On my recent trip to the Big Easy, one of the things I was curious on visiting was the cemetery in the city. You would be too if you knew that the dead were not buried underground but put to rest above the ground!
New Orleans has always respected its dead, but this isn’t the reason that the departed ones are interred above ground. To answer the question on why aren’t the dead in New Orleans buried underground as they are in most of the rest of the country, The main issue here is that New Orleans is situated slightly below sea level. And due of this, the water table is quite high. When Europeans who had settled in this part of the country in the earlier times put coffins under six feet of earth, they found that the water level would often rise above them, especially during the city’s frequent floods. Since the coffins were filled with air, the water sometimes pushed them up through the earth, causing a ghastly sight and a health hazard. To keep the coffins underground there were holes drilled in the lid to let air escape, and the coffins were weighted down with rocks and sand. But this was only partially successful, and in any case the saturated corpses did not decompose properly, leading to unsanitary conditions. The only solution was to bury the dead above ground.
The walls of some cemeteries here are made of economical vaults stacked on top of one another with the entire family resting together.
It is however fascinating to know that people here seldom mention that above-ground burial was a common practice in both France and Spain, where many of the early settlers were from. Even without the resurfacing coffins—which, by the way, were the exception rather than the rule—this practice may well have been adopted simply to keep with tradition. In any case, this method is still widely used today, even though the water table has dropped considerably over the past two centuries as nearby marshes and swamps were drained.
Here are a list of cemeteries you can visit once you are done singing and dancing to jazz music on the streets of New Orleans!
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 One of the oldest and the most famous and said to be the most haunted cemeteries in New Orleans.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 Tucked away beneath the storied oak trees of the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 has been featured in the 1999 movie Double Jeopardy as well as the novels of Anne Rice. This one is however currently closed for renovations and repair.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 This one is a favorite among the Art lovers. It is located on Esplanade Avenue near Bayou St. John, City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. This cemetery is one of the largest in the city.
St. Roch Cemeteries & Chapel For something a bit more off the beaten path, the St. Roch Cemeteries & Chapel offer a unique glimpse into the history of an up-and-coming New Orleans neighborhood. This was the one I visited to and we had the cemetery to ourselves with nobody inside, I’m talking about the living of course!
Miami, the land of beaches and late night parties! I planned this trip for my husband’s birthday and it was one of the top places on my USA travel-Must visit list (Yup, I have a list of places I want to visit in the USA) and I am half way through! Well, planning a trip to Miami can be overwhelming with so many things to do and see but here’s a guide to help you through.
Bookings: Make your bookings in advance as hotels and airfares tend to get expensive last minute. Miami is one of the most visited place in the US and plenty are always hopping to this beach city. I live in Washington DC and I got my air tickets for a reasonable price during the month of April, it came up to $200 per person.
Stay : Although there are a few neighborhoods to consider while booking you stay like the Downtown Miami, The little Havana, the famous cuban neighborhood and Brickell the city’s financial district and one of the Miami’s fastest growing areas, if you are going on a short trip and you are young and want to explore the fun side of Miami then I suggest you stay at the South Beach – The beautiful beaches, the sloshing mojitos, miles of bright neon and the dirty dancing! That’s where I chose to stay! There are a number of hotels on the strip and as I said earlier make a booking in advance. We stayed at the Parisian Hotel that is a 10 minute walk to the beach, ticked my boxes, convenient and budget friendly.
Here are a list of things you must do on your trip!
Walk on the famous strip – Ocean Drive
On our first day we had to explore the ocean drive , the most happening strip in Miami to get the sense of the real Miami. Tourists from all over the world flock to Art deco district to check out the unique architecture this side of the city. Ocean drive has a lot to offer, it has one of the hottest shows on the beach happens daily at the world-famous Mango’s Tropical Cafe.
The Carnaval-style performances feature Latin dancers and the entertainment line-up ranges from Salsa to Bachata to Pop. We order a few of their Exotic Mojitos and had a great evening watching some mind blowing performances!
Photograph the artsy Wynwood Walls
I knew I had to come here and check out the amazing murals and graffiti after seeing a ton on posts on Instagram. We took a Uber from our hotel to the Wynwood district and It was definitely worth it. A worn out neighborhood in Miami was transformed into an artistic haven by entrepreneur Tony Goldman. It’s now an open art gallery with no entry fee! The artworks change as artists come and go through wynwood. This one is a must visit for all art lovers.
Explore Little Havana
Little Havana is the colorful center of Hispanic culture in Miami. The area’s riddled with Latin-inspired cafes, restaurants, venues and markets that give space and a voice to all the different backgrounds that have taken root in the neighborhood. Here you’ll find locals grabbing an afternoon cortado or a fresh fruit batido, talking politics over a game of dominoes in the park, or eating solid authentic dishes from all over Latin America to a backdrop of ever-present Cuban beats.
While you are here try the famous cafe cubano for $1 and check out the dominos park where you can interact with a few locals playing dominoes!
Try the Cuban food and some amazing tacos!
Remember the movie chef and the famous cubano? Well, you get them here so do give it a try! Versailles Restaurant offers a range of them. We also tried a cuban restaurant on collins street – Puerta Sagua near the art deco district and tried some amazing fish sandwich and a shrimp platter.
While everyone is always raving about the great cuban food here, don not miss out on the amazing tacos that you can find here! Bodega Taqueria was one of the best places and we went here on a friend’s recommendation and man I totally loved the tacos and the vibes here!
Check out the Lincoln Road Mall
Lincoln Road in Miami Beach is a place where tourists and locals alike gather any day of the week. It’s a great place for people watching and for soaking in that South Beach sunshine without actually stepping onto the sand. Lincoln Road was redesigned, closed off to automobile traffic and became one of the first pedestrian malls in the country. Since then, there’s been the addition of a movie theater, a concert hall, and over 200 shops, restaurants and bars. Even if you’re just window-shopping, the Lincoln Road Mall has enough to keep you entertained for hours. It gets bustling in the night and with all the lights lit it was one of my favorite places to explore!
And of course the beach!
Well we had assigned one whole day to just laze around the south beach. There are a variety of beaches here in Miami and beaches are probably the biggest reason so many folks travel all the way down to the distant corner of South Florida. Say the word Miami and most people will immediately picture a beach. The reason is that there are so many of them! And they come in many different flavors too. We spent our day in the 21st–45th Street Beach, we had not planned to do any water sports and just wanted to chill. Make sure to carry a beach towel when you pack and your trusted sunscreen as the sun tends to get very harsh in Miami!
And don’t forget to click some amazing pictures with the iconic and colorful lifeguard huts!
And here’s my Insider Tips:
Wear comfortable walking shoes and you can explore most of the places mentioned above by foot, other than the wynwood district and Little Havana. We took an Uber as we did not want to rent a car and have trouble finding parking.
Carry a sunscreen and a summer hat/scarf to save yourself from the sun.
Most Restaurants in Miami already have service fee/tip included in their bills (or Checks as the Americans say) so check it out before you plan on tipping!
Keep a bottle of water handy and it is totally safe to drink water from taps here in Miami ( Save money and environment-that’s a win win)
Hope you enjoyed reading this. I really did a fabulous time exploring Miami. We also did a day trip to the famous Keys. I will be writing a post on that shortly!
Fall is something I eagerly look forward to. You know why? No points for guessing. I come from southern India and the only seasons in which I have grown up are Summer and Rainy! So watching the leaves practically change color to hues of yellowish orange and then shed as winter approaches excites me immensely.
So this year we planned on going up North to New Hampshire and experience fall colors in October. Lucky to have had a friend who lived in Boston and he knew all the right places to go to view the best of colors that nature had to flaunt.
We drove to the Loon Mountains from Framingham. It’s roughly a 3 hour drive. As we got closer to our destination the colors got so spectacular. I had literally never seen such hues of yellows and orange!
Our official stop was at The Loon Mountains. It is really well managed, great parking space and we were lucky to have arrived to an Octoberfest! There was a range of Beer, music, fun games and a wide variety of food available on the foot of the mountain.
Post our lunch we headed to get the Gondola/Sky line tickets. A reasonable wait time considering that we were there during the peak of fall colors. The tickets cost $20 per person and I would definitely recommend it. and here’s why! Look at those colors >
As we headed up towards the top, The sight below and around you as far as your sight can reach is truly breathtaking! The colorful ferns below and the wide spread of vibrant trees all around you is a treat to the eyes. I had this huge smile plastered on my face and just couldn’t stop watching the foliage around me. Bike enthusiasts can also bike down the terrains from the top to the foot of of the mountains! The track seems pretty exciting and fun to bike.
There is a little restaurant on top for quick bites and an observatory tower where you can get some amazing shots to reminiscence this magical trip.
The Gondola rides close after 4.30 pm so make sure you reach this location before that. Once we got back we drove on the famous stretch of Kancamagus highway. The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along NH’s Rt. 112 in Northern New Hampshire that is well known as one of the best Fall Foliage viewing areas in the country. After a few pit stops along the way and a few more pictures we drove back home.
If you want to plan a trip in the fall do visit the places mentioned above. You will absolutely fall in love with Nature all over again!
New Hampshire has a lot more to offer and I will definitely be going back here to explore more. Apart from Fall activities, Loon mountain is well known for their winter activities too. The skiing on the loon mountains are pretty famous and I have read some raving reviews about it.
Of all the places I’ve traveled, Rajasthan will always be a personal favorite.Rajasthan has strong roots and connection with the history of India. The moment you step into this land, you’ll strongly feel the history still imbibed in the atmosphere, in the people, on the walls, in the houses and everywhere else. And if you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re considering heading to the majestic state of Rajasthan (or just reminiscing).
Here’s a detailed tale of my experiences.
The minute we landed in Jaipur at around 10 am with a temperature of around 31degree C we had our cabbie ready for us, I have always wished for a cabbie who is sweet talkative desi , somebody like the Aamir from Raja Hindustani but no luck there. Moving on from my Bollywood desires (That is deeply embedded and no amount of people judging or being criticizing is going to change that) we first headed to the Birla Mandir that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu & Godess Laxmi. The white marbled temple looks beautiful on the elevated ground with the sun glistening on the carvings but it can be missed if you are on a tight schedule. Took us around twenty minutes to reach the destination from the airport. Good parking space and well maintained.
Our next destination was Magic. Yes, I will always remember that place as an achievement by mankind! The Jantar Mantar. It means instruments and calculations and this we were enlightened by the guide who was extremely knowledgeable and a smart looking senior citizen. Considering the fact that I’m not a person into calculations and figures was still amazed with every instrument available inside the walls. Ancient brains at its best! Astronomy lovers I’m sure must be worshiping this place with all that it has to give. Raja Savaii jai sing built this in 1738. The instruments allow observations of the astronomical positions with the naked eye. Do not visit this place without a guide no matter how big a genius you are, because seriously, there is no scope for underestimating this place. I can go on but I need to move. And you need to witness it to understand my admiration for this place.
Next up, The City Palace built with the Rajput, European and Mughal styles of architecture. This place is a beautiful piece of architecture with layers of pink. On nearing the old city you can see shops selling Rajasathani meenakari Jhumkas, Camel leather footwear’s (Jhootis) and colorful cloths. These shops are all pink in color and the name pink city holds true for Jaipur.Sadly for us and luckily for our cabbie Mr Kasim, it was Muhorram that day. No I’m not being judgemental but he was truly happy not because it was a festival but because of the fact that the old city in Jaipur would get blocked by early evening and he wanted to tuck us in hotel by 4 pm and say goodbye for the day. Well you can read para 1 again if you missed out on how important this holiday was for me and how much it meant to cherish every waking minute of my day in this city, so we finally ended up staying out till 8 pm, longest we could on our own without the cabbie and set on foot to finish the rest of the day! The morning after we headed up to the Jaigadh fort which you must visit if you are a photography freak. You can see where the Rani’s used to sit with the daasis and have a peaceful conversations. It’s a magical moment when you would just want to close your eyes for a second and visualize the history coming alive in these locations and how beautiful joyful and bustling it would have once been! With all those thought and accomplishment of making the most of our day one, we headed to the hotel close to the Amber fort. The place had a beautiful terrace where we relished the Rajasthani veg food and had a nice little discussion of the day spent and made plans for day 2.
One city you cannot afford to miss while you visit Rajasthan is Udaipur. The roads are beautiful and well maintained which make the 300 odd kilometers not so tiring. We had a few local delicacies on our way, hot jalebis and kochoris are a must while you are in Rajasthan. We reached Udaipur in the noon and headed straight to the city palace. You get to see the richness of the royal family who still live in the adjoining Mahal. There are some fancy vintage cars on display too. Moving on we headed towards lake pichola. This basically is a ferry ride along the best floating palaces which are now seven star hotels also wedding destinations of celebrities. The cool breeze along the ride is relaxing in the hot weather. You can then visit the monsoon palace where few scenes of ‘yeh jawani hai diwani’ was shot, beautiful spot for amazing captures on your camera.
By the time we got out of this place it was dark so we headed to the Sahelion ki bag that was yet again a magical place , The king had built this place for his little princess who loved the monsoon showers. There are fountains installed inside that starts on clapping! And spots where you can close your eyes and you imagine yourself amidst a dense forest with heavy rains. Lucky young princess I must say! So with that amazed thought and ignoring the garden guide tagging along saying he would show us the entire city the next day for a grand amount of 2000 bucks, we headed towards the food street. This is usually my favorite part. We had some pani pooris for as less as Rs 10 and tried a few other chaats and with a satisfied heart n tummy, finally headed to our hotel. Talking about hotels, we had no pre-booking on hotels. It was all stopping the taxi, entering rooms checking on rooms and rates, and then deciding. So there were few rooms that looked like locations in horror movies, in the end it was all good.
Like most famous forts and palaces, Chittorgarrh Fort is just as magical and associated with legends and myths of its own. The guides here proudly tell you the how Chittaur witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs of the spirit. Allaudin Khilji who coveted Queen Padmini of Chittaur, invaded the city of Mewar. Queen Padmini and the women of the court sacrificed themselves in a pyre of fire rather than submit to anybody. This supreme sacrifice has been called ‘Jauhar’ and represents the fiery spirit of the Rajputs to this day.
Bhagore ki haveli
Being a music and dance enthusiast, Bhagore ki haveli in Udaipur is something I will never forget. One of the most beautiful experiences of this trip. A traditional show, Darohar for an hour covers all the Rajasthani traditional dances. The puppet show will keep you clapping and smiling and unfortunately I cannot whistle but I did hoot to show my love and appreciation! The dance forms are unique and original, a 60 years young lady (as my friend described her) has been practicing this and passing it on to her generation, her energy and vibrancy will amaze you and leave you speechless. The host covers the show in Hindi and English and makes it even more informative and interesting. I can go on but the show ended after an hour and after a quick selfie with the iconic lady we went shopping and exploring the city.
Next on our list was Mt Abu, Along the drive I must tell you one good thing our cabbie did was stopped by an old lady who was selling custard apples. The yummiest ones which was fresh from the tree. We bought the entire thing that she was selling and it cost us just Rs 100 and this got over on the last day of our trip considering the fact that we ate them daily in regular intervals. On some days these were my dinner! We reached Mt. Abu in the evening. Now this is like the Ooty in the North. A weekend getaway for people who want to take a chilling break from the hot weather otherwise in Rajasthan. A lot of Gujaratis travel here, claiming it t be like a mini Goa for them! Well, we stayed here for a day. Pretty chilly in the nights. There’s a beautiful temple called the Dilwara, do not miss this. Don’t read the book by its cover applies perfectly here. No phones and cameras allowed and that’s what made us curious to have a look at this place. The details of marble stone carvings is phenomenal and unmatched, the minutely carved ceilings and the pillars were breath taking. And to think that this was built when there was no transport or roads available at a height of 1200+ meters in Mount Abu. We were told that huge blocks of marble stones were transported on elephant backs from the Arasoori Hills at Ambaji to this remote hilly region of Mount Abu.
Jodhpur – The blue city
Did you know this place is called the blue city? There are different stories on why it s called so, while my guide told me it’s because of the Brahmins attires which was a faded blue , some said it was because of the termites however while we explored the mighty Meherangarh fort here is what we witnessed.
A winding lane leads up the 125 meter high hill, on which the ancient fortress is built. The walls are 36-metre-high in places, providing additional elevation. From there you can look out and appreciate just how many of the houses in Jodhpur are blue. Anyone looking out over the flat roofs of Jodhpur, from the perspective of the Meherangarh will realize that the term ‘the blue city’ is indeed apt, whatever the true reason behind the prevalence of that color. Jodhpur must not be missed because that would make you miss visiting this spectacular fort. Once again we were very lucky with the guide, who managed to take us on an entire different zone with his story telling skills, of past rulers and kings, theirs fantasies, intelligence. And there I go again! So in short you must see this to believe it. We also realized that few movies were shot here and a movie buff friend of mine told me that scenes of ‘The Dark Knight rises’ too was shot here.
Ajmer and Pushkar
Ajmer dargah is one place that I wanted to visit since a long time, It was a little difficult getting there because of the roads. We were lucky to find a guide here too who worked inside the dargah. You can pick a chaddar to offer and once you are inside you are asked to make wishes that your heart desires. Personally I loved this place. There’s nothing much that I can put in words, it’s about what you feel in there. So after Ajmer it was Pushkar. Well, this place came in as a bit of a shock to me. Pushkar’s most famous temple is the Brahma temple, said to be one of the few such temples in the world as a result of a curse by Brahma’s consort, Saraswati. The temple is marked by a red spire and over the entrance gateway is the hands of Brahma. While the temple is calm there is a holy lake in Pushkar which is similar to the River Ganga. With its holy lake, Pushkar is one of the most sacred Hindu towns in India. However, what upset us was how the self proclaimed priest chewing on pan and chanting few mantras use this place as a money making machine. You are forced by them to offer donations and nothing less than Rs 500 is what they expect! This indeed was shocking and disheartening to us. I really feel a need for the government to intervene here and stop such practices.
The Amer fort
We were nearing towards the end of our trip, so the last day we were back in Jaipur. We headed to last fort on the list, The Amer fort The Amer Fort was built in red sandstone and marble and the Maotha Lake adds a certain charm to the entire Fort. It is beautiful on the inside and has various buildings of prominence like the ‘Diwan-i-Aam’ The place where meetings took place, Shah Jahan was very fond of marble which can be seen here. It was built in marble and it was the place where the Raja addressed his general public. The royal ladies used to watch the proceedings from the southern area of this palace. Opposite to the Diwan- E- Aam is the Sukh Nivas, which have doors of sandalwood and are decorated with ivory. There is a way running through the hall, which carried chilled water in earlier times which acts as an air cooler with the help of the breeze. The rooms beautiful decoration of mirrors which was then bought from Belgium. The shining mirrors adorns the walls and ceilings of the hall.
Sheesh Mahal is another exciting feature of this fort. This is supposed to be the largest Sheesh Mahal in the world which is adorned with thousands of mirror tiles as well as colored glasses on its wall as well as on its ceiling. This Mahal brings a source to life with thousands of flickering reflections. Ur guide also offered to click our pictures in different poses. And if you get lucky and visit this place in the night you would get to see how one candle was enough to light the entire hall of fort because of these mirrors. Nahargarh fort close to Amber fort is another spectacular place. Make sure you don’t miss to view the city from the fort windows.
The fort has twelve identical suites. These suites were built for maharaja’s nine wives. It is told that the identical suites were built around three sides of a rectangular courtyard. The Maharaja’s suite was built on the fourth side of the courtyard. The interior used for the suites was of Indian architecture with a tint of European art, like western toilets and rectangular windows. The amazing fact about these suites is that they are linked with each other through corridors, and the suites were placed in such a manner that the king could visit his any wife, without the knowledge of his other wives.
The king has inscribed his each wife’s name on each one of their suites for his own convenience. Smart man eh? Well, as long as everyone’s happy. So that was the end of our journey in Rajasthan.
So you can now fill in the blanks. Rajasthan, a land of, well I would call it a wonder land. There was truly magic, magic in the hands of the craftsmen, the unmatched intelligent minds of the rulers, the brave stories of the Raanis(Queens). Everything was like a fairy tale. History never got this interesting to me in all my school days as it seemed in the seven days of my stay in Rajasthan. So now you know where to plan your next trip!So this was the story of my journey. Traveling indeed leaves you speechless and then makes you a story teller.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Feel free to comment for any information.
So the trip was planned a month in advance to my husband’s 30th Birthday. While he’s not big on birthdays I am exactly the opposites! Birthdays are meant to celebrated! Big time. After a point he always have to give in and we planned our big trip toLas Vegas!Here’s the top things to do while in Vegas.
1. Stay at the most vintage hotel in the strip
The hotels here are magnificent. The most talked about Las Vegas strip has a variety of hotels to pick from. They are all inspired by different cities of the world. We stayed in MGM grand and personally I loved the stay.
2. Enjoy the breakfast buffet
Once you have made your choice from the wide array of hotels manage to wake up before the buffet closes and have a king size breakfast with champagne!
3. Explore the Casino
No true Vegas trip is complete without the casino experience! Every hotel on the strip have a in-house Casino. You can just walk up to any of them and try your luck! While it’s all fun make sure your doing just that! Having fun, and not spending all your Cash on gambling! I got hooked and I had to drag my ass back to my room after a series of losing!
4. Walk the strip
So wear your most comfortable shoes and walk the entire strip. You may need more than a day to explore the entire strip. The hotels al look like their closer but while you walk you will have covered over a 1000 steps from one destination to the other. But trust me it’s fun to walk than pick a taxi on the strip. Watch the madness on the streets and the excitement of the people is contagious!
5. Go see the Eiffel Tower.
Even though it’s almost half the size of the original tower this place looks beautiful in the night when it’s all lit up. After a day’s walk treat yourself to a romantic dinner on the Eiffel Tower restaurant facing the bellagio fountains.
6. Explore Fremont street
Take a bus or cab to the Fremont. The Fremont Street Experience is a 24-hour pedestrian mall with a massive LED canopy that’s just the right kind of over-the-top Vegas fun for people with a sense of adventure and little patience for the monster Strip casinos.
7. Enjoy the free things while in any city!
The Bellagio Conservatory, the Mirage volcano, the Chilean flamingos at the Flamingo hotel’s wildlife habitat, the circus acts over the Midway at Circus Circus, the M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World, conveniently located across the Strip from each other, and the First Friday monthly art festival held throughout the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District.
8. Catch a Cirque de Soleil show.
Watch the Best shows in Vegas. Zumanity comes with nudity, Love comes with a pumping Beatles soundtrack, Ka features martial-arts battles, and One is set to the music of Michael Jackson. There really is something for every taste at these insanely acrobatic shows.
9. Party party and party some more.
While you can sip on long yard drinks and walk the streets you can also walk in to any little pubs on the way and dance to their music without having to throw away your drink. I love this bit of Vegas! Also check in for pool parties in summer. Whether it’s Rehab at the Hard Rock or the slightly more civilized Encore Beach Club, the pool club is a quintessential Vegas experience
10. Click a picture by the Famous Las Vegas sign.
You have to know that there will be a long waiting line to just click a picture in front on the sign. Well we managed to skip the line and clicked a picture from far. Here’s the picture and must say I’m pretty happy with the results!
Go plan your trip and check out for yourself why everyone is so crazy about Vegas!
Summer is finally coming to an end and fall is approaching. I have been waiting to get myself to do fall activities around Virginia and couldn’t wait. After a brief planning of going apple picking during the weekend we set off even though it was raining non stop!
I picked the Homestead farm in Maryland. It’s a cute family run farm with a variety of produce. Blue berries, peaches, apples and pumpkins to name a few. Since all of them are seasonal fruits you can check the current available produce for picking on their website. I’ll share the link in the end.As we entered the lady at the counter was extremely kind and she provided us with a basket for the fruits. No entry feee, you pay for whatever you pick as simple as that!
The apple picking thanks to our luck was the closest and we had the orchard completely to ourselves! As we explored there was a wide variety of apples. The rains the greenery and the red apples was such a magnificent combination! We goofed around picking the brightest of apples and filled in our basket. By the end of it we were super famished and had a cold apple cider and a freshly baked apple pie at the checkout
I would definitely recommend this activity to families and friends. Do go prepared with a rain gear if it’s a cloudy day, enjoy the nature, click a lot of wonderful pictures to look back and reminisce and nothing should stop you!