One of my favorite small series on this blog is my travel impressions. For a moment we forget the tips, the advice, and the SEO and hone in on the essence of travel: it’s images, emotions, scents, and memories. For no place could this seem more fitting than chaotic Chennai India.
While I have so much still to say about the Himalayas and the trek to Everest Base Camp, I also want to give a nod to Kathmandu, Nepal. The brown city I flew into, the plane circling above Kathmandu’s thick layer of smog for an extra hour, idling until we could land. My first Asian city. And what a contrast it presents when you compare Kathmandu’s hectic streets to the rocky paths of the mountains. I only spent a couple days in Kathmandu, and as I was part of a tour group, we got shuttled around to the important sights. It’s maybe the first city I’ve visited where I’m glad I had this more canned experience. I’m not sure how I would have navigated its streets otherwise.
This past week I scooped up the last of summer, and witnessed the switch from summer to fall in Old Mission Peninsula Michigan. Seriously. One day it was 95 degrees and sweaty, and when I awoke the next morning to the patter of rain, I had to bundle into my sweater. The leaves outside had bloomed into orange patches.
Words are how I remember. Photos are beautiful reminders, but how did it smell? Taste? Feel? These are the impressions that really send me back. When I take a trip that is particularly meaningful, I like to take a small moment to jot down those memories. Maybe in a month or more, I’ll read back and suddenly feel myself return to the place… In this case, that place is a tiny car-less island in Northern Michigan, on a few stunningly blue August weekdays with my mom.
I had a flying visit to Toronto on my way home from the Women in Travel Summit. After an 8-hour day road tripping from Quebec, I arrived to Toronto sticky, cramped. My dad was there to receive an award at a conference, but I had only 17 hours in the city before I had to hop on a Greyhound bus back to Michigan and cut the family road trip short. Due to, ya know, work. Besides just being exhausted from all the conferencing and driving and just wanting to stay in one place and CHILL, I think I also wanted to stay in Toronto because it’s… cool! As in, sunglasses emoji cool. It reminds me a bit of a Canadian Chicago. I only wish I had more time to explore, so I’m hoping I can make that happen soon…
Sometimes when you travel, you’re not interested in the top ten sights or the best restaurants or Doing Every Possible Thing. Yes, this even happens to travel bloggers 😉 I’ve found myself increasingly craving this kind of travel: travel where I can soak everything up, take a moment to breathe, and not worry about seeing all the sights. I think this is partially because of my health issues lately, that when I travel I want to have the most relaxing experience possible and not further aggravate any of my symptoms. Also, the two trips I’ve taken so far in 2018 (Florida & NYC) were to places I’ve been many times, so I don’t feel that pressure to see the top sights because, well, I already have.
It has now been, wow, over two months since Dan and I spent a weekend in Budapest. Budapest was our last city before we slowed down and spent two leisurely weeks road tripping and hiking Slovenia, and we were facing sight seeing exhaustion. It was the middle of an August heat wave and our Airbnb lacked A/C, but mostly made up for that with its espresso machine. We spent our time wandering the streets, and when we got too sweaty for our clothes we’d pop into the closest gluten free Budapest restaurant. At the time, I jotted down some impressions of Budapest, which made their way to the back of my notebook and the back of my mind. A couple months, a few countries, and seemingly a world away now, I thought I would share what Budapest is for me.
South India is known as the gluten free friendly alternative to North India. I’ve always loved Indian food and often find it’s a safe harbor of gluten free options wherever in the world I’m visiting. So I was very excited to try out real Indian cuisine when I visited South India! Part of my trip was attending my friend Vaish’s week-long wedding extravaganza in Chennai, so I was particularly comforted that I’d have someone local to help guide me through what was (and wasn’t) safe to eat.
I have been very open about living with endometriosis. Since my diagnosis, I have continued to travel the world, and even checked off dreams like the Mount Everest Base Camp trek, attending a friend’s wedding in India, riding the trains through Sri Lanka, and so much more. But through it all I try to be transparent that I travel with endometriosis – a chronic, incurable condition that affects my daily life. And of course, it affects how I travel.