annual tradition ? – amsterdam

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i mentioned at the blog earlier that A wanted to make amsterdam our annual holiday tradition.

well year 1 and we made it. let’s see how this continues, going forward.

this time – was as good as the others – mainly because of our company. also the cute little air b n b we picked. it also rained – and amsterdam is so hauntingly beautiful.

we also celebrated my birthday there – with a boozy canal cruise – during which it rained! but it SO was fun nevertheless.

also my third time in amsterdam but my first time going inside vondelpark. it’s SOO peaceful. i can spend all day there doing nothing.

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Barcelona + familia lo es todo

barcelona was the last stop of the family vacation. after which A and i were heading to amsterdam for a few days with friends.

if there’s one thing that has most been highlighted after this trip its’ – family is everything! they are all that matters at the end of the day, and maintaining a close relationship with them is so v important.

i’m so grateful to have got the opportunity to spend time with mine. in such a beautiful country. during our last meal together in barcelona, we discussed that we would try continuing this tradition, and make an attempt to go on a trip every 3-4 years. i hope we manage.

Barcelona

the first time i went to barcelona a few years a go, i didn’t come back to impressed. this time – my opinion changed.

we did a super fun treasure hunt on the streets of barcelona to celebrate my mum’s 60th. and i cannot recommend it enough. it was such a good way to see the city the way locals do. and also a fun adventure while at it.

another place i recommend is the la boqueria – it has such a good vibe to it. and the best produce and smoothies.

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MARBELLA!

what can i say about this place – well for starters, i came here 5 years ago with a few girl friends for a bachelorette and fell in love with how cute this place was. it has something for just everybody, and all ages.

we stayed in puerto banus then, and went for amazing day parties at the various beach clubs they have. this time it was different. but still as good.

we stayed in marbella – not puerto banus. at this v cute resort called happimag.  which is right on the promenade by the beach.

its was a 5 minute taxi ride to old town and a 10 minute taxi ride to puerto banus.

we spent 4 days here. and they were my absolute favorite. we beached, we swam, visited old town and its several cute restaurants, and we also visited puerto banus and my favorite bar, astral cocktail bar.

my sister joined us for this leg with my niece leheir. it was SO good spending time with her again. aren’t 3 year old’s the cutest? i just love listening to all the fun observant things they have to say.

we took tons of pictures. so i’ll leave you to them.

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^^ ahhhh best times! best times! ^^

Cordoba

to be honest, i spent half of our entire time in cordoba in a restaurant, sipping on sangria. it was 40 degrees that day! – but i did spend the other half walking around old town and taking in the sights and the sounds. and the food of course ;)

we walked past the cathedral and the citadel, the mosque, the alcazar, and the roman bridge of cordoba.

the old town is particularly cute, with its tiny streets and restaurants. and gelato shops.

but mostly i’ll remember cordoba for those hours we spent at the restaurant, with my favorite cousin, talking about life :)

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^^ cordoba and its attractions ^^

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^^ lunch with my favorites – also my favorite tapa has got to be potato ali oli. this may have got to do with me being partly vegetarian  ^^

 

Seville

About two years ago, when some of our family members were in mumbai, we made a random late night plan to travel to europe. All 25 of us, in 2019. we chose 2019 as it was a year of several celebrations within the family, some 50th birthdays, some 60th birthdays, and two 25 year wedding anniversaries.

honestly, a lot of us didn’t expect the plan to go through. it was wishful thinking to get all 25 of us anywhere – forget europe.

but some of us (my uncle in particular) were so persistent, that it all started falling in place one by one. we finalized a location – spain. mainly because most of us hadn’t been to spain before.

we were to start at seville, stay there for 2 days. then head to marbella (stopping at cordoba on the way) for 4 nights, and finally end our trip at barcelona.. We had also planned a day trip to granada from marbella.

Seville

i thought i’d seen the best of what europe had to offer. but every time i visit a new city in europe, the beauty and charm that the continent is capable of – continues to surprise me.

seville was one such city.. it is so very picturesque. almost every street or corner of old town could be from a postcard or one of those instagram travel handles.

we did the segway tour around the city and realised there’s just so much to see. also – sampled spanish cuisine, tapas, paella and sangria!

here’s a snapshot of our time there in pictures…

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^^ seville old town – how beautiful is this city? i wasn’t exaggerating one bit ^^

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^^ our beautiful hotel – las casa de la juderia with an amazing rooftop pool + bar^^

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^^ spanish breakfast ;) also seville is known for its oranges – do if you ever visit you must try their orange juice^^

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^^ la familia !! i have the very very best :) ^^

 

Galle Again..

there are some cities which when you visit you know you will find your way back to.

galle was one of them for me.

apart from being super convenient to travel {it is only a 2.5 hour flight to colombo from mumbai and then another beautiful 1.5 hour drive to galle}, it is also beautiful. it has  beaches (with beach bars), amazing restaurants and stunning affordable hotels.

i went in October 2018 with friends and stayed at a small villa. this time we went on an office offsite and stayed at Le Grand Galle. the best thing about the hotel by far was the view from just about everywhere in the hotel. it is right by the galle fort and the sea and has one of the best hotel views in all of Galle.

since my colleague and i helped our office plan the trip we ended up researching on all the best restaurants, hotels to go to and i feel like a semi galle travel expert now ;)

here’s our trip in pictures…..

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^^ our hotel. and the view from my room. one of my favorite moments was just hanging out at the pool with our drinks and playing ball^^

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^^ our first meal of the trip was at this beautiful hotel called Galle Fort Hotel. which is inside the Galle fort. we all had three course meals (veg and non-veg). the food was insane and cannot recommend this place enough ^^

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^^ strolling around Galle Fort ^^

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^^ lunch at The Bungalow. another nice meal. the sea food platter (pictured above) was everyone’s favorite meal of the trip^^

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^^ lunch at this beautiful restaurant in the heart of Galle Fort called Poonie’s Kitchen. it has a pond running through the restaurant and the vegetarian meal + deserts are SO good ^^

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^^ galle nights!! other places we recommend are Kingfisher’s at Unawatuna Beach on Saturday nights, the Fortaleza for dinner, and the Luna Terrace at the Closenburg Hotel for their beautiful sunset views ^^

Galle was such a blast and i can’t wait to go there again, this time with the husband who still hasn’t been.

Writing + around here lately

I have been meaning to blog more often. Its been added to my list of new year resolutions once again. If I wasn’t a lawyer i would have been a writer. A wanna-be writer atleast.  I think I may have already mentioned that.

Running out of things I need to write about. Life is stable. But life is good. Work is crazy busy sometimes but sometimes light and fun. I work out more often. and that’s a good thing.

Things that am grateful about / inspire me / or just make me happy these days – (just because that’s why I started this blog in the first place right?)

Chef’s Table on Netflix – discovered this after so many months of scrolling past it. So inspiring. Makes me want to get up early and go to work.

Baby Nuri – my twin had a beautiful baby girl and seeing her pictures make me happy and seeing him being a great dad makes me happier

Working out – the cure for everything in life literally. Also it helps that my trainer always manages to make me laugh. So grateful.

Homemade pancakes – I think IV mastered the art to making homemade pancakes from scratch thanks to my chef sister. They are deliciousness. Now only to manage waking up early on weekends and making them more often.

My valentine – okay, so cheesy .. but IT IS valentine’s month! and I love my husband. feel so grateful waking up next to him every morning.

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Topshop online – they have the best clothes and i just discovered that they deliver to India. with added custom duty though. But it’s worth it.

Also going to blog more tomorrow about my recent vacations to hongkong and Sri Lanka. Have so many stories / pictures to share.

Lots of love

Xoxo

amsterdam again

i knew i had to come back to this city the minute i even stepped foot in amsterdam. the city hits you hard with this fantastic, crazy, mad vibe – and you get addicted, so quickly, that it’s too late by the time you realise.

sounds too much ;)? well it’s true.

we felt that vibe again this time. A’s first time {he’s made me promise we go every year once}

once we got off our cab to the hotel from the airport, dropped our bags in the hotel lobby and headed straight to the coffee shop, which happened to be right next door to our hotel {we didn’t book the hotel knowing that just btw – it was simply a coincidence}.

the spirit of the people, the personalities, backed with the live and let live judgment-free attitude of just about everyone we met was what attracted me to the city at the first instance. oh and the beauty! how can we ignore the beauty?

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^ our amsterdam trip in snapshots . seeing these pictures make me want to go back there. or move there maybe? hmmm. wishful thinking. ^^

we visited the artis zoo, the van gogh musuem, walked around dam square, ate some frites (with extra mayo), tried the food at avocado story, shopped at the 6-story primark on dam square, met local friends, smoked with local friends, sat in the park by the museum for hours doing absolutely nothing, gorged on the cheese and ham toasties, bought local souvenirs {all of which had something marijuana in them} and sat by the beautiful canals at mid night under the stars talking. just the amsterdam usual ;)

well if all things go A’s way – see you again next year. and the year after …

Lake District

since we had around 15 days in the UK we decided to club london with another place around. at first we zeroed in on scotland as we have family there. but then while researching we realised that scotland should be a trip on its own – it has so much to offer and we didn’t have enough time.  closer to our trip our cousins in Scotland informed us that they would be spending a week in lake district around the same time we were in the UK. and so – it all worked out perfectly!

we rented out this beautiful house in penrith. around 8 of us (+ the cutest labrador – fia). we had just three nights / two days but we packed the days with so many activities that our time there seemed longer. looking back this part of our trip was on of our absolute favorites. I recommend lake district to everyone who makes a trip to the UK. it is simply stunning, peaceful, quiet and just about every where you go you feel you are in a post card picture.

on our first morning our cousins had booked this really fun go ape activity  – which involves climbing trees (with harness of course) and making your way from one tree to another by rope through fun hurdles. each stage of this activity {there are 5 stages} ends with zip lining.

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^^ view from my room in lake district ^^

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^^ go ape!! these pictures are from our trial round and it gets much tougher and higher as you move forward in stages – but you have a harness so it is safe and you tend to get more comfortable as you go forward ^^

once we were done with our go-ape activities we got back from and had a big meal of veg / non-veg sausages, bread, veggies and cheese. then we headed to one of the quieter non-commercial lakes close to our rented house for a swim

we also visited the shops at a close by town called keswick – which was super picturesque and we tried the best homemade fudge

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^^ keswick ^^

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we ended the day watching the england croatia match – which england lost btw, but the energy was so high that day – which had been near perfect, so the defeat didn’t seem as disappointing as it normally would have been.

Day 2

we went on a hike close near the village of hawkshead. the walk seemed smooth and easy and we passed by a few ponds on the way but as we got higher it got much steeper and i had to take A’s help during the last 10 minutes of the trail to the top. but boy! was the view worth it all.

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^^ view from the top! i almost couldn’t believe we had climbed all the way ^^

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on the way back from the trek we stopped by at cute home turned cafe for some homemade cake and scones. you got to do the same if you ever go up to lake district. the carrot cake was the best i’ve ever eaten

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^^ the homemade scones with clotted cream and fresh jam ^^

we ended the day and our time at lake district with a round of go-karting. this wasn’t just ordinary go-karting. lewis hamilton apparently practices at this track during his time off. we also saw loads of other professionals practicing when we reached. it was very intimidating and i almost backed out of the whole thing. but then – was egged on by my cousins and gave it a go. i’m glad i did!

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^^ in our race gear ;) ^^

all in all it was an activity packed two days. more than the activities we were glad we got to spend quality time with our cousins who we don’t get to see very often. as you grow older (i am 30 now!) you realise that family and loved ones are most important and everything else is a far second.

London (Continued)

what i love doing almost as much as i like traveling to places is writing about my experiences of the travel after i’m back home. it’s like re-visiting all the fun moments in my mind. also – blog about these experiences because i always want to be able to look back at them and never forget all these moments

there are so many other places in london i loved so let’s take this forward…

Liverpool Street / Tower Bridge

we went to liverpool street often as we even took our train to colchestor (essex) A’s ex university from there. also on my birthday which we celebrated in London, adi took me to this Michelin star restaurant city social for lunch, which was right off the liverpool street underground station, and when we were visiting the tower bridge, we walked there from the liverpool street station – and that walk from the station to tower bridge made me want to live in london. we saw such beautiful restaurants, cafes, streets and just everything about the area made me want to live there.

tower bridge has some of the best views of london. there’s also a nice area with some good restaurants. we ate at ping pong because – we were in london and this was ping pong.  a few local friends also recommended the spitalfield market by the liverpool street – we didn’t get the chance this time – but maybe the next trip!

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Regent Park

one of the other great things about london are its parks! they have one just about everywhere. it’s amazing to see such green cities. wish we could have more of these in mumbai. helps so much with the pollution.

regent park is definitely one of the most beautiful parks i’ve seen. it feels like a fairly land in some bits. the flowers. the trees and the squirrels running across. we walked there one morning after spending the whole night out. it was slightly awkward wearing our party clothes while others were in their sports wear. but we weren’t tired. and it was one of my favorite little moments of the trip with A alone.

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King’s cross

before i visited london – king’s cross meant 9 3/4th for me. being a harry potter fan. but king’s cross is so much more. it’s one of london’s busiest stations. with connectivity to almost all the major cities in europe. it also has an office district at walking distance. we visited the google office and their rooftop terrace has some of the best private views of the city. it also has some great outdoor areas and bars. we tried getting into a few on friday night but since most of the bars were packed we did what we saw hoards of other youngsters doing – going to waitrose picking up beers / wine / cocktails and sitting on the floor below a beautiful arch, enjoying the views and the drinks. and i preferred it so much more than i would have going to a bar around!

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so there were a lot of other places i liked and some not so much. 7 dials is a cute shopping area, carnaby street is also fun place to chill at for a night. lots of people recommended shoreditch which i did not manage to go to.  and then of course all the other touristy places you can’t miss when in london, being convent gardens, Leicester square, Piccadilly, Trafalgar square, notting hill {avoid going to the portobello street market on the weekends in summer – it is packed with people, even for mumbai standards ;)}, st. pauls cathedral, buckingham palace.

See that’s the thing about london – no matter how much you have covered there’s always so much more to see and do. i could spend an entire month there and still not cover all the recommendations we got from friends and relatives.  you need to keep coming back and discovering it some more.

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^^ convent garden ^^

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^^ notting hill and portobello road market ^^

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^^ baker street ^^

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^^ barbican ^^

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^^ trafalgar square ^^

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^^ st. pauls ^^

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^^ carnaby street ^^

touchdown in London town

A and i had gone to santorini, greece last summer to celebrate the wedding of our close friends Neil and Melanie. Neil and Melanie are A’s friends from the time he studied at the university of essex. at the wedding we met so many of A’s friends from england that we had decided then itself that london would be our next summer destination.

the UK visa application process is terrible and one must leave aside at least week to just finish the application process. it also takes around 20-25 days to receive your visa. but the destination is well worth the wait :)

we took the jet airways direct flight to heathrow london {which is great, quick and easy – except the meals ofcourse} and a black cab {which is a lot more expensive than an uber but worth an one time experience of the famous black cabs} from the airport to preston road, where we stayed during our entire visit. at first, a lot of people mentioned that staying in central london was a better idea as its closer and saves on travel time. but looking back, i wouldn’t have had it any other way. the houses in preston road are very cute and comfortable and the area is so calm and peaceful. a perfect place to come back to after your time exploring the crazy, busy central city.

most of our travel was via underground. so convenient! reminded me SO much of new york city. also the oyster cards are super helpful and far more reasonable and quicker then buying individual tickets. the underground gives you a great idea of the city layout and the connectivity is simply amazing. there’s a stop that can take you just about everywhere in central london.

okay wow this is reading awfully like an informative post – so pictures and a list of some of my favorite places in London!

South Bank

i cannot recommend this enough. i loved everything about walking by south bank. the restaurants / bars, the random street acts, the skating rink {yes there’s a skating rink by the river! and it super awesome}, the carousel {i mean can this be dreamier?} and the food / music festivals.

somehow every time we were in central london we found our selves gravitating towards south bank.

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some nice places to eat / drink and visit in and around south bank :

go to the food festivals! there’s loads of variety and drinks and its also a great vibe. there’s almost always a food festival during the summer seasons.

there’s also the good old ping pong and wagamama.

we also went to this really nice wine bar – gordon’s wine bar right by the embankment underground station – which is located inside a beautiful small park.

for mexican – lupita which is on the other wise the bridge just of the charring cross station does good authentic mexican

Windsor

Okay so technically windsor isn’t in london. its about 30 to 45 mins by train from london paddington or london waterloo.

i was teased a lot by A for wanting to visit windsor – royal tourism at its best, considering meghan and harry just got married at the windsor palace a month before, but honestly i am so glad i insisted and didn’t succumb to the pressure. windsor is almost magical. with the river, ducks, beautiful riverside restaurants, castles and the charming old-town vibe. the shopping is great too

we didn’t go inside the castle – but we did manage to take a walk around the town. we had brunch at this amazing restaurant called browns brasserie and bar and A insists that they served the best fish and chips he’d ever had.

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^^  special shout out to these amazing malteser milkshake at shakeaway. it was out of this world and unfortunately i have no pictures of it to prove it ^^

Camden Town

a bit clichéd but i loved camden. mostly camden market, with all the quirky – vegan food stalls. and the vibe. and the wall art. and the murals. i could go on. A and i went there first when we had just a couple of hours to kill near london euston before we caught the train to lake district {more on that in a separate post} both of us liked it enough to come back two times after. we had food at a Venezuelan {?? i could be wrong here} food truck. something that tasted like kebabs in pita pockets with hot sauce and salad. A tricked me into trying the lamb and beef ones – i thought it was chicken the whole time and kept telling him how tasty it was. only when we were done did he tell me i was having a mince of lamb and beef the whole time. it was all in good humor though and i’m kinda glad i tried it. i wish i was more adventurous with my food choices. it would make A a lot happier, for one thing.

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okay so this post is way too long and i am still only halfway through my list, so let’s continue this in the next post??

colombo and last day at the best villa ever

I loved Colombo. at least the little that we saw. and specially the galle face hotel.

might go there again one day. and spend some more time.

places to visit: galle face hotel, the barefoot café and the ministry of crab.

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^^ galle face hotel ^^

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^^ more of galle face hotel ^^

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^^ the barefoot garden café from where I purchased by favorite coloring book. coloring is now new obsession and SO therapeutic ^^

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^^ this villa will forever be my happy place. and I am pretty sure we will end up going back there, soon ^