Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Doha- the amalgamation of hospitality and sophistication


        
Pearl Qatar- Reflects Arabian lifestyle
    
My trip to Doha was never planned. It came out all of a sudden. Every year while booking tickets to home I prefer to travel via Doha. Doha, the capital city of Qatar a peninsular country situated in Western Asia whose terrain comprises of arid desert and the Persian Gulf. Being a busy hub connects almost 150 destinations have been the most preferred route due to convenience of accessibility quality airlines service. While I was travelling to my hometown Kolkata I had a layover of 12 hours. Such long hours in the airport seems to be a bit boring although there much to see and explore in the most modern airport. While I was exploring the airport something caught my eyes which were interesting. A free tour was arranged from the airport for people whole have flight at least 8 hours late. There are 4 such tours arranged by the Qatar airlines and I bumped into the idea. Immediately I spoke to the ground staffs and they helped me to book a seat for my family after confirming my boarding pass which showed that my flight was pretty late in the evening.
                               
Doha schedule for guided tours

             

The tour was a complimentary gift from the airlines authority and I was overwhelmed to see a new county which I always considered was a transit to my desired destination. The tour was a guided one with a comfortable bus meant for city sight- touring. Just after boarding we were told about the rules and regulations to be maintained while on the tour. Special emphasis was given towards maintaining time limit to each and every point of interest. The disadvantages of not being in time were explained there by.  It was exciting to find a journey within a journey.


                
The Corniche




Dazzling pearl qatar at night

The first sight was Pearl Qatar which is man made island. Influenced and designed by world famous designers and architects of Spanish and French origin this place is a photographer’s delight. The Riviera living is situated by the side of La Croisette, a lively waterfront which has restaurants and shopping arcades lines by the sides. We stopped here to click pictures. It’s the ultimate of Arabian lifestyle combined with warmth and high standard of living. This is also called Porto Arabia.

Skyline compared to Manhattan


The skyline more or less resembled that of Manhattan but beauty is no way comparable. Qatar has opened its arms towards the world for employment and thereby making this city the ultimate of business hub. We were told that being a Qatari in Qatar itself is a matter of pride. Only 15% of the population is Qatari and rest all foreigners. Qatar promises 100 job guarantees to all its citizens- a rare occurrence anywhere in the world. Qatar is said to be the richest nation, GDP per capita being 75,117$ recorded in 2015. Flambuoncy and aristocracy have been reflected in the infrastructure of the city. We were taken around the US embassy zone where there was a no photography policy. I desired to have a view of the Al Jazeera HQ, (my favorite news channel next to BBC) but time constraint never allowed me to do so.

      
Museum of Islamic Art and culture


Our next halt was around the museum of Islamic art. Situated 7 kms away from cornice on the water front this building is considered as an architectural gem. The first view of the building resembled a burqa clad woman with only the eyes exposed to the world.  The entry to this museum is absolutely free. There is an option of a guided tour or you might opt for an audio guide and go all of your own. Ts a collection of masterpieces of Islamic art including- metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, 
glass and even textiles. These are collected from three continents dates back from 7th to 19th century. It’s a pleasure to watch the beautiful collection. On entrance the visitors were asked to be dressed modestly. Only full dress allowed for both men and women. No short length skirt or dress for ladies, skimpy or body hugging dressed allowed for ladies. For men no shorts or half sleeve T shirts could be allowed. They reserve all rights to deny permission to the museum in case they feel a person is not modestly dressed.

  
Katara centre- Doha

Next point of attraction was the Katara centre of art. It’s a huge structure spread over some hectares of land that proudly preserves the culture of Qatar. We were taken a tour of the amphitheatre, drama theatre, Golden masjid, Halls and galleries, media centre, Masjid of Katara and the Katara gardens.  It’s undoubtedly an alluring place to explore and to hang around.

                                    
Amphitheatre at Katara Art centre, Doha

We were taken around the city in special tourist buses organized by Qatar airlines. The commercial buildings were worth seeing. The architecture was truly splendid and all shapes of buildings reigned- zigzag, spindle shaped, slanted and boat shaped. Looks like the country invited and hired the best of brains in architectural excellence and dumbfounded the world with its ‘man made’ treasured assets.

       
Zigzag towers- Doha


Our last halt was the’ Souq waqif’a market place in the heart of the city with Arabian influence. This place had some remains of the medieval type buildings. It’s said those centuries before it used to be the ‘souq’ or market place for the Bedouins to sell their products. 
            
Souq waqif


Perfume store at Souq Waqif, Doha



It was almost at the verge of getting demolished when the Qatar Government in 2004 started remodeling this heritage site and made it a place of tourist attraction. There are various places to dine and shops which displayed antiques. We were told that this place is the mist happening in the city at evening hours when flavors of kebabs smoke in the air. Music, dance and food- it is the ultimate of Arabian euphoria. We shopped some souvenirs costing around (3-5) $; I make it a point that I should carry at least some memoirs of a place which I once visited.  We didn’t have time and space else I would have never missed a kebab meal and carry some exclusive handworks made from wood and shisha. Gold was being available in those shops making a much desired destination for goldaholics.

A perfect 3 hours tour was nearing its completion. We boarded the bus and were dropped at the airport. After regular security check we were waiting for our flights to take towards our final destination. My kids were tired yet excited and discussing the new places they visited. I thank the airlines from the bottom of my heart; myself being a frequent traveler in this country was truly privileged to visit this amazing city, observe the culture closely and cherish the amazing moments spent in the awesome city.  I promised to myself that next time I visit Doha I will never miss the sumptuous Arabian meal at souq waqif.










Sunday, 5 March 2017

Spinach n egg frittata- the easy and yummy snack!



                   
Yummy bite- spinach and cheese!

There is a great saying that mothers are the best doctors without a degree.  Weekends are always exciting for kids and family. But for a mom it’s the greatest challenge – what could be the next yummy snack for the family? This weekend was a usual one unless I turned it to be a bit exciting with my usual smart cooking skills. Well, what I did was to combine all the vegetable, bake a bit and the result was- spinach and egg frittata. For those kids who are expert in framing excuses to skip a meal of green veggies- this is the most appropriate solution.

Ingredients:
  1. 2 medium sized bell peppers chopped into smaller pieces,
  2. 2 medium sized tomatoes chopped into smaller pieces,
  3. 1 bunch of spinach blanched into smaller pieces,
  4. ½ teaspoon of garlic paste,
  5. 1 medium sized potato skinned and chopped into smaller pieces,
  6. 2 medium sized onions chopped into smaller pieces,
  7. 7 eggs beaten,
  8. ½ teaspoon of salt,
  9. ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder,
  10. ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese,
  11. Oil to fry the veggies.
Equipments used:
1.       Frying pan,
2.       Oven

Procedure:
  1. Take little oil in a skillet and add all the veggies including the garlic paste to it. Cook for some time till all the veggies are nicely cooked.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for some time till it becomes soft.
  3. Add the chopped spinach leaves and
  4. Transfer the content to a baking tray.
  5. Place the beaten eggs over it.
  6. Transfer to an oven and bake it 180 degree Celsius for 15 minutes.
  7. When the egg is set then again top with the cheese.
  8. Again put to bake for 3-4 minutes till the cheese melts.
Remove and allow cooling.  Serve it to your family. Your kids will surely like it.





Saturday, 4 March 2017

Belgium – the la la chocolate land !


   
Architectural excellence- that's Brussels


Belgium was the last country of our trip. There are many facts that come into mind while we spell – BELGIUM. A vibrant country meant for football, cycle race, glass work, chocolates and many more. We were assigned a one day trip. In this hectic schedule our tour guide managed to show us the top attraction that makes this country a special one. This beautiful city suffered terrorist attacks in recent past. We observed tight security everywhere.

              
Atomium
Our first halt was the Atomium, avenue de L’atommium. This huge structure was constructed in 1958 , engineered by Andre Waterkyn and architect Jean Poland ; this 102 meters tall structure huge atoms made from iron and huge escalates join them; this makes the city unique from others. We had enough time to do some photography session in front of the iconic building.
          


Inside atomium


 A trip inside atomium will cost 6 Euros per child and 12 Euros per adult. It’s enjoyable but visitor’s comments were like – the trip not worth the time taken to explore the entire structure. I managed to get some pictures form co-travelers who went inside atomium and sharing for my readers. The entry tickets could be purchased online as well.


    
Manekann Piss- lots of stories 


Next we were taken to the famous place- Manekann piss. It’s a 24 inch long bronze made structure of a little boy that’s urinating to a fountain basin. There are various stories regarding this famous structure. One the story goes like- this little boy saved the city by diffusing a bomb by peeing on it. So that statue made in 1619, sculptured by Hieronimus Duquesnoy was actually a tribute in memory of the boy. There are various other beliefs on other stories regarding this statue but this is the most popular one. The stories are interesting enough!


   
Chocolates in retails outlets


We were taken to retail outlets who are dealing into chocolates. It was just fantastic to see so many varieties of chocolates under the same roof. In fact we had a mini breakfast with chocolates bars sold in terms of weight. But too many chocolates curbs down one’s sweet tooth. My children had lunch with chocolate waffles.


          
Belgium chocolates- that's why chocolate land!

We were taken on a walking tour to Galerie de la Reine which is must stop for chocolate lovers in Brussels. The shops that luxuriously displayed chocolates across transparent windows will surely provoke you to make a handsome purchase of the top flavors like- milk crème, cocoa, mint and chili. Before visiting Brussels I had no idea that chocolate could be combined with other flavors to suit various taste buds.  It was like an exciting chocolate tour.



      
Gallerie de la Reine- the 19th century shopping mall 




  
Floral carpet- beautiful event at Grand Place

There are various other places of interest that we could not make due to lack of time.
The Grand Place, a UNESCO world heritage center is the main attraction of Belgium. During mid August, the place is decorated with almost 750,000 begonias which make the world’s largest floral carpet. The place was once the main market place of medieval history.


        
Comic strip 
Comic strip situated at Waucquez warehouse is a collection of over 5,000 original cartoon masterpieces. Belgium is famous for conceiving the famous comic character ‘Tintin’. Famous cartoonist Herge and creator of Tintin has left his foot marks here and has presented the most memorable characters like- Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus.


There were various other places of interest like- Palais du justice , Royal museum of Fine arts and musical instrument museum in Brussels which I could not cover due to lack of time but I will suggest others to visit. Belgium, known for hand -made glass works is one of the top notch places of interest. In case you have interest to look at the process of glass making then a guided visit to one of those is a must. That might cost you 30 Euros extra but without that tour the trip is almost incomplete.
This was my finishing trip. I hired some photos from my traveler friends who visited the place.


  
Commercial buildings in Brussels.


 My next destination was Paris and from there we will be packing for our final destination. The day was excellent for me- breakfast at Amsterdam, lunch in Brussels and had dinner in Paris. There is nothing more exciting than exploring unknown places and experiencing unknown culture. I wish I could earn a lot, eat a little and fulfill my destination to travel around the world before I die. With some cherished golden memories I was eagerly waiting for the next trip and quench my thirst of being a global traveler.