Travel Guide

Exploring Utah's most beautiful National Parks

Exploring Utah's most beautiful National Parks

Exploring Utah's most beautiful National Parks was a non-negotiable part of our road trip from Southern California to Colorado. Only slightly out of the way off Interstate 70, we couldn't miss Zion, Arches, or Canyonlands National Parks.

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The Best SCUBA Diving in Thailand

The Best SCUBA Diving in Thailand

While thousands of dive enthusiasts and novices flock to Thailand each year, not all SCUBA diving in this tropical paradise is created equal. 

The Similan and Surin Islands is where all the SCUBA magic happens in Thailand. Let us tell you all about it.

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10 Photos that Will Convince You to Visit Mammoth

10 Photos that Will Convince You to Visit Mammoth

Mammoth will write a song in your heart and fill you with peace if you let her. To prove it, we are sharing these ten photos that will inspire you to put Mammoth on your short list of travel destinations.

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3 Awesome Things To Do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and One Really Lame Thing

3 Awesome Things To Do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and One Really Lame Thing

We never planned to spend three days in Albuquerque. In fact, we aimed for a single day of exploring Santa Fe as we were driving across the country. But anyone living the RV life knows, breakdowns happen and you have to be willing to go with the flow.

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How to NOT Ruin Your Trip to Thailand

How to NOT Ruin Your Trip to Thailand

Travel blunders are bound to happen, especially when traveling to a new place that has a completely different culture than what you're used to.  There's so much you can't possibly anticipate so you just wish for the best.  But sh%t happens.

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MaMMoth Ski Trip on a Budget

MaMMoth Ski Trip on a Budget

Mammoth Mountain, located in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of central California, is considered one of the most premier ski resort towns in the US with over 3500 acres of skiable area, 28 lifts, and a top elevation of 11,053 feet.  There are over 150 runs with the longest being somewhere around 3 miles. 

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Where to Eat in New Orleans

Where to Eat in New Orleans

When we arrived in New Orleans all bets of maintaining some semblance of diet self control went right out the window. In fact, we decided, very consciously I might add, that we intended to eat our way through this amazing city.

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Amazing Alaska: 4 Unforgettable Things To Do Near Anchorage

Amazing Alaska: 4 Unforgettable Things To Do Near Anchorage

Alaska, the last frontier! This gigantic chunk of land that's twice the size of Texas and far removed from the lower 48 should be near the top of your travel bucket list. The days are long in the summer, never really getting dark, the terrain is lush, the air is cool, and the people are so friendly!

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The 2 places you must visit in Atlanta, Georgia

The 2 places you must visit in Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is booming right now! Not only is it growing as a top trip destination, but people are moving there in droves. With so much to see and do in Atlanta, I'd like to offer my suggestion of the top 2 things you absolutely must make time to see while you're there.


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3 reasons to visit Kentucky.

3 reasons to visit Kentucky.

Unless you're from that part of the U.S., you probably haven't given much thought to visiting Kentucky. Home of the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger of course, but Kentucky is most notably famous for their smooth, sippable bourbon.

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8 Things to do in Goa, India

Heading to Goa, India and looking for ways to spend your time? Check out these 8 awesome things to do while you chill out in northern Goa.

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Visiting India: Rishikesh vs. Varanasi

Visiting India: Rishikesh vs. Varanasi

Two of the most iconic cities in Northern India, Rishikesh and Varanasi.  If you have the time in your itinerary, I say visit both.  We did and I don't regret it.  

Here are some of my thoughts as I put Rishikesh and Varanasi head-to-head in a variety of categories.

 

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Best Eats in Delhi, India!

Best Eats in Delhi, India!

Indian food is our absolute favorite food, so naturally we placed great emphasis on choosing where to eat during our stay in Delhi. Our rule of thumb is to go where the locals go, unless we need a little reprieve from the hustle and bustle, in which case, we go to a western-friendly place that serves mainly Indian food, not just their best attempt at Western fare. Below are some of our favorites.

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Varanasi, India - Ultimate Guide to Eating with a View

The sacred city of Varanasi, India will equally enchant and frustrate any traveller.  Wandering through the winding streets, meeting the locals, drinking hot chai tea, and watching snake charmers; it can all build up to an overwhelm of the senses sending you running to the nearest rooftop to get away from it all and have a birds eye view of the craziness rather than a front row seat.  It's all normal.  A part of the synergy of this magical city.

We really enjoyed the rooftop restaurants in Varanasi and want to share some of our favorites, in hopes that you check them out too! 

Hotel Alka- Apex Ganges View Restaurant

Admittedly, we are a bit partial to this restaurant, as we spent seven nights at Hotel Alka and found it convenient to eat here. But, with that said, it’s a great restaurant worth a visit even if you aren’t staying at Alka. 

The view of the Ganges River over Meer Ghat (between Dashashwamedh and Manikarnika) is one of the best in town. You can choose between 10 tables in the main area (NOT a 7-story hike to get to, it’s on the same level as the hotel reception), two tables on a little balcony to the right with an amazing view up river, or head down two flights of stairs and sit at one of the three tables in their grassy courtyard also with a view. 

We thought their service was fast, and food flavorful. We sampled a little of everything on the menu, even the chop sui, but one of their stand-outs is their fresh squeezed orange juice and veg stuffed paratha. 

Prices are reasonable, especially for the size of the hotel and the view. The only real gripe I have is that they can’t seem to keep their wifi working (big surprise) which was massively disappointing considering we were staying here and could have really benefitted from having wifi for that week. 

Ganpati Guesthouse Restaurant

A popular spot because of guidebook reviews, we felt obligated to check out Ganpati, but unfortunately only made time for a quick visit for a chai and to kill 10 minutes before our music lessons.  Despite not eating here, we wanted to give it a mention because of the extensive menu and even more impressive view.  I’m pretty sure you have to pay for wifi use though. There are no shaded tables on the roof, so be warned in case it’s hot out.  It's adjacent to Hotel Alka, accessibly down a tiny little alley.

Brown Bread Bakery

There are two restaurants by the same name in the same alley. Knock-offs are common in India, so make sure you’re at the correct one. The real one has yummy desserts in the window, a charity-driven clothing shop on the ground floor and first floor, and the stairwell is lined with books, organic skincare products, and jewelry. Keep climbing several more flights to get up to their caged-in rooftop.

We prefer an open view rather than caged, but also appreciated the safety away from the threat of monkeys taking your food (something we surprisingly never encountered during our 9 days in Varanasi). 

One of our favorite things to do in India is eat Indian food, so visiting this restaurant, known for its western food and bread was a bit of a stretch for us. When studying their comprehensive menu I felt inclined to order pizza (several to choose from), and Nick got lasagna (something we wouldn’t normally do) and it was a welcome change from the morning/noon/night curry we had been having. 

Dolphin Restaurant at Rashmi Guesthouse-

I should mention first that this rooftop restaurant is up 7 flights of stairs. If you’re up for the hike, the view and the food is totally worth it. It sits back just a bit from the water , so theres a bit of a panorama feel. The restaurant is clean, and the chairs even hair cushions to encourage a bit of lingering (we spent about 3 hours here watching the day turn to night). They were extremely attentive to make sure their wifi was working, as it wasn’t when we first received the password. 

The food was good but not very spicy, probably served that way for our western palettes. Their kashmiri naan came with fresh fruit on top, and their banana split hit the spot!

Rooftop Restaurant at Shanti Inn

We happened upon this place by accident as we were walking along the ghats and became tired and hungry. Luckily there are signs down at the river or we would have never known about this gem. It’s set back from the river, but high atop the roof tops, giving way to our favorite view in Varanasi. A 270 degree view of the rooftops, river, and flying kites above the city made it worth the trek up the steps off the ghats and back 100-200 meters. We were pleasantly surprised to find they have an elevator that will take you from the bottom floor to the floor just below the restaurant, making the hike a little easier. 

Varanasi Restaurants

The restaurant feels more modern than most, with cushy bench seating, and nice wooden tables. They had a small stage where I’m guessing they have periodic classical music concerts. 

We had to specifically ask for the indian menu, as they have a vast selection of western food to choose from. We ordered a few Indian veg classics, along with egg biryani, and veg momos, around 100 rupees per dish. Their portion sizes were decent so we ended up with too much food. 

Other eats:

Ganga Fuji Restaurant

We heard about this place from a fellow traveler who showed us a flier for their nightly concert. The signs around the Meer Ghat area took us to the wrong Ganga Fuji, but they directed us to the right one. The restaurant is set on two floors, one just below ground level, one just above, and it’s totally closed in from the alleyway. 

Ganga Fuji Restaurant Varanasi

We appreciated the owners attentiveness to us and the other guests, sititng down with us, making special recommendations, and taking pride in the method of preparation for his delicious food. He recommended a few of his higher priced dishes, including a stuffed tomato that was amazing. The portion sizes are very small for 150 rupees each, so we managed to over-order and finish everything. 

The concert itself was lack luster at best. It was nice to have live music to listen to, but the tabla/flute duo played emotionless raga that really could only serve as background ambiance. We meant to go back to see their sitar and tabla duo, but never made it.

If you’ve got a few extra rupees to spare, I recommend a dinner here during the live music, but maybe skip it any other time. No wifi.

Shree Cafe

What a gorgeous little cafe tucked into the Manmandir alleyway just off the main Dashashwamedh road. The owner is a photographer who has displayed many of his beautiful photos of India all around the quaint little cafe. The prices are mid-range or a little higher. We opted to split the Shree Special Thali for 200 rupees, and we weren’t sorry. It had cashew/veg rice, with cashew curry, kashmiri and garlic naan, and even a sweet. A very delicious lunch indeed! Head here for easy sustenance if you’re in the area and enjoy a relaxing vibe.  

 

Do you have a favorite spot to eat in Varanasi? Or have you eaten at one of these places?  Let us know in the comments!

Planning your trip to India?  You might be interested in some of our other writings.  Check them out.

Our Suggested India Guidebooks

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In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This program provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps to support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you.