Author Archives: vegetariantourist

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 🙂

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!