Amritsar

If someone tells you that a day in Amritsar is enough, disown that person immediately!!

We spent 2 nights and 3 days, and still were running short of time to do everything we wanted to and eat everything we needed to.

Amritsar is one part spiritual, and one part sin! Both are as diverse and as important. We were a mixed group of people, some who were careful of what and where they eat, some small eaters – but sweet lovers, some who just went with the flow. Let me tell you every single one of us enjoyed the spiritual and sin part equally!

GOLEN TEMPLE (the spiritual side)

It is worth going through the history of the temple before you go for the darshan. You can read it here.

You are allowed to carry a bag and your phone.

Park you car at the Golden Temple parking and either walk or take a three wheeler to the temple gates.

There are four gates to enter the temple. Please try and go from the gate closest to the information centre (so that you will easily  find one of the sin parts I was talking about! :P)

Wear footwear that can be washed later. Leave your footwear at the footwear centre. (You must note the sewa that goes on there. You will find people polishing your shoes, or cleaning them.)

Enter the temple and join the line that leads to the Harmandir Saheb where the Guru Granth Saheb is kept in the day. Go up one floor from the main Granth Saheb and then one more floor up. You will see the oldest Granth Saheb. A priest reads from this non stop – 24 hours.

Take your prasad . – for this do carry a small box or zip lock bag. A lot of prasad is given and sometimes you might not be able to finish it on the spot. This way you can eat it at leisure – or with your langar.

Head to the Akal Takhth – the main Sikh Seat. Sit there for a while. It’s considered very holy.

Roam around. Take pictures. We went in the night. The Golden Temple runs 24 hours – by the way!! The glamour and beauty is very visible at night. Around 8.30 pm to 9 pm they take the Granth Saheb to the Akal Takhth for the night. It’s bought back in the morning at 4 am in a palanquin, and that’s the other darshan which would be worth doing. We went in the evening, did the darshan, had dinner at the Langar and left for the night.

the golden temple

You must eat at the Langar. It is a very simple fare. But the fact that it feeds anyone 24 hours of the day, and is made by sevaks who carry deep spiritual intent, makes the food extra special and tasty.

Finally we picked up our footwear and headed to the hotel.

At every auspicious place people pay their respect. If you are confused about what to do, just follow the lead of the public.

PLACES TO SEE

Jalianwala Baug

A must visit. It might bring out a rage in you, or it might just be another page in history. But do go. It does not take long.

Gobindgarh Fort 

They have a sound and light show, and a 7D show. It gives you the history of the fort, some about the struggle for independence and loads about the Gurus of the community. Look up the timings and see the show. I found it educative and interesting.

Wagah Border for the fiery Indian spirit. We did not go, but our friend did. She said she had goose pimples throughout. You have to book a seat via web site before hand. Ask your hotel to do it. Don’t go with the touts, keep your own car.

FOOD (the sin side!)

Ah! Sin city this Amritsar. Diet before hand. Starve if you must, but be prepared to eat delicious food  in Amritsar.

Kulcha land. People will tell you it’s where all tourists go. Don’t let that deter you. They go there because the Kulcha and channa is  seriously unbelievable. Do not miss.Have the masala kulcha. Tell them to make it really crisp. Lassi is also awesome.

Kesar Da Dhaba Another hole in the wall, but a must visit.

Kanhyalal They make those stuffed Bedmi Puri with Aloo lonji, channa and spicy aloo sabji. (you have to ask for the aloo sabji). Have the lassi. Yum! Best place for breakfast.

Ram Lubhaya & sons. For khatta and aam papad. Right next to Kanhyalal.

Gurdass Ram Jalebi Wale. When you leave the Golden Temple, (which is why I asked you to enter from the gate close to the information) ask anyone for Khooi Galli, or the famous Jalebi shop itself. You must must eat the Jalebi and the Gulab Jamun. Exactly opposite this shop is a shop which makes hot milk. 

Makkan Surprisingly many Kulcha shops in Amritsar are purely vegetarian. For the best fish in town go to Makkan. They do good chicken also.

Bira Chicken lovers paradise.

Gianni Tea Stall  for fabulous tea in matti ka kulhad.

Paan  Next to Kulcha Land, there is a paan shop. Just go to see the mad varities he has. We got a simple paan made, and it was outstanding. He is very famous for his fire paan.

Bansal sweets for original pinni, moti choor ladoos etc.

Taj Swarna  we stayed there and had one meal there. Fantastic Kuclha, channa. Amazing service.

SHOPPING

Raunak for jooti’s. Though frankly, jooti’s are available dime a dozen, the ones available here are very comfortable. My friend bought one from else where but found the ones from Raunak better.

Kartar Singh Di Hatti.  For all phulkari dupattas, salwar suits, lucknowi suits etc. It’s a huge shop, he gets it tailored too (I cannot vouch for his finishing), and you can request him to courier it too. To get there: ask the guy at Raunak to get you a small rickshaw. The driver will wait for you there and take you back to your car / hotel. address – Katra Kanhiyan. Goal Hatti Chowk, Katra Ahluwalia. Ask to meet Deepak, amazing sales man – catches your needs and shows you exactly what you want without wasting your time. Trust me – this is the only place you need to go to.

Kamini Mehra Great Salwars at very reasonable prices. Fancy Salwar shopping can be done here. Address: Dayanand Nagar, Lawrence Road. 8283817192, 964608887

Ujagar Singh Karam Singh for papad, warian, and all those kind of takeaways. Taj and all the good places get their papad from here. Dont buy papad just about anywhere. There is lots of soda and not that great a taste. These people had decent stuff.

Address :Bazaar Kathian Under Shiv Mandir, Near Mai Sewa Bazar, Opposite Sujan Singh And Sons, Amritsar, Punjab 143001   Phone no: 0183 253 1434

(to know how to use the warian, follow  http://www.therecipelarder.com  – blog on warian recipes coming soon) .

Take back home some sweets from Bansal sweets.

TAXI SERVICES we were recommended Rajpal Driver – +919855337598 He was excellent and is a mine of information. Very sweet person, drives well and knows the nooks and crannies of Amritsar. Do ask him for recommendations. He was suggesting a place in the old city for Kulchas, and being a local he would be bang on about it.

Amritsar is a land of goodies. Make the most of it. Keep your own driver if you can, and go with friends. It makes the experience worth it.

In the end – quick but pertinent points…

-Wear washable footwear for the temple

-Definitely go for the evening darshan.

– Cover your head at ALL times in the Golden Temple – men and women. For women a dupatta is not necessary. A large handkerchief is good enough even for the women. You get people selling them outside the temple, thats good for men and women.

-Clothes – even jeans are ok for women. Head should be covered. Of course keeping the sanctity of the place in mind shorts, short skirts and sleeveless tops should be avoided.

– Take a small zip lock or box with you for the prasad.

– Eat at the langar

– Keep your own taxi driver

-Eat without restrictions 😛

-Stay away from touts for Wagah Border

-Take advice from the locals, we struck gold there.

-Taj Swarna is a great place to stay in.

-Try to take the trip in winters. Even the local faces bleached at the thought of us tourists trying to visit Amritsar in the peak summers.

 

I hope you enjoy your trip.  And this blog

Cheers!!

 

 

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Mr. Jaysinh Mariwala – my mentor, my guide.

I have had a very rough year! (There I admit it!)

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.

Mr. Jaysing Mariwala
Mr. 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!

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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!

Budapest

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.

 

Ruin Pubs.
Ruin Pubs. Planked and boarded. Chipped Paint. But OH! so wild!!

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.

Gödör
Gödör   Breathe – Enjoy – Relax.

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.

Famous Rose Ice cream
Famous Rose Ice cream

Choose your flavours. Try and choose at least 2 distinct colours. Why —-

 

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That’s 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.

Basilica
Basilica

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!

 

 

 

 

Bruges and Antwerp

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.

 

Barrels of beer being transported. Tempting the tourists I say!!
Barrels of beer being transported. Tempting the tourists I say!!

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.

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These people have it all in the right perspective
These people have it all in the right perspective

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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.

The gorgeous cycling path
The gorgeous cycling path

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Wind Mill in Damm
Wind Mill in Damm

Restaurants

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 ..

De Stove

T Zwart Huis

The Olive Tree

T Brugs Beertje

Some more restaurants..

Since we landed up during an odd time of the week, many of these establishments were closed for their weekly off.

Bruges
Bruges Canals

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While roaming the Streets, do go to Go Fre, and have their waffles on sticks – with caramel dripping..

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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 …

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ANTWERP 

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.

Pizzeria Isola Sarda. Wood fire, excellent pizzas.

Ellis Gourmet Burger. I dont like burgers – this one was outstanding. Very different fillings. Its a chain, small outlets all over the city.

CHOCOLATES  – Del Ray is the best place to buy chocolates in Antwerp.

GHENT AND MECHELEN

A days trip is enough. Nothing great

 

Basically, Belgium is just a 4 day trip. 3 days Bruges. Try and be there from a Thursday to a Saturday. Do Knokke on Sunday. Head to Antwerp (if you want – I wouldnt) via Ghent and Mechelen.

Fly out of Brussels.

 

 

Epernay – Champagne.

We drove down to the Champagne region, from Frankfurt. It was an easy, comfortable and FAST (180 km per hour average!) drive.

As we neared Epernay, we saw lush and perfect fields. So perfect – that they looked cloned. Huge rolling lands of green and yellow. Small thatched roof homes, stashed at the corner of these fields, flanked by what were definitely light forests.

I took in mighty breaths and have stored it inside me for times to come, when I faced my polluted smoky city once more.

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We stayed in the Jean Moet hotel. Very central, and bang on the Avenue De Champagne, where all the action was to take place the next day.

Epernay is one of the major towns of Champagne. There are three more. Reims, being the second most famous and the Capital. I think people flock to Epernay, because it has Moet and Chandon and Dom Perignon, which are perhaps the most famous of them all.

Epernay has, what is called Caves (pronounced as CAAVES) and that is where all the champagne is stored, after the first and second bottling. No producer shows the crushing and bottling process. All that takes place in the fields, which were close by but not open to public.

 

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Champagne stored one over the other in caves.

 

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28 km – 30 feet deep, 90 % humidity – MERCIER caves

 

The caves, have bottles of champagne – the ones which are first bottles. And the final bottles lot too. The first bottles are juice of various blends of grapes, and infused with yeast. These are then stored like this.

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Stored at an angle, and quater turn twisted intermittenly!
Stored at an angle, and quater turn twisted intermittenly!

Then they are twisted a quarter turn intermittently and also tilted to a certain angle. After the deemed period, when the yeast settles at the side of the bottle, the cap is opened. Approximately 6 kg of pressure has developed inside the bottle by now. The bottle is now fully upturned so the yeast settles on the neck and the bottle is frozen, just around the neck. When the crown is opened, 3 kgs of pressure expels the yeast mixture out. The bottle is then quickly and firmly corked before the precious champagne is oozed out.

The three varieties of grapes used are – the best – Chardonnay, the Second best Pinot Noir and the one used in least quantity – Pinot Meunier. While Chardonnay is white grape with white juice, the other two are black grapes with white juice.

Vintages and non vintages are defined, by the quality of grapes, seasons, fermenting process!

It’s a hugely complicated, scientific and intriguing process. Lot of delicate balances, and defined palates go on to make a good champagne.

Ofcourse you know that Champagne comes only from the Champagne region. The rest are NOT CHAMPAGNE as we were very fiercely told by the producers.

BTW Champagne was first produced by Dom Perignon – a monk!

The Caves we visited were – George Cartier. And Mercier.

 

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Please see it in that order. George Cartier is a small (if 3 million bottles is small) producer. The tour was very, very informative. Small and personal, and all the knowledge I gained, was from there. Do reserve through your hotel or tourism office.

Mercier all show. How great Mercier was, all that he did. Its like a drum which goes Mercier, Hail Mercier!! Jai Ho Mercier!! But having said that, its also very interesting. Their caves are way huger, and they have a train running through it.

The massive Mercier Barrel
The massive Mercier Barrel

 

But you cannot stop and take pictures, ask questions, peer at the bottles, feel the moisture on the walks of the cave, jump through water puddles, and basically inhale the entire history that cave has made, during the second world war and when men actually did by hand, for days, what machines now accomplish within seconds.

FOOD

Ever so often, I get an order, which moves me to anguish. When a customer wants a dish, known and relished for its high potency in garlic, to be made Jain – aka – no onion, no garlic, sometimes no ginger!! At these times I go completely silent on the phone. My brain leaks out and I break out into sweat. Sometimes I even start blubbering and tear out clutches of my hair!!

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ORDER VEGETARIAN IN EPERNAY!!!

So unless you all are non-vegetarians, I recommend only one day in Epernay.

Its enough actually.

DRINKING Each tour, offers you tastings. Its awesome. And there are lots of Champagne Bars around.

The silly grin and crooked smile is a result of drinking champagne - 11 am to 11 pm!
The silly grin and crooked smile is a result of drinking champagne – 11 am to 11 pm!

We went to Jannison Baradon, close to the hotel. It was Excellent. The George Cartier cave also has a bar with small eats.

And that’s Champagne for you!!

Hail them grapes!!

Vancouver

One of those places where you sit back, watch your heart rate drop, your shoulders de stress and your breath go into deep meditation phase.

The minute we landed we saw this…

Take a deep breath, when hit by this kind of beauty!
Take a deep breath, when hit by this kind of beauty!

This was a very short trip and the hub and me are a bit laid back. We don’t wake up, have a shower and breakfast and hit the city by 8 am. So the short trip made it even more tight and Vancouver will have to be done once more.

Places to go to.

Stanley Park. Near the park are cycle hire shops, with great variety to choose from. Before that, pick up some food and water. Head to the park. Its massive, Huge. We cycled around for a good two hours, but I think one can spend the day there.

English Bay Beach. We went there for a view of the Sunset. But what we saw was the mist take over the city. A cloud of mist, over a deeply rich setting sun, with sea gulls and eagles flying all over the place. I think my hub wanted to propose once more. I know I wanted him to.

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The mist taking over the city
The mist taking over the city
gathering mist, then scattering all over the city
gathering mist, then scattering all over the city

We did not end up going but Granville Park is also well recommended.

There are many other places in and around Vancouver. Victoria, is across the bridge. Banff is close by. As is Jasper.

Shopping

We stayed in Grenville area, so mostly shopped around there.

Yale town has great reviews, but I was not much awed by it.

Vancouver is full of local designers. Mac (the make up thingy) and some other products are local. So expect great prices on them.

Food

Vancouver has surprisingly a big foodie population. Again, a place of high sustainability and locally grown produce.

Some fabulous places we ate in :-

The Whiskey Kitchen. Sure it’s about whiskey. Every dish has a dash of it (or more!). And its tasty and different and perfectly amazing.

Lupo. Forage and The Grill and Casa Nova were some of the restaurants we ate in. I recommend them all very fervently!

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2011/08/15/top-20-vancouver-restaurants/