Wednesday, 5 December 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: The Statue of Liberty reopens

New York’s most popular woman, the Statue of Liberty that had been closed for a year for renovations is now open to visitors. The renovations were primarily targeted at replacing the stairs to the crown as they were too steep. However, you will now have to go the extra mile to get up there, as there are now 393 steps as opposed to the former 354. The reopening took place on the lady’s 126th anniversary on October 28 this year.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: Hello Kitty themed restaurant opens in Beijing

The unprecedented popularity of the Hello Kitty franchise is undeniable. Be it accessories or apparel or even robots, it is said that the sales of its merchandise alone have acquired over $1 billion for its creators, Japanese company Sanrio. This top cat is also the official tourism ambassador of China and Hong Kong. Hard to beat that, no?

Coming back to the travel world. After Hello Kitty-themed airplanes, spas and a soon-to-be-built theme park that will open in 2014, there is now a Hello Kitty-themed restaurant in Beijing. Not surprisingly called Hello Kitty Dreams, its interiors are bathed in bubblegum pink and white, the entire restaurant is decked with the sprightly cat’s paraphernalia. The food however is known to be average; although it probably isn’t what attracts the visitors. So if you love pink, this is your haven.

                                        A screenshot from their website

Friday, 30 November 2012

My birthday bucket list

Two years ago, I made a wish list of all the things I wanted for my birthday and sent it out to my close friends. The list went from places I wanted to visit to things I wanted to acquire. I just happened to find this list about a week ago and couldn’t stop laughing at some of the ridiculous requests I’d made. For instance, I wanted to meet the new Star Trek’s Spock Zachary Quinto. Among the rest, there was the desire to visit Europe and USA, as well as Ladakh and Srinagar in India.

And now, I’m pleasantly shocked to say that I actually managed to fulfil several of those supposedly ridiculous wishes. I made it to Srinagar and Ladakh on the same trip, I finally made a foray into Europe with a work trip to Switzerland only to follow it up with a solo trip to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, I then headed to the US for two months, and most shocking of all, I attended the Golden Globes. I’m STILL in disbelief. To all those who believe that the law of attraction doesn’t work, here’s proof it does!

And so, in the hope that it will continue to work, here’s my birthday bucket list for 2013:
  1. Cappadocia, Turkey: Live in a cave hotel and hop on a hot air balloon ride.
  2. Iceland: Glaciers and the geothermal pools
  3. Ladakh: The Chadar trek by the frozen river
  4. Sweden: Ice Hotel and northern lights
  5. Germany: Christmas markets and the Ritter Sport chocolate factory
  6. Sky diving
  7. Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, Germany: To stay in one of the most unusual hotel rooms ever made

Feel free to share your lists too!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: A new wing added to the Louvre

Adding another string of masterpieces to their already vast collection, the Louvre museum in Paris opened a new wing dedicated to Islamic Art. The museum was already home to several pieces of art, from the Islamic world, only now, it has its own wing. Spanning over 3,000 works from the 7th to 18th centuries, some being displayed for the first time, the wing is sprawled over two floors. The collections comprise artefacts, mosaics, carpets, ceramics and sculptures.

This new wing is open every day except Tuesday, from 9 am to 6 pm, with late night opening on Wednesday and Friday until 9:45 pm.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Long time no see

If you have been a follower of my blog, you’re probably wondering where I disappeared. Well, after having spent a chunk of my savings on a two-month trip to USA earlier this year, I got back into the saddle and took up a job, so as to collect the funds to be able to travel once again. Sometimes it almost feels like I make a living just to travel even though I like what I do, resulting in what is now a continuous cycle; like means to an end. And just like Phoebe once said on Friends “There’s dancing in my head”, for me, “There’s travelling in my head”. Okay, dancing is in there too. More like a mix, like doing the flamenco in Spain or belly dancing in Turkey. However, armchair travel isn't good enough for me. I need the real thing. That feeling of complete liberation; that urge of doing something stupid and yet relishing every moment of it.

So, even though I haven’t written a post in a while, I’m constantly thinking of where to head to next. And the list is endless. There’s Iceland to see the glaciers, Sweden for the Ice Hotel, and, of course, the northern lights, Cappadocia in Turkey to see the fairy chimneys, Spain to do the flamenco and salsa (both of which I've only managed to learn the first levels of), Germany for the Christmas markets, and many, many more. But for now, I have to satiate my appetite with the hope of getting time off to escape into my travel fantasy. However, you on the other hand can look forward to many posts to come, updating you on the goings-on of the travel world. From news updates to travelogues, there is a lot to come.

Until then, à bientôt

Thursday, 23 August 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: You can now select your flight partner with AirBaltic’s Seat Buddy system

Every time we travel by flight alone, we secretly hope to sit next to a cute guy/girl or an interesting conversationalist to make the long hours feel shorter. But if experience is any indicator, you’ll find yourself sitting next to that noisy fellow or an annoying cranky kid or worse, an uninteresting talkative person. And suddenly, the long hours seem endless.

However, we have reason to rejoice! Latvian airline airBaltic has introduced a first-of-a-kind intriguing feature called SeatBuddy that pairs like-minded travellers. This free service aims at finding you a partner that is in the same ‘flight mood’ as you. Potential matches will be asked questions that range from ‘Do you snore?’ to ‘Will you be accompanied by bratty children?’ to suit your needs. And if you’re the kind of traveller that enjoys his/her peace and quiet and has no intention of interacting with anyone, don’t fret, as this innovative service can find you a suitable partner that will let you be.

There are four moods to choose from: business talk, easy chat, talk and relax. So if you want to focus on networking, select the ‘business talk’ option and if you simply want to have a casual conversation with someone, tick the ‘easy chat’ option. This is an optional service that caters to both sociable and non-sociable air travellers. However, the only drawback is that passengers will not be able to ban anybody from sitting next to them. But after all, there is always a surprise element here as you won’t know who you’d end up sitting next to, even though you have an idea of the kind of person you’d like to spend that time with.
You never know who you might meet :)

For more details, click here.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: Your Holiday Wash service

As much as I love travelling, there are some mundane chores I’d rather avoid on a trip. And laundry certainly tops the list (for me, packing and re-packing comes a close second). Personally, I avoid doing laundry for as long as I can manage to. But unfortunately, it’s avoidable only on shorter trips; any long trip demands a visit to the laundry every now and then. Seeing travellers dread, well, clean clothes, a unique new laundry service was recently launched in the UK called Your Holiday Wash. So if you live in the UK or are visiting, you can avail of this service for £49.90. A call or an email later, they collect, wash, dry, iron and return your holiday laundry—all prim and proper, folded in a box—and return it to your doorstep. It comes ready to be packed up.

For more information, check their Facebook page.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS: A Sweden hotel that trades art for rooms

If you’re a struggling artist and a backpacker who can’t afford a swanky hotel stay, then here is some good news for you. You can now use your artworks in exchange for a stay at The Clarion Hotel Stockholm, Sweden. And you will want to, when you realise that some such rooms start at US$125 per night!

Equivalent to actual currency, the hotel’s ‘Room for Art’ policy allows its creative guests to pay for their stay with an original, signed work of art. This unique offer is the brainchild of general manager Marcus Majewski, who was inspired by his artist father’s past, when he paid with art for a room at the legendary Chelsea Hotel, New York in the 1970s, which was known for residing upcoming artists between the 1960s to the 1980s. In addition, the hotel often collaborates with artists and musicians to host art gallery showings and performances. They even an in-house art consultant who provides art tours upon request. So far, almost 50 guests have paid for their lodging with art. No surprise there!

P.S. Keep in mind that this offer is valid based on maximum two-person occupancy per double room for one night per stay. The offer can also be taken advantage of maximum two times per person, per year.

A note to the artists: The artworks must be signed by the artist, and are limited to A4 size. This must be submitted upon arrival with a ‘Room for Art’ form available via the hotel's website. Read more or to submit your work, click here.

Address: Ringvägen 98, Box 20025, 104 60 Stockholm
Tel: 46 8 462 10 00;

                                       Courtesy: Clarion Hotel Stockholm

Monday, 20 August 2012

TRAVEL TIDBITS - Segway tours start in New Delhi

Segway PT (personal transporter) tours are a common phenomenon in many European and American cities. A two-wheeler, battery-operated electric vehicle, a Segway is one of the most relaxing and refreshing ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Bird Travels, a tourism company based in New Delhi, recently began Segway tours in India. Tourists and locals alike can now explore the country’s capital on this unusual two-wheeler. It currently operates from the Secretariat building till India Gate covering the following heritage spots:
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • Parliament
  • The Ministry buildings located at Rajpath
  • Amar Jawan Jyoti
  • India Gate

The tour lasts for 45 minutes and is limited to groups of six at a time. Mandatory safety provisions are made by ensuring every tourist is given helmets and safety gear, such as elbow and knee pads, and a brief training session precedes the tour.

For more information
, call (+91) 124 4610666/3322052 or log on to or email them on

Before you book, here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Children under 12 are not recommended for the tour.
  • The Segway PT is appropriate for those weighing more than 45 kg and not exceeding 100 kg.
  • Segway rentals are possible. Simply email them with your request and they can arrange them for you.
  • They also offer private group tours, and can arrange for corporate tours. A drop-off and pick-up of the Segways as well as a guide to assist with training, information and support throughout the event is also provided.


The usual, the unusual, the simple and the quirky, now get the latest news and tips in the world of travel on with its new section: Travel Tidbits.

Photo by Jessica Tam via

Coming up: Segway Tours start in New Delhi

Thursday, 19 July 2012

An armchair tour of Jungfraujoch

If in Switzerland, don’t leave without a visit to Jungfraujoch, The Top of Europe. Join me on an armchair tour to Jungfraujoch via a spectacular ride aboard the historic Jungfrau rail.

It began with a leisurely stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse, on the eastern side of the Höheweg in Interlaken. I immensely relished my morning coffee from Tchibo on a warm, sunny day. But the intimate moment with my coffee was short-lived as I had to dash to Interlaken Ost Station with 10 minutes left to catch the train to Kleine Scheidegg. Without a dramatic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge train moment, I comfortably found my seat. Almost instantly, my camera-wielding hand got into action and began capturing the scenic splendour Switzerland is known for. Verdant meadows, quaint wooden chalets and meandering streams, all flanked by magnanimous mountains and lush foliage, filled much of my pictorial frames. As the train chugged along, the landscapes transformed into a series of thick, white blankets laid upon jagged mountain peaks. Soon, I spotted bright orange ski lifts, whose cheery riders began waving down at me. The Jungfrau region truly is a skier’s delight.

The Top of Europe
We made a stopover at Kleine Scheidegg to hop onto the cogwheel rail that would take me to Jungfraujoch. Curiously, the Jungfraujoch, at 3454m, is Europe’s highest-altitude railway station in a world of rock, ice and snow. The 50-minute train ride comprised nine kilometres, climbing a height difference of 1,400m. For seven of the nine kilometres, we passed through a tunnel hewn in the Eiger and Mönch rock. The train stops for five minutes at both the intermediate stations, the Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) and Eismeer (Sea of Ice), where we got the opportunity to step out and marvel at the fascinating snow-clad mountain range through large windows. What particularly impressed me were the presence of clean washrooms and drinking water at each of the stops, in spite of the incredulous altitude they were located at.

As we approached Jungfraujoch, the temperature began to drop; calling for gloves and mufflers that were eventually not warm enough. Once at Jungfraujoch, I headed off to see the Ice Palace. Created in 1934 by two mountain guides from Wengen and Grindelwald, the Ice Palace extends over nearly 1,000sqm and is located some 20m below the Aletsch Glacier. Completely carved out of natural ice, the hall comprises a vaulted ceiling, imposing pillars and superb sculptures of wildlife and other exhibits, all shimmering in a light transparent blue. There is even an Ice Bar adjoining the palace, where we sampled the locally-brewed single malt whiskey. Next, we walked up to the Sphinx vantage terrace, where the Aletsch glacier lies directly at your feet. At 22km, this is the longest ice stream in the Alps and it is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch. I was told, in clear weather, views from the Sphinx extend to the neighbouring countries of France, Germany and Italy. I, unfortunately, wasn’t so lucky.

Chocolate and cheese
It was time to satiate my increasingly impatient appetite at the Crystal Restaurant. Surrounded by snow on the outside, I was seated in the cosy warmth of the cute little restaurant with red and white interiors. In a bid to utilise this opportunity to try Swiss favourites, I ordered the hugely popular cheese fondue, rösti (a Swiss dish made with roughly grated potato, either cooked or raw, sautéed on both sides until crisp and browned) and a medley of chocolate mousses (dark, milk and white variants) set on a beautifully decorated plate. After an immensely satisfying meal, I sat back and enjoyed the view over an aromatic espresso.

A beautifully plated chocolate mousse


It was so warm and cosy to stay indoors in the restaurant, as the cold was too harsh to bear; especially since I attempted to walk on the terrace of the building. Slipping and plonking on the snow seems like a lot of fun, but in reality I was freezing like crazy hell and my fingers were just numb! After spending an hour here, I just had to head back to Interlaken and soak in the sun. I may have felt like a frozen popsicle, but it was totally worth the trip!

Also @ Jungfrau:
  • Ski enthusiasts can choose from a variety of activities like the zip-line, children’s ski carpet, sledging and snowboarding.
  • You can also enjoy Indian cuisine at the Bollywood Restaurant at Jungfraujoch.
  • Jungfraujoch also houses a hotel, an observatory, a research station, a small cinema and a ski school.


Grindelwald First

First is the brand new excursion introduced very in 2003, travelling in a modern cable car from Grindelwald to First. This excursion is a special experience that includes beautiful botanical, flower and wildlife trails as well as Lake Bachalpsee, a glorious Alpine gem.
  • First Flieger: Take an intoxicating ride on the new First Flieger. The First Flyer gives four people the chance to simultaneously yet independently glide through the air on a length of cable about 800m long, at speeds of up to 84km/h. An adrenaline kick is guaranteed! It’s the only one of its kind in Europe  

Trotti biking: The trendiest means of transport. Pick a scooter bike from Bort and travel downhill for a thrilling scooter run experience.

Paragliding: Enjoy a paragliding experience along with the company of an experienced pilot and swoop through the majestic world of mountains and glaciers.

Harder Kulm
Harder Kulm, Interlaken's ‘own mountain’, by the red funicular takes only ten minutes to reach. Take a journey by the funicular in the most modern panorama carriages. It offers superb scenic sights of mountains, lakes and valleys; a glorious garden terrace; a restaurant; a wildlife park and children's park.

Please note: Most of the photographs here are sent from Switzerland and Jungfraujoch Tourism

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Rare ingredients from around the world

There are some food items that are only available in certain regions of the world. So, while you head out on your next trip, make sure you pick these rare foods that are as special and the destination itself:

Iberico de Bellota Ham
Where: Spain
Why: Alternatively called pata negra, ibérico (Iberian ham) is a type of cured ham, produced mostly in Spain. Known to be the original swine of Spain, the ibérico pig is big and black with slender legs and a long snout. They are also fatter animals, with veins of fat running through the muscle, allowing the ibérico hams to be cured for longer duration. This results in a much more intense flavour with a unique note of sweetness. But what makes this ham really special is the bellota (acorns) that the pigs graze upon in the Spanish oak forests. Ibérico de Bellota can cost twice as much as a normal ibérico ham, as it makes for exquisitely marbled raw material packed with natural antioxidants—a key ingredient for extended curing of the ham.

What: Single-origin chocolates
Where: Switzerland
Why: Essentially, single origin chocolate is chocolate made from beans from one region, sometimes even from one farm. They bear the distinctive nature of their country of origin, extending a typical rare quality in them. With the advent of single origin chocolate, comes the idea of blending varieties of single origin chocolate to produce superior chocolate. Switzerland's Felchlin and Durig bring together some of the world's finest and rarest chocolate, all from single-source estates and using the world's finest cacao. While most dark chocolates are blended to create a repeatable flavour, all of their single-origin chocolates boast the distinctive nature of their country of inception.

What: Poulet de Bresse
Where: France
Why: The Poulet de Bresse is a breed of chicken that originates from the Bresse area of the Rhône-Alpes region of France. It is favoured for their juicy, tender flesh and risqué flavour. Known to be a premium product, top chefs of the likes of Gordon Ramsey have imported poulet de Bresse from France for anything between £20 and £40 a bird. These special birds are so exclusive that they come with their own individual birth certificates and they cook more like guinea fowl because of their peculiar structure.

What: Argan oil
Where: Morocco
Why: Produced from the kernels of the argan tree, native to Morocco, argan oil is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and medicinal properties. Now an endangered and protected tree, it is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions of south-western Morocco. Argan oil has been used by the locals of Morocco for centuries for its traditional quality of a food supplement, best known for its nutritional value of Vitamin E and some essential fatty acids.
It is also said to have restorative and age-defying properties, making it one of the most helpful anti-aging cosmetics in the oil-based product industry. It is also said to relieve or act as a remedy for skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, eczema acne and even wrinkles owing to its vitamin and mineral content.

What: Caciocavallo Podolico cheese
Where: Italy
Why: Drawing its name from the Podolico cows, the only breed native to southern Italy, the Caciocavallo Podolico cheese is not only the rarest, but also the most expensive in the world. It is the only cheese in Italy which cannot be industrially produced. Podolico cows—free range cattle that roam the woods and forests of the Lucanian Mountains—only provide milk in May and June, thus making the processing of Polodico cheese very labour-intensive. The cows’ mountain diet of nettles, blueberries, rosehips, hawthorn, cornelian cherries, juniper and wild strawberries can also be tasted in this cheese. Only one kilo of Caciocavallo Podolico is produced in comparison to million kilos of mozzarella cheese that is produced in the south of Italy.

What: Saffron
Where: India
Why: Being the costliest spice in the world, the demand for good quality saffron is fairly high. The much coveted Kashmiri ‘mongra’ or ‘lacha’ saffron is among the most difficult to obtain. This dark maroon-purple coloured saffron is probably the darkest variant in the world, suggesting intense flavour and aroma. In Kashmir, it is only the karevas of Pampore and the Kishtwar valley in Jammu province that provide the suitable climate for the growth of this rare spice. This region prominently uses saffron for their Saffron Kahwa; a traditional beverage that marks all celebratory occasions.

—Expert inputs bys Chef Clinton Cooper, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai

*These pictures are for representational purposes only.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Molecular Mixology

El Bulli pioneered the concept of molecular gastronomy that has seen worldwide popularity. But how much do you know about molecular mixology? Read on to find out how to experiment with your cocktails using this technique

The concept
Molecular Mixology is a special practice of mixing drinks using scientific analysis and techniques to understand and experiment with cocktail ingredients on a molecular level. Inspired by the practice of molecular gastronomy (which works in a similar way with food dishes, wherein the dish is completely deconstructed into different elements, but tasting it together retains its original state) this practice has become a popular study of many mixologists. “It is very interesting from the research point of view, and really opens up a new era for cocktail making,” informs Richard Lambert, Cointreau’s Global Brand Ambassador. Through this method, one can create a wide variety of flavours, unique combinations and attractive presentation. You can try gels, powders, foams and even atomised sprays.

How it works
“We, for example, transform fruit juices into foams by thickening its texture using yeast and then carbonate to spray them on shots of different flavours. Another practice is to create little fruit caviar balls, which we add to our drinks. There are limitations when it comes to technique, but the opportunities are endless when it comes to what we can do with the flavours,” explains Lakhan Jethani, owner of I BAR.

Enter: India
Jethani is one of the first few to introduce this concept in his interactive bar and lounge. He says, “The concept is big abroad and has been around for quite some time. Now that people are more open to newer things here in India, with the bar culture changing, I feel that it will be well accepted now.” And he couldn’t be more accurate, as the feedback from his guests has been very positive. “They simply love the way the cocktails and shots taste, and appreciate the surprise element when they have it for the first time. People are open to suggestions and trying new flavours. Especially the women; they love the foam shots in innovative and fruity flavours.”

On his recent visit to India, Lambert was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response he received from the bartenders and mixologists in India. “More and more bartending professionals understand the importance of blending cocktails and trying new techniques. It was an eye opening experience.”

Signature cocktail
“I have always enjoyed mixing cocktails, but creating a cocktail for Ms. Dita Von Teese was a memorable moment for me. While creating the cocktail, I kept in mind Dita’s sumptuous and seductive image of controversial Ambassadress and burlesque artiste. It resulted in Cointreau Teese. She adores violets, so this flower stood out as the obvious choice. Like her, this drink is subtle and incredibly refined.


Pour into a shaker with ice:
  • 50ml (1.6 fl oz) Cointreau
  • 30ml (1 fl oz) Cranberry juice
  • 20ml (0.6 fl oz) Lemon juice

Shake and strain into a martini glass.

The bartender's tip: add the orange zest to your drink.

•    One can add different ingredients like fruits and spices, and it tastes even better.

Recipe courtesy: Cointreau

- Featured in Time 'n Style Luxury magazine's December 2011 issue, with inputs from my  colleague Alisha Fernandes

Thursday, 21 June 2012

5 websites that can help you save money in New York

Isn’t that the dream? Well, they may not find you free lodging, but they offer a comprehensive list of events in the city that are either free or almost free of charge. Their list of events are quite impressive: invitation to see a collection of short films, wine tastings, movie screenings, special giveaways at bakeries and cafes, massages, a spot in the audience of an MTV show, Broadway show tickets, auditions to dazzle the audience with your comic capers at the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and if you’re lucky, you could even meet James Cameron, John Cusack or Matt Bomer. I had you at free, didn’t I?

They are also on Twitter: @LivingfreeNYC

Want to be in the audience on The Bill Cunningham Show

With more than 40 million visitors every year, and innumerable stores, restaurants, cafes and bars, the iconic illuminated signs and life-size billboards that are the area is known for, Times Square is undoubtedly one of New York’s busiest areas and a true tourist trap…I mean haven. In a bid to improve and promote Times Square and all the businesses that occupy the area, The Times Square Alliance was founded in 1992. It also manages the Times Square Visitor Center that is spread over 6,000 square feet and a free-entry mini-museum with unique exhibits that tell the story of Times Square. Sign up for their newsletter and get regular updates on the latest news, varied exhibits, performances, sale announcements, hotels and restaurants discounts, free yoga classes, and many more fun events. 

They are also on Twitter: @TimesSquareNYC

If you’re visiting New York, don’t leave without seeing a Broadway musical. This past December and January drew huge crowds with musicals that featured Hugh Jackman, Daniel Radcliffe and Bradley Cooper. But the tickets are rather pricey. On my visit in December, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway was playing and the prices went up to $350. However, being on a tiny budget, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford great seats. But I really wanted to see a Broadway musical nonetheless. So, I tried for discounted tickets. Although the seats were way at the back, I managed to get tickets for a musical called Memphis for a mere $25. It was truly a steal!

Aside from Broadway show tickets, the website also offers great discounts on TV shows tapings, parking (which is rather expensive in USA; a minimum of $10-20 an hour), restaurants, and New York City sightseeing tours. Subscribe to their email newsletters to get regular listings on latest restaurants, articles on TV programs such as The Late Show with David Letterman and The Today Show, and tips on exploring NYC while saving substantially.

They are also on Twitter: @nytix. They are not active at all though, so it’s best to subscribe to their newsletter.

The stage afire during the Memphis musical

The problem with a popular touristy destination is the unavoidable queue when sightseeing. Even the offbeat traveller will want to get up onto Empire State building or check out the iconic Statue of Liberty. The CityPASS is an effective way to ditch that queue (at least a huge chunk of it). In a nutshell, the CityPASS (also available in several cities across USA) is a compilation of admission tickets to New York’s top 6 attractions. The booklet includes detailed information, such as the timings, location, tips and a mini map, of the chosen attractions. It is valid for 9 days from the first day of use. But make sure you DO NOT tear out any of the passes from the booklet. This is one of their main rules, as renders it unusable. You can pick it up at any of the below-mentioned attractions, have it sent to you or print it out from their website.

The selected attractions are the Empire State Building with admission to the 86th Floor Observatory, The Metropolitan Museum of Art with a $1 off of audio tour should you choose to purchase it, general admission to the Guggenheim Museum, general admission to MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) general admission to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the 30 Rockefeller Plaza, general admission to the Statue of Liberty (the pass doesn’t include tickets to walk up to the crown or to enter the pedestal or museum) and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum via a ferry ride taken either from Battery Park in NYC or Liberty Park in New Jersey, and a Circle Line Cruise, which includes one regularly scheduled 2-hour Semi-Circle Cruise, 2-hour Harbor Lights Cruise, or 75-minute Liberty Cruise, all of which offer magnificent views of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

The cost: $89 for adults, $64 for young ones between the ages of 6-17 years

Fair warning: Don’t expect to simply walk right in at any of these sites. A short queue is inevitable even in off-season as NYC sees millions of tourists every year. So there may be a short line, but be rest assured it will be quicker to get in with the CityPASS.

They are also on Twitter: @CityPASS

New York is notorious for its designer shopping and the uber famous 5th Avenue with its unaffordable couture stores. I was looking for a formal outfit to wear to the Golden Globes 2012. It’s a lot of pressure to make sure you’re at least remotely able to match up to the room-full of celebrities I would be around. But seeing how expensive the outfits were, not even close to a possible budget, my friend Arathi suggested It allows you to rent chic designer fashion at extremely affordable prices; be it apparel, jewellery or accessories. And that’s not all. It has some great features that make it user-friendly.

The categories are numerous—the divisions are as per colour, type of outfit, etc.—making it easier for you to navigate. All outfits come with suggestions of accessories that match, and a list of size options. The one thing that worried me was the fit. I wanted to be sure the size I order for fits perfectly, otherwise it would be a complete disaster on the day of the event. To make things easier, they offer you 2 sizes so that if one doesn’t fit, the other will. In addition, you can speak to their stylists, either on the website’s Live Chat or via email, and send them your measurements so that they can suggest the right size for you. I consulted the stylists and their size estimation was perfect. It’s really easy to return as well. You don’t have to wash/dry clean; simply return the outfit in the package it came in and that is it! Their only drawback is that they don’t have shoes.

Quick tip: Check out the availability of the outfit you like and order it on time; especially during festive occasions. I waited a few days and lost out on a great gown due to unavailability!

They are also on Twitter: @RentTheRunway    

Want more on New York? Check out these posts:

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Singaporean desserts

Consumed by locals in Singapore, these unique desserts are nothing like you’ve ever had before. From aloe vera jelly to black rice, these unusual delicacies give a new meaning to our common understanding of the word 'desserts'. But it sure is worth a shot. Do share your thoughts if you have already tried any of these or if you'd like to.

Refreshing ice jelly with aloe vera and lime juice – Surprised? Well, you are sure to be once you taste this. Made from actual aloe vera pulp, this watery ice jelly just melts in the mouth. It is light and truly refreshing.

Chilled cream of mango with sago pearls, pomelo and lime sorbet - A refreshing concoction of mango puree and pomelo, this yummy dessert is served with lime sorbet. Prepared with perfection, this dessert has a beautiful blend of flavours that play a subtle medley in your mouth.

Bubur Pulut Hitam with coconut ice cream – A very popular dessert, this sweet delicacy is prepared with black glutinous rice, lightly salted coconut cream and palm sugar porridge, served with coconut ice cream. An intriguing mix of textures and tastes, this dessert is sure to take you by surprise.

Bubor ChaCha – Known to be a Singaporean favourite, this medley of sweet potatoes, yam (taro) and coloured tapioca pearls in the form of solid, jelly-like squares, cooked in sweet coconut milk offers an unusual taste. Even though it may seem like it doesn’t suit the Indian palate, it is interesting to experiment with this unique dessert.

Coconut Or Nee - A traditional Teochew dessert prepared with warm yam paste, ginkgo nuts and coconut milk, it comes beautifully set in a cylindrically carved coconut. This thick, milky dessert is mildly sweet and goes well with the ginkgo nuts.

Location: India Jones, Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Featured in Youth Inc. magazine

Youth Inc. magazine did an article on bloggers in their February issue. Thanks to I found a humble mention in it.Here it is.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Adventure sports

Jump off a helicopter, a plane or a stone wall, take your appetite for adventure to absurd levels with these ultimate adventure sports.

Drive an Formula 1 car
Where: Las Vegas, France
How: If you have ever harboured a dream to some day drive an actual Formula One racing car, snap out of it, because it has been transferred to real time. A handful of driving schools in North America offer this inimitable experience of a lifetime. The beginner’s course starts with track initiation courses for first timers, where you accompany a skilled driver on board a two-seater Formula 1 car and feel the power of late braking, trajectory precision and acceleration. If you’re need for speed is not satiated, you can take it a notch higher and go for an advanced course that allows you to get into the cockpit of an F1 with the identical features of a World Championship model: V8 engine, telemetry, anti-skid system, etc. If you’re plain greedy and you have money that surpasses all boundaries, you could find yourself driving a genuine F1 V10 or the Peugeot 905—World Champion and winner of the 24-Hour endurance race at Le Mans—on the Paul Ricard HTTT Circuit, which has up until now only been available for private test drives. In all likelihood, you will first have to drive the F1 V8s before taking the wheel of one of the most powerful cars (780 hp) ever made available on a driving course: PROST, ARROWS or PEUGEOT 905, all three powered by their original V10 engines in racing configuration. And if these courses seem too daunting for your taste, you can opt for customised courses that are tweaked to fulfil your unique requirements. Some schools even offer courses for team building exercises and seminars. You can also avail of a range of additional services such as photo shoots, conference rooms and a heliport. So much for wishful thinking eh?
Cost: $4,000 onwards
For more information: In Las Vegas and France

J Weccardt for Stock Xchng

What: Bungee jumping
Where: 007 Bungy Jumping Center, Ticino, Switzerland
How: For the most thrilling, heart-in-the-mouth 7 ½ seconds of your life, try bungee jumping from the highest point in the world. At 722 feet, the jump along the wall of the Verzasca dam in Switzerland is the ultimate adventure. Alternatively called the Golden Eye Jump, it has been lodged in history and entertainment journals alike for being James Bond’s jump. Pierce Brosnan took the plunge while filming the hit flick, and here’s your chance to relive a historic moment. I bet you’re getting goose bumps just reading this.
Cost: It costs €170 the first time, and is half price if you do it again on the same day.
For more information: Trekking Team

Roli Seeger for Stock Xchng

What: Heli-skiing
Where: Nepal, Himachal Pradesh, Greece
How: If you’re bored of plain ‘ol skiing, jump off a helicopter. With a promise of a scream-worthy moment of pure exhilaration, Heli-skiing adds that little edge to an already adventurous sport. Instead of a ski lift, tour organisers transport the skiers via a helicopter to remote slopes for downhill skiing. If you’re a seasoned skier, this is a welcome challenge. What elevates the experience is that it allows you to choose your terrain and preferred conditions. This particularly works well for people who are not keen on hiking into certain areas, as done in ski mountaineering or ski touring. Aside from the time the hiking consumes, it can also be immensely tiring, especially because you would then be carrying all your gear along as well. One of the prime requirements, apart from good physical fitness, is intermediate training in skiing. It’s important you do a number of ski runs before taking this up, as ski resort terrains are often altered to enable fun ski rides for skiers on vacation. It is recommended you choose a licensed heli-skiing operator and take an experienced guide along, as it’s an extreme sport and appropriate caution must be taken.
Cost: €5,500 onwards
For more information: Heliski Nepal; Himachal Heli Adventures

By Craig Calonica
What: Skydiving
Where: Gujarat, Nepal
How: Jumping off an airplane and free-falling at 120 miles an hour from an altitude of at least 10,000 feet instills an adrenaline rush that is unmatchable by any other adventure sport. But it is the feeling of floating mixed with the rush of air against your face that makes you feel free as a bird. With the exception of going back up in the air, a skydiver can perform an assortment of aerial manoeuvres before deploying a parachute to slow their descent. What elevates the experience further is the otherwise elusive 360 degree view of the Earth below that you are privy to only when seated in an airplane; that too has its limitations. For a first-time skydiver, the tandem jump is ideal. It involves jumping out of the plane while attached via a harness to an instructor who wears a parachute big enough for two people. Since it requires marginal training, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride, while the instructor handles the technical details of the dive. So, if you’re prepared to experience a moment that is both terrifying and exhilarating, take the plunge!
Cost: Rs. 10,000-20,000
For more information: Indian Sky Jumpers