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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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 »

Wild flowers in Austin.

Posted July 4th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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We spent Easter with family in Austin, Texas.  While we were there, we had the opportunity to see some beautiful wildflower patches. The bluebonnets with their bright blue flowers interspersed with  Indian paintbrush with brilliant scarlet flowers against the backdrop of green spring grass was quite a picture perfect sight.  It was my nephew’s birthday party—so we had some balloons for a wonderful photo-op!

Dubai Reflections

Posted May 18th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Dubai-2014-66We were excited about stopping in Dubai ever since Emirates started flight service from Washington DC to Dubai.  The long lay-overs to Kochi (13 hour layover while going to Kochi and a 19 hour layover while returning) might pose a problem for some passengers but this actually worked out very well for us. My sister lives in Dubai, so the 13 hour lay-over was perfect for a stop at her place, lunch, a brief nap, a stroll at a nearby mall and back to airport for flying to India. On the return flight, we opted for a 96 hour visa option offered by Emirates Air and spent the better part of three days in Dubai.  Each way the transit visas were quite painless to obtain. Everything was taken care of online with minimum effort. Continue Reading »

Annika’s Witty Gems

Posted April 16th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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awg4Annika was 27 months when we visited India in February.  She was looking forward to meeting “Ammamma”(my mother) and Daada-Daadi (Seejo’s dad & mom) again – who she knew are in India. Here are some gems from Annika during the course of our visit

Is India Done?

We stayed the first night of our visit with Seejo’s parents. The next morning, we set off to visit my mom along with a suitcase full of gifts for my relatives. Looking at both of us and our huge suitcase, Annika asks us “Is India Done?”. Continue Reading »

Great Wolf Lodge & Jamestown Settlement: Review

Posted December 11th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel, Uncategorized
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GreatWolfLodge-01For Annika’s second birthday, we decided to treat her (and ourselves) to a small getaway trip.  I wanted to take Annika to a water park because she enjoys being in the water. I had two criteria for a water-park: it had to be indoors because it was November and it had to have special area or rides that are suitable  for toddlers.  I had almost given up  hope on finding such a place when a colleague mentioned the Great Wolf Lodge.  The Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park with several locations around the country. The two closest to us were at Poconos, NY  and  Williamsburg, Virginia.

Entrance to the waterpark is limited to guests of the lodge, so we booked a weekend at the Williamsburg resort. We selected Williamsburg as it was substantially cheaper than Poconos  as well asGreatWolfLodge-06 a tad bit closer. We left work a little early on Friday to make the three hour drive to Williamsburg and reached the lodge at around 6pm.  After the check in formalities , we spent some time exploring the resort and the water-park.  We were given a wrist tag with RF ID embedded : this way we could move throughout the lodge and the water-park area without needing a room-key or any money. Any purchases could be billed directly to the room using the tag.  The lodge was quite large : our rooms were near one end of the lodge so it was quite a trek  to get to the main lobby  and the park. The rooms were quite standard with a microwave and refrigerator. Clearly we were not meant to spend a lot of time in the room itself. The Lodge has a lot of other activities for children : it had a play area where children could be dropped off, an arcade, a kiddie spa, a couple of eating spots and of course the park itself.  The decor at the lodge was quite interesting:  you are greeted at the entrance of the lobby by a humongous stone sculpture of  a wolf. You enter into a huge and welcoming lobby with multiple fireplaces — the whole place has a log cabin like  feel to it with rustic log  furniture.  There is a grand clock-tower at the center of the lobby — we were told that each evening there is story time for kids near the clock tower along with sightings of Wiley the Wolf and Violet the Vixen. There were several life sized statues of wolves placed here and there , I counted about 15 of them.  We decided not to  go into the water that day but instead went out to dinner  buffet at Captain George’s sea-food restaurant Short Review: lots of variety, average taste , not recommended unless you want to eat a huge quantity of sea-food. Continue Reading »

The towns in Provence and Cote d’Azur

Posted October 20th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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My sister and family went back to Dubai after Paris. However my mom, Seejo and I traveled South to the French Riviera. We spent 3-4 days in the South Of France enjoying the beauty of French Riviera and Provence.  I have several lovely memories of the time we spent there including the train ride there where an elderly couple entertained Annika for a long time, the classic sight of  folks playing Petanque, the little dinky Cannes railway station, the sight of a mountain goat up on the Gorges Du Verdon loop, walking up and down tiny towns selecting sachets of lavender, grocery shopping at French malls and so on.  This is not to discount the marvelous natural beauty that we were fortunate to see.   We visited several small towns and was enthralled by the changing landscape. Also we were fortunate to be there during lavender season (albeit a week before peak) and got to see the fields of lavender as well. A brief description of the various little towns and cities we visited is below. Continue Reading »