Jaipur is a beautiful city and even with all the modernization happening, the pink city remains traditional at its core.
In this post, I share tips on how to reach Jaipur, where to stay, and places to see, eat, and shop at.
Mahabaleshwar is one of the most visited hill stations in the western ghats, especially by the people from Mumbai, Pune, and few places in Gujarat.Also known as the strawberry city, Mahabaleshwar is full of strawberry fields all around, and even one of the most famous sharbat/squash brands, Mapro, started here. With so many viewpoints, you can spend an entire weekend visiting these and be taken aback by the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
Past the houses, the shops, the rickshaws, the autos
There's a bunch, a never-ending bunch,
That looks at me, turns its head, then smiles, and flees!
But what do I do?
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
Ignoring the bunch, I continue to walk!
I felt a brush, or was it in my mind?
I straightened my spine, I looked up
It was that bunch, just mixed in the crowd!
I increased my pace, to walk out of it,
But it was a bunch, a never-ending bunch!
Music in my ears, I divert my attention, and
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
I continue to walk!
The bunch looks lecherously at my legs,
As if that is the only important thing in its life!
Old and Young!
Rich and Poor!
All beliefs alike, form the bunch, a never-ending bunch!
Hey You! You! and You!
It's my skin, it's not your meat!
I shout in my head, but
Tik Tok Tik Tok Tok Tok Tok
I keep my calm, and I continue to walk!
What is your education?
What is your qualification?
Now seem baseless questions!
Why? You ask me!
Because what defines you, is what you are at the core!
But Hey Hey!
There are people, a very few people,
Not part of that never-ending bunch!
That do not make me uncomfortable!
That do not tell me, how I should dress,
That do not scare me, if I walk alone in the streets at night!
That let me be me!
Because that's just me, a part of me,
I am the girl in the shorts!
Civilizations have withstood the vicissitudes of time and so have its member species. Owing to the contemporary debates, we have realized the struggles of each of the genders of our species have been starkly disproportionate and paradoxical. The 50:50 playground has been one of the […]
Welcomed by a Himalayan background, serene lakes, and lush green forests, Uttrakhand is unmistakably nature's paradise. Visited by tourists all the year round, there are still some unexplored parts of this divine land that you can visit for a truly enthralling experience.
Chopta is one of the lesser explored hill stations of Uttrakhand. It serves as a base camp for treks to Tunganath Temple and Chandrashila peak, and Deoria Tal. And that's not the end of it, a few days in Chopta is an entirely new and different experience. Life in Chopta is like a stand-still, with very little access to the digital world and basic necessities of life, like electricity and warm water.
How to reach Chopta?
Depending on where you are coming from, you can either take a direct cab to the village or break it down in different chunks of travel.
You can take a flight to Dehradun which is around 225 km from Chopta. From there you can either take a taxi or a bus to Chopta.
Another option is to take a train to Rishikesh or Haridwar and then again from there take a taxi or bus to Chopta.
Where to stay in Chopta?
We had decided to camp at "Moksha" a little ahead of the Chopta city center. But due to heavy snowfall in the area, the roads beyond the city center were blocked with a series of vehicles stuck in the snow.
There was no way we could get any further, so we decided to get down in the market and looked for accommodation nearby.
Pro Tip: There are many guest houses in the city center if you are not very particular about where you want to stay.
We stayed at Baba Holiday Home which was a very minimalistic guest house.
The best part about staying in Chopta
The is no electricity in the entire village, and everything works using the solar energy consumed during the day. So we literally spent the night in the dark with dead phones and freezing cold water flowing in bathrooms.
It was an amazingly crazy experience living a life away from our comfort zones and without any unnecessary luxuries.
PS: We paid Rs 60 for a single bucket of warm water every night for bathing.
Things to do in Chopta
The hike is pretty simple especially since there was no snow and it was a gradual steep. We spent good 4 hours relaxing at the Tal before we finally half-heartedly decided to descend back.
Trekking through snow to Tunganath temple was one of a kind experience.
Excited and scary, cold and warm at the same time.
Constantly slipping on icy rocks, helping one another to reach the bottom before it gets dark or before you lose hope of returning in one piece!
I had spent almost a month of solo backpacking in Europe, exploring its mountains, fairy-tales villages, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, historic palaces, and much more. Click here to read more about my Europe adventures Before even returning to India, I had made plans with my […]
Budapest was the last stop of my Euro trip, and though it had been almost a month of traveling, I was all fresh reaching this quieter yet one of the most happening places in Europe. Budapest is the largest city of Hungary and is flooded […]
The intricate architecture of Vienna is so intoxicating that you can spend hours just staring at the artistic marvels in the city. But that's not it, Vienna also boasts of baroque styled gardens and parks visited by tourists and locals alike.
I spent two days in Vienna walking around and exploring the free gems of the city. Here is a day-wise itinerary of things that you can also do for free in Vienna.
Relax in Burggarten
Close to city center but away from the touristy crowd
Located inside the Ringstrasse, is this greener belt surrounded by many historic buildings, including Hofburg and Albertina. The park is full of architectural statues and sculptures. But the main highlight though is the discrete statue of Mozart located right in the center of the park. If you need some time to chill and absorb in the Viennese beauty, Burrgarten is a perfect place for you.
Walk around the old city
Take a walk along the magnificent Hofburg - an Imperial Palace and its museums, including, Sisi Museum, Imperial apartments, and Imperial Silver collection). If you want to check all of these from inside, make sure to buy a city pass (or card, whichever fits more to your plans) - it's a great deal if you have enough time and if you want to visit many tourist attractions.
Climb up the painted stairs to Albertina Gallery onto the terrace that looks down at the city with a backdrop of the State Opera House.
Free entry to the museum with a Vienna Pass.
Right in the center of Judenplatz standing above a medieval synagogue, is a memorial dedicated to the Austrian Jews that lost their lives during the Holocaust. It bears the names of the concentration camps, where the Austrian Jews were killed.
The entry to the Jewish Museum & Museum Judenplatz is free with a Vienna Pass.
Admire the grand Schonnbrunn Gardens
Schonnbrunn Palace and Gardens boast of magnificent Baroque architecture. The entry fee to the palace is €17,50 but it is free with a Vienna pass. You can, however, roam in the gardens for no cost at all. The gardens are huge, and you can relish its different parts, including, Great Parterre, Neptune Fountain, Gloriette, and much more.
Visit the very interesting Naschmarkt
An outdoor market with around 100 stalls of food and a few stalls that sell clothes and antiques. Take your time walking across the market, tasting food samples, buying some fresh fruits, and looking through the souvenirs.
Get Amazed by the magnificence of St. Stephen's Cathedral
Conveniently located in the city center, in Stephansplatz, is this giant gothic beauty. It takes you back in the time, and you can easily spend 30-40 minutes inside the church praising its grand architecture.
The entrance to the church is for €1 in the name of donation, and if you want to do an underground catacomb tour, or climb the 343 steps of the south tower, you'll need to pay €5 - €6 for each.
Watch Sunset over Danube river
Take a 30 minute U-Bahn ride from Stephansplatz to Neue Donau, the closest station to Brigittenauer Bridge. Walk over to the bridge, and you can see the sun go down on the other side. You can also sit by the lake in Donau Park just under the bridge for a relaxed evening.
“I had always fancied the idea of going to a random place and exploring it on my own. And when I finally did it, I learned to overcome my own inhibitions that not only concerned travel but so many other things too.” Before moving to […]
Excited and nervous, I ran towards my hostel from where the cab dropped me. I took a cab at 9 am from Ubud to Kuta where my hostel and surfing class was – Pro Surf School and Hostel. It took almost 3 hours to cover a […]
Salzburg - a heaven on earth.
Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and for the filming of the movie, Sound of Music, but there's so much more than that, that you can see and do for free in the city.
Having spent 3 days in Munich, one of the expensive cities, I was a little reluctant to spend more immediately and wanted to keep my budget in check.
So, when I was drafting out a rough itinerary, I decided between places or experiences that I really wanted to have and the ones that I was okay to miss and spend less.
Travel experience is all about the choices you make!!
Stay at YoHo Hostel
Just a 10-minute walk from the train station, YoHo International was a good budget hostel with clean and comfortable rooms. It had a complimentary bread, butter and jam breakfast with an option to upgrade to a full-fledged breakfast buffet. The staff was also very accommodating and readily gave amazing travel tips for touring the city.
PS: You get a free welcome shot of Apfelstrudel!
Visit an Alpine Salt Mine
Interestingly Salzburg means, Salt Fortress, and it has been the center of salt extraction for thousands of years. You can visit the salt mine at any of these three places surrounding the city - Hallein, Hallstatt, and Alatausee. The experience will be very similar in all of these places as the tours are organized by a single company.
I went to the mine at Hallein - it was a pretty fun experience, learning about the history of the salt mining business in the city.
Before the tour started, we were given overalls to wear to avoid soiling our own clothes. After that, we rode on a mine train that took us across the Austria-Germany border under the Alps. This was followed by a slide down deeper, under the ground. The tour ended with a boat ride across the briny water lake.
In addition to all these rides, you can also be more experimental, and actually taste the water inside the caves. And if you are lucky enough, you can also get a salt crystal from the mine to take home as a personalized memento.
Depending on the mine you chose to visit, you can plan to accommodate touring the nearby areas as well. At Hallein, you can also visit the Celtic village located right next to the salt mine and get an experience of the old Celtic times.
Tour Hohensalzburg Fortress and the surrounding gardens
I am a sunset lover and what better way to watch the sun go down - magnificent city views and the picturesque Alps in the background.
You can either hike up or take a funicular to reach the fortress. I preferred walking, and I swear the views kept getting better as I climbed up.
If you continue to walk straight towards Mönchsberg and not turn towards the fortress, you'll reach the gardens.
Now there are two reasons to go to gardens first and watch the sunset from there, one, it is far less crowded than the fortress, and the views are definitely unbeatable, second, you get a free entry inside the fortress after 7:00 pm(so if you want to save on some money!!).
Enjoy open-air Opera performance on a big screen
I was lucky enough to be in the city during the Siemens fest. The fest runs for 5 weeks (from July-August), during which the selected concerts and opera productions are shown on a big screen in Kapitelplatz. So just reach before the screening starts and grab a seat for yourself.
Walk around Old Town Salzburg
Take the Love Lock bridge to go across the Salzach river and to the city center. Spend some time roaming around the streets, and see places including, Mozart's birthplace, old market square, Salzburg Cathedral, and Kapitelplatz (with a giant chess board placed on the road).
Visit Mirabell Palace and it's gardens - FREE Tour
Fun fact - A few clips of the "Do, Re, Mi" song from the movie Sound of Music are shot in the Mirabell Gardens.
I was not able to roam around the Mirabell gardens because it was raining outside, but I have read great things about it - the statues, fountains, and the landscaping that is done.
In your urge to relax in the gardens, do not forget to tour the Mirabell Palace. A grand palace with baroque architecture and angel statues adorning the 3-level staircase. You can also take a look inside the Marble Hall which is now used for weddings.
As you continue to explore the city
- Dine in cozy cafes of Salzburg!!
- Visit the weekly local market held every Thursday right opposite Mirabell Palace
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A lot of you must have had the experience of opening up to strangers, be it talking about your problems, your life goals, or sharing your deep dark secrets, or just being more yourself. I have had this feeling quite often in recent times. One […]
In the last few years, Gurgaon has become a big technical hub employing lakhs of people each year. With most of the jobs demanding a lot of work and time, it is very natural for so many restaurants and cafes to open up in the city to keep it a little light-hearted. Not only that, with the start-up culture growing so much, many cafes are opening up to solve the purpose of a freelancer's working space.
I worked in Gurgaon for a year and a half and for sure I needed a break on weekends to go out, sit and relax in a cozy cafe, or to a new restaurant that has just opened up or to try out different cuisine.
Below are my five personal favorites that solve the purpose of good food and cozy ambiance.
Fat Lulu's Cafe & Bar - Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4
The first thing you'll notice about this cafe is its smart utilization of area. The way they have arranged the tables with bar and kitchen on one side leaves a lot of convenient walking space. The cafe has a very pleasing ambiance with good music.
It is also work-friendly with good wifi and comfortable seats.
The food is here is really great and reasonable too!!
Yum Yum Cha - Cyber Hub
I am really in love with this place. The restaurant has a lot of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Asian food options, including dim sum, pho, sushi, noodles, and so on. The service is overall quick and polite with the staff open to recommending options according to your taste, just in case you get overwhelmed looking at menu items.
Delhicacy - Galleria, DLF Phase 4
Crazy about street food but fear getting sick? Then this restaurant is a must go for you. Located in one of the central areas of Gurgaon, this restaurant is every chaat lover's favorite. Large portions, amazing taste, and a large variety of North Indian food options, I am a big fan of Delhicacy.
Ciclo Cafe - Sector 29
The first thing that impressed me apart from the beautiful decor is the cordiality of the staff.
The whole experience becomes better if the service is good.
With so many bicycles on display, the cafe is promoting the bicycle trend and a healthy lifestyle. Apart from the traditional items on the menu, the cafe also has a variety of healthy and gluten-free meals. It is one of the quieter restaurants in the noisy hub of sector 29.
Burma Burma - Cyber hub
If you love trying different cuisines, then Burma Burma is a place for you.
I just love their Khao Suey and bubble tea and always tend to over-eat whenever I am here. Burma Burma offers pure vegetarian food and is generally for a wholesome dining experience.
A few restaurants that do not make it to the top 5 list but are a good choice for any day!
Tossin Pizza - for their over the top dips on the pizza. Large portions and really tasty.
Pier 38 - one of the many bars in CyberHub, with great food and impressive presentation.
IHOP - a breakfast kind of cafe with a variety of egg meals.
The Classroom - love them for their creamy soft Kejriwal eggs and many indoor games options.
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Munich is one of the larger cities of Germany with people from everywhere. Being an important part of Germany, it was a central place during the Nazi time and has a lot of history associated with it. The city also boasts of beautiful gardens and […]
This is an oil painting video tutorial suitable for beginners.
PS: I have used a brush to paint the mountain instead of a knife.
I have used very basic oil colors perfect for you if you are just starting and not looking for a big investment. My favorites are Camlin Oil Color box, Daler-Rowney brushes, and Camlin Linseed oil from Amazon. Visit these links to get your own oil-painting kits 😄
I am the kind of girl who jumps on every opportunity to travel to a new place. As much as I’d be excited about the trip I’ll be apprehensive about the challenges that I might face – be it from a very basic one like […]
Prague is a beautiful-budget city with colorful historic buildings, narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and a river that divides the city.
I was in Prague for two weeks in mid-August and the weather during this time was just perfect, with no rain on most of the days.
I had enrolled in a 10-day European Summer school, so it helped me experience Prague both as a local as well as a tourist. In this post, I will share the top things that you should do while your stay in Prague and some tips to keep in mind as you explore the city.
First things first - Where to get your money exchanged?
The best solution to get local currency is by using your international debit or credit card to withdraw money from the ATM, given that bank charges are not too high.
If that doesn't work for you or you have carried enough cash from home, you can exchange your Euros/Dollars that you have from trusted exchange offices. One of the biggest scams in the city is money exchange, so you need to be wary of where you get your money exchanged. There are so many exchange offices that will claim to offer you the best conversion rate but do not fall for them. Most of these places will take a commission that will leave you with much less amount after exchange than what you'd normally get.
Most accepted currency in Prague is Czech Crowns (CZK). We exchanged our money at Praha Exchange located right in the city center on Jindřišská street. It offers one of the best rates and zero commission.
PS: Many places don't accept credit/debit card for payment, so do ask before you purchase anything.
Buy a SIM card?
I decided to not buy a SIM card during my stay in Europe and it worked perfectly fine for me. You can read more details on how I managed to survive without a SIM card for 30 days here.
Buy a Public Transport Ticket
Prague is well connected by public transport, that includes trams and buses throughout the city. You can get the tickets from the vending machines or ticket offices at the metro stations, newsstands, or tourist information offices. If you are in the city for more than one day, I would suggest that you buy a pass instead. There are several options for the passes, ranging from one day to annual. Check their official site for the latest ticket prices.
If you are a budget traveler who likes to buy and cook their own food, I am sure grocery shopping must top your list of ToDos on reaching a new city. There were many small supermarkets near my hostel, Botič Student House
on the main Vršovická Street where you could get all kinds of basic items. But a few things to be careful of are, one, if you are tight on cash and need to use the card, make sure to ask before you start selecting items. Second, I bought some food without checking and it was expired. So make sure you check the dates before you buy anything - you don't want to waste all that you bought.
Also, you can buy the same item at different prices in different places. Although, I don't exactly remember the rate difference.
If you want to go to a proper supermarket, I would suggest Tesco Express or Lidl for more trustworthy purchases
Visit Pubs and Party in the Best Dance Clubs
Prague is famous for its beer and is often referred beer capital of the world. With frequent hopping to different pubs and clubs in Prague, I'll list down a few of my favorites.
The Pub - It had a fun concept of pouring your own beer at the table and also monitor the amount of beer you have had and the price for the same. You can also compete with other tables, with score directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed at a table. With average food and rude staff, this place is best only if you want to have good beer and hang out with friends 🙂
Hangar Bar - My personal favorite because of good music and ample space to dance. With a non-stop music, we were dancing pretty much the whole time we were in the club.
Golden Tree - Crowded yet fun, mainly because of a good choice of songs they were playing. Despite the creeps that were trying to enter our group and broken glass and beer on the floor, we didn't get bored here 🙂
Karaoke Night in Jampa Dampa - We visited Jampa Dampa on a Karaoke night on Thursday. Hidden between streets in the basement, is this small fun club. We were a group of multiple nationalities and the person on the computer was kind enough to find our countries' songs and play for us. Check out the video:
Eat Drink Repeat!
Prague is full of cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. From coffee to pizza to Indian food, the city will not disappoint you. Check out this link for tried and tested food options in Prague.
Have a Barbecue in Stromovka Park
Take some time out of visiting the touristy spots and spend an evening with your friends barbecuing in the park. There are some parks in Prague where grilling is illegal, therefore find a park that allows it and if the weather permits, then you are all set for your picnic time 🙂
We had BBQ near the Vltava Canal in Stromovka Park. In maps, you can see it as Stromovka - Grill Bod 5. Enjoy your grilled cheese and burgers with chilled beer. Go for a swim or paddleboarding in the small stream that flows nearby.
Just a few steps from our BBQ spot was a small stream flowing. After having lunch, some of us went for paddleboarding there. You can find rental shops in the park where you can rent a paddle board from.
It was my first ever experience standing on a paddle board and river waters were quite calm for the first-time paddleboarders 😊.
Other Points of Interest
Petrin Hill & Prague Castle
Surrounded by nature, Petrin Hill is one of the best places to see the sunset and the city from. You can reach the top either by a tram or walk up the stairs. But the best way was to climb up the hidden paths through the gardens. Once there, you can also go to Lookout Tower to get even better city views. I did not do that because the views from the hill were pretty good as well.
You can also visit Prague Castle since it is just around the corner a few minutes walk from the hill.
Charles Bridge & Lennon Wall
Flooded with tourists throughout the day, visit Charles Bridge for its history, statues, and live music. But the best way to get a good view of Charles Bridge is from Alšovo nábřeží. It is a walkway between Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge right by the river.
PS: Alšovo nábřeží was suggested by a friend and we happened to see a beautiful sunset from this place and it wasn't as crowded as well 😁
As you cross the Charles Bridge, get down a few stairs on the left and make a stop at Lennon Wall. With tons of artwork done on it, it's a must visit to reminisce about the history behind the wall, when people used this wall to express their emotions.
Museum Of Communism
I wouldn't say it was the best museum, but it worked quite well for me since I did not have a lot of information about European History. It was like a physical Wikipedia and the reading walls made it a bit boring.
Get past the gardens after getting down at Výtoň station to St. Peter and St. Paul Church and then to amazing views of Vltava river and the city from Vyšehrad Hill.
Wenceslas Square and Old Town
Stroll around Wenceslas Square, Old Town, and Jewish quarters admiring the beautiful European architecture and get a hint of the city culture and history.
Day trip to Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful city just 3-hour drive from Prague. It is famous for it's State Castle, that is surrounded by Vltava river in the south and Polecnice stream in the north. After touring the castle, you can sit in a river-side bar and enjoy your beer.
End your trip with a rafting in the surrounding river.
PS: Thanks to European Summer School Organisers for all the trips and excursions we had together
If you have read my post on my experience with VP Bali, you would know, I love to add more to just plain traveling. Initially, I wanted to join a summer school in Malaysia, but it did not work out because of timelines. So, I […]
There is a funny story behind how I landed up here. I was in the US in Nov'16 on an official trip when I took some personal time off as well. I went to see my sister who was in Irvine, California at that time.
Two days before the activity, I was casually talking to a friend who said that she might be going for sky-diving. My adventurous self said to me, I should do that too. This is the normal me - always excited about trying but step back in the end either because I am too scared or I am too lazy.
In a moment of excitement, I told my sister about my unplanned plans to go for sky-diving. She got even more excited than me and started looking for options. I, on the other hand, had changed my mind by now. When I told her this, she persuaded me and bought tickets - so there was no going back since I had the tickets now.
The next day, I took a train from Irvine to Oceanside, then a bus to the nearest bus stop from GoJump Oceanside, and finally walked to the location. All this time, I was scared, worried, shy, excited, nervous, so many emotions at the same time.
But here I was, and there was just one option for me now, to go jump!!
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This is an oil painting video tutorial suitable for beginners. I have used very basic oil colors perfect for you if you are just starting and not looking for a big investment. My favorites are Camlin Oil Color box, Daler-Rowney brushes, and Camlin Linseed oil […]
The motivation for this post is this VIDEO.
It really made me question the type of upbringing we are doing and the kind of things we are teaching to the future youth of India. And we as a nation, hold responsibility for it.
The elders of the society are responsible for educating their children. If we are passing the wrong knowledge to them, it is very difficult to expect a brighter future for the nation.
We can all start with educating one child each and try to bring the transformation that we aim for!
PS: While the video talks about one cultural group, this post is not intended to target a particular group of people. It is intended to create more awareness among people and direct them towards teaching the right thing to the younger generation.
Do you remember Enrique’s Dirty Dancer that was released in 2011 ?? While this song was pleasing to both eyes and ears for many, I was mostly intrigued by the dance the girls in the video performed. With their extreme flexibility and their work with […]
Why did I decide to join a Street Photography course
Apr 28, 2018
I was in the US on an L1-B visa for the last 5 months working as a Software Engineer. When I decided to resign from my job, a few people suggested making the best use of my time left in the US by learning something on the side. So, I started looking for oil-painting classes in Seattle and that is when I stumbled on Seattle Community College website. Sadly, I could not find many painting courses that were ending before my last day in Seattle, but luckily I found the Street Photography course that was ending just 2 days before the last day. I had recently bought a camera, and Street Photography aptly fell in place in terms of both timing and learning.
My experience as a Street Photographer
Street Photography classes were not for learning the camera basics – there is a separate Camera Basics course for the same. Instead, I learned a lot about carefully observing my surroundings and the little actions of the people around me. A very normal action of two persons standing and talking can be related to a situation by simply observing their expressions.
Street photography is not only about taking pictures of unaware people from a distance but sometimes you need to get closer to the subject to capture its true emotions. Being a newbie, I needed a lot of courage and motivation to talk to people, make them comfortable, and take their permission to capture their picture 🙂
In this blog, I’ll be doing less talking and let the pictures speak for themselves. There are a thousand shots, but I have picked the best ones and divided them into categories. Enjoy!
These pictures were captured in Capitol Hill on a walking tour with the class
It was such a teasing session with these guys.🙈
This is how the conversation went:
Me: Can I take your picture please, it is for an assignment
One of them: No, are you going to report us
Me: No it is just for a photography assignment
One of them: Stop trying to disguise, you are working with CBI, what is the assignment?
One of them: We are just kidding, go ahead 🤣
These were captured in Cal Anderson Park, Capitol Hill, again on a walking tour with the class.
A series of reflections
Places I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed
Street Musicians of Seattle
Smoke from different locations near Pike Place
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26 May, 2018
A little luck, a little advantage, a little travel, and a little effort
I had been working with Amazon for almost 4 years and had moved to Seattle 6 months back from India. Since then I have traveled many places and a couple of them with Alaska airlines. Click here for more details on each of these places
On a random lucky day, Amazon employees got an email that Alaska and Amazon have tied up to benefit the employees with extra miles for each journey and MVP status after two round-trips. I really wanted to make the best use of this and made a travel plan to Denver to reach the MVP status and avail advantages like free baggage, early boarding, and complimentary upgrades.
Today was my last day in Seattle and I was doing a mini-tour before I reach India. My first stop was in Montreal and I had booked a connecting flight from Seattle to Montreal with a layover in Boston. The first leg was 5-hour long with Alaska airlines and the second one with Westjet airlines.
I was very excited to travel with an MVP status and was curious about what all I can use it for. While waiting in queue to check-in the baggage, I saw a counter at some distance for MVP and Gold class members. I quickly got out of the long queue and headed to the counter. I was expecting to pay baggage fees for my flight from Boston to Montreal because of different airlines, but to my surprise, I didn’t have to, not yet sure why.
After the security check, I seated myself comfortably at the boarding gate just when I got an idea to try my luck to get a business class seat using my MVP status.
Immediately, I went to the Alaska customer service counter and asked the lady at the desk if my seat could be upgraded. To be honest, I was a bit nervous about the response. The lady hit some keys on her computer and that’s when my hopes got high. I was trying hard to not smile and had my fingers crossed when she looked up and said that I was able to get an upgrade. Though only for a domestic flight of 4 hours, I was pretty excited about the upgrade, as much as I broadcasted to my friends and my family and social media.
Inside the plane
Having 28A seat initially which was towards the end of the plane and moving to almost front of the plane with 7A seat was super awesome. I walked towards my open space big seat and got adjusted. Some of the special treatments were a hot towel to freshen up, followed by complimentary entertainment tablet and a blanket. I ordered a drink of my choice and for the food, we were served hummus and pita with salad on the side. The food quantity was less but extremely good. I could repeat my drink any number of times I wanted to I guess. For the rest of my flight, I watched a few series cozied up in the blanket and towards the end of the flight, we were offered a small shot of smoothie before we started preparing for landing.
I had a little more expectations from business class, but I think that is what you get for short durational flights, so it's pretty awesome.
That was an end of my mini-dream flight and it makes me hopeful for trying for an upgrade for other airlines too.
India is a beautiful country with a rich history and diverse cultures, beliefs, and languages. Not only that, its vastly varying topography, makes India a perfect place to enjoy mountains, beaches or deserts. As much as you’ll enjoy your stay in India, one bad experience […]
Planning to travel to San Francisco??
Here are some quick tips on how you can plan your trip to San Francisco and balance between a good experience, good food, and a good sleep.
This is a personalized guide on top things to do in the city. Click on each day to know more details.
If you want to stay within a strict budget, prefer a hostel over fancy hotels, especially if you are in a city for more than one night. I stayed at Green Tortoise hostel which cost me around $150 for 3 nights with a pro-rated transport back to the airport.
More details on how to reach hostel and other pointers can be found here.
Places to see
If you are staying in the Green Tortoise hostel, you can visit Coit Tower very easily which is just a 15-minute walk from the hostel. For the rest of the day, you can plan to visit San Francisco neighborhoods, Muir Woods and Sausalito.
Places to eat at
San Francisco is known for its awesome food options. If you are in Union Square, you can try a huge variety of food, though my quick brunch at Cafe La Taza, an American breakfast cafe in Union Square was not very good.
I am personally very fond of Asian food and Day 1 was my Chinese food day. If you are staying somewhere near China town, you definitely have a lot of options to choose from. I had dinner at New Woey Loy Goey in China Town. If you are there, I would also recommend going to Chong Qing Xiao Mian. This is one place I really wanted to go, but couldn’t because of a long waiting queue.
If you get a chance to have a meal Chong Qing Xiao Mian, do comment below on your experience.
Places to see
If you are able to book Alcatraz island tour, that would easily take 5 hours of your day.
💡If you are not able to book the Alcatraz Island tour, and are still very interested you can look for tours that take you just around the island so you can still take pictures of the island from outside while enjoying the ferry ride. Details on other options can be found here.
Depending on what time slot you get for the Alcatraz tour, you can plan to stroll on the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the neighboring Fort Point. You can also walk around the much talked Union Square in downtown SF.
Places to eat at
I can recommend just one restaurant for Day 2 since it is the only place I had a proper meal that day. I stopped by Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe for lunch (or an evening meal, whatever). It was a small cozy restaurant with a seating place for about 10-15 people. I had Pad Thai noodles and some Iced coffee which was good enough to keep me full for the rest of the evening.
Places to see
I kept my 3rd day in San Francisco a little less rushing. In the first half of the day, I toured Botanical Garden and Japanese Tea Garden, both of which are part of the Golden Gate Park. I stopped by the Palace of Fine Arts for some time after that and spent the rest of the evening walking around the Japan Town and the Fisherman’s Wharf.
Places to eat at
I had lots to eat on my last day in San Francisco (at least as compared to the previous two days). I had a heavy juice and bagel breakfast in the hostel and Japanese rice and curry at lunch. My day ended with a hearty S’mores crepe at Crepe Cafe (in Fisherman’s Wharf).