Thursday, December 31, 2015

TURKEY - A long getaway


It was a long time  planned holiday this year to Turkey. We tried to visit this country the previous year but due to the high cost of the air ticket, we dropped the plan. We booked our flight tickets and got our visa. We got a tour booked through land of Civilization Travel, the famous Mr. Mustafa Ceviz. We arrived at the airport at Istanbul after a loooonnnggg queue for immigration and we were picked by a person and driven to the Askhoc Hotel. Since we reached the hotel early, we had to wait for more than an hour to check in. After refreshing, we left outside to eat some food. We ate vegetable casserole with big puffed bread and returned to hotel to sleep. In the hotel, we met Mr.Mustafa Ceviz, paid him the rest of the amount for the package tour .We slept for some hours as we didn’t sleep the previous night. Later we woke up and went for a walk and discovered the Bhosphorous River and walked all over the Galata Bridge. We had the roasted corn, Pretzel, Chestnuts, Pomegranate juice that are typical Istanbul street foods and returned to the hotel.

Next day we left for Istanbul city tour after breakfast. We headed to the Blue mosque, Hagia Sophia, Small Hagia Sophia, the Constantinople, the Cistern, Grand Bazaar, and Topkapi Palace. Hagia Sophia was initially a church, which was converted to mosque during the Ottomans. Hence we can see both Jesus photos and paintings and the Arabic Calligraphy here.Its quite large and has the biggest dome. Topkapi Palace has many small sections to visit.-2 halls with the treasured gifts of the Ottomans from different countries, 1 hall with all the historical relics like the prophet Mohammed’s tooth, hair, Moses’s stick. There is a beautiful view of the Bosphorous. Their parliamentary buildings, weapons were on display. After the tour we returned to the hotel and refreshed ourselves and left for the Topkapi Area again by walk. This time, we clicked photos and entered the Blue mosque again but this time the compound area and not the prayer hall. Then we had dinner at an Indian Restaurant Dubb. The price was quite high compared to other restaurants, but it was really worth it for the Indian food. We saw the colorful fountain in the complex and returned to the hotel.

On the second day we left for Gallipoli tour. Gallipoli is the place where the Turkish army fought the ANZAC ARMY i.e. Australia, New Zealand , Britain, India, Ceylone.This place talks high about Mustafa Kamal, the chief of the Turkish ARMY. The cemeteries for all the soldiers of the different countries are kept separately. The place just reminds of the struggle, death, pain of the soldiers. Worth every second spent here.After visiting all the different places nearby, we left for Chanakkale crossing the ferry.

Next day we left chanakkale and left for TROY.TROY Civilization is a city built one above the other. Also there is the famous horse wooden statue. After a thorough tour of the city, we left for Bergama tour. Bergama is the place of Acropolis Civilization. The whole city with its huge Theatre, the temple, the water system, huge rooms all built on top of the hill was so astonishing. In the Acropolis, the remains that you see on the left hand side while going in, are the monumental tombs or heroons built for the kings of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period. Shops are situated at their side. When you enter the Acropolis, the remains seen at your left side, are the foundations of Propylon (monumental gates) which were constructed by Eumenes II. When you pass to the square surrounded with three stoas of the Doric order you will notice the ruins of the temple of Athena, built during the time of Eumenes II in the 3rd century BC. It's just above the theater. The famous Library of Pergamon which contained 200,000 books, was situated north of the square. Antonius gave all the books of the library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. The remains near the library, are some houses from the Hellenistic period. If you go up the stairs, you will see the remains of the palaces of Eumenes II and Attalos II. Inside the Acropolis there are houses, military barracks and military warehouses called "Arsenals". The building that has been restored at present, is the Temple of Trajan. It is completely marble.

The Theater of Pergamon, one of the steepest theaters in the world, has a capacity of 10,000 people and was constructed in the 3rd century BC. The Statue of Galen in Bergama.The famous Altar of Zeus in Pergamon is on the south of the theater. This Altar has the shape of a horseshoe. The Altar which was taken away from Pergamon in 1871 and carried to Germany by the German engineer Carl Humann, is exhibited at the Museum of Pergamum in Berlin, in a manner conforming to its original. On the south of the Altar, the Agora (market place) is situated. In the middle of the Agora there is a small altar. Downwards in the Acropolis, the central city is placed. Inside Pergamon, there is the Temple of Serapis, built for the Egyptian Gods and called the Red Courtyard by locals. This is a basilica shaped building constructed under the reign of Hadrian, it was converted into a church dedicated to St. John and became one of the Seven Churches of Christianity.

From there we left to Kusadasi for almost 4 hours journey.

Next day from Kusadasi, we left for the Ephesus city. IN Ephesus city, again the Romans never fail to impress us. The largest library, temple of Medussa, Temple of Arthemis, the bath area, the toilets, the theatre(1 big and 1 small) were tooo much to believe. We then left for the Virgin Mary house. It’s believed she lived there once upon a time. Then we left for the hotel. Next day we checked out and left for Pammukale tour. We reached Hierapolis city. The city is very very big. After going through the city we reached at the calcium deposits place .We spent most of the time at this place walking and gliding through the waters. We then visited the Cleopatra pool, other scenic locations, the theatre and a big walk through the city. We then returned by bus to Antalya.

At Antalya, after few hassles where the guy who came to pick us up, had a wrong name on his board, we left  to the Sea Side hotel. Then next day we left for Antalya tour. We first visited the  Waterfalls. It was awesome. Then we visited the SIDE-this was again a Roman city with theatre, market place, temples, and all the necessary buildings. We were later stopped at a place  to see the water channels that were so huge. Later we left for the Aspendos theatre.This was really huge with seating capacity of 20000 people. Then we went to Necropolis. This was a very large city with a very large market area, another market area too with the stone boards that  symbolize the shop. The city had separate thermal pools and bathing area for men and women. We had lunch at a sea side restaurant with the view of the lake. We didn’t have very good food options there. After lunch, we left to the hotel and took rest for some time. Then we left the hotel searching for an Indian Restaturant.We waited for a bus and didn’t find any, so went in a taxi. The Taxi driver was also searching for the hotel on his smartphone and was asking  his colleagues over the wireless about the route. We then got down from the taxi and thought we will find it by walk as we reached near the hotel. But after few walks we didn’t find the hotel, we ended up eating potato wedges and vegetarian pizza in a restaurant nearby. Then we left in a taxi to the hotel. Next day morning we had airport pick up at 15:00 hrs. So we decided to go to the nearby Antalya Aquarium. We bought the package tour with Aquarium,4D Movie Show, Reptiles zoo, Ice World. After visiting all the places , we finished our lunch with French fries and potato  wedges at McDonalds as we had no vegetarian options. Then we had a banana split sundae at Mado cafĂ©. When we returned to the hotel at sharp 15:00 hrs., the pick-up driver was already waiting for us. We left to the Antalya Airport to go to Cappodocia.We went to Istanbul and then left for Cappodocia.Both the flights were delayed, but we still reached on time.In Cappodocia, we were dropped at the Saksagen Cave hotel. We rested and next day we left for the tour. We visited the viewpoint first to see the fairy chimneys, then we visited the Delinque Underground city. City was built so many foot underground by the Christians to hide from the rulers. They have prison, place to tie the animals, ventilation and its 3 storeyed.From here we visited the Pigeons Valley where there were many pigeons on the valley also a very good viewpoint.

We then visited the castle from a very far distance as the entry inside was prohibited due to a recent accident. We had lunch at a nice place and left  for Trekking at the Rose valley. Trekking was just super awesome experience especially when you trek with a group. Superb fun.

Then we left for the hotel. We refreshed and left for Dinner at Rasoi near the hotel. It was  quite costly, and we had to pack food as we couldn’t finish them..Next day we went to Monk’s or Mushroom valley. Here we saw the chimneys in the form of Mushrooms. Then we also left for valley, did some trekking again  and then left for another place where the oldest homes were built in cappodocia.After lunch we left for the viewpoint to see the different chimney formations: Dancing girls, kissing couple, Mother Mary,Camel,Dog and many more. We also went to a place to see a family of chimneys: Mother, father, Children, Grandparents. We were then finally taken to the Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappodocia.The city has many old and original paintings made by the Christians who lived there. We then left for the hotel. We booked the night show for Whirling Dervishes in one of the Tourist places near our hotel and left for the show. The show was really good , with the usual Turkish dinner. I was pulled to dance with the girls at some point. We had a nice time. We then left for hotel and slept. The Next day we had to go for the Balloon ride. So woke up early, and went for the balloon ride. Initially was a little scared, but when you see another 1000 people doing it, you don’t feel scared anymore. Hence we had a lifetime experience. After the descent we were presented with medals and dropped at the hotel. As we didn’t have anything to do, we had a slow breakfast and went for a stroll nearby. We came back and waited for a long time for the pick up to the airport. We went to Istanbul Airport. Due to rain and also after some confusion with the name communicated to the person who was supposed to pick us up, we reached hotel late. Then we left for the Dubb restaurant by walk with raincoats, umbrellas as it was pouring. Next day we left for the Bhosphorous cruise,Dolmabache palace, the park. We had lunch near the Dubb Restaurant. After lunch, we went to the top to see the whole of Istanbul and the golden horn. Then we left for the hotel. That day we had gozleme, sut misr, kestane for dinner. Next day we left for the Bursa tour. We had to go on a ferry  along with the bus. The first stop when we reached Bursa was a store, where we bought the Turkish delight and teas. Then we went up the hill. There we stopped at the tree which was very huge and very old. Then we left for lunch in a restaurant. The climate was just super cold and raining so the travel itself was supergood.Then we left for the place to use  the chair car. But most of us didn’t go out as it was freezing. We then were taken to the Green Mosque in Bursa. This place had a green mosque with green tiles and cemeteries. There was a hamam bath that was  turned to s exhibition come shopping area. Next day we were free at our leisure. So we went to the Bhosphorous area, visited the Grey Mosque. Then we left for the other mosque on the hill. This mosque had cemeteries. Then we strolled through Grand Bazaar and Egyptian souq.We rode the metro and strolled the Istiklal Street and the Tasken square. We walked to the hotel on the way back. Next day was our last day in Turkey, We had an evening flight. So we checked out the hotel and left for Grand Bazaar shopping. We bought few bracelets, magnets, few takeaway gifts for friends and had lunch at Dominos. When we reached the hotel, our pick-up driver to the airport was awaiting for us. We returned to Bahrain in the evening flight.

Our turkey tour was super awesome with superb experience and many Historical places  that stun you with the ability of  Romans and Greeks. Our realization about the Wonders that the great painter called GOD can create.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

KUWAIT CITY

Kuwait being close to Bahrain, my husband wanted to visit Kuwait for one of our long weekends in Muharram. We knew at the start that there wont be much to visit there. We went for 4 days, rented a car and went to SAFARI HOUSE hotel.
On the first day, we left on a long drive to Indian Restaurant for Lunch. After lunch we went to Avenues mall. This one was a must see in Kuwait. A very huge mall which was built like a city with roads and each shop was in its own design. We left for the hotel. Next day we left for the Kuwait towers, then the Liberation tower, Mubarakiya Souq and the Grand mosque then  lunch at Saravana Bhavan. Also Watched the Al Kout Beach. From here we went to Kuwait Zoo. The Zoo had few rare to see animals like Zebra, Brown Bear.Then went to meet a family friend at his house. We left from there to Marina Mall and returned to the hotel. On the third day - all the places we went were closed .We only visited the Vintage Cars Museum after much roaming around as the google maps doesn't show the right location. Then in the evening we visited the Scientific Centre.We finally searched for something else and then found it in a small road. Next day we left for the Sadu House,  Dickson House, Evangelical Church, National Museum and the planetarium. Sadu House is the place where the authentic tent material weaving is showcased and explained. Dickson house is the house of the British  where Mr and Mrs Dickson stayed when he was in Kuwait for the Oil Exploration. National Museum and Planetarium were same like that in Bahrain. Then we left for the Souq Sharq to roam around the Souq and left for the 360 Mall. I liked the fountain in the Mall..Worth watching for hours.
Then left for the Kuwait Airport.

This was a small tour just covering most of the
places to visit in a short period. Most of the places are quite nearby on the same road. Also our hotel was in the centre of the city with all places nearby. We missed seeing the Mirror House, though we heard much about it.

Missing my love..

Its been more than 5 years now...If there is something that I can rewind or erase of in my life,  it would be June 7th 2009... this day my beloved appa lived with us for one last time, before he left for the heavenly abode. ..
   If everything happens for good, I was surprised to see what good can be in my father's sudden death...He was a nice person, never interfered in anyone's matters, never spoke ill about others. Then I realised the reasons a little later...Yes I still believe in God and think "Everything happens for the good". My father cannot bear pain. Even a simple fever makes him fall on the bed. I cant imagine, him going through a disease or undergoing a surgery or being admitted in a hospital. I believe God always takes people  he likes a little sooner.My father was one of them.My father passed away suddenly in  the blink of the eye without undergoing any pain.How many of us wish they could die like that.It was good for him that he left that way.
 
        The day when we took appa to Wokhardt hospital in Cunnigham Road, my brother's college friend's father was also admitted.This friend consoled my brother.Then after 2 weeks of being in ICU, that boy's father also died.This gives a clear message.
 
Life was difficult to move on.Amma developed hypertension.Home was a very dull place. Office was no different.I was just controlling myself from crying. Started going out with Amma for All household shopping. Though I had used Bangalore One centres, this is the first time, I used the BangaloreOne Centre in the Infosys Campus to pay all the utility bills at one place. We had to do all the legal formalities. The name changes from my father's name... I went to many offices for the first time in my life. My brother had to collect all the money that was due for us from others in my father's business. My brother went for this expedition. All the people didn't have the same kindness, so he had to struggle. Finally after months of work, we were done. We were trained and ready for the new life where we wont have our appa to do all the outside work for all of us starting from taking Xerox copies, buying groceries, paying bills, other government or private office work.We were trained for the life without our appa's physical presence. I am very sure he is just seeing us grow and feeling very proud with our achievements.We wont cry because he wouldn't like that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Carrot cake recipe

1 packet Super moist Betty Crocker white or vanilla cake mix.

2 cups grated carrot
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 handful chopped raisins
Water
Cooking oil
2 eggs

For the icing:

3 cubes of Kraft unsalted cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar or powdered sugar

Mix carrot,walnuts, raisins, eggs, cinnamon and beat well.Then add required quantity of oil( as per instructions in cake mix ) and a little less water than instructed.Beat well and add the cake mix and beat ..If beating by hand, beat for 3 minutes...

Then pre heat oven at 170c for 10 mins. Put a parchment paper in the cake tray and beat once again and then pour the batter in the tray.I initially baked for 25 minutes then checked with a toothpick and then baked for another 10 minutes..

Cool the cake on a cooling rack and do the icing.

I made a thin and transparent icing using unsalted cream cheese and powdered sugar..

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nature's holiday land Oman

Nature's holiday land Oman

 
We planned for Oman trip and booked our flight tickets-Bahrain to Muscat, Muscat to Salalah round trip. Hotel accommodation was booked. Now we need to plan the itinerary.I searched the internet for itineraries and also the places to visit. There ended our preparation for the trip. On reaching Muscat, we rented a car from Budget Cars as no other car rental agency had any cars. We asked for directions to our hotel Al Maha International hotel in Al Ghubrah. We drove for a long time following the directions we received and we felt we almost lost the route. We stopped and asked few people and continued driving and finally reached the hotel. After check in, we again continued to Saravana Bhavan hotel in Ruwi to have dinner.

  Next day we planned to cover the places covered by the Big Bus tours. We had breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was not great as there were many Non vegetarian dishes leaving us vegetarians with less choice. We first visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was very close to our hotel.Then from there we left for Al Qurrum Park.The Park had a big fountain, but it would be switched on only in the evening. There were few gym equipments which could be operated without electricity in the park. We just went around the park and left for Al Qurrum beach. The beach was shallow , but we didn’t go in the water , just clicked some pics.We then went to Royal Opera House .Took the photos from outside and left  for Matrah.But later  my Colleague told me , we can enter the Opera House even if there is no Programme and also visit the restaurants inside..Matrah souq was closed and supposed to be open only at 4 pm.So we took photos at the Corniche and had lunch in a restaurant (the only restaurant that was open) near the Matrah souq. We drove through the Matrah fort, Museum and left for Al Alam Palace. There are two sides to the Palace. We visited 1 side near the 2 forts and left .But on the way to the View point of the port; we saw the other side and stopped by. Then went to the viewpoint and drove past the parliament and other big palace to Ruwi.

   We reached the hotel and left for Saravana Bhavan again for dinner. We bought sim card for GPRS and internet access. Next day we left for Nizwa using the GPRS, roads were very good. There were 2 Major roads in Muscat. One is the Muscat expressway; this connects all the places nearby Muscat and the other Sultan Qaboos highway ....As long as you are on these roads you cannot get lost.

Nizwa is a 2 hour drive from Muscat. Nizwa is an old city and was the capital of Oman before Muscat. We went inside the Souq and then discovered that the Nizwa fort and castle are also just behind the souq. The souq had all beautiful pottery and the lovely lamps. Nizwa fort had a small museum inside. The fort had big rooms and the terrace had stairs to climb up and watch over the outside. The Fort had a mechanism of watching from upstairs for people who come near the entrance and to shoot them or even pour boiling oil over the enemies. The castle had a dates room where dates bags are arranged one over the other, dates juice is extracted naturally due to the weight of the bags lying on top of it. This juice was channelled through channels built. There were rooms for the shepherd. The sheep without the owner were brought to the fort and when the owners came, the owners were fined for their irresponsibility. The fort had a prison too. The castle had kitchen, guest rooms, room of the king and queen, Children’s room, mosque with place to wash legs before prayer. The fort had a coffee grinder too from Britain.

From Nizwa we drove to Bahla fort.Bahla fort was very big with separate buildings.Bahla fort is in the UNESCO list of Heritage sites. The fort also had dates room, rooms for reading, many round pillars. The site had 2 storeyed buildings. From Bahla we left for Hoota caves, but only on reaching there we found that the caves were closed for maintenance. We then we left for Wadi Ghul as we had many places to visit from there. But GPRS didn’t give the directions and there were no directions on the way either. We wanted to visit the Diana point, Jebel Mountains. But we couldn’t reach Wadi Ghul even after travelling a long distance.So we returned back to Nizwa.We couldn’t  find Falaj Daris either, the biggest natural water system.So we halted and had all snacks in our bag for the late lunch and continued to Muscat. It rained on the way and we had early dinner as we already skipped lunch and reached hotel.

Next day we left for Al Daiqah Dam. The Dam was really good with green water and a lovely garden. From there we went to the place where the water was flowing out from the dam and took some photos. In Oman, wherever we went we saw people camping and picnicking. They were so organised in planning for the picnic. We left to Bimmah sink hole. The sink hole was really like a big well. The water was clean and looks like the water was getting replenished.On the way back, we went to the beach.The beach had a lot of urchins. The beach was clean and green. From there we left for Matrah souq as we couldn’t go there last time. Then we shopped around Matrah souq and went to the Shiva temple near Matrah and left for Ruwi, had dinner again in Saravana Bhavan and left for the hotel.

Next day we left for Nakhal fort.It was 1 hour drive from Muscat. The fort had many guns in all the rooms. The guns were iron casted and heavy. The fort was a small one.Just close by is the hot spring Ain Thwarah.The whole area near the spring was a picnic spot with people swimming, cooking,camping,singing.From there we left to  hotel, Checked out and  had lunch. Then we went to Al Qurrum beach and from there to Oman Oil and Petroleum Exhibition, but unluckily it was closed. Read that Oman Oil and Petroleum Exhibition is very informative and very good. So we left for the airport many hours before, returned the car and left to Salalah.

In Salalah, we were picked by the Hotel Haffa House from the airport. We skipped dinner then we slept and woke up next day. The hotel looked a little old. The room was big, but the AC didn’t give any cooling and also it made enough noise to be compared with a powerful motor. The room also smelled of some rustic flavour. We struggled to sleep the first day. The breakfast at the hotel was very good. It was even better than our hotel in Muscat. 
          After Breakfast, we had to rent a car, so we went to Airport which is around 1-2 kms from Haffa House by walk. We rented a Mazda 6 new car and did some shopping to buy water and left to Mirbat.Our first stop in Mirbat was the Mirbat fort. The fort was closed but it was on the sea shore, so we took few photos and left for the Tomb of Zuhayr. There was a big graveyard next to the tomb. Then we left for the Tawi Atayr Sink hole or Well of Birds. 
           On the way to sink hole we saw the anti gravity road. There were many cars going slowly on either side of the road. So we tried driving in neutral gear, and left for the sink hole. The sink hole unlike the one near Muscat was too deep and also too huge. We couldn’t really see the water except for the crater. I read that there are many varieties of species of water life in the sink hole. After this sink hole we tried to go to Tayq cave but after driving for some time, we couldn’t find the way, so we returned back to the viewpoint, which was on the way towards the sink hole. From here we again drove along the anti  gravity road for few minutes and left for Sumhuram Village.
          Sumhuram Village is on the UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s an archaeological park. We drove inside the park, and then stopped to see the main building. There was a Temple of Sun, other small rooms. Without a guide its difficult to appreciate the place. The park is just adjacent to a Water lake. Its green water was very refreshing. The Park has separate buildings for Labourers. It had a museum with all the posters. From there we returned to the Taqah fort/Khor  Rawri .Taqah fort was also closed. We skipped our lunch today too.We asked the locals about Wadi Darbat waterfall nearby and they said there is no water in this season there.Also the map showed a backwater nearby, but the locals said that there is nothing like that. Hence we left for the Museum of the Land of Frankinsence.Then we realised that the site Al Baleed which is an archaeological park and also one of the UNESCO Heritage sites is also inside the same place.We first went inside the museum, but we must have seen the park first. Because after the museum when we  wanted to go see the ancient site, it was dark and we could hardly understand stuffs.The museum had separate  halls for architecture,coins,ships,gifts,etc.The site had separate cities , surrounded by backwater and it was used as a port  .It was a big walk around the site and then we returned to the hotel.
        After  getting  refreshed, we left for dinner to the road behind us. We then reached Cascade restaurant. We went inside and there were many Indians which assured us we were in a good restaurant. We ordered for Veg biryani, but on getting the food I received few chicken pieces in it. We reported this to the server. Also when I asked for paneer tikka, the server asked us to order some other dish, but I refused. Later on receiving the food, the dish wasn’t paneer tikka, because paneer has to be marinated and  grilled and then put in a tomato sauce, but the paneer wasn’t grilled at all.Anyways the food was tasty and  reasonable. Then we returned to Lulu to get some stuffs for the next day and left to hotel.

   On the next day we left for Mughsayl first. Mughsayl beach and blowholes were amazing. The Marneef cave was also big and nice. The blowholes didn’t give a shower but just a sprinkle, because it wasn’t season. But everything nature has to offer is beautiful. Then we left for Taqah for the many springs. We initially went to Ain Ishrat which was nothing but a dry crater. From there to Ain Atlum and Ain Tabraq.Ain Atlum was dry again with no water but the huge mountain was really great. I could imagine how the spring would be with the water during season.Ain Tabraq had water flowing from a hole. On the way back the same spring was flowing like a waterfall down.Ain Atlum and Ain Tabrooq were twin springs. 
          Then we left for Ain Razat.The water spring was a flowing from many sources from the mountain.The water was clear and there was a cave near the spring on the top. Also the spring had a big nice park, we stopped for some time in the park to eat our snacks for lunch. Most of the days in Oman we skipped lunch and had our snacks from our backpacks. Then we left for the main city, and then we came across a signboard saying Ain shahalnawt.So we decided to see the spring as well. It was really cool with water flowing all over the place and also a small green pool where people were swimming. 
            We also went to Tomb of Mohammed of Arabia. Then we went to tomb of Abir Bin Hud, it was a small tomb near Crowne Plaza hotel in the middle of a farm. Then we also went to the Tomb of Al Nabi Umran which was just on the same road as our hotel. We drank tender coconut in one of the stall near Al Baleed which was selling all farm fresh stuffs. Then we left to the hotel.Then we left for the Salalah Gardens Mall. Roamed around and had dinner in the food court at Kabab Bollywood.Next day we checked out and returned our car at airport and left for Muscat. We were there in Muscat airport for 4-5 hrs. Then boarded the flight to Bahrain.

Overall I loved Salalah for all its nature places and would love to go out picnicking in those places. Muscat was more Indians and busy. Searching for places and going around on our own gave much flexibility and made the trip adventurous. Overall very good experience.
BIMMAH SINK HOLE
Mughsayl beach
Nizwa fort
Daiqah Dam
Ain Tabrooq
Ain Shahnawt
Bimmah sinkhole
Sultan Qaboos mosque
Al Alam Palace
Royal Opera House
Matrah Corniche

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SPECTACULAR JORDAN

We decided to tour Jordan after seeing its spectacular places on films. We did a lot of research on the internet about the places we need to visit and stay. We booked our tickets online for the travel. We were searching about the hotels to stay, the rooms, facilities, place, etc. During this time we had been to the Jordan embassy to apply for Visa and I picked 1 book and 1 flyer from VisitJordan. These materials had lot of information about the places to visit and the other details required including 3 itineraries …Things made easy!! Wow! We don’t need to plan anymore that was my thoughts after seeing the itinerary. We visited the Visit Jordan website and there were a list of websites of tour operators. We handpicked few and contacted them through email, telephone. We received a prompt reply from Jordan Experience Tours. They gave us an itinerary with the cost. Then we asked them to add some more places to visit and chose our hotels. The package was ready and we were told we will be picked at the airport and that we can pay the package cost to them there in Jordan.
We reached Jordan from Bahrain in Etihad airways. We were picked at the airport by the driver Mr.Bassim. We insisted on meeting the sales person of Jordan experience Tours who was communicating with us over email. So we went to their office, met the lady and paid the package cost. Then we were dropped at RUM hotel for stay. After taking rest and freshening up we went for a walk and reached The Galleria Mall, Amman. We walked around, took few pictures and returned to the hotel after buying some Nestle water in a store just next to Rum hotel. We were served dinner in hotel.

 On the next day after breakfast we left to Citadel. Amman has Roman, Turkish, Muslim civilization. The Citadel is a city destroyed by the earthquake in 749AD.There is a mosque, Temple of Hercules, Cemetry,WatchTower,Well,Souq, Palace, Houses, Caves used as tombs,TurkishBath,Palace Tower inside the Citadel. We hired a tour guide and went around Citadel.The Citadel had a very good view of Amman and it had a big museum showcasing the pottery, coffins, warfare, ornaments restored from there and from Jerash. Then we left to Roman Theatre in Amman.There is a museum inside the place. Then we left to see the desert castles. The Desert Castles were built as a rest house for people going on a pilgrimage to Mecca or for those who are hunting in the desert. Since the castles are built with sand stones, the temperature inside the castle is very low keeping it cool. First we went to Qasr Al Kharana Castle.this was a big one and in the centre there is no roof and anyone in the first floor can look into the centre of the castle. The rooms were very big to accommodate many people. Then we left to Um Al Khas Desert Castle. It had painting on the floor, walls, Cielings.The paintings were being restored by UN and work was going on when we had been there. This castle is in the world heritage site list because it is the only building restored from the Umayan period.The castle also had mosaic work in its paintings. Then next we visited Azrak castle.It was a very big one with a huge empty space in the middle and many empty rooms.It was built for soldiers to stay. It had stone doors and 1 storey. There was a well and mosque. It was built using asphalt stones. After the visits we had lunch in a local restaurant and we were dropped at hotel. We again went around wakalat street .We had avocado and honey milkshake, strawberry milkshake at lebnani snack. Awesome taste. Then we took a taxi and reached Mecca Mall. Then had some Indian snacks there in an Indian Restaurant and left back to hotel and had dinner.

Some Knowledge sharing: There are 19 hills in Jordan. There are colours in Jordan flag: White Umayan rule Green Fatima rule Black Ottomon Rule Red Hashemite Kingdom 7 stars are the 7 phrases of Quran.(knowledge given by the Guide at Citadel)..

 On the 2nd day, we left the hotel after breakfast and reached UM Qaais after a looooonnnnng travel. In Umqaais, we hired a local guide Ahmed.Umqaais was a whole city built by Romans. It was in the shape of Cross. It had a nympheaum,Shops,theatre,Church,Octagon point, Temple of God of Fertility,WaterChannels,A good Viewpoint, Houses of people who lived there. The people were living there for a long time till recently. There was a school there which had been turned into a restaurant there. The roads had diagonal laying of stones for easy movement of chariots. The stones were shaped into bumps because of the chariot wheels going on them. It had a museum inside it where the different statues of the god of fertility was restored and kept. This city was also destroyed by earthquake. Then we again travelled for a long time and reached Jerash. We bought tickets and went for Lunch in a nearby restaurant. The food was good. We had some dessert like gemat. Then we went to Atljun castle. Atljun castle is high up on the hill. Walking just few meters on the steep road tore my muscles apart…Took some rest and went inside the castle. The castle was built high on the top to check for any enemy movement. The military base was stationed there by the ARAB Rulers. After the tired uphill climbing and going around, we left for Jerash . At exactly 5 PM we reached Jerash in 30 minutes. Then we arranged for a guide and rushed inside. Jerash city was built by Romans. It has an Oval Centre, west gate and north gate, 1 arch to commemorate the visit of Roman King, A Very big temple of Jupiter, A temple of the God of hunting, 18 Churches, 1 nymphareum, 1 hypodendrum where the chariot races were held, 1 olive oil press, the colonnaded street, and 2 theatres at two different locations of the city. One private bath and 1 public bath. Later we went to Mr.Basim’s home. We had some Turkish coffee and few desserts. Loving family who welcomed us well. We went to the hotel, had dinner and took rest.

On 3rd day, we had breakfast, did checkout and left with a new driver Mr.Baher.On the way to Madaba, we went to the automobile showroom, but it wasn’t opened yet. So we continued to Madaba church. Madaba is the mosaic city. The church has a mosaic map where all the Christian places are marked. The Church itself has many mosaic hangings. Then we left to a mosaic workshop where we were explained about the art of making mosaics and the artificial mosaic mimic painting on pottery. I bought few Dead Sea salts and Dead Sea pack in the workshop. Then we left to Mt.Nebo where Moses tomb is present. There we saw the serpentine cross standing high above us. Pope John Paul has visited there and it’s a very holy place for Christians. We can see the different places where Moses and Jesus were present from the viewpoint. It’s said that Moses went into the desert with a stick and sphere which turned into a snake. Its believed that anyone bitten by snake can be cured if they see the serpentine cross. From Mt.Nebo we went to Beyond the Bethany. This is that place where Jesus was baptised. We had to wait for an hour for the bus to take us inside as private vehicles are not allowed. Then we went to the river where Jesus was baptised. Then we were taken to the border between Jordan and Israel and touched the holy water of the Jordan River where Jesus was once christened. We saw the people from Israel on the other bank of the river. We also saw the Church of John who baptised Jesus. Then went to Hotel Warwick at Dead Sea. After lunch at the hotel, we went to the Dead Sea, had a nice float with the Dead Sea pack. The water in the Dead Sea was oily, salty and also little itchy and caused little irritation. After the float, had a bath, swam in the swimming pool and went to the room. In the room we had a nice view of the sunset. Then had dinner and slept.

 On the next day we had breakfast and checked out from hotel and left to Mt.Mukawir castle. On the way we stopped for a photo of the hot springs from the mountain. The Mukawir castle is where the John the Baptist was beheaded by the king upon his woman’s request. It had 2 pillars and the castle was very steep and too much to climb. We didn’t climb the whole stretch. Then we went to Karak Castle, it was a 2 storied castle. It was destroyed and later rebuilt again. It was used as a place to view the entire city. It had balcony, windows and ventilators. It was biggest of all castles we visited. Then we left to The Dana village. Dana village is where the Dana biosphere is. It is the place where people who go trekking rests and carry their journey. It has been restored using US Aid. The stone houses have been used as rooms for the rest houses. We had a lovely view of the Dana biosphere. Then we travelled to Little Petra. Little Petra is a miniature version of the actual Petra. Little Petra has many buildings, with 2 and 3 rooms. These rooms have ventilation, channel for water and other facilities. The interior looks painted and there is a painted room.The sand stones are scooped and looks like a man’s face. After taking a walk around the little Petra which in itself has an hour of touring, we left to Petra and checked into EDOM Hotel. This hotel is only 5 minutes walk to the Petra Visitors centre. After checking in we went for a walk to buy water .Then we had dinner and slept.

Next day was the most tiring day of the entire tour. We had breakfast and left to Petra. We had a guide for an hour. He had studied medicine but had taken guide profession as this is more profitable. We walked inside Petra listening to all that the guide was talking about. We were told about the Bedouin people who lived in Petra till recently. They were sent to the nearby location and allowed to come and sell goods, crafts and to operate other shops, camel, horse, donkey ride. We saw the main entrance, the red snapper, temple of sun, the carvings on the walls, the water channels. After walking through the passage , we got a sneak peek of the Treasury. We weren’t allowed inside the Treasury as this is stopped now to prevent the erosion of the sandstones. The Treasury has 2 tombs in the entrance .Inside there is a big hall and 2 rooms. In the centre is a tomb. The Bedouin people believed that it contains treasure and shot at the building. The bullet marks can be seen on the building. Then we walked from there passing the Highest Place of Sacrifice, other tombs. We then reached nympheum.The guide bid us bye, explaining the different places we need to see. We went to the church, the different cemeteries. The two storied cemetery which looks painted and had good acoustics. Then we went to the temple of Lion God and passed the colonnaded street. Then we took a donkey ride to the monastery and returned back. We were extremely tired. Walked and walked extremely exhausted and reached the treasury. From the treasury to the entrance where the horses are available, we stopped at 2 places for rest. We then took 2 horses 1 each and took a ride till a little before the ticket counter. I was extremely tired unable to keep a step forward, but I managed to reach a restaurant just before EDOM Hotel. I had my lunch there at around 5 pm.I ordered Shawarma but it was a big bread with grilled chicken unlike what I have eaten in Bahrain. I didn’t like it, but I had starved and need to eat something to get my energy and reach my hotel room. I went to hotel, took rest. I was really doubtful if I can really walk for Petra by night. We already took tickets for Petra by night. We had a bath and refreshed. We had dinner again within 2 hours of eating lunch at 7 pm and left for Petra by night. I was still unsure if I would be able to walk again till treasury. But walking in is down hill, hence I reached treasury without any effort. We were served Bedouin tea. There were performances of music from rababa, shababa.Then a small story telling. The whole place from the entrance till treasury was illuminated only by candles .This was lovely. Then we walked back to the entrance which is uphill. I dreaded this but I was able to walk without taking any rest. We had movenpick ice-cream and reached hotel. Took rest.

Next day we had breakfast and checked out and left to WadiRum.We stayed at the Rose Camp in WadiRum.We had lunch and waited for the jeep to pick us up for jeep ride. We went for a 4 hour jeep ride. We went to the house of Lawrence of Arabia, the mushroom, the natural arch, the place with inscriptions by the nabateans, the final arch with the Lawrence of Arabia face. We couldn’t see the sunset as the climate was bad. We reached our camp and refreshed ourselves. We then watched the way the buried dinner is excavated. We had dinner and went to our tent. We just couldn’t sleep in the tent because there was no air and we were feeling stuffed and heat. We slept for 3-4 hours.

On the next day we woke up and got ready for the air balloon ride. We were picked up from the camp by the company. We went to the place of action; the air balloon was aired and made ready. But finally due to the weather, the balloon was swaying left and right, so the driver of the air balloon said we will wait for some time. We waited, but the climate was the same, so the ride was cancelled. We were dropped back at the camp. We had breakfast at the camp and left for Aqaba. On the way to the hotel, we went to Aqaba birds observatory, watched the birds.Then left for Marine Aquarium, watched many new types of fishes –camouflaged ones,turtles,eels,etc.Then we passed through the city to the Mamoluk fort. We watched it from outside, since it was at a low level from the road. Then we left to Marina Plaza. We checked in the hotel. We had lunch in the hotel and went to sauna, steam bath, swimming pool, Red sea beach. We then had bath and left to the Red Sea beach again and took pictures. We left in the hotel’s shuttle bus to the city. We roamed around the city for 2 hours, looked around the souqs, shopping, went to a park nearby, to movenpick hotel and had ice cream there and went back to the post office and left to the hotel in the shuttle bus. We had dinner and slept.

 On the next day we woke up and found heavy rain. We had breakfast and checked out and left. We had to reach the Amman airport by 2 pm for the flight back. We were tensed as we heard that the roads are blocked as the mountains have flooded the roads due to erosion by rain. The roads were flooded too. Since there was a road inside the village we were able to reach our destination on time. Thanks to Mr Baher our driver.Mr Baher was a little rough and arguing and we had difference of opinions. But professionally he was very good. We tipped him heavily because we reached the airport on time and entered the airport. We did some chocolate shopping and boarded the flight. We had a nice time in Jordan with all people very courteous and helpful. The Place is also a very good with nature, history blended into one another. I bought few magnets in Petra. Bought the colour sand bottle from Petra, Dead Sea salts, Dead Sea Pack, Loads of memories from Jordan.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicken Chettinad


This recipe is from Sanjeev kapoor's book.Chicken recipes.Tried them many a times and everytime its just great.I have some modifications to the dish.

Ingredients:
Chicken: 1/2 kg
Red chillies: 3-4 nos
Grated coconut:handful(optional since adding coconut reduces the spicyness of the dish)
Coriander seeds:1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1tsp
Cardamons: 2 nos
Cloves: 2 nos
Cinnamon : 1 pc
Fennel seeds: 1tsp
Ginger:2 tsp chopped
Garlic: 2 tsp chopped
Oil:3 tsps
Onion : 1 large Chopped
Tomato: 2 med size chopped
Curry leaves:handful
Turmeric powder: 1/ TSP
Coriander leaves: handful
Red chiili powder: 1tsp
Salt: to taste

Method:
Saute the red chillies, corinader seeds, fennel seeds,cumin seeds, coconut,cinnamon, clove,cardamons in a little oil and grind to a fine paste along with fresh ginger, garlic.

Heat oil in a pan, add onions and fry them.Add curry leaves and the ground paste and fry.Then add tomatoes, chilli powder, salt,turmeric powder.
Add chicken and some water and cook them kept closed.

Finally garnish with coriander leaves.

You can try the recipe with mushroom for vegetarians.Probably name it Mushroom chettinad. :)