Monday, 8 December 2014

London - A photo essay and some foodie thoughts

Hubby's work trip to London turned out to be a wonderful travel and gastronomic experience for us. Since this was not a leisure trip i will keep this post short and share some of the beautiful photos instead. On second thoughts i would love to share things i liked about London and places to eat (being a total foodie now how can i miss the food part).

This has been in the drafts since...forever....Can't believe how lazy i am at times...heeeee :P

Big Ben - Also know as the Clock Tower happens to be the largest four faced clock tower in the world.
Palace of Westminster - UK Parliament
Tower Bridge - Noooo!!! that is not the London Bridge :P



Some highlights:

1) The beautiful Victorian structures - Victorian structures are a welcome break among the high rises that you often get to see in all the major cities and downtown. It was a deja vu kinda feeling as we can also find these stunning architecture in our very own Mumbai.



2) The Food (especially Indian Food :D) - I must confess the Indian food here was by far the best of the best. We also enjoyed few other delicacies.

I have listed few of our favorites from our trip below:

Indian and Bangladeshi Food
  • Brick Lane: If you are ever in London city and are craving for Indian or Bangladeshi food, do check out the restaurants on Brick Lane many options to choose from. 
  • Lahore Kebab House: By far the most delicious mutton tikka and paya that i have ever had. The food here is lip smackingly delicious. This place is a must try if you are a die hard non vegetarian. 
  • Dishoom: With a nice laid back ambiance, this place also serves delicious food. Although i wouldn't say its all the way traditional but more of a modern indian approach. 
  • Simply Indian: A simple hole in the wall kinda restaurant but the service was good and food was absolutely delicious. And the menu was interesting too, with many different options ranging from hyderabadi to goan to mughlai. 
  • Bangalore Express: This is the one near gracechurch street. The veg thali and south indian cuisines are a must have. The only very big disappointment with this place is the service. Its very very bad. So if you are patient enough and can tolerate a bad service you can give this a try maybe once. 
  • Punjab: This is known to be the oldest north indian restaurant in the UK. Ambiance, service and food everything is excellent here. A must try indeed. 
Other Options: 

  • Gaucho: If you are a steak lover then this is something you shouldn't miss. Gaucho is an argentine steakhouse and argentine beef is known to be best in the whole wide world. Steakhouses can be expensive so save this for a date night ;). Please excuse me for the poor quality of photos clicked from my phone :P.
                          

                                                         
  • Pho - A small and charming restaurant that serves delicious vietnamese street food. Loved the quaint small place and the food. 
  • Old Spitalfields Market - A must visit place if you are in London. I so so regret for not carrying my camera while i was here. This is the place where i passed most of my time while hubby was busy with his work. A great place for food and shopping. Clothes, bags, fashion jewelry, make up, shoes,  arts & crafts, handmade crafts, vintage collections, mediterranean food stalls, basically everything old and new could be found here. Now as far as food is concerned there are tons of options to choose from. I loved the falafel options served by Pilpel, small greek deli by The Real Greek which is just outside the restaurant serve some delicious fresh salads along with lunch options and delicious crepes by crepeaffaire. I am sure there are many other restaurants that serves delicious food but these were some of them that we both liked and enjoyed. 
Old Spitalfields Market Image Source- Google (Wikipedia)
3) Transportation: Easy transport options like buses and trains makes it easier for tourists to roam around conveniently everywhere. I especially loved the double decker red buses :).

The vintage red Double Decker bus :D
Some photos of the major tourist attractions.
Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guard, at Buckingham Palace




This cantonal tree displays the coats of the arms of the 26 cantons of Switzerland. 
It states that on 15th April 1991, on the occasion of 700th anniversary of the Swiss confederation, 
the right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor David Avery named this area "Swiss Court" 
as a token of lasting friendship between Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 
The London Eye - One of the popular tourist attraction, this Europe's tallest ferris wheel offers the
highest public viewing point in London (however now The Shard has taken over as the highest viewing point) 


Birds eye view of the city from the London eye


The British Museum

Inside the Museum

So until next time....signing off with some spectacular night view



Palace of Westminster lit up at night





Friday, 28 November 2014

Dulce De Leche

Dulce De Leche (DDL) is nothing but sweet caramelized milk. Silky, smooth, decadent, DDL tastes like toffee and this confection can be topped with ice creams, cakes, cup cakes, as a filling for puff pastry, macaroons etc. When translated it literally means "jam (made) of milk". The first time I had DDL was in London in the form of a filling in a small puff pastry. I loved it instantly. And ever since i always wanted to make it at home. Nowadays its easily available in grocery stores. One can even buy a can of condensed milk and make DDL out of it. I somehow always wanted to make it from scratch. The recipe is adapted from Joyofbaking.com. However i didn't follow the exact recipe. I skipped the vanilla extract and corn syrup. You can add these if you want to. Here's what i did.



 Ingredients:

4 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of baking soda
Pinch of salt

You may also add vanilla extract as per you liking.

Method:

1) In 6-8 quart stock pot add milk, sugar, baking soda and salt. Place it on the stove with medium flame to medium high flame and keep stirring. 

2) After about 10 - 12 mins the milk will start boiling and will rise all the way up. At this point keep stirring and move the pan away from the stove if required. Reduce the flame and continue stirring so that the milk solids doesn't stick at the bottom and burn. Also do scrape down the sides of the pot as required. 

Please excuse me for the poor quality of the photos below. These were clicked from my phone.

The two pictures shows how the milk will look after 10 and 20mins respectively
After 30 and 45 mins respectively
After 50mins and 1hr
3) The whole procedure will take around 1 hr. Please ensure that you keep an eye on it all the time and keep stirring it frequently. Also you might have to play with the heat so as to keep the milk always on a rolling boil. 

4) At about 50-55 mins when it acquires nice caramel color it will quickly start thickening. At this point you can check the consistency it will be quite thick. Do note that the DDL will gradually thicken as it cools down.

5) Remove the prepared DDL from the stove. Before transferring it onto a clean bowl do pass it through a sieve if required to remove any unwanted lumps of milk solids that may have fallen from the sides of the pan.

4 cups or 1 litre of milk will yield approximately 1- 1 1/4 cup of Dulce De Leche.

Let it cool and serve as desired. Transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It can last for a month if stored properly.














Thursday, 9 October 2014

Couscous and Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans Salad

This is a light, simple and healthy lunch salad. I happened to try this salad when i was in London accompanying my hubs on his business trip. 

A small deli of a greek restaurant was serving it along with some other yummy lunch options. Well i guess the name of the restaurant can be a bit misleading as far as the couscous part of salad is concerned. I initially thought it was a greek recipe well it turns out its not. I have been told (and i did my research as well) that couscous is not included in any of the traditional greek recipes. This may resemble Taboule recipe but not entirely. 

Anyhow greek or not i did love the idea of this salad a lot. I am not sure what the original recipe is. But this is what i came up with which tastes very much similar to what i had in london. Give it a try when you are not in a mood to prepare a regular lunch or maybe even dinner. 



Ingredients:
1/2 - 3/4 cups of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/2 cup or less of cooked bengal gram (optional - this is something extra that i added)
1/2 cup of whole wheat dry couscous
1 green chili finely chopped
Lemon juice - Add as per your preference
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds (gives a mild sweetness and crunch to the salad)
2- 3 tbsp each of chopped cilantro and parsley 
Salt to taste 
Olive oil

1) Cook the couscous as per packet instruction. This is what i did. In a medium saucepan combine half a cup of water, a little olive oil and salt . Bring it to boil and remove from heat. Pour half cup of dry couscous into the sauce pan. Stir well. Cover and let it stand for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork.

2) To the couscous add the boiled chickpeas, bengal gram, a dash of olive oil if required,  green chili, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, chopped parsley and cilantro. Toss everything together. Check for seasoning. Add more lemon juice or salt if required and serve. 

You can even add onion and tomatoes to it for a different variation and flavor profile. 



Friday, 26 September 2014

Veg Toast Sandwich - Mumbai Street Food Style

Vada Pav, chaat, pav bhaaji, sandwiches, cutting chai.....these are some of the famous street food that defines Mumbai. 

I have grown up gorging these delicacies at every walk of my life. Be it at the school canteen, that little hole in the wall kinda restaurant near the college,  the sandwichwala (person selling sandwiches) right across the street from my institute or a food cart near the railway station on my way back from work. 

Mumbai street food not only makes me drool but brings back loads of memories and happy times spent with family, friends and colleagues while savoring yummy street food. 

One such mumbai comfort street food is the Veg Toast Sandwich. It comes in all kinda variety. Plain veg, with cheese, without cheese, toast sandwich, with bell peppers and cheese, only cheese and many more.



I still fondly remember the veg toast sandwich me and my friends used to have almost all the time during post graduation days. This sandwichwala had a peculiar style of serving the sandwich. He used to top it up with lots of nylon sev (small pieces of crunchy chickpea noodles) :). Absolutely yummy... and thats how i love to have it always. The other sandwichwala i still remember had a really small stall right outside the railway station. Me and my colleague happily gobbled down the yummy sandwiches made by him after work. He is very well known for the mountain of cheese that he serves with all of his cheese sandwiches. 

Hubs and me crave for the street style sandwiches every now and then and try to recreate it at home. In this post i will be sharing with you our simple recipe for the quintessential and humble veg toast sandwich street food style.

Since this is the indian version of sandwich i have used amul cheese, amul butter and maggie ketchup. Desi all the way :P.



You will need the following ingredients:

(This recipe will make approx 5 sandwiches)

10 slices of white sandwich bread (use good firm bread)
Green chutney
Amul butter (at room temperature) use more or less as per your preference
Amul cheese (slices or grated cheese) use more or less as per your preference
1 medium sized cucumbers skin removed and sliced
3 medium sized boiled potatoes skin removed and sliced
1 medium sized tomato sliced thinly
1 or 2 medium sized boiled beetroot skin removed and sliced
Chaat Masala 
Salt to taste
Maggie ketchup for serving 
Nylon sev for garnishing (optional)
You can also use thinly sliced onions along with the veggies 

For the green chutney:
This is my simple recipe for the green chutney
1- 1/2 cup of cilantro/coriander leaves 
2 -3 green chilies (you can adjust the amount of chili as per your desire)
1/2 - 1 inch piece of ginger root
1/2 tsp of oil 
1 - 2 tbsp of water 

Blend all of the above ingredients in a blender/mixer to a smooth paste. Green chutney is ready. 

For assembling the sandwich:

1) Take two slices of bread. Spread the green chutney in one slice and the other with butter. 

2) Now start layering the sandwich with cucumbers, potatoes, beetroot and tomatoes. There is no hard and fast rule as what should go first. Feel free to layer as much or less as per you liking. 

3) Sprinkle pinch of salt if you like and some chaat masala on top of the veggies. 

3) Now place a slice of cheese or spread grated cheese on top of the veggies. Place the other slice (with butter) butter side down on top of the cheese. Spread a little butter on top as well. 

4) Preheat your sandwich maker and butter the surface. Place the sandwich and cook till the bread is crisp and nice golden brown in color. 

5) Remove the sandwich from the sandwich maker. Now comes the fun part. Feel free to eat it as is. I top the bread with some green chutney, a little ketchup and finally nylon sev. Repeat the same procedure with reast of the bread slices. 

Serve hot :D





Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Ginger Chutney (Inji Curry) - Onam Special

With the festival of Onam around the corner, i thought it would be fun recreating some of my favorite onam recipes prepared by mom.

Onam brings along fond memories of family get together, cooking delicious recipes with family and eating on a banana leaf to our heart's content :D. Everyone in my family cooks something or the other this day. Even my father prepares his signature payasam (rice kheer/pudding) for every onam. 

Onam is a hindu festival celebrated by Malayalee's (also fondly referred to as Mallu's :P) in the state of Kerala, India and malayalee's all across the globe :). It is considered to be festival of harvest and marks the homecoming of mythical king Mahabali. The Onam ritual includes making of Pookalam or floral carpet in one's home or patio/balcony, Sadya (onam feast) served on a banana leaf, which includes around 14 to 15 types of curries & vegetable dishes, sambar, rice, pappadam, different types of pickles and payasam (rice pudding) for dessert. Dance and music is also one of the rituals followed by many. 

In this post i am presenting one of my favorite Inji (ginger) curry or you may also call it ginger chutney. Served along side other pickles like mango and lemon during onam, this happens to be the one i like the most.



Spicy, sweet and tangy all at the same time, its like a little party in your mouth. This chutney can be served on the side with all the daily indian rice preparations and even with idili, dosa and pessarattu. 

Recipe Courtesy: Mom :)

This recipe will make around half a cup of chutney.

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 cup of peeled and thinly sliced ginger 
1/4 cup of tamarind pulp (made by soaking tamarind in warm water for few mins)
1/4 cup of melted jaggery 
Salt to taste
Oil for frying ginger  

For tempering 
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
1/4 tsp of asafoetida or hing
1/2 tsp of chili powder 
7 - 8 curry leaves  
1 tbsp of oil 

Method:

1) Prepare tamarind pulp by soaking tamarind in warm water, squeeze with hand and remove pulp. Strain and keep it aside.  In a small sauce pan melt the jaggery with 1 - 2 tbsp of water, remove from heat when jaggery is completely melted. Set this aside. 

2) In a separate pan take about 1/4 cup of oil. Add the sliced ginger when the oil is hot. Fry the ginger slices on a medium flame till it becomes nice golden brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn it.

Couldn't resist clicking a picture of sliced ginger :) 

3) Remove the fried ginger from the pan and place it on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Allow it to cool for few mins

4) Transfer the fried ginger into a food processor/mixer and grind it to a coarse texture. 

5) Now in a saucepan add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the mustard seeds when the oil is hot and let them splutter. Add asafoetida, chili powder and curry leaves. Saute for few mins.


6) Now add the ginger, tamarind pulp, melted jaggery and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and cook. Keep on cooking and stirring it until the chutney starts looking shiny and thickens a bit. Remove from heat and let it cool. Transfer it into a glass bottle.


Allow to cool and serve as a side with rice, dosa, pessarattu and i think this will also work well as a chutney for dipping and eating regular pappads.  Store in a glass jar and refrigerate.






Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Almond & Pistachio Kheer

Are you bored of the usual rice and vermicelli kheer/pudding? Do you want to try a different kheer other than the usual stuff?

Presenting to you all a very delicious Almond and Pistachio Kheer.



The recipe for this sweet delicacy was passed on to me by my MIL (mother in law). Something totally different from the usual kheer preparation, this rich and delicious kheer is perfect for any festivals or special occasions. I had prepared this once during ramadan but couldn't post the recipe soon.

Recipe:

Since i made this on a weekday on hubby's demand, i only used small quantities of almonds and pistachios. So this recipe will yield 4 servings.

1/2 cup of almonds (soaked, skins removed and dried or toasted)
1/2 cup of pistachios (soaked, skins removed and dried or toasted)
2 tbsp of ghee or clarified butter
1/3 cup of sugar (you may use more if desired)
2 cups of whole milk
1/3 tsp of ground cardamom powder
Few strands of saffron.

Method:

1) Soak almonds and pistachios for at least 5 - 6 hrs (you may also soak them in warm water to decrease the soaking time). Drain the water and remove the peels. 

2) Originally this recipe calls for air dried almonds and pistachios. So you can spread the almonds and pistachios on a paper or a large dish and let it dry off in your patio/balcony. Since i didn't have the time for air drying i roasted them in the oven instead. 

3)  Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the almonds and pistachios on a baking sheet. Toast the almonds and the pistachios for 20 - 25 mins or until they are dry, crisp and very slightly brown in color. Make sure that the baking sheet is kept in the middle rack. I mistakenly kept it one rack above the middle hence the almonds and pistachios have more color on them in the pictures. But its fine as long as they are not burnt. 




4) Remove from the oven and let it cool for few mins. Transfer into a food processor/mixer and grind it into fine powder. 

5) In a saucepan heat about 2 tbsp of ghee/clarified butter. Now add the powdered almonds and pistachios and saute on a low heat for few mins. Since i had already toasted the almonds and pistachios, i didn't toast the powder for too long in the ghee. If you are using the powdered mixture which was not toasted in the oven, you will need to toast it in ghee for few mins until it gives out a nice aroma. 


6) Add the sugar and mix. Then add the milk and stir. Let it cook on a low to medium heat until the milk starts to thicken a bit. Keep stirring frequently so that the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom. Mine took around 20-25 mins. The consistency should be a little thick but not too runny. 




7) Finally finish off with cardamom powder and few saffron strands. 

Serve warm. 






Monday, 25 August 2014

Welcome to Paradise....Kauai (The Garden Island), Hawaii

WELCOME TO PARADISE....Yes....that is what precisely our welcome letter at our rented condo read....and...it indeed was. Breathtakingly beautiful, Kauai island is a nature lover's, traveler's and a photographers dream.

I am not very good with words so i will try to put our Kauai travel tales as best as i can and will also try to keep it as brief as possible :)


So how do and where do i start? It is hard to explain our experience of Kauai in words. All the adjectives in the dictionary wont suffice to describe this nature's beauty. But yes one thing i can say for sure it was a "DREAM COME TRUE" for both of us.

We had been planning this vacation for a really long time (an year to be exact). Truly speaking, i would not take any credit for the planning of this trip at all. All credit goes to my fabulous hubby, who put all his energy and time in researching from the right place to stay to the right things to do.

If you are going to a place like Hawaii, it becomes imperative that you have researched thoroughly and selected the right island to make your vacation not "just any other vacation" but an experience of a lifetime.

If you are among those people who like shopping and nightlife during your vacation...i am sorry Kauai is definitely not the island for you. The other islands are more commercialized, as compared to Kauai. But if you are looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of city, to relax or  to simply drown in the beauty of nature or if you are anything like me and my hubby (read adventurous) then i suggest you have a look at what we did in our one week stay at Kauai which is also known as the "THE GARDEN ISLAND".

So without any further ado i am happy to share some of the fabulous images, our planned itinerary and things to do. We went during summer which considered to be the best season to visit this stunning island.

Where we stayed?

We stayed at a rented condo at Pali Ke Kua which is situated in the north shore of Kauai. A bit far off from the airport and other markets but trust me on this, it will be totally worth it. Pali Ke Kau is located at Princeville resort which offers vacation rentals with one or two bedrooms. All the condos comes with fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, cable and internet. With its close proximity to the beach, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, hiking and golfing, this place is definitely worth every penny. There is also a common sunset lookout point where as per Hawaiian tradition, people gather in the evening bring food, eat and watch the sun go down together.


You can either opt for all of the above fun activities or simply relax and unwind in the Lanai (porch) and watch the stunning ocean, spectacular sunsets and beautiful rainbows in the comfort of your condo.

We stayed in Condo #205. A perfect vacation condo, beautifully furnished, well stocked kitchen, ample beach towels for use, with beach chairs and umbrella also provided to the renters. The beautiful Lanai overlooking the ocean was the icing on the cake. The lovely kitchen also comes with many cook books. So cook away delicious meals during your stay and have lunch or dinner at the dining table or the lanai whilst watching the never ending blue and amazing pacific ocean.

Welcome gift basket containing chocolates, cookies, coffee and tea waiting for us in the condo....
that was really sweet of Mary (owner of the condo)
Yummy hawaiian chocolates from the welcome gift basket
The beautiful Condo
Breathtaking view from the Lanai of the condo :)
Important Note: Plan ahead and make all the required bookings, hotel/condos and all other activities that you are planning to do in advance (at least 2 months prior). Also you will need a vehicle to go around. Make sure a vehicle of your choice is booked well in advance.  

What we packed? 

Pack light. Make sure you pack your clothes according to the activities that you have planned. The north shore of Kauai is the wettest spot and hence it rains more frequently on this part of the island. The rains are very brief and the sun comes out soon enough. In our one week stay at Kauai, it rained almost everyday but not for the entire duration of the day. It does get warm and sunny in the afternoons. But be prepared for frequent showers. 

To Pack:

Rainy ponchos/jackets
3- 4 pairs of swimwear or maybe more ;)
Beach Sandals 
Running or Hiking Shoes
T shirts and shorts (including those that can get muddy)
1 -2 summer dresses 
Sunscreen 
Hats
Back packs (if you plan on hiking)
Camera including one Waterproof Camera
Binoculars
GPS 

What we did?

Day 1: We didn't do much on day 1 as we were pretty tired after a long flight. North shore of Kauai is approximately 45 mins from the Lihuea airport. There are bus services that drop you to the car rental from the Lihuea airport. The drive is very very scenic and beautiful. We reached Pali ke Kau in the afternoon, freshened up and headed for the private beach. To our surprise we happened to spot a big turtle snoozing away :). The private beach is also a good spot for snorkeling. Hubby did some snorkeling and i enjoyed watching.


Crabs running to hide under the rocks :)

Spotted this big fellow snoozing away.. seemingly uninterested with us clicking pictures :P

Hubby spotted colorful fishes while snorkeling 
And some more...
The private beach clicked from our condo.... Can u spot the turtle? :P
After a relaxing time at the private beach, we did some grocery shopping(fruits, bread and eggs :P) at the nearby Princeville market.


Day 2: Day 2 was also a day of relaxing. We had no plans whatsoever and were glad we did not as it rained in the morning. Afternoon we headed to Hideaway Beach which was just a few mins walk from our condo. This is a nice small beach, quietly hidden away. This is also a good spot for snorkeling. I wouldn't personally recommend it because its a bit difficult to get there. The path towards the beach is very very steep. Go ahead if you are comfortable with climbing up and down on a very steep pathway.

Day 3: Hiking 

So all our action and adventure started from day 3. An early morning hike with Eric (of Hike Kauai with me) was the perfect way of exploring the beauty of the island on foot. Eric, personally guides you through the hiking terrain and shared his experience of the island with some of the history of Kauai. We were lucky enough to have a perfect climate for the hike. The hike was fun and Eric made sure to stop us at points with beautiful views of the island. If you are interested in hiking, i would highly recommend Eric. He knows all the possible hiking locations in Kauai and suggests hiking trails as per your experience.

This is the amazing view that you get to see on the hiking trail
All the tiredness from climbing just vanished with the sight of this beautiful mountains and the waterfalls 

We spotted many of these little fellows hopping and jumping around
After an absolutely refreshing morning hike and a quick breakfast, we headed to Anini Beach and later in the evening to Tunnels beach.

Anini beach- This beach has the longest and widest fringing reef in the hawaiian islands which makes it perfect for
activities like snorkeling and paddle boarding. Its also a good spot for camping, picnic and relaxing. I found this beach perfect for families with small children :)
Tunnels Beach - A nice beach but we noticed that the currents were really strong (maybe coz we went there in the evening) . I cannot comment anything on snorkeling or diving here. But an evening stroll at the beach wont hurt for sure :)
Day 4: Waimea Canyon & Napali Experience

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon also know as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii is a must see. You can easily drive and stop at all the look out points and spend as much time as you can. Since we had other plans for the afternoon we couldn't spend much time here. Yet we managed to cover all the points :). Lush green and full of color this place will mesmerize you and will open up a whole new world of beauty.
Don't believe me? Have a look at it yourself...

Different shades of greens and browns 


Na Pali Coast seen from the Kalalau lookout point....love how the blue ocean water sparkles like diamonds from up above
Mesmerizing view from the Kalalau lookout point....but wait until you see it upfront from a boat (pics below)
Napali Experience (Boat Tour)

If you want to experience Na Pali which is know as the most breathtakingly beautiful, stunning and spectacular attractions in the whole wide world, Na Pali Experience boat tours are the best of the best. However to thoroughly enjoy every moment of it I would suggest you book the mid size catamaran (for 6 people) unlike the large ones that will have at least 50 people on board.

I must emphasize that this was one of our most unforgettable experience ever.

Na Pali coast is situated in the north west part of the island and is accessible only by boat or a helicopter. Once on the boat you will get to see the most beautiful mountain cliffs ever. The erosions on the mountains that happened over a millions of years ago (which still is an ongoing phenomenon) has created a cliffs and valleys unlike anywhere in the world. In the 5 hour boat ride you will be taken inside caves (which is not possible if you book a large catamaran), taken to the best spot for snorkeling and if you are lucky enough you may also spot dolphins during the tour (unfortunately we didn't spot any). They also provide really good snorkeling equipments and also refreshments during the tour. Do not carry too much stuff, wear swimwear under your clothes, take it off and leave it in your car because you are going to get wet. Carry towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, waterproof camera and wear flip flops.

Beautiful rainbow admits the stunning mountains

Simply stunning 

Inside one of the caves
Spotted turtles at the snorkeling spot
Hubby captured some amazing pictures underwater while snorkeling 
Beautiful fishes everywhere
Here fish fishy fishy....

Day 5:  Sky Diving & Kilauea Light house

Sky Diving

Totally optional!!!!. You can go ahead with it only if you are as crazy as us :P. And if you do want to, just go the website of Skydive Kauai. These people are really good and thorough professionals, with tandem instructors having an experience of more than 5,000- 10,000 jumps. Of course you have to do it at your own risk so i am not recommending it but if you are some one who wants to sky dive then Kauai would be the place to do it.

Ok so we were completely out of our minds to Sky Dive, at least i was. Hubby had already decided that he wanted to do it come what may, I on the other hand was trying to convince him not to. And what happened eventually, i ended up taking a giant leap of faith. Don't ask me what made me do it because i still wonder even today how the hell on earth i gathered the courage. All i can say is I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment of it. It was scary at the beginning but boyyyyyy what an experience. I never thought Sky dive would be on my bucket list. Well it some how made its way and i am happy to cross off the most scariest one on my list :)



So after an unbelievably out of this world experience we had brunch at a small little restaurant and headed to our next destination - Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse

The beautiful Kilauea Lighthouse was build in the year 1913 and aids in the navigation of commercial ships to Hawaii. The Kilauea point is also home to a large number of nesting seabirds of the Hawaiian island. If you are a wildlife lover you are going to enjoy this as much as we did. We clicked pictures like crazy. But do save yourself some time to just stand back and enjoy the sight of the birds flying, catching fish and get lost in the beautiful sound of the waves hitting the rocks.





Both of us clicked a lot of photos of all the beautiful birds....sharing few pics here..
Ready to dive

Day 6:  Wings over Kauai & Princeville Botanical Garden

Wings Over Kauai

So we explored Kauai by land (hiking) and on the waters (beaches and an awesome boat ride). Last but not the least it was time to explore the garden island in all its glory by AIR.

Wings over Kauai is by far the best in business. We booked a Cessna tour. With only three of us on board including the pilot, our 65- 70min flight was memorable in every sense. So instead of going on and on about our experience i would rather share the beautiful pictures that we captured through the Cessna.

The Cessna 
Birdseye View of the Garden Island 


The mesmerizing Na Pali Coast 

That is the famous Jurassic Park Falls. 
Wailuea water falls :)


With Bruce our pilot....the hand gesture known as "Shaka" sign in Hawaii signifies Aloha spirit of friendship, understanding and compassion. 
Princeville Botanical Garden

After an awesome 2 hr air tour of the beautiful island, we headed to spend a relaxing time at the Botanical garden. Beautifully maintained, family owned and operated garden, this is recommended if you are interested in exotic plants, flowers, fruits and organic home grown cocoa. We also got a chance at gourmet chocolate tasting at the garden. Yummm. Saw many exotic flowers and plants. I was so busy soaking in all the beauty around me, that i didn't bother to memorize or note down the names of the plants or flowers :P.

Beautiful little stream in the middle of the garden





All i know right now is this one is carnivorous plant

Gourmet Chocolate tasting time :D
Day 7:  Jungle Valley Adventure and Hanalei Pier 

Day 7 started with Jungle Valley Adventure at Princeville Ranch Adventures. The tour includes hiking, kayaking and zip lining.  This adventure package is great for families with children as well. Had lots of fun zip lining and kayaking. Make sure to carry water bottles, mosquito repellants, wear clothes and shoes that can get wet and muddy, towels, sunscreen, hat, rain poncho and dry clothes for change. Also wear swimsuit underneath your clothes because you will need them once you reach the Uluhe Fern Ridge. All of the things mentioned earlier should be carried in a bag pack. They also provide rental hiking shoes if you don't want your shoes to get all wet and muddy. The package also includes picnic (with make your own deli sandwich, chips and cookies). 

All set to go

The Ranch 

Uluhe Fern Ridge......dive, swim and enjoy :)
Afternoon we headed to Hanalei Pier for some fun and relaxing 


Day 8: Wailuea Falls 

Last day we had the entire morning and afternoon before we headed back home. So rather than lazing around at the condo we packed up and headed to Wailuea Falls. We also happened to check out the local Museum as well.




And that was the end to our dream vacation. With a heavy heart but with loads of beautiful memories we bid adieu to the beautiful garden island.

Leaving you guys with this beautiful picture clicked from our condo.



Hope you enjoyed reading this post. 

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