Tuesday, May 9, 2023

PARIS, JE T'AIME - Memories of our trip to the City of Lights and Love !

Crash landed back to reality and deep into the daily routine that I barely got a chance to pen down our experiences from our recent trip to Paris.

Being an ardent Francophile, it was a dream come true moment when we were finally able to visit Paris in the March of 2023.

I believed we really did have the quintessential trip to the City of Love. And Oh my.. didn't I fall head over heels in love!

Eiffel Tower

We kicked off our first day with a group walking tour that not only gives you a great lay of the land but also takes you to some of the most iconic landmarks in the heart of the City- The Notre Dame Church, The Louvre, Saint Chapelle while crossing some of the most elegant bridges across the River Seine. When there are celebrated monuments at almost every street corner, it becomes quite easy to clock a daily average of 20,000 steps.

Notre Dame Church

We also visited the summit of the Eiffel Tower which frankly did not make it to my favourites of the trip. It is an experience that one could do during a first time visit to tick off your bucket list but most definitely not something I would want to do in my future visits.

From the summit of the Eiffel Tower

Instead what I would recommend as a must-do would be the slow boat cruise across the river Seine post sunset. In my opinion, there cannot be a better way to wind down from the overwhelming touristy sights of this busy city. You get to watch the various iconic monuments and structures lined across the river bank from a whole different perspective and at such a soothing pace.

Us at the boat cruise

If Paris by day unravels herself to you with her elegance and beauty, it is at night that Paris completely enraptures you with her charm and grandeur. The Eiffel Tower in all its glory when it sparkles at night on every hour, converts even the greatest cynics into big romantics. Having fantasized this moment for the longest of times, it still managed to exceed all my grand expectations and left me awestruck and speechless. And if just not that, almost every monument or bridge (100s !) in the city is lit up and accentuated with lighting so impeccably that the sobriquet –City of Lights could not be more befitting. 

Sparkling Eiffel Tower at night

Now a trip to Paris is surely incomplete without a visit to the largest museum in the world- The Louvre holding more than 34,000 works of art that it would take you 8 months to complete even if you were to do it every day. Without a guided tour, it would almost be impossible to navigate this mammoth of a museum and its overwhelming crowds. We opted for a private guided tour with the theme of a kids treasure hunt, which succeeded in our little one truly enjoying her first European museum experience.

Louvre Museum

During the Treasure Hunt @ Louvre

Finally once you are in front of the most popular art- The Mona Lisa or La Joconde , you are so underwhelmed that you enter in self-doubt for your lack of artistic inclination in comprehending this “reputed” work of art. But the back story and various conspiracy theories surrounding it, are probably what make the whole painting even more interesting.

However if it was really art that you were looking for, then it would be best to head to the Orsay Museum to witness the art work by renowned and known artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir or even other artists that I came across such as Paul Signac whose unique art technique of pointillism was so fascinating.

Orsay Museum

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Art by Renoir

We also made our way to Disneyland Paris and had devoted two days so that our daughter could fully enjoy the whole experience.  Growing up in the 90s and in the world of back to back Disney movies, it was a surreal experience for me to see the Disney castle up close and personal.  Even more, the night illumination show in the backdrop of the castle is pure perfection and the 30-minute show from start to finish enthralled and engulfed me in waves of nostalgia that it literally left me in tears of pure bliss and gratitude.

The whole Disney experience is definitely a must do with or without kids and if you stay in their hotels, you benefit from the easier access and earlier entry to the parks. You might never know, who ends up enjoying it more -your kid or the kid in you ? 😉

Us at Disneyland

Disney Castle during the night show

At Disneyland Paris

No trip is complete without food, would it? And being avid foodies, we always try to enlist ourselves in atleast one gastronomic experience wherever we go. In Paris, we embarked on a guided food tour in the neighbourhood- Saint-Germain-des-Prés which took us to some of the best boulangeries (bakeries), (patisseries) pastry and chocolate shops speckled with some great insights into the history and culture before we settled down at a restaurant to devour the various food items we had collected along the way. The proverbial icing on the cake would be where we got to interact and indulge in a cultural exchange with a diverse and multi-cultural group of people coming from USA, Russia, Israel, Iceland, Sweden to Belgium.

Our guide stopping by Pierre Herme Macron shop during the food tour

Chandelier made from bread at Poilane bakery

We by which I mean me, have also probably consumed my body weight in croissants, viennoiseries and desserts. We also thoroughly relished sweet and savoury traditional French Crepes. Being a world tourist hub, also gave us access to some of the best from cuisines across the world-  Mexican, Vietnamese, the most amazing falafel plate even better than the GCC.

Croissants and more at a local boulangerie

French Crepe- Truffle cooked Ham with Egg and Cheese

Falafel plate at Chez Marianne

Macarons galore at Pierre Herme

But one of the highlights of the trip for me personally was when I took away some snippets of time for myself to explore some parts of the city on my own. I would literally rush out before the family was up for the day and would grab my morning coffee and devour my croissant (s !) while gazing at a fountain, strolling aimlessly, getting lost in my thoughts and in the streets or walking around a garden doing a self-guided audio tour. It certainly did give me an illusion of being on a solo trip while not actually travelling solo. These were some of my most cherished moments building in me the urge to come back even sooner.

When I went down the Paris tourist rabbit hole :)

The famous Cafe Les Deux Magots which was the hub of writers and artists such as Hemingway, Picasso, Sartre.

Solo moments- seated by a fountain eating my croissant

Luxembourg Gardens

Until next time, au revoir Pah-ree ! (Good bye until we meet again, Paris)

As Audrey Hepburn said- “Paris is always a good idea”.

Arc De Triomphe
Saturday, November 18, 2017


Ask any legitimate foodie in Doha for the city’s must try dining experiences and Brunches would inarguably figure in the top 3 recommendations of every list. However beware these brunches are not like those in the rest of the world to which you usually roll out of bed !

In GCC, these are more like events for which you dress up in your Friday best. They are Grand, Teeming and even sometimes a tad Extravagant.

So generally the brunches in the city vary from being a family brunch to the drinkers' brunch to the cuisine-centric brunch to the one with the view and more. St Regis Grand Brunch can be named as the Brunch with a Map. Comprising of a gargantuan spread and a countless number of dishes and stations, you would genuinely be "lost" without a map. 
The buffet ranges around an area of 2500 sqm and is made up of 16 stations including live cooking and dishes from the hotel's flagship restaurants such as Opal by Gordon Ramsay, the Raw Bar, Astor Grill, Vine, Sultan Ibrahim. Dishes offered vary from Sushi to Shawarma to Fish and Chips to Beef Wellington to Pizza to Foie Gras to Burgers to Indian to Pot Roasts to Tapas and much more. I really was not joking when I called it “gargantuan”. And as if that was not enough, you could also grab your drinks from the live cocktail stations ranging from sangria to mojitos to margaritas to martinis.
For those with uncontrollable overzealous kids like ours,St Regis offers the perfect antidote in the form of a supervised play area with a jumping castle, face painting and other activities equipped with a special kids' buffet. I was a happy mommy cruising through the buffet and yet being able to see my deeply engrossed little one through the corner of my eye.           
The brunch patrons included groups of families, friends, all girls to all boys, all who seemed to be glad to be outside after being confined to the indoors for too long.

On receiving the invite and reading upon the details of the brunch,I had decided to conquer the buffet by
Thursday, September 7, 2017


AFGHANISTAN; for a country that has been in the limelight in recent years for majorly the wrong reasons, it is a sad fact that its cuisine also has not garnered as much prominence as that of many of its neighboring countries.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I embarked on an A-Z Global Cuisine Project and chose AFGHANISTAN for A. During my research, I happily discovered that Afghani cuisine is a powerhouse of flavours and best described as hearty comfort food. The cuisine of this landlocked country has been deeply influenced from that of its neighbours namely Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

  • Afghani cuisine can neither be described as hot nor spicy and rather flavourful.
  • Chief crops of the country are rice, pomegranate, nuts, dry fruits which obviously makes way into their cuisine.
  • Typical dishes in an Afghani menu would consist of:
    • Rice dishes such as the Palow
    • Freshly baked Breads such as Naan
    • Kebabs generally made from Lamb
    • Stews such as Qorma
    • Dumplings stuffed with meat- Mantu or with chives drizzled with yoghurt and meat sauce- Ashak
    • Desserts made from milk, nuts and rosewater
    • Black and Green Tea spiced with cardamom or served with milk/cream
  • An Afghan traditional banquet is generally served on the floor with the dishes spread over a Dasterkhawan (Tablecloth).
  • Afghani hospitality is regarded to be one of the best in the world. Guests are considered like kings and hosts prepare elaborate meals using special ingredients even perhaps by using up their savings or inspite of the fact that they have not had meat themselves for months together.
To kick off my project (which I have talked about here), I prepared the “KABELI or QABILI PULAO” which is the National dish of Afghanistan. 

I read different versions on the origins of the name of this dish, first being that KABELI originating from KABUL, the
Saturday, July 22, 2017


A few months back, I happened to read this book-Life from Scratch by a food blogger, Sasha Martin.
The book revolved around the mammoth project undertaken by Sasha which involved her cooking from every country of the world i.e. precisely 197 countries. Tackling one country per week, it took her almost 4 years to complete this assignment. She initially commenced this major task with the prime objectives of coaxing her picky husband to experiment with food and exposing her six-month daughter to various global cuisines.

But as she delved deeper into herself, Sasha realized this project was her way of meditation and making peace with her extremely difficult childhood. Sasha was raised by a single mother and they faced serious financial difficulties. However, her mother was a very savvy cook and let no crumb go to waste be it moldy breads or spoilt apples. What she didn't have in resources, she made up for in creativity such as by introducing cranberry juice with cereal just because she could not afford milk.

Cooking and food was Sasha's strongest connection to her mother which kept her going when she lived in a string of foster homes.

Sasha in her book, particularly talks about certain recipes such as the German Tree Cake recipe which consisted of 21 layers made from almond paste that had to be further broiled, layered and frosted. This was a recipe that her mom had saved up for months and took them jointly two days to make. It was her mother's way of teaching Sasha that life is all about resilience and perseverance.

Perhaps cooking her way through 197 countries was the adult version of the German Tree cake recipe through which Sasha managed to make peace with her past, forgive and move on to find happiness in her current life.

Since having read this book, I have been very inspired with this project and have decided to embark one on my own albeit on a smaller scale. I would
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Should Ladies Have All The Fun? @Trader Vic's Doha

Lately there have been several round-ups of Ladies' nights happening across town with fabulous offers of free drinks, complimentary bites and drinks priced as low as QR 5 !
It was not long enough before the Hubby (over)reacted on hearing about these and stated-"What makes you ladies so special and privileged that only you all deserve these?"
I managed to list out a couple of the reasons as below:
  • Men are clearly not the ones bogged down with the feeling of constant guilt for leaving the families behind at home on their one night off perhaps after a year or even a decade !
  • Men are most certainly not the ones worried about being the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect daughter, perfect employee, perfect boss, perfect chef, perfect housekeeper, perfect friend or definitely not the insane being for even hoping to strike a perfect balance between all of the above roles.
  • Even scientific statistics evidence that women were 1.9 times as likely as to suffer as men from anxiety disorders primarily due to juggling work and family life.
So yes Dear Hubby, ladies definitely do need bonus nights and value deals to coax them to get out of the house for "fun". Around the same time, Hilton Doha invited me to their Wednesday Ladies' Night at Trader Vic's.
So, I called up a friend from my university days based in Doha who I hadn't met in over a year inspite of us living 10 minutes apart, gave an ultimatum to meet and soon enough we headed off to Trader Vic's.
The deal and the Menu:
Saturday, June 10, 2017


If I have managed to convince you to head to Bali with my previous post, then below are what you could actually do once you are there.

1.Cooking Class
Wherever I travel, I try and register myself for a local cooking class as this not only gives you an excellent insight into the actual local culture and real cuisine but also you always end up meeting an wonderful group of people from across the world. We attended the Lobong Culinary Experience in Ubud which offered a pick/drop facility, a market tour , an insight into the Balinese joint family system and ofcourse, the actual class held in their family compound. We jointly cooked every dish from scratch which went on to enjoy them for lunch. My favourite was the juicy chicken satay served with finger licking peanut sauce.

2.Sight seeing
Most major tourist attractions in Bali are temples (Puras) ranging from those on mountains (Besakih-mother temple), in caves (Goa Gajah), along lakes (Ulun Danu Beratan) to along the coast line (Tanah Lot and Uluwatu). Other famous sights/tours are the terraced rice paddy fields, sunrise trek to mountain tops or waterparks especially if you would be travelling with kids.
Batuan Temple
Mount Batur

Saturday, June 3, 2017


I was bitten by the travel bug quite late in life kicking off with our trip to Italy in 2015 and then last year I even went on my first solo trip to Thailand. This year, it continued with my first girls' trip to Bali,Indonesia.

Our trip to Bali just like last year happened all of a sudden post a casual conversation with my sis-in-law. And there we were strolling around the streets in Bali two weeks later. :)

Bali is located in Indonesia and is just 1 of the 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. So here are my 9 reasons on why you should consider Bali to be your next holiday destination:

1.Bali offers something just about for everyone and is ideal for honeymooners, friends, families, retired couples and even for solo travel. You would end up being spoilt when it comes to choices for accommodation ranging from homestays, budget to midrange hotels to luxurious resorts.

2.There's nothing more appealing than zero visa hassles considering Bali offers free 30 day visas on arrival for citizens of almost 140 countries making it one of the few countries (for atleast Indians), that you can plan spontaneous trips to.

3.You are almost always surrounded by lush greenery, azure blue seas and by tourists. And since everyone is on a holiday, you are amongst such positive and relaxing vibes that you will also end up being the less wound-up version of yourself.