Category Archives: Travel

London Travelogue – National History Museum

I have not been written about my travelogues for ages. It’s been five years in London and I have not written much about the place, this beautiful victorian world-famous city.

Who don’t love museums, they are the place of knowledge, history, something to ponder about what we have come from but few times boring! My first formal visit to Museum abroad was not in London – it was Louvre Paris. You can read all about it here.

London has kept its museums well and beautiful, place is a real treat for museum lovers – above all they all are FREE. So here is my brief on the museum –

image5(1)Museum itself looks so beautiful from outside. The Natural History Museum has an ornate terracotta façade by of high Victorian architecture. The terracotta mouldings represent the past and present diversity of nature.

image1(1)The museum is home to may be million of life and earth science specimens. There are huge collections of botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology, zoology and what nots. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin.

The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, the famous one is  large Diplodocus cast which dominates the main hall. It looks familiar, isn’t?

image15The one which shows the beginning –

image4(1)It is commendable that how they have put all the effort in restoring the original and recreating the replica.

This one took me to Muir Woods, California –

image13Muir Woods in California is famous for its long Strangely I haven’t written about it on my blog. It holds the large area for Redwood trees, also called Sequoia. Quick introduction to Redwoods – It is an evergreen, long-lived tree living 1,200–1,800 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 29.2 feet (8.9 m) in diameter. These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth.

image14The next thing intrigued me there was Mars’s rock –

image12This rock was fell in Egypt in 1911. Around 11 million years ago it was believed that a comet or an asteroid hit the surface of Mars and was so powerful that few pieces eventually landed on Earth as meteorite.

Also museum has a huge collection of gemstones,

image9Above are organic minerals.

image10Can’t believe these rocks are natural – colours and textures are so intricate.

image11I was so last admiring the diamonds collection in th museum that forgot to take its pictures!

image8

Museum has a huge collection of fossils too –

image7(1)Marry Anning is called as fossil woman. Some of the finest fossils in the museum are collected by Mary.

image6(1)Reva’s favorite section where they have kept butterfly’s fossils –

image2(1)And lastly but not the very least – mammals section, this is where kids had all the fun

image17 image16 image3(1)I have not even covered the 50% of the museum in my post, this is the area we could manage to see with both the kids in 2-3 hrs of time. You need a day or two to visit the museum and admire its collections.

Highly recommended to visit with kids or when in London.

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Chance of a Beach

Went to Bournemouth for a day visit with my team mates week back. It was a Team outing and glad I joined. You see this isn’t about myself or team, this is about the perfect weather and place which made the trip totally worth spending 5 hours on the road that day. We have been in UK for almost 2 years and before that we were in San José and both the places are famous for their beaches – like California is related to Malibu beach and UK with Cornwall, Dorset, Bournemouth and other famous and beautiful south-east beaches. Unfortunately our stars never aligned with proper beach, weather and timing. It was one way or the other – in California the nearest beach to our city was Half Moon way Beach – very beautiful!

But we always had  a misfortune of ending up on the beach with freezing cold gusty wind. Hardly spent 30 mins and had to rush to near by coffee shop to get ourself warm. This wasn’t happened to us one time – it was every single time when we headed to the beach. We had gone back again to half-moon bay another time in proper summer but still had no luck, some friends told us that it was as expected and we should try some 17 mile drive beaches – went there, same gusty cold winds always which gave us headaches. When we went to LA on thanksgiving holidays and had plan to visit Malibu but fate didn’t agreed upon it and had to come back without visiting it.

Last year we went to Brighton –  weather was awesome, sunny no signs of any wind – checked BBC for hour and hour forecast. We were all geared up with proper beach essentials. I had bought castle making thing for Reva and planned my self a lazy lay-down on the beach. Dreaming of walking on the sandy beach with Reva, picking some sea shells with her – maybe have a dip in the water…..

Right, with all excitement we and our close friend family headed towards Brighton. Yep everything was according to plan – we reached there in almost two hours but had no idea about the distance from pier and parking bay so had to park like 1 km away from the beach. That didn’t bother us and we were all excited and happy was to walk. After walking for almost 30 mins – finally had a glimpse of beach started to emerge. People around were looking happy and all beachy. Finally we arrived at the pier and started to look for some place to mark our resting area for rest of the day. All I can see was less sand and more pebble. Thought that particular area is full of pebbles, walked little further from pier, again pebbles and then I worriedly said – why are so many pebbles in this beach – where is the sandy beach??. Then our friend said, oh! you didn’t know Brighton has pebble beach and then I was shattered.

So when we came to know that we are going to the Bournemouth for day out on BEACH, I didn’t hope much but thought of giving it a chance not to the beach but to myself. I had makeup my mind that I will enjoy only with my team mates and didn’t even dreamt of sands at all.

Bournemouth is more than 2 hours drive from my home. We left early for the day so that we would leave early and reach home by usual time. As it was weekday and school was resumed that week so city was very quite. Thought might be a usual city with a usual beach. When we reached at the pier – oh my god it was breath-taking. So beautiful!

Sandy beach with a chair 🙂

I had a most lovely day out on the beach – did whatever I dreamt of but with a catch of missing my family – I missed Reva and Vishal that day so much. When we were having lunch and I had most delicious fish and chips ever, I missed Vishal. I missed Reva when I was picking sea-shells on the beach. I miss my family when I had most amazing ride on big Balloon 😦

It was a splendid day at the beach, have to come back again with family and I am keeping my fingers-crossed this time 🙂

Paris: Lourve Musuem

My interest in Musée du Louvre began when I first read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. If you are familiar with Dan Brown’s work and a fan of Robert Langdon than you would about Louvre Museum but if you have no clue what I am talking about then for you it is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. Well it’s just not a museum, its “museums among museums”. When I came to know that we are going to Paris the second most exciting thing came to my mind was the Louvre Museum, well the first was the Eiffel Tower.

The Pyramid at the main entrance of Louvre

The moment we entered the Museum entrance through tube station I instantly felt the Museum vibe when I saw hundreds of people roaming in the entrance, long queue for the tickets and I think that was one of the busiest day in the Museum.

Inside the Museum

The Museum is housed in Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace) which was built on the right-bank of Siene river, site of the 12th – century fortress of Philip Augustus to protect the cité from invaders. Later in the century another fortress built-in part to serve as defense against England. The Louvre no longer serves as a site of defense. The Louvre remains unoccupied for 100 years or so after the death of King Charles VI. In 1527, Francois-I moves in and entirely demolishes the medieval keep. The Louvre moves into its Renaissance guise. 1546, Francois-I commissioned the architect Pierre Lescot to improve it and adapt it to the new Renaissance tastes.

From 1624-1672, under the reign of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, the Louvre undergoes an intensive series of renovations, resulting in the palace we recognize today. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation’s masterpieces.

It is almost impossible to see the entire museum in a couple of hours and do justice to every piece of art that is placed from the 6th century BC till the 19th century AD. So I picked up the Museum guide and gave a quick glance, it wasn’t a quick glance though. It was impossible to decide where to begin and what to cover in a day in the grand museum. We decided to see the most famous of all first from each section, and to our known surprise the most famous were also hundreds of them. Finally we decided to begin the Museum journey with the “Monalisa” and then see everything in that gallery.

Monalisa. I first read about this painting in my secondary class under the chapter of Renaissance World of Social Studies. Back then I had no clue about this painting’s importance. Although I did managed to make up my interest in Leonardo Da Vinci but painting looked very regular to me. Moving to college, I understood that this painting is no ordinary one, it has something unsaid, something enigmatic. Then I came across Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and after that my only wish was to see Monalisa and the Louvre once in my life. When we (actually I) decided to see Monalisa, an adernaline rushed through my body. Meanwhile Reva was not at all happy to be in her stroller, so Vishal decided to stayed back with her and asked me to go and take my time to see the portrait. Quickly I moved to towards the room where she was located. After walking for 2-3 minutes I saw extremely crowded room where people were hovering around a small and only painting on the wall, so there was she . I guess half of the crowd who comes in Louvre actually comes for Monalisa. Finally I managed to get inside the bunch and tried to capture her in the camera –

Monalisa - all protected in glasses

Yeah I had hard times to get a nice picture of her, there is one with close up –

Not so nice but that’s all I got 😦

Do you know her real name is Lisa del Giocondo also known as Lisa Gherardini, Lisa di Antonio Maria. A member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany and the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. Her husband commissioned Leonardo for their new home and to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea. Though there is no evidence about that and some even says  that the portrait of the Mona Lisa is in fact Leonardo’s female version of himself. Leonardo Da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Florence, Italy and finished it shortly before he died in 1519.  Oh it was such an incredible experience watching her.

After seeing Monalisa we began our stroll in the gallery, boy! it was so crowded that day.  Here are some famous and infamous paintings we captured –

Madonna and Child in Majesty surrounded by Angels

The Virgin of the Rocks - another painting by Leonardo

Artwork on the Roof

Elbow by Tony Cragg, it is made from wood. Incredible work!

Hall where all the sculptures from Tony Cragg are on display

Some beautiful Paintings on the wall

While taking rest, we sat in front of this huge and chaotic painting, We decided to interpret it. After minutes of gibberish talking we understand that the chaos in the room is done by the Jesus's running sheep (the man wearing red cape)

Louvre Palace

I think we had only covered only 10% of Louvre but it was such a pleasant visit. Most of the time we were wondering how the hell one can make such an intricate work, I mean its amazing to see those beautiful paintings, sculptures, there is one sculpture of an angel where you can actually see how the cloths are blowing by the gush of the wind – amazing !! I am totally coming again to Louvre. This time a little background study on the art and history and a SLR camera.

Paris: The Eiffel Tower

When I first heard of our Paris trip, the first thing came into mind was the Eiffel Tower, the most romantic place on the earth. I was excited like a child when I thought that I would be seeing the Eiffel Tower. When we reached the hotel in Paris we even got a little view of the tower and in the night it looked really beautiful when all the lights are turned on.

On our Wedding Anniversary we went to see the Eiffel Tower. We took train from our nearest station. When we reached Champ de Mars (shan-de-mars) station we could see the tower.  It was a 10 mins walk. The more we get closer to the tower the more goosebumps I felt on my body. I was really excited.  And there it was standing all tall, elegant and strong on the ground.

The Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in France composed of massive latticework structure. The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889 which happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It was named after Gustave Eiffel who designed it. Gustave Eiffel also created the internal frame for the Statue of Liberty in the year 1885. It took around two years and two months to build. It was built during the years of 1887-1889. The tower was used as a key place in Paris to measure the wind speed. Also, Eiffel encouraged many scientific experiments to take place on the Eiffel Tower such as Foucault’s giant pendulum. The Eiffel Tower was equipped the first radio transmission technology. The first signals from the tower were received in 1898 by Eugene Ducretet at the Pantheon.

The Eiffel Tower at Night is one of the most beautiful attractions in the city and shines a golden color visible to most in Paris.

We sat on the ground just in front of the tower, trying to admire the tower and keeping an eye on the little one. Truly a masterpiece and symbol of French culture, liberty, and progress. I want to visit again on our anniversary, will spend an evening on the ground admiring its beauty while having dinner with wine – romantic isn’t it ?

Paris: Commute

I have never seen such a diverse public transportation in my life. In USA has public transportation just for namesake. Its is far cheaper to travel by your own car as compare to using public transportation [thanks to cheap prices of fuel in America]. London has also good mode of transport consisting of trains and buses. Although London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world but I think it doesn’t beat Paris in public transportation. Paris has one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems, with metro trains, buses and tramways running with remarkable speed and reliability. One single metro map helped us traveling in Paris, to reach from one point to another with no problem –

Initially it was little (yeah a little) confusing to understand the colorful mesh once we understand how to read it we were travelling in Paris like a pro. We bought 5-day metro pass and save ourself with ticket hassle each day which also provided us unlimited travel in Paris (Metro, RER, bus, tramway, and regional SNCF trains).

Fortunately our hotel was on the perfect place to catch public transportation. In front of the hotel goes the Tramway and its second stop was the Metro station.

Nearest station from our Hotel

Tramway

Metro

Station at Museum Louvre is quite different

Traveling around Paris in Tramway and Metro was quite fun and local performances in the station made it more interesting. There will be someone around the corner in the station playing some instrument as well as singing. It was great to listen them and their performances was very cheerful. Performer are well talented and after listening you are bound to give them something.

A Man playing some kind of xylophone

He is playing Flute

She is playing Violin

The Paris metro is easy to get the hang of if you come armed with the right information and towards the end we were so happy with ourself.

Paris: Stay

The most challenging part during  planning the trip was to book a Hotel. It was very hard to decide where to book and what range should we settled on because hotels are quite expensive in Paris as compared to flight tickets. We fought like hundred of  times about it and at one point of time we almost called off the trip but at last we agreed on this okay looking hotel with okay looking location and falling perfectly in our budget.

Paris is divided in 20 arrondissements (boroughs or districts), each district has lots to tell about its history and culture.

Finding hotel therefore quite challenging. If you look for cheaper hotels, they mostly are in the outer district (12 – 20).  If you still opt for our district then it would take more than an hour journey to reach any attraction because most of the attractions are situated in inner circle so it can be a little tricky. I don’t want to travel more than two hours everyday with baby because when you reach any place you already got tired in the journey and while visiting the place you have to keep in mind that you have to take another long journey way back to the hotel. As we were on vacation after long time so I don’t want any rush and too much tiredness in a day. Also no matter where we stay in Paris we had to walk a lot so we decided to search hotels in the heart of the city to save ourself from extra strain.

Like I said earlier, hotels in Paris are quite expensive, on average £90-£120 a day. We planned 6 days vacation so finding a hotel around £600 was giving us really hard time. We had to kept lot of factors in our mind in which the most important one was that it should be near to any local train station. So we browsed and browsed for the hotel and nothing came up very flattering. All those hotels we came acrossed looked dampy and shady and we want something fresh so that after long and tiring day we can relax with baby. Most of the hotels are so small that they had just only walking space in the room and an old small stinky double bed. After couple of days of browsing we found some apartment hotels. Aparthotels are apartment hotels are like apartments only they are booked like hotels. They have studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom apartments with well furnished kitchen. They were quite nice, giving us feel of home and looking great with kids. Having kitchen is just perfect with kid, this way we would have the independence of cooking little meals for kid and for ourselves too. Can have our special tea anytime we want and no dependency of having every meal in the restaurant for 6 days.

After lots of searches and fights we found this beautiful aparthotel which was looking good from the rest and was near to an underground train station, so we booked it. Our flights and hotels were done and then we waited.

The day came when we have to leave for Paris, trip from home to the boarding of flight was little exciting. We landed safely at Paris and then the journey begins. Now to reach our hotel we already decided to take local trains. We took the tickets and 5 days pass for two for the trains and headed towards train station. It took about 2 hours to reach our hotel from airport. We were so dead tired by the time we reach hotel, all we need was cup of tea to relax us. We took the keys of our room and full with excitement we opened the room. It was the nicest hotel ever  –

(We took pictures after an hour of settling down so you would see a little messy place)

The Hotel Adagio

From the entrance

the Room

cute little Kitchen with all the electric appliances including dishwasher and all the cutleries

Living Room

View from the balcony in the night

A little view of Eiffel Tower 🙂

We were so pleased that we booked this hotel. The most amazing thing that we got this hotel under £60o for 6 days. Kitchen got everything – pots and pans, enough cutleries for 4 people. We highly recommend this hotel to everyone, we got really great experience. Even it is great to share the room with other family. We loved it and so did Reva. She got a new place to explore – she got her size of refrigerator which she loved to open and close all the time, she took out cold things outside and put them back afterwards, she loved to roam in the balcony but I was scared to see the heights. So far we were happy to be in Paris.

We booked our hotels and flight from Expedia and hotel from Booking.

Paris

After lot of struggling I finally settled down on the title “Paris”. I was so confused for the title as I am so excited to write about it. My first Europe trip and that to the most romantic and beautiful city in the world. This trip was organized to celebrate our 4th Wedding Anniversary. Also it was more than two years since we were on any trip. We were so desperate to go on one, to get away from usual routine and weather. My dear husband selected Paris and I am so thankful to him for such a wonderful holidays.

We did our flight and hotel booking two month ago to save ourself with any last-minute hassles. Truly speaking I was worried that we would never make to the trip because it felt too good but we made it. It was our first trip with Reva and we were so worried about her but she enjoyed her fullest. Just a little tired and cranky by the last day.

I want to share each and everything in my blog so that I never forget.

See you later, Cheers!!