Author Archives: vegetariantourist

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 🙂

Jaipur- An Instagrammer’s Paradise

This was actually my second visit to Jaipur, however, I don’t really recall anything from my first visit when I was 7 years old. I’m so glad I decided to make a return trip because Jaipur is truly remarkable with its stunning forts and palaces, gorgeous architecture and amazing art; that’s why it really is an “Instagrammer’s paradise.” If it were up to me, I could have stayed for another week and just taken a million pictures while exploring!

We spent three days in Jaipur on this trip with a healthy mix of sightseeing and shopping; two of the best things to do while in Jaipur. Here’s a breakdown of our trip:

Our sightseeing included The City Palace, Jaigarh Fort, Nahagarh Fort, Hawa Mahal,
Amer Fort and Patrika Gate. Just look at these amazing and beautiful spots, truly breathtaking.

City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
View From Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
View From Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Nahagarh Fort Jaipur
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Ride To Top of Amer Fort
Ride To Top of Amer Fort
Beautiful Amer Fort
Beautiful Amer Fort
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
Amer Fort Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur

For shopping, we spent most of our time in the Johri Bazaar, Babu Bazaar and shopping right outside of the Hawa Mahal.

Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Shopping in Jaipur
Market Jeweler in Jaipur
Market Jeweler in Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Block Printing
Famous Rajasthani Block Printing
Selling Turbans on top of the Market!
Selling Turbans on top of the Market!

We stayed at the Taj Jai Mahal Palace, which has some stunning interior décor (and I kind of wanted to just move in). We enjoyed so much like the life size chess game set up outside and the horse drawn carriage rides available to the guests.

Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Coolest Lifesize Chess Game Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur
Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur

As far as restaurants, I only have one recommendation this time around, which is Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (better known as LMB). Because we were busy sightseeing and shopping each day (and since we had pretty large breakfasts at the hotel each morning), we didn’t really scope out any of the restaurant scene, which I was a little bummed about. With that being said, LMB is right in the heart of it all and so incredibly good, that it’ll just have to be my one recommendation for Jaipur 🙂

Best Chole Bature at LMB Jaipur
Best Chole Bature at LMB Jaipur
Raj Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Raj Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Dessert Mawa Kachori at LMB Jaipur
Famous Rajasthani Dessert Mawa Kachori at LMB Jaipur

Hopefully this helps give you some insight on some of the wonderful things to see, do and eat in Jaipur. Like I said, I could’ve stayed much longer on this trip. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Thanks for a memorable trip Jaipur…until next time!

Incredible India- 2019

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; India, while nearly impossible to capture through words or photographs, is a place that can only be experienced.

Right on the heels of my return from another wonderful trip to the Motherland, I’m recovering from jet lag and trying to get back into the swing of things here at home in Chicago. It’s always a bit of a brutal reentry, especially after leaving 90 degrees and sun, in exchange for 25 degrees and gloom. But, I guess that’s reality!

On this two week trip, I spent one week at my home base in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, enjoying time with my family and cousins and then one week traveling through two cities in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer and Jaipur. It’s no secret by now that I’m completely obsessed with Rajasthan. Maybe because it’s the land of royal palaces, stunning artwork and architecture, detailed craftsmanship and vibrant colors set against the desert backdrop. Whatever the reason, I absolutely love it.

I’m planning on writing separate posts to share about each of the cities I visited and some of the awesome highlights, but thought I’d share a few pictures (trust me, there are MANY). One thing I’ve come to realize is that I really do love telling a story through my adventures. It was so humbling to receive SO many compliments on Instagram about my photos and videos and experiencing India through my lens. If nothing else, I find joy in sharing what I can with others.

Enjoy these photos and stay tuned for more in-depth posts coming soon. I’m barely back home and I already miss India!

Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Stunning Architecture at the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Sporting a Rajasthani Turban at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Love the Colorful Rajasthani Puppets
Love the Colorful Rajasthani Puppets
Streets of Jaislamer
Streets of Jaislamer
Gorgeous Patwa Haveli Jaisalmer
Gorgeous Patwa Haveli Jaisalmer
Always Shopping in India!
Always Shopping in India!
Who Photobombed Who in the Desert?
Who Photobombed Who in the Desert?
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort
Sunset at Jaigarh Fort Jaipur
More From the Jaigarh Fort
More From the Jaigarh Fort
Chole Bature from Laxmi Mishtan Bandar in Jaipur
Chole Bature from Laxmi Mishtan Bandar in Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur
View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort
View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
The Patrika Gate Jaipur
Sunset in Ahmedabad
Sunset in Ahmedabad
Sev Puri from Swati Snacks Ahmedabad
Sev Puri from Swati Snacks Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Being a Tourist at Adalaj Stepwell
Being a Tourist at Adalaj Stepwell

2018: A Year In Review

The end of one year and promise of a new one always bring about a certain sense of nostalgia. It’s a moment to look back on how far you’ve come and some of the amazing things you’ve accomplished, while also still holding in your heart where you hope to go and crushing your future goals. I do enjoy looking back on the year and remembering some of the highlights.

One of my favorite things to do is scroll through all my pictures on my smartphone and on my Instagram account as I’m always astonished at what I did in one years time. I’ll find a random picture of something I did that I’ve completely forgotten about by the years end, and I’m always so grateful to have that memory residing on my phone!

As I reflect on what a fantastic year 2018 was, I’m sharing some of my top memories. Trust me, it was tough to narrow this list down as I did A LOT. But, I hope you are following me throughout the year so you may continue to enjoy the journey as it unfolds.

In no particular order, here are some of my top moments from 2018:

Yoga Retreat in Havana, Cuba: As I set out into the new year of 2018, I had set an intention to go on an international trip through my blog. Low and behold, a few weeks later I was packing my bags for the beaches of of Havana, Cuba for a one week yoga retreat at Mhai Yoga. To say I fell in love with Cuba and the experience would be an understatement. I met some of the most wonderful people and truly felt blessed to travel to a place that was definitely on my list of must-visit destinations. Read more about my trip and experience here.

Beautiful Havana, Cuba

Lunch with Roger Federer– A collaboration with Barilla afforded me the opportunity to not only enjoy a 3-course lunch at Spiaggia prepared by Top Chef winner Chef Joe Flamm, but also had me dining with international superstar Roger Federer. I joke that I’m not sure how any lunch will ever top this one, but really, how will a lunch top this one? I’m not sure it can, but I’m ready to find out! Read my recap of the lunch here!

With my new friend Roger Federer!!
With my new friend Roger Federer!!

Mother-Daughter Day at The Peninsula Chicago– My Mom spent Mother’s Day in New Jersey to help take care of my newly born nephew. I was so bummed we didn’t get to spend the day together, so I planned the most epic bonding day at The Peninsula with facials at the spa followed by vegetarian Afternoon Tea. I haven’t ever seen my Mom so relaxed and happy. Her smile was worth a million bucks that day.

Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!
Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!

Appearing in the April Issue of Shape Magazine– One of my favorite fitness studios of all-time is Studio Three here in Chicago. I’m hooked on their awesome cycling and strength classes which are taught by the best instructors in the fitness industry that I’ve ever come across. I had the honor of participating in a photo shoot for Shape Magazine in the fall of 2017 through Studio Three and was thrilled to see my photo appear in the April 2018 issue. My first appearance in print! Woo hoo!

Appearing in the April 2018 Issue of Shape Magazine

Hosting my first all-vegetarian dinner– It was Monday, October 1st. It also happened to be World Vegetarian Day, the kick-off to Vegetarian Awareness Month AND Meatless Monday. I mean, I think this particular day was designed just for me! It was fitting then that I hosted my first ever all-vegetarian dinner at the steakhouse Prime & Provisions. We enjoyed a great meal and showcased that you can eat a great, all-veggie meal even at a steakhouse!

Caught in Action Hosting My First Vegetarian Dinner at Prime & Provisions

Outdoor Adventure with Clif Bar– It was a no-brainer when I was invited by Clif Bar for an all-day outdoor adventure to explore Chicago by water, land and air. We spent a gorgeous, August day kayaking Lake Michigan, riding Divvy bikes down Lakeshore path, strolling on the Riverwalk and so much more. I met some amazing folks from all over the US and truly will never forget what an unbelievably fun day this was out in the sun.

Beautiful Day to Explore Chicago Thanks to Clifbar

An evening with Sarah Jessica Parker at Tao Chicago– When American Express Business invites you to an event at Tao Chicago, you say YES! Not only that, the guest of the evening was Carrie Bradshaw, er I mean, Sarah Jessica Parker. She spoke about entrepreneurship and I was sitting about five feet away from her with a HUGE, cheesy grin on my face the entire time. I don’t think I was the only one!

An Evening With Sarah Jessica Parker at Tao Chicago

Helicopter Tour with Chicago Helicopter Experience– One of my bucket list items has been to go on a helicopter ride and I’m so happy that 2018 finally delivered that dream to me. A sunset tour over my beautiful city of Chicago with Chicago Helicopter Experience is something I will never forget. What an intimate way to experience the city and feel so close to all the skyscrapers. I also got some killer photographs that I’ll probably be sharing for years to come!

One Of My Favorite Pictures From The Helicopter
One Of My Favorite Pictures From The Helicopter

Hosting my first Insta-meetup at Colectivo Coffee– I’ve been so fortunate to have such an awesome, engaged audience and I thought it would be fun to finally meet some of my most loyal fans. I hosted a vegetarian meetup at Colectivo Coffee and it was such a blast to finally put a face to the Instagram handle, ha ha. But, in all seriousness, I had so much fun and really hope to have and host more events into 2019 and beyond.

Hosting My First Insta-Meetup with My Amazing Followers

I have so much more to share, but will stop here. This was just the tip of the iceberg of all the awesomeness that was 2018. I continue to be so incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that come my way and do not take one moment of it for granted.

As always, thanks for your continued support and following along on this vegetarian traveling journey of mine. Let’s see where 2019 takes me… can’t wait!