Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Monday, 1 May 2017

Getting sun soaked and pampered amidst nature while being at Sentrium Lodge, Nakuru

                       
View of the sleeping warrior while approaching Elementita
                                             

Staying at Nakuru has various advantages, one of those being living quite close to nature. Coming up as the fastest growing town in  East Africa, I have seen significant development in a span of 6 years. While industry and other urban development get a thumbs up, it’s a place which has areas of tourist interest like Nakuru National Park and Lake Elementita at stone throw distance. Weekends here is truly exciting ; you might travel to the resorts here where good food, spa , drinks and other awesome facilities  are available within a 30 minute drive from the town. Visitors from surrounding towns and cities prefer this place and it’s been a popular weekend gateway. While making your way to the rugged and bumpy road you may have a look at the crater set in between the lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru called as ‘sleeping warrior’.

                            
The Sentrium Lodge


Room arrangement in Sentrium Lodge


The first glance: Situated away from the hustle and bustle of the city, sprawling over few acres of land this resort is one of the preferred places of interest for nature lovers. Quite close to Kariandusi museum, Gilgil, this 4-star resort borders the shoreline of Lake Elementita. You will have to travel some uneven bumpy road while entering the resort from the highway. The ruggedness of the road gives you a feel like you are entering the interiors of an African village. You will be directed with signboards and arrows and will ultimately arrive at the desired venue. The very first of the place looks bears a rustic appearance and some traditional African décor. The warm, comfortable nature of the hotel staff will give you a ‘feel good factor’. There are total 86 guest rooms, a swimming pool area, a mini bar near the pool, dining area and a great arrangement where guests can enjoy the mysteries of The lake Elementita while chatting and sipping hot coffee.  What attracts a visitor is a serene atmosphere, the chirping of the birds and mild roaring of sea breeze. In one word it’s the most desired place to be sun soaked and pampered amidst the lap of nature.

                              
Dining area



Comfortable sitting arrangement


Service: A day out here will be interesting to your family and friends. Get yourself rejuvenated in the spa, take a chilling dip at the swimming pool or enjoy the nature- this place will definitely fascinate you. The dining area is a large area with an arrangement for 200 people. We were greeted by the hotel staff with warm towels and then made our way into the culinary fantasies. There is some separate arrangement for people who come with toddlers and infants. They could find themselves equally comfortable. The food has African, Indian and continental variety. We found chefs who were preparing hot naans and serving- an act that is very much loved by food lovers. The arrangement was superb and the staffs were ready to offer a helping hand.  There were enough arrangements for both vegetarian and nonvegetarian preferring guests. The banquet area is given on hire for corporate and personal purposes.


                                       
Appetizer




Salad and sauces



Main course






Dessert



Food: The food is a 4- course meal which is a combination of continental and Indian variety. Apart from buffet serving, you can choose out of the menu card and order food of your own choice. Buffet starts at 1500 KSH per person and children below 12 are charged 750 KSH. You can choose your own sitting area and quietly enjoy your food- appetizer, salad, main course, and desserts. The variety of salads is quite intriguing.  You may choose any variety of meat or fish with boiled vegetable and mashed potato or any other combination of your choice.  But to my opinion, there should have been some more variety of vegetarian preparations. My rating for the food is 4 out of 5 stars. 

                               
Elementita lake from the lodge

Verdict: For nature lovers, this is the ultimate place. If you are staying in the surroundings of Nakuru or might be other cities, then definitely make a weekend plan over here and enjoy the natural beauty over Lake Elementita. You can make a plan for visiting the Nakuru National park, Hyrax hill, Menengai crater and return to the resort in the evening thereby enjoying the warm fireplace and the sumptuous meal.   The rooms are a bit pricey but depend largely on the seasonal fluctuation. If you are fond of bird watching and enjoy a stay beside the water side, then this resort will be the most desired of your choice. My ratings for the place are 4.5 stars out of 5.



Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Day out at the Ziwa bush lodge- truly ‘out of the world experience’

   
The front view of the lodge



Whenever it’s a weekend, I feel like home is not the right place to stay. I am always in search of new places, lodges, hotels, restaurants where I can spend quality time with my family. It takes about 15 minutes by road to reach Ziwa bush lodge from Nakuru town. The place is situated away from the hustle and bustle of the town, from the highway approach road towards Njoro junction, you need to take a left turn and reach the resort. The approach road is not a tarmac one, so never expect a smooth drive but a bumpy one; after moving over the rough and dusty road, you will be relieved to see the sign board of Ziwa bush lodge and the awesome surprise waiting for you. It’s located at the prehistoric region Hyrax hill site and Menengai crater.


The dining area



Swimming pool area



Fishing - the greatest attraction


                       
The side walk at Ziwa bush lodge




The fishing area

The first glance: Spread over some acres of land this 4- start resort is a great place for rejuvenation. There are 8 cottages for the guests. The arrangement is superb for a family of 2-4. The rooms are classified as family rooms and couple rooms.  It was my love at first sight for this awesome resort. The reception bears traditional African décor with those beautiful ‘wild life paintings’ all around. The cottages have thatched roof and are camp style. You will get all amenities like free wifi, hair dryer, shower, private bathroom with geyser arrangement, turn down service and a sit out area. There are various amenities and attraction like- fishing pool, swimming pool, spa and other recreation for the guests. We had entertaining and exciting time while fishing around with kids. It was nice to get spoilt in the natural beauty. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for a romantic couple, family, conference or might be if you are fond of an ecological tour. This is the perfect search for a photography tour or might be if you want to indulge in some writing stuff.



                   
Awesome service


The service: The hospitality was warm. Guests, especially children get special attention from the friendly staff. The dining area is large having comfortable sitting arrangement. On one corner is a fire place, where you will love to be clicked. The furniture made of wood has given a special rustic look, which is truly impressive for the first time guest. You will be helped with a fishing rod or accompanied to the swimming pool or spa depending on your preference. This dining hall could be a great preference for party or conference. They have occasional marriage parties’ and we saw some ongoing arrangement.


                         
Appetizer 



Main course


Dessert


Food: The food served is continental category, traditional and India variety. If you opt for buffet it will be a 4 course meal. You may sit comfortably either in the dining hall or in the fishing lounge and enjoy the food. Appetizer, main course, deserts and finally tea- that’s what the choice you will get by paying 1500KSH per head. For children below 12 it will be 850 KSH. Food is good especially the sea food dishes deserve special mention.


Verdict: I liked the place and recommend this as the ultimate place to hang around during weekends. It’s busy during weekends and people from surrounding cities and towns prefer to send the weekend with family and friends. The charges for the rooms are slightly pricey and they are subjected to cancellation compensation charges if you plan to cancel your trip on a short notice. Minimum 15 days is the period permissible to cancel a trip. The rooms have all amenities; it’s a serene and tranquil venue and quite ideal for honeymoon couple. If you are a first time visitor I bet you will love this place like anything. My overall rating for the place will be 4.5/5 stars.







Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Doha- the amalgamation of hospitality and sophistication


        
Pearl Qatar- Reflects Arabian lifestyle
    
My trip to Doha was never planned. It came out all of a sudden. Every year while booking tickets to home I prefer to travel via Doha. Doha, the capital city of Qatar a peninsular country situated in Western Asia whose terrain comprises of arid desert and the Persian Gulf. Being a busy hub connects almost 150 destinations have been the most preferred route due to convenience of accessibility quality airlines service. While I was travelling to my hometown Kolkata I had a layover of 12 hours. Such long hours in the airport seems to be a bit boring although there much to see and explore in the most modern airport. While I was exploring the airport something caught my eyes which were interesting. A free tour was arranged from the airport for people whole have flight at least 8 hours late. There are 4 such tours arranged by the Qatar airlines and I bumped into the idea. Immediately I spoke to the ground staffs and they helped me to book a seat for my family after confirming my boarding pass which showed that my flight was pretty late in the evening.
                               
Doha schedule for guided tours

             

The tour was a complimentary gift from the airlines authority and I was overwhelmed to see a new county which I always considered was a transit to my desired destination. The tour was a guided one with a comfortable bus meant for city sight- touring. Just after boarding we were told about the rules and regulations to be maintained while on the tour. Special emphasis was given towards maintaining time limit to each and every point of interest. The disadvantages of not being in time were explained there by.  It was exciting to find a journey within a journey.


                
The Corniche




Dazzling pearl qatar at night

The first sight was Pearl Qatar which is man made island. Influenced and designed by world famous designers and architects of Spanish and French origin this place is a photographer’s delight. The Riviera living is situated by the side of La Croisette, a lively waterfront which has restaurants and shopping arcades lines by the sides. We stopped here to click pictures. It’s the ultimate of Arabian lifestyle combined with warmth and high standard of living. This is also called Porto Arabia.

Skyline compared to Manhattan


The skyline more or less resembled that of Manhattan but beauty is no way comparable. Qatar has opened its arms towards the world for employment and thereby making this city the ultimate of business hub. We were told that being a Qatari in Qatar itself is a matter of pride. Only 15% of the population is Qatari and rest all foreigners. Qatar promises 100 job guarantees to all its citizens- a rare occurrence anywhere in the world. Qatar is said to be the richest nation, GDP per capita being 75,117$ recorded in 2015. Flambuoncy and aristocracy have been reflected in the infrastructure of the city. We were taken around the US embassy zone where there was a no photography policy. I desired to have a view of the Al Jazeera HQ, (my favorite news channel next to BBC) but time constraint never allowed me to do so.

      
Museum of Islamic Art and culture


Our next halt was around the museum of Islamic art. Situated 7 kms away from cornice on the water front this building is considered as an architectural gem. The first view of the building resembled a burqa clad woman with only the eyes exposed to the world.  The entry to this museum is absolutely free. There is an option of a guided tour or you might opt for an audio guide and go all of your own. Ts a collection of masterpieces of Islamic art including- metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, 
glass and even textiles. These are collected from three continents dates back from 7th to 19th century. It’s a pleasure to watch the beautiful collection. On entrance the visitors were asked to be dressed modestly. Only full dress allowed for both men and women. No short length skirt or dress for ladies, skimpy or body hugging dressed allowed for ladies. For men no shorts or half sleeve T shirts could be allowed. They reserve all rights to deny permission to the museum in case they feel a person is not modestly dressed.

  
Katara centre- Doha

Next point of attraction was the Katara centre of art. It’s a huge structure spread over some hectares of land that proudly preserves the culture of Qatar. We were taken a tour of the amphitheatre, drama theatre, Golden masjid, Halls and galleries, media centre, Masjid of Katara and the Katara gardens.  It’s undoubtedly an alluring place to explore and to hang around.

                                    
Amphitheatre at Katara Art centre, Doha

We were taken around the city in special tourist buses organized by Qatar airlines. The commercial buildings were worth seeing. The architecture was truly splendid and all shapes of buildings reigned- zigzag, spindle shaped, slanted and boat shaped. Looks like the country invited and hired the best of brains in architectural excellence and dumbfounded the world with its ‘man made’ treasured assets.

       
Zigzag towers- Doha


Our last halt was the’ Souq waqif’a market place in the heart of the city with Arabian influence. This place had some remains of the medieval type buildings. It’s said those centuries before it used to be the ‘souq’ or market place for the Bedouins to sell their products. 
            
Souq waqif


Perfume store at Souq Waqif, Doha



It was almost at the verge of getting demolished when the Qatar Government in 2004 started remodeling this heritage site and made it a place of tourist attraction. There are various places to dine and shops which displayed antiques. We were told that this place is the mist happening in the city at evening hours when flavors of kebabs smoke in the air. Music, dance and food- it is the ultimate of Arabian euphoria. We shopped some souvenirs costing around (3-5) $; I make it a point that I should carry at least some memoirs of a place which I once visited.  We didn’t have time and space else I would have never missed a kebab meal and carry some exclusive handworks made from wood and shisha. Gold was being available in those shops making a much desired destination for goldaholics.

A perfect 3 hours tour was nearing its completion. We boarded the bus and were dropped at the airport. After regular security check we were waiting for our flights to take towards our final destination. My kids were tired yet excited and discussing the new places they visited. I thank the airlines from the bottom of my heart; myself being a frequent traveler in this country was truly privileged to visit this amazing city, observe the culture closely and cherish the amazing moments spent in the awesome city.  I promised to myself that next time I visit Doha I will never miss the sumptuous Arabian meal at souq waqif.










Sunday, 5 March 2017

Spinach n egg frittata- the easy and yummy snack!



                   
Yummy bite- spinach and cheese!

There is a great saying that mothers are the best doctors without a degree.  Weekends are always exciting for kids and family. But for a mom it’s the greatest challenge – what could be the next yummy snack for the family? This weekend was a usual one unless I turned it to be a bit exciting with my usual smart cooking skills. Well, what I did was to combine all the vegetable, bake a bit and the result was- spinach and egg frittata. For those kids who are expert in framing excuses to skip a meal of green veggies- this is the most appropriate solution.

Ingredients:
  1. 2 medium sized bell peppers chopped into smaller pieces,
  2. 2 medium sized tomatoes chopped into smaller pieces,
  3. 1 bunch of spinach blanched into smaller pieces,
  4. ½ teaspoon of garlic paste,
  5. 1 medium sized potato skinned and chopped into smaller pieces,
  6. 2 medium sized onions chopped into smaller pieces,
  7. 7 eggs beaten,
  8. ½ teaspoon of salt,
  9. ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder,
  10. ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese,
  11. Oil to fry the veggies.
Equipments used:
1.       Frying pan,
2.       Oven

Procedure:
  1. Take little oil in a skillet and add all the veggies including the garlic paste to it. Cook for some time till all the veggies are nicely cooked.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for some time till it becomes soft.
  3. Add the chopped spinach leaves and
  4. Transfer the content to a baking tray.
  5. Place the beaten eggs over it.
  6. Transfer to an oven and bake it 180 degree Celsius for 15 minutes.
  7. When the egg is set then again top with the cheese.
  8. Again put to bake for 3-4 minutes till the cheese melts.
Remove and allow cooling.  Serve it to your family. Your kids will surely like it.





Saturday, 4 March 2017

Belgium – the la la chocolate land !


   
Architectural excellence- that's Brussels


Belgium was the last country of our trip. There are many facts that come into mind while we spell – BELGIUM. A vibrant country meant for football, cycle race, glass work, chocolates and many more. We were assigned a one day trip. In this hectic schedule our tour guide managed to show us the top attraction that makes this country a special one. This beautiful city suffered terrorist attacks in recent past. We observed tight security everywhere.

              
Atomium
Our first halt was the Atomium, avenue de L’atommium. This huge structure was constructed in 1958 , engineered by Andre Waterkyn and architect Jean Poland ; this 102 meters tall structure huge atoms made from iron and huge escalates join them; this makes the city unique from others. We had enough time to do some photography session in front of the iconic building.
          


Inside atomium


 A trip inside atomium will cost 6 Euros per child and 12 Euros per adult. It’s enjoyable but visitor’s comments were like – the trip not worth the time taken to explore the entire structure. I managed to get some pictures form co-travelers who went inside atomium and sharing for my readers. The entry tickets could be purchased online as well.


    
Manekann Piss- lots of stories 


Next we were taken to the famous place- Manekann piss. It’s a 24 inch long bronze made structure of a little boy that’s urinating to a fountain basin. There are various stories regarding this famous structure. One the story goes like- this little boy saved the city by diffusing a bomb by peeing on it. So that statue made in 1619, sculptured by Hieronimus Duquesnoy was actually a tribute in memory of the boy. There are various other beliefs on other stories regarding this statue but this is the most popular one. The stories are interesting enough!


   
Chocolates in retails outlets


We were taken to retail outlets who are dealing into chocolates. It was just fantastic to see so many varieties of chocolates under the same roof. In fact we had a mini breakfast with chocolates bars sold in terms of weight. But too many chocolates curbs down one’s sweet tooth. My children had lunch with chocolate waffles.


          
Belgium chocolates- that's why chocolate land!

We were taken on a walking tour to Galerie de la Reine which is must stop for chocolate lovers in Brussels. The shops that luxuriously displayed chocolates across transparent windows will surely provoke you to make a handsome purchase of the top flavors like- milk crème, cocoa, mint and chili. Before visiting Brussels I had no idea that chocolate could be combined with other flavors to suit various taste buds.  It was like an exciting chocolate tour.



      
Gallerie de la Reine- the 19th century shopping mall 




  
Floral carpet- beautiful event at Grand Place

There are various other places of interest that we could not make due to lack of time.
The Grand Place, a UNESCO world heritage center is the main attraction of Belgium. During mid August, the place is decorated with almost 750,000 begonias which make the world’s largest floral carpet. The place was once the main market place of medieval history.


        
Comic strip 
Comic strip situated at Waucquez warehouse is a collection of over 5,000 original cartoon masterpieces. Belgium is famous for conceiving the famous comic character ‘Tintin’. Famous cartoonist Herge and creator of Tintin has left his foot marks here and has presented the most memorable characters like- Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus.


There were various other places of interest like- Palais du justice , Royal museum of Fine arts and musical instrument museum in Brussels which I could not cover due to lack of time but I will suggest others to visit. Belgium, known for hand -made glass works is one of the top notch places of interest. In case you have interest to look at the process of glass making then a guided visit to one of those is a must. That might cost you 30 Euros extra but without that tour the trip is almost incomplete.
This was my finishing trip. I hired some photos from my traveler friends who visited the place.


  
Commercial buildings in Brussels.


 My next destination was Paris and from there we will be packing for our final destination. The day was excellent for me- breakfast at Amsterdam, lunch in Brussels and had dinner in Paris. There is nothing more exciting than exploring unknown places and experiencing unknown culture. I wish I could earn a lot, eat a little and fulfill my destination to travel around the world before I die. With some cherished golden memories I was eagerly waiting for the next trip and quench my thirst of being a global traveler.







Sunday, 19 February 2017

Europe diary 2016: Holland - the cheeezzy land!

                           

                      
Picturesque dutch Village 

From Germany our next destination was Holland.  There are enough bus routes from Frankfurt to Amsterdam.  It takes 5 hours to travel to Amsterdam from Frankfurt by bus. We were tired yet excited to see another European country. Known for world class cheese and other dairy products- we were simply overwhelmed to be in the cheesy land.

                
Eateries near the hotel

It was almost evening when we reached our hotel in Hofdoorf.  It was a comfortable 4 star accommodation and with lot of eateries around the neighborhood.  The homes were beautifully decorated with flower gardens outside. Summer evenings are always enjoyed by people by handing around the vegetable garden area or cooking outside. It was a fun filled environment. The hotel lobby was vivacious with music and dance. It was a vivacious atmosphere with people from almost all corners of the world.

    
Zaanse Schans- the greatest tourist attraction
  
The next day morning we were driven to Zaanse Schans which is a Dutch village and a great attraction for tourists situated at the neighborhood of Zaandam, near Zandijk in Netherlands.  The first sight of the wind mill set me mind boggling. It is a great technology that is used to create electricity. They are used for grinding spices, pumping water and sawing wood.  They are called wind turbines and are even used to grind flour to make bread. The information desk is open between 9:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs. Verkade pavilion is known for exhibiting the history of biscuit and chocolate makers. The entrance fees are 10 Euros for an adult and for children 6 Euros.

                                       
Shoes in process



The shoe factory- demonstrating 


We were taken to the shoe museum and we had a demonstration of how traditional Dutch shoes are made from soaked wood. The shoes are then allowed to dry in sun and become ready in 2 months. The size of shoes even matters.  These shoes are often seen displayed near traditional Dutch houses. Beautiful shoes were being sold starting from 50 Euros a pair to 5000 Euros a pair. A wooden shoe studded with precious stones was something that caught my attraction.  There are various souvenirs price range starting form 3 Euros , sample  shoes , fridge magnets and key rings which can be carried back home  as gifts for family n friends.

               
Fishermen village 




Beautiful neighbourhood; attractive decor



Souveneirs for sale


Next we were taken to fishermen’s village.  It is a chic village where the houses appear to be in a competition to win the award for best decoration. We were taken to a cheese factory. We were demonstrated on cheese processing. The factory visited by us was called ‘Volendum’. The hostess dressed in traditional Dutch attire was looking attractive and was demonstrating on cheese preparation.   Various flavors of cheese were on display and the tourists were asked to try samples of each. We went around the village and tried some fish dishes. The dishes were truly excellent.  ''Volendum'' has recorded the highest number of tourists each year.

              
Replica of Kohinoor at Coster Diamond





Diamonds for sale




Explaining the texture and properties of diamond




Next we were taken to the town where we had a view of Coster Diamond showroom.  A replica of the Kohinoor caught my attraction which was displayed in the entrance. The guide took us around the museum where we were demonstrated on the processing of diamond. The precious stones were carefully preserved and the tourists were allowed to have a look and even try the beautiful stones. They offered attractive price for the tourists after educating them on diamond buy.

               
Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh museum is a great attraction. It is the home to more than 200 paintings, 700 drawings and more than 700 of his letters all by Vincent Van Gogh. It was opened in 1973 and was modernized through all the years.

There are various city hopping bus meant for the tourists who can avail the chance to go around the city at a nominal price of say 30 Euros per person.

                                
City Hoppa bus - Amsterdam

                    


There are various other things to do in Amsterdam apart from sight- seeing. Sex tour of the red light area is the greatest attraction for both married and unmarried couples.  The beautiful and exotic sex workers will truly take you off your knees. The sex tours can be availed by foot and a guided tour will cost 35 Euros per person.

                               
Amsterdam red light area- a view at night
                     

We were taken for a canal tour organized by the tour company.  The cruise was truly attractive one with an audio guide. There were separate arrangements for cruise with on board dinner.

                   
Canal cruise view



                       
Viewing the city from the vessel




Memorable Amsterdam; view form the cruise



In one word, 2 days was not enough to view this beautiful city. Amsterdam, a beautiful city having lot of opportunities, ports and other industries, the hub of flower business can be the city of your dreams. To live your dream needs a little money and opportunity. Money can be earned by anybody and everybody but everybody needs to look for opportunity to holiday. There’s nothing like exploring unknown places, getting acquainted to their culture.


Next day morning we left Amsterdam for Brussels, Belgium.