Three Travel Experiences that linger

A while ago I was nominated to continue the chain on this Travel Competition arranged by Low Cost Holidays . In this you are supposed to try and get the longest chain and also write the best stories about your favourite travel experiences, well travelling kinda got in the way of the first (sorry Iain!) but here’s my shot at the second.

Third place – India

A couple of years ago, a guy I had barely known for 6 months was planning a trip in his usual style, lots of talking about ideas and not a lot of actual planning. We were both working in Scotland and trying to work out where to go in our holidays to escape the Scottish rain and cold. About a month before his trip, Iain finally booked his flight and invited me along for the ride. In a rare spontaneous moment for me, I decided to go, though work constraints limited me to a week in India.

India was exactly what I expected it to be, a bright colourful place, a place of contrasting wealth, a peaceful place and yet in Mumbai crazily busy.

Part of our time was spent in Palolem Beach, a gorgeous beach in southern Goa. Our days were spent relaxing on the white sandy beach, swimming and kayaking in sea, reading and often being interrupted by the many locals showing us their wares. Our evenings spent eating in my humble opinion the best curries in the world, butter chicken, with gorgeous naans and accompanied by a nice cold kingfisher!

After this experience it was a shock to arrive in Mumbai at 6 in the morning after a night train, people sleeping in the streets and even at that time, the hustle and bustle of the big city. We saw many bright colourful market stalls, one of which where I was brought some colourful sari material, I still today intend to get this made into a top. We walked along the costal path (accompanied by a young boy who had heard coins in Iain’s pocket, grabbing his hand, saying ‘monkey dance monkey dance’ dragging along his poor monkey). We saw the sunset along with the locals at Chowpatty Beach, many families spending time together, the kids being pushed around on (formerly) motorised toy vehicles, a Ferris wheel operated by grown men’s weight and got some food which ended up in my first experience of Delhi Belly.

All in all, a pretty good week and intro to India. I’ll be back.
Chowpatty Beach at Sunset
Second Place – Whale watching

In Ecuador, many tourists first choice location is the Galapagos Islands, unfortunately our budget didn’t stretch that far on this trip. However reading the guidebooks, the substitute ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’ off the coast of Puerto Lopes was in our range and luckily for me, we were going to be there in the right season for whales. Having missed out on a whale watching tour a couple of years before, it was something I didn’t want to happen again. Having been on a tour before, Iain tried to lower my expectations, it’s not guaranteed to see whales, and when you do it’s often just a poof of water rising in the air and the fin, I suppose I should thank Iain for this, but what I saw totally blew me away.

The boat took a while to get out near to the island, on the way we took a slight diversion where the above describes exactly what we saw, I managed to get a couple of pics but there was more of the boat than the whale. I had pretty much accepted that this was going to be it and we were just heading to the islands for the next part of the tour (blue footed boobies). Instead in the distance I saw a whale breach the water and splash back down, I almost thought I imagined it and it was just a wave but thankfully the captain spotted it as well and we headed over in that direction. We had caught up with a group of 4 whales, we were informed that there were 3 males trying to impress a female. We all raced to the top of the boat to get uninterrupted view, but we sat there for what seemed like ages watching one whale breaching, another swimming flapping it’s fins to splash the water and taking a million or so photos. I’ve never been great at action shots but thankfully after a million photos of splashes where a whale was previously, I finally got this photo of one of the whales. Maybe it was practice made perfect or just luck but it was the icing on the cake, a fantastic experience made better by the knowledge I can have this reminder on my wall when I get home.

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First Place – Trek America

After university I knew I wanted to go travelling before I settled into a real job. Having had virtually no experience of travel before I wanted a relatively safe experience to since this was only to be my second trip outside Europe. Trek America suited me perfectly, I got to travel with a group of people and explore a large chuck of the states. The tour took me round 26 states in 42 days so was packed full of adventure and new experiences on a daily basis, it also happened to include my birthday so I got to celebrate my birthday abroad.

There were so many highlights of the trip, I can’t mention them all here, but they include…..
A bike tour of Chicago
Hiking in Yosemite (the waterfalls were gorgeous)
My birthday spent Jet Skiing on Lake Tahoe and partying
Exploring the cool parts of San Francisco
Hiking in the Grand Canyon
Partying and going to a shooting range in Vegas (the target included a picture of a hostage, unfortunately I shot her)
Staying with the Navajo in Monument Valley (and getting very wet)
More hiking in Zion National Park
Visiting lots of wacky places around the states (Foamhenge, the jolly Green Giant, a museum covered in Corn and the spam museum to name but a few)
Visiting New Orleans (thankfully I didn’t cause as much damage as Hurricane Katrina, though we did drink a cocktail named after it)
Finally visiting the bright lights of New York, taking in a Broadway Show, visiting Times Square and refilling my bag (and another I bought) with my many purchases in the shops.

Altogether a fantastic introduction to travelling without which I doubt I’d where I am today (for those of you who don’t read my blog regularly, I’m currently in Peru in South America). Despite the hard slogs required sitting in a van to travel the vast area that is the states, the experiences in between were more than enough to make this my top travel experience so far.

And finally though there are only a couple of days left to continue on the chain  I nominate Hazell to write about her experiences (hopefully she manages to get around to this much quicker than me)

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