A ride to remember- in Bourgogne.

IMG_6507Beaune will be etched in our minds, amongst other merrier reasons, forever, as the place, where we met with our first ever Road accident, internationally.

To get that out-of-the-way, it was a low velocity impact.. being on country roads, close to Beaune, thankfully the metal took the brunt and the bodies involved were all safe, this incident highlighted the attitude of french..

1. The other party involved who were local french family were much more worried about us, than being bothered about their battered car.

2. The “french” locals as well as the Gendarmerie, won our hearts, with their sympathetic and uber helpful attitude helping us with everything including language constraints.

3. It’s highly advisable to get comprehensive car insurance! Can’t speak about it enough. This made the aftermath so smooth with pick ups and transfer to Dijon, the next big town, and smooth transition to the next car, all arranged by AVIS.

4. Never drink and drive. Especially take care to spit and not swallow if you’re wine tasting in a wine country. A lesser mortal might be tempted to take in a few swigs.. especially if there are Grand Cru and premiere Cru wines from the worlds best wine country, on the offing! But not dear hubby!! I already had enough confidence in him which only peaked after this episode. We were incidentally returning from a wine brunch when this happened. His breath analysis for alcohol came out negative.

5. Never give up, keep faith. Some of the members wanted to give up on the trip.. (imagine!).. but no way were we going to shelve a wonderfully planned journey and we carried on!

Beaune is a beautiful small town in Burgundy (Bourgogne) and also considered its wine capital, nested amidst the lush vineyards of Côte d’Or region.


We travelled from Paris on a Saturday morning so we could visit the weekly market at Beaune centre. Started from Paris about 10:30 and reached about noon.


The market area is divided into a large food plaza and a clothing / home decor section; sifting quickly through the latter we lazily strolled trough the food section, sampling local delectables and picking up freshest of baked goods and veggies, cheeses, mushrooms etc. Bought a whole lot of Truffle and truffle infused products, the regional delicacy of Bourgogne. A quirky thing on sale was dried onion flowers which is crisp and flavorful when sprinkled on salads and dishes.


We unfortunately missed out on the yearly wine fest in village of Volnay on the same morning, held every year about this time. So those travelling in end June should check this out.

Lunch was pre booked at a wonderful restaurant, recommended by a good friend, and is called L’ô à la Bouche. And what a recommendation.. for a perfect sunny brunch, by the side of a tiny brook and a pond with ducklings.. straight out of an Enid Blyton book! Only thing missing was a picnic basket, the lack of which was made up by the delectable lunch in the offing. This reminded me of the song The Perfect day, by Lou Reed!




After lounging about for an extended meal, we laggardly headed to our B&B within town, having chosen this for its proximity to the town centre as well as the bike rentals. Since we’re the “go-getters”, we headed straight out to “Bourgogne Randonees” to pick up our bikes which were previously reserved, since they’re much in demand!


The gentleman at the shop was very helpful but somehow we muddled up the directions that he gave for the bike path. We went round the town at least twice..had some not so serious falls, (first mom, then dad).. which pretty much shelved biking plan on that day!

Not losing hope, we strapped ourselves in the car seats and drove to the nearby village of Pommard, instead of cycling to it.. to meet for an appointment at a winery called Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure. Have to say that the owner, completely floored us by patiently waiting for us to show up for a tasting, beyond usual hours, at least 2 hours after our appointment… thus breaking the ‘myth’ of snooty uptight, french wine makers of burgundy, worlds oldest wine country! Here we could venture into a true vine cellar, centuries old with moldy dusty walls, cobwebs and candles, thankfully did not bump into any vampires!! Picked up couple of delicious Premiere Cru wines from this winemaker.


Day 2 was devoted to visiting nearby villages and their famous wine makers. These include Puligny Montrachet, Aloxe-Corton and Meursault.



Serendipitously ventured into an amazing restaurant in Meursault called Chez Richard, where we sampled the famous Epoisses cheese and the regional delicacy, the escargot!


After sating our appetite, and not sure about the next plan.. we decided to again give cycling a go. Having experienced other wine countries on a bike, we didn’t want to miss out on this experience in the french country.

So instead of renting the bike in town centre, we researched and reached Bougogne Evasion, located very close to the entrance gate of the Véloroute (bike-path) and thus minimising chances of our getting lost again!!

A pillared gate welcomes cyclists to the -Véloroute of Voie des Vignes, and right after entering, one is transported to serene, lush wine country surrounded by pallisading rows of verdant green vines and clear blue skies.


The stillness is interrupted only by the whirring of the bicycle wheels, chirping of the birds and the camera clicks! It’s a perfect detox for an urban dweller.


Being later in the day and considering the fitness levels of all, we chose to bike the shortest path from Beaune to Pommard, a short 20-30 minute ride, the terrain being mostly flat, with mild undulations. Path to village of Volnay is quiet steep and we skipped it. Do remember that wine countries are hot and sunny so be prepared with caps, sunscreen and lots of water, as there are no pit-stops between villages. Another point to remember is that cycling/ walking path is through vineyards but there’s no wine tasting rooms in between. Tasting is localised at abundant wine shops and in cellars in the villages or available with meals in the restaurants, latter being a wonderful idea after a bit of exercise 😊

Done with cycling, we had only managed to touch 4 o’clock on the watch, with the sun shining brightly and too early to call it a day. Guess what? We decided to visit Dijon, a half an hour ride away from Beaune. Despite knowing that Dijon is a big town, we were quite overwhelmed by its size and the traffic on the roads. I guess we were lucky that it was a Sunday and there were no major traffic snarls!

Since we were running against time, we headed straight to the town centre to see the Notre Dame cathedral and to follow the famous Owl Trail.


Within the city centre are many owl plaques, engraved on the pavement with numbers, guiding the tourists around many important landmark including the cathedral. One can buy a book from the town centre or easier, can download a mobile app, which tells in detail about every structure/ monument on the trail.

Saying goes that if you spot and touch the owl on a corner wall, at the end of the trail, it’s supposed to be lucky in getting you back to Dijon!


Another incident to remember, happened in Dijon, where for some reason our parking ticket was defective and we were sort of trapped in an underground parking. Again, a helpful local Frenchman, who didn’t understand a word of English, came to our rescue!!

We started the next and last day in Bourgogne, on a spicy note by a visit to the famous, Edmond Fallot Moutarderie, a mustard factory/ shop.. famous for the Dijon mustard! Bought few varieties of mustard and other products.

Following this, we set course for the adjacent commune (region) of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Both Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits-Saint-Georges are the famous wine regions in Burgundy (Bourgogne) with the former popular for its Chardonnay and the latter for its Pinot Noir wines!

bourgogne map
map obtained from this “website”


It’s fascinating trying to understand the French wine appellation system. Breaking it down very, very broadly, the lowest in class would be a Regional wine (for example a bottle saying Bourdeaux or Burgundy), followed by Subregional category (example Côte de Beaune), followed by Village wine (example Pommard in Côte de Beaune) and finally the top most category is a single Domaine or vineyard. Then ofcourse there are Grand Cru (Burgundy regions best wines) and Premiere Cru (second best wines). Best refer to THE INTERNET for the same!

Go figure!



We did another wine tasting in Vosné Romanée, at Domaine Bernard Rion and bought some more wines for consumption! Hubby dear believes in bringing some back and I’m always worried about the Packing!


DH had earlier reserved a 4 course wine lunch at Olivier Leflaive. They serve a basic lunch menu to highlight the wine, but despite knowing this, ‘the vegetarians’ were disappointed with the serving of Boiled beans and cheese. At least, dear hubby enjoyed the Beouf Bourgogne with the paired Grand Cru andPremiere Cru wines.

One can also do Truffle hunting with tasting in this region, but the same wasn’t available on the dates when we were in the region.


To summarize, Burgundy was wonderful; the highlights being the cycling through the vineyards and the Pinot Noir! Hoping we’ll be back soon, especially with the blessings of the Dijon Owl.

5 (& some more) ways to enjoy Paris, in a non-touristy way:


1. Slow down.

Whether you’re there for two days or two weeks, unless you slow down your pace.. you won’t absorb the beauty of this splendid city. Rather than ticking all major attractions in two days, try to walk without agenda, or pick up a cycle/ Velib.


In the long term, the most vivid memories are made of moments when we stood and stared.



2. Span the Seine.

Spend half a day or evening, strolling along/ sitting by the banks of River Seine. And you’ll want to grab a canvas and start painting. It is so gorgeous!

From the many characteristic bridges that span the placid river, the ferries going to and forth, the magnificent trees with camouflage trunks that dot the banks, locals just goofing around or practising parkour.. you would fall in love with the city.



Tip..You should stop to give a random romantic kiss to your partner… after all it’s the city of love 😉



3. Visit a Boulangerie.

Get up early to visit a local boulangerie.. go gaga over the aroma of freshly baked bread and get that perfect baguette for breakfast!…And do remember to “Saw”, not “Squish” the Baguette, while slicing!



4. Visit the supermarkets

… and you’ll feel like a local, going through the daily routine of picking up breakfast or dinner.



5. Little things in life.

With the kids, a must do is a carousel trip around the gardens. We all know that the little innocents are most happy with most basic things. Yes they will remember the Eiffel Tower, may be the lit up pyramids in the louvre courtyard at night, but most of the carousel rides, and the ice- lollies!



5. Visit atleast one local market

…on a market day. Of course this needs planning as these happen on particular days; the well known in Paris, being the Bastille. Even if you’re not planning to cook your meals.. the sheer freshness of the produce blows the mind and one gets tempted to buy this and also that.



6. Always keep yourself hydrated = Have enough wine! 

The Wine That Speaks!



7. Culinary Escapade

This IS the Foodie haven of the world! There is simply so much to sample and learn in terms of culinary lingo!


If it’s your first time or the umpteenth time, try out thefood passport


It’s simply a way of introducing a traveller to the best of Parisian/ french delicacies.. while taking you around on a self guided tour through the best parts of the city! As is mostly the case, when hubby introduced this topic.. I was not so keen considering it another touristy trap. But as is “always” the case, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does one get to sample the local delights.. macaroons or merveilleux or Navettes…oh yes I’m showing off… but visiting parts of the city which one might not visit otherwise. It was a fun thing to hold a map, deciding what we wanted to sample in which part of the city, take a metro ride, and then out looking for that quaint little shop, tucked in a corner!


Bonne journée!

A “hot” Parisian summer…arrival, stint at Disney and feta de la musique.

So by the time we kicked-off the 2017 French summer trip.. the usual blistering heat of Delhi was giving way to rainy spells, heralding the monsoon season. Our friends joked about it being a European weather in Delhi and were envious about our upcoming sojourn.

As we were landing at the Charles De Gaulle airport, the pilot announced an unusually hot day with temperature of 37 degree, welcoming us all to sunny Florida… or so it seemed. And there I broke into a sweat!

The Paris of my memories was the Paris of dreams.. cool, breezy, with blue skies speckled with fleecy clouds.. sauntering lazily along the seine… But Paris of today was as sunny as tropical Maldives, minus the sea and as hot as New Delhi. Worse, since the Parisians don’t believe in the fans (ventilador in french) or the air conditioning (apparently bad for health) we felt like being back home with a power cut! Soul sapping heat, sweaty sleepless nights. And this is us who should be used to this weather.. the Parisians at least braved the heat much better than us!

On Day 1, we decided to face head long., the exhaustion and sleep deprivation (that happens after a long journey) and against popular advice, went to Disneyland. Thanks to prior planning, this first night we had checked into an apartment in Serris, literally next door to Disney theme park.

We went with zero expectations in terms of what we wanted to achieve, rides that we wanted to get on.. etc.. because the basic purpose was to acquaint little one with this charming place called Disneyland.. full of his favourite characters.. Mickey Mouse being on top of that list.

His high points, in a nutshell, were the carousel ride, the Mad-hatters cups..and the ice-cream. I guess, he was too young and we too pooped to do much. In all a very expensive kind of “experience”.

Next morning we checked out the outlet malls close by (Val d’europe) and stocked up on essentials from Auchan (pronounced “Ossan”).

Had booked a cab to ferry us and our gigantic baggage to Paris downtown, for 70 €, which was economical on the physical front.. sparing us the task of lugging bags to the metro station and beyond.

Once in Paris.. we settled in our (actually Laure’s) apartment (Air B&B), walked down to nearby patisserie and got something to munch on.

Then ambled along the streets of Montmartre and collected our food passports (https://www.le-food-trip.com/en).

Did few tastings in Montmartre including olive oil (Huile’d’ olive) at Ecomusee L’Olivier and Confiture tasting at La Chambre Aux Confitures.

In the evening after dinner and settling rest of the family members, me and mine, decided to walk towards Sacré Couer, a small walk from our apartment. We were aware that 21st June is the day Parisians celebrate Fête de la Musique. This is one day when the entire city comes alive with music and free gigs happening at every corner and plaza.

The residential area around our apartment was pretty much asleep but as we ambled closer to Sacré-Couer, we could hear melodies floating in the air.. and soon the streets were full of life, music and revellers.. bands performing everywhere and depending on your taste you could enjoy a different genre of music. The best performance of the evening was a band of drummers, some 20 odd gifted drummers beating away to glory and the crowd swaying to the beats. A serendipitous, great night!






Udaipur Jan’ 2017

“So many sites, so little time”.

This has been the motto of “Rajans” for ever. Even the “chhota Rajan” has inherited the itchy feet and if mom-dad appear lackadaisical .. he starts chanting…” I miss holidays- I want to go on a holiday” (BTW, by holidays he means a big aeroplane, specifically with in-flight entertainment 🙄)
Since we could afford only a few days leave, we started exploring short trip destinations in North India.. and zeroed down on Udaipur, this trip being long overdue! We planned this 4N trip in Jan, flying back on the republic day. This was good and bad.. good that there wasn’t much commute on the way back home from the airport…but flight did get delayed thanks to congestion at the airport, due to republic day security hold-ups!
We chose to stay in Trident, couple of quick reasons why:

* It was tried and tested and loved; having stayed in Trident Jaipur, many years back.

* Beautiful hotel, kinder on the pocket than other 5 star hotels,

* Relatively close to the old city (10 min cab ride away).

* Sort of situated on the lake Pichola, in a fabulously lush garden

* Far from the maddening crowd ( as well as the grime) of the city.

* Another plus being part of the Oberoi chain and sharing its grounds with its younger and high-end cousin, the ‘Oberoi Udayvilas’. We spent some part of every day, strolling the lush gardens of Trident, gently merging with those of Udayvilas, hearing the thousand different bird calls, spotting a myriad of fauna including the majestic peacocks and soaking in the spectacular views of the lake as well as the interiors of the hotel!


Many travellers opt to stay within the old city in many of the ancient, renovated Havelis, within walking distance to many restaurants, lake, boat ride etc. Flip side being not much greenery to soothe the eyes.

Day One:

We boarded our flight from Delhi around 13:00, landing at Udaipur airport in an hours time. The airport is located on the outskirts of the sprawling city and is about 40 min cab ride from the city centre.

This day was all about exploring the gardens, the palatial hotel(s) and the lake view!

These hotels also house a wild life conservatory housing wild boars, deers and peacocks which are fed at fixed hours in morning and evening when the onlookers can see these species closely.

Day 2:

After an elaborate breakfast buffet, typical hotel style.. we set course to explore the city. The first choice was naturally one of the iconic landmarks of Udaipur, the City Palace. The short upward sloping walkway leading to the palace reminded me a bit of Neuschwanstein, though more sunny and stark.

The palace must have been a ‘looker’ in its time.. but at present, except for some bits, is not very well maintained. This is a bit sad despite it being under private control. There are remnants of the glorious past but having seen many more majestic marvels of architecture, in India and abroad, we were a bit underwhelmed and after a few mandatory pictures we set course for lunch.



For Lunch we wanted to sample a quintessential Rajasthani meal including the “Dal- bati-Churma”. Our cabbie suggested ‘Krishna’ restaurant, well rated on Trip-advisor and for a paltry amount of 250rs/ thali, does a decent job of ticking all major items. A thali comprises of a pre-fixed menu, on a non-sharing basis.

Post lunch we roamed about the old city… with small shops selling curios..typically touristy, but something that every tourist expects (and likes). Bought some curios/ Rajasthani Show-pieces to adorn our walls from Kajri Arts, recommended again by the cab driver.


About 16:30 hrs, we reached the boat docking site to visit “jag- mandir” temple, situated in the middle of the lake Pichola, one of the many lakes making up this “city of lakes”. Jag Mandir is situated close to the pompous Lake Palace Hotel, under the Taj banner, latter, exclusive to its guests and elusive to others! The timing of the boat ride was good, this being considered the Sunset boat ride with extra-fares.

The short 15 minute Boat ride, toured around the lake with awesome views of the city palace (which looked better in a panoramic view), The Lake palace hotel, other havelis, smaller palaces bordering the lake as well as the beautiful facades of the high- end, lake facing hotels.



The Jag-mandir ( translated as the Universal-temple) still hosts some wedding ceremonies of VIP’s and can be visited at certain hours with a certain fee. At 5’o’ clock, by the time we reached, it was closed.


The facade of the temple is beautiful, though. There is a fancy dine-in, with a beautiful terrace top giving spectacular panoramic views. Special ferries are available for restaurant guests for dinner.

After soaking in the sunset views on the lake, we trudged back..in a cab, to the hotel. Here we enjoyed the Folkdance and music show while enjoying the dinner spread in the roof-top restaurant at Trident.

Day 3:

This happened to be Mademoiselle’s birthday and we set out to make it ‘memorable’. Over the years and over many vacations, we’ve realised that our most cherished memories are those which we’ve experienced at a very slow pace and amidst nature; be it gardens, hills or rivers, while hiking, trekking or cycling. That, in our humble ways, is the best way to experience a place, inhaling the fresh air, making lasting memories!

So we set out cycling around the lakes. We booked a tour with “Art of bicycle trips” based in the old city where we checked in at 7:45 am. They provided us with a child seat which was a blessing and made this cycling trip possible. After the mandatory delays with cycle adjustments and trials, we set course starting with meandering narrow lanes of the old city, wobbling (in my case) our way amongst other cyclists, motor cyclists, cars and cattle, avoiding the open drains. Thankfully this was a short stretch beyond which it was mostly vacant roads with few motor vehicles passing us by.

We cycled through mostly flat terrain with gentle up and down slopes with few ascents which were tiring for ‘my’ quadriceps. Passed by small villages, with school-going children happily waving and greeting us (they’re usually enthralled with foreigners), along wheat fields, some mustard fields just getting speckled with yellow, across small hills, passing — fort and finally the serene placid lakes.

The more popular Udaipur lakes, namely Pichola and Fatehsagar are within the city amidst its hustle and bustle. But the smaller lakes that we passed by on this cycling trip were spectacular and serene, unspoilt by urbanisation and tourism. We sat by them and just gawked!

The tour guide Ali, was a sport. An enthusiastic youngster keeping up with the varied pace of all members. Did a pit stop at a dhaba for tea and another impromptu stop at a road-side stall for ‘Rajasthani style sweet-sour poha’- which was delicious! Our little one greatly enjoyed the trip with daddy, calling it a wonderful day!


We wound up this 30km trip by 12 noon, took a cab back to the hotel, ordered room service and crashed! The feeling was of pleasure and pain.. but overall great! The hotel staff surprised us by decorating the room and sending some flowers for the occasion.

Evening was spent relaxing in the grounds and some splashing in the pool. The little one persisted in his efforts to take a dip in the pool and finally persuaded daddy darling to take the plunge. This was possible since the weather was mostly warm, even in January. But that is desert climate for you.

For dinner we had made reservations, along with our new cycling buddies, in a highly recommended restaurant by the lake Pichola, called “Ambrai”. The place did not disappoint in the views; with spectacularly lit City palace as well as Lake palace lighting up the placid lake.


Would not comment too much about the food here as we did not do justice to it. After couple of ‘heavy meals’ over past few days, our tummies were not in a very accommodating mood and we ate light. But immensely enjoyed the views!

Day 4:

Set out for some pending sightseeing. I had visited Udaipur last, when I was 1 yr old and have seen pictures from that visit all my life. So this day, my agenda was to recreate that picture.. before after kind. After enquiring from my parents as to the spot where the pic was taken and correlating with our helpful cab driver, we reached Fatehsagar lake. Nehru garden is located in the centre of the lake, a 10 min boat ride to the gardens. It’s a rectangular garden with domed gazebos at it’s corners.. and after speculating as to which looked nearly the same spot.. we started clicking pictures. This was a fun activity!


Post this activity, we had to tick another major kid attraction which is a camel ride. Since we had done the same with the little one in Jaipur, he was looking forward to this.

In the evening we bought tickets for a puppet and folk dance show in “Bhartiya kala Kendra” at 18:00 hrs. This was entertaining for the kids and adults alike, the auditorium being packed to the hilt. Gave us a glimpse of the entertainment forms of yesteryears,at the Maharaja’s Darbar, aka, King’s courts. Skilled dancers balancing their feet on pots and pans, and balancing pots on their heads.
Dinner was to be another light affair; by this time we understood that we could not digest the greasy meals. Had read about ‘Grasswood cafe’ in the old city so we thought we’ll try it out. This was a hole in the wall but such a friendly relaxed vibe to the place that we loved it. Dotted with quirky curios, fairy lights and foot tapping music.. we felt transported to another place. The food (tuna sandwich, salad, maggie 😊) was delicious including the smoothies😋. Happy tummies means happy souls who went to bed and dreamed happy thoughts.


Last morning in The city of Lakes, needless to mention, we sat on the breakfast table for nearly two hours. Then lounged on the garden bench spotting many bird species, few being the elusive cuckoo, both male and female of the species, the coucal, sunbirds, bee-eaters, green avadavat, drongo and ofcouse the Peacocks!


Bid Adieu to Udaipur and flew back to New Delhi at noon.

PS: Don’t have his picture, but this is the number of our very sensible, responsible cab driver called Mohd Rafiq  (mobile: +91 98291 91649), who was more like a personnel guide and chauffeur throughout our stay!

Sun and Tan- in spectacular Maldives!

This impromptu Trip to Maldives with family in the month of September was a totally theatrical act with last day confirmations by busy bodies and last minute flight bookings. We were flying through Colombo (Srilanka), deciding to spend three days there, as a night stay in Colombo becomes mandatory, according to flight timings (More about the Lanka journey in a subsequent post). Funnily, we began the first leg of the journey in Lanka while still researching our options in Maldives.


Finding a suitable stay in Maldives is not anything like researching other trips to Mainland’s – say Europe/US etc..(this was reiterated and rubbed, by my dear brother on whose shoulders had befallen this mammoth task) him being the “originator” of this trip! He had a “task sheet” dictated by all…to find a beautiful, secluded resort, on the off-beaten path, without too much tourists , only water villas, throw in a seaplane also, and accommodate 5 ½ bodies.

This, trust me is a humongous task. First of all, accommodating odd numbers is always a pain in the ***, as finding suitable villas/ family rooms with odd number of beds can be only managed through direct phone calls to the resort. On top of that, trying to find a resort, which allows a two year old, in a water villa is difficult as most resorts will try to place such a family on beach villas. And then try getting some sort of a “Deal” and deciding half board vs full board; A single resort island (more of an island secluded feel) or a larger island with multiple resorts (with some more dining options but a generic feel to it).


The journey began with an early morning short flight from Colombo Bandaranaike Airport, starting at about 7:20am, reaching Male International Airport on Hulhule island (right opposite Male) in about 45 min with a daytime temp of about 39 degrees.. Hubby got a free upgrade to business class- lucky for him! In general, we found the Srilankan air crew very hospitable n friendly… Good job guys!

After finishing immigration formalities.. We checked at the “Gangehi” kiosk where the coordinator effectively got us checked in for our next Sea-plane ride to the Gangehi island via Trans Maldivian airline. Carrying Booze into Maldives is strictly prohibited so don’t bother trying to stock up for days ahead- be ready though, to shell out loads of USD!



The Seaplane ride was underwhelming…It sure is great for pictures and ticking an experience, but on the whole a slightly claustrophobic ride, in scorching heat (the cabin being open to the exterior without any air conditioning) and very noisy.



Some sights do make up for it all, like the numerous island and atolls sparkling on the vast expanse of Indian ocean! The 30 min journey ended with a short boat ride to the island itself…followed by welcome drinks n easy check-in.



Gangehi is a small island and the only resort on this island. ..  So self contained, beautiful functional villas.. We had a deluxe water villa (for three) and a normal water villa between us.



Georgina, the local marine biologist, told us about the presence of small baby (reef) sharks n Sting Rays, abounding the water here.





Small island resort does mean that one is dependent on their restaurant only, but these guys did not disappoint! Both for the vegetarians and the sea food lovers there’s plenty to eat with a loads of variety. We were booked, full board (all meals inclusive) so that we didn’t have to think about the next meal, and could just relax and enjoy the serene blue! As for me the veggie lover, the sheer number of fruit-veggie combos was mind blowing and I enjoyed a hearty, healthy, carb-free meal, morning, noon and night!


Icing on the cake were the desserts, especially the seasonal ice-creams churned out by their Indian origin dessert chef, everyday! From coconut to cashew-date, amaretto to passion fruit sorbet.. All simply delicious!

The first afternoon, we just crashed, after a sumptuous meal as all were sleep deprived. In the evening we decided to check out the premises, walking on the beach, circling the island.


Our villa, no 31, according to me was perfectly situated with just enough depth of water to wade in… Good for baby n us.. With a beautiful sand bank right across and perfect view of the setting sun!


This was one place we spent every evening, smitten with the awe-inspiring landscape, the gorgeous colors of the evening sky, against the darkening waters, the endless expanse of the horizon and of course the beautiful sand bank meandering into the depths of the water, taking us a little closer to heaven with every step! Also a delight for photography enthusiasts!




The li’l one had a blast, splashing in water, spotting sting rays, reef sharks (babies) and other smaller fish, swimming in these waters and making sand castles, while we bid adieu to daylight.





Incidentally the wind makes this eerie howling kind of sound at night over the ocean which was a bit waxing for me initially, but then somnolence took over.

Day 2:
I opened my eyes at about 7:10…and the first thought was “oh god, I missed the sunrise n it’ll be too bright by now”… But then I decided to peek through the curtains… the vista was jaw dropping.





A bit of cloud cover on the horizon changed the colors from stark white to shades of crimson n orange against the austere blue! Aah, what a perfect morning! I spent a few solitary moments on the deck, absorbing every moment, then woke up dear darling and went for a short stroll again on the perfect sand bank!
For breakfast, the chef n his team did a spectacular job of keeping everyone happy and content!

Bro n I went snorkeling.. First on our own.. Wary of the sting rays which abound in these waters.. and then again in the evening with the local expert who hails from the UK.. There is enough coral and sea life, just ½ km from the beach at the drop-off point into the deep dark sea!


In the evening, again on the spectacular sand bank, we saw a washed up jelly fish!


Next day arrived with spotty clouds, first indicator in 3 days that we were visiting during the wet season! During my customary, solitary morning walk around the island, I saw this spectacular rainbow.. Adding that perfect touch to the perfect holiday!


DSC_9929 (1)

After breakfast we again, lounged in the common room for some time, some of sitting on the deck surrounded by the turquoise waters! Once again, rented some snorkeling gear and decided about doing a longish stretch in the afternoon… But …heavy clouds n a massive downpour, washed away those plans.. Luckily the skies cleared in the evening for a lazy saunter on the sand bank…I know its by now clichéd, but yes… the highlight of the trip was the sand bank!



There are other paid activities on the island like deep sea-diving, which we skipped this time, having seen a lot, snorkeling. There is sunset fishing, dolphin spotting n kayaking etc.. But just lounging on the deck on your own water villa.. Surrounded by pristine waters and watching the sun go down was the ideal “activity”on a holiday to this tropical paradise!

Blissful three days! Will be back for sure.

Tit-bits about driving in this part of the world- Germany/ Austria

Drive from Neuschwanstein (Füssen) to Montreux (Switzerland-CH) was a straight 6 hour long, exhausting drive, motored mainly by DH. Only high point of the ride was the Autobahn, one of the only roadways in the world where you can drive as fast as you want!!


We needed to buy a vignette (akin to a permit) to pass via Austrian motorway, available at most border towns, in this case, the German town of Lindau.

Austrian are known to be finicky about this, casting heavy fines for an otherwise cheapish 10€ vignette. In both Austria and Switzerland every user of the highways is required to pay this road tax instead of a toll, and prove the payment by a sticker called a vignette. The Austrian 10€ vignette is valid for a week, while the swiss permit costing 40€ is valid for an year!


So while driving we kept seeing boards saying Lindau 20km ahead, then 10, then 5.. And we started panicking.. And then I saw a board, “Wilkommen Australisch”… shucks…and then at the last moment we saw an Ausfahrt (an exit in Germany) so we rammed our van down it.. Phew! We finally got to a petrol pump and bought the vignettes..



Some of the nations in the european union  expect an IDP -International Driving Permit, in addition to a valid Drivers licence, some of those being Austria, Greece and Italy. So just because we were meandering through Austria for small stretches, we applied for the same from our country- why take a chance.

In comparison to the Awesome Autobahn, the French Roadways allow a maximum speed of 130 kmph.


…and keeping in spirit of everything French and arty, the Exit signs in France (Sortie) are in Italics… 🙂


Schloss Neuschwanstein & a beautiful afternoon in Füssen

Day 4-

We spent the night in Füssen, a small boutique town just 5 min drive away from Neuschwanstein castle. During the planning stage, we couldn’t get a decent accommodation in Hohenschwangau, a small town at the base of the castle, also the home for the original and smaller, Hohenschwangau castle.

Hohenschwangau Castle

So, Füssen was seen as the second best option. But reaching the town, we were pleasantly surprised by its quaint, old-world charm, cobblestoned streets lit in an orange glow. The Hotel Sonne Füssen was an icing on the cake, which went beyond all expectations, which were already high, after having read great reviews. This was a beautiful hotel, decorated in a quirky and eclectic manner!

This morning we ambled to the restaurant and feasted on a lavish breakfast, definitely one on top of the list during all our travels! We gorged ourselves, then set course relatively early by 9 ish, for Neuschwanstein castle, …the fairy tale castle celebrated by Disney..
DH had visited the castle 10 years back, on a tour starting with a train ride from Bahnoff station (Munich) till Fussen, then a bus from Fuessen to the base of the castle, followed up an uphill hike with a Japanese student guide. He remembered that the inside tour of the castle was pretty boring (by our point of view), just like all other palaces and castles, with the routine of gold inlay everywhere… So this time we decided to skip the indoor tour and decided to head straight to the best vantage point for spectacular views of the castle from the Marienbrücke (Mary’s bridge).


So we started walking uphill from the bus stop, a very steep hike and saw this regiment of German army passing us, using this path for rigorous training!!  As we hiked up, we were overtaken by huge horse drawn carriages, with 15-20 people sitting in, some of whom gave us…the breathless sweaty mortals’, supercilious looks. That lasted till the half way point beyond which everyone has to walk up…Huh!!


We just motored on and reached the bridge meeting a pleasant young Frenchman who insisted on talking to us in impeccable Hindi.

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The views of the castle from Marienbrucke, are Classic with the majestic turreted Castle rising amongst dense woods surrounding it. Obviously, traveling during the Fall season is even more beautiful with the verdant greens interspersed with hues of orange and red! This I know because I bought a magnet with such a picture!

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The bridge can get a bit crowded, very windy and younger ones need to be firmly taken hold off.

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After taking the mandatory pictures, we walked down, and drove back. There is an alternate adventurous hike down to the stream, at the back of the castle, which DH had loved last time but in company of younger and elderly, we went the routine way. …And yes we, the non-drivers, tried some Glühwein (just like Mulled wine), on the way down, which tasted heavenly after the strong winds on the Marienbrucke!

Coming back to Füssen by 12 noon, we first went to a super market to stock up on essentials for our long road journey ahead.
Then we went down cobble stoned streets led by Sriram who was looking for this Vegan restaurant called Casa Veda…which had tremendous reviews on Tripadvisor. This was a self service restaurant with funky decoration.. We tried the soup of the day (smoked pumpkin, coconut, curry leaves and veggies) and the meal  of the day with tasty vegetables, greens including asparagus & mild spices ( without the heat). The meal was so good that we ordered seconds. For dessert we had Chia seed pudding with fresh strawberries, and a Johannisberry (Redcurrant) cake…In all, a Delicious, heavenly affair! Sriram got a lot of thumbs up and pats on the back for his excellent choice of hotel and restaurant.

To call it a perfect afternoon, we shopped at the gift shop of Hotel Sonne Füssen which was again loaded with eclectic lamps and other curios. Happy Me!

Rest of the Day was spent in a long, pretty dull and dreary road journey to Montreux…more about it in the next post… Guten Tag.

Two nights in Munich- Day Zwi

Began the day…passing this Mercedes Benz ? Headquarters…Definitely felt like Germany!

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Our plans for this day was to visit Viktualienmarkt, akin to a farmer’s market, a foodie’s delight!

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Enroute we stopped at Marienplatz for the Glockenspiel. The clocktower has a twin-level moving (puppet like) figures, with a king and queen, musicians, courtiers etc. Nice for a short stop, but not with rain! I forgot to mention that the second day had rain all the time, and we had reason to thank our hotel staff for sending us of with umbrellas.

Marien Platz
Marien Platz

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Once inside the market, we first entered a cheese and wine shop, tasted and bought a truffle cheese (melt in the mouth stuffed brie with the aroma and taste of truffle cutting through) and rosemary cheese. There were many charcuteries, but with four vegetarians there wasn’t much point…

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We then went to a wine shop and bought two German wines, troken (dry) white Riesling and robust red Spätburgunder. Rieslings in US etc are commonly sweet wines, but here, dry tasty Rieslings are the norm. The Spätburgunder (pronounced Shpæt Boorgoonda) is German for Pinot Noir, and is called so, as it’s late ripening compared to Burgundy Pinots. Delish wine anyway…This buy started our wine bottle counter. W2, meaning two bottles.

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The next shop we went to was Honighaus, where everything was about honey including beeswax candles, organic honey and… Mead which is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey and water, best drunk warm.

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We tasted a glass of Mead, bought a bottle of Honigwein aka Mead and also bought some liqueurs. W3.5

Next we moved onto some gift shops, some fruit shops, more cheese and more wine shops.

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We thankfully didn’t buy more wine bottles, but we stumbled on a delightful shop “Chocolates & more!” that hubby had researched about before.

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The shop had the usual run of nougats, flavored chocolates, chocolates with rum, with nuts, orange peel etc, but it was when we asked for dark chocolates, single origin, that the young lady got animated, and started bringing the most exotic chocolates, including an Amadei couverture dark chocolate drops (pistole) Venezuelan raw cocoa bar, different types of cocoa beans, (African, South american, Sri Lankan) roasted and unprocessed (yummy Cocoa tasting!!). While the ladies and the baby were getting raptures sipping on the delicious hot chocolate; DH and dad tried out different bars of Ecuadorian and Madagascar chocolates (bean to bar) and some Criollo chocolates from Venezuela.

The Stash!
The Stash!

After this heavenly experience we sauntered through the market, buying some fresh fruits, some more beer tasting, ogled at some beautiful crafts works and then decided to eat some more!

We reached the same alley with Andechser am Dom and decided to try Augustiner today. We had a tasty tomato soup, some Ravioli like German dish, Sauerkraut and Nuremberg sausages along with a wheat beer.


The one notable point was our server, a tall Valkyrie in a “Lederhosen”. I researched it later and found that there is a recent fashion of girls dressing up in these leather short pants; you only look good in them if you are fit!

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After miscellaneous shopping and eats, we headed back. Dinner that night was at an Italian place called Mozamo, close to our hotel, with super thin crust wood fired oven baked Pizza with some good Chardonnay!

Gute Nacht!

Two nights in Munich- Part Ein!

Ah, Munich! Aptly described as the city of Beer & good cheer!

Day1- Delhi to Munich (june 2015)

After an uneventful flight, we landed in Munich at 6:00am, nearly 7 hours before the usual check-in time. Since we had only 2 nights to make the most of Munchen, we decided to power through the day, after dropping the luggage at our hotel-Laimer Hof.

Flughafen Munchen
Flughafen Munchen

Being a sweetheart, I decided to take some load of my hubby and In-laws and tried to lug more luggage than my slender shoulders could carry and ended up getting a back sprain and losing my sunglasses in the process!..I know..already!

Our hotel Laimer Hof is in a residential neighborhood, close to the Nymphenberg palace and within walking distance to metro and bus stops. Nice place with helpful staff.

After dropping off luggage we took the tram to Karlplatz, then the train to Münchner Freiheit (Freedom of Munich- World War II name coming from anti Nazi radio station broadcasting from here) this is in Schwabing, and a really pleasant walk towards our goal Englisischer Garten.. You walk past the most delectable cafes bakery’s wine bars and what not..I planned on walking though half of this garden ( which happens to be larger than Central park!)

Englischer Garten
Englischer Garten

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We first stopped at Seehaus, by the lakeside which is a Paulaner bier garden, where the vegetarians enjoyed their first ever, Obatzda (a cheesy savoury dish), Pomme frites (French fries) & a kirschkuchen (cherry cake). I had a currywurst, a Movenpick ice cream for the little one couple of Pils and wheat beer to drink, where the wheat beer won hands down, as everyone’s favorite! Oh…and forgot to mention the Pretzel!

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Next we strolled on along the lake towards the Chinese tower, or Chinesischer Türm, another beer garden, only to have “German beer, in a Chinese Tower, in an English garden in Bavaria”!!

Chinescher Turm
Chinescher Turm


There were plenty of fun rides for the little one as well as the oldest carousel in town! It was pleasing to see carefree children enjoying the mud and puddles without over –protective hovering parents.

We appreciated the Pfand system. You pay a deposit for the Stein, and after you finish, you go back with the empty mug and Pfandmarke (token) to get back 2€ per mug!!

From here, we got a little lost, wandered a little and eventually reached the Eisbach welle, after following some soaking wet students on the bus.

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The Eisbach is a man made standing wave, that all young surfers come to practice and show off. The vicarious exhilaration of watching black clad surfers taking up the challenge of surf’s up was just awesome!!

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Another short bus-ride brought us back to Karlplatz, from where we walked through Viktualienmarkt- a food market which was closed on Sunday, to Marienplatz, where luckily the breweries weren’t.



Marien Platz
Marien Platz

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At Andechser am Dom, we sampled (probieren) some of their monastery beers, had a Käse Spätzle  (another vegetarian dish- just like Gnocchi, but smaller and made of cheese), Butter and Spargel (asparagus) and Nuremberg sausages. The food was one amongst the best on the trip.


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We then walked to Chocolaterie Beluga (used a Munich map app) and had their chocolate sticks dipped into hot milk.. The orange and cinnamon chocolate was good, but the rum and chocolate was under-whelming.

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Finally on a loaded tummy, waves of somnolence washed over us and with aching limbs, we trudged back to our beds, tucking in early!


Summer of 2015- The Plan!

So the travel pangs began…it had been 9 months since the last big holiday and the urge of being in a different land, amidst foreign folks, breathing a lungful of exotic aromas was too overpowering! So hubby and I started casual chit-chat about which continent, which country. Which sites we would love to see and capture? Since, I was dying to see Munich, one place that DH had been to, without me 😉  and since DH was trifling through Beer at present, we decided on Bavaria!!

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Usually during the planning stage, I just sip coffee and DH burns the midnight oil. And usually I rise, just near full term to say ‘Why not this and why not there’, completely baffling my sweet husband! So for the last couple of trips, he has started to bombard me with links and itineraries so that I’m part of “The Plan” right from the word go.
One such link took me to Rick Steve’s Itinerary which included Bavaria, The Black Forest, Berchtesgaden, and Lauterbrunnen with the most beautiful, and tantalizing photos. Just looking at those pictures of Lauterbrunnen gave me goosebumps! That’s how we added Switzerland to the trip which expanded to Montreux (as some of you know by now, a trip to a wine region on a holiday is sort of mandatory), Cochem- the German Wine region on the Mosel River, to Bamberg- home to the Smokey Rausch Beer and added some short trips to Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgaden and R’o’d’t (will expand later).

This is how we eventually did it! In and out of Germany, Skirting through Austria, through peak commute in Switzerland, and detouring through French-Alsace & Lorraine!

Along the way, my In-laws joined the bandwagon and we were set to go in the month of June, far from the maddening heat in Delhi.

DH, during the trip, had the mammoth task of balancing the needs and demands of the baby, the grand-babies, the whimsical wife, and the Taciturn Sister; some of them being Teetotalers, vegetarians, nature lovers, shopping addicts, and foodies..Ha!!