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Paris as a city is hard to fathom in one day. There is so much of history in this ‘City of Love’ to see and experience but yes it can be done. I landed in Paris early morning and had a whole day to explore with an itinerary in hand. I do like to set off on my own and break away from the monotony. It wasn’t like what I’d planned to do in a day was set in stone.

From Hyderabad To CDG

Landing IN CDG Airport

The moment you land in Paris, buy a carnet which is a set of 10 tickets. The pack of 10 tickets are valid for 10 journeys across whole of the city be it on the Tram, Metro or Bus (exception being the route from Airport to City).

Paris’s charm lies in it’s boulangeries and cafes. Absolutely a must do in Paris is to sit in a Parisian Café, order a croissant or pain au chocolat and observe the city while sipping on coffee. Almost everyone in Paris has a dog, preferably small size and smoking is almost fashionable.

IMG_20170923_144258-01

As I was staying in Gare du Nord, my first stop was the Sacré-Cœur Basilica & Montmartre. Entry to the church is free and the area is buzzing with tourists and peddlers. It’s hard not to be wowed by the intricate mosaic artworks and ornate ceiling dome. A little walk down the Place du Tertre is the Moulin Rouge which I skipped as I was short of time.

Notre Dame

My next stop was the spectacular Notre Dame and is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Memorized in the famous Victor Hugo novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, this cathedral is nothing short of grand. The entry to the Notre Dame cathedral is free although a climb up the tower costs € 8.50. The lines may hold you back but they move really quick. You can be in and out in 20-30 minutes. Once I entered, the breathtaking glasswork were the ones which impressed me.

The exterior of the Notre Dame, Paris

The Interior of the Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Glass Paintings inside the Notre DameNotre Dame, Paris

Now off was I to the Place de la Concorde and The Louvre. Home to a massive collection of artworks and home to the most famous painting in the world, The Mona Lisa. You’ll have no time to visit the Louvre and should keep it for another trip. On a minimum if you have to rush through the Louvre, it’ll take about 3 hours. While admiring every painting and appreciating the art takes over 7 hours. The Louvre outside is nonetheless impressive and presents a lot of photo opportunities with the Pyramid.

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Place de la Concorde is the heart of French Revolution. It was here that around 2,500 people were guillotined which included King Louis XV, Marie Antoinette among others. Also take time to note the hieroglyphics on the Luxor Obelisk which had been presented to the French by the Egyptian Government in the 19th Century and is almost 3,300 years old.

Louis XIV At The Louvre

From here on you can choose to either go towards the Arc de Triomphe & Les Champs-Élysées and then do the Eiffel Tower or only the latter. I chose to do only the Eiffel Tower as I’d just landed after a 10-hour journey and been walking around the entire day. It was almost nearing sundown and as they say the Eiffel follows you everywhere when in Paris. As I made a walk from The Louvre towards the Eiffel through the Tuileries Garden, there were many sights to behold.

On way to the Eiffel Tower as you walk across the Tuileries Garden from The Louvre

It’s impossible to not be wowed by the magnanimity of the Eiffel Tower. Popped open a bottle of wine as the sun set. The Eiffel flickers every hour post 7 PM for 5 minutes. Such beautiful scenes of people kissing to mark their love for each other, I must have seen at least 3 people propose under the tower and one with mariachi band playing. There no denying that Paris is the city of love.

Eiffel Tower

Affligem

I’ll still reiterate when I say that Paris is impossible to do in a day but I think this post covers the most famous attractions. But if there is one thing which is a must-do is sit in a Parisian Café and gorge on delicious desserts.

Millefeuille, Eclairs and Paris Brest at a Boulangerie in Gare Du Nord with a shot of espresso.

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We indulged in loads of food during our visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. South East Asian countries have always been the confluence of street-food. If you don’t indulge in street food when in any of the Asian countries, it might be safe to say that you missed a big part of the culture. The streets pavements are packed 24 hours with vendors selling scores of different types of food.

Street Food In Malaysia (3)

Street Food In Malaysia (2)

Street Food In Malaysia (1)

For us eating out in the street is crucial during our travels to different countries. We always end up exploring most of the street food around the country. And along with eating, it’s fun conversing with the locals, vendors and hawkers as we enjoy our meal.

Words of Wisdom In The Streets

We list out our favorite street foods from across Kuala Lumpur:

  1. Nasi Goreng – Unofficially known as Malaysia’s national food, every 30 meters you’ll be able to find a vendor selling Nasi Goreng. Soon as we got down off the bus from the airport, we headed over a hawker on the pavement selling Nasi Goreng packed in leaf packets. They are dirt cheap costing about RM 1-2 if you eat on the streets. They rise accordingly in prices as the grandeur of the restaurant/café/ tourist area you eat at. You can choose you own version of ingredients to add. I personally love it with fried chicken, anchovies and topped off with a fried egg and peanuts.Nasi Goreng - Choices
    Nasi Goreng - Packed
  2. Nasi Ayam – Nasi is rice in Malay and Ayam is chicken. So the classic combination of rice and chicken is a hit when had your own choice of sauces. Although we’d prefer to stay true to the sambal sauce but you might as well pick up your own choice too. It’s served with a side of broth which is extremely packed with flavor.Nasi Ayam
  3. Nasi Udang – Udang is Malay for Prawns. Another classic dish which can’t go wrong is the Nasi Udang with your own choice of sauce.Nasi Udang (1)
    Nasi Udang (2)
  4. Roti Canai – Malaysia’s food has been diversely affected from Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese style of cooking along with it’s religion. The Roti Canai is the inspiration from India with it lying somewhere between a laccha paratha and a roomali roti.Roti Canai
    Roti Canai With Teh Tarik
  5. Teh Tarik – The Teh Tarik is considered the national drink of Malaysia and is a hot milk-based beverage made using black tea and condensed milk. Give way to your cappuccinos to settle for a Teh Tarik when in Malaysia and the antics of the vendors when preparing a Teh Tarik won’t go unnoticed. The tea is pulled repeatedly until it gives a frothy top. There are actually several competitions where the brewers can show off their skills.Teh Tarik
  6. Kaya ToastThe beauty of Kaya Toast is that it can had as savory, dessert and also on the side of a beverage. Kaya means coconut jam and the Kaya Toast is famous all over Singapore and Malaysia. I liked the having the Kaya Toast topped with sugar alongside my The Tarik when in Kuala Lumpur. But you can also top it off with eggs, pandan and lots of other stuff too of your choice. The Old Town Coffee House outlets are found almost every 5 kms when in Kuala Lumpur and serve up a delicious Kaya Toast along with a range of coffees.Old Town White Coffee
    Kaya Toast
  7. Putu Bambu – This Malaysian dessert is a beautiful rice-based pandan flavored dessert. It’s made of rice flour, palm sugar and pandan flavor which gives it the green coloring. It is then steamed in a bamboo and served with grated coconut.Malaysia - Centra Market
    Putu Bambu
  8. Shibuya Toast – The Shibuya Toast origins are in Japan but almost every Asian country now has gone crazy all over it. When walking through the food court of Suria KLCC, I couldn’t help but notice every 3rd table having in front of them a plate of Shibuya Toast. I settled for the classic version of Shibuya Toast with honey and ice cream but there were lots and lots of choice for other to indulge in. Toppings of fruits, exotic flavors of ice-creams, berries, maple syrup and lots more.Shibuya Toast

We will have more street food from across Kuala Lumpur feature on our next post when we cover Jalan Alor and Bukit Bintang. There are the main streets where lots of street food are found.

Black Coffee With Condensed Milk

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We have got multiple requests from people who have asked us to help plan their itinerary in Malaysia. Malaysia is one of the beautiful countries to visit if you’re planning a vacation from India. Direct low-cost flights are available from almost all major airports in India to Kuala Lumpur with the major airlines being Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia and Lion Air. We decided to list out all that you need to know to help you plan your next trip to Malaysia.

Visa Process For Indian Citizens:

The Malaysian Visa is one of the easiest ones to attain for an Indian Passport holder. VFS Global handles the visa process activities for the Malaysian Govt. in India. You can either go direct to the VFS Global Visa Centers in your city or apply through a travel agent. It is advisable to always take the 1 year multiple entry visa to Malaysia which costs the same as a 3 month visa.

To Malaysia

Reaching From Airport To Kuala Lumpur City Center:

To go about the rest of the routes in Kuala Lumpur, you certainly have to reach city center. City Center is the heart of the city is from where all the roads diverge to the rest of Kuala Lumpur. Unless you are ready to shell out a huge amount for Airport cabs, the Airport buses and KLIA Exspres are your best bets. Uber works out too.

KL Airport

The KLIA is the major airport of the city and might just be the busiest airport in Asia. The Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia from India arrive at the KLIA in Kuala Lumpur. The KLIA Exspres is the fastest way to the city center and if you’re pressed for time, then it’s advised to use this mode of transport. There is 4G wifi on board and takes about 25 minutes to the reach the city center. Tickets costs RM 55 and can be purchased online.

The Airports buses are the best and most economical way to navigate from the KLIA airport to City Center. There are more than 4-5 bus services which ply between these routes with tickets costing RM 9-10. They are comfortable, have music on board (plays according to the driver’s mood) and take about 45 minutes to reach the City Center. The tickets can be pre-booked online too but I’d suggest to take the bus at the terminal itself depending on which of the airport carriers are waiting. So in that way you don’t have to wait for your own booked bus and just board the one that’s about to leave.

Bus Bay From Airport

Getting Around Kuala Lumpur:

Kuala Lumpur has great connectivity when it comes to using the Metro. Get a metro map at your hotel reception right when you’re checking in for future use. The taxis do not follow strict meter guidelines and you can end up being quoted a lot.

But honestly the best way for getting around KL was calling for an Uber. I found it to be the cheapest mode of transport during my visit to KL. For a ride from Suria KLCC to Bukit Bintang which almost every taxi quoted as RM 20, I ended up with a bill of just RM 5 for the journey.

The next posts shall concentrate more about Food, Places to Visit and Things To Do in KL.

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The Breakfast Club is an institution in the London dining scene redefining the word Brunch. Nestled among vintage shops and antique stores, a bright yellow café shines bright and is hard to miss with the long queue of people waiting for a table inside. The small window only offers a small peak of the world of food inside.  I visited The Breakfast Club branch in Islington located in Camden Passage near to Angel Tube station.

With all the hype that is The Breakfast Club, the first thing which you’ll have to navigate is the extreme long queues spilling out onto the street. After almost a 45 minute waiting and unable to get an early seating inside, we chose to sit outdoors. The indoors décor is very casual and bright. I couldn’t help but notice American pop culture items plastered all across the walls of the café as loud pop music blared in the background. It is quite quirky and kitsch.

Let The Thumb War Begin

A fair bit of warning as you get a peek at the menu. You’ll want to eat everything. Keeping true to it’s name, the menu offers an array of Breakfast options. While I went full out and ordered for ‘The Full Monty’, my friend opted for the ‘Reggie The Veggie’.

Reggie The Veggie

I took a peek at the pancakes with a huge dollop of Chantilly cream at the opposite table to know the portion sizes are super huge. As we waited for our orders to arrive at our table, I relaxed myself over a flat white coffee. The double shot of espresso over microfoam did wonders for the little hangover I had from last night. The orders did arrive pretty quick for a place so packed and that too on a weekend.

Flat White Coffee

‘The Full Monty’ is a complete, huge classic London breakfast on a plate. Bacon, Sausage, Black Pudding, Eggs, Fried Potatoes, Mushrooms, Beans, a grilled tomato and toasted multigrain bloomer. Phew…that was a lot and did definitely help with the hangover. My “vegetarian” friend’s order for ‘Reggie The Veggie’ consisted of a veg sausage, fried potatoes, eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans and toasted multigrain bloomer, though she opted to do away with the eggs.

The Full Monty

A Close-Up Of The Blood Pudding

The food was charmingly simple and absolutely delicious. If you do not mind waiting in long lines, then Breakfast Club is worth all of it. The service is quick and make you feel comfortable. The food is delightful and moreover it’s a London food institution which you wouldn’t want to miss. Put this down as part of your travel itinerary for London. It’s a bit pricey but it’s worth it.

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How many of you actually picked up a glass of Guinness on March 17th to raise a toast? Well 13.4 million glasses did this year 2015, according to a survey which goes on to tell us about the huge market that the beautiful dark beer has captured. So here in this writeup, I actually take a look at the craziness behind this one brand of beer. What makes us love the Irish Drink, a sensation and a landmark out of a tiny country.

Guinness Draught Beer 2

Neidhi, the better explorer of the blog has had her fair shares of the Guinness beer but for me it was a first time experience. And I am thankful enough for her to get me couple of Guinness cans from her recent visit to Dublin. So having put my Guinness can in the refrigerator to chill I waited for a charming Friday night to pop it open.

With a pack of Doritos and Salsa by side, soothing music as my feet tapped to the rhythm, I pop open the can of Guinness Beer to a smooth fizz. Naturally I thought it would be great to do a review on it.

Ethereal Flow:

Special mention on the first adjective used above for when you first pour Guinness into a glass. The first expression you give when you are pouring over a pint is “Damn! That’s a beautiful beer!!” You actually feel real happiness on seeing it come alive in the glass. Guzzling from bottom up, it releases bubbles into a thick pillow head of a gorgeous light beige. But the best part of Guinness is all about that wait, the wow in seeing the bubbles settle to a liquid completely black with the most beautiful head you can find in a beer. This is actually due to the trick of the widget at the bottom which can be read more here.

Guinness Draught Beer 1

There is none of that strong fizz or the glugging while tilting over a can of Guinness and it is pure smooth delight. This might be presumable due it being thicker than regular lagers.

Olfactory Sensations:

As with most of my drinks I love absorbing the distinct smell of each of them. Each of them has it’s own distinguishing fragrance and Guinness carries with it the aroma of roasted malt. There is also a strong waft of coffee beans it carries with it. It is an Irish Stout after all and hence a little drier than the other regular sweet stouts. It also carries with it a wee bit of vanilla, at least those my receptors picked up on.

Guinness Draught Beer 4

The Drink:

As I lifted my first sip of the Guinness I couldn’t help noticing the mouthfeel to be smooth and refreshing. This truly black drink slides in clean through your mouth and those who don’t like strong flavors might not fall for it the first few sips. The alcohol warms the palate soothingly and the roasted malt pervades the nostrils. Despite the large foamy head that remains after the last sip of the pint the carbonation level is moderate.

Overall:

The Guinness is a solid stout beer with more complexity than I expected. Despite being told that Guinness is a filling drink, I didn’t find it so. Comparing it to the regular beers on market shelves, the calories in Guinness are a lot less. Guinness is beer brewing at it’s finest and after having an entire pint of it, I understand why it has half the world craving it more. It might be a brilliant market strategy but that doesn’t change the fact that it is also one of the most finely brewed drinks you’ll have. The alcohol limits in Guinness are nominal and moderate drinking has hurt no one. Now off to pop open another can of the Black Ambrosia.

Also have a look at these Luxury Fudge Chocolates which I have opened a pack off. Just like the drink they are extremely smooth and melt in the mouth. I’m now looking to try the other variants of Guinness now.

#Guinness Luxury Fudge #Chocolates

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The first thing which comes to mind when mentioning Vietnamese cuisine is Phở. It is one simple dish which has an entire country’s food resting on its slender shoulders. When doing a trip through the landscape of Vietnam, from the North to the South, we had the opportunity to relish the history behind this simple dish and about the nation which is so crazy about it.

The First Impressions and Origins:-

The streets of Hanoi are lined from one end to the other with vendors selling Phở. The morning breakfast is incomplete without it and if you aren’t the early riser, you may as well miss the early bowl of fresh Phở. So whether pronouncing it fuh, fur, fuuhh, this is one dish which is going to leave you with a lasting impression on your Vietnam trip. And I sure had to practice and get my pronunciations right so as not to be be stopped on the street and be corrected by a local.

Hanoi Street Food

The origins of this humble dish are quite interesting. Some say that the French Officer’s lover was asked to prepare a pot-au-feu, the classic French beef stew and she couldn’t get her flavors right and use the local spices and ‘feu’ and behold the Vietnamese Dish was born.

Contrary to what I thought, Phở actually refers to the noodles and not the soup. The Northern Vietnam version i.e. Hanoi from where the dish originated usually uses the flat rice noodles and lot less ingredients than their counterparts in the South. The other necessary terms to know are the (beef) and (Chicken) so you know correctly if to order the phở bò (beef) or phở gà (chicken).

Pho Ga 1

Ingredients and Variations:-

When cruising through the streets of Hanoi, a lot of people drive their bikes right into the shops, ordering themselves a bowl and slurping it right on their bikes as they go about their day. The best way to judge Phở is by its broth. The broth should be clear and should pack a lot of flavor with the Cinnamon, Star Anise, Cloves, Cardamom and fennel, charred onions and ginger being the most essential spices. The rice noodles follow in the broth after that.

Next comes the meat. Usually in phở gà an entire chicken in used but for the phở bò the broth is usually done by simmering either the bones, oxtail or flank with the meat in the Phở when served, very minimal. When served Phở, you get a lot of herbs for garnishes on the side, but an insider secret don’t immediately go for the garnishes and actually sip the broth before messing with the dish. The herbs were usually some very interesting ones which we had not had before like the sawgrass, a quite prickly, subtly bitter and tangy at the same time. The others were the Cilantro, Culantro, Scallions, Basil, and Thai Chilies for that adding of extra spiciness and Bean Sprouts to round off that crunchiness to the Phở with a wedge of lime to provide the tangy taste. The other sauces to round off a bowl of Phở is with Hoisin, Sriracha or Vinegar which shall be provided.

Pho Ca (Fish Pho)

Is there a way to eat Phở?

There is no better way to eating Phở than being messy and it was a great learning experience. Armed with the chopsticks in one hand and soup spoon in the other, the best way is to sip the broth first as you work your way with the noodles with the chopsticks. I was told it’s actually polite to slurp as deliciously as you like with your mouth close to the bowl, so that all the aroma hits you right through.

Important Pointers:

  1. The first lesson from a local was to control the urge to splatter my Phở with the sauces and keep it a minimal and then dash it the flavors accordingly to the taste. Phở is best when sticking to its minimalistic flavors.
  2. The next best thing was I could actually slurp and lick the end of the bowl without anyone so much as giving me the stares. In fact it is considered polite to do that and compliments the chef.
  3. A Phở is nothing without its broth, its entire life and soul. So the best is to give the Phở its necessary due before messing with its basic flavors.

Fresh Pho

A dish so simple and a dish packing in it so much exquisiteness in flavor, it definitely holds true to have been redefining Vietnamese Cuisine. Unless you’ve done your research, probably the first dish out of your mouth when mentioning Vietnam would be Phở and yes it is so much worth when had first-hand. Phở has gone global and so has its humble origins. There are a lot more restaurants serving this spectacular dish with Phở 24, being most notable among them, but the best Phở is served by the family run establishments along the streets of Hanoi.

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