A Resort Vacation

Posted December 23rd, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Punta-Cana-14We had our first ever resort vacation this December.  Though we have stayed in a couple of resorts before, we really treated those as just a place to crash after a busy day of sightseeing.   But this December, we (along with another family)  went on an all-inclusive 5 day vacation to the Dreams Palm Beach Resort at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.  We booked the vacation package through Costco and it worked out incredibly well. This was our very first experience with an all inclusive , kick back and relax and do nothing kind of vacation.  We were met at the airport by Costco folks who escorted us and our luggage to the resort.  The drive to the resort and back was all that we saw of the country.  One of the reasons that we picked the DR/Punta Cana was because there wasn’t anything in the must see to see/do that really seemed exciting to us.  A location with interesting to do items outside would leave us antsy to go and do and see things – and would be counterproductive to relaxing at the hotel. Continue Reading »

Bath & Cotswolds

Posted September 29th, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Cotswolds-2018-1The Cotswolds district boasts of a series of rural villages about an hours drive form London and is designated as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. Pretty villages with picture postcard views abound. We visited just three of them during our one day drive through the Cotswolds. The reason that we picked Bibury as our starting point was that it is the home of the Arlington Row cottages. Continue Reading »

Arches National Park

Posted September 12th, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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We have been traveling the world with our kids since they were infants. And no doubt, it has been challenging to juggle sleep schedules and potty routines and short attention spans with trying to see as much of a new place in the few vacation days that we have. But then a trip like this happens and all off those initial struggles suddenly become worthwhile.
Seejo and I had coincidental work trips to Salt Lake City (and suburbs) around the same time. After a bit of adjusting, we managed to get those schedules coordinated in the same week.  We took turns working Thursday &  Friday with the other one managing the kids and then could wrangle time to see Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park over the weekend.  Early Friday evening, we drove the 3.5 hours from Orem (where Seejo’s Utah office is) to Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab. The kids had spent the morning in the hotel pool so they were pleasantly tired out and happy to nap in the car.  The drive was beautiful – minimal traffic, huge mountains that changed color from white to gray to deep red as we neared the town of Moab.

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A 4 day London itinerary

Posted September 11th, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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London-2018-70A few days ago, I read an article that indicated that millennials were returning to vacation at the same spots because they didn’t want to spend time and effort researching the vacation spots or optimal flights, best hotels, figuring out the itinerary, what to see etc. This is rather strange to me because I really enjoy researching new destinations. Sometimes I research new places and plan travels even when I have no immediate travel plans!  I like doing the research because it helps me get the most of my (always short) vacation. As I have mentioned before, due to leave concerns my style of travel is not “lets visit this town for a week and immerse ourselves to understand local culture”. My research helps me understand more of the “local culture” – so even when I spend less time in a city I already feel like I have a boost in knowing the pulse of the city. Continue Reading »

London Food Diary

Posted September 3rd, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Food, Travel
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Fortnum and Mason

It is no secret that I love food.  My exposure to food beyond Indian cuisine started with British food – thanks to the Enid Blyton books that I devoured in my childhood.   In almost every Enid Blyton book, there is a detailed description of the “scrumptious” food that the main characters enjoy either at a picnic or at tea time or perhaps at a clandestine midnight feast.  Other enterprising Blyton foodies have written detailed articles about this here , here and here.  However, my first real exposure to British food was thoroughly underwhelming.  I was on my way to USA for my Master’s and I had to spend a night at London, courtesy delay due to weather issues and British Airways.  The Sheraton near Heathrow provided dinner and I recall that despite all of the anxieties of my first international trip, in fact my first solo trip , I was excited to taste the food eaten by the Famous Five! Instead I got bland baked chicken, boiled peas and a few carrots.  This was about 20 years ago. Continue Reading »

Castles in Great Britain

Posted August 30th, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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We saw many castles in UK.  Here are some of my favorite things about each castle

Tower of London

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The Tower of London

The tower of London was built in the first century to commemorate Norman victory of England.  Over the past 1000 years, this tower has had a long and interesting history.  At various times it has been a royal palace, a prison,  as a palace, a prison, a fort,  a place for executions, a treasury, a war hospital and also hosted a menagerie including polar bears that were fishing in the Thames and now it is the home of the British crown Jewels. Continue Reading »

Costa Rica -Pura Vida!

Posted December 28th, 2017 by Deepa and filed in Travel, Uncategorized
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Costa Rica 1-1-11Costa Rica was on my bucket list for the past 8 years. I used to dream and plan this trip whenever I was bored at work  , so this was a pretty well fleshed out plan!  So when we decided to make a trip in early December, I was ready with my excel spreadsheet, list of activities I wanted to do and places I wanted to see.  The  beginning of the trip was inauspicious. Tanay had a lingering cough for the past week and we were hoping it would get better soon. Unfortunately, three days before the trip,  he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  On the morning we were supposed to leave for the airport, we got up early in the morning, checked up on Tanay and decided we cannot go and just turned back and went to sleep. Fortunately, Tanay had really perked up by morning and seemed much better by afternoon. Another trip to the doctor confirmed that his wheezing had reduced, so we rearranged our itinerary, got a new flight for the next day and managed to salvage the rest of the trip.

We reached San Jose at night and were greeted by the rental car company representative. We hired our rental car through Adobe Rent A Car.Costa Rica 1-1They were most accommodating when we had to push our car rental by a day and were prompt in picking us up and transporting us and our baggage to the car rental place.  Though the formalities took some time  (they seem to have adopted the Southern African motto of “Hurry Up Slowly), they were done with a smile and before we knew it we were sent off with a recommendation to stop at Denny’s for dinner.  The airport area was crowded with flashy restaurants but many of them had a huge wait time, so we decided to grab something by our hotel. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the hotel, it was late night and there was no one that spoke or understood our English  help us.  By this time (it was past 10pm), we were tired and decided to make do with the snacks that we had in our bags and pretty much crashed.  We woke up to appreciate the beauty of the Hotel La Rosa De America. Beautiful cottages, all decorated with flower motif, the sound of birds in the air and the promise of a hot Costa Rican breakfast! Continue Reading »

Aloha Hawaii

Posted December 21st, 2016 by Deepa and filed in Food, Travel
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One of the benefits of planning a vacation, is that you learn so much about a place even before you start from home.  Seejo and I are of course not the “fly by the seat of your pants” vacation people.  When I planned to attend a conference in the  Big Island of Hawaii and decided to combine that with a short vacation with Seejo and the kids, the research began in earnest.   And even before we landed in Hawaii, I learnt that Hawaiian archipelago consists of hundreds of islands with 7 main inhabited islands. Some of these 7 islands like Niihau has a population of only 170!.  I also learnt that one of the islands , Lanai,  is owned 98% by Larry Ellison (Oracle CEO). OF these the largest by area is the Big Island of Hawaii. I also learnt that Big Island has two major towns – Kona on the west and Hilo on the east ( the center). Population tended to be centered around the rim of the island, the central area was mostly volcanic national park. Continue Reading »

Rhode Island & Cape Cod

Posted August 29th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Rhode-Island-4Rhode Island has been on my bucket list for a long time. Seejo has been flying to RI a few times a year for the past few years for work. I have always thought of accompanying him but for some reason the plans have never materialized. So this summer, we decided to plan an extra long weekend to Rhode Island & Cape Cod.

Rhode Island was once the summer getaway place for America’s millionaires in the late 1800s and early 1900s otherwise called the Gilded Age. It is here that they constructed their summer “cottages” and spent the summer in their waterfront homes. Calling them as cottages is definitely absurd as many of these are 50+ room castles decorated in a luxurious style and furnished with amazing artwork and surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens. These nouveau rich Americans flush with their railroad , shipping or mining fortunes vied with each other in creating the most opulent, over the top mansions – all for spending just 8 weeks in a year. This was where the Astors and the Vanderbilts and their ilk flaunted their wealth, threw over the top parties and in general lived a life of excess – not surprising that  it was called an age of conspicuous consumption!

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Puerto Rico

Posted July 24th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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pr6We visited Puerto Rico for a 4 day trip at the beginning of summer. PR is a tiny island in the Caribbean, much closer to West Indies than the United States, but is part of the US. All PR residents are officially US citizens.  It is a 4 hour flight from Washington DC but after surviving the brutal winter we had, we were looking forward to warmer climates, sandy beaches, rainforests, Caribbean cuisine and some much wanted downtime.  Although PR is officially a territory of the US, the fact that Spanish is the main language of communication, makes you feel instantly like you are in a foreign country.  Unlike Spanish speaking pockets in main land US, everything here is in Spanish: restaurant menus, street signs and it is the language spoken by street vendors and tradesman. Although almost everybody in the touristy areas spoke English, there were enough folks we interacted with such as the nail technician at the spa, the street vendor selling mangoes, the mother of two adorable girls I bumped into near the pool and the kiosk vendor selling arepas who spoke only Spanish.  Nothing makes you feel like you are in a foreign land till you have to resort to hand gestures and sound effects to make yourself understood! Continue Reading »