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!

Vino Weekend

Recently, my girlfriends and I got the chance to take off during the long Diwali weekend and we wanted to go for a quick short trip. After some considerable research of places to go near Mumbai, we finally zeroed on Sula Vineyards in Nashik. I was really excited for this since I had only heard about the vineyards and seen pretty pictures of it online or on friends’ social media feeds. This place is famous for the Sula fest that takes place during the harvest season in February every year. We had booked a hotel near the vineyards. We left on Saturday morning in a rented cab and checked in to our hotel at 3 pm. We quickly got ready and rushed to Sula since we wanted to finish the vineyard trip and head to another nearby winery, Soma to see the sunset as a lot of people had written about pretty sunset views from Soma.

When we reached Sula, it suddenly felt like some fair. It was crowded and like how. There was hardly any place to walk in that huge property. We were really disappointed and decided to directly head to Soma and do the wine tour the next morning before heading back. Soma, on the other hand was empty and pleasant to explore. We directly headed to the terrace restaurant since we were there mainly for two things- wine and sunset, both of which were quite a delight.

 

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Sunset from Soma Vineyard

 

The wine at Soma was quite nice. They had the Chenin Blanc Dessert which was a mixture of peach, dried apricots with lushness of melon and pineapple. It had the perfect balance of sour and sweet with an after taste of apple-honey which made it absolutely palatable. They have another variant in this: the Dessert Sauvignon Blanc which is high in its acidic content with more of pineapple flavour. We spent the entire evening at Soma, drinking wine, walking around the vineyard before calling it a night.

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Next morning, we made sure we reached Sula at 10.30 am (that’s when it opens) so that we get to do the wine tour before the crowd pours in. For spice lovers, there’s a very famous restaurant near Sula, called Sadhana Restaurant where you get charcoal made misal (lentil stew) which is loaded with spice, so much so that my friends had to pour bowls of curd in it to douse the spice. Our wine tour started at 11.30 am, before which we were touring Sula vineyards, which is a huge property. It has an open amphitheatre where the festival takes place, surrounded by lush green gardens.

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From understanding the entire process of grape harvest to what kind of grapes go in making each kind of wine to holding a wine glass properly followed by a finale of wine tasting, the tour was quite enjoyable, so to speak. There were a few myth busters as well like how wine should not be stored for years. It starts to oxidise which eventually makes it completely sour and inedible to drink. Also the fact that Champagne is Champagne. No other brand can use that name. Just like you cannot call France as India, you cannot call sparkling wine Champagne in India. Champagne is the name of a village in France and that’s how the sparkling wine that’s made there is called that.

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Cylindrical tanks in which wine is made

In all we tasted six different kinds of wine: white, red, rosé sparkling wine (my favourite) and three other types of red wine which were late harvest and hence dry in taste.

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Obviously a vino trip is incomplete without wine bottles, so I ended up buying tonnes of bottles to stock them for all the upcoming year end celebrations. Before coming here, I was not sure how the place is going to be cause Nashik is still an orthodox developing town but the vineyards felt like a different world altogether. A must visit place. In fact I plan to visit there again specially during the harvest season between December to March so that I can also do some grape stomping. Will be a lot of fun, I am sure 🙂 Till then happy vining guys!

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