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Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beach essentials

After long 6 months of cold weather I was so excited to enjoy the sunny weather. The beach is my favorite spot to spend weekends in summer. I live in the Midwest and it known as Great Lakes area so we have plenty of lakes, beaches and water activities. So let's get ready, gather your beach essentials and head to the beach in this summer.

Things you should carry on your trip to the beach

10 Beach Essentials 

1. Beach Tote

Why beach tote, not just purse? Because beach tote will be used to carry all your beach essentials. Choose your beach tote big enough so that you can put everything in one place and no hassle of carrying number of bags. Make sure your beach tote has a little secret pocket in which you can keep your cell phone, cards and money.

2. Beach Towel

Best thing to do on beach is spread your beach towel on the sand, lay down and enjoy sunbathing. You can also use a picnic blanket instead, but personally I like to use my soft beach towel. It gives nice soft sand massage.

3. Swimwear

Why people use swim wear and not regular clothes? You can swim in regular clothes, but it gets sticky and take time to dry out. Swim wear is made up of such a material which dry out quickly. So it doesn't make you feel wet and sticky.

4. Coverup

After enjoying swimming at the beach I like to lay down and enjoy a sun bath. Sometimes over exposure of skin cause itching and dryness. I prefer using cover-up on my swim suit, so less itchiness.

Have fun at the beach

5.Flip flops 

I am too picky with my shoes and you very well know that salty water can ruin your perfect pairs. So the best way is to wear your flip flops instead of any fancy shoes. Even if it gets wet you don't have to worry about it. Flip flops are lightweight and goes with any outfit.

6. Sun glasses & Hat

Summer and sunglasses go along no matter you are going to beach or mountains. Personally I prefere sunglasses which protect against UV rays as well.

"Beat the heat"

Hat & sunglasses 

7. Hair accessories 

I personally prefer to tie my hair for water activities. It's better to tie your hair up or make a bun so that your hair don't get damage. It depends on type of hair but salty water and moisture in weather can cause damage. Keep comb and at least two rubber bands in case you lost one.

8. Sunscreen lotion

Do remember whenever you go to beach use the sunscreen lotion which has 50 or more SPF. And also look for a lotion who give Sun and water barrier. It means even you swim in water, it helps to protect your skin and doesn't wash it off with water.

9. Water

As weather heat up, it's important to stay hydrated. Mostly all beaches have at least one small cafe where you get basic things like water and some snacks, but I always prefer to carry with me if in case you don't get there or they are out of stock.

10. Snacks

You can have ready made snacks like chips, popcorn or protein bars, etc. If you are planning to spend a whole day there, then you can take homemade lunch like sandwich or pasta, which can be eaten even its cold. If you are planning your trip with kids than better to carry enough food with you.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Day at Milwaukee Public Market

I moved to Milwaukee 2 years ago. I moved here in June last week, so weather was pretty warm and sunny. I had never anticipated that Winter in Milwaukee is extremely cold. So my 1st winter I spend staying indoor, but then I started finding indoor events which are great for winter and cold days of Spring. So last Saturday it was cold around the 50s, So we decided to go to the Public Market as this plan has been due since longtime.

The Milwaukee Public Market is the best place to explore Variety of Food, Wine and Cheese. Wisconsin trip never ends without Cheese. There are lots of food vendors in the market, So you will find suitable meal, no doubts on that. There are pretty good vegetarian and vegan options as well. The Milwaukee Public Market is all in one place, Coffee, chocolates, cupcakes, desserts,full meal, wine,cheese, you name it and they have it.

The Milwaukee Public Market has its own parking and its paid parking. So if you don't want to pay for parking then find street parking, almost all street has free parking on weekends, but still check the signs. If you buy anything from Market than they will validate your parking ticket, which reduce your parking charges.

As it was cold and windy we decided to park our car at Public Market's parking. We were not sure what we gonna buy, but we decided to keep parking ticket with us, so that if we buy anything I can ask them to validate my ticket. Who doesn't like to save a few bucks?

They have three different gates so if you give directions to anyone better to tell the vendor's name, which will be easy to locate. We decide to take a whole round of market and find out what it has to offer and then will decide what to eat.

So we started from "The green kitchen" and head towards the Adam's bakery and looking around all vendor's display. Some Vendor's displayed desserts and chocolates, which are so tempting. There are many other vendor's except food like Kitchen supplies, Thief Wine and West Allies cheese. We stop by Cheese shop, they have taste samples as well so we tried it. I really like cheese spread for crackers.

You can also get some Milwaukee gears like T-shirts, caps, Cheese shape cap as well. There is a huge section of seafood and St.Paul fish company as well. You will get oyster, Lobster, Shrimps, Fish, etc. Me and my husband both are vegetarian, so we haven't given it a try, but that place was pretty crowded so I guess their sea food will be nice.

I decided to get a veggie wrap from Green Kitchen but my husband wanted to try the Mediterranean so he bought from Aladdin. The best thing is you buy your meal from wherever you want, then take it and go upstairs they have plenty of arrangement for sitting. They have a beautiful seating area upstairs looking over the market.

And yes, don't forget to get validated your parking ticket. It was a wonderful day spending at Milwaukee Public Market.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

"Tulip Time" Tulip Festival in Holland Michigan

Since spring has been arrived, I was waiting to see Tulips and we finally made it. This Sunday was nice and sunny so we decided to go Holland, Michigan for the Tulip Time festival. Apart from Tulips it's a great place to explore Dutch culture, Dutch Dance and Historic buildings.

How to get there

By flight

There are three feasible airports West Michigan Regional airport, Park township airport or Muskegon county airport. 

If you are not able to get flight to these airports than take flight for Chicago O'hare or Detroit Metropolitan airport. It takes no more than three hours of drive.

By Train

Amtrak service is available from Chicago to Holland. Holland is a stop on the Chicago to Grand Rapids route. You can book your rental if you are planning to visit different towns. You will get a local bus, trolley and other shuttle facilities to roam in the City of Holland.

By Car

Holland Town is around 160 miles from Chicago and 190 miles from Detroit. Holland town is connected with US-31 and I-196 but due to construction it might take little more time. Also, you will find rush on a highway due to the Tulip Festival.

Tip to Explore

  • If you are visiting with kids than bring stroller you can use the stroller to roam around the park.
  • If you are with younger kids than keep water and snacks with you because if you are using the park & ride facility then it will be convenient. 
  • Check weather predictions before you plan so that you can get your spring gears accordingly.
  • Tulips are scattered all around Town so be prepared for a long walk and choose your shoes wisely.
We reach there around 12 noon,there was plenty of traffic in the town as every one coming to enjoy Tulip Time festival. We decided to visit the Tulip Time festival office first, collect information and then head start our trip. They provide a brochure which has all required details, including Map of the city, so easy to find directions. They have a beautiful Tulip display outside the office, so take out your camera and start capturing the beauty of Tulips. 

After getting all the information we decided to visit the Windmill island first, followed by Dutch dance and art & craft fair. From Tulip Time office windmill island is around mile and a half. You can also drive there, but not sure about parking because it gets full early. We decided to walk so that we can see historical buildings of downtown Holland. It was a beautiful walk, they have small patches of Tulips on sidewalks as well. You can also take a trolley tour, if you don't want to walk or drive.

The Windmill island has historic buildings, beautiful tulip display, Native Indian town and of-course Dutch Windmill. We started with Tulips, small windmill and historic buildings. Suddenly I hear gunshots so I was wondering where is the sound coming from. There was a show performed on natives and British fight. So we run into the ground and saw the fight. It was an amazing show. 

In the same ground there is huge windmill and Tulip display. You can climb to the Windmill base and get a spectacular view of the island and tulips. There was a display of native town and I got a chance to meet native Indian, such a nice talk with him and learn a little about history. This place gets crowded, so better to reach as early as you can. 

They also have a display of "The Four Columns" built in 1928 by the famous organ maker "Carl Frel" . The Four Columns was a famous organ and often played on the street in Breda, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. It was a gift to City of Holland from the City of Amsterdam in 1947.

After enjoying Dutch Music we headed back to Centennial Park to watch Dutch Dance. They have different timings for Dutch Dance so check before you plan your itinerary. As it was more than one mile walk from Windmill Island to Centennial Park you need at least 20 mins to reach there. Police will close the traffic for a small section as dance performed on the street and everyone can watch from sidewalks. There is also dance performances by the kids. Both dance performance have different timings and place.

There is art & craft fair at Centennial park, which you should not miss. We explore the fair and seen so much stuff made by local vendor. I got Blueberry jalapeno Jam, never heard jalapeno in Jam so bought it, it tastes good. I found many unique stuffs as well. Worth exploring the market.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday, May 06, 2016

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was officially inaugurated in 1984 by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce.The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the best Tulip festival in the Pacific Northwest. Every year it held from April 1-30. Tulips are scattered all across the Skagit Valley. Mainly you can enjoy exploring Tulips in RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town. These are two big farms and you can see millions of Tulips with a number of different colors. 

How to get there

By flight

There are three feasible airports near Mount Vernon are Seatac, Vancouver, BC and Bellingham airports. Once you arrive there you can either take a shuttle or rent a car to get there. Airporter Shuttle provides 11 convenient trips a day, to and from Sea-Tac Airport and also operates out of Bellingham.

By Train

Amtrak service is available from Seattle,WA and Vancouver,BC to Mount Vernon. The Journey by train will obviously scenic as Washington state is covered with mountains and valley. You can book your rental in advance and ask them to pick you up from the Amtrak station. You can also get a local bus to roam around.  

By Car

Skagit Valley is around 60 miles from Seattle and 70 miles from Vancouver. You can take I-5 North from Seattle and I-5 South from Vancouver, which is great to reach Skagit Valley. Due to Tulip Festival you might get some traffic on your way.

Tip to Explore

  • I would suggest you to plan your visit in 2nd and 3rd week of April, as major Tulip blooms in mid week.
  • If you are visiting with kids than bring stroller you can use the stroller to roam around the farm.
  • If you are with younger kids than keep water and snacks with you as if you plan to take a whole round of the farm then you will need it.
  • Check weather predictions before you plan so that you can get your spring gears accordingly.
  • As you are visiting the farm there will be dirt, no concrete floors, so choose your shoes wisely.

It was an amazing trip overall. This was my first time, I have never been to any Tulip Garden before, but seen in so many movies. Actually, my husband planned this trip and I was like OK lets go. I didn't imagine that it has such a huge display.

You will find so many people around Tulip farms. We went to Tulip Town. They provide free parking. Tickets range from $5 to $10, it depends when you are visiting. They also have a small display indoor with the history of Tulip flowers and festivals.

They have a big windmill in display and in a farm as well. They also set up a booth for face painting, souvenir shop and food stall. You can also buy a kite from there and enjoy kite flying.

Except viewing Tulips there are other things to spend time with like Trolley Tour, Kite flying and picnic. My husband bought me a bouquet of Tulips. I was so surprised by seeing variety of colors. You can never imagine this much variety with any other flower. Even we had seen Tulips which has two shades in single Tulip flower