Happy almost Spring! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’m back at it again. I’ve been literally hibernating all winter, and it feels great! Although how odd it is that it’s 68°F today!!! Nothing much has been going on lately, other than my habit of hashing out short-term and long-term goals.
Anyways, I’d like to outline a few of my experiences from Fall and Winter; my trips to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Goa, and Mumbai. I’m fortunate to have family all over the world. For the European trip, Aditya and I traveled with my family, and for the India trip we traveled with my his. They were both fun trips and we got to see such gorgeous sites. Although I’ve been to Amsterdam and India before, this time around was way more fun with my sister in Europe and Aditya throughout all trips.
In October we had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam for a family wedding. We picked out some Indian/Pakistani outfits for the mehndi and reception, and an American dress for the ceremony. The wedding was beautifully decorated with delicious homemade Pakistani food galore. On non-wedding days we were able to venture out into Holland and explore. I subscribe to Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast traveler as well, and a post about “Geithoorn – the Venice of Holland” popped up on my Facebook feed. We got a chance to squeeze in a quick trip to visit Geithoorn and take a canal cruise to see the city and history. There are no cars here; everyone travels through the canals, like in Venice, although this placed smelled a lot better! It was very quiet and quaint, like a sleepy village out of a fairytale story.
My parents spent most nights with family, but we (my sister, cousin, and hubby) got to venture out into Amersfoort downtown and Amsterdam most nights. We explored the many bars and nightlife and had a lot of fun together. Here we also took a canal cruise through the narrow, winding, and plentiful Amsterdam canals.
Copenhagen was a really cool experience, even though we only had a few nights there. Denmark has been noted as one of the happiest countries in the world, and that was truly evident in our time there. Everybody was very friendly and the overall vibe was calm and relaxing. It was rainy throughout our whole Europe trip, but we managed to stay warm and keep moving. We got to see Stroget, which was a long street of shopping, known as one of the longest pedestrian streets for shopping in Europe. We strolled through Nyhaven, which is the waterfront area that has the picturesque colorful houses that we often see as stock photos for Denmark. We took a canal cruise and saw the Opera House and Little Mermaid. After all this we were tired, but still managed to find our way to Tivoli at the end of Stroget. Tivoli was so magical! Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest amusement parks and was an inspiration for Disneyland. Here we went on cool rides and saw beautiful lights and castles. We also got to drink lots of Glögg, a Danish mulled wine, with a generous shot of rum and liqueur. This later became the drink of the night for Christmas at home, so yummy!!!
Experiencing European culture is always interesting, especially exploring the deep, rich history which varies just by crossing borders not too far from the next one.
In January we had the opportunity to go to Goa and Mumbai for Aditya’s cousin’s wedding. This was a bit of a struggle for me, being of Pakistani origin, because getting a visa was a long process and a nuisance. Luckily I did get it, but it’s a shame what is going on over there, and that these ideals are happing over here. I’m lucky that love transcends borders and that the ignorance does not transpire through our families, or at least the ones we choose to keep around!
I’ve been to India before, but only to northern areas. This was my first time in Goa and Mumbai, and I was nervous and excited. Goa was a relaxed beachside state, with lots of fish dishes and historic sites to see. We got to visit Aditya’s families’ temples, and we got to see some other historic sites and churches as well. Goa has a Catholic and Portuguese history, so it was cool to see those influences in the culture and architecture here. We stayed in a really, really cool villa and spent nights relaxing on the beach.
Next up was Mumbai, which I was imagining in my head to be like an Indian Manhattan. It surely was! It was totally comfortable and I hardly had any culture shock experiences because it was so city-like, and most people knew English. I can get by on Hindi, but it’s nice to know I can speak English, too. There were beautiful lights and skyscrapers, shopping, food, and the hustle and bustle of any major cosmopolitan city.
Meeting my in-laws was nice and spending moments with them for the wedding was truly quality time. We got to catch up with our cousins and grandma, meet our new baby niece, and witness a beautiful union at the same time. For this wedding I brought some lovely pink saris. Luckily we had a beautician come and wrap my sari on professionally. She did a great job, and I was wonderfully desified for the wedding. The wedding was the first Marathi wedding I’ve been to, so it was cool to see.
As far as exploring Mumbai, hubby and I stayed in a couple of hotels to capture the action. We explored some cool restaurants, delicious Indo-Chinese food, hip malls, and took a personal driver from the Taj to show us all the key sights in Mumbai. The most magical sight was the India Gateway, and we had such a perfect sight of it from our hotel room in southern Mumbai. The fact the city is oceanside made the whole touring experience even better. We got to see so many highlights, and stop near the water to take a breather, peering out at the Arabian Sea and imagining how ironic it was that Pakistan was just across this flowing waters.
Well, that’s it for now, I’m off to make dinner!