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Indian express-22-january-2012

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The valley experience by Mr. Deepak Ohri (Indian Express) …

The valley experience by Mr. Deepak Ohri (Indian Express)

THIS YEAR I decided on Jammu and­ Kashmir for a family vacation. Srina­ gar was a great choice as, in addition to religious sites, it is a remarkably peace­ ful and attractive city with some of the most pleasant and happiest people I've met anywhere. My wife, Anita, and I had a holiday filled with great food, shopping, and exploration of this beau­ tiful part of the world......

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  • 1. The Financial Express JANUARY 22 l 2012 l 11 lFlOlOlTlLlOlOlSlEl ONASPANISHHIGH A trip to Spain is incomplete without a trip to the Torres vineyard, which is an altogether new world, feels Vishakha Talreja Guha T HEY SAY everything in life Plana was once again served with the main tastes better with a glass of course,andTorresbrandywiththedessert. wine. So how about being Shall we ask whats Spanish for the word amidst all thats to do with mak- perfect?Winepairingisindeedaninterest- ing wine. Now a winery tour ing, if tricky aspect of wine culture. , might not be everybodys cup of tea or But thats not the end of the tour. A must- rather glass-of-wine, but I discovered on a do at the winery is some shopping at the in- recent visit to Spain that it added zing to house wine shop. Though its not cheaper to my holiday. As Homer stated in Odyssey, buy here (and you might actually get a bet- “Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, ter deal at wholesale retail shops in make the sage frolic, and the serious Barcelona), but at least you know what you smile”, my trip was full of fun, frolic and are getting. And then what good is a wine if some serious smiling. it doesnt get the price it deserves. The choice of course was to visit the vineyard of Miguel Torres in Penedès. The story goes like this: About three centuries ago, the Torres family settled in the Penedès,awinemakingregionsincephone- cian times. Since then the Torres surname The cellars at the vinery The Torres vineyard has been synonymous with wines. And the fact that Ive had a fleeting romance with al journey through the transformation of and the new cellars, we headed to the un- helped us enjoy the wine better. their wines in India only whetted my ap- grapes into wine. loadingandthevinificationarea,wherethe After soaking in the winery experience petite to visit the winery and find out what Before we got to the fun part of the tour, a fermentation of the grapes is done. The gi- for couple of hours, it was time to have goes into transforming the local into glob- train ride through the vineyard, we visited gantic machines, scores of bottles on a con- lunch at the family restaurant, Mas Rabell, al, as Torres wines are available in more the Torres museum, which houses some of veyor belt and men at work—its a whole a cosy set-up that has an old world charm than 140 countries. the old wine mixers and apparatus from the new world, and quite a heady one at that. and that vivacious Spanish feel. Authen- On a sunny winter morning, Penedès medieval era used for wine making. And There is a lot that goes into that quintessen- tic Spanish food matched with the was a smooth, one-hour drive from then we hopped onto the mini-train that tial bottle of wine! best of wines was a really intoxi- Barcelona, away from the hustle-bustle of took us around the picturesque vineyard. Wine tasting is of course the most await- cating combination. So it was the city, tucked in the serene countryside. However, winters is not the best time to vis- ed part of a winery tour. At Torres Penedès, Vina Esmeralda to go with ensal- On reaching the winery, a wine expert itaEuropeanvineyard.Butforfirst-timers, while the smoothness and richness of Mas da--Spanish for our good greeted us and guided us to the auditori- it is still an exhilarating and an insightful La Plana and sought after Gran Coronas old salad—and um. After viewing a short film on the his- experience. On the train we also had com- tickled our taste buds, I had an equally fas- the Gran San- tory of the Torres family and the winery, panyof theaudio-guidesystem,besidesour cinatingaffairwiththeinnovativeNatureo gre de Toro we headed to the Tunnel of the seasons--a wine expert, who took us to different parts wine. Though Natureo wine tastes like red with multimedia experience which introduced of the cellar—the storage room which had wine, it is actually alcohol free! The expert Fritos us to the various aromas of the vineyard barrelsandbarrelsof redwinesindifferent shared the background of each wine and Secos, that is nuts and dried during the four different seasons, a sensu- stages of ageing. After stopovers at the old helpedustasteitinacorrectfashion,which fruits. The award winning Mas La The valley experience THIS YEAR I decided on Jammu and- at the business class seat of a recent seemed very knowledgeable. Through- Kashmir for a family vacation. Srina- flight on another Indian airline to find out the flight, the service was handled gar was a great choice as, in addition to snack crumbs ground into the carpet at with finesse, so training must be done religious sites, it is a remarkably peace- my feet.) More importantly, the service very well and with the guest’s priorities ful and attractive city with some of the chasedalovelyphiranthatwillworkfor refuse to fly economy class, I just prefer was good. The crew was presentable in mind. In fact, the flight was so pleas- most pleasant and happiest people I’ve all types of occasions, while I was the extra room and better service of and polite without exception. ant that I assumed it was a fluke. I was met anywhere. My wife, Anita, and I moved to pick up a silk carpet with no business or first class. All the same, I One issue with LCCs, as they’re wrong. On a second flight from Jammu had a holiday filled with great food, particular place to put it. If you are in- was not expecting much on this flight. known, is food. Economy class food on to Srinagar, the service and experience shopping, and exploration of this beau- terested in shawls or carpets, this is But IndiGo surprised me. In fact, it is most of the main line carriers, even on was the same. tiful part of the world. surely one of the best places to go. makingmerethinkmyintra-Indiatrav- some otherwise decent international Low cost carriers in the US probably DEEPAK OHRI I am not afraid to praise competing Back at the hotel, we experienced the el plans. The aircraft, like all of Indigo’s ones, is dreadful. LCCs have a reason- took it too far in the 1990s. Threadbare companies. Our stay at the new Taj Vi- warmth of a crackling fire and the gen- planes, was a new Airbus A-320. The in- able alternative: either do not eat at all seats and inedible meals reminded vanta was wonderful. Located amongst uine hospitality of the predominately teriors were very well appointed. Sure, or pay a little more for something that is many flyers of traveling by bus. Main Srinagar is a remarkably the majestic Zabarwan Mountains, this local Kashmiri staff. And we loved the the seats were smaller than interna- actually edible. My travel agent booked line carriers followed the LCCs down property has a gorgeous view of the Dal food. The Taj’s Chinese restaurant, tional business class, but for a shorter my meal ahead and, I have to say, it the same road, only with even worse peaceful and attractive city Lake. The modern rooms and suites Jade Dragon, was delicious and won- flight, they were perfectly acceptable. was fine. service. This left a gap in the market for with some of the most also incorporate lovely touches derfully nuanced, much better than the And the cabin was very clean. (I arrived One of the better aspects of the flight carriers like Jet Blue that had a good of Kashmiri culture. so-called Chinese at the group’s was how professionally the service an- hard product (newer seats, live in-flightpleasant and happiest people A Shikara trip on the Dal Lake was a Delhi property . nouncements were handled. Rather TV) and genuine service. I’ve met anywhere stunningdiversion,if quitechillyatmi- The Kashmiri fare at the hotel was THE KASHMIRI FARE AT THE than disturbing guests with announce- The Indian airline marketplace nus three degrees. (The low tempera- also great—forget Ahdoos and go for TAJ VIVANTA WAS GREAT— ments (or sales pitches for the food) for has traveled a similar route, and ture did not prevent us from enjoying the Taj for your local cuisine while FORGET AHDOOS AND GO the whole flight, the crew left us to sleep IndiGo seems to have found where it some ice cream during the tour—these in Kashmir. or read in peace, and yet was readily can make a compelling offer to an are the sorts of things one should do Coming to the airline, when I in- FOR THE TAJ FOR YOUR available for another bottle of water or underserved market. when away from the office.) formed a friend that I would travel to LOCAL CUISINE WHILE more food. Deepak Ohri is CEO of lebua Our local travels also included a stop Jammu on a low-cost carrier, he joked, IN KASHMIR I decided to test one airhostess with a Hotels & Resorts. He can be reached at at Shaw Brothers, where Anita pur- “How will you make it?” It is not that I question about IndiGo’s routes and she deepak@lebua.com

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