Romantic Italy

Hello, my friends!

If you have read my blog post on Venice, you would already know that we had travelled to Italy in end March. We were there for 11 days and covered just the 3 big cities – Rome, Venice and Florence.

I have penned down my experiences in Rome and Florence here: 


Enchanting Venice

I had mentioned in my last post that we had gone to Italy in end March / early April. The blog post on the trip got delayed because I had run out of hard disk space to download all the photos! I finally managed to create space and here’s the first post on Italy – that fabulous country.

It was an 11 day vacation – 3 days each in Venice, Florence and 4 days in Rome. I planned to put all of it in one post with 3-4 photos of each place but we fell in love with Venice and I wanted to put many more photos!

Read my post on Venice here:


Charms of Budapest

After the long and eventful train journey from Ljubljana involving some scares (read here) we (me and husband) reached Budapest. I fell in love with the city in the brief taxi ride from the Deli train station to our hotel, crossing such beautiful structures as the Chain Bridge and other beautiful baroque buildings – talk of love at first sight!

This is a little photo blog of the city.


Pictured above is the St. Stephen’s Basilica – a beautiful building named after Stephen, the first King of Hungary. The interiors are beautifully done and the stained glass artwork looks lovely. The cathedral also holds the (possibly mummified) right hand of St. Stephen which resides inside a glass case.


Next up was the Hungarian State Opera House.


The grand interior was so big that my 18mm lens on a 1.6x crop sensor could only get one side of the galleries.



After the tour of the building, we got to watch a mini performance by an opera star. I didn’t understand anything but what a variation of vocal pitch by the lady. She did hold up a wine glass as she was raising the pitch but it didn’t crack!

After the Opera, we visited the House of Terror! It’s not a place handing out cheap thrills but a much more sombre affair which reminds visitors of Hungary’s dark past under fascist and communist rule. This was the very house from which the secret police under the oppressive regimes would operate – victims were arrested and brought here for interrogation and torture and in a lot of cases execution even. It’s a reminder to humanity of its own dark doings.


We then went on to Heroes’ Square which was a magnificent statue complex.


Heroes’ Square


Close-up of one of the statues on top of the arches flanking the central tower


Statues of Magyar Chieftains in one of the flanking arches

Heroes Square had a metro station which we wanted to check out but for some reason didn’t. Budapest has the oldest underground metro rail system in continental Europe.

We then visited the Dohany Street Synagogue – a beautiful building with such lovely patterns.


Dohany Street Synagogue – largest in Europe and second largest in the world

After that we crossed the iconic Chain Bridge on foot.


Crossing the Chain Bridge on foot – that’s not us!


We got this view while from the Chain Bridge – the Hungarian Parliament standing prominently in the Pest side.



Close-up of the Hungarian Parliament Building

Next stop was the Fisherman’s Bastion – on the Buda side of the city. The previous sights were all in the Pest side which lies to the East of the Danube.


We then spent the late afternoon and evening on the Buda side exploring some of the cafes and restaurants on the riverfront and taking some more photos.


I was amused to see someone getting back from office (?) on such a cool ride


I was trying to take a random photo when this tram came into the frame and I pressed the shutter!


The Chain Bridge over the Danube


Walking back after a long day…

Have a great weekend!


Blast from the Past

A few years back, before kids had happened, we were on a journey through Central Europe. We being me and my husband. The two of us had boarded the train from Ljubljana in Slovenia to go to Budapest in Hungary. It was going to be a long and boring 8 hour journey – little did I expect any of what followed.

First up the train we boarded was not air-conditioned like we had come to expect of all European intercity trains. It was a dry hot September day with the sun beating down all around as the train slowly made its way eastwards. The interiors reminded us of the Indian train carriages with grilled windows and bunk beds. But unlike Indian train carriages this one was completely empty! It was surreal.

I was having misgivings in spite of my husband’s sincere attempts to reassure me that there was nothing to be scared about – we were not in an Eastern European horror film after all. The appearance of a ticket checker (TC as we call them fondly on Indian trains) calmed my frayed nerves slightly.

Two hours had passed and I was getting worried that we didn’t have much water and food and was hoping that the journey gets over soon. As if someone heard it and decided to play a prank, the train suddenly stopped – but it wasn’t a station. On coming to the door, we found the ticket checker walking up and down the tracks asking people to get off. It was all very strange. He wasn’t speaking in English so we couldn’t figure out the reason but I was relieved at least to see some more passengers!

We had to get off with our luggage in the middle of the tracks. We jumped down and hauled the large heavy suitcase across to a mini-bus waiting for us (I hadn’t known the joy of packing light those days). That bus took all the passengers to the next station where we boarded a waiting train. This one was more like the other inter-city trains we had seen and best of all – there were a few more people in the compartment.


From thereon the train rolled smoothly on towards Budapest and we were less than an hour away from our destination. And then it stopped again. We saw that we were literally yards away from a station called Haros. There was one more train stopped on another track.

We went to the door with the others and the ticket checker said something in a different language. But we could sense the urgency in his voice. We could see people from the other train getting off with their luggage and heading for the road nearby. Luckily a co-passenger explained to us in English that the train was stopped because a bomb had been found on the tracks ahead and the bomb squad had been called!

I was horrified! Was this really happening?? A terrorist attack?!? What were the odds?? Oh My God!!

We asked the kind lady some more questions – if the railway rep had mentioned what kind of bomb it was and was it linked to a terrorist attack. She said that the man had not said anything.

I was getting really nervous now and the tension in that space was palpable. Some people started getting off with their luggage – like the passengers of the other train.

I didn’t know what to think. 


We decided to stay in the train for the time being – could have been difficult to find the right bus to Budapest particularly when you didn’t speak the language.

After a few minutes the lady got up to leave – I was hoping that she doesn’t because we wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone without her. Just then the ticket checker came around again and there were some more rushed words spoken.

After he was gone, the lady turned around and told us that it was a WWII shell and the bomb squad had already arrived.

A blast from the past but thankfully in the form of a damp squib!

We finally reached Budapest, about 3 hours late, after quite an eventful journey and my silent thanks to God for helping us through the presence of the kind English-speaking lady.

I will put up a some photos of our short stay in charming Budapest in the next post.

Till then,


Fun Family trip to Western Australia



It was the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere in 2015. I was 6 months preggie and was already sweating profusely everytime I stepped out in the sun. We were thinking of a vacation and requirements were: short flight (considering how uncomfortable a mom-to-be can get in those cramped-up flights), cool weather and a place where we can let loose our 1.5 year old monkey do some jumping around and play to his heart’s content!

Perth ticked all our boxes: it’s 4.5 hours away from Singapore, excellent weather in May-June – bright sunshine with cool winds, lots of parks and farms for the kids. So we quickly booked our flights (found some cheap deals on Singapore Airlines) and applied for visas (and lost all that savings on the super-expensive visas).


We weren’t expecting much from Perth – it didn’t enjoy the same glowing reviews as Sydney and Melbourne from our friends. Our itinerary was 3 nights in Perth, 2 nights in Busselton (didn’t find accommodation in Margaret River) and 3 nights in Freemantle.  

In the end it was one of the best vacations we have had – loads of fun with our kid who loved running about in the open spaces, petting kangaroos, watching slumbering koalas and colourful birds. Read on for details.


Getting Around

We had rented a car from Avis right from the airport itself. Driving in Australia is a breeze – everyone follows the rules and nobody honks even if you are driving a bit slow which my husband is sometimes prone to do.

The car made moving around, especially between cities and towns, very easy and we could take pit stops every now and then for photo breaks or just to stretch my legs. After an initial struggle and resistance from the kiddo to sit in a car seat, he got used to it and started enjoying having his own special ‘throne’ (as we would call it). I had kept some drawing books, color pencils and videos on the phone handy which kept him busy for the short day trips we made.

Perth Highlights

King’s Park

It is an enormous and beautiful green space on a hill and impossible to cover in a day. The weather was outstanding the day we went! I finished the book I was reading basking in the sun, with a h-u-g-e milkshake (duh! I was 6 month pregnant) and watching my hubby playing football with my son. I had the best burger in my life that (OMG! Wish I could go back right now). That was the time I decided, this has to be one of the best vacations I have taken!


City Centre

We spent some time around the shopping malls in and around Murray Street and Hay Street with me picking up some cheap maternity stuff from Target. There was a beautiful square at the end of the blocks of malls which seemed to be a venue for street music and arts.


Caversham Wildlife Park

This animal farm is part of the much larger Whiteman park which also has a motor museum, vintage railway rides and many other attractions. It’s a 35-40 minute drive from Perth city centre. We reached around lunch time and had a hearty meal of burgers and fries before doing anything else (I don’t think I stopped eating in that trip!). We should really have reached there at 8:30am when the park opens but getting a 1.5 year old showered and fed and then getting myself ready and fed takes long in the mornings.

We could only do the wildlife park which was a lot of fun – this must have been the best highlight of our trip.


Kid’s Food

My son, the pickiest eater in the world, lives on biscuits and milk when on vacations. I try to fret not and let it ruin my holidays, but still, being a mom, it bothers me if he isn’t eating well at all. There though he was more than happy to have those filling milkshakes for snacking and somehow loved the Aussie bananas (he hates bananas in Singapore) and fruits that we picked up from the super-markets. We had booked serviced apartments or self-contained cabins for the trip so I would make French Toast or porridge in the mornings and in the evenings to keep him full. All of the restaurants we went to were child friendly, so a scrumptious bowl of chips or spaghetti, boiled eggs would be available mostly everywhere. Best of all – the waiters and waitresses were so accommodating and friendly to our kid that we always felt welcome.  



Busselton Highlights

We wanted to stay in Margaret River which is where everyone goes but sadly we could not find accommodation in a single farmhouse because they were all sold out the days we wanted to stay. We found accommodation in Busselton – a small town in the wine region about 220km from Perth. GPS guided us to take the freeway (the Aussie highway) for as long as available but we took a small detour to hit the very scenic Old Coast Road at it’s very beginning.

We stayed at Mandalay Holiday Resort and Tourist Park and we certainly don’t regret it! It’s a kids’ paradise! It has 4 kids outdoor play area including a giant pillow for jumping (I would jumped on it too but for the baby in the tummy), large fields to play in, heated indoor pools, bicycles for renting and the beach is just few yards away! We loved it so much that we extended our stay here by another day and cut down on Freemantle by a night.



The Busselton Jetty was a 10 minute drive from the resort, so we went there in the late afternoon to catch the setting sun. There was a jetty toy train ride for the kids and an observatory, but unfortunately  they were closed by the time we reached.



Margaret River Region

It’s the wine region in South Western Australia and very pretty.


We drove to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in Dunsborough some 30km away – a lovely ride passing through tiny towns. Considering my health, we didn’t climb up the lighthouse but I am sure the view would have been spectacular (something for the next trip!).


On the way back we made a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory! It was such a fun place even for adults, as we could see people making chocolates and there was an array of selection of chocolates to sample and buy. The coffee and food too were delectable. It had a patch of green area at the back for the kids to play while the parents can munch on some goodies. My son joined other kids moving the stumps of logs chopped from the forest and kept in the clearing.



We followed signs to the wineries to see what they looked like – there were so many names on the signs so we picked one named Rivendell (both me and my husband are Hobbit and LOTR fans). It was unfortunately closed by the time we reached which was past 3pm. A person there told us to try the winery just opposite –  The Aravina Estate.

It was a lovely place with rows and rows of short grape trees – the foliage was a bit yellow because of the season. There was a small building with a restaurant overlooking the estate and a car museum (!). We splurged a bit in the restaurant and it was totally worth it. The out of the world french dishes and the terrace dining made the experience memorable. Later, we spent a good half hour playing with bubbles in their perfectly manicured lawns and showing the vintage cars to our very excitable kid.


Some more things to do in the region…


Yallingup Maze – we couldn’t finish it!

Country Life Farm – there are some ponies, llamas and kangaroos to feed, an indoor kid’s playground, a pond to paddle boat in and a small cafe.


Freemantle Highlights

Since we changed the dates last minute, we changed our serviced apartment and it was a bad choice of acco. The apartment looked quite old in everything it had and worst of all there was a water leak from somewhere in the bathroom – not good especially with the cold. The reception office was closed over the weekend so there was no way to get it repaired.

What was a low point on the acco, was more than made up by the lively atmosphere of this beautiful town. We had a lovely sumptuous dinner in a Mexican restaurant. All of the shops were open until 9pm unlike in Perth where everything seemed to be closing down by 6pm!


A highlight was the Freemantle Markets – I loved the shops selling at a variety of knick-knacks and the vibe here. There was a public piano where a very kind lady pulled up my kid and played a kid’s tune with him!


This was one of the best trips I have had (possibly because of the food! and my happy hormones) with my family. We missed doing a lot of things – and that’s as well because it gives us an excuse to go back.


If you have any suggestions of Things to Do in Western Australia it will be most welcome and would help with making the itinerary of the next trip.