Ancient Athens, Greece

Ancient Athens Tour

The theatre of Dionysus
After an exhausting tour of the jaw dropping Acropolis complex, we proceeded to visit the rest of archaeological sites. Our first stop was the theatre of Dynosius. It is a huge amphitheatre. It was fenced from all around so that no one could climb the steps and cause possible damage. I had told ya how the Greeks are possessive about their ruins!

In love with the Greek Doors

Since the sun was too hot to handle, I did not waste much time in posing there. Our next stop was the Acropolis Museum. We changed our mind last minute and dropped the idea. Firstly museums don't allow photography. So it won't be any use to my travelogue. Secondly the entrance fees were rather high. So why waste so much money on something which I can't even record?

With a newly married couple...just free from the altar!
Then we proceeded towards the Temple of Zeus. It required quite a bit of walking. On the way we came across a wedding. We were lucky that we could catch few glimpses of the beautiful ceremony! The bride and groom were impeccably dressed and I managed to take a picture with them.
The Hadrian Arch
The way to the Temple was through the Hadrian Arch. For that we had to cross broad roads without any zebra crossing. And the tram tracks zigzagged it all over. Fortunately we made it to the other side in one piece :D After finishing (almost) all the ruins of ancient Athens, we proceeded towards a different part of the city that was newly constructed.
The Temple of Olympus
Ancient statues
Cute kids playing the accordion..
The policemen were no less handsome than Tom Cruise!!
Tram lines...Wide roads without any zebra crossing


Dress: Zara
Purse: Aldo
Hat: Accessorize (Malaysia)
Sunnies: from Bangkok
Necklace: Forever21

Affimity: The Social Network




 

For a blogger like me, social networking is everything. Okay I may not be into that much networking because of time constraint. But for blogging, the social nexus is everything. With blogging being a full time job and being taken absolutely seriously, a lot of platforms have come up. There are various platforms that connect bloggers to brands and bloggers with bloggers. I have joined many of them but use a very few. For me a networking platform should be friendly and easy to use. One such platform which I really like is Affimity.com

Affimity has been made up of two words: Affinity plus amity (the words are themselves self explanatory). The best part is that here you can share your posts with like minded people. I mean there are various categories (mainly health related). You can read others and post your own too! In short you can openly exchange ideas.

With virtual world becoming more real, our virtual connections have started gaining more importance. We spend more time chatting on internet than on an actual voice call. Infact there may be many days when you have replied a thousand emails but not even had a single voice call! However that does not mean we can connect with anyone and everyone in the virtual world. The friendships with the people out there are very similar to the ones you have in the real world...the strongest binding factor is ''Like mindedness''. Here is where Affimity is best of the lot!


Affimity has various sections like Fitness, Wellness, Beauty, Yoga, Cure, Food, Parenting etc. Now these are the topics which we surf most on the net. Eg I may be having trouble dealing with hairfall and may want to look what my fellow bloggers think. What better way is to find all the related topics under one tab?
Using Affimity is a cakewalk. You sign up and then Bam! Your profile is created.

You would be given suggestions to follow. Some of them maybeyou already know, some of them are top contributors. I followed two people I already knew.
 Among the various categories I started with parenting. I believe new parents struggle with so many things and baby's comfort is usually the top concern. I shared my thoughts on comfortable baby diapers. 


My post looked like this.

Then I decided to write about fitness. Being a big foodie, I can't even think of cutting down my diet. So I came up with other alternatives to maintain my weight without punishing myself! I decided to share my views with the rest of the world.

I also read various articles which are of my interest like Yoga, Beauty etc etc.


After a fellow blogger commented on my Yoga post, I reached Level 2! Yay! This social blogging platform really rocks! I am really enjoying reading articles of my interests and connecting with like minded people. You can follow me on affinity here.

Rome at Night


Every city looks spectacular during the night.
The colour of the lights in the Colosseo changed every five minutes.

After a horrendous start to our day in Rome (you can read it here) we decided to make the most of what was left. It took a while to decide whether to go for the night tour or not. Finally we ignored what the books said and set out to explore the city at night.

Before leaving for Italy, we had been warned by hundreds of our acquaintances about the lack of safety in Italy. Everyone forbade us to venture at night and scared us with frightening anecdotes of burglary. Since it was our very first day in Italy, we were quite apprehensive. Amsterdam had been very safe but we felt ominosity lurking at every corner in Rome. On deserted streets, we would walk very fast to reach a manned area.

The Santa Maria Maggiore Church

There are special Night Tours of Rome which are conducted by tourist operators. The moment we set out foot outside, we knew why. All the architectural wonders looked magnificent at night. The mighty Colosseo or the Colosseum (in English) gets lit up in every possible colour. The light changes every five minutes. And talk about the vibe. These areas are pedestrian only streets (area pedonale) and you can see swarms of visitors! I mean it was twelve at night and tourists were moving as if it was six! And we were scared of theft and thugs! Talk about stupidity!
The mighty colosseum at night

We walked from our hotel to reach the square that had few very important architectural marvels. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Constantine Arch. Being an Indian I find it silly to say that I had never seen so much crowd! Apart from the tourists, there were myriads of locals. Some were selling sovenirs, some were spray painting with loud music blaring while some were playing instruments for some quick money. Everything felt so nice in the middle of the night.

Spray paint artists whipping up some really good Colosseum pictures in a jiffy; under the influence of blaring music! Notice the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill in the backdrop!
It was half past midnight when we decided to go back. We had a long day ahead (we had to cover what we had lost) and it was along way back to our hotel. There were police vans at many places but as soon as we crossed the touristy area, it was again deserted with sinister looking people keeping an eye upon us. I had my first Italian gelato that night. We reached our hotel safely.
Ah those cobbled streets!

If we overlook the fact that we slept through our sightseeing hours, it was quite a perfect evening.


Arch of Constantine or Arco Di Constantino
This Arch is a triumphal Arch which was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius in the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Talk about Rome was not built in a day!!
The Roman Forum

All over Italy there were these fountains that supplied drinking water. This is one of the best aspects about travelling in Italy. This fountain is right near the Metro station of Colosseum.

My first gelato in Italy! I had one everyday!


Dress: Next
Purse: Jabong.com

I love Termini, Rome

A huge bottle of Beer in the lobby. It was later during our trip we realised that huge bottles of liquor are an integral part of Italian culture.
Benevenuti or Welcome to Italy! You know our obsession with city centres. I mean I am definitely tempted by the vast properties outside the city that are of the same price as the pigeon coups of city centres. But come on. How can you ignore the precious time in commuting? Time is money when you are travelling and if you spend half of the day just getting out of the hotel in the morning and vice versa in the evening then the game is lost. However one has to compromise on terms of luxury. But who stays inside the hotel in any way? At least we don't!


Our first stop in Italy was none other than its capital Rome. We had booked a hotel which was stones's throw away from the main railway station of Rome, Roma Termini. Hence the name of the hotel was I love Termini. We took a bus from the Fumicino Airport to the Termini station and it was an hour ride. We literally just deboarded from the bus and saw the board of our hotel. It was not at all fancy; but we loved the ease with which we reached.
After checking in, we quickly showered and settled. 

We were awake for about 48 hours at a stretch. I mean the entire journey from Delhi to Amsterdam, exploring Amsterdam for the whole day in midst of chill and rain and then staying awake the whole night to catch our early morning flight to Rome. In other words, we were dead tired.

We were famished. We decided to use our packed food (hubs being a pure vegetarian carries loads of Indian food from home). Our hotel had a kitchen. We warmed Rajma Masala and made Maggi. Hubs got freshly baked bread from a store and we filled up our stomachs. We set the alarm at around half past 3 in the afternoon to go for exploring Rome. We thought that a short nap was all what we needed after 48 hours of non stop travelling. P.s Our room did not have any windows.
The room where we slept like dead people.
I woke up by the shriek and tugging of my shoulders by my husband. I took some time to realize where actually I was. Hubs showed me the watch and screamed why did not I wake him up? It was half past nine at night!!!! Oh Shit! WE HAD LOST AN ENTIRE DAY IN ROME! Oh no! How could we possibly make up for it? After an altercation, we decided to make up what was left. We proceeded to explore the city at night.

Later during the trip we realised that had we not have slept that day, we would have definitely fallen sick later during the trip. Our bodies needed sleep replenishment after such an inhumanly hectic 48 hours. Whatever happens, happens for good only :)

A cute little library
The whole place was red and zebra print all over.

A globe trotting carpet..
Dress: Globus
Pumps: Aldo
Purse: Jabong.com

A Roman Holiday

Actually the title should be a Venetian holiday. But I seemed to like the heading so much that I did not change it! Even before one trip is over, we have plans for the next trip. We usually start dreaming about the next destination. But sometimes dreams come true and other times not. While we were vacationing in Greece, we had been thinking about Italy. But of course it was subject to terms and conditions.

We started saving after we came back. We Indians have a lot of baggage (very unlike Westerners who simply leave their job for travelling and spend all their savings) We think about savings, children's future, etc etc. So planning a trip abroad requires a lot of money as well as savings and plannings. My husband even thought of postponing it for a year but I really wanted to go. Our plans finally started coming true when we booked our air tickets in June. I desperately started counting the days when my grandma fell acutely ill. It was just a day to our trip when we did not know whether we would be able to leave or not. A detailed post on how we dealt with the uncertainties and finally left for Netherlands is here


This journey was a must for our well being (or at least I think so). After coming back from Greece and Turkey we had been in a non stop working mode. There had been three short trips in the meantime but we needed a break badly. A vacation is therapeutic. However we two are the last ones to think that way. For us a trip is about sweating out and sleeping as minimal as possible to extract the essence of that place.


Our trip had six stops in 14 days so you can imagine how hectic it was. In all the places we booked hotels or B and B's in city centres to avoid any time waste in commuting. As we all know city centres can't give a pool/ garden properties. I needed that too. So we decided to book a place outside the city centre in none other than my dream city Venice.


To some extent it was a mistake. I mean Venice is the land of canals, bridges and narrow alleys. Our resort was in Marghera which was an absolutely new, planned city. However I just let myself forget that we were in Venice and tried to unwind which I had been so much looking forward to.  

Our resort or Village was a really vast area...more than 600 cottages! In the afternoon after we reached Venice, I just decided not to look at the watch. I mean our schedules were packed with our excursion to Burano island. But I decided to take a dip in the pool and just chill.



We got to stay in an individual cottage which we had never done before. It had a cute patio where we could have breakfast. Sadly we were too short of time to enjoy a 'vacation'. When I dipped into the pool with blaring music in the background, I forgot all my worries. Forgot that my daughter was missing me, forgot that my grandma was ill and forgot all the tense things back home. Even if it was for a few minutes, I needed it! I am a human too!


Husband was furious that I spent more than allotted time in the pool. He accused me of missing out the important things in Venice. Thankfully I did not listen to him and enjoyed the pool. The next two mornings we had to leave very early. And the pool opened at 9 in the morning. So if I would have listened to him, I would have missed the fun altogether!


The pool was bustling with youngsters. It seemed that we were the only ones who were in late twenties. People went crazy in the water. Later at night when we came back a pool party was going on till late in the night. The drinking and the dancing were exactly like the ones we see in movies! It was absolutely new for us!

Though I curse myself for staying so far from the real Venice, this break was a much needed one for both of us!

Miniature Gardens by The Minikin Store



So anyone who knows me can vouch how crazy I am about interior decoration. My earliest childhood memories consist of cutting beautiful pictures of homes from magazines and pasting them on a scrapbook. Gradually I designed my room and then took over my parents house! But I got the actual gratification of my passion when I decorated my own home after my wedding. My Dad had helped me pick almost all the major pieces after hours of research on my side. Over the years my style has evolved and I keep updating my home decor from time to time. My travel souvenirs play a big role too!

One thing that has remained consistent in my style is the role of greens. A plant gives life to a room, upgrades it's visual quotient and of course looks pretty in itself! From pothos to ferns to bamboos I have them all in my home. I just love plants...in fact who doesn't?

 Recently I came across a very unique concept store The Minikin store which deals in themed miniature gardens. I got the 'Picnic' themed garden and you can see how pretty it looks. It's perfect for indoors like an office or my living room but is as good for my patio too! I got the opportunity to chat with Nupur the creator of these miniature gardens.

The Picnic...Notice the tiny DSLR, tripod and the basket! It came with a cute 'Care Instructions' booklet too! The plant is Aralia.
This is the cute Instruction Manual I was talking about!
Here is a tete a tete with Nupur, the creator and owner of Minikin store.

Tell us a little about yourself Nupur

Presently settled in Delhi NCR, my childhood involved a lot of traveling as I hail from an army background. Since childhood, I had been fascinated by miniature craft. Using household things to create miniature objects, I made innovative pieces as a child such as a miniature library out of my father’s old shaving blade holder. This passion has served as the driving force behind the creation of The Minikin Store.
The Beer Garden
True to its name, The Minikin Store creates delightful miniature gardens, marrying the goodness of flora with artistically curated miniature figurines. These unique pots make an excellent choice for a gift article and would add a green touch to enliven a living or work space.

Gardening Fun
 What made you come up with the idea of The Minikin store?
The journey of this unique green venture started when I took a professional break last year. I started putting time to nurture a childhood hobby of creating miniature figurines. Multiple experiments and failures with miniatures and plants finally led to the creation of my very first miniature garden. This followed a year long journey of intensive learning and research into the right combination of plant, soil, pots and figurines.
Garden
 What were you doing before getting into the design business?

Like majority of the populous of a metro, I too was a part of the corporate world.While, I was content with my professional life, I felt the urge to spend more time with my young and growing family and at the same time, develop a platform to showcase my creativity. 
Fisherman
 How important are greens for indoors according to you?

Our lifestyle is fast changing. With shrinking living spaces, people struggle to stay in touch with nature. Completely sealed, centrally air-conditioned offices take us further away from it. A green touch to life enlivens surroundings, is soothing for the eye and elevates mood. Some research too suggests that there is an increase in employee productivity by adding a few plants to the office space.
Source: www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/31/plants-offices-workers-productive-minimalist-employees

Wilderness

 Your creations are really unique and one of a kind. What is your inspiration behind it?

Nature. Each of my design is based on a particular theme, founded on a distinct feeling or emotion. Amongst my first creations was the pot that sported a tiny 'Tree-house' set on the branch of a Shami plant. A perfect getaway, surrounded by nature, a tree house therefore, is every nature lover's dream. 
The Tree House
Nature and it's wonderfulness continued to inspire me and led to the creation of ‘The Flamingos’. Set in the wilderness, the scene depicts two flamingos enjoying in the pristine clear water of a pond. This pond is set under the shade of an Aralia plant.

Flamingoes
 What are your dreams about this business?

These miniature wonders offer an opportunity to create a theme for home or office d├ęcor and more importantly in the process add a bit of nature which is mostly missing in these places. I look forward to introducing this tiny piece of nature in as many living and work spaces.
Swiss Chalet
Last but not the least...any advice would you like to give to new entrepreneur?

I am myself at very early stage of my business and haven’t gone through the complete grind of making my business a success, as yet. Although, I have taken tough decisions to follow my dream, call it a leap of faith :) and I am taking each day as it comes and taking one step at a time to inch forward. I think that’s what I can share from my experience thus far.
Butterflies
It was wonderful knowing the creative head behind these cute and innovative mini gardens. These pieces are available online now. You can shop at www.theminikinstore.com

Follow her on social media:
Facebook: The Minikin Store
Twitter: The Minikin Store

For those who want to see these pretty gardens in person, I have good news for you! The Minikin Store will be showcasing their creations at two exhibitions next month. 

8th October 2016: Delhi Style '16 at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi

13th October 2016: Diwali Shopping Festival Take 9 at The Ashok, New Delhi

Here are a few more pictures of my 'Picnic' garden in my home.