Mumbai Day 3 – 13th Jan

Early wake up and off for a morning walk. This was the first time Nita had set foot on Juhu beach.

The number of people on the beach was wow as was the activities going on there. A young group doing a power fitness class, another group with yoga mats performing yoga/gym exercises and then an elderly group performing the laughing yoga exercise and more – just amazing seeing the Indian beach lifestyle.

Back at the hotel, shower / breakfast done, now to hit the road again, this time to visit some boutique stores on Linking Rd and pickup some parcels from yesterday’s shopping. It was still only 9:15am, had a lot of time to kill, decided to take a walk on the beach towards Juhu Chowpatty, from there we would catch the auto and also get a different angle of the place whilst using up some time.

The beach was not as busy as the early morning phase, this was more now couples, families roaming about, even had a couple of photographers approaching us to take pics.

Then it was off to linking road via my fav means of transport – the Auto.

First stop had a few stores with both ladies and menswear stores around. We split up and finally made my first purchase!! Next was Levi’s and then off to the ladies things.

Around 1 we headed to pickup our parcels from yesterday’s shopping. Got them to get us more of the amazing grilled sandwich and followed by more shopping 😱.

There we met Dr. Bhagat from Lautoka, amazing small world, he was here for the Meghji wedding in Jaipur.

We then headed back to hotel to relax with a few drinks in their happy hour.

The Novotel outdoor area is highly recommended for afternoon sunset drinks, nice view of the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Ordered a round of drinks and aloo Chaat.

Nice relaxing moments, around 6 we got a call from the laundry man who collects and delivers clothes for washing – much cheaper than using hotel laundry (thanks Doc for the tip). Clothes delivered, we headed back to our room, clothes were all washed and nicely ironed eland folded – 5 ⭐️ . Next to pack all our excess luggage that we did not need in Navsari – these we were going to move to our next hotel (Intercontinental Marine drive) and reduce the number of bags we had to carry to Navsari.

Bags packed, called an OLA to take us to Marine drive – drive time of 1.5hrs!

South Mumbai does feel different, no auto’s, bit more organised driving (most cars actually stayed in marked lanes) and more historic buildings. Passed the massive house Ambani gifted his daughter for their wedding, then also saw his own house – the tower.

Reached Intercontinental, amazing lobby area and staff, quick to help us with the luggage and put it into storage.

That sorted, it was then to Cream Centre at Chowpatty. We got there after 9 and the place was packed – so different to back home in Brisbane. Was only a 5 min wait and we were seated.

Ordered Manchurian soup, Masala papad, some Sabji recommended by the wait staff and roti paratha. The food was super, Veg food is simply superb here – I love it ♥️.

It was a hearty meal, so fulfilling!

Got an OLA back to Novotel and call it a night.

Tomorrow we were off to Navsari!

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Mumbai Day 2 – 12th Jan

Jet leg seems to be kicking in, both Nita and I could not sleep past 4-5am, no problems more an early start but not really a benefit as things did not start till at least 10am!

(View from our room)

We were done by 9am, now what – had another hour to kill, decided to head to JW Marriott and waste some time there.

Took an Auto to JW, always fun riding the auto, and experiencing first hand the driving expertise required to navigate the kaos that is occurring on the roads daily.

Roam about a bit, and then it was time to head out. Another auto and next stop was the Santacruz area for shopping ( cnr of Station Rd & SV Road).

We had planned to visit a few stores and see what was on offer, that remained just a plan!! – the first shop we entered, did not exit the place till around 5 hours later. During that time we had numerous teas, the best grilled sandwiches and more teas….and of course some shopping!

It was around 3pm when we got out of that place. Next it was Seasons, which truly we did not like – very commercialised and no personalised service. Out of there and then into Friendship. Headed to the top level to see Chanya Choli and there we ran into Dilesh and family. A noisy reunion which lasted a bit, Nita and Dimple Bhabhi seemed to have a lot to catchup on ;).

It was then back to more shopping. Another round of grilled Sandwiches and more tea – love this stuff !!

Called off shopping around 7:30 and then headed back, for dinner we decided to head to the Italian restaurant in Marriott (Mezo Mezo), this place was recommended by Doc from his recent visit.

Was a good choice and a much needed break. Food was great but we were super tired to really enjoy the ambience and service.

Headed back to Novotel and hit the bed soon after.

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Flight time and Mumbai day 1

I like late afternoon flights, you get the whole day to sort out things, which worked out well for me, had not packed a single thing and around 11am started and was sorted by midday. Around 2:30pm our Maxi taxi arrived, luggage loaded and off to Mum’s place – it has only been 33yrs since I last flew with Mum/Dad on the same flight!! It was not planned but we were on the same flights to Mumbai!

Whilst there I had a funny feeling that one of my doors at home was not properly locked, asked the taxi to drive back home to recheck – whilst doors were all locked, I found the air conditioning still running !!! Am I glad we went back, second time check and home locked, now it was off to the airport! ( if you ever have that feeling of something being missed, always better to recheck – my lesson learnt).

Airport checkin was normal, queues were not much at all and soon we were through immigration.

Dutyfree shopping done for mum and Nita, now for a quick bite and then off to gates. Flight was delayed by 30 mins :(! No other hiccups, we were soon in the air – next stop Singapore for 7.5 hr layover !!!

The Singapore airlines service is super, Nita’s meal had under cooked lentils! We informed the steward and she ensured the issue was rectified, another option was presented and the manager was also there to ensure things were all ok – they were super attentive to our needs – 5 stars for that👍.

Landed in Singapore just after midnight local time. Now to kill time – this is hard for the guys but seems easy got ladies, simply head to the duty free shops 😬

Mum and Dad headed to the business lounge to relax, we tried to explore the terminal a bit more.

Unfortunately most of the shops closed around 1am, tried to get to the JEWEl, a super feature in the airport with waterfalls and things, sadly that was closed at that hour ☹️.

Next found a good lounge location and got some much needed rest. Nita located a couple of OSIM foot massage machines – these were god sent and soo good, turned out these were everywhere in the terminal, to revive the millions of sore feet walking through Changi.

The hours ticked off quicker than I had anticipated and soon it was time to head to the gates for the next flight.

Enroute to the gates, came across a large pair of wings – very similar to the wings in Maleficent – time to pose!!

Posing done, boarded the flight and we were in the air again.

Arrived at Mumbai on time, getting off the plane, we could smell India – it has a very distinctive smell 👍. Now for the very very long walk from the gates to immigration.

No issues at immigration or customs, and was pleased to see the sign at customs explicitly warning passengers to report any activity of bribe demands !

Here we split with mum & dad, they were off to Navsari, whilst we were staying in Mumbai for a few days before meeting up in Navsari.

Got a prepaid AC taxi to Novotel Juhu organised from within the terminal, this is much better than walking outside and being bombarded with all the taxi drivers. Much more organised and so much cheaper than getting a hotel pickup (lesson learnt from last experience).

Tip: Rather than paying 2000+ INR for hotel organised pickup, a prepaid Taxi will set you back a mere 300 INR.

Mumbai roads – amazing organised kaos, things just keep moving.

Got to the hotel but check in process was slow :(, finally got the room keys and we were settled in.

First stop lunch at our fav from the last trip – Tea Villa Cafe, short walk from Novotel and the most amazing food.

Following that, I organised a SIM card for Nita, that was a fairly quick process, just need to make sure you have your passport and visa documents. 1200 INR got us 28 days of talk, text, 1.5gb of data daily plus additional 12gb – let’s see how we go through that in the next two weeks.

Sim sorted, next stop was Myrah day spa. Time to let go of all that tiredness from the long travels. This place was amazing, highly highly recommended.

Finished around 6pm, off to the hotel and then we headed to Hakassan, another fav from our last trip, that time I could not eat due to my throat allergic problems, no problems this time around.

We ordered the Spicy soup, Dim Sum, Hakka noddles & Duck Stir fry, all tasted amazing!!

It had been a very looong day, time to hit the bed, tomorrow Nita starts her shopping spree 😱😨

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Time for a short Break!

It has been a while, however finally here! A short much needed break commences today! Headed to India for 2 weeks, with no kids, just me and Nita.

Kids are staying at their Dilan mama & Anisha mami’s place. Last night dropped them of their place. Whilst Pooja was excited, Neha was a bit emotional – that is given, my baby is super attached to us :(. On the bright side, Dilan and Anisha had been planning a lot of things for them, and sharing some of the plans with the girls last night had got them excited and looking forward to the stay there. The care Dilan and Anisha showed last night left us at peace, our girls are in very good hands!

Now time to get moving, I can finally start packing for the 6pm flight. Looking forward to chillexing for the next 2 weeks.

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Day 21–4th Oct Paris

Last day and a very early start, aiming to get to Trocadero to catch the sunrise and take some good snaps of my girls! All up and ready, it was time to head out. Was still dark when we left the hotel. Getting to Trocadero, Neha and Pooja were surprised to see a few people already there and a couple of brides doing their photoshoots, I told then “see we are not the only crazy ones!”

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It was then time to snap away….

Enough pics with Eiffel, next a quick stop near the Pont Alexandre III bridge.

Time to head back to the hotel and get some much needed breaky! We headed to the cafe opposite La Perla Italian, turned out to be not the best breakfast we have had Sad smile. Got back to the hotel, kids did not want to head out at all now, and next door Dian and Aaria were in a similar state, left all 4 of them in our room and the 4 of us headed to a kitchen store around the block from our hotel. Not sure who, but someone had recommended this place to Meeta for great cooking things. It was quite an old store but it had anything and everything of cooking. Nita & Meeta both got a few things from there. Back at the hotel, kids were having a ball and did not want to go out, decided to leave them there and get some Pizza, me and Vik headed to the Pizza Hut behind the hotel and delivered that to the room! Kids all sorted, time for us to head out, Nita and I headed for the last time to Champs-Elysees, Vik and Meeta went to the Opera area.

Roamed a bit in Champs-Elysees, Nita made the most of the last day there!
Time for a tea break, Stopped by at the 86Champs – L’Occitane x Pierre Hermé, it was a Skin care place and a great coffee shop! Highly recommended, these place has some amazing desserts.

 

Staff preparing a dessert in front of us, unfortunately it was not ours!!

Bye Bye Champs-Elysees, it was great visiting you. Now back to the hotel. Kids were still having a ball when we got back, no problems there!
Time to freshen up and head out soon, we were going to walk to the bridges to put our padlocks and then a 20 minute walk to Bara-naan Indian restaurant.

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Leaving a piece of us in Paris!

Got to the right address but could not see Bara-naan, looked around and finally saw the small sign saying Bara-naan! In large letters it had “Elaichi”! very confusing. The place did not look much from the outside, and stepping in, it was just a small takeaway joint with a Tiger art work on the back wall. It was not till you got to the wall that you realise there is a hidden door leading you into the Bara-naan cocktail bar.

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Stepping inside the cocktail bar had a great buzz to it, and was packed!! Not sure how they would accommodate the 16 of us … I had booked this place 2 months back. The place did not really look kids friendly, weird the guys at the time of booking said all good with kids??? Me and Doc were the first ones there, talked to the guys at the bar and they had no booking for us!! They brought out their ipad to view all their facebook bookings and behold, my booking was there but they had totally missed it Sad smile.
They arranged three high tables with 8 chairs, by this time Balia and Vik also arrived, it was getting a bit chaotic now. with most of the adults standing, we decided to atleast order some drinks and entrees, everyone was hungry. By the time we ordered, the staff had organised a table of 8 for the kids, atleast they were sorted. Food arrived on their table and when Meeta and Tina went to serve them, they found the food to be COLD, also the naan entrees were not that great, chewy. Food that got to our table was also the same and really tasteless, we were trying to go with the flow but the food quality was just not up to it. Decided to head out and not stay here any longer, no one was really enjoying it. I told the guys the issues with the food and that we would only play for the drinks we consumed as the food was not up to standard. On their side, they were very apologetic and did not argue with that at all, good on them for good customer service.
On to the streets, we called the Thai place (Khao Thai) that I had wanted to go for lunch but was closed, they could accommodate 16, so off to that now. Called our UBERS and were on the way.

Got to the Khao Thai and that place was also quite full but they did squeeze us in after a 5 minute wait. Three tables were organised, 1 for kids, 1 for ladies and 1 for the guys! Food was great here, just what we needed.

Finished off then a leisurely stroll back to the hotel. Lots of good laughs along the way, and then a long chit chat outside the entrance to the hotel. This was the last night for us, tomorrow early morning (4:30am) mine and Vik’s family were going to the airport, end of holidays!!
Said our farewells and then it was time to hit the bed for some much needed sleep before the long day tomorrow.

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Neha 4th Oct vlog

 

5th Oct Flight back home Sad smile.

It was like we had only just slept, the alarm had us all up and then it was a rush to get showered, kids organised, bags locked, belongings checked…. done… now to checkout and into our waiting transport with Vik and family.  Goodbye Novotel Les Halles, you were amazing, next time we would be staying at the same place when in Paris!

Ride to Airport was just over 40 minutes. We got to the British Airways check in area and it was closed!! It would open 1.5 hours before the flight, and here we were 2.5 hours ahead. Looking around there were no benches or seats, walked around and a bit further up we did locate some seats where we all waited.
Finally checkin opened and then it was the pathetic speed, service in Paris for the BA flights was so so so slow!! It was another 40 minutes in the queue and we only had about 30 minutes left when we got checked in, then a mad dash to the aircraft. Pity that, as the airside area of the airport was brilliant but all we could do was run past!! Thanks British Airways for not allowing us to spend money at the airport!

Flight to Heathrow was quick, at Heathrow we had about 3 hours of transit, time to get some breaky and I was also able to claim my tax refunds on all the shopping done in Paris. Interesting with their tax refund system, you are supposed to claim it at the airport where you are leaving the EU zone! Heathrow was it!

It was then the 13 hour leg to KL, another 3 hours transit and then the final 8 hours to Brisbane.

Bhavik had come to collect us from the airport, it was about 9:45 pm when we came out , first direct to mums place for some dinner, mum had cooked Neha and Pooja’s favourite, Butter chicken. A good dinner and then it was time to go home & crash and let the jet-leg hit us.

It had been a great holiday made more memorable by the amazing company we had! Till next time, “Au revoir” (goodbye in French).

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Neha’s last day vlog

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Day 20th–3rd Oct Paris (Louvre Museum)

A very relaxed start to the day, got out of the hotel around 11am! Then it was across the street for some late breakfast trying some amazing pastries. Doc, Vik & Balia had left early for the Arc de Triomphe walk up the stairs (we had already done that before the cruise)

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Plan today was a leisurely stroll to Louvre Museum, we had tickets for 1:30pm entry. First, down to the mall near our hotel, and to the Pandora store, Pooja was on a mission to collect charms from each city.

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Pooja sorted, headed to Louvre, we only had around an hour before our timed entry. Getting there, Doc and Vik were already in the queue, joined in with them (Balia did not have the same tickets he was going at another time). Place was busy but having a scheduled time is great, line does move fairly quickly. The gold art work inside the iconic pyramid is quite interesting and turned out almost 3D like in my pic!

made our way down and then into the museum.

 

Finished off the Louvre museum and all then decided to head to lunch across the river, close to where we had Indian yesterday, we had noted two good Thai and Mexican places, I wanted Thai and Vik/Doc wanted  Mexican, lucky they both were almost next to each other! Time to walk…. lots of walking in Paris!

Got to the restaurants, unfortunately Thai was closed, so it was by default Mexican for us @ Fajitas. It was a good thing that Thai was closed, an amazing Mexican restaurant this was, small but the best food! Nice spicy varieties.
Highly recommended: Fajitas Mexican.

After the good feed, we headed to Notre Dame, that was still outstanding for us, Doc and Vik took another route from there.
Notre Dame was only a 10 minute walk away and queues there were not as bad as the weekend.

It was a surreal experience in Notre Dame, very peaceful, we all lit candles and just sat around, doing nothing but simply being at peace. What an experience.

Pooja was a bit tired and did not want to do any more walking, time for them to rest at the hotel, Nita and I headed to the OPERA shopping area. Aaria was also bored that afternoon and was happy to come into our room and play with Pooja, kids sorted!

Did a fair bit of walking around the OPERA area, and Nita did find lots of stores that interested her! Decided to walk back rather than UBER, lots to see. Along the way stopped by at the Pierre Herme Macarons – these were amazing!

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It is so true, you do get to see soo much more if you are on foot rather than in the car! Lots to see in Paris. Got a side visit to the Louvre area on the way back to the hotel, it is different at night!

Back at the hotel, it was a quick freshen up and then to catch-up with the entire gang at the famous Le Perla Italian restaurant (this would be our third visit). This time we were all seated upstairs, maybe it was the size of the group! As always the food here was super and the dessert were wow! Dinner done, back to the hotel, tomorrow morning was an early start for us, I wanted to get to Trocadero to get some pics of Neha & Pooja with Eiffel, after seeing our pics, both had changed their minds and were not ok to wake up early for the shoot.

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Neha’s vlog for 3rd Oct

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Day 19th–2nd Oct – End of Cruise, to Paris

End of cruise today, disembarkment was around 9:30am. Got my girls organised, bags packed, we vacated our room and were out with our bags to the Sports Bar. We should have done this more often, the place was mostly empty unlike the Buffet, where finding a table was always a challenge. The Sports bar whilst not a buffet restaurant had a good selection of pastries, sandwiches and espresso ofcourse! Relaxed there with a few rounds of espresso, it was about an hour before the other families came by. All headed to the meeting point awaiting our turn to disembark.

Out of the ship, baggage collected and on to our private bus transfer, yep, it was again a massive 54 seater coach for the 16 of us!! Drive back from La Havre was uneventful, wet weather did not help the mood. I guess it was a bit depressing having the cruise all finished Sad smile.

Stopped for a coffee break at an interesting road house, made entirely of containers!

Got to our hotel, Novotel Les Halles around 2:30pm, and by 3pm we were all out again, heading to La Chappell the indian district. We all needed a good spicy curry! It was a short 15 minute walk, and the weather was nice and cold, perfect for walking!

 

We ended up at the Kashmir Indian restaurant, and got lucky with a table for 16, it was in their basement, which did feel a bit claustrophobic but a few beers eased that quickly. Service was super slow (they were not expecting 16 to just rock up) but the food was awwww so yummm…. Highly recommended.

Late lunch done, now back to the hotel and relax for the evening’s Eiffel viewing from the top and Buddha Bar dinner. Along the way, all bought some mini padlocks that we were going to put on the bridge …somewhere!

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Back at the hotel, it was a time to chillax a bit.

The Eiffel viewing was at 7:30, we decided to leave around 6pm, allowing some extra time. It was the right move, traffic was heavy.  Getting there, we were next to Rue de Universite, time to get some pics of my girls from this awesome street!

 

We were lucky to get some good snaps, started grizzling soon after, and it was getting dark, time to head through security and into the secure Eiffel area, located Balia and family, they were already there, Vik and Doc were still on the way! We queued up and headed up – could not wait as our scheduled time was now. The weather unfortunately was not in our favour, light rain persisted and the winds up on the Eiffel did make it very very cold!
Add to that the low cloud cover and it was not the best mix for viewing.

 

It had been a very cold & wet viewing experience, we were unlucky with the weather but had made the most of it. Time to head down and make our way to Buddha Bar – Doc had booked dinner for all there. Balia and I headed out, the other two were almost finishing the top viewing.

Arrived at our destination, Neha & Pooja were looking forward to this place, we had an amazing experiencing in Dubai, were hoping for the same here!

The ambience inside was amazing but a group of 16 is a bit hard in such an environment. Food was not as good as what we had in Dubai, this was a bit of a let down. Night done, time to get an UBER to head back to the hotel, everyone was tired from the long day.

Tomorrow was the Louvre Museum.

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Neha’s vlog for today

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