United Polaris: A First Time For Everything

There is a first time for everything and this was my first time flying
United Polaris international business class. What an unbelievable experience flying from
Chicago to Paris in comfort and style. And, when I say in style, I really mean it.

Upon arrival at Chicago O’hare International Airport, I used my TSA pre-check to swiftly get through security and head straight to the United Polaris Lounge, located right outside of gate C17. And, how lucky, our flight was leaving out of gate C18!

Chicago O'hare AirportChicago O’hare Airport

United Polaris Lounge Chicago O'hare

United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’hare

From the moment I entered, I knew this was going to be a great experience before boarding my flight to Paris. I took a quick walk through the massive lounge, walking by all the comfortable chairs, sleeping pods, large bathrooms with showers and so much more. United really put a lot of thought into designing this exquisite lounge.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago

United Polaris Lounge Chicago

I met up with Ashley and we immediately scoped out all of the drink options at the bar as well as the plethora of food. There was so much to choose from (and very clearly marked for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free) that I just had a hard time figuring out what to get. I couldn’t help but try a few things, because, why not?! First things first though, we needed to kick-off this
adventure with some champagne.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago

United Polaris Lounge Chicago

United Polaris Lounge photo credit: @mushroomstew

United Polaris Lounge photo credit: @mushroomstew

What’s also really great is there is an actual sit-down restaurant where you can order food too at no extra charge. Unfortunately we did not get the chance to dine at the restaurant this time around, but that’s ok, I’ll save it for the next time I fly Polaris 🙂 I wish I could’ve come to the lounge like 6 hours in advance and just hung out! When does that ever happen? Usually I’m timing my arrival at the airport to get to the gate right when they are boarding. But,
this was one experience where I wish I could’ve gotten there early to relax in the lounge and take full advantage of all the amenities.

Dining Room at Polaris Lounge Chicago

Dining Room at Polaris Lounge Chicago

Dining Room at Polaris Lounge Chicago

Menu at Dining Room at Polaris Lounge Chicago

Our time flew by quickly and all of a sudden it was time to head to the gate. I was so excited to get to board with Group 1 for my epic trip to France! And, how fortunate, our plane was one of the newly outfitted aircraft with the updated Polaris seating pods. Seat 5A, here I come!

Group 1 Boarding Time!

Group 1 Boarding Time!

Seat 5A on United Polaris to Paris

Seat 5A on United Polaris to Paris

Welcome Drinks To Board United Polaris

Welcome Drinks To Board United Polaris

I'm Ready For Takeoff to Paris

I’m Ready For Takeoff to Paris photo credit: @mushroomstew

Goodbye Chicago!

Goodbye Chicago!

Having a private pod was hands-down the best airline seat I’ve ever had. It was such a comfortable, cozy little area and I felt like I could relax, sleep, watch a movie, eat, whatever, and no one would know otherwise. I also really appreciated all the lovely amenities like the Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, the Sunday Riley skincare and even the white terrycloth slippers so I could really get settled in.

Saks Fifth Avenue and Sunday Riley Products on Polaris

Saks Fifth Avenue and Sunday Riley Products on Polaris

Getting Comfy In My Slippers on Polaris

Getting Comfy In My Slippers on Polaris

Being vegetarian, I always request the Asian Vegetarian meal when I fly. We enjoyed a three course meal which included a salad starter course (lentil salad, green salad, naan and bread) and then the main course (paneer, spinach and mixed vegetables with yellow saffron rice) with the best for last, the dessert cart! A cart full of options from mini pies to little cheesecakes to a
make-your-own sundae option are all there for the taking. I tried all the things (duh) and I’m telling you, that hot fudge sundae is honestly one of the best sundaes I’ve ever had. You can imagine I made sure to have it on the way home too!

First Course For Dinner on United Polaris

First Course For Dinner on United Polaris

Main Course Indian Meal

Main Course Indian Meal

The Polaris Dessert Cart!

The Polaris Dessert Cart!

The Best Hot Fudge Sundae Ever!

The Best Hot Fudge Sundae Ever!

Stunning Sunset During Dinner

Stunning Sunset During Dinner

After our filling meal, I got cozied up and fully reclined my seat to lay flat to get some rest. I used the eye mask to cover my eyes and slept for a solid 3 hours. I woke up to the crew getting ready for our breakfast service. Already? Didn’t I just eat? I had another great Indian meal and poof, we were landing in Paris. Honestly, this was the fastest 8 hour flight I’ve EVER been on. If only every flight could be like this.

Asian Vegetarian Breakfast on United Polaris

Asian Vegetarian Breakfast on United Polaris

Approaching Paris!

Approaching Paris Half an Hour Early!

Not only that, we landed half an hour early in Paris!!! I didn’t think this flight could get better and it just did. Overall, I can’t rave enough about my experience on United Polaris. Everything from the comfort to the service to amenities were top-notch and now I’ve officially been spoiled for life. If you have the chance to fly United Polaris, I highly recommend it. It is definitely going to be my preferred choice when flying international.

Please Note: While this post is in partnership with United, all opinions are my own.

Bliss In A Bottle

Calling all my wellness and spa friends (that should really be ALL of you). I’m here to tell you I’ve found the BEST Ayurvedic Aromatherapy products I’ve ever come across in my life. No seriously. The brand is called Subtle Energies based out of Australia and you can find it here in Chicago at The Peninsula Spa (at all of the world-wide Peninsulas as a matter of fact).

Subtle Energies At The Peninsula Chicago Spa
Subtle Energies At The Peninsula Chicago Spa

What sets apart Subtle Energies from other products I’ve come across is how pure the products are. “Subtle Energies creates results-based aromatherapy, natural skincare and wellness solutions founded on authentic Ayurveda principles. The range is created with intent to address multiple skin and body concerns, whilst delivering high performance results empowering one’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.” They use a process sourcing the highest grade of oils, by extracting the quality active ingredients, rather than crushing the plants for extraction, like most others do.

Subtle Energies At The Peninsula Chicago Spa
Subtle Energies At The Peninsula Chicago Spa

The results are the purest, highest quality products available. Having just returned from India, I came across many Ayurvedic products while out shopping or during a spa visit and each and every time I would think, these are no where near the luxurious quality like those of Subtle Energies products. That’s a testament in of itself.

I’ve now had the chance to try the full skin care line at home, as well as most of the essential oils. I can genuinely say that each time I use any of the products, morning or night, it completely centers me and brings me to the present to appreciate the amazing aroma from each product. I really love all the products, but if I could only choose one, it would be the facial blend serum. I’m obsessed with the scent of mogra (Indian jasmine) and every time I apply the serum to my face, I close my eyes and just enjoy that deep, pure scent. It’s true that using these products are more than just a physical sensation; it truly incorporates mental and emotional well being.

I also had the chance to try out the Subtle Energies Holistic Anti-Aging Customizable Facial at The Peninsula Spa and it was straight up glorious. Not only did I feel completely relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards, I was mesmorized by the heavenly scents and my skin was glowing and so soft. It was just the reboot my skin needed after the long, harsh winter we had in Chicago this year.

Glowing Skin After Subtle Energies Facial
Glowing Skin After Subtle Energies Facial
Subtle Energies Bliss Blend
Subtle Energies Bliss Blend

Moral of the story: you need to try out all of the Subtle Energies products. I simply can’t rave enough and it’s become such a part of my daily routine. I’m starting to run low on my products so I’ll definitely be stopping by The Peninsula Spa to restock. I can’t survive without them now.

One Of My Top Destinations To Visit In Mexico

This was my first trip to Puerto Vallarta (PV) and I have to say that I absolutely loved it! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it absolutely exceeded anything I could have imagined. I feel like I’ve become the walking and talking campaign for tourism to Puerto Vallarta because I just enjoyed it that much.

PV is a beautiful destination on the west coast of Mexico, where the mountains meet the ocean. There are so many options for adventure from hiking, biking, boating, wildlife conservation, to just relaxing and doing nothing at your hotel. I tell everyone that it is perfect for any kind of trip; a family getaway, girls trip, couples trip, whatever you want. Overall, one of my top destinations in Mexico (alongside Tulum and Mexico City).

Here are some details and photos from my trip with my friend Erica:

Where we stayed: The beautiful, newly renovated Marriott PV Resort and Spa. This wonderful resort located not far from the airport was awesome. Beautiful property with multiple pools (even a separate kiddie pool and play area), several restaurants (fantastic breakfast buffet with the BEST ever made-to-order chilaquiles), clean and spacious rooms with balconies and so much more.

Stroll on the Malecon: This area is not to be missed; lively, right along the ocean, great people watching and fun shopping and restaurants. I think we went here almost every day and at different times of the day, so it always felt like something new to see and do.

Food tour with Vallarta Food Tours: This tour is awesome, definitely worth your time and money. We visited 10 spots on this tour and let me tell you, we were stuffed. They are able to accommodate dietary restrictions (definitely check first before booking about your specific needs). This walking tour was a great way to see Old Town PV and go to spots I know I would have never sought out on my own. A fun way to learn about the life and culture of PV and more so, the awesome culinary scene and delicious foods from the area. Definitely go on a food tour with Vallarta Food Tours!

Yelapa boat tour with Vallarta Adventures: We did a day trip to Yelapa and Majahuitas and had so much fun. Yelapa was a cute little village about an hour and half boat ride from PV and we had the chance to walk through the town and chill at the beach. After that we went sea kayaking and then stopped at Majahuitas for an afternoon to swin and relax on the beach with some drinks. A fun day in the sun!

I can’t speak highly enough about PV and here’s the best part; I’m going back in September! Yup. This time I’m going back for an entire week, so I’ll have the chance to really get to know the area and explore even more. I can’t wait. Who knows what all I will eat/see/do on my next trip. Stay tuned!

Please Note: While our hotel stay and food tour were part of a collaboration, all opinions are my own.

My Home Away From Home

These days when I visit India, my home base is Ahmedabad, the capital of the state of Gujarat. My parents purchased a flat there several years ago and do the whole “escape ridiculous winters in Chicago” and head to warmer climates. Smart people I must say!

Overlooking Ahmedabad
Overlooking Ahmedabad
Complex Where My Parents Live
Complex Where My Parents Live

Having our own home in India has been an insightful experience. It has me visiting more regularly (about every other year) as well as created more of a sense of what it’s like to live in India. I enjoy the change, but won’t lie, I think I’m just used to life in the US. It’s fun for a few weeks for me, but I like coming back to my home in Chicago.

One cool thing with my regular visits is that I’m seeing how much Ahmedabad (and India in general) are changing. Even on the street that my parents live, a huge new high-rise and tons of shopping and restaurant space are under construction, so I’m sure it will be even more bustling by my next visit. And, it’s crazy to see so many chains that I’m used to in the US popping up in Ahmedabad like Burger King, Forever 21 and H & M. Also, just the sheer volume of new restaurants is unbelievable. Too many for vegtourist to explore on such short visits!

By far the best part of being in Ahmedabad are all my relatives. I have quite a bit of family in the area and I always have the best time with them. We spend most of our time hanging out, shopping and eating out, so how can that not be fun??? Here are just a few pictures of my latest visit to Ahmedabad:

For all the times I’ve been to Ahmedabad, I haven’t really done much sight-seeing. I don’t’ think there is as much to see as other cities like Jaipur or Delhi, but I made it a point to do a little research and make sure I saw something new on this trip. I came across the Adalaj Stepwell during my Google search, and I knew this was the one place I needed to visit. My cousin Arth was kind enough to take me for a little morning trip and we had a blast exploring this beautiful site that dates back to the 15th century. Just stunning!

I hadn’t even left Ahmedabad yet before my family was asking when my return visit was going to be. I’m not sure. Until then, I miss all that Ahmedabad has to offer, mostly my loving family and the out-of-this-world delicious food. Hope to you soon!

Revisiting Jaisalmer

I first learned about the city of Jaisalmer from my boss back in 2006 or so. He told me he was taking his nephew on a trip to India and one thing they were doing was going on a camel trek through the desert. I remember thinking how cool that sounded and the idea always stuck with me that Jaisalmer was definitely a place I’d like to visit.

Fast-forward to 2013 when I finally made it to this very cool and unique town in northwestern Rajasthan, near the border of Pakistan. I fell in love with the walled, fortress city, perched on top of a hill, with its tiny, winding, cobblestone streets . And, what an experience enjoying my first sunset camel trek through the Thar Desert at Sam Sand Dunes. Coupled with staying in the beautiful palace hotel called Suryagarh and then the ultra-luxurious desert camp called The Serai, it was a trip for the books.

I wasn’t quite sure how my second visit this time around in 2019 was going to top my last visit. I guess I wasn’t looking for it to top it per se, but just have the chance to see and explore more. And that mission was definitely accomplished on this trip.

It was nice to have a pretty vivid recollection of what to expect and what I’d like to see and do this time around. I knew that on this trip I’d like to stay somewhere different (we went with the new, modern Marriott Jaisalmer) and I also knew that I’d wanted to experience a more unique camel trek (Sam Sand Dunes is super touristy and busy) so we had a private high tea experience in the Khuri Dunes. We also had the chance to explore a bit more and visited the very cool site of Bada Bagh (which should not be missed) and Gadisar Lake and went back to Patwan Haveli and the Jain Temple. A full couple days of gorgeous architecture, amazing artwork and of course, some shopping! Here are some pictures:

Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer

Oh, and I forgot to mention that on the day we were checking out from the hotel, there was a HUGE wedding happening that evening. It was amazing to see all the vivid color decorations and how they transformed the courtyard into what looked like was going to be an awesome party. Wish we could have been wedding crashers!

Hope if you ever visit Rajasthan, that you make sure to add Jaisalmer to your list. It’s a lovely place and I might just have to go back for a third time 🙂