If there is one thing that I find really difficult to resist, it is participating in travel writing contests—in the last 2 years I have participated in 3 of them. Though the possibility of winning is definitely a motivating factor, what really pushes me to participate is the challenge of writing a travel post based on a ‘prompt’ or a ‘structure’, quite unlike my usual travel rambles, er… posts.
So, when @raghavmodi asked me if I wanted to be part of a Blogger Relay Race, I immediately said yes. Organised by Lowcost Holidays on the theme of “Top 3 Travel Memories”, this competition involves members of 5 blogger teams (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Purple) writing blog posts on this theme. All members of a team do not post at the same time; instead one person writes a post on this theme and passes the “baton” to the next blogger on the team, who also writes a post on his/her top 3 travel memories, before passing the baton on to someone else in the team to continue with the Blogger Relay Race.
I am member of #TeamPurple and yesterday, I picked the baton from Ashley of Fun As We Go. As I sat down to race, er… write about my top 3 travel memories, I realised how difficult it was to narrow down my top 3 travel memories since all my travels have been special and memorable in one way or the other. But since this called for just the top 3 memories, I decided to go with the first 3 memories that popped up in my mind.
And they are… 🙂
3rd place & Bronze: My first sighting of the Milan Cathedral
That rainy May morning in 2009, I was one among the many tourists who got off at the Piazza del Duomo metro station in Milan to visit the Duomo Milan or Milan Cathedral. As I climbed the stairs to exit the station, the Cathedral came into view little by little. With each step that I climbed, a little more of the Cathedral was revealed, and this unveiling is something that I can never forget. I was unprepared for the grandness and the distinctiveness of the majestic façade of the Cathedral, in spite of having seen many pictures before. As I climbed that final stair and stepped into the Piazza, it was as if time had stopped and the people moving around me were only swirls and blurs of colours and all that existed at that point was the Cathedral and me. Even now as I type out these lines, that first sighting of the Duomo plays back in slow motion in my mind.
2nd Place & Silver: Drama filled, hop on, hop off trip along the West Coast of India
In November 1997, a friend and I decided to travel down the West Coast of India. We did not have any particular itinerary or structure in mind, no prior reservations (except for the first leg of the journey from Mumbai to Honnavar in Karnataka, our first halt). It was a wonderful trip that saw us making last-minute decisions about places to visit or stay or ignore. In this way we visited Murudeshwar, Udipi, Sringeri, Hornadu, Kigga, Mangalore, Bekal, Thalassery, Male, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore and Palakkad. It was a trip of discovery, of wonder, of simple pleasures, of relaxation, of chilling out, and also of underlying tension and drama. Let me elaborate.
R, my friend and travel companion, was under a lot of pressure to get married at that time. Though this trip was a vacation for me, it was a vacation-cum-meeting a guy her parents had lined up for R. The trip started off peacefully, but with the awareness that once we reached Kochi (where R was supposed to meet the guy), all this would change. And that’s exactly what happened: R met this guy in Kochi, said yes to him a day later in Thiruvananthapuram, and got engaged to him at Coimbatore a couple of days after she said yes. When we returned to Mumbai after the engagement, she broke if off ! Yes, this really was one memorable trip.
1st place & Gold: Temple tour of South India with my parents
In December 2005, I took my parents on a holiday visiting various temples in South India. The itinerary was planned and executed by my Appa (father). We visited Udipi, Sringeri, Managlore, Kollam, Madurai, Thanjavur, Mayiladadurai, Chidambaram, Vaitheeswaram, Tirunelveli, and Thiruvananthapuram, before returning to Mumbai. I had always enjoyed travelling with Appa as a child, but travelling with him as an adult and visiting the various temples was sheer delight. At each temple, after the obligatory prayers, we would leave my Amma (mother) with her prayer-book and wander around the temple precincts with Appa playing the role of the guide for me. He was so good that we would often have other tourists joining us. Those 15 days of temple-hopping with my parents is something that I will always cherish, and more so because this was my last holiday with him. Words can never do justice to the bittersweet memories I have of this very special trip.
Now that I have finished writing this post, I find that it was not that difficult to come up with my top 3 travel memories — after all the 3 mentioned here were the ones that first came to my mind.
And as I complete the end of my leg of the Blogger Relay Race for #TeamPurple, I pass on the baton to @Modern_Gypsy of Peddler of Dreams. Neil Barnes of Backpacks and Bunkbeds, is the captain of #TeamPurple and you can read the
progress posts of my other team members here.
PS: Do share your top travel memories here. I’d love to read about them.