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Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur

8 Nov

Lake Palace at sunset

Enter into a dreamland of Maharajas and Maharanis by staying at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur,  Rajasthan, often called the Venice of the East. From the airport pick-up to the wave goodbye on the journey home, the Lake Palace will comfort you with grace and style. Be revived with a cool towel and a history lesson as you ride in an AC car to the dock for your boat ride to the Palace which seemly floats on the water in the centre of Lake Pichola.

Front of Lake Palace  

After a refreshing bottle of water and a smooth and simple security check, you board the boat for the beginning of your stay as a guest of the Maharaja at his summer home. Stepping off the boat you are greeted with a smiling curled moustached man wearing his gold turban and shining personality. He escorts you carrying an umbrella to shade you from the sun when suddenly rose petals fall from the sky  paving under your feet into the welcome of staff with hands joined saying “Namaste”. If you look up before entering, you just might catch a glimpse of the man on the roof who after tossing handfuls of rose petals to greet you, peers over for a peek with a cheshire grin.

Upon entering your room at the palace, you are aware of being enveloped into a time and place of the royal family. Adorned with ornate Rajasthani details the senses are overcome with the art of beautiful wall paintings and alcoves. Every detail pleasing to the eye as colours swirl and flow through pillows, furniture and walls setting the mood for relaxation and luxury, stress and tension begone. Now you are a guest of the Maharaja, and your only concern be to enjoy the food, spa, lounge, and smiles provided by the staff, who are genuinely happy to make you feel like royalty.

Swing in suite        

A flutist sings a soulful tune at dusk, highlighted by the setting sun behind him as he sits atop the terrace. Rajasthani dishes are presented and detailed by joyfully knowledgeable servers, each taste savoury of spices, lovingly simmered for hours. Sipping “Octopussy” martinis (the Bond flick was filmed here) infused with Jasmine, go down way too easily leaving an exotic aroma under your nostrils as you gaze across the lake at the lights and life of the city of Udaipur, music tickling your ears. This is life at the Palace. Swimming in its charming pool, visiting the City Palace, home to the Maharaja and his family, shopping in little stalls for marble, silver, books and textiles, and watching local dancers and singers perform, makes up your days. It’s a visit that will remain with you long after you’ve departed.

Great breakfast   

Inspirational? Completely. India is a place I often tell people they must visit at least once in their lifetimes. The Taj reputation for service is unsurpassed. The meaning of five-star is truly actualized by a staff who know your desires before even you. The Lake Palace is in a place of its own, spirited by beauty, history and tradition. The magic of the Taj Lake Palace is something not to miss.

Visit Taj Lake Palace- Click   Buy Notebooks from Udaipur – Notebooks

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Ristorante L’Angoletto, Rome

9 Jun

Chef Domenico Caputo and Staff

The Ristorante L’Angoletto in Rome is my favourite restaurant whenever My husband and I visit the city. It is steps from the Pantheon- Piazza Rondanini 51, anyone can direct you there. The owner, Chef Domenico Caputo, is a talented and dedicated restauranteur, who takes great pride not only in the quality of his food and the magical dishes he prepares with them but also in the pleasure of his clientele. Domenico has been at L’Angoletto for 18 years, becoming owner only 4 years ago. His clientele consists of well versed tourists, locals and international and Roman politicos.

Ristorante L'Angoletto

Ristorante L'Angoletto

Whenever we visit Europe we try to make sure before we head back to the west, that our last night is in Rome. I have seen most of the sights in Rome already, but the last night is always reserved for a sumptuous dinner at L’Angoletto.  From fresh seafood, to homemade pastas, to platters of spiced and simmered meats (he makes a killer Chateaubriand steak), dinner never disappoints. In addition, Domenico has taken great care building his own cantina where he stores hundreds of high-end and rare and interesting wines, to accompany his dishes. It has contributed to many a late liquid evening. 🙂

Cantina Ristorante L'Angoletto

The warmth of the staff, their jolly good humour and caring and friendly attitude, is what makes each visit an entertaining end to our sojourn in Europe. It’s the only way we can say good-bye to Rome, planning our return visit over dessert.  My husband and I feel like family. We feel very fortunate to have discovered L’Angoletto, and look forward to many more meals and late nights discussing life and politics with the staff until closing.

Fresh Seafood at L'Angoletto

Chef Domenico can be seen each night, busy keeping the reins and visiting each and every table to chat and make sure their evening is thoroughly satisfying and pleasurable. I suggest you mark this restaurant as your must-dine place next time you are in Rome. Say hello to the gang from my husband Louis and I, and tell them we will be back again soon!! Visit them online for now:  www.ristorantelangoletto.it

Ristorante L'Angoletto

Alkmaar, The Netherlands

14 Apr Alkmaar Cheese Market
Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Alkmaar, The Netherlands

This small town north of Amsterdam, is a cultural delight. Famous for its Gouda cheese market, this town also offers a variety of restaurants, smooth canals from which to discover its cultural beauty, and a welcoming nitelife with festive locals. I only spent the night but got to see its personality. I enjoyed my visit and still remember a decade later.

From Amsterdam Centrale station you can lake a local train 45 kms north, with the centre of old town only a 10-15 minute walk from the station. The town itself is very walkable being only one kilometer from east to west. In a small boat I spent the afternoon cruising the canals, admiring many of it’s bridges, being careful to duck my head at the low slung ones, and saw how many local residents lived. In townhouses tall and lean, all sitting in water at their bases, I thought of Venice, although at this time I had not yet visited that city. Some lived in houseboats that lined our path. Cute and small their decks were sunny and charming. Eating at a good Mexican place I spent the evening dancing up a storm with a bunch of strangers who were locals, dancing as in my youth, with everyone interacting and enjoying themselves on the dance floor all to the same beat.

The next morning an old tradition had begun to pile up in the square. Stacks of large wheels of Gouda in all flavours lined the centre square, row upon row taking up almost half the space. The old weighhouse had its doors open, offials were standing about, some were walking the rows inspecting the wheels. Under the side tents, producers were calling out their types of cheese in front of tables of all kinds of Gouda flavours for sale in smaller wheels. It was Friday and the cheese market day had begun.

As men carried the stacks of Gouda wheels to and from the weighhouse, weighing each load, the buyers began discussions with the producers. The square was packed full of tourists, walking outside string barriers on the perimeter of the rows, commenting on how large the cheese rounds were and speculating on how expensive. Slowly they made their way to the tents and after sampling cumin, paprika, and smoke infused slices of Gouda cheese, everyone bought something. The cheese was too yummy not to!

Amalfi, Italy

31 Mar Getting Married!
Duomo di Amalfi and the piazza.

Image via Wikipedia

Amalfi!!

An absolutely gorgeous place in Southern Italy surely a paradise of its own. Often confused for the coast it’s named for, Amafli is one of the oldest seaports keeping its small town traditions and lifestyles despite the influx of tourists every season. Amalfi’s quaint size allows you to engage with its people with one short stroll through the main road of town. Lemons the size of grapefruits, red chillies strung up and hanging by the dozen, hand painted mosaic ceramic tiles on storefront tables line the narrow road crowded with people who hug the wall every time a car has to squeeze by.

My husband proposed in Rome inside the Coloseum in 2009 and had already set up wedding planners to meet in Amalfi to start planning our wedding.  How could I say no?? So I said yes and yes, and we began our week in Amalfi with a wedding on our mind. We got to know the people quickly as my husband’s grandfather came from this town. They are friendly and warm passionate people. Its a place in which you’d love to spend a simple charming life.

Some of our fav restaurants are Il Teatro, Pizze Meme, Pizze Donna Stella. Our reception was at Marina Grande http://www.ristorantemarinagrande.com , our hotel for all our guests was Hotel Floridiana http://www.hotelfloridiana.it , the best desserts, coffee and pastries  are at the oldest cafe/bakery at Pansa in the main square.

I’m so happy we made Amalfi our special home. It is one of those magical places that never leave your soul, and after many years of tourist visits, it’s never lost its traditional Italian village feel.

I love you Amalfi!!

Limone, Italy

31 Mar
Il porto turistico di Limone sul Garda

Image by rosa-amato via Flickr

I so can’t wait to get over to Limone on Laco sul Garda!! It’s a beautiful peaceful little town built up on the cliffside at the northwest tip of Laco di Garda in northern Italy.  This will be my own spiritual retreat, we all need one of those every so often. I have visited Garda before staying at Sirmione, at Hotel Olivie.  Also a wonderful but more touristy port of the lake.

In Limone I will be staying at the Limonaia Hotel, in a lovely apartment nestled among the olive trees. Limonaia is a large hotel resort sitting in a panoramic spot in the midst of a 60 000 m² olive groves and parks. It was designed to respect the environment and architecture of the existing lemon groves. The lemons in this region are huuuge and tart like you have never tasted. Henceforth the fantastic limoncella!! I plan on bringing back a couple of bottles. The rest of my time will be spent writing, reading eating and sleeping.  😉 They have a great fitness and spa facility, with additional exercise coming from climbing up and down the cliffside to get into town for some delicious and unsurpassed Italian food.  I’m already hungry for some fresh seafood and pasta, intensely flavoured fruit and vegetables and un buono cafe every single day. This life is truly close to heaven.

Hotel: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g227887-d266491-Reviews-Hotel_Limonaia-Limone_sul_Garda_Lake_Garda_Lombardy.html

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