This year was special for me as a travel writer. I quit my job, turned an entrepreneur and started my own online hospitality magazine www.thehotelexplorer.com
This year was also quite satisfying and exciting as I experienced many new hotels and travelled to three new countries- Jordan, United States of America and Singapore. Yes there are many new places I would like to see, many hotels I want to check-in but that's for another day. In this post as a travel blogger I want to list my Five Wow! Travel Moments of the year- moments when I said to myself This Is It! Hope it will be inspiring for someone somewhere just like so many other travel bloggers have inspired me through their stories.
#1 Floating on the Dead Sea
I was lucky to get an invite from the Jordan Tourism Board to attend the Papal Mass! I loved Jordan and highly recommend it as a travel destination. I thought meeting the Pope will be the high point of my Jordan trip. It sure was great to see Pope Francis and how many people get to do that, but floating on the dead sea was my 'wow' moment. I had read about it, seen hundreds of pictures of real travelers and even YouTube videos but when you experience floating for yourself it's something else. No words can describe the feeling and pictures explain what it's really like! You have to experience it yourself. My travel tip: If you are ever at the dead sea, first get done getting clicked. Then for 10 seconds just close your eyes and float on your back. You will be able to recall those 10 seconds even in your next life!
#2 My New York Moment
It was on my Bucket List. Who doesn't want to go to New York for a holiday! After days of filling out online visa application and rounds of visa office, I finally got my 10 year US visa. The bookings and visa process was so tedious that I was mentally exhausted by the time the date of our America departure finally arrived. No I wasn't awe-struck when I first set my foot at the Times Square and saw the sky scrapers and billboards. But it was happy tourists, friendly Americans and the vibe of the city that gradually made me fall in love with NYC. Times Square is the place where first time some one bombed my selfie and cutely admitted that he is been doing this all day! Who wouldn't fall in love with New York and its people.
#3 Bahamas! Scream!
I was going to US for the first time and also it was my first on a cruise. I took the Norwegian Cruise Line Miami-Bahamas-Miami with my husband and family friends. We had a ball on board. But the moment that took my breath away was when we got off the ship and walked to the beach at Bahamas. I had never seen a sea so beautiful, sky so blue and weather this nice. It was just perfect. Now I know why celebs and HNI's who have money to splurge love Bahamas. Agreed its really far from India but given a chance I would love to go back and spend few days sunbathing on the beach there. There was something magical about that place.
#4 Heaven on Earth: Gulmarg
"Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast" Which means if there is ever a heaven on earth, its here, its here, its here!
These are the famous words of Mughal emperor Jahangir which he uttered when he visited Kashmir. It was my third time in Kashmir this year but for the first time I was staying in Gulmarg at a wonderful hotel Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa designed like a Kashmiri Palace. It was November and had just started snowing. The place truly looked like a paradise. The tranquility, the snow flakes whispering in our hotel balcony and Kashmiri hospitality made this a memorable trip. My wow moment was waking up in the morning to watch snow flakes make love to pine trees. If I could wake up to that view every morning and breathe in virgin air. Jahangir has already said the words ' The heaven is here!'. What else can I add to that?
#5 Drinking in a Public Place with an Old Buddy- Priceless!
My fifth wow travel moment probably shouldn't make the cut in a travel blog. But then every traveller is different- some like the adventure, some opt for luxury, some like wildlife while some are culture vultures. I like exploring culture, love talking to locals and doing things the way they do. I visited Singapore which was a touch-and-go business trip. By the time I finished conference the usual tourist attractions- Sentosa Island and Night Safari were shut. Luckily I have a college friend- Manan Gupta who works in Singapore and I decided to meet him for dinner. We went to Clarke Quay and after I rejected most of the pubs, he came up with the idea that we could buy beer bottles and chips from the Seven Eleven store close-by and have a picnic on the river front. I didn't know drinking in public was allowed in Singapore. So we started the party right there and shared beer and life stories till 2 AM in the night. In India you can't do that without attracting the attention of cops. I will remember that night for long and imagine of all the things that was the 'wow' moment of my Singapore trip!