Posted in Food, Uncategorized

Big Pitcher – Star Lounge – Rooftop, Sizzlers and More!

Foodie that I am, I can’t keep my hungry tongue and fiddly diddly toes in the gym for long. I need to have my cheats occasionally. On one of these cheat days, I decided to visit and eat out at The Star Lounge, Big Pitcher, Bangalore and I ate till I found myself in a situation of can’t-move-open-the-damn-buttons-of-the-pants.

Big Pitcher has some 5 floors, each one quite unique ranging from pubs to hukkah place to nice romantic rooftop dining.
Do you love to Dine in Style? Looking for a Premium Dine-Out for a Romantic evening with Candle Light Dinner, under the Moon Light with fresh air brushing across you as you enjoy Bangalore’s best Sizzlers, Grill and Steak – then you must check out Big Pitcher’s very own Roof Top Restaurant – STAR LOUNGE!
Here, the music is soft, food classy, ambience romantic and your experience wonderful!

I loved how the place was lit up and how the aroma of sizzlers consumed me as soon as I stepped in. The candlelit tables and wine and light music make for the perfect setting, however if you are a beer person, you’d be delighted because they serve some lip-smacking beers from their own brewery!
I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the Head Chef and having some uhhh-mazingggg recipes concocted for me!

My friend and I started off with some Nachos (excellent when paired with beer!!) – crisp and yum! Once I start eating, there is no break so I followed up them Nachos with some Grilled Prawns and I tell you I could have had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They were so juicy and grilled to perfection!
I had some Chicken Ghee Roast, some Malai Mutton Chops (I had had them for the first time, and they were an in-house favourite). I am salivating as I write about it. Who knows I might just go there for the prawns and malai mutton chops tonight!! *wink*

The Chef was kind enough to make me some Thai Chicken Curry which was soooooooooooooooooo good that I got a separate portion packed as well! At this point, I was already full but how could I leave without trying the sizzler, and so to justify my visit to a place that serves absolutely delish sizzlers, I ate some sizzler too! No regrets there *giggle*
Since desserts go to the heart and not the tummy, followed all that up with some Chocolate dessert – Naked Chocolate Fantasy and Double Baked Caramel Cheesecake, each as good as the other!

So, ultimately, I ate to my heart’s content and I convinced my heart that since everything is grilled, it’s all good! 😀 But honestly, brilliant ambience, brilliant beer and brilliant food! Would definitely recommend it to you all! 😊
Here are few pictures of the food to give you an idea and make you salivate 😛
Enjoy! Till the next time, tadaaaaaa!

Diksha | TwofoldChic

 

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OYO Townhouse – Jaipur

Hello everyone!
With the winter sun and chills driving in slowly but steadily, hope y’all are doing well!
As you all know that Diksha and I were recently invited by OYO rooms for an experiential stay. It was basically on the launch of their 51st Townhouse in Jaipur.
OYO Townhouse is a brand-new category of neighborhood hotels that combine experience and value at a scale that has never been attempted before in the Indian hospitality landscape. This offering is targeted at Millennials, for whom price, convenience and a differentiated experience play an important role in determining choices.
The 40-room hotel, located in the heart of the Jaipur city in Lalkothi boasts of unique, minimalistic design with spacious rooms and two banquets that can hold a gathering of 150-200 guests, respectively.
Here are a few pictures for your reference:

Townhouses are designed to function as social hotspots that cater to city dwellers and a new generation of guests. Besides outstation guests, residents staying in these areas can use the property as an alternative workplace, experience a vast array of global cuisines and access the lounge and retail store with exclusive merchandise.
Diksha has her heart set in Jaipur since she spent the most part of her childhood here, so she literally looks for excuses to drop in, while I, on the other hand, was born and brought up in this beautiful pink city – so for me to stay in a hotel in my own city and then exploring it like a tourist was a great experience!
We checked in the hotel around 11:30 and loved the color scheme of white, grey and red that was used in the entire property, minimal decor yet perfect.

We quickly got ready to leave for the city tour. We skipped breakfast as we were already full, thanks to my mother for feeding us with heavy aaloo paranthas (Indian moms I tell you!!). Anyway, there were 2 more bloggers along with us who came down from Delhi & we were basically the first ones to set foot in this new hotel.
We first headed to Nahargarh Fort which stands on the edge of the Aravalli Hills, overlooking the city of Jaipur. The fort was originally named Sudarshangarh but it became known as Nahargarh, which means ‘abode of tigers’. After exploring the place and clicking a few pictures, we decided to have lunch at “Once upon a time”, a restaurant inside the fort. I feel more than exploring the places, we were keen on picking the best dishes from the menu, foodies that we all were! Here we tried Keema Baati, Lal Maans, gatte ki sabzi (all Rajasthani specialties) along with spinach and paneer koftas and lassis!

Post lunch, we decided to explore a few more picture worthy points up there and then headed to another beautiful monument, Jaigarh Fort.

It was 4:30 and Diksha & I were pretty tired to even step foot out of the car so we decided to stay back & sleep inside while the others went to check the monument! They got back in half an hour or so and by then I guess everyone one was dead tired and needed a caffeine fix. We went to Home Cafe by Mr. Beans to relax for a while and sip some coffee & soup.

Then we went to our hotel to take a much-needed nap before we headed out for dinner. We slept like a baby for an hour and it was then a tough task to pull ourselves out of the super comfy bed but then we had to. I took it upon myself to be the in-house tour guide to make sure none of my favorite places were missed out by our travelers from other cities! We got ready and headed to Bar Palladio & Shikaar Bagh for dinner. The group was divided, few chose to sit at Bar Palladio because of the beautiful interiors & feel while I was at Shikaar bagh with my set of friends as it was Saturday night, Diksha being Diksha, decided to hop between the two & enjoyed best of both the worlds!

After dinner, we went to HOP for a while to experience Jaipur’s night life and finally got back to the hotel and called it a night!

The second day was also our last day at OYO. After a long night, we woke up so late that the group had to leave for the City Palace without us. We joined them directly for lunch at “Baradari” which is a beautiful restaurant inside City Palace where traditional craftsmanship meets contemporary design. A decidedly modern, glass-enclosed seating area that blends seamlessly with the old palace structures, the place was packed even during the day time with a lot of foreigners. We ordered some Lal maans with baati(again!!) with a side of Quinoa salad; a spaghetti aglio olio and We also ordered an array of lip-smacking desserts, the best of which was the rose petal jam icecream that was accompanied with some apple jalebis! We then headed back to our hotel, slept for a while, woke up & packed our bags and bade adieu to the friendly and humble staff at OYO Townhouse.

It was a great experience and we thank OYO for calling us. We will soon visit again as two days weren’t enough to explore the beautiful city of Jaipur.

To book the OYO Townhouse, and know more about the friendly neighborhood hotels, go to http://www.oyotownhouse.com/

Till we write about our next Travel experience,
Love,
TwofoldChic

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Nagaland – A Dollop of halcyon bliss

If you are someone who loves the rhythmic rain and vibrant green forest and wet lands then the valley of flowers is for you. The cotton-like clouds that surround the valley as you reach the top make this untouched seductress a valley much like heaven on earth.

26 years of existence seemed futile after I did my first proper trek last month. I felt so sorry for myself for not having done it earlier. Dzukou Valley trek marks the first of many more treks to come in my life!

While Shivani has trekked in the Himachal, I was oblivious of the incredible world of trekking and hiking. Now, when I’m asked what I like better- Mountains or beach – I do not know, and perhaps, never will. Both have a charm so different that it’s unfair to even ask to pick one! Coming back to the trek – let me share how we made it possible. PHOI came up with this Nagaland package right when I had planned my vacation. It was destined to happen. I decided that I’d cut short my stay at home by a week and accommodate this trip. And so, it began. As you may have guessed, it doesn’t take long to convince Shivani, after all, birds of the same feather flock together!!

PHOI teamed up with ChaloHoppo, who are a bunch of enthusiastic young folks determined to bridge the gap between the people of the world and Northeast India.

Indians, unfortunately, are most tempted to travel to Europe and South Africa and the US before they’ve even seen all of India. While there’s nothing wrong about it, they do not realize what beauty and thrills they are missing out on in their very own country. The thrills and the panorama that they seek abroad can very well be found in India! There is so much more to India that the regular tourist trails and which is why I’m even writing this blog!

North East India has a culture and heritage so different, you will want to immerse yourself in the stories of their people and want to learn all you possibly can about their history! Nagaland is not about historical sites as much as it is about their culture. North east is brimming with exotic hills and waterfalls and natural springs and rivers and valleys! You can’t just get enough of all the natural beauty! Shivani and I had never traveled to that side of India before and hence, we pounced upon the first opportunity that came our way. An opportunity to visit a land of rugged hills and tribes where ancient headhunting habits have collided in a train wreck against the Burmese identity, leaving modernity derailed.

A 4-day trip to Nagaland which included Kohima, Jakhama Village and Dzukou Valley.

For INR 7800 (ex flights) it seemed like a pretty fair deal, add to it the excitement of meeting new people, 40 of them! All of us took flights from our respective cities to Guwahati (a cheaper option. Alternative is to fly to Dimapur directly). We all assembled in Guwahati and embarked on our trip, that started with an overnight train journey to Dimapur. Our trip officially began on the morning of 14th June where we were greeted by the rain gods as soon as we stepped foot into Dimapur. It was surprisingly pleasant. We had a hearty breakfast near the railway station and scrambled in our sumos to get to Kohima, a mere 80kms away, but easily a 4 hours’ drive!

Once at the capital city Kohima, the tourists in us had taken form and we went about visiting the War Memorial – Kohima is steeped in history; one had vaguely remembered that the Japanese had tried to enter India through northeast during the WW-II, but we realized that the action took place right in the centre of Kohima town only after visiting the War Cemetery. All the soldiers of Indian Army who laid their lives defending Indian soil are remembered here, some of them as young as 17! We also visited the churches, the local markets et al. The local markets were full of men and women selling what is considered as exotic food up there – silk worms, snails, frogs, and even dogmeat! In a word, anything that could crawl, hop or walk seemed to have fulfilled the pallets of the local people.

I wasn’t too excited by the idea of eating these delicacies, but some of the people in our group did, and they sure loved it! I, however, stuck to the usual – chicken and pork – Shivani, mostly vegetarian options!

A little about Nagaland here – This enchanting state with natural beauty and ethnic diversity is populated by the Naga people of Mongoloid stock.  There are 16 major Naga tribes in this state, each having its own language and unique customs and traditions. The Nagas have always been brave warriors. Although most of them have now become Christians (90% of the state population is Christian), they still preserve the remnants of their early animist culture and ancient traditions. Baptists constitute more than 75% of the Christian population. Nagaland is known as “the only predominantly Baptist state in the world.

We loved how stylish people are in Nagaland. You will find people clad in the most fashionable clothes and shoes even in the local markets. We had the opportunity of seeing a fleet of beautifully dressed people who were headed to a day wedding. Once we were done with lunch and sight-seeing, we then headed to our camp in Jakhama Village. The camp was beautiful and we stayed in a tent after ages! The camp had tents everywhere, a very cozy common area where we would all eat, sing, dance, play… We spent the rest of the night around the intimacy of the fireplace in the common area, moonlight over our heads, dancing to the tunes played out by our talented fellow travelers on guitar.

The next morning, our trek was to begin. Our tents overlooked beautiful, lush green paddy fields and waking up to clear blue skies, little drops of rain and lush greenery around is the most beautiful feeling ever!

We were all up and excited by as early as 5 am. We huddled in our sumos to go to Viswema, the starting point of the trek. A note to be made here, since we were going to be trekking for hours, we had already bought food supplies that would last us through the trek. Nuts and biscuits and bananas are good options!

A raincoat is a mustttttttttttt! Cannot emphasize enough on its importance.

So, yes, after a 45 minutes’ drive on a steep road, we reached the base of Viswema trek. From then on, it was a steep climb of about an hour followed by 6kms of walking on along a plain surface lined with small bamboo plants in a circular path. The initial walk is through a thick forest with giant rhododendrons trees and the 6kms walk gives passing views of the narrow Dzukou stream and glimpses of what the valley promises. The trek is a moderate one but was slightly more difficult than moderate ones because of the rains and mud that had accumulated because of the incessant rains. Lots of people kept slipping into the mud, the bamboo shoots would always come to our rescue. The trek took about 6-7 hours to complete and once we had arrived, the views are something I will never forget in my life!

   

The picture-perfect Dzukou Valley is located at an altitude of more than 2000. Only lush green mountains for as far as the naked eye can see!

The waterfalls that we encountered on our way stole my heart. I would have totally bathed in the river too had it not been chilly, but I made sure to plonk my face in the rivers and waterfalls that we crossed and drink water from them directly! Little pleasures of life! 😊

On reaching the top of the valley, we reached our dormitory where we were to stay the night. There was no electricity at this place and we cooked our cuppa noodles on woodfire and had that for two of our meals! The other meal that we had was also simple cooked lemon rice. Once we had rested a bit, we went on to see the valley of flowers of the north east which was another trek, not half as long as the trek it took us to reach up there. Walking through the Dzukou Valley – with beautiful plains with lush greenery and the loveliest flowers growing on them, passing over the brisk passing streams of crystal clear water, getting lost in the melodies of the cooing birds, surrounded by thick forests – for tourists, it’s one of the best experiences that they are ever likely to have. The calmness, the complete silence, the serenity of the surroundings is a complete change from the noise, the hustle and bustle of an average Indian city….

The temperature dropped majorly as night came and the chills literally rattled our bones. We all were carrying our sleeping bags and were given one thin quilt each but it was just not enough!

The next day, we had our breakfasts and began the climb down to Viswema again. It had been raining through the night and we were very worried about trekking down because of the slippery mud, but it was easier than we had thought. It took us some 5 hours and we were back to the base from where we headed back to our camps in Jakhama Village. That night ended on a blurred note after one too many cups of rice wine and rice shots 😀

The next morning, we set out to explore the village – it’s beautiful churches, the vivid and bright painted houses- Most of which still have the buffalo horns and skulls before their houses, the memorials, the stream and the paddy fields. The village walk was beautiful! The locals were very nice and greeted us all with a lot of warmth and smiles. We learnt a lot about Nagas – who were called head-hunters as they hunted for skulls which they hung in their homes or on trees. The larger the number of skulls one owned, the higher would be his status in society. Later, the custom was limited to animal skulls.

We interacted with the locals and ate plums plucked fresh from the trees. It was a beautiful clear day. Life seemed to be simple, peaceful and happy there. With smiles on our faces and warmth in our heart, we returned to our camp where we packed our bags and bid goodbyes to friends made over the past few days.

The trip was coming to an end. With heavy hearts, we set back to Dimapur, from where we again took a train to Guwahati. It might have been a short 4-day trip, but the memories made will last a lifetime – even if it sounds like a cliché, it is true!

And well, we surely will visit Nagaland again hornbill festival, that’s a given!!

And oh, the other six sisters are yet to be explored…Such a short life and so many places to see! 😊

Even thinking about it gives me an adrenaline rush!

Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. I hope you guys plan a trip to the mystical lush lands of Nagaland soon enough. If you do, do hit up @chalohoppo. They’re your go to guys for exploring the north east!

 

Till then,

Love galore,

Twofoldchic

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Lebua Lucknow – A Heritage Hotel

A visit to the beautiful Lebua Hotel brought us to the city of Nawabs and Kebabs. What’s not to love about Lucknow? The rich heritage that goes back to pre-British era is one of its kind. The city has especially garnered attention for its exemplary adab and tehzeeb, along with its impeccable, scrumptious food! Many people visit Lucknow only to taste the kebabs of Tunday kebabi, the chicken masala of Dastarkhwan and the Awadhi biryani of Idris Biryani. Food aside, the Chikankari work of Lucknow is known to be the best in all of India.

But let’s leave all the food and shopping talk for a later time, and talk about the heritage hotel Shivani and I stayed in while in Lucknow. My first time in the city of Nawabs and kebabs, I felt as if I was in the beautiful Lucknow of the 20th century, such was the portrayal at Lebua.

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Lebua Lucknow is a Luxury Boutique property, located in central Lucknow and conceptualized as a sprawling traditional bungalow with a huge lush green lawn. It reflects and personifies the “Art Deco” architecture prevailing in the early 1900’s. Built in 1936, the haveli that is now the hotel was once home to a prosperous Lucknowi family. When time and tidings took the clan out of the city, the haveli fell into disuse. A few years ago, Lucknow-born expat Mohammed Abdullah and his interior decorator wife Nayab Bakshi bought the property and gave it a second life.

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The very minute we stepped foot in Lucknow, we were treated like royalty. A chauffeur driven pretty, yellow and white ambassador was sent to pick us up. We reached the resort to see a beautifully designed heritage property nestled between towering trees with bright flowers in full bloom. It was such a gorgeous first impression, and it only got better from there! Every nook and corner of the property exudes class. The long corridors lit with lamps, the wooden murals holding them mirrors and tinted glasses adorning the walls, the beautiful pink bougainvillea and orange flowers creeping up the walls make for the perfect rustic arrangement! With embroidered upholstery, vintage furniture and artwork on the walls, the rooms take you to a bygone Era where upon entrance you forget your 9 to 5 jobs and enter a world where you’re the queen, and Lebua staff leaves no stone unturned in treating you like one.

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Once we had had our tour of the property, we got in our rooms to find a rose petal bath awaiting us. Such Nawab like treatment I tell you! Shivani had a tough time getting out of it, this, I can tell you. She could’ve slept there in the rose petals all night if I let her! 😛

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Our suite was 201 – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
It opened up to a huge white balcony with bougainvillea here, there and everywhereeeee and we absolutely loved every bit of it.
More than the beautiful property itself, we were enchanted by how well the Lebua staff takes care of its guests!
To make sure their guests have an experience of a lifetime, they pay attention to the littlest of details and personalization, and it’s highly impressive. Our rooms had photo frames with our pictures in it and with personal hand-written notes for each of us. It melted us!

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Coming to the food, we had the honor of trying the exquisite lakhnawi food by their extremely talented head chef. We had excellent kebabs and awadhi biryani.. The mewe and mawa ke kebabs deserve a special mention in the veg section!
Their Italian restaurant, 1936, is every bit as special as the other in-house restaurants. I am not a big fan of Italian food but their homemade pasta again deserves a special mention. We had it thrice in our three days stay there!! It was that good!

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The Resort houses 4 dining experiences – Multi-cuisine, Italian, and traditional Indian fare, each one better than the previous. The first night of our stay there, a special candlelit dinner was arranged for the two of us in their beautiful gardens. It was accompanied with candles, flowers and butler service. The chef personally served his best delicacies to us and we can easily call it the best dinner in a long, long time!

Our stay there was full of amazing food, exemplary service and gorgeous views. We sat in our balcony for the sunrises and the courtyard for sunsets! We even got to witness an amazing wedding which was being held at the resort. Such a beautiful experience that was, being able to be a part of someone’s happy moments, and in a place like Lebua!

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Visionary CEO Deepak Ohri of lebua Hotels and Resorts was recently asked at The Columbian Business School conference about his vision for lebua as a brand.

According to Deepak, a strong emotional connect with their guests is the key metrics that drives and leads his vision. He percieves and develops concepts based on Fashion.
Faisal Nafees – General Manager India Operations, lebua group along with his team ensures that every guest experience at lebua meets Brand’s vision.

Shivani and I, as Fashion and Lifestyle bloggers instantly connected with the warmth and style. We experienced it throughout our stay right from our entry into the property until the last day of our stay!

It is a true kudos to lebua hotel standards for an exemplary experience led by a fashionista’s vision that shall stay with us forever.

If I ever get to visit Lucknow again, I would definitely go back to Lebua without any second thoughts!

Also, for all you people who do not have Lucknow on your radar, Lebua properties are there in Jaipur, Amer and even Bangkok and Newzealand! Also, there’s a brand new one opening in the lush forests of Corbett!

If there’s anything else, you’d like to know, please feel free to drop your questions in the comments section and we’ll make sure to answer them! 😊

Some more pictures of us at the property cos we couldn’t help ourselves 🙂

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Love and cheers,

TwofoldChic

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Sri Lanka – Calling out to the Beach bums!

This post is just an extension to my previous post on my first trip of 2018 – to Sri Lanka, and in this one I’m calling out to all the beach buffs out there.
In this post I will be talking about the last three days(the best ones) of my week long trip.
But first things first. A lot of people asked me about the trip expenses, so I’ll try and break it down here.
The return tickets cost 15k per person from and to Delhi. It can be as low as 6-9k if you take a flight from Bangalore or Kochi or even Chennai,
and if you plan it well in advance.
The Visas can be applied for online and cost 20 dollars each. You receive the visa within two hours of application, so it’s no hassle at all.
Our first stay, Oreeka – in Negombo, was booked through Airbnb and cost us around 17k per night for 4 rooms. The next stay Amagi Aria was booked through Booking.com and cost us 35k for 2 nights and 3 rooms. Our third stay was in Koggala, right by the beach.
We booked it through Airbnb again and it cost us 15k for 3 rooms and 2 nights. Damn cheap, right?
So this was about that stay and the travel, the major costs. This apart, we booked cabs for our commute everyday, which cost us around 40k LKR for those 6 days.
For anyone planning to visit, get your INR converted to dollars and you’ll get a brilliant rate at the Colombo airport.
Food ranges from place to place so it really depends on your choice of place.

Now that we’re done with the numbers, lets get to the fun part.
On the 4th, we headed out to Koggala, a good 4-5 hours long drive from Negombo. The resort called South beach resort had a private beach opening and was a fairly new place. For people traveling with friends, this place would be ideal. They offer rooms with 7-8 single beds so all of you can stay together in case you have any FOMO 😛
Even though it wasn’t a luxury resort per se, I enjoyed every minute there. The staff made us feel at home and what could be better than waking up
to the sound of waves lashing out at the shore, and the sun rising right over those waves, right outside your window!!

 

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Beautiful paintings adorning the walls of the Resort

 

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My spirit animal is a flamingo 😀

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Yoga in my heart, yoga on my mind

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With my soul sister!

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Dancing, anyone?

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Private beach overlooking the South Beach Resort

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If you’re a beach bum like I am, you’d know that the secret to happiness lies in the sea. Be it a dive in the mighty waves of the master, or a walk along the ocean at sunset, or maybe yoga at sunrise on that huge rock in the sea, or it could just be in sunbathing or creating rock castles at the beach.
Whether you’re a die-hard swimmer, a veteran shell collector, a serious sunbather, or simply like to sit under an umbrella and read a book, there’s nothing like a day at the ocean, because true beach lovers know that sand in the shoes (or pants!) is the mark of a day well spent.

Beach life is the best life. Period.

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Also what amazes me most about the sea is how a beach looks different everyday. It’s never the same, thanks to the ever-changing pull of wind and tides.
You could live there 365 days a year and still not get used to its pattern!

We spent the next three days in absolute peace and calm. We started with breakfast by the sea and ended it with dinner and a long walk by the sea.
The first day we spent at the beach overlooking our resort, just chilling, alternating between dips in the sea and dips in the pool. Guess who slept like a
baby that night? And oh, did I forget to mention how much I love what the beach does to my hair?
There’s some unknown elixir in the sea salt and the sun that my hair just becomes way softer.
The curls become more defined and the lustre, oh, the lustre is almost enviable!

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Reality might be hinting towards Silk Smitha, but atleast in my head I am a Kingfisher model 😛

The next day we headed out to Hikkaduwa Beach which is best known for its
clear blue waters and water sports! I was really looking forward to Scuba diving, but the sea was damn rough that day, to my utter dismay, and so, most people advised against it. So I tried Surfing. Boy is it tough or what!! I loved it. It’s exhausting, sure, but what fun!
To get the perfect timing and balance over those waves is tougher than you would’ve thought!
I’m definitely going to do surfing more often, and try and get better at it. We spent the whole day dipping ourselves in the sea, swimming and surfing, drinking beer and eating pineapple! It was just how I would describe a perfect day in my life – With the family at the beach 🙂

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They are the best!!

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We’re a family of giants, what can I say!

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Sunset at the Hikkaduwa beach

IMG_20180128_155729_693.jpgOn the last day of our trip we headed out to Galle. Galle, the capital of Southern Province of Sri Lanka, is a city you must not miss if you are a fan of good architecture. The whole city has Dutch and Portuguese inspired architecture, and a mix of beautiful colours, with white forts and houses of colonial times taking the lead.

It’s funny how being a part of a tropical Asian country, the city gave us major European feels. Everything about the place- the forts, the colours, the vibe – was European!
Galle’s biggest attraction is the 16th century Dutch fort surrounding the city. Unbelievably, the fort protected Galle from the tsunami in 2004.
While surrounding areas like Unawatuna were ravaged by the tsunami, Galle escaped with only minor damage.
You need no more than half a day here to wander around the old churches, colonial buildings, museums and walk the ramparts admiring the views out to sea.
Places to visit in the city are the Galle Fort, the Galle Lighthouse and the beautiful churches and Buddhist temples around the old town!
We roamed about the markets of Galle which had some beautiful but expensive stuff. From paintings to handicrafts, from silk to gems, from postcards to souvenirs,
you can find them all here!

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Buddhist temple in Galle

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Galle Lighthouse

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Beautiful Colonial Houses

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Cycling around the city

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Just how beautiful is this!

Galle is still super fresh in my memory. For all Indians, it has a very Pondicherry feel to it, if you know what I mean. I would love to go back there!
This summed up our last day in Sri Lanka, after which we headed back to Colombo and got on our planes back to the harsh reality of jobs and bills.

Some other things that I loved about Sri Lanka and missed in my last post:

  • I love how religiously diverse this place is and how the people co-exist peacefully. With Buddhists taking the maximum population, followed by Hindus,
    and then lots of Muslims and Catholics too!
  • The different vibes that each city holds. Galle with European feels, Colombo with Indian vibes, and so on and so forth
  • Tea. I brought back home Vanilla tea, peach tea and a lot of other flavours and I am in LOVE with them
  • The rich Heritage. Sri Lanka has some six archaeological World Heritage Sites – Galle fort being one of them, and they’re all wonderful!

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I will definitely plan another trip to Sri Lanka. A solo one this time maybe. Or with a group of friends.
I hope to cover the National parks and the rich heritage sites that I missed this time, mostly up north. The Whale and Dolphin watching tour in Mirissa.
The train ride from Kandy to Nuwara eliya and trekking to the world’s end once up there. Go check out the Rawanaella falls and other mighty falls that the
country beholds.
Writing this makes me want to go back there even more.
Hoping it fires a desire in your hearts to travel to Sri Lanka too! 🙂
If you do, I’d love to hear all about it!

Till the next time then,
Love galore,
TwofoldChic

 

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Sri Lanka – the Pearl of the Indian Ocean

New Year. New Resolutions. New Travel Plans.

Every year, my family and I go to Goa first week of January. This year we decided we wanted to take a break from Goa, and explore a new place, or a new Country even. Beach bums that we are, it was a prerequisite that the place have beaches in plenty! Sri Lanka wasn’t even on my mental list of places to be covered, but thanks to the sudden hike in flight prices for Bali, we settled for Sri Lanka. I’m thankful for that because, otherwise, I never would’ve visited this beautiful jewel-shaped country!

I scribbled multiple itineraries, scourged the internet for suggestions, booked the flights and then, just like that, our first trip for 2018 was planned!

To cover all of Sri Lanka, you would need at least a fortnight, and I had just half of that, so I settled for the West and South of Sri Lanka, which was a good choice for the season too, but I ended up picking the sea and the ocean over the places of historical interests!

In this post, I will show you through the first 3 days of my trip in which we covered Negombo, Colombo and Bentota.

We landed in Colombo on the 1st of January, and headed straight to our stay for the night, in Negombo. Funny thing is that Negombo is closer to the Colombo airport than Colombo city itself. Whaaaaaa? Yeah, that’s right.

I booked an Airbnb property, Oreeka – which, being just 9 kms from the airport, was perfect for a one night stay. We reached there to find a cute little place nestled between a swarm of coconut trees, overlooking a pool and a beautiful garden. It was only until next morning that we got to see how beautiful the place was!

It had a boat in the garden, a boat, yes! And multiple vintage cars, and a great pool, and a big garden and a DJ console and dancing area. It was just perfect!

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Skirt – Street shopping

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Outfit details: Crop top – H&M, headband, shoes and leggings – Zara

We spent the morning lazing around the place, finding out about Negombo and Colombo, chomping down some bacon and sausages. So, the places you should expect to see in Negombo are:

  • The Dutch Canal
  • Negombo Beach (you can find much better and prettier beaches in this country though)
  • Angurukaramulla temple
  • Mary’s church

Having said that, you can totally skip Negombo and head to Colombo directly. You won’t be missing out on much.

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FamSham

On the 2nd, began our actual trip. We moved to a more luxurious resort – Amagi Aria.It is built right by a lagoon which has tastefully done up rooms with bright paintings. My room opened directly to the pool, and the lagoon. It was a mesmerizing view, to say, in the least. The buffet breakfast was exceptionally good, the lunch options not too much. The staff is very helpful, almost going out of the way to help their guests. We dived into the pool the minute we checked into our rooms, to enjoy the sinking sun by the lagoon. We went on with our touristic pursuits in the latter half of the day.

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Dress – Zara, hat – Shein

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The private dock of the Resort we stayed in

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Swimsuit – Pretty Secrets | Myntra

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We visited the following places and you should totally check them off your list too, if you’re in Colombo!

  • Gangaramaya Temple – This one is not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most iconic Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. It is more than a century since this temple was constructed. The ceilings and walls contain pictures and miniature paintings that explain stories from Buddhism religion. In the main sanctorum, a huge Buddha statue exudes a brilliant sense of calmness in the devotees. Built in a mix of various architectural styles including India, Burmese, Thai and Chinese, this temple also houses a museum.

  • Beira Lake – Close to the Gangaramaya Temple, in the heart of Colombo, is a huge lake – Beira Lake. In the middle of the lake is a small island containing the Simamalaka Shrine, which makes for a beautiful place to just sit, relax and meditate.

  • Galle Face Green – This one is right by the Galle beach, a huge stretch of road for all the nature lovers. Go there for a nice walk post dinner, enjoy the winds from the Indian Ocean and lip-smacking treats from the vendors on the road! This road has all the five star properties and makes for a great sight!

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    Enjoying a light moment with the daddy 🙂

  • Old Dutch Hospital – No, it isn’t a hospital. It houses some of the best sri lankan restaurant, cafes and shops! Go there for a good meal sometime
  • Odel – Odel is the shopping hub of Sri Lanka. Expect some expensive shopping. Do not buy your souvenirs from here. The courtyard right outside Odel is something I loved. Absolute Thalassa feels (for all Goa lovers) amazing food, great ambience and lovely live music!

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  • Pettah Market – This is the street market of Colombo. Do not expect Sarojini and lajpat prices, but you can find yourself some good souvenirs, batik print clothes and also the famous Sri Lankan masks. You can bargain and get yourself a good price here.

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    Haggling with shopkeepers to get me some good discounts!

  • Nelum Pokuna Art street – One of my favorites from the city, this street bang opposite the Viharamadevi Park is full of artists displaying their art on the roadside. Such talent that I was awestruck! Must visit!

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Such a bright tuk tuk! you’ll find millions of these in the country

We also went to the Pettah Floating Market – not at all worth it. Just skip it.

These were just the places that I could manage to squeeze in to my itinerary. You could also visit the National Museum, Mt. Lavinia and Buba Beach, Viharamadevi Park. The Old city Hall and Independence Arcade area are other places tourists visit when in Colombo.

The next day, we traveled to Bentota for a day trip– which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, all of 110 kms from our resort, and just 85 kms from Colombo. The beach in Bentota is a fold of pristine gold sands along the mighty Indian Ocean. We spent the entire day till sunset at the bentota beach, monkeying around, making time lapses and sipping on to beer! From the beach, we headed straight to one of the turtle conservation projects. You can find many in this part of the country. They have varieties of turtles and you can even release a turtle into the water. Good for a one-time experience!

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Shorts- Forever 21, Top – H&M, Slip ons – Westside, Hat – Shein

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Slit Skirt worn as tube dress – Global Desi

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At the Turtle Conservation Project in Bentota

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This pretty much summed up my first three days in Sri Lanka!

So here’s a list of some of the things I loved about Sri Lanka:

  • The people – so warm, makes you feel as if you’re in India 😊
  • Egg hoppers!!! Egg hoppers are the Sri Lankan version of egg in the hole, where an egg is cracked open into a paper-thin bowl shaped Dosa and cooked. It’s delicious. Must try!
  • Coconut water – everywhere!
  • Beaches – so pristine – amazing for surfing and scuba diving!
  • Tuk tuks – Sri Lankan version of Indian Autos, except they’re much more vibrant- in bright blues and greens and reds!
  • MANGOES – All year round! Can you beat that?

Things I did not like about the country:

  • Travel is expensive, by road – A six seater or an eight-seater van cost us 6500 LKR for 60 kms
  • The rupee has no value at all – I didn’t understand the pricing there at all. It was absurd. A packet of lays costed 300 LKR, a Dairy milk silk priced at 1050 LKR, and even tampons were priced at an exorbitant 1500 LKR! Very weird
  • Shopping – Sri Lanka wouldn’t exactly be a shopaholic’s paradise. The country is great for its varieties of Tea, and the masks, but other than that you won’t really find anything else!

If any of you plan to visit the country anytime soon, let me know, and I can include the list of must-visit places, eateries and whatever else you guys need to know in the very next blog post!

Hope you guys enjoyed reading 😊

Till the next time then!

-TwofoldChic

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Backpacking trip – Kerala – God’s Own Country – Varkala – Day 3

Varkala, our last leg of the Kerala trip, was the most beautiful of all the places in Kerala! Like they say, save the best for the last, that is what we did.

We checked in to the Lost Hostel of Varkala, just a short walk away from the Varkala Beach. The hostel boasts of being an eco-friendly one, with no ACs or geysers or anything that might lead to harmful emissions in the environment. A good initiative, but you know how beach areas get really humid and sticky most months of the year? Yeah, so that was slightly painful.

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What my dorm wall at The Lost Hostels read! 🙂

Anyhow, not being able to take a dip at the Alleppey beach, we were almost restless by now. We walked down to the beach, which is backed by the beautiful Varkala Cliff, brimming with all sorts of restaurants, shops, stalls and massage parlors. It was such a treat to the eyes, and gave me serious Arambol beach vibes!

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Beach view from the cliff – Abhishek

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Beautiful street art found somewhere on the Varkala Cliff – Dhanashri

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Shops with handicrafts

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Clicked by Dhanashri

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PC – Picture Pausto

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Atop the red sandstone cliff are perched plenty of yoga and Ayurvedic centers, and believe me you, this place knows how to chill and will have you unwinding in no time at all. The laidback people, cleaning their shops, skinning their fish, listening to music; the travelers just chilling at the cliff with beers in their hands and bandanas on their heads. We started our expedition with an amazing lunch at Coffee Temple (Read crazy chocolate shakes, drool-worthy pizzas and delectable prawns and rice!)

Once we were done with our lunch, we leisurely walked down to the beach alternating between gasping at the amazing views and shopping here and there. You can find yourself some really cool stuff at these shops btw – apart from the very obvious beachwear and hippy clothes, you can find yourself some Tibetan handicrafts and singing bowls, vibrations of which are known to have brilliant therapeutic effects!

Down at the beach, the long swathe of golden sand with silky blue sea water just swept us away. We walked along the beach to explore more, and as luck would have it, found ourselves at the Black Sand Beach. I have never seen a beach more exquisite! The sand is not grainy, but is soft, and the water, too, wasn’t as salty as you’d find on other beaches. And, most importantly, you couldn’t have found a better spot to watch the golden sun sink into the sea!

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I love how the setting sun has been captured in this picture!

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In my Banjara element

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Captured by – Gaurav

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The beach is great for surfers, as apparently Varkala has one of the curliest waves in all of India, so you’d see an array of people surfing on the waves. There are multiple surf schools too, so if you have 3-4 days’ time, you could learn a tactic here and there! The sea gets a little rocky sometimes, so better be careful during the evenings. But come morning, the sea is amazing for a good swim! I could happily spend weeks sunning myself on the beach, or maybe take one of the millions of different types of yoga classes. This time I focused on just the tanning part, next time it will be toning too, I hope! 😀

We glided along the beach for several hours, went back to our hostel only to freshen up, and we were back at the beach to grab some dinner.

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When the sun was found playng Hide and Seek

Clicked by Jeevan

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Times when everything in the world is a blur, except for me 😀 Thankyou Picture Pausto

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We dined at Darjeeling Café, which had live music and dance, and some lovely Indian food! Post dinner and some hearty laughs shared at the dinner table with some light games, we strolled some more on the cliff and the adjoining helipad area.

Knowing that it was the last night with all these beautiful people that we had met on the trip, none of us wanted to sleep a wink. We all chatted through the night, cooking Pasta and sharing stories.

The next morning, we again headed to the beach, where I swam for not less than 2 hours, some went for the famous Kerala massages, and others left for Photography voyages. The beach was sparkling with bikini clad women and eager men doing yogic poses, people jogging along the sea, barefoot, dogs lazily wagging their tails and surfers climbing and falling off the waves. So much happening all at once, and yet you could feel peace.

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All these beautiful clicks captured by Farooq

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Bird’s View eye of Varkala Black Sand Beach. Captured creatively by TheChromaticEye

This brings an end to my Kerala blog series. I hope you enjoyed reading! For more pictures from the trip, please visit my Instagram

Till the next time then,

Keep traveling,

Keep banjaring!

TwofoldChic