Road Trip: Jammu to Pathankot

I guess everyone has watched the phenomenal movie Jab We Met. I have assumed that its everyone favourite or am I wrong? Are there any haters out there? Well its been 9 years since the movie's release but I have not found anyone. Okay enough. Let me come to the point. As the movie starts Geet misses her train. This is something I don't even remotely dream of. But mishaps do occur...sometimes or at least once.

Lush yellow mustard fields of Pathankot...
Our anniversary trip to Dalhousie was a first in many ways. It was our first family trip. We have travelled to Dubai with my parents before but this time our daughter was also with us. Also it was the first time that we were travelling to a cold place in winters. And lastly, the feature of today's post is 'the train'. This trip was planned in a very short time but a very awaited one. The terrorist blasts at Pathankot was a dampener but finally we booked the tickets. The way to Dalhousie is pretty overnight train journey from Delhi to Pathankot. Then a five hour drive from Pathankot to Dalhousie. This was the also the first time we boarded a train from the Sarai Rohilla railway station.

The train was scheduled to reach Pathankot at five in the morning. It was during the bitter winters of January end. We set our alarms at half past four and we slept in our berths. We woke up as the alarm rang and learnt that our train was two hours late. We had just crossed Ludhiana. We were just relaxing and we did not know when we snoozed into deep slumber. Our sleep broke at half past six. We were relaxed thinking that our station was yet to come. I tried operating my phone but then someone beside said that roaming was not applicable after crossing the state of Punjab. What? Where were we then? We had missed our stop of Pathankot and had now entered the state of Jammu. Oh my what?

We were almost going to reach jammu. Now we had two options. Either we could take a car from Jammu to Pathankot or leave for kashmir from Jammu. Taking a roadtrip from Jammu to Pathankot meant a travelling time of at least 5 hours plus a good amount of money. Leaving for Srinagar ,Kashmir included a travelling time of at least 12 to 13 hours and then coming back to Jammu and then to Pathankot. Our return ticket was from Pathankot too. Since it was a such a short trip, wasting time by going to Srinagar would not be a good idea. So we took a tough decision and decided to travel back to Pathankot.
Outside the Jammu Tawi Railway station 
Getting into the car in Jammu
As soon as we deboarded from the train we did not lose any time in wandering around the Jammu Tawi station. We went to the pre paid taxi booth and booked a Swift Desire to Pathankot. It not only cost us a huge amount of money but an assured travelling time of at least 5 hours. Initially we all were in a foul mood. Just a waste of precious travel time as well as money. Surprisingly, my workaholic father who never sleeps during travelling, dozed off. He must be so exhausted. It was a much needed vacation for everyone of us.
Welcome to Punjab!!
Foggy skies but scenic landscapes of Jammu

As we cruised through the scenic landscapes of Jammu, our moods became better. We stopped in between for tea. Then we came to the border of the state of Punjab. It was my first time in Punjab. I was elated. We had started our road trip at around nine and we reached Pathankot at around one. From there again we booked a taxi to our final destination Dalhousie. The way to Dalhousie as expected was very scenic. We stopped midway at the beautiful mustard fields. The way was twining around the hills. So any person who has motion sickness would be compelled to throw up a lot. We were already exhausted from the long train journey and a longer road trip. And then again a road trip along the hills was too much for all of us. I particularly salute my twenty month old daughter who did not vomit for even once. Finally at around five, we raeched Dalhousie.
The lush mustard fiels of Pathankot...
It was almost dark. We could feel the chill in the air. We lost an entire day. We were supposed to reach Dalhousie at around eight in the morning and it was five. We parked our car (we boooked it for our entire trip). WE breathed a sigh of relief. WE finally reached Dalhousie which seemed nearly impossible in the morning. 

Welcome to the hills! Finally we reached Himachal Pradesh!

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

At the entry of the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar or Kapali Carsi is one of the most prominent tourist spots of Istanbul. As the name suggests, the Grand Bazaar is huge. In Turkish Grand is called Kapali while mini is called Kuchuk. Remember the 'Kuchuk' Hagia Sophia? Well we had heard and read a lot about the Grand Bazaar and it was a spot not to be missed even in our tight schedule. However I did not have much expectations. We had saved money and time to shop from the famous Chatu Chak Market in Bangkok. We had so much expectations from that grand weekend market that we did not shop anything rom anywhere. But the outcome was rather disappointing. Th market was so huge and the prices were so fluctuating that we could not buy anything. Also we spent a lot of our precious time in commuting to and fro from our hotel to the Chatu Chak market which was at the other end of Bangkok. In all we bought a purple colour suitcase from there which cost us a lot of money. At the end we were left with just 40 bahts (just enough to buy bus tickets) and with no money changers as it was already evening. Again the flipside? I have not been able to use that purple suitcse till now because its not sturdy enough!! Have I complained enough?

Crazy shoppers even on a Monday morning!!
So the Grand Bazaar of Turkey held no importance in terms of shopping for me. We had kept it on our list as a site to be visited and not to shop. Whatever I had to buy, I had done it from the local markets.
People were buying items as if they were being distributed for free!!

It was a Monday but still the city was very crowded. I mean there were tourists everywhere. It took quite a while to push and shove and enter the huge market. The Grand Bazaar is a huuuuge shopping complex all under a single roof. I think ancient, big Arabic markets are all like these. Remember the Spice Bazaar?

As soon as we entered, there were people buzzing, lights glittering and chaos all around. There are thousand of shops; from dry fruits to spices to clothes to original designer pieces to their rip offs...the shops sold them all. You think of something, you are bound to find that here. For a shopaholic like me it was really surprising that I did not buy anything. We were in a hurry, we had our flight back to Delhi to catch. If you remember Kenan, the younger brother of the landlord of Sofia Apartments, he worked in Grand Bazaar. It was the last time we would meet him and he had invited us to his shop. I remembered the address on his card and we asked people for directions. It was quite in the interiors and it took a fair share of pushing and shoving to reach there.

It was quite a struggle to reach the Ali baba Shop!
He greeted us warmly and his shop was really exquisite. As a token of remembrance, he gifted us two cute Turkish bowls. We bade him goodbye and left. There are so many people we come across during journeys. But friendships with some people are meant for life :) 

With Kenan in his beautiful shop..
Bidding goodbye to beautiful Istanbul..

Sultanahmat Square, Istanbul

Just outside The Sophia Apartments (our abode for 3 days)
Like everywhere else, we stayed in the city centre of Istanbul. The Sultanahmat Square is the heart of this ancient city and our apartments was in the centre. However the city centre was far from the airport and hence it was quite a task reaching there with tones of luggage (fashion blogger problems) by metro. The way to our apartments was downhill so it meant we had to climb up on our way back. The streets of Istanbul are cobbled and every building had flowers hanging from them. Even the light posts had baskets of flowers hanging. It was a pretty sight and very unusual for me.
I have always been fascinated with wooden houses!
We had covered the main parts like the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia on our very first day. For wandering in the streets, for shopping and for tram riding, we had kept our last day. Our last day (already nostalgic) started with a sumptuous breakfast at our apartments. Then I ran on the cobbled streets to the nearest tram station. WE had availed every mode of public transport in Istanbul (metro, tram and ferry) but had left out the bus :D So I made sure I clicked a picture of a beautifully painted bus :D
Getting into the tram..

We shopped for souvenirs first. Our agenda had excursion to the Basilica cistern on top. However there was a HUGE queue (something absolutely unimaginable on a Monday) and we had our flight back to India in the evening. So we could not take any chance and bade goodbye to it.
A never ending queue for entry to the Basilica Cistern (something unimaginable on a Monday)
We crossed the Sulaiyman Mosque on the way (the largest in Turkey) but did not go inside as we were running short of time. In short, we hopped from one place to another and struck them off our list without exploring them from inside. This however made us enjoy the city even more!
In front of the Sulayman Mosque...the largest mosque in Istanbul
Something or the other happens almost everyday when we are travelling. My husband left our shopping bags and our tripod in a money changer and that left me very stressed. He again went back again to pick them up while I waited at the tram station. The best part was that he got them back! We once left our shopping bag filled with stuff in our cab while returning from Jaipur but never got it back! L

After a whirwind tour of the city, we were headed towards the Spice Bazaar or the Misir Carsisi. Located in the Fatih District, its one of the largest bazaars of Istanbul and the second most covered shopping area after the Grand Bazaar. The word 'Misir' has a different meaning in Egyptian (it means maize). Since the Spice Bazaar is also called the Egyptian Bazaar, people mistake it as Corn Bazaar.

As soon as we entered, we were intoxicated by the strong aroma of the tonnes of spices present there. As much as I wanted to pack some for home, neither we had space nor money to do that. So we just roamed in the alleys to be mesmerised by the heaps of thousands of types of spices. My only memories being the unforgettable aroma and the countless photographs which I took!

Wanted to take a bit of everything home!
The maze of alleys inside the Spice Bazaar and loads of buyers!

Dress: Globus
Purse: Furla Candy

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

The magnificent Dolmabahce Palace

What do you feel about paying exorbiant amounts as entrance fees? Well it pinches me like anything! In India, the maximum you pay for entering the Taj Mahal as a foreigner is 250 INR. That makes about 3 euros. I think thats a pretty meagre amount for visiting one of the wonders of the world. We were shocked for the first time when we were in Bangkok. The entry fee to the Royal Grand Palace is 800 Baht and that is around 1600 INR! What a hefty price to visit this place! The entry to the KL Tower and the ticket to the skybridge of Petronas Twin Tower was much less than that in Malaysia. I am not considering amusement parks or activity centres here; just pondering on how much is too much to visit a monument. Maybe belonging to a country where the entry to world heritage sites like Qutab Minar, Red Fort is just ten bucks, hesitance in paying huge bucks is innate.

In Athens, we took a single entry ticket that covered all hot spots. It was around 22 euro per person ie around 1800 INR. The situation was similar in Istanbul too. Though the Turkish Lira is one third of Euro, the prices were almost similar. And no monument had free entrance except the Blue Mosque. After a super adventurous trip to the Princes Islands, we had planned to explore the city. We started walking from the Kabatas port. We were headed towards the Dolmabahce Palace.

Postcard like streets of Istanbul

The city of Istanbul is incredibly beautiful. I mean it was a stark contrast from the postcard sceneries of white walls and blue doors of Greece but this place was itself like a photo frame! There were flowers everywhere..I mean if so many flowers in July end then what would be the situation in spring. I stopped at almost every flower bed to take pictures. We crossed the Shangri La hotel whose name was very sweet...'The Bhosphorous Shangri La'. Finally we reached the Dolmabahce Palace.

In front of the Bosphorous Shangri La
Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most glamorous palaces in the whole world. Built in the 19 th century, it is the largest palace of Turkey. It was the administrative centre of the Ottoman empire and the home of the last Sultans who earlier lived in the Topkapi Palace. Dolme means fill in while Bahce means Garden in Turkish. In all the palace meant ‘the Filled in garden’.

Flower Flower everywhere
The interiors of the palace closes at half past five. It was half past six. The long daylight had duped us into thinking that it was afternoon. Anyways, what to do was our last night in this city.

We explored the palace as much a possible from the outside. One thing I noticed about the Turkish people was that they were very friendly. Since I had landed here, pretty females had been taking pictures with me. Here too I made friends with three females. They admired my skirt and we had a short fun conversation. They were not very fluent in English.

In the end we were very happy. We saved a lot of bucks as we could not enter the palace. Time was precious for us in this very tight trip and not entering the palace saved us a lot of time too! It was a win win situation!

The Sulaiman Mosque in the dusk...

Top: Forever21
Skirt: From Rajasthan
Purse: Shopper's Stop

Boombox Cafe , Gurgaon

How do you define Sunday in a word? Fabulous! And how do you define a Sunday with sumptuous food? Fantabulous!! Well it was never a secret what a great foodie I am. Whether its eating out at some nice place or cooking up something interesting, I am always surrounded by good food. But the fun of eating out is unmatched. And when you are invited to a Food Blogger's Meet with a couple of close blogger friends, its a perfect Sunday!
Last Sunday there was a Foodie Meet at Boombox Cafe, Gurgaon. Sector 29 is miles away from our place but finally we three made there in one piece. Mithun and Shilpa were already there and then we four joined for a culinary sojourn.
A perfect Sunday night...with friends Mithun and Shilpa
As soon as I entered, I was impressed by the 'musical decor'. As the name suggests, Boombox is a music player. Similarly all sorts of music players...big, small and medium were all over the place. Same goes for the music too, English numbers were echoing from all corners. It had been really long that I had listened music in peace (I mean plugging my headphones in my ears). My daily dose of music has been restricted to our car radio. So I absolutely enjoyed revising all my fav English chartbusters: Maroon 5, Ellie Golding and so on. Then our favourite pastime began...Food tasting!
Non Veg Sampler
 First we ordered the Non Veg Sampler. It had:
Mutton barrah: mutton ribs which were grilled. 

Chicken Tikka: I loved it

Chicken Seekh: My favourite out of the three.
Fish and favourite!

Then we tried London Fish and chips: The fish was fried to perfection, the dips were yummy too. However the portions were a bit small for a foodie like me. There were three strips of fish.

Veg Sampler

In veg we ordered the Veg Sampler. It was quite lavish and consisted of Dahi ke Kaba, Tofu Yakitori, Paneer Harrisa Tikka, Cottage cheese Spring Roll Tomato Bruschetta and Caesar Salad.

Every item was lipsmacking but my favourites were the Paneer harrissa Tikka and Bruschetta.

Mocktails: First I had Italian Smooch was another form of gingerale and was refreshing.

Then I ordered the cranberry mocktail. For a sweet and salt lover like me, it had the perfect balance of sweet and freshness! I ended my meal with a masala soda.

The best part? I did not feel any heaviness after eating so much! 
Flames around my mocktail

A plate of non spicy noodles especially whipped up for my daughter
Boombox Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato