A Weekend at Lermoos

We decided to spend our Anniversary in one of the most beautiful places in Austria- Lermoos. Mike gave the best surprise by booking 2 nights at Hotel Alpenrose, a top Family hotel in Austria. This hotel is ideal for families with kids.

When we checked into the hotel, we were given a tour around. We found out that we could enjoy many amenities together with our baby, Neel, inside the hotel. There are outdoor and indoor play areas, a movie theater,a  swimming pool (there is a separate warm water area  for kids), a child-care facility so the parents can have some quiet time, a huge lounge for the adults to sit and enjoy coffee or cakes while the kids play, and a Spa. A lot of programs for kids as well as adults are offered by the Hotel, some free of charge. One can use the hotel bikes, prams, a BMW car, golf carts as well for no charge.

Located between the alpine valleys, Lechtal and Ammergau, and the Wetterstein mountain chain, Lermoos is one of the oldest villages in the district of Reutte, known to locals as “Ausserfern”, in the Austrian state of Tyrol. It is a ski, hike and mountain bike paradise. So this village is quite popular with tourists during summer and winter. There are trails for mountain bikers and free-ride tours from the mountain to the valley! So there are many activities to do inside and outside the Hotel.

Our suite had a beautiful view of the mountains. It had a separate kids` room with double bunk beds. The staff had set out a baby bed, a changing table with wet wipes, creams etc for Neel and this was all inclusive in the hotel cost.

 

The best part of the hotel is its food…!! Our hotel cost included  breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and a 5-course dinner. Everyday we enjoyed different food. For Neel, we could order fresh food (puree of fruits or veggies) or buy the ready baby food from brand Hipp,  which was available all over the hotel. We did not have to worry about Neel`s food at all. Everything was taken care of.

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Restaurant

On the day we arrived, we took a ride around the village on a Golf cart. We enjoyed beautiful views of the valleys and mountains, but sadly we had to cut short our outing as it started to drizzle and we did not want Neel to get drenched.

On our second day, we decided to leave Neel for sometime in the child-care while we took a walk around the village. We were given a mobile phone in case they had to call us  if he cried a lot and could not be soothed. I wasn’t sure Neel would be happy being left behind, but we were told that he had a good time and even ate all his food without a fuss!

We walked for an hour around the village and enjoyed a nice coffee at il Ducatisti. I guess the owner is a Ducati fan. He had a few bikes on display  and Mike simply ogled away!

After picking up Neel in the afternoon, we drove the hotel BMW to Garmisch-Partenkirchenfor, a town in Southern Germany (next to Austrian border). It was nice and warm and we walked around the town for a couple of hours.

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Garmisch-Partenkirchenfor

Once we got back, Neel and Mike took a dip at the swimming pool while I dove into my book!

The next day, after a hearty breakfast, we walked around  the village. We were too happy and contented  to go back,  but we had to..

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Even though the Alpenrose is a tad expensive, it has everything for kids and the parents to have a great vacation!

-Madhurya.

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A South-Goan Vacation

1st March, 2018– We were on AirAsia. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to reach South Goa.

Our pre-paid taxi driver drove us through picturesque inroads. Fresh green fields bordered with tall coconut trees and homes which looked like they were from the Victorian era, added bursts of color to our journey. There were houses in shades of purple, sea-blue and mustard yellow. The women wore frocks. It made me feel like we were back in Mangalore, although Mangalore is losing its old-world charm quickly.

There were quaint little churches dotting our drive. As it got darker we could spot cafes and bars with outdoor seating shimmering like magical havens. We were exclaiming all the way which must have thrilled our driver who threw in a random bit of history and culture our way. We let out whoops of delight as we rounded into a compound with a huge building all lit-up. We had reached Radisson. We couldn’t contain our excitement as we got out. The ceilings are almost sky-high with arched railings for roof. There are huge murals depicting the history of Goa. The pool is gargantuan and inviting, everything here is King-size! As we were taking in the interiors like a bunch of school kids, I spotted the actress, Radhika Apte, talking animatedly over a phone and walking over.

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I could write all day about this hotel itself. We could spend the rest of our holiday right at the resort and still feel like we’ve had the best time! The rooms are spacious, cozy with beautiful paintings and lampshades. The bathrooms are big and clean. There are bathrobes and slippers. There’s a locker facility available. There’s TV. There’s a porch on which we enjoyed our morning coffee, which was delicious by the way.

We freshened up and  went to find a place to dine at. The avenue was chockful of shops selling swimwear, jewelry and other junk. I wasn’t interested in checking out the stores that were catering mostly to foreigners. I wanted to go to the local stores. After much looking we found a restaurant called “Mike’s Place”. Prasad, I and the kids loved its vibrancy immediately. There was live music. It was outdoors and prettily decked up. It smelled of sea food which was a bit of a turnoff for the rest of my family. The waiters were quite nice but the service was delayed. We were famished by then. And when the food did arrive, it was in smaller portion size. So we had to order more and wait even longer! But the taste was great! The food wasn’t spicy or oily. We ate Naans and Rotis, Babycorn crispies and Gobi Manchurian, Veg Jalfrezi, Kadai Paneer and Aloo Gobhi. Everything tasted finger-licking good!

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When the in-laws and kids left for their room, Prasad and I walked to the beach and had a quiet, lovely time.

We don’t care for a visit to the US or Egypt, we simply wish to explore the length and breadth of India!

2nd March, 2018– I scribbled in my journal to the sound of waves tumbling towards the White sand beach. Along with the sound of waves there was the cawing of crows and the talk of people, mostly Indians, early in the morning. We could not spot a single Indian at the beach or on the streets the night before.

I took off my sandals whenever we walked on the beach. The powdery sand felt nice under my tired feet. Cavelossim is the name of the Beach. It is a private beach reserved for the customers of Novotel, Radisson and not sure what other hotels. There’s no litter here. There’s no noise and mess that’s certain to be found at the other beaches.

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Last night there was music, laughter, fireworks and the roar of the waves. It still felt calm and therapeutic just lying on the benches and do nothing but lose ourselves in the experience of being in a heaven-like place. I simply gazed at the stars above, trying to figure out the patterns they made. I never felt so in-the-moment as I felt that night. I’m so hurried, stressed and elsewhere most of the time.

We booked a 5hr tour around south Goa. It was for 3700 Rupees. People on the streets could be seen playing Holi, the Festival of Colors, even foreigners. We first climbed onto Baradi Hills. Then we took a walk outside a church that was closed at that hour. There was a scenic view at the top, of the ocean below. We tried freshly-picked Cashew Fruit which was oozing with juice but tasted funny. I couldn’t gulp it down my throat.

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Next it was time for Cabo de Rama Fort. It used to house a prison before but now is quite desolate, with graffiti on walls, overgrown trees and the path crackling with a spread of dead leaves and dry sticks. There was a beautiful blue-and-white church- the cleanest and freshest area within the fort. Beneath the fort there was unspoilt beauty. The sea looked clear and blue and the hills looked majestic. By the end of this jaunt we were parched. All of us rushed into a tiny place advertising the availability of fresh fruit juices. It costed us less than half the amount we would have paid in and around our hotel!

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Since we’d loaded ourselves up with heavy complimentary breakfast we didn’t feel hungry for a long while. We also stopped at Agonda and Palolem beaches. It was getting hot by then and we were sapped. We had another hour’s exploring left but we cut our trip short and made our way back to the hotel.

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In the evening the kids splashed about in the pool with their grandpa. Freshening them up, we set out to find a place to eat. Our driver had told us about a hotel called Kinaara that served great vegetarian food, so we made our way there. It took us about 10 minutes by walk. The menu looked good and reasonable. In fact it was very cheap. We ordered Masala Papads, Veg Pakoras, Crispy corn, Cheese sandwiches, Egg Masala, Veg Kolhapuri and rotis. Everything tasted great, but again, since there was just one chef, the service was a bit slow. I had a chance to speak with the manager there. He told me North Goa is about 2 hrs away and there’s a great Saturday Night market and everything is much cheaper there. He told me most foreigners preferred South Goa over the North as it is less crowded and more serene.

3rd March, 2018– My pen was smooth, its tip gliding along the surface of the book as if writing by itself; like the ripples of water effortlessly making its way towards the shore. It was sunrise. A couple of dogs sat beside me as I wrote. There were shacks- Seaway’s, Q-Baa, Baywatch, on one side and the frothy ocean on the other. I sat snugly between them. I was enjoying it all. I could easily get used to this kind of life, I felt. A life of leisure. Waking up when my body decides to, and not when the alarm shrieks. Sitting on the porch sipping coffee and enjoying the peace all around. And then going for long walks or writing in a quiet place. Maybe if we save up enough money I’ll do just that. At least for a few months at a stretch.

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I prayed to the Sun God as he gently made his way up. Namah Suryaya… I felt grateful.

Our plan was to head to North Goa after a nap in the afternoon. Afternoons are kinda exhausting as it gets really hot around here.

But before that, we gorged over the lavish breakfast and made our way to Kris’s cruise. Jack’s was offering us a 500 Rupees per head on a double deck boat. We went with Kris’s after reading reviews online. He was offering us 2500 Rupees for a private motor boat. We went for the Dolphin tour. We started in the backwaters, making our way towards the sea. The backwaters, smooth and the sun, balmy, lulled us to sleep.

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It was nice to watch the deckhands on the other boats going about their daily business- eating, bathing right on the boat, hanging clothes at the top to dry etc. As we entered the sea we were sprayed with salty water as our boat picked up speed. We began spotting Dolphins right away. They were jumping out and nose-diving back in. They seemed to be everywhere. Hey here here… there there… we saw them splashing about, their glossy exteriors sparkling in the sun. We returned to our rooms, parched and exhausted.

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After a siesta we were ready to explore North Goa. The taxi driver we found outside was willing to take us to Old Goa and Panaji Market (not the Saturday market, as he said it would be too crowded) for 3500 Rupees. We thought it was a bit too high, but we didn’t know how far and how long it could take us. It was a long drive. We went to the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Then the Se Cathedral. From that onto the Viceroy Arch, the gate of the palace of Adil Shah. It was closing time, so we couldn’t go to the museum where we could’ve learnt about the history and culture of Goa.

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I loved the cool interiors of the churches, where I sat and soaked up the calm and serenity. They were tall, majestic, awe-inspiring and even humbling. I sent up my prayers and gratitude to Jesus.

These historical places could do a better job of explaining the monuments to the visitors. Most of them were built before the 18th century, but their history and significance are not clear. Only the architectural style and the construction materials used have been mentioned. That’s not enough.

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At the Panaji Market we ate snacks, did a bit of shopping for souvenirs. We got everything for half the price they were charging in South Goa. We picked food for the grandparents and kiddos on our way back and they ate in their room. For ourselves we decided to check out one of the shacks by the sea. We googled a bit and went for Silverwaves, which had a good enough crowd. It was magical, just the 2 of us, a candle burning bright between us, the sound of waves giving a background score. The food was great. I was worried it would make me feel yuck. The veg fried rice with gravy, the tandoori mushroom, all prepared fresh and hot simply satisfied us. The experience was priceless!

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4th March, 2018-  It felt like we made the best use of this vacation. I was ready to go back home. But there was a small part of me that felt a tug, a pull to stay back and enjoy the good life.

Madhav and Medha splashed about in the sea. They made a happy sight. Even though Madhav coughed a bit, we let him play. Things like this don’t happen often. We wanted them to enjoy the sparkling ocean to the fullest.

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We had to check out at 12 pm but our flight was in the evening. We requested the concierge to give us more time but they couldn’t, as the hotel was totally packed.  And there was a wedding party coming along that day. But the staff were considerate. They let us place our bags at the concierge and told us we could use the pool and shower facilities. Prasad and I headed out even though the sun was high and we were quite drowsy. The kids and grandparents hung out by the play area. We thought of checking out the scooter ride as we hadn’t tried that one out yet. The guy told us it would cost us 500 Rupees and a deposit of 2000 Rupees and we could use it all day, but return with the same amount of fuel. We tried negotiating with him saying we needed it just for an hour or so, but he went down only a 100 bucks. Anyways we didn’t have the deposit money at hand to begin with nor the energy to roam about. It was crazy hot and it felt like we would be scorched. We dragged ourselves to the nearest shack on the beach, ordered a couple of drinks and lay on the beds provided. There was a big umbrella shading us from the sun. We spent time relaxing, sipping juice, people-watching, and, in my case, having a pedicure done. It was lovely!

 

It felt surreal once we landed in Hyderabad, as if Goa had never happened. We were brought back with a thud , quite literally, to reality, as we’d lost our house key and had to break in into our own home!

-Manasa.

 

Neel`s First trip to Dubai

 

Before I got back to work, we decided to visit our family and friends in Dubai and India. In Dubai, Neel got to see and do a lot of stuff:

  • He got pampered by his grandparents, his aunt (my sister, Manasa), his big brother, Madhav and big sister, Medha. There was always someone to entertain, feed, put to sleep, soothe him. Even Medha and Madhav made sure that he was not unhappy. After a lot of sleepless nights back home, I was able to enjoy a few days without any tension or hassle. It was one of my best vacations.
  • Even his grandma`s friends and my friends completely adored him and showered him with loads of presents.
  • Took long walks along the beach, Corniche and quite a few places in and around Sharjah and Dubai.

  • Celebrated his 6-month birthday in a café called Shakespeare and Co. which is a café cum restaurant with a “Shakespearan” décor and specializes in wide variety of cakes and pastries.
  • Took a ride in an Abra (a traditional boat made of wood) in Bur Dubai. He totally enjoyed the experience.

  • Visited a new landmark in Dubai called “Dubai Frame”.

  • Took a long drive to Fujairah and visited the Friday market.
  • Visited Dubai Safari and saw a few animals.
  • Was captivated by all the Fish in Dubai Aquarium at Dubai Mall.

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  • Played Swing in the park near our home.

  • Rode for the first time on a Carousel with his Papa.

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  • Visited the beautiful Al Qudra Lake and saw and fed the swans.
  • And last but not the least, did lots of monkey business with his brother and sister

-Madhurya.

Madhav @ 5

My littlest isn’t too little anymore! He turned 5 a few days ago and tells me 5 years has been fun so far! He is tall; he’s skinny; he has the biggest, most teeth- and gum-baring smile of all. But don’t be fooled by his stick-like appearance! Thanks to the taekwondo lessons he’s been going to, he has the guts, the strength to take on his big sis, who also goes to the same class, in fights.

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He didn’t cry one bit when he got his shots, which surprised the doc. He said most 5 year olds throw up a ruckus when they are being vaccinated.

But… But… He’s a chicken in some other ways, mind you. He still sleeps with us or his grandparents instead of in his own bed!

His curiosity, the questions he comes up with about the world and beyond, the ways in which his little brain works and the amazing connections it makes between thoughts and ideas, continue to surprise us.

Being the youngest, it’s a wonder that he loves babies so much! It was cute to watch him dote on his little brother, Neel. He would sing lullabies to soothe him and act silly to get him to eat. It was equally a delight to watch the adoration in Neel’s eyes for his ‘big’ brother.

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He follows his sister around like a little lamb. And everywhere that Medha goes, the lamb is sure to go!

Madhav knows I’m a crybaby, so anytime a sad scene plays on TV, he’s all eyes on me, ready to console. He can’t bear to see his sister in tears too. He will do anything to make her feel better even though he would have tortured and made her cry in the first place!

His favorite pastime is to make cards for his little cousins. He drops them in our post box and waits for the postman to pick it up and deliver them. And wonders why they don’t write him back!

It feels like only a few days back he began talking, but now he’s quite fluent in Kannada, getting better at English and knows a smattering of Telugu too, although he still babbles. He even gets selected for speeches at school! What?!?

He has God on his speed dial whom he calls upon whenever in need, especially when he’s playing and is determined to win. The sweet thing is he prays for everyone.

Madhav at 5 loves to write, like, All. The. Time and becomes restless when he’s unable to. I wonder who he gets that from! 🙂

-Manasa

“What we are ………….” Wednesday! (May 2, 2018)

We’d like to share what we are doing this Wednesday, hopefully, every Wednesday from hereon, as a way of documenting our Everyday Life. Hope you like reading such posts!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Watching: Neel trying to crawl all over the place.
 Eating: Nothing specific
Making: Neel’s food
Wishing for: the next week to go smoothly with Neel joining daycare and me getting back to work.
Learning: to be more patient with my baby and to enjoy every moment.
Thinking: of different ways to make my life easier handling home and work with a little one.
Listening:  to Neel’s babble.

Loving:  my family, home, friends and life.

Here’s what I had to say:
Reading: ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert (I think it’s my 3rd read! Or is it 4th? Ugh! I have lost count! I think you must’ve guessed how much I love the book!) and ‘As a Man Thinketh’ by James Allen.
WatchingFullhouse like ALL. THE. TIME, thanks to my kiddos and Netflix!
Eating:/gorging on good food prepared by my mama! 🙂
Making: the most of the rest of my/kids’ vacation.
Wishing for: a longer Summer vacation!
Learning: practically nothing, which is quite sad for me as I LOVE to learn something every single day.
Thinking: of bringing more creativity into my days.
Listening:to my kids squabble every few minutes! I guess a longer vacation isn’t such a great idea after all!

Loving: the delicious thought of filling these long summer days with just the things that make me happy.

Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.