TRAVEL DIARIES || SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

After our whirlwind few days in Atlanta, we drove down to Savannah. It's a pretty easy drive, just under four hours if you don't make any stops. I couldn't wait to get to Savannah because of the absolutely gorgeous photos I had seen of it, and all the recommendations that my photographer friends had made. 

The outskirts of Savannah weren't as pretty as I expected, but as we got closer to the historical district, I began to see the charm. Our very first stop was Monterey Square, one of the many charming squares peppered throughout the historical district of the city. We parked and decided to explore on foot, as this was the best way to take in those amazing details that the city is known for!

Despite the heat, humidity, random rainstorms (don't get me wrong - I LOVE rain, but not when I don't have an umbrella and am carrying my camera!) and the mosquitoes that bit me alive, I loved every minute we spent in Savannah! 

I just couldn't get over the details that we saw in each of these buildings - the wrought iron railings, intricate frescoes, gorgeous arches, and beautifully curated gardens. Even the colors were bright and cheery! Not to mention, the bright, sunny day only made everything look that much prettier. 

One of my favorite things about Savannah was the foliage - a mix of tropicals, gorgeously towering live oaks and other trees, and familiar trees and plants that you find in the DC area, too (like hydrangeas and crepe myrtles - which we saw around every corner!). The tropical plants - bright green palms, giant, colorful hibiscuses, banana trees - made me feel like I was in India, especially with the heat, humidity, and rain! The architecture, too, reminded me of India - there was something about the colors and details that made me feel like I was home.

Once it rained, everything took on a magical quality - the cobblestoned walkways glistened, the air cooled down, and the foliage looked bright and quenched. Our first day in Savannah, we caught the rain right after dinner - and to our surprise, the the sun shone brightly on one side the street, while the other side looked like the apocalypse! The sun illuminated the raindrops into beautiful, molten gold droplets, and we even got to see a gorgeous double rainbow in the sky! 

Despite the rain, we made an excursion down to Tybee Island, which is just a 20 minute drive from Savannah. As much as I had been waiting to explore the beautiful beaches, the pouring rain and wind deterred me from going too far near the ocean on that suddenly chilly day. I took a few photos on my phone and called it a day! 

While in Savannah, we also got a chance to visit the historic Wormsloe Plantation, which features the famous 1.5 mile long driveway lined with towering live oaks. The day was hot and extremely humid, but the drive and our bit of exploration around Wormsloe was absolutely worth it. The driveway was as scenic and gorgeous as I imagined it would be, and the live oaks - draped beautifully in feather light Spanish moss - had a quiet majesty to them that I loved. 

One of the highlights of our trip to Savannah came at the tail end, when we visited the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has a 4 mile long driving trail, which we slowly made our way through, taking the time to stop and look at the foliage and birds. During our drive, we spotted not one, not two, but six alligators in the wild! I wish I had brought along my telephoto lens, but made do with my 50mm and phone. Some of the alligators were a mere 10 feet away from us, so it was a bit of nerve-wracking experience to watch them, but so so exciting at the same time! 

Can you spot the gators in these photos? (Hint: they're in the 3rd and 4th photos!)

Savannah certainly has its own charm. It may not be for everyone, but if you feed on beautiful details and aesthetics, gorgeous foliage, and semi-tropical weather - like me - you'll love this charming little city. Definitely a must see for photographers and lovers of beautiful things! 

TRAVEL DIARIES || ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Whew, it's been a minute since I last blogged! It's been kind of weird month, and I decided to take a bit of a break from blogging, just to feel a little more grounded. At the end of June, over the long holiday weekend, we took a family trip to Atlanta and Savannah, to visit my younger brother Trinish, who is currently stationed in Atlanta for his summer internship with AT&T. I'm back from this short trip feeling refreshed and re-energized, and ready to dive headfirst into my to-do list!

Atlanta and Savannah were both lovely, but in different ways. In both cities, we got to eat some amazing food, take in a bit of culture, and see beautiful things. You'll see a TON of food photos in these upcoming posts from this trip, because everyone who knows me knows that I love to eat! 

Without further ado, a glimpse of our trip in Atlanta! 

Our first meal was in Ponce City Market, located in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in midtown Atlanta. I loved Ponce City Market for its vibrant and lively feel - there was something about the mix of industrial steel beams paired with a worn wooden floor and warm lighting that made me feel right at home. We decided to try an Indian eatery called Botiwalla Indian Street Grill - and let me tell you, good thing we did! We had some of the best, most fresh naan wraps I've ever had. The naan - a staple Indian flatbread made in a clay tandoor oven - was thick, pillowy and buttery, and wrapped around freshly grilled paneer and freshly roasted veggies, and accompanied by yogurt sauce, tangy mango pickle, and hot sauce. Absolutely delicious! Besides the really good food, Botiwalla had some amazingly nostalgic decor - we found shelves lined with mango pickle, steel tiffin boxes, glass bottles of Limca (my favorite soda in the world - it's the Indian equivalent of Sprite, but SO much better!), mango Frooti juiceboxes and tiny packets of Parle-G biscuits. The walls were lined with vintage movie posters, and the "rules" for the restaurant were hand written on one of the pillars. We felt right at home eating there! 

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We followed up the meal with some fresh lavender-honey gelato from Honeysuckle. After a long stroll around the market to help us digest all that goodness, we called it a night and headed back to our AirBnb for the night. 

The next day, in search of more delicious food (naturally), we made our way to Chai Pani, in the outskirts of Atlanta (Decatur, to be exact). I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by more quirky decor - very reminiscent of the brightly colored trucks (or lorrys as they're often called) that you often see in India. Everything had a hand-made touch to it, making it all the more homely and inviting. Just like in Botiwalla (which is a Chai Pani affiliate - so the cool decor in both places makes total sense!!), vintage movie posters adorned the walls, along with beautiful photos, drawings and paintings. Even the bathroom was covered in art! Here too, the food was absolutely mouthwatering. We each tried a different burger, and of course shared. Now, I really am not a seafood person - I don't enjoy the taste, smell, anything. I eat it rarely, and only if it's really good. At Chai Pani, I happily gulped down a Bengali fish fry burger, while my family looked at me like I had two heads! The burger was made from fresh North Carolina tilapia, and the fish was perfectly cooked, flaky and delicious. If I could have fish like that everyday, I'd definitely be eating more seafood! It was a rainy day in Atlanta, and Chai Pani gave all of us some intense Indian monsoon nostalgia - the vibes were so friendly and wonderful, I hope to go back next time I'm in Atlanta for sure!

After lunch, we took a tour of the CNN studios and got to see the World of Coca Cola, both of which were very cool in their own ways. I don't have many photos from CNN as photography isn't allowed past the first point of the tour. It was so amazing to see the studios that national television shows are filmed on! My favorite was getting a glimpse of the newsrooms, where hundreds of employees worked like busy bees on hundreds of computers, gathering news, fact-checking, and getting things ready for broadcast. I did take a ton of photos at the World of Coca Cola, as I was going gaga over all of the the beautiful Coca Cola art we saw there! We even got to try Coca Cola sodas from all around the world there, which was pretty freaking awesome.

As we drove around the city, I also fell in love with all of the street we saw just about everywhere. It makes the city look so vibrant and artistic, and while I didn't get to photograph a ton of it because we were driving, I loved seeing it in person! 

Going to Atlanta, I didn't have very many expectations of how the city was going to be, but I loved the little of bit of it that I got to see. If you're into delicious food and some really cool art, it's a must see for sure! 

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The Motherland || The Gems of Maharashtra (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here!

After our whirlwind sightseeing of the Karla Caves, Lonavla, and Mahabaleshwar, we ended the day in Panchgani. Panchgani is an absolutely charming little mountain town very close to Mahabaleshwar, filled with lovely homes and shops, lush greenery, and beautiful sights around every corner. 

In Panchgani, we had a lovely lunch and polished off the meal with the most famous dessert of the area - fresh strawberries and cream. This entire region of Maharasthra is known for its strawberries, and for good reason! The strawberries here were big and juicy, and absolutely bursting with flavor, the perfect balance of sweet and tart. After dessert, we spent some time driving around the town, and serendipitously came across from beautiful gems - views of a misty lake and paragliders, a quaint little path lined with hundreds and hundreds of bougainvillieas, and a roadside nursery with every kind of flowering plant you can imagine! Being the plant fanatic that I am, I wanted to buy everything I saw, but of course that would be a very silly thing to do since I was thousands of miles from home!

Panchgani was a true gem. Wandering along that winding, bougainvilliea-laden path gave me a sense of peace that I hadn't felt in a long time. I want to go back and explore Panchgani some more - because at every turn there seemed to be something lovely to feast your eyes on. Hopefully, next time :)