My Perfect Lehenga Quest

img_5403

Every Lehenga has a story behind it and I too have my own tale to tell.It was 2 years ago when my brother in law decided to get married, my hunt for a perfect outfit began. I had lot of options in my mind like a gown, a draped sari, lehenga sari, anarkali, but after a lot of brain storming decide to settle for a lehnega.

img_5406

A lehenga was my final choice because its comfortable, easy to carry and traditional at the same time. The first part of the search began online to check out the latest trends but sadly what you find browsing the net is mostly not what you actually get in stores.I decided not to be influenced by online designs and make up my mind about the kind of lehenga I wanted only after visiting the stores.

As Chandni Chowk is considered as Mecca for ethnic shopping in New Delhi, I too wanted to have a check on what it had in stores for me. After talking to some of my designer friends I got to know that the shops in Chandni Chowk mostly have sample pieces and fabricate the outfit only after you place an order. So it takes time to deliver the actual piece and if its one of the wedding season in India the wait can be even many months long. Since i didn’t not have much time to spare I decided to look for a Lehenga in the affordable ethic stores of New Delhi, skipping on very big designer names. I did not want to spend fortunes on the Lehenga rather spend the equivalent amount on my over all look including good , footwear and accessaries. I always believe in budget fashion which is appealing and does not rip you of your hard earn money.

img_5402

The first store i visited was Shakuntalam in Ambience Mall Gurgaon showcasing budding designers collection at affordable price ranges. I am a person who settles down for something after a lot of trial and comparison rest assuring what I pick up is value for money. This piece was an instant connect, I fell for this one the moment i saw it and even imagined my whole D- day look.

img_5401

Yes! I had found my perfect lehenga, It was a blend of modern silhouettes and traditional red color. Though the color was red, it did not give a bridal lehenga feel or appearance. A full embroidered high-low jacket with red, blue, dull gold embroidery and silver crystals all over, with a plain not too over the top red skirt with satin lining and sleek silver border. The icing on the cake was the designer pre draped blue dupatta with a neck embellishment that was almost like a neckpiece and saved me the hassle and money to wear one.

img_5405

Moreover while trying it on I realized this was not a one time wear, rather it could be paired up with other pieces to create different looks. I have already created 3 different  looks using the same skirt and even the top can be paired with red or blue silk pants.

img_5404

The added advantage i got was a 25% silver jubilee discount going on the store. I flaunted my perfect lehenga at the wedding without spending a bomb and wore it at two more occasions later without being repetitive. This was my own story about the quest for my ” Perfect Lehenga “.

HOLA ESPANIA!!!!!

 

img_4040

Living in Morocco, Spain is just a stone throw away, popular vacation destination from Morocco. Though Spain is just right across the Mediterranean sea we somehow omitted it from our travel itinerary for good two long years before we finally crossed the sea to experience Spain.

Spain is easily accessible from Morocco by flights and ferries, and to try a new mode of transportation we took ferry from Tangier Med to Algeciras, a port town on the coast of Spain. This sea adventure was very comfortable, different with ecstatic views of the sea and I was lucky enough to spot some dolphins. We took a bus from Algeciras to Malaga which is about 3 hours journey but the breathtaking views kept us glued to our seats looking outside the window throughout our journey.

img_4031

Malaga was our pitstop so we just had one day in Malaga, the hometown of legendary painter Pablo Picasso who spent his childhood there. But the first thing on our mind was to hit the beach because we had waited long enough to be at beaches of Spain, the land of rich culture, architecture, Paella, Sangria and world finest wines. We stayed in Puerta Silken Hotel just 200 meters from the Central train station. On checkin we were given complimentary drinks coupons and were informed that the hotel provided beach towels complimentary which was pretty impressive as hotels across Spain don’t allow hotel towels to be taken to beaches.

img_4032
We just dropped off our bags in the hotel, freshened up and left for Playa Malageuta, the best beach of Malaga and spent the afternoon at the beach relaxing ,enjoying the atmosphere. In the evening we returned to the hotel showered and dressed up, enjoyed some fine wine at the hotel bar and headed to the old town for an insight of the city. Walking through the cobbled streets we visited the city Cathedral and Chateau. Lastly we were at the central market which was infested with fancy designer stores, bars and restaurants. After a stroll through the bylanes of Malaga we ended our day with Sangria and Paella.

Next morning we headed to the airport after a wholesome and delicious breakfast of Spanish omelette and fresh orange juice.  on completing the checkin and security formalities we were on board our flight to IBIZA. Its a short flight of an hour from Malaga to Ibiza,soon after we took off we were over head the Spanish coast and were left marveling at the spectacular aerial views of the clear blue water, white sand beaches and mountains. In no time the flight was ready to land at Ibiza, the party island,with Yacht and boats all over the blue sea. The final approach to the runway at Ibiza airport overlooks the sea, a sight not to be missed.

img_4030

The island never sleeps or feels dull, every moment in Ibiza is an experience. The atmosphere in Ibiza was electric and i felt being transported to a different world. Everyone was in a joyous mood, dressed up in the best of beachwear, its certainly party lovers paradise. We checked in our hotel, dressed up and were soon figuring our way in streets of Ibiza to the most celebrated club of the island, USHUAIA IBIZA.

My husband is a die hard EDM fan so we had pre booked our passes to the live concert of HARDWELL- No 2 DJ of the world. In Ibiza the night never seems to end and we partied till late with the best crowd and music, all tired and hungry we left the club and were wondering if we would get some food at that hour of night and were almost taken aback because all restaurants were open, the streets were brimming with life as if it would be at 2 in the afternoon. Young boys and girls were all over partying and having the best times of their life. We had a late dinner /early breakfast;) of Pizza because it was almost dawn. We wen to our hotel to catch on some good nights sleep. The next morning after a super breakfast we hit the Bora Bora beach in Ibiza. The beach is clean with white sand and blue water, we rented beach beds, umbrella and spent the entire day eating, drinking soaking in the water,enjoying the sun,the tan and relaxing.

img_4045

The restaurants at the beaches had pool parties with free entry, electronic music,food and beverage served right on the beach. It was the perfect summer day out at one of the happening beach of Ibiza. The bikini clad girls flaunting their summer bodies and beach wear the boys were also not behind. The evening was spent strolling across the hippie market having a look at handmade artifacts, clothes and jewelry. We enjoyed some wine and tapas in dinner and left for the airport, for our late night flight to the capital of Spain , MADRID. Its again a short one hour flight to Madrid from Ibiza, while waiting for the departure we recalled our fantastic two days spent in the most lively island of Ibiza, good byes are always hard but i was equally excited to be in the capital city too!!

img_4016

Madrid is a big city, full of architecture, modern markets, designer showroom, plenty of gardens, restaurants and bars. We stayed in Petit Palace Hotel right at Puerta del Sol, the central part of the city. It was hot during the day so we though it wise to cover the city in the big bus hop on hop off tours. The big bus tour made our site seeing very comfortable with air conditioned interiors, well designed routes, great bus frequency and several points to change routes. We had a 2 day tour pass with commentary in several languages about the history of each monuments in the city. The tour was divided in 2 parts, a modern city tour comprising of the upmarket streets of Madrid, Real Madrid Soccer ground, several museums, libraries, government buildings parks and the second part covered the old town with the palace, cathedrals, markets, squares, theatre, and all ancient architecture. We covered all touristic spots of madrid in 2 days and then ended our visit at Puerta del Sol, shopping and visiting the oldest market of Madrid- Mercado San Miguel, offering some of the finest wines, Paella, Tapas, Meats and the famous Churros with hot chocolate.I tried Sangria with a twist, different from the classic version in this ,wine is mixed with Champagne, served with some fresh marinated green olives.

This was an end to our Spain trip, covering three totally different cities and finally I got a chance to experience Spanish culture and architecture., still a lot left to explore, until next time”AMIGOS ESPANIA”

Royal Palace de Chateau Versailles

IMG_3290

My pervious Parisian romance was followed by this chance to experience French royalty. We flew from India to the loving city of Paris@ Qatar Airways A380 super experience and awesome flight. Flying from your home country always ensures excess baggage full of groceries and so we decided to stay in hotel Hyatt Regency at Charles de Gaulle Airport.It was July, a summer day in Paris but some how clouds love us a bit too much and we are always welcomed by them when in paris. After checkin formalities in the hotel we were dead tired so decided to spend the evening exploring the hotel and grabbing on some rest.

The next morning soon after a whole some breakfast we left our hotel taking the complimentary hotel bus shuttle to the train station terminal 2 at the airport. To our luck lady at the ticket counter spoke english and helped us to buy this one week Paris pass zone 1-5 which could be used on all public transport across the city. The best part was this pass was cheaper then 2 day paris pass and could be recharged to be used on our next Paris visit. The airport train line does not directly connect to versailles ,so we took RER B to Notre dame station and from there changed for metro to Versailles. Its easy to locate the station as its the last stop and most of the people get down there.

It is always advisable to book online tickets for any monuments in Paris to avoid long queues and avail discounts. We too booked our Palace tickets prior which saved us all the hassle.The royal garden of the palace however do not have any entry tickets, so if you are not very keen for architectural and historical details you can skip the palace tickets and just  enjoy the breathtaking views of the Royal gardens. Paris is famous for long queues at monuments, we too waited for our turn to enter the Chateau. The chateau is a fine specimen of french architecture and royalty and it was incredible to see all the extravagance and the bling(Gold). We spend the afternoon in the gardens capturing the views and enjoying the cool breeze. When we got all exhausted and hungry we decided to head to Gare du Nord for some Indian food and then to Mont Marte Sacre Coeur Cathedral.

IMG_3298

IMG_3307

IMG_3301.jpg

IMG_3308.jpg

IMG_3292.jpg

IMG_3297.jpg

IMG_3295.jpg

IMG_3302.jpg

IMG_3304.jpg

IMG_3311.jpg

IMG_3310.jpg

IMG_3312.jpg

Au Revoir Versailles!!!!!!!!

My Moroccan Hammam adventure……

Morocco is my second home since i got married 2 years back,as my husband is based in Mohammedia a town on the way between Casablanca and Rabat.Morocco is a lovely country with warm people who just adore Indians or “Hindustani” as they prefer .I always enjoy the almost star like treatment I get ,thanks to Shahrukh khan and Bollywood;this part of the world welcomes Indians with open arms

               I had always heard about the mandatory weekly regime of going to the “Hammam” among the locals but being a foreigner with language constraints always prevented me from soaking into the hammam experience as Arabic and French are the spoken languages and English-speaking locals are sparse.

My fantasy of going to the Hammam was curbed for a while until a comrade offered me to join her for a trip to the hammam at weekend.It was an immediate yes ,as it was a longing since i knew about one.The hammams are gender specific ,separate for men and women.They can be categorized as traditional public bath where you shower and clean with many other people or the modern version which is like a spa with privacy.Its advisable to book your sessions at spa as it gets busy at weekends.I was excited for my little adventure trip to the hammam.yes!! it was no less than adventure trip for me.

My friend helped me with the errand of organizing things required for a visit to the hammam. At a hammam you are supposed to carry your shower products,shampoo,after shampoo,face wash,towels ,flip-flops and fresh set of clothes to change and you are good to go.She also helped me with some  hammam etiquettes.A 15 minute of car ride and we were at the hammam spa.The pre booking of session helped us from waiting and in split of seconds we undressed and were in the hammam room.As it was my first visit I was a little hesitant in changing in vicinity of a friend but she made me feel very comfortable and soon I began to enjoy the experience.

A hammam is a large room with sauna ,steam , supplies of hot and cold water ;though I had carried my shower products the special scrubbing glove needed for exfoliation was missing from my hammam products list but my friend was sweet enough to let me use her exfoliation glove , significant of the warmth Moroccans imbibe in them.The ritual is divided in two parts sauvonage+gommage, means soaping+scrubbing.

To get started we applied the black soap lathered up and rinsed.Then we were taken up by the hammam attendant for the scrubbing and I was in a stupor to see the amount of dead skin peel off my body.The hammam attendant even lampooned by saying the dead skin peel was like spaghetti.After the vigorous scrubbing my skin felt smooth, supple,shiny and flawless.I fathomed a new, very clean me.Meanwhile I relaxed in the hot sauna and steam she completed the same liturgy with my friend.

The scrubbing session was followed by a rose-water body rinse,it smelled ethereal and was very soothing.The final step was a rosewater and mud pack.It was a truly pampering and indulgent experience The hammam attendant was very comradely and hospitable,took great care of me.All this was followed by a head and body bath , I was spoiled completely .I had never felt so relaxed and clean,my skin was gleaming .

P.S- Now I know the little secret to glowing skin of Moroccan women.

The Hammam tends to get very hot so we were given cold mineral water bottles a much-needed thirst quencher..We dried and moisturized our body, I changed into a knee-length dress  thinking to flaunt my flawless skin when I was apprised by my friend that it was an etiquette to change into fresh set of pajamas and cover the wet hair with a scarf after hammam, to mention here she was carrying an extra scarf which i used to cover my wet hair.We payed and tipped our hammam attendant , as it ensures quality and personalized service at the next visit and it would have been unfair to the one who left me feeling very clean and beautiful.The day at hammam made me beautiful and flawless.While in Morocco a trip to the hammam is a must ,highly recommended secret to relaxation and pampering.

All images are sourced from the Internet since could not photograph myself in the hammam .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 2 Day Parisian romance !!

 

13th feb 2016, was the day to remember forever as the travel plans to the most romantic city of the world “Paris” was finalized and we were all set to board my 1st ever flight to Europe.It would sound cliché but Paris  was  my dream city ever since and this stupor was coming true.The hiatus to be there was worth,as I am firm believer of divine decree.A former cabin crew and not travelled to this part of the world earlier,God had a plan for me and a perfect one.I was to visit my city of dreams for valentines with the love of my life, couldn’t have asked for more.

As travelers we have never made our travel arrangements through agents as we find it too pricey.Thank God for the acumen in Saurabh to spend hours before a trip looking for good flight and hotel deals which saved us a lot of money to expend on our trip later.We took an early morning/late night flight to make the most of our 1st day in Paris, landing at Paris Orly airport we took a shuttle to the city.Tickets to the city shuttle are readily available online or right outside the airport through vending machines.(P.S American express credit cards are not widely accepted across Europe ,so carry the right cards.) We always prefer using public transport over taxis as its better to save on the little we can to fund my shopping errands;)

A fifty minutes of shuttle bus ride with exuberant views of the city we reached our metro stop.As planned we bought a two-day paris metro pass right away because paris is very well-connected by the metro plus tard easy on the pocket.Soon we were walking down the road to our hotels, thanks to google maps navigating is so much easier.A small revelation here ,because of all our walking and use of public transport over taxis I managed to lose some kilo in my Europe trips;sounds nice!!

Day 1 in Paris:

We checked into our hotel room unpacked, showered,dressed-up and in no time were moving for our first Parisian encounter.On the way to the metro station we stopped at a cafe to grab a quick coffee and croissant breakfast.The best thing  about these coffee shops infesting the entire city is they have a very European feel to them.The paris metro map handed over to us at the hotel reception was very helpful through our two days in Paris.Thankfully we had made a check on the city weather before leaving for the trip so the umbrellas we got proved very helpful while it showered.First thing first we boarded the metro to catch a glimpse of the “Eiffel Tower”, one of the most iconic structures of the world.We got down at Tour Eiffel metro station and there was a small walk before we could witness the tower.In my small walk  to the tower I was so caught up by the small souvenir shops that i didn’t realise when the structure was right in front of me.

There were tears in my eyes, as I held onto saurabh’s hand ,for i was living my dream.Life had been kind!! Soon the photographer in us surfaced and we were clicking pictures like fanatics at every possible place in every possible angle and pose.The lift up the tower offering a panoramic view of the city was not going to the top that day so we decided to skip the long queues in the biting cold.There was a maddening number of people selling roses because of valentines making the place more crowded.We made our way to the main boulevard and took a small fancy rickshaw ride (unlike the rickshaw rides in india,though)to the most happening street of Paris” Champs Elysee”.The truly chic upmarket locality left me drooling over every high-end designer store ,the Gucci’s, prada’s,LV’s!!.The people clad in fashionable attire was a fashion lovers treat.After our walk to the Arc de Triomphe, some pictures, little shopping at Sisley paris and Zara we parked ourselves at a cafe flooded with the locals enjoying coffee and snacks after all the shopping.As we are a die-hard fan of south indian food our dinner paradise was Sarvana bhawan in Paris Nord.An indian waiter at the cafe helped us with the metro route to Paris Nord metro station.Its advisable to be careful of all belongings and pickpockets while in metro because they tend to be crowded.The sumptuous dinner of masala dosa , south indian thali , lassi left us full and we called it an early day returning to the hotel exhausted.

 

DAY 2 IN PARIS:

 

It was an early start of the day for the Louvre museum as we had heard about long queues for entrance to the coveted museum.To our disappointment it was already crowded by the time we made it to the Louvre and our early morning effort went in vain.The instant idea of skipping the long queue in the bone freezing cold moving at snail’s pace struck both our minds as we didn’t want to spend valentines in Paris waiting to enter the museum.After our mandatory photo session we took the metro to Jardin de Luxembourg,meaning garden of luxembourg.I was amazed to see despite the chillweather and couple of showers people were all over the park eating ,walking,exercising,maybe it was their idea of valentines.The center of the park overlooked a small pond with swans and remote operated toy boats over the greenish water which was very pleasing to the eyes.The leafless trees in the park would have looked pretty with cherry blossom had been one of the spring days .The cold and showers did not deter us from exploring more and more of the city and we took the metro to our next stop the Notre Dame Cathedral.A monument to marvel at the true essence of French architecture.The aura in the cathedral instilled in me a unique serene peace.We offered our prayers , thanked god for our blessings captured the architectural beauty of the cathedral in our phone and left.Wandering alongside river Seine looking for a place to have lunch we settled in a restaurant overlooking the small shops near the cathedral and feasted on crepe fromage and glasses of vin chaud.We shared a crepe Chantilly for dessert.How can one miss on to the glass of mulled wine while at a winter trip to paris.We continued our walk along the river eves dropping to some electronic music across the street.Almost running past the traffic we found the place where the music came from,it was a festival campaign for some sports clothing line.The energy there was magnetic, young boys and girls exchanging passionate kisses made the environment romantic for valentines.It was almost evening and we were fully exhausted after a complete action packed day with long walks.We went back to the hotel, took a nap, hot shower and were ready again to explore the city by night.

It was valentines eve and we had not seen the love lock bridge “Pont des Arts”,hitting the metro taking directions from few locals we made our way to the love lock bridge, though sadly the locks have been removed as sections of fencing on Ponts des arts crumbled under the locks weight which the people had put.Walking hand in hand with the love of my life at the love lock bridge we locked our Parisian valentines memories forever .We always try to capture the iconic monuments of a city in day as well as night , Louvre was near from the bridge so we clicked images of it all lit up.We ended our two-day valentines special trip to paris at the Eifel tower and it never fails to amaze by its beauty weather day or night.Though two days is not enough time in the most romantic city of the world, we were happy to have covered the major spots although we will love to return to get more of this exuberant city until then its au revoir “Paarreee”.