for fellow travellers

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Road trip to Rajasthan

We started from Lucknow at around 8:10am for Jaipur. Though we had planned to start earlier. We had food packed, courtesy mom & dad with us so that we would not loose time for food.
The four of us enjoyed ourselves immensely, entertained by the lovely songs which were being played on Nalin, my son's iPod.
Enroute we crossed Ferozabad

We took the route via Agra. It took us around 8hrs to reach our destination and at 4:10 we had reached Hotel Ganguar

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gangtok 1st day sight seeing

In the morning we got up early and looked out from the balcony to behold a beautiful breathtaking scene. From all the three rooms, we occupied the view was fantastic.

We enjoyed tea on our balcony. And then went down for a leisurely breakfast, to the restaurant. At around 10:45am the taxi came for our one day local sightseeing in Gangtok. We got one Alto and one Wagon R for the day-trip, as SUVs are not allowed for local sightseeing in Gangtok. Our first stop was  Ganeshtok temple which wasn't far from our hotel.

After that we went to the Himalayan Zoological garden just opposite the Ganesh temple. And we really enjoyed ourselves there. It was a nice trek as well, as we walked from one huge enclosure to the other.

The red panda

The Tibetan wolf

A viewing tower which we did not climb, near the enclosure for the snow leopard.

There were refreshments available in the zoo and also toilet facilities were there at two places. Weekly off for the zoo is Thursday. The zoo is a must see.
We then proceeded to Tashi point, from where the Kanchenchunga peak is visible. As it was a cloudy day we just saw a few snow laden peaks. The children wore the local dress and we took pictures.

We had lunch at the restaurant near Tashi point. It was average fare. We had momos and chowmein and manchurian.
Next on the itinerary was a monastery, though we decided to forgo that and went on to see a waterfall.

Here Samya did some adventure activity at the waterfall.

From here we went to see the flower exhibition. It was drizzling by now. This was a lovely place to visit. The ambience was good and lovely flowers too

This photo some how misses the crowds that were present at this sightseeing point. It was really crowded. We also purchased some bulbs of these beautiful flowers.

After the flower exhibition we went for the ropeway which we could easily have missed.
The ropeway was no great experience and certainly not worth the one hour wait.

From here we went to the office of the person who was arranging this trip for us, for the balance payment and to give him the papers regarding issuance of permit for North Sikkim, photo ids etc

We requested the taxi driver to take us to the market as we had to purchase woollens for my son. The main market was closed that day, so he took us to another market, Lal Bazaar . The market was dirty but we found some good shops on the second floor. As we were short of time we shopped in a hurry. In one of the shops we left our handycam behind by mistake!!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Royal Demazong, Club Mahindra, Gangtok

We reached Gangtok by road from New Jalpaiguri, where we reached by rail on the Dibrugarh Rajdhani express, which goes via Lucknow, two days a week. We booked tickets from New Delhi to New Jalpaiguri and converted them to boarding from Lucknow. Return tickets were bought from Guwahati to Lucknow, boarding from New Jalpaiguri. 
I was travelling AC 1st class for the first time. The cabins were very good and we had a nice journey except that the train's engine developed some problem and had to be replaced hence our train was delayed by 2 hrs. The train which usually arrived early was delayed. We reached at 1:30pm

The road trip from the station (New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok) was around 125 km but it took us 6hrs. The road was in a bad condition and at one place, road construction activity held us back by 2hrs. Usually it takes around 4hrs to go from NJP to Gangtok, the road is not very good.

 Entrance to Sikkim

The Club Mahindra hotel in Gangtok was not seen on my map my india GPS map and neither was it correctly marked on the google map on the mobile.
We had arranged pick up from the station through Tamu travel and treks. We had to depend on the Taxi drivers. By the time we reached our destination it was 7:30pm.

Checking in to Club Mahindra was a breeze as usual. This property has been leased by Club Mahindra. Hence the hotel did not have that feel which we associate with a Club Mahindra property, but it was a comfortable stay and we enjoyed the food.

Our room
Activity centre
The activity centre was good. It had the provision of borrowing DVDs as well as books, Table Tennis and Carrom etc. Restaurant was pleasant.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Millenium Park, Chicago

Day 2 in Chicago, guess our biological clock was confused we were up at 2:30 am feeling rested and relaxed. So we started to do some net surfing and calling home as it was the best time to call India. We realized the phone which we had purchased did not have international calling. Shaleen purchased some Skype credit on the net and we called from that. As we usually take the pains to book our stay in hotels which provide wireless/wired Internet connectivity (it always comes in handy esp. in US). Then we had some tea and got ready and decided to go to the Millennium park walking from our place along the north shoreline drive.

On the way as it was pretty cold we decided to have some coffee and hence entered the Fox & Obel food market. It was the most fantastic food market I have seen till date. We took a large coffee and shared it and got fresh fruit tart packed and started on our way again. 

We loved the Millennium park esp. the Bean a sculpture made by Anish Kapoor. It is fascinating to look at. It looks like a drop of mercury.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dewitt Place, Chicago

We landed in Chicago at around 4pm on 20th October 2010. The aircraft was on time. Clearing the customs did not take a lot of time. Away we were in a taxi heading towards Dewitt place our residence for the next three days. Dewitt place had elaborate arrangements to prevent unauthorized entry into the building. A room key was required to enter the building. We changed and headed out We were living next to the  John Hancock building so after we purchased a net 10 set and phone connection from Best Buy in the Hancock building only we went  up to the observatory after purchasing the Chicago city pass.  The chicago city pass covers 5 main attractions in 69$, each of them alone costing around 30$. One has 9 days to see all these attractions.
There were no queues for going up to the observatory and we went straight to the elevator and unto the 94th floor. Along with the pass we got a free coffee each at the cafe over there. We bought some snacks with the coffee and sat down to enjoy the view.        

The hotel in which we were staying was very well located. The trip advisor review written by Shaleen on Dewitt place.
Location is the best part about this place. You are right in the centre of everything. All the attractions and shopping was within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport. The place itself is average and maintenance was below average and can use a renovation. We had opted for a lake view room, however all the lake we could see was from one window only that too through the space between two buildings between the Dewitt Place and Lakeshore drive. While booking also our experience was not very good as the Hotel site did not offer booking for three nights we wanted, hence I booked it at for USD495, after a few days, while looking for one night booking for the return trip, I found that the same room was available for USD 405 at only, hence I cancelled the previous booking and booked afresh at lesser rate.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ramoji film city, Hyderabad

The day after we reached Hyderabad we had almost the whole day on our hands, so we decided to go to Ramoji film city. Though it is advisable to reach early in the morning but we first went to register at the conference. It took us close to two hours to reach Ramoji. Soumya fell asleep on the way. Once there we took a special package of Rs.1200/- per adult and Rs.1000/- for child which included lunch at the buffet restaurant, free bottle of water, coldrink, free caps and some Snacks. We were allowed to take our private car farther inside. From there we were taken in buses. Each bus load of around ten guests had a guide allotted to them. Our guide Vijay took our mobile no. As we reached there at nearly 12noon. We went for the "Spirit of Ramoji" first. That was a stage show with some indian classical dancing. We caught it midway.
From Hyderabad 2011
Then we went for the "Stunt show" which was good with all the shooting and all. The wild west was made well.
From Hyderabad 2011

We then went for lunch, it was a great crush, especially with so many delegates from the conference. The lunch was at the restaurant "Superstar". Lunch was just OK. Met three of my postgraduate colleagues/friends here at Ramoji, more than I met in the conference.
Soumya did bungy trampoline jumping just outside the restaurant.

"Filmy duniya ka jadoo" was a ride on the lines of "it's a small world" of Disneyland. But it was good copy.
We went for "Movie magic" which was an excellent show, where they showed how behind the scenes, people are working hard to make the movies which we see. The selection of the famous scene of 'Sholay' in which Basanti is being chased by dacoits on her tonga, is interesting. We went for the earthquake experience which was also good. The falling elevator. Here they had made a mini Hollywood.
Then we were taken for a bus ride around the film city. There were lovely gardens where we could see the locales from many of the hindi movies. Esp. The gardens where Shah Rukh and Kajol shot for 'Kuch Kuch hota hai'. The building which was an airport from one side and a hospital from the other side. "Munnabhai MBBS" had been shot here. A village road, a street in London. Houses with different elevations from two sides, one side the hero's house from the other side, the heroine's house.
Many of Govinda's movies have been shot here. The guide told us that the director could walk in with script and walk out with the movie, all post production work could also be taken care off here.
In the end we went to see the caves which had closed down but the guide got it open for us, I really liked this place.
From Hyderabad 2011
From Hyderabad 2011
From Hyderabad 2011
After this we went back to the hotel, a long drive. There was some unrest in the city as there was the issue of a separate state for Telangana. We took a different route back and reached safely. We got biryani packed from 'Paradise' for dinner this evening, as we all wanted The takeaway was very fast. They provided disposable plates also for which they charged extra. They had a meal of chicken, and mutton biryanis, butter chicken and rumali rotis for Rs.350/- The helpings were extra large. Food was really good.

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The Westin mindspace hotel, Hyderabad

We were in Hyderabad in Jan 2011 for the annual OBGYN conference. It was a welcome escape from the chilly weather in Lucknow. FOGSI is always a veritable academic feast. We stayed at The Westin Mindspace.
From Hyderabad 2011

A lovely hotel in the high tech city. It has a huge central atrium into which all the rooms open.
Taj has three properties in Hyderabad, Krishna, Deccan and Banjara, of these Taj Krishna was the best. Taj Deccan was pretty run down. We initially checked into that hotel, then later decided to shift to Westin as it was closer to the venue of the conference.
The interiors of The Westin were uber modern, but the service was not that good. Once we had to ring four times to get our plates from room service cleared and in the end, we put the plates out before going to sleep. The staff is friendly. Breakfast was good everyday, though it was served separately for the conference delegates, than from their regular breakfast, on the last day we had the regular breakfast that was better than the one served for the conference but it was catering more to the international guests. The view from the room outside the window was nothing much.

But the twin queen beds were good for our family. If one is going to attend a conference in the convention centre then this is a very good hotel to put up in.
Taj would be a good choice if one wants to stay in the centre of the city near shopping areas.
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