Friday, 25 April 2014

Our trip to the Sin City (Las Vegas) and The Magestic Grand Canyon

Hello everyone. This is my very first travel post on the blog. We are back from our trip to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon and i am very excited to share our experience as well as some pictures. Hope you enjoy.

Me and my hubby share the passion for traveling and exploring food from around the world. Exploring new places, getting to know the history behind them and gaining knowledge along the way is something that will always excite us. 

We generally plan all our trips well before hand. But this time around, our plan of visiting Las vegas and Grand Canyon was quite impromptu. It was always on our wish list, but the trip never materialized somehow. Initially we thought about planning the visit with few of our friends, but even that didn't work out as we hoped for. Hubby released that we had no plans for Easter weekend, which also was a long weekend. And so suddenly out of the blue we decided why not Vegas. 

This was a short trip (4 days and 3 nights) considering the fact that it would be ideal if you take at least a week off of work and explore both Vegas and grand canyon. All the bookings for air tickets, accommodation and car rental were done online by us few weeks prior to our visit. 

So if you ever plan on a short trip to Vegas read on to find out what we did on our trip. 

Day 1: We reached Las Vegas on Thursday evening around 5:00pm. Boarded a shuttle bus to the rental car service. Got the car and headed to our hotel (Wynn) which was located a bit far (north) from the vegas strip. There are tons of options when it comes to hotels. Wynn is a huge hotel with super luxurious interiors, huge casino, restaurants, pool and buffet. Our room on the 38th floor had an amazing panoramic view of the city. All these comes at a price and yes, we did splurge a little when it came to accommodation and food and thats because i don't see another vegas trip happening anytime soon in the future. Our stay at the hotel was an incredible and amazing experience.

Panoramic night view from our hotel room

Huge deco at Wynn Buffet

Beautiful decoration inside Wynn Hotel

Most of the hotels in vegas have there own casinos, restaurants and shopping centers within, which is a plus. If you want to explore the strip you should do it on foot or you can also hire limousine and party throughout the night.

By the time we got to our room from the airport, freshened up and changed, it was dinner time. One of our friend had highly recommended a buffet at Caesars Palace, so we decided to walk there and explore the strip as well.

Lets talk food first, shall we?... :)  The food we had at Bacchanal buffet (Caesars Palace) was truly and completely worth every penny. The bacchanal buffet is voted as the best buffet in Las Vegas. They offer......hold your breath.... more than 500 dishes. We were in a foodies wonderland. They also had an impressive spread of desserts. With so much to choose from, you will definitely leave the place happy and satisfied. By the time we got inside, we were so hungry that we forgot to click pics of the buffet spread. Although i do have few pics of the desserts. :)

Huge array of desserts to choose from

Now about the strip, it felt somewhat like times square all bright and shiny. But the huge architectural hotels along the strip are a stunner. Every hotel, restaurant and casino is lit up in varied colors which is a treat for the eye. You can also check out few themed hotels and restaurants, like planet hollywood, New York hotel, Eiffel tower at Paris..etc. The strip also offers a dancing fountain show of hotel Bellagio every half an hour which is worth watching, a volcano show of hotel Mirage every 15 mins or so is also fun to watch. If you are up for some thrill rides during the day, then do check out the Stratosphere the tallest hotel in Las Vegas. Unfortunately we couldn't, due to time crunch. We are not much of a party people neither do we gamble. I know Vegas is all about gambling and partying. I am so sorry i cannot tell you much about it. But we did happen to go to our hotels nightclub XS the next day. Beautiful nightclub, awesome ambiance and amazing DJ.

Hotel Wynn 

Dancing Fountain at the Bellagio
Day 2: After our morning breakfast, we headed off to see the Valley of Fire State Park which was about an hour drive from Las Vegas strip. Do not forget to carry food and plenty of water. The route was very scenic and the weather was perfect. The valley of fire state park is very huge (spread across approximately 42,000 acres of land) and is known to derive its name from the humungous red sandstone formations that was formed from the great shifting of sand dunes that happened thousands and millions of years ago. Trust me, you don't wanna miss this beauty if you are in vegas. Climb the rocks, enjoy the beauty of nature and click photos. Truly speaking, we enjoyed been here more than the Las Vegas strip :P......

On our way to Valley of Fire

Ancient scriptures on the rocks

Day 3 & 4: Morning of Day 3 started with a search for a small place to have good breakfast. We were asked to wait for about 45 mins at the first place we went. Later we ended up eating a wholesome and delicious breakfast at Farmer Boys (highly recommended).

Thereon started our 4 hour long drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park. The Hoover Dam which is also a tourist attraction is also on the way to the grand canyon. We opted not to stop, once again due to time crunch. Moreover its more exciting to see nature's beauty than a man made one :P.

We headed for the south rim which is the most visited rim. Do check the climate and pack clothes accordingly. We were very fortunate to have a pleasant climate. Although we encountered few shower while hiking our way down at a point, but that was the only glitch. The next day (Day 4) it was slightly chilly and sunny at the same time. Perfect.

The Grand Canyon is a canyon carved by the Colorado river. It is amazing to see how the river found its way by cutting across the canyon which resulted in such beautiful and mesmerizing formations. 

We stayed for the night at Best Western Premier Inn which is approximately one to two miles away from the Grand Canyon entrance gate. The national park also offers cottages inside, however we only found out about it once we were inside. Maybe next time :).  

The visitor services are really good here. All you have to do is park your car at the entrance and hop on to any of the buses (called as red line, blue line, orange and purple line) which will take you to all the major view points. The buses operate every 15 mins, to drop off and pick up visitors at every location. All you have to do is get off at one point, finish your sightseeing and wait for the next bus to arrive. We tried covering as much view points that we could in our short trip but we are still left wanting for more. If only we had a day or two more we could have done a little bit of hiking as well. Nevertheless it was one of a kind experience, must visit place which we will definitely cherish forever.

Here are some of the pics of the beautiful and majestic Grand Canyon. Enjoy.

Amazing view of rainfall at Grand Canyon
Beautiful and Serene 

The tiny streak of line in the middle is the Colorado river

Beautiful view of sunset

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Confessions of a dusky girl

As i have mentioned before in my very first post i am not much of a writer, a poet or a philosopher. Today i am just going to confess/share or should i say "rant" about certain things that i have locked up in my heart since a very long time. 

So how do i start??? Well you should get a hint from the title of 
my post.

For all those who are unfamiliar with the term "dusky" it means someone who is not very fair in color neither too dark. 

Yes people i am not fair. My skin color is somewhere between wheatish to dark. So have you started judging me already? Does that matter? Does it make me less of a person? 

Till date i am unable to understand Indian people's obsession with being fair skinned. I am not sure since i am in US, but does the idiot box still run advertisements on fairness creams? Even movie stars like Priyanka Chopra who no doubt is a beautiful lady but also has a beautiful dusky skin, has endorsed fairness products. Today's youth look up to the movie stars as their idols. What message are they passing on to the next generation? That you are loser if you are not fair? Oh and how can i forget, as per the super racist ads girl uses fairness cream gets the job, girl uses fairness cream gets the boy, girl uses fairness cream she becomes a model, so on and so forth. So basically the media is giving out a message that only fair skinned people are successful in life.

Seriously???? Is this the message you want to convey to the youth and the children? These stupid fairness creams ads should be banned and movie stars should refuse to endorse such products. I mean c'mon people, be realistic, if you are wheatish, dusky or dark its in your genes. Nothing is going to change that. Why don't you invest your time and energy on being a better person instead?

We all make a big deal when an indian is confronted with some racist remark in a foreign land. We tweet, we share it on facebook and make a hullabaloo on all possible social networks. But have you ever given a thought to the fact that when we distinguish our own people based on color we are being racist ourselves? Think about it. 

So you must be wondering why do i have this sudden urge to rant on this topic? Now that i have started blogging, i feel that i have a platform where i can openly share my feelings and i am sure there must be a lot of people who might relate to what i have gone through as a teenager. 

We all cherish our memories of childhood and school life. School life is always considered as the most memorable phase of our lives. It was memorable for me as well in some ways. But not entirely. I was bullied a lot in school for being fat and dark skinned. There were times when i just wanted to stay home and avoid going to school altogether. My school was just a stone throw away from our home. I still remember those days when i just wanted the school to get over, run home, close the bedroom door and cry my heart out.

School was done eventually (but the scars remained) and then started the exciting journey of junior college. But the drama of my life was not over yet. I got admitted to a college which predominantly had maharashtrian students (I am not saying that all maharashtrians are bad people coz as on today all of my besties are maharshtrians). Being a south indian i was royally ignored by almost everyone. There were 3-4 good females with whom i made friends and used to hang out regularly. But thats it. The rest of the snobby bunch of students used to call me names which i chose to ignore.

The junior college days were ok no fun at all but instead my coaching class was a place where i enjoyed the most.

Then came a day which i never thought would be etched in my memory forever. It was (if i remember correctly) traditional day in our college. All the girls were supposed to wear sari and boys in formal attire with tie or kurta/pyjama. We had few fun activities one of which was fish pond. Back in those days the game fish pond was quite famous. In this game every student gets to write something funny (like a poem or some phrase) about other students on a piece of paper but by being anonymous. No names to be mentioned except the name of the person for whom the message was written. Then all the folded papers were collected and put in a bowl. A girl volunteered to read out all of them.

Some of them were funny, some were ok. Then came my turn, so there i was eager to hear what was written for me. It was in marathi which went something like this "savtahla samjhte beauty queen, savtahla samjhte beauty queen, pan ahe tu faqt stove chi kaali pin"....i will translate that for goes "she considers herself a beauty queen, she considers herself a beauty queen, but she is just a dirty black pin of a stove" (the kerosene stove which people use in india). I know doesn't rhyme in english but it does in marathi.....Anyhow does this sound funny by any means? I know it was a stupid silly game where everyone was supposed to have fun and laugh about it later. But seriously, was this funny? No. That was outright racist. How can i even laugh about it?  I choked when i heard the girl read it out loud in front of the entire class. But no i did not cry. I could have confronted and addressed all the students but i chose not to. May be i was scared, i felt so humiliated that i just didn't want to see anybody's face. Or maybe i should have done something about it. Because i still hold grudge for the person who wrote it. Maybe i wouldn't be so bitter about it even today because i still wonder what could have made someone write such a thing. Nobody spoke to me. I never said anything bad about anyone, never called names and never bullied anyone. I just went to college everyday and minding my own business. I had no other option. But in-spite of being practically invisible this happened.

My message to whoever wrote the so called funny fish pond, if you are somewhere out there reading this please understand that commenting and making fun of someone's color, body or size is not funny. You didn't even take the initiative to know me or understand me, so you have no right to judge me. Just because your skin color is white doesn't make you a better person. You should feel ashamed and sorry for it.

The good thing is the better phase of my life started for me post my junior college. I was in a 2 different colleges, made awesome friends (which also includes my hubs) and even more awesome memories. Post graduation was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met some amazing friends who love me for who i am and whom i know i can trust with my life. I am an ambivert, don't make friends very easily, so people start judging me as being rude and full of myself. But i have changed, learned and changed for good. Not only friends, but my family were always by my side. I think i am a better person now. The scars have healed.

If you are someone who has gone through the same ordeal, don't fall down, rise up , stand up for yourself and don't let yourself be bullied. Never underestimate yourself and be proud about who you are no matter what color, shape or size.

Oh yes... how i can forget one small incident that happened to me here in US. This was when me and hubs were in New Jersey. One evening we went to the nearby gym to enroll ourselves, while the girl was explaining about the facilities, classes and stuff, i politely interrupted and inquired whether they offer any massage services (i saw a room that looked like a massage room). To which she said they still haven't started but they do offer tanning services. Then she looked at me and said "ohh you dont need one, you already have a beautiful color". How ironic huh? The people here want brown/dark skin like us and we indians want fair porcelain skin like them.

All i want to convey is, we should not be judging someone solely based on their appearance. Being good looking and fair doesn't make someone a good person. What ultimately counts is how much of a human you are with human like emotions of love, empathy and compassion.

Appearances can be deceiving, the true beauty only reflects in one's soul.

Thanks for stopping by :)


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Things to do in Austin - Part 1

I am really excited to start with this new section on the blog on "Things to do in Austin"(Texas). If you are someone who recently moved to Austin (like us) or a person who is already here and looking for fun and adventurous stuff to do, this post (and many more to come) might be of some help to you. 

Trust me on this.....your weekends will never be boring if you are in Austin. There is so much to do, so much to see and so much to eat :) ...... We (me and hubby) never had so much fun when we were in New Jersey. Well i am not sure whether it was because of hubby's busy schedule or because we were just plain lazy to get out and explore. But things have definitely changed a lot (for good) after moving to Austin. 

Life here is easy, laid back and relaxed. People are super friendly, warm and outdoorsy. We are definitely enjoying our lives here to the fullest....knock on wood!!!!

Ahhhhh....there are soooo many things to do. One of them is water biking. Sounds interesting, right? It is indeed a lot of fun. 

Water bikes are nothing but a hybrid form of bicycle kayaks, which is absolutely safe and fun for all.  If you want to enjoy the evening watching the sunset against the backdrop of the beautiful lady bird lake and the austin skyline just hop onto one of the water bikes and enjoy. Did i mention this is also a really fun form of exercise? :P

We opted for a bat tour (which apparently is a popular tourist attraction) to watch thousands and millions of little mexican free tailed bats take flight after sunset from the congress avenue bridge in search of food. Once you are under the bridge, you will also hear the squeaking noise of the bats hiding under the crevices of the bridge. It was some experience to see these tiny creatures fill up the sky.

Special mention to our tour guide, sorry i forgot his name...... he was a really nice guy, gave us a lot of info about austin, the downtown and about the bats of course.

Sharing the pics (clicked from hubby's HTC One) from our fun filled evening. There were few snaps of the bats flying but i am unable to find them... :(

Austin Downtown Backdrop 

All set to go 

Off i go.....Yeeyyyy

So have you booked for one already? :P ...All you have to do is check on the website for the services and make a call. There are many options like day time tour, sunset tour, family tour, bat tour etc. The pricing and all the details are given on the website.  You can also check if there are any deals available on groupons like we did. If you have a groupon all you have to do is buy the groupon, show up at the given address(with the groupon), sign a waiver and you are all set.


Disclaimer: This blogpost is purely my idea to share our fun experiences in Austin with everyone. I was not paid for writing this post nor was i requested by anyone for advertising. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Skies of Austin never seizes to amaze me

There is nothing as beautiful as nature and our mother earth.

I am sooooo thankful to technology (i bet all of you are), else all the beauty that we encounter in our day to day lives will only be captured in our memories. Untouched and unshared. That would have been really sad.

So i thought why not share the beauty of Austin through my eyes. 

In this post i will be sharing the beauty of the sky in Austin, Texas clicked from my Samsung Galaxy S3 (some of them were edited on instagram). 

Hope You enjoy.

Amazing sky during sunset.......clicked from the parking area of the gym

Double Rainbow.......i just left what i was eating and ran outside to click this
This beautiful sunset was clicked....(if i am not mistaken) from the parking area of Walmart

My Favorite......this was clicked from our balcony.....

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