High on Hotels: El Palace Hotel, Barcelona

Friends, believe it or not but today Helipad on Heels celebrates its 5th Anniversary…Thank you so much for all the love and support!!! And since this is the Anniversary Special Post- we are bringing to you a hotel from the buzzing city of Barcelona. For this continues to be a hot-favourite holiday destination of recent times, we are sure that this post would prove to be rather fun and useful.

Also, for all those who thought that we shall only be talking about Asian Hotels, think again as High on Hotels endeavours to explore hotels from around the World.

Located in the center of Barcelona, we are told that the immaculate El Palace Hotel is a symbol of Barcelona’s hotel tradition. We have also heard that its guest diary includes names of stalwarts like Cary Grant, Sofia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Ken Follett and Ronnie Wood. Let us find out more about this beauty of a hotel…

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Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: This hotel opened in 1919 as the Ritz Barcelona and has a long history. The staff will make the stay of our guests very comfortable and enjoyable. We have been ranked between 1st and 10th in the last 6 years.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: In the rooms, the clients would find a king-sized bed with our new linen collection, L’Occitane amenities, telephone in the room, bathroom, television, complimentary water and a kettle.

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Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: Two fine dining restaurants- Winter Garden and Caelis (with 1-Michelin star), French-style Brasserie 19/Nineteen Restaurant, Bluesman Cocktail Bar, Mayan Luxury Spa, Diana Garden (a truly romantic garden).

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Fine Dining Winter Garden Restaurant located at the new Diana Garden on the rooftop terrace. The restaurant offers luxury tapas with wine pairing and views of Barcelona.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: We believe it has to be the Bluesman Cocktail Bar and Diana Garden.

Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: The hotel is located at the city center so there are many transport options from the property including the train and the bus.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: Taxi or private transfer organized by our Concierge Department.

This hotel steeped in history, sure is a visual delight.

Pictures Courtesy: El Palace Hotel, Barcelona

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Holiday with BFF in Europe.Check!

Well, this one is certainly going to be a treasured blog post as it is going to take both of us down memory lane of a summer so special with two weeks packed with laughter and fun. For few already know, that we got lucky enough to do a proper holiday together for the very first time just sometime back. Needless to say that we made the most of it in the true “bestie spirit”…

So, it all started with me taking the Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. Since I was entering Europe via Istanbul, I thought of just staying back for a couple of days and exploring what I have seen in pictures is pure beauty. Travelling solo abroad does give one a kick for sure. However, I did exercise wisdom and did some good amount of homework. On stepping out of the Istanbul Atatürk Airport, I hopped into a yellow taxi and had my driver take me to my hotel in the Taksim area.  Well, I stayed at the Metropolitan Hotels and must share that I found my room to be very comfortable. All three dishes which I ordered at the hotel were quite well done including the Turkish style Ravioli in yogurt and tomato sauce. The first day, I decided to explore the Taksim street which is rather happening, I didn’t go big on shopping right away as I had much of the trip left and had very happily come with a mind of not going overboard with retail therapy. I landed up at this cosmetic store-Flormar and was lucky enough to get a make-over of sorts. Post which I did explore many stores and eventually, tried what I had heard so much about, the very famous Turkish ice-cream. Well, just the way it is put onto the cone is overwhelming. Next day, I was waiting in great anticipation for the pre-booked tour of mine. First up, we saw the Topkapı Palace which was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, it was truly opulent and the most amazing area of the palace was the one from where you get a splendid view of the Bosphorus. The first time I witnessed it, I just wanted the time to freeze. Up next, we headed to the beautiful Rustem Pasha Mosque post which I got off to the Grand Bazaar. It was bright, colourful and had almost never ending shops. It is here that I tried a very interesting pomegranate flavoured tea and also got myself a Turkish scent. Talking about the local stuff, since I had heard so much about it, I did try the Turkish bagelSimit as well. So, this was about some of the stuff I did in Istanbul during my short stay of 2 days.

Further, my excitement held no bounds as I was going to be at my dream destination-Amsterdam and was going to reunite with my definite better half- Shagun. Outside the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, I waited for the shuttle to our hotel- Ramada Apollo Centre. The hotel enjoys a decent location and I found our room to be comfortable and clean as well. In Amsterdam, we walked and explored quite a bit…

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Here are few experiences which gave us a high in the purest sense:

  1. Visit to Café Winkel for one of the best apple pies we have ever had!!!2016-05-29-PHOTO-00002070
  2. For we were missing Indian food, we headed to Ashoka-an Indian and Nepalese Restaurant and everything we ordered was rather authentic…
  3. For what provided the perfect pump to our day was the delicious brunch at Roasters & Bakers. As they correctly say, “B&R is a New Zealand style café served with a heavy dose of Brazil.”
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  4. An experience of liqueur tasting at Amsterdam’s historic distillery-Wynand Fockink 🙂2016-05-29-PHOTO-00002072
  5. For pure pizza lovers like us, a meal at De Pizzabakkers was so worth it!
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  6.  The Canal Cruise proved to be such a beautiful way of exploring the city…
  7. Hopping on to a quick ferry ride to get on the opposite side of the Central Station and post lots and lots of walking, we landed up at a super exciting flea market and then, at a lovely little space by the name of Fashion & Tea where a quick refreshing drink was truly enjoyable!
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  8. For those who love to indulge in retail therapy, Nine Streets has much to offer 😛
  9. Relaxing at the urban Vondelpark…
  10. Fries, fries and more fries 🙂
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Post falling in absolute love with Amsterdam, we boarded our train to the love city of Paris for many fall in love in this city…Here are few experiences, mentioning about them is bringing a smile on my face yet again…

  1. Watching the French Open live… This one would sure be on the bucket list of tennis lovers…
  2. Chilling at the Little Red Door- An awesome cocktail bar…
  3. For the luxury shopping experience, a visit to Galeries Lafayette!
  4. Gorge on Macaroons and try as many flavours… And don’t forget to go big on desserts when in Paris!
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  5. Love and the urge to further explore the Vietnamese cuisine took us to Maison Sen.
  6. Checking out the Eiffel Tower at night had its own charm!
  7. A cozy space with amazing wine and a worthwhile cheese platter was on offer by Chez George’s.
  8. Indulged in some lip-smacking Italian food at Salento!
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  9. Checking out stores after stores at Le Marais…
  10. Louvre and Musee d’Orsay proved to be best museums pick for my first visit to Paris…
  11. Besides at the above, quick pictures at the Luxembourg Gardens and outside Notre Dame shall be with me as keeps.

    And finally, we headed to the city where my bestie resides- Berlin, a place I was truly able to explore and love like a local- thanks to these guys! Visits to the Berlin Wall, The Wall Museum, Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, Berliner Dom, Hackescher Markt and Friedrich Strasse were truly memorable and worthwhile…And don’t forget to relax enough at their lovely parks. And I must add that I had some amazing food in Berlin whether it was the eggs at Napoljonska, trying out pretty much World cuisine including Indonesian and Austrian at a Kids Carnival or Italian at Trattoria Toscana or Californian-style burrito at Dolores-all of it was awesome.
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    All I can say is that I am filled with gratitude for this dream holiday and have come back feeling richer packed with experiences of a lifetime and the assurance of having a solid relationship called friendship…

    Happiness to all,
    Sonali

My Roman Holiday

Years back when I saw Roman Holiday not only did I fall for Audrey Hepburn´s ethereal charm, I also formed a dreamy picture of Rome in my head- a place I badly wanted to visit and feel.  Recently, my sweetheart gifted me so much happiness by materializing this dream into a real vacation. I was full of excitement and packed as many clothes I could imagine wearing in the land of history.

We chose November as the month of visit and naturally I was a little scared of facing a bad pouring weather. But sometimes the weather gods are way too kind and do go out of the way to bless. Luckily, it only rained on one day during our trip and was pretty manageable. Now the good thing about going in an off season is that the places of attraction do not look like a scene of mad rush. In fact, I personally like visiting places when everyone else is detesting going there.

Starting with the touristic places, Colosseum falls first on anyone´s list. What today is nearly ruined, once was a huge amphitheater built in 70-80 AD by Vespasian and Titus. The place held the famous gladiator fights, mock sea battles, animal hunts etc. I was really fascinated to know about the sea battles for which the place used to be filled with water and swimming sea horses and bulls did their show.

TIP: Make sure you have a pre booked online ticket otherwise be prepared to stand in a queue longer than you can imagine. (EVEN IN OFF SEASON)

Colosseum
Colosseum

Colosseum

After seeing the Colosseum, we headed to The Roman Forum (Foro Romano). Very simply stating it is a forum surrounded by ruins of many important government buildings of The Roman Empire. Located between the Palantine Hill and the Capitonline Hill, it is a huge ruin full of many architectural buildings such as The Temple of Vesta, Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vespasian and Titus, Forum Main Square and more. 

TIP: Don´t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothes because you will need to walk through the rocky ways and also climb up and down the two hills. See the pics below and you will exactly what I mean 😉 

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

View from The Palatine Hill

Next day was all dedicated to the home of the Pope, The Vatican and what is also known as the smallest country of the world. Indeed it is the smallest one for you will cover it on foot in few hours and the population is merely 800 people.

Even if I try hard I cannot get over the intoxicating magic that this place spelled. You will feel the same if you love art and creative magnificence. Others will find it boring. St. Peter´s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums are the three things you will see. St. Peter´s Basilica is not just the most important church in the world but also the biggest. For those who are enthusiastic about heights can reach up to the highest point of the dome via an elevator and 300 something steps. The place has great and wow works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and also Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Vatican museum is not like any regular museum for it was never meant to be one. It is the amount of art works and sculptures that turned it into one. You will often thank Bernini as you keep moving ahead, soaking in the great works. Honestly, I cant much describe in words.

Even before you are completely over the charm, you will enter the Sistine Chapel that has Michelangelo´s wall and ceiling artwork. The most famous attraction being- The Last Judgement, painted again my Michelangelo on the wall. What´s interesting to know is that this great artist was forced to paint here as he preferred sculpting way more.  I wonder how did he still manage to create such beautiful paintings that became a cornerstone work of Renaissance of art.

St. Peter´s Basilica

St. Peter´s Basilica

Vatican City

Vatican City

See the picture below. It is one of the ceilings in the museum. From first to last thought, I would pass it as sculpting and carving but guess what- its a painted ceiling. You will see such and many mesmerizing and surprising arty works at this place.

3D Painting on the ceilings of The Vatican museum

3D Painting on the ceilings of The Vatican museum

Below is the very famous Michelangelo’s Pietà. My husband like many others find it more realistic and beautiful than David. Well, being a girl I would choose David´s strong and handsome frame over this one. 😉

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo’s Pieta

See the yellow beaming window in the picture below. Looks like regular stained glass but like many other things even this is not what it looks like. Instead it´s a work of mosaic art. St. Peter´s Basilica has so many such paintings that don´t even remotely look like mosaic but are just that. You will hardly see the cracks that mosaic is suppose to have. Maybe that is the reason behind the beautiful colours that have not faded away.

Saint Peter's Basilica

Saint Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican City

The Vatican City

And below is the exterior of the Sistine Chapel and the place we see the Pope waving out from after being elected by the cardinals.

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican City

The Vatican City

I generally don´t indulge in very touristic things but even I could not resist sending a postcard back home from The Vatican. Actually, I realised that it´s so exciting. 🙂

Typically touristic doings- Sending postcard back home from The Vatican

TIP: There is no way you can really enjoy The Vatican without a guided tour. Invest in a good one. Also, be prepared to walk a lot and don´t go empty stomach because you will only get food after coming out of the place and that takes a couple of hours.

Needless, to say have as much gelato as you can everyday while in you are in Italy. After all, you only have so many days to taste every possible flavour.

Gelato

Too Confused in choosing a flavour. Get a mix of few!

Another thing that I was crazy about since Roman Holiday was The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). It was infact the first thing I saw the night I landed in Rome and the only thing I saw thrice on any holiday ever. It´s the most beautiful fountain I have seen so far and there is something truly enigmatic about it and of course I threw the coin to make a wish.

TIP: Visit later in the night as it not only looks extremely beautiful but is also relatively less crowded. 

Trevi fountain at night

Trevi fountain at night

Now that you are at Trevi, there is no way you should be missing on the yummiest gelato available in Rome at San Crispino located at Via della Panetteria. I tried their famous Honey flavour along with Cinnamon and trust me I can still feel my taste buds tingling.

San Crispino, Rome

From here you can walk towards The Pantheon for a night view. I could not see it in daylight for some reasons but I am sure it will be as enchanting with its enormity.

Pantheon

Pantheon

By now we were starving and thanks to our research we had a list of some great pizza places around this area. If you too are a fan of thin crust pizzas then there is no way you should miss Ristornate La Sagrestia at Via Del Seminario. We had a veg pizza with egg-plant, mushrooms, spinach, avocado and more along with mushroom sauce penne pasta. The huge pizza and the pasta were finished by the two of us in minutes. Do I need to say more?

Ristorante La Sagrestia, Rome

Ristorante La Sagrestia, Rome

The evening will be incomplete without a cup of great tasting cappuccino. For the same we headed to the cafe that claims to be serving the best cappuccino in Rome- Sant Eustachio located at Piazza di Sant’Eustachio. The place is easy to get to and falls between The Pantheon and Piazza Navona and is a must visit because who wants to miss such a good cup of aromatic and frothy cappuccino. What turned me off a little bit was that you have to pay extra to sit down and enjoy the coffee. And not everyone would want to pay double the price for sitting on not so well maintained old-school chairs lying outside.

Rome

You must also go to Piazza Navona as its beautiful and less crowded. Plus you don’t want to miss on the yummy and famous  Tartufo. You can try it sitting at Ristorante Tre Scalini while also enjoying the view.

Rome is a place of ruins and history and after a while you do miss serene greens. That day head to The Appian Way, the oldest road built connecting Rome to the port city of Brindisi. It was a brainchild of Appius Cladius who was known for making public life easy. At the start of the road you can rent a bike/bicycle and enjoy the many tombs and monuments on the way. It´s one of the most soothing experiences you can get. Throughout I felt like I am cycling my way into paradise!

Cycling The Appian Way

Cycling The Appian Way

Blissful and Serenity

Blissful and Serenity

The Appian Way

The Appian Way

By now you will be tired and starving and probably cycling your way back and this is when you will start seeing some restaurants and cafes. Serving great food and wine at rates cheaper than the city, these restaurants are perfect to rest at.

Wine & Dine at The Appian WayWine & Dine at The Appian Way

TIP: Plan going only on a sunny day and go in the morning as you want some hours under the sun to enjoy this place. Later in the evenings it turns dingy and unsafe. 

After spending a day at The Appian Village, we got back to the city and went around exploring the shopping streets and vintage markets in Rome. I was not too impressed with the vintage finds but what really turned me on was Via Condotti. This is the same street that Audrey Hepburn passes while checking out shops. Today, it has every possible luxury label you can think of. And as the street ends, it hits right at the famous Spanish Steps. Look at the picture below and you will know what I am talking about. How badly I wanted to enjoy a gelato sitting here just like Audrey did but sadly it was all drizzling.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Luxury lies at Via Condotti

Luxury lies at Via Condotti

TIP: Also, my biggest tip to you would be that go with enough savings because there is so much leather to splurge on. There are so many small boutiques everywhere selling exquisite leather bags, jackets and shoes that you will be only regretting if shopping is not a big part of your budget plan. 

Lastly, no vacation is complete without a crazy partying night. For the same look nowhere else and head to Trastavere situated on the west bank of river Tiber. It´s a buzzing place full of cafes, restaurants, bars, vendors and happy people. You can easily get bus 170 from Termini that goes straight to this place.

Love,

Shagun

Say Cheese!

“Wherever we be and whatever we be, the only thing all of us in a way starve for is a smile. We work hard, we love with dedication, we drink and we dine. Sometimes for us and sometimes for our dear ones we steal moments and a bit of material to get that smile.”

Ah! getting philosophical is not exactly what I intend to do right now but share some of my picks from Zubair’s pictures collection that depict just that ‘smile’ and ‘liberation’.

Zubair Ishai Darzi is one of the finest young photographers I have come across. I like him not because he clicks the finest pictures but because his heart acts as his lenses. Just like Alexander McQueen he has the ability to see beauty in what others might perceive as ugly.   To make a living he works with the leading e-commerce company, Jabong.com and to live he shoots people, places and life as a whole. He also plays drums, writes beautiful poems, kicks football to hit a goal and talks enough to be called a story-teller. I will now let his pictures talk and if you like him then visit him at http://www.facebook.com/zooblossom

P.S: All images are subject to copyright.

Love,

Shagun

VIBRATIONS 2012

Every artist is unique and at Helipad on Heels we truly value creativity in every form. Then how could we miss Anju Kumar’s exhibition that entertained art connoisseurs of the capital this month.

The artworks are all about nature, human emotions, sensibilities and invigorations. The inspiration is well emphasized by the titles of her creations. Matted textures, muted tones and an earthen palette- the display would also include unique and innovative sculptures and pottery pieces, be it vases, urns, lamps and pillar stands.

As elaborate swatches of colour spread across the frame, one enters into the painterly realm of fantasy, imagistic illusion and a dream. It’s like the collage of effects making excellent use of the artist’s compositional skills, putting the viewer’s eye in constant motion as it follows the connective thread that the artist establishes between various elements. Achieving a variously textured quality, the works express a uniquely eviscerated idealization of nature. It is a powerful display of innovations and creativity in vibrant oils, to dreamy acrylics to calm pastels. She speaks the innate language of painted art, being a master in colour, light and composition; the juxtapositions of light and shadow give even a flat expense of colour a vibrant physicality and form.

Have a look at these to know better…

Love,

Sonali & Shagun

Morning Show!

With a pack of blended thoughts in our minds, we got ready for this morning show. However, we were not heading to one of those multiplexes instead; we paved our way to witness, ‘Morning Show’, an exhibition of Hindi adult movie posters at Wieden+Kennedy’s art gallery. And here are our after thoughts:

Sonali: “This exhibition gets a thumbs up from my side. I feel that though such stuff is a part of our culture, it is usually enjoyed behind closed doors. Movie posters have always fascinated me, but these were a class apart! Or maybe a league apart! In today’s tech savvy world, these posters appear rather unusual, as they do not show women in figures to die for!”

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Shagun: “Never did I think that the hoardings that used to add a tinge of embarrassment on my pubescent face back in my small hometown would become a reason of my much-anticipated visit to W+K Exp in Delhi on 7 Sept, 11. ‘Morning Show’ as they rightly named it, was a small trip to the world of adult movie posters purely made in India. With catchy and rather humorous names, like ‘Reshma Ki Jawani’ and ‘Ek Raat Mere Saath’, they surely entertained and have become a part of what we call as artistic collections.”