April 11, 2017
"The world is a book and those who don't travel have only read one page" is a well know adage. For most people 'A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you have been taking'. It is time to break out of this extremely interconnected world, where technology keeps you engaged to an extent that it leaves you literally gasping for breath. Social media has successfully brought people who are far closer to you; unfortunately people (family) who are near you are now distant.
Travel is one antidote that helps in bonding with the family, creating memories and most importantly realizing how much there is in this world to see, savor and marvel at god's creation. Nature, culture, cuisines, striking conversations with people;enriching experiences, it is all there waiting for you. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have travelled from my childhood, thanks to my parents; we travelled fairly extensively in India and also Nepal. Over the last 2-1/2 decades and over 30 countries under the belt, travel has become a passion and am a travel addict.
Over the last decade Indian, Chinese and Japanese tourists are the top three nationalities one can see in most countries overseas. The Westerners usually set out travelling after retirement in their old age. While they may have their own reasons to do so, I strongly feel that you should travel when you are young and healthy. After all, who knows what tomorrow holds!
Different travel concepts have emerged over time - lavish resorts and spa/wellness holidays, value for money holidays, frugal holidays, and slow holidays to name some. The first three need no introduction.
Frugal holidays are those where you are on a shoestring budget as you are on a longish holiday typically lasting over 3 weeks. You stay in a clean, safe, functional hotel/homestay/lodge and believe me there are plenty of them all over the world. You travel like a local, eat where the locals eat and soak into the culture head on.
Slow holidays are those where you decide to go to a remote place, back to Mother Nature literally. The slow pace of life, intermittent or no mobile/ internet connectivity make your realize there is so much in this world to enjoy - gurgling brooks, chirping birds, long sunsets. You can whet your appetite with local cuisines traditionally cooked, visit small local bakeries enjoy the whiff of freshly baked 'pau', walk around fields. In some parts of Europe, like Italy there is a concept called "Agriturismo" where you can actually live in a farm with the host farmers.
While you make memories, you often make friends, many of them for life. All you need to do is shed your inhibitions, don't hesitate and begin a conversation. A few months back I was about to board a boat in a small hamlet called Flam in Norway.
In Flam, on way to see the Fjords
I got talking with the only fellow traveler there – a German. He also turned out be a travel buff. Post the boat journey on the fjords, we spent the noon exploring a small town called Voss before heading for Bergen where we bumped into each other again. We are still connected to each other and remain friends.
Clicked in Bergen with Alex, whom I befriended in Flam, Norway
While in Voss, I had a lip smacking vegetarian lunch at an awesome Mexican restaurant which had young, smiling and friendly staff. I walked up to the Bar and asked for the Chef who was a handsome Hungarian lad, the charming Swedish girl who served lunch was service personified. They reminded me of the saying 'Let your smile change the world and NOT the world change your smile'. Different countries different cultures but connected with a smile.
In Voss, Norway where I met this wonderful duo
Over a decade back when we were holidaying in Kerala, we met a wonderful German couple who since then are like a part of our family. They stayed with us when we were living in Dubai and we stayed with them when we visited them in Germany a few years back. What's more, a few months back they came on a cruise to Mangalore and we took them around treated them to some Kori Rotti, Kane Masala fry and off course followed it up with a visit to Pabbas.
When cruising the Fjords in Norway (which is one of the MUST DO's in life), made friends with a girl from Singapore who was travelling with her sister and mother. Late 2016, when we visited Singapore, we met again and she was sweet enough to take us around and spend an evening with us.
There is so much to share and write, I leave you with one sentence, a thought-'I haven't been everywhere but it is on my list'.In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take. So do pack your bags and set out on your voyage of discovery.
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