2018 Recap

January 2019

For the first almost ten months of 2018, we did no traveling. We went to the zoo once and two beaches, but I’m not counting those. She loved the calm lake, but the ocean with it’s big waves scared her. At the zoo, she went mad petting goats, squealing and laughing the whole time. The LO made her first trip to Times Square and was enthralled.

I was saving up all my balance maternity time to go home. Home to introduce my baby to my family. To put her in my grandfather’s now frail but always proud arms. I had been talking about it all year, and I think I jinxed it. He passed away a month and a half before we travelled.

The first few days in India were hard. India can be overwhelming. Coming back – doubly so. I took my time finding my feet, but the LO dived head first. We had two birthday celebrations for her there – a traditional religious ceremony and a party with cake and balloons. She dealt with both like a champ.

Fam-jam in Goa did not turn out like any of us imagined. We spent most of our time between two rooms and the others came back insisting they needed a vacation to recover from that vacation. Yet, if I could go back I would do it again. This time perhaps with nannies.

The LO is a lucky kid – she went to Paris for her first birthday! It was as beautiful as I thought it would be and enough to change the husband’s mind. He had been a Paris hater for the longest time. He gave me twenty-four hours to be underwhelmed and hate it too. When that did not happen, he decided to give it a chance. I like to believe it was my presence that endeared Paris to him, but that would not be fair to the city. Paris is beautiful by herself. Plus, we had the best weather we could hope for. We needed neither sunscreen nor jackets. The summer hordes had gone, and the Christmas crowds were yet to arrive. It was simply perfect.

We spent Thanksgiving in San Diego which means we went home again. My sister had whipped up almost vegan feast, keeping me in mind. The kids had planned out a bunch of activities, including a visit to the tide pools. The tide pools are seasonal, so this was a first for me. Only in San Diego, as maybe Dubai can you have firepits, ice-skating, the sea and beach weather all in the same place. We had to do it. An early birthday celebration arranged by my sister.

I wanted to staycation in NYC over the holidays but that got overruled. We had friends over instead and it all worked out. Yes, I know what a staycation is, and I see the flaw in that sentence, but it is just a minor technical issue.

Travel in 2018 may not have been everything I wanted it to be, but it was good. With the good, came the bad and ugly, but we shall choose to focus on the good. Let’s raise a glass to 2018 and to those who watch us from above. Tchin Tchin!!

2019 Travel Goals

Big family reunion the Caribbean

Small family holiday somewhere closer

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Bali on my Mind

img_2912So, Bali has been playing on my mind lately. So much so that I can’t stop thinking about it. I have a severe case of travel restlessness that I think only Bali can cure. Our last real vacation was to London and Scotland last summer. As scared as I am about traveling with the LO, I want to do it while she is still too little to protest, has fewer needs and can be worn in a wrap or carrier.
What is it about Bali that has caught this traveler’s fancy? The fancy and in my mind absolutely affordable (unresearched) resorts with private water terraces, infinity pools, exotic spas, clean dining options, beach access and reliable child care. I can see me now slipping into the pool, while someone watches my baby close by. Cool, green, fresh!
Other things on my list include cycling (haha) through the terraced rice fields of Ubud; working in the rice padi and learning to cook Balinese food. Somewhere in between I would catch a ‘kecak,’ (a traditional dance) performance. With a childhood filled with temple holidays, you would think they hold no fascination for me, and rightly so, yet I would not want to skip the Tirta Empul water temple.
While on water architecture, I would also not want to miss the Taman Tirta Ganga – Amlapura’s water-loving raja’s multilevel aquatic fantasy features two swimming ponds ornamental water features filled with huge koi and lotus blossoms.

 

The Kawa Bath

kawa hot bath

Here’s a hot tub I’d love to get into. The water in these supersized cast iron pans is heated and kept hot by a live fire. How relaxing it would be on cool nights, under a sky full of stars; the near perfect way to get ready for bed after a long day hiking or kayaking or just a chilly swim. I wonder if the person who came up with this had read Robinson Crusoe!

These giant vats were originally used to in the sugar making process. The sugar mills have long been abandoned, but the experience is  still sweet.

If I ever happen to be in Philippines, I going to set aside a day for Tabio just for  this.

Bonus- spend the night At night, at one of Kayak Inn’s nipa huts. There’s no electricity – only the wind in the willows ( ok trees), and the song of the river. 

 Kayak Inn is located in Brgy. Tuno, Tibiao, Antique and can be reached using  a habal-habal (or single motorcycle),

Best time to go is from September to February, where the river is usually high, perfect for kayaking. This is also firefly season. Stars in the sky, and all around you. Enjoy the show!

 

* Original Photo here.If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

The Cathedral of Saint Basil

If I walk the noisy streets,
Or enter a many thronged church,
Or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts –

– A. Pushkin

Saint Bails Cathedral.jpg

Be honest, doesn’t it look a castle in a Disney version of the Arabian Nights? I imagined this crazy candy crush structure would be in some hard to spell, harder point out on the map place like Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan, but no – it’s in Moscow. It’s no castle either, it’s a cathedral. It’s colourful and whimsical, and absolutely fascinating on a whole other level. The Cathedral of St Basil holds deep religious and historical meaning and symbolism. It has eight chapels set around a ninth one to form a perfect eight-sided star. The star can be interpreted in several ways religiously. In the old Jewish calendar, the number eight represents the day of Christ’s Resurrection. This mid-16th century magnificence was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible as both a mark of gratitude to his God for his victory over the Mongols and a tribute to himself that would remind people of his greatness long after he was gone. The nine chapels mark victories in the battles fought  between the Khanate of Kazan and Muscovite Russia.  The architectural entirety represents the Heavenly Kingdom from the Book of Revelation of St John the Divine.There have been many additions and renovations since.

What fun it will be to explore this beautiful building, with a matching  swirly ice-cream cone in hand!

*Original picture can be seen here. If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

Kings and Queens

Photo courtesy Flickr

I’ve seen African Lions in Kenya and Asian Lions in India. Next on my list is to see the Desert Lions.

The place to see these lions is the Namib desert of Namibia. Another reason to visit Namib desert  is that it is the oldest desert in the world. Other inhabitants of the Namib desert include the Himba tribe. What is so unique about the Himba people is that each  each Himba belongs to the clan of both their mother and their father. How beautiful!

*Original photo can be viewed here. If this picture belongs to you,please let me know if you have any objections to my using it and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

Riding a Camel on the Sand Dunes of the Moroccan Sahara

April 2015

 The Sleeping Gypsy

The Sleeping Gypsy

I was at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a few days ago and Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy filled me with a strange longing to experience a desert landscape. I imagine myself riding a camel through the shifting sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. The Sahara, meaning “The Great Desert,” in Arabic is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. I imagine the Sahara as a vast expanse of soft sand dunes, where dehydration and intense sunlight reflecting off the sand trick the eye into seeing things that don’t exist. The Sahara is much more. Most of the Sahara is characterized as rocky hamada, a type of desert landscape that has very little sand and is made up of primarily barren, hard, rocky plateaus.

Our first subscription box ever - the Marrakesh Box from try the World

Our first subscription box ever – the Marrakesh Box from Try the World

I see myself riding a camel on massive sand dunes of Erg Chicaga, with a guide to keep us from getting lost. Story has it that long long ago, a wealthy family refused hospitality to a poor woman and her son. God was so offended by this act that *He buried them under the mounds of sand today. In the modern world, these sand dunes are know as Erg Chebbi or Erg Chicaga.

Starting before dawn to beat the heat; admiring the colourful sunrise, we’ll march in silence. Slowly we’ll get accustomed to the awkward gait of the camel as it lurches forward, even learning to sit cross legged like Lawrence of Arabia.  When it gets too hot and the desert starts to shimmer in a thousand shades of burnished gold, we’ll set up our tents at an oasis and rest in the shade of a palm tree. They say if you know where to look, water is never more than 10 kilometers away. Could there be anything more ethereal than standing atop the picturesque dunes at sunset and watching as the harsh yellow glare magically transforms into soft glowing shades of orange, pink and purple? If the night is warm, we’ll sleep under the stars, or sing songs in the light of the radiant moon. On cold nights, we’ll warm ourselves by a crackling fire and listen to wondrous stories filled with lions and djinns!

Moroccan Goodies

Moroccan Goodies

The end of November, and January and February are the best times to visit Erg Chebbi/ Erg Chicaga. The weather is not as harsh as summer or peak winter and since it is off season, it is also the quietest time.

Was it worth it? Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I'll take it.

Was it worth it?
Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I’ll take it.

*He – I believe God is gender free. I refer to him as masculine purely for convenience and convention

P.S – The date is not a typo. This is from April 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Istanbul

Blue Mosque at last Light of Day

*photo courtesy Flickr

By now, some of you know and some of you would have guessed that we will be exploring Istanbul next month. On the way to India, we are breaking our journey for a couple of days in this historical city. After a lot of research I’ve come up with this plan and am looking for suggestions to improve it.

 

Day 1, Wednesday – Our flight lands in Istanbul at 4 pm. Check into the Best Western Premier The Home Suites & Spa, (Küçük Ayasofya Mh., Küçük Ayasofya Cd No:60, 34122 İstanbul, Turkey)

7:30 pm – Attend a Whirling Dervishes performance at the Orient Express Train Station (Sirkeci Event Hall–Istanbul Gar). We need to be there by 6:45 pm. It is a 90 minute performance.

9:30 pm – Dinner Reservations at the Khorasani Restaurant

 

Day 2, Thursday

9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Grab a bite at the Pudding Shop, Check out the Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. Check prayer timings, as mosque is closed for prayers

1:00 pm – Have lunch at the Yerebatan.

2:00 pm to 5:00pm – Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Grand Bazaar

8:00 pm and beyond – Grab dinner ( restaurant suggestions welcome) and hit Kadife Sokak. It seems to be the place to experience Istanbul by night.

 

Day 3, Friday

9:00 am to 5:00 pm – Grab breakfast, Go see the Suleymane Mosque, Topaki Palace and Archeology Museum. Check Friday prayer timings for the mosque

1:00 pm – Grab a bite at Fez Cafe

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Spice Bazaar

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Cross the Galata Bridge and climb up the Galata Tower

8:00 pm and beyond – Dinner at  Antiocha,Go to a Meyhane (Demeti and Feraye have live music)

 

Day 4, Saturday

9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Luxuriate in a Hamam. I have heard  Ayasofya Hamam is very good and is one of the oldest. Plus it will be close to our hotel. Any other suggestions?

Take the Bosphorus  cruise

1:00 pm – Lunch at Çiya Sofrasi

2:00 pm to 4:00pm – Anything that got left out

4:00pm – Check out

7:00 pm – Fly out

 

A special shout out to Anthea of antheaschronicles for her help with this.
*Original photo can be seen here. If this picture belongs to you and if you have any objections to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.