Sun-kissed in Miami!

On a warm tropical midmorning, as the sun shimmered upon the endless Atlantic, we let the crashing waves bury our feet in the loose sand of Miami beach. The relaxing sound of the untiring waves and the whispers of the balmy ocean breeze put our minds to rest as we escaped the daily routine. We spent our day lying on the beach in the bright warm Sun under the blue skies, listening to our favourite music, building sand castles and playing with the ocean waves.

So, if you are looking for a perfect tropical beach vacation, pack your bags and go to Miami. We went there in late October when the temperatures were around 80F. There were little drizzles and scattered thunderstorms now and then but that’s about it, the rain just came and went.

Miami is a city of contrasts. The beautiful relaxing tropical beaches on one side are a stark contrast to the modern and magnificent downtown that boasts of shiny skyscrappers and panoramic bayside views. And that’s not all, Miami downtown is known for both historic and modern buildings.

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The beautiful view of Miami Ocean Drive skyline from South Beach is unmissable. There are scenic trails in South Beach area so you can take a ride on your bycycle in this tropical setting. You may as well take a stroll around the Ocean Drive neighbourhood to see the Art Deco Historic District, the Versace Mansion, the Sunray Apartments where the famous chainsaw scene from Scarface was filmed, Caribbean inspired Mango’s Tropical Café restaurant and a many more fancy buildings and restaurants. This whole area glitters during the night and comes alive.

Wynwood walls, close to the Miami downtown is a haven to some wonderfully talented and budding graffiti artists. The murals, graffiti and street art are life-like and meticulous. This very famous thriving art hub in Miami and South Florida will leave you amazed.

Another place to explore in Miami is the Little Havana neighbourhood that bursts with Cuban vibes in Florida. It thrives with Cuban culture and art, and is also the right place to find the best Cuban food in Miami. You will find shops selling Cuban cigars, Cuban retirees playing dominoes at Máximo Gómez Park and some live performances at Cubaocho.

Trying Cuban food is a must for cuisine connoisseurs in Miami. The local restaurant ‘La Carreta’ in the Little Havana neighbourhood of Miami serves famous “abuela style” food, as well as the authentic Cuban Espresso. We did try a shot of the Espresso, and oh boy! It is definitely rich and dark! After food, don’t forget to grab an icecream at the famous Azucar Ice Cream Company. I tell you, the unique flavors are not to be missed!

 

With many more things to do and many more places to go around, Miami travel is both fun and refreshing for all age-groups. It is a must to-do for travel enthusiasts. Given the lot of variety it offers, no wonder Miami is a world famous travel destination. Amen to that!

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Sleepless in Seattle!

From lush green woods to beautiful lakes to cloudy skies, with the majestic Mt Rainier in the backdrop of a magnificent skyline, Seattle’s sweeping panoramic views steal your heart and take your breath away.

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Seattle downtown as seen from Kerry Park
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Mount Rainier as seen from aeroplane!

We visited the state of Washington on a short three day trip during the end of April month. Dense vegetation, with rains on and off, a little chilly but endurable weather, never-ending lake views and a lot of things to do in and around Seattle, we enjoyed the stay totally.

On the first day, we went to the beautiful and powerful Snoqualmie Falls just about half an hour to an hour drive from the SeaTac airport. From the surrounded observation deck, the gushing milky-white water fall is a sight to behold. With Salish Lodge on one side and lush green forests on the other, and water falling 268-foot and continuing into a river, it’s a picturesque scene that stays with you forever.  Rising mist from the base of the falls sprayed on our faces with the little drizzles from the cloudy skies made the experience magical.

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Later on that day, we took the elevator to the top floor of Seattle’s Space Needle and enjoyed the beautiful panorama of the city. We also visited Kerry Park, which offers the best and most amazing view of the Seattle city downtown. Pike Place Market, a happening place overlooking Elliott Bay waterfront has some attractions to visit like the first Starbucks Coffee Shop, the Pike Place Fish Market, the Market Theater Gum Wall, street entertainments and so on.

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Views from the top of Space Needle
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Puget Sound as seen from the top of Space Needle

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Another day tour we did was a ferry round-trip from Seattle to Bainbridge. We spent a day on Bainbridge Island driving around and stopping at a few landmarks and sight-seeing locations.

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Enroute to Bainbridge Island on the ferry
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Enroute to Bainbridge Island on the ferry

With great music playing in the car, the drive through winding roads meandering through beautiful green vegetation was super refreshing. Below are a few photographs from Rockaway Beach and Point White Pier on Bainbridge Island.

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Point White Pier on Bainbridge Island

It is phenomenal how you can hop on the WSDOT ferries and get to various enchanting islands surrounding Seattle, just for a day or two.

My main reason to do the Seattle trip in April was to visit the gorgeous Tulip fields of Skagit Valley. This rural part of Washington State blooms every Spring with vibrant colored Tulip fields. Under Washington’s cloudy skies these long-stretched fields are a paradise for photographers and flower-lovers. As you enter the Skagit valley, it’s beautiful around as you get to explore the country side of Washington away from the bustling downtown of Seattle.

In this quick three day trip, these are mostly the places we could go. We also had a chance to meet some of our good old friends after a very long time. We had a blast of a time!

Next Spring plan to go to Seattle and enjoy a relaxing and memorable trip! There are many more things to do and many more places to go in and around Seattle. Don’t forget to share your wonderful experiences 🙂

 

My salute to the Sun within! ☀

We are all connected to the Sun. The Sun inspires us. He is the ultimate power-house, shining bright giving light to our lives. Untiring and undying, he energizes this world.

I come from a background where people worship the Sun as a diety. The Sun is refered to as Aditya or Surya. Here is a Sanskrit prayer to the Sun.

Nama Suryaya Santaya Sarvaroga Nivarine |
Ayu rarogya maisvairyam dehi devah jagatpate ||

Oh! Lord Surya, ruler of the universe, you are the remover of all diseases, the repository of peace 
I bow to you. May you bless your devotees with longevity, health and wealth.
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Madhubani Painting by me – The Sun

Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation is a yoga routine that refers to the symbolism of Sun as the soul and the source of all life.

As my life keeps evolving, I want to let as much Sun as possible into me and realize the Sun within. I want to let His warmth and light guide me and inspire me.

Here is my salute to Him!

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Sun rising over Puri Beach
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Dazzling evening Sun as the coconut trees sway in my Grandfather’s village
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My Sun-kissed feet

 

An impromptu day trip to Tonto Natural Bridge!

We can never have enough of nature – Henry David Thoreau

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all – Helen Keller

What else can be a great pleasure in life than having a great company, good food and a beautiful place to explore. Just the day before to Memorial Day long weekend, we, a group of ten friends decided to head off to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park for a quick one day trip. We weren’t entirely sure of what all places to go, but we zeroed in on Tonto Natural Bridge as our first destination.

Let’s just go somewhere and not have any expectations can be one of the best escapes one can ever imagine. So, we took quick home prepped lunch and snacks and hit the road towards north of Payson, Arizona. As bright and warm weather welcomed us to the state park, we first had our lunch at the picnic tables and recreation area, before setting foot on the Pine Creek Trail. There are four different viewpoints from the parking lot to view the bridge from its top, but not until we hiked down the short rugged trail surrounded by pine trees, the spectacular view of world’s largest natural travertine bridge unraveled.

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Bridge from one of the viewpoints. PC: Sravan K

The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. The amazing sight of sparkling water spilling off the bridge top is totally worth the hike.

There is some running water under the bridge and it was fun hopping over the boulders and soaking a little bit in the sprinkling waterfall. We took a lot of pictures, spent time hiking through the slippery rocks and admiring the vastness of the bridge.

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Panorama under the bridge – PC: Sravan K

There are three other trails Waterfall Trail, Gowan Trail and Anna Mae Trail. One of the them leads the way back up from the other side under the bridge.

It is a salubrious experience to explore Mother Nature and admire its wonders. Needless to mention the fun we had making our way through the rough trails in a spirit of adventure, this short one day trip to Tonto Natural Bridge remains one of my favourites.

 

Prescott’s beautiful lakes!

Located in the Bradshaw Mountains of Central Arizona, is the city of Prescott that boasts of mild climate and serene nature, making it a great happening destination throughout the year for vacationers.

Be it a family picnic or a romatic getaway or a recreational trip, Prescott’s wilderness and its gorgeous lakes are a great choice.

The three major lakes that the City of Prescott maintains are Goldwater Lake, Watson Lake and Willow Lake. While the spectacular Goldwater Lake is a small reservoir nestled in the piney mountains of Prescott National Park, Watson and Willow Lakes are man-made reservoirs within the Granite Dells area located in the North of Prescott.

Goldwater Lake located 4 miles south of downtown Prescott in the Goldwater Park Area offers picnic area by the lake and recreational activities like fishing, kayaking and canoeing are allowed. Gentle breeze from the crystal clear blue waters of the lake and the surrounding whispering shady tall ponderosa pine woods enliven the mood and leave you refreshed. There are trails connecting to the Prescott National Forest from the lake area for enthusiastic hikers.

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Amidst the eroded lumpy and rugged granite boulders of the Granite Dells are the man-made Watson and Willow Lakes. The enchanting blue waters of these lakes surrounded by the unique spectacular rock formations makes the vista quite scenic. The reflections of these rocks in the water on clear sky days makes the scene look even more breath-taking. There are hiking trails connecting the two lakes and camping, kayaking, canoeing and fishing are permitted.

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So, if you are looking to beat the boredom blues, or if you want to escape the mundaneness of every day life, Prescott is one wonderful getaway to consider. Go and have a tryst with this great wilderness! 🙂

Shiva, the Limitless and His tranquil Trimbakeshwar!

Ask me what intrigues me the most. My prompt reply would be ‘the transformer, the supreme concept of Lord Shiva‘. I feel that Shiva is there but no where. How simple, soft, compassionate, straight-forward and formless and yet so powerful, infinite and fascinating is He? He is an enigma.

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Ask me where I want to go all the time. In my mind there is this ancient stone Shiva temple tucked away in a deep forest and with a river burbling by its side, bringing me a whole lot of tranquility and inner peace taking me far from this tumultuous world. Yet, the question still remains. Can inner peace be achieved only by running away to a serene place? What is the idea of Shiva telling me..to run away or to flow with life? And I think, the answer is this simple – “Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected”.

My today’s post is about one of my most favourable places on this earth, the ancient Hindu Shiva Temple and one of the 12 Jyothirlingas, Trimbakeshwar.

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Jyothirlinga, the infinite pillar of light means ‘The Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva‘. Trimbakeshwar is surrounded by three hills namely Brahmagiri, Nilagiri and Kalagiri. River Godavari originated in these hills and can be seen distantly from the Lord’s abode. A very serene place, it gets more verdant during monsoons. About the temple, read more here on wiki.

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It is a very positive experience visiting Trimbakeshwar. You will be given yourself after the visit. You will be left with some new questions in mind and you will get some answers too. You will be left in a unique peaceful state of mind to continue your quest for the light. The simplicity and stillness of the place combined with the aura and holiness of the formless Jyothirlinga radiates good vibes and shows you the right direction.

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Did you ever visit Trimbakeshwar? Leave a comment with your experiences. Will see you later 🙂

The unfathomable Grand Canyon.

Let me be frank. I don’t get it when people say what’s in Grand Canyon except for the rock. Personally, I get very philosophical every time I visit it or think about it. May be it’s just me, as it is said ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder‘. So, here is my little ode to this magnificent natural wonder that awe-inspires me every single time I visit it.

Standing royal, the Grand Canyon reiterates the power of nature to us. Every glance at its dimensions takes our breath away and each attempt to peruse it reminds us how tiny we are in this Universe. It inspires us to be undeterred by the trivial problems of life and to stand sentinel to protect ourselves and those who trust in us. Here is my Grand Salute, to The Grand Canyon!

This photograph was taken by me a few years ago when we visited the Canyon during winter time. Isn’t it more stunning to see it dotted with snow, and don’t you agree that no camera can beat the naked eye’s view! 🙂

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Do share links of your blogs on Grand Canyon, I would love to read!