Thursday, November 5, 2015

Food Trucks at One Horizon Center, Gurgaon's Business Hub

No festival in India is celebrated without binging on some scrumptious food. While most in corporate world miss out on festivities and food because of hectic office hours, One Horizon Center- business hub in the heart of Gurgaon and a development by Hines India and DLF- has ensured that its tenants get to enjoy food during office hours, that too in a fun innovative way. One Horizon Center has brought in Food Trucks to its premises that serve variety of cuisines- Thai, Mexican, fast food, ice-lollies and even dessert popsicles! You wouldn't be surprised to know that the commercial centre houses office of Zomato and Coca Cola, besides Apple, ANZ, American Express and many others.  

The participating Foodtrucks include – Drifter’s Café, Frugurpop, Something Saucy, What The Truck and Eggjactly. 

Drifter's Cafe 


So at the Drifter’s Cafe the food is an eclectic mix of Thai and Chinese dimsums, appetizers and box meals; while Frugurpop is delighting One Horizon Center office-goers with their fruity and cream flavoured popsicles. The Triple Berry, Frutilicious and Oreo and Cookies Cream Bar are loved by all. Something Saucy and What The Truck are tantalizing the guests taste-buds with sliders, mexican, wraps and fast food. 

Business Suits and Lollies- Only at One Horizon Centre, Gurgaon 

"Frugurpop only aspires to get bigger and better and being surrounded with the largest multinationals at One Horizon Center developed by Hines gave the brand an exhilarating push! The coolness of the Popsicles reflects in the employees, who devour this refreshing delight during their hectic day at work! The association surely lives up to our motto~ Let Joy Take Over and reaches the highest floor of the tower,” says Pallavi Kuchroo, Founder, Frugurpop.

Food that makes office-goers happy! 

“Ever since we started our business we have been looking for opportunities to step into corporate parks and residential communities as we have designed our product for people on the go, however only Hines India gave us an opportunity as they saw food trucks being able to fill an immediate requirement of food and beverage offerings to their tenants who look for hygienic, tasty and cost effective options,” adds Ankur Gupta, Founder, Drifters Café.


Vikrant Misra, co-founder, Eggjactly said, “We were delighted to get an opportunity from One Horizon Center to showcase our food and serve their tenants”

No wonder One Horizon Center has been rated as one of the top 3 commercial buildings in India. The 25-storey One Horizon Centre building in Gurgaon has 1 million square feet of office space.  The air-conditioning units in the building have filters to remove dust and impurities in the air and carbon dioxide sensors have been fitted to ensure that healthy levels of fresh air are maintained inside.
The building, located on an 11-acre site, has 60,000 square feet of retail space that will have dining options, a fitness centre, drycleaners, salons, spas, a pharmacy, convenience store and a day-care centre. 
"The management at One Horizon Center are offering a great proposition to their employees - first to catch the growing trend in foodtrucks which not only provides great food but variety on a daily basis!"- Rajat Chandna, Something Saucy

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Vistara's In-flight Meals

I haven’t flown Vistara yet. Recently when I was invited by the airline at the TajSats Airport office for a Chef’s table to sample the food that they serve on board, I thought it would be interesting to get a taste of what Vistara serves its passengers. Of course on board, at 35,000 feet the food is bound to taste much different, but it did give an idea about how Vistara, Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines Joint Venture airline is offering travelers an enhanced experience.

Vistara on domestic sector offers seats across Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class. The food offering too is different for the three. While the choice is limited for Economy class, for Premium Economy there are three options to choose from compared to two in Economy. What they serve Business Class passengers is worth showcasing, as Vistara did at this select bloggers and food writers meet. 


For appetizers I sampled the non vegetarian platter that had Chicken Tikka, Seekh Kebab and Aloo Tikka which was served with mint chutney. The serving was generous, with two pieces each and it tasted good. But then you can’t go wrong with kebabs in India. Can you? The main course menu had choice between Chicken Teriyaki, Cajun Spiced Cheese and Zucchini Steak and the standard Matar Pulao, Awadhi Paneer and Amchoori Bhindi. I opted for Zucchini Steak which was delectable. Though I did have my apprehensions about the exotic sounding dish, but it surprisingly turned out to be very nice.



Kebab Platter for Appetizers that it serves Business Class Passengers 

Vistara that has positioned itself as a premier carrier, is trying to do things differently and going that extra mile to make the experience special. Food is an important ingredient of that experience. Vistara claims that it is the only carrier on the domestic sector to serve seafood on economy class. They serve Prawns, though Chef Arun Batra from TajSats Catering, who was face of the food that afternoon, tells me that out of North India flights not many fliers were opting for it so it is not being served for few months. Similarly Chef points out Vistara is the only domestic airline serving Japanese cuisine. TajSats which does catering for Vistara is an air catering company- a joint venture between Tata Group’s Indian Hotels and Singapore Airline Terminal Services- with over 1,000 employees. It offers its services to international and domestic carriers, charters and even institutional clients. 

Meal comes with a nice Salad
The airline is also breaking the monotony with seasonal food menu. For instance during summer months they serve mango coolers and even raw mangoes. Some time back they served Amla Kulfi to the travelers. Besides the regular tea and coffee, they also serve coolers and some specially created drinks.

In its rotating menu besides the usual Curries and Pulao, they have some twists like Idli Manchurian with Tempered Rice Sevian, Tofu and Mushroom in Hot Chilli Sauce served with Burnt Garlic Rice, Jalapeño Mozarella Shammy- all served in the Economy Class. Sounds quite a relief from the usual domestic airline food right? Just that its a measly meal on economy class when it comes to quantity. If it was any other domestic carrier I would have overlooked it but then if its a premium one which is going that extra mile for food, the quantity in the Economy Class Meal Box made me think. 



Economy Class Meal: Tofu and Mushroom in Hot Chilli Sauce



Besides going the whole hog with preparation and presentation of the food, the airline has been thoughtful about other little aspects too. On its short flights such as Delhi-Lucknow, passengers are handed over refreshment boxes before boarding, since there is not enough time to serve food on board. 

It's definitely heartening to see such emphasis being given to food by a domestic carrier in times which are not exactly conducive to run an airline business in this country. 

When asked if so much of emphasis on food has increased the costs, the affable Chief Commercial Officer of the airline, Giam Ming Toh says that they have done their maths and all internal costs are under check though of course they cant help the external ones. 




Have you flown Vistara and tried food on board?  Do share your thoughts. 


Monday, August 17, 2015

Food Review: Harry's Bar & Cafe

On an unexciting cloudy Monday evening, we decided to hit Harry's at Khan Market for drinks and dinner. I have been there for quick afternoon beer with my girl friends earlier and quite liked the place though couldn't try the menu so decided to go again for an unhurried meal. 

My expectations were pretty high as just couple of months back I visited the Harry's at Clark Quay in Singapore. The original Harry's so to say since this is a Singapore chain. I remember how even their vegetarian pizza tasted so good! 

Harry's Bar & Cafe, Khan Market

Coming back to Delhi, even on a Monday night the place was packed but the service was impeccable. We started with the Watermelon and Feta Salad followed by Vietnamese Spring Rolls. The vietnamese spring rolls don't look very appetizing but are surprisingly lip smacking. So if you are a vegetarian you must try these and the Muchos Nachos Veggie of course! Coming to non-vegetarian appetizers, we tried and loved their Chicken Satay, Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips and Singapore Chicken Lollypops. But what you must order is the popular Fisherman's Basket which has Calamari and Prawns in crispy batter. All the starters were served in quirky compact bowls. The presentation was good without being over the top. The way they serve food, you want to well immediately dig in! 

For mains the Nasi Biryani, that is hot Indonesian style chicken and prawn fried rice in peanut curry, is something you must try if you don't want to stick to the conventional Chicken Tikka Masala or Pasta Bowl that they offer. Too full after the appetizers ( like we were) or on a diet? Play safe with the lean options - grilled chicken breast or fillet of fish. You could go for a lean main course, but you have to try Harry's Upside Down Cone (chocolate, caramel, cherries, mango and vanilla gelato in a cone, upside down) and the Drunken Volcano Cake for desserts.  


Chicken Satay
The exciting part, yes that transformed our unexciting Monday, is their cocktails. When at Harry's you must try their signature cocktails- Dirty Harry (Vodka flavored with Litchi), Eye Candy ( Fresh Watermelon Martini) and Singapore Sling. If you are a whiskey drinker you will love the Scotch cocktail called Harry's Old Fashioned.  

Why we are going back to Harry's? Well surprise surprise, for their Mocktails! Husband who is on a  detox diet and off alcohol told the server that he prefers cocktails not very high on calories. He first got him a watermelon cocktail with Splenda. Next he got him a Bambaiya style masala diet pepsi cocktail. The staff was enthusiastic and paid attention to details- something you don't expect at a busy bar in Delhi. 

Being a chain of bars and restaurants, I earlier thought why review? But Harry's definitely deserves this review for it's food, cocktails and service. As a brand, Harry's clicks well with Urban Explorers like me. 




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Barrels: Pub of Good Times



Rocky and Mayur have ventured out to explore food from all parts of India and curate videos on Askme.com  I'm contributing my part by relishing my favorite dishes at Barrels located in Vasant Vihar and sharing my views with you all!
You can also upload your video review on AskMe and stand a chance to meet Rocky and Mayur !! 

Here is my review: 

Well you don't expect a place to be buzzing on a Monday night. But Barrels located in Vasant Vihar was much alive on a Monday night when I visited. Not only this, there were many other ways in which this restro-pub pleasantly surprised me.

Graffiti Walls that lend a funky look to this pub
The staircase adorned with quirky graffiti posters welcomes you as you head up to Barrels located on the first floor of a corner building. Once inside the Brit pub culture, live music and impeccably dressed servers ensure that you have a good time.

Tandoori Mushrooms
While I did expect cocktails and liquor collection to be good, I was expecting food to be only average. I was in for another surprise. The cigar rolls were lip smacking, peri-peri chicken done perfectly, fish tikka and murg malai tikka succulent and tandoori mushrooms stuffed with cheese were well addictive! No doubt these are the must have items on the menu. The menu at Barrels offers the right mix of Asian, American, European and even African cuisine! Nachos with sour cream, kukkad meal, kathi rolls, kebabs in egg blanket, lamb steak and spicy meat balls with rice are some of the other delicacies you must try. You can have a hearty meal at this place without burning a hole in your pocket.

Cashews Nut
Coming to the heady cocktails, Barrels throws some interesting choices. Experimental or not, you must try the drinks in the 'Directors Cut' section. There are five owners of this pub and each one has come up with an original cocktail. I quite liked Akki Mashed Up (Vodka, Tequila, rum, gin, ginegerale, grenadine and lemon) and Mill which has beer, gin and vodka as ingredients. But the absolute must try is Cashew's Nut, a great concoction of dark rum, tequila, absinthe, triple sec and tonic water. If you are a bourbon lover you have got the 'Answer', yes that's the name of the cocktail which has bourbon whiskey, southern comfort, peach schnapps and coke.  

But why I am going back to Barrels is because they have a libido booster mocktail (you heard that right) called 'Give Her Some More'. After all don't we all love restaurants that are bold, quirky and do things differently!



Ready Reckoner 

Meal for Two: Rs 1800 with alcohol
Covers: 40
Address: Building No5, Opposite PVR Priya, Basant Lok Community Centre, Vasant Vihar, Delhi.

The restro pub organizes karaoke nights, movie and sitcom viewings.  


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Flipkart #AbHarWishHogiPoori



I love traveling. Even if you wake me up at 3am in the night and tell me that lets go on a road trip, the chances are I would start packing my bags. I love surprise gifts too. They make one feel special and wanted. Don't they? 

Last year one morning my husband told me to pack my bags and that he was taking me on a surprise holiday. He didn't tell me till the last moment where we were going. We reached a quaint little town off Nainital where he had booked a room in a cottage property. I was absolutely thrilled, the room was straight out of a fairy tale, with an attic and glass ceiling from which you could gaze at the stars at night. It felt even more like a fairytale because my prince was right there with me! 

There are many such holidays that he has gifted me. Last year on my birthday he planned vacation for us in the US. After spending some time in New York, he told me we were also going on a three day Miami-Bahamas-Miami cruise. It was my first time on a cruise and those three days were magical. While I spent most time on the deck, every evening my husband ensured that he went to the fitness centre on board. He is a fitness freak and doesn't even miss exercising when on a vacation! And I have always admired him for his love for all things fitness. No matter how busy hi work schedule is he takes out time to hit the gym.

There are many vacations that I have taken with him but the most special will always be the ones which were 'gifted'. Isn't that so thoughtful to gift someone what they love! Somehow I have never been able to gift him something that he will truly cherish. Or may I say he is always a step ahead when it comes to planning and surprising. 

One day while surfing Flipkart I came across a Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity Fitness Band and immediately it reminded me of him. I had thought once earlier of buying it but assumed the latest model was not available in India. It also reminded me how a fellow travel blogger Swati recently bought a Canon Printer on the website for her father who loves clicking pictures. Its a great feeling to gift your loved ones something that they can use to pursue their passion. It makes the gift more valuable than its monetary worth. That why they say on Flipkart #AbHarWishHogiPoori  

While he would use the Fitbit everyday, I am sure we will have a new companion now on all our  holidays. He can keep a record of his cardio exercises and heart rate and I can keep a tab on his sleep patterns. Don't we all wives want our husbands to have a good night's sleep! 









Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why Travel Bloggers Are Talking About Asus ZenFone 2 !

I am often asked which DSLR camera do I use when I am travelling? When I reply that I don't use a DSLR for my blog and mostly rely on my phone camera, I either see the other person's upper lip curl in disdain or a shocked expression. Travel Blogger who doesn't own a DSLR! Yeah that's rare.

Now let me tell you why I am a phone camera person. I never leave my heels or red lipstick behind when I am traveling, so lugging around a bulky DSLR is not my kind of a thing. Social Media we all know is very important for bloggers today. Phone is easy to carry around and I can immediately upload the pictures I click, when traveling, on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Who wants to wait to transfer them to a laptop and then upload them. Yes there are faster and easier ways to do that using a DSLR camera with bluetooth or wi-fi features as well but pardon me I am not a tech geek and those gadgets are exorbitantly priced.

So when I heard about Asus ZenFone 2 that is loaded with some incredible camera features it got me excited. Hearing the blogger chatter about this phone I decided to find out myself about some of these features. Here they are:

  • You can click detailed pictures using its 13 MP camera on the 'Super Resolution Mode' which clicks four 13 MP pictures to create a single image. So you get 4X clarity! Beauty is in the details right.            
  • Remember last time you were at that romantic candle-light dinner and couldn't capture your moments because the restaurant was dimly lit? Asus ZenFone 2 has an unparalleled Low Light Mode that helps you click clear photos and videos throughout the night and in dim-light settings. Its Digital Image Stabilizer also helps click sharper non-blurry photos. Sounds great!
  • It clicks better indoor portrait shots, thanks to its Dual LED Real Tone Flash.
  • Using its special wide angle mode one can capture a panoramic selfie of upto 140 degrees. Are you imagining that Big Wide Selfie already?
  • With a 'Full Manual Mode' where you can change settings it is like having a professional DSLR in your hand. This phone comes with 13 manual settings that you can adjust. And you still think travel bloggers need to carry a DSLR?
  • Then there is ZenUI MiniMovie- a preinstalled app that lets you create your own movies. Simple and Easy!
  • Its front camera intuitively switches to the Beautification Mode and you and your friends look better in real time. Ladies are you listening? 
So well bloggers like me who do not own  DSLR, Asus ZenFone 2 definitely makes their work more fun. If you also eyeing this smartphone, here is the link to buy Asus on FlipKart .

Besides its camera features, the phone has been getting attention worldwide owing to its technology and design as well. It has won about 238 awards globally from international journalists and IT companies. Exciting isn't it? 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

These 8 Indian Hotels will Make Your Pet Jump All Over You in Joy: My Guest Column for India Today Digital

Planning that weekend getaway and don’t want to leave your pooch behind? Or thinking of taking your pet on a holiday? Fret not. Here is a list of eight pet friendly hotels in India, that I compiled as a Guest Author for India Today Digital. These hotels not just allow you to check -in with your pet but also ensure that your adorable canine baby has a good vacation! 

Give Your Dog That Much Needed Holiday


1) Taj Vivanta Gurgaon

Imagine that impeccable Taj service being extended to your pet! 
A specially designed door hanger that lets everyone know that the pet is in-house, cribs, pet shampoo, vet spray, hair brush, untangler spray, leash, dog chews and dog food from the kitchen are some of the amenities that are offered exlusively for your pet. It come with a price tag though. “We charge an extra of Rs 3,000 for guests checking in with their pets ,” informs Sumeet Taneja, general manager of the hotel. But if you have an infant, sorry this hotel is not for you. The hotel allows pets who are at least one year old. Also your pet should weigh less than 45 kgs. 

2) Four Seasons Mumbai

Yes, Four Seasons Mumbai allows you to check-in with your pooch. Dog and cat lovers we know you screamed at this one! A luxe stay in the maximum city for your pet, are you packing your bags already? Wait there is more good news. There is no extra charge for guests checking in with their pets and the hotel provides beds, rugs, toys and food for the pet. It also offers services like dog walking and you can avail grooming or vet services at an extra cost.

3) Ibis Aerocity 

A budget transit visit to Delhi with your pet? This hotel is for you then. Located at Delhi’s new hotel hub Aerocity, Ibis is a budget brand of the Accor Group. It allows you to check in with your pet. The hotel is close to the Delhi airport and also in close proximity to Gurgaon. 


4) The Himalayan Village 

This fairytale resort is located in the foothills of the famous Malana Village in Kasol. That it allows you to check in with your pets is a bonus! Surrounded with Deodar forests it offers the perfect holiday setting for you and your furry friend. It has themed cottages with two cottages on a Machan being the highlights. The resort, which has been host to many dogs and cats, has kennels but guests can keep them in the cottage too. 

Holiday in a Picturesque Setting for your Canine Baby: The Himalayan Village

5) The White Peaks, Gagar

When Dog lover Aparupa Ray Ganguly opened her two-bedroom cottage  as home stay for guests last year, that it would allow pets was a given. In last one year a German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador have checked in at The White Peaks to holiday with their parents. “Since we give the whole cottage to a family, pets can stay with their parents without intrusion from other guests. They can go out to the jungle for walks,” explains Ganguly who does not charge extra for lodging of pets.   

6) Emerald Trail

Located in Bhimtal, Emerald Trail is quite popular among pet lovers. The Reason? Hosts give equal attention to pets as to the owners. Pets can enjoy roaming in the expansive 3-acre estate and share rooms with parents. They are given beds, bowls and home-cooked food with special instructions catered to. The staff can even baby-sit them, if you decide to go sight seeing! All this comes without any extra charge! 

 7) Tree of Life Resorts 

Travel industry veteran Himmat Anand’s hotel chain Tree of Life Resorts is pet friendly comes as no surprise considering Anand is an ardent canine lover. Tree of Life Resorts are in Jaipur, Udaipur and Rishikesh. “Unfortunately, most hotels in India do not allow pets, which is a pity. I am sure more and more would want to take their pets with them on a holiday  if awareness is created about properties like ours,” says Anand. Tree of Life Resorts does not charge guests checking-in with pets extra until they ask for meals. There are few restrictions like the dogs should be in a leash at all times when at the property and are not allowed in the restaurant. Your pooch can enjoy plunge pool and go on village walks when holidaying at Tree of Life Resort. 

8) Oakwood Premier Pune

The 200 serviced apartments at Oakwood Premier in Pune are not just well equipped and furnished but welcome pets too. So next time you are on a business or a leisure trip to Pune, you don't have to leave your pet behind. Let him enjoy a luxurious stay with you at the apartment. 

( The story first appeared in India Today website) 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Five Things Travellers Should Learn from Modi

So Narendra Modi completes a year as Prime Minister and there is more talk about his foreign visits than his performance. So I decided to see Mr Modi through a traveller's lens and decoded his travel habits and style. Actually there are quite a few things I like about Modi, the traveller. We enthusiastic travelers could actually pick these.

1) Clicking Selfies

Many might see clicking selfies ( read too many selfies) as a sign of being a narcissist or it being a mental disorder. Maybe for a Prime Minister to click selfies, it indeed is a disorder! But step back and see Modi as an 'aam' traveller clicking selfies. I think it's awesome. The takeaway: Click selfies with locals and important people you meet when holidaying. Ok I might not meet the Chinese Premier ever, but I am definitely clicking selfies with all the fellow travel bloggers on my next trip.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi clicking a selfie with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

2) Offbeat. The Real Offbeat.

If it's not offbeat, its not cool. Aren't real 'travelers' differentiated from 'tourists' lot of times on the basis of destinations they visit. Read any popular travel blog and it will suggest you to travel to offbeat places and not the hackneyed ones or those that don't feature in 'top 10 popular international destinations' list of travel companies. Modi, the traveller is doing just that! Archery in Mongolia, isn't that exotic? How many Indians you know who have visited Mongolia?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mongolia 

3) Frequency Matters! 

You are not a real traveller if you take only four holidays a year (Summers, Winters and maybe two weekend breaks). A real traveler desire to travel is insatiable. He is been criticized by opposition, media and and those who love to hate on social media for his frequent foreign trips. Pardon me, I am not the best person to comment on foreign policy, diplomatic relations and politics, so I don't know how bad it is for a politician or a Prime Minister to be away from his country for so many days. But looking at his frequency of foreign travel, I am inspired! He doesn't get jet-lagged? Tired? You know all of us should travel more.

Jetlagged? No!- Prime Minister Narendra Modi at JFK Airport, New York


4) Do it the 'Local' Way. 

Staying in your plush hotel suite, eating at fine-dining restaurants, attending conference at the convention centre and doing usual touristy sightseeing is what most business travelers do abroad. But look at Mr Modi, he doesn't miss a chance to mingle with the locals and get clicked with them, even indulge in a bit of mischief! That's cute. Even if it's a boring business conference that I am attending in a concrete city next time, I will ensure I go to places where locals go and mingle with them.
Modi might just be doing it for 'foreign media' but who's stopping us from doing it for the real experience?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi savoring tea cakes sitting in the traditional 'seize' style


5) Don't leave your Style Behind.

Modi's fashion style has been discussed and dissected. Modi kurtas, his monogrammed suit that was auctioned and dress sense has filled pages and pages of newspapers and magazines. And when traveling, he has often surprised many by landing at the airport impeccably dressed. Yes he has been a   fashion victim at times, but he doesn't settle for something boring when he travels abroad. Even Obama said that he wants to wear 'Modi Kurta'!

This is My Style- Modi Kurta and Jacket





Monday, April 27, 2015

Tips and Tricks for an Awesome Cruise Holiday



I love Cruise holidays- the joys of a hassle free all-inclusive stay, choice of activities, stopovers at some of the most scenic beaches and cities- there is so much to explore. Last year I sailed the Norwegian Cruise Line from Miami to Bahamas and experienced cruise holiday for the first time. This year I was on the Super Star Gemini Singapore-Malaysia-Singapore for three nights and loved every bit of it. I am no expert as I have just taken short cruises but there are some lessons that I have learnt and thought should share them on my blog.

1) Cruise Fashion

Its not just any holiday, it's a cruise holiday! So make sure you pack linen shirts, shorts and light chiffon or cotton dresses. Always carry a formal dress or shirt as Cruise Lines more often than not have a formal dinner or night where you are expected to be dressed formally. Don't forget to pack your swimsuit, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Ask Google about cruise wear. You don't want to go wrong with this one!

Chiffon Dress is ideal for evenings on the cruise

2) Check your Visa

Make sure you have a multi entry visa. The cruise stops in various countries so check if you need a separate visa for those countries. We didn't need a visa for Bahamas (they just asked for our multi-entry US visa) when we took the Norwegian Cruise Line from cruise capital of the world Miami for a three night Miami-Bahamas- Miami tour. We didn't need Malaysian visa either when we took Singapore-Malaysia-Singapore tour on Super Star Gemini ship (Star Cruise).


3) Less is More

Once on the cruise you will be given a daily itinerary. You possibly can't do all of the activities. Don't even try! Make up your mind what all you want to do...watch shows, grab drinks at the bar or just relax at the jacuzzi. Planning gets a whole new meaning when you are on the ship.

4) Tips for Day 1

Don't miss the sail-off on the deck..it is lot of fun. Have a look at this video of sail off dance on the deck of Norwegian Cruise Line. Do check out the reception and the bar for various offers. When we boarded the Norwegian Cruise Liner from Miami on Day 1 there was an offer for unlimited soda and alcohol for three days. It was valid only on Day 1.





5) Avoid Speciality Restaurants

Most cruise ships have ample of restaurant options that are included in your cruise holiday. But there are a few speciality restaurants that cruise ship has which are paid. Try avoiding them, they are fancy but the food is not great. Besides the fact that they are exorbitant. Restaurants in your city are much better so leave the experimental foodie in you back in town.


6) Try and Make Friends


A cruise holiday is ideal for honeymooning couples and to spend some romantic time with your loved one. But there will be many opportunities to make new friends, since you will bump into same people at the dinner table, casino or the bar. Its fun to make new friends and probably go watch shows with them or dance together at the DJ night. Cruise experience is also a lot about meeting new people from different countries and backgrounds.



7) Tips for the Disembarkation Day

To avoid last minute hasty bill payment or long queues at the billing counter, settle your bills a nigh before the disembarkation day. Collect a copy of your final bill, give it a thorough check and settle your dues. On the Disembarkation day if you decide to give your luggage to crew members, ensure that you are packed the night before but keep a hand bag with essentials that you will require on the disembarkation day- clothes, medicines, make-up and valuables.

    

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Reasons Why You Should Book with the Alternate Atlas

Being a travel blogger, my friends often call me up to take suggestions for their trips and how should they go about making their travel bookings. I am myself on a lookout for travel companies who have something interesting to offer and not just the usual 'touristy' itineraries. I came across a homegrown travel company Alternate Atlas and after making bookings with them and interacting with the owners, I concluded that they are just brilliant at what they do. So next time you are looking at being a traveller and not just a tourist you must give them a call. If you are not convinced, here are five reasons why you should book with them.  


1) Because they do offbeat, experiential tours

Get over run-of-the-mill tours, Alternate Atlas will take you to offbeat destinations. Whether it is photography tours at wildlife parks, cycling by the river on your honeymoon, angling in the Tirthan Valley , food trails from Delhi to Koch or driving from Delhi to Nagaland to attend the annual Hornbill Festival. This list is definitely not exhaustive. So you could add some more life to your upcoming family vacation, weekend getaway or honeymoon by getting in touch with them. Sounds interesting and inspiring right?  

2) It’s run by two avid travelers 

Alternate Atlas is the brainchild of Karan Jung and Jatin Kapoor. While Karan is a professional motor rally driver and has won Raid De Himalyas and other motor sports events, Jatin is a trained naturalist with a keen interest in conservation. They have worked on various documentaries of BBC and Discovery and successfully led groups.



Karan Jung is a professional motor rally driver 


They live to travel, how else would you justify covering 40000 kms on roads in India just to find a new resort, a new destination , a new pic nic spot or a new camp site.

Jatin Kapoor is a trained naturalist and has keen interest in conservation


So the crux of the matter is, Karan and Jatin are not armchair holiday specialists. They have been there, done that. Actually they are out there, doing it even as I write this blog post. 


3) They pay attention to details 

Whether it is looking after your food allergies or handing out mosquito patches for an evening dinner or getting your favorite chocolate fondue served to you at breakfast during a game drive. The honeymooning guests are often surprised with a bottle of wine which arrives when they are spending time at their private pool villa. They take care of minutest of the details so that your holiday is a memorable one! 

3) It is an eco-friendly company

Alternate Atlas is committed at being an environmentally responsible travel organisation. In order to raise the bar they invest in carbon reduction projects whether it is afforestation or creating organic manure and distributing it among their guests to use in their kitchen garden. They certainly want to leave a better world for future generations.

5) They ensure safety and comfort of women travelers! 

From Spiti to Shillong, Kovalam to Kanha and from Goa to Garhwal-They have planned exclusive trips for women and looked after them extremely well.

They have had a team member accompany solo woman traveller on an overnight train journey, a female tour leader to look after the logistics when a group of women is on an adventure trip and often had out a list of shopping stores to women travellers. Girls when was the last time a tour company, run by men, was so thoughtful!    

Recently one of my acquaintance's wife based in Mexico was visiting India and asked me for a travel company to book her India tour. She was quite skeptical about the safety aspect and we exchanged several emails where I tried answering her pertinent question "Is India safe for a solo woman traveller". I did try answering all her questions and having booked with Alternate Atlas earlier, I recommended her the company. She gave me an awesome feedback about Karan and Jatin. Not only did they attend to all her queries patiently, they ensured that a person from their company accompanies her on her train journey from Delhi to Varanasi, her flight timings are not erratic and accommodation is safe. 

On their group tours, including adventure trips and jungle safaris, Alternate Atlas ensures not only safety of women but their comfort too. 


One of the many testimonials on their website
I must say Alternate Atlas is quite famous among women travelers as I have seen several testimonials from women on their website and social media pages. Of course then there is me- a woman travel blogger myself- recommending them. 

Get in Touch with them : www.alternateatlas.com 

Have a look at their Blog: www.alternateatlas.blogspot.com 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Decoding Discounts and Deals on VoucherCloud

It's no secret that I love traveling. Considering my frequency and love for travel my friends on social media often ask me where am I headed to next. So friends, my next destination is the city that is home to the icon of love- Taj Mahal. Yes Agra it is. 

Agra is just two hours (ok considering Delhi's traffic three hours) from Delhi, so you will ask me what's so exciting about that! So I will tell you the story to get you a bit excited. 

I stumbled upon this great website www.vouchercloud.co.in that has discount coupons and deals for various categories- fashion, electronics, entertainment and travel, to name  a few. I quickly logged in, using my Facebook account. After exploring a bit, I went to the travel section which had deals and coupons for air tickets, hotel bookings and even car hire. There were many tempting deals and coupons for air travel but it was a weekend holiday out of Delhi on my mind so I went to hotel discount vouchers.  



I decided visiting Taj Mahal during the month of love- February- was a good idea. It also happens to be my husband's birthday this month and I thought a surprise visit to Agra will be just perfect. I usually book hotels on www.hotels.com so that was my first choice obviously. VoucherCloud had a whopping 55 per cent off  for bookings on Hotels.com but it was valid only for hotels abroad. Similarly there was a great deal for Expedia- a 50 per cent off on selected hotels. But none of these deals covered a five star hotel in Agra. Finally I came across a coupon code that offered 33 per cent discount if you book on Travelguru. I copied the code and used on the website and voila got a room at the stunning ITC Mughal property. On my check-in date the room tariff was 50% lower than on a weekend and on top of that a 33 per cent discount worked wonderfully. So I managed getting a room, with breakfast, at an unbelievable price of Rs 6500! 



Vouchercloud not only helped me in getting a great discount but also introduced me to a great hotel booking site Travelguru. I would have never logged on the site otherwise as hotels.com and makemytrip.com have always been on top of my mind.

The booking experience on Travelguru too was fast and smooth. Planning your next holiday? Don't forget scouting for a deal on Vouchercloud guys. 


 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Food Review: Quote, the Eclectic Bar and Lounge

On a Monday night we hit the Quote Bar and grab the lounger couch opposite the DJ console where he is belting out popular English numbers. The wall facing me says 'Trust Me You Can Dance-Vodka'... This Quote is for sure going to help me beat Monday Blues, I think.

The Quote Bar is the quirky new bar and lounge in town located in Connought Place. It's got all the elements right- quirky wall art, two spacious floors, great music, delectable food and drinks that won't really hurt your pocket on weekends.

Quote Bar: Relaxed Interiors
Frankly Speaking (sorry Mr Arnab Goswami I couldn't find a better phrase) every time I get a review invite which says it's a 'bar' that serves awesome cocktails, I prepare myself for a below average meal. But Quote Bar not only scores for being a cool hang-out joint but has great food as well, to go with the tipple.

Getting down to the details, here is what the grub was like. We started with Bar bites and loved the Crispy mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese (Rs 199), Wasabi Chicken (Rs 215) and Shrimp Poppers (Rs 235). If you are a vegetarian and averse to mushrooms like many people are you can go with the Cottage Cheese Poppers (Rs 185) and trust me you won't be disappointed. They also have an elaborate Appetizers, Soups and Salads menu. I shouldn't be recommending a salad but then I still can't get over their Indonesian Citrus Salad that I ordered with chicken and told the Chef to not add palm sugar. It tasted nice. For main course they have variety of burgers, pizzas, pastas and their specials that are served with crackers and salads. The must try items from the #QuoteBar Specials are Chicken with Shitake and Asparagus in oyster chili sauce that is served with Pineapple rice and the Herb Crusted Fish Steak grilled in lemon butter sauce. The sole fish was grilled right and the accompaniments made it a complete hearty meal.

Looks Good Tastes Good: Smokey Barbecue Chicken Wings 

I am not a big Indian cuisine fan when it comes to eating out. Plus being a woman it's a bit difficult to handle red lipstick, wine glass, stilettos and Indian main course. But the Special Dal that they serve is a must have!


Talking about the Bar bit..the alcohol is priced right though the variety is not as elaborate as some of the other new bar and lounges in town that are high on alcohol. Though the Bar Menu is good enough to keep the spirits high and make it a fun filled evening.

#QuoteBar (that's how it's branded) is refreshingly different. They haven't compromised on food, music or tipple to get it going. In times when Hauz Khas Village and Cyber Hub rule the roost, CP is losing its sheen among bar hoppers and Gen Y. Maybe cool new places like Quote Bar can help CP gets its tag of restaurant hotspot back.

READY RECKONER 

Address:  2nd Floor, 44 Regal Cinema Complex, Outer Circle,Connaught Place, New Delhi

Cost (Meal for two including alcohol) : Rs 1500 plus taxes

Seat Covers: 95

Cuisines: North Indian, Italian, Continental



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Restaurant Review: 1 OAK (One of a Kind)

Remember back in college how each group had its 'adda' or a hangout place where friends would congregate to spend good time over chai, samosas or simple maggi? 1OAK is the upmarket avatar of that adda where you can just spend time over hookah, keema pao or mezzo platter. 1 OAK where OAK is the acronym for One of a kind is a casual dining restaurant and lounge located at the Moolchand Flyover Complex, that also houses the popular 'Flavors' restaurant.

Al Fresco Dining: A relaxed yet peppy ambience welcomes guests at 1OAK
The ambience is relaxed but lively at the same time. 1 OAK offers al-fresco dining, indoor lounge and also has a rooftop space perfect for times like these when Delhi is bidding adieu to the chill.
It offers world cuisine so there is everything from pizzas, burgers to keema pao and from grilled fish and salads to hot dogs. The must try items here are the non-veg mezze platter (Rs 595) which has lip smacking grilled fish and prawns besides the usual chicken, hummus and pita, Prawns Chilli Garlic (Rs 425) that are done well, Pesto Chicken Pizza ( Rs 300) that is topped with house-made pesto,    Poulet Champignon which is chicken breast stuffed with chicken sausages, salami and cheese (Rs 400) and the classic chicken tikka ( Rs 250) and mutton seekh roll (Rs 275).

The portions are hearty and there is a slight twist in very dish 

We also ordered Keema Pao and Fattoush Salad and thought the keema needed a little more pounding and the salad lacked freshness quotient. Though the portion sizes at 1OAK are good and over all its value for money so you wouldn't regret ordering anything. 

The clincher for 1OAK, besides its location and price point, is the tipple. The variety is wide and trust me when I say 'wide' the term has not been used more aptly before. So for Vodka's it offers from Smirn Off to Grey Goose to Roberto Cavalli and yes everything thats in between. Ditto for Whiskey and Rum. For a casual dining place I didn't expect that variety to be great, no didn't think of Roberto Cavalli at least. In cocktails they offer everything from a Cosmopolitan to LIIT to Peach Belini besides their own blends. Throw in a hookah and its a party. In hookahs too the variety is sure surprising.

The drinks menu is elaborate and offers heady cocktails and shooters
Whether you are looking for a quick lunch, meeting old friends over cocktails or looking at celebrating an occasion, 1OAK  is the cool new place. Go check it out! 

READY RECKONER 

Address:  Moolchand Flyover Complex, Defence Colony, New Delhi, Delhi 110024
Contact: 011 4100 6641, 9999997977
Timings:  12 noon- 1 AM
Cuisine: World cuisine 
Meal for two: Rs 2000 plus taxes