Foodie Trail in Ladakh

For a lover of the outdoors and admirer of nature, a trip to Ladakh is akin to a path to divinity! If on this journey your palate is tickled with traditional and authentic Ladakhi and Tibetan food, it’s definitely the road to Nirvana !!!

Maggie Noodles And Momos Maggie Noodles

Rajma chawal is replaced by Maggie noodles, momos and thukpas at the local dhabas as you ascend towards Leh.But 60km from Leh, in Alchi village, near the 11th century Alchi monastery is where we found real authentic Ladakhi food on our Ladakh tour package from Mumbai at the Alchi Kitchen Restaurant.

Alchi Kitchen Restaurant

This is a quaint family run restaurant that serves freshly prepared dishes.Its fairly popular and we had really worked up an appetite by the time the food arrived.

Vegetable Stew With Barley Pasta And Lentils Chuttagi

The tasty skyu and chuttagi (vegetable stew with barley pasta and lentils )was wolfed down in minutes.

Khambhir Open Kitchen Ladakh

They have a traditional open kitchen with a clay oven to bake fresh Khambhir (Ladakhi bread) thats served with various different scrumptious stuffings and chutneys.

Apricot jam is a speciality here and have some for dessert with the Khambhir, sitting in the box balconies, sipping hot ginger tea …watch the world go by! Mee time is good food time too, isn’t it!

Leh City is full of surprises when it comes to food, especially the cafes and so-called German bakeries in the main market and on Changspa road.Its so hard to chose which one to go to. Just be drawn in by the aroma of cinnamon and freshly baked breads and cakes like music of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Have a cappuccino and carrot cake or apple pie,don’t worry about the calories ! Lots of walking to do climbing up the steps of the Thiksey monastery where butter tea awaits us ….

German Bakeries Thiksey Monastery

Butter Tea …”What on earth is that?” That was our instant reaction when the guide at Thiksey monastery took us to the kitchen to show us how its made and to sample it. Due to extreme cold weather in the Himalayan region, this salty tea is a commonly drunk beverage, prepared using churned Yaks butter and salt.Yak butter and milk are thicker and creamier than cow’s milk and also more pungent, so thats gives it a peculiar taste …we didn’t enjoy it much, but its part of the survival kit for the local people as it helps them keep warm in Winter. Be sure to mix with the locals and enjoy these authentic experiences on our Ladakh tour package from Mumbai.

Last but not the least, Tibetan food is easy to find in most places in Ladakh.The  most popular restaurant is Tibetian kitchen in the main market which serves everything from Chinese, Indian to Tibetan cuisine. The thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) here was exceptional. We really enjoyed the sabagleb too , essentially a crispy circular pie with momo-stuffing inside.

Summer harvest is one of the best restaurants for Tibetan and Kashmiri meat dishes,especially the Tibetan Shapta and Rogan Josh. Our Ladakh tour packages from Mumbai have all these unique gastronomic experiences to offer!

Keep reading out blogs this month and follow the Foodie trail to more exotic locations…..

Senorita In Spain

 

SPAIN, the vibrant country of Senoritas, Tapas and Flamenco dances is an ideal destination for women only trips!

Seville, Granada and Madrid and the three main towns of Western Spain for you to really enjoy the essence of the country.

SEVILLA

It’s called the sexiest of all the Spanish cities, and even after you have left, the memories linger on they say of this vibrant Andalusian city. Especially if you are lucky to visit during the festivals like we did, Feria de Abril, be prepared for an amazing time.

Plaza de España

The grand plaza was built in 1929 for the Ibero-american Exhibition which was held in Seville by Aníbal González. He has created an impressive blend of a style that owes its inspiration to the Renaissance along with with some characteristic elements from the city. Intricately painted ceramic benches are arranged in a semicircular manner, each one representing a province in Spain and depicting the lifestyle.During the Feria, lovely ladies in their flamenco dresses strike a pose here !

Alcazar

This fortress housed many Muslim and Christian royalties in the past and is now famous as a Game of Thrones Season 5 location for the Water Gardens of Dorne.This grand monument and its gardens are far more captivating in real life than seen on screen. Take a leisurely walk through the Moorish-style horseshoe arches in the Salon de Embajadores and the immaculate gardens around and be mesmerized.

GRANADA

A tour of Europe, especially to Spain is incomplete without witnessing the grand Alhambra. It is so named because in Arabic al-qala’a al-hamra means the Red Castle. Initially a Moorish palace, it was later turned into a fortress-palace complex. During the Christian reconquest, the church was built in place of the Alhambra’s mosque and so like many monuments in Andalucia, it truly is an architectural marvel of Moorish and Christian influences.

Gardens of Alhambra

The perfectly manicured Generalife gardens around the palace, against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains are a real pleasure to stroll through and admire the beautiful flora and fauna here and take all those million selfies to your hearts’ content.

 

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MADRID

There was just a half a day left for Madrid as we had to catch out flight back the same evening. But we didn’t miss the important places at all …..

Churros

The best place for Churros in Madrid is Chocolatería San Ginés serving chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and churros) since 1894!! And the massive queues outside just to get a table, speak for how yummy they must be.

Its tucked away in a small alley near San Ginés church, close to the popular Puerta del Sol and not so difficult to find if you make sure it’s on your agenda! One bite of those crispy hot churros to dunk in hot chocolate or coffee and you will be coming back here for more.

Plaza Mayor

The main square in Madrid that’s adorned with charming Baroque architecture, tapas bars and stylish boutiques is your place to rest your feet for some quality time ! Have a drink, some tapas and relax in this square and enjoy the great ambience. If you are looking for some more action then head to Puerta del Sol, the physical and emotional heart of the city

Palacio Real

The majestic Palacio Real is the last stop on our walking tour of Madrid. The interiors are breathtaking, with the most elaborately decorated walls and ceilings you can imagine!

Time to say “Adios” and head back home !

 

 

 

Foodie Trail in Berlin

Food is my passion and “Eat to live or live to eat ?” is a rhetorical question as far as I am concerned !On all my trips, especially to Europe, I have always seeked all the unique places to eat, especially down a small alley.So join me on yet another Foodie Trail of Berlin and discover more….

My recommendations:

  • Currywurst – This is the absolute irreplaceable favourite street food of a true-blooded German. It’s no secret that Germans love their sausages, and curry wurst is one of the best ways to sample them! It is basically cut-up sausages that are covered in a spicy tomato sauce and served with French fries..what’s not to love? And only sets you back about 5 Euros! And yes, an important tip here – in Europe you eat your fries with MAYONNAISE

Currywurst

  • Doner kebap – Berlin has the second largest Turkish colony in the world, outside of Turkey itself. This has brought about a widespread love for Turkish food, which you will easily find all over in city in stalls on the streets and in the subway stations. Doner kebaps are rotisserie meat (beef or chicken) stuffed with fresh cut vegetables and your choice of sauce in a pita pocket and is absolutely delicious and bursting with flavour. Though there are other options in these outlets as well, they basically revolve around the same few ingredients. The food is cheap and sets you back about 3-5 Euros and makes for a great bite to grab to soak up some of the booze after a night out 😛Doner Kebap
  • Anything from local bakeries –Germans take their bread seriously and like everywhere in Europe, you will find over 200 types of bread that you can find to gorge on. Along with bread, Germans bakeries are heaven itself, with no shortage of variety of baked goods to choose from. The portions are MASSIVE and the prices low! There are bakeries every few steps no matter where you wander in Germany with a plethora of choices and everything is made fresh daily. This is the best go-to snacking option. Ask for the bakery’s specialty if you are confused and they will guide you best!

Local Bakery FoodEurope Bakery Food

  • Burgermeister – This particular outlet deserves its own category here in the food section and for good reason! This is an absolute DO NOT MISS point for me in Berlin if you are a burger connoisseur and love a good cheeseburger! Burgermeister is a small burger place located at the Schlesiches Tor subway station in Berlin and (this is interesting!) was a public urinal in its former days! Today it is an absolute slice of heaven for anyone craving a quality cheeseburger and is always crowded. This isn’t one of your fancier joints so you will have to stand and enjoy your food at the small tables or sit on the “stools” which are really just re-purposed soda crates. My personal recommendation is the Meisterburger with some cheese fries and a cold pint of beer. The cost of all this? In total about 7 Euros! So head to Berlin on our Europe tours for some great food and a real fun times ! 

Burgermeister

   

by SHREYA PUNTAMBEKAR

 

Bonding over Beer Gardens of Berlin

Going on a woman only trip to Europe was always on my mind. It can be a little daunting sometimes, especially for the amateur traveller. Europe is known to be a little heavy on the pocket and requires some careful planning ahead.

Berlin makes an excellent destination as ground zero. Germany is one of the most travel-friendly countries in all of Europe, with most people conversing easily in English. Adding to this already obvious appeal, the German capital of Berlin is surprisingly one of the cheapest among the major European cities to visit. Here I would like to add that it is also one of the safest cities in Germany and so makes an excellent destination for a women to travel.

Berlin is a fun, vibrant and totally captivating city with a lot to offer for tourists of all age groups. Over the last few years, it has undergone a major overhaul with the sheer number of immigrants that have flocked here from all over the world to experience life in this amazing city. This makes Berlin totally unique, owing to the fact that it is a totally 21st century place to live in while managing to be grounded to it historical German roots.

Now whether you are looking for history, art, food, museums, great night-life and good German beer. Berlin definitely has you pretty much sorted every way! The best time of the year to visit Berlin is from April to the end of July, which is summer time and offers very agreeable weather conditions for tourist-travel, especially outdoor activities (Germans love their outdoor time!). On the contrary, if it’s a winter vacation you prefer, don’t hesitate because Berlin offers some of the best Christmas markets and New Year’s Eve festivities in all of Europe!

  • BEER

One cannot talk about Germany without mentioning beer. And if you are looking to sample as much as you can, Berlin will surely not disappoint! The city is full of beautiful Biergartens and pubs and bars which will ensure you are never a stone’s throw away from a great brew.

If you are looking to go beyond the traditional German brews on a Europe tour, Berlin has majorly stepped up its craft beer game in the last few years owing to the huge influx of immigrants in the city. This has brought about a wide range of new flavours and ideas to the craft-brewing concept and many craft breweries will offer beer tasters on their menu to give you a proper chance to sample all they have to offer.

Prater is the oldest and largest Biergarten in Berlin but can get crowded on weekends and you may not get a table, so you can head to some other good ones like Golgatha, Bierhof Rudersdorf, Brachvogel etc. For an authentic Bavarian beer experience complete with Lederhosen and Bavarian folk music you can head to the Hofbrauhaus near Alexanderplatz as well..it is a slice of Munich in the heart of Berlin!

So go ahead and start booking your next Europe tour package to get a taste of this amazing city thats rocking from dawn to dusk !

Travelling with friends also allow us unlimited time to take loads of selfies and crazy pictures like this and grab some well-deserved me time.

 

by SHREYA PUNTAMBEKAR

 

Fascinating Florence

Uffizi Museum

A holiday to Italy must include a visit to the city of Florence. It is really a journey down many such old cobblestone alleys to fascinating places in this city! A city for art lovers and more.Everyone has already told you about the truly magnificent Duomo and the Uffizi museum, lessons rich in architecture and art,when you started planning your Italy tour.

Let’s discover what else this city has to offer that could be truly special …..

Magical carousel

Magical Carousel

“There is a little girl inside every woman, you can find her if you try…its right there in her eye “.

Such an apt poem by Steve Eng. One look at this magical antique carousel of the Picci family in Piazza della Republica and that little princess in you will want to jump onto one of the horses or gilded king’s carriage and go round and round on it.Why not? Isn’t that why wander the world, so that no one can stop us from doing just what our heart desires?

Bartolucci, a family of artisans

Bartolucci

This woodwork store really makes you want to within you will be jump with joy …butterflies, fairies, rabbits..it feels like Alice in Wonderland.

A family run a business on Via della Condotta, making these handcrafted wooden toys, they have stores now all over Italy and the rest of Europe too. Hard to tear yourself away! Don’t leave without a souvenir ( I have 3 one from each of my visits to Italy), especially their signature wooden toy  Pinnochio.

Admire more artisans in Florence’s Artisan quarter

Relive a bygone era as these artisans, richly influenced by the Renaissance period, even today can give you the experience of the traditional crafts.

Oltrarno has a little maze of lesser-known secrets in these workshops on medevial streets from via Maggio to Piazza Pitti. You will find hidden gems of quaint studios of violin makers, bookbinding, sculptors and wrought ironworks in different forms as you go meandering down the alleys.All over Italy you will find such quaint places to visit. We should know..we spent almost a year living here in a little town called Grosseto in Tuscany.

Florence’s Artisan Quarter

Ponte Vecchio

The Gold market on a medivial stone bridge across the river Arno is something special. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s certainly worth looking at all the glittering shops that have been there since 1593 ! You get the best view from there and a tryst with history and local culture near the bridge!

Ponte Vecchio

After sunset it transforms in to an hip party zone, with live music on the streets ! Its always party time in Italy !

Devil Wears Prada, so do Angels like Men!

Devil Wears Prada

Not everything that’s beautiful in Florence is traditional. They have the best designer outlet malls where you can strike good bargain on designer shopping. There is lots of street shopping tootraipsing down the old alleys, so you can indulge in all these delightful experiences to your hearts’ content !

Italy tour packages from Mumbai

Walking is great exercise too, so don’t think twice! There is lots of scrumptious Italian food to gorge on just around the corner as well….but that’s another blog in itself !

A tour of Italy is definitely  what the doctor ordered for you!

 

Photo credit : Neha Pallod Limaye

Lovely ladies in Lisbon!

Lovely ladies in Lisbon!
So many amazing places in Europe? Which should be my next destination for a girlie getaway was the
idea I was toying with for a long time. A true Goan by birth and at heart, I grew up with so much
Portuguese influence in my childhood. So Lisbon was our choice and it certainly turned out to be a great
place for a women only holiday!
#rossio square pic

Rossio square is the heart of all the hustle and bustle in this city and that's the place to start the day
with a little shot of Ginjinha or Portuguese Cherry liqueur that you just cannot miss! A Ginjinha bar is the
traditional home of the drink that originated as a digestive and is run by a charming fourth generation
Portuguese family.

#photo
Speaking of charming men, everywhere we went in Lisbon we were greeted by forever smiling (and
slightly balding) men who really can make ladies feel special. Cafe Nicola is one such cozy cafe at the
square where we could just relax, basking in the morning sun, have a coffee and watch the world go by.
Grab some precious Mee Time when we can !
# photo Nicola

At 1030 am, we had to meet our guide for a Walking tour of the old Town of Alabama. A whole lot of
steps to walk for sure, but the whole place exudes such an eclectic arty atmosphere, it's well worth it !
Brilliant graffiti on the walls depicting fado-singing women and and flavors of the local life…
#photo
The typical blue Ajulejo tiles adorning walls of the old buildings created an outdoor gallery of with pretty
patterns. An unfailing charm of yesteryears surrounded us as we walked around. Many of them showed
Jesus and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, and had stories to tell!
#photo

Trams rides are certainly not to be to be missed on a tour of Europe. Lisbon has delightful trams dating
from the 1930 as an integral part of the public transport network. Tram route 28 in the historic tram we
took taking to Praca de Figuera from where we hopped on to a modern tram to Belem in pursuit of the
Pesteis….
#pic tram
Pesteis de Belem? What are they? The blue iconic Cafe that sells these delectable sweets and savories is
a epic story in itself. One bite and they will make you come back for more!

Top 5 Bali shopping places women would love !

The volcanic island of Bali is a great destination for women only holidays, especially those intrigued by the Balinese architecture and temples. We stayed close to the seashore for the first few days but only when you start moving towards Ubud, which is considered the heart of Bali, you start to get the real feel of the vast cornucopia of arts and crafts that Bali has to offer.

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  • Jl.Raya Batubulan is an entire street with fascinating stonework and carvings on either side.Definitely, cant resists this place on our Bali tour packages from Mumbai. It feels like a trip back in time, as if the time stood still as hundreds of intricately carved stone statues stare at you on either side, especially the temple gate guardians! The stone used is paras from the grey volcanic ash and is very light and easy to carve. The Ganeshas, Buddhas and so many other deities are definitely exhibits of a supreme work of craftsmanship by these local artists.

  • UC Silver is a truly mesmerising store that no woman can resist on our Bali tour package!The gates and exterior facade of the building have just beautifully crafted golden dragonflies that flit on the walls, dancing ladies on the top of the roof along with golden roses and other adornments. Such intricate designs that you are drawn towards it, to go in and explore what more this magical ladies special store could have to offer!It has has a huge collection of luxurious handmade jewellery with unique designs inspired by the essence of every living thing.

 

  • Batik factory: If you want to watch the local women and learn about batik techniques and weaving, this is the place! They were creating such beautiful pieces, truly talented women! The collection in this store is definitely better and of higher quality, than the cheaper touristy stuff you will find at the local markets. Scarves, stoles, sarongs, pants, skirts, shirts and household articles, they have them all in vibrant colors and designs. So hard to make a choice! But certainly an important stop on a women-only trip on our Bali tour package.

  • Wood carving shops in Mas village: Our next stop en route to Ubud on our Bali tour was the wood carving village where the ancient art seems to be practiced in every house. Stop at any of them for a personal tour by a member of the family, showing off their heirloom art with pride, explaining the various types of wood and techniques they use to handcraft some magnificent woodworks. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ubud market: Last but certainly not the least is the market in the heart of Ubud that has everything a woman desires on her shopping list in Bali! Funky t-shirts, scarves, stoles, and Balinese wall hanging masks are some special things the ladies would love to pick up as souvenirs for friends and family. Wander around here to your heart’s content, find a good bargain and enjoy your me Time!Don’t miss the interesting cafes and gelatos on the main road. I shall be writing about them in my next Blog soon.