Business Trip to Bangalore

Although I’ve had the pleasure of journeying to India before (you can read about my trip to Delhi here), I was thrilled to go on a business trip to Bangalore last month. Part of my excitement was visiting the tech hub of India, and after my previous visit to “Incredible India!”, I wanted to experience more. The similarities: the hustle and bustle of daily life, the kindness of the people I encountered, and the incredibly delish cuisine. Speaking of cuisine, I enjoyed some of my favorites–masala, paneer, dosas!–multiple times throughout the visit. I also learned to love Indian tea.

With a packed agenda of meetings and not much time to see the city after it took nearly two days for me to arrive, I hired a driver to take me into the city center on a Sunday afternoon. I visited the quaint Bangalore Palace, which had guided tours and quite a bit of history to learn about the families that lived there in the past. (Note: if you are vehemently against the shooting and displaying of wild game, I’d skip it.) My driver also took me to Shiva Temple, and he was kind enough to tour it with me to explain some of the Hindu traditions. It was there that I took the majority of my photos in Bengaluru, and it–along with some religious history from a kind colleague–I got the best picture of local worship.

The majority of the week was spent in cars going to and fro my hotel–the swanky Zuri Whitefield–and the many meetings I had. The negative side of the Zuri: I did take the opportunity to go to the hotel’s spa (where the masseuse asked me if I ever exercised…I cringed); and the positive:the kind waiters tried to show me which foods were spicy. The one late afternoon I had off, I got to explore a local mall and try on some fabulous clothes at Biba, where I bought a really pretty shirt.

The main difference between this trip and my 2011 trip to India was sadly time: I did not have near enough of it to explore as I would have hoped.

 

Travel Photo of the Month: July 2014

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This gallery contains 1 photo.

This month’s favorite stems back from a trip I took to Washington DC for work in July two years ago. Much like the weather this week in Las Vegas–where I have learned there is an actual monsoon season–the day started … Continue reading

Des Moines: French for The Moines

For our second annual Mom/Daughter Eating/Drinking/Touring Extravaganza, my mother and I visited Iowa and Nebraska this weekend. Friends and acquaintances asked why we’d make a specific trip to visit what is known as the “flyover states,” yet I am glad we did–Des Moines is quite a cosmopolitan treasure to explore! We arrived on a Friday morning, and after some navigation of the downtown area’s easily explorable streets, we hit the gorgeous state capitol building.

Iowa was my 36th state capitol to visit, and it was well-worth the trip: a beautiful 23 karat gold dome, a collection of miniature inaugural gowns of Iowa’s first ladies, and an incredibly gorgeous law library. If I lived in Des Moines, I’d try to figure out a way to have my wedding in the library–from stunning spiral staircases to rows and rows of books, it’s no wonder that international dignitaries and politicos regularly visit.

We enjoyed bloody mary drinks and lunch at a local spot before heading back out for a visit to the Center Street Pedestrian Bridge and the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens. Free to the public, this was a nice way to burn off lunch…another of which being some light shopping on Locust Street. My favorite store was RAYGUN, which sold wonderful Midwestern-themed graphic products, including wares with this week’s blog headline “Des Moines: French for The Moines” emblazoned across them.

We drove by the well-known Salisbury House and walked through the Pappajohn Sculpture Park–worth a stop. Our evening was spent relaxing at our hotel’s evening reception (a perk to staying at the Embassy Suites) before heading to a delish prix-fixe meal at Lucca, both ideally located on Locust Street, with a beautiful night view of the capitol. We were in town during Iowa’s Capitol City Pride Fest 2014, as well as during an evening concert on the river, so our night ended with a glorious fireworks display. With or without the pyrotechnics, we found Des Moines to be charming!

 

Czastles, Czulture, and Czhurches in Czech Republic

I’ve long heard of Prague as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and a week long trip to the Czech Republic in 2004 certainly proved that theory true. During this trip, the Hilton Prague Old Town was my home away from home, and it was the perfect spot to walk to many of the city’s beautiful sites: Karlov Most (the Charles Bridge), Old Town Square and its famous astronomical clock, and Hradčany, which is the castle district. Highlights of my time in Prague were dinner at an underground cellar restaurant (which we were told popped up during World War II) and seeing the public art via the Cow Parade.

My trip to the Czech Republic was primarily for a good friend’s wedding, and it took place in the quaint Southern Bohemian town of Třeboň. Picture a quaint city square with cafes, beautiful churches, and a trip to the Bohemia Regent brewery, and you have this darling little historical town. Experiencing a wedding–and the local customs that surrounded it, like a full-fledged parade through town of the wedding party–was quite unique. Prague is a beautiful European city and holds up against the oft-compared Budapest; I also really enjoyed visiting a town outside of the city to experience more of the local culture and history.

The Rooftops of Prague

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

During lunch today with a childhood friend who shares my passion for travel, the topic of vacationing in Turkey came up. While I hadn’t been to much of the country that counts itself as both European and Asian, I did experience a wonderful springtime weekend in Istanbul. From the famed sights to the gorgeous tulips, spending a weekend there was a wonderful introduction to the history, architecture, and culture of a riveting city.

I started with a visit to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. My favorite of these was certainly Aya Sofia—when I walked in under the gorgeous dome of this former Christian church and Muslim mosque (now a museum)—I was blissfully overwhelmed. Later that evening, I treated myself to a traditional Turkish bath…let’s just say that I was scrubbed within an inch of my life! As a modest American, this experience was not for me.

The next day, I walked around the bustling Taksim Square before joining Eser, my incredible local guide, to visit Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, and the Spice Market. The food on my trip was lovely–think Mediterranean and delish. Even while traveling alone in this city that spans two continents, I felt mostly safe in my surroundings and one of the stamps in my passport that I was most thrilled to get…definitely crossed visiting Istanbul off of my bucket list!

A Day in the City of Sisterly Love

Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” yet this weekend, it was that of sisterly love, as my sister Jamie and I spent eight jam-packed hours touring the city. Since we were only there for a very short while, we had to make the most of our time. We began with brunch at Parc, a lovely brasserie at the bustling Rittenhouse Square. My sister would recommend the French toast, while my two eggs any style provided the perfect energy to fuel a fast-paced day.

To optimize our time, we decided to let Stray Boot’s city tour lead us around Old Town. Like a scavenger hunt, this app-based tour was perfect for seeing the popular tourist destinations, such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the home of Betsy Ross, and Benjamin Franklin’s post office. It also took us to some spots we may have missed like the charming Elfreth’s Alley and the portrait gallery at the Second Bank.

After two hours, we finished our tour and walked across downtown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home of the steps from Rocky. We did our best touristic version of that famous scene before enjoying a cold soda from the museum’s cafe. Because of our strict timeline, we weren’t able to visit the museum’s exhibits, but the building itself and the surrounding area were beautiful. We finished our day with photos at Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and City Hall, a gorgeous building with William Penn statue-ing at the top.

No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a Philly cheesesteak, which we scarfed down hungrily at Steve’s Prince of Steaks. In summary, it was a fantastic day of touristic adventuring, American history, local cuisine, and sisterly bonding. I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson: “But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.”

The Joys of Flying

My most current business trip started as most do: I called Uber for my lift to the airport while doing some last-second packing. After many years of traveling for work, I have fitting it all in down pat, although this pre-trip rush always gives me adrenaline. At the airport, I head to a different terminal, as I’m flying on US Airways this particular trip. As a long-time American Airlines fan, I was dreading flying this merging airline, especially with some updates announced today that are sending us frequent AA flyers into a tailspin.

Nevertheless, my trip went was fairly non-eventful–except for some small hiccups. So, here are some friendly reminders for all of us on a flying metal tube to have a pleasant flight:

  • Although your ring tone is a loud “Sweet Child of Mine” by the great Guns ‘N Roses, after the plane door is closed, it’s probably a good idea to silence your phone and have it in airplane mode.
  • Come to think of it, phones should always be in quiet mode during a flight, especially when you’re composing emails the entire trip. That means you, 6B.
  • I can’t understand why passengers seated in the rear of the plane place their carry on luggage near the bulkhead. Those spots fill up so fast, then those who are by law required to stow all luggage have nowhere to put their belongings…which can cause delays!
  • What you’re grabbing for balance every time you get out of your seat is actually the back of the passenger’s in front of you. Remember: we’re all in this together!
  • I’ve read multiple times recently in travel forums how few people actually respond to the flight attendants when they greet boarding travelers. I decided to preempt their greetings with one cheerful “good morning!!” of my own. It’s not only the polite thing to do, but they have been very lovely in response.

Hopefully, this week’s post comes across as a positive one. Travel is definitely my passion, even though I have to remind myself during delayed flights and encounters with rude passengers. We road warriors must remember that it’s all worth it–especially the opportunity to experience new cities, meet new people from around the world, and enjoy the rare–but incredible!–personal excursions we get to take.