Singapore in Five: Must do’s

Hey guys!

I’m back again with a really requested post: My Singapore travelogue. I thought I’d do this travel diary in a different way where instead of sharing my entire day by itinerary, I’ll be listing my absolute must do’s. These are places that I visited and had a great time! However, this was my first time in Singapore and I am sure there are tons of other places that are not mentioned in this list. Nonetheless, if you’re in Singapore for 4-5 days, enjoy these and I’m sure you’ll have a blast 🙂

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 1. Nightlife: Clark Quay (Pronounced as claa-key)

One of my favorite places that I visited 2 times over my short trip in Singapore was Clark Quay. It’s a historical riverside quay in Singapore  that houses over 5 blocks of  restored warehouses that house a ginormous number of nightclubs and restaurants.  There are also moored Chinese  junks (tongkangs) that have been refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants. Whether you want to go for a romantic dinner with your partner, a fun meal & drinks with family or a fun night out with friends, this place has you covered. From my experience here, I did notice that the food was pretty decent but nothing to really to crazy over. In my opinion, this place is definitely more for its ambience as its so happening with tons of people, lit up bars, live music and of course the river side! We tried a vietnamese restaurant called Little Saigon and had a really wonderful experience. Though the food could have been much better, the cocktails were absolutely amazing. If you’re going to Clark Quay over the weekend, be prepared to wait substantially for a table at some of the popular places. 

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2. Luxury and high street & budget shopping:

Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands & Bugis Street

It’s no secret that Singapore is shopping paradise. If you have some money to spend are in the mood for getting your hands on some of the best luxury fashion, Singapore is the place for you. Since there’s a mall every 200 meters and it can get a bit overwhelming for any tourist, you can start your shopping extravaganza at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, ION Orchard and Paragon Shopping Centre.Marina Bay  These three malls will not only leave you speechless for their fabulous and grandeur architecture, but also provide you with some of the best luxury shopping you could ask for. ION Orchard is very well located and is convinient place to start your day  since it’s right on Ochard Road.  Paragon Shopping Centre is a beautiful mall that is dominated by luxury shops but you will find a few high street stores at all. There are also tons of options to eat in the foodcourt so you won’t be hungry through the day at all! Marina Bay Sands should be kept for the evening time since it’s at the Bay front is absolutely stunning at night.The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a museum, two large theatres, seven “celebrity chef” restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world’s largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. Enjoy an evening of shopping, a luxurious dinner and then hit the casino for a night to remember! When it comes to high street shopping, you can check out Bugis Junction with stores such as Bershka,Pull & Bear, Sephora etc! Right across Bugis Junction mall is Bugis Street which is the largest street shopping destination in Singapore. You will be able to find all the latest trends in fashion at really competitive prices and haggling is really easy too. However, do keep in mind that the garments aren’t really available in multiple sizes so if you’re looking for a slightly larger size, you may need to hunt a little! Nonetheless, its definitely worth checking out since it offers a nice break from the malls!

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3. Eat at Din Tai Fung

If you’re in Singapore, one restaurant that you just HAVE to try out is Din Tai Fung. Though it’s a michelin star restaurant, it’s very well priced/fairly affordable. We visisted this restaurant two times in this trip and even though I would have loved to try out every single dish on the menu, my dietary restrictions didn’t let me. However, what I did try was simply out of the world. For me, the egg fried rice stole the show through and through. It sounds like such a simple dish but trust me when I say that it’s the best you’ll ever have. From the leafy fresh greens to the delicious dimsums, I don’t have a single complaint or flaw that I can pick on.

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4.Exploring communities and neighbourhoods: 

China Town and Little India

Singapore is very well known for it’s high rises landscape, modern architecture and a metropolitan vibe. Two parts of Singapore that will offer you a very different yet charming perspective are China Town and Little India. Both these neighbourhoods/areas are ethnic enclaves that will teleport you to China and India respectively. Chinatown is a sharp contrast to the rest of the city, with low rise buildings and culture bursting out onto the streets, from the fragrant smells of traditional cuisine to the bold red and gold tones that run through the neighbourhood. There are ornate Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu temples, museums galore and plenty of opportunities to soak up the bustling streets lined with old shophouses. In Chinatown, we enjoyed a lovely chinese meal at Spring Court restaurant that was established in 1929. It’s Singapore old family run restaurant which offers some amazing Singaporean Chinese cuisine. Little India, on the other hand is also one of Singapore’s most vibrant historic districts. As you walk down Serangoon Road and neighbouring streets, you can explore their mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches. It really does feel that you’re walking somewhere in the Southern part of India with the aroma of temple flowers and fragrance of spices that tell of the aura of a culture.When it comes to feed, you just can’t go wrong with a classic traditional south indian meal. We just had a snack – Idli & Vada and I can confidently say that it was amongst the best I have ever had. Packed with flavour and texture, the food spelled out authenticity without any fuss.

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Spring Court Restaurant: China Town

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Vada- Sambar at a local South India restaurant in Little India
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5. Universal Studios, Sentosa

Universal Studios has to be one of the most exciting places to visit in Singapore. Though most people, especially families with children visit Sentosa island for an overnight trip or more, we decided to just check out Universal studios that’s a part of the island. Sentosa however has a lot more to offer than just Universal Studios and if you want to experience it all, you will need a couple of days there. Universal Studios, that has it’s counterpart in LA needs no introduction. No matter what age you are, you just have to visit this “world” in itself. From the magnificent sets, arrchitecturr and grandeur to the spine chilling rides, you will have a blast! I am a rollercoaster junkie so this was just the place for me to sit back and have some fun! It can get really humid in Singapore, so make sure you are well hydrated and be prepared for hours of walking! Though there are numerous cafes and pitstops for you to be refreshed, since the area in itself is so huge, walking is inevitable.

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So these were my top 5 must do’s in Singapore! I am so sure that there are so many things that I missed out on this short trip and hence I would love to visit again. However, if you’re planning a trip with friends or family, I am so sure this post will help you 🙂 For any questions, make sure to follow me on Instagram and ask away! <3

Italy in ten: Rome, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast & Capri #MMTravelDiaries {Part II}

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Hey guys!

I am back with another Europe travel diaries post. I know this post is way too delayed and I really apologise about the same. For some strange reason, I just don’t know why I never ended up writing this part. If you have been reading my blog lately you would have seen I have started posting really consistently and I can promise you that I won’t slack the way I did. I suppose one of the reasons I did’t end up writing this PART II is because I shared so many pictures of my travels on Instagram that I wasn’t sure if you were interested in reading this post in the first place. However, I have received queries about this post recently, so here I am, better late than never!!!

As the title of the post suggests, this is the PART II of my Italy Travelogue. To read part I click here. It will give you a better idea of the trip 🙂 In this post I will talk about DAY 5- DAY 10

DAY FIVE:

Leave for Sorrento// Spend the day in Sorrento

DAY SIX: 

Day trip to Capri Island

DAY SEVEN: 

Leave for Naples from Sorrento // Lunch in Naples // Train to Rome same evening

DAY EIGHT: 

Rome Full day

DAY NINE:

Rome Full day

DAY TEN: 

Leave from Italy

Rather than writing the post as a travelogue, I thought I jot down a my MUST do’s if you plan to visit Rome and Southern Itlay.

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ONE : Get your history cap on

When in Rome, be prepared to walk. There would be tons of people especially if you visit in the summer so don’t get intimated by the number of tourists and long lines. You are visiting one of the most historical cities in the world so be get ready for some long but super interesting history lessons. Since I was in Rome alone, I decided to take a walking tour which was absolutely amazing and worth the money. We checked out the marvellous Colosseum and the grand Roman Forum in a few hours. This little history walk was just the right amount of history I could take in as a tourist and be super interested at the same time.

TWO: Eat as the Romans do 

I was living in an airbnb apartment in Rome which had a fully functional kitchen so I would eat my breakfast at home or at least have a small snack with a cup of coffee before leaving for the day. Rather than having 2-3 large meals, stick to 5-6 very small meals. It would lead you to try out tons of food options. As it is fairly obvious, STICK TO ITALIAN FOOD. I would try and find little pizzerias in the by-lanes of a main square. Eating at the Pantheon for example can be really expensive and the food might just be overhyped. Instead, I chose to eat close to Pantheon but yet not right in the centre. My favourite meal was spaghetti with black truffles and olive oil! nom nom

THREE: Hit the Markets

I knew I wanted to do something different rather than only visiting historical monuments so I searched up for the best flower and farmers markets in the city. Since I had to just visit one Market, I decided to go to Campo di’ Fiore. This piazza hosts undoubtedly the most famous open air market in the city- with flower shops, fruits and vegetable vendors sprawled across selling fresh products.

FOUR: Geltao Time

Make sure you always have room for Gelato. No matter what I ate, the little glutton in me had to complete a meal with a new gelato flavour. My favourite gelato spot in the city has got to be Giolitti. I was so obsessed with this ice-cream parlour that I would see my self walking miles from another end of the city just for the ice-cream. BUT SO WORTH IT.

FIVE: Do Nothing

One of the most lovely things about the city is that it gives you the scope to do nothing. Just spend time sitting in your favourite piazza, the pantheon or the Spanish steps and engage in some people watching. You could also grab a classic cappuccino and simply enjoy the beautiful skyline and sunset across the ancient architecture.

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SOUTHERN ITALY

SIX: Truly Unwind

Unlike Rome with its walking, exploring and crazy tourist vibe, the Amalfi coast can be describe by true luxury and relaxation. Since I went to Southern Italy with my parents, we did stay at the Hilton in Sorrento which is one of the most stunning properties EVER. Located exclusively on a little hill it offers some of the most mind-blowing views of the Coast.

SEVEN: Capri Island

We weren’t sure if Capri Island should be on our must visit list or not but I am so, so glad that we made the plunge and decided to visit the island for a day trip. Offering some of the most stunning landscape views, Capri is a little isle of luxury. Unlike Cinque Terre and its rustic vibe, Capri is all about the yatchs, mimosas and sun dresses. It is a heavily populated island basically full of tourists so a day trip is definitely more than enough. With almost every single luxury shop you can think of, Capri makes everything fancier. There are ferries and hydrofoils that head from Sorrento and Amalfi daily to and fro from the island.

EIGHT: The Amalfi Drive

If you’re not car sick, go for the drive of your life. The Amalfi drive will be the best road trip of your life. Cliffs on one side and water on the other, the Amalfi drive is definitely not overhyped when it’s labelled as one of the most spectacular roads across the world. You can rent your own car or even take a private tour – whatever it is, there is a price tag- but it worth it!

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Once again, I really really apologize  for not posting this on time but I hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂 If you have any queries make sure to comment here/email me or ask me on Instagram!

Until next time, love you!!

Italy in ten: PART 1 #MMTravelDiaries

Hi guys!

So one of my most awaited posts is here:: MY ITALY TRAVELOGUE! PART I  As most of you may know, I went to Turkey, Italy and UK this summer when I graduated from my Masters. Though most part of the trip was with my parents, I did spend a few days alone as well {check out my travelling solo post} to know more about that!

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Before I move on to talk about all the places visited, I thought it would give you guys a better idea if I would write down my Itinerary for you! I hope it helps you if you want to plan a trip to Italy 🙂

DAY ONE:

Arrival in Venice// Spend the day in Venice

DAY TWO:

Leave for Florence// Spend the day in Florence

DAY THREE:

Day trip to Cinque Terre

DAY FOUR:

Tuscany day trip {Sienna, San Gimignano, Pisa}

DAY FIVE:

Leave for Sorrento// Spend the day in Sorrento

DAY SIX:

Day trip to Capri Island

DAY SEVEN:

Leave for Naples from Sorrento // Lunch in Naples // Train to Rome same evening

DAY EIGHT:

Rome Full day

DAY NINE:

Rome Full day

DAY TEN:

Leave from Italy

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Venice:

Venice is absolutely picture perfect and seems like a painting with its little canals and pastel buildings. Venice is one of those places on everyone’s bucket list as a one time visit. If you haven’t been, you must. If you have, you’ll know what I mean when I say you can skip it for round two. This was my first time to Venice was it was obviously on my list. Since its way too crowded, it can be an overwhelming experience, especially if walking is pretty much the only way to navigate.. As you may know, there are no roads in Venice, and there exist only little streets for walking or waterways and canals for water buses, water taxis etc. This also means, that you need to lugg your bags from stair cases, streets etc all the way to the hotel and nothing could escape that. Private Water taxis are crazy expensive you might want to take water buses. When it comes to Venice, it really doesn’t need more than 1-2 nights but then that’s my opinion. In fact, it’s one of those places that you could easily do a day trip from Florence as well!  Since we was there in Venice for half a day and a night we tried to make the most out of it as we walked through the city and take in as much as we could. A cafe that I knew I wanted to visit was Cafe Florian- the oldest cafe in the world! Sitting down in the outdoor seating area with a drink while listening to the cafe’s live orchestra in St. Marco’s square has got to be one those unforgettable experiences. If you’re going to Venice with a romantic partner, you don’t want to miss out on this. Other than the gelato (YUM), pizzeria’s hidden in every nook and corner; you would also find a lot of shopping. And I mean A LOT. Venice is a luxury shopping paradise with almost every designer store with stunning window displays lined up one after the other in the endless maze that the city as to offer! Also, just skip the Gandola ride. I am being very honest when I say that it’s simply a money making business which really pissed me. The gandola drives or whatever one can call them try and act honey sweet and will lure you in and charge you an exorbitant amount- but it’s honestly not worth the money.

Quick tip: Private water taxis are VERY expensive. They make sense if you’re a bigger group and can split the cost. If you’re a couple or a solo traveler, you can definitely save money by taking the waterbus to commute

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Florence/ Firenze

 The next day, we head out to Florence or Firenze. I’m pretty proud of this segment of our trip since I knew exactly what I wanted to see and when. So, for the Tuscany region our base was Florence. We left Venice fairly early in the morning and were in Florence by 12 noon- checked into our lovely airbnb apartment by 1 pm. We had the whole day our selves to explore the city since the next we decided to go in for a day trip to Cinque Terre. We wanted to visited the Uffizi Gallery,but decided to skip the same and instead soak in the city by simply walking around and of course eating yummy food! We did visit the grand Duomo, checked out Piazza Michelango and sit down at the Loggia dei Lanzi and watch the beautiful Piazza della Signoria. Another smart move was to take a pass for a hop on hop off bus. Initially I thought that it looked a little foolish but trust me, you can do a lot with that bus pass. There are a couple of routes that the bus service has where it takes you through all the must see spots. If you want to get off, great. If you don’t, you can simply keep sitting. We also enjoyed a lovely pizza meal at Piazza Republica (see picture below) – one of the prettiest squares in the city, defined by its opulence.

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Cinque Terre

For the next day, we had booked a day trip to Cinque Terre (Pronounced as CHIN-QUAY TERE- literally meaning: 5 villages) and this has to be the best decision of my life. Google the prettiest places on the planet, and it’s on the list. Cique Terre is not that accessible on your own as it involves hiring a car plus a 2-hour drive from Florence. Also, no cars are allowed inside the 5 villages so the car you hire/drive must be parked outside the 5 village gates. To commute between the villages, there are local trains and even ferrys!

We decided to take a semi-private tour using www.viator.com and it was amazing! I really don’t like group tours much maybe cause of past experiences but trust me when I say this was so worth every single penny. This tour consisted of about 8 people in the minivan (including you) and is fairly expensive but makes sense cause less people means you have your own space. The good part is that there isn’t really any “guide” as such but basically the driver of the luxury car who’s super knowledgeable and will give you as many details as possible/answer your questions. This trip also gives you tons of free time. At every island (village) we got atleast an hour or two on hour to do our own thing- eat/swim etc. Click here to see the entire itinerary of our Cinque Terre day trip. If you don’t have Cinque Terre on your list, you must add it. It’s one of the most charming places I have ever been to.

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Tuscany tour Sienna, San Gimignano and Pisa

Happy and satiated from our Cinque Terre day trip, for the next day we booked our selves a Tuscany day trip. YES, we took another tour and I have no regrets whatsoever. If you don’t have time on you, and really want to explore a city ,have a look at these tours and you won’t be disappointed. To be very honest, I realized that it’s impossible to truly manage to explore a place like Italy in a short time span without making using of these tours. We took a tour that was called Tuscany in One Day itself, and it was so worth it, again! It took us to Sienna- we were there for a few hours, then took us to a local vineyard where we had a little wine tasting and followed by unlimited glasses of wine and a traditional Tuscan meal. This had to be the most generous tour ever. After the meal, we went to Gimignano to explore the little town and had the “world’s best gelato” from the award winning Gelateria del Dondoli- Finally, from San Gimiano, we were takento Pisa to see the leaning tower of Pisa! The trip does sound rather hectic and I wouldn’t lie – it was. But, it was also worth every penny and I can confidently say that I did get the feel of the tuscan cities, gothic architecture, and food!

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Part II of the trip will be up soon where I will talk about the second of the trip: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Capri Island and Rome!

Untill, then lots of love x

 

What’s in my bag? {Stop Motion Animation}

Hey guys!

Here’s a small little project that my friend Madhavi & I did a while back! I am not too sure why I didn’t upload it earlier. But, better late than never, right? To know what’s exactly in my bag and read about all the products shown in the video, check out this post!

Meanwhile please do rate the video and give me your feedback! Would love to hear from you. Oh, and you may just get to see some more fashion, food and beauty videos! YAY! <3

Travelling Solo 101

IMG_9792Hey guys!

I am starting a new series (FINALLY!) and I’m so, so excited for it! As some of you may know I went for a Eurotrip and it was AMAZING! I have updated my social media with tons and tons of pictures but I thought that the entire trip deserves a bit more than that. So, here’s a mini travel series where I talk about all the places I visited, all about my air bnb experience and of course, a quick guide on travelling solo!

Though majority of my trip was with my parents, I was alone for a few days in Italy after which I met Shirin in London! Travelling with your BFF is one of the BEST experiences that one can ask for but on the other hand travelling completely alone to a place unknown has it’s own learning curve. I was always the person who wanted to go for a film alone (STILL haven’t done that), and I love going out for meals or even shopping all by myself. So even though I was in #RomeAlone, I knew I was going to love it every bit!

This post is a little guide, the first post in my #MMTravelDiaries series to gear you up or inspire you to travel alone!

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Money, Money, Money

1. Change or Change Machines: Lets say you need to pee. You may need change. Just like India, where to use public toilettes you have to give in some change, similarly you may to do the same thing abroad too. Now, when it comes to me. I HATE CHANGE. It adds weight, it falls off from my wallet and to be very honest, I am math challenged so I just can’t figure out how it works. However, I did realise that change is very handy and thats where keeping a little zip lock comes into use. If you’re a solo traveller, you would obviously be paying for one & so sometimes, whatever you need to pay for may actually be bought using change itself. Your aim should be to just keep the change zip lock with you at all times and just start using it up. What happens if you don’t have change and you can only pay via coins? Unlike India, you will be able to find Change Machines (Machines where you feed in notes and it returns you the same amount in coins) really easily! Keep an eye out for those or simply ask around.

2. Currency Exchange: Let’s say you have some dollars on you and need to convert them into euros, DO NOT go to currency conversion cambio in a touristic place. Yes, they’re the easiest to spot but will also give you the worst conversion rates possible. In fact, even your hotel will charge a commission so always stick to banks for currency exchange or find a currency exchanger where “locals would go”. It’s important to do your homework online as to what’s the best conversion ratio that you can get. You would be surprised to see that bargaining will work! I had my research in place and knew what I should be expecting. I went to a currency exchange cambio in Rome and actually managed to haggle my way through. ATMS of your banks may also be your best friend where you can withdraw currency in Euros. If you have an American Express card, you will also be able to find Amex ATMS where you can choose your language, and withdraw currency in Euros!

Mappin’ It

Maps. They’re definitely any traveller’s best friend. Though I absolutely love physical paper maps for circling out the locations that I want to go to for sure, when it comes to routing, I definitely prefer google maps or city mapper  on my phone. Conventional tourist maps are fun and usally mark out all the must visit spots but they may not be as detailed with walking/bus/train routes. City Mapper (an app that I was recently told about by Shirin in London does wonders as you can type in literally anything you want and it will show you the fastest and best way to reach there! It’s definetly a more comprehensive app as compared to google maps but it’s not available in all countries/cities in the world and thats where the good ol’ google map helps! Yes, most of the times, it will take you through the lamest route possible but if nothing else, you at least have a way to reach!

Let it Rain 

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Bad weather can be a pain especially when you have your day planned. It’s of course common sense to check the weather of each location for the dates you’d be there in advance (while packing) but it’s also smart to have the weather app on your phone so that you can be in touch with how the day or next day will pan out. That way even though you have your rain coat in your suitcase, you’ll actually know when to take it out! On another note, always carry a little umbrella in your sling/backup even if it’s not supposed to rain that day!

The Smart Tourist 

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Everyone who travels have different expectations from their trips. Some vacations can be all about going hardcore with backpacking, hiking etc, some can be laid back and living on the beach or some can be about experiencing the city as a local – it’s history, food etc. If option there is what you’re looking for, and it’s daunting to you as to how one can do sightseeing or eat meals alone- trust me when I say it’s totally possible! A baby step would be to book a tour that suits your budget through viator.com
Some tours have upto 25 people and some may have only 8-9 people. Even though numerous people may join these day trips in groups or couples, you may be surprised and you may actually make lots of friends! I did and I’m still in touch with them. This options really helps if sightseeing absolutely alone is a little boring for you and you like the idea of meeting new people from all across the world. If the whole purpose of your trip is defeated by joining a group, then I suggest you check out the audio guide route. If you really want to learn about a place, an audio guide would be your best friend. reach the location you want to explore and at the entry point almost every single “sightseeing spot” will have audio guide counters which are basically these walkie talkie sort of things with headphones. Start walking and the automated guide will give you all the fun facts. Best part? You can mute it or switch it off when you’re bored or want to take a little snack break!

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You’re travelling alone and chances are that you would want to be in touch with family and friends. Get a local sim! The matrix days are gone now and the deals are way to expensive. As soon as you land into your first destination in that country- check the airport for local sim companies. There are some airports that may not have such shops and so the best option is to ask a cab driver, hotel person or any local in the city. Venice, for example was my first in Italy and hence I wanted to get my Italian sim from that city itself. Sadly the airport didn’t have a stall so I asked the lady who managed the apartment I was living in and she guided me to the closest Vodafone store that had some pretty good voice and Internet packs for tourists.

Yummies in my tummy

Do as the Romans do. When you’re in any city, one of the best parts is experiencing its food. Yes, since you’re alone you may not get to try multiple things for one meal and may be able to order only one dish. That is why it’s important that you try different things each time you eat. Once I left home after having my yaks cuppa coffee, I stuck to have numerous small meals in the day rather than 3 big meals. Though cafes and bars in touristic places would be mostly full, one cant guarantee how the food will be! In fact, very often it would be just mediocre and over priced! Try the local cuisine of the place! If you’re in italy, eat Italian food! You’ll find tons of regional options. Tuscan Italian food is really different from Roman food or let’s say pizza available in Naples! However, if you’re in a city as cosmopolitan as London or New York, my suggestion would be to try out different cuisines from all over the world!

#Selfie

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Just cause you’re alone doesn’t mean that you can’t capture memories right? Take lots of photos! Yes, enjoy a moment, soak it in BUT if taking photos make you happy then by all means flood your camera roll! Don’t be shy to ask people walking by (probably someone who doesn’t seem that they’re in a hurry) to click a photo of you! Oh, and BUY A SELFIE STICK. I know it looks absolutely ridiculous but trust me when I say that you can really experiment with your photography with this inexpensive gadget! It best part of the selfie stick is that you can take selfies on a wider angle making it look like you’re not clicking your own photograph since the ostrich arm isn’t visible.

Hope this helps all the solo travel aspirants! Even if you dont plan to travel solo, do keep these tips in mind 😀

Untill next time, lots of love x

How to plan a plan a trip abroad

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Hey guys!

As many of you may already know, I AM GOING TO EUROPE for my graduation trip (I just got done with my Masters) in three days. I can proudly say that I planned the trip from beginning to end – from travel to accommodation to the itinerary ! Of course my parents were there to give in their inputs, approval and have funded it as well but this was my first international trip that I booked all on my own. Haha. The little joys. You can check out my little itinerary calendar that I made here.

So , now when it comes to planning the perfect trip, for any budget, there are a couple of steps that I follow and I thought I would share them with you. I think the first thing you need to come in mind is to be absolutely calm and collected. Organizing a trip is not easy by any means and it requires a lot of patience and time. But, all that said, it’s important to have FUN while you do so. I will take a second here to quote what my favorite letter note products say “ one life. keep it simple. Follow your dreams. Be curious. learn new things.”

The whole point about traveling is to widen your experience and to learn and see. So without further ado, brew your self a cup of tea, take out your notebook, and lets BEGIN!IMG_7380 (1)

 1. What is the Purpose and Budget of the trip?

The first question you need to ask your self before organizing any trip or holiday is  WHY do you want to go? Do you want to relax and maybe hit the beach? Do you want to explore and learn about cultures? Do you want to go on a treck? It is really important to narrow down the purpose of the location. Once that is done, figure out an approximate budget. Yes, it is not easy to do so before fixing a location and making bookings, but how will you fix a location if you don’t have a budget in hand? For example, if your budget for an accomodation is Rs.5000 per night- multiply it by the number of days you want to go for along with chalking down an approximate amount you would want to shell out on flights/train tickets. You may end up with a huge number which might be intimidating and hence the primary question of WHY you want to go comes into play.

2. Shortlist a location/multiple locations

Once you have a very vague idea about a budget and the type of trip you are looking for, shortlist the locations you want to visit. For example, we were sure that we want to do a trip that has a lot of good food, exploring cities, culture, history and so on. Hence, my family and I chose Turkey and Italy. I then realised that since I am going to be Europe, I could go ahead and visit my best friend in London post the family trip. Now, what is important to remember is that if you want a convenient budget friendly trip, keep a political map of the continent you want to visit and see what locations make sense together. There are certain combinations that usually workout well in terms of logistics – For example: Italy and Spain,  France and UK  or Germany , Austria and Belgium. It really doesn’t make since picking up locations like Mexico and Egypt in one trip. The amount of time and money you will spend on traveling would be ridiculous, to put it simply.

3. Travel Logistics

Now that you have the locations shortlisted, it’s time to figure out the travel plan. Take out your pen and notebook or open and excel sheet and begin jotting down combinations. Yes, this sounds painful but it can be fun too! I use the following websites to check out various flight trips and combinations

a) Clear trip

b) Make my trip 

c) Individual airline companies

Two things you should keep in mind while figuring out the tickets:

a) Theorder in which you visit the locations. This will affect the entire round trip price which is why its important to check out different flight combinations. For example: I am going to Turkey- Italy-UK- India as it most sense economically. The first leg of the trip, ie: INDIA- TURKEY- ITALY is via turkish airlines and the second leg, ie – ITALY-UK-INDIA is via British Airways. b) Rather than looking at individual flights from one destination to the other, it worked out MUCH cheaper to book “multi-location flights”

4. Visa

I wont go into too much detail when it comes to this step since to be very honest, my dad handled this part of the planning. Certain places have visa on arrival and others require an appointment. Make sure you give a good month to plan and get your visa sorted. Also ensure that you figure in the visa cost while estimating a budget since they can be expensive.

5. Accommodation

I really enjoy this part of vacation planning : So now you have two options: You can either do some research online before going and be VERY adventurous and find those/any other accommodations that work for you when you arrive in that partiular city OR do all bookings in advance. I must admit that my family and I are definitely not a very adventurous lot when it comes to accommodation and  I personally cannot imagine not having a room reserved before han; but then whatever works for you! The whole hotel/apartment/hostel hunting can be lots of fun too if youre a group of friends who would be okay and in high spirits if you all don’t find a place that reaches your expectations last minute. Here too, the first question comes in to play- WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR TRIP? If the idea is to relax in a beach resort across the ocean, you would obviously want to book your self a lovely room with all the facilities you are looking for before hand. On the other hand,  if youre camping or backpacking, last minute hunting can work perfectly as well!

Since my family and I prefer doing bookings in advance: I use the following websites for thorough research and bookings:

a) Trip Advisor – I use this for anything and everything. Trip Adivisor can be very helpful if you feed in all the filters (Budget, location, preferences) and it will sort out the hotels for you according to those filters. I find this very, very helpful since the ranking is done not according the number of stars, but according to YOU

b) Booking.com – Booking.com is great for deals! It works exactly like trip advisor where you can find hotels using particular filters. It offers really good deals! It’s always best to check out deals on these sits and go out to the official website of the hotel and cross check the tarrif to ensure you are getting the best rate possible.

c) Air Bnb : I knew about Airbnb for a wile now but never really used it for a long time! It’s finally time since for my upcoming trip, I would be staying in Airbnb accommodations in Rome, Florence and London! The apartments are absolutely STUNNING  and I am positive there is everything for every budget.  One can get an entire apartment, a private room within an apartment or a shared room with other travelers!

6. Internal Logistics

This step may often be neglected though it is very, very important!. By internal logistics, I mean things like taking trains from one city to another. For example- taking a train from Rome to Florence. One has booked a flight from the home destination to Italy and it obviously doesn’t make sense taking internal flights within Italy, so what about the train tickets? Contrary to belief, these tickets do get sold out!! I didn’t consider buying these tickets earlier untill a day or two ago when I thought I should simply check them out to get an estimate and I was shocked to see that quite a few tickets for the peak hours were sold out! Keep in mind the season that youre going in. If you’re going to Europe, for example in June- IT IS PEAK TOURIST SEASON and hence booking internal transportation makes a lot of sense before hand! I would also suggest getting your self Oyster cards (For UK) that work for metro and buses or the Euro rail passes, incase that thats medium of transport you will be choosing (if in europe). It’s definitely more economical to have these passes in hand for local travel rather than constantly spending on individual tickets.

7. Day trips and Miscellaneous Tickets

If there is something that I truly hate, it has got to be ques. Most touristy places with historical sites, monuments and museums have ques that can be upto 2-3 hours long sometimes! Waiting in those ques is such waste of time when one could have chugging down a beer or a having a lovely glass of wine instead 😛 Hence, I  prefer booking all these miscellanous entry tickets in advance. Ofcourse this leaves less scope for random plans since the tickets are booked in advanced. However, in my opinion, if your accommodation is booked, and your travel tickets are booked, you don’t really have any escape from that city right? So why not make the most of it and chalk down a rough itinerary? Let me give you an example-  I am in Rome for 3 days so it makes more sense to book my ticket for the Colosseum for any of the three days. I chose any random day and took a morning slot for 10 am to get it out of the way. That will save me so much time and maybe even money! You can take these guided tours using Viator.com and I SWEAR by it! Viator also does day trips- So if you had a location or city in mind and you know you cannot stay there- why not arrange a day trip to that city? I am doing a day trip to Cinque Terre in Italy from Florence since I know staying there would be impossible. Using Viator, I have my transport to the location sorted! Best part? Unlike most  group “tours” this company lets you be alone for a good 2-3 hours or whatever time stipulated. So if you’re the type who hates group tours and likes being alone/with your family- this is for you!

8. Baggage and Clothing

This step is fairly obvious and yet again, comes down to the type of trip you are going for. If you’re going to one single destination, you get a huge leevway on the luggage youre carrying since you wouldn’t drag it along with you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you’re doing a multiple location trip like me,  carrying more than a small/medium bag + little sling/backback doesnt make sense! Also, check your tickets to see how much baggage you are allowed in the first place. This differs from flight to flight. For example. I am allowed 23 kgs (1 bag) from India to Turkey but only 15 kgs (1 bag) from Rome to London!

Think about carrying that bags from airports, stations, cabs and so on! Also, if you would taking a cab from airports to the hotel- just cause you have too many bags, you may have to take a bigger car (more expensive) even if you are just 2-3 passengers. LOOK UP THE WEATHER, and pack in layers. I am going for 19 days but I am packing for 7 days since I know, I will get my clothes to the laundrey atleast once. The idea is to enjoy your self and be comfertable. If wearing heels and dolling up makes you happy – go for it! Just be prepared and always in keep in mind that you should be comfy no matter what!

 

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I really hope this post has inspired you to pick up your bags and just go!

Letter Note kindly sent me these products and I am ever so thankful. I have ALWAYS been a fan of their stationary and honestly sometimes we need a little reminder in our lives to just have fun and live each day as it comes. All these products are simply tokens to remind us that. I truly LOVE the quotes on the products and if you know me, you know I have stuff from there DO EPIC SHIT collection as well! If you’re in Delhi, check out their store in Hauz Khas Village and we can be besties 🙂

What’s in my bag? {Travel Edition}

IMG_4659Hey guys,

I AM BACK! I am so sorry for being MIA for so long. To be very honest, I had too much going on past two weeks, from taking exams, graduating to finally taking a vacation after months. Plus, I faced some serious technical issues and hence couldn’t post for a while and almost reached a point of giving up, until I realised how much I love blogging and can never let go.

So, today I have for you one of my favorite posts to shoot- What’s in my bag// Travel Edition. If you follow me on Instagram, you would know I just came back from Calcutta {Expect a blog post to be up soon!}, since my feed is flooded with travel photos. So, this is exactly what I carried with me. Some of the items aren’t photographed since I took them out of my bag or simply used them up, so I am really sorry for that!

India Circus  sent me some goodies and of course I had to start using me them the day I received them! I have worked with India Circus before and I am sure you know by now how obsessed I am with them! Check out the first India Circus post here, if you haven’t already. Now, when it comes to this post, my friend Madhavi and I shot something super fun for you all; something I have never done before. However, that little experimental project would be part II of this post, so stay tuned for that. We faced MANY technical glitches and I really wanted this to be up ASAP, so here is PART 1 for you all 🙂

DSC08239 To my own surprise, my travel hand bag/backpack is not overly cluttered (unless my luggage is overweight and I am trying to squeeze in as many things as possible in the carry on). So here’s what all you would find in my carry on bag before getting on a flight>

A neck pillow: 

This might not seem as an essential item to some but I cannot hop onto a long flight without this baby. I don’t actually carry in my bag but instead just clip it on to my carry on luggage. I am the kind of person that can sleep ANYWHERE and hence the pillow is my best friend on long flights, especially while flying economy.

Wallet/ Card Holder/Passport Holder

India Circus sent me the cutest passport holder ever! Now, I must admit that I have never used a passport holder and this was my first time! So what I did instead was to de-clutter my wallet and make use of this passport holder as a card holder too (it has a couple of slots for cards). That worked amazingly well since I didn’t need to carry my whole wallet as I don’t need it anyway when I am travelling. Some cash, important cards, my id and passport, all fit it in perfectly in one little folder.

Sunglasses and Chewing Gum (Now shown here)

I always, always carry my sunglasses in my carry on backpack/tote cause I know I will need them as soon as I am out of the flight. When it comes to gum, my ears hurt quite a during landing and chewing gum really helps. I finished mine on the flight- oops.

Electronics:

Ipad: (Cover by India Circus)

I usually have my laptop or Ipad, depending on the duration of the trip. If I am going with my family, my dad usually carries his laptop so I skip carrying mine. My ipad however is always with me since it works as a mini laptop, ipod and even a kindle! PS: How beautiful is the green elephant cover? I am absolutely in LOVE with it! It’s on a 30% off on the website right now so you should get it too and we can be besties heheh

PS: I do usually carry a book but I took it out from my bag after travelling since I wanted to complete reading it (my bad)

Camera (Mini DSLR/DSLR)

No matter where I am going or for how long, a camera makes it on top of my list. This shouldn’t be a surprise since I blog afterall haha. Just like the other things in my blog, the camera I carry depends on the duration of my trip. I recently bought a Sony a5000 which is basically a mini DSLR and OH MY GOD, ITS AMAZING! I hate saying this, but it does work well as a replacement for the good  old big camera. However, I will be going to Europe in two weeks and hence I see my self carrying the Canon DSLR as well.

Cell phone and Portable Charger

If you have an iphone and its more than 2 years old, you know the importance of a charger. No, seriously, my phone dies every two hours and its ridiculous. I usually have TWO portable chargers on me, though one does the job. When I am on vacation (internationally) I  use my phone on wifi only and never really switch on international roaming. Nonetheless, the phone refuses to cooperate when it comes to battery life. The phone cover by India Circus matches my ipad cover perfectly teehehee and I love it!  The  portable charger is from Amazon and you must get it! It charges the phone atleast 2 times, fully.

Headphones

This is a fairly obvious item. I am that person who has my headphones on throughout the flight. I highly recommend these Sony headphones (look how pretty they are) as they are super comfy and the sound quality is amazing for the price.

Beauty Essentials: 

All my inflight essentials serve atleast one purpose: RE-HYDRATION. Flight’s are the worst when it comes to making your skin feeling disgusting and it’s really really important to make sure you do take one little extra step before and after the flight. Always make sure your skin is hydrated and is not loaded with makeup- it may break you out if you cake up.

Lip Balm and Lip Tint

I hate the feeling of chapped lips and you will always find a lip blam in my bag. I love this one by Nivea and it has a beautiful tint to it too! So it looks like your lips, just better! haha  Since I don’t apply any makeup on a flight, I do like using a lip tint (NOT GLOSS) over the balm. It makes me look more put together , I am not too sure why. My lip tint is by Revlon and is called Revlon Colour Burst Laquer Balm in the shade 120.

Eye Cream and Face Cream

I find my under eye area becoming really puffy during the flight and skin completly de-hydrating so two things I just cannot do without are my eyecream and facecream. I apply these two before getting on the flight and before getting off. I don’t know if thats the correct way to go ahead with it, but it does work for me. Before getting off the flight, I wash my face or use wet wipes and then apply these two products. my eye cream is by Nuetregna and my Face cream is by Kiehls (Ultra Facial Cream). Both these products are AMAZING and you must get them.

Sanitizer and Wet Wipes

I haven’t shown a picture of the wet wipes since I shot the post after I came back from vacation and had run out of them 😛 I do however, carry wet wipes and a hand sanitizer in my bag at all times.  Not really picky about the brand for either however when it comes to wet wipes, I prefer any ‘cooling makeup removing wipes’ which are by Nuetrogena, if I am not wrong

Perfume

A perfume or a deodrant is an absolute must while travelling. Even if one is simply sitting in their seat for hours, its always good to smell good?! I carry my Michael Kors Sporty perfume!

Hair Brush and Mirror

We all know what happens to our hair after a flight. When it comes to my hair, its basically a mane of grease. My hair gets intenselt tangled and icky during a flight and ofcourse brushing it is really important. A mirror on the other hand helps when you want to apply the eye cream without moving your bumm and heading to the restroom. When I used to have long hair (sigh..) I woild ALWAYS tie my hair on a flight to avoid any tangles but now that my hair is too short, I simply take a bobby pin and clip away my side part away from my face. Last thing I want is my oily hair breaking me out on my fore head.

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 The Outfit:

I thought I’d show you my outfit while travelling. I usually find my self wearing my comfiest jeans or leggings while taking a flight! My jeans are from Westside, Top is from Zara, shoes from Adidas (Stan Smiths).

I am so excited for a part two of this travel series. It’s an experimental project that I have NEVER ever done on this blog. To give a little hint- its an animation! WHAAA?

Thank you Madhavi! for clicking me and bearing me during our shoot! 😀

Review: Kronokare Caribbean Ginger Travel Kit

Hey guys!

If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen a photograph that I uploaded of my new Kronokare Carribean Ginger Travel Kit, a while ago! I wanted to review these products as soon as I tested them but realized that a true review would only be possible once I use all these products for a prolonged period of time. It would then help me give a better understanding of these goodies along with seeing their long(ish) term effects! Now that all the bottles are empty (other than the body lotion which is larger and I alternate with my Soap & Glory body lotion), it seemed like the perfect time to upload this review 🙂IMG_6188The basic detailsThe products I received from Kronokare were – A shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, glycerine soap and Body Lotion, all part of the Kronokare Caribbean Ginger Travel Kit (As seen in the photograph) priced at Rs. 595.

The Packaging: I’m a sucker for fun quirky packaging and Kronokare products fit the bill. All the products have eye catching names which is another plus point. The conditioner, for example is named Detox on the Rocks whereas the Body Lotion is called Fabulous Fix! Though the bottles aren’t extremely luxurious looking/made out of glass, I really feel these cute little bottle are definitely more practical. As the name implies, they are perfectly sized to take with you when you’re travelling. In fact, one wouldn’t be worried about the bottle breaking either.

The product: If you love warm scents, you’ll really love the Caribbean Ginger range. Though Ginger is the predominant ingredient, I do sense a hint of citrus which adds to the freshness of the products.  I have previously written a post on DIY Hair Masks and Ginger was one of the shining heroes so when I received this product range, I knew that one just couldn’t go wrong.  Ginger works to increase scalp circulation. When blood flows to the scalp, it stimulates the hair follicles and encourages growth. The fatty acids in the root are great for thin hair. Ginger also has antiseptic properties that work to get rid of dandruff.

Another thing that works for these products is that they are Paraben and SLS free!{Parabens are a group of chemicals used as preservatives and found in many toiletries products and make-up.  They are added to kill bacteria, prevent the growth of mould and prolong the shelf-life of products. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), on the other hand is a foaming agent and exactly the same product is used to degrease our car engines. In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate also dissolves oils on your skin.} We all know that products put on the skin should be as pure, natural and fresh as possible, after all they do find their way into our blood stream so it really makes sense to ensure you always use the most natural available. These products precisely do that since they contain all natural extracts of Ginger and lime. Most importantly, these products are CRUELTY FREE!

Usage: The products are really easy to use and don’t require any special instructions.. I have naturally wavy hair and after using any of the hair products, I did realize that the texture of hair didn’t change (PLUS POINT!). The shampoo is pretty mild and I used it every alternate day  (though no instructions are given as to its maximum usage).  There have been times when after using certain shampoos my hair gets curlier than normal! The ‘in bath’ products work really well and even though they all are a part of the same range, in some way or the other they do have a distinct scent. I did have to use a bit more conditioner than I would normally have to but that depends on personal usage since I’m the kind of person to deep condition my hair pretty often.  The body lotion has to be my favourite product from the entire range and hence Im really trying to savour it! I don’t use it on a daily basis and save it for those long tiring days when all I can think of is a long hot shower! This lotion seriously reminds me of sheer luxury at a really good price.  It’s for the perfect consistency and though it’s really humid outside, it doesn’t make my skin sticky at all. The Gylcerine soap was the surprise element of the entire pack for me! I don’t see my self using soap too often and usually gravitate towards liquid soaps. This one though was really lovely! My skin was left moisturized after each wash and I can definitely see my self using this product again!

Overall: I really enjoyed using these products! The travel pack is definitely worth the buy for the number of things it includes in one pack. It also makes for a lovely gift since these products are pretty mild and work with most hair and skin types. If you’re the type who needs slightly stronger hair products, I recommend you using the shampoo and conditioner in combination with a hair mask 🙂

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Eidi {Photo diary}

We all have a bucket list and experiencing Eid at Jama Masjid was a part of mine. Though I have lived in Delhi all my life and have been to Jama Masjid multiple times, I just never managed to go there on Eid. This year however, I kept my commitment and headed to the Walled City with a friend of mine. Both of us were extremely excited (especially for the food) and couldn’t wait to try out all that the streets had to offer. We knew that we may not have time to go to Matia Mahal and hence our plan consisted of visiting the Mosque itself and devouring the Biryani, Haleem, Kebabs and ofcourse sevaiyaan. We visited this Masjid during the afternoon and though it was crowded and oozing of vibrance, there was still an overarching sense of serenity. One could see a sea of people wading their way through the streets leading to the Masjid. Others, just enjoyed the festivities outside while they shopped and ate to their hearts content. 

So here’s my Eidi; the very experience itself. It was truly a synesthesic moment, as we sat one of the balcony’s of the Mosque and saw time sweep by. 

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I really hope you liked the photographs. They’re more than simply photographs for me and are instead memories etched out on paper. Though these photographs may not do justice to the experience and I really recommend you too visit the Masjid during this time, if you havn’t already. I would love to do a part two of this post where I share with you some of my favorite places to eat around this part of the city. So stay tuned 🙂

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more photographs.

Travel with me feat BrownBoy

Hey everyone!

Today, I have something extremely exciting for you! If you have been following me on Facebook, you would have seen me talk about a contest that I would be posting on my blog: It’s finally here! {All the details would be at the end of the post }

I am constantly on the look out for comfortable yet chic outfits and recently, tshirts have been a big YES for me. I love wearing printed T-shirts which are perfect for summer since I can dress them up if I want to or simply lounge in them all day.

A while back I came across the website BrownBoy while online shopping (proven guilty). I instantly fell in love with every single item but what stood out the most for me was their New York Tshirt. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it in my closet.

brownboyfeatureThough I haven’t spent too much time in New York, there’s something about that city that makes me so happy each time I visit. This year (till now) has been extremely dull for me on the travel front but nonetheless, the wanderlust bug wouldn’t let go and all I can think about is planning my next trip. Whether it may be while I’m traveling or otherwise, the key element of all my outfits has to be comfort. For me personally, I don’t think I can enjoy my self doing whatever it is if I don’t feel comfortable in my skin.

The outfit that I have worn here defines my perfect ‘Travel in a city’ outfit. This is exactly what I would wear while exploring town all day. The t-shirt is really casual but I absolutely love the font and of course the text itself. On the other hand, the skirt adds the glam element on the outfit. Initially I wasn’t too confident about the length of this skirt, however, it falls beautifully and even though it’s sheer, the slip attached is of the perfect length. I usually never wear heels but these flatforms are perfect to add some height in spite of being as comfortable as wearing fat sandals.

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Outfit details: New York T-shirt – BrownBoy , Flatforms – Clarks, Sheer Skirt – Sher Singh (Myntra.com), Belt- From mom’s closet, attached midi rings – Forever21, Watch- Michael Kors Rose Gold Runway Edition, Specs- Thrifted from new york! (By Madhavi Singh!)

I really hope you liked this post! All the credit goes to Madhavi Singh from conceptualizing to photography! She’s brilliant, isn’t she? 🙂

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THE GIVEAWAY

Now coming to the fun bit! BrownBoy and Melange of Musings has come together to bring to you a super fun contest!

Since this New York Tshirt reminds me of my favorite city (New York!) and brings a smile to my face each time I put it on, we want YOU to take a photograph one something/someone that reminds you of your favorite city! Whether it may be a picture of bhel puri reminding you of Bombay or Fish and Chips reminding you of London!

Upload the picture on INSTAGRAM and simply do the following:

1. FOLLOW @melangeofmusings and @brownonyou

2. TAG @melangeofmusings @brownonyou in the photograph you upload

3. TAG ATLEAST 2 friends on the same photo you upload

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH TO UPLOAD, DONT WORRY! YOU CAN USE A PHOTOGRAPH THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN UPLOADED ON INSTAGRAM! If you think that’s appropriate and reminds you of your favorite city, simply go ahead and tag 2 friends, tag us and follow us! 🙂

This contest is open till Next Monday (28th of July, 5 pm)

The prize: The NEW YORK TSHIRT! {that I’m wearing in this post}

{Open all across India}

What are you waiting for? Let the fun begin!