This and That

December 7, 2010

What a vacation! Planes, trains and automobiles!

Filed under: travel tips, travelogue — Tags: , , , , , — yaadayaada @ 12:41 am

Had a great time the past 10 days in Peru! More than Peru, it was a vacation with 2 of my best friends and their family!

We visited Machu Pichchu, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Ica Sand dunes and Nasca lines. It was a last minute trip. Utbt initiated it, husband and I joined in. We started planning, when I say we, mainly utbt. Then friend R decided to join us on the trip from the east coast. So it was one marathon planning. We started planning this trip 3 weeks before thanksgiving. We planned to leave on thanksgiving day and be back the next weekend. We knew where and when we were going, but haven’t done a thing other than our flight booking. The last 10 days before the trip saw us running around crazy calling/mailing every possible hotel/travel agent to get the booking done. We decided to book by ourselves instead of going with a travel agent since we thought it would save us money. It did save us money but completely drained us out. Peru is very much like India when it comes to using credit cards and internet. Add to this the language barrier. Most don’t speak English. We booked hotels via emails. Tripadvisor was very helpful in deciding where to stay. For Nasca, we booked via a travel agent, but we had to wire him 1000+ dollars before we reached there. So we were left wondering if he would show up. We finalized on the Nasca trip and Arequipa hotel only the day before Thanksgiving. Finally left on Thanksgiving day and had the time of our life! It was Utbt’s dream vacation and we lived it along with her and enjoyed it more than her! The kids were rock solid through out the vacation. Meija and Chula of Utbt and S & K of friend R. Age 3,4,5,6. They were just awesome! They held up better on the 10000 feet plus altitude than their parents!

Travelogue and Travel tips to follow soon!

August 10, 2010

Too Many Things Too Little Time!

What is keeping me from blogging! Writers Block? That occurs only to writers. That is not me. It is just that too many things are/were happening.

Boo and the kids were here for summer holidays. Parents are already here. Hmm.. Where did June/July go? Did the following with Boo and kids.

  • Ravanan – Amazing cinematography. Liked it actually. Prithviraj was great! Vikram was the usual!
  • Yosemite trip – Saw bears, beautiful water falls, on the whole, a wonderful road trip.
  • Santa Cruz – Why was it cold in summer? Global warming!!! The kids enjoyed though in spite of the cold
  • July 4th fireworks
  • Camping trip – Clear Lake with utbt. The kids Chula, Meija, Ashu and Antu made this trip fun fun fun! (And of course, the bhel puri, koththu parotta, veggie clear soup and upma added to the fun)
  • Meeting friends/relatives
  • Girls only Vegas trip. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! So can’t say much there.
  • Shopping, shopping, shopping
  • Butterfly rearing
  • Park visits / Picnics
  • Saw inception – still trying to figure it out. Wonderful movie
  • Saw Airbender – Not bad

Before we realized, it was time for Boo to leave. The house feels empty. Missing the kids!

Now, August has already started as another month of house guests and fun!

Sorry blog friends(you know who you are) whom we couldn’t meet due to this hectic July and to whom I couldn’t reply. But enjoyed your emails. Will catch up soon!

p.s Heard Enthiran songs, thanks Praveen for the keeping me updated. Did “Arima Arima” remind anyone of “Kallai Matum Kandal” from Dasavatharam?

January 24, 2010

Flights, Trains #$#&#$*@#$&

Filed under: Rant, travelogue — yaadayaada @ 11:35 pm

You see, for a person who hates flights, I do travel a lot! While going to Zurich, a bird travelled with us in the cabin who was screaming like a monkey. Don’t know what kind of bird it is! Then the train from Milan to Zurich got delayed by an hour and half. Then my travel back from Zurich to home via Atlanta was another nightmare. ZRH to ATL had a mom, nanny and 2 little boys to add joy! The boys who were 2 and 4 were having a screaming match with their mom who was a real b!tch! She was a screamer as well. Constantly screaming at her kids. The nanny was no good as well! Everyone in the cabin had a headache at the end of the 11 hour flight which got delayed by another hour due to bad weather. At the end of the flight, I am sure most of the passengers got their tubes tied or got a vasectomy!

Now I am in Atlanta, at least it is quiet, but my flight has been getting delayed by 30 minutes every 30 minutes! God knows when I can go home and have to go to work tomorrow 😦

And don’t even get me started about the airport security sham!

P.S. I guess I need to borrow the the “Kala Tikka” from the mommy bloggers so that I can travel without these nightmares and post fun travel posts!

January 20, 2010

Guess where I am

Filed under: travelogue — Tags: , — yaadayaada @ 9:56 am

Guess where I am….. No.. Here is a hint!

Duomo

Duomo, Milan

Yup! In Milan, Italy on a business trip!

p.s Thanks for the bday wishes! Here is where I celebrated my bday. Here and in Boo’s house. Bday celebrated in two countries. Swiss and Italy.. More details to follow!!

January 13, 2010

Hawa Hawaii!

Had a wonderful time in Hawaii Christmas through New Year! Visited Honolulu and Big Island with Boo and family. You can get detailed travelogue from Boo’s travelogue. It was a great vacation. We did the snorkeling, hiking, swimming, sight seeing, animal spotting, beach combing, sun bathing to name a few. Will put some pictures up sometime soon!

I booked my trip through Pleasant Hawaiian travels. They were good. But our flight seats were messed up due to a “glitch” that no one know owns up to. So our group was kind of separated. So in future, need to double check with airlines a week before so that we can set these things straight ahead of time. Since all the airlines, other than the good ones, started charging for Check in baggages, we didn’t check in any. We took it all as carry on. But interisland airlines are even smaller and their carry on baggage sizes are smaller, so had to shell out 10$ each for 4 our carry-ons. I hate flying. And I hate how the airlines are ripping people off.

We stayed at Aston Waikiki on the beach in Waikiki Beach. It was very nice. Easy access to the beach. There is a children’s beach right opposite to the hotel. No waves, calm and wonderful for little children.

We stayed at Aston Kona by the Sea in Big Island. It is a condo. The condos are ocean front. It is a wonderful to watch the sunset. Very helpful staff. Some of the best beaches in big Island on the West coast are Anaehoomalu Beach (calm, lifeguard, beach equipment rentals, restaurants nearby), Hapuna Beach(Wonderful, hite sandy beach, nice waves if you like wave riding, picnic areas), Punalu beach (Black sand beach and turtles on beach). We couldn’t go to any of the beaches in West coast. So no tips there. But I do suggest visitors to split their stay between Kona and Hilo that way, they can get to see both the coasts at an easy pace. The snorkeling is best near the Captain Cook’s monument (Keauhou Bay). And I saw a reef shark while snorkeling 🙂

Overall, it was one of the best vacations thanks to the company as well as Hawaii!

November 18, 2009

Negative Tide at Half Moon Bay

Went to Half Moon Bay on Sunday thanks to utbt. She told us about the negative tide. We parked at Pillar Post and walked about a mile and half to the reefs. It was worth it. Lot of people with children. The young ones were having fun picking the starfishes, mussels, hermit crabs, etc. People were allowed to harvest some mussels upto 3-5 pounds by the ranger. We saw some guy catch this 2 foot long eel. Super cool! Though bad for the eel. The weather was perfect. Apparently this event occurs a couple of times a year. I was completely awed by the Sea Anemones and starfish.
Here are some pictures.

Sea Anemones

Sea Anemones

Eel

Eel

The Exposed Reef

The Exposed Reef

Starfish

Starfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out some more pictures at slidingwindow.

July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse in India

Filed under: travelogue — yaadayaada @ 7:02 am

I am in India now. The flight experience, Antu’s birthday details will follow in another post. There was a solar eclipse this morning! Husband woke up early thanks to my mom and clicked this wonderful picture!

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

January 9, 2009

Rome Part 2

Filed under: travelogue — Tags: , , , , , , — yaadayaada @ 6:27 am

On Day 2 which was a Sunday, got up early and headed for Vatican to climb the St Peter’s Basilica Duomo. We were there at 8am and had the entire place for ourselves. No one was there, so had a nice climb. The stairs are very narrow and claustrophobic. But it was fun climbing it. Awesome view of the St.Pietro plazza and Vatican from the top. Since no one was there spent some quiet time soaking up the beauty and got down.

St Peter Square from the Duomo

St Peter Square from the Duomo

From there walked to Vittoria plaza. Went inside Vittoria palace. It is a war memorial. From there went to Campodiglio and witnessed the side view of massive Colloseum. Then walked to the Colloseum. Since we had the Roma Pass got in without the standing in the winding queue. The elevator was broken so climbed up the stairs and were awed by the massive structure.  We were remembering the Gladiator movie while standing there. No picture can justify the beauty of it. 

Colloseum

Coloseum

Got out after an hour, escaped the fake gladiators but couldn’t escape this one. Bought some chips and filled ourselves and headed for the Forum. Forum was even more impressive with its temple ruins and palaces. Spent more than couple of hours there. It started drizzling but since it was not heavy enjoyed walking in the drizzle. Got very tired since we had skipped lunch in all this excitement.  Forum is another witness to the intolerence of religion.

Forum

Forum

Then walked back to the hotel with some gelato to keep us going.  Took some rest and headed to a nearby pizza place for dinner. The food was not so great. After the dinner headed towards Pantheon to see the night view of Rome.  Pantheon and Piazza Navono were buzzing with people. From there headed to Vittoria. It was majestic at night. From there went to Campodiglio, Colloseum and Forum. The columns in Forum were a treat to see at night in the moon light.

Columns at night

Columns at night

Coloseum was even more impressive. It was buzzing with newly weds in their wedding gowns and tuxedos taking pictures at the backdrop of Coloseum. We had fun people watching. The entire night walk was magical. Took the bus back to the hotel and slept like babies.

November 2, 2008

Rome – Vatican Part 1

Reached Rome around 7:45pm. Tried to find the Tourist Information(TI) to get the Roma Pass. Roma Pass is very economical. It is 20Euro per person. It covers unlimited public transportation for 3 days, 2 Museum entrance fee(No need to stand in line), plus discounts in other museums. The TI outside the railway station was closed. Rick Steve’s had said that there is one TI at platform number 23 or 24. So we spent 15 minutes walking up and down the platform searching for it and finally went to the car rental near that platform and found the TI hiding there. The TI was supposed to be open until 8:30, we were there at 8 and the ladies there closed it down and refused to sell us the Roma Pass 😦 With disappointment walked to our hotel, Hotel Guiliana. Since it was dark, it was difficult to read the street names, but somehow managed. The hotel was this old building with huge doors. It was ok. After storing the luggage away, stepped out to the halaal pizza place which was next door to our hotel. Took some slices for take out. It was ok. Then retired for the day.

Next morning got up early and left for Vatican in the Metro from the Republica station. Got down at Cipro. Later fond out that Otaviano station is closer than Cipro.

We were at the Museum gate at around 7:20 am. There were around 500 people ahead of us. But without much wait, we were inside Vatican by 8:30 am. The highlight of the day was that they charged me youth fee though I told them I not a youth anymore. What will we do in this world, if not for these simple pleasures!! The ticket prices in all the museums had sky rocketed. We took the audio tour as well. If you don’t take the audio tour, it is a easy short walk from the Systine Chappel to the Basilica. If you take the audio tour, you need to come back to the Museum entrance to give the audio guide back. It was sad to see the violence in all the paintings. One can only imagine the atrocities commited in the name of religion. Makes me pray harder for a peaceful world. The Sistine Chappel was breathtaking. Michael Angelo has stolen my heart. The spiral staircase on the way out was cool!

Spiral Staircase Vatican Museum

Spiral Staircase Vatican Museum

After spending around 3 hours, walked to the St. Peter’s Basilica. There was a huge line for the Duomo. Waited for about 30 mins and gave up. Decided to come back the next day. Went inside the Basilica. It is grand. Reeks of wealth. The best part is Michael Angelo’s Pieta. It is breathtaking. Make sure you take your binacular to check out the Michael Angelo’s autograph across Mary.

Michael Angelo's Pieta

Michael Angelo's Pieta

The cherrubs are huge After spending 30 mins, walked to Castel Sant’Angelo. On the way grabbed some awesome gelato as usual. Got the Roma Pass from the information center there.

From there walked to Piazza Del Popolo. A very nice walk by the Tiber. From there took a bus to Corso d’Italia and walked to Villa Borghese. We had taken a reservation there by phone. We were there an hour early. So grabbed lunch from the cafe. Awesome pizza. Cheapest and good in the whole of Rome. Then went inside the gallery. Nice one. The statues were wonderful so were the paintings. Spent around an hour and half. Came out and took the park mini train for a tour of the Villa Borghese. It was nice and relaxing. Took the bus to Spagna, from there took the Metro to Baberini. Walked to the Trevi fountain from Barberini. Got ourseleves one more gelato and soaked in the beauty of Trevi.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

After throwing some customary coins on the fountain, walked to the Spanish steps. Sat there for sometime. Nice view of Rome from the top with the sunsetting and the choirs filling the air from the church. It was a nice atmosphere. Then returned back to our hotel in the metro.

Relaxed, freshened up and went to Trattoria Antica Boheim for dinner as per the recommendation of Ashwin from Hotel Guiliana. It was pretty good. The gnocchi and pesto linguine, the roasted potatoes, house wine.. One word Yum! After a wonderful dinner, walked ourselves to the nearby internet cafe at Via Napoli and mailed to friends and family. (About 1.50Euro per hour). Came back to the hotel and called it another wonderful but busy day!!

October 19, 2008

Italy Trip Florence Part 3

Filed under: travelogue — Tags: , , , , , , — yaadayaada @ 11:40 pm

On Day 2 in Florence, decided to hit the Dumo and Campanile as early as possible. After a nice breakfast, headed for Duomo. Decided to climb the Campanile first. There were 417 narrow steps to go to the top. Huffing and Puffing reached the top for a wonderful view of Florence. It was fun searching for the Michael Angelo plaza and finding it from the top. Take a look for yourself.

Michael Angelo Plaza from top of Campanile

Michael Angelo Plaza from top of Campanile

Then climbed down and went inside the Dumo and enjoyed the awesome painting of the Ceiling.

Duomo Ceiling

Duomo Ceiling

Decided against going inside the Baptistery. Just took some pictures of the famous bronze door and walked down to Pitti Plaza. Relaxed for sometime there. Did not go inside. Went to the famous vivoli for gelato. Tasty as usual. Then from there went to this great place for lunch. It is called ZaZa. The food was great. Had Florence’s famous Papa al pomodoro and Fettucini with Pesto. The taste is still lingering.
Then exchanged our Travelers Checks. One thing to remember is to exchange money only in American express exchange office. All other places are major rip off. All other places give you at least 80Euro less than Amex. On the way, we saw some great painters painting on the road, sidewalk, etc. Here is a sample:

Sidewalk Paintings in Florence

Sidewalk Paintings in Florence

Then we decided to leave for Rome a little early. Went to the railway station to prepone the tickets only to find that our tickets were missing. Came back running to the hotel to find our tickets in a different bag. Then decided to stick to our old schedule. So dragged our baggages back to the station and left from Florence to Rome at around 6pm.

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