Cancun is an absolute Caribbean paradise that promises romantic evenings watching the sunset, diving or snorkeling among the different shades of blue, discovering the prehispanic history, a great evening by the beach sipping your favorite drink or indulging in culinary wonders. Whatever your travel taste is Cancun will not disappoint you. However, a trip to Cancun is incomplete without a visit to Isla Mujeres.
Isla mujeres, (meaning “Island of Women”) commonly known as Isla is a 20 minutes ferry ride from Cancun and is very well connected by Ultramar. Check their website for ferry timings and prices.
Alternatively, you can also book a guided tour from your hotel.
This 8 KM island is home to beautiful white sandy beaches, pristine coastline and irresistible seafood. The preferred mode of travel at the island is generally a golf cart or a scooter, which can be easily rented. While you are at the beach, umbrellas and beach chairs are available for rent or simply order a drink at the bar to get it for free.
The town has a network of small streets which can be explored in 2-3 hours and gives a leisured sightseeing experience. Another great thing about isla is that you don’t have to worry about getting lost. All roads on isla eventually lead back to where they began.
Isla has around 20,000 residents, who are genuinely interested in sharing the islands history. Isla also has a legend revolving around a pirate and his incomplete love story. I am sure you will enjoy listening to it as much as I did.
By now I have discovered that I can’t stay away from Thailand. I am a total Thai-vibe addict. After spending days in Bangkok and Phuket in the past it is time to begin 2018 by exploring Krabi.
Krabi is a bunch of beautiful islands in the southern part of Thailand. Just like Phuket, Krabi is the new ideal vacation spot for people looking for white sandy beaches lined with coconut trees. It is also a paradise for people who love nature; islands, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, tropical jungles, marine adventures etc – you name it, they have it.
Island Hopping is one of the most popular things to do amongst travelers in this region. It can easily be arranged from the Ao-nang beach via the long tail boat service office. Sea kayaking is the second great thing which can be done to explore the coastline. The pricing is very reasonable at the beach itself so no need to pre book from the hotel. Island tour will cost you 100 Baht one way whereas, a single kayak will cost 150 Baht per hour. A guided kayak tour into the mangroves is something which you would not like to miss!
Krabi is relatively less crowded than any other vacation spot in Thailand which makes it easy to find a nice peaceful accommodation close to the nature. Suggested itinerary will not be more than 4 days as it is enough to explore the islands, caves, temples, beaches, indulge in Thai food, trek in the tropical jungles, dive the Andaman & relax with a Thai massage.
You’re not going to end up spending a lot on your trip as the things are so much cheaper here. A decent hotel/resort starts from 17 USD/night. I stayed in The Jasmine Resort, in the Ao-nang area just 15 minutes away from the beach and was impressed with the hospitality I received, at the price I paid.
Bike/scooter rentals are easily available for about 6-10 USD/day and will be probably the best choice to commute in and around Krabi.
My favorite topic – Food. Being at a beach means super fresh sea food. The food here in Krabi is the typical Thai stuff you probably know such as pad thai, but there are several other delicious dishes which you should try: basil chicken, Thai style salads, soups & curries. Just like me if you are interested to learn how they do it, enroll yourself for a Thai cooking course. A basic course for 3-4 hours will cost you around 1200 baht and will teach you up to 6 dishes of your choice.
Soup ready & served After doing all of this still have some time left?
Head towards the Thung Teao Natural Park and take a dip in the mineral rich, all natural emerald pool. A short walk away is blue pool, a total worth it sight. There are several tours for the same however if you good at riding a bike it’s easily accessible by road. Entry fee to the nature reserve is 200 baht/pp.
Whatever you do in this charming place is up to you but don’t forget to quench your thirst with a chilled Chang!
This is a very popular Thai dish and one of my favorite. You can see a lot of vendors preparing this dish in the streets. I love it with chicken however; beef, pork and sea food options are also available. This dish is best served with rice and a Thai style crispy fried egg!
1C. Chicken Breast (bite size pieces)
¼ C. Shallot (fine sliced)
5 Garlic Cloves (minced/fine chopped)
4 Thai Chilies (fine sliced/chopped)
1T. Oyster Sauce
1T. Dark Soy Sauce
½ T. Light Soy Sauce
½ T. Fish Sauce (optional)
½ T. Sugar
½ C. Holy Basil Leaves
Start with the stir fry sauce. Combine Dark soy sauce, Oyster sauce, Light soy sauce, Fish sauce (if using) & sugar in a bowl. Stir well and keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok; add shallot, garlic and chilies – stir fry for 30 seconds. Once fragrant, toss in the chicken pieces and continue frying. (For the bite size chicken pieces it generally takes 2-3 minutes to cook)
Add the earlier prepared sauce and keep stir frying for 30 more seconds.
Throw in the holy basil, combine it well and turn off the heat.
At this stage you would be probably drooling!
So serve and enjoy!
Traveling being a major part of my life, I constantly try to absorb the vivid colors of nature as much as I can. Blue skies, green meadows, tranquil waterfalls, rapid rivers and majestic mountains are always a big yes for me. Recently, I found all of these together on my hike through Partnachklamm in Germany.
Partnachklamm also known as Partnach Gorge is located in Garmisch – Partenkirchen and is one hour away from the city of Munich by rail. This mountainous region is a part of massive Bavarian Alps and is a year round holiday destination. You can easily spend a day hiking at Partnachklamm, exploring the caves and the waterfalls or enjoying the breathtaking views of river Partnach. The scenic view spilling the shades of magical greens, blue and black is totally worth the effort and will help you escape the hustle of the busy city life.
The Partnach Gorge is a starting point for many hiking routes and costs 5 Euros as an entry charge per person. If you have a larger appetite for hiking you can chose from many more hiking trails available in different levels of difficulty to suit everyone. Although walking and hiking is probably the focus for you, renting a bike or using a romantic horse drawn carriage is also a good idea to reach the beginning of Partnach Gorge. Hiking can make you hungry and tired. To keep you going, there are several eating and resting options available on the way. However, if you like you can carry a snack and have it on the banks of the Partnach River. (Please do not litter)
On the way back definitely make a stop at the famous cliff side beer garden and toast with some new friends. Summer or winter, Gorge’s beauty is worthy of a visit. Don’t forget to carry a light jacket, a good pair of walking/hiking shoes and a bottle of drinking water.
I recently decided to spare some time for a visit to Princeton, a town which came into existence before the revolutionary war and today is known for hosting a prestigious Ivy League college.
Princeton University which was established in 1746 is the 4th oldest university in the States and has a perfect blend of past & the present. The university is spread in a massive 500 acre and has a lot of architectural marvel to absorb. The buildings here have an influence from colonial, collegiate gothic’s and modern styles and attract a lot of visitors and prospective students who like to venture across campus for various tours. One of the many is the famous art tour at the Princeton University Art Museum. It is free and exhibits a lot of unique pieces.
Besides setting the historical – educative scene, Princeton offers shopping and fine dining opportunities too. Nassau Street and Palmers Square features high-end retail outlets and interesting small boutique shops. Also you will find here are many small eateries and restaurants with upscale and highly rated cuisine. Hoagie Haven is one of the oldest eateries famous among the students. Several other places like Jules & PJ’s are impressive too. Princetonians are very passionate about their ice cream, and out of the many, Bent Spoon & Thomas Sweet are the most famous. (Expect a queue type of famous!)
Princeton being a cultural community loves to preserve its heritage. You can visit the Albert Einstein house in Princeton at Mercer street, take a tour of Drumthwacket or discover master pieces in Morven Museum and Garden. Whatever you decide to do, Princeton will keep you and your family entertained for an entire day. Visit the Princeton’s official website to enroll for a campus tour or book it with Princeton Tour Company.
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.
Another city discovered. One more story added to many of mine.
A city designed multiple times, a city where the east meets the west.
A city with which you might fall in love – Istanbul!
The most important thing to do when planning a trip to Istanbul is to allow enough time to explore the city. Begin by choosing a hotel close to a district where you would like to spend your evenings. I began my Istanbul tour from Taksim, a landmark in itself; this area has everything a tourist might need. From shopping to nightlife, history to trade & street food to a variety of upscale restaurants. It is indeed a very interesting place to spend few hours as it spreads till the Istiklal Caddesi, one of the most touristy and busy street. While wandering on these streets, if you don’t feel like walking anymore then try the famous historic red trams. The experience will turn out to be a beautiful memory.
In order to save yourself from “too much to see and too little time” kind of a situation, plan an old town tour the first thing. My suggestion is to take a Big Bus Tour. The ticket is valid for 48 hours, gives you unlimited rides throughout the city & saves you from the hassles of the taxi drivers.
The Big Bus tour route is very carefully designed and takes you to all the major landmarks and historic sites. At the same time you are connected to the free wifi and have access to your personal recorded commentary in eight different languages explaining about the history and culture of this city. If the weather is in your favour, you can take a seat in the upper deck of the bus and enjoy the magnificent view of Bosphorus Bridge, the Blue Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower and much more. I think for solo travelers like me, the Big Bus tour is one of the safest and relaxing ways to discover Istanbul.
Once done with the historic tour of Istanbul it’s time to turn towards the culinary side. When visiting the heart of Turkey, there is no need to comprise on taste. Food from all categories exists here and you should try it all! I personally started from the Simits (sesame breads), moved to the Doners (wraps) and continued shuffling between Pide (flatbread with cheese and meat), Kofte (meat balls) & Balik Ekmek (grilled fish in bread). However many other seafood and mezze options are widely available in addition to the famous food chains.
Before your trip comes to an end be sure to take a Bosphorus cruise, bargain at the bazaars, get scrubbed in a hammam, sip the amazing turkish teas/coffees and sample a few varieties of Baklava or Lokum (Turkish delight).
Istanbul, with so much of diversity, history and art is definitely a full package vacation deal and I am sure with a bit of research and information you will enjoy it the same way I did.
While to many, Paris could be about love & romance and to the rest about their cuisine. For me Paris was a dream, I had, while in high school. The French capital not only combines both the things but also presents it to you in such a beautiful way that you just can’t resist trying it all. With all its marvelous architecture and breath taking view this city is for sure the most interesting city in Europe. Whether its summers or the chilly winters you can roam around and discover this city full of art, history, fashion and love.
Paris has a lot of stories. Spare a day or two to transport you back in time with a historic stroll through one of the many museums such as Louvre Museum. If you are not a history person still things to do in Paris are many. You can visit the famous Eiffel Tower, Pont Alexandre III, Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe & many more spectacular sights.
Eiffel Tower is the most iconic structure in the city and has witnessed a lot of marriage proposals till date. A lot of arm-in-arm couples could be seen walking around, while some enjoy a flute of rosé bubbly in candlelit bars. The opportunities for romance here are endless.
Not very far from the Eiffel tower is the extravagant Pont Alexandre III. The bridge is a sight to behold & was inaugurated in 1900 for the world fair. This bridge connects Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and the Invalides.
If you are an evening stroller and love to see the city coming into action while the sun goes down than Champs Elysees is the place for you. Named after heaven, it’s also known as the most beautiful avenue in the world. Heading a bit left from the main street you would reach Arc de Triomphe, another artfully created structure honoring the people who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.
A day spent in this city will be incomplete if you do not indulge in some of the city’s most delicious cuisine. French food is known for its flavors. From baguettes to cheese and basic to the traditional, there is something here for everyone to tempt the palate. Don’t forget to try my favorite pâtisserie Ladurée for a sweet finale with that loved one of yours.
I recently had the pleasure to interact with Agustin Gainza, a Cuban-American visual artist and painter. Based in Miami – FL, this artist has held exhibitions in Europe, United States and other parts of the world. Graduated from National School of Arts he finds himself comfortable with painting, drawing and ceramics. Gainza’s work is well recognized, represented & awarded in private and public collections.
Although Gainza has been very creative since childhood, he shares, “My best work was during my school days. I use to score maximum points in arts. I love to sketch however I was scared of colors in the beginning, until I passed by the School of Arts in Cuba and the smell of paint made me go inside. That’s when I realized where I belong”. It took him many years to listen to his creative soul, and become an artist.
When asked about the most precious artwork in his life, he answered, “It will be the next one. I always dream of my art to be better and better and when I finish I always think about the next one. How can I make it better?”
Every artist has a different way of portraying his mind, different imagination and different inspiration, in Gainza’s case his ideas strike him under a shower. Once he gets his inspiration he does not know which form he would paint it down. He starts with water colors and makes a rough sketch and then later on decides his medium on which he is going to work. He takes his chance and chose from paper, canvas or a tile.
While I was talking to him, I realized that he loves to travel. For him some cities are more special than the others. While he is traveling, he is always waiting for that moment when he gets his inspiration and can put it down on a paper. He quickly makes a rough sketch from whatever inspires him and then fairs it down later. While showing me some of his rough sketches he adds,” I have to be real quick in making these else my wife would burn my credit cards down”. (Hahaha…no offence Mrs. Gainza)
He also shares that some of the artists criticize him for using modern day digital media to produce art but for him he believes that in today’s world a balance is important. He loves the contemporary way but the digital media is easy to present, reproduce and save his work as he never erases anything.
Gainza family has the most interesting gallery but they are trying to make it even more interactive. The plan includes a lively bar which will be ready soon. They both are working on this unique concept and in my opinion it would be a great success. I can already imagine few people on the bar, the artist, his colors, imagination and conversations. Just my kind of a thing!
Can’t wait to go back and chill with you wonderful people again.
A special thanks to Mr. Alex who was translating everything from Spanish to English for me, as Gainza is not very smooth with English.
Start with activating the yeast. In a bowl add one cup of warm water, yeast & sugar, stir and leave aside till it foams.
Heat some oil in a wok. Saute garlic, chilies & shallot. Once fragrant add eggs and scramble to medium consistency. Now add the shrimps, peas & corns, continue cooking till the shrimps turn pink. Check for seasoning and don’t overcook. Set aside to cool.
In another bowl combine flour, a pinch of salt & yeast mix. Knead the dough till soft and smooth. Leave to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place.
To bake the calzones preheat the oven at 200°C and sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal or semolina.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and roll each out to a 5 – 6 inches disc. Divide the filling between half of each disc, leaving some space to seal. Brush the edges with water and crimp the edges to seal.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve.
Thinking of exploring Miami is itself a fancy dream & if you think doing it all in one day is possible, then you need to calm down. Exploring this tourist Mecca while not missing any of its key attractions needs time. This sub-tropical, multi-cultural wonderland widely boasts about its seductive beaches, shopping, nightlife, art, culture & culinary expertise. Also there are few famous neighborhoods where you can find the best of food, music & nightlife. My frequently visited neighborhood is Little Havana & South Beach but you might also find The Design District interesting.
Little Havana is like walking in a colorful alley. It’s a place where you will find the biggest Cuban community in Miami. You will generally find me strolling on the SW 8th Street also known as Calle Ocho absorbing the Cuban culture. You can find colorful murals, unique art galleries and some of the best typical Cuban restaurants and bakeries offering breakfast, lunch or dinner. However I prefer to go there in the morning and grab one of the classic Cubano sandwich for breakfast along with some freshly squeezed juice. It also has many pubs and bars dropping some Cuban music setting up the mood for the evenings.
If you are a big fan of Cuban cigars then many famous cigar shops line the street. You can spend some time in one of those trying different cigars along with some coffee. One of the many is Little Havana Cigar Factory. It is well stocked and has a beautiful ambience. Also if you have any questions, the gorgeous, Ms. Ibis will be happy to help.
Another great attraction is Domino Park. Here you will find retired people playing a game of chess or domino. Some of them though have a very intense look on their face but they are very friendly and also might pose for a picture with you.
While you are on Calle Ocho, trying the Azucar Ice Cream Company is a must. They have got some of the best and wackiest combinations. My personal recommendation is – Abuela Maria or Mint Chocolate Chip.
Some of the art fans can also visit the studio of one of the most acclaimed Cuban-American artist in the world: The Agustin Gainza Arts Gallery. Agustin is always at his studio so if you are lucky you might even see him working on his next big master piece.
(Will be posting a detailed interaction with Mr. Gainza soon)
Little Havana is just a set of few blocks but it has a lot to explore. Spending few hours here is fun and returning here is definitely worth it.
It’s unbelievable, how quickly the time has gone! manavmalik.com just celebrated its first anniversary few weeks ago. I started this blog to share my love for travel & cooking with you all.
I tried my best to produce interesting content to keep you entertained. Some of my experiments were not so successful but I definitely learned from them. I am grateful to all of you who connected with me post after post and made me strong. But more than anything I cherish & value the friendship and connections built due to this blog in all these months.
I would also make a particular mention here to Aditi Garg who was an incredible source of energy and support while this blog was shaping up. Without her it would have been impossible.
I strongly believe that the biggest reason this blog is alive is you…all of you wonderful readers around the globe. So, before this year ends I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for staying with me. I promise you that the next coming year will bring more exciting and interesting stuff. Stick with me!
Imagine you just arrived in a new town. All excited to explore and discover. You will have fun for sure, but it’s only half of it. The other half is in looking back at all those fond memories you created while you were there, years ago. How will you store all those memories for your entire life, in a functional way?
Collecting souvenirs is actually a lot of fun. It not only takes you back in the memory lane but also reminds you how lively and wonderful the trip was. Not to mention that the once with a practical use can be a part of your daily life.
The first few things I started to collect on my trips were coffee mugs.
However my brother from another mother believes in collecting artifacts and shot glasses.
(Ron, are you happy now?) 😉
For a coffee lover like me, buying a coffee mug as a souvenir is a complete win-win because while I am enjoying my coffee or cocoa, I am already thinking about the good time I had in Vienna, Australia, Singapore or wherever.
Souvenirs could be for free, cheap or a bit expensive but in the end what you collect after few years of traveling becomes a priceless gift to yourself. Other than mugs I also pickup fridge magnets and recently I started to collect local recipe books.
When we travel we collect countries, destinations, stories and experiences rather than things to take home, but a small souvenir from everywhere will remind you of special moments and also will hold evidence of those special moments for the rest of your life.
So next time you travel, find a souvenir that fits your lifestyle and preserve the fond memories of your trip for years to come in the memory box of your mind.
Feel free to share with me what other souvenirs do you collect?
2C. Penne pasta
400 ml. Coconut milk
2C. Chicken (roasted & shredded)
½ C. Pesto
½ C. Spring onions (chopped)
½ C. Sun dried tomatoes
½ C. Parmesan cheese (grated)
1T. Garlic (minced)
2T. Walnuts (roughly chopped)
Salt & pepper
Cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drain, but just reserve 1/4th cup cooking liquid.
In a pan heat some olive oil and toss in the shredded chicken, garlic, spring onions, tomatoes and walnuts. Cook for few minutes and remove in a bowl.
In the same pan add coconut milk, once it comes to a boil stir in the pesto and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes. Once reaches a thick saucy consistency add the chicken mixture and the drained pasta along with the reserved liquid.
Mix until everything combines well. Check for seasoning and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
The moment you start outlining your first trip to Las Vegas, a string of thoughts will crawl through your mind. There is definitely some sin in the sin city and its time for you to plan it really well.
When you come to this adult paradise you might encounter things probably which shouldn’t be there. If you’re easily offended by things like adult services, topless pools and smoke filled casinos, then you might want to stay away from the Strip. Otherwise, just take a deep breath and go with the flow. Participation in all of the above is not a must however keeping an open mind is advised.
The first thing you should work upon is booking a right hotel for yourself. Choose the hotel which is right in the center of the strip. No need to go towards the far ends as it has nothing much to offer. My suggestion is to stay anywhere in Zone 1. The hotels are much far from each other than they appear but still walking down the strip is a good idea. In my opinion everything here is based on the tips. More generous you become better treatment you get. Throw money around and see the good things coming your way. Room upgrades, quick return of the casino cocktail waitress, complimentary mini bar etc.
In a place like Vegas staying away from gambling is a little tough. It’s a place where you will see 100’s of artfully designed and digital slot machines inviting you with pure lust for those dollars you got in your pocket. If you would like to try your hands on some other card games the opportunities are endless my friend. Just remember, gambling is fun when you’re playing with the money that you can afford to lose. Don’t get tempted by the free drinks or by the glamour around you, pick a limit and stick to it.
Keep a day to explore popular places in and around Vegas. One of the most popular activities in Las Vegas is to explore the majestic Grand Canyon. You will be able to book a tour from anywhere and it should be including The Grand Canyons, Lake Mead, and Hoover Dam. After the tour if you still have some energy left the Vegas downtown or Fremont Street is definitely a Go!
There are a lot of shows to be seen in Vegas. Some of them are really famous but before you buy the tickets make sure to compare the prices online or visit a nearest half price ticket store. Taking a taxi is another expensive affair in Vegas due to long hauling. The best way to avoid it, use Google maps & make sure your driver sees that.
Speaking of taxis, finding a taxi could be a task sometimes especially when you need it desperately. Don’t try to stop one at the strip. It is illegal for them to stop there. Instead just go to the nearest hotel taxi stand and you’ll find a line of taxis waiting to take you wherever you need to go.
If like me some of you share this mad love for clubbing, Vegas is the place. Some of the best clubs can be found on the Las Vegas strip. Remember to dress up appropriately as here people believe what they see. Most of the time you have to choose from these 2 options – buy a table with a bottle service or stay in the queue for hours, and have your 20$ drink in a cramped up corner. Decide! If you want to have some fun then go for the first option and yeah, you can thank me later.
Ladies, you enter for free!
Do whatever you wish to do in Vegas but just don’t get married when you are drunk. If still somehow you wish to then the Las Vegas Marriage Bureau is open till midnight every night. Just remember your wedding the next day. 😉
There is always plenty to do in Las Vegas so just try to get some rest in between your action packed nights and hangover filled days. Have fun and remember what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
1C. Chick pea/Garbanzo beans (soaked in water overnight)
3 – 4 Garlic cloves (minced)
1 onion (finely chopped)
1T. Cumin powder
1T. Coriander powder
1T. Red chili powder
½ T. Black pepper powder
½ T. Baking soda
½ T. Cardamom powder
2T. Whole wheat flour
1T. Lemon juice
¼ C. Parsley leaves (chopped)
½ C. Coriander leaves (chopped)
Salt to taste
Ingredients for Pea & Feta Hummus:
½ C. Feta cheese
1T. Tahina paste
2T. Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Whole wheat wraps or tortillas
Oil to fry
Salad filling (thin diced – cucumber, tomato, onion & lettuce)
Start with preparing the falafel. Add all the ingredients for falafel into a food processor and make a course mixture. Leave it in the refrigerator for one hour.
To prepare the hummus, add peas, feta cheese, tahina paste, olive oil, salt & pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth puree is formed.
Remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator and roll into medium sized balls. Deep fry in batches for about 3 to 4 minutes or till golden brown and drain on paper towels
To make a wrap, warm the tortillas a bit. Spread a generous layer of hummus and place 3 – 4 falafel balls on top. Layer the wrap with desired amount of salad and mayonnaise. Roll up the tortilla and tuck it well.
A good hookah and enjoyment goes hand in hand. I am sure there are many hookah lounges in New York City but I found this one closest to The Empire State Building, while I was on a city tour. I am very picky about flavored smoke, may be because I know my good hookah. After going to this lounge, I must say, I was impressed!
They start operations at 15:00 and are open till late. Also have a decent food and drinks menu to choose from. When I visited this place I was greeted by Selin. She not only made me comfortable but also suggested me few options that I could try. Beware – other than being gorgeous, she’s good at up selling too 😉
So, I ordered a special flavor (out of the menu) in a fruit head along with some beer and not to forget, their happy hours include almost everything fancy. Service was prompt and they constantly checked the coal. Selin and her team not only made sure that everything is fine but also were very hospitable and made sure that all their guests are having a good time.
Their hookah hits amazingly and the overall profile is excellent. The music being played in the lounge is mixed genre which brings people from different origins together. They also have a club setup for a weekend which is another added advantage… probably a perfect spot to come smoke hookah, socialize and dance!
The seating area is comfortable and spacious, plus the Turkish lamps add to the ambience. I came to this place for the first time and I absolutely loved it! If compared hookah prices with the other part of the world some people might find it a bit expensive but in the end what matters is having a good time. 🙂
While I was traveling within the United States I tried the Templeton rye. This review is about the same. I am generally fond of Scotch & Bourbon but this time I thought of trying something new.
So, the story goes like this, in November 1918 because of war time Prohibition act in the United States the beverages having alcohol content more than 2.75 % were banned. The country went completely dry for almost a year till few residents of Iowa started producing their own rye whiskey. It was affectionately known as “The Good Stuff”.
In 1982 the production was legalized and was introduced to a wider audience.
In year 2007 this brand was known widely in the country and the production plant expanded at a very high speed. Also, the same year it bagged four top awards at the prestigious Los Angeles Wine and Spirits Competition. Which were – Best of American Straight Rye, Best of Whiskey, over all Packaging Design & Gold Medal & American Straight Rye Whiskey category.
Over a week of having Templeton I realized that it is a well-balanced rye that’s perfect for the holidays. It has a nose of mint and pine and delivers smooth butterscotch and allspice. It has another interesting bit attached to it. Templeton Rye can actually get you a partial refund here in the states ranging between 3$ – 6$. No, it’s not because the company likes you. It’s because of a law suit filed against them which accused them of “deceptive marketing”.
Templeton Rye Spirits appear to be an Iowa product. Although the whiskey is distilled and aged in an Lawrenceburg, Indiana plant, a facility where many ryes on the market are produced but it’s in the different state.
Many legends and rumors have surfaced over the years concerning Templeton Rye but one thing is for sure that unique brand loyalty can still be found in the hearts of Templeton people even today.
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions (chopped)
1 T. Chili powder
1 ½ T. Black pepper
2 T. Cumin
1 T. Ground coriander
2 T. Turmeric
1 C. Red lentil
1 lemon juice
3 C. Vegetable broth
2 medium broccoli, chopped
½ C. Dried coconut (optional)
Heat butter in saucepan and sauté onions until well browned.
Add chili powder, pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Stir and roast for a minute.
Add lentils, lemon juice, broth and coconut if using.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45-55 minutes.
(If mixture is too thick, you may need to add a little hot water).
Add broccoli & salt to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Camping at a festival is like becoming a part of a colorful village that only exists for a few days. It’s where friendships are made and adventures begin, where everyone is ready to have a good time. The Fringe is the world’s largest art festival held in Edinburgh every year in the month of August. It goes on for good 25 days and you can choose from one of the many camping venues. This year I preferred to stay in a camp site managed by camping ninja. It was at Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston. The camping ground was clean and well maintained. I was carrying my own tent so I picked up a standard pitch close by a lake. Other camping options were also available. A separate ground for people camping in their caravans was at a walking distance from the main entrance. A mini kitchen, toilets, shower rooms, cafeteria, and a charging station was also there.
It took me just few minutes to setup my tent and I was already thinking ahead of time about what to do next. Thinking about camping has a stress relieving effect on me. Camping means staying outdoors, close to nature, which never fails to make me happy. Campers on the whole are very friendly. I take great pleasure in having random chats, and sharing some stories I have.
I think I like the feeling of being connected.
Camping festivals always seem to be their own little alternative places where saying things like “join me for a drink” or “let’s go for a walk later” are totally common. Another best thing about festival camping is that curfews are non-existent, parties last all night, and nobody is judged.
If you’re attending the festival and want to feel the true camping spirit, stop by a retail store to grab a sleeping bag. It’s a must have. I love wriggling inside my sleeping bag, in my tent and look up at the stars; luckily this time while I was camping it was a full moon night. It just enhanced the panoramic view of the entire place.
A camping experience can be either the best few days of your life or a frustrating hassle depending on the campground’s location and weather. My advice to you all is to plan well & book in advance.
Exploring and finding joy in the natural world is something I’ll never grow out of so people who would like to join me for the next festival camping session can pre register by following the link.
As the aircraft descends and prepares to land into Amsterdam, I feel elated and excited to explore this city of tolerance and diversity. Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities in the world filled with rich culture, lively nightlife, international restaurants and good transport. It’s also known for its water canals, world famous museums and historic sites.
Amsterdam has more than 75 museums which attract millions of visitors every year but the most famous museums are Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum.
When the weather heats up in Amsterdam, It’s the best time of the year to be in this picturesque Dutch city. Everyone is trying to make the most of the heat wave, and the city feels like a holiday resort, especially during the weekend.
After checking in to my very comfortable hotel I decided to go for a city tour. It was one of those evenings when I was feeling very happy, I think it was the effect of the constant smell of weed I was able to sniff in the cobble stoned city streets which was getting stronger each time I cross a coffee shop.
So, the first stop…? Coffee shop!
I entered multiple coffee shops but I really liked Goa & Baba. I do not smoke myself but the smell does attract me. I saw many groups and individuals sitting in the dark, smoke filled shops waiting to be stoned while I enjoyed my coffee. It was fun.
Amsterdam coffee shops are not to be confused with cafés. They have been a part of the city since the 1970s, and were allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis after the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs. They are strictly regulated and taxed. A legal coffee shop operates with non-transferable licenses – shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.
As I continued walking I discovered many big and small bridges over all the criss – cross canals. The many canals and waterways make bridges a necessity for Amsterdam. During the day they are beautiful, but at night some are decorated with dazzling illumination adding to the charm.
I believe each bridge has a story to tell. Historic or may be romantic, not sure!
I continued walking over some bridges, wandered around by one of the canals, took few lefts and few rights and finally came to a place where people were spilling out of the pubs and laughter was echoing. I also noticed some gorgeous wide-eyed Dutch girl’s cycling along on their way. They were really pretty I must say…!
Finally I paused at the doors of De Bekeerde Suster where I stopped by for a drink. I received a warm welcome and chose to sit at the bar for a casual conversation with few locals. While I was deciding what to order, the bartender suggested me to try Jenever. It’s basically a Dutch gin. I completely enjoyed sipping it.
It was getting late and was time for me to move towards my shelter. I took the route through the red light district. This place leaves nothing to the imagination from brothels to sex shops to museums. I am sure you must have heard about this area in Amsterdam and to be honest everything you have heard is true. This place has around 2000 glass windows which are occupied by sex workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Prostitution is actually legal in many parts of Europe, but nowhere in the world is prostitution a major tourist attraction like how it is here. It is a curiosity for some, and one of the obvious reasons to visit for others. The red light district is exactly what you probably think it is, but it’s also mostly safe and clean and should be a stop on almost every visitor’s itinerary. Being the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood it’s hard to avoid this area but I would still suggest all the travelers not to visit the red light district first otherwise you may get the wrong impression about the Dutch people and Amsterdam. Enjoy yourself, as a trip down the district will definitely leave a lasting impression.
For some people who would like to grow their own herb, I found a seed store. They claim to have the finest of all seeds and offer worldwide shipping. Oomph…
On my way back I sat by a canal with a can of Heineken studying my tourist map. I felt ecstatic. It was so wonderful to be in Amsterdam. What a fantastic city filled with friendly – kind hearted people. I was almost smiling with joy. Would definitely love to come back here again.
1C. Brown/Red rice
2 Chicken broth cubes
2 Spring onions (chopped)
½ C. Carrot (finely chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
2 Red chilies (chopped)
1C. Shrimp (peeled & deveined)
2T. Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
3T. Dark soy sauce
½ T. Ginger powder
½ T. White pepper
Salt & pepper
Boil water in a pot and add the chicken stock cubes. Stir till dissolved. Cook rice in the stock until done. Drain and leave aside.
In a small bowl mix the soya sauce, ginger powder and white pepper; set aside.
In a wok melt butter over medium heat. Cook shrimps in this for about 3-4 minutes or till pink. Season with salt and pepper and leave aside.
Add olive oil in a wok and saute garlic and onions for 2 minutes. Now add the chopped carrots and red chili; sauté for 2 more minutes.
Once the vegetables are tender stir in rice, shrimps and soya sauce mix.
Danes are the happiest people on earth. This also makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. Beautiful architecture, lots of water and friendly good looking people on bikes everywhere.
Located in the centre of Denmark’s capital I visited Christiania, and was surprised by what I found in this famous hippie neighborhood.
Christiania in Denmark and Amsterdam in Netherlands have only one thing in common – Marijuana.
In 1971 a former military base was converted into a free town, better known as Christiania now. As it was declared a free state citizens living in there did not follow the laws of the society that surrounded them. They had their own laws and an individual state flag. When it was first established, the government tried to shut it down but due to the public pressure was unsuccessful.
Visiting Christiania in itself is an experience; a block of warehouses, workshops, art galleries, inexpensive eateries, colorful paintings huts and houses. Visitors are welcome to stroll around Christiania and to eat and drink in the area’s cafés and bars but spare a minute to read their rules before you enter because they are pretty strict on people not following these.
Clicking photos is a big NO! (Although I was able to click a few)
As you will continue exploring Christiania, you might find small stalls, each one selling different varieties of marijuana and hashish. Displayed out in the open for customers to browse were large bricks of dark and light brown colored hash. Besides that, small plastic containers filled with marijuana named grapefruit, AK47, and white widow were displayed with various stickers identifying price. Also, right next to both was giant cones of pre-rolled hash for easy consumption. (Huh, that’s a lot of ‘erb)
Walking through Christiania is not illegal and the restaurants in the area offer delicious food and a unique atmosphere. Like most tourists I enjoyed walking through the district. Just remember that if you decide to exit Christiania leave all the “herbal stuff” in the area. Taking it out is definitely not a good idea.
Always colorful and endlessly controversial, Christiania is a unique place to visit. More than a city district, it’s a way of life.
Having just returned from my vacation, I feel compelled to share something about this artfully crafted new super premium rum – Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron.
Keeping the 150 years old legacy strong, Bacardi master blenders created to be the ultimate white mixing rum for cocktail fans looking for superior character in their drinks. Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is double-aged using white oak casks that pass on an oaky smooth taste. It is best served in cocktails like a Collins, which is comprised of sparkling water, lemon juice and sugar.
The blend is said to be inspired by a recipe passed down through generations of master blenders and uses a slow-filtering of the blended rum – aged up to three years – through a coconut shell charcoal, creating a bold super smooth rum.
The rum is also described as premium version of sipping rum expressing fruity, floral and vanilla notes with hints of walnut, oak and almond.
Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is packaged in a bottle that features solid Georgian green glass and strong lines reflecting the essence of the brand and its heritage. The optical effect of the glass mixing with the rum enhances the clarity, smoothness and purity of the liquid, creating a powerful and distinctive impression.
As of now, Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is exclusively available at global travel retail outlets.
“ The bat had always been a symbol of good fortune, so when Dona Amalia Bacardi spotted fruit bats in the family distillery, she insisted it to be used as their symbol. Today it remains on the bottle, helping the family survive whatever fate throws at it ”
2C. Kidney beans (soaked overnight)
3 Tomatoes (pureed)
2 Onions (chopped)
2T. Ginger Garlic paste
1T. Coriander powder
2T. Chili powder
1T. Cumin powder
½ T. Turmeric powder
1T. Garam masala powder
3T. Clarified butter or oil
Cook rajma with five cups of water and salt in a pressure cooker till totally cooked and soft.
Heat some oil in a deep pan. Add chopped onions and ginger garlic paste and sauté till the mixture turns golden. Add tomato puree and continue to cook. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and cook till the oil begins to separate.
Now add rajma along with the cooking liquor and mix. Adjust salt and add garam masala powder. Lower the heat and simmer for about fifteen to twenty minutes on low heat.
Garnish with coriander leaves & serve hot with steamed rice.
After so many visits to Munich, finally today I was able to screw up some courage and visited this academy of violence and terror. Not far from the city, it takes less than 20 minutes from Ostbahnhof to reach Dachau.
Documented facts tell us that it all started on March 22, 1933, a few weeks after Adolf Hitler was appointed as a Chancellor of Germany, the first Nazi concentration camp for political prisoners was set up in Dachau. Located just outside Munich in southern Germany this camp received its first group of detainees which were few socialists & communists. The very first commandant for this camp was Hilmar Wäckerle an official in the “Schutzstaffel” (a Nazi paramilitary organization commonly known as the SS)
Main camp gate
Record shows that since the beginning, camp detainees were subjected to very harsh treatment. Prisoners were executed by streaming lethal gasses from showerheads and were forced to end their lives. The immense pain they suffered could be felt even now when you see the nail marks on the walls of the room where they were executed. It eventually evolved into a death camp where thousands of Jews died from malnutrition, disease and overwork or were tortured to death. In addition to Jews, the camp’s prisoners included members of other groups Hitler considered unfit for the new Germany, including artists, intellectuals, the physically and mentally handicapped and homosexuals.
The gas chamber used to murder individual prisoners & small groups using poison gas.
An old sketch by one of the prisoner showing how at midday an entire chain of destroyed individuals returned lying unconscious on wheelbarrows. they were the ones who broke down from hunger, agony & cold.
Whipping trestle with bull whip
There was no way to stop it at that time as an official order was issued stating that Dachau and all other concentration camps were not to be subjected to German law as it applied to other German citizens. SS administrators alone would run the camps and decide punishments as they find suitable.
In June 1933, Theodor Eicke replaced Wäckerle as Dachau’s second commandant. Eicke immediately released a set of regulations for the camp’s daily operation. Prisoners found guilty of rule breaking were to be brutally beaten. Those who planned to escape or support any kind of political views were to be executed on the spot. Prisoners would not be allowed to defend themselves or protest this treatment. His regulations served as a master plan for all the concentration camps in Germany.
With the beginning of World War II, some able-bodied Dachau prisoners were used as labor to manufacture weapons and other materials for Germany’s war efforts. Additionally, some Dachau prisoners were subjected to brutal medical experiments by German physicians, which included high-altitude experiments using a decompression chamber, malaria and tuberculosis experiments, hypothermia experiments, and experiments testing new medications. Hundreds of prisoners died or were permanently disabled as a result of these experiments. In the twelve years of its existence over 200.000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned here and in the various other subsidiary camps. Also, figures prove that around 45,000 were murdered.
Mosquito bites were one of the methods used to infect prisoners with malaria. for this purpose a cage holding mosquitos was attached to the body of the test subjects.
On April 29 1945, American troops liberated the survivors. Just prior to the liberation of Dachau by the forces, the SS ordered approximately 7,000 prisoners to embark on a six-day-long death march to Tegernsee, located to the south. Those unable to maintain a steady marching pace were shot by SS guards. Other marchers died from starvation or physical exhaustion. When the United States military entered Dachau, they found thousands of mostly skeleton looking, undernourished prisoners. The U.S. soldiers also discovered several dozen train cars loaded with rotting corpses. A memorial site was created on the grounds of the former Dachau concentration camp in 1965. Today, visitors can tour some of the camp’s historic buildings and access a library and special exhibitions containing materials related to Dachau’s history.
Although it was a sad place, it was definitely a good place to see. Those people had a lust for cruelty. My tour guide told me that the numbers of people who died there were inaccurate, because Jews, Gypsies and old or weak prisoners were not counted in the death toll because they were not considered people.
Baracks – living and sleeping quarters 1944
Also, the killing was done for sport. Guards could invent any excuse to shoot someone. The most sickening thing was when a guard would take a prisoner to the camp boundary and throw their hat over the border. Should the prisoner fetch, they would be shot dead. Should they not fetch, they would be beaten either until dead, or until they would crawl over the border hoping to be shot dead.
A famous Indian street food from Amritsar, Punjab. A must try !
Ingredients for Chole:
1½ C. Chick peas (soaked overnight) 1T. Tea leaves 2 Dried Indian Gooseberries
2 Onions (chopped)
2 tomatoes (pureed)
2-3 green chilies (slit)
1½ T. Chana Masala
½ T. Coriander powder
Ingredients for Bhature:
2½ C. Refined flour
½ C. Yogurt
½ T. Baking powder
A pinch of baking soda
Start with preparing the dough for the bhatura. In a bowl sieve flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix yogurt, water and knead into a soft dough. Cover the dough and leave aside.
Drain the chickpeas and pressure cook with four cups of water. Tie tea leaves and gooseberries in a muslin cloth to form a bundle and add it to the cooker. Cook under pressure for around 12- 15 minutes or till completely cooked and soft.
Heat some oil in a pan and sauté onions and green chili till lightly brown. Add tomato puree and sauté till the oil separates. Add chana masala, coriander powder to it and mix well.
Add the boiled chickpeas with the cooking liquor and simmer for 15 minutes. Check for salt.
To make bhatura roll out five inch diameter diskettes of the prepared dough and deep fry till brown on both the sides. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with chole.
1½C. Dates, pitted (coarsely chopped)
½ T. Baking soda
1C. Boiling water
½ C. Walnuts (roasted & chopped)
2C. All – purpose flour ½ C. Brown sugar (little crushed) 1½ T. Baking powder ½ T. Salt ½ T. Ground cinnamon ½ C. Butter, cold & unsalted (diced) 1 Egg, at room temperature 1T. Vanilla extract
Start with combining the chopped dates with the baking soda and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the dates, stir, and leave aside to cool for around 30 minutes.
Now take another bowl and place the flour, sugar, baking powder, ¼T salt and ground cinnamon. Mix it well and then add the butter. Continue mixing until done properly.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the vanilla extract.
Add the beaten egg mixture and the cooled dates (along with the water) to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Place the batter into your prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Bake in a pre heated oven for about 55 to65 minutes at 180 degree C or until the bread is golden brown and set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just clean.
400 gram boneless chicken, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1T. Deggi mirch
1 lemon (juiced)
For the 2nd marinade:
½ C. Yogurt
3T. Ginger garlic paste
½ T. Deggi mirch
½ T Garam masala
2T. Mustard oil
For Makhani gravy:
06 Tomatoes (pureed)
2T. Ginger garlic paste
5 Green cardamoms
½ T. Mace
½ T. Fenugreek leaves (roasted, crushed))
4T. Fresh cream
½ T. Garam masala ½ C. Water Salt
Start with preparing the first marinade for the chicken. In a bowl add chicken pieces, chili powder, lemon juice and salt. Leave for one hour in the fridge.
After one hour add all the ingredients of second marinade in it, mix well and leave for another hour in the fridge.
Cook the chicken pieces over a grill or in a clay oven.
To prepare the Makhani gravy, in a heavy bottom pan heat butter and add cardamoms and mace. Once fragrant add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Now add pureed tomatoes, red chili, salt and half cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add the honey and crushed fenugreek leaves.
Now add the chicken pieces, fresh cream and garam masala to the tomato gravy and give it a nice stir. Simmer for five more minutes and serve hot with rice or naan.
3 Can tuna flakes in water or oil
(Rinse with water if in oil)
1 Lemon (juiced)
1 Onion, small (finely chopped)
1 Bell pepper (finely chopped)
10-12 medium lettuce leaves (shredded)
½ C. Mayonnaise
¼ T. Salt
¼ T. Pepper 2T. Honey
Drain the tuna in a strainer and leave aside.
In a bowl, mix the tuna, lettuce, onion, mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Check for seasoning & serve.
Tip: This salad can also be used as a sandwich filling.
To make a grilled tuna sandwich spread tuna mixture on bread slices. Top with another bread slice. Lightly grill it in a sandwich griller and serve.
Saint Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”
I completely agree with him. Travelling does not only allow getting some culture but also teaches us to live an adventure. It gives us that chance to capture the moments of which we are proud and may be a few we regret. Travel expands our awareness, gives us a break from our fast-paced lives but most importantly gives us that first time experience which narration cannot provide. It’s like someone can describe the amazing beaches of Seychelles and historic sites of Egypt to you, but you really have to see it for yourself to experienceit. You can read all the books in the world about the Taj Mahal, but being there is a different story.
When talking to people of my plans, I generally get a reaction along the lines of “I’m so jealous of you” or “I hate you.” But I personally see it in a way that anyone could do what I’m doing. I’m not doing anything extraordinary or something that’s never been done before. Also, sometimes few people view me as being in some special and unique position that allows me to just take-off on a plane whenever I want. Well, it’s not the case. I definitely put some planning into this lifestyle but in my opinion, it’s something that anyone is capable of.
Money is always a tough one when it comes to planning a trip. I think what lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t need a huge amount of money to start your travel. A reasonable amount is required and a small backup is always better.
Not having enough money shouldn’t be a reason to not travel. If you really want it to happen you’ll find a way to make it happen. But saving money shouldn’t seem like a big task when it pertains to travel. I recommend Southeast Asia to start with, where anyone willing and able can travel on almost nothing per day.
My profession gives me plenty of opportunities to travel, but still as often as possible I try to get away because I know travel can be a powerful tool for personal development.
Do not put off your dreams indefinitely. Life won’t always be just about you and you won’t always be young. So, do it now. Travel. Experience the world!
I am sure you will learn valuable lessons, be more responsible, mature and create some priceless memories.
1C. Cauliflower (Grated/minced) 1C. Beans (chopped) ½ C. Mushrooms (chopped)
1 Carrot (chopped)
½ C. Green peas (boiled)
2 Tomatoes, medium sized (chopped)
1 Onion, medium sized (chopped)
1 Green chili (chopped)
1 Black Cardamom
1” Cinnamon stick
½ T. Red chili powder
½ T. Turmeric powder
½ T. Garam masala powder
1T. Coriander powder
¼ C. Yogurt (beaten)
2T. Coriander (chopped)
In a pan heat some oil and add cardamom and cinnamon stick. Once fragrant add onions, ginger garlic paste and saute.
Add the chopped tomatoes, beaten yogurt and all the spices, stir and cook till the oil separates.
Now add all vegetables except green peas along with water and salt.
Cover and cook till all vegetables are cooked well. Once the mixture is dry add the peas and chopped coriander.
Give it a stir. Check for salt and serve hot with parathas or chapatti.
1 ¼ C. Split black gram (Dhuli urad dal)
3T. Split Bengal gram (Chana dal)
3T. Kidney beans (Rajma)
1T. Ginger-garlic paste
1T. Ginger (Peeled & Julienne)
2T. Deggi mirch
1T. Cumin seeds
1 Onion, medium (chopped)
2 whole dry red chilies (broken)
1C. Tomato puree
1T. Garam masala powder
2T. Clarified butter (Desi ghee)
¼ C. Fresh cream
2T. Coriander (chopped)
Salt (as per taste)
Soak together all the lentils in four cups of water overnight.
Take the soaked lentil in a pressure cooker, add ginger julienne, salt, red chili powder, close the lid and cook on high heat till two whistles are given out. Remove from heat and leave aside for about fifteen minutes.
Heat ghee and butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, chopped onion and sauté. Add red chilies, ginger-garlic paste and sauté for two minutes. Add tomato puree, garam masala powder and mix. Add the cooked dal.
Add chopped coriander leaves, cream and mix again. Simmer till the desired consistency. Serve piping hot.
2C. Chickpeas (cooked & drained)
1 Garlic clove (chopped)
1T. Lemon juice
¼ C. Tahini (sesame seeds paste)
3T. Olive oil
Pinch of paprika
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini and puree to a chunky paste. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add olive oil and the paprika and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt, drizzle with olive oil and serve with pita bread.
Ingredients for Pita Bread:
2T. Olive oil
2T. Dry yeast
In ¼ Cup of warm water dissolve the sugar & the yeast, & set aside till the yeast foams up.
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients including the sugar-yeast mixture and knead into smooth dough.
Place in a bowl coated with olive oil, turning over once so that the dough is coated with oil and cover with cling wrap.
Keep in a warm place to rise, about 1 hour, until doubled in volume.
Now divide into 6 pieces., Roll each ball into a dough around 7 inches in diameter cover with a kitchen towel, and allow the balls to rest about 30 minutes.
Try to roll evenly so the pita will rise in the oven, making a perfect pocket.
Place a pizza stone or a baking tray in an oven, and preheat to 250 degrees.
Place as many pitas as you can on the stone without overlapping.
Leave alone for 3 minutes. The pitas should puff up.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. The pita should now deflate and is ready to be served.
If your work requires you to fly to other countries or even continents on a regular basis, you should be aware that your frequent flyer lifestyle comes with certain health risks. Air travel, particularly over long distances, exposes passengers to a number of factors that may have an effect on their health and well-being. Travelers with pre-existing health problems and those receiving medical care are more likely to be affected and should consult their doctor well in advance before travelling. Health risks associated with air travel can be minimized if the traveler plans carefully and takes some simple precautionary steps before, during and after the flight.
There are many factors that may affect the health and well-being of air travelers but fortunately many of these risks can be minimized with proper planning.
#Jet lag: It is one of the most common problems amongst frequent flyers. Jet lag is a mismatch between your body’s internal day/night clock and a new day/night cycle in another time zone. Symptoms of jet lag include fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, decreased appetite, constipation, headache, confusion etc. In order to minimize its effects travelers require preparation and post-flight management. For those fliers who will be returning to their point of departure in a short time should maintain the same sleeping schedule as much as possible and For people staying in the destination’s time zone for longer than a day or so, should adapt the new time zone immediately on arrival and avoid thinking about the time back home.
#Deep Vein Thrombosis: Another risk during air travel is developing leg clots or deep vein thrombosis. It happens when you’re in a plane, most of the time sitting still, in the same seat, with a limited opportunity to move around due to cramped conditions. Immobility can cause blood to pool in the leg veins and form a blood clot. This clot can travel to the lungs and cause breathing problems or a heart attack. Dehydration and the lack of oxygen in the cabin increase its chances. To overcome this problem frequent fliers are advised to stretch regularly, either by getting up and walking the isles or by performing in-seat stretches and stay well hydrated.
#Motion Sickness: It’s a feeling you get when the motion you sense with your inner ear is different from the motion you visualize. It is a common condition that occurs in some people who travel by car, train, airplane or boat. Motion sickness progresses from a feeling of uneasiness to sweating or dizziness. This is usually quickly followed by nausea or vomiting. To reduce the effects continue looking straight ahead by keeping your eyes focused on a non moving object. The over-the-counter medication can be a very effective preventive measure in preventing motion sickness but remember that it can cause drowsiness and has other side effects, and its use should be discussed with your physician prior to your trip.
#Cabin Air Pressure:
Cabin air pressure falls as the aircraft gains height, which can cause the amount of oxygen in your blood to drop. The aircraft cabin is pressurized to keep this to a minimum but the change of pressure during take-off and landing can give a feeling of blockage of the ears. Chewing, swallowing or yawning can relieve these symptoms. Most reasonably fit passengers can easily cope with this situation.
#Dehydration: The cabin air on board a plane is much drier than on the ground. Dehydration can cause headaches and tiredness, and is bad for your skin, kidneys, liver, joints and muscles. Drink plenty of water and fruit juice, and avoid alcohol or drinks containing caffeine. It may also help to use a mist sprayer or moisturize your skin.
#Flying whilst pregnant: Air travel is generally safe for expectant mothers. You can travel by air up to 28 weeks into a normal pregnancy; in later stages of pregnancy with a medical certificate, up to 35 weeks for a single child and 32 weeks for twins. Each airline has its own guidelines so you should check with yours to make sure you can travel.
It is usually unheard and unknown by many frequent air travelers. Cosmic rays are highly energetic particles that originate in outer space and bombard the earth. But thanks to the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, cosmic radiation accounts for only 8% of the total radiation we receive annually. Having said that, the more we move away from our atmosphere towards outer space, the more susceptible we become to this radiation. People who fly frequently are exposed to more cosmic radiation than those who seldom fly or do not fly at all. People who fly at least once or twice a week are exposed to higher radiation levels over time; they may be more susceptible to skin cancer, leukemia or prostate cancer.
Frequent travel can be stressful, but it can also provide a means to explore new people, places, cultures and foods. You might even get a bit of sightseeing in as well! Make the best of it and remember to keep fit and eat well. Bon voyage!
Disclaimer: The information on this page is intended for information only, and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.
180G. Tortilla chips
200G. Mozzarella or cheddar cheese (shredded) 2 Spring onions & shallots (chopped) ¼ C. Olives 1 Red pepper chili (thinly sliced) 4 chicken sausage (thinly sliced) 1T. Oregano 1T. Chili flakes
Salt (As per taste)
Start with placing a handful of tortilla chips in an oven tray. Throw some spring onions, cheese, olives, red chilies and sausages.
Place a second layer of tortilla chips over and repeat the process till all the ingredients are utilized. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over.
Place the tray in the oven at 200 degree for 5-7 minutes; to melt the cheese.
Sprinkle oregano and chili flakes over and serve hot.
Food has always been a major part of German culture. Even the well-known German fairy tale makes reference to food, remember?Hansel and Gretel! German food is more varied than you might think. In fact Germany today has the most international range of food in Europe.
Millions of foreigners living here have brought their cuisine with them and have made important contributions to the overall culinary development. Practically you can find each and every cuisine in Germany: Asian to Mediterranean, Turkish to African, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Moroccan and Italian, to name a few.
Local cultures have a passion for their own food and flavors that cannot be found anywhere else and also which makes them different. But how interesting it would be if you get to visit a relaxing place where you could get a glimpse of two cultures merging together.
While in Munich this time, I visited Diamond’s Restrobar & Lounge. Situated centrally at Orleansplatz 3, it’s just a 2 minutes walk from the Ostbahnhof. Fortunately, there are several places in Munich where you can indulge, along with a meal, coffee, or dessert but this place was somewhere different. It was more like getting both German-Turkish cultures together. The place is big enough for a large crowd, well managed and decorated combined with different genre of world music spinned by the in house DJ Cüneyt.
Diamond Lounge is an all-day dining experience. Grab a coffee and cake in the morning, a quick bite at lunch or socialize till late in the evenings. It also brings together the warmth of Turkish hospitality and cuisine with the atmosphere of a high on life bar. Enjoy the soothing flavored vapor from a shisha as you relax with friends or grab a meal of shared dishes inspired by the cuisine of the Middle East. The restaurant has comfortable seating for up to 300 plus people and serves mostly everything ranging between breakfasts to late night snacks.
It is a delightful experience in every sense of the term, if you are looking for an unusual place to eat out alone or in a group. Advance reservation recommended as this place is mostly packed at the weekends.
Start with marinating the chicken with salt, lemon, turmeric & yogurt. Leave it marinated for 30 minutes.
In a wok heat oil, add onions and ginger-garlic paste and saute till golden, add chopped tomatoes and cook till it becomes a fine puree and oil begin to separate. Add the diced capsicum and stir together.
Add salt and chicken masala and cook for 2-3 minutes; later add chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes.
Add ½ cup of beaten curd and mix. Lower the heat, cover & let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Add 3T lemon juice, fenugreek leaves stir well and garnish with ginger and coriander.
Serve hot with rice or bread.
For Chicken Masala; dry roast & grind together: ½ C. Coriander seeds 1T. Fennel seeds 2T. Cumin seeds 1T. Caraway seeds ½ T. Black peppercorn 4 Dry red chilies ½ T Fenugreek seeds Few Curry leaves
Tip: I prefer using readymade chicken masala powder.
South Africa is home to many ethnic and racial groups, many of them migrant communities. These groups have all contributed to the rich cultural mix of the country. Johannesburg being one of the largest urbanized cities has also maintained its natural attractions and indeed has so much to offer: there are parks, gardens, wonderful restaurants, relaxed cafes, busy shopping malls, nature reserves, casinos, nightclubs, and more…
Johannesburg’s entertainment and leisure options are vast and varied and during my 6 days stay here I tried my best to see and explore but reserved just one day to relax and laze around.
Not far from Johannesburg, in little under an hour’s drive Glenburn Lodge is situated near the Zwartkops Mountains, on the banks of the Crocodile River. It not only offers guests spectacular scenery and absolute peace but also stylish accommodation, fine dining and exclusive tours and activities – all included when you book your stay. This was an ideal option for a carnivore like me. With its braai (barbeque) facility it was very easy for me to do steaks and other meat I bought from pick & pay. Moreover, a lovely patio overlooking the river was adding to the leisure, I enjoyed the whole day self-catering. The kitchen was equipped with a two plate stove, fridge and microwave oven. A well furnished lounge has a fireplace, ideal for winter nights.
The natural scenic beauty of Glenburn Lodge makes it an excellent place to host a romantic wedding and other celebratory occasions, or simply relax and enjoy some pampering. One can also explore this place on a guided game drive, bush walks or simply staying by the river side. Expect a very delightful welcome as the staff here is very polite and always at your service. All in all it is one of the finest places if you want to spend some relaxing moments in the lap of Mother Nature.
Europe in December may be chilly but the reception is very warm. The aroma of hot Glühwein and other delicacies with the Christmas lights glittering get everyone into the holiday spirit at these European style Christmas markets.
Beginning in mid November these markets promise unforgettable events, mouthwatering food and a variety of seasonal gifts. I witnessed this age-old tradition in Vienna during a short stay. Walking towards the City Hall (Rathaus) I saw several Christmas markets with festively decorated stalls offering traditional hand made goods, Christmas decorations and souvenirs.
It is altogether a very romantic affair; streets bustling with people in high spirits, city beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, artisans showcasing their craft in wooden stalls and that amazing smell of roasting sausages.
This is how Christmas celebration should be.
Food, drinks, music or shopping whatever your reason is, visiting a Christmas market anywhere in Europe is definitely worth it. Few of the best Christmas markets can be found in Germany, Austria, Sweden and France. So, choose a market which best suites your mood and have fun!
½ C. Vinegar
½ C. White sugar
¼ C. Water
3T. Fish sauce
1 Thai red chili (chopped)
1T. Dried red chili (crushed)
1 ½ T Corn flour, dissolved in 20 ml cold water.
3 Garlic cloves (minced)
Mix the lime juice and soy sauce and leave the prawns to marinate in mixture for 1 hour.
Once marinated, discard the marinating fluid and place each prawn on an individual pastry sheet. Brush the edges of pastry sheet with egg, and then wrap pastry around prawn leaving the tail to stick out. Brush egg over the pastry as well.
Deep fry the prawns until golden brown. Leave to dry on kitchen roll, and then serve with sweet chili sauce.
To prepare sweet chili sauce, boil all the ingredients except corn flour – water mixture in a pan. Continue boiling until the mixture is reduced to half. Add the corn flour water mixture and stir.
Remove from heat, taste; add more sugar or chili if required.
Vacation for me is beaches, clear blue sky, tropical surroundings, a variety of bars and restaurants. All of this when mixed with crazy fun and exciting people becomes even more interesting and memorable.
Until now the only place which uses to top the list was Goa, India. This time one of my friends came up with an idea to visit Bali, Indonesia. I instantly accepted this destination because of two main reasons; first because of easy access (Connections, visas and overall budget) second I wanted to visit this much discussed iconic island. Few weeks of planning and we were already at Ngurah Rai International Airport Denpasar, Waiting for a taxi to take us to Kuta. While we were being drove to Kuta we realized that Denpasar is nothing less than a busy corporate capital city filled with a lot of trade and industries along with major government institutions.
Whereas, Kuta being not very far from the city is probably the largest tourist area in Indonesia famous for surfing, few good accommodations and nightlife. We selected Bali Bungalo Hotel for being fairly reasonable and also for its location.
Booking was done at – http://www.booking.com
Bali is relaxing part of Indonesia that has something or the other which interests people of all age. Unfortunately this time of the year it was raining on and off. So, couldn’t really plan well but still managed to visit few interesting spots. The days were mostly spent strolling in the busy tourist streets while nights were kept strictly for celebrations.
The first day was blown enjoying water sports in Nusa Dua, strolling in the busy tourist streets of Kuta relishing nasi goreng, mie goreng & satays (off course with Bintang) whereas night was celebrated in Boshe VVIP Club. Second day was calm and relaxed, in the morning after the breakfast headed towards the famous Ubud Village & the Sacred Monkey Forest followed by Potato Head Beach Club in the evening. Third day was filled with some thrill and action as we tried our hands on river rafting in Sanur and spent some quality time at Ayana Rock Bar. Finally it was day 4, last day for me to enjoy this vibrant, colorful paradise. Spent it lazing at the beach! Exploring Bali is exciting as the attractions are diverse and natural landscapes are breath taking. I will definitely visit this all-in-one vacation spot again to relax and unwind; this time probably will keep few more days in hand.
While I continue globetrotting, this time my stop was Athens of the North, Edinburgh.
Also, home of the Scottish Parliament!
I started my day with a lavish breakfast buffet at Edinburgh Marriott Hotel and then straightaway took bus# 100 (24 hours service/Wi-Fi enabled) to the city centre. The bus dropped me at Princess Street which is 15 minutes ride and apparently the last stop. From there I started walking using a route planner available at www.walkit.com.
My plan was to cover all the main tourist attractions and interesting spots before the day comes to an end. My on foot journey included:
Princess Street Garden:
a beautifully landscaped public park in the centre of Edinburgh. Various concerts and other events are also held here during the festival time.
Scotch Whiskey Experience:
a large tourist attraction, offers a whisky tutoring session that takes place in the form of a virtual tour.
For ticket pricing and timings refer to – www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk
the Grassmarket lies to the south of the Edinburgh Castle and is famous for a lot of pubs and cafes.
Greyfriar’s kirkyard & Greyfriar’s bobby:
a graveyard related to multiple paranormal activities.
For people who like adventure you can also book a ghost tour at – www.cityofthedeadtours.com
(Strictly Not For The Faint Hearted)
the busiest tourist street in the old town.
After walking so much already, it was time to have lunch. What could be better than the traditional Scottish delicacy – Haggis?
Now, I admit that the description of haggis may not sound all that appealing but it’s definitely worth trying if you’re ever in Scotland.
“A haggis is a simple dish prepared by using the lungs, heart and liver of a sheep, to which is added suet or fat, oatmeal, onions and a little stock and seasoning, filled into some sort of casing or skin (traditional way is using a sheep’s stomach) which is then boiled for several hours.”
I headed straight to Whiski Bar where I was welcomed by Ms. Karen and was given a comfortable, cozy place to settle down. By the time chefs were busy preparing the dish for me, I was being introduced to few of the many scotch whiskeys they have. Established in 2012 this place has bagged many awards already in the past few years. Promising to give everyone fresh Scottish food using the very best local produce this place is mostly crowded with locals and tourist. Keeping in mind this large footfall per day advance reservation is recommended and could be done here – www.whiskibar.co.uk
At last my most awaited dish was presented on the table with absolute finesse. Honestly speaking I found it very tasty and the scotch was pairing well with it. For the sweet finale I tried cheese cake of the day and must say it was extremely pleasurable!
Lastly, to conclude the day and to digest the food I started walking towards the Holyrood Park which is adjacent to the Holyrood Palace. The parks highest point is Arthur’s Seat, a massive hill just outside of town providing a bird eye view of the city and is popular for hill walking. Within the park you can also visit St Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th century medieval chapel, as well as Duddingston Loch – a natural fresh water loch (an important site for bird breeding)
Edinburgh is definitely an ancient city with interesting history and a cosmopolitan capital with a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, shops and active nightlife spots. It is not the most exotic destination but different in terms of culture. Flashes of tartan can be seen on the kilts of men playing bagpipes to the shortbread packs displaying a true Scottish character. In Scotland, traditions run deep and locals are more than happy to share them with you.