Travel Diaries – My Experiences – Part I -London

Hi friends! I’ve kept my word and here you go. In my last post, for those of you who have missed it, I had given an introduction to my Travel Diaries. From this post onwards I will write about my Europe Travel Diaries, beginning with London. I’m not going to give a daily account of what we did. If I start, then I am not going to stop. For the next one year, I will go on and on about our trip. I will try to make it short and sweet for you guys.

One good thing about computers and related gadgets is that by sitting in the comfort of your own home you can book anything anywhere in the World; distance doesn’t matter at all. So, the one principle we followed when planning for our holiday was to book everything in advance from home. We would, in the due course, save a lot of time, energy and money (Oh yeah, online bookings are a little cheaper too; wink wink). Starting from the cab which was going to pick us up at the Airport to the various attractions we were gonna visit, we booked everything online and carried a print with us. Believe me, we did not face any issue whatsoever.

20170904_164641Our first day in London was a Monday. We had kept it quite light, as we had anticipated jet lag hitting us a little too hard. By the time we reached the place and freshened up it was about half past two. We decided to leave the house and do whatever was possible. We had to travel by the DLR (District Line Railways). Our first experience of waiting for the train and getting into it was amazing. I still remember the moment as if it was yesterday. We decided to go to Leadenhall Market. Since it was already way past lunch time, we decided to have a bite and then start off.

Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London. The market dates from the 14th Century. It is a covered market of London, which sells fresh food. It was used to represent the Diagon Alley in the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The architecture of this place is simply amazing. The ornate roof structures are painted green, maroon and cream. The place is such that, once you set your eyes on it, you can’t take off. We spent a good half an hour at this place clicking pictures, shopping and roaming around.

20170904_174408From Leadenhall Market, we walked to the Ruins of St. Dunstan in the East. The Church of St. Dunstan really survived a lot. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1660s and then, The London Blitz in the 1940s.  After the Blitz, the City of London Corporation decided to leave it as it is and make it a public garden. It is in a secluded side street and is filled with greenery and flowers. It is an excellent place to spend an evening writing something you have always wanted to.  You can also pick up a book and enjoy it there. If you are an artist, you can also sketch the place. If not anything, you can simply sit there and enjoy the beauty.

20170904_193152We spent about an hour at St. Dunstan and from there took a bus to Shoreditch. Shoreditch is an arty street in London. The graffiti on the wall was amazing. It is famous for its street art. You can understand what I mean to say when you have a look at the photos. After getting off the bus, we had to walk quite a bit, but it was worth the walk. After Shoreditch we decided to head back home.

In anticipation of a huge crowd at the attractions, we had booked all our tickets online. Our first tourist attraction at London was Madame Tussauds. It was super fun posing with the wax statues of the celebrities. My sister and I had already visited the Madame Tussauds in Singapore. My hubby had already visited the London on an earlier visit. It was completely new only for mom and dad. They really enjoyed it. It was fun to see them act as youngsters while they posed with their favourite celebrities.

After Madame Tussauds, we headed to 221 B, Baker Street. We did not visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum but we went to the Museum Shop. We went crazy at the shop. There were so many awesome things we wanted to buy. We clicked pictures in front of 221  B, Baker Street and then walked around the place. As it was lunch time we had lunch at a Pizzeria.

From there we headed to the famous Tower of London. We were lucky enough to see the Bascules open (the road opening for large ships to cross) at the Tower Bridge from the Tower of London. We wandered around slowly and reached the Tower of London. We saw the famous Koh-i-noor. We couldn’t take our eyes off it. Along with the Koh-i-noor we saw a lot of other precious stones which we had never heard of before. It was amazing. We went at least five rounds to see it.

After the Tower of London, we did a lot of other interesting things about which I will narrate in my next post. For now, this should be good enough. I know, I really talk a lot. My husband laughs at my narrative skills. If I start talking about a thing, I tend to explain so much in detail that the other person is sure to fall asleep.

See you soon..

Cheers!!!

Advertisements

Travel Diaries – My Experience – Part I -London, Paris and Prague

20170905_185554Hi guys!! Yes, I’m aware. I promise the same thing again and again, but somehow fail in fulfilling it. For those who did not understand what I’m talking about, it’s just that I keep promising my friends that I will blog regularly and then, hit the snooze button after a few posts. I have various reasons for why I haven’t been able to do so, but that is no excuse… How have things been at your end? I am probably writing (I mean to say blogging) after about 2-3 months. Yes, I’m truly ashamed of myself. The other day when I was whining about how irregularly I blog, my hubby did make a good point. He said, ‘If you really want to blog, you will somehow find time for it,’. This motivated me. So, here I am.

The past three months had been too hectic. We were preparing for our first family trip abroad. We chose to have our holiday our way, which meant we were going to have to do everything from scratch ourselves from bookings to getting visas to planning our visits. We didn’t mind doing that, since our greatest advantage would be flexibility, which is what we wanted while travelling with senior citizen parents. It was a real task. All of us occupied in our own work for the trip along with our routine which would stare at us to (probably) say, ‘Hello, you didn’t take care of me today’. Here I go! That is why I could not blog (insert evil laugh).

Jokes and excuses apart, let me get back. After a lot of thought we zeroed in on three places for our holiday – London, Paris and Prague. We decided on the number of days of our stay at each place and then, began the planning for the trip, which was super fun. My sister chalked out an amazing itinerary for our holiday. If not for her, we would have probably not seen some of the secret amazing places (Oh, am I praising you too much? Let me stop it at this).  Our trip started off with a bang and there was no stopping. Mayur had specifically chosen September for our holiday. September is generally less touristy. We got to enjoy the beauty of all the places without any hassles. All the popular tourist places are, generally, a nightmare in tourist season. Mayur has had this experience in the past.

We flew to London from Mumbai. We spent good 5 days there and took the famous Eurostar train to Paris. From Paris we flew to Prague and then back home. Oh yeah, we didn’t get back home straight though. The day we were supposed to land, Mumbai had heavy rains. A Spicejet Plane skid off the runway and about half an hour before we could land our flight was diverted to Hyderabad. After we reached Hyderabad we did not get clearance to land (yes insert evil laugh). We flew to Chennai from Hyderabad. The plane landed, but we were inside the plane on the tarmac for about 6 hours. Yes, you read it right! We were then given accommodation by British Airways for a day at Chennai. Yes, it was a blessing in disguise and most of us had secretly wished for it. It was a truly enjoyable holiday right till the end, I must say.

This reminds me that the start of our journey was also equally thrilling. The cab which we took to the airport could have landed us on a hospital bed instead of the British Airways seat. The guy who was driving us to the airport was sleeping while driving. We (my sister and I were together) realised this and quickly told him to stop on the side, but he refused. He was more concerned about dropping us off fast and probably, winding up his duty for the day. I understand that it is sometimes hard for these cab drivers to manage. They also have a family to take care of, but they do not have any right to play with someone else’s life. So many things could’ve gone wrong that day. Thinking about that even to this day gives a sort of chill down my spine.

You would have got a gist of what my posts would be like in the days to come. It will be Travel Diaries only. This was an introductory post to give a glimpse of what I will be coming up with in the next few months. Yes, believe me. When I say, next few months I mean next few months in the sense that I will put up at least 4 posts a month. I don’t find any reason why you should trust me when I say this, but if you love reading my blog I am sure you’ll drop by to see.

See you soon..

Till then, Cheers!!!

‘The Machan, Lonavala’ – A Review

IMG-20150703-WA0014Hi friends! I am a day late this time. I am sorry for that. I should’ve come on Thursday! Though I am late, I am proud of myself for making it here punctually. I have given reviews on books and shared a few recipes. It’s time now for some place review. This is not exactly a place review. It is a place cum hotel review. This has been waiting for probably 2 years now to find a place on my blog. Finally, I’m here with it. The Machan is situated at Lonavala. For those of you who do not know where Lonavala is located, let me tell you. Lonavala is situated near Mumbai and Pune. It is about two hours’ drive from Mumbai. It is a hill station surrounded by greenery situated on the Western Ghats. It is a perfect place to visit during monsoons.

The first-time ever I went to this place was during June 2015. Yes, it was during monsoon and I had no idea whatsoever that I was going to Lonavala. It was our first wedding anniversary and by then, I was familiar with the Mumbai Pune Expressway. My husband was giving me a surprise. He just told me to pack our bags for two days and so we left. As we were reaching the Mumbai Pune Expressway, I kept on pestering him to tell me where we were off to, but in vain. I kept thinking for some reason that he was taking me to Panvel. The Mumbai Pune Expressway has a deviation towards Khandala and Lonavala. When he took that left turn, I was sure that we were going either to Khandala or Lonavala. My husband had sealed his mouth. He just didn’t give it away. As we reached our destination, that is, The Machan, we saw a beautiful canopy of plants in the entrance. It is something which I will never forget in, probably, the next 50-60 years. We, then, slowly entered place.

IMG-20150628-WA0010The Machan is a beautiful hotel which offers tree houses and ground based cabins for stay with buffet lunch and dinner. It is situated in the interiors. I was astonished to see how the reception was made. I will share a photo of the same with you guys. It gives you a forest feel. The tree houses and cabins are very nicely made. When you see from down, you can see only the tree house in the middle of greenery. Isn’t it a perfect place to spend your small vacation in? It, surely, is, when it is also your first wedding anniversary. The entire experience, gave me a princess feeling. We were tired after our drive. So as soon as we reached, we had lunch and napped for a while. The lunch, here, is buffet, as I mentioned earlier. Whatever spread was there, it was delicious. We spent our evening sitting on the deck in our room. The deck overlooks the Western Ghats. What a beautiful sight it was. We spent our entire evening just enjoying nature. We couldn’t venture out anyways because we weren’t sure how safe it is. The next morning, we ventured into the woods (as you may call it) soon after breakfast. It was scary. The very thought about going there at night scared me. However scary it was, it was wonderful. We ventured into the deep woods like a nature’s trail on our own. We found it very amazing. We could see our tree house from the woods. It looked so beautiful! We couldn’t believe our eyes. We just sat quietly with the sound of trees rustling and birds chirping. It started drizzling slightly. We enjoyed the tiny raindrops

.IMG-20150703-WA0013

The same evening, we also took a walk around the property. It is a very huge property. The planning that has gone with The Machan is incredible. They have different types of rooms. They have a huge family room as well, if you’re planning to travel with your family. You also have a cozy room like the one we stayed at, if you’re only two people.

We stayed there for two nights and we really enjoyed every moment of our stay. It was very special. I would give this place a rating of 9 on a scale of 10. If at all you are planning to go somewhere this monsoon, The Machan at Lonavala is the place. If you find that the weekend is too much, then, you can just hop in on a weekday, when the tariffs are low compared to that of the weekends.

I am going to share a few photos with you all. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Cheers!!!

Our Favourite Holiday Destination Goa

IMG_0728Hello!! I am back. . . Instead of giving a detailed description of our travel, I will break up the places we’ve visited and give individual place reviews. It makes more sense and it is easier for you guys to read as well. Goa is our favourite hangout place. Who doesn’t like Goa! Goa is everyone’s favourite destination to just chill and enjoy. We’ve been there now a couple of times. We have a few favourite places there. We do not mind going there again and again.

One of the few places which features in the list of our favourites is the Cola Beach. We found out about this beach on the internet. It was in the list of the secret beaches of Goa. The first time we went to Cola Beach, we had hire a two-wheeler from the hotel (situated in the South of Goa). The beach was about two hours away from the hotel. We kept following the google maps. We were about ten minutes away from the beach and google was insisting that we take a right turn. The turn seemed very unlikely because we couldn’t see any road. It was a mud road which was super narrow and it was very uneven. We did not know how we will cross that. We found it really unlikely for any beach to be locate there. I, in fact, told my husband that we should turn back. He did not want to give up. He told we will go a little ahead and see. The path was very interesting. It was a mud road, filled with stones and completely uneven. We are still not sure how we managed to cross that. We rode for about ten minutes and found a widespread land. We went a little further and then we were shocked to see what was there in front of us. We could see water below the cliff. We were mesmerised to see that. We have never seen blue coloured water anywhere in India and the beach was situated below the cliff.

This was really a wow moment for us. We were then trying to figure out how to get down the cliff to reach the beach. The path was really a difficult one. You had to climb down a few rocks and then, get down the steep stairs. We somehow managed to do it. The beach was really mesmerising. We went around the entire place and found it to be very silent and clean. We did not see many people on the beach except for a few foreigners. We went around the place and took a lot of pictures. We, then, sat own on the beach quietly to enjoy the waves. We spent about an hour or so of calm and serene nature.

The beach became so dear to us, that we went back to the same place when we went this 16195622_10154139979296440_4609146041898506694_ntime. We had taken the car this time. So, reaching the beach was a little more difficult. We somehow managed to reach. This time the path to get down the cliff had changed. There were a lot of changes that were made. They had a man-made pool where we found a lot of people and kids playing. This time when we went the beach was very noisy. There were a lot of people. It was not as calm as it was during our previous visit. We were to some extent disappointed, but we were happy that we went. We also found an over friendly doggie who posed with us for something which turned out to be an epic selfie.

When you go on your next visit to Goa, I suggest you should go to this beach.

Cheers!!!

Travel Diaries I – My first trip to North India Part 4 – Manali to Kasol

Hello! Hope everyone is happy with the way winter is treating you! I was initially disappointed when the winter didn’t set in at all until December, but once it did, it was really awesome. I enjoyed the cold and pleasant weather after a really long time as it is hot most of the time, here, in Mumbai. Time really flies. It’s been over a year now since I went for a weeklong trip to North India during winter. As you all are aware, I’ve created a small Travel Diaries segment in my blog and I’ve been squeezing in my experiences once in a while (I’ve so many topics to write about, it is just too much effort to decide what to put up next). It is high time now that I completed my Travel Diaries I (I’ll do that in the next one or two posts, I promise). I’ll continue from where I left last time.

The fourth day of our trip was at Manali. The previous day we had had a wonderful time at Solang Valley. We had our share of new experiences. We decided that the next day would be spent in a quiet and leisurely manner. We started our day very late as it was super cold as usual. The main market at Manali was very close to the Log Hut (that is name of the HPTDC Resort we stayed at). We decided to just walk along the roads slowly and enjoy the cold and pleasant atmosphere. We started our walk at around 11 am. We first went to the famous Hadimba Temple. We had to walk and climb a bit to reach there. It was a peaceful temple. From there we started gallivanting.  We went in search of a particular Italian place for Pizza, but it was shut. We, then, just wandered and landed right in front of this place called Johnsons Lodge and Café. We went into the Lodge for lunch. What amazing lunch it was! Even to this day, we are reminded of the delicious food and the serene atmosphere of that place. The interiors were very elegantly made. After lunch we gallivanted into the Market and spent our evening there and got back to the hotel close to 7. The next morning we were to leave to Kasol from Manali.

IMG_20150122_100507Our fifth day was at Kasol. Kasol is not Kasauli. It is altogether a different place. My husband found out about this hidden place on Facebook. The moment he found out about it, we included this place in our Manali trip. It takes about two hours to drive down from Manali to Kasol. What a drive it is! We never expected the entire place to be so scenic. As the Himalayan Mountains stare at you in the eye, you can hear the Parvathi River flowing deep down the valley. It is a scary drive, but yet, the atmosphere altogether gives you the calmness. We had booked our stay at the Himalayan Village Resort. We just couldn’t take off our eyes, as we entered the property. What an amazing property it was! It is one of the few places which I can never forget. We had our lunch. By the time we were done with everything it was 4 pm. We just stepped into our room and we were astonished at the view we had from our room. We were facing the Himalayas with the Parvathi River flowing alongside and right behind us was the Coniferous Forests. We were keen on going on a Nature’s Walk, but then because of the rain, they didn’t have it at all. We just stared at the Himalayas as they disappeared right in front of us because of the rain and accompanying fog.

Kasol is one such place which is a hidden gem of India. If at all at some point you get a chance to visit Kasol, make sure you stay at The Himalayan Village. It is simply awesome!

There’s a last part coming to this Travel Diairies. Wait for it, I’ll be back soon..

Cheers!!!