You read it right! My Diwali look post made me aware that it has been a while since I wrote about beauty and fashion and was really missing doing those posts. So today, I am going to share my experience of styling a thick woollen coat. Having lived all my life in Mumbai, I had almost no experience of a proper winter. I had a great fascination for winter wear though. Who wouldn’t? Those long coats, the high boots.. they instantly glam one up. I bought a brown coat when I first moved to Delhi. It was a flattering cut, the colour was versatile and it served me well for a few years. However, being the lover of colour that I am, I wanted a brighter coat and a thicker one too.
During my North East trip in 2012, my leather jacket sleeve tore and so, I bought myself a long, thick wool coat in the most gorgeous blue and dark blue pattern. The only other option then was a drab black coat and I decided to chuck practicality out of the window and follow my instinct. The only things I looked for are good quality material, a good finishing and lots of warmth. I am so pleased I made that decision. This coat has been my faithful companion on all my travels so far. Here are some ways I have styled it.
We had a very early morning flight from Mumbai. To board our 5.30 am flight, we were at the airport well before 4.30 am. After the check in and the security, we came to a kiosk at the airport where they were giving makeovers to the ladies. Now imagine a vacation that starts with a free makeover… has to be a good one right? The lady did an awesome job and made me look fresh as a daisy! Did I mention it was 5 am then? Yea… we had a 5.30 am flight!
Travelling from Kochi To Varkala
After an uneventful flight, we quickly collected our luggage and met our chauffeur for the week by 8 am. After driving through for 5 hours non stop, we arrived at the town of Kollam about 168 km from Kochi and made made a quick picture stop giving us all a chance to stretch our legs. Since our chauffeur was from around this area, he took us to a cashew shop where we made purchases. We covered the remaining 30 km distance to Varkala in over an hour and reached Varkala beach at 2.30 pm. I wanted to go straight to the resort but Hubby insisted that we stop by the cliff overlooking the beach and boy am I glad I did! The view of the crescent shaped beach from the cliff top was glorious and there were para gliders all around us!
Kshetra Resort, Varkala
We were at Kshetra resorts that was on the beach. It meant that the resort was perched on the cliff and was a mere 5 min walk to the beach. This also meant that the approach road was practically non existent. Varkala has many small hotels, resorts and home stays. The lanes are really narrow and very difficult to manoeuvre a large vehicle in. I remember being stuck for ten minutes because there was a tempo unloading supplies and refused to move!
Kshetra resort had an impressive facade and a delightful little lobby decorated with plants, traditional Kerala artefacts like Kathakali masks, elephant truck covers, idols and had a library full of varied books that can be read by guests. There were sofas and chairs strewn about that one could sit and relax in. The resort seemed like an old style house with a central open to air courtyard and rooms all around connected with a narrow passageway. The rooms were very basic with minimal flooring, furniture and normal bathrooms. They had working ACs and geysers though. The hygiene levels could have been a bit better with the sheets and stuff. We had to get them replaced in one of the rooms. The staff was courteous but not very helpful when it came to our queries about the beach or places to eat etc.
The biggest negative about Kshetra resorts was that it did not have a kitchen. That basically means no room service. Not even tea! We were famished by the time we came and would have loved a hot cup of tea or coffee. The staff said we could order it from any restaurant close by and they would serve us. We did not click pictures of the rooms at Varkala but here is a quick look at the facade. That was the best looking part of the resort anyway!
Varkala beach was one of the beaches I had a lot of fun on and undoubtedly amongst the top 3 places in this trip. The approach to the beach is from a hill and you have a long cliff side stairway to reach the water. Atop the cliff is a series of shops that sell everything from beer to handi crafts, from beach wear to tattoos and lots and lots of eateries! Post sunset, the market comes alive. The whole area is clearly aimed at foreign tourists. In fact, we were amongst the minority there.
The beach is very clean and while there were options of boat rides and water sports, the people are not nagging. I even saw lifeguards at the beach which is impressive! The water was clean, the slope gentle and it was great for a swim in the waves. We played around in the water till sunset and then made our way back to the hotel for the night.
What to Wear at Varkala
I saw a lot of foreigners at Varkala dressed in the usual beach garb. On the beach people were sunbathing in the tiniest of costumes and there were lots of bikinis around. Off the beach, tank tops, crop tops and shorts were common. However, around the resort, we mostly saw people in loose cotton tunics with shorts or trousers. The tourists sported bohemian mostly! I had opted for a striped pink and grey jersey with a matching pink tee underneath. This is one of the most comfortable dresses I own and does not crease!! I have worn this on many flights and is very easy to sleep in. Since day 1 was going to be a long day, I opted for this piece. A pair of cheery yellow wayfarers and I was set!
Varkala – Overall Thoughts
I would highly recommend this place to beach lovers and would have loved to spend more than one night out here. The place is slow and unhurried and great to relax in. Varkala is closer to Trivandrum though. Just about 50 km so that would be a better airport if you plan on spending all your time there. We did not cover the south cliff but you can do that too for a different view of the beach. There is lots to do in Varkala and it is a great option for a relaxing beach getaway or a pit stop in your Kerala journey.
I wrote about the research for my Kerala vacation in the last episode of Kerala Vacation series. Armed with the research and having struck off popular places like Munnar and Thekkady, we were looking at beaches along the coast and the backwaters. So we decided to do a road trip along the coast line. Starting at Kochi, we were going to go all the way to Trivandrum and back. While looking at the map, hubby remarked how close we were going to be to Kanyakumari. On a whim, we decided to include the southern most tip of the country in our itinerary.
Kerala Vacation Planning – The Itinerary
Once the coastal road trip was decided, we zeroed in on the following stops –
Varkala – We had a very early morning start from Mumbai and decided to make full use of the day. We would leave for Varkala immediately after landing and cover the 160 km distance by road. Varkala is known for its gorgeous beach and a spectacular view of the hill overlooking the beach.
Kanyakumari – Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India is famous for its view of three seas meeting. Also known as the Triveni Sangam, you get to see the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal merging into the Indian Ocean. We would cover the 128km distance from Varkala in the morning on day two.
Trivandrum – The third morning we were to drive about 100km and go to Trivandrum. We were going to spend the day at the Hawa beach and take a halt in Poovar on the way from Kanyakumari.
Poovar – About 35 km away from Trivandrum, Poovar is a small backwater area that leads to the most glorious golden beach. It is also home to the floating resort if you intend to stay the night else a good enough option for a day trip or a halt.
Alappuzha – Located 154 kms from Trivandrum, Alappuzha or Alleppey is one of the most popular back water destinations in Kerala. Gorgeous backwaters that are laced with houseboats and then open into the mighty Vembanad lake, it is a must do! We planned to leave Trivandrum early in the morning on day 4 and reach Alappuzha by afternoon.
Kochi – The last leg of our journey was Kochi. Covering the 55 odd km distance between Alappuzha and Kochi, we dedicated the last one and a half day to Kochi and finally get some time to relax before taking the flight home. After the backwaters, I was most excited about Fort Kochi to click the setting sun through the Chinese fishing nets!
Kerala Vacation Planning – Hotels
Since this was essentially a road trip and we were going to be in the hotels only for a night each, we decided to opt for mid range hotels and not high end resorts. It seemed like a waste of money to splurge on a hotel with facilities if you were not going to use them. Also, we needed two rooms at each location so budget was a big consideration in zeroing in. The other factor was the proximity to attractions and main highway. We were keen on picking hotels that were close to these so that we minimise the time on the roads. We used portals like Yatra, Make My Trip and Trivago to book the hotels. Hubby would look at the places on these portals and check availability on our dates and I would read the reviews on tripadvisor. Once, I okayed the place, he would book them. We spent a large part of an entire weekend looking at hotels and booking them. At the end of the day, we were happy with most of our selections. My learning from the experience were –
Book hotels that give you a buffet breakfast. If you are doing a road trip, then finding a good place to eat on the way is a hassle and often, a waste of time.
Find hotels close to the attractions you plan to visit. It is worth paying extra for proximity.
Research well and read reviews thoroughly. Look at the photographs of the property if possible. The most recent reviews are the most relevant. We had zeroed in on a great place in Kanyakumari but the most recent review stated it was under renovation. We called up the hotel to confirm and decided not to book it!
Even though you are travelling with family, a business hotel is a great option. They are efficient and you will spend much less time checking in and out as compared to leisurely resorts
Ask for upgrades! This is something the hubby taught me. We got upgraded to a suite at one location 🙂
Check for elevators. If you are travelling with a kid or elderly, do check for elevators. We overlooked this and at one of the places, we were on the third floor. Dad had a tough time there.
Kerala Vacation Planning – Taxi
On a road trip, your vehicle is the most important thing. We decided to hire a chauffeured taxi so that we could arrive in comfort and then enjoy the places to the max. There were several leads we had from friends who had visited but none of those materialised. We then looked at the information board on the Kerala Tourism site and posted a request there. Eventually, we found the taxi from the references given on the forum itself. This was the biggest single expense for us on the trip. We were particular that we wanted a comfortable ride. So we booked an Innova. A few learnings on taxi booking –
The taxi bookings work with leads. It is not necessary that the guy you speak to will be the one to pick you up. Be cognizant of that.
The drivers there know English but some may pretend not to understand. This happened to us. So beware.
If you are paying an advance, carry a receipt. Our driver was annoyed that we had paid an advance to the guy who took our booking. He expected us to pay the entire amount to him.
If your friends or family have had a good experience with a particular driver or guide, call them and insist on booking them. Even if it means paying extra, a good chauffeur can make a lot of difference to your trip
The drivers have an understanding at most locations. They would take you to the hotels or cruise operators where they can earn a commission. Since we had booked all our hotels before hand, our driver was highly annoyed with us. We shopped for cashews at the place he recommended but did not go for the massages and sari shops like he wanted. Robbed of the commission, he was very upset and his behaviour toward us deteriorated as the vacation progressed. Communicate to the guy before hand that you have your bookings in place so that he has the right expectations.
Kerala Vacation Planning – The Clothes
Kerala is a hot and humid place. Apart from Munnar and Wayanad, the whole of Kerala is pretty much like that. So pack comfortable, loose cotton clothes. On a few beaches like Varkala, swim wear is fine but at others I was more comfortable in regular clothes. The locals in Kerala are quite tolerant of tourists and western wear. Only if you plan on visiting temples, you need to be mindful of what you are wearing. At other places, dress for comfort! Also, carry lots of sunscreen!!! You can check out some of my Kerala Vacation Outfits here.
So that was all about planning. Next time, I will talk about my experiences in Kerala! Stay Tuned…
I am writing this as a series about my Kerala vacation. We took that trip in Feb 2015. My four year old daughter and 60 year old father in law accompanied us so this was an out and out family trip. Through these series of posts, I will share the experience of planning and booking for the trip and also details of how the trip was. I hope you will join me as I recount the journey yet again.
It has been over a year since I took my annual vacation to Kerala and I have not yet posted about it. So, I am finally penning down about my journey before the trip fades to a few hazy memories in my head.
Kerala Vacation Research – The Pre Planning
I call the stage of vague ideas and Research the Pre planning stage. We had taken advantage of an air line offer and booked our Mumbai – Kochi – Mumbai tickets well in advance. We figured we had plenty of time to do the research and come up with a kick ass itinerary. Well, we did. But as usual, things got pushed to the last month and we got started with serious research only toward the end of December! Having taken Holiday packages before, both hubby and I are of the opinion that a pre-designed package was not for us. We like to have the flexibility to do as we please on a holiday and not be bound by a routine. Also, this time since we were travelling with a toddler (my four year old daughter) and an elderly person (my 60+ father in law), we wanted to be able to do as we pleased.
Kerala Vacation Research – Holiday Packages
While I knew the holiday packages were not for me, they were still the first point in my research. We were going to be in Kerala for 5 nights and I looked at all sorts of packages on the popular as well as the off beat sites. This gave me a very good idea of the popular tourist places and how to economise on the travel within Kerala.
Kerala Vacation Research – Travel Blogs
Travel Blogs were the next stop in research. I actually checked out details of the short listed destinations from the research above and read about the experiences of people. That is how we figured out that Alappuzha and Kumarakom were both similar in the offerings and I could choose one over the other. It was a travel blog that told me Poovar was a must do even though most packages did not include it and I am glad we did it! So my tip to you even if you are going to be taking a package, do read a few travel blogs about the place. You can make better use of your time.
Once I had a general idea of things and places, I read tons of forums and articles on tripadvisor about Kerala in general and the places in specific. As a result, I was able to short list the places I wished to visit and the attractions around each place. Trip advisor was also a great tool in knowing about local travel, where to shop and eat and stuff like that!
Kerala Vacation Research – Kerala Tourism
The Kerala Tourism official site is a mine house of information. I started reading this site after it was mentioned on a few tripadvisor forums and wished I had come here first. This site is very well maintained with lots of information, links to sub domains and details about each destination. It also includes tools like a tour planner and a forum where one can directly contact accredited service providers.
Kerala Vacation Research – Iternerary
Once I had the short listed places, hubby and I opened a map and sat down to discuss the places. I had the most popular places in Kerala as well as the stuff I wanted to do in that list.
Kerala Vacation Research – Munnar & Wayanad
Munnar is the most popular destination in Kerala since every package had it. A hill station down south where it actually gets cold has got to be a local favourite too! Lace it with tea plantations and you have a winner. Right? Wrong! Well, you see hubby loves hill stations while I would go to one only if forced to. Our last big vacation had been to Sikkim so none of us were keen on doing hills this time. Specially some place as crowded as Munnar. We decided to skip this one.
Wayanad is relatively lesser known but said to be more beautiful. My neighbor at work is from Kerala and he had recommended this place highly. However, Wayanad is toward north of Kochi while the rest of the places we were looking at were to the south. So, Wayanad was struck off the list too.
At this point, I must mention that skipping hill stations meant we did not have to carry any warm clothing so our packing was much easier!
Kerala Vacation Research – Thekkady
Thekkady is known for the Periyar National Park that has river sanctuary and elephant reserve. I was quite keen on Thekkady given the variety of things it offered. A wild live experience, a huge lake, elephant rides and even a spice plantation visit. Enter hubby and he says he does not want to live in the jungle for 3 days. He cited logical reasons like mosquitos and the fact that while he and I may enjoy it, it will be tiring for our daughter and dad. Add the fact that Kochi to Thekkady was 155 km and it would have taken a good 5-6 hours to cover that distance and we would have to cover almost the same distance to be back on the coast, and Thekkady too was struck off our list!
Now, are you wondering what did we really do? We were striking the most popular places off our list. Did we actually go to Kerala or not???
I am writing this as a series about my Kerala vacation. We took that trip in Feb 2015. My four year old daughter and 60 year old father in law accompanied us so this was an out and out family trip. Through these series of posts, I will share the experience of planning and booking for the trip and also details of how the trip was. I hope you will join me as I recount the journey yet again
Team building is very important for any organisation to grow. It is the team that works together for the business of the company and is the team that makes it profitable. So, it is vital or the organisation to create teams that gel well together and have an excellent working relationship. To create rapport and unity among the team members, various companies follow various methods. Some go for team lunches and dinners, some party together and others (according to a recent viral video) play music for 10 minutes urging the teams to dance on the floor… the office floor! And yet, a team outing remains one of the most popular ways for team building. I think taking people out of the war zone… err office premises to a neutral relaxed atmosphere really helps. This trend is really popular with organisations that have lower average employee age so I can imagine the number of companies in Bangalore wanting to do team outings regularly and Bangalore does not disappoint. It is one of those cities which have amazing resorts situated on the outskirts as well as within the city. These resorts make an excellent choice for team outings. Check out ten such resorts in Bangalore that are the awesome for team outings…
Situated in Devanahalli Taluk, this resort is almost 25kms away from the bustle of the city. It has many attractions that for a whole day for nothing but pure enjoyment. WindFlower Resort tariff starts from Rs.1300 and after availing discounts, you can enjoy it for Rs.1100. The main attractions at this resort include Swimming, Cricket, Football, Carrom and Chess. BMX Challenge, Paintball, Zorbing, and ATV rides are available too.
Discovery Village Resort
This resort is situated at the foothills of Nandi Hills and helps the team enjoy a breezy weather along with some great activities that the resort offers. The primary activities here include Zorbing, exploring cave, tent stay, amphitheater, indoor and outdoor games, swimming, etc. Acid Bridge, Mind Field and Spider Web are some of the exciting games you can enjoy here. It is about 55kms from the city.
Mango Mist Resort
Mango Mist Resort is situated about 12kms away from Electronic City. Located in the midst of Mango Orchard, this resort has numerous cottages which are named after various names of Mangoes. Poolside and tree top dining attracts the people here. It also has BBQ, bar, mist dance floor, numerous sports activities including football, cricket, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, basketball and various other indoor games, paintball, fish spa, fishing and boating and lots more. You can even prefer staying at this resort.
Jade Coconut Grove
If you are looking out for entertainment along with the luxury, then Jade Coconut Grove is your choice. Situated around 90kms away from the heart of the city this resort will make your team experience anything that is wonderful. With amazing architecture around, the ambience of this resort is perhaps the best one!
Golden Palms Resort
Golden Palms resort is yet again a fantastic choice. Surrounded by Palm trees and situated off Tumkur Road, this resort is known for its best luxury and hospitality. This resort is renowned for having the biggest swimming pool (130 mt) in the country by any hotels/resorts. Badminton, Tennis, Squash, etc. are the various games available.
Holiday Village Resort
Holiday Village Resort entertains teams with activities including Plank walk, nuclear balance, keypunch, gutterball and gumbo cricket. All these are great for building up the team spirit. DJ halls, party area, snooker are other attractions of this resort.
Bheemeshwari Jungle Lodges
If your team wants to spend some time with nature and enjoy some relaxed time off, then Bheemeshwari Jungle Lodges is the choice. Situated close to the Cauvery River, it is also a beautiful spot for the weekend getaway.
Urban Valley Resort
Urban Valley resort is also a great choice for some adventure. Karaoke night is yet another highlight. Paintball, Jet ski, ATV rides, blindfold tent, pick the fruit, acid walk, keypunch, etc. are other added activities.
Xplore Adventure is the perfect place to get away from all your busy schedules, meetings, targets and spend some quality time with your colleagues to know them better. The price is comparatively low at Rs.600 excluding taxes. Mud sports, rock climbing, archery, shooting, zorbing, rope activities, bungee jumping, rain dance, etc. are the attractions here.
Nature Adventure Camp, Kanakpura Road
Located 50kms away from the city, this place allows the team to various things ranging from trekking to exploring wildlife. If you plan to stay, you can enjoy the mountains and the lake along with some group activities at this resort.
Apart from these resorts, exploring new places can also be considered for a team outing. You check for fabulous deals for comfortable stay and transportation at OyoRooms, PayTM Hotels, NearBuy, etc.