I will talk about some of my favourite holidays/ journeys after getting my husband and child. What is interesting about our trips is that we never took expensive holidays, we did our pre-holiday research very well such that for less money, we managed to do a lot of things. After all how much do the academics earn that we could afford expensive holiday! What we often do is that when we are due for holidays to India, instead of direct ticket we just add very little money and take ‘Round the world’ ticket. So just planning the holidays properly in terms of tickets, accommodation, tours etc., one can manage a decent holiday.
The best travel/ holiday any time would be our trips to Masaimara. One of our Mara trips involved camping and it was one of the most basic camping packages and the best trip so far! It was such a unique experience. The food was cooked in front of us on the woodfire and we could give a hand in cooking if we liked. And what was most interesting was when anyone needed to go to the loo, the ‘masais’ escorted you and they stood outside to keep a watch on animals! The best part were the game drives early in the morning and the ones at night. I still have in my mind some of the most unforgettable moments from Mara, some astounding shots that we took refresh our memories and give the urge to go back.
The city I admire the most outside India is Bath in UK. Our daughter was 10 years old and we were taking her to UK for the first time, so besides London, we all wanted to go to Bath mainly because we were keen to see Stonehenge. The bus journey from Heathrow to Bath is about one and a half hour, one of the most scenic rides. I find British country towns very interesting possibly because they bring my childhood novel-reading days to life. I used to imagine how these villages would be whenever I would read a book as a child. It was cold winter day and everything was dull and grey and yet the villages seemed beautiful. Our friend’s son, Simon’s fiancé Hanah, a tall English woman was there to pick us and took us to her house and enjoyed a typical British meal with wine. We stayed with her and Simon, they were one of the most hospitable couple I have come across. Next day, we first went round the city visiting the famous ‘baths’ and then drove to Stonehenge, again another scenic drive. We finally wrapped up the day watching a pantomime in one of the theatres there. I still wonder even years back how advance was the architecture in some parts of the world each time I visit palaces in India or England or Austria.
The next favourite in my list is Vienna. Atul was going for a conference and we decided that our daughter and I too would join him. So we set off for Vienna. Again we were traveling in winters, so it was dull and grey. The best things about Vienna are of course the palaces, the chocolates and the ‘punch’. They have this little kiosks all over that sell hot ‘punch’; both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The common base for both is fruit juice with various herbs. The moment you drink it, it gives warmth to your chest. You can buy the punch in a mug and pay a deposit for the mug so that if you decide to not return the mug, you have already paid for its cost. I brought one as a souvenir; the photo is attached here. I met Soroptimist in Vienna too. I met this British lady who had been in Vienna for past 17 years and was pleased to chat with me since I spoke English. I guess that was one thing she missed there, being able to communicate in English. Austrians prefer to speak in their language rather a foreign language, this is just an impression I got, I may be wrong! She spent a day with us, we went to Schronbrunn palace, and it is one of the most beautiful palaces that I have come across! I was very impressed with the honesty of the people there: I make this conclusion by observing their tube system. There is no ticket check anywhere and you are just meant to perform your duty of traveling with a ticket. And I gathered that obviously commuters must be doing that otherwise the tube system would not be economically viable. I have not seen so much trust in commuters anywhere else in the world whether it is New York, London, Sydney, Mumbai anywhere! The other thing which is unique are their cafés, where you are served tea/ coffee in most gorgeous porcelain by traditionally dressed waiters/ waitresses, the whole atmosphere is just incredible. This is when you realize the diversity in cultures round the world!
To be contd…………………………