Author: Ankita Bhatia

Israel to Jordan by land – What to expect when crossing the Beit She’an border

As I sat in the plane, I felt uneasy about the impending chaos. Our trip had begun, but we barely had an itinerary and barring the apartment in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem(which were also booked in the last 48 hours), we hadn’t made any arrangements elsewhere. We had booked a return flight from Amman, Jordan since we got cheaper tickets to fly back to Delhi from there, but we had no clue on how we would get there. I had vouched in 2018 that I will be more spontaneous on trips, but this was stretching my limits and spending precious time on the internet trying to figure things out while I could be seeing more of a new place was something that gave me a lot of discomfort. But here I was, on a plane to Israel, ready to take-off and I decided to reassure myself that things would be okay. It wasn’t a surprise really that things turned out this way. A close couple friend was keen to take some time off and explore …

2019 Travel Trends that I actually want to follow

I am not a trendy person, I will be honest. And as I age, my choices in food, fashion, lifestyle are veering more and more towards “going back to the basics”. So, I am surprised that I wanted to write this post. As the calendar rolled into 2019, and the internet was abuzz with forecasts of all kinds, I couldn’t help but enthusiastically nod yes on six trends in travel that I was already loving. Travel reflects changing mindsets and culture, social and economics shifts. I grew up in Delhi in the 90’s and at its core, travel was about a large group of friends and family, hill stations and road trips in summers. Today, with greater disposable incomes, cheaper flights, options of bnbs, technology, a change in mindset and world views, people are travelling more than ever before. And the expectation from travelling is changing constantly. Travel leaves an impact, not only on the traveler but also on the destination. And as travelers we need to be more conscious of that. I don’t think …

Home is a feeling – Memoirs from Amsterdam

The Beginning It was a cold windy Saturday morning in June as I stood in the taxi line at Schiphol, tired from the lack of sleep but full of nervous excitement for what lay ahead. After months of thinking about this move, then dealing with the paperwork and permit, I had finally arrived. My company had put me up in a service apartment and after checking in, I dumped my stuff and headed out to the nearest grocery store to buy some supplies. There was a slight drizzle and the air felt crisp after the Delhi summer heat, as I shuddered walking the 800 meters to the store, realizing that I should have unpacked my jacket first. I ought to be more careful, I thought to myself. It was my first day in a new country and the last thing I wanted to do was to get sick. Being on my own was already making me mindful about the trivial things. I didn’t really get a chance to think about much that weekend, since P …

In Photos : What I did in Israel!

It was after spending a fair amount of time discussing on where to go, that we closed in on Israel. I  remember exactly what tilted our decision – a Youtube video with this guy trying to find the best eats in Jerusalem. He was overly enthusiastic and smiling too much, while stuffing his face with the gooey goodness of hummus  but it was just what I needed to make up my mind. We had friends joining us and as the respective families got whiff of our plans, growing concerns about our choice of country threatened to derail the plan. Anyway, the dust settled and we booked our tickets and on a breezy Thursday night, we landed in Tel Aviv. My research had convinced me that Tel Aviv is very cosmopolitan and fun, and it was. The not so fun part was that I had a crazy case of bed bug bites our second night, and by the morning it got so bad that the crazy bites became massive red bumps that itched like hell. We …

5 Unintentional Discoveries in Kutch

At one point in my life, I loved planning my trips to a T, but I have come to realise that a strict itinerary leaves very little room for spontaneity. There have been times when I have come back home feeling underwhelmed with my travels, largely due to excessive research and having a feeling of “seen it before”. So, sometime last year, I decided that whenever I traveled, I would keep certain aspects like transport and stay finalized before the trip. I could add an odd experience that may be harder to book on the spot. And I would leave the rest to be figured out once there. Interestingly, this has led to some amazing experiences that wouldn’t have happened if I was too caught up in “living my plan”. The internet is a great tool to find information and build your own travel plan yourself. But sometimes, knowing too much and trying to fit it all in takes away from the spirit of exploration and impulse. In Kutch, the top 2 things on my …

The Artists of Kutch

After the spectacular Rann of Kutch, the agenda was to station ourselves in Bhuj over a couple of days, explore the town as well as the artistic villages of Kutch. Our first stop was Nirona, made famous by PM Modi after he gifted a Rogan art painting created in this village, to then President Barrack Obama during his US visit in 2014. As we got down from the car, a swarm of school children, seemingly underwhelmed with new faces, walked past, waving and smiling. We decided to follow the crowd that had descended from a bus full of tourists, crossing a few narrow alleys and brightly painted doors framed with bougainvillea, and we ended up reaching the Khatri household, master craftsmen of the Rogan art. The art form is intriguing to observe, and the Khatri’s willingly give a live demo. We quickly seat ourselves on the plastic chairs and charpoy in the courtyard. Out comes a piece of fabric, and a round tray with many bowls holding the different colours of the paint, which is …

Setting foot on the Great Rann of Kutch

I looked outside the aircraft window, feeling optimistic and excited about the next few days. There were many things that still remained unfigured on my itinerary, but information online wasn’t extensive, and I had been too tied up this time to plan better. What resulted was an itinerary that left a lot of room for spontaneity, but I had a good feeling that it would all work out. Mainly because the part I was most interested in was already chalked out. And I wasn’t thinking of much else. Other than the Rann of Kutch. I landed in Ahmedabad, checked into the hotel and met up with the others in the group. For dinner, we decided to eat at the New Irani Restaurant in old city. It was fantastic food for the meat eaters with the lamb curry, mincemeat kebabs and biryani, not so much for the only vegetarian in the group who had to do with Rotis and Egg Bhurji. It was an uneventful evening and we decided to call it a night as the …

Living the slow life in Ubud, Bali

Experiencing a new place is as much about you, your mindset, your choices, your likes or dislikes as that point in time. For me, Ubud was a trip like that. I was weary from work and travels, and wanted nothing more than to take things slow, eat well, sleep and not do much else. And Ubud is perfect for that. It’s leisurely, staying in bed is the norm and not the luxury, meals can be savoured, there isn’t no “getting out of the house” and “doing this and that”, evenings wind up early, and there is ample time to catch an afternoon nap and read at will. Frankly, Bali wasn’t on my radar till a family wedding cropped up, and since I was going to take this rather long flight (there are no direct flights from Delhi), I thought it was worthwhile to extend the trip by a few days and see more of Bali. I gravitated towards Ubud, for it’s tropical, green and laidback vibe. I can’t really tell you to do this and …

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. …