1. What are your favourite moments from your recent trip to Greece?
I always perceived Greece to be a typical overrated touristy destination, but it surprised me in so many ways! Visiting the lesser-known, laid back islands of Naxos and Milos was the highlight for me. My best memories were made in these very islands along with Crete, another gem.View this post on Instagram
Santorini and Mykonos were crowded, touristy, but the real Greece for me was friendly locals, amazing vegetarian food and offbeat experiences in the other islands. If I have to list my top 3 experiences in Greece, they will be:
- Boat ride with Polco sailing around Milos: including diving into the sea, swimming in pristine waters, exploring pirate caves.
- A 5-course breakfast prepared in a simple, heartwarming homestay in Chania, Crete, where the owner of Hanim Lounge himself prepared the breakfast with free, organic ingredients.
- Driving across idyllic villages of Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, exploring Filoti, Halki and Apiranthos
2. What made you fall in love with travel?
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As a kid, I loved reading books. These books were my window to the world. Enid Blyton’s Famous fives made me fall in love with the idea of ‘adventure’. I looked forward to my summer vacations. Ticking off dates in the calendar waiting to fly to Delhi. A 6-hour journey would take me to a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Here is where my grandparents stayed. Summer vacations were spent walking on white, rounded pebbles on the banks of the pristine Yamuna. Watching it gurgle away was one of my favourite pastimes. But not as much as plucking raw mangoes and litchis hanging low in orchards. Somewhere in these long nature walks and chasing paper boats in brooks, I fell in love with nature.
Trees became friends and mountains became protectors. As I grew up, frequent road trips with parents made me fall in love with road travel, with rural India, it’s diversity and its people. But most of all I fell in love with my country.
I wrote in a diary. Summaries of travels, random anecdotes and memories. Then in 2006, blogging happened. Those pages of a diary were now public. Amidst highs and lows of life, travel was a constant companion. I rarely travelled solo but found my solo moments even when I travelled with someone else. My relationship with Mountains is therapeutic. I have always asked them questions, they have always given me answers, enveloped me and freed me from urban shackles. Soon I longed to set out and explore. “Find a guy and go” my dad said. I told him if he let me go to Italy I will come back and get serious about marriage.
I ran for 5 years after that.
Travel for me was an escape earlier but now it’s the best source of learning I can ever get. It’s an exchange, between places and me. People and me. Stories and me. It’s made me open my knots, let go of my inhibitions, accept the world with open arms and most of all bettered me as a human being.
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3. If you were given a chance to live in any destination for free, which place would you choose?I wouldn’t want to stay in any one place permanently. But I wouldn’t mind all that money for free travel :) Antarctica, Belize, Iceland, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Tanzania… the list is endless!
4. Can you tell your top 5 travel essentials?My phone (practically has everything- for it’s camera, GPS, notes), a dairy for jotting down memories, mosquito repellent (they love me dearly), a huge hat (people think its for aesthetics, for me its the most practical!), & comfortable footwear (not without my sneakers).
5. Things about travel blogging you wish you'd known when you started in 2006?
I wish I knew about SEO earlier, that website knowledge is so important, that you shouldn’t depend on others for building your own website, that you should simultaneously build your brand on social media channels as well and that blogging requires a LOT of patience and consistency.View this post on Instagram
6. What's the most interesting experience/conversation you've had with a stranger while travelling?So many!! I have had so many such experiences. From being mobbed by a group of Indonesians in Jakarta because I came from the country of Shahrukh Khan to hearing Greeks sing ‘Tum hi Ho’ with such flair in remote Greek islands to spotting Om over the mountains of Kinner Kailash because one person asked me to see the sunrise to heartwarming experiences in Kerala. I have even had my prejudices shattered and become more culturally sensitized thanks to travel.
7. What's the most daring thing you did while travelling?
Walked in the buffer zone of Jim Corbett at dusk and lost my way (foolish not daring), drove through Chambal valley at night (not advised), cruised through a river infested with crocodiles in a rickety wooden boat in Nepal, sneaked out of hotel in Himachal in the middle of the night to have Rajma Chawal at a roadside Dhaaba and jumped off a boat into the sea in Milos.View this post on Instagram
8. What are some travel tips you could give to upcoming full-time travellers?Be genuine. Be passionate. Be patient. Be consistent. Don’t look for shortcuts because there are no shortcuts to success. While on the road trust your gut and remember content is important but not at the cost of your safety. Also, an added tip: always pre-download Google maps so you have the route with you if your internet conks off.
9. Name a place or a monument that left you smitten by its history or architecture.
Hampi! I visited it last October and I was awestruck by its beauty. The blend of nature with the ruins is spectacular and one can hear the monuments narrating stories to those who wish to pause and listen. It certainly makes you time travel.View this post on Instagram
Also the Havelis of Shekhawati: intricate, majestic, spectacular. Loved the massive doors here and the opulent interiors with frescoes all over.
10. Name a destination that was-A. Most Fun: Internationally: Indonesia (had everything: sea, nature, architecture, food, culture), Domestic: Andamans, loved the pristine beauty of the corals and evergreen forests here).
B. Most Challenging: Barsey trek in Sikkim (it was my first ever Himalayan trek and it tested my endurance levels).
C. Most Inspiring: Bhutan, for its sheer man-nature relationship. It is amazing to see country design policies for nature and preserve their natural resources. It is a contented nation and that inspires me the most!