Touch Down ~ Lima

We arrived in Lima late night and took our taxi to Miraflores where all the tourists eventually end up staying. Our day in Lima was a good start, I was quite surprised that all three of us were not jet lagged. We decided to explore Cats of Kennedy Park, Park of Love, Barranco, Circuito Magico del Agua, Lima Basillica and Plaza d’Armas. We took a stroll along the Park of Love along the coast. The views were wonderful. We chose Cats of Kennedy Park next for Miana. She loves cats and this place was heaven! We took a quick stop for lunch in a vegan restaurant and then headed to Barranco. Barranco is definitely the Soho of Lima. Anywhere you turn, there is music, art and beautiful cafes and bars. This is one place where even Starbucks looked very pretty. We walked around the main square, cathedral, Bajada de los Baños and the bridge of spies. We decided to stop for a good peruvian coffee and watch the world go by. The art in Barranco caught up to Miana, She wanted to jump and explore those beautiful streets. We headed straight to Circuito Magicio just to find out it was closed. We decided to explore it on our return leg and headed to Plaza d’Armas and the Cathedral instead. This was such a lively square filled with music and life. We called it a night as we have an early start next day.

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Hola Peru!

Well, for every wedding anniversary we decided to go for a vacation. This has been our tradition last 5 years. This year for a change, we moved our anniversary trip to August since we wanted to avoid the crowd at least a little and the tickets were cheaper. This year our destination was PERU. This was a three week vacation so i’ll be chopping it down to pieces. Since we were traveling with Miana, we had to plan out things in advance and make sure we were well acclimatized to altitude changes. We travelled to Peru via Canada and we had a good amount of transit time that gave us time to explore couple of Canadian cities!


Our planned itinerary: Gringo Route.

Canada: Toronto and Montreal.

Lima -> Paracas -> Ica -> Huacachina -> Nazca -> Arequipa -> Colca -> Puno -> Cusco -> Machu Picchu -> Coffee tours -> Cusco -> Lima.

Peru has been such a beautiful country with lots of culture and life. We were astounded by its varied landscape. Our every interaction with the locals were welcoming and warm and not once we felt otherwise. Peruvians are very proud of their culture and their passion is seen on all their arts, crafts and souvenirs. I didn’t expect Peru to be Vegan/Vegetarian friendly. There was amazing food options and we really loved the gastronomical Peru.

Logistics: We travelled using Cruz Del Sur and their buses were very comfortable and cheap! Do carry some soles for the collectivos, taxis and to buy some souvenirs. I will get to the altitude sickness and traveling with baby on high altitudes on another post.

Moroccan Spring

Karthik always has a special place in his heart when it comes to desert. Whereas, I personally don’t prefer hot and sunny places. Thanks to Chennai for giving me enough dose of sun for the rest of my life. Our first look of Fes from the flight was lush green fields. I expected more of an Arizonian landscape but it was such a beautiful sight and a pleasant weather welcomed us. We really enjoyed the hospitality of Morocco from the minute we landed. Every one whom we encountered were kind and friendly.

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Fes~ We wanted to do a quick check in and start our random stroll in the medina but the minute we saw our Riad, all we wanted to do was to sit and admire the lobby! We were welcomed with a hot cup of Moroccan tea and biscuits. After a well relaxed check in, we decided to take a quick walk around the medina with our guide provided by the Riad. From narrow colorful alleys to stinky tanneries (they gave us mint leaves to mask the smell), we felt like we were in a maze. This place had so much life and sound. You could never guess what hidden treasure is behind each of those never ending doors in medina. Fes has the oldest medina in Morocco and I personally loved Fes over Marrakech. You could easily take a walk to the Blue gate and take a short ride to the seven golden gates. I love that there were so many vegetarian and vegan options and they were all yummy. There is so much more than Tajine and cuscous to moroccan vegetarian. Also, I should say Moroccans have a sweet tooth! There were far too many varieties of sweets that we tasted.

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Chefchaouen~ We took the local CTM bus from Fes to Chefchaouen and decided to stay for two days in the famous blue pearl city. I should say, the whole bus was excited and waiting to have a first look of the blue city! We did a quick check in and took a nice walk around the city. The blue colored walls adorned with flowers were a sight to the eyes. I should say the famous alley had a long queue of people waiting to take that insta worthy pic. Honestly any street in this city has so much glam! Miana loved Chefchaouen as she could run around the blue city exploring in her own pace.

Day Two~ After a scrumptious early breakfast, we headed straight to the streets of blue city and much to our relief, we beat the crowd. We had the streets to ourself and we really didn’t want to leave this city! I recommend you to eat at Bab ssour if you are in search of good food. There is a roof top terrace with a awesome view of the city.

 

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Desert ~The real adventure begins! We had chosen the three days/two nights tour of the desert and It was one of the best moments of the trip. We had a quick stop in a small town called Ifrane. Ifrane is a ski destination and it definitely had it’s charm with beautiful cabins and pine trees. Then a long drive through the Atlas mountain awaited us. On the way, we spotted some berber monkeys and fed them peanuts! As hours passed, the greenery started to fade away and we started seeing the desert landscape. We also stopped at the oasis on our way to the desert. After Our first glimpse of the famous Ergchebbi was magical! The golden dunes looked sun kissed under the sun. Miana clearly didn’t enjoy the eight hour ride! Since we were staying in the desert camp, we took a camel ride to the camp and it was one bumpy ride. Miana was quite perplexed about the camel ride and ended up sleeping in the middle of the ride. On reaching our camp, we were welcomed with some hot moroccan tea and biscuits. Miana was really not a fan of climbing up the dunes. Carrying her and walking up the dunes was one hell of a workout! We enjoyed the sunset from the top of the dunes and then decided to slide down the dunes. This was something Miana loved, so we had to go up again and again so she could slide down! After a yummy dinner prepared in the tents, there was moroccan music band that was organized. Well, we had initially planned to do some stargazing but when you travel with baby sometimes you need to skip certain things and anyways we were all too exhausted! Next morning, we were woken up to view the sunrise. We took a morning walk in the dune and returned hungry to a hot breakfast spread that was just perfect. Unfortunately, our experience in the desert had to come to a end and we were back on our camels to get back to another day of long drive. Our first stop of the day was Todgha Gorges. We had a short walk in the gorges and this was Miana’s favorite. She was throwing small pebbles into the water and wanted to splash water around. Water activities are always a hit with a lil one. Then we stopped at a restaurant with the majestic views of the gorge for lunch. Next, we were off to Ait Benhaddou. Ait benhaddou is that game of throne location of Khaleesi. We spent almost half a day exploring this UNESCO site. We stayed at Ouarzazate for the night.

Next morning, we explored the Atlas studios which gained its prominence for hosting sets of movies like Mummy, Gladiator and many more. After the studio we headed for a visit to the argan farm. We were shown the process of extracting the oil from argan nuts. We had our lunch and headed towards Marrakesh with stops to admire the majestic Atlas mountains.

Marrakech ~ The medina is filled with people and sound. I could hear the sound of the snake charmers even before sighting them. This large square Jemaa el-Fnaa is filled with merchants, snake charmers and monkey owners. I am personally not a fan of snake charmers. They run up to you with non venomous snakes to be put around your neck for pictures. If you are scared of snakes like me, don’t look at the snake charmers or take any pictures of the snakes. They are sure to come closer to you with snake in their hands! Stay away and enjoy! The alleys of the medina were almost similar to that of Fes but more touristic and bigger. In the afternoon, we went to the beautiful bahaia palace. With wonderful interiors its worth the visit. The next day we headed to YSL gardens and it was so beautiful. Everyone wanted to take their insta worthy shots and all that Miana wanted to do was run in between them! She was in no mood for pictures at the garden. After a good day’s walk again in the Medina, we went to our hammam and spa. It was such a relaxing way to end our busy vacation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Encore but for Birthday!

Birthday are those special days which calls for celebration. Karthik and me always prefer gifting each other experience and memories rather than physical gifts. Child’s first birthday is always overwhelming for every parent. We scroll through millions of pages in pintrest for ideas. We as a family have always loved being outdoors and traveling. When it was time to decide Miana’s first birthday plans, We unanimously selected ICELAND! This makes it our third trip to Iceland. We have fallen in love with this country! Iceland as a couple required two months of planning and Iceland with a baby was surprisingly easy since we made one impromptu trip in winter with Miana! This time we decided to explore more of the highlands and the spots that we couldn’t in our first trip. We rented our car and decided straight to drive to Akureyri via F35. This is definitely one scenic drive with glaciers and vast emptiness. Our first stop was the Hveravellier thermal hot spring. We took turns to babysit Miana and we to relax in the thermal hot spring since we were unsure if it was safe for baby’s skin due to high sulphur content.

After an early dinner at Akureyri, we decided to go for the whale tour! We were so lucky to have spotted some humpback whales though it was freezing cold and windy outside. The whales were too quick for Miana’s eyes though she did enjoy the water spouting. She clearly understand that it was by the whales.Next day, we had an early start to Askja. We took a bus trip to Askja in the North central highlands of Iceland. This is one caldera where you can take a dip in it! A good 45 minutes hike in windy conditions were just perfect for lil miss to fall asleep! Obviously, I literally woke her up for some pictures and some snack! The bus ride was very bumpy which means Miana had a more peaceful sleep than ever and we had a nice travel with zero tantrums.

After visiting Godafoss, Namafjall, Dettifoss, we relaxed at Myvtan nature baths and drove down south late that evening. We camped out on our way back to Selfoss. After a quick checkin at the hostel next morning, We headed straight to kirkjufellsfoss and strolled around Reykjavik.

We visited the famous golden circle and decided to drive to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and Vestrahorn. They always say weather in Iceland is unpredictable, and we were stuck in storm! Fortunately it didn’t last long and we were glad that it was a short one. After driving about six hours to Vestrahorn, we didnt get that legendary reflection picture instead it was covered under thick clouds and yet it felt so beautiful.

Our next day was relaxed with puffin watching, waterfalls and turf houses. We kept checking weather multiple times for the D-day and was trying to figure out back up plans in case of bad weather!

 

The D-day, We had picked the birthday cake the previous night and we decided to cut the cake early in the morning at Skogafoss. We were glad to have the waterfalls to ourselves early in the morning and some campers. This was truly a great birthday to remember. After a quick celebration, We decided to go to Þórsmörk. The bus ride to Þórsmörk was very adventures with some the toughest river crossing. We were surprised to see amateurs try crossing and being towed later! We had a day to spend in Þórsmörk and we did a small hike to a view point with incredible views of the famous  Eyjafjallajokull, Mýrdalsjökull and the vast highlands of Iceland.

We hope Miana has tons of memories to look back at! May all her dreams come true..

 

Infants, Emotions and Parenting!

This Blog is for my friend, Narmada! People say once you become a mom, there are a lot of changes. True in one case, early morning you wake up to whatsapp messages filled with parenting tips and ideas! I hate when my whatsapp friends group become parenting groups. Back to the actual blog, “Infants, Emotions and Parenting”, to me all these are fancy terms  that I keep hearing as a first time mom. I end up getting free advice from random people. I just tell them thank you and walk away. I never give out parenting advice/suggestion until I am asked one! Now that my friend wanted to know my thoughts on parenting, here it goes.

Having grown up in India, I should say I was provided with culturally enriching atmosphere. Did my mom have any parenting style? May be she did, at least it wasn’t called parenting style back then and I guess she was never judged for it! There are so many books on what to do and what not to do, so many styles which overwhelms any first time parent. We were that parent who read so many books, articles when I was pregnant on parenting but it all ended up being useless. Just when you think you have figured it out, they grow up and you are back to square one! Parenting can’t be learnt from books and blogs. Karthik and me don’t follow any parenting style, we just go by the flow! I do believe that those who decide to follow a parenting style should decide if it would be culturally appropriate for their family and kids. Most of these styles I read on blogs and books try to use modern parenting techniques that reflect methods typically utilized in the western countries. I would suggest you to talk to your families and get everyone on the same page!

We do believe in spending quality time with Miana and letting her take her own decisions. You could wonder what decision does a 15 month old have to take? Well, she decides her sleep time that’s just one of the many things! We are that couple who loves to read about sleep training but keeps procrastinating because it doesn’t work with our lifestyle. We love to take Miana more outdoors than to spend time in playpens or cribs. As a couple, we have loved traveling and Miana has been exposed to the world of traveling and she seem to have enjoyed it. We try to follow her cues and go by the day, every day is a surprise! We are definitely neither the helicopter parents nor the Bestie types. We hope to be the parents with whom she could share her views but be independent enough to take her own decisions. She definitely has a long life to make mistakes and learn from them.  We hope to show her the world we live and let her explore different cultures!

 

P.S: I am glad that I still have a few friends who have remained as crazy as we were before! Mimi version of exploring culture is eating idli for breakfast and spaghetti for dinner! I took forever to pen this blog!

 

Malta

A beautiful little country filled with culture and diverse topography ~ Malta. This was our quick weekend getaway from France. By now Miana is pro when it comes to traveling. We decided to stay in the main island of Malta and rent a car to go around the islands. Well, driving in Malta is Left hand, so it was quite confusing for us initially at the round-about! Our first stop was the capital Valletta. We spent the day exploring the narrow streets of Valletta, Valletta waterfront, Saint John’s cathedral (though it was under renovation, it looked pretty), Upper Bakkra Gardens and The Saluting Battery. I personally loved the view from Saluting battery and it was less crowded than the gardens. You could explore the city in the beautiful horse carriages but we decided to walk around and city. The narrow streets of Valletta was filled with tourists, we had quick stop for lunch at The Grassy Hopper, a delicious vegan/vegetarian spot! The weather was quite hot so we decided to head back to the hotel and relax at the swimming pool.

Day two, we headed straight to Blue grotto. We did the boat tour and it was a truly beautiful caves. Though Miana was much into her snack than the scenery. Then, we headed straight to Hgar Qim, the medival temples and we were a little early for the sunset at Dingli cliffs. It was a short walk to the cliffs and there weren’t so many people sticking around late evening. Miana definitely enjoyed the windy cliffs!

Our day three was an early start to Gozo. After a small stroll around Rotunda of Xewkija, Cathedral of the Assumption, we headed straight to the old spot of the Azure window. This would have been an incredible spot if the rock had not fallen, still it was a very scenic and worth a visit.

Day four, Comino! It is a small island of the Maltese archipelago between the islands of Malta and Gozo. We took a small ferry ride to the blue lagoon, Crystal blue waters and white sand. The beach was very tiny and there were lot of jelly fishes ( This was in April). There are a lot of tour companies offering trips to the lagoon and it can get really crowded in summer. But the crystal blue water was just out of the world. I would suggest you to take the first ferry in the morning thereby you get the lagoon to yourself. I could add this in the list of places I would like to visit again!

 

Tulips ~ Amsterdam

It’s spring and you know where to head for those beautiful tulip fields, Amsterdam it is! Amsterdam is famous for many things from tulips to windmills and lot more! Amsterdam with a baby is different than how Amsterdam was for us two years back. Since we had already been to Amsterdam two summers back, we decided to go again just for the tulips. This was just a two day trip and of course we went to the famous tulip garden Keukenhof. Though we reached quite early, it was flooded with all the tourist buses and was packed for the day. We spent half day exploring the garden and then rented out a bike to explore the beautiful tulip fields near by. Amsterdam is definitely best explored by bike!

Just after we rented our bikes, it started to rain. After waiting for a while, decided to head out and explore the colorful fields. These fields were less crowded and more picturesque like those postcard photographs with windmills in the background. This was Miana’s first bike ride. She throughly enjoyed it!

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