Monday, September 29, 2014

Travel that makes you richer !

So while we are on the topic of travel these days, which is a lot by the way, the husband and I have been doing a lot of research on the internet. Since euro is quite expensive against the rupee, travelling without proper planning might just burn our pockets through to the last thread. And so before we actually embark on a travel, chances are that, atleast 2 weeks prior, we have done a thorough research of the city, it's central station, hotels and bookings, distance of hotel from the central station and so on and so forth.

Here in Europe, the train fares are as competent as airfares. And they also keep changing (read increasing) as the travel dates near. So during our research we came across some discount schemes (only for german trains) that slashed our travel cost by as much as 100 euros, which is a lot. We also came across another website that had a lot of interesting deals. The good part is that the deals are available on national as well as international travel, covering flights, buses, cabs and hotels. There are a plethora of options like cash savings, discounts, cashback and reward points. If you are planning a travel soon, you must must check out Makemytrip coupons only at CupoNation first. You can also transfer a portion of your savings to me as a token of thanks ;-)

Since we discovered this website only during planning our last destination, we haven't used any of the coupons yet. But since I really liked the deals I saw the last time, I went back to travel deals at CupoNation and was pleased to discover that they provide such amazing deals not only for travel but also for almost every other thing you can think of! And the best part is, you don't really need to do anything to use their vouchers or promo codes. Just check out the deal that suits you the best and you are good to go :-) Sounds fun, right?


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Website review : Collegedunia !

Do you remember the chaotic time just before our college admissions? I am sure each one of us have lots of stories to tell about that time. There was not much information available online at that time. The only way to know about colleges and their cut offs was either word of mouth or a visit to the college or our newspapers. Everyday was a day of more anxiety and confusion. Would we get past the cut off? If we did, is the college really that good? What is their placement percentage? A ticking clock and tons of unanswered questions.

I recently came to know about this new website Collegedunia.  Pretty much like a education shopping mall. One stop centre for all your college queries. The website was launched last month and provides information of up to 15000 colleges and universities across India. They claim to take that number to 30000 by the end of this year. Good news for all college aspirants out there.



The website is pretty clean in navigation. On the top, you can see all the verticals they provide information about like Engineering, Medical, MBA, Law, Arts, Science etc. Once you select your vertical, you can see a list of all the hundreds of colleges catering to it. You can further boil down to your choice by selecting your preferred city, state and course Information from the left side menu. You can also click on the college to get a lot of details like courses offered, their duration, the fee structure, hostel facilities etc. Phew! I don't think you would have any questions that this website won't answer!

Collegedunia looks like a promising upcoming education portal for students and parents alike. You can also follow their blog for latest news on colleges and admission procedures. If you have something to say, do go to the college link and give out a review others can benefit from. If you have nothing to say and are impressed with this information, do share it on your social media. You won't know who you end up helping!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Antics!

The little one has become quite an entertainer these days. She has been naughty right from the beginning, but now with babbling words in the mouth and actions that she picks up and the crawling, she is a treat to watch. Even though at sometimes you can call certain actions gross too.

She likes to eat her vomit :-( I would have never believed this had I not seen her doing it. She was playing after lunch and suddenly vomitted a little of the food. Before I could reach her she had put her hands in the mess and had almost put those hands in her mouth. Ewwww. Don't even try and picture it. She has repeated this several times till date!

Also, she has become quite an attention seeker. The husband and I call her "chep" ( sticky in English). Coz every time we go out in the tram, she has to talk. Most of the times, there is some nice lady/guy who says Hi to her and then she says Hi and then they smile and laugh until one of us has to alight. But there have also been times when no one has looked at her or spoken to her. So randomly she looks around and starts staring at whoever catches her fancy. Then she will wave her little hand to say Hi and smile or laugh. Needless to say, any normal person will melt at such cute antics of a kid directed at them. Only we know she does it with everyone ;-) Quite a social bee she is abhi se.

And then there is the toilet story. She doesn't like Mommy, I.e. yours truly, to close the door when using the restroom. Initially she would run towards the restroom as soon as I opened the door. Then she resorted to crying after I went in. Then one day she sat outside the door and screamed at the top of her lungs. Also she kept me locked inside for a whole 10 minutes because she just wouldn't budge from the door and let me open it :-( So now, you can guess how the truce has been reached. Mummy either keeps the door open or takes her inside. Sigh :-(

The cutest of the lot is her love for our food. She always wants to eat what we eat. So most of the times I keep her food in my plate and make her believe ;-) But every time there is even a slight sound of a plastic bag, she drops everything and runs towards me. For her that sound means a bag of chips being opened or a candy being unwrapped. The urgency on her face when she comes running towards me is just priceless :-D
It also means that at 9.5 months, she has made her parents eat chips and candies like a thief :-)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trip to Paris - part 2!

Continued from here..

Next morning, we had to visit the Eiffel as the next day we were flying back to Dusseldorf. The rain played spoiltsport again. It was raining by the time we left the hotel. When we reached,it was pouring. Since S wouldn't sit in the pram, H held her in one hand and an umbrella in the other. I pushed the pram around soaking in the rain (while also searching for someone selling a raincoat). No raincoat found, and reached the foot of the tower soaking wet. God finally had some mercy on us and the sun came around from behind the clouds.  And so, the mandatory Eiffel tower family pictures were taken. The trip to the summit needed tickets for which there was a long long queue. We decided to chuck the summit tour, and instead spent time sitting there, enjoying the magnificent view.

The Eiffel tower on a cloudy morning!
In the evening, we visited Sacre-coeur, also known as the Sacred Heart Basilica. It is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church built on the top of a hill. At the top, it gives a beautiful view of the city. You can climb up the stairs to the top or take a paid small cable car train. Of course, we took the train ride to the top. The church and the view from the top  was beautiful. The way to the Basilica compound is a small street that is like a climb to the hill. It is dotted with a lot of small and coffee shops and confectioners. We had some of the finest cookies there.

The sacred heart basilica :-)

Oh yes, and while going back to the airport, we took a taxi ;-)

Some points that stand out for me from this trip-

1) No lifts /platforms in the metro stations - not happening at all, considering it is such a big tourist destination and all.

2) I think Paris has more souvenir shops than people and the tourists combined. I mean, every little space in the city is covered by a shop or a guy selling Eiffel replicas. I got so sick of them during the 3 days that I didn't buy a single one.

Imitations! Imitations!
3) Some of the metro stations in the city even have people selling wares on the floor. Pretty much reminded me of Delhi ;-)

4) Paris has become more like a tossed salad. You will find fewer French people there,and more of immigrants from Afro Asian countries.

5) We had some of the best French crossiants there.

6) The old world architecture around the main city, with the river Seine flowing through, lends it a very old world look.  Pretty much feels like being in Disneyland with castles all around !



7) Paris, the Fashion Capital! Yes. Almost everyone on the street is carrying a Louis Vitton or Chanel or Fendi. Even if they are rip offs, you cannot really tell.

8) We saw a lot of the original "French kiss" ;-)

In all, Paris was an experience. Good or bad, I cannot decide. But something that I will always look back at and laugh about.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Trip to Paris - part 1

The trip to Paris started very uneventfully as we had an afternoon flight. So even though we got up late in the morning, we made it in time to the airport. But that was in no way suggestive of the eventful trip that was to happen.

We reached Paris on time and then began the adventure. The airport was huge and the little one refused to sit in the pram. We tried bribing her with her favorite toys, our beloved phones and as a last resort, to let her eat paper, an activity she enjoys the most! But she had her heart set on standing. So while I carried her, H pushed all our luggage and the empty pram around. After much walking and asking around for directions, we reached the metro station. Here was the surprise. Paris' metro stations only have stairs and some of them have escalators, albeit very narrow ones. No lifts or platforms for people in wheel chairs or kids in strollers. Since we didn't know this, we carried our super heavy pram over the stairs thinking that the next metro station might have one. We reached our hotel after changing, mind you, 4 mteros, going up and down their platforms with the pram and luggage and the little one in our arms. It took us one hour from Dusseldorf to Paris, and 2 hours from the airport to the hotel. Needless to say, we were dead tired by the time we reached our hotel.

Then, the room we had booked was not available and we were requested to make do in a smaller room just for the night. At that moment, all we wanted was a place to dump our luggage and the pram ;-) but we should have bargained better. The room was a matchbox. No baby cot. A small bed. We didn't have the energy to go down till the reception again. So we just crashed. Also crashed were our dreams of visiting the Eiffel tower that evening as the thought of taking the metro again was nothing short of a nightmare.

The next day, with renewed energy,we decided to hit Paris. And then came the rain. The first stop of the day was Mueseum Louvre. The architecture of the building is beautiful. Carvings and sculptures everywhere. The mueseum inside is HUGE. You cannot, by any means cover it in a day. The best way to enjoy it is to choose the galleries you think you'd enjoy and cover those. Art and time management don't go together :-P

Musee' De Louvre !

The next stop was the Notre Dame church. It was raining heavily by this time and we reached the church all drenched. I am not much into European history, but the church was beautiful. Please don't ask me who built it and why!

An inside view of the Notre Dame church!

 By the way, in the morning we had travelled by bus and intended to take the same route while going back. But. When we got out of the church, there was a procession going on due to which some streets had been closed. And so we kept walking andwalking ,trying to avoid those streets and reach our bus stand. After a really long walk,we reached our bus stand only to find out that the bus service had been suspended. Great! And so, we walked and walked again,mind you, with a diaper bag, a baby and the pram! We reached the metro station, changed 3 metros and reached the hotel. Phew! The good part of the evening was that our room was ready. It was bigger, had a cot and a king size bed. We crashed again!!

To be continued....

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Travelling with the baby!

The little one is quite an enthusiastic traveller. Now this comes as no surprise to our close ones who know our love for travel. I knew S had a penchant for the outdoors as she really enjoyed her evening outing to the park when she was in India. But that happened only once a day. So we were not quite sure how she would like it outdoors for whole days when we would be on vacation.

But this girl surpassed our expectations. She loved the days when we would be out the whole day. She wouldn't feel hungry or tired. We just kept feeding her at her mealtimes and changing the diapers when needed. She would be happy looking at her surroundings and soaking in the new world. She has also become quite a social bird here. She insists on talking to everyone in her sight range in her baby language. Most of the people are kind enough to indulge her. The ones who ignore are shouted at by her, which means they are forced to look at her and smile and talk to her. Quite an attention seeker she has become  :-D

Also, she insists on standing, and not sitting in her pram :-\ now who can drive a pram with a 9 month old standing ? She looks quite daring like aamir Khan in dhoom 3 ;-D
But that means we have had to carry her in our arms all day long. She could only be put down when she was sleeping. So all day long, one of us would carry her and the other person would push the empty pram around. That got us all the more tired than we should have been.

But in totality,she has been a great sport. A fitting addition to our travel happy feet. People love her all smiles and all happy nature and we have been congratulated for such a lovely baby at all the places we have visited. Quite proud a parent I sound, no? ;-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I am.not dead. Yet!

There was a time when I had a lot of time to write.  But then I didn't write enough because I was just lazy sometimes. Or didn't really have anything to say. Now that I have so much to say, there is never a free time. The little one is 9 months old. Yes, already!  Phew!  And she talks more, crawls all over the place, gets inside places she shouldn't and doesn't sleep as much as she should.  I had planned to write a good deal about my stay in Germany but all thanks to her, all I have done in the past fortnight is a single post :-(

Today I am foregoing my bath time as she is asleep right now and this is the only time I can get my act together.  Lol.  The last 15 days I have been here, we have visited a couple of places in and near dusselsorf (where we stay). But the highlight of the trip so far has been Paris and Switzerland. I plan to write detailed posts about the place and our experiences,  more so interesting because of the hyperactive little S :-)

Stay tuned!  And please pray for more sleep for her !! I want to come back and write before I forget the little details ;-)