Day 38/ 365 – Trip to Sula Vineyards

The next day we decided to visit Sula Vineyards. However, as mentioned in my previous post we were staying in my friend’s empty apartment. Since we arrived late the previous evening, there was no one to clean up the place. So today morning, I called up my friend and asked him if he knew someone who would clean the place. The house cleaning person arrived after one hour and took almost an hour to clean the place up. In the mean time, I went to the local grocery store and got some Maggie for breakfast. We prepared breakfast, waited for the house cleaning person to finish his work, and then got ready to leave. By the time we left, it was almost 2 pm and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. I tried searching the route on the Here Maps of my Nokia Lumia 620, but was not able to find one (There needs to be Google maps app for Windows). So we relied on the old Indian way – which is ask for guidance and route. After asking a couple of people and getting lost once, we finally found our way to the Sula Vineyards. Once we left the main road, the drive to the Vineyards is quite pleasant and you enjoy driving here through a couple of little villages which fall on the route. We reached our destination around 3:00pm and registered for wine tasting and facility tour for 3:30pm. We registered for 6 wine tasting which cost us Rs. 250 per person. The tour of the facility is short and brief. The best part is the wine tasting part. We tried 6 different wines – I don’t remember the names of all – but there was a sparkling wine, three white wines, couple of red ones – Dindori and Rasa. The tour guide taught us in brief as how to recognize an old wine from a younger wine based on its color (tilt the glass against light – lighter the shade younger the wine for white wines – opposite is true for Red wines), how to smell the aroma of the wine (swirl the wine in the glass for a few seconds and then smell) to even how to hold the wine glass (don’t hold the glass by the palm). The entire tour lasted for 45 mins and was quite educational and fun. However, we didn’t get to crush grapes as it isn’t grape season yet. Post our wine tour, we decided to buy wines for family and friends. We also ended up buying Grape seed oil. Apparently it is good for cooking and can be used in salads as well vegetable cooking. We spent around 2 hours at Sula Vineyards, before deciding to head out towards Nasik city.  There is also a resort in case people wish to stay over for the night, however, being Friday it was going to cost us Rs. 6500 per couple and hence we decided to skip it.

The drive towards Nasik city in the evening was extremely chaotic. The problem which most car drivers in India would face in any tier 2 cities is the number of the bikes which are on the road. Nasik is no exception to the rule and there are plenty of two wheelers on the city roads and one has to be extremely careful while driving. We were extremely hungry when we reached the main highway and once again decided to halt at Kolhapur Express for an early dinner. After having a sumptuous dinner, we decided to explore the city via car. Big mistake!!! Since we didn’t know where we wanted to go, we just kept driving aimlessly and got stuck in multiple traffic junctions and at one time were thoroughly lost in the Panchvati area. We finally managed to find our way out (thanks to the GPS) and then decided to head back home with plans for next day ready. Next destination – Trimbakeshwar temple, Coin Museum, Panchvati and Deolali. (Pics to follow later)

Day 37/ 365 – Drive to Nasik

Since I have an extended weekend, me and my wife after a lot of deliberations (yes/ no) decided to go to Nasik for the weekend. Nasik is approximately 172 kms from Mumbai. One of the reasons we chose Nasik over other locations was that one of my friends has an empty apartment on the outskirts of the city which we could use and save some money on the stay. Other than that, there are plenty of things Nasik has to offer and we decided to explore it to the fullest. Also it was our (me and wife together) first holiday for this year. We keep traveling with friends, but this time it was just us and we were looking forward to the time together. We left for Nasik around 3:30pm. After finishing some petty work on the way and picking up the house keys from my friend, we were finally on our way to Nasik around 5pm. The drive to Nasik is very nice. The roads are good and the scenery is excellent. There was a lot of traffic near Bhiwandi and Kalyan junction, but post that there was hardly any traffic and it was a pleasure to drive on. We took a break near Asangaon at a rest area – they had Dominos, KFC and other variety of food over there. In between, we came across Kasara Ghat and it was my first ever experience of driving on a proper ghat. The best part of the drive on the ghat was that it was unidirectional – no two way traffic. That really helped in negotiating some of the curves. We reached my friend’s place around 8:20pm and waited for him for 30 mins to give us further directions. Once we got the next set of directions, we reached within 10 mins and unloaded the car and decided to go find dinner. I had visited Nasik earlier (may be around 7 years ago), but a lot of things have changed since then. We wanted to find a local dinner place where we can eat authentic Maharashtrian food. The sad part about travel nowadays is that anywhere you go, all you get pizza, dosa, idli, pav bhaji, Punjabi, and Chinese food. In this rat race to get customers, the local cuisine of the area is lost. I call it the influence of the traveling Gujaratis. I will write a detailed post on that later. We really wanted something local and went about finding it. Luckily, we didn’t have to drive too far and found a local food place called as Kolhapur Express which serves authentic Maharashtrian food. They have thali system (they have 2-3 varieties of dishes, chapatti, sweet, rice and curry (dal for veg) all served in a single plate – picture below)and have a variety of thalis – chicken, mutton, fish, prawn, eggs, and veg. For vegetarians, there isn’t much option to choose from. However, that’s expected. The food was good and after dinner we decided to call it a day. Next stop – Sula Vineyards.


Day 36/ 365 – Happy Thanksgiving

All these posts were written earlier, but it didn’t have a chance to post hence posting everything now.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Not sure how many of  you observe the Thanksgiving holiday, but it is one of the biggest holidays in the US. Since I have been working US holiday calendar (I know you all know about it by now), I have Thanksgiving holidays, thought why not write about the holiday. Thanksgiving is all about being with the family and celebrating with them. I remember one Thanksgiving where my roommate, Mark, had invited me and Samer for Thanksgiving lunch at his home somewhere near Chesapeake Bay in Maryland (This was around 10 years back – so my memory about the event is not too fresh). The drive down to his house was really awesome, though we did hit a deer on the way and the car had a big dent. The deer appeared all of a sudden and even though we were driving around 40 mph, couldn’t avoid the hit. We went to check on the deer and it lay whimpering on the side of the road. Since, there was no option but to go ahead we reached Marks dad’s house. I believe the house was entire built by his dad brick by brick and I was amazed to see that. Here in India, we have laborers’ to do all that work for us, so I was really surprised to know that his dad built the whole house himself. Anyways, we were greeted warmly by Mark’s parents and we informed them of the incident. For lunch, his mom had prepared a sumptuous meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pie (not sure which type – mostly pumpkin). It was one of the best meals I ever had. This was the first time I had stuffing and since then I always used to go to the superstore and get stuffing and eat it as lunch – whenever there was no option. After the meal, we decided to laze around and watch some Thanksgiving parade before calling it a day. It was one of my best experiences ever.