World Hold On! Let Me Soak in Your Beauty Just a Little More…
I probably got this undying fire to explore places from my father who was a cricket player and would travel across the world for his matches. My brother and I could only get a piece of those countries through the clothes, toys and tales he unravelled for us when he came back home. I quietly used to make my own wish list which seemed so far fetched or in fact unachievable. And thanks to starting my career in Bombay I could either save or survive in this city. Several years later of earning and collecting enough in my piggy bank, and yes some credit goes to companies who sent me for work too, was I able to slowly and gradually see what I always only dreamt! Here are some of the most wondrous, most amazing sights I witnessed and still in awe of them. They were truly love at first sight!
The First Sight of New York!
Blame it on television or fancy magazines but for some reason two cities always stuck with me that I really really craved to see with my own eyes. First one was the ultimate dream New York (we’ll talk of the second one later below)! That skyline!! The one that you see in the opening scene of Kal Ho Na Ho where Shahrukh is heading towards Manhattan city on a speed boat with his back on the camera! How vividly I remember it and how badly and madly I wanted to see it myself.
Statue of Liberty! How Kate Winslet gazes at it from her rescue boat the morning after Titanic’s doom. World Trade Centre!
Remembered for the wrong reasons now but I wanted to see the city from this intimidatingly tall tower. That 360 degree view of New York from the 100th floor is mind boggling. The famous NYC landmarks are all there for you spot and beam ear to ear in sheer excitement!
And yes Times Square! That exact same spot where Spiderman battles Electro! Such a movie buff am I. Am I not!
That feeling of the first sight of New York from the window of the bus I took from Hartford is so indescribable! Brought tears to my eyes. Not exaggerating.
May I play Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind again for my second favourite city in the world (first one is Goa!)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it from New York, New York, New York!
On Top of the Eiffel Tower!
Paris is known as the most romantic city in the world. Well I couldn’t wait for romance to happen first and then go so I got two of my friends together, booked the cheapest flight available (cheapest and most unreliable – that’s a story for another day) and went for it. For everyone who has been there would vouch for the sheer beauty of this immaculate city seeped in a perfect amalgamation of modernity and history. After hours of waiting in the queue for the tickets to get to the top, when you’re finally there, the powerful gush of wind battles hard with you before you behold the sight of Paris glittering and shimmering from high up. Couldn’t believe I was finally atop one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels! Over the top for some. Over the moon for me!
Love For The Louvre!
Now this one is personal to me because I wanted to relive decoding Da Vinci Code with Robert Langdon and Sophie. The novel happened to be my first ever that I read several years ago. Never being a book worm, this one gifted by my cousin made me almost into one. What a gripping, thrilling, dramatic, exciting, edge of the seat…(falling short of adjectives!) ride it was… inside the Louvre! I yanked out of the Da Vinci Code world from the book to finally reality. It was right here! The magnificent and mysteriously beautiful The Louvre! I went through it’s galleries like an over-joyed child in Disneyland and though I was always inclined towards European art, the reason I wanted to see Mona Lisa was more to do my love for Da Vinci Code than her seriously not so mysterious smile. The novel apart, The Louvre is a spectacular structure and heaven for an art lover.
Ballooning Over Cappadocia!
Always dreamt of floating swiftly and slowly in the sky and feel what it’s actually like to feel the air on my face and the clouds on my palms, up so high. Being in that hot air balloon was nothing short of surreal. Even the sight of those giant balloons ballooning up by pumping in gas and flaring up the flames before the sun rose was bewitching.
And not one but a plenty balloons steadily and gradually rising up with life from the land and taking off into the air like pretty lanterns. Now imagine soaring in one of them and the sky awash with colours not from the hues of the rising sun but countless bright and vibrant balloons all around you, everywhere as far as you can see.
When I finally managed to tear my eyes off from this unbelievably astonishing view, I peeped gingerly down holding tight on to the balloon basket and witnessed yet another wonder, the fairy chimneys strewn all over this unique one of kind place called Cappadocia, also a world heritage site. This is exactly what candy-floss dreams are made of!
Snow, Cotton Castle or Something Else: Pamukkale!
Turkey figures in the list again. But this one is really fascinating. Seems unreal. One of a kind in the world. If you’ve seen Ranbir and Katrina starrer song Tu Jaane Na, you’d know what I’m talking about. Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish and well that’s what it looks like or vast expanses of snow, something like frozen ice from a distance but it actually is as google says – terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. And those terraces were really slippery but one can choose any one of those with the best view, splash in those natural pools of hot spring and smear your face with the clay, the one that you pay a bomb at exotic beauty centres to get that glow in your skin. Nature has it all for free here. Such a stunning beauty of a place. Hands down to the marvels and miracles of mother earth.
The Real Wind Mills!
In our children’s books and fairytales, I always used to see these lovely and beautiful windmills in charming countrysides. I hadn’t seen any of those anywhere in India. I knew where they were hiding. Holland! So on our first morning of Amsterdam, I tricked my friends into doing something fun and we hopped on to just any bus that came our way, destination unknown and got dropped off out of the city limits. What I saw as we strolled past some of the most gorgeous houses I have ever seen, the lush green farms, a stream flowing, sweetness in the air…, straight out of a fairytale! A replica of what I’d been reading in those imaginary worlds all along my childhood.
And my windmills were right there too. Much much bigger than what i’d thought. So perfectly pretty. So amazing. Does any of the Disney princesses also live here? I’m sure they did 🙂
Riding Across the Golden Gate!
Again if someone happens to read this blog of mine would think what a horribly movie stricken girl she is. But what to do those insanely cool foreign locales does foster some ambitious travel goals. Whether it was Sushmita Sen gyrating on ‘chunari chunari’ or Ileana posing pretty at the same spot that gave the best view of it, Golden Gate Bridge seemed quite a spectacle with its enormous red steel beams suspended on sea and amid mountains…oh what a tremendously awesome vision it was.
To make the most of it we decided to rent a bicycle and ride all across the majestic Golden Gate! Took much longer than it should thanks to our embarrassingly low stamina levels and also since we didn’t leave spot to get a picture with the Golden Gate from every angle, nook and corner.
Panting and gasping did we reach with our legs almost gone but we ended up at Sausalito, an enchanting little town, again the ones we saw pictures of in story books. To say it was lovely, would be such an under statement.
The Underwater World: Andaman Islands
Andaman islands is a pure paradise. Only after I truly was up close and personal with the sheer divinity oceans untouched by all the human abuse and beaming and teeming with underwater life that I realised how awe struck we are with Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Bali and the likes when our own country has this magic of pristine clean beaches and water to offer…, so clean that you could actually see deep deep down into the ocean if you look down from your boat in the middle of the sea. Scooba dive made me forget where I belong for this was another world so splendid that made me feel so small in nature’s enormity. School of vibrant fish, coral and all kinds of water babies playing around me. Alas I pity my race for what we’ve done to them and doing. Such was the impact on me that I didn’t touch sea food for the remaining of the trip when that is what I relish and love.
Fireflies in the Ocean!
Don’t know what they were but as we went farther away from the shore into the deep for our night fishing tour, these dazzling fireflies like glow balls would race alongside our boat under the water surface. It was almost hypnotic and at times scary to look down at these sparkling tiny creatures in dozens in the pitch dark and eerie silence of the night time ocean. Wish I could take a picture of that but I am sure it will remain etched in my memory for a lifetime.
Just FYI, I googled about these light emitting water creatures and here’s what I found from National Geographic.
Sikkim itself was alluring but as we rode up, up and away slowly in our rickety jeep (with my crew for a travel show), soon enough we looked around to realise, we were in heaven… floating in clouds! Like seriously heaven. Or what we imagine would be like to be in heaven.
Imagine if the route was heavenly what the destination would be like at an altitude of 12,313 feet. Changu lake also known as Tsomgo lake is in east Sikkim and it is a snow laden place where you can expect snow fall even in June! Yes we did! Freezing to the bones but all I wanted to do was gaze into this enigma before me.
Really been wishing for a camera that would capture exactly what the eyes would see with absolutely #nofilter! Magical and how! Nature has it’s own ways to tell you, you’re but just a speck in the universe.
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