Athens with friends -part 2 

I know I haven’t been able to write more to my readers. We have moved back to Prague, with a loaded car, a dog cage , a brown Labrador, 20 month old infant, thankfully my husband bought me the tickets to fly back a day before he was due to arrive in the Czech Republic.  So, in my previous post I have shared with you all on the first day events of our friends arrival to Athens and how amazing it was to see the Acropolis, we also did see the monistaraki square, I say where all the business happens. My friend hesitated to go to the fish market as the stench was unbearable. 

Nevertheless, We did not miss the oppurtunity to see the vegetable market and the tiny streets around. They kept telling me what a incredible guide I make with a 20 month old daughter strolling around the city and showing the historical place was a moment I cannot forget. 

The events on the second day was just as much exciting as the first day. We saw the famous plaka. Almost explored the entire area with all the sophisticated streets, I even discovered an incredible old yet vintage art gallery owned by an famous artist- . His place was worth seeing for for the artist lovers. And as the day fell over and night approached, we all went to a roof top restaurant at the hotel Athens Gate situated at the 8th storey to view the incredible 360 degree view of the Athens! With the lights lit up as the darkness fell over, we had the best view of the Acropolis at night! It is a view that you could never forget! 

And thus winding up our Athens tour which lasted 4 days, with amazing people, great food, lots of red wine and a beautiful story to tell share. and since this was my last week at the Athens I honestly enjoyed to the best and will always cherish the memories I made with the land of history, heritage, culture, sea, sand and Greeks! 

Looking forward to a new beginning to start back at home – Prague! With a lot to look forward to, a working new mom! 

Stay tuned for more stories. It doesn’t mean my travel has stopped. There is a lot I am waiting to explore. 

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Athens with Friends -part 1. 

Last week in Athens has left me with so many mixed feelings. As I earlier mentioned in my last post that my friends are visiting me. And they have finally arrived here yesterday. We set our journey to receive them at the airport on the half empty highways at half past nine with excitement in our hearts.

The room I arranged for both my friends, one named Klara the young blonde energetic woman who is here to enjoy her summer and the other an English teacher in her mid fifties. She has been a dear friend and my only friend when I moved first to Czech Republic. Anyway, the room I found through airbnb had a fantastic authentic Greek feel to it and I loved it. 

The owner being a Greek was pleasant, sweet,and an highly educated woman in her late fourties! She in fact did an fabulous arrangement for her guests to have an comfortable and extravagant stay in the heart of the city of Athens. I must say I was very much pleased and contented. 

When I met my friends the day next day, they were really happy that I arranged such a wonderful stay for them. And like a holiday planned, we set out today to do some heavy sightseeing in almost thirty eight degrees Athens. We had a heart warming breakfast and set out our day by foot to Acropolis! The one monument you cannot miss whilst your stay at Athens.

So now they are out there doing all the study and enjoying the historical monument while I wait at the foothills of the Mighty Acropolis, having the oppurtunity to write a post and share my final week events with my dear friends in Athens. But unfortunately to my awe, I forgot to put in the micro card to my camera hence I promise to share you some pics along with my journey. 

So stay tuned, though the days are few, the journey is long! 🙂 

Au-revoir Hellas.

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It has been seven months exactly since we moved to Greece. I have never imagined, I would come live here. I did not arrive as a tourist and how they say once they return from their holiday on how they fell in love with the country, instead I have a different vision to how I fell in love with this land. And now the time has come to bid good bye to this wonderful nation, filled with so much history, really nice down-to-earth people, the amazing places, the sea, the sand, the crystal clear beaches and the picturesque landscape.

Little did I know about this country when I first arrived to Athens. Like everyone else. I even forgot to do some of the research before arriving here. I came here early January, right after celebrating our Christmas with family back in Prague. My husband told me the news when we were still busy settling into our new apartment we moved back then in Prague. And how much I would like it here in Greece. At the beginning I wasn’t fully convinced but after living here for seven months. He was right! He was damn right! I did just not like it here but loved it here.

Athens was so incredible, the small alleys, tourists filled Taverna’s, living in the heart of the city was such a plus point for a person from a different country. Athens has got it’s own touch to living in Greece. Tourists often miss seeing Athens but it has got some feel to it. and today writing this post has just made me even more melancholy towards leaving this place. recollecting the events during this seven months only makes my heart heavy.

I still remember telling my partner, how much I wanted to visit Santorini and Mykonos. however, I din’t end up visiting neither of those places. but I did enjoy the best part of the Greece, the Venetian history filled places. Corfu, was breathtaking. at the tip of the north of Greece almost lying on the side of Albania, this place had a authentic Greek feel to it. soon after that visit, we were at Kefalonia and Zante. every place has its own aspect to Greece. Kefalonia was filled with rocky huge mountains and when you reach the tip of the mountain, from the distance you could see the amazing crystal green waters below which will always remain in my memories. I can hardly find words to describe Zante, this was an love at first sight, Island. Over all, Though I did not get to visit where all the tourists usually visit, I saw the real authentic Greece. and now, I am almost in tears, in having to miss this amazing haven.

(Go check out my guest post about the Ionian Islands where I detailed on the Islands I mentioned in the above paragraph in a dear friend’s blog : Oh! Fernweh)

The one thing that will always remind me of Greece is the amazing food. blessed with agriculture, Greece has the freshest produce you could ever get in Europe. Greeks love their food and cannot live without it and so cant I! 🙂 The most missed food would be the famous Pita Gyros. By far, my most Favorited food since I got here. But I cant put away the rest of the food. Greek food is the best food after my very own Indian food. and the fresh fruits and vegetables produce I usually buy every Friday at the farmers market. I am going to surely miss that. My little daughter used to get all thrilled and excited to see the vendors at the market and to say Yasu (Hello), waving her tiny hand. And I have got just one last Friday for the market.

And since the summer began with it’s full heat, our weekends were spent at the sea most of the time. I would never forget the first time my daughter touched the Mediterranean Sea with her tiny feet. I am going to definitely miss the sea, sun and the sand. I was lucky to experience the 3 S’s once again after being in Maldives for 5 years.  I can keep writing a huge described post of how many things I would miss in Greece. but for now, I am just excited for the next week as my Best friend from Prague comes to visit me here in Greece for 5 days before my travel chapter in Greece ends!

This will be the last holiday until Christmas, so I am going to soak up all the Greek sun and enjoy to the maximum before heading back to home, Prague to begin a new chapter of my life!

Kachchi gosht ki Biryani

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Kachchi Gosht ki Biryani

My love for Biryani goes back to a few years ago, before leaving India to work in Maldives. Coming from the Land of Nawabs, Hyderabad, I always had the immense adoration towards it from the time I first tasted it, which I still remember and it had gotten more aged like the wine, when I left India, which only made me crave for it and forced me to learn to master the art of this recipe. I remember eating a lot Biryani as a child, for every occasion be it marriage, Christmas, new year, Easter, birthday, you name it! It is by far considered the food of rich in India. coming from a cultured heritage and a long known tradition of Indian food, the recipe I am going to share with you will surely inspire you to try out your own hand at this delicious recipe. This recipe is lets just say a family traditional recipe passed on to my mother and from her to me but with my own twist added to it. 🙂

Since, I currently live in Greece, i was able to gather all the ingredients that I need for this recipe, without further ado, I pushed myself to prepare this one pot meal. People often say that cooking a recipe with so many spices and flavors is a tedious job, but the recipe I am about to share you would only leave you with a delicious, mouth melting Biryani. but, I would recommend a bit of patience when it comes to certain stages of this recipe such as gathering all ingredients, marination and especially the cook time.

First, I would like to let you know, this recipe is a ‘Kachchi’ meaning its raw and cooked on a layered form allowing it to take time and cook in its own steam known as ‘Dum’. This recipe calls for fresh ‘mutton’ meaning goat meat, marinated in spices overnight to tenderize the meat and cook the meat faster than its required time. I say do not rush, if you rush, you would just mess it up, take it like a therapy. It will only help for a final fascinating result. So, Let’s begin our therapy, but carefully follow every bit of the recipe to produce the best Biryani you ever tasted:

For the Meat:

I used Mutton as this recipe calls for goats meat.

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Butcher’s Fresh Goat Meat

Note: Tsp = Teaspoon Tblsp = Tablespoon

Ingredients:

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Spices for Biryani

Mutton –  1 Kilogram

Salt – 1 Tsp

Coriander powder – 2 Tsps

Roasted Cumin – 1/4 Tsp

Garam Masala – 1/2 Tsp

Red Chilli Powder – 3/4 Tsp

Black Pepper – 1/2 Tsp

Cumin Seeds (Jeera)  – 1/2 Tsp

Cardamom – 4 Pods

Cinnamon Sticks – 1 Inch

Bay Leaves (Bit Crushed) – 2 Leaves

Cloves – 4

Green Chillies (Crushed) – 5

Ginger Garlic Paste – 3 Tblsps (Must)

Lemon Juice – 4 Tblsps

Mint Leaves (Do not Chop) – 5 Leaves (Must)

Coriander Leaves – 8 Leaves

Greek Yoghurt (or) Thick hung curd – 5 Tblsps

Fried Onions – 3 big Onions chopped and fried in oil.

Ghee (or) ground nut Oil – 5 Tblsps

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Incorporation of Spices for Marination

Ensure to wash the meat twice. place it in a clean bowl which preferably has a lid to close, ensure to gather all the ingredients together in order not to miss any. Place all of the above ingredients along with the meat and mix well, preferably with your own sanitized hands.  Add the oil/ Ghee and Mix until it looks like the below mentioned picture, and store it into a refrigerator for a complete marination of up to 8 hours.

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Marinated Meat
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Refrigerate for 8 Hours

For the Rice:

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40% cooked Basmati Rice

Ensure to use quality Basmati Rice for that fall apart grains once cooked. you don’t want to eat a soggy and sticky riced Biryani.

Ingredients:

Rice – 500 grams

Salt – 1 Tblspn

Fresh water to Boil.

Wash the rice thoroughly, I recommend thrice for the removal of extra starch and Soak the rice for approximately 30 minutes so that the rice can cook faster and elongate it’s size while boiling. Bring the rice to boil. remember when placing the rice to cook, that’s when you add the salt. the moment you see the water boil, pull out a spatula, bring out a few grains of rice and break the rice grain into two. if it breaks immediately, it means its cooked 40%. remember the rice has to be cooked only 40% and the rest 60% would be cooked in the skillet with the meat and the rest of the ingredients. Immediately drain the water and set aside the rice.

Assemble / Layering:  

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Layered Biryani ready to be DUM

Ingredients:

Boiled eggs:  3 (Optional) but taste Yum!

Fried Onions : a handful

Mint Leaves – 5 leaves

Saffron infused milk – 3/4 cup

Ghee (or) Groundnut Oil : 4 Tblsps

Must Have:

Heavy based Pot

Aluminum foil for DUM

In the heavy based skillet, add a Tblspn of Ghee and spread the marinated meat evenly without having any space. then, add another 2 Tblspns of Ghee on the top of the spread marination then, layer the rice and spread it evenly once again ensuring that there are no gaps and lumps. Place the 3 boiled eggs on top of the rice. Sprinkle the fried onions, spreading it across, Add the Mint leaves, then, sprinkle the Saffron milk around the prepared dish. Once that’s done, add the last tblspn of Ghee over.

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Saffron Infused Milk
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Pure Greek Saffron
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Heavy based Pot

Now, what i am going to say is very important and this is where the moment of truth appears for the dish, Cover the pot with 2 layers of Aluminum foil and then place the lid on top of the pot and wrap around the lid another layer of aluminum foil to ensure that the steam wouldn’t escape the pot while the dish cooks. this is called the ‘Dum’. Turn the gas on to high, Place the pot on the burner and let the dish cook for over 10 mins on high flame and then reduce it immediately to a low flame and let it cook for about 30 minutes. I used a timer and suggest you do the same. once the dish has cooked passed 40 mintues in total. turn the gas down and remove it off the gas and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 5 minutes before you open the pot.

Once you have opened the pot, take a fork and gently fluff the rice, the aroma that fills the house is so pleasing and trust me you would be so satisfied with the cooking.

You may serve the biryani with soft melt in mouth chunks of meat with either, Baigan ka Bartha ( A dish comprising of Brinjal/ Aubergine), Mirchi ka salan (A dish prepared with chillies) a must have Dahi Raitha (Yoghurt based Chutney) and some fresh cut lemon and circled onions.

Bon Appetit!

Organizing your UK visa

I was walking back to the visa center from a visa photography session for the visa application constructing this post to make aware the all possible procedures to organize your UK visa and accomplish it with no hassle or time consumption. it is going to be definitely helpful if it matters to you. This post will help you no matter which part of the world you are going to submit your application. Follow the below procedure and tada! you do not have to worry about anything else.

Application Procedure:

I don’t know when I plan to go to the UK, but a tourist visa comes with a 6 months of a validity period which means you can travel any number of times back and forth the country. but initially when I decided I would eventually go visit there to see the country, travel around the meadows and plains of Scotland and the bustling city of London, I instantly applied for one. But in order to apply, I did a bit of research, then it came to my knowledge that you got to make an account online and apply for one and then visit the visa center for a appointment with them.  the procedure comes in 6 steps:

1. Application submitted

2. Transferred for decision

3. Received by the UK visa examiner

4. Decision made

5. Ready for collection

6. Passport Returned

Here’s is the website you may register for an online account :  https://www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa.

fill in the form in English,  pay in the visa fee (varies from different nationality) online in most cases. once you have completed it, the website will let you print your form and an appointment confirmation date and time along with the address and your reference number. this form is a very important form as you would need to provide it to the contact person from the visa center to do your bio-metric procedure. now you must be wondering what is bio-metric? i will explain it in a few minutes, so, once you have gotten your form printed, it will provide you the available dates of interview, you can select which you are convenient with. on the day of your appointment ensure you have the below following as your supporting documents along with the printed form that you would be submitting.

1. 2 photos

  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
  • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
  • in case you wear glasses, do not wear them
  • for girls pin up your hair, even the hair that covers your face unless you want your application to be rejected.

2. if you are going there for a visit, your flight ticket confirmation.

3. your hotel stay and accommodation details

4. Bank statement from the last 6 months

5. if you are travelling with your spouse, passport copy of his/her.

note: if you do not have your photocopies, they would send you for all of the above mentioned to bring them to process to the next step.

trust me , when i added the above note as I had to walk a mile to get photocopies from the visa center that I applied in Athens.

so, once you got all of these submitted, the person who is responsible to verify the documents, asks you to make a couple of signatures and then you are taken to the next step of :

Bio-Metric Procedure

so this simply means, they will take your finger prints, signatures and photographs for identification purpose. you will be asked to place your 4 fingers of one hand each leaving the thumb on the finger print screen and it would screen the prints and authenticates. and the same is done for the thumbs. you are also asked to remove glasses if you wear them for a photograph. and then on a electronic pen you will be asked to give your signature which is the apple of the eye to the whole appointment session like a celebrity kind of feel. 🙂

Once the procedure of bio-metric is completed you will be asked to fill in a feedback form and you could track your application online with the website given by the examiner. it usually take 15 working days for the visa to arrive from the date of submission.

Hope this post was helpful for your future applications.

Happy Travels!

Grisis – the Moment of Truth

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A Greek women shows NO vote in referendum

The clock is ticking it’s hour as Greece arrives to the make or break point.  I am not much of a politics lover. Since the time I have moved to the Athens in January, I have seen elections, protests, crisis, you name it. The Greece Crisis is now been the hot topic through the world. When the new anti austere party ‘Syriza’ came to power in January this year, there has been some serious discussion going on at the European Commission at Brussels for the last six months to put an end to the crisis and negotiate deals in withdrawing the debt. and today Greece has reached its height of decision making as today is the day the Greece has to return 1.6 billion to the IMF otherwise it would become default. a Yes or a No to the European central bank for accepting the lender proposals has been drawn out. Many leaflets are printed across the city of Athens and distributed to the common man with the reasons why they should say a NO rather than an YES.

As a expat, for me it is not a big of a deal. ultimately its the Greek common man that suffers the most of out of this crisis. Tomorrow being their usual pay day, half of the workers do not believe they would receive their income for the month they have worked for. of course, that makes a lot of sense why? the banks are shut down for a week. not one transaction has been made since Monday morning. The Greek government is in such a bad shape and fear. but what can you expect from a government that has gone under a crisis four times since three decades. That explains a lot of the existing crisis.

Though the tourist areas seem to be unaffected by the situation going around Athens, the common man feels the Greece’s heat under his head. Mr. Tspiras, the Greek PM has failed in taking correct decisions to save this country from the problems it’s facing today. though a majority of Greeks are not loosing their hopes and holding on to the decisions made by the current PM. They still have hope that life in Greece will all remain the same and the downfall economy will raise in spite the decision to make on the Grexit (Greece’s Exit from the Euro). and a majority Greeks are aiming to provide a NO to the Creditors proposal.

Tourists, visiting Athens or any other part of Greece, I strongly suggest you carry enough cash to survive the holiday that you are going to make on the  land of crisis as there has been a implementation by the Banks, of Greece to protect the deflation and the bankruptcy hence capped to a 60per day withdrawals from the ATM’s. since then there has been long awaiting queues formed all around the cities ATM’s everyday. As it is, in the past few days more than 3 billion euros have been withdrawn out of the cash machines leaving a whooping 40% machines without cash. so, you better watch out where you would make your withdrawal. the gas stations have stopped accepting cards and there is a 20 euro limit for the petrol. I hope the petrol does not run out as there are no transactions made. I suggest you have a full tank of petrol and an extra can of petrol at your car trunk.

with such limits imposed on the daily life, it has made it really hard for the common man to survive these difficult times. However, as the Greeks still hope, we really wish and hope that a deal will strike between the creditors and the Greece to make a common decision for the benefit of the people and its country of Greece. They need it and the entire world waits in anticipation of what would happen tomorrow. We can only have our hopes high and fingers crossed.

Working out

ok, I give up!scrolling down WordPress posts and automatically getting indicated to write a post note once but four times just urged me to write down! I don’t know how long my post is going to be but I know what inspired me! The last post I just read that was few seconds back, waking up before your do and practice a healthy workout session! Ok! Seriously ! I tried! I tried really hard to stick to the routine! Take my dog out and run around the one acre park next door. I am blessed to live downtown Athens , Greece with a beautiful green luscious park 100 metres from my door and I’m just putting my lazy ass up snoring and waiting for the sun to wake me up and to add to it, my daughter who is 18 months apparently does the same!

So this is how I imagine my dream daily day to be, wake up way before my daughter, like 7am and have a spoon of honey with lemon, put on some shorts, trainers (which are craving my feet in there) and some music in my ears and run! Run a mile or may be two! Stick to that routine ! Have a rigorous workout session of 30 minutes run with a 20 mins exercise! Wow, I can imagine how all that mommy fat I collected over a year and a half dissolve into the air like how sugar does in water!

But trust me, I really want to get out there and do what I just wrote, because I still feel like I am not in my own shoes like how I was before, athletic, thin and sexy! This is what I wish to be again! So what I am mommy? I can be one sure hell of a sexy mom if I want to be! 🙂