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Lake District England in One Day.. the most scenic place in England

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me and my Kiddo @ Waterfront on Ambleside
Lake District is supposedly the most beautiful destination in England and listed as one of those 100 places which you need to visit before you Die. We decided to give 1 Day to Lake District in our itinerary (rather half a day) - we went there on the way from Manchester to Edinburgh.

Lake District is famous for Lakes, Mountains and natural beauty. There are total 10 Lakes, the largest one is Windermere. There are multiple tours available "10 Lakes tour" etc. but we wanted to explore ourselves, so we decided to do Windermere for our day trip.
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Sailboats on the Windermere Lake
How to Go:
Lake district is connected by train to the rest of England through Oxenholme Lake District Station. This is mid-day from Manchester to Edinburgh.
Manchester to Oxenholme Lake District station : 1 hour
There are trains every hour. This would be the national rail express.
From here you take a northern train to other parts of Lake district.

Oxenholme to Windermere : 30 Mins
The journey from Oxenholme Lake District to Windermere is considered to be one of the most scenic routes in England. The train passes through the villages of Kendal, Burneside and Staveley and the scenery is worth watching.
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Sitting my the Lake.. Silence and Breeze
What to do in Windermere:
This a very cute town with a small station, information center and some walking trails nearby. As we got down, we walked to the information center, which is 5 mins walk, there a signboards to help you out.
We kept our luggage there in a locker - they have a facility available which charges 7 Pounds for a half day. There is a lady who provided information about where to go, along with the map of the place and also sold Cruise tickets.
We kept our bag, and also got Cruise tickets for Windermere lake.

Windermere lake is located on a town called  "Bowness-On-Windermere" which is a 20 mins walk from Windermere. We had a small kid, so we decided to take a bus ticket.

Bus from Windermere to "Bowness" - The Stagecoach599 bus runs every 20 mins, and costs 2.4 Pounds per person - This is an open-top bus, so if the weather is fine, its a nice short journey from Windermere Station to Bowness
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On the Cruise
Cruise : There are 2 Cruises on the Lake - Red Cruise and Yellow Cruise, the Information center lady will offer all information and also sell tickets. We went for the Red Cruise which is a roundtrip journey to a nearby village Ambleside. You can get down on Ambleside, spend good time and then come back whenever the next cruise is available.
Cost - 11.30 Pounds per person
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The Lake is beautiful with blue waters, and mountains surrounding it. I watched a lot of sailboats and people having a good time.
Ambleside is a small beautiful town with amazing greenery - there is a Roman Fort (ruins of an old fort) which can be seen here. This is a 5 mins walk from the waterfront.
There are some restaurants over the lake, and it was amazing to eat traditional fish and chips sitting by the lake and enjoying the chilly breeze.
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 https://www.bootsandbutter.com/2018/10/lake-district-england-in-one-day-most.html

There are other things to do Windermere, there is a beautiful walking trail called Orrest Head which is an easy 20 mins walk and the views of the lake from this viewpoint are breath-taking. We skipped it as we had to catch our return train.

For those staying in Windermere overnight, we saw "Windermere Hotel" which is just outside the station and looked good.


We left Manchester in the morning at 8.30 and reached Windermere station at around 11 Am. This was a connecting train from Preston Lancs. We booked our ticket on Trainline.
After reaching Windermere, we went to information center, dumped our bags, got the cruise tickets and boarded the bus to Bowness.
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Bowness-On-Windermere is the lake front - the lake is beautiful, clean with lots of big and small ducks and sailboats. We boarded the cruise at 12.20 and reached Ambleside in 30 mins or so.
Ambleside is a gorgeous place, with green spaces as far as we could see. We went to the roman fort and to the park nearby. Took some great pictures and sat by the lake.
After enjoying some local food, we decided to board the cruise back at around 3PM. Reached Windermere, collected our bags and boarded the train to Edinburgh via Oxenholme to continue our journey into Scotland as per our Itinerary.
Some links about Lake District - Official Site, Attractions in Lake District, Tripadvisor Places for Lake District

P.S = All pictures are original and taken from my Nikkon5300 DSLR.
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 https://www.bootsandbutter.com/2018/10/lake-district-england-in-one-day-most.html

Chester (England) in one day on Foot.. the city with walls

Recently I went to a trip to England and Scotland and visited many cities, experienced the culture and also watched a football match. I will cover everything in detail and also the full itinerary, but thought of starting with the City of Chester which has been voted as the fifth prettiest  city in the Europe
This is one of the oldest cities, built as a fort by Romans in 79AD, and was known as Deva.

Since this was originally built as a fort, there are ancient walls surrounding the city. You can walk on the city walls, the entire perimeter being about 2-3 kms, and it shows you the entire city and all the attractions are lined along the walls. It is a beautiful city indeed.
What to do in Chester :

The city has lots of places to visit but all in the same vicinity. It can be covered entirely on foot. I went there on a Saturday, the weather was pleasant and apparently I saw throngs of people dressed in a formal English attire, men in suits, women in hats and beautiful dresses, it was a sight to watch. Perhaps there was a horse racing going on in the city, which seems to be a very popular attraction for people living in Chester and in nearby cities. There were pretty stylist people walking around the city, going into pubs and later heading to the racecourse.

The city looked alive and happy to me. 

Chester Cathedral
I walked straight to the Cathedral, which apparently was rated very high on Tripadvisor. It is a 15 mins walk from the station. The entry is free, but there is a donation box if you want to put something. This was built 1000 years back and dedicated to the Christ and Virgin Mary. The original church was built in Roman style, which was then destroyed and rebuilt in Gothic style which took over 275 years and an impressive structure that it stands today.
Beautiful Coir of the Cathedral

Opening times: Monday to Saturday (0900 to 1800 hrs) and Sunday(1300 to 1600 hrs)
More details on the Cathedral website
While walking over to the Cathedral, you will cross the market and nice shopping street along the Eastergate clock. So the next stop was Eastgate Clock. 
King Charles Tower
East Gate Clock
City Walls: The walls around the city are about a perimeter of 2 miles, consisting of 4 gates (East Gate, North Gate, Bridge Gate and Water Gate). I started my walk from East Gate as this was the closest to the Cathedral and the markets. 
EastGate has a clock on top, which was erected to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. This a two-tier city, there are stairs to go up and this brings you to the walls. 
Then I headed to King Charles Tower which marks the defeat of his troops in the English Civil war. Then I walked the walls back to Eastgate, towards the NorthGate where I was able to see the Roman Amphitheater and the amazing River below me. 
Chester Rows: You could see lots of Timbered houses which are double storied from the historical era. Many of these houses now host galleries and shops and known as Chester Rows. Some of them have been built on top of the Roman ruins, so half timber and half old stone. Can be found on East gate, Bridge and Water gate streets

Dee River : For a person not too much interested in History, and more into nature, I particularly loved the Dee river. The entire place had an amazing holiday vibe. People enjoying their Saturday by the river, feeding the birds, taking a short cruise and enjoying the sunny weather. I sat there for a while, just observing the water and the birds and thinking nothing. There were small shops selling coffee, cakes, hot dogs and people sitting on the benches with children. There is also a nice bridge, which you can walk across to take cool pictures of the city.

Roman gardens and amphitheater :  From here, I walked to the green gardens nearby and the old amphitheater. The construction of such amphitheaters started in Italy and spread to all places which were rules by Romans. Historically it could seat 7000 spectators and must have been a stronghold of Roman supremacy in those days. I didn't like it that much, so can be skipped.
The Eastgate street has lots of shopping, and people singing, dancing, playing music on weekends. Spend some time there to absorb the vibe of this place. Totally loved it.
Roman Amphitheater
Chester Zoo is another popular attraction in the city, It is huge and children will love it. There is a ticket for 20 pounds per adult and you need to take a bus to reach there. I gave it a pass as not much interested in Zoo's and it would take a full day to visit there.

Headed back to the station, it is a 10 mins walk and had a nice Cappuccino on Costa Coffee. 

Travel by Train: It is very easily accessible by train from London, Liverpool or Manchester. 
From London, train journey by Virgin Rail is about 2 hours, if you book in advance, the ticket prices are cheaper
From Liverpool, Its a 45 mins journey on Mersey Rail, I travelled from Liverpool, the return- ticket was 5 Pounds since it was a weekend.
From Manchester, it is a 1.5 hour journey on Northern Rail and the ticket prices are around 12 pounds on offpeak. 
Tourists planning to go to Snowdonia, Peak District or Lake District, can include Chester in their itinerary as it is easily accessible from Liverpool, Manchester or London.

I purchased all my train tickets from Trainline or from the station itself. There is also an information center on the station from where you can collect the city map or buy tickets for the cruise or Chester Zoo. 
Some more information on the following sites for those who want to plan their journey - Visit Cheshire, History of Chester and more. 
Gardens beyond the Cathedral
Cathedral built by LEGO

These 8 destinations will make you feel WOW

These 8 destinations will make you feel WOW!

Our planet is full of natural and man-made marvels. People who wish to explore a new place every now and then know the importance of diving deep into the unspoiled beauty and meeting travellers with different cultures and traditions. We are here with some stunning places whose beauty and the cultures will leave you spellbound.

All these destinations have their own charm and one cannot contemplate their beauties and express them in words. To have an out of this world travel experience, continue reading and add the following places to your travel bucket list. Pick up one and enjoy a dive into a world of wild woods and untouched azure surface of the oceans.

Andaman:

Whether you are looking forward to some exclusive honeymoon tours or an excursion with your friends or a lovely journey with your family, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands remains an exciting holiday destination. The vibrant marine life, the serene beaches, the unspoiled nature and the lovely aura are going to deliver you an unforgettable holiday experience.  There are approximately 300 islands popular for its white sand beaches, tropical rainforests and stunning mangroves. The Havelock Island is the most visited island of the place.


Turkey :

Turkey is a beautiful nation located in western Asia and Eastern Europe contemplating the traditional connections with the Persian, Greek, Byzantine, Roman and the Ottoman Empires. Visiting Turkey will be a blessed experience and you can observe a unique blend of these ancient cultures amalgamating the western culture in its heart. Turkey is a place where continents collide, it is a place with colourful skies, it is a chilled spray on a hot soul and it is a historical land with the best local cuisine.


Nepal :

If your definition of a holiday is indulging in some adrenaline-filled activities, then you can place your palm on the best trekking tour in the Himalayas that kick-start from Nepal. Nepal is a beautiful country located in the laps of the mighty Himalayas and the unspoiled nature and the virgin snow provide the best holiday getaway for the adventure enthusiasts. Nepal is home to some of the most thrilling treks such as the Annapurna Circuit and the Everest Base Camp Trek. Do you wish to check your trekking stamina? Reach Nepal and embark on a thrilling Himalayan trek.


Singapore:

One of the best island nations on this planet, Singapore is the top-most choice for holidays for couples, families, and friends. This tourism-friendly country has added several jewels to its crown. From the beaches with soft sands to the souring Singapore flyer, from the amazing universal studios to the peppy underwater world, Singapore is home to a number of activities that will please everyone’s soul. It is a country for your kids, elderly, friends and your better half. Book your tickets to Singapore and get an eyeful of this wonderful land.



Ladakh:
Have you caught a sight of a frozen river anytime in your life? If not then the Chadar trek in Ladakh will help you catch this amazing sight soon. Embark on an amazing journey with your beloved, gear up and get ready for a Ladakh bike trip; this will be the best experience of your life. The stunning views, the breath taking nature and the low oxygen zones, you will have a feeling of being in the paradise and you will never wish to come back home.

Dubai :

Dubai was once a city known only for its oil reserves. Who knew then that after a few decades, Dubai would become one of the top-most holiday destinations in the world? A huge crowd of tourists visits this vibrant city of UAE to participate in its yearly Dubai Festival. UAE is paying a great deal of attention to tourism and the cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are popular for tourism. You will find amazing man-made beaches, several adventurous activities to indulge in, stunning skyscrapers and boutique shopping malls.

Bali:

Bali is an Indonesian Island popular for its dense volcanic mountains, the iconic rice paddies, coral reefs and stunning beaches. The island is also known for its Buddhists temples and the pristine yoga centres. The mere mention of this island will educe the thoughts of the paradise. Bali is more than just a place; it is an inspiration, a mood and a tropical state of mind.

Australia: The last in our list is Australia, which does not deserve to be at the last place. Australia is an amazing country and the enthralling beauty of the country draws in a number of tourists every year. For couples, Australia remains one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world. Australia is colourful, wild, has soulful stories and sophisticated cities to spend the best time of your life with your partner.
 *Content is sponsored by Thrillophilia

Cafe Buzzinga.. Cafe in Whitefield

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Bangalore Restaurant - Cafe Buzzinga Review
Last weekend I visited Cafe Buzzinga.. I used to always watch it while driving down to Kundalhalli from Whitefield .. so decided to try it out this weekend.
The name sounds offbeat and the place looked hippie from outside - so we went in. The parking is also available inside the galli.. which is an important factor to go to a restaurant.

Ambiance : 3/5 
This a home converted to a cafe.. a small sitting area inside and a large area in the open. The place looks offbeat with some weird cartoon character pictures on the wall.. bright lights inside and a dark natural light outside. The challenge with sitting outside was that there were mosquitoes.. the restaurant had put lots of mosquito coils under each table so the smoke from that was overpowering. This mixes with the smoke coming from hookah on tables.
Inside also there is sitting area, which is much quieter, covered with bright walls and images. The inside sitting is a small space, with only 2-3 tables. 
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http://www.bootsandbutter.com/

Food : 3.5/5
This cafe offers western cuisine - The menu has Pasta, fries, Soups, Sandwiches, burgers, lasagna, Roasted chicken platters and much more. Zomato says they do not serve alcohol, but when we visited, we saw they serve wine and sangria. Many people were having wine along with Hookah. 
We have a young kid, so we avoided the hookah, but I noticed that people were really enjoying their wine, hookah and chicken.

We ordered a Cheese sauce Pasta and a Grilled chicken plate
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Chicken Grilled with peri peri sauce and served with 2 sides - French Fries and Onion rings : This was lovely. The platter was huge for one person to finish. The chicken was tender and well marinated in  sauces. 
The fries were also good, Onion rings were too oily apparently. Except Onion rings, the rest of the stuff was pretty good. 
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Alfredo Penne Pasta : Good cheesy sauce, with veggies and served with some bread. 

Service : Overall good, but a bit slow. The number of customers were more than the number of attendants. We had to remind the waiter many times before he could actually bring our meal. 
But the good thing is that the owner, a nice lady, is also there in the restaurant, she will ask if we enjoyed our meal and what is the feedback.

Price : Our bill was around INR 700/- for the above 2 dishes. The portion size of food is pretty good.

Location 1, Bright Farm, Thubarahalli, Varthur Road, Whitefield, Bangalore
When we go from Hope farm junction towards Kapoor's Cafe, this restaurant comes on the left side. Google Maps location is correct.

Overall I think it is a good place to hangout, I would love to visit there again.
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My Rating - 3/5

Cafe Buzzinga Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
P.S : All pictures on my blog are original and clicked from my iPhone 6. I visited this place with my family and paid for my food - the review is authentic !!

Around Bangalore.. Ideas for the long weekend

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Kabini backwaters
The next weekend is a Long weekend (Good Friday) and the best thing about Bangalore is that there are so many places nearby that it is worth to get out and get moving for the long weekends. 
I thought of compiling a list of all places that I have been to for a 2 day or a 1 day outing.

I have also linked each of the list to the detailed posts on my blog - in case you need more details to plan your trip

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Kabini
1. Kabini : This place has a charm of its own - Kabini Backwaters are known for its diverse wildlife and quiet atmosphere away from the hustle of the city.  This is around 210 Kms from Bangalore and only ~60 kms from Mysore.
We went there by our own car and stayed at Jungle Lodges. They have a 1 night and 2 day package which includes food, Nagarhole forest safari and a River safari. 
It was an amazing experience and I would recommend everyone to go there. This trip can be planned over a weekend, but bookings for stay have to be done in advance.

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Nagarhole Jungle Safari
2. Nagarhole Forest : Relating to the above post, the Nagarhole forest is an adventure in itself. 

Nagarhole forest is at the edge of karnataka and kerala border, and many of the fellow travellers have encountered this place on the way to ooty or wyanad or southern coorg. But what we see while passing through it is just tip of the iceberg, the wildlife and density of this forest is immense. Animals live in their natural habitat and can be visited during the Nagarhole safari.
There is a huge difference between the jungle safari at Nagarhole or Bandipur forest v/s the one in Bannerghatta national park. Here we are in an open jeep, in the midst of a jungle and we have to literally search for animals. The surroundings are more genuine and a bit scary too.

The distance from Bangalore to Nagarhole national park is 224 kms. The best way is to drive your own vehicle or take a hired cab. Public transport is not that great.

My Trip to Nagarhole National Park - Detailed post

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Butter falls @ Chikmagalur
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The iconic restaurant in Chikmagalur
3. Chikmagalur : This is a hill station with major attractions being the home-stays with coffee plantations, driving on the hills, and waterfalls.
Total distance from Whitefield Bangalore to Chikmagalur ~250 Kms
We drove our Honda Amaze from Bangalore and reached there in 5 hours.
Key places to see in Chikmagalur are Mulyanagiri (highest hill top), Baba budnagiri (another hill top) and Buttermilk falls

More Details about my trip to Chikmagalur
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Belur Temple
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Vishnu Varaha avtar @ Belur Temple

4. Belur Historical temples : In connection with Chikmagalur, there is another place Belur which is known for its famous Hoysala architecture temple. This can be visited on the way to Chikmagalur or a full day Trip can be planned to visit here. You can do a morning-evening run for Belur - overnight stay is not required. 
This is around 220 Kms from Bangalore and 30Kms from Chikmagalur. Many people plan day-trips to this temple and believe me, it is totally worth it.
It was built in 1117AD by King Vishnuvardhana and it seems this place was build to celebrate their military victory. You could find a lot of art-work covering their National emblem, Horses, Lions and war symbols. There is a main temple of Lord Vishnu and other small side temples of other deities. The main temple has 48 pillars and each pillar is unique in design and art. Outside the temple, each wall has a story to tell.. going around looking at those stone sculptures and figuring out the story which fascinated the artists of that era is indeed a magical experience.

Detailed post about Belur on my blog
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Periyar Lake in Ooty
5. Ooty : This place needs no introduction, it is by far one of the most popular hill stations in Tamil Nadu. Ooty is around 280 Kms from Bangalore. Known for its Tea gardens, Lakes and botonical gardens, Periyar Lake, it never stops attracting tourists.
Avoid during Peak season as it gets too crowded. 

Here is the detailed article on Ooty Trip
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Shivasamudram Falls

6. Shivasamudra Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful attractions around Bangalore. It is ~140 kms from the city and is the second biggest waterfall in the country. River Kaveri divides into two branches and each branch cascades down rocky cliffs as the Gaganachukki and the Bharachukki, both are one km away from each other. These spectacular waterfalls are surrounded by hill forests of the Kaveri Wildlife Sanctuary.

My Trip to Shivasamudra Waterfalls

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Rananathittu Bird Park

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Baby Crocodile @ Ranganathittu bird watching

7. Ranganathittu Bird sancturary : This Bird Sanctuary is located 140Kms from Bangalore, we visited here on our return journey from Shivasamudram falls - so this could be clubbed together. The best time to go to Ranganathittu is Feb-March because there are umpteem birds and even migratory species could be seen in this season.
We went in August - just after rains, so birds were less and the pool was full of water.
Nonetheless we enjoyed a lot, some pics here...

Here is the detailed article on Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

8. Nandi Hills : Guess every Bangalorean has been here, so how could I miss such a beautiful place my list of Weekend ideas. Nandi hills is a beautiful hillstation in Bangalore. It is around 60-70 kms from the city and is an awesome picnic spot in any weather.. We drove to Nandi hills by our own car Honda Amaze, the drive is superb, easy (a bangalore road driver can manage the turns/ghats) but need to be careful in monsoons as the roads get slippery and visibility is limited.
There is a Karnataka tourism bus also which had a 1 day tour to Nandi hills.

My trip to Nandi Hills - detailed post
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Nandi Hills
9. Bannerghatta national park is not very far from Bangalore, just 20 to 30 kms range, depending on where you stay in the city. It lies towards the south of the city, in the hills of Anekal range. A small portion of this park is part of the zoo and safari, which can be visited by everyone on a ticket.
I found safari was a bit expensive but they take you to the inside of the jungle and closer to tigers, lions, bears, deer and more animals. The zoo is also nice with all animals under enclosures. I particularly found the butterfly park very beautiful.

Here is the detailed article on Bannerghatta National Park
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Bannerghatta National Park
10. Lalbagh Gardens : This is located within Bangalore - If you do not want to go anywhere outside Bangalore as it is a challenge to find quiet places and good hotels on long weekends - head to the Lalbagh gardens to spend your day. Leave early morning and reach by 8 or 9AM to avoid crowd and also to avail parking. You can also try Namma Metro - the Lalbagh metro station is very near to the west gate

Detailed article on Lalbagh Gardens on my blog
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Rose Garden @ Lalbagh

P.S:  All Pictures in this blog are original and clicked from my phone and camera