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!


Pacific Highway

By Sri

Pacific Highway -One of the most scenic highways in the world!

This was our second trip to the “west coast” and we had decided to do all those things that we missed out on, last time…

The one road trip I was looking forward to was California Route 1, the Pacific highway from LA to SF.. We planned on breaking our journey in two places before reaching San Francisco..
My initial choice of Paso Robles, was shot down by DW saying ” we aren’t again going to some wine country.. We have got to think of something beyond wine!”.. 

So the next best way station was San Luis Obispo, the so called “happiest little town in America”. One of our friends cautioned against staying there, saying it had a near 100% caucasian population, & that they don’t take too well to Indians.. Our experience, was thankfully very good.. 

We started our road trip with the mandatory fight between the navigator and driver (DW& me).. Our GPS was trying to take us to San Luis Obispo through highway 101, a more interstate like road and boring.. We finally hit on the solution, of asking for places we knew were on highway 1 including Malibu.. If we weren’t in a hurry to reach before sunset, we would have stopped for a drink!!

Our route wound through the wine country of the Central Valley (DW finally smiled n said… one more trip through a wine region!!)

We rushed to catch the sunset on the Pismo beach…and managed to reach, just in time..getting directions from a helpful lady, park warden!! what a spectacular site…,  DW had some creative photography ideas and made me jump about a hundred times to catch my silhouette..

We stayed at the Quality Inn suites, a spacious, two room suite, and would probably enjoy travelling with family here.. They had a reasonable breakfast including hot items (eggs, waffles, sausages etc), and a wine cheese hour..

We got a very good recommendation for dinner from the reception, at a fine dining restaurant called the Novo fact we spent Christmas eve at this restaurant.. loved the creekside seating with tables interspersed with heaters and lamps.. DW had a Thai curry, while I had a lavender lamb chop with local ale.. Pretty good experience.. 

Next morning, again set out towards Pismo beach, but for the Monarch butterfly grove.. To see the annual migration of butterflies.. 

At first look through the provided telescopes, we saw what looked like dry, brown leaves.. 

That, with the kiss of the first rays of sunshine, opened out to the brilliant orange and black of clusters of butterflies.. 

We had apparently been seeing the dull brown undersurface of the folded wings, mistaking them for leaves!! We spent a good one & half hours at the grove before moving on to our next destination, Morro rock.

The Morro rock was named so by the Portugese, due to its fancied resemblance to the top of a Moors head. A volcanic plug, one of the nine sisters between Morro bay and San Luis Obispo, we wanted to visit it because of its picturesque vista, and because volcanic plugs, are the closest to dangerous pimples.. They are solidified volcanic rocks IN the vent of an active volcano.. This pimple can sometimes lead to enormous, build up of pressure of magma, and an explosion!! The Salinan & Chumash tribes are the only people allowed to climb it, so we took pictures from afar and drove on..

Our next stop, just happened to be a a very picturesque cliff side place, called the Rocky Point restaurant Initially a pit stop, we wandered through the gift shop, had a coffee, soaked in some awe-inspiring vistas….and then…chanced upon a beautiful humming bird close to the parking lot.. Actually DWs sharp eyes spotted the bird..That made our day..

We next made our way to Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park.. saved some bucks by parking on the road side (weren’t the only ones..), and trekked to an impressive view point.. Looking out to a beautiful water fall ..on a beach.. 

After the mandatory photos, we proceeded once again on the scenic, Pacific highway, headed towards the destination for the day, Pacific Grove, our second stop over on pacific highway! here we were booked into the Seven Gables Inn- ..this was THE most beautiful B&B we have ever stayed in.. 

This b&b is a converted manor, with the carriage house, main house and the bath house made into separate room clusters..

All rooms have incredible views of the ocean, situated on the coast, along a scenic trail and right next to the Lovers point.. INCREDIBLE!!

Probably the most romantic breakfast as well.. Some of the other guests apparently sited some humpbacks, from lovers point! Well, we had no such luck…also we did not really spend time looking!! 

When we first reached the b&b, in the evening.. the instructions were set out like a treasure hunt. Being Christmas, everyone in the b&b had left.. We found a note at the front door to go around the house to the office, where we found a packet addressed to us.. Then we trekked all the way around to the front door.. Lugged our luggage upstairs and settled into the cozy room, soaking in the vista!!

…Dinner turned out to be a sad affair…as we made a big mistake choosing a Thai restaurant called the “Thai Bistro”on the recommendations of Tripadvisor, and against that of Yelp.. Plastic chairs, fishy smells, and average food.. obviosuly the very short drive back was dark & gloomy..

The next morning, I woke up at sunrise, to a BIG hug from DW.. I was her hero!! She loved the room and the views.. 

.. Warned by the previous nights experience, we went to a “Yelp” recommended bike store, “Adventures by the sea” rather than Blazing Saddles recommended by Tripadvisor .. got some unexpected help with parking from an elderly gentleman, who lent us dimes for putting in the parking meter..

We started biking along the 17 mile scenic drive. This first runs through the city and passes by multiple turn-outs and view points.. It was cold and windy, and hence we didn’t realize how much we pumped our muscles, we ended up doing a respectable 9 miles, and then turned back at a steep hill.. but all of it was worth it!!

We then went to the “outlets” (had to appease a, by-now tiring, irritable DW), bought shoes for DW, socks, and a cute loose change purse in the shape of a sock, had lunch, and headed back..  In time for the Wine  cheese hour at Seven Gables Inn.. DW was initially reluctant to come, but once there got into the spirit of it.. Partly the wine and partly good company had her become the center of conversation.. 

Shortly after, we left for dinner at a recommended restaurant.. “Fandango” This turned out to be quite a good meal.. We shared some delicious dishes including a pasta, and an incredible bottle of wine, Pinot Noir, recommended by the manager.. Paraiso Vineyards, Sta. Lucia Highlands, 2007! 

Probably because of the exertion during Biking plus the suuperadded effect of wine (? dehydration, metabolite disturbance), DW had a very scary episode of calf and thigh pain, that night! So bad that we had to put the suitcases and bags on her legs to compress.. somehow the phase passed, after pain killers n water.. n we were thanking god!!  

Next day we met up with a good friend, C, who picked us up from pacific grove..n then we drove off to SF with him.. He enjoyed the wine of the dinner past, and the ambience of the inn.. It was nice being with a nice friend on a trip..

Spanish Siesta… Arrival at Madrid…June 2009

By Sri.

Spain brings warm sunny and lazy siestas to mind.. Partying with sangria and tapas.. White villages.. Flamenco..

I made a fanciful plan of biking Andalusia, with family -dad, mom, sis, n DW…searched and found a conference in Spain, but alas, the timing of the conference coincided with peak summer.. 
I then thought of getting a spanish travel agent to book a trip for me, DW, parents and sister.. The final quote from the agent was too high.. Like all typical agents, he said five people.. You ll need a van, a driver, a tour guide.. So only Andalusia was about 3,700€, and Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia (the location of the conference) would be another bomb..
Then my parents backed out, and we won a citation for top ten e-posters, and we had to go…
The high point that I definitely wanted us to do was to drive through the back roads of Andalucia, see some white villages, try some tapas, get the feel of spanish wine and sherry..

Day 1- Arrival at Madrid via Paris

Our trip had a recurring theme.. Sacrifice.. It started off from when we deplaned at Paris, forgot our inflatable neck pillow.. Then to make things better, we found that we had to reach a terminal on the other side of the airport, within 45 minutes.. I had almost resigned myself  to miss the flight, but asked someone at security.. And lo and behold! We got a demonstration of how helpful the French can be.. We were spurred on in the que by successive helpful people, along with short dialogues in french.. And we reached our plane in time!!! Yay!!
Next when we landed in Madrid,  I lifted our brand new clam shell, hard bodied suitcase off the carousel, with the shell in splinters.. Dropping off as we loaded it into the pre booked shuttle.. The driver saying “Do you knowsyour suitcase is broken”.. And the same dialogue from the bellhop at the Viena Suites, Madrid.. 

Vienna suites is located just 500 mts from Templo-DeBod  and close to Plaza De Espana (Plaza Mayor). Saw the famour Plaze Del Sol, from the shuttle ride to the hotel. 

The broken .suitcase brought us on the first jet lagged trip to El Cortes Ingles, a supermercado chain in the whole of spain.. While  looking for suitcases, I asked DW what colour and size do we need, and typically, she shows me a mind numbingly fluorescent orange suitcase, that we would never mistake…
Then we had our first struggle at a Macdonalds.. No veggie burgers.. So he just pulled out the chicken patty, and gave us a limp burger, with a wilted lettuce, and a cheese slice.. Predictably, I rebelled, and made sure we had a more conventional margherita pizza with wine and cold water.. We then went all along the main street trying to find a shop that would sell us a sim card.. With our newly acquired broken, pidgin Spanish!!
Our by stop was the Templo Debod, a temple transplanted from Egypt when the Aswan dam was built.. DW had seen a screensaver of the temple lit up at night before coming, (who said she doesn’t research our trips :)! ) The temple was within walking distance from our hotel, but we were not impressed in the bright and harsh Spanish sun.. 
..We decided to come back at sunset ..( 2230hrs!!). Our visit at night was ethereal.. Heightened for some reason by our day time visit.. The shimmering, lit up temple looked beautiful, and the obligatory pics were beautiful!!
We checked out some interesting local fruit shop, where we found some tart, but pretty, translucent red fruits in addition to the usual oranges (naranja!!) .. 


Day 2- Madrid Sightseeing-Palacio Real, Thyssen & Prado museums

Next morning after a breakfast of Danone, Iberico Jamon, veggie pie and toast, we set out to see the Royal Palace or Palacio Real, after a short subway ride.. 

….I dont  remember too much of the palace, except the session we had with the circular polarizer outside the palace  (cpl cuts out scattered light, showing only straight light rays, and revealing true colours in harsh sunlight), and the modelling session I persuaded DW to get into… For some reason, I like taking pics of DW!!

…and she…Mine…!

After this, we traipsed over to the Thyssen museum, recommended as a well organized museum of conventional art..

On the way we had our first ever, Churros Con Choclate.. “oh so yum and delicious “ expressed by DW!!

..unfortunately, didn’t think of clicking a picture at that time… so this one’s being shared from the net…

At Thyssen …we took the audio-self guided tour and loved learning about various aspects of paintings, and I could show off in front of DW , I knew what INRI, under the crucifix meant.. Ieses Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum-(Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews).. This museum was like art of the world101.. 
Next .. with a ravenous appetite..we headed for a vegetarian restaurant called “Al Natural “.. widely rated on Trip Advisor as one of the best… and we were not disappointed!

Then we reluctantly trudged to the Prado museum……, both our novice brains fried with too much art in too much heat… And then two things happened.. One, just as we started going to the (short) que for buying tickets, we noticed the loooong que close by.. I followed Dennis the Menace’s famous poster.. When in doubt, ask!!.. And several people helpfully told us the long que was for the free entry one hour later, and  the short (almost empty) que was the paid one.. We decided to cut our losses and see some more art for free.. And then clouds came out and winds caressed our faces.. It was like god saying, “bachcha, you did the right thing”…

When we entered the museum, DW promptly went to the souvenier shop.. Cos we had noticed in the Thyssen museum that the best paintings had post cards and prints in the shop.. 

..We discovered Joaquin Sorolla, an awesome Spaniard, Impressionist..who loved to paint water, oceans, rivers, and reflections of people, children, maidens.. You have to see a painting to understand the beauty of his watercolours, how he manages to get a translucent sheen and see through effect..

“Promenade on the beach.”. one of our favorites.. shared form the Net… 

Trudging our way back to the hotel, after a long day…happended to see yet another Madrid landmark, the Metropolis building or the “Edificio Metropolis”.. all lit up and majestic!


Lake district bit of Uk tour- 2010

By Sri.

Next day we regretfully left Mr Paul Burroughs and Ivy house behind, to start our trip to Lake district.. 

While looking up Lake district, I had spent a, huge amount of time trying to figure out where to stay… most hotels and B&bs were too expensive, as we would have to book two to three rooms. Finally I chanced upon a cottage- Winster cottage at Masons arms, Strawberry Banks, Carmel.. The rub was that this cottage was situated above a pub, and again I had to quieten the apprehensions of the family.. They were pretty fatalistic about it in the end.. Something on the lines of .. “ok..we hope you know what you are doing!!” This place is off the usual touristy areas, and after traversing some thickly wooded areas, with the road winding through smalls hills and dales, we finally made it..
And despite everyone’s apprehensions.. It was fantastic.. A huge multi bedroom cottage with lovely skylights, bunk beds in one room, wooden floors, well equipped kitchen… you could choose to go self catering or ask for meals..


The cottage had a separate entrance overlooking the most dazzling vista, rolling hills and ditzy sheep gambolling in the rain.. And what with the temperatures plunging down, we loved it.. not a wee bit of noise from the pub nearby…We even liked the wooden floored bathroom, great for cold mornings.. The minor hiccough was one bathroom for all of us, but it was fine..

My surprise for everyone, was the dinner at “Masons arms”. I bamboozled everyone by getting everyone to wait outside while the table was set up.. Had an ale or two..Then trooped upstairs…

They had actually reserved a huge dining table (that could have seated 12 for the five of us) in a private dining room!! The food was good, and the ambience perfect. DW loved that she had the freedom to open a window and enjoy the beautiful weather! The menu was vegetable soup, lasagna, pasta and for me honey glazed ribs.. 

Next day we went to the Windermere tourist centre, got a map and suggested walking route and set out.. 

Saw a bunch of schoolkids launching a yacht under guidance.. And then set course to the next lake.. Ambleside… 

…Somehow I associate Ambleside with a huge scone with cream, blackberry and strawberry compote.. That I successfully divided up into five!!
We decided to make a round of the lakes by car, stopping when it suited us..

We passed by a quiet pretty little, english village called Grasmere, and I recalled that the ginger bread was good here, so we decided to take a break.. While having pizzas, and looking for ginger bread, we noticed two ladies having a triple cone of ice cream..Mom being the intrepid person she is, went up to them, cheerfully talked to them and asked them where they got their ice creams from.. We promptly set out and had this ice creams.. And we have  pictures to prove it..

One of the most beautiful of all the lakes in this car ride was Ullswater.. Its the second largest lake, and when we went there.. Empty of tourists.. Tranquil with ducks coasting quietly and hills in the background. DW insisted on getting down to take a pic of this tranquil lake..
In the evening, we took the walking trail, upto the windermeyer lake. We traipsed along the winding path, crossing houses, forests, and fields till we finally came to the lake.. We spent some time by the lake.. 
The next day we set course for Scotland.. Our GPS went crazy, and routed us through tiny hamlets and villages, with steep one-car-worthy roads.. You could almost imagine everyone using cycles to get around.. Till we finally reached a main road.. The two most frustrating statements our Aussie accented GPS would say, about a km after a turn.. “recalculating..” And ” lost satellite reception”!
Somehow, there’s not much to write about Lake district,..but our memories, and the incredible photos say tons more!

London, Cotswalds & Lake District part of our UK trip…Summer of 2010

By Sri.
The London and Cotswolds  part of our UK trip (summer 2010)

Our family of five, started our trip from london, ..  We had this division of uneven numbers… which proves difficult while trying to find accommodations in Europe! 

I had repeatedly warned parents and DW to pack light… Little did I know that the parents would pack a world of food stuffs… All because of some misguided vegetarian people who told them “you won’t get anything to eat”! Someone told my Mom “I took a pressure cooker with three kg rice when I went for a month”… I didn’t want to offend my parents by calling their friends morons!!

We made a mistake in deciding to stay at a friend’s B&B in Romford.. Though we experienced homely comfort there…, we missed out on the feel of the city! The one hour transit time by tube meant that we were more interested in getting back home than to explore the night life. 

Having said that, we did have some fun in London.. Our first impression was pathetic.. London was going through a heat wave, and we didn’t appreciate the heat, coming from sweltering Delhi… … But eventually being fun loving, we enjoyed our trip..

The high “touristy” points were a visit to the Tower of London, St Paul’s, Buckingham palace and Trafalgar square.. 

The tower of London was partly eerie, partly tranquil, and worth the trip.. The memorial at the scaffold had these words.
‘Gentle visitor pause awhile : where you stand death cut away the light of many days : here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life : may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under these restless skies”

We got on to the HO HO bus and also did the “Thames river cruise”.. Our experience was mixed.. You do get to see more of the city this way, but miss out on people interactions.. And miss out on food, great photo ops..

                                 …not to forget the quintessential London tube…

Hungry, after a day of walking, we ended up at Trafalgar square, we asked a man on the street, for the closest, wholesome food..  And his recommendation was spot on.. We landed up in the Sherlock Holmes pub in Northumberland Avenue.. It started off bad… with mother and sister mumbling darkly about the follies of these men folk… Thoughts of drunken orgies and unsafe trip back home.. (This despite my telling mom repeatedly that pubs are great places for vegetarian wholesome food and nothing like pubs in India!)

Our experience..Two vegetarian soups of the day, two pies with vegetables, a side of a salad, and beans and everyone was full!! I even got to try some ale with dad… I wanted him to try some pale and Golden ales.. And I m glad to say he really liked them..

Another great “foodogasmic” experience was the Burrough market, which we visited one evening! We sauntered into a very famous cheese shop called Neal’s yard Dairy, where we sampled and bought a variety of “oh-so-yum” cheese n crackers!

..right from mushrooms, truffles, flavoured olive oils, vegetables, fresh foods…meat…and baked goodies!

.….sampled a couple of Ales at The Market Porter…

Spent an evening shopping on Oxford and park streets…which was a drag for me n dad but a highlight for the ladies!!

Unfortunately, couldn’t see much of theatre in London or the parks.. But surely..Next time!!
After London, we took our car from the same company we used in Spain,, and drove off to the Cotswolds.. The heart of England..
Stonehenge was definitely on a priority visit list, as we had seen enough pictures, in magazines and online and were enamoured by it….but after reaching there, somehow.. was majorly disappointed… it was a very hot, sunny day…long queues…ended up taking pics and continuing on..

We managed to see a few white chalk horses.. Large white horses painted on hills by ancestors.. now maintained by locals..

Thereafter we went to Salisbury on DWs insistence.. (I had got DW to read the Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, about a cathedral builder in Salisbury, Thomas Beckett etc..). 

Eventually this was one place we were happy to visit.. a tranquil cathedral, despite its enormity and popularity… Had lunch at a Pizza Hut, with pizzas better than the generic pizzas we were used to..

the Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest Church spire in the United Kingdom!

Along the way, we tried tender great english and scottish strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries!!

Onwards to Cirencester from Salisbury, where we were staying at the Ivy house B&b.. An incredible and very warm welcome and great stay.. We were in touch with Paul, our host from the beginning, and he gave me plenty of helpful tips.. Their lovely beds, hot chocolate and cookies by the bedside and incredible hot breakfasts had my parents impressed.. In fact all through the trip, Paul became the gold standard of a B&b owner..

One odd thing.. My appetite while driving was almost double normal. So I gorged on omelettes, crisp bacon, sausages, baked tomatoes and hash browns, granola with curd, and coffee… Whew! I got exhausted writing that down…

We liked Bourton so much that we came twice, once with the peak of tourist traffic, and secondly in the evening.. After getting disappointed by our visit at Moreton.. (Our experience of reaching a place to find everything closed down at 5 O’clock was the norm.)The difference was that many of the parking spots had mechanical bollards that could be lifted up… We parked in a side lane, went to a flea market, didn’t buy some fabulous crockery, and tried some great chocolates instead… Rhubarb, and marmalade flavors !! We had dinner at a place I recalled having read about..

We did go to the college dining hall where harry potter’s famous, Hogwarts dining hall ,was shot.. It looked much smaller than the movie!!

Afterwards I persuaded dad to try out a golden ale.. I love the look that comes on dads face, whenever he tastes something  good.. Be it a cheese, chocolates, a curry or an unexpected great ale

                                  .. punting on oxford’s river

We climbed back into the bus drove back home tired and satisfied…

Next day, we planned to visit Bath.. To not only see The Roman Baths, but also have some typical English tea, with crumpets and scones.. A word about scones.. I developed an obsession for scones, with butter, blueberry compote, cream and fresh berries.. And I didn’t want to only eat.. I wanted everyone to wallow in the fruits, the scones, the carrot cakes…

I made everyone traipse up to the tea room on the first floor after checking out menus in multiple such small tea rooms.. 

When we got back to the b&b, I finally realized how much my parents had brought along …just in case…. We decorated one King size bed with all the food.. And it was crazy.. Every day I wanted to go out and try out the local cuisine, I d get” we ve got so much stuff,why dont you eat here”…

Wine country trail –Napa and Sonoma Valleys- Sept 2008

By Sri.

What do you visualize when you think of Wine country- green sun kissed hills, grape vines everywhere, rustic sceneries etc.. Well that’s what DW thought when I started planning. We were travelling to San Francisco for a conference, and she insisted that we visit Napa Valley. 

Little did she know, the ground realities- wine tasting, sip, spit and swallow, cautionary notes to drink plenty of water (one glass of water for each tasting of wine)  and to have plenty of crackers. 

The first she came to know was when she caught me practicing spitting water into the bathroom sink from three feet away. Aghast, she asks me, “ what are you trying to do?”, with emphasis on the trying.

I explained all the fine points of wine tasting, gleaned over reading on the internet, and few books. I also showed her three wine bottles that I had bought to start the wine appreciation experience., including wine-food pairing. We discovered that having a green apple before wine, makes any wine taste nasty, while having cheese before wine makes any wine tasty!!

My trip planning started off with looking at places to stay in Napa town, St Helena and thereabouts. The prices were prohibitive, and I wasn’t  sure that we wanted to spend so much. (After discovering  what wine country would probably look like on Google maps Street view, DW was a little put off). Finally I chanced upon a gem of a town- Calistoga, at the northern most part of Napa valley, at the foot of the palisade mountains; more rustic in nature, with mud baths, biking trails, and at the same time, some nice restaurants within walking distance. I also wanted to incorporate as many Non Winey things in the trip as possible to keep my DW interested in the trip! 

Muir Woods

We drove from San Francisco Airport, towards Muir Woods- a national forest, with impressive California redwoods- these trees procreate only after some disaster like a forest fire or lightning strike!!. One felt dwarfed by these towering trees.

Stinson Beach

Then onwards to Stinson Beach- a beautiful locale to slowly unwind after our conference.

Our winery visit started off with Cline Cellars, a subsidiary of the Jacuzzi family- apparently the same family that receives a royalty for each Jacuzzi sold! Interesting wines and olive oils – both flavoured and extra virgin Olive oils- the first time I could taste the difference between Spanish and Italian Olive oils. 

We next stopped off at the Sonoma Cheese Factory for lunch- tasted atleast 5 different types of cheeses each, and then ordered some sandwiches. We had by now got late for our next booking- a wine food pairing that I was really looking forward to, in Sonoma valley. We tried calling them up but couldnt get through.

Next stop was the BR Cohn winery-the three most memorable things about this winery were – the wine infused chocolate fudge, lemon wasabi paste and Doobie Red (the Doobie Brothers, an American rock band, whose manager owns this winery). 

the country side…

 Then we were supposed to got to the Petrified Forest in the northern most part of Sonoma,
close to Healdsberg, but we kind of gave it a miss (rather I missed the turn off- being too tense to reach our B&B by 6pm). A reminder- most wineries close by about 5pm, so try to plan your day accordingly. Some friends of ours went to Napa valley, after hearing about it from us, but reached about 4:45pm, and we get a phone call (at about 2am India time)- where do we go now; what to do??

DW, biking…

We relaxed the first night, and set out the next morning for my activity of the day- 7 hours of biking and wine tasting. 

I had researched this self biking tour on Tripadvisor, and the experience was every bit as good as we wanted it. We
were advised to buy biking shorts, that DW bought (glad at the end of the day) for 130$, given a bunch of water bottles, a map and a wrist band and sent on our way. 

 We visited a total of 7 wineries, and it was fun!! In one of the wineries, the
lady made us taste wine before and after cherry tomatoes, dark and white chocolate and cheese, and it was a “Eureka” movement for us!

Another place had small bushes of different wine varietals to actually taste, including Viognier, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. It was fun to taste the thick skinned wine grapes, and try to then go into the tasting room and understand why each varietal produces a corresponding wine.

This entire trip led to a close at 5:00pm, when the last guy graciously reopened his tasting room for us- an enthusiastic guy.  He kept asking DW, “So what do you taste in this wine?”… Tired after a day of heat (high 30 degree celsius), trying out about 23-24 different wines, and coming up with new adjective each time… She finally says” it tastes like wine!!”

Anyway, after this long and exhausting bike and wine tasting, we had a well deserved pizza and coke, and then headed back to the B&B. Here we indulged in a wine & cheese session with the host. DW had been hesitant about going for a mud bath, mainly due to hygiene issues. Things like – “ are we going into some mud that someone else has lain in… No, not me”. But talking to all the people there, we kind of got interested in the mud bath thingy. Our host, Nick  then promptly booked us in the Golden Haven Mud Spa for Couples.

We toddled off to the spa, and after registering and changing, we were led into a room, with a shower, the actual mud bath and an adjacent jacuzzi. We were advised to shower and then lie down on the mud, wriggle ourselves into the mud bath! That was a unique experience- I promptly wriggled myself in, while DW spent the first five minute ON the mud, thinking that she’d sink in. Probably due to the high salt content of the mud, one tends to float within the bath. The overall feeling is similar to a baby in the womb or an astronaut in space. After the mud bath, and the jacuzzi bath, we were wrapped up from neck to toe in towels and left to lie down for 25 minutes. One tends to sweat like crazy being wrapped up like that!

Finally when we walked out, we felt like we were walking on air!! We were so tired and exhilarated, that we decided to skip dinner and go to the B&B. Spent dinner time, wolfing down Cinnamon rolls & Muffins and reading some interesting nature magazines.

Next day, was our appointment in the Round Pond, Rutherford a unique farm where they produce olive oil and vinegar, and have a tasting session.

I had read about this place on the Chowhound, and was really looking forward to this visit. As usual, we got late getting ready, lost our way once, reached the winery instead of the olive mill and finally reached the mill half an hour late. Our hostess graciously accomodated us in the tasting (without charge) and then took us for a brief look around the facility. I had already shown and practiced with DW the way to taste wine vinegar- soak a sugar cube with vinegar, and put into your mouth- the sugar cube negates the tart taste of the vinegar and you can taste the underlying winey taste. Olive oil on the other hand needs to be slurped, and swilled and then a small suck of air through your rolled tongue gives you the underlying flavors!

Frog’s Leap Winery

After Round Pond, we went to the Frog’s Leap winery, a unique winery using dry and organic farming. So the tour was not just about grapes, but about veggies, how they use natural pesticides (like chillies) to keep pests away. The experience was informative, fun and very interesting, with a Basket ball hoop shooting in the middle of the tour.

Napa City

After this we went around to the Honig winery, where we had an interesting young girl showed us the difference in wine vintages. The same grape, same winery, same hill, but different vintages (2007, 2005 and 2002) tasted totally different. One got to understand the progression from “loud and fruity” to “smooth and velvetty” with years.

By this time we were running late for the planned lunch at the St Helena hospital, Deer park.. We missed a  couple of turns  and finally decided to drive over to Napa.. It was probably 12-13 miles by the Silverado  trail, but we reached there in no time.. We finally went to the  Taylors autimatic refresher, for their milk shakes and salad ( turned out  to be three  types of leaves.. Felt like cows!!

We then went to the Oxbow public market. Sort of a farmers market, with emphasis on good and wine, within a large warehouse like area.

By now tired, DW asked to be taken home.. We then had the unique experience of dinner at 7:00 in broad daylight.. An american concept.. We had dinner at Jole, a modern American restaurant, small portions, farm fresh, and interesting vegetarian dishes made just for us..

The next day was a drive back to SFO airport, enroute to Las Vegas. We saw an interesting phenomenon.. A traffic light was not working, but everyone followed a simple principle. The first car to reach a crossing got right of way, followed by the next car in the opposite lane. Smooth and without a single horn blown..

Back to San Francisco….

Cool and fun, that was our experience in Napa valley..

A family vacation to England 2010- Scotland

How this trip started.

Dear Hubby wanted to do a gastro tour of the UK n scotland. We had been planning a holiday with my in laws since forever… 
So finally, our friendly neighbourhood trip planner started off..

Initially DH wanted to do Edinburgh, Speyside and some isles as part of a whisky trail.. I let him dream on and plan on… Then two months before leaving I asked him what else would we do in Craigallachie, Speyside.. And I got..”we could play golf, maybe see some castles..”. I tried to bring him slowly to earth.. Four of the five us don’t drink whisky, and if he was driving, neither would he :)..

Back to the drawing board..Along the way, I heard from one of my friends about Arran Aromatics, and it took a few gentle nudges to shift our trip northward.. Some complaints later..”we aren’t getting accommodation for five people”, to which I quipped, why not drive through… A few days of grumbles, and looking up ferry schedules and we were set.
We eliminated Loch Ness (a big lake without any Nessie), Inverness (who wants to visit a war memorial), and sundry other tourist places.

After struggling with train schedules, and trying to get us on the Harry Potter train ( we’d end up wasting a day going there, and promptly getting back), DH decided to rent a car.. We heard awful tales about how bad the roads were and how foolish we were to cram so much into so less time, but after doing it I can only say that the roads were be-u-tiful.. A pleasure to drive without a single bump, even in the most remote villages..

I felt that driving at one’s own pace also gives one, freedom to tweak your itinerary if something interesting comes by…and a lot more adventurous…like driving the car into a giant ferry to cross a bay, and ability to explore the islands which can’t be done otherwise.

William Wallace monument 

We wanted a mix of Highland and Island experience and started our Scotland trip from Stirling, reaching here, from the Lake District on Day 1. This is a beautiful small town with the William Wallace monument as a highlight.

our tour guide.. guy posing as wallace for last 50 yrs…

River Forth.. spectacular view of Stirling, from atop the William Wallace monument

We decided upon a night stay here as we wanted to catch the next morning ferry to Isle of Arran from Ardrossan, which is a short distance from here

Relying heavily on trip advisor recommendations, we booked 2 rooms at Argyll House B & B, While only few hours away from Stirling, we, as a routine, called up Argyll house to announce our impending arrival. Our, to-be host, Joan seemed very surprised on the phone, as she didn’t have any such booking in her calender. Why I am mentioning this at all, is to highlight that, despite making bookings way in advance, one can be in for a mighty surprise! 
Thankfully, Joan was an exceptionally friendly lady who despite the mix up, went out of her way to arrange for rooms to host our family, in her friend’s B & B’s. Here, I may mention that the makeshift arrangement was in no way inferior to the standard we were expecting and we had a comfortable nights stay!

On her recommendation, we had one of the most outstanding meals of the entire, month-long, England trip in this small town of Stirling, at a local gastro-pub called “Birds n Bees” .. a must try!!

Next morning, DH was sweating bricks, because we had to reach the port of Ardrossan on time, en route to Arran…
Predictably, a wrong loop on the highway.. and we were in the middle of a bustling jam in Glasgow, (which we had planned to bypass) at peak commute time! Somehow, extricated ourselves from the mess and reached the port on time…


At Ardrossan, we positioned our car at the driver of the que, all the while hoping that someone else would be ever first person driving in.. The ferry itself was a humungous ship that offloaded 121 vehicles, including cars, trucks, trailers… When the time for boarding came, predictably we were asked to lead the way, and it actually turned out to be a breeze… Very well coordinated.. By the time we had parked, put the hand brake down and informed the sailors that someone behind us hadn’t put on the hand break.. Everyone was loaded and set to go..

After landing we promptly put Arran aromatics in our GPS.. and toddled off.. Bought a load of toiletries, tried about eight types of cheese at the creamery next door (including chilli, pepper, garlic, burnt onion, grape!) 

 We then drove around the island (it’s a miniature island with a kind of ring road encircling it..) and seeing the change in micro-climate from point to point.

We then drove around the island (it’s a miniature island with a kind of ring road encircling it..) and seeing the change in micro-climate from point to point.


 From Arran.. we crossed back to mainland via another ferry (Claonaig- Lochranza) ..which was a mini-adventure on its own.. We got so  busy soaking in the beauty of Arran..that we nearly missed our ferry from Claonaig!! When we reached the port, we saw the ferry already pulling out and our hearts nearly skipped a beat as we hadn’t booked a nightstay on Arran, which is such a small place anyway… Luckily brought attention to ourselves by a couple of car honks and one wouldn’t believe.. they brought the ferry back for us!! Can  anything be sweeter than that!! (BTW, DH insists on mentioning that he had honked so frantically, because he’d read on a blog of this ferry being helpful enough to accommodate people !)

…and so we reached Oban in the evening… This is one of the most beautiful drives as well as a very beautiful quaint bay town…. All the more so because we had very low expectations.. It’s often described as a fishing town!

Here, we stayed on for two a manor like B&B, 

 Kilchrenan House. 

Very scenic with awesome views of the bay! This is a large B&B, with permanent staff, and near hotel like service.. DH, and dad appreciated the sherry and whisky after chilly walks.. Breakfast was black porridge and haggis and oats with whisky and cream for DH, and more civilised offerings for us.. Btw, DH had also made Atholl Brose, a concoction with oats, cream, honey and whisky in India… Resembling Baileys irish cream in taste…

There are multiple day trips from here to other islands like isle of Mull where u can do birding.. Golfing and stuff! Oban also has a famous distillery with some high end single malt whisky by the same name. DH and dad went for a tour while we ladies shopped….Oban happened to be the first place in England, after London, where we found some shops open after 5 p.m!!  Bought loads of Scotland trivia here, clan patterned mufflers, golf balls n likes.. Also had a superdelicious blueberry pancake that could fill the tummies of 5, by itself!

We had a good dinner at a local restaurant we remember as “Kua Mua” actually called Cuan Mor..

Oban at dusk!
Oban in the morning

From Oban, we started on day 4 and drove towards Isle of Skye via Kyle of lochalsh.. Amongst one of the most scenic drives of Scotland! On the way we saw the fairytale castle of Eileen Donan, and passed some very picturesque..Glens and Dales.  

Serendipitously, (again DH corrects me that he had eyeballed this festival, and even sent me a mail on this) on the way, caught the Glengarry highland games,, which was a very authentic Scottish experience! Other than the Bagpipes, the games, the races, also saw a Dog show, here! Fun filled 3 hours!! 

If you are a “Harry Potter” buff, you could alternatively take the famous train to Hogwarts. This train journey, I think begins and ends at Fort Mason and requires pre-booking as well as a day at your disposal. We couldn’t, unfortunately, fit this in our schedule but it’s again highly recommended!

Reached Skye by evening, after taking as many stops on the way, as possible and spent two nights in Skye. Staying at Skye is way better, again to soak in the place and I would highly recommend the B & B called Carter’s Rest,, one of the top rated ones on tripadvisor! 

The Hosts here are friendly and welcoming and have a sense of humor!

Awesome view from the breakfast table at the B & B, Carter’s rest

Room at Carter’s Rest

This is if you are a nature lover wanting only peace, serenity and beauty to surround yourself. If you would rather see the main points and move on, you can see the city of Portree, the Talisker distillery, the Neist Point lighthouse and some famous waterfalls there.

We got dragged to the Talisker distillery by DH, but along the way had some brilliant “pub food”.. A biryani look alike called Nasi Goreng.. At the “Old Inn” at Carbost, along with some awesome coffee..

breathtaking Skye

Neist Point

Nasi Goreng

IIn Skye, we both (DH & I) set out at 10:30pm at night, in blinding daylight, with dregs of petrol in the car tank to see the Neist Point lighthouse.. Other than the lighthouse, the crazy scottish sheep and Highland Coos (long haired) cows were the attraction.. Even after so many years of marriage, we drove down there like giggly adolescents, leaving Dad to teach mom Snooker… And DH then got to taste unchilled, filtered Skye whisky (Port Dubhe) thanks to our hosts.. Another aside…our hosts were so sweet that they sent a scarf I had accidentally left behind by courier back home…
Another attraction at Skye included Skye silver, where I got a Jacobite rose earring..

After spending two nights at Isle of Skye and nicely exploring the island, we undertook, what we expected to be an arduous, long tiring journey to Edinburgh, via Pitlochry. But we were pleasantly surprised, as the journey took no time at all and what with all the beauty to behold, it became yet another trip to remember!

On the way, my over enthusiastic hubby with a very supportive “Parents-in-law”, chalked out a personalised whisky Trail (considering it to be a mandatory part of Scottish experience)..and visited small boutique distilleries like Dalwhinnie, adding on to our collection of single malts.

Pitlochry is a small, picture perfect, postcard town and also hosts the smallest Scottish distillery close to it, called Edradour.

We reached Edinburgh by evening. It’s a magnificent city with an old world charm. By the end of the trip, we were so overwhelmed by castles that had no real interest in visiting the Edinburgh castle. Yet, we ended up doing the same, as it is one of the most famous ones!! Zillion things to do in Edinburgh with an evening spent strolling on the royal mile and those underground spooky trips!!

From Edinburgh, caught a train to London (had booked this, way in advance and so got the tickets, dirt cheap for 5 people). On this picturesque train ride, we caught a glimpse of the Alnwick Castle, more famous as the Hogwart’s of “Harry Potter”.

Alnwick castle

Reached King’s Cross station at London, in the evening…did photo-op at the station “9¾”… reached our hotel in a glum mood because another memorable trip was coming to a close. Spent a sleepless night, coz we had to catch the international flight next morning…to Home!

Origin of this winter trip to the West Coast of US.

Our last trip ( Dec- Jan 2011-12) was born on an ordinary, really hot, july evening..when my “dear babes” tells me.. ” Why dont we go somewhere in the winter… we always seem to travel in the summer”.

“Good idea”, Says I. “Where shall we go?” 
“Wrap your plans around a Christmas in San Francisco, and New Year in New York”…
 After nearly 7 years of being blissfully married.. a man learns not to bother reasoning or trying to understand, how a woman’s mind works..right?  Wrong!.. ’cause i did try to understand why we should hop from one coast to the other and got a reasonable answer from babes.. “It SOUNDS perfect”!  

The sort of pics my Babe thinks of around Christmas.. This out of focus dreamy look with circles of light come from using a lens that can … defocus the scene…

Well, I m not really a city kind of guy, so promptly, I started making plans of flying to LA, (which was conveniently skipped from the itinerary of our last west coast trip..) driving along the Pacific Highway (the most scenic drive in that region) till SF, making a detour to Yosemite National Park… and then wrap up NYC in a day or two. 

Predictably, things didnt turn out that way… My plans took about 6 months to make, and in the last two months, Babes got into the travel planning and changed them all around.. and somewhere down the line Yosemite got the ax 🙂
We finally flew into LA and checked ourselves into this beautiful B & B, called the Garden Cottage, The first evening, we met our friendly hosts Bob and Ahuva, who helped us settle in, and gave us some recommendations for dinner. Incidentally, Ahuva loves to talk and so does my wife and we spent a nice time talking about India, spirituality and food! The benefits of vegetarian food and all.. 

The patio seen from the bed

The super comfy high, four poster bed

In our LA trip, we had kept one day for Universal Studios, of course, yours truly had booked the entry passes in advance, and figured out where to park etc..
Like all holidays, we set out late morning, and predictably got stuck in a traffic jam enroute to Universal Studios..  Now our destination, (henceforth called U/S)  the studio is actually 7-8 miles out of LA in Universal city, with about 70% outside the city limits to save taxes .. A 415 acres property divided into an upper lot and lower lot..  First parking.. We decided to park in the preferred parking lot, that was 20$ compared to the regular 10$, as the preferred parking is closer to the U/S..

As we were visiting around Christmas, they had the place decorated, and were promoting a movie called the Grinch, with a giant Grinchmas tree and real snow around it.. Kids really loved it.. 


After walking around for some time, we saw their Waterworld set.. Pretty nice, but probably nothing to compare to the Shamu show in Sea World.. Both places had seats in the first two rows in the Splash zone.. I liked the near authentic feel of the set, the fires, blanks shooting etc.. 

We then strolled down U/S, got the obligatory photos with Dracula, Jaws, and some kiddy cartoon character..

Our next stop was at the Special effects stage, which unfortunately didn’t have the Jurassic park or any major production.. We were amused to be shunted around, while the people with VIP passes got well.. VIP treatment.. We then went to the pizza place.. And funnily enough, what we asked for.. A pizza slice, small fries, & small coke for DW, qualified for a kiddie meal.. I had a beer to qualify for an adult meal!!!

We then went for the Shrek 4d experience.. With rocking theatre seats in rhyme with Prince Charming’s horses hooves, and water droplets coming on your face in time with Shrek’s spit!!

After that we tried out some doughnuts.. Basically U/S seemed like a kids playground.. Sweets, rides, and colours, and favourite cartoon characters.. We then went for the last ride of the day, that took you through recreated sets of the Mummy, Jurassic park, some disaster movies (!) Including a huge plane crash, flooding scenes, etc..

Overall a day full of events.!!

Come evening, we  made our way to the Little Door, a purposefully nondescript fronted restaurant – without a sign, or anything to say what it was.. Just a little door in a wall, that opened to a beautiful patio, with a good fine dining ambience. We sat at the bar and looked at the menu, figured out the choice for DW as a vegetarian was meager, and so sashayed over to the Little Next Door.. a more informal cafe style seating… With the help of our maitre, I had a Grilled Marinated Daurade Fillet, while DW had a French Onion Soup, and we shared a Grilled Vegetables with goat cheese, pinenuts and basil. I can’t somehow get rid of the pronunciation of Do’haaade, that the maitre used to describe the fish… pretty good, especially with pesto liberally rubbed into the fish.

Let me tell you at this point that I am a big foody! Whenever, DW drags me into a “Mall” or a supermarket, I quietly saunter towards the food-groceries section and dive into a delectable soiree.. where I want to buy everything off the shelf!  Babes, calls it the “Kid in a candy store” syndrome that I suffer from! Hence, food is always given priority in my trip planning…after all..Beauty, whether man-made or natural, can’t be appreciated on a less than satisfied tummy!!  
Like i mentioned in the last post, i am a food’a’holic.. so day 2 in LA was planned as such.. 

This morning, after a delectable, breakfast dished by our hosts, seen here in the above picture, we set out on a pre-booked “Hollywood Sites & Bites food tour of LA”, through Tourific escapes Our friend S, also visiting her sister in LA, joined us at the Roosevelt hotel. 

The Roosevelt hotel, is a real classic, the ball room of which was used to host the 1st academy awards in 1929.

Hollywood walk of fame!

Our first stop was a cupcake tasting at Crumbs, the cupcake shop off Grauman’s Chinese Theater!!, atleast 5-6 types of mini cupcakes, followed by a visit to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, followed by detailed descriptions of the Hollywood Walk of fame. 

Next stop was for Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles, with ed Rooster Louisiana hot sauce on the chicken, butter and syrup on the waffles… DW had only the waffles, and wasn’t too impressed. I liked the juicy chicken, and the waffles, separately, but didnt really understand the concept of chicken n waffles.  

Our next stop (whilst taking in loads of info about hollywood, including the fact that most of the really big hollywood actors, seem to hace grown up close to Hollywood!) was John Kelly Chocolates- really loved the different textures, and taste.. adding sea salt to chocolate does satisfy all the tastebuds.  

An interesting stop was at Susan Feniger’s Street. We tried the Tamarind Ginger cooler, Kaya toast (you either love it or hate it… toast, coconut jam, eggs sunny side up, with soy sauce), quinoa fritters, Laundry Day fritters, Millet puffs, etc.. one can imagine…i was one contented soul! 

Kaya Toast

We then made a stop at Greenblatt’s Deli and Wine shop,

Pastrami sandwiches at Goldblatt’s Deli with Black cherry sodas.DW desultorily had some mashed potates and rye bread. 


The last stop of the tour was at Mashti Malones Ice cream, tried the lavender ice cream

We spent rest of the afternoon shopping in the general vicinity, then headed back…

decided to drive over to santa enjoy the sunset at the boulevard… took couple of wrong turns exiting LA…n reached there..just after sunset..even the n got the hang of the place.. took some pictures..did some more shopping…n headed back…

back to the B & B! 

later in the evening, strolled down to the “The Original Farmer’s Market” (an LA landmark), which was a few blocks from  the B & B. 

“The Grove” is a mega shopping complex, adjacent to the farmers market and was bustling with tourists, shoppers and locals alike.. we let ourselves be carried away with the fun n frolic…and ended up doing tons of Christmas shopping! All in all, a very productive day…according to DW!!!