“I’m a man of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best.”
Oscar Wilde

When the Tropical Collection from Chumbak comes knocking at your door, how  can you not fall in love with it? It’s fresh, it’s tropical, it’s everything you can celebrate spring with, a line you can usher summer in with as well! It’s an inspiring line, and immediately nudged me to do something fun. Take a look….

I played with the collection endlessly. It brings alive the child in you. You can’t take us Indians out of the our beloved tropics {for long at least}and you can’t take tropical out of India, so the collection is a sure win. I love the crisp, colourful feel, the energy it shares, the vibrancy it spills. The collection is inspired by tropical elements like palm leaves, pineapples, flamingos and the like.Here’s what I was inspired to do – Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit BowlWhen we were young, my dad scooped or rather balled out watermelons and musk melons on our birthdays, then served the fruit chilled in fruit bowls. For some reason, just looking at the collection took me right back there, and before I knew it I was carving a fruit bowl. It’s the funnest thing to do for a pool party, kids birthdays, an evening pick me up in summer, or an anytime fresh healthy snack.I used kiwi stars, halved gooseberries and watermelon balls. I thought I’d throw in strawberry hearts too but forgot the in the fridge. Gah! Summer will see stone fruit galore, so the fun will double. You could do a stone fruit and berry inspired bowl. Or maybe set a watermelon granita in the melon bowl, freeze, slice and serve! No dearth of ideas when your life is flooded with inspiration.

Chumbak had a #spotthepineapple fun campaign to launch the collection. How can you be tropical and not have pineapple? So I figured I’d do a pineapple strawberry smoothie too. I freeze both strawberries and pineapple chunks, so this smoothie is the easiest thing ever. Throw in a cup of each, a cup or two of water, some sweetener, a dash of lime juice into the blender. Whirrrrrrrr it up and you’re good to go.That’s what the coming summer is going to ask for. Quick fresh foods that will keep the spirit light and happy. See how beautifully they paired with the Chumbak Tropical in the light of the afternoon setting sun? Such pretty hues that go so beautifully with the bougainvillea too. Same colours, tropical feel, and I am all set! There’s plenty of choice…

With a range of cushion covers that explode in bright colours, I think this is the best time for a summer makeover! Vibrant, vibrant, vibrant is all I think! Pineapples, flamingoes, elephants, flowers, geometric patterns {♥♥♥}, I want to redo my place! Oh and the sweet little owl too stepped out from a smitten golden ex Diwali into a rustic rainbow coloured creature. Can you imagine that the ullu {owl in hindi} went tropical too? I fell in love with this little fellow, toes and all!The other thing I really liked are the cookie jars. Spacious, clean lines, good quality airtight jars, and beautifully patterned, the counter tops will never be the same again. Even though I am not a gold person, I really like the golden cookie jar too. It fits in so well with the rest. And of course there is PLENTY MORE to the collection. I just picked a few.My all time favourite is of course the palm leaf pattern line. That has my name written all over it. It is fresh, understated, almost like each piece has been hand painted. The teacups are a generous size and stand tall. The pitcher is a winner and I would LOVE for it to sit on my counter. It pours well, it’s easy to clean and is an ideal size for milk or juice. Heck, it even doubles up as a stunning flower vase! It’s lovely to begin the day with for breakfast. Quick granola and fruit parfaits, omelette, toast, a glug of milk from the jug, coffeeeeeee … the leaf pattern is my kind of pattern. For salads too. The interesting bit is that the leaf pattern fits in to every time of the day, every meal too. From a crisp beginning in the morning for breakfast, to a soothing, lilting sun-downer feel, with calming, soothing hues. 

Even the coordinated leaf platters are darling. I just find the leaf pattern very very refreshing, something anyone would love to own, serve on, put out for guests, hang on their wall as part of a   plate collection. I shot with it a lot as you might notice. You can see I shot it the most. With flowers {poppies} for breakfast, with milk for breakfast too, with onion flowers just like that, then with the Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl . That’s how versatile and handy it is. The great thing is that it pairs with almost every colour and meal. I’m thinking chilled lemonade through summer!

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
Print Recipe
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies, and a Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl are quick, inspired, no cook, tropical fruit based recipes for summer! Inspired by the Tropical Collection from Chumbak.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
Print Recipe
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies, and a Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl are quick, inspired, no cook, tropical fruit based recipes for summer! Inspired by the Tropical Collection from Chumbak.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies
Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
Servings: people
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies
  1. Place all ingredients in jar of blender and process until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning adding more sugar if required.
  2. Garnish with slices of fresh strawberries.
Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
  1. With a melon baller, scoop out balls of watermelon. gently remove any remaining flesh to take a bowl out of the skin. Carve the edges with a sharp fruit knife if you like.
  2. Peel and slice the kiwi. Stamp out stars with a small cookie cutter.
  3. Halve the cape gooseberries.
  4. Toss them all and put into the watermelon bowl. Chill. Scatter fresh mint over it. Serve chilled.
  1. Run the left over watermelon and kiwi in a blender to make watermelon juice. Add a dash of honey, fresh lime and rock salt. Serve chilled.
Share this Recipe

Lakshman Sagar, Rajasthan 2‘Welcome to Lakshman Sagar greeted the well mannered, soft spoken and affable manager of the resort, Tejinder {aka Teji} as we alight from the car that drives us into the resort. Welcome to Lakshman Sagar where all you have to do is nothing. The words stayed in my head through our stay. They rang so true and make you want to celebrate all that they could possibly mean, and more!Lakshman Sagar, RajasthanNothing quite prepares you for the luxury and peace of Lakshman Sagar. Nothing at all. It caught me by surprise, a place I have been putting off visiting for over a year. Now I can’t wait to get back there again!! That’s just how good the resort is, the team that delivers their concept of “slow Living” like it should be. And the concept comes with oodles of down to earth luxury. Not rose tinted, not high heeled in any way. It’s down to earth good, and just the way I like love it. {Warning: Long post with loads of images}

Cookout Indian Railways It begins with the ease of getting to the resort. A 15 minute drive to Gurgaon station got us to the Ajmer Shatabdi which came on the dot on time. I wish Indian Railways was cleaner and the food was leaps better, but well that’s another story. Off at Ajmer, into the waiting car, it was a smooth, pleasant and quick hour and a half drive to the resort. The highway is amazing, possibly the best stretch of highways in India that I have driven along.Lakshman Sagar Getting there was a breeze, and to welcome us was the most refreshing nimbu paani presented most beautifully in true Sewara style. That hospitality stayed through the visit, never wavering, never faltering, truly endearing.

Golden Hour, Cottage, Lakshman SagarAt the fringe of the Badlands of India, Lakshman Sagar was built in the late 19th century as a hunting lodge by the then Thakur of Raipur, Lakshman Singh Ji to host other noble families and British emissaries. As a continuation of the hospitality and traditions of the House of Raipur; Sewara has envisioned a getaway much like Thakur Lakshman Singh Ji, though with a conservationist view of the heritage and surroundings.Lakshman Sagar The first thing that catch your attention are two heritage buildings standing tall to welcome you. The Zanana (women) quarters and Mardana (men) quarters, designed historically for the ladies and men respectively, offer hints to Rajput culture and traditional customs like pardah or reflecting the grandeur of mehfils & baithak. Seeped in history, every corner of Lakshman Sagar depicts the nuances of hunting holidays during the days of the Raj. From the machans used for tiger spotting to the man-made lake to attract game, great care has been taken to restore the priceless heritage.Lakshman Sagar, RaipurThe re-conceptualization of Lakshman Sagar is manifested through the endless detailing in the architecture & design, the cuisine, and the well-thought of activities & non-activities tailored personally for the guests in a captivating natural topography, ideal for mindless relaxation. Things that impressed – bespoke services, local and sustainable processes, loads of thought in everything on site, a team effort, very knowledgeable staff. Also that the furniture, coasters, ash trays etc are all made in house.Lakshman Sagar, RaipurAs Teji walked us around the beautifully maintained 32 acre property, I could not help but marvel at the attention to detail . Keeping local traditions in mind, 12 mud cottages dot the property, each delightfully designed and each offering the privacy you would never expect. One step into our cottage and I knew instantly what makes Lakshman Sagar so special. That the interiors use only locally sourced products, be it the stone walls or the rock cut basin in the washrooms, the rock cut pool individual pool outside each room, to bottles for water, copper glasses for water, oil cans, native linen, bric a brac from Rajasthan, the list is endless.

Lakshman Sagar, RaipurThe 12 cottages have been meticulously planned and conceptualized with assistance from the vanguards of sustainable design – architects, Vasant & Revathi Kamat and designer  duo Sahil & Sarthak. Merging Rajasthani design with eco sensibility,the twelve 900 sq ft mud and stone cottages, supplement the Mardana and Zanana and invoke an experience both private and symbiotic with nature. Such a phenomenal job, one that you have to see to believe.

Sunset, Lakshman Sagar, RajasthanJust being there for 2 days was a life changing experience. Being in touch with nature, doing nothing that requires you to hurry, a complete bespoke experience. The high point of out first evening, the sun downer that is best seen for the rooftop of the Zanana. Where else can you get such a beautiful birds eye view of peacocks readying to fly back ‘home’ to a 300 year old banyan tree. It was fascinating to see them line up in their tens to literally go to a take off point, and fly the distance just before sun set. All this while enjoying the most delicious coffee, namakpaaraas and shakarpaaras that hit a nostalgic childhood note. The connect of the good old days is very alive.

Sunset, Lakshman Sagar Evening are lazily spent around a well lit bonfire just as it begins to get dark. The first night by the catchment was spent pretty much brushing up our star gazing skills with Teji sharing his infinite knowledge and we following one constellation to another. They do have a telescope up at the Zanana too, but it was unserviceable at the time. That didn’t matter as the night was clear and the stars shone bright! The other thing that shone bright was the food. Never ending goodness of local cuisine appeared at every course. Around the bonfire we enjoyed makki ke pappad, chicken and spinach pakoras with finger liking good chutneys, hari and imli ki chutney.

Lakshman Sagar Just as we thought we couldn’t eat more, it was time for dinner. At Lakshman Sagar, the chefs take great pride in doing salads too, with everything locally sourced and beautifully plated.The vegetables are all sourced from their organic farm around the corner. Chutneys and achaars are a quintessential part of local Rajasthani cuisine, and there are more combinations than you can imagine. We had a different selection at every meal.  Sunrise, Lakshman Sagar, RaipurCrisp fresh linen and possibly the biggest bed I have ever seen, ensured a sound restful sleep, only to be woken up by the calls of peacocks the next morning.

Sunrise & Peacocks, Lakshman SagarNot sure whether it is more fascination to see peacocks at sundown or at dusk and sunrise, yet we had all times of day leisurely covered. Just as first light hit the horizon, the peacocks flew back one by one from the tree to the hillside across the catchment, each calling the next. It was like the march of peacocks, and then they settled over this side for the day.

Lakshman Sagar

Peacock feathers, Lakshman SagarAnd if there are so many peacocks, can feathers be far behind? The daughter collected hundreds of feathers from across the property much to her glee. Nothing to do suited her just fine! She had a go at the potters wheel, also at fishing though she didn’t catch a single fish! We were told that you either need a ton of patience OR luck to catch one.

Lakshman SagarBefore feathers and fishing, there was breakfast. It was delightful to put it mildly. I love the luxury of bespoke vacations. Eat when you like and what you like; also if need be, where you like! Everything is delivered with ease, efficiency and huge smiles. No one’s in a hurry, the pace is leisurely, which also means that you end up eating a lot. The good thing about slow living is that you walk a lot too, to burn it off.Breakfast at Lakshman SagarBreakfast day 1 was something like this – Fresh orange juice, maize dalia, googri {overnight soaked and cooked wheat kernels and horsegram}, sapota/cheeku jam, gum berry jam, fresh fruit, gur/jaggery, boora, honey, achaar, masala omelet, fire roasted tomato. Nothing refined or processed. Pertinently, every member of staff knows every ingredient, every dish, the origins as well as the recipe. That was quite intriguing!

Potters Wheel, Lakshman SagarPost the potters wheel and idling away angling, we languished by our pool back in the room for a bit.

Angling, Lakshman SagarIt was difficult to put the camera down. I wish I had a lens for wildlife photography. My kit lens wasn’t the best for this, but we caught a few antelopes / neelgai by the waterhole, tried to catch the turtles in the catchment pool, and a few ducks too.

Neelgai, Lakshman Sagar

Birds, Lakshman sagarWhat the camera couldn’t capture, the mind certainly did. Birds we saw included the lapwing, spotted owl, kingfisher, egret, dove, green pigeon, comorant, wagtail, parrot, tern, swallow, heron, sunbird, babbler, robin, bulbul, wagtail, waterhen, starling, bee eater, koel and ducks of every kind. You can go bird watching and spot up to 150 different species. Dyal Singh, Teji’s deputy, is like a bird encyclopedia!

Lunch, Lakshman SagarAmazingly it was time to eat again! Lunch was simple yet lavish – moongori sabzi, spring onion, methi aloo, a feta beet salad {the basil flavoured feta was locally made & divine}, sesame/til chutney, garlic chutney, mixed veg pickle,  pomegranate raita, masoor dal, jowar roti, coriander pulao. Everything was freshly prepared and bursting with flavour.  Ended with a chefs special sweet, ghewar, again a quintessential part of local cuisine.Definitely no entry. Door, Raipur villageIt’s always fun to drop by the local marketplace/business district to get a feel of any city, to discover it’s essence. Dyal Singh, was sweet enough to drive us there, stopping first at the local spice market. Since chilies were the only spice in season and being voraciously traded, that’s all the eye could see. Local spice market, RaipurWhat a splendid sight, made even better by a flock of sheep that came along. More entertainment. I’d never have thought that sheep eat chilies. They do, by the mouthfuls!! Sheep tales, Spice Market, Lakshman Sagar, RaipurAnd they appeared to enjoy the mouthfuls they grabbed, until they were herded away.

Sheep tales, Spice Market, Lakshman Sagar, RaipurWe took a quick trip down to the local village in Raipur. It had the quintessential closeness of a small town feel as we walked through the narrow single lane market, much like a high street. The colours, the sights, the sounds, local language all fascinate.Raipur village The shops were an eclectic mix of odds and ends. Who would expect a cold pressed sesame oil being milled freshly, a gun maker, a show maker and such shops rubbing shoulders along the street. Not much to shop here rather to my disappointment, actually nothing at all! Yet the walk through was quite an experience, a market held within two old city gates.Raipur villageAlso within the gates was the privately owned Raipur Fort, one of the few such heritage sites that has royalty in residence. It’s a beautiful property but clearly in need of restoration as the unoccupied parts have fallen to ruins.Raipur Fort, Raipur, RajasthanBuilt in true traditional Rajasthani architecture, you can see remnants of royal days gone by, replete with jharokas, a sheesh mahal, domes, arches, stained glass and a beautiful stone courtyard. I believe they are looking to restore this portion to offer it as a heritage hotel in the region.

Raipur Fort, Raipur, RajasthanAlso at the property was the sweet black royal filly Raj Rani who was quite pleased to have company. She was the sweetest little horse ever, nibbling away at my wrists and nuzzling my hands. Cacophony added to the otherwise peaceful surroundings with two geese cackling away quite loudly, clearly alarmed by our sudden appearance! I jumped off Dyal Singhs jeep to shoot a gypsy camp enroute too.Gypsy camp enroute to Lakshman SagarWe were soon on our away back to Lakshman Sagar to be greeted by a fragrant refreshing saffron basil cooler, AND fresh fish that had just been caught {much to the daughters horror who swore never to angle again!}. The fish was part of dinner served that night, but that wasn’t all.Lakshman Sagar That evening saw more of what this beautiful resort offers. A qawwali by local musicians resonated through the night, touching our souls and offering the best of Rajasthani soul music. Rustic, deep throated and vibrant music echoed across the  resort, as we headed for a live cooking class led by Teji and his master chef! It’s a great way to get close to local cuisine and see first hand what Indian cooking offers. There were guests from the UK as well, and they were clearly enjoyed the mogri beans, and rabdi pasta being stirred up. These dishes would soon be served up for dinner!Lakshman SagarWhile the remaining of dinner was being cooked in the kitchen, we sat around the well lit beautiful bonfire, enjoying starters. On the menu was a bbq chicken and tandoori cauliflower {gobhi} served with delicious chutneys again. Also rice papad. Dinner a short while later included haldi matar sabzi, dal, mogri, fish curry, rabdi pasta, and a pulao.  Dessert was an earthy rustic atta jaggery halwa which was delicious to say the least!

Field breakfast, Lakshman SagarBeen a busy time since we got here to do nothing. This nothing got better and better. The next morning was to offer yet another highlight of our stay, a field breakfast.

Fresh buttermilk, Field Breakfast, Lakshman Sagar Nothing prepares you for a peep into the local culture and lifestyle, and it was well managed by the team. It’s worth the 2 km walk across the rugged rocky terrain which lies just outside the property. What a pleasant morning it was!

Field Breakfast, Lakshman SagarThe neatly laid tables and machans that greet you, the residents of the rural farm making fresh flatbread and buttermilk, tamatar ki chutney that’s just come off the fire, all make for quite a memorable experience.Field Breakfast, Lakshman Sagar 3For me, also fascinating are home fires, traditional cooking methods, rural lifestyle that is hard to experience first hand and the ambiance of a local farm. To experience their lifestyle at such close quarters was another high-point of our visit. Sheep, goats, cows, puppies, birds, a 60ft well, fields of wheat and barley …Field Breakfast, Lakshman Sagar Makai and aata flatbeads/roti, fresh homemade sweet butter, freshly churned buttermilk, choorma, masala chai and orange juice made for the most delicious breakfast at the farm. A relaxed walk back, an early lunch {yes food again}, and it was time to leave. We were warmly bid adieu by Teji, Dyal Singh and the team with a traditional serving of gur and dahi for a safe journey.Lakshman SagarWith so much goodness packed into a rather productive weekend dong practically nothing, I know I’ll be back sooner or later. This is one glimpse of India that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime with Sewara. Down to earth, rustic yet luxurious goodness that was amazing!

Lakshman Sagar

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“It’s tough to find a place not to like in Switzerland.”
Michele Bachmann

SwissMade GrandTour PAB 2 1000Here’s part II of the Travelogue of our Swiss Made Grand Tour. A 7 day road trip that led us 1000 miles through four language regions, over five Alpine passes, to eleven UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as two biospheres and along 22 lakes. A tour that promised to provide a concentrated insight into Switzerland, with exquisite scenic views and cultural jewels.Hosted by Switzerland Tourism, and organised by NDTV Good Times, it lived up to the promise and delivered much more! An experience of a lifetime, the first part here!

NDTV PromoAs we move from road to TV, the Swiss Made Grand Tour is now on air {beginning 21st October 2015 on NDTV Good Times}

SwissMade GrandTour PAB #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesAs we moved from Vaud towards Interlaken, the beginning of German influenced regions of Switzerland, the landscape changed, and with it our comfort levels. We were HAPPY!!SwissMade GrandTour PAB #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesThe architecture, the countryside, and the energy, all becoming less reserved and more robust, much like the energy in the team. Our comfort levels changed as dramatically. From virtual strangers to back slapping buddies, here onwards the road trip was just a bag of laughs. The camaraderie shone, madness ruled, the laughter never ceased.

The bunch of us who went to Switzerland #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimes The good part was that the three of us, food, travel and auto blogger, were always on time. 7am would see 3 bright, fresh faces at the breakfast table, no matter what! Talk about Swiss precision and clockwork etc. We were often running late as a team however, yet picking up from the last post, we made Gstaad in good time. There we were treated to the quintessential fondue pot, in the best way possible! Imagine sitting on a hill slope, in idyllic surroundings, panoramic views of the Alps, crisp fresh country air, cow bells echoing in the background, stirring a pot of the yummiest fondue ever?

SwissMade GrandTour PAB #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesGstaad is famous in India for the rolling greens in the backdrop of the Alps where a great deal of Bollywood is shot. Thing Gstaad, think Yash Chopra. Fresh Alpine air, lush pastures and herbs ensure that the cheese you find here is the best possible. A visit to the Gstaad Cheese grotto, a virtual monument to cheese, endorsed that.SwissMade GrandTour PAB #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesWith over 3000 wheels of the best cheese, some very rare, are stored in -8C conditions. Descended a very steep bunch of stairs into an old converted water reservoir, it was a ‘Cheese, I love you‘ moment!SwissMade GrandTour PAB 2 #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesRows upon rows of neatly catalogued cheese wheels, beautifully piped music, library like shelves, this was cheese heaven. The only reason we eventually ascended was because -8C does eventually get to you if you aren’t warmly clad. We weren’t! It was 35C outdoors, and we hit the road to Interlaken where we planned to have dinner.

Mereingen, SwitzerlandDrove into Interlaken at 11pm to a city that was clearly in holiday mood and wide awake. Quick pizzas later we headed for very quaint Meriengen, our stop for the night. Crawling into bed at well past 2am, groggy eyed, I was up and out at 6am because of the steeple I could see from my window, the bell that chimed every 15 minutes. SwissMade GrandTour PAB Meiringen It was the quaintest towns ‘I’ve ever seen, one where I probably shot the most in the least possible time. Walked down the main street….SwissMade GrandTour PAB MeiringenThe city was waking up, very gently, not a soul in sight. Before long we were at the breakfast room. Such a warm woody country feel to it, such a vast display of rustic Swiss collectibles beautifully showcased, lace trimmings, natural light … just so pretty.

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Reichenbach FallsCars packed, we headed to first to the world famous Reichenbach Falls, famous for the apparent death of fictional hero Sherlock Holmes. A steep ride up in the funicular and we were greeted by the legendary falls, and breath taking views of the countryside below. Meringues at Meiringen #SwissMade #GrandTour #NDTVGoodTimesThen much to my delight, a visit to the Frontal Bakery in the town of Meiringen, famous for being the inventor of the ‘meringue’. I’ve baked a few meringues in my life. Even though I am not a huge fan of this sweet bake, the ones we had here were the best I’ve ever had, especially the one above!SwissMade GrandTour PAB Meringues at MeiringenI was a convert. Also because of the delightful way in which it was served! Wow!! Art on a plate! Sadly, it was time to leave. Yes. Again. We had more ground to cover, loads to see.

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Ballenberg There was more history to come by way of Ballenberg, the Swiss open-air museum. What an absolutely fascinating idea and place to put together, literally a stroll through the past. Just amazing! So much culture, history, tradition and such great grub.  SwissMade GrandTour PAB BallenbergOut of Ballenberg towards Grindlewald and it was my turn to grab the wheel. Yes time to drive and I loved it. Ballenberg, SwitzerlandWith views like the one above, saturated greens sweeping the countryside, wooden fences, bales of hay, wooden chalets. Took me the initial ten minutes to rewire the brain, the uber patient Neha by my side and soon it was bye bye camera, hello car! The next few days were quite the best as I drove in the mountains {first for me again}, through tunnels where 16 wheelers thundered by at high speeds like in video games, to sudden glimpses of shimmering blue waters.SwissMade GrandTour PAB GrindlewaldWe stopped by at a sunset in Grindlewald and it was STUNNING. The valley below with rolling greens, clouds playing hide and seek with the mountain tops, tourists stopping by to take infinite selfies, then one call from the rest, we zipped towards the very stunning Swiss Alp Resort Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Grindlewald It was like stepping into ‘Heidi’s’ world. What an ah-mazing hotel! Early morning views of the sun kissing the Alps, of typical Swiss wooden chalets, of Neha sipping her first cuppa coffee in the balcony at 5.30am, of Sid racing up and down the stairs, then brewing me a cup of coffee.SwissMade GrandTour PAB GrindlewaldThe next morning, I was met by the very sweet Bettina from the local Swiss tourism board, my driving companion, to explore Interlaken at leisure, maybe shop a little {there was no time for the latter}.

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lake ThunWe spent ages languishing by Lake Thun watching elderly retired gentlemen soaking up the sun, playing with remote controlled sailboats and ducks lazing around like there was no tomorrow!

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lunch by Lake ThunLunch was overlooking the beautiful Lake of Thun. You have to love the Swiss for the great ambiance that goes to make food an unforgettable experience. Azure blue skies, shimmering water, gorgeous summer flowers, the odd seagull swooping down, the toot of the boat, sailboats being tethered…perfect atmosphere for a lazy afternoon meal. Tall delectable desserts later, with pictures to share, siesta might have been a good idea, but no rest for the wicked as Mandy gave us ‘the look’.

SwissMade GrandTour PABHerded back into cars amidst some very lame protest, we headed to yet another beautiful city, Lucerne, via the Swiss capital Bern. Yet not without stopping to enjoy the golden sunset that enveloped the countryside. It was a moment not to be missed, captured on film by the super efficient crew, and me on my cell.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Enroute to LucerneSwissMade GrandTour PAB Lunch Drive to LucerneIt was that part of the day when gold swept the countryside, cow bells echoes gently through every valley, the sky kissed the countryside and all was well with the world. The drive from there on was the best ever. Narrow country roads, high speeds, stunning countryside, lofty views from atop, we literally nosedived into Lucerne.

SwissMade GrandTour PAB LucerneLucerne, my favourite city, is a very popular tourist destination in Switzerland. If I had just one city to visit, it would probably be this one.We stayed in the heart of the city, and were fortunate to see it in every light. It’s a city that charms.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lucerne

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lucerne Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Every building has so much character, rows upon rows of heritage buildings, the wood bridge, clock towers, the castle that inspired Disney, ducks, flowers, dogs, cobbled streets, cafes, trams, sailboats, and bikes. You name it, they have it.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Mount PilatusSo much to do, so little time. Early morning we hopped onto cable cars to scale Mount Pilatus, Lucerne’s very own mountain. The very sweet and lively Colette introduced us to Pilatus – maker of weather, dragon’s lair, home to giants and grave of rulers. It’s one of the most legendary places in Central Switzerland and one of the most beautiful. On a clear day the mountain offers a panoramic view of 73 Alpine peaks. You must hand it to the Swiss to make every mountain so easily accessible and yet keep the country environmentally friendly!SwissMade GrandTour PAB Mount PilatusWe raced down at dizzy speeds on the Fräkmüntegg, Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run, and then the rode with the new cableway “Dragon Ride” to Pilatus Kulm. There tried our luck with the Alphorn {miserable fail for Rachit & moi, full marks for Neha who suitably impressed, surprising pass for Sid}. Grabbed a 5 minute lunch, then hopped on to the historical Pilatus Bahn, the cogwheel train that was engineered way back in 1889!

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Pilatus Bahn

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Mount Pilatus Back in the city in a short while, it was time for something quintessentially Swiss – Chocolate! So Swiss, so fine, smooth, sinful, addictive. They spoil you with delectable bites with every shot of espresso. We were about to be spoiled further.

Experience chocolate for the first time” read the sign on the door as we giddily swung into boutique Max Chocolatier located centrally on Lucerne’s Schweizerhofquai. What a treat to the senses. Relying on the phenomenal flair for nuances and aromas, the chocolatiers blend cocoa, temper chocolate and handcraft exquisite confectionery just above the boutique. Based exclusively on natural raw materials, we were treated to an assortment of freshly made chocolate, pralines, truffles and seasonal specialties – each a work of art, though gone in seconds! With pairings like mango we could have stayed here forever….SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lucerne…but the old city beckoned. Bathed in the gold of the setting sun, fascinating was the word. Turn a corner from the main street overlooking Lake Lucerne and there you are, in the middle of the most beautiful half timber buildings, painted fronts, that date back several hundred years, window art, wooden doors, cobbled streets, stone fountains.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Old City, LucerneSince the city straddles the Reuss River it has several bridges, the most prominent of them the wooden covered Chapel Bridge. Originally built in 1333, it was almost destroyed completely by a fire in 1993 by a discarded cigarette. Restored since, it still has a series on paintings within that depict Lucernes history. SwissMade GrandTour PAB Chapel Bridge, LucerneIt runs by the Wasserturm, a 13th century water tower, and together the two make the most famous landmark of this stunning city.

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Lucerne 3Also famous and iconic is the St. Leodegar {Hof Church} founded in the mid-8th century, part of the monastery which in turn founded Lucerne. A Gothic church preceded the existing German Renaissance building, but was largely destroyed by fire in 1633. Only the towers, St. Mary’s altar and a few religious objects remain in the existing 17th-century building. SwissMade GrandTour PAB Dinner LucerneWe literally dined under the stars. It was a delicious meal, peels of laughter, yet nostalgia in the air. The trip was coming to a close! Time flies and how when you’re having fun. It was time to head to Zurich. End of the trip. SwissMade GrandTour PAB Einsiedeln Abbey

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Einsiedeln The brilliant hosts still had more for us – a lunch stopover at the most stunning Einsiedeln to have lunch and see the Einsiedeln Abbey enroute.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Einsiedeln Abbey

The Benedictine monastery  houses the Black Madonna, and is an important pilgrimage point for over a 1000 years. We were privileged to get a tour by the very charming resident Father Philippe. The interiors were awe inspiring – baroque style architecture with gleaming white, gold and pastel frescos, marble altars, and organ music echoing through the abbey, and the history of the abbey fascinating. {I took a quick video of the interiors on my cel}

SwissMade GrandTour PAB Einsiedeln AbbeyThat Abbey houses an age old library. There too books, religious and historical, over a 1000 years old, the interiors in white and pastels, with Baroque inspiration here too.SwissMade GrandTour PAB Einsiedeln Abbey LibrarySo much to take in, and we hit the road for the final leg. Not without a jump into the lake for Sid though. It was then that we realised how much we were all going to miss these days. NDTV Good Times and Swiss Tourism were fabulous hosts who offered us the most awesome Swiss experience ever – best food, best roads, best architecture, best people and the best scenery! The cutest dogs too!SwissMade GrandTour PAB to ZurichGood things come in small packages, and we lived to experience just that! Well, we were also pretty awesome company!!

SwissMade GrandTour PAB to ZurichCome share our experience! Catch the show on NDTV Good Times beginning 21st October.
{There is a repeat at 5.30pm this evening, 25th October 2015}

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