Monthly Archives: July 2017

Bloomsbury’s

Sometime back, we were super happy to see gastronomic progress happening in a building near the BMTC Depot in Whitefield. (map) Galito’s and Cold Stone Creamery were quick to start reperations, and we now regularly make up excuses to visit the latter! Bloomsbury’s looked very promising but had been holding out, until we began seeing lights inside around April. Side note – I think the same folks are behind all three, because it can’t be a coincidence that outside of Bangalore, all of them operate only in Kerala’s tourism hot spot – Lulu Mall. Though all three seem to be international franchises, I’m guessing that like most good things in life, these ones too have some Kerala connection. 😀

Bloomsbury’s proposition is a boutique cafe and artisan bakery, but let’s just say that from a menu perspective, you will have enough to choose from. In fact, that is quite a problem because you’ll find it difficult to preserve appetite for desserts. But we’ll come to that in a bit, because the decor is worth a shout out. Spread over two floors, the brick walls with chalkboard and illustrations, the cute teapot lights, the plant holder bulbs,  graffiti and the plush seating, all lend a lively yet cozy feel to the place. The staff do their best to make you comfortable too. For instance, when we asked to sit upstairs, we were told that it wasn’t open yet. Later, one of the other service staff let another party sit upstairs, followed by my cold glares. That last item was caught and they were nice enough to let us take a little tour upstairs, and move our food there if we wanted to. But we liked the area downstairs better.

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Project Happiness

Our “big” annual vacation typically happens around May-June. But at least six months of preparation precedes it, and my levels of preparation (which D has now been almost coerced into) might be considered way too orchestrated for practical purposes. My defense is that in all probability, this would be the only time we visit the place, so I’d like to make it as hassle-free as possible. Also, the fear of missing out.

As a species, we are uniquely capable of projecting our future in our own minds. My plan is supposed to make us happy. The expectations are already set. And that means that things can go wrong in many ways. For instance, things might not go as planned because of events outside of my control. Or we see other possibilities once we’re in a place but we’ve already committed to our plans in terms of time/money/emotions! More

The Accidental Universe

Alan Lightman

The title is intriguing and revealing at the same time, just as the book is. Most of us understand that it required an almost impossible set of coincidences for me to be writing this and you to be reading this! In many ways, it is accidental. And despite the vast developments in science and improvements in technology across time, do we still really know much of the universe we exist in?
It is an awe-inspiring subject, and Alan Lightman uses a series of lenses to frame the universe in ways that give us some understanding about its origins and how it works. From the basic forces that underpin the functioning of the universe, to the way it is constantly changing, to my favourite part – the two paths that have we humans have taken to answering our questions – science and religion – both spiritual in their own right, to the symmetry in design that almost suggests an architect, to the scale that is vastly beyond what we can actually perceive in relation to our immediate world, to its paradoxical love for the predictable and the occasional unpredictable, to the ‘unseen’ but active world of waves and particles, the book provides us snippets of the knowledge that humanity has collected over the years about the universe it inhabits. It also gives us an idea of what we do not know.

Dhaba by Claridges

We had spotted the place during our visit to Sly Granny, and liked the look of it, so at the very next opportunity – which happened to be our anniversary – we decided to drop in. (map) It was also the first day of my new job, so it turned out to be a double celebration. At 7 PM on a Monday we had the place all to ourselves, at least for a while. In fact, I think we disturbed their prep meeting! We really liked what they have done with the decor – it’s bright and has classic Dhaba signs and messages, some of the seating is inspired by classic vehicle interiors, the music is absolute Bollywood, and even the loo continues the Dhaba messaging. The thing though, is that it is all done classily – Dhaba fine dining all the way.

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Dubrovnik

Continued from Split + Hvar

Our bus to Dubrovnik was at 9.15, so breakfast went exactly like the previous day. The hotel folks dropped us off at the bus station in their little electric car. As we boarded the bus, we heard an elderly man complain about having to pay 7 kunas for storing the luggage in the compartment. His co-traveler, presumably his wife, replied, “Ha! Wait till you reach Dubrovnik”. It is true though, the prices kept increasing as we moved south. Not a coincidence that the places became more touristy too.

The internet had advised me to sit on the right side of the bus. The view was fantastic, especially the Makarska stretch, but the mountains on the left were fantastic too! However, the journey took almost 6 hours instead of the 4 that it was supposed to. The attitude of the driver and conductor indicated that this was always the case. The bus stopped for their lunch and we had a pastry to stop the grumbling – ours and the stomachs.

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Split & Hvar

Continued from Zadar

The Boutique Hostel Forum folks had arranged for a cab to drop us at the bus station. Now is a good time to note that toilets in bus stations are pay and use, carry change – usually 3 kunas. The trip to Split took us close to 3.5 hours. The only irritation was that since the luggage compartment was full, the bags had to be kept inside the bus. Thankfully, there were enough vacant seats so it didn’t bother us much. The tourism quotient at Split was markedly higher. Our stay was at Diocletian Palace Experience, and they had said they could pick us up from the bus station if we called them once we had reached. Unfortunately, the only pay phone we could find wasn’t working, but the hotel was only a 10 minute walk away, so we decided to do just that. We were a couple of hours early for a check in (3 PM) but they obliged. Another place without an elevator, but we were on the first floor. In the room, we saw brochures with tours of all kinds, including food and wine tours. We wondered whether we should have planned the next day in a different way.

Our lunch plan was at Bajamonti, a short walk away. Must say that Google Maps is a boon! Rose wine, risotto and veal with a view of the promenade. Life was good. :)

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Zadar

Continued from Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes

We reached Zadar in just over a couple of hours. Our stay in Zadar was to be at the Boutique Hostel Forum, and they had told us not to pay more than 6 euros from the bus station to the city gates. We ended up paying slightly more, and despite some reasonably good directions, lost our way a bit before a ‘duh’ moment of realisation that Google Maps could help even when offline. The hostel is right next to the forum, and its only drawback is that there is no elevator. But even given that we were on the third floor, that was only a one time problem at check in. This, I must say, was a completely cool outfit – superb branding – especially the booklet that comes with the key, the most optimal use of space I have seen, and very helpful staff. Most importantly, we got the view we had requested – sea facing. The beds were on a raised platform, and you could have a fantastic view lying down!

We rested a bit before walking to the Sea Organ to catch the sunset that Alfred Hitchcock described as the most beautiful one in the world. The Sea Organ itself is quite a contraption – it exists below the steps you can sit on to watch the sunset, and plays ‘keys’ according to the rise and fall of waves. Surreal experience. The sun played a bit of hide and seek before quickly appearing in full glory just before its set. Have I seen better? Probably – Boracay and Oia immediately come to mind, but the overall experience thanks to the unique Sea Organ is something you shouldn’t miss. Right next to it, there’s also something called Greetings to the Sun, but that required more darkness to fall, and we were too hungry to wait!

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Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes

Continued from Prague

When we landed at the Franjo Tuđman Airport in Zagreb, it turned out that our driver, arranged for a price by the hotel, was equally worried. Apparently, the last time he had waited for the last flight and it had been delayed, the passengers he was scheduled to pick up weren’t on the flight! In half an hour, we were dropped off a few steps from Hotel Dubrovnik, which was practically on the Ban Jelačić Square, the central square of Zagreb. And what a pretty one it was, visible from our hotel window. A good time to note that the hotel staff was really helpful.

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Praha

Prague was an afterthought. After we had decided on Croatia as this year’s ‘big’ vacation, and realised the intricacies of non-Schengen visas, we needed a nearby place in Europe to land, and the proximity along with the huge number of microbreweries made it the favourite. After starting at an insanely early time (3 AM), sleeping through the uncomfortable Lufthansa flight and sleepwalking through Frankfurt’s cold airport (and staff, except two – one who pointed us to a faster way to go through immigration and the other, who gave us a spot in the line) we landed at the Vaclav Havel airport. We’d arranged a shared pick up by Prague Airport Transfers, and were met by an extremely jovial guy who kept up a steady flow of information – facts and opinion -throughout the trip as he dropped off two sets of passengers before us. Every alternate sentence was closed with a “like this”. We were dropped last and that meant an hour for the trip.

Our stay was at Iron Gate, very close to the Old Town Square. In its dim lit but stylish lobby with medieval style decor elements, we exchanged euros to korunas. (we had read that the airport rates were not so great and the hotel rates were close to what our driver had said was a good rate for the day) We also learned that the check out was 12 PM, which meant we would have about 6 hours to kill the next day before we left Prague – 2 of them was nap time! Our room was compact and neat, and after a quick refresh, we stepped out for lunch.

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