I must have been 9 or 10 years old when I first had a bite of Chicken Kiev and fell in love. It was an experience I never forgot and I never thought I would taste it again for a long long time, well until I reached Russia this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning first.
Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy, and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.
Everyone in India has been raving about Farzi cafe, and this year when I visited India for my annual vacation it was on my must-visit-and-be-gluttonous list. Weeks went by and we got so busy with family functions, friends, etc etc that the Farzi dream seemed to be slipping away. And then the younger brother came-a visiting along with his adorable girlfriend. No more reason was needed. Husband, me, brother and girlfriend made our way there on a wonderful Saturday afternoon and sat down to eat.
And eat we did. With our eyes, hands, and minds.
May in blog-sphere is always a time to celebrate for me. Last year I began a new monthly link-up blog party with my fellow blogger buddies Pooja, and Upasna, and we have now completed a full year woohooo. And if you remember from last years first #BlogAlong post, May was also the month when I completed a year since my first blog post; so a double whammy!
So May 2016 rings in 2 years of blogging solo, and one year of #BlogAlong. So Happy Blog-aversary to me, Happy Blog-aversary to me, Happy Blog-aversary to meeeee!!
#BlogAlong in March is all about travel. Our love for travel and of course your love for travel too.
Being an Army kid, as cliched as it sounds, travelling is in my blood. It’s what keeps life exciting, right? And every time I get extremely nostalgic about returning to India, Arjun always reminds me that I am a fauji bacha. ‘Ours is not to question why, ours is but to travel, and keep life on the fly‘
Excuse my extremely bad rhyme, but you know what I mean eh!
Welcome to the September edition of the #BlogAlong party that Pooja, Upasna and I get going, month on month. Previously we shared our blog-stories about the food we loved, the travel must-packs and our growing up memories. However this month we want to invite you all to share your stories. In the month of September, the #BlogAlong link up is an OPEN HOUSE. Any and all bloggers can join in and link up their food stories, travel stories, me stories, you stories…..and so on. I have made some great, new friends through this link up and want to make and meet more awesome bloggers out there.
Keeping with the theme that there is no theme, I am going to share a travel story. I visited South Island in New Zealand, in the month of May this year and before leaving had prepared a long list of things I wanted to experience. Remember this post from the airport? The stories from NZ are long overdue on the blog and I am finally starting to pen them down. Yay.
Well, I am happy to tell you that I managed to tick off almost everything off that list. And I started my trip with the thing that I was MOST excited about: SEAL PUPS. in the WILD.
When we were planning for the trip and making a list of things that had to be done, everyone put in their 2 cents: Milford Sound, Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Glenorchy, etc etc and then I jumped in with Kaikoura. Kaikoura what? Why? Because you get to see seal pups in the wild there, frolicking around in waterfalls. This HAD to be done.
Kaikoura is a 2.5 hrs drive from Christchurch, but if you are a traveller like us, who stops every few minutes to marvel at the sights, click dozens of pictures, take a few loo breaks (it was winters, people), then you have to allow yourself the luxury of 3-4 hours for sure. But the drive is totally worth it. In fact, it is worth it in the entire country of NZ, but this was our first day on the roads there and we just couldn’t stop WOW-ing at everything we saw around us. The clear blue skies, the sparkling aquamarine waters, the striking greenery, it was all spectacular.
Also, on the drive from to Kaikoura, do also allow yourself some time for a relaxed and elegant lunch break at the Waipara Hills vineyard. It was a chance discovery for us, but would highly recommend it for the crisp whites, and the crisper, fresher seafood treats they prepare. Slurrp.
Coming back to the subjects of my post, the seal puppies. To see these seal pups in the wild, you have to go slightly further ahead of the town of Kaikoura, to the Ohau Stream Waterfall, about a half an hour of a drive. It’s like a giant creche, for seal pups. The seal mothers give birth in the month of April, and from April till November, these pups stay in this general area; staying mostly in the Ohau stream, and swimming over to the other side where the stream joins the ocean, to meet their moms once in 15-20 days. Sounds harsh? Don’t be sad. It’s okay. it’s all part of their safety and growing up lessons. It’s because the moms go out hunting and foraging for food for themselves and their pups, and the stronger currents, plus the increased predatory nature of the ocean is not right for the pups just yet.
So they make the Ohau stream their home for the next few months, building on their social, swimming, foraging, and predatorial skills, with other young pups. Like I said, a wildlife creche where pups rule and play. Which is also a major tourist spot because who doesn’t enjoy watching animals untroubled in their natural habitat.
I was warned that seals aren’t the cutest things ever, but come on how uncute could they be, especially little pups. And as we approached the waterfall, I heard pup barks and squeals and saw this bundle
The fact that I had just seen a giant-ass seal try to kill huskies in a movie last night was the only reason I stopped myself from leaping into the water to pick these pups up for a cuddle. Hey, I don’t want to mess with their mama, OR the fact they could bite me too!
But seriously, how cute are they? And those eyes. They were like floating sausages in water, with big button eyes.
There were a couple of pups playing at the entrance to the walkway and some of the tourists returning from the waterfall told us that there were many more right at the waterfall itself, so we should definitely keep going. And we did. As you walk towards the waterfall, the trees get taller, and it gets darker and much more shaded than the approach outside. As a result, what you see is what you might not be able to capture.
So we saw a group of 40 odd seal pups playing and jumping in and out of the stream at the waterfall and you would think that the humans would be loud and obtrusive, but na-uh. These seal pups were loud, wild, and as curious about us as we were about them. There were 2 pups, on the other side of the stream, and they hopped and swam across all the way to where we were to gaze at us, with their wide eyes, and then pose for some pictures.
So they posed and we clicked. And they loved it. Hopefully. The social skills index went skyrocketing, Imma guessing.
Happy with what we had seen, we decided to head back but not before capturing some breathtaking shots of the beautiful Kaikoura sunset. That sky just kept getting spectacular with each day we spent there.
Things to Make Note Of
- Factor in an extra 1-2 hours of time to your travel time to Ohau, simply because the drive is stunning and most of the road network in NZ is single lane. Account for that extra hour.
- Seals are spotted all over the NZ countryside, closer to coastal areas and villages. They are to Kiwis what the roos are to the Aussies. While the North Island will have its share of seal pup sights, Ohau is the most popular in the South Island.
- Refrain from petting or touching the pups. Remember these are wild animals and also the fact that you don’t want to scare them away from how comfortable they feel around you
- On the other side of the stream is the beach at the banks of the ocean, where you will see the bigger, grown up seals resting and sunning themselves on the rock. That’s a sight worth seeing too, but from a suitable distance please
- Fellow blogger Laia visited the seals too and she wrote a wonderful post about it here. Please do read if you want more information about Kaikoura and around. I was plainly obsessed with the animals only, as you can see.
- Also, Liz from Young Adventuress had a brilliant post on the seals which kind of led me to discover them too. So thanks a ton Liz! Read her post here
Hope you get to visit the seal pups too. And if you, please do let me know how was your experience. NZ is a delight, for all things beautiful; sights, sounds, animal, and I couldn’t get my fill even though I spent a luxurious-but-not-enough 7 days there. Will keep sharing the NZ stories as I have finally started. phew
This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month the forum is open for all bloggers to link up with their stories: travel, food, lifestyle, personal, animal; the link up is your oyster people and it’s time to dig out the treasure troves of memories and stories!
To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:
- Publish a new post or share with us an old post, if you will
- Link for posting remains open from the first Sunday of the month to the following Sunday, till midnight
- Don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog or here itself, and it will lead you to the image URL
- We would also appreciate if you link back to your hosts, and follow us too. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and ofcourse on WordPress :)
- Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
- Comment on each others posts and spread the love
- Promote yours and others posts on social media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls
“Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award recognizes the unique voices of women bloggers around the world.”
My first blogger award! yayiie! And boy, it feels good. So good!
I used to keep seeing others around me get the Liebsters, the Sunshine awards etc and I knew I was missing out on all that fun. Primarily because if I am being honest, I wasn’t very regular in my blog posts (I still am not, but I am trying to improve haha). And also, because I wasn’t making much of an effort to know more about other wonderful bloggers out there who are travelling the world, sharing their stories, sharing family recipes, forming new friendships. But the moment you take that extra step, they welcome you right in. And that’s what is incredible about this community and these forums.
These wonderful bloggers and their stories make me realise that I am not alone in a far away land, away from best friends and family. Thanks to this sisterhood we are all a part of. And I won’t have it any other way.
And an even bigger thanks to Lyn for welcoming me right in by sharing the Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award with me. I heart you Lyn.. and your super blog. It’s such a fun read, eevry single post of yours…You’ re my Oz neighbour too :D
After looking into the rules I must acknowledge the blogger that nominated me, answer her 10 questions, nominate 10 worthy bloggers and ask them 10 questions. I accept the conditions, so read on.
- What is the most memorable food you have had while travelling?
Food is always such a highlight for me in my trips. I don’t think I have bad memories of food at all. But one of the most memorable food memories for me was this incredibly soft, and fresh blueberry scone I had in Lake District, when my friends and I were on our way to Edinburgh. I wasn’t particularly hungry but these guys wanted to have breakfast. We stopped at this lakeside cafe, and ordered food. I ordered the cafes famous homemade scone with freshly whipped cream, not expecting what I got.
I took a bite and I was in heaven. It was soft, just the right amount of sweet, and that combination of fresh cream and juicy blueberries. When I did the trip with Arjun Singh, a year later, I actually took him back to this cafe just so he could partake in my food-orgasmic memory too. ;)
- If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?
Italy, methinks. They love food, I love food. The weather is Mediterranean. I think I would settle down very comfortably in Italy. Under the Tuscan sun, perhaps? :)
- Where is the one place on your bucket list that everyone asks why you want to go there?
This is tough because I don’t have a travel bucket list yet, but the one place I probably am questioned about is Valley of Flowers, in India. It’s supposed to be a treacherous trek, at the end of which you are rewarded by beautiful panaromic views of alpine vegetation and flowers. I am not highly athletic and just the fact that I want to do this trek and trip so bad makes people wonder why do I want to do that.
- Have you met anyone famous while travelling?
Oh YES. This has to be one of my epic memories while travelling. Infact, Pooja and I were in Hyde Park in London sigh, and I was on the phone with Arjun Singh, when this super pretty girl ran past me, and I said to him, I think Katrina Kaif just ran past me. He did not believe me, but I turned around and there she was playing cricket with a bunch of her chums. And then a few minutes later, Shah Rukh Khan turned up. Pooja and I went crazy and literally staked out there for the next hour, after which their bodyguards had promised us that they would pose for pictures once play time was over. We nerded out completely but it was so worth it.
- What is the most risky thing you have done while travelling?
Hehe. Tons. But the one that I will share with you all is this story. I was working in the UK and had a work permit. And I really wanted to visit Ireland on the Easter break weekend. With my work permit I could travel anywhere in the Uk and Northern Ireland, but not Ireland, for which I needed a tourist visa. However, it was a week to go and I hadn’t gotten the tourist visa. But then someone told me that that they had taken the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin, on their way to Belfast. So you could spend a day in Ireland in transit on your work visa but would have to travel onwards the same day.
Well, I took that to the next level. I took the ferry, yes. Reached Dublin in the wee hours of the morning. Passport was checked yes. No one said anything. In fact the officials at the ferry station saw my visa and asked me if I was a student. hehe. I told them I was on my way to Belfast from here. And they believed me. And then I stayed 3 nights in Dublin!. The first day I was petrified that someone would know I am not supposed to be here and ask me to leave. But the Irish wouldn’t do that, nahhh, they are too nice. They know when someone is there for a genuinely good reason.
I wanted my Guinness and I got me some. And no one was caught or deported. Phew.
- Where do you want to travel to the most?
Himachal Pradesh, my hometown. It’s a dream for me to do a backpacking trip across my home state in India, meeting the people there. Visiting their homes. Collecting recipes. Making jam from the fresh fruit. Spending a winter there. Spending a summer there. Maybe settling there? Who knows.
- What is the best advice you can give a new blogger?
Write for yourself. Don’t write to increase the hit counter, or increase followers. Write about what you believe in, what you love, what delights you. And trust me, the appreciation follows. Because people know a good story when they read one.
- What is your most read blog?
My own. haha. No, I am not kidding. I keep revisiting my blog posts because I am super critical about my own posts. and super narcissistic too. But apart from that, definitely Life On My Plate, A Bit Of This And a Lot of That, and Slightly Astray.
- When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?
Doing things that I would forego in a heartbeat for more travel and blogging. Just kidding. Maybe not. I have a full time job as a consultant and it pays the bills and the travel tickets so wouldn’t really want to forego that now. Or would we ;)
- Is there anything you collect from your travels?
I collect tons of stuff. I am one of those shopaholic travelers for whom yes, the experience of visiting a new land is magnificient but then I want to remember it furthermore by buying things from there. When I was younger it used to be postcards. And now, I have added shot glasses as a must from my travels. There is a bunch of them with me here, a bunch lying back in India. I miss them all.
Now time for me to share this award with 10 increeible bloggers out there. My list is as follows,
- Pooja, A Bit Of This And a Lot of That
- Upasna, Life on my Plate
- Bharti, Suitcase of Stories
- Anna, Slightly Astray
- Laia, Colibrist
- Mabel Kwong
- Andrea, Cooking With A Wallflower
- Nandini, Goanwiki
- Rachel Mankowitz
- Edlyn, Egeedee
- This one is not needed, but just right back at you, Lyn, thank you SO much :)
My questions for the ten amazing women I nominated for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.
- What is the most memorable food you’ve had while travelling?
- If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?
- What is the one surperpower you wish you had?
- Have you met anyone famous while travelling?
- Is there anything you collect from your travels?
- What is the best advice your Mom ever gave you?
- What is a recipe you wouldn’t part with.. ever?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is the inspiration behind your blogs name?
- When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?
Hats off to all the nominees. Each of you have been chosen because of the unique individualities in your blog style and photography that makes each of you wordsmiths and inspirational bloggers. The reason I keep visiting your blog is beacuse it’s honest and that reflects in every blog post.
I appreciate you are all busy and may choose not to accept the award, and that is ok. I just want to thank each of you for taking time away from your blog to assist with a like, a comment, a retweet, hosting or participating in a Link Up
If you liked this post, please share or like via the buttons below or if you have something to say please leave a comment.
#BlogAlong April 2016 invites you to share food stories. This post has been one of my most favourite ones to write and got so much love so I had to share it again with everyone. Come along and #BlogAlong and share your FOOD stories, no limits or holds barred :)
Wine wine everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
That’s what Arjun Singh must have felt when we were in the Barossa because guess who was the designated driver? Hehe…But it was either him or me and ummm, I don’t drive that well, so poor him. So he kept up the conscientious resolve…. Until we reached the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. And I signed us up both for the Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting, which included a tour of ….the vineyards (duh!), and a complimentary tasting of 7 of their premium blends. He was not going to give up on THAT.
Jacobs Creek is one of the biggest wine makers from Australia, and their wines are grown and made all over the South; Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra. However, it is at Barossa that their visitor centre is located and where you meet the elves in Jacob ‘Claus’ Creek’s wine workshop. Haha, I wish there were elves. Maybe there are. But we’ll never know ;)
The centre offers a host of tours and tasting experiences to cater to all types of visitors: the foodie, the history-buff, the environmentalist, the wine-lover. The photographer? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong. The premises are beautiful, the setting is elegant and scenic.
You are treated to views of the grape plantation spread over the rolling hills. It’s quite a sight. However visitors aren’t really allowed to visit the plantation in Barossa. You are only allowed access to the visitor centre, and a dedicated green patch where you can relax on picnic style benches, and leisurely take in the views, while lying back on super comfy bean bag style mattresses. There is also a special area that is exclusive to the vineyard tour groups which is cordoned off from the rest of the visitors. This has a sample of each type of the 14 grapes that Jacobs Creek growers cultivate.
The Vineyard Tour and Tasting tour starts off with a bit of history, a tour of the visitor centre which takes you via an informative display. The gallery has an interesting display of the wine bottles, the corking and bottling techniques over the years. You then move onto the vineyard, or in this case the exclusive tour-special vineyard, with the sample crops.
Once there, you are then allowed to roam around, check out each type of grape and even taste some. That was my favourite part. Most of the whites had dried up but the reds were plump and ready for picking. They were like super sweet raisins, the kind you want in christmas cake, except that they were fresh, and ripe for picking. And I picked a lot. Yay!
It was here that I discovered a new grape called the Grenache. The time we visited the valley, it was end of harvesting season already, so most of the crops were bare, but there was a particular grape that was still on the vines, and looked ripe and ready. This was the Grenache, a red grape that ripens late and typically has a high tolerance for heat and drought. True that, because given the hot hot days we encountered and the heat the area is prone to during end of harvesting season, the Grenache was doing spectacularly well. Typically used in blends (mixing with other grapes), you will most likely not find a grenache wine on it’s own, as they have high oxidation levels, which leads to a stronger tanin flavour on the palate as the wine ages. The most favoured blend for this grape is a GSM: Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.
I am not a big fan of red wines, however there are certain reds that I do like, a good Shiraz makes my day, a Merlot not so much. However, the idea of a GSM sounded very enticing (I had already tried the dried grape, I was sure the wine would be delicioussimo too :D) And it totally was. We tried the St Hugos GSM as part of our tasting, and WIN for the red wine corner. (Don’t worry, white, you are still my favourite)
The wine tasting was quite a lovely experience. As I mentioned before, you get to try 7 of their best wines, and they are superbly generous. Arjun Singh tried his reds, and I the whites, and ofcourse the GSM. By the end of it, we were in a state of delicious bliss, and the bean bag hammocks were calling out to us. So we put up our feet, gazed out at the fine Jacobs Creek plantations, smiled indulgently at everyone around us, gazed adoringly at each other, and even snoozed a teensy bit. (Hey, it’s us, we LOVE to sleep).
Things You Must Know About The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre:
- The Vineyard Tour and Tasting allows you access to the exclusive sample crops of the Jacobs Creek wineyards, where you get ample time to explore, taste, touch, and click
- A generous sampling of some of their best wines. 7, to be precise, for AUD 15 is a super good deal
- There are also free samplings of the chosen wine of the month, which happen every 2-3 hours
- The premises are gorgeous. The outdoorsy deck, the plantation views, everyone is allowed to visit and relax.
- An amazing variety of tours offered for the wine lover
- I felt it the setup was a bit commercial, especially the special plantation area open only to people who sign up for tours. Without that you aren’t allowed access to the crops at all. The only place you were allowed free access too was the bar and the restaurant and the picnic area.
- Too much paranoia. We had to sanitise our shoes before entering the sample crop area, which was essentially a gated and boxed crop patch. Maybe my displeasure stemmed from the fact that we had visited many other wine growers and makers who were far less paranoid about people checking out their crops, or bringing in the dreaded phylloxera pest.
Nothing at all, I just wanted to use the headings in the post :)
The family behind the Jacobs Creek wines are actually the Grampp family. Jacob was the land owner, from whom the Grampps bought land for commercial cultivation, and the creek running beside his house was named after him. The bottles carry the Gramps family signature, of Johann Grampp.
All views expressed are mine. I had a yummazing time at the visitor centre, however did not get a detailed look at the brand and its wines. But that is purely because I chose the tour but wasn’t too well informed about it. Make sure you pick the tour that appeals most to you, and what you want to do at the centre. Eat, drink, be merry, learn, bike around, and even cook. It’s all yours for the picking :)
If you want to know more about Jacobs Creek, you can visit their website here .
Also, this is an extensive and uber-gorgeous post by Katie from What Katie Ate, where she was a guest of Jacobs Creek (sigh). Read on here to marvel at her photography and learn tonnes more about the behind-the-scenes plus the magic behind Jacobs Creek.
I am linking this post to #TheWeeklyPostcard link up that happens in some super fun blogs hosted by Lyn and her pals. Head on there to check out her fun blog.