Stereotypes and misconceptions about India 

Stereotypes & Misconceptions about India

Recently at a bar in Mumbai, I had a strange encounter with these white guys from Europe traveling across India for a month. Well, it was strange cause, I was surprised what they though of India and us Indians to be, and it made me realise how every white person who comes to visits India or even interacts with us, has a few preconceived thoughts and stereotypes about India. This wasn’t my first experience, while living in the UK I’ve had people ask me questions like “are you allowed to date?”, “why don’t you have an Indian accent?” and the list could go on. I had to keep explaining that India is not what they see in movies or they hear about. It’s really big and diverse, and they’d be so surprised with what I would tell them. Not everything you’d hear about is false, but there is a lot of stuff that’s exaggerated and has just created a bizarre image about India, which is why explaining myself about India, that it’s not what you may think it is.

Indian isn’t a language:

So a lot of foreigners, assume Indian to be a language, and it isn’t that’s our nationality. I was communicating with a taxi driver in Hindi (our national language) and I was asked by one a foreigner, if I was talking to them in “Indian” well they meant Hindi which obviously I corrected. So, a fun fact here, Hindi is our national language, besides this there are 28 official languages spoken across India and over 200 dialects. Yes, this would be probably one of the most diverse nation in the world.

Curry isn’t the only Indian food and not every Indian eats spicy:

India has mastered the art of making curries, but there are debates and conflicts about curry being originated from England (does England like taking credit for everything we do?) non the less, if you’re visiting India, curry isn’t the only thing you should be trying, there is a variety of dishes such as South Indian food like idlis, dosas or chaats like bhel, aloo vada and there’s lot more you could find here. Now getting to our spice tolerance level, for the record not everyone in India can eat spicy, example myself, I have tears streaming down my face if my food has too much chilli. So next time you’re hanging with an Indian, don’t assume they’re spice superman, you’d be surprised to see that you could probably eat spicier food than your Indian mate.

Dating is a taboo:

So, I encountered this experience twice once in London and in Mumbai when I met these blokes from Amsterdam, who tried flirting, but I wasn’t responsive and the next thing they said to me was, “Oh you’re not allowed to date right, you’ll have an arrange marriage.” To he honest, this really pissed me off, cause you know nothing about my life to comment and coming back to our culture, arrange marriages do exist, but as time has passed by, everyone’s allowed to date find who they like and this doesn’t mean if someone’s flirting, I need to give them what they’re looking for. Times have changed, and arrange marriages exist in the rural areas of India and those marriages seem to be lasting a lifetime so I don’t see what’s wrong in that. Guys, honestly watch out before passing comments like this, it is quite personal and offensive.

Every woman would be in a Sari:

When I was a part of an exchange program in college, while talking to these students they told me they didn’t carry their normal clothes as it would be “too revealing” for India and most girls and women would be dressed in saris is what they heard. This has been one of the most false statements I’ve heard, like my mum doesn’t even know how to drape a Sari forget wearing it everyday. Saris are beautiful and elegant, they are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals, not on everyday basis. In big cities like Mumbai and Delhi girls would be dressed in normal jeans and tops, or even dresses for night outs. And working women wearing indo-western clothes to work which would be wearing a scarf along with your jeans, or a longer top known as “kurta”. We live a pretty updated fashion world, so please get this mindset off and Saris are beautiful.

The Indian Accent:

So every white person thinks the Indian accents in very think and loud, how they mimic us in all the American tv shows saying “what are you doing?” I’m sure you’re imaging the accent while reading this. Now, open up your mind, not every Indian has that accent, we are very well spoken and let me repeat myself about the diversity in languages in India. Literally accents in English change from city to city, people in UK were pretty surprised by my accent as it wasn’t the thick accept you’d have imagined and wouldn’t guess that I was Indian. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the best education which allows me to speak well, but seriously that accent you’d very rarely find across India, maybe if you go down to south India (which is also the most literate part of the country).

These are a few stereotypes I’ve come across, and what people thought about India and sometimes I found it really frustrating about having to explain my about things like this, and such stereotypes did exist but but everything has evolved over time, and sometimes a lot of things could be offensive if you have failed to be opened minded about a country and its culture. So, if you’re visiting India with an open mind I can assure having a life changing experiencing the culture here, seeing two sides to India and be mind boggled with diversity in one country its self.

Dubai Nightlife Guide

Dubai Nightlife GuideDubai 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
360 - 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
Armani Prive

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
cavalli club
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
VIP Room
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 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
BLUE-MARLIN 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
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
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 2
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
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.

 

Student Travel Planning Guide

Students, this one’s for you or rather for anyone who wants to travel on a budget but still have one of the best experiences. Ground rule for traveling as a student I experienced was budget myself, and it’s difficult, as you want to explore the city, party and we can’t forget a tad bit of shopping. Budgeting with so many quests is a task, so here I have a perfect guide that will allow you to do all of it just with minor compromises.
Let’s get started now!
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  1. Decide an Estimate you want to spend:
    This should be the first step in to planning your vacation, have an estimate of how you want to spend on your trip, this will allow you to pick a destination, the kind of hotel/hostel you would want to stay in, transport and the duration of your trip. After having an estimate, you could plan out 2 to 3 options laid out to make the final choice. As much as I love spontaneous holidays, here it’s advisable to plan at least 3 months in advance, as a student you will curb and budget your daily expenses for the coming months to have extra cash for this trip and besides you will get good deals with the advance bookings.
    Here, you will be able to find sites that will help you decide a budget for your holiday.
  2. Book Hotels/Hostels & Flights:
    This is obviously the biggest and the main expense of your trip, once a destination has been finalised it always good to keep a tab on flight deals and offers, book as soon as you get a good deal, For hostels, it’s the same prices tend to be inflated closer to peak season or the hostel you’d be hoping to book could be sold out, its preferable to complete hostel bookings along side flights and bag a good deal.
    For hostel and hotel booking, compare prices from HostelBookers, Booking.com, HostelWorld and for flights the best sites to compare various airlines would be Skyscanner and Kayak, so I would suggest look up all these sites, compare prices and book.
  3. Visas (if required):
    Depending on where you’d be traveling a visa may or may not be required. Incase there is a visa requirement, the best thing to do is do the application as soon as your flight and hotel bookings are done. I would suggest this as you can apply for visas three months prior to your travel and from past experience, the closer you apply for your visa to the holiday season there are chances of delay in your visa arrival. Just to be safe and assured about your holiday, don’t be lazy and leave the visa for the end.
  4. Make A To-Do List:
    For me this is one of the most fun and exciting part of planning a holiday, do a little research on the places you’re going to be visiting, make a list of what you want to there. This would include activities/water sports, museums, restaurants, bars and clubs that you’d like to cover. After this is done, check prices (budgeting needs us to do this). This will give you an idea how much you should keep aside for you expenses per day. My favourite bit would be finding stuff to do for free, I mean besides being on a budget who doesn’t love freebies? Imagine a museum is on your list and then you know it’s got free entry for students (excitement right there), I would be buying couple of beers and fancy cocktails with this saved money. Also, before I forget, it’s good to find out if places give student discounts and offer good deals for a group incase you’ll are traveling in a bunch.
  5. Let’s get packing:
    Girls, this is probably for you’ll. You have to be smart while packing on budget holidays, check the weather forecast, bars and clubs you would be headed to and get an idea of the local culture then start with your packing, letting it be appropriate and minimal. I have made this mistake in the past of carrying heels along with me by just assuming all the clubs else where would be like London and guess what it was the complete opposite. Silly me, let those heels take up so much space in my bag that I could barely shop and had the worry of paying excess baggage with cheap airlines. So just be smart while packing.

    So this how you students will be able to plan in a budget but still have a sick vacation, and trust me you’d be surprised by how much you’ll end up saving following this planning process for your holiday.

 

Postcards From Venice

Venice is such a picturesque city, literally whatever image you capture which may or may not be with a professional camera, I can guarantee you, it’ll look amazing just by adjusting your brightness settings, the captured image can be printed into a postcard.
I am going to share few of my postcard photography images of Venice which is visited this ‘city of love’.

I’m going to let the pictures talk for themselves about this beautiful city.

Getting closer to the Grand Canal

All the boats parked by one of the canal

Silhouettes after the late sunset

Symmetrically parked boats at the end of the day

 

Clear skies at San Marco

Grand Canal by night

Capturing the Venetian sunset

A burst of color and sunset reflection

Display of beautiful Venetian masks

The happy tourist – BigCityGirl

 

Should I call it luck or destiny?

Should i call it luck or destiny-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.
schengen-visa-640x300
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.
turkey-coup-bomb-attack-at-parliament-in-ankara-14686591259681

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.

 

High Tea At The Taj Falaknuma Palace

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.

Falaknuma Palace Hotel

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.

Taj-Falaknuma-Interior

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.

falaknuma - chariot

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.

falaknuma ball room

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.

pool table - falaknuma

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.

dining room - falaknuma

100 seater dining table – worlds biggest dining table 

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.

IMG_5167

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.

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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.

London Rooftops

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

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

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

 

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

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 Menuof 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

 

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 Shard

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 Bar & Restaurant

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

 

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

 

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

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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!

Middle Eastern Layover

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:

Burj Khalifa

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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.

 

Dubai Mall

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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.

Jumeirah Beach

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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

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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.

Ferrari World

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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.

 

Fun Facts About Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital city of Netherlands, there are few amazing and surprising facts about Amsterdam that I discovered while visiting this city.

So, I found myself getting lost and losing my way around the canals since they’re all identical. This made me very curious and I wanted to just get to know about how many canals existed in Amsterdam, things just kept getting interesting and I discovered a lot more than the number of canals.

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Get to know Amsterdam better with these not so basic facts:

– There are 165 canals which are more canals than Venice, quite surprising isn’t it? That’s a good enough reason why I was losing my way around the canals.

– If you have been to Amsterdam, I’m sure you must’ve come across endless people cycling around the city. Amsterdam’s bike path is almost 400km with more bikes in the city than people. Woaah, reason why everyone’s fit maybe!

881,000 bikes > 811,100 people

– Something I was quite impressed with was that most people in Amsterdam knew English! Man, that’s something you can’t find it European cities. So, I discovered that English was the 2nd most spoken language that means most people will be able to talk in English, if not they’ll definitely understand what you’re saying.

– Amsterdam is known for its museums, but can you guess how many of them are there? Let me surprise you’ll, there are 75 museums in Amsterdam! You can just imagine what this city has to offer.

– We all know about the popular red light district, in most countries a district like this would be considered ‘shady’ or ‘unsafe’. Ironically the red light district is one of the safest parts of the city. It’s a something you shouldn’t miss out on seeing,

– People believe that the London stock exchange is the oldest, well that’s not entirely correct. The world’s oldest stock exchange is in Amsterdam established in 1602.

– I discovered this fact while talking to a local about the health services provided in the city. In Amsterdam anyone could avail free STD treatment, I am not quite surprised to be honest.

– While I was on the canal cruise I noticed the houses in Amsterdam are weirdly narrow, I was quite intrigued by this and asked someone on the cruise if they knew the reason behind this, turns out that people would be taxed based on the width of their frontier.

I discovered these little strange things while moving around the city by myself, interacting with locals and of course questioning a lot people! I’m glad to take back these unknown facts. I wouldn’t deny that people in Amsterdam are extremely friendly, fun and full of information

*comment below for any other cities fun facts you’d like to know*

10 Tips to get around Istanbul

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, its got the perfect balance for a cultural experience and to ball out! This city is a fusion of Asia and Europe as it’s the one city in the world spread over two continents, which makes it even more interesting. I personally think it’s a modern Islamic country, even compared to Dubai, I feel Istanbul was culturally forward. For instance, I was walking down Taksim square while the evening prayers were on, I walked a little further from the mosque and see a street filled with loud, vibrant bars and pubs. That’s when it occurred to me that Istanbul is culturally forward, a reason why it attracted more tourism. But, like every big city Istanbul has its pros and cons, out of my personal experiences a few tips to get around Istanbul.

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Use Public Transport
Try using public transport over taxis, I have had couple of awful experiences with taxi drivers in Istanbul. From being ripped off and paying double the fare, to not getting my change of 80 Lira back, well I did get it back but I literally had to threaten the driver saying I would call the police if I didn’t get my change. Ugghh, to avoid this I would suggest of trying public transport like their trams and metros. If you want to take the cab make sure you pay according the meter.

Walking is the key
Walk, walk, walk! So when you’re around the city doing the touristy bit, walking is essential, everything is not too far away especially the historical places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Archeology museum are all within a miles radius.

Take the Bosphorus Cruise
If you want to go explore the Asian side of Istanbul, the fasted and a fun way to get there would be by taking the Bosphorus cruise which will take you to the other end of the of the river towards the Asian side. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go explore that part of the city, but from what I have been told a lot of gypsies reside on the Asian side and its like the suburbs of the big city.

Live Centrally 
While deciding on where to stay, there are two central locations you could stay in, Taksim is more of a young, vibrant, party and shopping area with a lot of hotels located around there, easy transport. Apart from this, the other central location would be Sulatanahemad, which is right by the historic and tourist attraction.

Ignore the stares
Istanbul is pretty safe, but it’s not an ideal destination for solo female travels in my opinion. Turkish men are attractive, I won’t deny that BUT they can get creepy with constant stares and shamelessly rolling their eyes up and down. I would suggest have a friend along to go with in Istanbul or just ignore those eyes rolling up and down if you’re traveling alone.

Use the local currency Lira
While shopping, eating at a café or even for taxi fares you may encounter people asking you to pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. DO NOT pay them in any of those currencies, use the local currency Lira for anything. It’s cheaper and there are fewer chances of being cheated.

Get evil eye souviners
Ladies, get your self the most exotic evil eye jewellery from Turkey, they do it the best, its affordable and looks beautiful. It’s probably the best souvenir you would take back from your trip. I was broke and yet managed to bargain a good deal for my evil eyes. Besides this, you will be lost in the grand bazaar seeing beautiful turkish lamps and cutlury.

Indulge in Turkish Teas & Delights 
So if you’re a staple espresso or a latte drinker, I would suggest on skipping Turkish coffee, its thick, dense and a muddy texture. Rather indulge in Turkish teas, they’re aromatic and rich in flavor. My personal favorite was the jasmine, rose and peppermint teas.

Early Sunday shopping
On a Sunday most places would shut down a bit early than usual, around 7 most local stores would be calling it a day, if you have shopping plans on a Sunday evening going start early, plus during early hours of the day you could bargain a good deal for yourself.

Arrive early at the Blue Mosque
For most people the first thing to do one their list in Istanbul is visit the Blue Mosque, I don’t blame you its beautiful. Tips for the blue mosque would be, its open from 9am to 4pm only, there is no entry fee, but go early as there is always an hour-long queue. For girls avoid wearing shorts or leggings while visiting the Mosque, they will give scarfs to cover your head and if yours in shorts a long cloth to drape yourself. There are chances they may refuse entering the Mosque if you are inappropriately dressed, so keep this in mind before going to the Mosque.