Review

Early Morning Boat Ride

One of the must do’s while you’re relaxing in the backwaters is waking up before dawn to take a boat ride across the backwaters before the sun reaches its apex.

For someone like me, who absolutely loves sleeping in, this was quite the task. I woke up groaning and despite all my feeble attempts at backing out, muffled by the duvet I was hiding under so snugly, I found myself dragging my feet towards the dock with puffy, sleep laden eyes.

The ride begins gently but slowly floating past the infamous floating cottages. As one floats by them, one also gets to witness the idol of Mother Mary and the Cross built on a rock. It is a unique experience to see the hues on the idol come to life as the rays of the sun bask upon it, inch by inch. In much the same manner, the water too turns a different shade, seemingly dark maroon or purple, a trick of nature on the irises.

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Once past the floating cottages, the boat heads deeper into the groves where one gets to witness, thanks to the sharp eye of the guide and skipper, birds of different hues and species. Hidden behind heavy sets of leaves and often camouflaged, naive eyes would never notice the birds if it weren’t for the experienced skippers whose very livelihood depends on showing tourists around and impressing them with their keen eye for discovering, what otherwise would be very hard to detect, birds and animals.

One also gets to see houses hidden within the groves, with people waking up and doing their morning chores or getting ready to head out to earn their daily wages. Boats tied here and there indicated fishermen around as well.

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Somewhere between the purr of the motor from the boat and the echoes of birds chirping, an eerie comfort somehow settled upon us as the boat sailed around. Slipping in and out of little streams, created by cutting down hundreds of coconut tress, passing through nooks and crannies, arches made out of trees bent with age, we got to witness flora at its prime, wild in its beauty. From time to time, the skipper chipped in, informing the passengers of fruits that seemed deceivingly normal but were incredibly poisonous and flowers that seemed to be withering but were actually in full bloom and were used to medicate cuts and wounds.

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The entire boat ride was about an hour and a half long. The ride ended just as the sun was about to rise to its zenith. We stepped out and onto the dock feeling energised and awakened, the impression of such tranquil beauty leaving quite a deep impression on the mind and soul.

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Experiencing the Backwaters

It has been quite some time since I have woken up, feeling refreshed and well rested, rather than cranky and groggy. The sun was beaming and there was a slight breeze, whistling as it brushed through the trees and bushes surrounding us.

As I had an appointment with the Spa in a couple of hours, my parents sun bathed beside the pool while I decided on a nice, sunny swim.

I hate gymming. Gymming and running, to be precise. It makes it difficult for me, therefore, to maintain a healthy regime. As a teenager, I was an exuberant participant in multiple sports. Basketball, badminton, swimming, horse-riding, I loved them all. Needless to say, I was toned and extremely fit. University and work ruined all of it. Swimming during this vacation, was not just an enjoyable excuse but also a welcome exercise. I did not realise just how much I had missed swimming until I dipped my toes and broke the surface of the cold water.

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Fun fact regarding my swimming costume while I am at it. Only after the vacation did I realise that I could sport the bikini top two-ways. I could either choose to don it as a halter or remove the straps and sport a cute and well fitted strapless top! Also, the neon print isn’t just for show. It glows in the dark, as I had noticed, the day before, when I had my evening swim.

Soon after, I headed for my spa appointment.(There will be a blog post about it in the coming week, so stay tuned!)

Post my spa treatment, my muscles so relaxed, I could barely move, I somehow dragged myself out of Jiva (the spa centre). Smelling heavily of scented oils, I decided on wearing something light and loose since I wasn’t allowed to bathe for the next hour or so.

Quick tip: Take a shower or bath after the hour is up. The scent becomes quite strong, the more it stays on and makes you feel quite queasy by the end, if you have it on longer than 60 minutes.

I suffered and learnt this bitter truth since we we had a 40 minute journey ahead of us, followed by checking into our resort at Poovar and then being reallocated. All in all, I ended up washing up about two hours later than instructed!

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Having arrived, we hopped onto a little boat, ferrying us across the backwaters to the resort. For all those who are unaware, the backwaters are a part of the river, untouched by the current. Hence, the waters are extremely still.

On our way to ‘Poovar Island Resort’, we saw multiple floating restaurants on one side and an expanse of sand on the other. The sand was a makeshift beach of sorts, barricading the sea. The sea in this part was in a constant state of high tide and the beach was quite unsafe, with various places marked dangerous since it was surrounded by quick sand.

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Beyond the conch lay vast acres of greenery. Flowers in full bloom, coconut trees looming everywhere and small paths weaving in and out, with hammocks in full use, welcomed us as we walked inside the resort.

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From the entrance, one could see tiny cottages popping up here and there with a swimming pool built right in the centre of the entire resort. Once check-in had been done, we were escorted to our floating cottage. Unfortunately, our first and last impression of the floating cottage wasn’t the best. It was dingy and somehow, just didn’t seem appeasing.

For the first time ever, I feel, I put my foot down. My parents had headed for lunch while I decided to wash off the oils from the spa treatment I had done before. Turns out, there was no water! Shocked, upset and taken aback, I stormed out and refused to enter the cottage until we were relocated to a better accommodation.

Thankfully, post lunch, we were housed in one of the newer accommodations which had a wonderful view of the entire resort with the sea visible in the far distance and a jacuzzi installed in the walk-in bathroom!

Come evening, we had a small tour of everything the resort had to offer. We soon realised, this part of the backwaters was best suited for a weekend getaway rather than a long vacation. So we decided to shorten our stay at Poovar and head back to Kovalam after two days rather than three.

Also, it seemed Poovar Island Resort hosted day trips and the like, since the resort seemed to be bustling with people throughout our time there. It was a surprising change from the quiet and calm of Kovalam where people were in their own space and silence was a calming blanket. It doesn’t imply that it was disturbing! The experience was simply different.

We were also informed of the Ayurvedic Village (a must do for everyone, I would say!), located in a small corner of the resort, tucked away from all the cacophony and bustle of tourists making the most of their vacation. Excited, we made ourselves a few appointments, deciding on giving our muscles as good a pamper session as our skin.

Stay tuned for more updates!
xx

 

First Impression of Kovalam

I am not one to lose my calm when I am around my parents. Why? Because they’re capable of doing it without my help. They lose their marbles at the drop of a hat which is why, even if I want to, I can’t. But, they know, that if I start to panic, there really is something to worry about.

Headed to Kovalam had me worried. We had a super early flight and somehow, we were extremely close to missing it. We made it inside the airport with minutes to spare and my bad choices had me swearing under my breath, incessantly. The one time I should have worn sneakers, so that I could do all the running around with ease, I decided on 6 inch heels.

Poor judgement aside, we boarded our flight without much of a delay.

A stop over later, we had landed in Trivandrum.  After a fifteen odd minute drive , we were pulling into the breathtakingly beautiful resort, Vivanta by Taj. Beautifully structured and designed around waterfalls and forestry, the resort oozed serenity and calm. Welcomed with shell garlands, we settled down to cool ourselves, sipping on some refreshing coconut water while our backs were taken to our room.

Having toured all that we could of the resort while the receptionist was confirming the details of our check-in, we decided to stop by the sea. It gave us time to have a quick trip down to the beach, something, all of us were quite eager to visit.

The sun was at its peak, there was salt in the air and the waves were crashing relentlessly on the rocks.

Yes, my vacation had indeed begun.

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We then headed back to the resort where our lovely concierge Roshin surprised us by upgrading us to the Premium Deluxe Suite. Let me just say, the room was spectacular. With a gorgeous sea view, a panoramic view of the resort, two balconies and a walk in bathroom, I was all but ready to kick my heels off and collapse into the relaxing environment that was beckoning me, enticing me never to return to reality.

Having not had lunch, I decided on treating myself to Roasted chicken breast with rosemary, potato mash, mushroom jus and sautéed vegetables.

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I got quite obsessed with mushroom jus by the end of it, my father being witness to it. He actually caught me with my finger dipped deep in the jus, unabashedly treating it like a jar of nutella.

 

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On our way to the sea in the evening, we got to see more of the resort, landscape and design of the resort and everything it had to offer as we bumped along on the cute buggy that was driving us there.

Processed with VSCO with f3 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetRight next to the beach was a small lagoon. A boatman would, every forty minutes, seat three to four people in his boat and take them around the lagoon. Just as the sun was setting, we got into the wobbly boat, wearing extremely unflattering lifejackets. The boat ride was quaint. The stillness of the water breaking every time the oars splashed, was possibly the only sound one could hear, with the occasional screech or hoot of birds in the surrounding environment. None of us spoke. We simply absorbed the rustic beauty surrounding the village; the swoosh of the oars, hum of the boat floating slowly and our gentle breathing, creating a mild tune to keep us company.

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The water was so still, everything was a mirror reflection on its surface. On our way back, once the boat had turned around, we got to witness the sun setting. Shades of pink, purple and orange kissed the skies and watching it, had my heart fluttering at its beauty.

With our feet back on solid ground, we relaxed some more on the beach.  Eager to let loose the water soul I host, we headed back. The swimming pool in the resort was beautiful to say the least and I really wanted to dip my toes in and swim, something I hadn’t done in ages!

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The design of the swimming pool mimicked the infinity pools that have become so famous, with one side of the pool not walled, instead, ending in a steep drop. The view on the unwalled side of the pool was basically, a never ending view of the sea and the sky meeting, two distinct shades of blue, shaking hands.

Dad decided to give me company while I swum. Having not swum in ages, I decided to really push myself. By the end of it, my muscles were on fire, something I actually enjoyed. While I headed back for an extremely relaxing and LONG bubble bath, my parents headed for their spa appointments.

I think I dozed off in the bath. The warm water and the heady scent of lotus from the bubbles had me relaxed and I lost track of time. When I got out, I felt so sleepy. It was a good kind of exhaustion, not the kinds where you are weary and want to curl up and cry. Donning a bathrobe, I collapsed on the couch, all set with my book. Soon, my parents returned from their spa appointments, smelling of oils and looking, well…sticky.

Dinner was as succulent as lunch. I treated myself to Garlic butter prawns for an entrée and Pesto pasta for my main course. For dessert, I chose Tiramisu with shaved coffee flavoured chocolate.

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Well fed, relaxed to the point that our limbs were almost jelly-like, we hit the bed. For the first time, in what seems like forever, I fell asleep immediately. Actually, I didn’t even realise I had fallen asleep. Middle of the night, when I awoke, parched and in search of a water bottle, did I realise that I had fallen asleep and had been tucked into my bed by my Dad. Slightly embarrassing but adorable too, I’d say.

My first day in Kerala was perfect in every way!

 

Salsa Night

I have always felt extremely alive and free when I dance. Be it the few times I tried my hand and patience at Indian classical dance or when I let my creativity flow and discovered the style of dance I most enjoyed, it was dance that flooded me with pure joy, freedom and relief. The energy that slowly spreads through my bones allowing me to express myself through a synchronised movement of my body matching the tune of the song playing, makes me feel powerful and confident, all at the same time. So when Dipa planned a night out dancing, I was the first one to jump on board.

The place we decided to go visit was called Bar Salsa, a bar and dance studio quite close to Tottenham Court Road. Decked up and ready to shimmy, my friends and I reached there right when the party got started. People all around me were dancing different routines and styles and each one of those routines was so mesmerising to look at, I couldn’t help but gawk.

We all joined the dance floor and started to sway to the music, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Some of the people there, extremely proficient in the dance styles, would come up and request to dance to a song or two which turned out to be such a fun experience. It doesn’t matter if you know the steps or the style. As long as you let lose and allow your partner to lead you, you’re all set. I got the opportunity to dance with one of the dancers and can I just say, it was the best routine I have ever danced to.

My girls. From left to right: Esperanza, Dipa, Mary and me.

We took a break from dancing, to sit down and chat (which was a little difficult seeing as we were seated right next to the speakers) and also cool down since we had started to sweat and were quite breathless, having danced non stop for quite some time. We ordered drinks and sat enjoying the music, watching people all around us dance. It was at this point that we all noticed one couple dancing, oblivious to all the attention they were receiving. They were such a brilliant pair. Every movement of their’s was effortless and they were so in sync with each other, it seemed like they were one. I was staring at them shamelessly, my mouth wide open, the straws of my drink glued to my lips making me look like some weird and deformed walrus. None of my friends could keep their eyes off the couple and it was only when they stopped, that we snapped out of it and came back to reality.

Since Julien failed at Salsa, Dipa was trying to cheer him up while Tony being Tony, made sexy eyes at the camera as I captured the three of them.

Posing is fun.

We then went back to the dance floor and spent another good hour dancing and enjoying ourselves. Finally the pain kicked in from wearing heels and our stomachs started grumbling, cause honestly, dancing is a form of exercise and I think we had worked out way too much for one night. So we decided to head out and look for a restaurant that would feed our hungry mouths so late at night. Before we left, we agreed on having a group picture taken. Unfortunately, thanks to the dark decor and genius photography of the man taking our picture, the photograph turned out to be very blurry with our faces almost barely visible. Anyhoo, here it is.

Meet my crazy, adorable friends. From left to right: Mary, Esperanza, Tony, me, Julien and Dipa.

We stepped out into the cold and trudged or rather hobbled on the cobbled streets towards Balans Cafe, a place we had visited before. Thankfully, we were seated right away and without wasting a moment, ordered our favourites from our past experience in the cafe. Soon enough we were served our food and we dug in.

We had ordered two plates of Chicken Quesadilla starters that were made out of flour and served with Mexican cheese, sour cream and salsa fresca. For the main course, we ordered two plates of the Rigatoni which was served with peas, broad beans, bacon, mushroom, parmesan and cream.

Chicken Quesadillas.

Rigatoni.

While the tangy spice of the Chicken Quesadillas were perfectly balanced out by the sour cream and were the perfect amount of crispy and soft, the Rigatoni was silky smooth once popped into the mouth. The grated parmesan on top worked brilliantly with the fried bacon and salted mushrooms.

Having cleaned out the plates, big smiles plastered on our faces, we decided to call it a night. The entire experience was so much fun and it couldn’t have ended on a better note. If any day, you decide to cool off or just have a good time with your friends, I would definitely suggest trying out Bar Salsa. Whether you know how to dance doesn’t matter cause once you’re there, you will find yourselves tapping your feet and moving your hips to the rhythm of the music. And if you find yourselves starving after that, you can always take a trip down to Balans and savour their delicious food.

Till then…

With love,
S.

Post Valentine’s Dining

Who says you can only celebrate Valentine’s with your better half ?
You can just as well celebrate it with your friends or family and that’s exactly what I did. Three days later. With my best friend, who also turns out to be my better half, but we’ll just overlook that.

My boyfriend and I decided to go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day by doing what we love most, eating. Since both of us were busy with research proposals and presentations, we decided to go out and relax a few days later when we were both stress free.

With no clue as to where we were going to dine or what had been planned, I set out, in painfully high heels towards Holborn to meet up with my him. Having found each other, we walked towards a cute Italian restaurant, Amarcord Ristorante Italiono, where he had made reservations (in the bathroom of his office mind you). Turns out the restaurant served Italian cuisine and since I absolutely love the cuisine, wasn’t surprised when I found myself clapping gleefully and eyeing what people were eating while shamelessly salivating.

We were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant and were immediately handed menu cards.  There were so many options, it was quite the struggle for me to decide my order. Finally, we chose our food and soon enough were being served our starters.

While I went for Avocado Con Gamberet, which was ripe avocado with prawns and cocktail sauce, my boyfriend chose the Aletti Di Pollo Pica, which was charcoal grilled chicken wings with garlic and red chillies. Both the starters were served with salad on the side.

Avocado Con Gamberet

Aletti Di Pollo Pica

The portions served were extremely generous. I was quite certain I would not be able to enjoy my main course on seeing the size of the starter but surprisingly, the food was light and so didn’t weigh me down. The prawns in my starter were fresh and soft with the right amount of cocktail sauce. The sauce had very balanced flavours and was neither extremely tangy or sweet. The combination of prawns and avocado went very well and I found myself cleaning up every inch of the plate. My boyfriend had very similar opinions about his starter. He didn’t find it too spicy and the wings were grilled just the way he preferred it. He also ended up finishing up my starter since eating healthy is more his thing than mine. I did get a disapproving look from him though when I not so subtly pushed my plate towards him, wordlessly asking him to clean up the salad on my plate.

As soon as we were done with our starters, the waitress came by and took our plates away and served us right after with our mains. I thought the portions of the starters were big, but the portions of the main courses were even more. Steaming hot and beautifully presented, we dove into our food without a second thought.
While he had gone for the Pizza 4 Formaggi, which had Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Gorgonzola Cheese, I decided on trying the Ravioli Al Funghi, which was ravioli stuffed with meat cooked in mushroom and cream sauce.

Pizza 4 Formaggi

Ravioli Al Funghi

When I started slicing the ravioli, it got submerged in the sauce and I for a second thought the cream sauce was a bit too much and might make me queasy but once I was done with my dish, I realised it was the perfect amount. The mushrooms were cooked just right and the cheese had oozed all over the ravioli and mixed well with the sauce to make it creamy and silky. The drizzled parmesan on top simply made it more delicious. My boyfriend’s pizza which was bigger than both our faces put together was thin crusted. Quoting him in regards to the pizza ‘my taste buds are having a little dance party’ I think is more than enough explanation as to how much he enjoyed his dish.

We left with our food souls extremely satiated and a massive smile etched on our faces. Our post Valentine’s celebrations was fun filled and full of laughter, love and merriment, just the way we wished it.

With soothing music playing in the background, warm hosts, a cozy atmosphere, massive portions of amazing food at reasonable prices, Amarcord has for sure become a favourite. I can’t wait to go out and try some more of their lip smacking food. Anyone in the area, should definitely give it a try.

Trip to Mimo’s

Having missed breakfast one too many times when I first arrived in London, a friend of mine took pity on me and introduced me to a cafe situated quite close to where I reside. I headed to this place with her one day and haven’t stopped visiting it ever since. Mimo’s cafe with its wonderful, warm and welcoming hosts offers a quaint ambience and absolutely delicious food. I first munched on their sandwiches which were so heavy and sinfully divine, I had to keep going back for more.
Despite the fact that I had been gorging on their sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past four months, I had never quite gotten around to trying out the wide variety of Pasta’s they served. I had promised myself I would one day but that day would always get postponed for another time.

My boyfriend and I decided on a dinner date, seated in different countries and after much planning, headed out there the minute he came back from his trip to his hometown. I could’t help but do a little jig knowing I was going try out their main dishes. If their sandwiches were anything to go by, I knew the Pastas would be lip smacking as well. Boy was I right about it.
The minute we walked in, we were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant and handed the menus.

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After what seemed like ages, we gave our orders, having gone through the menu a gazillion times. There was just so much to choose from. While my boyfriend decided on the Tagliatelle Pesto and Chicken which was Pasta served with Chicken, Mushroom and Peppers in Pesto Sauce, I chose the Tortellini Funghi which was Stuffed Pasta with Mushroom and Cream. Within five to ten minutes of us ordering, the food had been served. Without further ado, he and I dove in and I think both of us died and went to food heaven. It was absolutely delectable.

Tortellini Funghi

Tagliatelle Pesto and Chicken

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The portions were quite large and words fail me when I try to describe how absolutely exquisite the food tasted. Since the portions were so big, I couldn’t finish my dish and so my little food monkey helped clean up my plate without any complaints. Once we had finished gorging on our food, we just sat there with the biggest smiles on our faces, our tummies and food loving souls, absolutely satiated.

I can’t wait to go back for another round of their Pastas. My boyfriend and I have already decided on our next dinner date and have even pre-planned what we’re going to order.

I am even more in love with Mimo’s and the food they offer if its possible. I simply can’t get enough of them !!