Goa – the land of toddy, feni, siestas and fish! Every where we ate, the sea food menu far out did the veg menu. And Pork!! Goans and their Siesta and Dukkar!
We stayed in Casa Colvale. Back of the Beyond.
If you don’t mind driving 40 minutes to the closest good eatery, and if you dont require extreme luxury – stay there. Because the people are lovely, service fabulous. It’s clean, romantic, extremely peaceful, and the small pool is clean and water beautifully chilled, set in the midst of a forest and by the river Chapora, Siolim.
Places to eat –
Mustard. It’s a mix of Bengali cuisine and French. Both of which use heavy doses of mustard. Bengalis use Kasundi, and the French, version of Dijon. Both potent!
Bomras. Oriental at its best. Beautiful settings, slightly bad service. (PSST – I think my server had inhaled some substance which made him slur and his nose water!) Decentish veg options. The rock fish with galangal is highly acclaimed. PS – order the khowsuey in advance. Its really nice, but not readily available.
Gunpowder. Authentic coastal cuisine. You wont get idli dosa there. Look for their appam’s, ishtew, and fish curry.
La Plage. Shack/ restaurant by the sea. Go there with you costume, jump into the sea, have a few drinks, have a meal, chill and spend the day there. Great service.
Thalassa. On the cliff, by the sea, great food, awesome sunset. Book in advance. Well in advance.
J&A. Amazing Pizza’s. But the service has fallen some.
I have a friend sitting next to me, itching to get hold of some pics on my computer. She also has some suggestions for Goa.
Sinq and Cavalla Night clubs. Look for their bollywood and retro nights.
Leela Cottages. Elevar Restaurant . Another place like La Plage. But its seems La Plage is loosing its plot, in comparison to Leela Cottage. Try the baked Camembert cheese, says friend who breathes down my neck.
Fiesta Old favourite. Still does well.
Curlies. Famous shack. Go. Party. Eat and feel the sand between your toes.
Jardin D’Ulysse. Comes highly recommended.
Go with the flow. S A A. So many restaurants were recommended to me. This was one of them. We needed more than 15 meals to complete the list given by friends.
Antares. Started by Master Chef, runner up no 5 or something. Giving Thalassa a run for it’s money. Book in advance.
PS : Look out for Goan Poi bread, Balchao Naan, Balchao Prawns, Fish Curry, Goan Xacuti. All local favourites.
Do have a Feni and Toddy based Cocktail. If you have the gumption, try it their way, neat with whatever they mix it. I don’t know as I have never had the guts to try.
Sit and Chill. Goa is for relaxing, eating and drinking, Chatting and Catching up. Enjoy!
Underneath the Coconut Tree.
Sitting under the whorls.
Staring at the sky,
My word mixing with yours.
Conversations in the breeze.
Old times and New.
Planning the future.
Blessing the past.
For it brought me to you.
And you can be compared to very few.
(For Mr. Somani – cheers to our many days in the sun!)
The fact that we were found sleeping in our own beds, and not huddled under a park bench, is still a mystery to me. Such was the copious amounts of alcohol consumed.
Munich – Oktoberfest- Beer drinker’s haven.
If you don’t have a table booked in a tent (and if you do, you are my bestest friend ever!)- well then, there is away out – ahh! Way in! Once the fest opens up, and the mad rush to consume beer abates a wee bit, make your way to the festival grounds, on a week day. We went on a Monday. When we reached the grounds, we saw that they were allowing people into tents. Exhilarated we all ran in. Our beer loving friend, ran around cajoling the beer servers ( mostly women) and got us a table.
What’s the big deal about a tent you say? One can sit outside and drink too — open air and all that!
Sure!! So we thought. But the tent was complete madness. They had a band playing in the centre, and suddenly a man would get up and try to go bottoms up on a litre of beer! And everybody around him would cheer him, egg him on, the band would pick up a beat to keep in time with him, and if he failed the entire tent of 3000 people would boo him! But if he made it…. he was proclaimed a hero!! AND – if he stood on a table to gather attention, he would be unceremoniously escorted out of the tent! But only after he made his attempt at the bottoms up! We had to vacate the tent by 6 pm though!!
When we went to the fest in 2013, we were shocked to see rides. What were rides doing in a beer fest?! One half of the fair ground is all rides. And the fair ground is massive. Unbelievable rides, horror shows, and the works. It put universal to shame!
This one swings and then drops down! FAST!
It takes you up, up, up. Makes you
wait, keeps you hanging, then – DROPS!
Viktualienmart This is an open farmers market (open through the week!) We stopped here for lunch. The vegetarians had options of fresh breads, dips, magnificent display of olives, cheeses of all kinds, and smoothies and juices (you think we touched juices??!!) The non vegetarians – went mad! Bratwurst! The world famous – Pork suasages. We had to use a wad of tissue paper to stop their saliva from drooling, as we were sitting right next to the stall and the smell was making them loose control! Word of suggestion – eat and go for the beer fest! And there is no place better than this. Also pick up some good gourmet stuff to take back home. I picked up some red chillies. They just reached out their spicyness and whispered wonderful things in my ears.
Dallmayr: Very fancy gourmet store. They have this orange liquor called Naranja. YUM!
Restaurants and Pubs: Munich is the gourmet destination of Germany. You will be surprised with the food.
Hofbräuhaus München. Old german style restaurant. Great food. Try their mushrooms.
The elder kid left in 2012. I felt like my arm had been wrenched out of my body, and my skin was peeled from my face. At some point the husband and me settled down. Every night when she was safely in bed, I could function without hyperventilating. In 2014 the younger one left. I thought I had my emotions down pat, and knew how to deal with the hollowness!! Not true!
The twilight hours would find me moping around. I have lots to do, a busy household, work and great hobbies. But nothing seemed to light up and shine! I needed a dose. A shot of effervescence and bonhomie.
I had forgotten about Jaysinh Mariwala.
I met him 3 years ago, in Mahabaleshwar. He helped shape our house, and helped shape me.
When I entered uncle’s home for the first time, I heard loud ear blasting Indian Classical music. He and me clicked instantly. How could we not .. love of whisky, cooking, books, and indian classical vocal music – in that order. (He has a humongous and stunning collection of music.)
He cooks – and so well. I must have eaten quite a number of meals at his place, and not once have I ever eaten the same dish. One evening he made fondue, and when I put a piece of the cheese covered bread in my mouth, the taste left me so surprised I almost choked. He had cheekily used blue cheese and made his own version, and man was it good! It just illuminates the point of how creative he can be!
He cooks, he paints, (they are all over his house and range from abstract to realism) he reads, he conducts music concerts, he gives talks, he treks (Yes – still! Twice a year – Himalayas and other obscure places!) and he runs his own Hospital, which has taken off and is now extremely successful. By now, I mean – it’s only 4 years old. He did something as amazing before that – I am sure.
A few months ago, I was sipping whisky and chatting with him. He said, a week before that, he felt a tightness, in his chest, while playing golf (Hmm! that too.) and again the next day when he went for a walk (Yes! that also – he is amazing I am telling you!). So he took himself off to the hospital, and by the time his daughter in law came running in, (he lost his wife some, many years ago) he had already signed himself in for an angio and further action if required. And a week after that he was in Mahabaleshwar, porting around a sorted heart, after undergoing a stent placement! And (Yup! that’s not the end!) he went for a trek to Nagaland one month after that.
And (there are many ands to this man!) a few months before that when I met him, he was sporting heavy bruises on his face. Seems he had gone for a trek and a small stampede happened and he rolled 40 feet towards the crevice of the mountain and stopped rolling at the nick of time. Undaunted that man, still got up, put an end to the trek, saying he knew when to retreat, and planned another one a few months later!
uncle and the husband.
When my husband meets him, I see adoration and extreme happiness in his eyes. We always go home smiling and grinning. The past seems more happy and the future is welcome with all its angst. He is my injection and my guide.
I keep his picture handy. I keep him in my mind. When small problems of life attack me and threaten to spill my confidence I think of him. He says he never feels lonely, living alone in the woods, as he does. He has so much to do, where is the time to feel lonely and unhappy.
The man has had 2 by pass surgeries, and a few stents. He still lives, still drinks, still walks every morning, still laughs and God! Tells bawdy jokes after a couple of drinks!
He does not apologise to life and does not let life apologise to him. There lies the secret of his success, because he knows that there is nothing he cannot do.
I stopped feeling bad for myself. I stopped the self pity. For I have uncle as an example to guide me. I meet him and my life shines. I talk to him and I hear the voice of a mentor. I drink with him and enjoy the whisky even more.
I love that man. And he is all I ever want to be.
MY UNIQUE MARIWALA UNCLE
PS: HE KEEPS SNAKE ANTI VENOM IN HIS HOUSE – KNOWS HOW TO AND, HAS ADMINISTERED IT TO MANY PEOPLE!
I’m afraid, this post is going to be about only drinking and partying. No touristy info, no gyaan and no insights. I cannot – because all we did for 6 days was drink, laugh till tears stormed our cheeks (and in that state, how can one look around?) and ate.
It was hot in parts, in the middle of Sept. So if you don’t like the heat, DO NOT go before that. It was crossing 40deg C in the earlier months.
We have friends who lived in Budapest for 16 years, and they still go there ever so often. Nothing like a local showing you around. We saw places small and big, wonderous and awesome because they took the pains to take us, and show us the side of Budapest most people would not see. Unfortunately they were as mad as us, and as uninterested in tourist shit as we were.
What you must know about Budapest —
It is cheap. I mean in terms of money. The currency is called Forint. It is lower than the Indian Rupee!!!!! Yes! I swear! They did not adopt the Euro. So 10000 Forint is 2500 INR.
The population is as classy as the currency is cheap. The women were hot, well dressed and gorgeous. Alas, the men were not fat, but just about ok looking!
Buda and Pest are two sides of the city, divided by the Danube river. Buda is more residential, ultra green and some places are out of a fairytale book. Pest is the commercial side, with the Parliament and shopping and restaurants etc.
Check out the weather before you leave. Unlike other European countries, Budapest has a more temperate climate. Having said that, they still get very hot summers and cold winters.
Stay in the Pest side.
Uber is not easily available. Nor are taxis. We got caught in a cats and dog kind of shower and were stuck without a taxi for 30 long, soaked minutes! On a normal evening (and no evening was normal for us!) Taxi’s can be booked. Do not hail off the road. It seems, they charge way more. Use the METRO ,TRAMS and BUS. We bought a 3 day pass, and it was super convenient. Most, to all, parts of the city is covered by the public transport. Very efficient!
Eat early. Most restaurants and pubs stop serving food, by 10pm.
EAT DRINK PARTY
The first thing I have to share and the most important are the Ruin Pubs.
When the Lehman Brothers crashed, many people who had bought out dilapidated buildings to renovate and flip over, were told by their bankers that they can no longer be funded. One genius turned his half boarded, semi falling down (but safe), planked, unpainted building into a pub. And called it a RUIN PUB. It became an instant hit and took off as a fad. For one drinks and parties harder, especially when the money is chewed up and gone. To forget!! To live!! (Hungary has just got on its feet again!) So – the ruin pubs! They are huge. And most of them play different sorts of music in different floors/ areas. Its not your classy pub. Just the way it is, boarded up, with peeling paint. But the food, booze and music is world class. (and cheap!!)
Some of the ones our friends took us to – Instant. Fogasház. Let me repeat —– GO THERE. Even if you are 80 years old and reading this ( I don’t think I have an 80 year old reading this .. ) The concept is mind blowing. ( I would have used an F word here – but i might have a 60 year old reading this)
Gozsdu Courtyard. This place is mad. Its a huge alley, with pubs, restaurants, fast food joints and Strip clubs (Yeah!!) on both sides. It’s a You – will – definitley – find – something – of – your – taste- : kinda place. We went almost all nights. Food in most places shut by 10 pm but one can party till dehydrated and puking! UMM! The men in this holiday want to make sure I let you know about — KLIK. Ladies strip thingy. In the middle of Gozsdu! (But what the hell – even I thought it was an excellent marketing gimmick)
Cactus Juice. Very nice underground pub. Great food.
360Deg Roof top bar. Fab fab views. Great drinks. good food. But hey!! Either book, or go early!
Gödör Area. Amazing place. Its an open pond. With an adjoining garden. Get your food, drinks and sit by the pond and eat and more importantly – drink! Hear the music some kids are playing around you. Chill, relax and let go.
Frucht Térász. Open air bar close to this pond.
MIKA. Great open air restaurant. Bump into loads of tourists here and meet some interesting people.
Bordo. Another open air restaurant. Great food.
Rakpart – Pier Bar. Bar by the waters. Great feeling, sitting by the river, sipping drinks.
Tokio. Amazing amazing oriental food. Good for vegetarians also. Very close to the river.
Pomodoro. First class Italian food. Must go.
Bombay Curry Bar. Now this one!!– you have to go to. Even if you are not craving Indian food. The food was fresh, wholesome. The service warm and welcoming and the decor very brisk and entertaining. They have 2 restaurants. One in Andrassy area, and another in Corvin area.
Sugar Shop. I am a pastry chef. It takes a lot for me to get excited about desserts!! This shop was a marvel. Very cute, excellent pastries and great ice creams. They even have a candy store.
Daubner Pastry Shop. I want to work there.. in their bakery! Frankly the pastries were nothing I want to dance and sing about, but their baked goods!! OH MY! OH MY! Things I have never had before. Sorry! Cannot go on with the description. It evokes very hungry lusty memories! Its on the Buda side, so use that time to drive around and see the greener side of this crazy city.
Gelarto Rosa. Near the Basilica. Firstly it’s not only a gimmick, the flavours of ice cream available are humongous and they also taste amazing. Fresh. Fantastic.
Choose your flavours. Try and choose at least 2 distinct colours. Why —-
BESIDES THE EATING AND PARTYING:
SHOPPING : Shop!! A lot! Because it’s way cheaper here than anywhere else. Because every thing is available here. Because retail therapy will keep you away from drinking too much!
My friend who is an Louis Vuitton fan, entered the shop to check out the prices and came back hyper ventilating and flapping. It took her two long sips of water and a few deep breaths to tell us all, that the prices were low! Needless to say, pockets got burnt.
Go to the Andrassy Avenue for all the designer stores.
For smaller more intimate stores ( and even the bigger names) go Tovörösmarty tér.
Vass Shoes: Very famous custom made shoes. My husband had a huge grin on his face for the entire hour he was there and for a few hours post that! They have for women too, but its more famous for men’s shoes.
THERMAL BATH. We went to Rudas. Awesome, must do experience. On Sundays men and women are allowed together. Carry your costume and be prepared to soak up a life extending experience. I will not describe this is detail. All I will say is – go! HAve fun. Relax. PS: Carry a botlle of water! See the details here!
Basilica : you will end up passing it.
For stunning, panoramic views and great pictures, go the to Castle District. Look for events taking place. We went when a chocolate festival was on!
In parting – I do tell thee! Budapest is happening! Amazing and Outstanding. If you like to see something different, feel something different .. make your trip!
Some body somewhere insulted God, via some random Facebook page. Another bunch of random people, reacted. Some got defensive about Him, and tried to clear his name and explain his actions. Some defended the defender. Some went off and started a different rant. Yet another group took it personally and started a hysterical family drama!
Why? For what joy?
God is supreme. He can defend himself. I am sure he knew what he was doing, and why he was doing what he was doing! Hell – Even I say what I did ten years ago, I did to the best of my knowledge. I don’t believe in hindsights and looking back. I did what I thought was right at that moment of time.
If I slapped my kid, I thought he deserved it. I have no regrets now! I am sure God too feels the same way! Leave him alone, to his devices. I am sure he will be fine!
“Not my monkey, Not my circus!” Well said, whoever said it. Live and let live.
If it’s not our issue, why go all big time “principally” over it? Leave it be.
Just because some one calls us a fool, we don’t become one! If calling names helped – I would call myself a classical singer, an amazing chef and a great personality!
We all have a circle of solitude in us. If we make that a peaceful place to be in, its a wonderful space to exist. Not traumatised by the world and it’s meaningful vengeance against the world and it’s loose mouthed people!
I say, take 10 calm breaths, each to the count of 10. Then say what you have to say. Mostly I loose my patience and just walk off!
I’ve heard a story of an ancestor, who had an ungodly number of children. She wanted to whack some number of them at most times of the day. She would tell them, “Just you wait, I am going to give you a solid one on your bum! Just let me push all my bangles up. They will get in the way!” She got a breather while doing it, and had the time to think about her actions. But most importantly the kid got the message and backed off!!
I never knew her, but I really liked this lady!
Breathe, meditate, let go!!
Nothing can bother you, nothing should bother you!
The heaven where green hills, rolling meadows, snow clad alps and busy streets turn the unromantic into a poet and a poet into a sufi saint.
We stayed at the Chalet Alpstein – all 19 of us, ranging from 2 years to 65 years of age. (+41 33 853 0844). The view from our chalet was something out of picture postcard. Gorgeous old fashioned homes set on lush green hills, by even greener carpet – like meadows and mountains covered in the last legs of snow.
One of the finest supermarkets I have been to – Co op. (pronounced as COOP), was just behind our chalet. Many a times, we took the shopping cart itself to our apartment and returned it after we stored our stuff in the kitchen.
If you are staying for a good number of days do get hold of the Swiss Pass. This gives you instant access to trains, bus, cable cars (barring a few) and is extremely convenient. Keep it with you AT ALL TIMES.
Buses transverse up and down Grindelwald.
The train station is the main hub, where you might find taxi cabs too.
There is this lady, who does taxi service all over Grindelwald. Call her and she will pick you up. She also has a huge van for larger groups.
Please note, there is only one clinic with an xray machine. It shuts once a week. Be careful with all the activities.
If you are living in a chalet or self catered apartment, and need a cleaner this lady comes in highly recommended. But please inform your land lord or ask her / him for their daily cleaner.
There is sooooo much to do in Grindelwald, that it can exhaust you to sleep early in the evening.
Tobogganing This is dry tobogganing, on a steel tray set on an incline, and not the snow one. You have to take a bus up to Pfingstegg, and then a cable car up. Please note that not only kids ,but even adults will want to do it at least twice.
The speed is under your control.
I highly recommend a walk down, back to the town. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The beauty and the greenery just stops your heart. Lots of places to sit on the way.
Jungfrau. Take a train from the main station, and go to Jungrau. (J is pronounced as Y).
Please Note: Look for a warm sunny day. Even then you need to dress warmly. You must step out into the lookout and do some snow activities. For that the ears need to be covered, the body needs a full jacket and dark glasses ARE A MUST!. The snow is so blinding, that you wont be able to see without it.
Be Warned — the altitude gets really high. Though the train takes you up really slowly and you keep getting used to the height, some people might feel a bit breathless. The heart rate increases slightly. But mostly all manage.
DO NOT go in peak season. The crowds are horrendous and takes close to 1 hour or more to catch the train back.
Food in Jungfrau.
I have a walking talking encyclopaedia of a sweet brother in law. He suggested something awesome.
There are three restaurants in Jungfrau. One is a self service. One is — are you ready for this?– Bollywood Cafe. And it served Bollywood food!! Thanks to Yash Raj and his films, Switzerland is a popular Indian attraction. (All Indians throng there, so space constraint). Cristal, is a seated restaurant. You can make a booking too. Slightly expensive, so you will always get a booking there. Excellent food. Another options is to pack some sandwiches etc and eat it there.
They have a huge Lindt shop up there!
Do some snow activities, while you are there. Unless the weather is really rotten, they have Zip lining, tobogganing etc organised.
The Eiger Trail. Those fond of walking, walk along the hills of Eiger. Do go to the local tourist centre for details.
The Grindelwald sports centre. If it’s raining and you are stuck, go to the sports centre. Indoor pool, rock climbing, rope room etc. Grindelwald also has an outdoor pool. Please ask your concierge. I have lost the address – (Swiss names!!)
Zip lining Take the cable car to the last station, and do Zip Lining.
Trotti Bike DO NOT DO IT. It looks awesome. But its a 4.5 km ride, on a very very steep decline. 6 of us were doing it, and two fell. One was hurt so badly that we had to rush him to hospital. Luckily it was on the very first decline. Once a little way down, there is no way up. They have no emergency evacuation. No way to contact base that someone has fallen. And no SOS medical treatment!! And to top it all – private cars ply on the same road. Imagine loosing control and banging head long into a car??
If you do end up doing it, please keep your brakes applied at all times. Heavy people, refrain. People with bad balance refrain. People with neck and back problems refrain!
Paragliding is super super fun. And the organisation is very sturdy and well managed. Call before hand and book in advance. Sometimes it could be a little away, and you might need to take a train.. (see why I suggest the Swiss Pass?)
Go to Small Towns Just hop on to the train, and make your way into small quaint towns. Spend the day, discovering neighbouring places. The trains are really convenient. Like a hop on – hop off bus. Contact the local tourist office for details. I reccommend, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken amongst the many others.
Lake Bachalpsee. I have’nt been, but I believe its a top rated thing to do. Its quite a walk, but the view is worth it.
Picnic by a Stream. We walked and walked and found a walking trail by a stream. At some point, we found a rocky opening leading to the stream, and claimed it for our picnic spot. The water is white, mixed with clay. The steam rushes and gushes and we were warned not to go in, at the risk of being swept away. I have never found a better way to unwind! We all pulled out our shoes, and dipped our legs in the chilled chilled water. Just sit and hear the sound of the stream and feel all the negative stuff wash away with it.
Drink from a stream. As you keep walking around the area, stop and drink from the spring. Not the white water I mentioned above, but look for clear spring, linking itself into the river. The water is crystal clear and medicinal!
Roll Down Hill. Find a huge hill. Walk up and then roll down!!Its super super amazing. Be careful not to trespass.
Every Wednesday, during summer Grindelwald roads shut down for a party. The entire road is blocked for stalls, rock shows etc. You can eat your dinner there on that day. Sangria, Beer, wines all sold in the stalls.
Do have the local cuisine. Fondue, Raclette and Roesti. PLEASE!!
Mercato at Hotel Spinne. Excellent Pizza. Asked to be seated outdoor on a nice day.
Hotel Eiger. Their Eiger fries are yum! Try their Roesti too! Fondue and Raclette also amazing. Sit outside!
Kirschbuhl. Way up on the hill! Book in advance. Fantastic Roesti. Ask for their special fondue!
Golden India One of the best Indian food I have had. Their roti’s, even cold was wonderful!
Fondue in Lauterbrunnen If you end up going to Lauterbrunnen, Please – I urge you to have the fondue here! (click on the link!)
Coop– I love this super market. Bang in the middle of the city, near the bus station! You get EVERYTHING there!
Walk around, and see what you like.
Great Sports shoes and super winter wear.
Chocolate Shop Click on the link and find the place (not difficult) and go buy some chocolates!! Fresh and amazing!
Hotel Eiger has a super bar
As does Spinne
Avacado Bar, on the main street looks very happening.
Many years ago I worked in a Zurich Bakery for a few days. This time over, I found the city, buzzing with people of all sorts. Shops were open longer, more restaurants had mushroomed, and tourists from all over thronged this small but extremely cute city.
Zurich does not have the buzz of London, but it definitely has something which draws me back to it.
Since we spent not more than a few days, we did not look around for any activities. Each of us had a bit of shopping to do and loads of restaurants to explore.
Lake picnic. We met a couple friend in Fishers Fritz. Its a camping ground and an open air bar. We got rain for the first hour, so we could only order drinks. Once the tables opened up, we could order some food. (the swiss are sticklers for rules). The french fries with truffles was absolutely awesome.
Sit by the lake. Zurich has a massive lake. The lake I have mentioned above is the same lake I mention here. This end is by the main city, where as the lake front I mentioned above, needs a 20 minute taxi drive, it extends sooo far. Take a few sandwiches, pick up your poison, sit by the lake and watch the world go by. I believe, ferry rides, and summer lake water activities are a big draw in Zurich.
Look up and see the Alps.
Walk and cycle. You are more liable to bang into a cyclist than a car. Though post office hours the car traffic jams are gigantic. Walk around, all over, take trams, hire a cycle and explore this city.
Trams – are very easy to access and go just about every where. Take a day pass, for a pass for the entire duration you are in Zurich.
Hikes Zurich citizens are known to take off for hikes in and around their city. They have some wonderful trails and some fascinating views. No wonder I did not see even one over weight Swiss. You can find some trails here
Zoo The siblings took their tinies to the zoo. They told me that they could have spent one entire day there. The zoo was wonderful for adults as well as kids. Other than animals it also had a lot of rides and small play area for kids. The brother said that the Restaurant – Pantanal was very very good.
Sprungli You have to and must visit the main Sprungli shop. Ofcourse you will eat there, (as I will soon mention) and shop there too. But the first time, just go and see the spectacular display of chocolates, chocolate related products and the various different ice creams and drinks available in the main shop. Its an unforgettable, mouth opening, jaw hanging experience. And its always crowded!!
Old Town Its walking distance from main Bahnofstrasse ( the main street). The roads are clean (are you surprised?) and its a pleasure to walk around. Neiderdof has quaint shops, great restaurants and ice cream parlours.
Train Station. No. I am not a train spotting junkie- This station, rather whats underneath the station is a marvel. They have built an entire city under the tracks. You can shop, eat, window shop. And nope – its not claustrophobic.
For the best Raclette and Fondue – go to the old town. Swiss Chuchi – Adler Hotel. Outstanding experience. Please book in high season. Sit outdoors if the weather is good. And please have white wine with it. And a Kirsch after that to wash it down.
Belvoirpark This is actually a culinary school. The students cook and serve. Sometimes the service can get a bit clumsy, but do over look that. Because the food is terrific. http://www.belvoirpark.ch/ Book in advance.
Some other restaurants, and some of them Michelin Star are –
The entire Bahnoffstrasse (the main street) is a shopping Mecca.
Jelmoli (J is pronounced as Y) has all the upmarket brands.
Annahof I love this shop. It has many medium level brands. So you can go here for lingerie as well as a wedding gown. Shoes, Bags, Make up, everything.
Co op There are many all over Zurich. For all ye foodies – go pick up everything gourmet from here. Has normal food stuff by the horde too.
Pharmacy. There are many all over Zurich. There is something about the stuff available here. I always make it a point to pick up Traumalix Dolo 5% gel. This is a fabulous non smelling, no burning gel for bruises, sprains and strains. Pick up your basic vitamins. All pharmacies will have someone to help you.
Sprungli you must shop here for the luxemburglies, the truffles, the cheese sticks and the tiny tiny icecream scoop in a tiny tiny waffle cone. Try their hot chocolate and cold chocolate milk. Buy your dark chocolate here. Basically, be warned to drop a lot of hard earned money here.
HotelIf you get a good rate, stay in Glockenhof. Its bang in the centre of the street, yet just off centre to not have you feeling like you are in the middle of rush hour traffic. Great rooms. Super breakfast.
Some notes about Zurich.
Travel by tram. Its cheap and fun.
Eat lots of Swiss food. Trust me there is nothing like the original.
Take home some cheese.
Take home a fondue set.
Go for the Raclette set too!
Be polite and the swiss will be polite in return. They love their rules.
If you need a watch, buy one here. Interlaken (2 hours by train) is very cheap for it
Travel around by train. You can take many one day journeys and visit small villages and mountain peaks.
Walk, walk, walk.
Drink some local wines and beers. They are really good.
If you dong mind a little expensive variety of undergarment – go to Calida. only available in Switzerland, it costs a bit, but lasts for ever and is amazingly comfortable. Look for sales. Their nightwear is hMMmmm!
Bruges is the cutest, quaintest town I have been to. Completely a tourist destination, the main square is buzzing with people, horse carriages – drawn by some of the handsomest horses I have ever seen.
The cobbled roads, trams, horse carriages and old stone buildings lend it a charm of the Medieval era. And then suddenly out of the blue, you will see a horse carriage loaded with barrels of beer. It makes you want to run to the nearest bar and sip some ot the cool thirst quenching ale.
What had us on the throes of disappointment was that nary a brewery was to be found. We went into alleyways, and near by monk inhabited villages.. Nope! We were not allowed to see any breweries. None existed. The only thing we could do was have a couple of local beers on tap! Belgium and beers on tap! Whats so great? Visiting a few breweries and tasting them, just as they were chilled for the first time, would have been the great experience.
Nevertheless, we had copious litres of beer of every kind.
Delerium, was a great place to visit. They had beers made with coconut flavour and so on!
Lots of Bars all over the town.
Do sample some of the gins in the special outlets.
We cycled to Knokke, via Damm. It was a hilarious experience, but only on hind sight. We were told Bruges is almost shut on a Sunday, so we decided to cycle to Knokke, a sea side town, 15 km away from Bruges. Not much, specially as we were stopping in Damm mid way for a bite, and planning to load the cycles on a train, with us on our return.
We reached Damm, and enjoyed the Sunday festival going on, with loads to eat and drink.
Then the confused husband, met an equally confused tourist. And confusion + confusion led to us taking the wrong route to Knokke and we ended up doing 15 km more instead of just 8 more. And the last 4 on an incline with head wind!! Needless to say, our legs were jammed and back sides sore.
But Knokke is a beautiful town. The summer had turned on, and people were deliriously sun bathing in the multiple sea touching restaurants and shacks. Lovely restaurants and shopping. Worth a days visit.
Damm, was also beautiful. Small quaint village. We did not leave the market and venture around too much.
What amazing food!! Surprisingly many many fine dinning options.
Some of the restaurants we visited ..
Jai Bhavani. Dont get deterred by the name. Fabulous Indian food.
Le Petit Patron, Great Swiss food.
Some of the Restaurants I had researched and heard great reviews ..
Since we landed up during an odd time of the week, many of these establishments were closed for their weekly off.
While roaming the Streets, do go to Go Fre, and have their waffles on sticks – with caramel dripping..
Of course – waffles all over Bruges are YUMMY!
Canal Ride – personally, I found it a bit boring. But you do end up seeing some gorgeous building, up close and you see this little cutie …
Antwerp is full of Indians. The first restaurant we went into, asked us if we want any Jain dishes. Since it wasn’t an Indian restaurant, I was dumb founded, till I remembered that we are in a city taken over by the Indian Jain community. City of Diamond Trade.
I have no fondness for Antwerp. The city has no very special history, and nothing special in terms of sight seeing.
We had very good meals there though!
I can name only some of the restaurants – the ones we visited.
Tasty Thai Express. Excellent hole in the wall thai food.
Lebanese – many many hole in the wall lebanese joints, but food will be fresh, and the tastiest most authentic you have ever had.
Danieli – High End Italian. Fabulous ambience. Great service and food.
I was seeing a TV serial, and they were talking about Paris. Their affair is about to bloom, but not yet! Just loads of chemistry flying around!
She is about to go to Paris with a very rich man! And He tells her that, she should get lost in magical Paris. One should wake up in the morning, and go out and walk and get lost. And when one is tired and hungry, stop at one of the many cafes and eat the amazing Parisian food, and then get up and walk some more and get lost again.
And repeat it the next day.
We did just that. Except we were so forewarned and feverishly and fervently told “ we must eat and so and so restaurant” – that we booked our lunches and dinners way in advance.
Of course once we reached Paris, and once we spoke with the concierge + receptionist + porter + accountant, we changed our mind and went with some of her suggestions.
We stayed at the Signature St. Germaine Des Pres. It’s a small cute and quaint hotel, in the St. Germaine Area, off Boulevard Raspail. Very close to a lot of good café, shopping and charming chocolate shops.
The breakfast was very average, so after the first day we went to Le Pain Quotidien, which was close by.
Ask for their biggest room, but stay there. It was a great experience.
Yes, yes!! Lets come to the most important part!! (I’m rubbing my hands in glee!)
We ate and ate and ate. And every meal was a delight to the palate, the heart and the soul! (Especially after the terrible food at Epernay!)
Le Grande Da Venise. Was suggested by my very close friend. Her, normally quiet husband was also ready to start dancing, when she started singing praises about this restaurant. And good lord of mine!! Was it praise worthy!!
Recommend – The anti pasti. Do not over do the bread before that, even though the salted butter and fabulous olive oil will over power your will. The anti pasti is huge. And I really do mean gigantic. The portions as well as the number of dishes. And if you are non vegetarian, you can expect a few more dishes added to the mix.
The ever – on – the – move lady will come and take your main course order. Trust me I thought we could not eat much of the main course, but we ended up making good use of our forks and knives.
YOU MUST HAVE THEIR CARAMEL ICECREAM.
Trust me – every table I looked, people were busy eating. No one seemed bothered about calories, or conversation.
Aperge. Words cannot describe the experience. It belongs to one of the best chefs ever. A three Michelin Star restaurant. And retains it’s status, year after delicious year.
Chef Allain Pasard, grows his own greens, and the reds and blues and every color of vegetable that adorned our table. He went rogue and took all red meat out of the menu 2 years ago. Very recently has he reintroduced it again. A vegetariains dream come true – This restaurant.
We had a 14 course meal, — (Yes! Its not a misprint and you do not have schizophrenia!)
The wine list – Muah! Muah!!
WARNING – Please confirm reservations way in advance. You will be charged if you do not show up / cancel before 48 hours. ‘
Do confirm the prices per head – it was expensive. But a life times experience.
Café Marley. Over looks the Louvre. Its set in the galleries which over look the glass pyramid. Great place for people watching.
And food which sets your senses on fire. We had the Gazpacho Soup. If its still on the menu – go for it! And the thin Apple Tart too!
Book in advance and sit outside if it’s a nice day. Inside is nice – but very warm!
Laduree An institution in Paris. And OH MY – WHY NOT !! We sat on the outside café, and had amazing food. Try the cheese cake salad, their desserts and macaroons.
Les Souffles. Fluffy, well risen, great taste, phenomenal flavours. One thinks of stomach feeling like a pot of stones, after a three cheese soufflé – not so! Do not miss, what I have rated as the best soufflés I have ever eaten!
Buddha Bar – frankly food was very so so! But the music post 11 pm was brilliant!
Other restaurants:- These were suggested by the same friends who suggested the above restaurants, so they are definitely worth checking out!
Bistrot Paul Bert.
Ralph Lauren restaurant.
Places to see
Frankly, we are not Museum nuts! There are all the obvious museums one must see, but if you want to escape the madness of Louvre, and Notre Dam, there are lesser known museums worth going to.
(Many of Paris’s smaller museums contain equally important and beautiful art—and are often more pleasant, since you won’t be elbowed out of the way by a photo-snapping swarm. You’ll find Monet’s famous Nymphéas (water lily) murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, at the far end of the Tuileries Gardens. The Musée Marmottan is home to the world’s largest collection of Monets. And the Musée Rodin, housed in a luminous villa with a lovely garden, is one of the most romantic places in all of Paris.)
Luxembourg Gardens – for the sheer beauty, expanse and people watching.
Champs Elysees for all the fabulous stores and the experience
Hermes : the store. Even if you don’t want to buy anything! Its one of the best stores I have ever seen.
Latin Quarters Go straight to Rue St. Michael. And then turn into the busy lanes. Full of cafes, restaurants and a few shops. Have a meal or a glass of wine.
Chocolate Crawl at St Germain. The entire area is filled with small and petit chocolate shops. Truffles, macaroons, fudges, bars, rocks, barks — you name it. Even if chocolate is not your thing – you cannot leave Paris without entering atleast two shops, and savouring a few of those yummy things!
Gourmet food shopping If not in Paris then where? The two most famous shops are in Galleries Lafayette and Bon Marche. I went to Bon Marche and then I went to heaven. I was like a kid who was allowed to roll in the mud and then eat without washing them hands! Like a dog with unlimited forbidden treats! Like a geek with three new- latest gadgets! You get the picture ??
Alas! I did not do much of shopping. Bought my self some boots! And some basic stuff – This trip was all about eating!
Next one -(for there are many more restaurants we need to try!) I’ll shop – I Promise!
(the below excerpts are taken from the internet)
Window Shopping, on RUE SAINT-HONORÉ.
(FROM THE NET) If designer shopping and elite French brand names set your heart all aflutter, get thee to the rue Saint-Honoré. The favorite haunt of fashionistas the world over, here you’ll rub elbows with everyone from Japanese DJs to Saudi Princesses. Whether it’s the ultra-hip (Colette, Damir Doma, Comme des Garçons), French status labels (Goyard, Hermès, Chanel), or something a bit less pricy but every bit as stylish as the big boys (Zara, & Other Stories) you’re sure to find it here. Beginning at the Palais Royal and ending at the Elysée Palace, it’s an afternoon prowl to satisfy the most indefatigable shopper.
AFTERNOON IN THE MARAIS
(FROM THE NET) Hands down the best shopping neighborhood in Paris, the Marais is all that and so much more. Located in the historic 3rd and 4tharrondissements, the Marais’s ancient hôtel particuliers (private mansions), superb museums (Musée Carnavalet, Cognacq-Jay Museum, and the soon-to-reopen Musée Picasso), great restaurants, cafés, Paris’s famous old Jewish quarter, and the lovely Place des Vosges make it an absolute must-see. Wander up the rues Vieille du Temple and Franc Bourgeois, two of the neighborhood’s central spines, and discover the charming side streets and the quartier‘s many hidden delights.
Walk, Walk, and Walk in Paris! You might find yourself somewhere! VOILA!