Author: Ankita Bhatia

Experiencing a cooking class in Madrid and making Sangria, Gazpacho and Paella

One of the things that interests me the most about visiting any new place is it’s food and over time, I have found myself gravitating away from fast food chains and leaning more and more towards local cafes, food tours and cooking classes. I love these experiences and come back home excited to try out recipes and relive my travels through them. I was in Madrid last year on a work trip, part of a large team organizing our flagship European event. This was an event for which we pulled out all the stops, and while work was intense, it also gave me the chance to experience local culture, food and historic sights in a grand way.  Three things had got me really excited – Spanish food, Flamenco and Espadrilles. So, on the lone free day after the event was done, I decided to try these before I headed back home. (Sadly, The Flamenco performance didn’t work out, but I guess there is always another time.) My heart was set on trying a local cooking class …

A Photo Blog from Shanghai

Shanghai was the last leg of my China trip and I was keen to take it bit slow, unwind and reflect after three weeks of hectic travel. One would think that Shanghai is a likely misfit with that objective, and it’s true as well. Shanghai is dazzling and fast and all sorts of electrifying. But I still managed to do my own thing – ate some amazing food, chilled in my AirBnb, visited parks, walked on streets. A more relaxed pace and (mostly) away from the bustle, and I still had a great time. Sharing a photo blog of my days from Shanghai- One of the busiest streets not only in Shanghai but apparently in the world, Nanjing Road is right in the city centre and bustling with shops, food and tourists.  A local hideout, Wei Xiang Zhai was recommended to me by a friend as one of her favorite places to get a bowl of noodles. The lady at the counter seemed surprised on seeing us, I presume not many tourists frequent the place. …

A Foodie’s Love Affair with China

Exploring local food is a part of travelling that I really look forward to, and I always feel intrigued on how food plays such a crucial role in many cultures worldwide. Seemingly mundane matters of what people eat, how they eat it and who they eat it with can shed a lot of insight into history, weather, local produce, traditions and habits. For a foodie, China is definitely out there in terms of quality, complexity, variation and flavor. There are some Chinese dishes that have found popularity globally but that is still a tiny tiny speck of what the cuisine has to offer. Many countries where Chinese food has become popular have adapted the cuisine to suit local palate, to the extent that there is nothing Chinese about it anymore 😉 . In India for example, Chili Chicken is a dish of mass appeal, had as a starter mostly, but ask a Chinese about it and they will draw a complete blank. The food in China is more than fantastic, and I am surprised to …

What to Know Before You Go to China!

It’s a massive understatement to say that I want to go back to China. I am actually DYINGGG to go back to China! I spent three weeks last year and felt that I could barely scratch the surface of this massive, intense and complex country.  Having visited a few other non-English speaking countries was by no means any preparation for the language barrier I experienced in China. I was also fresh off a month of a vegan diet before my trip and was keen to reduce my meat intake but China was definitely not the right country for that resolve. Plus, a lack of access to social media and google proved frustrating on many occasions. BUT, it was still an incredible experience and one that I would jump to do again. I met some amazing people, ate ginormous amounts of food, which was totally unlike the “Chinese food” that I was used to, saw some wonderful towns and cities and experienced the fantastic infrastructure which I would have never believed  possible in a country that …

So long Guangzhou!

I met S outside her apartment building in Guangzhou, where she was waiting to handover the keys to us. I was surprised when she greeted me with the excitement of a long lost friend. We had never met in person, but had had a fleeting interaction on Skype, if I can even call it that. The Mr. had stayed in S’s apartment a few times on previous work trips, and she had expressed an interest in knowing about me. At dinner one evening with S and her husband, she insisted that I be Skyped that very moment. It was a brief call, in between a noisy dinner table full of food at a Cantonese restaurant. I could hardly hear anything, but her enthusiasm was evident even then. She took us to her apartment and showed us around the artistic house, her pride obvious. The cozy two bedroom in a modern sky rise building overlooked the Pearl River and had an airy and comfortable feel. It was probably the most well-kept Airbnb I had ever stayed …

The pain of visiting an Indian hill station on a long weekend – experiences from Kasauli

The walk to town wasn’t a hard one, but it was different this time, and not in a positive way. My dream of enjoying a long, peaceful stroll in the hills was shattered with the constant blaring of horns and the long line of cars, leaving very little space for a pedestrian. Suddenly in the standstill traffic, I see a window roll down and out comes a hand throwing a plastic bag down the hilly slopes. I approached the mall road and the situation was worse. There were too many cars and not enough parking spots. The police tried to turn back the cars, but I saw that many drivers were unwilling to listen hence creating a bottleneck. I walked further to visit the shops I always do and get my supplies, but there was barely any space to walk around without getting jostled. A lot more restaurants had opened up. The shops were all full. Business was booming it seemed. The street was littered with plastic bottles, wrappers, cans and empty packets of chips. …

The alternate world in Copenhagen’s backyard – Freetown Christiana

I chugged along on my bicycle, occasionally stopping to take a quick look at the map on my phone till I could see the entrance to Christiana. I turned to B, who was right behind me and with a quick nod of agreement, we decided to a few more minutes of cycling till we were officially “outside of the European union” and inside Christiana. We found a good spot to park our bicycles and decided to walk around. As history goes, Freetown Christiana was established in 1971 by a group of hippies, who broke down barricades to an abandoned military base and eventually built a society, with its own rules, laws, currency, completely independent of the Danish government and “considered outside of it”. Over the years, this community built houses, workshops and cafes, experimented with green building techniques, solar energy and water-treatment systems to reduce their ecological footprint. Many small businesses flourished and the place attracted artists and musicians, free thinkers who found it a haven. In 1973, the government gave Christiana the temporary status …

A Laid-back Weekend in Copenhagen

One would wonder how a city break could be termed “laid-back” but that was the thing about Copenhagen. Its compact size and easy, relaxed vibe demanded slowing down and focusing on the good stuff – like a glass of wine, a bit of sunshine, a good book and a hearty meal. I felt out of place to rush and try and do too much and I was happy to meander wherever the city took me. Copenhagen is easy on the eye, but not so much on the pocket. Paris has been my benchmark of an expensive city but Copenhagen beats that – the food, transport and hotels all come steep. But don’t let that discourage you, it is a beautiful city, friendly and cozy and you won’t leave it feeling dissatisfied. STAY We rented an Airbnb in the very hip Norrebro district, with great public transport connectivity and a wide selection of neighborhood bars, cafes, galleries and boutiques to browse through. Norrebro is a part of the city with its own distinct charm, youthful and …

Stumbling upon Lawn Bowling in Lake District

Our 2 days in Lake District were laden with rains, which was frustrating enough and more so, considering that we drove from Loch Lomond in Scotland, and had to head back to Edinburgh to catch our return flight. Too confusing? The map below will help prove our rather navigationally challenged decision 😀 . I sincerely wanted to like Lake District, so that it would make the decision to go there feel worthwhile and the distance covered irrelevant. I was utterly disappointed to find it torrentially rainy on Day 1 and while the property we stayed in was very vintage and pretty (Rydal Lodge), it didn’t do too much to uplift my limp spirit. On the second day the rains continued, and we were stuck indoors, waiting inside our small cozy rooms with a cup of tea and cookies, desperate for the rain to slow down. The weather took a turn for the better around afternoon, and we decided to head out to Windermere and explore the streets with a vengeance. We savored the fish and chips at …