A Summer in India

2013 – New Delhi, India

After being approached by my work to travel to India to train new staff at our Gurgaon office, I spent a few days mulling the idea over.  I was feeling very anxious as we would be scheduled to be away for 6 weeks.  It was nerve racking because Shawn and I typically travel together… it’s very rare that we travel solo.

I was excited to go as it would be a great adventure and I was ready to give India another chance.  Shawn and I discussed it at great lengths and then I decided to go.

We left in early July, when the temperatures were already scorching at home, so I couldn’t even imagine how warm and humid it was going to be in India.  My family offered to drive me to the airport so we could relish in those last few moments together.  We enjoyed lunch and then said our goodbyes.  Thankfully, the customs line was moving quickly as I got onto the plane just as the final boarding calls were being made.

We stopped over in Brussels, stretched our legs and got back onto the plane.  It was a long flight but they made it extremely comfortable and the food was very good.  I slept for majority of the flight and watched a few movies.

We arrived to New Delhi during the night.  The airport was very nice, modern and relatively new.  We were greeted by hotel staff from the Crowne Plaza, they took our bags, brought us to our SUV and gave us some water bottles.  It was extremely hot and humid.  The water bottles were definitely a welcomed treat.  Traffic was crazy which was surprising considering we arrived during the night.  We made it to the Crowne Plaza and the security team checked under our SUV and under the hood of the car.  The security team was extremely cautious and very zealous.

Our rooms were spacious and very nice.  Despite my initial fears of travelling alone, the hotel was amazing and the friendly staff made me feel very comfortable.

Our shifts at work were from 5pm until 1-2am, which worked out perfectly since we had a lovely pool at the hotel.  I’d spend the day at the pool and then would make my way over to the office.  It was a very relaxing schedule.  The air smelt of pollution and the temperatures were hot but we acclimated very fast.

Everyone at the office was friendly and kind.  They were passionate about work, it was refreshing to work with such a wonderful group.  They were eager to learn and excited about training.

On the weekends we travelled to different markets, shopping centres, temples and finally, the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was certainly a highlight of the trip, we left around 6AM to begin the drive.  The hotel packed us a few meals for the day and we hired a driver from the hotel to take us there.  I was very grateful for the driver as some spots along the way felt unsafe.  Not only that, the driving

Upon arriving, we rented an electric car and sought out a tour guide to take us through the Taj Mahal.  It was the most beautiful sight of our entire work “vacation”.  Beautifully landscaped gardens surrounded the area and everything was extremely clean.

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I thoroughly enjoyed having the guide with us, he snapped photos for us with our cameras and provided us with a great deal of history.  The Taj Mahal is a definite must see!

Another weekend, we spent some time with our team going to temples.  This was such a humbling experience.

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India was incredible and exceeded my expectations.  I hope I am lucky enough to go back again some day!

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Back to Land – We’re off to Coogee Beach!

Day 52 – Arriving in Sydney, Australia

It’s hard to believe we had spent 48 days on the ship.  It was the most relaxing yet exciting trip we’ve ever done.  I still can’t believe all of the amazing things we were fortunate enough to experience and do.

December 2nd, we’ve arrived in Sydney, Australia.  On the way to our port we cruised past the Sydney Opera House.  We snapped a few photos and enjoyed the last few moments on board.

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The streets of Sydney were packed with cars and people.  It’s another city that reminds me of Toronto.  Grabbing a cab, we cruised to Coogee beach…it didn’t take us too long to get there from Sydney.

We arrived at our next destination, the Crowne Plaza in Coogee Beach. Since we arrived early in the morning, our room wasn’t ready yet.  We dropped our bags off and started to wander over to the beach.  It was a cute quaint city with little shops, restaurants and cafes along the main strip.

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The beach was absolutely stunning.  Our first day at the beach was a bit chilly, hovering around 17 degrees so the beach was not busy at all.

Our best friends from Melbourne flew over to visit us.  We went to Sydney to see the Opera House, we went to a Harry Potter display and a restaurant for foods all with different types of chocolate.

We had just over one week in Australia and it still didn’t feel like enough time.  It was the perfect ending to the most amazing trip we’ve ever embarked on.

…Until next time!

Wangi Falls, The Great Barrier Reef, and Skydiving in Airlie Beach

Day 44 – Thursday, November 24th…Darwin, Australia

There was an announcement about a flu that is spreading around the ship.  I’m surprised it’s taken this long for some type of virus to be on the ship – especially considering we’ve been onboard for around 1.5 months.

The ship took quick action to ensure the virus would not spread.  They removed butter, salt, pepper etc from the tables and brought up sanitizing machines.

Thankfully, we’re almost in Sydney where we’re disembarking to do some vacationing in Coogee beach.

It was another sunny and hot day in paradise.  We rode on a coach bus for about 2 hours to get to the Wangi falls.  The falls were beautiful.  You could wander the area and enjoy all of its beauty.

After leaving the Wangi falls we went to see the Florence falls.  Another stunning sight.  While wandering around the falls we stumbled across a swimming area.  People played music and swam in the water.  I wish we had longer here to be able to go for a swim.  However, it was time to get going to check out the termite mounds at Litchfield National park.

The termite mounds were very interesting to see.  They were huge and covered an entire field.  Due to their vast size, it’s hard to imagine termites creating them.

Day 48 – November 28th…Cairns, Australia

We’ve arrived in gorgeous Cairns!  Stunning turquoise waters surrounded us and it was another sunny warm day.  The weather truly couldn’t be any better.  We took a boat ride for 90 minutes to arrive at our floating dock.  It was surprising to see this pontoon in the middle of nowhere.  It had change rooms, a food area and an underwater observatory.

Again, me being terrified of unknown critters in the water, I was very apprehensive about going in. Shawn quickly jumped in and said the water was very warm.  We opted out of getting wetsuits.  It was beginning to be jellyfish season, however our guide said we’d be okay without the wetsuits.

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After about 10 minutes of dipping my toes in the water, I finally flopped in.  It wasn’t graceful but I was in.  The coral reef was stunning.  An abundance of colours filled the ocean floor.  We weaved carefully through the different areas being cautious not to disturb anything.

After swimming for over an hour, I was finally getting comfortable.  Shortly after I noticed a reef shark swimming below us.  Naturally, I did exactly what you’re never suppose to do – flailed and screamed SHARK!  As I quickly kicked Shawn and left him behind, I noticed a swarm of people trying to get closer to observe the shark.  Was I the only sane person on this trip?  What felt like a 15 foot shark turned out to be about 4 feet…Still, I had experienced the Great Barrier Reef and I had no interest in going back in.

Despite my irrational phobias, seeing the Great Barrier Reef was amazing!

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Day 49 -November 29th …Airlie Beach, Australia

We arrived at the marina around 1:30PM, which was cutting it dangerously close to our 2PM skydiving time.  We decided since our cruise was coming to an end, we’d do something out of our comfort zone.

It was extremely windy so the instructors asked us to wait around to see if the weather would get any better.  We sat around watching old videos of prior jumps until they called us over.  One of the instructors did not want to go up in this weather, however, there were still two instructors left.  They agreed to take us up.  We got suited up in red pants, a harness and our goggles.

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We watched a safety video then completed some practice training on the ground.  We hopped into the tiny two seater plane and sat on the ground in between the instructors.  As we took off the instructors attached themselves to us in preparation for the jump.  During the takeoff, we swayed back and forth in the wind..  The suspense was mounting with each sway.  I started questioning our decision to do this.  We got to our desired altitude and the guide and I shimmied to the door and pulled it open.  Staring down, I saw nothing but clouds.  We closed the door and decided to fly one more loop before jumping.  We completed the loop, the dreaded door opened again and it was time.  I went first and Shawn followed shortly after.  Thankfully, this was our order…if I had to watch Shawn jump first, I don’t think I would have gone!

It was the most incredible feeling, tumbling effortlessly through the clouds.  The fall happened so quickly so it didn’t leave us time to panic.

We’re excited to experience more of Australia!