Meghalaya Roadtrip (part 2)

Hi, Hope you guys liked my Meghalaya Roadtrip (Part 1)SELRES_3edc232d-d5ca-4882-8d1d-7e3cc3bf91d7SELRES_dca14d9f-390d-4492-b85e-8b74b450b3d1SELRES_77a8c858-c2dd-47a7-829c-13640acee320 blogpost…. Those who haven’t SELRES_77a8c858-c2dd-47a7-829c-13640acee320SELRES_dca14d9f-390d-4492-b85e-8b74b450b3d1SELRES_3edc232d-d5ca-4882-8d1d-7e3cc3bf91d7read it, check it here.

Now I’ll start with day 4……

Day 4: (Mawlynnong to Cherrapunjee) 81km

We woke up early morning in this beautiful village ‘Mawlynnong’,  located in East Khasi Hills. It’s a small village with population of 500 known for it’s cleanliness. The interesting fact about this village is their ‘Matrilineal society’. Here, the property and wealth is passed from mother to the youngest of her daughters, who also keeps the mother’s surname. There was a lush green jungle and a stream behind our homestay. We spent some morning time in our balcony facing the greenery with background music of flowing stream and then went to explore the village. Most of the things open at 9am. Luckily we had some cakes and biscuits which we had for breakfast. It was a quiet little village, very clean and planned, almost like a garden. No wonder it is called as ‘Asia’s cleanest village’. People had just started their household chores. All houses had a garden in front and their typical cane basket (cone shaped) dustbin. There are two tree houses from where you can see Bangladesh plains. One of them it just a viewpoint and other one is a proper tree house. Both were on treetops with bamboo stairs. The bamboo stairs were slippery and loose at places. It was a bit scary toward the top. It was secured with a bamboo thread……. But the view from the top was amazing. We took some chips and juice at the tree house. It was a nice place for picnic. Since it was early morning, we were the only ones there. It was a morning well spent. I even bought their traditional checkered cloth which ladies wear daily. The yellow silk one which they wear occasionally, you can see in the part 1 of the blog. There is a balancing rock, a huge boulder resting on a smaller stone in Mawlynnong. The structure has remained like that for ages. Cyclone, storm nothing could disturb it. Isn’t that amazing? But since it was closed till 9am, we couldn’t see that. We had to leave for cherrapunjee. There’s single living root bridge at Mawlynnong but we skipped it cause we wanted to do double decker living root bridges at Nongriat near cherrapunjee. So, we had to reach Cherrapunjee before 12pm for the trek to double decker living root bridges. Trek to double decker living root bridges in Cherrapunjee is difficult with appropriately 3800 steps. So, if you are not physically fit, travelling with kids or don’t have much time, I would suggest you to do living root bridge at Mawlynnong which has only 300 steps. Road to cherrapunjee was very scenic. We had quick lunch at a restaurant on the way and headed to village called Tyrna where the trek for double decker living root bridges starts which is about 20km from Cherrapunjee. Road from Cherrapunjee to Tyrna was very narrow but very scenic. We reached Tyrna exactly at 12pm, took a guide and started the trek. The guide din’t know either English or Hindi, so was not of much help…… Double decker living root bridge was on our bucket list for a long time. Living root bridges in Meghalaya are tangles of thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time. These are made in Ficus elastica tree. These bridges are still alive and growing. It was a difficult trek till Nongriat and back. You have to climb down approximately 3800 steps (7km) and climb up to go back. Worst part is that the steps are of different height, sizes and really steep at places. You have to even cross two suspension bridges out of which one was quite scary. There are shops selling chips, biscuits, maggi, cold drinks, fruits etc. There are even some homestays at Nongriat if you don’t wish to do the trek in one day. We reached Nongriat at 2pm, clicked lot of pictures at living root bridges. Best part was the waterfall and natural pools facing the bridge. We spent some time in the waterfall. It was so relaxing!!! I think it’s a must after the trek. There’s a changing room also. I’m glad we carried our swimwear. After spending an hour at the living root bridges, we started our trek again. We had maggi, fruits and aloo muri on our way back. The trek was very exhausting….. not for the faint hearted. Make sure you are physically fit to do this trek. We reached back at around 5pm just before the sunset. There’s single living root bridge also nearby but we skipped it. After this we went to Polo orchid resort, Cherrapunjee. This resort is pretty hyped in Meghalaya. So we went with a lot of expectations. It is supposed to have a good view in monsoon. You can see seven sisters waterfall from the restaurant. But we couldn’t see the waterfall cause it was dry season. We stayed in a plunge pool villa. Actually after the trek, I wish there was Jacuzzi or at least a hot water pool. But it was a cold water pool. So we couldn’t use it at night. Room was nice with the mix contemporary and old style. Loved the turquoise blue detailing in the room. They gave some complementary refreshments and wine and an umbrella. It was a nice gesture of giving umbrella as a memory of a (previously known) wettest place on earth. After taking some rest, we went for dinner. Restaurant is decorated with umbrellas on the ceiling. It was beautiful. Food was good but was very happy with the menu. They din’t have any local specialities. So, we had soup and fried rice and went back to room.

Balcony at our Mawlynnong homestay
This is where we stayed

Climbing up to the viewpoint
Bangladesh viewpoint

The iconic dustbin
They use it this way too……
some shopping
TREE HOUSE ….. Ain’t that cute?
Picnic on the Tree house!
View from above…… Can you see Bangladesh plains?

Entrance of Mawlynnong
Lunch scenes
Beautiful mountains on the way to Cherrapunjee

Almost there……. Cherrapunjee (Sohra)
At Tyrna village, just before the trek
Here we go……

colour coordinated
Tired!!!
Suspension bridge on the way

2nd bridge
Finally at Nongriat
This amazing bridge

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Natural pool at the Double decker living root bridge…..So relaxing!
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Again on the bridge, after a dip……Don’t I look fresh?

such small steps…..

These cuties made this aloo muri!
Yayy!!! Finally done
Our room at Polo orchid resort

They gave us this umbrella!!!
Restaurant at Polo orchid resort

Day 5 (Cherrapunjee to Shillong) 54km

As usual we woke up early morning to see beautiful sunrise over Bangladesh plains. Balcony was the best part of the room, it was overlooking Bangladesh plains. We had our morning tea admiring the view. Then went for breakfast. Breakfast spread was decent. View from the restaurant was nice. But we could not see seven sisters waterfall since it was post monsoon. I really want to visit Cherrapunjee in monsoon someday. After breakfast, we went back to the room. By this time it was quite hot and was perfect for a dip in our private plunge pool. And the view from the pool was amazing. Then we checked out from the hotel and visited Mawsmai cave. There are many caves in Meghalaya. But since the Mawsmai was near our hotel, we went there. I was a bit hesitant cause I’m claustrophobic, but it was not difficult. It’s a well lit cave. You just have to bend at places but don’t have to crawl. For the first timer like me, it is great. It was slippery at places. It’s takes 15 mins inside the cave. After this we went to Nokhalikai falls, it’s the tallest plunge falls in India. It’s very beautiful. We could even see the rainbow. Rainbow made the falls look more beautiful. After spending lovely time in Cherrapunjee, we headed to Shillong to attend ‘cherry blossom festival’. It was well organised festival at different venues in Shillong. Bloom was delayed because of the rains this year. So we could see only buds(pinkish hue) at some places, difficult to see in pictures. We spent some time at the stalls and registered for cheery blossom run where we met their district sports officer and organizer of cherry blossom festival Mr. Albert Chiang. They were very kind. Initially we were a bit upset about not being able to see the bloom. But after meeting them, we felt nice. After all it’s nature! Sometimes it’s difficult to predict nature. We also visited bara bazaar. It was like Crawford market in Mumbai. Very very crowded. There were stalls selling silkworms which is a delicacy in Meghalaya. And there were many other strange and colourful things. We spent the evening at Ward’s lake, another venue of the festival. It is the best place in Shillong. It’s a beautiful lake surrounded by trees. Though we couldn’t see the cherry blossom, fall colours were amazing. So romantic! In the night, we went to Police bazaar for dinner and had Khasi thali and rice & corn cakes at Trattoria, a local restaurant. Then we went to Cloud 9 lounge at Police bazaar. Before going back to hotel, we bought some cakes from Eee cee bakery. Cakes were yummy.

Sunrise from our balcony at Polo orchid resort

Breakfast with a view
This is where you can see 7 sisters waterfalls in monsoon
Our private plunge pool with a view

Loved these at Polo orchid resort

Villas from outside
Monoliths at the entrance of Mawsmai caves
Mawsmai cave

Nokhalikai falls

At Cherry blossom festival

Pickles…..Bamboo shoot and wild apple
Bara bazar
Silkworms
Ward’s lake
Fall colours at Ward’s lake

Trattoria restaurant
Khasi thali
Rice and corn cakes
At Cloud 9 lounge
Eee cee bakery

Day 6 (Shillong to Guwahati) 100km

Woke up early as usual…. our days in Meghalaya always started at 4:30am. Got ready for cheery blossom run. We were already tired after living root bridges trek. I had very hard time climbing down and the run started on the top of the hill and we had to run downhill…… It was a big task for me. Running 6km felt like ages….. but we completed the run. By the way our picture also got featured in Shillong newspaper which we found out later. After the run we were invited for the breakfast with officials and organizers. Had lovely time with them…. very warm people. After that they dropped us to the hotel and since we couldn’t see any cherry blossom at the venue, they told us the exact location where it had started blooming. We were glad that we could see atleast some blossom. After clicking pictures with Cherry blossom, we drove back to Shillong. On our way back we grabbed lunch at Jiva veg restaurant. We picked up veg puffs. Best ever puffs…… So fluffy!!! And finally we reached Guwahati and returned the car. It was hassle free. They completed the formalities in just 10 minutes. And we headed back to Airport with lovely memories.

Cherry blossom run

Look who also ran the marathon
With district sports officer and director of sports ministry, Shillong
With Mr. & Mrs. Albert Chiang, organisers of Cherry blossom festival

Last picture of the roadtrip ……. had to be with the car!

 

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Our photo in Shillong newspaper

 

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Meghalaya Roadtrip (Part 1)

Hi,

We are just back from an amazing ‘Meghalaya Roadtrip’ and can’t wait to share our experiences with you all……

It was our first trip to the North East India and were very excited to visit it. It was like visiting a new country. We have decided to do one state at a time. So this time, it was Meghalaya.

Few weeks back, I came across an advertisement of cherry blossom festival Shillong and we decided to go to Meghalaya. We were expecting to see pink trees everywhere but because of rains, the bloom was delayed. But no regrets, the whole Meghalaya experience was worth it. Loved the beautiful state and warm people.

Day 1 (Guwahati to Shillong – 100km)

From Mumbai, we flew to Guwahati, Assam. View from the flight was amazing. You can see sudden change of landscape when you fly over plains of Bangladesh to mountains and greenery of North East India. From that point be prepared to see Bangladesh plains almost everyday. You get to see the Bangladesh plains from most of the border villages in Meghalaya ie. Dawki, Mawlynong, Cherrapunjee.

We reached Guwahati airport by 11am and booked a prepaid cab to pick up the zoomcar. It’s at an hour’s distance from airport. Car pick up was hassle free. After picking up the car, we quickly picked up our lunch from nearby kfc and headed to Shillong coz we wanted to reach before the sunset. As far as possible, we avoid night drives. In North East it gets dark quite early in winters at around 5pm and we had to cover 100km. Guwahati is near Meghalaya border. As you leave the city, you will notice it’s Assam on one side and Meghalaya on the other side of the highway. We actually saw a few boards where it was written Assam on the left side and you cross the road your address changes to Meghalaya. As you enter Meghalaya, you will see lot of bamboo houses and shops selling different kinds of pickles and fruits. Pineapples were very yummy and juicy. I had heard lot about pickles in Meghalaya which I bought later in Shillong.

We drove along the beautiful Umiam lake and finally entered Shillong at around 4:30pm. Suddenly the roads become narrow and crowded as you enter the city. We checked into ‘The Majestic’ hotel which was decent for overnight stay.

In the evening, we went for some shopping at police bazaar. As it was Saturday, it was insanely crowded. You get lovely bead jewellery, shawls, cane products etc. at shops called Khasi emporium, Megha emporium etc. at police bazaar. Then we went to Cafe Shillong for dinner. It was a nice cozy cafe with yummy food. Momos, noodles and Thukpa, Shillong tea were very good and perfect for the chilli evening. Noodles were wrapped in banana leaf….How cool is that! They also have live music on Sundays. Lot of options for vegetarians in their menu. Best part is fast wifi unlike many other places in Meghalaya.

Bangladesh plains from above
@ Guwahati Airport
Mandatory selfie after picking up the car

Pickles and pineapples on the highway
Almost there
Narrow hilly roads of Shillong
Crowded Police bazar

Shopping time

At café Shillong
1st momos of the trip
Thukpa
Shillong tea
Noodles wrapped in banana leaf

Loving my stacked necklaces

Day 2 (Daytrip to Mawsynram – 65km)

We woke up early morning to go to Mawsynram, wettest place on earth. It gets 11,861mm of rain a year. But once monsoon is over, they have to fight for water. That’s why it is world’s wettest desert.  Drive to Mawsynram was scenic without any traffic. There’s nothing much to do in Mawsynram. I’m sure it must be more beautiful during rainy season…. There’s a cave nearby, but we skipped it. There’s also a place called Mawphlang sacred forest. We skipped that too… We just clicked pictures with the board saying ‘wettest place on earth’. How can you not have pictures of that board! It’s the actual proof that we have visited wettest places on earth. We had a hard time finding that board. Mawsynram is a sleepy village. There were hardly any people. We reached there at 10am and everything was closed. So, whenever you go to Mawsynram, go towards PWD, you will find that board. After this, we had maggi at a small restaurant and started our drive back to Shillong.

On our way back to Shillong, we had lunch at cafe ML05 in the outskirts of Shillong. Cool café with lovely interiors and great location. Best part was entry through the pine forest. We had momos, maggi and wai wai bhel. Momos were huge and yummy, cooked each in separate basket. Best momos I have ever had. View from the cafe is lovely. After the lunch, we went to Shillong view point where you get a bird’s eye view of Shillong. That’s when I realised how big is Shillong. I even tried Khasi traditional costume at the view point. Loved the colourful costume and jewellery. Specially the flower tiara. They wear it during festivals. There’s a simpler version of this which is worn daily. If time permits, you can visit elephant falls near ML05 cafe. But we skipped it and headed to Ri kynjai hotel, a luxury resort overlooking Umiam lake in the outskirts of Shillong. We stayed in a suite…… Suites are a more expensive than the rooms (almost double the price) but they offer unfiltered views of the lake since they are on higher level. We spent whole evening in the balcony admiring the view and went for early dinner. We decided to try Khasi food for dinner. Ordered khasi dal and rice. Loved the flavours of pepper and ginger. Though the resort was very beautiful, I feel, one day stay is enough. It’s quite far from the city and during peak time there is lot of traffic in Shillong. So its difficult to commute. Plus the approach road to the resort is not in good condition though it’s very scenic along the lake.

Roads in the outskirts of Shillong

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Best part about roadtrip…. posing in the middle of the road
Cutie pie
and some more
Beautiful village on the way to Mawsynram
Wild orchids everywhere

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Village scenes
Heaven
Finally found the board ‘wettest place on earth’

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At café ML05

wai wai bhel
Best momos ever….look at the size!

Khasi costume at Shillong view point

Bird’s eye view of Shillong

Umiam lake
View from our balcony @ Ri kynjai

Khasi version of dal rice
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Day 3 (Shillong to Mawlynong – 157km)

We woke up early morning to the beautiful sunrise at Umiam lake and spent some time in balcony. Then we went for breakfast. Breakfast spread was good. We sat outdoor for breakfast facing the beautiful lake. After breakfast, we started our journey towards Mawlynong. Road was good but narrow with lot of heavy vehicles till Dawki.

On the way we went to Nartiang near Jowai where there’s a monolith park with world’s largest collection of monoliths. Monolith is a symbol of remembrance in the Jaintia hills. There are many folktales justifying the presence of monoliths. The upright part represents males and the flat table stone represents female. The tallest and biggest monolith is about 8m in height, 2m in breadth and half a meter in thickness. Surprisingly we were the only ones in the park. It’s not popular among tourists.

After this we headed to Dawki (India Bangladesh border) ……. Umngot river on the border is must visit in Meghalaya. We parked our car on a cliff near the river. View from the cliff was amazing….. blue green water, narrow wooden boats and fishermen fishing!  As we went down, we could see clear water. Even the riverbed was seen. It looked so serene! We went for boating for an hour. It was a great experience. Avoid going there post monsoon as the water is muddy at that time but November was perfect. There was a small tea stall on the cliff overlooking river. We had tea and cup noodles admiring the blue green river and the beautiful boats. Later, we went to see the border check post and clicked some pictures and headed to Mawlynong (Asia’s cleanest village). Road wasn’t that good. It was very narrow. But traffic was less. The road to Mawlynong is along the Bangladesh border. So most of the times you are driving on a cliff with Bangladesh plains on one side. So drive carefully….. if you fall, you’re in Bangladesh! Jokes apart…… the road was very scenic and we could see lovely sunset on Bangladesh side throughout our drive to Mawlynong.

It was already dark when we reached mawlynong. We stayed in a homestay. There are only homestays in Mawlynong. They provide basic facilities. There was a restaurant run by villagers. They serve yummy homecooked food (veg thali / Chicken thali). After dinner, we went for a short walk around the village.

Sunrise at Ri kynjai

Our room @ Ri kynjai
Breakfast with a view

Reception area: Ri kynjai
Ri kynjai resort
Monolith park Nartiang

Road Scenes
Umngot river, Dawki… View from a cliff

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Maggi with a view
Lovely Umngot river from the other side
Bangladesh plains
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At the border check post
Sunset over Bangladesh plains
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Entering Mawlynong
Our homestay
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Dinner at Mawlynong

More about this beautiful village and our rest of the adventures in Meghalaya will be coming soon in next blog post.

Till then, Bye!!!

Roadtrip in Switzerland & Northern Italy

What comes to your mind when you think about Switzerland? Snow capped mountains, greenery, cows, swiss milk chocolates, and yes, that so very popular, efficient & often touted as the world’s best ‘train network’. But we like to do things differently and have always believed that roadtrips are the best way to explore a new country…… So we ditched the trains and explored Switzerland by road. In June, we made this amazing 9 days roadtrip in eastern and central Switzerland and northern Italy. May to September is the perfect time for roadtrip in the Alps cause the various mountain passes open during that time.

 

Our route

 

Booking: We booked through AVIS car rental in Switzerland, the booking process was hassle free. We had booked Audi A3 but were lucky to get BMW 118d M SPORT 2017 edition. Twisty beautiful swiss roads are best experienced in a rear wheeled drive, it was a pristine machine with just 600km in the odometer. You do not require an IDP to drive in Switzerland. But it is always better to have IDP if you plan to cross borders. Also ensure your rental has ehighway vignette or you could end up paying high fines.

Day 1: Zurich – Rhine falls – Gais (Appenzel) (160km)

After spending 2 days in Zurich, we picked up the car from the airport and we headed towards Schaffhausen on the Swiss – German border where the magnificent Rhine falls lie. The pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of this place. It’s also accessible from Zurich by train. Perfect for a day trip from zurich city. You can see the falls from 2 sides(Schlossli & Newhausen) and even from top of the tallest rock in the middle of the falls. We parked our car in Schlossli parking lot and went down to the falls by taking an elevator. We went to the other side & on the top of the rock by a boat. There’s a lovely restaurant and cafe facing the falls on Newhausen side. We had our lunch in that café admiring the gradeur of the falls. On our way back, we went to the other side(Newhausen) of the falls by road as well…..and the views from a cliff were breathtaking. It was a quiet non-touristy area….. Evening picnic on that ciff was fun with amazing views.

From Rhine falls, we drove to the relatively less popular Appenzel area, we stayed at Vogelnest in Gais village. It is a quiet little village in the swiss countryside. Check out the details about our stay here

Day 2: Gais – Lichenstein – Zouz (St. Moritz) (200km)

We had a wonderful stay in the Vogelnest. I think Switzerland is best experienced in the beautiful countryside.

After having breakfast in the middle of medows in Gais, we went to the Berghaus Ascher. It’s a 170 year old guesthouse on a cliff, now converted into a restaurant. It was a good morning hike to the restaurant and was totally worth it. We had the best ROSTI (swiss potato pancake) at Berghause Ascher. Read more about it here.

From Berghaus ascher, we headed to Lichenstein via Appenzel town. This town in north eastern Switzerland is known for rural customs and traditions. The most iconic part of this town is the wooden houses with colourful facades.

Lichenstein: The fourth smallest country in Europe, we visited the VADUZ castle here. We could not spend much time in Lichenstein as we had to cover long distance ahead.

Headed to Zouz, small village near St. Moritz from Lichtenstein, the stretch from Davos to Fluela pass is the best road in the country. We just loved this drive. The route was very scenic with breathtaking views of Alps.

Day 3 : Diavolezza & St. Moritz

After the 2 days of long drive, we had planned for a well deserved pampering. But a vacation can’t be complete without a touch of an adventure. So we went to Diavolezza peak where, there is Europe’s highest Jacuzzi at 3000m above sea level surrounded by snow. It was a lifetime experience. You can read more about it here. PS. Don’t miss the fondue at Diavolezza restaurant.

After the Jacuzzi, we went to St. Moritz, which is a popular resort town in Switzerland commonly visited by celebrities. It’s a beautiful town surrounding a lake. Since it was Sunday, everything was closed. We spent some time strolling around the lake and then headed to Zuoz. We came across some beautiful villages on the way. I personally loved this part of Switzerland the most. After reaching Zuoz, tried to find some place for dinner, but since it was Sunday supermarkets and most of the restaurants were closed. Luckily we had some breads n pasta with us. And our biggest saviour was the soup and coffee vending machine near our air bnb. Staying in villages near st. Moritz is a good option if you don’t wanna spend lot of money on accommodation. St. Moritz is very expensive.

Day 4 : Zouz to Bormio via the Stelvio pass (75km)

From Zouz in Switzerland we headed towards the Italian side of the Alps. We reached BORMIO after driving through Umbrail pass and the (world’s best driving road) Stelvio pass. Stelvio pass is spaghetti of tarmac with 48 hairpin bends. So finally we ticked it off our bucket list. You can read more about these passes here .

The day’s drive ended at Hotel Bagni vecchi in Bormio. This hotel is famous for its old roman natural hot water springs. It was a perfect break from all the driving…….totally rejuvenating!

Day 5 : Bormio to Lake Como (187 km)

There is a stark contrast when you drive in Italy from Switzerland, you notice the roads are more crowded, more cops, all these means the drive is less enjoyable…..from Bormio, we headed towards Lake Como. We had booked Hotel Paradiso sul lago uphill on the Como side of the lake. The drive through the narrow bylanes was tough but the view from the hotel was amazing and made the drive worth the effort.

We spent the evening at Como which was downhill.

Day 6: Como to Vercana (65 km)

It was a scenic drive along the cliff overlooking lake Como……. we stopped at Bellagio and spent a day. In the evening from Bellagio, we took a car ferry to Cadenabbia on the opposite side of the lake. And then headed to Vercana which was few minutes away from Caddenabbia. We stayed at Bed and breakfast by Mellisa which was on a cliff with amazing views. Check out our Lake Como experience here.

Day 7: Vercana to Lake Brienz (227 km)

Started early in the morning and again we spent some time at the Lake Como including water limousine ride with visit to the villa del Balbianello. Then headed towards Lake Brienz.

It was a long drive to Lake Brienz via the scenic Gotthard pass, Furka pass, Grimsel pass. You can read more about these passes here.

The real beauty of Switzerland lies in its unspoilt countryside, valleys and the Alps.

We reached our camping area at lake Brienz quite late. So we had dinner and slept.

Day 8 : Schilthorn & carfree villages of Murren and Gimmelwald

Lake Brienz camping area was very beautiful and clean except for the bedbugs encounter. We never ever imagined we could experience bedbugs in Switzerland. But the whole Switzerland experience was so good, that we could ignore those bugs.

We went to Schilthorn early morning where a scene from bond movie was shot. There’s a revolving restaurant and a thrill walk. While coming down from Schilthorn, we explored the beautiful carfree villages, Murren and Gimmelwald….Details of Schilthorn, Murren and Gimmelwald here.

Evening I went for the chocolate making workshop at Funky Chocolate Club in Interlaken. How can you not learn making chocolate in the land of milk!!!! It was a fun evening well spent.

Interlaken otherwise is very touristy place where all you see is Indian tourists and Indian restaurants.

Day 9 : Lake Brienz to Bern city : 67 km

This was the last day of our roadtrip. Jungfrau (highest peak of Europe) was on our agenda before dropping our car at Bern. But before Jungfrau, we picked up the chocolates made by me at the workshop from Interlaken. Then visited Trummelbach falls, a series of ten glacier waterfalls inside the mountain. Water flowing in the mountain with such great force was something really unique. You have to experience it. Pictures don’t do justice. Then we spent some time at the beautiful Lauterbrunnen valley and headed to Jungfrau. Going to Jungfrau was the most expensive thing in Switzerland. We were skeptical about visiting this very very touristy place. But we were pleasantly surprised by snowfall. After all these days of visiting snow clad peaks and driving through high mountain passes, I really wanted to experience snowfall. But since it was summer, chances of snowfall were rare & at Jungfrau my wish was fulfilled. Train journey to Jungfrau was scenic.
After Jungfrau, we headed to Bern. The route along the lake was awesome. We dropped our car at Bern airport and then explored Bern and Lucerne for next 3 days.

PS. Swiss half fare card was very useful for us. So if you are planning a trip to Switzerland, check out the various passes and buy one which suits you the best. Phone network and data cards are very good on the peaks as well.

One more post on Switzerland will be coming soon where I would be writing about the cities Zurich, Bern and Lucerne.

Till then, bye!!!

DIY leather clutch & earrings with Hidesign

Hi girls,

Have you ever created anything ‘best out of waste’? I’m sure many of you must have done it in school. I used to love craft classes in school. Though our craft teacher was very strict, I used to really enjoy creating beautiful things. But after school somehow I never tried anything….Later when I finished medical education, I started using my creativity in styling my own outfits. An year back I started penning it down and that’s how blogging started. But I hardly tried ‘DIY’ing till now.

This is my 2nd DIY post. My first DIY was ‘tulle cape’. Now I have decided to do DIY experiments more often & share with you all.

I had never thought DIYing leather things would be so easy until I came across this ‘The Art of reuse’ contest by Hidesign. Last month only I discarded my torn leather jacket while cleaning my closet. If at all I had an idea that it can be reused, I would have got a chance to make lot of leather goodies. But never mind, there’s always next time….

So I was talking about ‘The Art of reuse’ by Hidesign……. When I came to know about the contest, I immediately registered and rushed to the nearest Hidesign store to collect my raw material. I had only two days with me to post my Artpiece on social media. So I had to make it in a day. In the ‘Art of reuse bag’, there were 7 pieces of leftover leather, a punch, needle and wax coated thread. It was a big challenge cause the leather pieces provided were quite small.

First, I decided the pattern in my mind and then cut the pieces of leather in desired shapes and sizes. After cutting, I made holes on the pieces by using punch and a hammer. After making holes I stitched them together. The thread provided by them was not sufficient….So I used brown wool for stitching remaining part. For securing the opening, I made two blue leather flaps with velcro. And finished it with a Hidesign logo which I made from blue leather piece.

Similarly I made earrings by using remaining small pieces. That was the easiest part.

Now comes the styling part!!!….. I paired my artpieces with an off shoulder white top and maroon harem pants. Completed the look with blue pumps, a blue nail polish and nude make-up and I was ready to go……

Check out the pictures below……

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The Art of Reuse bag
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contents of the bag
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material used
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marking
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cutting in desired size & shape

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marks for the holes
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making holes with hammer & punch

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stitching in progress
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Hidesign logo in making
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DIY Clutch & Earrings ready!
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Perfect ootd!
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This is how I styled it!

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I hope you all liked my DIY clutch and earrings. Do try it if you have leftover leather at home.

Lonar crater

‘Scars are tattoos with better stories’ LONAR CRATER is one of those scars on earth caused by meteor impact and is extremely beautiful with so many interesting stories (facts) about it……

As usual we were on a lookout for offbeat places and came across this amazing place with unparalleled biodiversity!!! Lonar crater is a notified national geo-heritage monument created by meteor impact about 50000 years back. It is 2nd largest crater in world and the only hypervelocity impact crater in basaltic rock on earth. Initially it was thought to be of volcanic origin but later on studies proved that it is formed by extraterrestrial impact. It’s an oval shape depression which bears water in its central portion forming lake and surrounded by hills. Area is 1.13 sq km and average depth is 137m. Circumference at top is about 8km and at base is about 4.8km.

The water of the lake is saline and alkaline at the same time containing various salts and sodas. During dry weather when evaporation reduces the water level, large quantities of soda are collected. All the requisites for making glass and soap are produced here. Chemical characteristics of lake shows 2 distinct regions that do not mix, outer neutral (pH 7) and innner alkaline (pH 11) with its own floura and fauna. You can actually try it with litmus paper. You can experience the strong smell of rotten eggs at the lake indicating presence of sulphur. Small streams and freshwater springs on the shore fill the bank. High alkalinity harbours nitrogen fixing bacterias.

What makes this blue green lake more beautiful is the lush green jungle surrounding it and the old abandoned temples in the jungle. It’s quite interesting that there’s different vegetation at different levels, 1st ring is formed mostly by date palms, 2nd by tamarind trees and 3rd by acacia. The soil has high iron content. It can be tested with a magnet.

The jungle is rich in wildlife and is a birdwatchers paradise.

There are different tracks to reach the lake. The commonly used paths are one opposite MTDC resort and the other stairs from the Gomukh temple. We went trekking down from MTDC resort.

Temples in and around the crater: There are more than 12 old temples around that area known as Yadava temples or Hemadpanti temples (named after Hemadri Ramgaya). We visited Ramgaya temple, Daitya sudan temple & Gomukh temple.

Ramgaya temple- This temple is in the jungle surrounding the lake.

Gomukh temple- It is situated at the rim of crater and you get the most amazing views of the crater. There is an eternal fresh water stream.

Daitya sudan temple- This temple is Vishnu temple situated in Lonar village outside the crater. Carvings on this temple are similar to that of Khajuraho temple.

Best time to visit: Early mornings, afternoons can get too hot and not advisable in the late evenings. We went at around 3:30 pm but since it was raining weather was pleasant. It takes around half an hour to reach the lake.

Best season to visit: monsoons (the lake looks more beautiful because of the greenery), Nov-Dec (For bird watching)

Place to stay: Only 1 good place to stay at Lonar, MTDC resort located at the rim of crater……. spacious cottages as well as dormitory. Decent no frills accommodation with great location. Decent food with very basic dining area, indoor as well as outdoor with good views of  the crater.

How to reach: It is about 500km from Mumbai by road. We drove to Lonar via Pune, Ahmednagar and returned back via Nashik.

Nearest railway station- Aurangabad 5hrs, Jalna- 3hrs.

Nearest airport- Aurangabad

From Aurangabad and Jalna, you have to go by road…… road to Lonar is not very good. It’s full of potholes.

What to wear: It’s better to wear trekking shoes and pants. As I din’t know about the trek part, I wore a long skirt and juttis. Luckily my juttis were very comfortable but I regret wearing a long skirt, though it’s looking good in pictures!!!

I wonder how such beautiful place is not yet popular! When we went there, even though it was a weekend, I could see only 2-3 groups of tourists…… It’s a great weekend destination in Maharashtra for nature enthusiasts.

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Lonar crater lake from above!

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Walking through the jungle….
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Millipedes mating
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Into the crater…

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Litmus paper test …..alkalinity proved!!!
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High content of iron in the soil….proved!!!
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Exploring Ram Gaya temple….

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Lovely view from Gomukh temple!

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Eternal stream at Gomukh temple!

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Daitya sudan temple!

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Entrance to the MTDC resort
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Lovely cottages
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Our cottage

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Dining area and reception, MTDC resort
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Dining area
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View from the dining area
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My favourite place in the room!!!

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Road scenes around Lonar!!!
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Scenic route on our way back to Mumbai!!!
Our route….

 

Offbeat places in Switzerland 

Hi,

I’m gonna be writing about offbeat places in Switzerland which may not be ‘offbeat’ but are not commonly visited by Indians!

Interlaken, Jungfrau, mt. Titlis, Lucerne, Zurich are commonly visited by Indian tourists. Indians who have grown up watching Bollywood movies, visit Switzerland with lot of expectations. But go back with the feeling that Switzerland is overrated. Not that these touristy places are not beautiful, but the essence of Switzerland lies in its untouched countryside. It is so picturesque that even pictures and videos cannot do justice. You have to experience it….. Lush green meadows, sound of cowbells, sound of a distant church bell, cows n goats grazing in the medows, snowcapped mountains, cute l’il swiss chalets decorated with flowers….. This is real Switzerland!!!

We drove around eastern and central Switzerland in June for 10 days and these are few of my favourite places…..

1. Farm stay in Gais: Gais is a picturesque small village near Appenzel. This village recieved the Wakker Prize for the development and preservation of its architectural heritage. All you can see is mountains, green medows and cute wooden swiss chalets….. straight out of Yash Chopra movies!!! I think every Indian will be able to relate to this after seeing pictures. We stayed in this village overnight at Vogelnest. It an old wagon in the middle of the medows in a farm. It was compact with a bed, dining area and a toilet. There was sitting area outside too. There’s a small grocery store owned by the host selling organic products. For dinner we bought some stuff from the store. Barbecue facility is also available. Best thing was waking up in the morning to the amazing view of green medows n cows grazing. Breakfast is given in picnic basket. We had our breakfast outdoor with this amazing view. It was like a dream!

2. Restaurant on a cliff, Berghaus Ascher: Berghaus Ascher is a cliff which is 170 years old. Initially it was a hut housing framers, goats & cows then converted into a restaurant. It’s open from May to November. For reaching this restaurant, you have to take a cable car from Wasserauen to Alpstein & then 2km hike downhill across Wildkirchli caves. It was a good 45min hike. So good hiking shoes are recommended. During the cable car ride you get beautiful views of Appenzel hill landscape, Sankt Gallen, Thurgau & lake Constance. View from the restaurant is great. They do not reserve tables. So make sure you go early. During lunchtime, it gets very crowded. They serve yummist Rosti (traditional swiss hash browns). It was the best rosti I have ever tried. It’s actually a side dish. You can have it with meat, eggs or salads. For going back again you have to climb uphill to the cable car station.

3. Appenzel town: Appenzel is a small town in north-eastern Switzerland at the foot of Alpstein known for rural customs, traditions such as ceremonial descent of cattle in autumn and cultural events. this car-free town with pretty lanes with boutiques, small stores and buildings decorated with frescoes. There’s nothing much to do in the town but a stroll through the pretty lanes is worth. It’s a base for visiting nearby places. But we chose to stay at Gais village nearby and visited this pretty village after Berghause Aescher. 2-3 hours are enough to explore the beautiful lanes.

4. Highest Jacuzzi in Europe, Diavolezza: Ah…. This was the best part of the trip. Diavolezza is near st. Moritz. It was on my bucket list. There’s a jacuzzi on the sunterrace of Diavolezza restaurant at 3000m above sea level with unrestricted views of Bernina massiff and piz Palau. Temperature of the water is 40degreeC and the temperature outside was 4degreeC. They provide bathrobes, towels, slippers, fruits and water. There’s a cablecar to reach Diavolezza. It was a perfect touch of adventure to bathing experience!!! After this amazing experience we had a cheese fondue at Diavolezza restaurant admiring the beauty of snowcapped mountains. Make sure you go there when the weather is good coz the Jacuzzi is of metal and its not safe when there’s lightening. We were lucky that weather improved when we reached there.

5. Piz Gloria, Schilthorn: This is a summit in Europe, in the Burnese Alps of Switzerland overlooking the valley of Lauterbrunnen, above the village of Murren. The summit has a panoramic view of Titlis, Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger, Vosges mountains and black forest. To reach Schilthorn, you can take the cable car (Stechelberg-Gimmelwald-Murren-Brig-Schilthorn) or you can walk. Hiking paths from Gimmelwald takes about 5 hours. We went up by cable car & while climbing down we skipped the cable car from Murren to Gimmelwald and came down walking. The route through these villages was very picturesque. Piz Gloria : The panoramic revolving restaurant at the summit was featured in 1969 James Bond movie- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A black ski run featured in the film starts at the summit to Brig. The ‘thrill walk’ at Brig is a must do…..It was fun!

6. Murren & Gimmelwald: Murren & Gimmelwald are the small car-free villages at the foot of Schilthorn peak. Both the villages are picturesque with swiss chalets decorated with colourful flowers, fountains, greenery and unobstructed views of mountains Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau……Straight out of a story book. We had coffee and icecream at this beautiful restaurant Alpein with lovely view at Murren. At Gimmelwald, we came across this shop called ‘honesty shop’. Its Europe’s first village store which depends entirely on trust and honesty. There are no shop assistants, cameras or supervisers. Just pick what you want, put correct money in the envelope and drop it in the honesty box. How cool is that!!! Walking through these villages was an amazing experience.

7. Camping at Lake Brienz: Blue green lakes of Switzerland look surreal. I have always wanted to stay near a lake and I came across this camping site on the shores of lake Brienz. There are colourful small wooden houses with 2 beds. As it was camping, washrooms were outside but were clean. The whole camping area was well maintained and beautiful. Camping by this turquoise blue-green lake surrounded by Alps was truly memorable! (except for the bed bugs….)

 

Style diaries with ‘Fashiana’

Hi all,

This post is gonna be very colourful and I’m really excited to share with you all. I have created 3 different looks in collaboration with ‘fashiana’.

‘Fashiana’ is women’s clothing brand from Jaipur. They have a huge collection of products ranging from women’s wear to home decor…….and everything is so colourful. All these products are made in India, handcrafted by local craftsmen using indian prints and techniques. These are perfect for Boho and Indian fusion looks.

I’m in love with their ‘Mandala’ products. Mandala design is a complex abstract design which is usually in circular form. I have been thinking of buying a mandala mat since very long time…… So I was extremely happy to receive palazzo pants with mandala print from Fashiana.

I recieved two palazzo pants and a long skirt and I created 3 different looks. I’ll start with my favourite, check it out…..

1. Boho beach look: I wore blue mandala print palazzo pants for my 1st look. These are my favourite and white pom pom detailing is the highlight of these palazzos…..pom poms look really cool and feminine. I paired these with a blue sequined crop top coz I wanted to show off beautiful mandala design on the upper part of the pants. Kept accessories to minimal with only a silver nose ring and completed the boho look, styled my hair with small front braids. And added blue shimmer flip flops to complete the beach look. Its perfect for a beach party!

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2. Glam chic look: For this look I decided to go ‘print on print’. I wore these beautiful monochrome mandala print palazzo pants with a pink printed scarf top. These pants have mandala design on the lower part, so I chose to wear a long top with it. The lower edge of the top perfectly complements the mandala print on the pants. Kept accessories to minimal with only a watch and a silver metal sling. Completed the look with comfortable cherry pink suede box heels & two low buns. You can wear this look for a day outing.

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3. Indian fusion look: I created this look with Fashiana’s fuschia pink long skirt. This skirt is very pretty with camels all around the border, looks like a lehenga. I teamed it up with a crisp white shirt and a pom pom belt. Accessorised it with jhumkas, lot of metal bangles and gold wedges. In this look I decided to go bold with a big pink bindi. With this pretty ethnic skirt, you are sorted for coming festive season.

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So, tell me in a comment which one did you all like? You can buy these here.

Go, add some colour to your wardrobe with Fashiana.