I love to travel…period. But it’s not everyday that we plan a holiday, a month-long at that, abroad, because honestly that is a big decision and a hell lot of budgeting….And yet we did plan for a month-long vacation to the United States.
Our 15th wedding anniversary was a milestone in our married life and a reason good enough to plan a large-scale holiday. Added to that was a promise to our growing up daughter for a trip to Disneyland before she outgrew the fascination towards Disney Princesses…
Located in an obscure little town at the time, we needed to travel to Mumbai to board our International flights from the new just an year-old swanky glitzy T2 international terminal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport. Jodhpur being the nearest airport from our location, we drove and stayed overnight at the Officer’s Mess of Indian Air Force.
Our excitement knew no bounds…the entire evening seemed never-ending and sleep eluded us even at night. Next morning there was no need of any shrill alarm to wake us up…each one of us was eager to climb out of bed and rush to airport to board the Air India flight to Mumbai.
At T2 anybody could have guessed that it was my first flight out of country…and surprisingly I was in no mood to keep a lid over my joy or to mask my happiness under the garb of a nonchalant cool poise. We had kept our fingers crossed for too long a time and it was the moment to let go all of our fears of last-minute hitches.
Only when we were mid-air, did the reality sink in… Our first stopover was Brussels. The wide emerald-green carpet of grass at the shoulders of runway made it look as if we landed in middle of a well laid out huge lawn…I wanted to just lie down on those greens staring up at the clouds floating above…
The two hours at our disposal at the airport were not enough to explore the lounge area. We found just the place to stretch our cramped legs after a long flight…a little coffee shop just opposite a chocolate shop….the aim obviously was to scout for variety of famous Belgian Chocolates post a cup of hot coffee.
We were indeed spoilt for choices. Varieties of Belgian Pralines with marzipan, nuts and liqueurs sat there waiting to be eaten. I had never tasted the salted and chilly chocolates ever before. We bought an assortment of chocolates hoping those would last till the holiday….Ha! there never ever was even the remotest chance of that happening. We also bought a bottle each of Virgin Mojito and Red Wine at airport to celebrate later.
Soon we boarded the next flight to Newark, New York. We landed on a little chilly but crisp morning and sat waiting for our hotel pick-up shuttle….30th September 2014…Our holiday had begun!
I was not an intrepid traveller with luxury of wandering and relaxing at my will to soak in the experience of my visit….We had gone as ‘tourists’ to visit and see every important landmark in least time on a tight budget. And that is what we did….tick off things to see from our ‘List of To-Do in America’.
The first three days we did extensive bus-tours, tiring foot travelling to and fro to subway and bus stops, museums and hunted for inexpensive food carts. Times Square and Empire state building featured every time we took the bus tours.
By end of three days I was tired of the perpetually lit Times Square with huge billboards, the background noise of humans, vehicles and blinking display….I felt I was trapped inside a giant video game…
New York done, we rented a car and drove to Niagara Falls and back to New York. Niagara was undoubtedly beautiful. A boat ride in the river took us close to falls. Then we headed to Washington DC. We ticked off museums, memorials, monuments and Capitol hill. We missed White House tour because it needed 6 month prior permission and clearance.
We had started from one coast and planned to travel to other coast visiting every major destination in the way. With a brief stop in Detroit at my cousin’s, we covered Chicago, Yosemite, Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Francisco spending two days at least everywhere. The grand finale of our long vacation was Los Angeles and Disneyland.
We reached LA in style…driving down the most picturesque road along the Pacific Ocean.
Our vacation though immense fun, did not give us much chance to enjoy things at slower pace….yet there is so much to share…so many stories. It is two years now almost and I have chronicled only a few of my travel tales from America.
What I wouldn’t give to travel again…but hopefully at leisure this time!