Wednesday, 13 July 2016

I’m Craving To Travel Alone

It’s been a while since I traveled really alone, and I’m missing that (terribly). Though I did a bit of solo travel in Rajasthan this year – Pushkar and Ajmer, I haven’t been able to travel independently for the past one year. My travels have been largely impromptu in the last eight to ten months. They have either been invites from tourism boards and hotels, or my personal holidays with my husband and family.

I really need to travel alone.

After traveling alone for quite a few years, I have come to a conclusion that I can barely travel with anyone but myself. I love being alone. There’s something about solo travel. The experiences are richer, the connection with places is deeper and the memories are more soulful.

On the other hand, I’d say it’s hard to be alone once you have a companion. No matter how hard I try, I can’t be just with myself. A part of me is always with my husband. I really wonder if I would ever be able to feel the way I used to when I was single.

Thankfully, I have a partner who understands my love for travel. He has a curiosity for different cultures, way of lives and unexplored places quite like mine, which gives me a lot of comfort. He appreciates and has a fairly good sense for the art of photography, too. So, when my husband and I travel together, it’s a joy! Though he loves museums and churches, he’s not really touristy. He also has the ability to appreciate the little nuances of a place. Perhaps that’s where we find a common ground.

But, travelling with a companion and travelling alone are two different things. I believe you can never discover with a companion what you can when you are alone. It is good to be alone sometimes. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.

So, what am I missing?

I’m missing the freedom of slow travel. Yes, you get the privilege of travelling at your own pace when you are alone. You don’t have to tick off anything. No itineraries. No plans. Just you and freedom. You literally follow your heart wherever it leads you!

So yes, my travel style is solo and slow. I don’t like to rush. I don’t make it my agenda to have an action-packed day. In fact, I like doing nothing. I like conversations. I like morning walks, the lull of the afternoons and sunsets. I love bakeries and cafes, old battered pathways and indefinite photo rambles.

I’m craving to go back to my own way of travelling. Be it my natters with houseboat owners in Kashmir, hiking with an old German lady in Sikkim or sipping tea at a villager’s home in Kutch, my solo travel experiences have been remarkable.  

I’m curious to know how it feels to travel alone when you have a companion. I’m sure it feels different. As I mentioned earlier, a part of me is always with my husband. But, I guess it’s amazing because ‘being in love’ and ‘travel’ are the two exclusive joys of life. At least, I believe so.   

Have you traveled alone? What’s your favorite part about solo travel?

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Monday, 4 July 2016

Why ASUS ZenFone Max Is A Great Travel Companion?

Travel has just got more fun with my new ZenFone Max from ASUS. Now whether I’m stuck in a traffic jam or waiting for my food in a restaurant, I have ZenFone Max to keep me company. I guess it’s designed perfectly for a solo traveler like me.

Here’s a quick look at what ZenFone Max does for me –

It inspires the reader in me.
Though I’m not much of a reader, I love reading stuff on ZenFone Max. The big screen, its enhanced picture quality and smashing look and feel make me want to read whenever I have time to kill.

Its mobile data switches off automatically in the night.
Yes, I don’t have to bother about switching off my mobile data when I don’t need it because ZenFone Max does that on its own. Of course, I can keep it on if I want to. I particularly like this feature a lot, as it helps me use data when I really need it.

It has amazing camera.
Do I even need to mention that ZenFone Max amazes you with its pictures? It comes handy when I have to take those quick shots. I don’t have to try too hard for focus and other technical stuff, because my phone makes my job so cushy!

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Monday, 27 June 2016

Why Fly With Air Arabia?

Air Arabia is your low-cost airline that connects you to 34 countries, covering over 100 airports, offering the most comprehensive connectivity across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Europe.

The idea of flying with Air Arabia is inviting because of its obvious no-frills image. It’s great to fly over to your destination without much ado. If you ask me, I liked my journey on Air Arabia because of the following reasons –

It’s low-cost.
You can enjoy a peaceful journey on Air Arabia without hurting your pocket much. I mean there’s nothing better than grabbing a low-fare deal on a flight and get all the required comforts. Air Arabia promises to do that for you on every booking!

It has got the middle-eastern feel.
I particularly liked Air Arabia for its middle-eastern feel. The dash of culture, the adab and the tehzeeb added to the experience of visiting Jordan.

They serve nice and hot meals.
The idea of travelling in the wee hours is not so inviting. I remember I had a mild headache while I was waiting to board my flight to Amman. But, as soon as I got on the plane and settled on my seat, I was at ease. The hot meal that was served played a great part in subduing my headache and putting me to sleep.

The staff is hospitable and friendly.
Hospitality is so important to a great travel experience. Air Arabia ensures that you are treated nicely and your flight is memorable.

I thank Air Arabia for hosting me and making me experience the amazing middle-eastern world.

Have you had a chance of flying with Air Arabia? How was your experience?

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Romance Of Aqaba

Aqaba is my favourite of all the places that we visited in Jordan. The gorgeous blue waters of the Red Sea just blew my mind! Aqaba has got a different feel altogether. It’s unlike the rest of Jordan. Aqaba is more of an upmarket, lively and a youthful city. Being the only coastal city in Jordan, Aqaba gives you a break from the mystical air that you feel in places like Petra and Wadi Rum.

The moment you reach the shores of the Red Sea, you get to see two different countries across the sea – Israel on the right side and Egypt right in front. As you board a yacht to sail, the brown mountains touching the brink of the blue sea spellbind you. My fellow bloggers swam and snorkeled, while I chose to simply enjoy the breezes and the sublime beauty around me.

Also, we had the pleasure of digging in to the barbecued chicken and fish (along with regular Jordanian dishes – Salads, Hummus and Pita bread) while sailing. After our time on the yacht, we checked in at Movenpick Resort – my favourite stay in Jordan. My room had a fabulous view of the sea, which added to my thrill of being in Aqaba.

Why I loved my stay at Movenpick –

The idea of staying close to the Sea is exciting. You can head to the marina anytime! Plus, Movenpick has its private beach, which guests can visit at their leisure.

I loved the comfort and the amenities of my room. There was definitely a personal touch to everything.

I loved the décor and grandeur of the hotel. The rooms, the lobby, the restaurants and the swimming pool – every area is beautifully done up.

Although my stay at Movenpick was short, it was a great way of taking in the essence of Aqaba. If I ever happen to visit Jordan again, I’d definitely like to spend a lot of time in Aqaba. There’s a lot that you’d want to do in Aqaba –

Aqaba is a great destination for sunshine lovers. You can grab your favourite drink and sit by the seashore with absolutely nothing on your mind.

I also enjoyed sauntering on the streets, café hopping and some random shopping.

Aqaba has quite a buzzing nightlife – locals are seen savouring Hukka, snacking on different local dishes and having a great time.

I thank Jordan Tourism Board for introducing Aqaba to me.

Did you find Aqaba inviting?
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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

My Culinary Voyage Of Jordan

The truest impression that I have of Jordanian cuisine is that it’s so full of colours. A typical dining table in Jordan looks like a king’s chamber. Before I talk any further about Jordanian food, I’d like to make a point that there are delicious and soulful cuisines and then there are ‘fun’ and creative ones. In my opinion, what I ate in Jordan was more of a treat to the senses – the food pleased my eyes first before it did anything to my taste-buds.

Jordan - a must-visit destination for foodies.
My breakfast platter looked like this at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Amman.
Khoubz - a staple bread 
Freshly baked at Haret Jdoudna, Madaba 

So yes, digging into the food in Jordan is an experience. To my Indian tongue, most of what I tasted was pretty bland; some of it was a bit too salty. If you ask me, I have mixed opinions about Jordanian food. I won’t say that I really hogged in Jordan. But, I wouldn’t even say that I didn’t enjoy what I was served. As I mentioned earlier, there are cuisines that are fun and unique. I found Jordanian food to be an experience. I absolutely loved the idea of relishing a variety of salads before the main course arrives. I don’t think I ever had so much of green, leafy stuff on my plate like I did in Jordan, which I enjoyed immensely.

Every meal begins with beautiful salads.
... and some more salad.

Besides the greens, I loved Hummus, which was mostly served with plenty of olive oil. I savoured Hummus with Pita, which is their staple bread. I mostly found myself laying hands on Hummus and Pita for my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Bread, Hummus and salad.

As far as the main course goes, Jordanians typically like to eat a lot of meat – chicken, lamb and beef. Although I normally eat vegetarian food in my daily life, I chose to try non-vegetarian dishes in Jordan for the sake of exploration. I’d say if you dig into a Jordanian non-vegetarian dish with an obvious expectation of flavourful spices bursting on your tongue, you will be disappointed! So, try Jordanian meat dishes with an open mind and you will appreciate them.     

 Mansaf - (the main Jordanian dish) meat cooked with yogurt.

I have to say that Jordanian style of cooking is elaborate and interesting. I was particularly intrigued by their underground cooking, where they allow chicken and lamb pieces to cook slowly over the hot bricks that they place under the ground.

Without a doubt, Jordanians like to celebrate food. Everything from their style of cooking to serving is unique. What I loved the most about Jordanian food is that they eat a lot of fresh and local produce, which is healthy – fruits, veggies, yoghurt and a variety of herbs. Also, they like to consume mint leaves a lot in the form of refreshing cold drinks and mint tea.

Mint tea
Different herbs at Downtown market, Amman
Fruits at Downtown market, Amman
The fruit market of Jordan.
Don't know what's written there, but I'm sure it's hinting at eating fresh and healthy.
Fetish for fresh and healthy is quite evident.
That's how a veggie market in Jordan looks like.

It would be absolutely apt to say that food is an integral part of exploring Jordan. My fellow bloggers and I were fortunate to taste so many authentic Jordanian dishes, and also cook them on our own. Yes, we prepared our own lunch at Petra Kitchen under the supervision of the Kitchen’s Chef. The Jordanian dishes that we prepared were Lentil Soup (Shourbat Adas), Baba Ganuj, Tahina Salad (Salatat Khodra bil Tahina), Galayat Bandura, Cucumber and Tomato Salad (Fatoosh), Bread Sambousek and Oven-roasted Chicken (Suniyat dijaj).

Trying my hand at Jordanian dishes :-)
Baba Ganuj, Tahina Salad, and Galayat Bandura

I loved the Lentil Soup, which was almost like Dal that’s cooked in Indian homes. It was a very soothing and comforting soup after our long journey. Baba Ganuj was good, too. It’s made out of the mashed pulp of eggplants.

The kitchen chef was sweet enough to share recipes of the dishes that we prepared that afternoon. I hope to try at least one of them and rekindle my food memories of Jordan.   

Dessert - Warbat
The restaurants in Jordan that you must eat at –

Petra Kitchen, Wadi Musa
Al Qantarah, Wadi Musa
Haret Jdoudna, Madaba

Variety of salads, dips and Falafel
Sajeyah - chicken and veggies
Falafel being made at a restaurant in Amman.

Jordan is a must-visit destination for foodies. I thank Jordan Tourism Board and Air Arabia for making this trip possible for us.

What has been your most unique food experience on your travels?

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