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!

Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour

Now’s Your Chance to Sign Up for a Sold-Out Bourbon Pop-Up Coming to Chicago’s Wrigley Field!

Super excited to tell you all about an awesome event coming to Chicago on November 7-8, 2018. Normally I’m telling you about cool events after I’ve already attended them, but this time I’m letting you know in advance! #sponsored

The Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour is making its way across the US and making a stop in Chicago. And here is what I think is the most exciting part of this entire experience; it’s occurring on Wrigley Field itself. Yes, you read that correctly!!! Right on the field where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. This interactive pop-up will transport you into the world of American whiskey, where four brands will be showcased in a multi-sensory experience; Basil Hayden’s®, Maker’s Mark®, Jim Beam® and Knob Creek®. Bourbon experts will lead the professional tastings and experiences, while bartenders will create refreshing bourbon cocktails.

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

Because this event has been such a hit, the Chicago stop is sold out, BUT I am hosting an exciting VIP Giveaway for 5 of my lucky followers on my Instagram account @vegtourist (contest ends tomorrow 11/5, so make sure to enter for a chance to win). Remember, you must be 21+ to enter the giveaway and attend!

Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour

Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour

The timing of this event is perfect because my friends and I are planning a trip to Kentucky next year to check out the Bourbon Trail. Now I can attend the Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour and become an expert before our trip. I can’t wait to learn more and hang out on Wrigley Field. Hope you can join me! #BourbonBoxcar

 Please Note: This post is in collaboration with Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour. All opinions are my own.

Just Another Tuesday Lunch

Oh, you know, just another Tuesday lunch.

A three-course meal at Spiaggia prepared by the Executive Chef and Top Chef Season 15 winner Joe Flamm. Also in attendance were Barilla ambassadors Roger Federer and Mikaela Shiffrin. Yes, you read that correctly. Roger Federer, THE tennis player and Mikaela Shiffrin, THE Olympic skier. Is this real life?

I’m 1000% sure this will be coined as the best lunch event of my life so far. Here’s a quick recap.

After arriving at Spiaggia for the Barilla® Collezione Masters of Pasta event hosted by Barilla, we got to nosh on some lovely appetizers, like the beautiful toasts topped with burrata, seasonal fruit, whipped honey vinaigrette, basil and pistachio. Sooooo good!

Gorgeous lunch set up at Spiaggia

Gorgeous lunch set up at Spiaggia

Beautiful and delicious appetizers

Beautiful and delicious appetizers

Barilla introduced all the fabulous stars, followed by a pasta cooking demo from Chef Joe Flamm. Both Roger Federer and Mikaela Shiffrin went into the kitchen with Chef. I was hoping they would take on the role of sous chefs, but alas, they did not! Ha ha. They intently watched the demo as we all did.

Introducing Chef Joe Flamm and Roger Federer

Introducing Chef Joe Flamm and Roger Federer

Now Introducing Mikaela Shiffrin

Now Introducing Mikaela Shiffrin

Federer and Shiffrin head into the kitchen!

Federer and Shiffrin head into the kitchen!

Chef showed us how he was preparing the Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni for our lunch that day. This pasta is extra special because it is bronze cut, which means it has a more rough, porous surface that results in a texture similar to homemade pasta. It also allows sauce to better cling to the pasta, which is perfect for me because I like my pasta dishes saucy!

Chef Joe Flamm's demo

Chef Joe Flamm’s demo

Putting the final touches on the dish

Putting the final touches on the dish

Is the plated dish the star of this photo?!?!

Is the plated dish the star of this photo?!?!

After the pasta cooking demo, we had the chance to sit down to our unbelievable three-course meal. Mine started with a special vegetarian beet salad (the rest of the group had tuna), followed by the Barilla Collezione Rigatoni with fresh and dried tomatoes, and ending with an absolutely yummy Tutti Frutti dessert. My mouth is literally watering thinking of all these amazing dishes!

Beet salad

Beet salad

Barilla Collezione Rigatoni dish

Barilla Collezione Rigatoni dish

Tutti Frutti dessert

Tutti Frutti dessert

The lunch concluded with something I was really looking forward to: a picture with Roger Federer! He will be participating in the Laver Cup this weekend in Chicago at the United Center (September 21-23) and Barilla is one of the official sponsors of the event. You should definitely head to the Laver Cup Fan Village in the lot around the United Center and find the Barilla Masters of Pasta Cucina area (get your free tickets here).  Who knows who you might see there!

With my new friend Roger Federer!!

With my new friend Roger Federer!!

 

Please Note: This post is in partnership with Barilla. All opinions are my own.

A Very Special Mother-Daughter Day

It’s safe to say that Moms deserve to have it be Mother’s Day every single day of the year. They work tirelessly around the clock without one single day off, to selflessly take care of those that they love. This year on Mother’s Day, my Mom was in New Jersey joyously marveling in one of her new titles; Grandmother. She spent about two months in NJ to help out my brother and sister-in-law with their new titles as parents. I was bummed not to get to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom this year, so I decided to do something special for her a few months later.

Mom With Her New Title Of Grandmother

Mom With Her New Title Of Grandmother

I knew my Mom deserved something exceptional and I wanted to plan a day that I knew would be memorable for her. My Mom always thinks of others ahead of herself and she rarely treats herself out. So, I wanted to come up with something that would feel like a real outing and something my Mom would always remember. She is definitely the kind of person that talks about favorite memories for years afterwards.

As I was thinking of what to do, I remembered that my Mom is always asking me where to get great facials. Then the light bulb went off in my head and it was a no-brainer on where to take her; The Peninsula Spa. I had my first facial at The Peninsula back in February and I can’t even tell you how many people told me my skin looked amazing even a few weeks after the facial (my Mom included). I knew this would be the perfect way to allow her to relax while getting an exquisite facial treatment. I also have wanted to take my Mom to afternoon tea for YEARS since she has never been before. So this was finally the perfect plan; facials followed by afternoon tea at The Peninsula Chicago.

We arrived at The Peninsula Spa about an hour and half before our facial time at 3pm, just to relax at the fantastic pool and outdoor spa terrace overlooking the city. It was the perfect way to spend some uninterrupted time together and chill out before our treatments. About half an hour before our facials, we made our way to the serene and cozy waiting area, where we relaxed in our plush robes on the heavenly private beds, while sipping on some hot tea. Even though I knew my facial was coming up, I didn’t want to leave that bed!!

Ready For Our Day At The Peninsula

Ready For Our Day At The Peninsula

Mom's First Visit To The Peninsula Chicago

Mom’s First Visit To The Peninsula Chicago

Arriving At The Wonderful Peninsula Spa

Arriving At The Wonderful Peninsula Spa

Enjoying The View From The Spa Terrace

Enjoying The View From The Spa Terrace

Relaxing Poolside

Relaxing Poolside

Relaxation Area Before Our Facials

Relaxation Area Before Our Facials

Our facials were the Biologique Recherche Facial which is a French luxury skincare line utilizing unique formulas rich in botanical, marine and biotechnical extracts. This facial is considered a cryofacial in that it uses cold therapy instead of heat therapy like most facials. Between that and the top of the line products that are used, you will notice immediate results that make your skin look completely revamped. Definitely the best facial I’ve ever had and my Mom couldn’t stop looking in the mirror at how rejuvenated her skin looked after just one treatment.

The Facial Room- I'm Ready!

The Facial Room- I’m Ready!

That Post-Facial Glow

That Post-Facial Glow

After freshening up, we made our way down to The Lobby for the opulent Afternoon Tea. I’ve been many times before and it is truthfully my favorite Afternoon Tea in the entire city of Chicago. It’s a fun way to cherish this timeless tradition with some of the highest quality tea, tasty food and exceptional service . Another wonderful thing to know is that The Peninsula has specially curated menus for dietary restrictions, like a separate vegetarian and vegan menu. It was so nice to see a menu that we knew we could eat every single item from.

The Beautiful Lobby For Afternoon Tea

The Beautiful Lobby For Afternoon Tea

Vegetarian Afternoon Tea Menu

Vegetarian Afternoon Tea Menu

Because this was my Mom’s first Afternoon Tea, she was just so happy to see the beautiful presentation and indulge in such delicious food. We chatted and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed each moment as we decided which item we were going to try next from the gorgeous silver tower of finger sandwiches and pastries. I could just see the happiness and relaxation on my Mom’s face as she sipped her tea and took in the lovely surroundings and live music.

Love The Rose Tea I Chose

Love The Rose Tea I Chose

The Stunning Silver Tower Of Sandwiches And Pastries

The Stunning Silver Tower Of Sandwiches And Pastries

Mom And I Enjoying Our Afternoon Tea

Mom And I Enjoying Our Afternoon Tea

Doesn't This Look Amazing?

Doesn’t This Look Amazing?

Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!

Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!

Luckily I have a bunch of pictures to remember all the moments of the day, but that bright smile on my Mom’s face is something that will forever be etched in my heart. I haven’t seen her that glowing and carefree in a long time. And for that, I’d say that Mother-Daughter Day 2018 was a huge success. I think she’d agree too. Love you Mom!

 

Please Note: This post is in collaboration with The Peninsula Chicago. All opinions are my own.