Apr 24, 2016

Hamburg for a first timer

So what did I think when I booked a weekend to hamburg? Well, I had no clear ideas. I knew Hamburg is a harbour and there would be ships and waterside. Other than that I expected a party scene and a promenade. However, what I didn't consider is the weather. Living Amsterdam has gotten me used to cloudy weather with wind and rains at any time of the day and year. But I was really craving for a bit of sunshine but hey, 2016 seems far from sunshine.

We went to the Hauptbahnhof area as we do in every new city. That's the main train station area. And on a Friday evening it was mostly closed, no bars or restaurants around and really seems a little too dull for a big city like hamburg. But no, we followed the walking trail until the Gänsemarkt and Jungfernsteig. That felt much better. The malls and shops which constitute main business were closed but I hot an idea of the ambiance. And of course I found the restaurant for dinner and drink. So it was a decent city night after all.  Graa I've grown up and older...

Saturday night we decided to go back to the same place and also explore Reeperbahn. Yes, that famous Hamburg red light district. Also the Große Freiheit for Party scene. What happened was quite different!!!!

Mar 23, 2016

Bengaluru food musings

There are some standard eat - out places in Bangalore that I want to visit for the nostalgia. Some to fill. And some to just explore.
SLV in banashankari 2nd stage is one such. I like the idli chutney there. It is a low cost fast moving eat out that's popular with he common man. When I say common man, there is the whole class structure of Indian society in play. It is the working class on scooter, auto drivers,  students that love to stop by for a quick filter coffee or shavge bath. For me it was idli chutney.

Around the corner of BDA complex in banashankari is Lakshmi sweets. Since my 16th year in Kumarans Pre university  college I have been eating the chaat at Lakshmi. So the sev puri was a no miss. Also the marwadi shop on the back side of the complex which makes samosa, kachori, dhoklas, rasmalai and the freshest jalebis.

The lemon chocolate tart I tried out at the cafe in Auroville pondicherry. It was good, a rip from the tarts in europe just too hard crust and too tangy filling. Not that I complain.

Empire's dosa chicken or idiappam with kurma. It love it. And the Magai paan with dates!

Jan 16, 2016

Long weekend in Madrid

That was a greta 4 day trip to Madrid. Although it was mid december, except for some breeze and cloudy days, the weather is good and festive season helps bring up your spirits to shop and go crazy.

Day 1: Walk the Gran Via and its alleys

Gran Via - good to walk
Xmas season at El Corte Ingles
 If you like walking to explore a city, you should probably start with Gran Via. It is the high street of Madrid with all major brands having a flag ship store. Why I like it? Not really for the shopping, but the concept of high street gets in a lot of life and businesses. I like the business of these places.
You have lots of options to eat ranging from international chains to creative cafes in the side alleys. The side lanes are definitely worth the detour.

Shop in the numerous El Corte Ingles stores, Madrid's biggest departmental store chain.

Day 2: Take in the Real Madrid ambiance
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
 Whether you are a Real Madrid fan or not, you have definitely heard of the legendary team. I have seen them play from my college days and it was a cool experience to see the home stadium and their change rooms.

Especially after 2014's tenth cup, Real Madrid celebrations are contagious and you can walk out feeling their spirit.

Evenings in Madrid are your golden hour to catch the flamencos dancing. YEs, catch the Flamenco dance performance at any of Madrid's favourite Flamenco clubs. We went to Cardomomo for the last and the longest show with their biggest troupe of 9 artists. It was a great experience. Not full house because of the low season but definitely a great experience to see the intense local art form.

I thought Flamenco was just a ladies dance, but there are men and couple dance performances too. Also music and song solos and recitals.

Day 3:  Royal Palace, Buen Retiro park, a museum or two

While I liked taking a walk in the vicinity of the Royal Palace, the local park and greenery, I found it also slightly monotonous. The palace has a English look and feel to its facade with grays and longish architecture. I was expecting something more southern European and this kind of threw me off.

As the palace and cathedral are on top of the hill, the view from top of the palace entrance across the cityscape is a good one. there is also a monastery nearby to walk around to. I was there on a low season and closed day, but do plan visit there.

Mercato de San Miguel -

The most amazing fresh food market. It is better than any food court or food street in Madrid. This one place justified the trip to me.
Amazing sea food, tapas, paella, lots of iberian ham and desserts. Them all and lots of sangria stalls around the market. I loved the authenticity and the creativity of food here.

Day 4: Calle de Mayor -  the area

The downtown area near Calle Mayor is filled with life. If you want the best churros in town, go to San Ginos as per the recommendation on all travel sites. Every street has a churro shop too many, but choose the right place and you got your best churros.

Don't forget the Tapas and Sangria!

Dec 18, 2015

Lisbon, first impression of Portugal

That's my day out in Lisbon. Partly sunny and not so cold day in mid December. Definitely happy to be in Lisbon and enjoy the weather. Yet to try out the sea food and party culture

Sep 18, 2015

The French Riviera

Nice! Oh my god!!! It is nice. Very nice.
Nice was the latest destination.  It was a fun trip especially since Amsterdam was beginning to lose the shreds of its summers and I needed a proper sunny vent, nothing beats the fancy than the turquoise beach and a cotton dress.
The first time we see as we enter the city a French bakery for breakfast full of delicate fren ch pastries and desserts. It was just the beginning of the day and the trip and the pastry already set me up to a great sugar pumped start. I always recommend a kickass breakfast and stuff it with sweet. No better time than morning!
French Desserts in Nice
The rest of the afternoon I just while away on the beach sunbathing and  lazing in a beach chair and takings swims in between. Isn't that what you do on a holiday in the French Riviera?
Came back in the evening for a series of concerts set up along the promenade. Turned out to be a summer party- Prom party in Nice. I liked this idea. Set of small stages every few hundred meters and each playing different music. Pick and choose your music for the night...

Next day we went off to Monaco for a day trip. But on sunday we were back at the promenade and checked out the walking trail, the port and and a short train tour up to the top of the cliff. Totally recommend some these in your to-do list:
  • The walk along the promenade
  • The visit to Nice port and a long walk back to the city along the beach
  • The old town for day time shopping and evening cocktails and dinner
  • The little train ride to top of Nice fort.

Port of Nice