ANYTIME GUP-SHUPS

Day Trip To Bhoodan Pochampally (Hyderabad, India)

Bhoodan Pochampally, located around 100 kms from Hyderabad (very close to Ramoji Film City), is the birthplace of Pochampally Ikkat Silk Sarees. Pochampally Ikkat Silk Sarees are famous for its intricate designs using bright coloured dyes.

Being so close to Hyderabad it makes a perfect place for a day trip. The trip is a mix of driving on ORR and village roads, knowing your heritage of making pochampally sarees and a great shopping spree.

We started from Hyderabad after having a heavy breakfast of idli, dosas and vadas at around 10:30am. You hit the ORR and drive towards Ramoji Film City, after crossing Ramoji there is a left turn for Pochampally village. Google maps will take you upto the village and you will see small hoardings welcoming you to Bhoodan Pochampally Industry run by government. At this point it is better to ask locals for the way towards industry which hidden amidst the village and literally fails google maps.

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Hanging Weaver Bird’s Nest On Way  

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Green Rice Fields On Way

On reaching the industry you will be welcomed by industry run shopping complex first but please hold on and go further to explore the industry first! I had always admired pochampally sarees but when I took a round inside the industry and saw how people are actually making that wonderful piece of fabric, the love for the fabric multiplied multiple times.

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The industry is a wonderful place to see how the threads are sorted out, dyed, designed and knitted into a fabric. You will see young and old, ladies and men working in group and alone. We had a chance to meet the Marketing Manager there and he also showed us how designs are first made on a piece of graph and then the entire process goes on. It a unique experience to be there.

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Dyeing Threads

After the industry visit it was time for shopping. The industry shopping complex had wonderful products on display ranging from pochampally silk and cotton sarees, fabrics for kurtis and shirts, ikkat print bags and accessories etc. You name it and you have it!

Well my shopping soul was still not satisfied and we decided to explore the local weaver’s shops as well. The prices here are surprisingly low and there is a scope of little bargaining is you are purchasing in bulk. Weavers had not only pochampally ikkat silk and cotton varieties but also a Andhra special Kalamkari print fabric in cotton and silk.

Not to mention but I did a lot and lot of shopping there. Thankfully most of them accept cards. There are few bank atms but they did not work for us due to network issues in the village at that point of time. It is advisable to carry your own food and water as the village as no such options except fresh coconut water and roasted corns. The nearest food options are available near Ramoji only. Thankfully we had enough of idilis and dosas.

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Things I Did In Mumbai !

Dreams do come true! That’s what I have always believe in and this is what happens with me. Not boasting my luck just sharing a spirit of mini happiness. Happiness of a childhood dream coming true although partially true.

Oh yes! Finally been to Mumbai and saw my favourite SRK’s home: “Mannat”. Mission accomplished halfway. Now the target is meeting him in person and I will soon achieve this too.

I was in Mumbai for a day only. It’s too short time to visit this wonderful city. People like me who are visiting Mumbai for first time, do remember the travelling time is too long and you have to cover a long roads to explore the city. So my suggestion will be start as early as you can. I started my day with Siddhivinayak Temple, then Mahalakshmi Temple and thereafter Haji Ali Dargah.

After my visit to Haji Ali Dargah, it was almost noon and the sun was shining bright. So I decided to sit inside the car and take a tour of our favourite flimstar bunglows in Mumbai. Obviously I started with Mannat. I wish I could enter any one of those huge mansions or get a glimpse of anyone. But unfortunately neither happened.

Thereafter, I moved towards the famous Juhu Beach which was crowded more than my expectations. I clicked few pictures and had some vada pav from street vendors. I will tell my fellow travelers please check the spice level. I had one ice cream and a bottle of water to control the hotness of a single vada pav! Thereafter I moved to Colaba Street. A must visit for the shopaholics. I just bought and bought till I felt hungry and then went on to enjoy a pasta and a drink at Leopold Café.

After regaining myself, I moved to visit the iconic Gateway of India and a spectacular view of Taj Mahal hotel from there. The glamour and aura with which the Taj stands there is spectacular. The night view with glittering lights is amazing. There are many horse driven caravans on the roads for those who want to enjoy it differently. But I preferred to move towards Nariman Point and Marine Drive. When I reached at Marine drive the only wish was to hold those cold breeze from the sea and the passing time. Unfortunately none of them waits for anyone! From there it was almost 11 pm in the night and thank god it’s Mumbai so I did not worry about my dinner and went to Trishna – another gem in restaurant category. I will suggest to try the prawn biryani there. I was staying near airport and thus while cruising the city entire day, I had crossed the recent Bandra Worli Sea link. It’s a testimony of manmade wonders. Finally, I ended my marathon of Mumbai darshan with a hope to visit this city again and meet SRK.

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Kerala : From Hills To Sea

Kerala was on my travel list from a long time and finally we managed to tick mark the place partially by covering Munnar, Thekkady , Alleppey Backwaters and Kochi.

Kerala is known for its beautiful landscape ranging from hills to backwaters to sea and no doubt it truly lives to its title – “Gods Own Country”. Everything is so beautiful and pure that can hardly be found anywhere else in this world. Far away from noisy sound and smokey air, the pristine land of Kerala brings you close to nature.

We started our 5 day trip from Hyderabad to Kochi. The plan was to reach Kochi by air and then directly head towards Munnar – the Tea Capital of India. It took us around 3-4 hours to drive from Kochi airport to Munnar. On our way to Munnar , we saw the majestic Cheeyappara Waterfalls. Thereafter we visited a spice plantation garden and saw how the famous Indian spices are actually grown and processed. It was a great experience ! By this time it was already dark and we retired to our homestay.

cheeyappara-waterfalls

CHEEYAPPARA WATERFALL

Next day we had planned for sightseeing in Munnar and nearby. The specialty of Munnar is its lush green Tea Garden. The first sight of tea garden was mesmerizing! It was an amazing amalgamation of nature and man’s hard work. As we ascended over the hills the view was getting better to best.The lush green tea garden , the blue sky and the white mist in between was a heavenly experience. There are many water dams, water falls, rose garden on the way to top of the hill where we stopped and clicked hundreds of pictures. My best stop was at Tata Tea Museum which showed us a documentary of Munnar’s history and processing of Tea (from leaves to tea packets). I bought variety of green tea and black tea from the museum shop. This brought an unwilling end to our Munnar visit.

Third day, our next destination was Thekkady. Thekkady is known for Periyar lake and national forest. After a 3 hours drive through the tea  garden and thick green forest we reached Thekkady. There are many spice plantation garden on the way. We had only one day in Thekkady, so we did the famous Periyar Lake Boating, an Elephant Ride, few hours of relaxing Ayurvedic Spa at Shantigiri and an evening show of Kathakali.

On fouth day, we started for our houseboat stay at Alleppey Backwaters. Alleppey is around 4 hours drive from Thekkady. We spent an entire day on houseboat which was an unique and memorable experience. The boat did a cruise in backwaters of  Alleppey where we could see the natural flora and fauna and city settlement on the banks. Looking at people using boat instead of car and bike for their day to day activities was an experience of a kind. In houseboat we were served the traditional Kerala food.

The final day was for Kochi. It took us around 2 hours to reach Kochi from Alleppey. In Kochi we visited the Dutch Palace , Jewish Synagogue, the Chinese Fishing Nets at Kochi Beach, St. Francis Church and ended our day with the sunset at Marine Drive.

With these beautiful experiences we ended our trip to Kerala. The memories we made there will be cherished by us forever.

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends.

But is played out over and over again in the quietest chamber.

The mind can never break off from the journey

–Pat Conray 

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Stockholm In 48 Hours !

Stockholm in summer 2015

Stockholm in summer 2015

Stockholm – the most beautiful capital in the world is a group of island in Baltic sea. The blue water gushing over the lush green city and colourful buildings beside the banks hold lots of beauty and history. The charm of this city can entice anyone forever but I had only 48 hours!

So first thing I bought was my Stockholm Card for 2 days. This made all my travel (within the city) and visit to any attraction absolutely free and convenient. I did not have to stand in ticket queue and saved around 15-20 minutes at each attraction.This Stockholm Card is valid for 48 hours and not 2 days, which means the moment the card is swiped first, 48 hours begin from there.

The city becomes more vibrant and colourful in summers because of the daylight till 9 pm. Most of the museum timings are increased and there is ample amount of time to walk around the city. To maximise the utililisation of my Stockholm Card, I started on Friday evening with the Royal Canal Tour at Stromkajen. The cruise took me around the city showing me The Royal Palace, other historic places, museums , city parks etc. and this beautiful ride through the city was completed within 50 minutes. My next hop was to Moderna Museet which hosts a gallery of modern art. After this I hopped to Fotografiska in Slussen which was bit far away but was opens till 11 pm. This is a photography museum. Here I ended my first day in Stockholm.

Sunset from Fotografiska

Sunset from Fotografiska

The next day was mostly dedicated to the museums of the city. I started with the Stockholm City Hall where the guided tours begins from 9:30 am. This building is majorly used for royal or high dignitary parties and civil marriages. The view from top of the tower is a token of souvenir from the city. Then the next visit was to Sweden’s most cherished Vasa Museum – a ship that sailed for only 20 minutes! The guided tour of 30 minutes narrates the history of Vasa beautifully and tells why the ship holds so much of pride for Swedish citizen. Well, I enjoyed the 30 minute story of a shipwreck ! Both the story of the ship and the effort in it’s restoration is worth your time. From there , I walked upto Nordisk Museum. This is a museum which holds the history of Sweden and Europe from 15th century till today and shows how gradually things began to change with respect to culture, food, dressing , lifestyle, religious believes of the the people. The end of second day was at Skansen Museum which is an open air museum showing the living style of Scandinavian people.

Vasa Museum

Vasa Museum

Finally Sunday, the last day of my trip. This day, my first visit was to the famous Nobel Musuem which holds the history of Alfred Nobel , the man who invented Dynamite and founder of Nobel Awards. The only museum of its kind in the world, it cannot be missed at any cost if one happens to be in Stockholm. In later part of the day I submerged myself into the history of kings and queens of Sweden at Royal Palace in Gamla Stan. The major areas that I covered here were the Apartments, Treasury, Stone Statues and Tre Kronor Museum. The rest of the day I preferred walking and roaming around the streets of Gamla Stan which has lots and lots of souvenir shops, boutiques, ice cream parlours, restaurants, cafes etc. I found an Indian restaurant named Indiska. The food was awesome and a feeling to see a mini India in this foreign land doubled the joy.

Nobel Museum

Nobel Museum

My 48 hours were over and unwillingly I had to end here. But still I have a long list of museums and palaces in Stockholm and wish I get another 48 hours or more to complete the list soon.

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A Jungle Treat : Pench National Park

Summer has already begun in southern part of India. The best thing to do now is, to be at home and sip some cool drinks. But then a travel enthusiast always have a better plan to begin the summers. If you are staying in Hyderabad for a long time, you will also be in search of some awesome weekend getaways like me. Then here it is – Pench National Park! Pench is a Tiger Reserve situated about 600 kms from Hyderabad in Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of Pench river.

How To Get There ?

We took a train from Hyderabad to Nagpur on friday night. It takes about 8 hours by train. From Nagpur to Pench (Turia Gate) we drove, which took around 2-3 hours.  The other options will be fly till Nagpur Airport and then drive to Pench or a complete road trip to Pench. However, the road conditions are not so good to drive so long.

Things To Do ?

Madhya Pradesh Tourism organizes Jungle Safari here. There are three different timings for the safari and the bookings have to be made in advance. Only 20-30 vehicles (open jeeps) with a registered guide is allowed to enter during each time slot. The safari timings are :

  • Morning : 6:30 am to 10:30 am
  • Evening : 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • Night : 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Each safari costs around Rs 4000/- for Indian citizens. We took the evening and night safari. The morning and evening safari are conducted within the core forest and night safari is conducted in the buffer zone. I will suggest to avoid the night safari unless you want to experience the jungle in night. The reason being the night safari is conducted in buffer zone and chances of animal sighting are very less.

We were very lucky to spot one tiger, a tigress, elephants. lots of spotted dear , peacocks, rabbits, langoor, kingfisher bird, nilgai, jackals, bison, snake, fishes in the river and many more species of birds and butterflies.

Where To Stay ?

Luckily there are many resorts around the park which provide you luxurious staying options near the park. We stayed in Pench Jungle Camp which was 1-2 kms away from Turia Gate (Park Entrance Gate). It’s a beautiful 3 -star resort which provides food and stay package at a very nominal rate( Rs 6500 for stay in deluxe tent – 2 persons. Breakfast, Lunch, Evening tea and Dinner included. The food was awesome here 🙂 ). We had booked our safari, nagpur to pench drive and drop through them only. It was very convenient and hassle free. The prices are almost same everywhere and it was one of the best found and recommended.

This was a short break from the monotonous city life and a rich experience of staying and exploring the nature from so close. Experiencing wildlife in their natural habitat and wandering in lush green forest is an experience you will always remember and cherish.

Some Pictures from the trip :

Pench National Park Entrance - Turia Gate

Pench National Park Entrance – Turia Gate

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Flavours of GOA

Year 2014 has been a travel year for us. Now that its December, the Friday of the year and all the celebrations packed up in this month, we decided to have an add on and visit GOA. It’s surely a bliss to be there. The sun kissed beaches, water sports, churches, goan food, forts and the fun loving crowd makes for an ideal vacation package.

We took a flight to Dabolim International Airport, Goa. Thank god I was on the window seat, because what I saw and could capture through my mobile was amazing !

On The Way To Goa

On The Way To Goa

Our hotel was around 35 kms away from the Airport, so the only feasible option was to hire a taxi and drive down. We preferred to stay on the northern side of Goa which is the hub of water sports and closer to Old Goa. The southern side has more serene and quite beaches. After checking in hotel, we hired a bike and drove down to Anjuna Beach. Anjuna beach is a rocky beach. We climbed uneven rocks to get closer to the sea where waves washed our feet and cool breeze kissed our face. The perfect place to bid adieu to the glowing sun. Then we retired to the lazy shacks on the shores to taste some goan delicacy and stroll around the local market. After a while we moved towards Baga Beach which hosts some posh restaurants. After walking down the road we selected one which had live musical band. It is advisable to have prior reservation in these restaurants.

Next day was full of walking and trekking. We started with Aguada Fort –  an old Portuguese Fort near Sinquerim Beach overlooking the Arabian sea. The term ‘aguada’ in Portuguese means water reservoir. The view of Goan coastline from top of the fort are amazing. The fort has gained more popularity after shooting of Bollywood hits like Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On etc. So like others we also clicked photographs on those prime locations. After coming out of the fort we had the famous goan Kokum Soda drink and started for – Old Goa. On the way to Aguada Fort , there is a spot for boating and dolphin watching. We did not try that.

Old Goa is famous for World Heritage sites having churches and buildings which are more than 350 years old. The Se Cathedral Church and Bom Basilica Church situated on the either side of the main road showcases the best architectural genius of the time. There are old temples in Old Goa which are also worth visiting. Goa trip is not complete without visiting these churches.

The end of the day we decided to spent at Calangute Beach watching the sunset. There are many eateries and shops around. At night we went to famous Saturday Night Bazar near Arpora (organized between December – April) where local people sell goan tea, spices, cloths, souvinier etc. We bought some mint green tea and biryani masala. There are other night bazars as well organized on Friday and Wednesday near Baga Beach.

The last day of our trip was dedicated to water sports and sea beaches. The locals arrange the water sports package which consist of bumper ride, banana ride, water scooter and parasailing. I personally loved parasailing the most. In parasailing, they tie you with a parachute and you get to have a bird eye’s view of Goa. The view from above is simply amazing. Wish the day did not have come to an end and the fun would have continued.

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Walk In Vegas!

Amid the mountain ranges lies this human masterpiece of entertainment – LAS VEGAS !! This is a paradise for nightlife lovers. If you are planning to stick to Casinos and the Nightlife of Vegas, make your stay arrangements at or near The Strip where lies the heart of Vegas. Those who are interested in some day trips can visit Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam and other day excursions organised by the local travelling agents.

Start with the epic Fabulous Las Vegas Sign. Take some photographs as a souvenir from the trip. Move towards the Strip and gear up to wander on your foot. Here I literally mean you to gear up as you have to walk more than you have ever expected it to be. So girls, try to avoid heels. For the boys, you need not drape yourself in your suits unless you want to be in. Casuals are allowed inside the casinos. On the Strip follow your heart and go wherever it takes you. It’s Vegas, so do as you wish to. No one can tell you what will you like the most. Each casino will have its own special attraction which can only be discovered by going inside. The skyline filled with lights and music, crowded street and huge striking architecture of the casinos will take your breath away. The casino architectures are nothing less than an art in itself. Practically the entire world is here for you.Visit the famous pyramids of Egypt at Luxor, give a toast to your taste buds at the highest restaurant inside the Eiffle Tower, click your photo in front of Statue of Liberty, stroll around the miniature city of Paris and Newyork, walk in your dreamland at Ceasers Palace (Forum Shops), Bellagio (The Bellagio Fountain), Wynn, Excalibur, Cosmopolitan, MGM Grand. Most of them have spectacular shopping malls of all the brands you can think of, souvenir shops and food courts, Irish pubs, bars to take care of your appetite.

Don’t miss out on the road show performance done by the local people. Some of them are really spectacular and mind blowing. A kid’s dance tribute to Michael Jackson, someone signing his/her heart out for the crowd or someone just making an extraordinary painting in seconds, it all happens on the roads of Vegas and must not be missed out. People dressed up in famous movie characters of Hangover, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe roam around the streets and ready to click a photo with you for a dollar or two. If you are looking for some great shows and exhibitions going inside the casinos then try to have early ticket booking. You can check the show details here.

We always look out for Indian lunch buffets and were happy to find few here as well. So I will recommend: Mint Indian Bistro, Bombay Las Vegas Indian Cusine. There are ample number of restaurants having multiple cuisine, road-side food stalls so burp on anything you like to. 🙂

It took us two nights to hangout at the Strip only. In case you find yourself with some time left then go for the day tours or enjoy the nightlife in Fremont Street or Downtown Vegas.

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A Movie Plan

On a Sunday afternoon, this was the conversation in Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (Florida).

Flamingo 1 : It's boring man.  Flamingo 2: Let's go for a movie.  Flamingo 3: Hey! That's great idea. Let me call others.  Flamingo 4: Oh let me do some make-up. We are going out after a long time.  Rest of them: Yay Yay Yay ... a movie finally !!

Flamingo 1 : It’s so boring man!
Flamingo 2: Let’s go for a movie.
Flamingo 3: Hey! That’s great idea. Let me call others as well. Together we will have fun.
Flamingo 4: Oh let me do some make-up before we go. We are going out after a long time.
Rest of them: Yay Yay Yay … a movie finally !!

Croc 1: Flamingo called us for the movie. Let's go. Croc 2 and 3: Oh no..I don't want to . I feel so lazy. Let's just sleep.

Croc 1: Flamingo called us for the movie. Let’s go.
Croc 2: Oh no..I don’t want to . I feel so lazy. Let’s just sleep.

Penguin 1: There's a movie plan. Let's go. Rest of them follow.

Penguin 1: There’s a movie plan. Let’s go.
Rest of them just follow.

G 1 : Hey! Did you hear about the movie plan !! Should we go ? G 2: Which movie is it ? G 3: Let's go. It's been a long time  we have gone out.

G 1 : Hey! Did you hear about the movie plan !! Should we go ?
G 2: Which movie is it ?
G 3: Let’s go. It’s been a long time we have gone out. G 2: Ok. Let’s go.

G 1 : Hey we are going for a movie ! You wanna come?  E 1 : Oh that's great. I am coming with you.

G 1 : Hey we are going for a movie ! You wanna come?
E 1 : Oh that’s great. I am coming with you.

Zebra (thinking) : What the hell they are discussing !! No one is telling me !!

Zebra (thinking) : What are they discussing about !! No one is telling me !! Why ??

E 1 : Hey we are going for a movie, are you coming ?? Zebra: Oh it must be this movie plan they were discussing about (thinking). Yeah !! I will come.

E 1 : Hey we are going for a movie, are you coming ??
Zebra: Oh it must be this movie plan they were discussing about (thinking). Yeah !! I will come.

Bird 1: Others are going for a movie , do you want to join them? Bird 2: Oh my love ! Sure, let's go.

Bird 1: Others are going for a movie , do you want to join them?
Bird 2: Oh my love ! Sure, let’s go.

What the hell !! No one is calling me. I will not talk to them now.

What the hell !! No one is calling me. I will not talk to them now.

Wait guys !!! I am also coming.....

Wait guys !!! I am also coming…..

Then they all went for the movie and lived happily thereafter ……………………..  

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Two Places In Two Days

In my dreams, I envision a place. Staying 380 miles away from Los Angeles, we could not have missed it by any chance. Then any travel freak will tell you to add San Diego to the itinerary, if you are so close to it ! Yeah ! That’s what we also did – A Road Trip : Phoenix – Los Angeles- San Diego. We had two days to cover two places – Los Angeles and San Diego. 

Trip Advisor was surely a great help for us in shortlisting the places we must visit and places which can be skipped as of now. All of us have been recently to Orlando, Florida so we decide to skip on the most famous Universal Studio and Disneyland Adventure Park (If you have time, please make it there as well). 

Day 1 – Los Angeles 

We started early in the morning to cover all our attractions we had listed out. Almost all these attractions were in walking distance only.The first point was The Hollywood Walk of Fame which consists of five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks of a street with numerous restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and other attractions on sides. 

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

After walking around the street, clicking few pictures and sipping Starbucks we entered the famous Dolby Theater. This is the grand place which hosts the Oscars ! The feel of just getting into this grandeur was amazing. They provide a guided tour inside the theater to acquaint you with this lavish temple of Hollywood and narrate the history of Oscars. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside the theater, however they provide you with a postcard as a token of remembrance.   

Dolby Theater - Entrance

Dolby Theater – Entrance

From The Postcard - The Main Hall of Dolby Theater

From The Postcard – The Main Hall of Dolby Theater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this we decided to have our lunch in an Indian restaurant –Urban Masala and proceed further.

Now to Madame Tussauds ! Do I even need to tell anything..?? Just don’t try to forget your camera here. 

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CLICK -I

CLICK -I

 After this we went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual. There are many other such spots on the street which you can visit depending upon your time. After this, we drove to Beverly Hills where you can see California’s most opulent homes, hotels and personalities. Visitors flock to the Hills to experience the allure of Hollywood, world-class shopping, fine dining and of course star-gazing. The end point of the day was at Santa Monica Pier with the cool breeze of the sea and setting sun. You will find many restaurants, souvenir shops, street shows by local people.

Santa Monica Pier- I

Santa Monica Pier

DAY 2 – San Diego 

Next day also we started as early as possible from Los Angeles to San Diego. It was around 2 hours drive and we reached La Jolla Beach directly. One of the most pristine beach in San Diego. You can go for any water sports you wish to, we did Kayaking or just lay on the sparkling silver sand. Keep your eyes open, sea lions will also be resting on the silver sand. We found one following us while Kayaking. For those who want some shopping time can go to Prospect Road (adjacent to La Jolla) which is a paradise for shopaholics. You find awesome restaurants, cafes, ice parlours, shops on the street. We went to Taste of Himalayas.

La Jolla - I

La Jolla – I

 

La Jolla -II

La Jolla -II

 

 Then came the last and most exciting part of our trip – The Whale Watching. We had reserved our boat with Adventure RIB Rides and went for watching blue whales and dolphins. We were damn lucky and the captain was great. We saw 2 blue whales, 100’s of dolphins and sea lions ! This was the first time I was watching a real Blue Whale diving into the blue sea just 10-20 feet away from my boat! And the dolphins which I could have touched with my hands. It was magnificent. 

Blue Whale - Fin

Blue Whale – Fin

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Grand Canyon – The Painted Desert

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Grand Canyon is an assertion what wonders nature can do! More than 6000 ft deep and 300 miles long it captures almost 2 billion years old history in itself which has been exposed by a single stream of river – The Colorado River.

This picturesque landscape also stores lots of activities for its visitors. You can either go for a helicopter tour, river rafting, hiking, cycling, etc. or just enjoy the cool breeze and the great view like us. All the adventure activities requires a pre-planning and booking.

We preferred to drive from Phoenix to Grand Canyon – South Rim, which is open all round the year. I think driving is one of the best option as you get a chance to see all the scenic views on the way. There were big cactus plants, dwarf pines, hills, pine trees on way to Grand Canyon and all make your journey more beautiful.

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You have an option of stopping at Tusayan and taking free shuttle for Grand Canyon from IMAX Theater or driving upto Grand Canyon Visitor Center and then taking the free Park Shuttle Service. We preferred the other option so that we can drive upto Desert View Point also, which is not covered by shuttle service. The tickets are available at the park entrance only. Try to reach the park as early as possible because getting a parking place is very difficult.

From Grand Canyon Visitor Center we took a walk to Mather Point and there u see the first view of majestic Grand Canyon! Then you can take the free shuttle rides for Hermit Road (Red Bus Line) and Yavapai Road (Orange Bus Line). There are restaurants and rest points in between at various locations. Hermit Road is only accessible by park shuttle or cycles, private vehicles are not allowed. There are around 15 points where the shuttles will stop and you can go around those view points. Hopi Point is one of the best points as it gives you a 360° view. Look out for elks on the way, we found 3-4 moving around the forest.

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After completing the bus tours, we took a break at Grand Canyon Visitor Center and then started for Desert View Point which is about 25 miles from Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center. In between there are multiple view points and the drive through pine forests makes the journey more amazing. Reach Desert View Watchtower and climb to the top of the tower, hold your breath for sometime and see around, there is peace and a sense of achievement. The cool breeze and the view is surely going to make your day. We soon realised why is it called a painted desert. Each layer of rock is so strategically placed, it’s hard to believe that all this can happen naturally.  God has taken his own time to put a paint stroke and build the layers. It doesn’t deserve to be called as a desert, it’s a heaven .. a painted heaven !!

Unfortunately, it started raining just before the sunset otherwise I would suggest you to watch the sunset from here and complete your day. We decided to go to Flagstaff and have our dinner there. And on the way we found this:

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Till it got dark the place kept on amazing us by its beautiful landscape and if I get a chance again, I am sure to visit the place again.

There are restaurants in Tusayan as well but we were looking for an Indian Restaurant which are available either in Flagstaff or Sedona. People advised us to visit Sedona as well but we couldn’t make it there. If you want to stay then there are staying options available both inside the park and in Tusayan ( 7 miles away from the park). All the bookings for Grand Canyon National Park and Tusayan are done through http://www.xanterra.com or contact 888-297-2757.

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