A city break to Milan

I had always heard that Milan is a city of fashion, culture and delicious Italian food. A perfect mixture of all the things that I love. This made my husband and me plan a four – day trip to this gorgeous city and experience all of this first hand. We visited in July, and the weather was lovely and warm with a mixture of clear blue skies, the sparkling sun and also a torrent of rain to cool things down. The moment we landed and after we settled into our hotel, we went out for a walk and to eat dinner at this cute authentic Italian restaurant with the most cozy decor and a huge selection of Italian wine. I was absolutely taken aback by the beauty of the city and the relaxed happy vibe that this city exuded.

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The architecture, the cozy cafes with people sitting outside and laughter rippling through the air, the gentle breeze, the young professionals returning from work in their stylish clothes and accessories, people queuing outside the gelato stores filled with innumerable mouth-watering flavours…. it was truly a sight that warmed my heart and filled me with excitement!

I absolutely love visiting churches and The Duomo (Cathedral of Milan) dedicated to St. Mary of the nativity is one of the most beautiful churches that I have laid my eyes on. It is truly majestic with amazing detail and intricate carvings. We even walked all the way to the top to catch a view of the vibrant city. Sitting inside and praying was a truly humbling experience for me.

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The Duomo – Milan Cathedral
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Inside the Duomo

We were super lucky to have the opportunity to see the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, preserved in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. 

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The Last Supper – Leonardo Da Vinci

Right next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is the world’s oldest active shopping mall and boasts an iron and glass roof. It is packed with designer stores, jewellery shops, chic restaurants and is alive with talents musicians busking and artists sketching potraits of tourists.

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We also visited the Sforza Castle, which was built by the Duke of Milan and contains several museums, luscious green lawns and a gorgeous water fountain at the entrance.

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Being a food lover, Italian being one of my favourite cuisines, I absolutely feasted on the delicious pastas, pizzas, lemoncello and gelatos! Here is us looking super happy visiting this gorgeous city.

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On top of the Duomo

Milan was everything that I ever imagined it to be and more. It is a great place for a city break. Have you ever visited? Would love to hear what you loved about the city!xx

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A week in Dubai

Over the past few years, the travel bug has really hit me hard. One of the things that brought my husband and I together is our mutual love of travelling, and we promised ourselves that we would try and fit in as many holidays as possible before doing more grown up things like buying a house or starting a family. I enjoy a mix of beach and city breaks but having grown up surrounded by majestic mountains, the beach has lured me more. We had an amazing honeymoon last year in the Maldives, it truly was like paradise on earth with it’s pristine turquoise water and colourful sea-life, clear blue skies, sparkling sunshine and smooth feet sinking sand – the highlight of my trip was to spot a sea turtle close to the beach whilst out snorkelling. In the summer last year we did Bali  (having been inspired by the movie eat, pray and love). Bali is rich in culture and history and is full of beautiful temples with intricate carvings and delicious food that tantalises the tastebuds.

Having done two beach holidays, we felt that it was time for a city break. Dubai is a city that has always been on my husbands’ bucket list but I have always had mixed feelings having heard various things from visitors. But something about that place (maybe the shopping ;)) has always attracted me and hence we decided to visit Dubai for my birthday week. As soon as I landed I fell in love with the city – it is modern, multi-cultural, vibrant, glamorous and also a city that never sleeps – we landed in the middle of the night and the city was alive. We stayed in doubletree by Hilton in the business bay (a brand new hotel) with a room overlooking the tallest building in the world – The Burj-Al-Khalifa. Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

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The Dubai Mall –  I absolutely love shopping, I could shop all day without a break which requires both skill and energy 😉 but this mammoth mall, surrounded by a canal, was truly the king of all malls. It has got a million designer stores and chains from all over the world, chic cafes with delicious smelling freshly baked pastries and cakes, tall bubbly fountains with clever lighting dancing to the rhythm of the music, restaurants with cuisines from all over the world with tasteful decor and a soothing ambience, and wait for this….a massive aquarium filled with several tropical and reef fish including sting/manta rays and reef sharks as well as a zoo with an impressive selection of animals including crocodiles – right in the middle of the mall! This left me absolutely flabbergasted and awestruck!

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For shopping – well the designer items are cheaper in the U.K. including high street items. However, they seemed to have a wider selection of clothes in stores such as Zara, Ted Baker and Kurt Geiger. However, I did splurge on a lot of make up (Huda Kattan’s) and face packs from Sephora, which is not available in the U.K.

Afternoon tea at the Burj-Al-Arab – This was a truly breath-taking experience. This entire hotel (claimed to be 7 star) has got a royal feel to it with tall gold plated interiors and a beautiful view of the serene sea. We were whisked off to the sky view dining area where we had a table by the window overlooking the magnificent sea. The afternoon tea in itself was delicious with a number of courses of sweet and savoury nibbles and sandwiches and a huge selection of tea from all over the world to go along with it.

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Desert safari – This experience left me absolutely giddy headed. It’s a full days trip where they drive you and a few other tourists in an SUV to the desert, straight to a camel farm to start off with, followed by a 15-30 minute fast safari ride over the velvety sand dunes. This is topped off by watching the blazing orange red sun set over the horizon of the dunes which is truly a surreal experience and then an Arabian nights styled barbecue dinner and entertainment (belly dancers, sheesha, egyptian and fire dance) to end the day.

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Dinner at the Burj-Al-Khalifa –  This was a special birthday treat for me, thanks to my sweet husband. This building is as breath-taking from the outside as the view of Dubai is from the inside. We got a table right by the window where we we had a gastronomic experience comprising of a seven course meal from the tasting menu (and to my delight there was an entire vegetarian menu option too) and just soaked in the sparkling lights of the city.

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The rest of time time was filled with lots of arabic tea, smooth sheeshas with various deliciously aromatic flavours and just exploring this lovely city.  So if you want a city break this one is definitely one to consider. I am hoping to visit again in the future for sure 🙂

 

Ways to beat the January/February blues

OK, so now that the festive period is over we are all back to business and have the entire year ahead. A prospect both exciting and daunting. I always find the first two months of the year a bit of a downer after all those festive parties and making merry. But we can always use these initial months as an opportunity to reflect, re-organise and re-fuel, right? Here is how I try to get over the post-festive blues;

  • I don’t know about you but I am a personal fan of making lists – whether I achieve everything on it or not ;). It’s a great visual aid and go to check-list. So, first things first – I make a list of all the things I failed to achieve in the previous year, which can either be transferred on to the new year or I make a new set of major goals for the year.

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  •   I try to organise a weekend getaway towards the end of January or mid-february. Nothing super expensive or over the top – just somewhere out-of-town. This makes me have something to look forward to especially if I have assignment deadlines or exams. I am planning on going down south at the end of the month to attend my counsins’ engagement lunch – this is after 2 exams due in these next couple of weeks.

 

  • Doesn’t it feel amazing to step out in to the winter sun and breathe in the crisp winter air? A post-lunch weekend winter walk with some thinking time always helps me clear my head.

 

  • As one of my goals for 2018 is to cook more and order less take-away, I recently bought a vegetarian Indian cook book (after getting inspired by watching the Julia-Julie project). I have leafed through it and I must say it looks incredible. I am super excited to try some of the delicious recipes. I always feel this is a great time to make a start on whatever hobby excites you.

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  • I am planning to re-organize my wardrobe. I always try to pick one little home project to work on – whether it is the kitchen, a desk or a shelf that needs sorting. Getting rid of clutter or giving away clothes that I no longer wear to charity helps lighten my mind and might also help others in need.

 

  • Take time out to see that friend or family member I tried to pretty much meet all of last year but just couldn’t make it happen.

 

  • I plan to pray/meditate more these couple of months. If not everyday, at least once a week. I used to couple meditation with yoga, which was a great stress-buster, but could never persist with it everyday. The surya-namaskar in itself is a great way to keep both the mind and body healthy. For now, I am hoping to get back into it at least once a week.

 

  • Plan a destination for one sunny holiday for the year – now that is right up my alley. I was super lucky last year to be able to go not just on one but three amazing vacations – maldives (heaven on earth – for my honeymoon), Bali and Dubai and twice back home to India. I love exploring new places and cultures and of course also lounging at the beach and soaking up the sun.

 

  • Exercise. I totally feel bloated and lethargic after having no control over what I ate this festive period. So now is the time to give my body a break from all the over-eating and get it moving as opposed to lounging on the couch.

 

  • One little personal pampering treat – maybe I will get my hair done or a pedicure.

 

Hoping to incorporate some of these in the next few weeks to kick-start 2018.

I would love to know what you do to get over your post-festive blues! 🙂