We are often see ourselves caught up in a routine that doesn’t allow to think further, it’s like being stuck in a cycle. We start losing perspective, and slowly before me know it depression and anxiety hits us. I have experienced this for myself, and talking to therapist does help but I did not find that as a permanent solution because you are again trapped in the same surrounding that is not making you happy. The times when I actually felt good was when I took a break from the monotony and got out, it could have been only a weekend get away, or a vacation to a destination that’s been on your list for the longest time. I am listing down reasons why travelling has been therapeutic for me and how it’s really helped me in many ways I probably didn’t realise.
Out of your comfort zone I realised I got too comfortable in one place, be it home or work, even if the space I was in wasn’t making me happy, I was just to comfortable where I was in that moment. The time I decided to travel, have different experiences and see the world that’s beyond my problems and comfort zone is when I could put in a lot more perspective to my life. Being in a city, opening up maps to locate places and area, communicating with sign language and overcoming the language barrier, experimenting different cuisines that your palate was probably unaware of. All of this opens up your mind to other things in life, you start becoming more open towards different ideas and things that would be out of your comfort zone.
Makes you more confident The moment you start experimenting and experiencing different things in life, the times when you get lost and find your way back, or manage to make a friends that may not communicate in your language. All these small things unknowingly starting making you more confident, it’s an unconscious confidence boost because you’re somehow doing things you feared or thought weren’t possible. Eventually this reflects upon you as a person, you are not seeking for validation from anyone for this. You’re simply just going to a place that’s been on your list for the longest time and you weren’t sure if you’d ever actually go.
Change of surrounding A getaway or a much-needed vacation brings you a change in your surrounding, you always return from a holiday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Sometimes, we need this break to feel good about where we are mentally and physically. When work gets too dragged or there is meaningless night outs going to the same places, non of this helps in refreshing your mind, you feel stuck and that’s when there must be realisation for change. Utilise those holiday leaves before they expire and book your next holiday!
No judgments Let’s be real, you’re out of your city at a place where you don’t know people, and holidays come’s with no rules which equals to no judgements! For me this means not worrying about what I wear, what I eat or how I look, not being bothered what someone might think. This really makes us stress free and let’s us live and enjoy to the fullest, you could be waking up at noon to pizza’s and beers as your breakfast and hangover cure and no one cares till you’re having the best time, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Explore yourself At times, we forget about our capabilities and other things we can do because we don’t give ourselves that time, this often leads to a lot of frustration. Long weekends and time away from your routine gives you time and space to explore your hobbies, think about the things you are good at or a skill you may want to learn. For me, taking a break post college, a few weekend getaways and holidays was the time I realised that I enjoyed photography and writing, this time away I was able to explore things of my interest and just to figure out things you may want to do, a vacation away allows you to be in a head space where you think beyond deadlines, you think about your passions, interests, hobbies and different ideas.
Travelling has definitely helped me in a lot of ways, and I hope this article inspires you to travel and leave your worries behind xx
Bali is the mecca of Instagrammable café, I think every café I went to in Bali was Insta-worthy. The interiors of cafés in Bali are minimalistic, having cute corners that you wouldn’t want to leave without snapping for sure. Apart from how all the cafés looking cozy where you could spend hours. The food is SO good!! A lot of cafés are vegan, which have fresh, colourful and perfect plating that you would want to capture before digging in. The best part about most of these cafés is that they’re extremely affordable!! So well, that means you can actually go to all of them! Here, are my few favourites and most instagrammable cafés in Bali.
Kynd Community: Kynd Community is a plant based café, one of the most Insta-famous cafés in Bali, they are known for their smoothie bowls with customised letters on it. Trust me, apart from how good the food looks, I was really surprised how much I liked the vegan food here. From freak shakes, burgers, smoothie bowls and of course coffee shop staples for me avocado toast and latte, you get everything at Kynd, this was undoubtedly one of my favourite vegan cafés in Bali and I highly recommend it.
Must Have: Gourmet Toasts (leo), Freak Shakes, Berry Tropical Smoothie Bowl, Loaded fries and Big mac Location: Jalan Raya Petitenget No.12X, Petitenget, Bali Timings: 6am – 5pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $8 – $10 per person Instagram Handle:@kyndcommunity
Café Organic: Café Organic is another vegan and vegetarian cafe in Bali, really cosy and a perfect place to get an early breakfast. This is again another insta famous café in Bali. Café Organic has a corner with a cute botanical painting, perfect spot to get your picture for the gram and guess what, you can buy yourselves goodies to take back home such their chocotella, granola and a lot of other organic, sugar-free and vegan goodies. #GardenGangstas while posting pictures on your Instagram from here.
Must Have: Super Smoothies, Smashed Avo, Kombucha, Blueberry Pancakes, Earth Bowl Location: Jl. Petitenget No. 99X, Seminyak, Bali / Jl. Batu Bolong No. 58X, Canggu, Bali Timings: 7am – 4pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $10 – $12 per person Instagram Handle: @cafeorganicbali
Revolver Espresso: Revolver Espresso is a must visit for all the coffee lovers! It’s one of my favourite coffee shops in Bali. The dope interiors of bright neon lights, floral painted walls won’t let you leave this place without snapping it, but what’s even cooler is the coffee bar!! Revolver is the perfect place to get your morning coffee or a mid-day coffee fuel paired with a dessert. I could spend couple of hours working here and sipping on coffee and maybe a cocktail or two later! They even host Revolver nights which is a dinner, wine and cocktail menu. Unfortunately, that’s something I missed but there’s next time. And lastly, you can buy their merchandise and take their roasted coffee back home!!
Must Have: Piccolo Latte, Cold Brew ( Best I have ever had), Revolver Coffee Shake, Espresso Chiller Location: Jl. Kayu Aya, Gang 51, Kuta Utara, Seminyak, Kabupaten Badung, Seminyak, Bali Timings: 7am – 11pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $4 – $6 for coffee, $10 -$12 per person paired with food Instagram Handle: @revolverespresso
Sisterfields: Sisterfields is literally my favourite breakfast/brunch spot in Bali, it has the best pancakes and french toast I have ever eaten!! Sisterfields is an Melbourne style café, having an indoor and outdoor sections, unlike other cafés the outdoor is surrounded by greenery, try and get a spot with all the plants in the background for your Instagram picture. The staff is super friendly and nice, this place will not be a disappointment for sure!
Must Have: Acai Berry Bowl, Smashed Avocado, Chocolate Brioche French Toast, Pancakes & Red Berries, Charcoal Breakfast Burger Location: Jl. Kayu Cendana 7, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Timings: 7am – 10pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $10 – $15 per person
Instagram Handle: @sisterfields
Sea Circus: Sea Circus is another insta-famous cafe and bar, known for it’s colourful graffiti exteriors and the pink bench that you probably cannot miss! And as soon as you enter a big pink neon sign says ‘restaurant, cocktail bar and coffee den’ that’s enough for you to know what to expect from this exceptionally pink café. It’s a perfect place to get dinner and drinks, a tip – go early sometimes it gets really busy here, which means queuing up to get a table.
Must Have: Acai Bowl with Granola, Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, Rice Paper Rolls, Baked Parmesan Dip, Frozen Margaritas, Pow Wow Location: Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali Timings: 8am – 1am, Mon – Sun Pricing: $15 – $20 per person paired with drinks Instagram Handle: @seacircus
Mad Pops Bali: Mad Pops Bali will be your beat the heat spot, mad pops is a vegan ice cream parlour and trust me you’ll be surprised how good vegan ice cream can be. All their ice cream is non dairy with a cold pressed coconut base made with fresh locally procured ingredients. Get yourself a fresh fruit popsicle or a soft and get your perfect ice cream snap near the neon board that says ‘ice ice baby’. Definitely a go to spot even though it’s not a café, it’s got the Insta-shot aesthetics.
Must Have: Matcha Sesame, Mint Chocolate Chip, Popsicles Location: Jl. Kayu Aya No. 48, Seminyak, Bali Timings: 11am – 10pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $4 – $6 per person Instagram Handle: @madpopsbali
Nalu Bowls: Nalu Bowls you could probably tell my the name, it’s Bali’s first smoothie bowl shack, even with a limited menu they make some of the most Instagrammable tropical bowls. Apart from Bali, Nalu bowls is available in Jakarta, Ibiza and Portugal. You can only imagine how good their smoothie bowls are. It’s a perfect healthy detox place after a night out in Bali.
Must Have: Uluwatu Bowl and J-Bay Bowl Location: Jl. Drupadi 1 2A, Seminyak, Bali, also in Canggu and Uluwatu Timings: 7:30am – 6pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $4 – $6 per person Instagram Handle: @nalubowls
Coffee Cartel Bali: Coffee Cartel Bali coffee is a big deal in Bali,and Coffee Cartel is setting a new trend of the ripple coffee, using their ripple machine they churn out the most Instagrammable coffees in Bali, it can be a text or an image, they will have it rippled out on your coffee. This place has the most chilled out, laid back vibe, really pretty plating and the most good looking coffee, you will not leave this place without posting it on your gram!
Must Have: Speciality Lattes, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, Banana Bread Location: Jl. Lb. Sari No. 8, Seminyak, Bali Timings: 6am – 5pm, Mon – Sun Pricing: $10 – $15 per person paired with food Instagram Handle: @coffeecartelbali
I am sure there are many more Instagrammable cafés in Bali left to discover, incase there are places you’ve been to that aren’t on this list, please leave them in the comments down below, I would love to visit them on my next trip to Bali.
Bali is one of Asia’s popular island and beach destination. And I completely understand why, spending 10 days in Bali seemed too little to spend enough time and cover every area in Bali. I would really wish to stay in Bali for a month to cover every place and I am sure there would be some place undiscovered. Well so here, I am making a simplified guide about different locations in Bali and this will help you pick where to stay based on the vibe and things to do in every area.
La Plancha, Seminyak
Seminyak is the most popular, uber cool, chic and the one of the nicest areas to stay in if you want to shop, party and eat. Seminyak has a lot of bars, restaurants, cafes and beach clubs, it is one of the higher end, posh areas of Bali. I would definitely recommend staying in Seminyak for 2 nights at least as there is a lot to explore there, if you are someone who would prefer a less touristy area, then you could avoid staying at Seminyak as it can be wee bit commercial. But if you love the classy, fun vibe, staying at Seminyak exploring the boutique stores, amazing coffee shops, beach clubs and bars are a must. The advantage of staying in Seminyak would be that everything is in close proximity, hence you can save yourself from the taxi bargain. Young travellers looking to party and shop, this is definitely where they should be staying.
Tegenungan Waterfall, Ubud
Ubud, another popular location in Bali, Ubud has a lot to offer but it may not be everyone’s vibe as it is a more relaxing part of Bali. You won’t experience the hustle bustle here, everything is a lot more calming. Ubud is a must stay for anyone who loves early morning yoga, an Ayurvedic spa, a fresh breakfast, shopping at the Ubud art market, and basically a more cultural experience. Apart from this Ubud has a lot of sightseeing to do as well, that’s why is a must visit while you’re in Bali. For the sightseeing and touristy experience, a day trip could be enough to visit the monkey forest, the waterfalls, rice fields and the temples but if you want to have a more wholistic cultural experience I would recommend staying here for 2-3 nights at a really nice spa resort and immerse yourself into the culture. I am pretty sure, you will be feeling more rejuvenated after your stay here.
La Brisa, Canggu
Canggu, is the more hipster, fun area of Bali, if you are someone who doesn’t like the commercial scene in Seminyak, then I would recommend staying at Canggu, about 30 minutes away from Seminyak. Canggu also has a lot of beach clubs, bars and cafes, few being a lot cheaper, less touristy and a lot more chilled. Canggu is a place where you are likely to meet a lot of freelancers, bloggers, solo traveller as I noticed that’s a preferred location for them, having everything to do but little less crowded and more fun.
El Karbon, Uluwatu
Uluwatu is one of my favourite locations in Bali, Uluwatu is an hour away from Seminyak, located on a cliff and has some of the nicest beaches and day clubs in Bali. Some of the best hotels in Bali are situated in Uluwatu with the most stunning views, I would definitely recommend couples holidaying in Bali to stay in Uluwatu for 2 nights, party during the day, get a nice romantic dinner and catch the sunsets from the cliff. Uluwatu is less crowded and very sophisticated, I highly recommend staying here for a few days. It’s 15 minutes away from another area in Bali Jimbaran where you get some of the best sea food and the most amazing sunsets in Bali. Uluwatu should definitely be added to your list.
St. Regis, Nusa Dua
Nusa Dua, is where most five star hotels are situated, perfect location for a family holiday in Bali. Nusa Dua has nice clear beaches, lots and lots of activities and water sports to enjoy. It is the most developed resort area in Bali, if you’re looking for a luxury suite and a private beach experience, this is definitely the place you should be considering while staying in Bali. You are likely to find a lot of hotel chains in Nusa Dua with endless amenities being provided and you wouldn’t have to go anywhere else. Nusa Dua is where you should be staying on a family holiday and enjoy at some of the finest hotels in Bali.
Hopefully this helps you plan your Bali holiday better based on where to stay and what to expect everywhere, I can emphasis more on how much there is to do in Bali and there is literally something for everyone, just make sure you stay at the right location for the experience you would expect in Bali.
Well, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But you know what’s more important for me, a big Sunday breakfast to cure my weekend hangover and get me prepared for my Monday.
Disclaimer, these top 5 breakfast places are my personal favourites and where I would go eat whilst living in London after a night out, obviously cause who eats breakfast during the week? Not me, weekday morning struggles were too hard for me to make myself some breakfast. Hence, it’s all right to treat myself once in a while. You get what I mean, right?
So, now let’s see my top 5 breakfast places in London.
This one’s on top of my list when it comes to getting a hearty breakfast, inspired by the 80’s classics, it totally lives up to that and you’d feel like you’re in one of those cosy, American diners where a lot of stories have been told. The interiors have fairy lights, pictures of customers and just amazing vibes breakfast and brunch vibes. And the most fascinating or rather exciting part is there is a secret door at the Liverpool Street Breakfast Club, this secret door is basically a refrigerator, which leads you to a bar section and you could just convert your breakfast into a champagne brunch. It’s really cool and if you’re in London you should definitely check out Breakfast Club. It surely wouldn’t be a disappointment. What to order: Egg Florentine, Pancakes and Classic Burgers Location: Breakfast Club is at 9 locations across Central London Timings: 7:30am – 11pm Price: £30 – 40 for two
Dishoom is inspired by Bombay’s Irani cafes from the 1960’s and founded by Zoroastrian expats. Dishoom was my go to place whenever I missed home food. There were detailed interiors, having that old Bombay charm to it. Dishoom isn’t only great for breakfast, but their Indian street food, lunches and dinners. The only downside is, no matter what day of the week it is, it is very likely there will be an hour-long queue. But we all know, those good things are worth the wait, right? No need to worry, while waiting to get a table you’ll get constant refills of hot chai for free! So if you’re missing Indian food on your holiday in London or craving it, I highly recommend Dishoom. What to order: Kejriwal, Bombay omelette, Naan rolls and chocolate chai Location: Dishoom is at 4 locations across Central London Timings: 8am – 11pm Price: £30 for two
My Old Dutch:
My Old Dutch is what I call ‘pancake paradise’, opened over 50 years ago serving authentic Dutch pancakes in enormous portions here. My Old Dutch is my number one pancake place in London, they have a mind-boggling menu of sweet and savoury pancakes. I can assure you to be confused about what to order off the extensive menu. Cheeky tip there, go with a group of friends make them order everything you would want to try and order for the best, dilemma solved. Also, they have “Madness Monday’s” where all the pancakes on the menu are priced at 5 pounds. It’s a great bargain and a perfect Monday motivator. Forget your diet while going here and just dig in the perfect Dutch goodness. What to order: Everything, sorry it’s too hard for me to pick favourites here! But you could order one sweet and one savoury to balance the flavours. Location: My Old Dutch is at 3 locations across Central London Timings: 11am – 11pm Price: £25 – 30 for two
Cereal Killer Café:
Now the name gives it all away, this place takes their cereal very seriously. To begin with, let’s talk about their creative interiors, it’s probably one of the reasons why I used to keep going back here. Cereal Killer’s colourful, quirky and artistic décor is done using cereal boxes, milk bottles and artwork made out of cereal itself, I bet you’d take a lot of Instagram-worthy pictures here. Now, this isn’t your average cereal bar, they offer 100 types of cereal, 30 flavours of milk and 20 toppings besides, they internationally ship their cereal so if you’re a big cereal fanatic you can have it shipped at your doorstep. Check this one of a kind cereal café and reminisce your childhood. What to order: chocopottomus, unicorn poop or be creative and make your own. Location: Cereal Killer Café is at 2 locations in London – Bricklane & Camden Timings: Bricklane – 8am – 8pm, Camden – 9:30am – 7pm Price: £15 for two
The Ivy Chelsea Garden:
The Ivy is a posh, sophisticated Richard Caring’s Ivy franchise that serves European continental food, lot’s of truffles (duh, it’s a fancy place) and smashing brunches. This isn’t the kind of place you’d want to go in your jumper and smudged mascara from the previous night! Here, you want to put on a cute dress and on and go for a special occasion. It’s a lovely place to go to on a sunny summer afternoon as they have an outdoor garden and rooftop space. The interiors are very eye catching and elegant having a Persian feel, and a lot of plants, greenery and garden elements around you. They’ve got a tantalising menu to fit for everyone. I would suggest giving this place a shot for your birthday or any occasion per say. A tip, always try and get a table outside. What to order: Truffled eggs, Avacado and tomato toasts, mushrooms on toast and a glass of rosé, please! Location: 197, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5ED Timings: 8am – 11pm Price: £50 – 60 for two
There you have it, all my favourite breakfast/ brunch places in London that will cure your hangovers and cravings. And forget about the calories you will be consuming just enjoy your meal and then you have the entire day to burn them off! Also, always remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so let’s try and not skip it.
If you want to know about my favourite rooftop bars in London, you’ll find them here.
Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, with one of the best partying scene having clubs from all around the world, and even designers have opened up their signature nightclubs. From my experience, the culture in Dubai is about larger than life, everything’s extravagant and super fancy, and the nightlife is no exception to that. You would see a lot of people from East and West coming for a night out to all these places I’m going to list down. Here are few of the best nightclubs in Dubai that you should go to have a crazy night out in this magnificent city. Here, I am mainly listing out all the swanky high-end clubs and bars you could visit in Dubai.
360 is a bar set-up 1km into the Arabian Ocean, giving a panoramic views of Dubai and the spectacular Burj Al Arab is known to have one of the best views at a bar and is also one of the best bars in the world, it’s definitely worth visiting. The most popular are the Thursday Brunches, watching the sun go down by the sea is mesmerising. The music played here is generally house and R&B. Location: Marina Walkway, Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Armani Privé is launched by the fashion tycoon Giorgio Armani, it’s a chic club located in Downtown Dubai, it’s surely a fancy club where you’d want put your best dress on, and well you don’t need to wait for the weekend to hit this club. Tuesday nights at Armani are suppose to be the best. Location: Armani Hotel, Dubai Downtown, Burj Khalifa
Cavalli is another designer club by Roberto Cavalli, the interiors speak for the designer’s flamboyance having zebra print chairs, furry lifts, elaborate eye-catching chandeliers. This club, speaks luxury and offers special Roberto Cavalli cocktails while the DJ spins latest R&B and Hip-Hop music and have had celebrities like Paris Hilton, Chris Brown, Will Smith and many more have partied here. Yes, this club is slightly over priced, but it’s definitely worth the experience. Location: Dubai Fairmont, Sheikh Zayed Road
VIP Room, is one finest clubs where you’d see celebrities partying at St. Tropez, Paris and Cannes is now also in Dubai. This club has some amazing music, don’t be surprised to find well known artists playing at this club on a Thursday or a Friday night, this club is exploding with energy and you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with Will Smith, I guess he loves partying it up in Dubai. Location: J.W Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Business Bay
Cirque Le Soir
Cirque is a circus themed club, which gives it an edge over any other club, the atmosphere inside the club is incredible and what you could expect here would be a world class live circus performance by performers such as stilt walkers, midgets, contortionists, burlesque dancers, fire eaters, magicians, drummers, jugglers and tattoo artists to glam up your face for the circus. That’s not it, you can even get yourself circus snacks like popcorn and candy floss alongside your drinks. This clubs gives you an exceptional experience which you’d not have anywhere else. Cirque’s there in London and Shanghai as well, if you’re missing out on the one in Dubai. Location: Fairmont Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road
Blue Marlin Ibiza, UAE This is the first Blue Marlin Ibiza, set up outside Ibiza bring the beach club concept to Dubai, Blue Marlin Ibiza is best known for it’s themed boozy brunches like the Brazilian Brunch, Water Activities, Summer of Love. Here, you can be dancing to house and EDM beats by the beach while sipping on some bubbly. It’s surely a vibrant atmosphere and what could be more perfect than the dancing on the beach to some good beats. Location: Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel, off Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Barasti Beach Bar Barasti Beach Bar is one of the most popular bars un Dubai, having a very chilled out relaxed atmosphere its a perfect place for brunches, watch games and matches as it has the largest live screen in Dubai by the beach. What’s the best part about this bar that they’ve free entries throughout the week and daily offers on drinks. Besides this, they usually have artists coming here and playing, I feel it’d be the best place to go when you’re looking for a fun, chilled night out in Dubai. Location: Le Meridian Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Jumeirah Beach
ToyRoom Dubai ToyRoom Dubai is a relatively new club open in Dubai, replacing Vanity. ToyRoom is known for playing the best Hip-Hop and R&B music and having a club’s mascot grooving to the music, he’s a person dressed as a live-size teddy called Frank happens to drive a lot of attention to the club, best nights here being ‘Franks Fridays’. Good news here is that drinks are at standard prices of 55 dhs, which is pretty amazing for a high-end club. This the club to be at for everyone Hip-Hop fanatic.
Besides Dubai, you could get the ToyRoom experience in London and Mykonos. Location: Al Murooj Rotana, Downtown Dubai
Sass Cafe Sass Cafe is a lounge where you’d want to indulge in their food made with exquisite cheese, truffles and wine from Italy. The interiors here are fancy, velvet couches, crystal chandeliers giving it an fashionista feeling, as the night prolongs this lounge turns into a club with live performances. This could be super swanky date place, and their weekend brunches are happening as well. Location: Al Fattan Currency House, Sheikh Zayed Road
White Dubai White Dubai is a one of a kind clubbing experience, which is completely different from the mainstream nightclubs. The concept at White is of a night club inside an arena, giving it a feeling of a festival you’d be attending. Here, you’d be in an open arena with house and EDM, there is white lighting and a circular bar at the centre of the arena where there would be performances taking place. A night out at White is surely a euphoric experience, it’s rated to be one of the best clubs in Dubai and been awarded a couple of times. This concept is absolutely amazing, the only flaw here is you’d need to book a table with minimum cover for a sick night and White Thursdays are suppose to be the best of the week. Location: Meydan Racecourse Grandstand Rooftop, Dubai
There are a few things you should be keeping in mind while clubbing in Dubai, the minimum age limit is 21 years, make sure you have an ID proof. Dress code at most high-end clubs is formals, you have to make an effort to be let in and they are pretty strict on girls to guys ratio being equal or more girls.They are pretty much basic clubbing rules, but somehow in Dubai they are pretty stringent about these.
For all those who love partying and clubbing, Dubai is the place to be as they bring the best of best clubs from all around the world to Dubai, it’s literally a one stop party destination offering a variety of options and a complete baller experience.
So I was meant to be traveling to Europe this week, and things just didn’t work in my favour for this awaited trip of the year which included attending Tomorrowland on my birthday.
I can’t explain how excited I was for this trip, and on Friday evening I realise my visa was still being processed at the embassy, to be honest I was pretty upset and panicking considering I was meant to fly on Monday afternoon. There was no way I was going to be able to leave on Monday without my visa.
Being pretty mindf*cked, I could barely sleep that night cause missing my trip was the only thing playing at the back of my head, all the imaginations of what I would be doing during my vacation was just not allowing me to sleep. And obviously at 3 am, social media is your best company. I opened twitter and read about the Military Coup in Turkey and the airport had been shut down, men dressed in their uniforms were all of the streets and there was complete chaos, and it struck me that damn I was flying Turkish Airlines and had 15 hours to explore Istanbul one of my favourite cities, I was taken back with what was happening and wondered if the coincident of not getting my visa in time was a good thing or not.
Knowing the stubborn me, I would yet board the flight to Istanbul irrespective of what was happening, not cancel my holiday and have my family and friends worry about me. Obviously traveling while there are political turmoil happening is probably not a wise decision to travel. This is when I thought about me probably be lucky or destined of not being able to travel and risk my life.
Whining and mourning over my trip went on for the weekend, Monday I got an update from the airline that they started operating normally, but my visa hadn’t arrived yet so it didn’t help. Where as on the other hand my parents were quite relieved that I wouldn’t be flying during these dramatic situations.
But, I guess there is something I learnt from this experience, which I would like to share with you’ll.
Apply for your Visa at least one month in advance:
It’s peak season for European holidays, and just to get everything done in time its advisable to apply for your visa a month in advance, sometimes it could take upto three weeks to process it, I was hoping to get mine in two weeks clearly it didn’t work in my favour.
Travel insurance is important:
Irrespective of where you’re traveling, getting travel insurance is essential. I mean, the Istanbul incident for me was quite unexpected, having travel insurance would recover my expense to a certain extent, missing flights can happen cause of multiple reasons and being insurance the probability of being backed is pretty good.
Flexible booking could be helpful:
I made another mistake of booking non-refundable flights, I mean just imagine if I made a flexible booking, I would be able to re-book my flights to another date by paying a small difference when my visa would arrive, here I have no choice but get notifications of the plane taking off without me. I know sometimes, flexible booking comes with an extra price but if you’re a last minute planner like me its better to do a flexible booking rather being stuck like I am.
Booking.com can be a saviour:
Luckily for me, most of my hostel and hotel bookings were done on booking.com I could do free cancellations for my hostels in Budapest, Prague and Amsterdam for no charges. I mean it would hurt me to pay for absolutely nothing. This cancellation facility they provide is actually helpful, and besides you can get good deals as well.
Lastly, don’t be depressed:
I know, its hard to deal with your dream holiday being called off after having it all planned, but being depressed and constantly whining about it wouldn’t help much(take it from my experience). Rather try and bare minimum loss by speaking to airlines and hotel bookings for refunds, once that’s in place start planning another adventure. Maybe this trip wasn’t meant to be for me but I’ll soon be on the road on another trip, exploring a different city and hoping for it to be even better than I would’ve planned or imagined.
The Falaknuma Palace represents the luxurious lifestyle of the late Nizam, this palace was built-in the 1890’s with Italian marble, timeless architectural design is spread over 93,971 square metres.
What are truly admire about palaces in India is the intricate details to everything even in those times, this palace was no exception to this. Located up hill in Hyderabad, this iconic palace is now taken over by the Taj Group and converted into one of India’s luxury hotels giving you a Nizam style living experience.
Reception area at the Taj Falaknuma Palace with Italian marble interiors
While I was visiting the palace I happen to meet a couple of people staying at the hotel and I really wanted to know what it was like living in this fabulous crib, and they told me its an experience that comes with the hefty price tag, but is truly worth it if you can afford paying £350 a night.
Well, what comes with that price is a king size stay with butler services, spas, breakfast in bed and all the prince and princess pampering that you’d imagine of.
Stairs that lead you to the ballrooms
But, don’t be disappointed you can get an essence of the luxuries at the palace by opting for high-tea or dinner with a guided tour around the palace just for £30 this is the fair deal I opted for, and this the only way you would be able to get into the palace. I must say they are quite stringent on rules to let people come visit ever since the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel, which is understandable.
So my evening started by being warmly greeted and taken to the palace in a chariot (how I wish that was true), but as you go up, there is a chariot right outside the palace for visitors to take pictures. After strolling around for a bit, we were all called in to take the palace tour, I got to be honest here I felt like I was in school doing this with another bunch of tourists or locals coming to dine here. This tour comes free along with high-tea or dinner.
Chariot at the entrance of the palace
As the tour starts, I noticed the high ceilings at the reception and the grand staircases going up, and now it was time to absorb all the facts and figures of this beauty. So, to begin with the palace consists of 22 halls and 60 rooms lavishly furnished and decorated with paintings, artifacts, one of kind master pieces and chandeliers. Falaknuma is known for its largest Vientiane chandler collection with 40 being only in the hall. It’s also known for its unique jade collections and paintings of well-known personalities.
Crystal Ballroom with an infinite chandler reflection
Thereafter, we arrived in the Nizam’s games/activity room, this room was where he would spend most of this time with friends playing chess, billiards on the one of a kind billiards table which is designed by Burroughs and Watts who designed two identical billiards tables out of which one being in the Buckingham Palace and the other at Falaknuma. Then, I noticed this massive hookah pot which had five pipes and was probably two feet tall. Wow, the Nizam could smoke quite a bit I must say.
Burroughs & Watts Billiards table
Now, we moved to the ballrooms, it’s absolutely magical with beautiful tapestry and glittering chandeliers, imagine having your party or wedding in one of these ballrooms it would be a complete fairytale. Moving on to the dining hall where the worlds longest table is with 100 guests can be seated on the table at once, here the chairs are made of carved rosewood and green leather upholstery and the tableware is made of gold and crystal. This is open to guests with a minimum booking of 20 guests.
The tour was about to end, and I almost lost my way around wandering in the palace, the only bit that was left was the bedrooms and library which was a replica from the Windsor Castle having the best Quran collection here. Going back to the reception, it was time for tea at the coffee shop.
I was really excited and hungry about by this time, after a day of work, walking around the palace I needed this to fuel me. There are two types of high-tea that you can choose from The Nizam Special – this has a variety of arabic teas and indian snacks along side or The English Tea – you can choose from a variety of green & black teas which are served with sandwiches, scones and parties. Knowing my palette I chose the English Tea.
High-tea with a view
I have to talk about the great hospitality I was provided here, at first my tea was served indoors and it was about evening time. I noticed there was a terrace area and requested to be shifted there to enjoy the city view while the sun goes down and I sip on my tea. Though there was dinner setting being laid out outside, the staff made arrangements for my tea to be shifted there, which I thought was nice, they ensured all the guests were provided with first class service.
And finally, managed to get someone to take my picture (even though its unclear)
This was definitely a blissful experience and of the best ways to spend my evening in Hyderabad. Whenever you would be visiting this city, a visit to the Taj Falaknuma would be a must. Make sure, you call the restaurant and make reservations as they could deny you entry at the palace if your name is not at the entrance.
And if you’re staying here, I am pretty sure you’d have a once in a life time king size experience.
It’s summer solstice, and time to unleash the summer wardrobe and what better way to do it than a sundown or a rooftop brunch. I have always been a bar person, and rooftops are always on top of my list. While London has to offer a variety of rooftops in the city with a mesmerizing view, while visiting London, make sure you visit at least few of these and get a better view of the city while sipping on your rosé. Here are all the rooftops I went to while living in London and are my absolute favorite.
Madison Summer Sundowns
Madison has a separate viewing area for tourists to capture a glimpse of the St. Paul’s Cathedral, and an indoor bar serving signature cocktails, my favorite being the Porn Star Martini here. During summer, there are Möet & Chandon brunches organized here, with a lot of cocktail experimentation. It’s perfect for a champagne brunch kind of afternoon. Location: Rooftop Terrace, 1 New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF Nearest Tube Station: St Paul’s Prices: £9–£12 for signature cocktails Timings: Mon – Sat: 10 am – Midnight, Sun: 10am – 9pm
Radio Rooftop Bar is a swanky bar on the 10th floor of the ME hotel, this modern rooftop bar gives you a 360 of the city from the Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s to the Shard. It has stylish interiors, and poppin’ EDM beats start playing as the sun goes down. Downside would be long queues on busy nights and the bouncers may refuse entries. It’s better to get a reservation with a minimum spend of 50 pounds to skip the long wait. Must haves would be Spanish Tapas along with wine or try the Bellini popsicle. They even offer brunches and high tea. Dress to impress at this lavish bar, as being in casual would be a problem to entry. Besides, there are boozy brunches and sundowner happening through summer, which cannot be missed. Location: 336 – 337 Strand, London, WC2R 1HA Nearest Tube Station: Covent Garden Prices:£13 for signature cocktails Timings: Mon – Wed: 10am – 1am, Thurs – Sat: 10am – 3am, Sun: 10am- 12am
Sushi Samba a fusion of Brazilian, Japanese and Peruvian Sushi, on the 38th & 39th floor of Heron Towers, it takes under 30 seconds through the glass elevators to see the Gherkin at eye level. The glass wall gives you a very close view to London’s skyscrapers. The interiors are pretty eye-catching, with an orange tree light up outdoor post sunset. This is one of my favorite rooftops as it gives such a close up, panoramic view of London’s skyline. This would be a perfect place for a birthday or any celebration. Location: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY Nearest Tube Station: Liverpool Street Prices: Culinary Cocktails –£14, Signature Cocktails –£13 Timings: Mon – Sun: 11:30 am – 1:30 am
Duck & Waffle is located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, looking over the financial district of London. This is a 24 hours open bar, serving traditional English and European cuisine. This would be an after party delight to indulge in their ‘Late Night Menu’ of champagne cocktails and cheeky mid-night treats with a stunning view. I would also recommend sticking around till sunrise and enjoy breakfast with probably one the best sight. Location: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY Nearest Tube Station: Liverpool Street Prices: Mid-night Champagne cocktails at £15 Timings: 24 hours
Oblix is located on the 32nd floor of the Shard, this fancy spot at the Shard is obtained by restaurateurs Rainer Becker for bring a New York style high-end dining luxury. Oblix would be a perfect date place, as tables are available only for dining, which would overlook the Thames and give a sparkling view of Tower Bridge. They have a variety of Steaks and Vintage Wine to choose from, this would be an ideal date setting with a stunning view, sometimes have live jazz performances and there would be a cover of £5 on weekends. Location: The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY Nearest Tube Station: London Bridge Prices: £100 -£120 for a meal for 2 Timings: Mon – Sun: 12 Noon – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm
Aqua is located on the 31st floor of Shard, having high glass windows and a table setting around it, allowing you to stick your face to the glass to get an iconic view of London. They have Signature English cocktails, high tea and brunch all year round. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance as it gets booked pretty quick, and you should also keep up with special events happening here during summer. Something I found interesting is, the bathrooms here have long glass windows, having a panoramic view while doing your business. Location: The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY Nearest Tube Station: London Bridge Prices: Signature Cocktails for £16 – £20 Timings: Sun – Thurs: 12pm – 1am, Fri – Sat: 12pm – 2am
Sky Garden is a concept of landscape garden, with open decks and a terrace, this is London’s highest public garden and an amazing social place spread across three floors on the 35,th 36th and 37th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street also known as the “Walkie Talkie Building.” There are free tours, which allow you to explore the gardens and enjoy a 360 view of the city from the South Bank, London Eye, and Gherkin to the Wembley Stadium. Booking for this must be done 3 days in advance. In this big landscape there are two restaurants and a bar. What better way to spend a sunny afternoon than sipping on Mimosa on a rooftop garden with a city view like this, imagine the sun going down while you’re sitting in the garden on the 37th floor. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Location: Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF Nearest Tube Station: Monument Prices: Sky Pod Bar Cocktails £12 – £16 Timings: Mon – Sun: 7am – 1am
Kensington roof Gardens is a little Alice in Wonderland, spread across one and half acres, comprises of three different kind of gardens where you can pop in for a glass of champagne or a free tour on advance booking, it has the Babylon Restaurant by the garden and a members on nightclub alongside an open air terrace. Fancy an afternoon high tea or a brunch in the Spanish or English Garden, to a late night partying. This place has it all, for you. Also, you should look out for events happening through summer. Location: 99 Kensington High St, London W8 5SA Nearest Tube Station: High Street Kensington Prices: Signature cocktails from £12 Timings: Gardens & Restaurants: Mon – Sun: 8am – 11pm, Night Club: Fri – Sat: 10 pm – 3 am
Queen of Hoxton is funky bar and club in the heart of Shoreditch, it’s got three levels and a barbecue rooftop. There are drag queens, live performances, photo booths, games installation in the club, with dimed lights and artistic interiors, this place gives the chilled, fun vibes with young kids getting drunk and dancing to the beats. Throughout summer, they have movies being showcased on the rooftops and events happening, which requires prior booking. On weekends it’s usually very busy due to which there is a £5 cover charge. Location: 1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX Nearest Tube Station: Liverpool Street/ Shoreditch High Street (overground) Prices: Cocktails have a standard price of £8 Timings: Sun – Wed: 12pm – 12am, Thurs – Sat: 12pm – 2am
Big Chill House
Pop – up barbecue & drinks at Big Chill Terrace
Big Chill is a large bar and event place with a roof terrace, they open up a bar during summer on the terrace, its perfect for barbecue and sangrias. This is literally a house, with a large drawing room, ping-pong table, private rooms and photo booths. It’s an easy going atmosphere, with art work around the house and a perfect pre-drinking place for the summer as you can get cocktails by glass or a big pitcher. Sounds like a perfect way to get the late summer evening started. Location: 257 – 259 Pentonville Road, London N1 9NL Nearest Tube Station: Kings Cross Prices: Cocktails starting from £8.5 Timings: Sun – Wed: 11am – 12am, Thurs: 11am – 2am, Fri – Sat: 11am – 3am
So, here are all my favorite rooftop bars in London for all, fancy high – end bars, Gardens tours to fun, chilled out bars and night clubs. I would suggest at least visit a few, and enjoy the serene view of London, it’s definitely worth that expensive cocktail!
During most of my travels, I am flying Emirates or Eithad airlines. Now these airlines fly only via their respective countries Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you haven’t visited any of these Middle Eastern countries it’s a good way to add them in your itinerary just to get a glimpse of Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
To begin with, anyone traveling from a western country i.e the United States, Canada, Europe, UK, Australia etc. can get visa on arrival while traveling by Emirates. This allows you to explore Dubai for a couple of hours, which is more than enough if you have an 8 to 12 hours layover. It’s the same policy for Eithad Airways as well.
Both these cities are fantastic and there is a lot you can explore and see in a couple of hours since everything in the city is in close proximity.
Things to do in Dubai during a layover:
Fancy a drink with this view at Atmosphere on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa
First on the list would be the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building. I would recommend going there first, it would be only a 15 – 20 minutes drive from the airport. This is located at Downtown Dubai, one of the prime areas with a lot of high rises and the Dubai Mall of course.
Going up to the Burj Khalifa should be on the top of your list, there is a coffee shop called Atmosphere if you fancy having coffee on top of the world with a breath taking view.
Underwater Aquarium & Zoo at the Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall is located right next to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, you could easily spend 4-5 hours here with a complete shopping spree, to lot of restaurants to go to and for kids there are a lot of attractions here, like the underwater aquarium and zoo, watch the beautiful fountain show outside the mall and by the Burj Khalifa its one of the best ways to spend the evening in Dubai if you’re visiting for the first time.
Sunset by Jumeirah Beach
For the ones that want to explore something outdoors, you could go to Jumeirah Beach side and explore that part of the city, by tanning on the beach or doing the water sports by the beach. This isn’t enough, families with kids can go visit Wild Wadi Water Park and spend the entire day splashing into those notorious water rides. If not this, relaxing on the beach and enjoying some sheesha would be ideal.
Things to do in Abu Dhabi during a layover:
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Iconic Sheikh Zayed Mosque
This is one of the largest mosques in the world, and has the largest knotted carpet in the world. This mosque is majestic and an architectural beauty, this one is a must visit during your layover, it’s the best way to appreciate the culture and this piece of art. You could take a guided tour to understand the history, architecture and purpose of the mosque.
Fastest roller coaster in the world at Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi
Ferrari world is a Ferrari themed amusement park, which has the fastest roll-coaster in the world. Yes, it’s actually the fastest at 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. This ride is definitely gives you an adrenaline rush by the end of it. Apart from this attraction Ferrari world has a lot other rides, car shows, movies to enjoy for the day. It would be a perfect way to spend your day during a lay over in Abu Dhabi. One-day ticket would cost 350 AED, which would be 65 GBP and the timings are from 11 am to 8 pm.
These are a few things I did during my layover in these middle eastern countries, personally I feel layovers which allow to go explore a new city are amazing, its one of the best ways to explore a new place, get an essence of a different culture and have another destination to add on your list without any extra cost.
Milan is every shopper’s paradise, you will literally drop till you shop! Of course the downside can your wallet bear the cost? Well, don’t worry there something for everyone in Milano. From every possible luxury brand to the best high street fashion, Milan has something to offer for everyone. So, not to worry you will go back home with your bag full of goodies.
First lets talk about luxury, high-end fashion in Milan, as we all are aware of Milan being a fashion capital. You will find literally every brand here, and what’s even better is these brands have their biggest outlets in Milan, which will give you a more affordable price for that’s probably been on your wish list for a while.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The first stop you need to hit is – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located right by the Duomo. This is the oldest shopping mall in the world opened in 1867. Here, you will find all your Italian designers have their stores, the Galleria is a must to visit even if you may not be shopping here. The intricate marble flooring and long glass panels along with gothic architecture is a beauty.
My advice, window shop here, get a feel about what’s buzzing in the fashion world, decide what you would be interested in investing, sip on caffé (Italian espresso) at a cute little café and enjoy the beauty. There after hit the outlet stores to find what you have your mind on, and get it for a better price. Bingo!
Sounds like a deal, doesn’t it?
Quadrilatero d’Oro della moda
Then there is Milan’s golden shopping triangle, Quadrilatero d’Oro della moda also known as the fashion quadrilateral. The district is cornered by four streets – Via Monte Napoleone, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia, hence called Quadrilatero.
Walking pass these streets is a mere eye candy as the visual merchandising and the store displays are probably one of best I have seen by far. As you walk, you smell and fee luxury, pampering and haute couture of the classic designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Prada, Chanel, Valentino, Cartier, Gianfranco Ferré, Alberta Ferretti, Louis Vuitton and every other brand and designer that crosses your mind.
Obviously shopping here does not fit every pocket, but just seeing the displays and probably going to Armani’s coffee shop is a small luxury you could treat yourself with.
Enough of window shopping, now you want to go splurge, and here are the perfect places where you will be able to get yourself something to take back home.
Outlet Stores in Milan
The quest in finding the wish-list handbag was still on, but lucky for you while you are in Milan there are ample of outlet stores having designer goodies at affordable prices, with discounts anywhere between 30 % to 70%. I myself managed to get three bags and couple of polo t-shirts at steal deal prices from these outlet stores, I highly recommend you go there and find yourself something. The best outlets in Milan are:
10 Corso Como Outlet (my personal favourite)
Le Sac Outlet
These outlets are located close to each other, about 20 minutes away from the Duomo. If you have an extra day in Milan, you could also drive an hour away from the city and discover outlet villages to shop at such as Serravalle Designer Outlet, Vicolungo Style Outlet, Franciacorta Outlet Village and Fidenza Village. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have enough time to visit any of these, but a few of my local friends recommend going to at least one of them if you’re on a super shopping spree.
Corso Bueno Aires
Corso Bueno Aires is the biggest high street shopping street in the city and in Europe as well, here there are about 350 international brands having their flagship stores lined up one after another. You better put your sneakers on while shopping here, its quite a walk to complete the entire stretch.
Here, you’ll find all your Zara’s, H&M, Top Shop, Nike, Puma and local Italian high street brands and boutiques.It’s quite reasonable to shop here at the same time there is SO much variety cause of the number of stores that are there.
This is summing up Milan shopping, I hope there is something for everyone here and this little shopping guide is helpful for all my fellow shopaholics out there.
P.S Happy Shopping xx
*comment below if there is anything more you’d like to know about shopping in Milan*