Wine a little, you’ll feel better…

“Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.” 

― Napoleon Bonaparte

Infact, if you whine with wine, you’ll feel even lighter! 🙂 So, who else out there is missing wine country? Come on, let’s whine together!


Once upon a time, there was a studious city girl who went on a grand trip with her bae, to San Francisco, the city of her dreams and also the city hosting a Radiology conference. While this trip was being planned, she chanced upon a luxury travel magazine and fell in love with the pictures from Napa valley. “Oh, please can we go…” she chimed! “You don’t even know wine or enjoy wine!” stated DH, matter-of-factly. “Why do I need to know wine…I just want to enjoy the beauty of a lush countryside, the vineyards, cycle around the rolling green hills…!” DH…rolled his eyes so hard, he saw his brains!- True Story!

Yes, somewhat like that, in an unconventional way, started our life-long love of Wine-countries and then, Wine!

Though Australia and South America are yet to be uncorked, we have some of the European (the Old world vintage) and North American (new world charm) wine regions, bottled up! (do see the movie Bottle-shock, if you haven’t already!)

Sitting with a cuppa coffee (folks please, it’s early morning) I’m flipping through tons of pictures on Iphoto and drooling over wide open spaces, something we city dwellers sorely miss. Noticing that some of the greenest scapes are from our travels to wine regions, I started compiling a list of my favourites and hence this post, based in order of the impact they have left on our memories and the special charm they bring to the table!

Napa-Sonoma (Northern California) (2007)

Since this was the first-ever wine-country experience, it will remain our favorite. Though pictures 13 yrs back were not DSLR quality, we still had to discover wine snobbery 😉 and our palates were not as refined (not saying we are connoisseurs now but can differentiate the fruity notes of a Pinot Noir, from a spicy Syrah), we loved the experience which is etched on the memory as if it was yesterday!

Different notes that one can expect in a typical red wine

Right from the pre-planning stage when we read and acquainted ourselves with etiquettes of wine-tasting which included, practicing “spitting” in the wash-basin, to reading California Driving manual (for rules against DUI), extensively planning which towns to stay and which wineries to visit and pre-renting cycles, mapping the routes, this trip was an eye-opener.

It was like being Alice, in a wonderland, exploring wide-eyed, an entirely extraordinary world! It’s not only about tasting, buying and drinking wine, we learnt about viticulture (which is the art of growing wine) and vinification (the process of making wine, including the grape crushing, mainly staged for us, the tourists, but still fun!).

Ever visited a temperature regulated, cool and dry wine cellar, stacked roof-to the floor with wine barrels, collecting wine from a barrel using a Wine-Thief and keeping a straight face when all about you are claiming to sniff peppercorns or red berries in their wine.

Did you know that some of the wineries are actually housed in beautiful mansions or places of historical interest or simply owned by famous families/ popular personalities, housing memorabilia, made into museums, and giving private pre-booked tours of the properties? One such was the Jacuzzi-family winery, yes the same jacuzzi that we soak-in.

Some of the wine-makers might entice visitors with wine-food or wine-cheese pairings while others might break the ice with a game of basketball or Golf!

Almost every tasting room has a view to-die-for and prices of some of the “Reserva” wines on offer, to die-off. Most of the wineries predictably have shops selling labeled wine merchandise but also, wine-vinegars, olive oils, preserves, all produced locally, worth the money that you buy it with and worth the effort put into bringing it back home!

Though, this is not a Napa Valley exclusive post, its still worth mentioning that we stayed at the top of the valley, in a town called Calistoga, very scenic with hills dotting the backdrop, ideal for those long cycling days, and known for its Mud-baths!

France (2017)

Stop smirking right there and let me explain. Its very-very difficult for me to choose between the famous wine regions within France (hell we drove for almost 20 days and through some of the most scenic routes). I cannot choose between Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire or Provence and cannot ignore upcoming regions like Bandol.


Before the trip, as usual, we scavenged for information on forums, as to which regions to visit for which wine, the wineries to visit, any festivals around that time, best cycling paths, and which child-friendly routes to take. A note that kept popping up was the snootiness of french winemakers and how making appointments was mandatory and sticking to them, even more. Now either we call the french snooty or accept that they appreciate punctuality and that’s no reason to think they are uptight.

In fact, our experience was in most part, very pleasant except for one very over-priced wine-lunch which, in all honesty, could be blamed partly on me being a vegetarian and partly on lack of vegetarian cooking skills of rest of the world. In one particular incidence, the host at a winery in the village of Pommard, in Bourgogne (popularly Burgundy) was so helpful and patient with us, despite us getting massively delayed due to a small biking accident, that he hosted us very pleasantly when we showed up three hours later for a cellar tour and tasting!

There is something to be said about being the old world when you can boast of cellars about 1000 yrs old, all cobwebby, no electrical lighting, wax candle-lit tasting, and in all a bit vampire-style spooky if everyone is wearing black! 🙂 It’s only polite when you buy not one but four bottles! Pity we couldn’t ship back an entire case!

We had the time of our lives, cycling in Burgundy, picture-perfect in every way, on the Véloroute! Enjoy the scenic vistas and do check out the dedicated post from our trip to Burgundy, before planning your next trip (Don’t worry, it’ll happen sooner than you imagine…keep the faith)!

Repose in Bordeaux, in the middle of a vineyard, near St Emillion, was as high as it can go in terms of staycation experiences, and we cannot wait to go and park ourselves there, again! Pictures are worth a thousand words…so here they are!

It’s like a painting!

Can one have enough of cycling? Never, says me, through verdant wine regions, because that is one way to slow down your pace, your thoughts and soak-it-all-in! Here’s cycling through some of the most iconic landmarks of the Loire valley.

Chateâu Chambord, Loire valley, France

Lavaux, Montreux, Switzerland (2015)

Why Turquoise Blue for the Title? You may or may-not wonder but it’s my job to give you all unnecessary trivia.

Close your eyes and imagine vibrant green hills bedecked with grape-laden vines, rolling down to a turquoise-blue Lake-Geneva. The vista around Lavaux region of Switzerland is jaw-dropping in beauty and so exceptional that one has to go there to believe the stunning beauty.

Switzerland is not primarily known as a wine-growing country, because the world is not used to seeing Swiss wines on the aisles of their generic wine-shops. This is because the product is lesser in quantity, but great in quality, and is produced mainly for local consumption within the country, rather than for export. In fact, the Swiss drink a lot of wine per capita, import 2/3rd of the consumed quantity, and for a fun-fact, import more Beaujolais than the whole of the USA.

Spain (2009)

Spain as a wine-growing country is as complex or even more so than France!

Haven’t we all enjoyed a fruity red Tempranillo, one of the most famous red wine varietals, from the famous Rioja region of northern Spain? Cava, the sparkling wine, grown in the regions along the Mediterranean coast, which includes a blend of Garnacha (or Grenache in neighboring France) or the exquisite oaky Dry-Sherry (not the sweet sherry sipped by elderly English ladies) from Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalucia!

Spain is ideally located in terms of latitudes, with its warm to hot climate aptly suited for viniculture and the various influences on the wine-growing process from the neighboring regions.

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Though Rioja in the Basque region is still on the travel bucket list, we visited Sant Sadurní d’Anoia near Barcelona to sample their famous Cava and instead of cycling or driving, ended up on a long walking-trip in the country. Not definitely by design, was too hot to handle but makes for one hell of a reflection!

We drove through the spectacular Andalucian region of southern Spain, bedecked with charming Pueblo Blancos or white villages, stunning countryside dotted with wine and olive groves, ancient Moorish, or Romanesque architecture, and turquoise lakes.

Montefrío, Andalucia, Spain

Andalucia epitomizes the charms of slow-travel, driving through awe-inspiring landscapes and breaking for wine/sherry tasting in tradicional bodegas, during the day.

Checking into a new town every-other-day, exploring street-foods or go on a Tapas-bar hop, in the evening, pairing food with Cerveza or Sangria according to your whim! Later, head out for some foot-tapping flamenco experience or just stroll to a local popular Plaza and soak-in, life-as-a-local!

Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain

If you ever felt like “there’s so much to see, so little time”, you will feel it a 100 times more in Andalucia. Needless to say, pre-planning is your best bet!

Moselle River Valley- Germany (2013)

The Moselle (or Mosel) valley is a region around the river Mosel, meandering through parts of western Germany, eastern France and Luxembourg and is known for its White wines, especially the famous Rieslings from Germany.

What makes this region spectacular and on this list, is the landscape, as distinctive and charming as it gets!

Close those eyes again, and now imagine… hiking through terraced vineyards on hill slopes while the placid river Mosel, calmly meanders below, and a medieval, almost fairytale-like castle sits atop a neighboring hilltop.

Alternatively, imagine cycling along a beautiful track right along the river bed, with bird-song in your ear, dense foliage along the banks, intermittently opening its curtains to panoramic vistas of hillsides adorned with palisading vines.

Pacific Northwest wine regions (Washington and Oregon states)

If you’re wondering what or where’s that…nobody will blame you. The lesser-known of the New World wine regions, over-shadowed by neighboring Californian wines, but holding the fort, are the wines produced in Oregon and Washington states of north-west USA. While Oregon produces Pinot Noir in the majority, inland of Washington, along the Columbia River valley which is warmer in climate, produces a mix of great whites (including Chardonnay) and Reds.

Columbia River Gorge

Having driven along the scenic Pacific Highway 101 in California earlier, we wanted to explore the more rugged northern Pacific coasts and the Olympic peninsula.

Thus, originated the mammoth trip to the North-west pacific (including British Columbia in Canada), including their famous wine regions!

While boarding a flight from Seattle airport, the immigration officer seemed dumb-founded when we said we were visiting Walla-Walla, and he went, “Who the hell visits Walla-Walla”…and hubby goes, “we crazy, wine-loving Indian nomads”. Another, absolutely true story!

One of the kid-friendly wineries

If you consider yourself a traveler and scoff at touristy attractions, you just might understand the charm of visiting places that are off-the-beaten-path! The novelty of visiting unheard-of places, being greeted with warmth, enjoying uncrowded vistas, and never having to come across the terms “booked-out or sold-out” are all, “simple joys of life”. Sampling delectable wines amidst splendid country setting is a top endorphin-releasing experience too!

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Though, “there is so much wine and so little time” …the quest is on, albeit on a corona-break, and hopefully, we’ll be on a road-trip soon, on another continent, driving or cycling through sun-soaked, verdant countryside, sampling wines, cheese, and chocolates, keeping ourselves hydrated, sipping and spitting (part of the 4s’s…sniff, sip, swirl and spit) and minding speed limits.

A wine colored lolly is always a good-idea!
A can, really?

And now it’s time for a workout!


Wild, Wild Atlantic Way Part-1

When in doubt, always take the scenic route!

Wild Atlantic way is the Wild Wild West of Ireland, where the lawless Atlantic waves break on the rugged, almost 2500 km long, meandering coastline with stunning finger-like fjords in the south, scenic bays in the middle and steep sea cliffs in the north.

It has something for everyone. With stunning vistas and unspoiled, rugged natural beauty, it’s the perfect road-trip destination with jaw-dropping views at every turn (one has to remember to look more to the road!). The coastline is dotted with quaint and colorful towns with plethora of local pubs pulsating with foot-tapping live music, serving freshest & most delectable sea-food preparations, with locally distilled Irish Gins, freshly brewed beer, including Guinness which nowhere tastes as good as it does in Ireland. There is hiking for the outdoor lovers, whale watching, falconry experience and puffin spotting to entertain families, and the surf coast for the adventure junkies. Might as well, mention the almost “too” famous Cliffs of Moher!

If you have enjoyed the drive along the pacific coast in the US of A or marveled along the Gold coast in Australia, you would simply die of happiness and sensory overload along the WAW!

Its Easy to follow the Wild Atlantic way, with many sign boards with a zig-zag sign, just like this one:

It all comes down to the number of days at hand and the must-visit destinations/ must-do experiences. We had just about 6 nights to spare on the West coast and we planned to drive South to North and then back to Dublin. We don’t mind pushing ourselves a tad bit but the ideal would be at least 10 nights here.

One of the Popular Itinerary is as follows:

  • Dublin to Galway
  • via Cliffs of Moher
  • Down to Dingle
  • Ring of Kerry
  • Beara
  • County Cork
  • Back to Dublin.

We, being a bit greedy to see more, started south and went northwards. After driving through the jaw dropping Wicklow mountains, in the east, we powered through with a long drive of about 4 hours, cutting straight to Glengarriff, in County Cork, at the mouth of Beara peninsula, at the west coast.

Our itinerary (in a broad way) was as follows:

  • Glengariff (night-stay)
  • Beara peninsular (Castletown Beara, Allihies, Eyeries, Healy pass)
  • Kenmare (night-stay)
  • Ring of Kerry in reverse via the stunning landscape at Glencar and Ballagisheen pass, Portmagee, cahersiveen, to Killorglin (night-stay)
  • Dingle peninsula (Inch beach, Dingle, Dunquin Harbour)
  • Ferry across Shannon to Tarbert
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Galway (2 night-stay)
  • Westport-Achill cycling
  • Donegal- Sleiveleague Cliffs (night-stay)

Amongst the peninsulas on the southwestern coast, are the three big ones; Beara, Ring of Kerry and Dingle. A question frequently popping on Ireland travel forums is, “which is the best?”.

The southern Peninsulas

The simplest answer would be to drive through all… or some bit of all, to appreciate all the flavors.

I’ve broken down the regions, as we covered them, on the map.

Points of Interest- Beara

Tips about Beara:

Follow the road except for two small diversions for Kilcatherine Point and Healy pass.

Stop for a sumptuous meal and one of the best Chowder-sea food soup at The Beara Coast Hotel in Castletown, Beara. We did not, but intend to stay here on our next trip, the location being idyllic.

On our way towards Eyeries, we chanced upon this beautiful arts gallery called Adrigole Arts, where we met the Talented owner and musician Gerry Bruton, picked up some inspired curios and had a slice of the most delicious Guinness Cake! Heard him play live at a pub in Kenmare, later.

The chocolate Guinness Cake- perfect slice!
Allihies, Beara
Colored buildings of Irish villages
So pretty that it inspires the photographer in everyone 🙂
Vivid village of Eyeries

Healy pass, according to us is a must-see point, not just any detour, and is a meandering, snaking route through the highlands seen from a high vantage point.

Healy Pass
The Vibrant town of Kenmare
Coachman’s Perfectly located for break of Journey.
Winding down the day…

And a perfect closure to a long post should be with some Live music! Don’t panic, I’m not performing, this is straight from the land of shamrocks!

I’m Breaking the road trip into a series of posts, so click here for the next one, which covers Ring of Kerry and Dingle!


Ireland. By invite only.

Wild flowers in bloom along the Cliffs of Moher

For those:

· …who love long breezy road trips along winding coastal roads peppered with sheep here and vistas there.

· …for those who can not have enough of green. Be warned, it’s called emerald Isle for a reason and if too much of wet and wild is not your cuppa coffee… then maybe, hike some place else.

· …for those who love to sweat it out for a view that’s worth it’s while! Full of awe-inspiring hikes, ireland is a haven for adventurers.

· …for those who own a sturdy, smart, Rain jacket. That’s self-explanatory.

· …for those who dig pubs, live traditional Irish music and stout beer. Heard of Guinness? 😁

County Kerry

Why Ireland. We faced this question a bit more than we liked. Well, for all these reasons and more!

Ireland is hugely popular with Americans (since a fair majority can claim Irish inheritance) but it does not seem to be on any major tourist bucket-list for fellow Indians . And Europeans (that I know) don’t see the point, probably as they’re done with wet and green😬.

But hey.. ever heard of Dublin, one of the most trending cities of the world with old world charm and new age shenanigans. Galway, with its vibrant style and epic arts and music culture? What about the dramatic Wild Atlantic Way? No. Ever heard of “craic“…don’t you want to feel it? Or Guinness anyone? Which can never taste as good anywhere, as it does in Ireland!

Not sold yet. Please read on.

Ireland, the island, is divided into Northern Ireland, part of the UK with Belfast as the capital, and the Republic of Ireland, a separate country, with Dublin, the capital city.

Schengen visa does not cover Republic of Ireland, so one needs to apply for an Ireland visa.

A UK visa only permits you to visit Northern Ireland, unless you’ve been stamped with a BIVS (British-Ireland visa scheme, given by default to citizens from some nations including Indians) on which both countries can be visited. All this might change with Brexit.. so keep yourself updated with the latest at your time of visit.

Having said that, boundaries are, as of now, only on paper, or can be spotted funnily on a GPS…easily missable in actuality, since a sign board marks the boundary. Also, you’ll realize you’ve entered UK territory when suddenly the GPS starts talking in miles vs kilometers. 😁

Irish folks, on the whole, are a friendly cheery, relaxed bunch of folks, who will always guide you in the right direction.

Beautiful village of Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula

We had 9 days in Ireland, not much by any standard but since we had plans to be in London already, we latched on the opportunity to visit Ireland, a wish, brewing in the mind for some time!

I wont lie when I say that it was Hollywood that first inspired us to visit Ireland. Being compulsive romantics at heart and suckers for all things wild, we loved the movies, “PS, I love you” & Leap Year, both shot in the stunning Ireland. Movies of course, know no geographical boundaries, jumping from East to West in a wink.

Of course we wanted to see it all. Of course, we were driving around the country.. but distances and time taken on road, don’t mean the same in Ireland, as you will read everywhere. Smaller coastal roads, tourist traffic, sudden fog rolling in, could all alter the variables. And with a young kid, though very tolerant for his age, we couldn’t overdo the driving, push the timing or change cities everyday.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1: London (STN) to Dublin, via Ryanair, arrival 10am, car rental pick up and drive out to Wicklow, a 1 1/2 hour drive, via Lough Tay and short hike in Wicklow to Glendalough. Then Drive across the country, from East to West coast, straight to Glengariff about 41/2 hrs drive, arrival on the west coast). (One might notice that we shaved off the southern part of the island from our itinerary which was tragic but necessary.)

Lough (meaning lake) Tay or the Guinness Lake with its foam head

Day 2: Morning in Glengariff, at the mouth of Beara Peninsula, exploring the Ring of Beara. Arrival at Kenmare.

Day 3: Kenmare for exploring the Ring of Kerry: Did a bit of loop the loop on this day, to avoid tourist buses by taking the longer route and to be on the opposite side of the road as the general traffic. Arrival at Killorglin.

Day 4: Killorglin- Dingle- Kingdom falconry. Sleep at Killorglin.

Day 5: Cliffs of Moher. Drive north to Tarbert- Took ferry across the estuary- drive to Liscannor- followed by a short spectacular hike from Hag’s head to see the Cliffs- arrival at Galway. Serenaded by Galway’s night life!

Day 6: Galway farmers market, drove towards Achill Island via Connemara- biked a bit of the picture-perfect “green way“. Had plans to see the Kylemore Abbey but couldn’t manage with the time constraints.

Day 7: Galway, exploring Latin quarters, saw Emma, tapping to Irish music. Lunch- Drive to Donegal via Sligo- Glencar waterfall on the way- arrival at Kilcar.

Day 8: Morning exploring Cliffs of Slieve League. Drive to Giant’s causeway in northern Ireland. Drive to Dublin.

Day 9: Explored Dublin via walking tour and beer tour.

The Temple Bar in Temple Bar district!

Day 10: Dublin to London.

So much to see, so little time!

See you all on the next post! Drop in question about the itinerary in the comments below. Always happy to help! Slán!

Spring in Da Lat, Vietnam

IMG_2388A cosy hill town, in Lam dong province, in central Vietnam, about an hour long flight from Ho Chi Minh city.


Though located in a typically hot tropical country, residents of Dalat enjoy a temperate year round climate, being a hill station. The ride from the airport towards Dalat is refreshingly green through a verdant valley surrounded by lush green hills.

We reached Dalat in late evening, another 40 minute drive from the airport. Approaching the city, it’s clear, that there’s abundance of electricity, as the town is lit up like Christmas time.. with predominantly floral patterns, no wonder called the city of flowers, or city of eternal spring!



The town is centred around a scenic, man-made lake, originally constructed by the french, who developed the town as their summer retreat. Hence, the architectural design of most of the old as well as new constructions is very french or say European with attics and bay windows!


At any time, the well maintained, promenade is dotted by locals and tourists, walking by the lake, jogging, dog-walking, fishing or just lazing.


In the mornings, it’s easy to spot wedding photographers making their clients pose against the picturesque backdrop. In the Evening, the lake is dotted with boat-riders. Numerous small gardens have been developed around the lake, to enjoy the scenic beauty and a spectacular golf course!

Things to do:

1. Number one for me would be sauntering or just lounging by the lake.

It’s blissful. Maybe get some fishing gear or borrow from a local, set a picnic with sangria, and make it a perfect day, à la, Lou reed.


If walking is a task, try the uber cool buggies, straight out of Cindrella.


2. Da Lat flower garden.

Though one can soak in the site of omnipresent blooms everywhere in the city, the flower garden, on the lake-side is dedicated to the floral bounty and one can saunter for hours appreciating the dramatic landscaped gardens.


Do avoid the weekends for any kind of sight seeing, as this is a very popular weekend destination, domestically, with hordes of tourist buses descending every weekend.

3. The waterfalls.

With so much rain, the countryside is bound to abound with waterfalls, and frankly who can resist the awe-inspiring, spectacle of water cascading down with such might. There are many waterfalls, but the most impressive and least crowded is Pongour falls.


This a broad, multi-step or Tiered fall, surrounded by rocky beds, perfect to get under and get soaked. Being an hours drive from the city ensures that most tourist buses avoid the long trip.

4. Pagodas.


Abound in all of south east Asia, so of course in Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist country.


There are the scenic ones with access from cable cars (Truc lam pagoda) and the middle of city ones with vividly brilliant facade, like Lang phuoc pagoda. Visit one or many, and if you’re lucky to visit on a quiet day, or quieter hour, enjoy the tranquillity on the offer.

5. Da lat market

There’s the all day market and the night market, the road-side and the covered market, selling vibrant souvenirs, the embroidered art, clothes, flowers and fruits.



6. Street food

Try the Vietnamese pizza, the peanut or soy milk, the grilled sea-food or skewered veggies!

DSC_5150 (1)


But do sit on the tiny stools, set on the road-side, to enjoy the goods, feeling, at home!




If you’re not averse to sweet, try the Ca phe sua da (traditional vietnamese iced coffee served with condensed milk), sitting by the street, popping roasted sunflower seeds, as accompaniment.


7. What to get back, or not to miss!

Markets are full of souvenirs, but Embroidery Art is very specific to Vietnam and is stunning. XQ house has some stunning, hand embroidered pieces, though very steeply priced. The local Da lat market on the other hand has reasonably priced options, maybe machine embroidered, but still beautiful.


The Nón lá, or the Conical hat! its not only unique to South -east Asia, is part of the national dress of Vietnam and is very functional for protection against sun and rain! And makes for an ideal Souvenir!


Tea & Coffee! The Artichoke Tea is very popular here with a whole lot of health benefits!


Though most coffee exported is Robusta, the Civet Coffee (similar in terms of enzymatic process to Kopi Luwak) is gaining momentum.



Nuts and Seeds!Cashews, walnuts, and the quint-essential Sunflower seeds are high quality and less pricier than many parts of the world.



Being a city of flowers, Flower seeds are a perfect souvenir for a horticultural enthusiasts, to bring back home, and remember Da Lat by!

Tam biêt, which is goodbye in Vietnamese.



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 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!

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!

Hi there,

We recently came across the german word ‘Gemütlich’ – translated as feeling of warmth and amiability to all, which usually describes my state of mind as I publish a much pondered post.

We are a Generation X couple, living a Uber cool life in a hot city where we expertly juggle our jobs, an increasingly demanding adolescent and managing a nuclear household in New Delhi, all without any screaming or meltdowns! While last bit may not be true… what’s a fact is that we preserve our sanity and live day to day, always dreaming and planning our next get-away! Pretty early on, in our married life, we discovered each other’s passion for travelling and live to explore the world and its bounty! Passionate nature lovers, and wine enthusiasts, most of our trips involve some hiking, biking, lush wine countries and gorgeous pictures on the way!

So all you genial folks out there, flip through the pages, walk with us and enjoy some amateur photography. These trips may not be path breaking, but everytrip is special, planned meticulously by dear darling, and always a bit off-the beaten path!

Bonne journée!

Königssee & to Füssen

Day3 –  Narrated by Sriram

After first two relatively touristy days spent in Munich, it was time to head to the road! We woke up early for breakfast full of apprehension as a long day beckoned. But first we trouped down for breakfast…

Our second morning breakfast at Laimer hof was fantastic thanks to Sebastian the owner whose personal attention definitely made a difference! He served hot breakfast, fresh coffee, hot chocolate for the little one and kept up a cheerful conversation with everyone.
After getting directions from Sebastian to the car rental location-Laim , I and dad reached the pick-up location with the passport and driving license, forgetting the booking confirmation.. All three are usually needed for picking up the vehicle..  But luckily lady at the counter wasn’t fussy and as soon she heard my last name she chirped…oh, the Minibus!! Taken aback, we realized that the 9 seater van, a Ford Tourneo, that we’d rented was big enough to look like a minibus (comfortable van with two passengers sitting along with the driver in the first row, one car seat and two adults in the next row and ample space for 5 suitcases and three bags.)

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Set out with DW in the front seat navigating, as always, while waiting for the GPS babe to activate… We took the scenic drive avoiding the Austrian highway, driving towards Siegsdörf, then Inzell, on the way meandered through German village roads and passed Chiemsee, and finally reached Königsee (pronounced Kueenigcee).

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We arrived with rain and wind on our back, enough that some of us were wondering if it would be worth stepping out..Berchtesgaden (and eagle’s nest) was definitely out because of the overcast weather. I tried to reassure everybody that we would be traversing lake Königsee in a covered boat, but there first was a short wet cold walk from the tourist information center to the dock that had everyone wondering…


So we had to saunter into a very inviting cafe, displaying all its bounty…got hot coffee, chocolate, strawberry tart and apfelstrudel.. I think we shared the strawberry tat, kept the apple strudel , and squashed it in luggage on the subsequent trip 😉

After buying tickets we got into the boat with a whole class of French/ Swiss children… For the most, the school teachers kept the children in a cheery and not too noisy order..


It was very beautiful in the covered boat with some light rain and thankfully not as cold. Half way to the first stop the captain switched off the electric engines, to cut out the noise and blew a few notes pausing to let us hear the echo… It was eerie and at the same time beautiful…

The first stop was at St Bartholomo, a beautiful church with orange onion domes where everyone got off. We the smart, well researched lot, knew that the most awesome views were from the boat and decided to stay in the boat for the next stop..



Salat, the second stop, is at one end of lake Königsee, where all get off and walk to the next lake, the Obersee..

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We got down at a small harbor, with a beautiful wooden arch, and after utilizing the WC, tottered on for a 15 minute hike.. It was a lot like half an hour going through pouring rain, muddy puddles that our little one wanted to jump in, passing many laconic German cows, mama cows and baby calves.. And we realized that we were missing one person.   I had to run back get Dad…who was patiently waiting by the WC..




The final view at Obersee was worth the wet hike.. Lovely wooden hut giving a great foreground, the placid lake and mountains all around hiding in the mist..


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After hiking in pouring rain with only our (wet) jackets keeping us sort of dry we got back to the harbor, got on the boat and reached land..
At Königsee, seeing everyones bedraggled appearance, I knew we needed some hot nourishment…and happened upon the Hotel Koenigssee Restaurant, specifically looking for German vegetarian options.  The restaurant had pleasant seating with large wooden round tables, and good portions.

We ordered the Spargelzuppe (white asparagus soup), Kässezuppe (cheese soup), omelette with asparagus and some more. Surprisingly the cheese soup was the most appreciated.

We drove back and reached Füssen quite late about 9:30, and fortunately our rooms were still held for us! The city of Füssen had an otherworldly charm in the evening, with beautifully lit warm glow to the cobble-stoned streets.

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The second surprise was the Hotel Sonne Füssen. Now while booking the hotel, I had looked at many many hotels in the vicinity, but I didn’t like their reviews, and the ones I wanted were not available.. I finally booked Sonne Fuessen knowing it was expensive, but it really exceeded expectations, starting from the staff, who were extremely helpful, the ambience, with beautiful gowns on tasteful mannequins, paintings and quirky lights in the corridors..


Each room had it’s own different decor and paintings..

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We got together and had a light meal, furnished on the spot with the groceries we were carrying..and many of the party called it a long day, crashing on the luxurious beds!
Anyway after reaching, I and dad went down to the bar to have a glass of wine, we tried a Chardonnay and local German Riesling ( Trocken meaning dry).. The Riesling was excellent.. the chardonnay was passable.. The bar at this place seemed a happening site with lots of couples in snazzy outfits, arriving in great rides!

Thus ended the long day…