now add the chicken stock, chopped vegetables and check for seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let it simmer till the rice is cooked.
Once the rice is done add the chopped coriander and egg whites while stirring it.
Pour it in a bowl, garnish with a lime slice and enjoy!
1C. Arborio rice
½ C. White wine
2C. Vegetable stock
2T. Parmesan – Romano (grated)
1T. Lemon Juice
3T. Olive oil
Ingredients for Puree
1 Cauliflower head (minced)
1 Onion (chopped)
6-8 Basil leaves
Salt & Pepper
Ingredients for Garnish
2T. Garlic (minced)
3T. Cauliflower (minced)
3T. Mushrooms (chopped)
2T. Red bell pepper (chopped)
2T. Green bell pepper (chopped)
2T. Spring onion (chopped)
1T. Olive oil
Start with preparing the cauliflower puree. In a pan add the butter, basil leaves and onions. Once the onions start to sweat, stir in the cauliflower and season with salt & pepper. Cook the cauliflower on slow – medium heat without turning it brown. Add a cup of water if required. Once cooked properly let it sit for few minutes and puree using a blender. Set aside.
Take another pan and prepare for the garnish. Drizzle few drops of olive oil once heated add the garlic, spring onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and cauliflower. Saute for 6 – 7 minutes and reserve for later use.
Heat a flat pan on medium heat. Add some olive oil, once hot add the Arborio rice. Toast the rice till fragrant and then stir in the wine. Once the wine is absorbed add the vegetable stock. Keep on stirring to avoid sticking at the base. Also, you can add a dollop of butter to emulsify the rice. Add the lemon juice, cover and cook. Once the rice is almost done add the cauliflower puree and stir. This is the time when you will add the saffron, if using. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir to mix the cheese evenly. Check for seasoning.
Pour some hot risotto in a plate, top it up with some prepared garnish and serve hot.
250G. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
1T. Ginger – Garlic Paste
2 Green Chili (deseeded, finely chopped)
1C. Red Bell pepper (finely chopped)
½ C. Green peas
2 Onions (chopped)
1 Tomato (chopped)
1T. Cumin seeds
¼ T. Garam Masala
¼ T. Turmeric Powder
½ T. Red Chili Powder
1T. Coriander Powder
¼ C. Milk
1T. Lemon Juice
2T. Fresh Coriander (chopped)
Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Allow them to crackle.
Add chopped onions, chilies, ginger-garlic paste and saute for few minutes.
Now add the chopped tomatoes and bell pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till they turn soft.
Add garam masala, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt to taste, stir.
Once fragrant add the milk and mix.
Stir in the cottage cheese, green peas, along with the lemon juice and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with the bread of your choice.
Tip: Any type of cottage cheese can be used for this recipe. Crumble or grate it before use.
“He who has not climbed the great wall is not a true man” – Mao Zedong
The moment I landed in China, I was excited to tick another attraction on my list. The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world. Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO and having a historical significance for over 2000 years this wall is stretching approximately 21000 kilometers from east to west of China and indeed is an architectural marvel.
The Great Wall of China is not one long wall but a system of many walls built over years by different dynasties coming in to power in China with a purpose of protecting their kingdom & people. The wall has a lot of beacon and watch towers which were built to garrison troops. The labor forces used to construct the wall were mainly soldiers and convicts. Many of them who died during the construction were buried within the wall itself. During the war times this wall played a vital role for communication. Messages were relayed by smoke and fire signals.
Today due to natural erosion & visitor induced damage a big part of the wall is missing but there are many sections which are restored and are open for tourism. Several well-preserved stretches of the Wall are near Beijing and are just a short drive away. The most touristic, crowded and restored of them being Badaling section of the great wall. Mutianyu section is a little far and less touristic. The third section which is Jinshanling is far from the city but is in the original state without any restoration.
To get to Mutianyu from Beijing, one can catch a bus, take a day tour or use a private car rental. The best alternative is to use a car rental. An excellent 4 seater car would cost something between 500 – 700 RMB (all inclusive) for a round trip and 4 – 5 hours of waiting time at the wall.
To enjoy the great wall it’s important to start early as the most of the crowd reaches by midday. I planned to visit the Mutianyu section and left early in the morning. It was a good decision as there was no traffic on the way and I was at the wall by Seven O’clock. Mutianyu is at an incredibly scenic location; the Wall looks like a giant stone snake built over ridges of mountains. You could get spectacular view while you are climbing up. If you don’t like climbing stairs to reach the wall then the easy way up is a cable car.
After getting up to the wall you can stroll between any of the twenty two watch towers and enjoy the beautiful forest scenery or impressive rolling hills. The wall has lot of steep climbs and descends so a good pair of walking shoes is a must along with lot of energy and enthusiasm as the climb is quite a challenge.
During your stay up at the wall if you feel like having a refreshment break then just next to tower 10 you a have kiosk selling cold and hot beverages. Feel free to have a can of Sing Tao (Chinese beer). There is also a graffiti wall available at tower 14 where you can mark your presence.
Planning to go back proceed to tower 6 where you can take a toboggan ride down the great wall in style. The individual carts are self controlled and fun, provided you don’t have someone slow in front of you to spoil the thrill. After all you don’t get a chance to slide down The Great Wall of China every day.
The entry ticket cost 60 RMB
Cable car/toboggan rides available at an additional cost.
2C. Tomatoes (chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
1 Green chili
5 Cashew nuts
3T. fresh cream
2T. Ginger garlic paste
1T. Tomato ketchup
1T. Tomato paste
½ T. Cumin seeds
½ T. Dried fenugreek leaves
1T. Red chili powder
¼ T. Garam masala
½ T. Coriander powder
¼ T. Turmeric powder
Start with combining tomatoes, cloves & cashew nuts in a mixer jar and form a smooth puree. Set aside.
Now puree onion and green chili as well.
Heat the butter in a pan and add cumin seeds along with the cardamoms and sauté.
Now add the onion puree along with the ginger garlic paste, tomato paste and sauté on medium flame for 3-5 minutes.
Add the tomato puree and continue stirring. Once the oil begins to separate add chili powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder & a cup of water. Let it simmer for few minutes.
Add the fenugreek leaves, sugar, ketchup and check for salt, while stirring occasionally.
Once the gravy reaches the desired consistency turn the flame off & add the cream.
The Makhani gravy is ready for use.
For restaurant style smooth gravy, pass the gravy through a mesh before adding crème. This will remove all the whole spices.
If you would like to freeze this gravy for future use then do not add crème as it may spoil. To use the frozen gravy just thaw it before use and add the crème in the end.
3C. Fine grated carrots
1 ½ C. White sugar
½ C. Brown sugar
1C. Crushed pineapple
4 Eggs (lightly beaten)
1 ¼ C. Vegetable oil
2T. Vanilla extract
2C. All purpose flour
2T. Baking soda
2T. Baking powder
3T. Ground cinnamon
1C. Dried coconut (grated)
½ T. Salt
For Frosting & Garnish:
1C. Chopped nuts
½ C. Unsalted butter (softened)
2C. Cream Cheese (softened)
4C. Confectioner’s sugar
1T. Vanilla extract
Preheat the oven at 180°C.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil, white and brown sugar; once combined stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, dried coconut, grated carrots, raisins, vanilla extract & crushed pineapple.
Grease and flour a cake pan and pour the batter into it. Bake in the pre heated oven for 50 – 60 minutes or until the tooth pick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool completely.
To prepare frosting, in a bowl, combine butter, cheese, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. Beat under the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Spread the frosting evenly over the cake and sprinkle the nuts on top.