Kingston upon Hull

Hull is a port city in England, founded circa 1200. You can read up more about this city here. I went there for an official purpose for a day and got to see around the city area for three hours.

Incidentally, Hull or Kingston upon Hull is also the ‘UK city of culture 2017’.

After my business visit, I had lunch at this Italian place called ‘Ask Italian’. Wonderful food, service and the view was great too.

ask italian, hull, england

What you see are the domes of the Hull Maritime Museum:

hull maritime museum

After the wonderful lunch, we went for a walk to the dock.

humber dock marina, hull

Where we stumbled upon The Royal Navy Memorial

The royal navy memorial, hull The royal navy memorial, hull

and the Humber Estuary

humber estuary, hull

Then we walked back into the city taking in the beauty of the place.

Hull Minster (Holy Trinity Church) – dates back to 1300.

hull minster holy trinity church, hull, england hull minster holy trinity church, hull, england

It was a sunny day and couple of kids and some boisterous adults were playing in the fountain opposite Hull City Hall.

hull city hall, hull, england

It was a wonderful afternoon for me – great food, good weather to walk, marvelous & beautiful ancient buildings and joyful folks. What I would have loved to do was explore more of this city (alas, there was no time) and visit the coast which is 30 kms from this city. Maybe some other time.

5 Long-weekend trips from Chennai

There is a long weekend coming up (Sept 7, 8, 9) and here are a few places that I’ll recommend for you. If you love driving, all these places are definitely approachable by road and believe me, Tamil Nadu state highways are great. If you do not want to drive, take a train or bus(chances of getting tickets is very less)

1. Chennai to Pondicherry (Pondy)

Distance – 160 Kms.

Genre – Coastal

You can take the scenic ECR or you can take the GST. Both roads have their benefits. If you take the ECR route, you can stop by at a lot of places (Dakshina Chithra, Crocodile bank, Mahabalipuram). If you start early morning by around 8, you can see all these places and reach Pondy before sunset. The next day you can roam around in Pondy in a relaxed, no hurry manner and start back from Pondicherry on the third day.

My post on Pondy trip

travel, places near chennai

2. Chennai – Pondy – Pichavaram – Tranquebar

Distance – 280 Kms

Genre – Coastal, Historic

First day morning start from Chennai and reach Pondy, chill out in Pondicherry that day. 2nd day morning start from Pondy and head to Pichavaram, less than an hour away.

Pichavaram has only one thing to offer. Boat ride in the mangrove forest. It is humid and hot during the middle of the day. So if you wish to enjoy this place, you need to go in the morning around 9 and the boat ride with get over by 12 or 1 PM. After that you can have lunch in Chidambaram or head to Tranquebar. Tranquebar (known as Tharangambadi) is popular for a Dutch fort which still stands in a good condition. It has a Dutch governor’s house and a Maritime museum. You can have lunch or dinner at a Neemrana hotel there. You can either stay there (bit costly) or stay in a Tamil Nadu house (property maintained by Neemrana) which is cheaper. OR you can just drive back to Pondy that night. 3rd day morning you can look around Pondy or Chill out there and start from Pondy around 3PM and be back in Chennai by 6 PM.

Tranquebar

 

3. Chennai – Masinagudi

Distance – 600 Kms

Genre – Hillstation

The driving is a bit too much, so if you are a road trip enthusiast and have one more driver with you on this trip, it’s better. Masinagudi is a great place to relax, you can go on a jungle safari or just relax in your resort. On your way back you can even stopby ooty and come.

My post on Chennai to Masinagudi Trip

ooty masinagudi

 

4. Chennai – Rameswaram

Distance – 550 Kms

Genre – Historic, temple town, superb beaches

It is a hidden gem, I would say. Not many know about the beautiful, white sand beaches and Dhanushkodi.

My post on Chennai to Rameswaram trip

rameswaram

 

5. Yercaud from Chennai

Distance – 350 Kms

Genre – Hillstation, Trekking

Amazing place for relaxing, superb weather, fresh air. The best thing is it is not even that far away from Chennai. If you are trekking enthusiast, you should really try this place. Rent out a tent-accommodation at Heaven’s Ledge and rent a guide. He will take you through the coffee plantations, through rivers and show you some superb viewpoints. My post on my Yercaud Trip

yercaud trip from chennai

Go. Travel.



Yelagiri – Weekend getaway for trekkers

Roadtrip to Yelagiri from Chennai

This year my resolution was to do a trip every month, so far so good! January was the beautiful, relaxing Varkala and February I got a pleasant surprise to review a car, so took it to Yelagiri.

Yelagiri is a hill station, located 220 kms from Chennai and 160 kms from Bangalore. It is more of a trekking spot than a sight-seeing place. On the other hand, Yercaud (which is another 150 kms from Yelagiri) offers both the experiences.

En route Yelagiri, tamil nadu,

The right plan…

I will write about what we did, below, but before that I would like to give you an idea of how to do this Yelagiri trip. It is a trekking spot and the best time to trek from my experience from Yercaud trek, is in the mornings.

Plan a two day trip to Yelagiri. Try to reach your resort/hotel by sunset, so as to catch a glimpse of the sunset, I’m sure it’s stunning. Stay the night in your resort and preferably ask the resort to arrange for a guide to take to trekking to hidden waterfalls and temples in the forest in the hills.

Day2, get up, get ready and start your trek early. Come back to your hotel around lunch time, enjoy the lunch, take a nap, watch another sunset and drive back home. There is a small lake, Punganur lake, in Yelagiri where you can go baoting as well. That would make a perfect weekend getaway.

Punganur lake, yelagiri, Tamil Nadu

Punganur lake, Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu

 

Kids wait for their turn to go boating :)

Punganur lake, yelagiri, Tamil Nadu

 

What we did!

We reached Yelagiri by noon, with a lot of stops to take some photos of the car and highway, stopped in Vellore for breakfast. As soon as we reached there we found out that it wasn’t as good as Yercaud and it was too late in the day to go trekking, especially when one is not mentally prepared. So we headed back home with a lot to write about the car and the driving experience.

IF there is more to do in Yelagiri, please do let me know, I will try to go there again.

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX experience

There are two things you notice as soon as you enter the car:

Before starting the car: SPACE. I took my colleagues for lunch on the day I got the car. 5 of us went in this car. The guys sitting behind didn’t feel cramped and the first thing two of my friends said was “this is spacious”, I guess it has become something to expect from TATA cars and Indica Vista D90 is no different. This car’s got space! – Vista D90 – 1 and other cars – 0

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

After starting the car: Silence. The cabin is pretty well insulated from the engine noise, but this something that all the diesel cars have in common nowadays. Same points for all cars in this region.

I drove a Vista D90 ZX, this is one version below the highest, which is ZX-Plus. The difference is a spoiler and a touch-screen controls with GPS. That must’ve been fun!

Nevertheless, those are the things you notice before you really take it for a drive. The moment you switch to 1st gear and take your foot off the clutch, ever so lightly, and gently press the accelerator, you would feel the power of the car. As the name suggests, Vista D90 is powered by the same engine that powers Manza and Fiat Punto – a 90 bhp, 1.3 ltr engine. BTW, the driver’s view and the feel of the car have an uncanny resemblance to that of Fiat Punto.

So I took it for a spin, to a nearby place, Yelagiri – 220 kms from Chennai. I’d have ideally driven it to Munnar (have been wanting to go there for a long time) but my good friend and co-driver wasn’t available, read about that here.

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

The Car

When I got the car for review, it had already run 6500 kms, which is a good thing. Reviewing a brand new car is a bore and almost fake, coz the suspensions are not “broken-in” and the engine has not taken the stress and strain. Hence, I was glad to get a car that has already run 6500 kms.

Vista D90 ZX comes with ABS and dual air bags. Also it has alloys and contrast-color top, mine was a ‘spice red’ car with a black top. The idea seems to be “sporty look”. The dashboard has USB drive, which was definitely useful. A couple of months back when I drove a Skoda Rapid to Hampi, I was surprised to know that there was no USB port in the dashboard. Believe me, that USB port is very useful. Good job, Vista D90!

 

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

Another useful feature that I did not find in some of the other cars in this segment is media-control-buttons in the steering wheel. In fact when I drove those cars, I never missed those features, but Vista D90 has definitely pampered me. The mute, seek, volume buttons are very helpful. Once you get used to those, you will wonder how you survived without those ever – sort of Facebook & Twitter.

The car gives a mileage of approximately 19 kmpl, I drove both in city and highways during the period I had the car for review.

The City Drive

I drove the car from work to home on a Friday evening and of course the powerful diesel engine eases the strain on your right leg. Only by operating the clutch one can go a long distance at a very slow speed (e.g during traffic jams) without having to use the accelerator.

The Highway Drive

The moment I took the car, the one word that would summarize the feeling is ‘power’. The acceleration is great, but more so when the turbo-charger kicks in. Overtaking cars on the highway was a piece of cake; I didn’t even have to down-shift. The drive up and down the hill with 14 hairpin turns was easy, with the car taking the tight turns beautifully and allowing me to even overtake slow buses within the short distance between the turns. The shock absorbers are comfortable and steady (keep in mind that it has already run 6500 kms, and most probably test-driven/roughly-handled already). Ground clearance is definitely better than other cars in this segment, definitely built by keeping India roads in mind. Thanks, TATA.

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

 

There was bit of skid in one of the tight turns going uphill, the reason being loose sand at the turns. So keep this in mind and make sure you take utmost care while taking turns on gravel or loose sand.

I would definitely suggest this car for an adventurer who is forced with a 9 to 5 job. One can use this car for both travelling and office-driving.

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX
Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX user experience

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX

Overall I would give this car a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Good Things:

  • Hydraulic steering, better feel of the car and ease of handling
  • Media-control on the steering
  • Good braking
  • Driver panel – with Distance to Empty
  • Good AC effect
  • 90 bhp – powerful
  • Easy overtaking on the highways without having to downshift
  • Sporty look
  • Spacious
  • Lumbar support, helpful to avoid backaches

Bad:

  • That skid-experience I spoke about, even with ABS!
  • Doesn’t have ‘lane-change indicator’
  • Price point

Special thanks to Blogadda and Tata motors for this opportunity. 🙂

Cheers

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