It feels like yesterday when I was waltzing down the quiet beaches of Diu on India’s west coast, and sipping tea at a blacksmith’s workshop in Turkey. 2012 has been the kind of year I dreamed about everyday, before I bade goodbye to my life in the cubicle. I feel as though I’ve come of age as a travel writer this year, having written for publications like Lonely Planet and The Times of India, and having found gratification in press invites from the likes of Spain Tourism Board and Turkish Airlines.
As the New Year lurks around the corner, I often go to sleep wondering what opportunities might come my way in 2013. Maybe I’ll mend my ways and end up saving a fortune for a trip I’ve (secretly) been dreaming about. Or maybe, I’ll be tempted to spend what I’ve saved every now and then, and land myself in adventures I had never imagined, like I did in 2012. Maybe some unexpected press invites or sponsorships will come my way, or that mysterious uncle will finally appear and leave me a handsome inheritance!
In a country where people love their kebap as much as Turkey, finding vegetarian food was a delight in itself. Treating my taste buds was a welcome bonus. While I expected to be eating a lot of mezze and aubergine, I didn’t find any till the tail end of my trip, when I landed in a small village on the outskirts of Capadoccia. I did however, sample delicious Turkish vegetarian dishes in small towns and villages along the Black Sea coast in the north of the country, and I’ve found myself salivating as I reminisce about the indulgences!
I must admit I was a tad disappointed when the NASA video on “Why the world didn’t end yesterday” got out. No, I’m not a doomsday planner; I haven’t been waiting for 2012 all my life. Nor have I have checked everything off my bucket list in anticipation of the d-day. But while I’ve laughed at jokes about the end of the world, a small part of me wishes that the world would indeed, end in two days.
We all wish we could we could grow money on trees, or inherit an inheritance we didn’t know we had, or rub a magic lamp to take care of all expenses for that next dream trip. I can almost hear the excitement in the emails and tweets of people who stumble upon my blog for the first time, because as one of them put it, reading about my travel adventures can make it seem like I’ve discovered the secret of always having enough money to travel! Unfortunately, the truth is far from it, and saving money for travel is a conscious effort I’ve been making for the past many years.
After my recent trip to Spain, many of you have written to me to ask questions like what’s the best time to visit the country, and whether it’s really possible for a vegetarian to survive without eating supermarket food. I’ve written travel tips for a first trip to Europe before, but I thought it would be a good idea to dig specifically into Spain this time. So here goes, ten travel tips to make your life travel planning to Spain simpler:
While boarding my flight from Barcelona to Delhi a few days back, the familiar heartache crawled its way back to find me. My month-long adventures in Spain were ending; I already missed the gorgeous olive countryside, the long lunches, the longer siestas, the best sangrias in the world, and the cobbled streets of sleepy old towns that first made me fall in love with Europe. Admittedly, getting upgraded to business class on Turkish Airlines helped nurse the pain, but it wasn’t until I started chatting up my co-passenger on my second flight from Istanbul to Delhi, that I knew I was on my way to new adventures. Before you start getting ideas, this isn’t about that Bollywood story where girl meets boy and the rest is predictable!
Last week, I asked all you awesome people who read The Shooting Star, to ask me anything! Here comes my first set of answers: 1. DOES TRAVEL WRITING TAKE THE FUN OUT OF TRAVELLING? Hrishikesh Patil: Does being a travel writer take some fun out of travelling? Is it always at the back your mind that you need to do something that makes a great story or gives you a ‘wow’ photograph? You’ve really hit a nerve there! When I first started travel writing, stories seemed to find me, rather than the other way round.
I have spent long nights in buses, watching forests in the distance get engulfed by forest fires spread by the acidity of dry pine planted on agricultural land. I have stayed at a heritage tea estate nestled in the Himalayas, where 2012 was the first time in its hundred and fifty years that the weather became too dry for the tea to be plucked. I have watched the Ganga wailing in Haridwar, reduced from India’s purest source of glacial water to a mere dumping zone for ashes, dead bodies, litter, plastic, wax candles, and whatever else we feed it in the name of religion. I have met a tribal family in North Kerala, who were forced to destroy their therapeutic home made of mud walls, cowdung floors and a thatched bamboo roof, in lieu of “government-given incentives”, and now sleep outside their concrete house every night because the natural temperature control is gone.
Ibiza has always conjured up images of wild parties, loud music, lots of alcohol, and the Vengaboys song for me. In fact, the only people I personally know who’ve been to this little island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the east coast of mainland Spain, are the kind who would drink and dance till they drop. It is probably a good time to confess that I consider myself too old to hit the clubs all night; yes, I’m twenty-four, but as they say, life is short! So when Spain Tourism decided to fly us to Ibiza, I found myself secretly craving an escape on the gorgeous countryside of Spain, for a cosy little wine bar and small-town intimacy with the locals. I couldn’t anticipate then, that Ibiza offers just that in the off season from October to March, when the weather becomes chilly, the parties slow down, and life on the island slips into rejuvenation mode.