28 Aug 2014

Where to go when you don't have a "Weekend Plan"


Do you usually stay in hotels when you travel? Increasingly, I prefer to rent apartments rather than stay at hotels. You have the luxury of space (no matchbox-sized rooms), you don't have to rush to make it to the breakfast buffet and it's pretty much a home away from home. If you plan well, you can actually save some money and have a better holiday experience. We rented apartments in Europe last year and one of my favourites was Residence La Medicea in Florence. It was just nicer coming back 'home' after a day of traipsing around Florence - sitting on the terrace with a glass of wine and writing, as the nearby market wound down and the setting sun casting long shadows on the dome of the Medici Chapel opposite our apartment... 

Apartment rentals are big these days, with AirBnB being a popular 'marketplace'. TripAdvisor too has recognised this niche and now offers apartment listings. An apartment of your own is a luxury, so imagine having an entire villa at your disposal! Last week I got a chance to check out a villa in Kashid (near Alibaug), courtesy the good folks at The Weekend Plan. So I rounded up three of my girlfriends, we piled into a car and had a short, fun girlfriend getaway, right in the middle of the week :) 

La Dolce Vita

25 Aug 2014

And the winner of the giveaway is...


A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the Tea Nest giveaway on the blog earlier this month! A special thanks to all of you who spread the word by sharing and retweeting :) 



The winner was picked via Random Result

And the lucky winner who gets a 2N/3D stay at Tea Nest Coonoor is...

6 Aug 2014

Contest: Win 2 nights at Tea Nest, Coonoor!


Last month I went chasing the monsoons in the lush green tea estates of Coonoor, in the Nilgiris (read about the #CoonoorTrail). 



I stayed at the pretty-as-a-picture Tea Nest Annexe (of Nature Resorts group) and spent an idyllic two days wandering about the sprawling tea gardens, tasting different varieties of tea, getting (over) fed, listening to the pattering rain and the birdsong, trying to find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - and of course, sharing it all with you, via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram



Many of you wrote back saying that you'd love to stay at the Tea Nest, so guess what? The good folks at Nature Resorts have offered you a chance to do just that! You can win a 2 night/3 day stay at Tea Nest Annexe and experience its tranquility for yourself.  



23 Jul 2014

Do you have a Travel Bucket List?



A few weeks ago a book arrived in my mail - Bucket List of a Traveloholic, by Sarika Pandit. "A frenzied quest of not just collecting stamps in her passport, but ticking off items off her ever-expanding bucket list", said the blurb at the back of the book. Pandit's bucket list ranged from 'learning a local language in a country (Spain)' to 'a literary trail of favourite authors (UK)', from 'road tripping to the Sahara (Morocco) to 'bumping into the Big Five (South Africa)'. To be sure, several of these bucket list items seem to have evolved from a trip itself, so technically cannot be called a 'bucket list'!

Nevertheless, as a first book it's a commendable effort. Heck, everyone has a book in them, only a brave few get it out, right? I enjoyed the book in parts; Pandit has a flair for storytelling, but it's a bit inconsistent. The Eastern Europe chapters were my favourites and I am certainly plotting to get there! 

I felt that Pandit's language was a bit blog-like throughout the book, which may work for some readers of course. Also, she seems to have ignored William Faulkner's well-known writing advice - "you must kill all your darlings"! The book is peppered with them and could have done with tighter editing. Overall, a quick, fun read. Have you read it? What did you think?

Talking about bucket lists, here's one experience I would love to add to mine - Volunteering at the Golden Temple langar. I didn't get a chance to do it the last time I visited. But I did see the langar operations firsthand and I wrote about it for National Geographic Traveller; the feature appeared in the June 2014 issue of the Indian edition of the magazine. Read on to know more.  



14 Jul 2014

Chasing the Monsoons, on #CoonoorTrail

Hello from cool and rainy Bangalore! Sorry about the radio silence on the blog, but I have been travelling. After my last trip to Almora, I was back in Mumbai for a bit and then took off again - this time down South. From Bangalore, the husband & I headed off to Coonoor on a whim and had such a fun (working) vacation :) 


If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you'd have seen my updates and photos from Coonoor. If you don't (why not?!), here's a 'storified' version of my #CoonoorTrail. We went chasing the monsoons in the Nilgiris and these photos will surely prompt you to take a monsoon vacation soon!