Travel

Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience at Franklin Park Zoo

This weekend we decided to visit the Franklin Zoo which unveiled its doors to the Lantern Experience and what a delight it was. As we entered the Zoo we were greeted by an illuminated welcome sign which gave us a little sneak peak into what to expect and let me tell you we were not disappointed. At the entrance they scanned our tickets and let us in. To ensure social distancing at the Zoo and maintaining limited capacities so as to avoid overcrowding it is essential to make online reservations here. They have ticket options available starting at 6.00 pm everyday until 9.30 pm everyday until November 1, 2020.

We made reservations at 9.00 pm allowing us enough time to enjoy the displays as the Zoo shuts its doors at 10.30 pm. We spent a good 1.5 hours enjoying the displays which we found was enough without it being rushed. If you are planning to go with kids I highly recommend going in earlier just so it doesn’t feel rushed and you have enough time just in case the kids decide to spend more time at the interactive displays.

Spanning 72 acres of the Franklin Park Zoo, there were over 50 majestic displays for everyone to enjoy. As we entered we saw interactive displays like the conservation wheel which allows you to spin the wheel to learn about different ways to conserve nature and wildlife, and step on lit tiles that bloom the petals of flowers on the wall display.

As we walked further, we saw the beautiful Asian lantern displays and a 197 foot long dragon breathing fire details bordered with Chinese Zodiac signs as per the birth year. Just at the tail of the dragon there were interactive musical step stars which were quite popular with the kids. We saw so many kids jumping around on the musical step stars and dancing their way out. I am not going to lie I did too. After all doesn’t everyone have a kid inside of them ?

Walking ahead there were various displays of lights as we reached the section displaying Pandas – A huge tall giant Panda, 2 pandas kissing each other. Another Panda display which caught my eye was the gleaming lit colorful tree with Pandas on it.

As we walked ahead we saw displays of giraffe, zebras, elephants, alligators, hippos and a few more displays. But the one which struck my eye the most was the display of twinkling color changing butterflies. It was bright, colorful and so full of life.

Walking ahead under the tunnel of white lanterns that hung above we we saw another display I really enjoyed was the Peacock fanning its spectacular feathers. Everyone stood there peacefully waiting to watch the peacock fans its feathers and the beautiful changing colors. It was a delight watching the Peacock, The National Bird of India in all its glory.

As we walked ahead through the various dazzling lantern displays and luminous flower displays we watched the beautiful color transforming tree. My husband said this tree reminded him of the tree in the Avatar movie (The Tree of Souls).

Passing through the blue Jellyfish display we walked into yet another display which I completely loved. A walk through an illuminated 66 foot long shark tunnel completely caught my eye. It was as though you are walking directly into the mouth of the shark. It was so creative and beautiful.

As we walked ahead we were nearing the end and walked through the Cinderella Carriage, and an interactive giant piano where you could dance your way on the keys making it lit up and play tunes. Definitely brings out the kid inside of you.

These were just a few of the key highlights for me but there is so much more and literally something for everyone. It is a fun one of a kind experience. If you enjoy watching the lights, the wildlife, nature, and cultural traditions this is definitely for you. As a part of the Zoo’s commitment to conservation and preservation they have used energy saving LED lights to create this whole experience.

The whole experience is magical and in parts interactive as well making it absolutely captivating. Highly recommend it to everyone.

Travel

Kayaking in the Ocean at La Jolla – My First Experience

Kayaking is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and gives us a front row seat to the best shows Mother Nature has to offer . It is a great way to destress and a great outdoor activity for all ages.

On my trip to San Diego, I had a bucket list of things to do and kayaking in the ocean was at the top of my list especially since I had never done it before. Even though my husband had done kayaking before neither of us had done it in the ocean and we decided to take on a new adventure, which brought us to the pristine waters of La Jolla.

We booked our experience Kayak in La Jolla (Sea Caves and Marine Reserve) around 10 days before our travel with Michael and were all set to take on this experience. On the day of the tour in March 2019 we arrived 30 minutes prior to gear up and receive some instructions. The place offers lockers to store valuables and also sells phone covers though I recommend leaving it back in the lockers unless it is waterproof as it will definitely get drenched.

Once we were all geared up in our wetsuits and our group was ready our guides led us to the ocean where they gave us a quick paddling tutorial. The distance from their store where we assembled to the ocean is just a few blocks away.

My husband and I quickly hopped onto the two seater kayak and paddled our way into the water along with the group. Along the way the guide made various stops to provide us with some history. Kayaking in La Jolla is an amazing experience, one that I highly recommend especially because of the La Jolla Underwater Park – a marine sanctuary full of seal life and clear water.

While Kayaking we saw sting rays, fishes, whales, sea lions, seals, sea turtles and leopard sharks alongside with us. This was quite an experience, one we never had before. If the weather permits, they also take you inside the Clam’s Cave which is the only visible sea cave from land. Tip : Our group was fairly small which really comes in handy especially if you get to do inside the caves as there is a limit for the number of kayaks that can go in together at once. A big group would just mean you would have to wait that much longer. We went on kayaking further to other sea caves and then explored more sea life along the way.

After spending time near the sea caves we paddled back towards the shore and as we neared the shore we were sent towards the beach one kayak at a time so that the helpers could pull out the kayak and you don’t get toppled by the waves. It was a great experience and even though I was initially scared to kayak in the ocean especially when I do not know to swim I had an incredible time. It is a great way to experience the pristine La Jolla waters and the sea life.

And the best part is, you can even get some exercise done without even actually trying and enjoying the beautiful landscape.

What to Wear?

You can wear a swimsuit or a tank top with shorts. On a cold day I highly recommend renting the wetsuit to wear over the swimsuit from them as once you are inside it gets a little chilly. Definitely wear a sunscreen. If you get sunburnt easily I highly recommend wearing a fast drying cover up or a wetsuit. They will provide you with helmets and life vests to be worn too at no additional cost.

If you haven’t done this yet I highly recommend it when in San Diego!

Travel

My First Bungee Jump Experience – Taking the Plunge

They Say – Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Bungee jumping is one of the most extreme sports ever invented, an adrenaline rush like no other, and of course, we had to try it. I went to New Zealand for my Honeymoon and since we knew that bungy jumping was a must-do adventure activity in New Zealand we knew that if we were going to do a bungy jump anywhere, this was definitely the place to do it! The Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump is actually the first commercial bungy jump in the world. Queenstown, New Zealand is ground zero where this extreme sport started.

We had made our bookings well ahead of time to get the desired time slot and the required day for this nerve-wracking experience. Fast forward several weeks and the day had arrived. From Queenstown, we took a bus ride about 30 minutes to the Kawarau Bridge.

As we entered the bungy center from the car park, we walked down a spiral ramp that lead us to the reception area, a video showroom, a cafe and a shop with all kinds of bungy souvenirs. When we checked in for our bungy the staff at the reception asked us to fill in a health questionnaire and sign a liability and indemnity waiver form. We were then asked to empty our pockets and remove all loose items basically anything we could loose while jumping, and then we were asked to step on the scales! Our weight was written on the back of our hand with thick felt pen, so the bungy instructors at the bridge know how to calculate the length of our bungy rope. We then headed to the bridge and watched a few jumpers go first thinking that it would prepare us for the big jump. But trust me nothing prepares you for that.

We got into our safety harnesses waiting in queue for our turn. Once it was my turn I sat down on the platform, facing my jump instructor. He started by putting my legs together and wrapping a thick towel around my lower legs and ankles. Then he fastened the towel really tightly with some sort of harness which was later connected to the end of my bungy rope. While a zillion thoughts were racing my head the music playing was soothing and my instructor tried to engage me in a pleasant conversation.

As I walked towards the edge of the bridge and gazed down, the mighty Kawarau river seemed miles away. I could hear my heart in my ears!! I am usually not scared of heights but jumping off the edge is another thing. I was standing at the edge of the bridge, 43 meters above ground, ready to take the leap of faith. I told my instructor I needed a minute and then took a deep breath and took the plunge when the instructor went Three — Two- One — Bungy!!! as that is your cue.

I screamed out loud a mixture of fear and laughter as I took the plunge as jumping off the bridge was the scariest thing I have very done but at the same time made me overcome my fears. Midway in the air I enjoyed the scenic surroundings, the wind blowing and took it all in. After a few bounces, the bridge crew lowered my bungy rope, and I saw a yellow raft approaching towards me and asked me to grab the pole they were holding out while I was still tied to my rope upside down. They then removed the harnesses once I was lying in the raft.

It was a magical experience which gave me memories of a lifetime. We then headed to center to see the pictures and the video captured quickly and bought them straight away. They also gave us a complimentary Tshirt and a certificate of Accomplishment. All in all, I had an amazing experience and was thrilled to be able to tick this experience off my bucket list.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. – Mark Twain

So go for it and overcome your fears!!

Travel

My Apple Picking Experience – A Fun Fall Day

When I think of Fall I think of Apple Picking. The abundance of apples is the welcome sign of the fall. Whether it’s with family, friends or your significant other, it’s easy to spend a full day at the orchard, and it’s the perfect excuse to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. This weekend my husband and I went apple picking at the Tougas Family Farms in Massachusets and had a fun experience.

We started the experience at 1.30 pm with eating some apple cider donuts and having apple cider both made freshly from the farm picked apples at the Tougas Farms. We then took the private wagon ride to drive around the beautiful orchard gazing at the various apple produce with the wind blowing in the air. We had gone for a private event arranged by my husbands office however you can go there by yourself too.

We then headed to go apple picking which was so much fun. The farm we went to had different types of apples – Honeycrisp, Cortland, Gala, McIntosh and Mutsu and the staff at the farms made us aware of all the differences between them and how they are best enjoyed.

We went around the various rows trying different types of apples and deciding which ones we liked over the others and ended up picking a mix of the apples we liked. We ate like 4 apples just as we were picking out apples.

Some of the apples we tried and picked were :
1)Honeycrisp – Mostly red skin, crisp, tart and sweet. They hold very well in baked goods but also taste delicious when eaten raw.
2)Cortland – Mostly red-skinned but taste much better when baked rather than eaten raw.
3)Gala – Compared to the Honeycrisp or Cortland apples these are smaller in size, red skin but taste better when eaten raw compared to when baked.
4)McIntosh – These apples are tender, sweet and have a red and green skin. They can be used for both baking as well as eaten raw but taste even better when baked.
5)Mutsu – They have green-yellow skin, not very tart and have a creamy texture. They work great with pies.

Once we finished picking the apples we sat in our tent and ate some apple crisps and apple pie and sipped on apple cider. Ohh yeah it was an Apple day after all.

The farm also has various farm animals around whom you can feed, playground for kids, farm stores where you can buy a lot of fresh goodies made out of the fresh fruits grown on the farms such as jams, jellies, fresh fruits, apple cider donuts, apple pie, apple crisps, apple pie ice cream, taffy apple and so much more.

All in all a great fun activity to do for the whole family.