Blast from the Past: A trip down the memory lane

This year has been uncertain for everyone. Needless to say, all our plans specially travel plans have been indefinitely put on hold. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. In addition to all the numerous trips I had planned, I was specially looking forward to two trips- my birthday trip with my mother to Sri Lanka (which I had almost booked the tickets to) and another with my dad and brother, probably to the Andamans during the later half of the year. Ofcourse it’s been disheartening but I did not wish to sit and crib about it. And since I haven’t written a travel blog in a long time, I was like I should probably trace all the little trips that shaped my love for travel.

I have been fortunate enough to have parents who love travelling and ever since I have been a toddler, they have made sure we take one trip a year and that ritual followed util my brother and I got into college. It’s difficult to trace every trip to their minutest details but it was extremely nostalgic to go back to the albums and relive some of the moments with my parents all over again. I have tried putting the trips in a chronological manner but more often than not I may have jumped the order.

Mussoorie

I was around 1.5 years old when I went on my first trip to Mussoorie. I have absolutely no memory of it but my mother describes me as an easy fuss free child and that experience instilled confidence in them that they can plan more trips with me.

Darjeeling

My father used to travel a lot for work. During one of his trips to Calcutta, my mother and I joined him and we went to Darjeeling from there. This was in the month of October 1993 and my first winter vacation. I remember this trip for a lot of reasons- experienced snow for the first time to how my father always chimes while describing the incident where a 2 year old kid was stuffing her mouth with as much as 15-20 paani puris (popular Indian street food with potato filling and spicy water).

Another thing that I used to do was that I hated walking and Darjeeling had a lot of stretches where my parents had to walk for miles cause of bad roads that didn’t allow vehicular movement. So after every few steps, I used to just stop walking and stretch my hands towards my father and insist of being carried on his shoulders. And I used to only enjoy being carried by him cause it gave me the feeling of being tall and the joy of viewing things from that height and since my mother had always been skinny, her bones used to poke me. Again, I can’t really contest the facts here, just presenting everything verbatim that’s being shared with me.

We went to Tiger Hills, Nathu La Pass (my favourite and a place I vividly remember), Mirik lake, Changu Lake and the beautiful tea estates of Darjeeling.

Beautiful sunrise at Tiger Hills

We happened to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim again after my brother was born.

Nainital

This again is one of my favourite trips. We were celebrating New year in Nainital. My parents chose a lot of places based on their favourite Bollywood films cause my mother absolutely loved posing in the same locations as her favourite actresses . Nainital during the 90s was really famous as a popular Bollywood spot for a lot of films like Kati Patang, Gumrah, Masoom etc.

Orissa

A striking memory I have from this trip has to be the visit to Nandankanan National Park cause I remember this was the time in school when we were taught a lot about wildlife, sanctuaries and national reserves. Also after every summer vacation everyone had to share their experiences so trips like these made it easier for us to tell stories.

Amritsar

The only time I have got the opportunity to eat dollops of white butter on all kinds of exotic parathas and douse down lassi has been during this trip.

This was also the time when I was being dressed in embarrassingly funny clothes and my brother used to wear all my clothes from childhood. Oh and that milton bottle; a constant!

Goa

My first Goa trip happened in 2000 or so. It was obviously unlike any of the Goa trips I go on now. But the best part about it was that we chose to cover South of Goa which is really the best part of Goa if you want to be away from crowds and enjoy the beauty of the beaches in their totality.

Tamil Nadu

After a lot of Bollywood films including my favourite, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak were shot in the pine forests and pristine locations of Ooty, Kodaikanal, my parents took us for a trip there right till Kanyakumari. We visited the beautiful Nilgiri Hills, Kodai Lake, Shola Falls, Thiruvalluvalr’s statue in Kanyakumari (I was quite mesmerised by the grandness of the statue to be honest).

Shimla/ Manali

I think this has been the only time I visited Rohtang pass in Manali. Also as a teenager, got to experience snow peaked mountains from such proximity.

There were a lot of other trips I took with the family but for some reason once we transcended to digital cameras, all the pictures from those trips are buried somewhere I have no memory of. More than anything I just wanted to go back to these trips as a reminder to myself that how every little thing has shaped and contributed to my love for travel. Till I get to travel next, I am going to dream of beautiful beaches and snowy mountains in the hope of getting lost in them, soon!

The Goan Holiday

Goa is synonymous with Las Vegas for Indians and it stands true to that identity since Goa is all about letting the fun side of you have an unimaginable time. I have been to Goa several times in the last few years, for both work and vacation in equal ratio. Most of the times, it has always been about visiting the same old stereotypical locations that almost every second tourist flocks to which kind of sickened me and I had started to despise the fact of visiting Goa for vacation fearing the crazy crowd. Until, this time when I had to visit Goa yet another time for work and was extending the trip by a couple of days cause I simply needed a break.

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The view from Marriott Goa

And I couldn’t have asked for a better holiday. I had gone to attend a film market as part of my work and was staying in the heart of Panjim near the casino hub. I have always wanted to visit a casino bar and during all my visits, I have never managed to. I stayed in a hostel called Zostel in Calangute. It is situated in a small unidentifiable corner of Calangute, not too far from the beach and just the perfect place in case you are looking for solitude and privacy. Zostel hosts backpackers from all over the world and is a great place for people to network and bond on the go. I have never stayed in a hostel before cause hygiene and clean surroundings is a big concern for me. But this was quite a surprise considering it has started only 2 months ago, this place is already giving other places a run for their money. But one thing the owners of the place are clear about is that Zostel is not meant for tourists, it is meant for backpackers and solo travellers who are looking at bonding with other people and having an experience. You got to try the place in order to believe me.

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Zostel, Goa

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The people at Zostel had told me that there were a couple of French cafes around Anjuna and they are a must try so the next day, I was at this quaint little cafe Artjuna which is hard to miss if you are speeding on your bike. It is one of those places where you can just chill and relax the entire day while gorging on yummy coffee and French croissant and hummus. Another cafe I went to was Baba AhRhum, the name feels completely Yogic but trust me once you reach there, you will fall in love with the place for what it is: the space, the decor, the food, surrounding and the feel. The cafe is run by a French couple who manage the entire chore of the place. It is a must visit if you are looking for some lone time and good food. Their speciality is croissant, crostinis and bagels.

Entrance of Artjuna

Entrance of Artjuna

Hummus platter at Artjuna

Hummus platter at Artjuna

 

 

 

 

 

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Baba AhRhum

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Baba Ganoush

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Chocolate Croissant at Baba AhRhum

Library in Artjuna

Library in Artjuna

 

After all the hogging, it was time to go to the beach and enjoy the cold waves by the feet. I chose the rarely frequented Morjim beach and Hard Rock Cafe was my go-to-shack. The water wasn’t that clean but it was isolated and I thoroughly enjoyed playing in the water. This was duly followed by ice cold Kings beer.

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Morjim beach

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My next stop was Thalassa in Vagator. I can swear by all the Gods, living and dead that this is perhaps the best place one must visit in Goa if they want to enjoy the most prettiest sunset of their life. You got to book this place in advance to get the best table by the beach view. I spent some 3 hours at this place sipping on some great Chatet Rose wine and lots of yummy food with feta cheese that added to the flavour. While I was lost in the tranquil of the vast ocean in front of me with the sun casting different hues over its surface, lot of people around me were so busy capturing pictures on their phones that they were missing out on the real beauty of the place. If you are looking at a place to unwind, then this got to be it.

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Uninterrupted view at Thalassa

I was keen on visiting Ashvem beach too which is another quiet beach in Goa but couldn’t cause it was time to return home. All the places I went to were located far away from the chaos of the city which I think makes them alluring and special.

In 3 days, I experienced a Goa that I hadn’t before and it indeed is one of the best travel highlights of 2015.

 

All images ©Kainat27