My Big Fat Greek Vacation

Greek is every bit of the fantasy you imagine it to be and there is something for every age group to indulge in. In the summer of 2015, I took a cruise to the Aegen Islands for 5 days and experienced Greece from living at sea by night but exploring the shore by day. The best time to visit Greece is highly dependent on the weather; Mid April to Mid June or September to October are key times to visit as you can avoid the heat strokes and beach bum tourists. Going the cruise route was lovely as we didn’t need to worry about hotel bookings or transport within the islands as our cruise line had day tour packages organized right from the dock.

Be sure to visit –

1) Santorini

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2) Mykonos

Mykonos

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3) Patmos

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Pots

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4) Athens

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5) Heraklion (Crete)

Crete

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La La Land

Growing up in the Bay Area definitely spoiled me. Apart from the amazing weather (no, I’m never going to get over it), there was the obvious charm that living in California invoked. While there will always be the NorCal v/s SoCal battle, the entire state is arguably the most beautiful state in America (you can see which coast has my loyalty).

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As a kid, going to SoCal meant going to Disney Land, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain and SeaWorld. If you haven’t been to these theme parks or if you don’t like theme parks (What is wrong with you?), these are must do’s if you plan on visiting the Golden State.

While you need a considerable amount of time to spend at the parks, you should definitely cut out some time to partake in other activities that the West has to offer.
Here are the details from my impromptu California Adventure! (Amusement Park Pun FTW):

1) Universal Studios & Disney Land:

You have to. You must. If you walk slow or like to take pictures of EVERYTHING, (Hey! No judgement) buy a 2 day pass for Disney Land. It is very difficult to do Disney in 1 day. That’s not to say, it can’t be done and adequate strategizing is required.15698339_10154387509914164_2520538304520136796_n

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2) The Griffith Observatory

Pick a day when the sky is clear and preferably warm so you can see the stars through their giant dome telescope. The Griffith can easily be done in 2-3 hours and you can even fit in one of their half an hour shows like ‘The Center of The Universe’ which is totally worth it!

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3) Drive to San Diego

Wherever you are coming from, whether it’s from North or South – ensure that you drive the highway to San Deigo and stop on the way. The views are phenomenal!

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4) And..make sure to stop at Torrey Pines!

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5) Mexican Food

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Basically, anywhere will have tacos to die for.

6) La Jolla Coves

These gorgeous rocks stacked up on the shore of San Diego are a great place to watch the sunset from or just stroll around and take some Instagrammable pictures.
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Watch out for the sea lions! They’re almost as lazy as those animals you find sitting at desks in classrooms.

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7) Balboa Park, The San Diego Zoo & The Gas Light District

While you are in San Diego, definitely hit up Balboa Park and check out some of the museums. I say some because each museum requires separate entry tickets and are pretty pricey for small spaces. The famous zoo is also located within the park and is worth checking out if you have a day to spare.

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The Gas Light District is the perfect area to unwind at night and grab some tasty food and cold drinks.

*BONUS: During the holidays, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights happens which is basically a boat decoration competition and it is really fun to watch them go by as Christmas music is blasting off the shore!

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8) Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach & the Venice Canals

Rent a cycle and ride down this entire stretch alongside the ocean! If you want to spend time at the Pier, you can get on the Ferris Wheel and get a spectacular view of the shore.

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9) The Getty!

There are two Getty Museums which often confuses people. One is the Getty House in Malibu known for it’s architecture which you should pre-book a ticket for (usually a day before is fine) and the other is the Getty up in the hills which is an actual art museum.

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10) The Broad

The Broad is one of the finest modern art museums I’ve been to. Just the shape of the building is a testament to how whacky it is inside. BEWARE of a 3 hour wait time (at least). The line is outrageously long although I have heard of a way to purchase pre-tickets. Also, the Infinity Room which is the crowd-puller (and apparently life changing) needs a separate ticket so make sure you book in advance!
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11) LACMA

This museum has more of Classical and European art exhibits but they also have a stellar Japanese art collection too. If you don’t have the time to check the museum out, try to at least visit the outside pavilion where the lamppost display is.

The lights are fascinating to look at and you will always find people taking pictures here

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12) Eat at P-Diddy’s, The CheeseCake Factory and Ghiradelli

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ALL THE CALORIES AND ALL MY WEAKNESSES.

13) Take a college tour of UCLA

You will be surprised how many movies and TV shows were shot on this campus. Just be sure to never ever mention USC even if you prefer them over the Bruins.

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Gone Goa, Back Next Year!

If you have been to India and you’ve never been to Goa, you’re missing out. Goa is truly one of the most beautiful places I have been to in my life.  I’ve had some of the best memories exploring the beaches, eating delicious foods and attending amazing concerts. Goa has this nostalgic charm that makes you compare almost every small quaint town by the water to it.

Here’s my top list of things to do (and beware, it took me 3 consecutive trips to Goa to finally cover everything I wanted to!):

1) Stay on Candolim Beach!10393943_10152786989519164_7368624470639711285_n
10959711_10152786990259164_9074154951087548421_nFor the first timer in Goa who does not know the local language, Candolim Beach offers tourists some of the friendliest hosts with some of the cleanest white sand beaches! If it is your second or third time to Goa and you want to explore other areas then get away from the commercial spots and travel down under to…

2) Palolem!

When my aunt introduced me to South Goa, I was in love. For peace, quiet and some great local eats, Palolem is a dream. I recommend staying at The Nest or Papylon (both right next to each other) to get the authentic beach shack experience. From here you can go kayaking in the ocean, take a boat out to Dolphin Island (where you can see actual dolphins) or attend the headphone party at night.

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Of course, if you have rented a bike or vehicle then you can explore various other areas such as

3) Vagator

Definitely, go to Thalassa in the evening to catch the Sunset (and do make reservations!) 12631346_10153526006324164_5055927577973241920_nThe Mediterranean vibe of this cute resto-bar is fun and lively especially as they have live dance and light/sound performances. If you want to chill at the beach, be cautious of the fact that Vagator has a rocky shore and isn’t ideal for swimming in the water. However, that doesn’t stop people from climbing the rocks to take some pretty pictures.

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5) Beware of Baga but eat at Britto’s & Infantaria.

6) Drink King’s beer and purchase cheap liquor!

 

Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.

There comes a time in every grad student’s life where the culmination of their hard work, sweat, tears, and blood (Kidding! Not really.) align with the piles of assignments that are hurled at them, due right after a series of (stressful) mid-term examinations. As a student who willingly got into graduate school (Yes, I’m crazy), I was fully prepared for the turmoil that is a Masters degree. However, schools like to tease you with a little vacation called “Spring Break”. What is Spring Break, you ask? I’m glad you asked, my friend.


To me, Spring Break was an excuse to get out of the freezing cold weather and sit on a beach whilst doing absolutely nothing. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know that my restless self can not just relax on a trip. This March, a group of friends and I went to Key West and Miami. Our trip to Florida was short, a mere 4 days, but we were able to cover a lot of ground in that time.

Here’s my suggested itinerary for anyone who finds themselves crunched on time in The Sunshine State:

1) Start early and watch the sunrise

Flying into the Fort Lauderdale airport saved us some money which we were able to put into renting a car to use on our road trip to the Keys. Since we wanted to use the day portion to drive, we watched the sunrise from the Fort Lauderdale beach before we set off.

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2) Stop at Mrs Mac’s Kitchen on the way and eat their iconic Key Lime Pie (A couple of refreshing Mimosas wouldn’t hurt either – just for the passengers!)

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3) Watch the sunset from the Sunset Bar (How original) in Key West, go snorkelling at the reefs or just laze around at the beach.

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4) Stay near South Beach in either a hostel or a cheap hotel. You won’t be spending any time in the room and you can put that money towards other (expensive) activities in Miami!

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5) Walk down Ocean Drive, eat at the Mexican and Italian restaurants and grab the popular drinks at Wet Willy’s.

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6) Spot the Art Deco architecture, visit Winwood and dance at Casablanca after.
7) I didn’t go to LIV or Story due to high traffic of intolerable students and lack of time but I 100% recommend The Basement.

New York, New York – The city’s so nice, they named it twice!

Apart from the cliche title to this post and of course, the cliche city that this post is about (Come on, can we really escape the stereotypes that define us?), I did not have the cliche reaction to my move to the big city. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited beyond words to be living in the most populated city in the country. But boy was I in for a surprise when I moved last August during the brink of a heat wave and was faced with not only desperate apartment hunting students and broken air conditioners, but also stolen iPhones, irrational landlords and falling up the Subway stairs. (Yes, it happens. Don’t judge me. And if you haven’t ever taken an uptown train downtown or vice versa, you’re lying.)

With great struggle comes newfound opportunity and as they say, when one door shuts another opens (Or in this case, the door is broken down by the FDNY when the pizza place’s oven under your apartment catches on fire).

That being said, New York City has some fabulous activities to do and gorgeous places to visit. Here’s my top 5 for the spanking brand ‘New’ New Yorker:-

1) PIZZA
If you hate Pizza, are you even real?
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There are probably as many $1 pizza places in the city as there are tourists at Times Square (Speaking of TS, don’t go – it’s a trap!) but 2 Bros is a local favorite with the students in the area. A simple Google search of the same will help you find a worthy pizza slice near you or you could just walk down any street and open your eyes.

2) Central Park

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Go ice skating in the winter, swing at the park in the fall, have a picnic in the summer or just cycle during the spring. Do it all and don’t forget to take #InstaWorthy pictures for the gram.

3) Cheesecake at Junior’s, Desserts at Spot & Red Velvet Cake at Sugar Factory

People will definitely argue with me on this. I have a very selective taste in anything sweet so I wouldn’t take any offense. I also haven’t been to as many dessert places as I would have liked. To be fair, NYC churns out new restaurants and bars on the daily.

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Just take a look at this beauty, though.

4) Watch a Broadway show, Go to Museums & Walk down the High Line

Lion King is a must but if you’ve seen that, there are a plethora of other musicals to go to

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Depending on how much time you have, make sure you see at least a few exhibits at The Met, The MoMA and The Whitney.

5) Halal Carts, Everything Bagels, and Coffee

Nothing says New York like the aura from Falafel sandwiches, too much cream cheese and the hot steam from a freshly brewed cup of Joe.

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Why the world needs another travel blog

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I know exactly what you’re thinking. Another unrealistic, idealistic, candy land montage of tumblr-esque photos portraying the quintessential “Wanderlust” life that you must embark on to attain peace and tranquility all while achieving the highest level of nirvana. This will not be that, I promise. (Trust me, I already have the replica of that exact self-gratifying blog: being-dee.tumblr.com #ShamelessCrossMarketing). However, I can not guarantee that this blog will not have the following:

  • Beautiful, original photography of the places I have traveled to which may or may not be Instagram worthy.
  • Interesting encounters with people of different cultures that may or not fit the kind of stereotypes they make lists about on Buzzfeed.
  • Unique recounts of my travel experiences with possibly some newly added perspective of a city you’ve already been to or heard about (Step 1: Google “Most Blogged About City In the World”, Step 2: Ask me if I live in New York City, Step 3: I say yes, Step 4: I beg you not to stop reading my basic blog every time I mention New York City*).
  • Humbling, embarrassing and hilarious anecdotes which definitely define me (But not that embarrassing because, you know, the internet).
  • A whole lot of unnecessary, unwarranted sarcasm.

There may also be the occasional quote, gif or cliche just to accurately convey the feels I unfortunately catch when there’s something viral in the air (Or when the weather is bad; It’s New York City**, the weather is always bad).

Last but not the least – while I have traveled a significant amount in my short lifetime, I am in no way an all knowing prophet that can or should give solutions to travel dilemmas. As you will read on, the world wide web has saved my rear end when it comes to the best hotels, restaurants and activities to partake in. Also, I get by with a little help from my friends (Cue The Beatles).

Let’s get this show on the road!

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*Warning: The next blog post will be about moving to New York City. Please don’t leave me.
**I’m sorry.