How does one even begin to write about dreams that come true? What does one feel when dreams come true? Satisfaction, happiness, bliss, gratitude, disbelief, alive? 2014 brought life to many a dream destination.
Iceland and the Northern Lights: Iceland in the snow, under darkness, was an experience. For more on the same read my posts. Watching the Aurora Borealis unfold its magic over a one week trip to Iceland. The date with the goddess of dawn on January 1, 2014 was the best gift I will ever receive. Uptil the 31st of December 2013 the skies had remained cloudy and the sightings had been extremely poor. The new year changed it all. Stars shone, it was an almost no moon night, the clouds gave way and the green lights danced for well over an hour as our group screamed and shouted and jumped up and down on the snow in disbelief.
Andalucia, Spain: Granada and Sevilla, delightful Andalucian stops. We love places where the people are friendly, the pace is laidback, food is delicious and wine flows freely. Sevilla was music with the traditional flamenco and Granada very old worldly. Cobbled streets. Easy to walk around. Studenty atmosphere . Free tapas bars. The Cathedral at Seville and the Alhambra at Granada were undoubtedly the highlights. The winter meant fewer tourists and more locals. This added to the ambience of both the delightful towns.
Bharatpur, Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan: This was a destination which was more than just birds. A sanctuary, a haven, an island of peace. Whilst my friends went gaga over the amazing species of migratory birds we spotted, I loved meandering and getting lost amongst the green and the brown that dotted the foliage. There was no rush to move. The more you stopped and stared, the more you soaked it all in.
Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka,Madhya Pradesh: Another humbling circuit. I was in front of the Sanchi Stupa. The history book pictures came alive. The stone enveloped me in its embrace and I stood transfixed. Is this what moksha feels like? I don’t think I was ready to give up life (greedy for travel that I am) but yes, the deep rooted contentment was a special feeling. Bhopal, with its lakes, layout, old-wordly charm turned out to be a pleasant town to walk through. The Jehanuma Palace, our home for the duration of our stay, was luxury. Bharat Bhavan was serene and the Manav Sangrahalaya was of world class standard. Bhimbetka was the surprise. We walked through the rock cut shelters and stopped to view the famous Bhimbetka Cave Paintings dating back to the Pre-Historic Age. This comprised15 rock shelters occupied by early men containing cultural sequences from Lower Paleolithic to Mesolithic. An unreal feeling to walk where life would have begun millions of years ago.
Srinagar, Kashmir: This was yet one more trip of my dreams. My mother had expressed a desire to see Kashmir when she was all of 10 years of age. It took her another 77 years before her dream came true. For her it was a few days in heaven; for me it was a lifetime of happiness seeing her so pleased. Memories which will be mine to cherish till as long as I live. We sipped kahwa under the sun, watched the shikaras float by, felt ourselves to be the luckiest as we walked through the Tulip Gardens and giggled like school girls as we snuggled up to each other at night. Thank you Mom for giving me this trip.
Viratkhai and Sursinghdhar, Uttarakhand: Camping in the majestic Himalayas with the only sound being the occasional chirping of birds and your own heart beat. Sit under the stars and be one with nature. Eat the local pahadi dal and roti, try the local toddy and chat with the friendliest of mountain folk. Long treks to spot birds, wake up early to watch sunrise, lie flat on your back to be able to see the tops of the tall trees, the Himalayas had their own majesty. ( This trip was organised with the adventure group www.gio.in)
Perugia, Italy: The town where my love affair with Italy grew beyond leaps and bounds. It was wonderful to go back there with my family after a gap of seven years. Time brings it changes yet all the old haunts were still alive. The streets were cobbled, running up and down the hill as much fun, the panorama still as stunning and the university still the dynamic place it was when I had entered its haloed portals as a student. We found ourselves a tucked away apartment in the Artists’ Street in the citta storica and spent a month working by day and enjoying by evening.
Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu: Tranquebar was renamed Tranquilbar from the minute we reached this quaint fishing village on the Coromandel Coast. The seat of the erstwhile Danish East India Company, this is a charming, laidback one-street town with some beautiful structures in its old quarter. The highlight of the town is the old Collectors Bungalow now refurbished by the Neemrana group into a boutique hotel called Bungalow on the Beach. Aptly named so as it is the only sign of civilisation on the beach flanked by an old temple one side and the Dansborg Fort on the other. Tranquebar’s local name is Tharangambadi which translates into The Land of the Singing Waves. The perfect getaway to read, swing, watch the sunrise, walk in the waves and soak in the ambience. Time really can stop still if you are in Tranquebar.
Goa: The year ended on as high a note as it had begun. I had visited Goa often but never at Christmas. The streets were abuzz with lights, festoons, people, smell of cakes, sound of carols and lit-up churches. Four of us, along with some family, had converged in Goa for a friends’ reunion at the happy occasion of friend’s daughter’s wedding. The bonhomie of Christmas was infectious and it was fun to soak in the sand, sun and sea by day and revel in lobsters, shrimps, jacket potatoes and good wine by the evening. Add to it, the exposition of the relics of St Francis Xavier (a decennial event) and I felt lucky to be in Goa at this point.
This post should have gone up at the end of 2014 but the hangover of getting back from Goa and the shock of entering a freezing North India took its toll. 2015 has begun well for me and I wish the same for all of you who stop by to read my posts. Happy 2015 and memorable travels 🙂