Last day in Paris

After amazing day 1 & 2 in Paris, we were getting use to the things here like travel, food, walking etc.

Day 3 starts with visit to Notre Dame roof. We missed our timeslot due to the huge line to enter the cathedral and confusion, assuming the entry to roof will be from inside. But it was from outside.

Notre dame
View of Paris from top of Notre Dame

After we missed our first slot (check detail here) we booked it for the next day and made sure this time we are on time else our 10 ticket will be waste. We checked with the Paris tourism office from where we got the ticket that if we can exchange it with some other place, but they refused.

Notre Dame, Paris
One of the tower of Notre Dame view from the top

After seeing the city from Eiffel tower, you won’t be able to justify the view from here, it’s beautiful but can’t be compared to Eiffel. So, our conclusion is you can exclude this from your list, and you can invest the money purchasing ticket of someplace else or eating something good or enjoying French wine 😊.

Notre Dame, Paris
Mommy Baby enjoying there time

There are lot of stairs to climb and the space is very little. The stairs are in spiral shape and quite steep. After climbing all the stairs, we were feeling so hot that we had to remove our jackets. It windy on top.

Notre Dame, Paris
One of the bells of Note Dame

There are multiple levels here like Eiffel but in this case it’s only 2, Eiffel has 3. One can spend limited time on the roof as there are fixed number of people per slot and there are continues slots. So, they even ask you to hurry up and start your decent.

You will climb through the left tower (if you are facing the cathedral) and come down through right one.

View from Notre Dame, Paris
Beautiful sky & Eiffel at the back

After this we went to see one of the most beautiful Opera house in the world – Palais Garnier.

If you want to walk, then it’s around 3 Km from Notre Dame else you can take a metro station name is Opera.

Opera Garnier, Paris
Front Side of Opera, there are lot of sculptures made on this side

We were very exited to visit this place as we have heard a lot from our friends and family who have visited it. But our bad luck it was already closed for the day.

As it’s a working Opera so continues shows keep happening here. Before planning your visit here do check the schedule on their web site.

So, we just took some pics from the outside and left for lunch. We went to some falafel place which was suggested by one my husbands’ friend. And trust me it was simply amazing.

The falafel was so amazing and tasty and fulfilling. It’s a take away place and there is line in front to place order.

There staff will be on the street to help you decide with your order. It’s located on a small street with very less traffic.

Seine River, Paris
Climbing Back…

Then we just relaxed a bit strolling on the banks of Seine river. It was amazing, cold breeze, calm.

After some relaxation we wen to place which is one of the most famous and important thing to do in Paris. This place is even featured in some movies i.e.  Louvre Museum.

Louvre Museum, Paris
One of the part of Louvre after closing

This museum is one of the biggest and will take a lot of time and walking to explore. It’s located in Louvre Palace and the famous glass pyramid is right in the centre of the palace ground. This place contains antiques from all over the world and one of the most famous possession of this place is – Mona Lisa.

Louvre Museum, Paris
Famous Glass Pyramid

Ticket price starts from €15 and then we have skip the line, guided tours, audio guide tour. So, decide carefully which one you want.

Louvre Museum, Paris
Enjoying my time

It has all sorts of things in the display like art, paintings, sculptures, prints & drawings. If one has interest in museums & history then this place is like temple for them. So much of history and beauty to admire.

Louvre Museum, Paris
Louvre Palace

As this place took a lot of time, rest of the evening we spent just strolling on the banks of Seine, it’s nice just to walk on the banks, it’s in the middle of the city but still quiet.

This ends out 3rd day in Paris. Paris has a lot to see and one would at least need a weeks’ time to visit Paris alone. It should not be like this is on your bucket list, so you planned and spent just 1-2 nights and visit 2-3 places in a hurry.

We stayed here for 4 days and still it was not enough.On our final day we really want to see Opera, this was one of the top priorities. We have already checked the visiting hours on their web site.

As usual there are different kinds of tickets available starting from €12 which is an independent visit ticket. You can check the prices here, this is from where we bought ours.

Stroller can be taken inside, but you need to leave it just before you enter the main area as there are a lot of stairs. So, better take Baby carrier also with you if you have small kids.

Paris
Random Click

This place is mesmerizing. It’s beautiful, you will be lost in its beauty. It is beautiful inside out. There are many sculptures on the out side on the Principle Facade.

One of the ramp through which King use to come

There are 2 pavillon one is on west side which has 2 ramps and it was the entrance for the king, now a day this is used to enter visitors. Second one is on the east side that was designed for rest of the public.

The interior has many corridors, stairwells and huge place for people to socialize. 3 main things to see inside –

  1. Grand Staircase
  2. Grand Foyer
  3. Auditorium
Opera Garnier, Paris
Stairs towards Grand Stairs
Grand Staircase Opera Garnier, Paris
Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase – as the name say these are grand, white marble staircase which divides into 2 & leads to the Grand Foyer. These staircase is decorated with female sculpture holding torches. Hence sudden royal feeling will come when you climb these staircase 😊.

Opera Garnier, Paris
Opera
Inside Grand Foyer

 Grand Foyer – this is a long hall with very high ceiling. This is 154 mtr long, 18 mtr high and 13 mtr wide.

Grand Foyer,Opera Garnier, Paris
Beautiful ceiling of Grand Foyer

The ceiling is painted and represent various historic moments in the field of music.

Amazing Art work

This place was used to socialize and enjoy some drinks.

Opera, Paris
Hall ceiling

Both the ends of the Foyer have halls with beautiful painted ceilings.

Auditorium, Opera Garnier, Paris
Main Auditorium

Auditorium – this is traditional horseshoe shape sitting with a capacity of nearly 2000 people.

Auditorium Opera Garnier, Paris
Beautiful Ceiling of Auditorium

The stage is largest in Europe. The main ceiling area which surrounds the chandelier is beautifully painted & it depicts scenes from opera of 14 different composers.

Mirror..Mirror on the wall…

The min chandelier was designed by Garnier him self and is very heavy and made from bronze and crystal.

Such a big seat to watch the show

Grand Vestibule, this is from where you will exit, it contains the statues of four composers: Rameau, Lulli, Gluck and Haendel.

Grand Vestibule Opera Garnier, Paris
Grand Vestibule

There is a small museum inside which displays stage sets, photographs, drawings & paintings. Besides that there is a library with huge number of books.

One of the beautiful hall

After spending some quality time, we went out had our lunch and then headed to Luxembourg Garden.

This was our final stop in Paris as after this we had to catch train to Italy😊

Luxembourg Garden, Paris
Our doll enjoying some time before the rain

Luxembourg Garden is huge spread in more than 20 hectares. It was constructed in 1612. The beautiful gardens are the part of Palace – Luxembourg Palace which is now owned by French Senate. Gardens are known for its lawns, flowerbeds & fountains.

Luxembourg Garden, Paris
She really enjoyed..

Again, it was our bad luck as soon as we reach and decided to relax for a bit it started to rain. We thought it will stop in some time and waited for it to stop under a shed, but it didn’t and finally we decided to leave as we have a train to catch.

This place has covered sitting area, metal chairs in front of the palace near to the pond. What ever time we spent here it was good and relaxing. You can spend some quality time with friends and family here.

Information about Paris Pass

Paris Pass, it’s a card where you pay one time and it gives you access to certain number of attractions as per the pass. You can buy pass starting from 2 days to 6 days.

This Pass includes travel card with which you can travel unlimited times in central Paris in metro, RER, bus and is valid as per your pass validity.

As per me it is useful and cost effective for those who want to cover maximum in the given period. We didn’t want to rush things get most out of the Pass.

There is a lot more to see like – Palace of Versailles which will take one full day, Disney Land again will take one full day, Montmartre to name which are not to be missed and many more museums if you are a museum fan.

Paris to Milan Bus
Good Bye Paris, beautiful final evening Of Paris

Our Paris trip ends with a twist which is related to our journey to Florence, Italy which I’ll tell in my next blog so stay tuned for it.

Yercaud – TGI Star Holiday Resort

This was our first holiday of 2019 and a much-needed break from the hectic city life. Yercaud is a small hill station situated in the state of Tamil Nadu.

We came to know about this place while searching online for a place not that far from Bangalore. Yercaud is around 225 Km from Bangalore. The roads are quite good throughout the journey.

NH 44

Rout we took was via Hosur – Krishnagri – Selum. We started at around 6.20 AM on Saturday. After reaching the silk board junction we came to know that it is very late if one must go on this rout on a weekend.

Highway towards Selum

There are tolls on this rout and total toll we paid was around Rs 600 in total i.e. for return journey. Plus Rs 90 on NICE Road, Bangalore from Electronic City to Clover Leaf.

Beautiful way after Selum

There was traffic on silk board & a long queue on the toll plaza just after the Electronic city flyover. It took us around 10 min to clear the toll. Then after the toll there was traffic on the highway as it was kind of long weekend, Monday leave gives 4 days as Tuesday was holiday on the occasion of Sankranti.

For b/f we stopped at Hotel Shri Krishna Inn, Shoolagiri. Food here is nice and priced reasonably. This was very crowded and that day and there was a waiting as well. There are 2 sitting option – inside and outside.

There’s a HP petrol pump, Mc Donald’s and Cafe Coffee day all located in the same complex.

After Selum the ghat section starts, Yercaud is around 30 Km from Selum. There are 20 Hairpin bends on this rout and the amazing thing is the roads are very well maintained and are quite broad.

This is how it looks

There are mirrors installed but only few are in working condition, rest are either damaged or stolen.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Entering the resort

This time we wanted to stay in a place where we can spend some quality & screen free time with family. So after googling for some time we came across TGI Star Holiday resort located just 1 Km before the main town or Yercaud.

Resort & list of what all things are there to do

Main reason for going with this property is its family friendliness. This is a 3-star property with some amazing features. There are 2 categories of rooms i.e. Deluxe/Superior cottage and Suit Cottage.

The main difference in both the rooms is space, in Suit there is a living room with a sofa and one sofa cum bed plus the bedroom is also quite specious. Other one is normal size room. Both the categories have a private sitting space/balcony outside the room.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Entrance to our cottage

We stayed in Suit cottage as we need some space for our daughter to run around when we relax in the room 😊. Other amenities include a welcome drink at reception, some snacks in the room, good quality toiletries in the bathroom.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Cottages one on ground floor one on first

In suit it was a king size bed and it was quite comfortable. Lenin and towels are also of good quality and soft to touch. This place is located on a hill slope so first to reach you must get down from the main road and after you enter you must climb up & both the time it’s a steep slope.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
US time

There is ample of parking, you can either park at the front of the resort or inside at the end. There are small gardens with different varieties of flowers/plats in front of each cottage, which makes the stay more pleasing.

If we talk about the facilities of the resort, then there are a lot of things one can do with family. There is a spa, a restaurant which serves good and tasty food. An indoor games room with games like carrom, chess & Table tennis. A badminton court, swings for adults and kids, separate play area for kids and swimming pool.

If you are a dare devil and like adventure sports, then there is facility for that too. Adventure activities are conducted inside the resort and the instructor is very good.

Adventure activities..it was really fun

Activities have different difficulty levels and finally there is a zip line. So, if you are planning to visit this place and want to do this then do carry sports shoes.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Inner Peace….

We took the spa after we were done with our first dose of adventure activities. Me and my husband both took the spa and we really felt good after it. All refreshed and recharged. The massage therapist for male and female are very good, and both were experienced.

TGI Star Holiday resort, yercaud
Morning view from our balcony

Price wise it’s very reasonable starting from Rs 1500 for Kerala massage to Rs 2500 for their signature package. They do have facial and other stuff also.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Movie screening in Open Air Theatre

One of the most interesting and unique thing that I like about this place is there open-air theatre. Yes, you read it correct, they show a movie once it is dark in the garden space b/w the games room and badminton court. That too with a Bonfire 😊

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Main road inside the resort

First day it was an English movie and second day it was Tamil movie with English sub 😊. There is light in the badminton court, so you can play even at night just make sure you don’t make too much of noise as there are rooms just adjacent to the court.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Swings for kids and adults and kids play area behind it

Food here was good, they have buffet for all 3 meals or if you want something else then you can order from the small AA-la-carte menu.

In buffet there are 3 veg dishes and 2 non veg dishes with 2 rice preparation and rasam. Chapatis are pre cooked and kept in hot case.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Evening chai with bhajjis

One more thing that I really like is in the evening/night time their housekeeping guys come to every room to refill the snacks, tea coffee and ask if you need any other thing. They also ask you to provide feedback about the room cleaning and their service which was something new to us.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Family time in the garden area outside the cottage

There is free Wi-Fi, but the speed is not good, there is no issue with mobile signals at least with Airtel.

Morning sun from the balcony

Whole staff of the resort is so courteous and friendly, we really like their hospitality.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Morning sun, something different

We really like the time we have spent in this resort.

Small tour of the beautiful Property of TGI Hotels

There are quite a few things to see in Yercaud. Some of them are –

  1. Kiliyur falls
  2. Yercaud lake
  3. Ladies seat
  4. Gents seat
  5. Rose garden
  6. Few temples

We checked about the falls and came to know that there is no water in the falls so it’s not worth visiting it. Also, there are steep steps to reach to the falls, around 250 to 300. Going down is easy but climbing up is a tedious task. So if you are visiting in rains then only plan else you might regret.

Yercaud lake
Let me go @Yercaud Lake

Out of these we saw only few like rose garden, lake, ladies’ seat and while coming back from ladies’ seat I noticed a small aquarium just beside the lake.

Yercaud Lake
Beautiful Lake

Yercaud is a small town and the resort is located just 1 km from the lake. There is no proper or designated parking space at the lake, you have to park on the road side. Beware if you go on Sunday morning then there is a flea market on both the side of the road.

Yercaud Lake
Mommy & Baby in full swag

There is boating facility at the lake and one can choose from paddle boat, boat with oars or a motor boat. There are few good points to click pic with lake as background. Rose garden is 1.5 km around from lake.

The road is not in good shape and just before the main entry of the garden it is a single lane. So, if some vehicle is coming from other direction then one must go reverse. One can park vehicle inside the gate of rose garden or on the road side, parking is free.

Rose Garden, Yercaud
Inside Rose garden

Ticket to enter garden is of Rs 30 and for us it was not worth as there were only few plants were, we could see some roses. The garden was maintained well. From rose garden you can either walk to ladies’ seat it’s just 100 mtr. Or you take your car and park it there.

Beautiful valley view from Ladies Seat

Ladies seat is just a valley view point and nothing else. There is small shed from where you can see beautiful valley below. But what we feel is it will be worthier to visit in/after rains as the view will be clearer. This time it was all foggy/cloudy. But still it was beautiful.

A very important message

Gents seat is located again some 100 mtr from ladies’ seat and it’s a valley view point. So, we skipped it. While coming back from ladies’ seat google maps leads us to a road which was closed at the point where is meets the main road. So, we have to take a U turn.

On the same road there is a small aquarium which has 17 varieties of fishes including ‘Piranha’. The entry ticket to this place is only Rs 10 pp but parking outside is Rs 30. It’s a good experience for kids.

Over all we really enjoyed our 2 days of stay @TGI Star Holiday Resort and in Yercaud.

Note -
All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Europe Trip – Hotel, Paris Metro/Bus ride & Seine River Cruise

This is our day 2 in Europe and Day 1 in beautiful city Paris.

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Day 2

After going through all the trouble at Paris Nord and Paris Metro station near to Pairs Nord we finally reached our hotel all thanks to Uber. (If you have not read my previous blog do read it here)

For our 3 night 4 days stay in Paris we have booked MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL. It’s an apartment hotel where you get a small kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, ceramic hotplate, dishwasher. Safe, television, telephone, Wi-Fi. Bathroom with bathtub and hair dryer.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL

kitchenette with hotplate, sink, dishwasher & small fridge

We choose apartment hotel due to 2 reasons one and major one was our daughter, as she was only 1.6-year-old, so we need to make food for her second in a medium long trip of 10 days we don’t want to eat outside junk food both the time. Eventually save some money 😊

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Small area with wardrobe and a small ottoman

We really didn’t cook full meals but cooking B/F as it was not included in the booking and dinner which was mostly a ready to eat Indian meal like pre-cooked rice, dal, pulao, chole etc.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Bathroom w/o bath tub

Mercure is a mid scale brand of hotels b/w 3 & 4-star properties run by its parent company AccorHotels, a French multinational corporation.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Our room for next 3 nights

Our’s was an around 32m sq. room with a double bed and 1 sofa bed. Bed was comfortable with lights on both the side of the bed, a small shelve on the full wall behind the bed to keep the things like phone, wallet etc.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Small Dinning table

There’s a small dinning table places beside the wall in the kitchenette, space after you enter the room where we can keep the stroller and other stuff, one wardrobe to store all the luggage and one small stool.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Sofa cum bed with storage and TV above it.

There is a storage cabinet above the sofa cum bed and beside it was a small TV. This storage was very useful during our stay as we kept all our raw/ready to eat food item there.

These was a big window on one of the walls, our room was a front room, so we could see the front road. This hotel is in the quitter residential area, sometimes it was nice to open the window and let the fresh air in.

So, after reaching and settling down, relaxing a bit after a tiring Metro run we went out as today evening we had our Seine river cruise.

Beautiful art on one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris – Pont Alexandre III

Deliberately we have opted for evening time as that time we can see the beautiful monuments in the day light and witness the beauty of Paris in the artificial lights.

To travel locally in Paris, you have metro & bus. Regular ticket cost 1.90 or say 2 Euro if you purchase per ride but there is a little cheaper option i.e. ‘Carnet’ which is a book of 10 tickets cost 16 Euro.

Seine River, Paris
Beautiful Seine

At Nord Station the machines through which we can buy Carnet was not accepting international credit card, but at other station it worked.

You can take help from local people there, they are helpful.

Green Metal Bridge, there is a metro line 6 above the roads

With the help of Google Maps, we found that we can take direct bus from a stop near to our hotel directly to the center where all the attractions are. So, there is no changing metro, no climbing stairs, we were very happy 😊😊

For the next 4 days we only used Bus, well most of the time say 95% as once you reach the centre then you must walk…walk…walk & walk… Saying it again stroller and baby carrier is a must if you have small kid(s).

Cour De Cassation, Paris

If one doesn’t want to walk then there is an option of Hop on Hop off bus, in these buses you can ride full day on a single ticket. You can Hop off at any attraction on their specific route visit the place and then Hop on again in the next bus to go to another attraction.

Seine River, Paris
Sunset time at Seine

We have done our booking from Vedettes du Pont Neuf after going through review of different service providers at different platforms. Normal ticket w/o any add on would cost maximum 14 Euros pp.

Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Washroom at the boarding point for the cruise, it was clean
Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Outside front sitting area on the boat

The boats are quite big and have 2 type of sitting options one is in open on the top and second is close below it.

Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Open sitting area on the roof
Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Entry for the roof

The tour is of 1 hour with live commentary informing about the monuments and places that are covered during the tour. If you choose the evening tour which might end up in late evening or night, then you can witness the beautiful monuments and bridges in night light.

Art on one of the bridges out of many bridges in Paris
Sailing on the Seine, Paris

It’s all Altogether a different experience in artificial lights. It’s amazing experience sailing in the Seine river.

This concludes our first day in Paris.

Stay tuned for more updates and details of the coming days in Pairs.

Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Europe Trip – Emirates, Schiphol Amsterdam & Thalys

Day -1 & 2

(This is going to be a series of Blogs of my 10 days Europe trip, please be patient as these blogs might be lengthy as I want to provide as much information to help someone in their trip 😊)

The whole trip was planned by us which includes lots n lots of research, on call discussing with each other where to go what to see, how to go etc. many hours spent burning our eyes in laptop screen.

After all the hard work we really enjoyed and created some amazing memories. There is this amazing site and app inspirock which will help you to plan your itinerary.

This will tell you each and everything like how far the place is from each other how to go how much time to spend, how much spare time you have etc. This was great help in planning our trip.

It was March end of 2018 when I landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, travelled through Emirates airline. It’s a 1 stop flight with around 1.30 hours of layover in Dubai.

After landing in Dubai to go to your connecting flight’s departure gate you must go through security check. This could take time as many people will be coming to same place to go to their respective gates.

If time permits, then you can relax and enjoy some food and drinks in Marhaba Lounges in Dubai Airport with your Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a program which provided Lounge access to its members across the world.

There are some premium credit cards that too provide International lounge access like HDFC Bank Diners Club card.

This was my first solo flight with my daughter, who was around one and half year old. Few points I want to mention which will be helpful if you are traveling alone with baby.

 1) Always carry some healthy food for your baby as they don’t provide baby food below 2 years

 2) Baby carrier is must as you must check in stroller while boarding and will get back once you reached your destination. Check my post on baby carriers for more details.

 3) Limit your hand luggage as with baby it’s hard to manage with heavy luggage

 4) Flight staff was helpful. So, feel free to ask for any help needed

After landing in Amsterdam and clearing the immigration’s, me and my little daughter came out and looked for hotel shuttle service. Hotels near to Schiphol, Amsterdam provide shuttle service which is free of charge to pick and drop their guest.

The frequency of this service depends from hotel to hotel and what time of day but mostly it is in every 30 min.

I stayed in NH Hotel Schiphol, it’s nice big hotel with lot of facilities present in it. I just stayed there for a night so didn’t use any of the facilities like gym, indoor heated swimming pool etc.

The room was quite cozy and of good size, you can even request for a kid’s cot w/o any extra charge. Check in and check out was smooth as we have already paid the charges.

Earlier you book cheaper it is and if you go online payment with Zero refund option then it is cheaper than the full refund option. So, it’s better early you decide, might get good deal in full refund option.

We were little late in planning as we were planning with my brother & sister in law who were supposed to join us from London. Ours was 128 Euros + 7.30 Euros in city tax.

Where ever you go in Europe city tax is charged additionally and needs to be paid either at the time of check in or check out in cash or card.

Next day took train from Schiphol to Paris Nord. Our tickets were in Thalys First Class. Full train journey was covered in just 3 hours.

Train ticket prices also increased as the journey date comes closer. Our ticket price for 2 adults was 190 Euros. So, if you are planning a trip by your selves then finalize soon and book everything to save some money.

First class of Thalys is quite amazing and can be more amazing if you can get the single seats. So basically, in first class coach the seat layout is 2×1. Seats are comfier and broader and recline a little then the one in economy class.

Other benefits of first class are like – free faster WiFi with more data, paper & magazines, there lounge access, priority boarding etc.

There are attendant in each first-class coach, they will great you at the station and might help with luggage (depends on person to person). A  separate space to keep your luggage and it is there at the start of each coach.

In 3 hour of journey we were served 2 times, yes you read it right there is free food or say included in ticket price of first class. As ours was morning 9.34 AM train so we were served, B/F and small snack.

In B/F we got a multi grain bun, sugar coated puff,delicious cake, fruit, juice, yogurt. It was nice tasty and makes you full. 1hour before the scheduled time to reach Paris Nord, we were served some snack.

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It was delicious chocolate cake, with drink of your choice like, juice, tea, coffee or wine. The trains in this part of the world are very punctual. They come on time, depart on time, the highest speed that I saw on the display was more than 250Km/hr.

After this amazing journey we finally reached my dream destination – PARIS.

Reaching our hotel from Paris Nord was a big task and took us more than 1 hour to figure out how to reach there, which metro to take, which direction to go etc.

Believe me Paris metro stations are not at all stroller friendly. These stations are very old, and they have lots and lots of stairs. It was very difficult for us to climb up and down with stroller, heavy suitcase and bag with small kid.

So finally, after lot of struggle we finally book Uber 😊 and it was costly ☹. We paid 22.5 Euros and finally reached our hotel.

Stay tuned for more details in my second blog like hotel we stayed, places we visited with some amazing pics 😊

Note - All the pictures (except one) are from our trip taken by us.

Gandikota and Belum Caves

Gandikota is a hidden gem, also known as Grand Canyon of India. Gandikota is a small village on the banks of river Pennar in Andhra Pradesh.

Planned 1N/2D road trip from Bangalore to Gandikota and Belum caves. Gandikota is around 292 Km and it’s NH 44 i.e. highway to Hyderabad.

The roads are awesome, it’s a 4-lane highway and state highway after Kodur with quite less traffic.

NH 44
Somewhere on National Highway

Route took

Outer ring road from home till Hebbal Junction and merged into NH 44.

Bangalore – Kodur – Muddalakuntapalli – Sunnampalle – Mukkandlavarikothapalle – Kadiri – Kutagulla – Kanampalli – Venkatpuram – Rachumarripalle – Muddanur – Ananthagiri - Gandikota

Bangalore to Gandikota
Bangalore to Gandikota

There are toll on this road. The state highway is also in good condition with occasional bad patches.

Bangalore to Gandikota
Some ware on State Highway

If you love to drive fast, then you will fall in love with this highway (please don’t drive fast you will save few minutes but will be risking your and others life’s).

Bangalore to Belum
Beautiful view on NH 44

We started around 6.00 AM from our place, it took 1 hour to cross the airport toll from out place. There are good options for B/F few kilometers after the toll. We stopped at Indian Paratha Company.

Indian Paratha Company
Indian Paratha Company

Heard a lot about Indian Paratha Company from friends and were thinking to visit this place from long. Finally, we got a chance and made our first stop here.

Indian Paratha Company
Outside sitting @ Indian Paratha Company

It’s quite good option to have heavy B/F with large glass of tea. They have 2 sitting options few tables inside and then outside. It’s quite nice to sit outside in the morning as there is less traffic, less noise and pollution.

Indian Paratha Company
Yummy parathas @ Indian Paratha Company

Taste was good, they serve parathas with achar, curd & chutney. As it was early morning time, we had ginger tea which they served in a big glass. Tea was priced heavily around Rs 60, but taste was good. Toilets are not that clean and small toilets.

After having heavy B/F we stopped one more time as washroom break then directly to the hotel in Gandikota. We reached around 1 PM and after checking in directly came for lunch.

Bangalore to Gandikota
Beautiful way to Gandikota

There is only one place to stay in Gandikota and that is Haritha Hotel which is run by APTDC i.e. Andhra Pradesh Tourism. There are limited rooms available here and can only be booked through APTDC website.

Do carry print out of booking confirmation.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
View of rooms @ Haritha Gandikota

Rooms are air conditioned and cost very nominal i.e. Rs 1500/night on weekdays and Rs 2000/night on weekend. Nothing is included in the price but the food here is quite cheap.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Mommy baby posing on stairs to terrace

There is no other restaurant near by as this is located right next to Gandikota Fort, which is far from nearby towns.

One of the speciality of this hotel is you can drive your car right up to your room and park it there itself.

Volkswagen Polo
German beauty soaked in over night rain

Nearest towns are namely Tadipatri, Gooty and Guntakal. The road after the highway to the hotel is single lane road but in good shape. You might be able to see Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Dam at a distance and Pennar river on the right.

Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Dam
View of Pennar river

It’s a decent property with big room and small washroom. Room was nice decently cleaned and doesn’t smell foul. They do have TV and set top box. There is option to stay in tents, as this is a government property, they have lots of open space.

For full review of this property please check my TripAdvisor.

Food was OK here, mostly they have limited options. Taste was OK, and price was low we paid around Rs 770 for 4 meals and evening snack for 2 persons.

Bangalore Gandikota
Somewhere on the way to Gandikota

Best thing about this hotel is the view and is located right next to fort. They do have some outdoor activities at additional cost like kayaking which is organized by some other organization. For it you have to track down to Penna river which takes around 40 min.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Road to Haritha & Gandikota Fort

After lunch, went to relax for some time. After freshen up head out to visit the main attraction – Grand Canyon of India. It is called Grand Canyon because a spectacular gorge formed by river Pennar which goes through the Erramala hills.

Grand canyon Gandikota
Mesmerising view of gorge

You can take you car inside the fort and park it near the Mosque. From there walk/climb/jump/balance to reach the point where you will be mesmerized by the beauty of the gorge and river Pennar.

Gandikota Fort
Way to the gorge inside Gandikota fort

As it’s full of rocks so please do wear comfortable shoes and relaxed bottom wear.

Gandikota Fort
Mosque inside fort, this is the place where we park the cars/2 wheeler

Gandikota Fort
Erramala hill and Pennar river

Sunrise/Sunset view must be amazing here. We couldn’t witness the sunset as it was all cloudy that evening and we had rains in the night.

Gandikota Fort
Granary behind the Mosque

After enjoying the evening at the gorge came back had some snacks with a cup of tea and then went to room to relax.

Gandikota Fort
Beautiful landscape view from the top of temple wall

There is one positive point about this place is there is no or very limited cellular n/w, so you can totally enjoy the time with friends and family.

Gandikota Fort
Relaxing and enjoying the view

But has one drawback Google map won’t work so download the map of this region in advance.

Gandikota Fort
Mommy and baby soaking the natural beauty

After dinner we slept early, had a good night sleep and then woke up early. Went to the terrace of our room (one unique thing about this place is each room has its own terrace). The morning view was simply amazing. Click some pics and then went down to get ready to leave.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Morning view from room terrace

After B/F we checked out and head to Belum caves, it’s around 61 KM 1.30-hour drive. It’s a state highway and nice road with traffic as you have to cross towns.

Gandikota to Belum Caves
Gandikota to Belum

There is ample parking space and the entry ticket costs Rs 50 -60 for Adult and Rs 30 for child.

Belum Caves
Belum Caves Entrance

The caves are largest caves in India. We visited after the rainy season and major part of the caves was closed as it was filled with water and mud.

Belum Caves
Area to descend to main cave

There are lights and large fans installed to keep pumping fresh air so that one won’t feel suffocated. If full cave is operational then it is advisable to take a guide.

Belum Caves
Inside Belum Caves

Belum caves are natural caves formed by underground water. The entrance looks like we are going in a pit and only after entering that pit you will be amazed to see the hug and amazing caves.

Belum Caves
Marks left by water

Belum Caves
View of one of the pits from the inside

It will be humid and hot inside the caves; cloth selection should be accordingly. Walking path inside the cave is nicely laid so you can take stroller, but it will be bumpy. Our daughter was small, so we carried her in her carrier.

Belum Caves
Mommy busy exploring the cave while baby is relaxing in her carrier

We spent around 1 hour in the caves and came back, if it was fully open then one can spend around 2-3 hours exploring the caves.

Coming back to Bangalore from Belum it was different route

Belum – Bugga – Tadipatri – Anantapur – Rapthdu – Kodur – Bangalore

Belum caves to Bangalore
Belum to Bangalore

From Rapthdu you will merge on NH 44 till Bangalore. Kilometer wise it is few KM more around 10-15 KM. One can plan a trip the other way as well i.e.

Bangalore – Belum – Gandikota – Bangalore

On our way back, we took lunch at NH 7 Refuel which will come after Indian Paratha Company. You must take ‘U’ turn which is little ahead but not too far.

NH 7 Refuel
NH 7 Refuel

Food was Ok here it was based on Punjabi theme so major food item was non-veg and we are pure veg. so after digging in the menu we finally settled for Makki ki roti sarso ka sag and chole bhature.

NH 7 Refuel
Makki roti sarso ka saag

Makki ki roti and sag was good but they didn’t serve any gud (jaggery). Chole bhature taste wise were nice but bhatura was too oily. Service was kind of slow and less staff.

It is a huge place with 2 sitting option out of which one is inside in the main hall and other is upstairs in open with a view of highway and landscape.

Nh 7 Refuel
Sitting space

Over all it was amazing experience exploring the huge natural caves for the first time and the view of Gandikota and Panna river.

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Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Drive-in Beach Kannur

Kannur has one of the most beautiful beaches we have visited till date. It’s also known as ‘Crown of Kerala’ due to various reason and its geographic location.

After we bought our first car it was my husbands wish to drive the car on a beach and splash the sea water while driving through the waves (just like what we use to see in movies). So, while planning our holiday he came across Kannur and immediately it was his first preference to visit this place.

Drive in beach Kannur
Drive in Beach

After doing some research for route & stay, we finalized one home stay through Airbnb. Our home stay was located right on the beach, well not exactly right on the beach but stone throw distance.

It was around 310 Km from our home, we started early but not that early around 5.30 AM. With kid it’s hard to leave very early, you keep thinking if you have kept all the required things for your kid or not till you sit in the car and leave.

What we have started doing is we pack all the luggage a night before and arrange it in the car, only thing we leave for the morning is the food item and ourselves 😉.

This leads to less hassle in the morning to arrange the stuff, less sweating which leads to fresh mind and body to start the long drive. We took 2 stops one for B/F and another a loo/tea break, also it helps in relaxing the legs which is required if only one person is there to drive.

Coorg Gate Karnataka
Coorg Gate, stop just before entering Kerala

The route was quite straight forward till we reach Kerala, then some ghat section comes through the beautiful jungle. Our second stop was just before the ghat/jungle section at Coorg gate, that’s the only restaurant on the right side. It has ample of parking, nice clean toilets (w/o health faucet).

The route we took was –

Mysore highway till Krishnarajasagara road, then from there Bilikere – Hunsur – Gonikoppal – Vayathur – Iritty – Mattanur – Kannur

Bangalore Kannur
Route we followed

Most of the road is in good shape till we reach kannur but just before kannur there is road and new airport construction going on so there are some diversions, mud road etc. otherwise no issue at all.

Kannur
Beautiful scenery on the way

With all the stops and road condition it took us 7-7.30 hours to reach our home stay, by lunch we were at our home stay.

We booked Ivorycoast’e home stay through Airbnb and believe me it was simply awesome experience with our host. Our host is simple, humble, polite and friendly guy who will help you in every manner.

Ivorycoast'e Kannur
Balcony of our room

They serve fresh, homemade Kerala style food at very reasonable rates. We didn’t go anywhere else for any of our meal. If we are out somewhere then we finish that site and came back to have the lunch and then after some rest head back to another place.

Ivorycoast'e Kannur
Backyard of Home stay

Another benefit of our home stay is distances from the places to visit, it was like in the middle of Muzhappilangad Beach and Kannur Light house & St. Angelo’s fort. Ivorycoast’e has 6 rooms, 3 on ground and 3 on first with porch, balcony, garden area with table chairs kept.

(For more detailed review of the property visit my TripAdvisor)

Here you have your B/F, Lunch/Dinner served which you can enjoy with cold breeze coming from the sea and magical sound of sea waves.

Ivorycoast'e Kannur
Relaxing under palm tree

Thottada Beach is just 50 mtr away from the Ivorycoast’e, it’s beautiful, clean, calm beach. It’s located behind the residential area so not many people come here. In the morning we saw only 4-5 people doing there morning walk or exercise. You can easily enjoy your time with family and loved one’s w/o worrying about any kind of disturbance.

Ivorycoast'e Kannur
Thottada Beach near Home stay

Ivorycoast’e is mostly popular with foreigners which come here to relax for 10-15 days and explore the local culture. When we were there Theyyam festival was being celebrated in a near by temple. Our host was kind enough to take us to witness the festival.

Theyyam
Theyyam celebration

Believe me it was amazing experience.

Theyyam
Theyyam celebration at near by temple

Other than relaxing at our home stay we have visited Kannur light house, and St. Angelo’s fort and the most important place for which my husband had planned the holiday i.e. Muzhappilangad Drive in beach.

Muzhappilangad Drive in beach is one of the largest in Asia. There is entry fee of I think Rs 30, it’s around 5 Km in length so you have enough space to drive your car or find some place away from crowd. The beach is very clean, its awesome experience driving your car on the beach (as per my husband 😊).

Muzhappilangad Kannur
Beautiful sunset

We have visited in the evening to witness sun set and it was amazing experience. It was special as it was my daughters first beach holiday. She was initially afraid of water as it was too much of water coming and going also it was her first time on beach. After some time, she was enjoying her time playing with sand.

Muzhappilangad Kannur
She enjoyed her first sea & sand experience

There is one thing one must be cautious about i.e. washing the under body after driving the car in sea water.

Second day of our visit we went to see Kannur light house and St. Angelo’s fort. There is also a museum below the light house which has a collection of different types of lights used in different types of light house etc. there is ticket to enter the light house and museum which is reasonably priced.

Kannur Light house
View from top of the light house

The view from the top is quite magnificent you can see sea at one end and greenery at other. Even in sunny day it was very pleasant on the top due to cold breeze. There is separate ticket to go to the front of the compound sort of walking space with garden at one end, it’s good for morning/evening walk beside the sea. Parking is available on the premises which is free.

Kannur Light house
Enjoying with some photo session 🙂

Timings are – 10 to 6

Kannur light house
Spiral staircase to the top

There is documentary played inside the museum, in local language and English which gives more information about the history of light house and types of light houses.

Kannur light house
Huge retired Light used in one of the light house Kept inside museum

For St. Angelo’s we have to first pay the entry fee as it is located in cantonment area, then there is parking that one has to pay. Entry is free. It’s a Portuguese fort built in 1505.

St. Angelo's Fort Kannur
View of Arabian sea from fort

There is ample space inside the fort and has a cliff like end of the fort. There are watch towers on the walls and a chapel in the premises.

St. Angelo's Fort Kannur
Inside the fort

From one the walls of the fort we can see the port where the fisherman park their boats. Fort has some beautiful trees inside it’s an ideal place to relax, watch sunset and enjoy the breeze. School children comes here for picnic or visit to learn more about history.

St. Angelo's Fort Kannur
Inside Fort

We have really enjoyed out stay here, it was amazing experience in the home stay with amazing homemade Kerala style food and in the town with amazing long drive from Bangalore.

Visit Month – January

Note - All pics are from our trip and clicked by us.