countdown · vacation

P-POTATO-A TO Z COUNTDOWN

The title of this post might sound little different from the other countdown posts. Yes, but I do call the title as “Potato”. In my opinion, the potato is one of the vegetables that is used as a cooking ingredient in all the cultures and all the countries.Amazing, this vegetable is universally accepted without any caveat or racial discrimination.This vegetable cuts across this planet including Mars as portrayed in the movie, Martian.There is no reservation attached to it.

Potatoes could be eaten in any form – peeled, mashed, thawed, fried, boiled, etc. There is no snack in this world without a potato.Okay, I think I have written enough about this vegetable. I wanted to write about how my free time has slightly drifted from reading books to becoming a couch potato.

I had developed reading books during free time and setting up goals on goodreads.com as a challenge for myself. I had set up a goal of 20 books out of which I had read 17 so far. But netflix.com played a role in this and I somehow got so much addicted to watching the 20-year-old sitcom “Friends”. This winter and free time had made me start watching this sitcom continuously for several hours during weekends. I’m forcing myself to get up and work out for some time and as soon as I get back home, I’m just finding time to watch the series.To my dismay, I never thought I would get addicted to this series and had to take a mandatory break off the laptop and write this blog as well.

What I like about the series is that I love all the characters in the series and I wish I had cool friends like that in real life.I love their funny conversations and the way they get dressed up especially those girls.I also learned how the young New York culture looked like 20 years ago , the title song that had so much meaning to it apart from the attractive set of the series.

Being a home alone temporary couch potato in this winter seems to be nice and I’m enjoying this short time without worrying too much about anything in life.

blogging · countdown · life · memoire · travel · vacation

H- HAWAII TRIP JULY 2016 -A TO Z COUNTDOWN

At last, it was a Hawaiian dream come true.Never thought in my life that, I would visit the Aloha State .Hawaii had been the dream destination for ages, until one fine day, my husband said, “Ok, I do have flight miles accumulated and it would elapse soon.Let us book a trip to Honolulu for the  American Independence Day long weekend “.Yahoo, to my astonishment, he even had hotel credits accumulated and that sufficed for the entire trip.We had to shell out bucks for food, rental car or local transport and tickets for sightseeing. I was super excited, checked the weather and packed the clothes.The entire trip lasted from July 2nd, 2016 to July 8th, 2016.

Day 1 : Travel-Air-Air(July 2nd 2016)

We booked a Uber service to the airport. As usual, the driver took a hell lot of time searching for the apartment and he made us walk with the bags in the hot summer sun for about 1/2 a mile. “All-dressed -up” turned into “All-Sweat”.We thought that we would run out of time and miss the flight because of cab delay.Fortunately, the incoming aircraft got delayed, hence our boarding was delayed for more than 45 minutes.We did not miss the flight.I was excited to travel United as it was my first time in that airline. This aircraft had copious leg space for an economy class seat and enjoyed the travel. I was reading “The Last Song – By Nicholas Sparks”. A good read for the flight journey. We had to take a connection at the SFO airport.First time in my life, I had an experienced the beautiful runway at the SFO airport.I had a feeling that the aircraft was landing in that deep blue Pacific Ocean. So close it was.Of course, landed safely. After that, we had to  board the next plane to Honolulu. The boarding had already started and we had to run.This aircraft was a 3 -seater, unlike the  previous one that was an Embraer  2-seater plane. This journey was not so comfortable, with an emergency medical issue for an elderly person. The captain couldn’t land the plane anywhere so she had to cut short the journey to 4 hours 45 minutes rather than the usual 5 hours 30-minute flight. After getting down, we had to wait for a friend of ours to pick up from the airport so there was a further delay of another hour to hit the bed. My first impression was ” Definitely, people are more friendly than the mainland. Everybody smiles at the fellow strangers and offers help. It was more like a Buddhist nation, more of a Filipino land rather than America.Devoid of Racism.” Our friend picked us up from the airport and dropped us at the hotel, Courtyard Waikiki Beach. The clock struck exactly 12 am when we reached the hotel.We stayed in a room that had a balcony and to my amazement, people were roaming the streets with full energy and even public transport was available at that time.Honolulu ocean breeze was amazing and I loved the place. We quickly gave a call to our parents that we reached this place and hit the sack.I couldn’t sleep but fell in love with Honolulu. I was imagining a situation where I moved to Honolulu permanently with a carefree Filipino life out there and dozed off unknowingly.

Day 2 : Disappointing Diamond Head and The Responding Beaches(July 3rd 2016)

After having breakfast at Kimobean Coffee. we headed towards Diamond Head.We were supposed to go hiking on a volcano that was dead 2 million years ago. After finding a parking space with a lot of struggle and buying the tickets , I was so excited to go hiking.My husband disappointed me after some time that he would not go for hiking with me since his shoes are not comfortable. To my dismay, I was disappointed and we had a little fight over it. I was like “Why couldn’t you pack a pair of shoes for hiking, blah, blah?”.So I didn’t go for hiking. After an hour, we made it to the beach. I hail from a place where there are beaches. Waikiki beach is a wonderful sight. That day, the weather being pleasant, we spent almost 6 hours at Ala Moana and Waikiki beaches. All drenched and happy. Every time, the waves hit me, I felt that nature was answering all my questions of life. Yes, I realized that nature answered and I started being stronger and clearer about certain decisions in my life.Later in the evening, after having late lunch, we went to Hanauma Bay just 2 hours before its closure for the day. That was the best heaven made by nature ever witnessed. We were back at the hotel around 8 pm. I went out for a stroll in and around the hotel area for some time before hitting the sack.

Day 3 : Pearl Harbour, Foster Botanical Garden and Independence Day Fireworks (July 4th 2016)

The American Independence Day- We visited the Pearl harbor. Went for USS Bowfin tour.As a memoir, we brought home few pearl harbor key chains. After the tour, we had a sumptuous meal in a restaurant called Bombay Palace somewhere close to Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu. The second half of the day, we visited the Foster Botanical Garden. To be very frank, I had visited better botanical gardens elsewhere. This place was not as expected other than the breeze. So we relaxed there for some time and had early dinner. All geared up to watch the fire works in Honolulu. Yay, my second fireworks in my life. Amazing. We walked for more than 10 miles from the hotel just to witness it.Unlike the mainland, everybody else walked and biked to watch the fireworks. OMG , happy for what we saw.

Day 4 : Tour on foot, Honolulu Zoo, city tours(July 5th 2016)

On the day 4, we gave up the car ride and ventured out on foot. That is my favorite thing , walking. We went to the Honolulu Zoo and took a stroll through the city. This zoo had several species from Asia and Africa ranging from birds, the naughty monkey species to the wilder beasts. We also visited the shopping malls, local convenience, and grocery stores.I’m not too sure as to why most of the stores were called as “ABC Stores”. We cooked dinner at the hotel that night.

Day 5 : Lyon Arboretum, Manoa Falls, Kailua beach(July 6th 2016)

On the day 5, we had visited Kailua beach in the morning. The beach was certainly dirty and little creepy too. We didn’t find people around. So we just took pictures and left the place soon. This place would be amazing had we gone with a gang of friends. The journey from Honolulu to Kailua made us understand that there are many places in the United States with less development and no water facilities.We packed lunch boxes and had it in the car.Post lunch, we visited the Lyon Arboretum that was managed by the University of Hawaii. I felt as if I was somewhere in the middle of watching a horror movie. No people around and the path was very narrow to walk. There was a sign board “Jessica Parker would have liked to sit here “. I called out her name aloud and we ran down like crazy kids. Later that evening, we did some trekking and visited the Manoa Falls. This place was a million times better than the Turner Falls in Oklahoma.The pathway was very slippery and marshy. As we approached the falls, the weather got little colder and we had to drench in the rain while getting down.This was the most adventurous day in Hawaii.

Day 6 : Kuhio Beach Park, Hawaii Shopping, Return flight(July 7th 2016 & July 8th 2016)

On the last day of Hawaii vacation, we visited Kuhio beach park that was pretty close to the hotel.We did a quick shopping and brought home the fertility God of Hawaii, the Hawaiian tribe Polynesian art mask, Aloha shirt and few shell made necklaces.This was the saddest day. I didn’t want to return from Hawaii.We had to catch the American airline flight that evening, As usual, the flight was delayed and we were given an alternative flight via LAX.

In my opinion, the trip was overall nice.Though we stayed for so many days, we made relaxing visits to all the places and did not go out of Oahu. Travel by foot is the best way to enjoy and cherish the Oahu island. This is the best place to live on earth but with the super inflated cost of living.As a memory of this trip,  the cover page of this blog is a photograph of Kailua Beach of Hawaii clicked on my phone. This picture is not the greatest click, but surely represents something that is made by me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blogging · countdown · life · travel · vacation

E-Europe Trip 2012- A to Z Countdown

This is my E-week. I wanted to write about Europe holiday. I actually happened to visit Europe on a tourist visa way back in 2012. How did I get reminded of this suddenly?When Facebook showed memories 4 years ago that was the time I got reminded of everything under about Europe.Let me tell you my Europe experience and how did I feel about this continent.

Way back in 2012, I wasn’t sitting so idle like how I’m now. I was assigned to one of the most revenue generating projects of my firm and I had given a commitment to not taking any long leaves for the period of 1 year from the date of joining that project.Apparently,I had to visit Switzerland because my husband was assigned temporarily there.Since the nature of assignment was temporary, I could neither resign my job nor I could afford to go on long leave. I wanted to apply for a 20-30 day vacation leave. I received a response of a big “NO” from my company for the obvious reasons mentioned above.My manager asked me to get my client’s permission if she was OK to let me go.She did not approve of leave longer than 10 days. 10 days is very short considering my husband was living there for 6 months and no one would want to miss a lifetime opportunity of visiting Europe. I had a mortgage so I couldn’t afford to resign my job as well. So there it went, I applied for a leave of 10 working days.I was sad for the duration and happy because it is Europe and Switzerland in particular. Those damn tourist agency gave me visa just for 11 days including the day of travel. Poof, I was vexed enough.Excited about the trip I had planned the itinerary for next 10 days in the European heaven.

My husband booked an Emirates flight from me right from India to Geneva via Dubai.There was only one ticket available and unfortunately ,there was a layover of 10 hours in Dubai. That was my first international trip alone and I was little scared in Dubai airport.Emirates was kind enough to provide a food coupon for the layover but who feels like eating when you are scared and with so much of lay over you do lose the appetite.I was little skeptical to talk to anyone in the airport or even smile at people. I was only afraid of anybody or everybody.Silently I prayed for the time to pass quickly.Meanwhile grabbed the 50 shades of Gray book and was lost in thoughts with Mr. Christian Gray at least for 7 hours at a stretch almost completing the entire book.I didn’t know that the airport gate changes so often and considering the size of Dubai airport I had to walk all the way looking like a lost kid and searching for the new gate.Alas, I found a barista called Costa Coffee and even to this date whenever I fly via Dubai, I make an attempt to have a cappuccino at the Costa Coffee that really tastes yum and have not tasted such a thing elsewhere.After grabbing few copies of the daily newspaper, I rushed in to board the plane and my zone was last to board .Luckily, there was no one seated next to me in the economy class and I could stretch my legs and sleep.

Day 1 :Short promenade in Geneva

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When I landed in Geneva, I was so happy to talk in French as I could strike some basic French conversation.Finally, this language was put to use. Once, the immigration check got over, I had to collect the luggage and wait for my husband to pick me up. He was like, Geneva is a very small city and could walk and go to the apartment where he lived.Since I took a huge bag, we boarded bus no. 10 in Geneva from the airport and got down in next 2 stops.I couldn’t forget how beautiful the city looked and the apartment being pretty old, I had a vintage feeling. My husband had cooked lunch and after resting for few hours, we went out for a walk.We couldn’t find a single soul outside. We stopped by a cafe for swiss chocolate and he took me to visit CERN. Hurray, I was excited. I remember reading about CERN in the book “Angels and Demons” and there it was.

Day 2 :Italy – Rome

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I hardly could sleep for few hours and had to get ready and scoot off to the airport.We were off to Rome. OMG!! Another scenic beauty from Angels and Demons. We boarded an Easy Jet flight.I really couldn’t imagine how less expensive the flight tickets were flying from one country to another in Europe. We got down at the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport .Another amazing name that swept my feet.We had the best croissant and coffee at the airport terminal for just 4 euros for both of us. Another surprise with the price. We took a direct bus to the Rome City Centre and got down at Piazza dei Cinquecento.With my average French ,made up Italian with a cocktail of English, we managed to buy the daily pass for 2 days of stay there from a kiosk .We checked in to Hotel Augustea at Via Nazionale and started roaming the streets. It was a pretty humid day and my husband started getting hunger cramps. He was desperate to find an Indian restaurant and we visited Maharajah restaurant at Via dei Serpenti and had a sumptuous meal.We went back to the hotel, took rest for 2 hours.Later that evening, we visited Villa Borghese gardens and The Trevi fountain.We didn’t have time to visit Piazza del Popolo that was part of my original itinerary.It was already late and we grabbed chips, sprite, few cookies and went back to the hotel.The room seemed to be little creepy with very old furniture and broken walls.

Day 3 :Italy – Rome & Vatican City

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Followed by an excellent European breakfast ,we set out our tour to Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, visited St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel in the Vatican city.What a wonderful experience, I felt I was actually in the heaven and didn’t feel like going back to work amidst the humidity.The architecture of the building made us forget this world.Indeed, Rome is a city of love was very well proved.We had an adventurous trip to and from Vatican. A cop caught us when we sneaked into the bus without swiping the metro card and while returning I dropped my goggles when my hubby picked it up from the road , the bus driver stopped from him getting hit on the wheel.Oh my gosh, it was a horrifying experience right outside that tunnel road(picture displayed above).We finally took a bus and had lunch in another Indian restaurant called Sitar ristorante at Via Cavour.What did we miss? Yes, the Colosseum. We finally went there around 3 PM .To our amazement, there were so many tourists lined up.We tried waiting in the queue but in vain. So took a picture outside and left to the hotel.We took few hours of rest and then started venturing out in and around Rome Centre Termini.The next day, we had to board the flight back to Geneva. I had wonderful gelatin on the streets.We took a lot of pictures and captured every damn thing.That night we went shopping on the streets of Rome.I got few glass accessories to wear and my husband got very beautiful Italian ties for just 2 euros each.We didn’t stay there for a long time on the streets because the hawkers were drunk and they started abusing each other.We felt it wasn’t safe anymore that night on the streets and back to the hotel.

Day 4:Italy – Rome & Back to Geneva

This morning we flew back to Geneva and stayed home. Watched a movie online, cooked lunch and packed the bags for the Swiss tour.We went for a walk, had a lot of chocolates and it was a fun day.How I wished, we could go back in time and made our life better.

Day 5: Train trip in and around Swiss – Geneva to Engelberg  to Mt.Titlis

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That morning, we boarded a tram outside the apartment complex and got down at Cornavin station.We had to interchange several trains – Cornavin – Lausanne-Bern-Lucerne-Engelberg. Engelberg reminded of the Bollywood movie DDLJ. What a sight it was.Every moment is registered so well in my brain.I want to jot down before the memories fade away.If we had to go on top of Mt.Titlis, Engelberg was the stop.First time in my life, took a cable car and went on top of Mt.Titlis.That elevation experience increased the pulse rate.First time in my life, I touched the real snow and found cut outs of Shahrukh Khan and Kajal on the Titlis. The round trip back to the bottom of the mountain took us roughly 4 hours.We grabbed some Indian snack for lunch.After taking rest for about 30 mins, we started our trip towards Interlaken. That was our next stop. I saw a guy wearing a green stone nose stud for the first time. He showed us the way to the hotel – Harder Minerva.That night we had a tub full of ice cream for dinner.

Day 6: Interlaken to Zermatt

After having breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we went for site seeing in and around Interlaken. Interlaken has mixed weather having situated between the mountain Bernese Oberland and surrounded by  Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. We took a pretty long stroll and had lunch at India Village ,Brienzstrasse, Interlaken. The travel bag broke, so after our lunch, we boarded a bus, left the luggage in the safety locker and set our journey in the Lake Brienz on a steamer for more than 2 hours. The water ride was peaceful and made the soul forget this earth.That evening, we had some beverages and alighted a train to Zermatt. Zermatt is a mountain resort and known for the Glacier express rides.We stayed in the annex building of the Hotel Antica(The small building in the last picture). We went for a walk in the evening to take plenty of pictures and have some dinner. As usual, I had a very big chocolate ice cream that was 4 euros .We also found a burial ground that was meant for people that fell off from the cliffs and they were resting in peace there.Zermatt also had beautiful freshwater lake that was created by melting snow mountain Matterhorn. My husband did some shopping while I watched the beautiful place in this earth.That was the first time I watched Jolie’s Tomb Raider movie and that too in French.

Day 7: Zermatt – Chur-Davis- St.Moritz

 

The authentic french breakfast with a french coffee and welcoming staff.The entire place wooed us to the core.We had to rush to get into the long ride of glacier express.Glacier express took us across the Swiss Alps.The slow train and the scenic beauty of the alps made us forget time and we literally fell asleep.Not because we were bored, but the train was super slow that was like a lullaby and freaking tired .We were literally starving since no food was served on the train and we had to wait for St.Moritz to arrive.Time tested our patience. Alas, got down.We stayed at Hotel Stille in St.Moritz where we could find any other customer staying there. It was like only both of us in the entire hotel with no lights.That receptionist fixed a bulb after requesting many times. I wanted to go for a walk for sightseeing and grab something to eat. We had some coffee and found that there were many cars than the souls that lived. The houses around the hotel looked empty. Did we just wake up after watching a horror movie?I’m not too sure whether we were at the wrong time there.Thankfully we found few guys cycling on the road. There was not much sight seeing since all the places looked almost similar in Swiss.

Day 7:  St.Moritz-Chur- Zurich-Geneva

 

Followed by German breakfast,St.Moritz was more German than French.We took a train from there and reached Zurich around afternoon via Chur. This train ride lasted roughly for about 3 hrs 35 mins.This train ride changed certain my perspectives towards certain things.Knitting is not for losers, anybody can knit.Did I get interested in knitting?From the corner of my eye, I found a tourist reading the book-Eat, pray and love by Elizabeth Gilbert. As soon as I reached India, I placed an order for this book.We landed in Zurich and had 2 hours to catch the next direct train to Geneva airport..So, my idea was let’s roam in and around the train station so that we don’t miss the train as well as get to spend time in Zurich.I visited this art gallery “Starkart Gallery best place for Urban Art Exhibitions in Zürich” , grabbed some coffee and went back to the station.Meanwhile clicked many Zurich pictures.The city was crowded with traffic.We finally got the Geneva train.That was the first time I saw a double decker train and we got into the upper deck.Got back home finally after 4 hours and shopping few groceries.We just had some time in hand after getting back, so we went for another stroll in the park.

Day 8:  Geneva shopping

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We visited the shopping mall – Balexert and as usual, I grabbed few dark chocolates.Did some window shopping. Took a tram and went to the last stop. We got back home after it started drizzling.

Day 9-10: Geneva -Dubai-Hyderabad

I cooked mixed veg.curry for rice.Finally had to leave Europe.The time came for goodbyes and tears.Got back to Hyderabad, India and started the routine(work).

 

Overall had a wonderful experience.Thanks to this A to Z countdown blog that made me remember everything.