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Sunday, April 21, 2019

HolidayInn Express - Why you should choose them on your next visit to Bangalore| Hotel Review

When travelling choosing the right hotel for you can be a daunting task !

Specially if you are travelling to a city like Bangalore where commute time and cost is high so is the hotel pricing .
In this blogpost we will tell who and why should you pick Holiday Inn Express when visiting Bangalore .

We have stayed in HIEX , USA as well as had the pleasure of  experiencing  both the properties in Bangalore . One at Whitefield and another at Yeshwantpur

When I wonder why are we so impressed by the chain I have come to realise it’s the attention to details , the small things that make a big difference which is usually expected when you pay a premium price and the hospitality that stood out .


About HIEX :

Part of Holiday Inn , Express brand is owned by  intercontinental hotel group .
Holiday inn express chain  is a rest and go hotel brand designed for the smart travelers be it on Business or leisure .
In short is a no frills hotel but a little bit of nice where ever it matters the most .
The most fascinating bit for me as an Architect by profession  was  Their attention to detail .
They focus on doing the basics brilliantly and the quality is  very much comparable to luxury properties without the premium pricing since there are no   multiple restaurants or swimming pool .
Not all properties are like that but atleast the Blore ones are . 

This concept is quite new to India , but very popular in the US .
I have seen a multiple hotels in the same area /city during my visit abroad .

Who is it for ?

Travelers who like it hassle free and without complication .
Faster check in check out , a restful nights sleep , good breakfast and everything needed within arm’s reach .
Perfect for Business/ work  travelers – as they are simple but engaging place to rest , recharge and even get some work done.
I would highly recommend the chain for solo woman travelers as its safe and you know what to expect from this chain of hotels . 
Even makes for a perfect 1 day staycation  on a budget  if you are Bangalorean and want to experience a branded star hotel  without the add on pricing .


Why HIex ?

The chain offers everything you need and nothing you may not

Complimentary Breakfast with every kind of room
Free hi speed  WiFi
Room though compact but well designed with all bare necessities .
Dining with well curated but limited menu

Why  HIEx Bangalore ?

As of now there are two properties in Bangalore
One in Whitefield and another at Yeshwantpur

Whitefield is bigger with large lobby , reading corner , large dining area
Also is in walkable distance from ITPL and malls like forum Shantiniketan and Park square

Yeshwanthpur is right in front of metro station  and next to Vaishnavi complex with Movie screen. And well connected to Peenya business hub

Both the hotels are well located and ideal for ppl visiting these areas of Bangalore 


Whats special

There are so many hotel aggregators these days and the choices can be overwhelming


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Road Trips From Bangalore : 01 - Gateway to Backwaters in Kerala - An Offbeat Trip



This Road Trip  is for those who love long road trips , Best planned over a long weekend !

I prefer a lot of sight seeing in my travels but so glad we went on this off the beaten path trip to  gateway of  Kerala backwaters.
Noise pollution in Blore is a serious problem ,this trip is like a good detox trip for that .



Travel Location : 
This Road Trip is mainly about Munroe Island- Backwaters here  is also called the gateway to Kerala backwaters,  little bit of Tangasseri in Kollam & a bit of Varkala


The name Mundro thuruthu (Munroe island ) itself has a happy ring to it isnt it ? 
Munroe Island is located at the confluence of Ashtamudi lake and Kallada river in  Kollam district
This island village spreads  across 13.2 sqm of area. Munroe island , An unadulterated destination in the lap of nature, is a hidden gem  - you can even call it Venice of India. With serene backwaters and narrow canals with backdrops of coconut lined stretches and thick  mangrove plants it is a breathtaking scene and the relaxed laid back  vibe surely grows on you .

Travel Time :
With Breaks 13 hrs of travel –  700 kms one way from Blore  . Great option for people who like long road drives , if you don’t want to drive long distance hire a cab and driver like we did. 

Travel Cost : 
15000 Per person during peak holiday season if you hire a cab for 6 people. 

Road trip in Short   :


You don’t always need a plan , sometimes you just need to breathe , trust , listen to nature , let go and see what happens and most of all seize the day
This was the mantra for this trip and it worked out well .

Since we were 6 and the location was decided already and two of us decided to tag along ,  I thought this trip I will go with the flow and not stress away googling all the things I can do out there . But habits die hard and googled a bit and the top result on google showed Kallada boat race best  seen from Munroe island is around the corner of our visit  and we  managed to combine a laid back trip with boat race experience so I was good to go .


We also ended up going to varkala beach cliff and drove  by Kaapil beach and Tangasseri light house and water break in kollam city which was not part of the initial plan . I am always happy when we can hit two birds in a single stone and delighted when its 3 . 

Road Trip Story :

It was the Dusshera Long weekend( 29, 30 , 1 ,2 oct ) , our stay was 2 days and booked for 29th & 30th Sep due to availability on these dates, so we had to leave the night before(28th ) to cover the 700 kms distance and that’s why we decided to take a  hired cab and driver as bus and train cost was working out same due to peak season charges

Route: We started at 1. 30 am after picking up everyone , we did a stopover at the checkpost at Hosur and then we were on the road and only stopped over around 6 am during sun rise near dundiggal for a tea break .
Madurai falls almost in between BLR and Kollam so we stopped there for breakfast and again were on the road to Kerala.

We decided to take the route which google suggested as the fastest which also happened to very scenic with views of Periyar range of mountains view throughout the journey . The lush dark green mountain range and contrasting mist cover with neon green fields stretching all the way till the foothills  surely added to our road trip experience.
We decided to not have a lunch stop over and do a late lunch at the resort we had  booked .


The Stay :
There are very few home stays and 1 resort called Lake n River which is exactly at the confluence so one side you can view Ashtamudi Lake and the other side Kallada River . 
You can also stay in Kollam city , but staying in Munroe island is what we would recommend to experience the Island village life and go for a early morning canoe ride.

We reached Lake n River resort around 3 pm and wasted no time to go to the dining area for lunch , it was a simple Kerala meal. 
After a long journey we had reached Munroe by late afternoon and didn’t want to waste any time to go explore the island village .

DAY 01:
The resort manager told us about the boat race practice  So we dragged ourselves and to see the boat race practice in the canals of Munroe Island.

We walked around , soaked in some local life scenes , watched the practice at the race location in Kallada river and returned in the night to freshen up and hit the bed after a 4 km walk.
It was a pleasant evening though the feet hurt  to walk around in a lush green  calm place not crowed by tourists.


Day 02 : 

The Canoe Ride – A must do
6.30 am we were to go for the star attraction , canoe ride in and around Munroe island for 2 hrs
But the rain gods decided otherwise and we were relaxing  in the gazebo overlooking Ashtamudi lake with a cup of tea  trying to make best use of the situation . But within 30 mins the skies was clear again and we were ready to go canoeing in the canals
This was a surreal experience , Almost like meditation and yoga but far more  pleasing to the eye and soul. 

The canoe boats don’t run on motor and glide on the water slowly and the canal and backwaters are almost  still without tidal waves , so you are benefited with beautiful reflections in the water , sounds of birds and light breeze which is a very meditative ambiance.
 After a two hour  canoe ride we had worked up a appetite so we had a leisurely breakfast & got ready for the day ahead .

Jatayu Earth Centre :
We didn’t have a concrete plan , we heard of Jatayu Earth centre which is work in progress where asia s largest bird sculpture is on display which is said to be the spot Jatayu from mythology fell to the ground . It was only 25 kms and we wanted to be back to Kollam for lunch .
When we went there we were not allowed inside as work was in progress , if you visit later in the year to Munroe island or kollam do visit this place
We had to keep moving so we decided to travel another 20 kms to Varkala .
Varkala :
We went to Varkala beach cliff , wanted to go down to the beach but it was too hot and sunny so we decided to head back to Kollam for lunch as we wanted to see the  evening sunset from the Tangesseri light house which is in Kollam .


Kaapil Beach :
I am sure Varkala beach cliff  at sunset would be magical , if you have more time in hand – hang out in Varkala also visit the near by Kaapil Beach which has a road passing by with sea on one side and lake on the other , this place is great for insta worthy pictures . however we just drove by and went back to kollam for a late lunch .

Where to eat &what eatables to buy in kollam : 

We ate at All spice , chinakada – The prices were on par with blore prices , service slow but the food was delicious .
Supreme Foods Bakery and supermarket is on ground floor and whatever eatables we got from here was amazing , special mention to Ghee cake it’s a super delicious sponge cake , do not underestimate this sponge cake – a must eat from Kollam
After a hearty meal and bakery shopping we left for Tangesseri light house



Tangasseri Lighthouse:
Tangasseri Lighthouse is  about 135 mts tall that is approximately 13 floors , 4 of us  decided to climb the circular staircase to the viewing deck and two of us ,(no surprises here me and my other half took the lift as we had stuffed ourselves during lunch unknowingly while busy taking pictures of food, classic case in a food bloggers life J)
It was pretty rush  that day, I was least expecting the view deck to be  like it was , it was  nothing but a small balcony projection of not even a meter depth with flimsy short railing from don’t know which century to hold on to . I have a fear of heights and a lot more things . I was trembling and though the views were 360 degreee uninterrupted views I was scared and didn’t allow the  other half to leave my hand and so he couldn’t take pics either , in a minute I got out of there !!
If you ain't a chicken like myself you will love the views and we would recommend you to head here.


Tangasseri Break water :
There is no sea shore here but a raised promenade so we walked up after to watch the sunset and take tons of pictures . 

By 8pm we were back in Kollam market area  for dinner and went to this place called Ramees  . the food here was okay . Better to stick to their Arabic specialties

We were back fully exhausted to the resort at 11 pm , it was our last night there . Next day 12 pm we had to checkout and the boat race was scheduled at 2.30 pm .

Day 03

We had a lazy Sunday morning breakfast , packed up and sat by the lake in the gazebo-
The cloudy weather giving way for  light breeze , expansive view of the water – birds chirping , friends laughing  .In that  that  moment I was in the  present without worries of tomorrow – grateful for it . 


Kallada Boat Race : 

We left a little later for the boat race , it started late and we saw about 3 races as 5pm was our deadline .
Just like its said sometimes journeys are nicer than the destination , same happened the boat race rehearsals were so exciting in comparison to the actual event
By 5 pm we were off and about on our way  back to Blore with a plan to arrive home at 7 am am
So there came an end to our off beat trip to Gateway to backwaters in Kerala 


Road Trip Take away : 

Its good to go off the beaten path sometimes is my takeaway from this trip – Moments in Munroe island will be a memory forever.
There is something about having no plan at times  , going with the flow carefree , arriving in new places where the crowds are less , wandering empty streets .
Brightly colored houses , smiling locals , low lying clouds with unpredictable weather . Coconut trees as far as the eye can see , Labyrinth canals and waterways, lush mangrove plants sprouting and connecting with the water , light entering  through the coconut tree shaded canals and glistering  on the water surface . This road trip to the off beat part of backwaters in Kerala is bound to leave the traveler in your reeling with joy .


Till our next road trip story stay tuned
Cheers from Bangalorexpress

Any queries / questions on our road trip details , write to us at bangalorexpressblog@gmail.com or DM on https://www.instagram.com/bangalorexpress








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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top 10 Desserts in Bangalore Restaurants , 2018

As the year comes to an end  its common to reflect on the year that went by .
For Bangalorexpress it was a wonderful year . Thank you for all the support .

Some of you might know i used to do a series called High Five Low Five – Restaurants every year since 2013 in the end of December  . I might have probably skipped it some years as our favorites didn’t change.
But Since it’s the 5th year  since I started this series , I  decided to switch things up a little bit and end this year on  a sweet note by bringing to you my personal  Top 10 desserts of 2018 .

2018 has been a year of amazing launches in the restaurant scene in Blore  and we mostly don’t leave a place without trying some desserts :-)
You must have heard the saying life is short have dessert first , so we are here to help you  ;-)

Criteria for Selection (Does not include standalone dessert shops)
  1. Memory – the dessert that  stayed in the memories and had us raving for the longest time . As its said count the memories not the calories 
  2. Taste – Obvious , but with deserts , we cant help but be a bit biased since some flavours we love more than others – Caramel & Nutella is my all time favourite but flavours like matcha & avocado kinda make me drool a lot . If you are like me you will not be disappointed with this Top 10 List. 
  3. Presentation 
  4. Novelty
  ******* DRUM ROLLS ********

1. Avacado Parfait with Gooey Brownie & Matcha Soil at 1Q


Raved about this the longest time  . So beautifully presented . I remember we pounced on it like it was a pot of free gold .
 I know where I am heading soon In 2019.
It tasted great with a nice play of interesting flavours and textures that went very well together .
Even their cheese cake was melt in the mouth and a table favorite.

Avacado Parfait with Gooey Brownie

Classic Cheese Cake with Sour Cherry Coulis 

2.Malva Pudding with vanilla Ice cream at Galitos 


In a place like Galitos you might miss checking  the desserts section but must order this one . Loved this to bits because  of the delicious toffee sauce and the moist cake  . Must try for caramel lovers like myself.
Galitos being an African grilled chicken joint has rightly put Malva pudding to their menu as its origin is from south Africa .

Malva Pudding

2.Baileys Cheese Cake at Bier Garten, Kormangala 

 Tie at No 2 , Newly launched Bier Garten in Kormangala really surprised us with their cheese cake . On the launch day they didn’t plonk a slice of cheese cake on the plate and handed it down to us . instead it’s a coffee liqueur scented cheese cake  with a side of caramel sauce , Italian meringue and nut crunch  . It was a really   creamy & light cheese cake . Cheese cake lovers you have to try this one.


Baileys Cheese Cake 

3. Tella Berry & Nutella Pizza at Tella Tales  


Pizza is bae no doubt about that but nutella pizza at tella tales is beyond bae. With right amount of berries specially fresh strawberries to cut the sweetness and so neatly drizzled with nutella .Its a beautiful pizza . This is a must try for pizza & nutella  lovers  . For Nutella lovers they have a special nutella menu . Worth a try!

        
Nuttela Berry Pizza



4. Japanese Mochi icecream 


  Mochi Icecream – Sticky Mochi fileld with icecream. Tried it for the first time at Ging and later tried the popular Kane Mochi at kawaii. Flavours like banana , Guava , Blueberry , thai milk tea . So addictive !


Mochi Icecream at Ging

Kane Mochi at Kawaii

5. Avacado Icecream with Honey Caviar at Burma Burma 

 Burma Burma – Avacado Icecream - beautifully presented with honey pearls on top of the creamy avocado icecream , smoked with dry ice to give it a sophisticated touch and it   tasted equally good. A modern interpretation of Burmese dessert as Avacado grows well in Burma due to tropical climate.
Avacado Ice Cream


6. Banofee pie , Caramel Sponge cake & Banana fritters At Mamagoto 


Mamagoto has the yummiest of desserts but banoffee pie is my top pick .
Another favourite is chunky caramel sponge cake with vanilla icecream and Panko crusted banana fritters with salted caramel sauce and icecream .
Panko Crusted Banana with caramel & icecream 


6. Black Sticky Rice with Coconut cream 

Rice is staple at home but rice based desserts are a  no no for me . After trying Misu Black sticky rice with Coconut Cream  cannot say that anymore  .
A traditional recipe and was so comfortingly delicious . Also The other desserts at Misu are great , So don't leave without ordering Desserts at Misu.
  

7. Mango Ras E Aam  at Bombay Brasseri


 Ras Malai is hands down my fav indian sweet. BB topped it with mango aam ras and nestled it in rich rabdi  and took it to another level.  Ras malai lovers & Aam Ras lovers head here to try the 
east meets west dessert. 



8.   Bourvita Phirni & Turmeric Kulfi at Maziga


Part of the Bite sized beautifully presented 15 course meal at maziga . Interesting take on Indian popular desserts like Phirni and Kulfi. 



9. Fave Bistro 
Mainly because of the beautiful presentation Fava Bistro desserts have made it to this list.
Presentation wise some of them was quite unique and beautiful. 






10. Malai Ghewar with Rabdi at  Kesariya  

I had never tried  this traditional Rajasthani sweet called Ghewar before , 
tried it first time in Kesariya and couldn’t stop at one portion  . 
I was told what kesariya has is many times better than what is available in 
sweet shops in blore by my foodie friends .So last but not the least had to include this yummy  traditional Rajasthani dessert  in the list .     




We are sure there are lot of great desserts we missed out . This is our personal Top 10 for 2018 . 
Do leave your favorites in the comments section so that we can go try it as well :-) 

Hope you have a sweet 2019 .
Lots of love