When I was asked to write about my favourite travelling experience, my mind started reminiscing the memories of my 2012 summer vacations which till date were my most memorable as it was my lengthiest family vacation we had taken and had visited my three most favourite places which i had only dreamt and heard until then.
Our first stop was London, the land of the Queen, James Bond and where the famous Kohinoor resided. It was an 8-10 hour flight From New Delhi but it all seemed worth it when we finally step foot into the Heathrow airport. At first I didn’t realize the beauty of London until I noticed a big collage of London’s popular and old tourist spots. Restaurants serving some mouth watering dishes and some kitchens with cool cooking gadgets I had never seen till now. The collage also had a queer couple wearing royal clothes and an elderly lady wearing a crown. At first I didn’t know who they were until my mom explained to me that they were Prince William and Princess Kate and the lady with the crown was Queen Elizabeth and she was the queen of England. I still don’t understand why the people of England need a queen?
As we boarded a cab I looked out the window and was stunned by the beauty of London. The houses were all so comforting that they reminded me of home. Not to forget the streets were so spick and span, that for a second I thought the streets were cleaned every two hours. The environment felt clean and welcoming. When we finally reached the Radisson hotel, in which we were staying, it was sunset. Our suite consisted of two bedrooms (one for me and my sister and one for my parents), a living room and a pantry. Both the bedrooms had a TV and a study table too.
Once we were done unpacking, we ate dinner in the hotel’s restaurant with a few more guests. The grilled chicken was quite good though I must say, the fish and chips were undoubtly my favourite. The next few days in London were so much fun. We went on the famous Hop-on Hop off sightseeing bus which showed us most of London. We loved the change of guards at Buckingham Palace and the Big Ben. I particularly fell in love with their red old fashioned phone booths so much so I wanted to bring one back home!
We went to the Sealife Aquarium were I had never seen so many different types of fishes before, though I hated the big hairy marine spiders which were the size of a pillow! We even got our feet cleaned by tiny orange fishes which nibble away on the dirt on your feet since its their food while sitting in front of a big tank (like the size of a flat) in which there were so many sharks. It was so scary when they kept looking at you!
We went on many rides on the double-decker bus that I lost count. We went to Harrods too. Harrods was the biggest shop I had ever seen! There were so many things to look at that I kept on leaving my mom’s hand to take a look around. Thankfully I didn’t get lost! We even stopped by the M&M world store which had 22 different M&M colours! But my most favourite was Hamley’s and the Broadway show-The Wizard of Oz.
Hamleys was like heaven for me as I was 8 years old and whatever I could think of was right there in front of me!! There was even Queen Elizabeth made out of Lego! It took me hours and hours looking at the different things there and I could not decide which one to buy. By the time we were out of Hamley’s, (which was a lot of time) we had bought so many things that it felt it could last a lifetime!
On the last night dad took us to see a Broadway musical the Wizard of Oz which was so funny and well portrayed. I enjoyed the dancing and singing so much that I felt I could join in! Every evening we ended up running around Hyde Park. It was soo beautiful that my sister and me never got bored each day running around. My mom also took us to her favourite shopping spots – Camden and Portobello Market. It was soo much fun buying cute arty stuff with her.It was already the end of our stay at London and the next morning we headed to the London Eurostar Terminus to take a train to Paris. Even though I knew I would miss London terribly I still wanted to go and see other places. As I got into the Train, I turned back to have one last look at the city of dreams and say my last goodbyes.
Our next stop was Paris. This time we took the London Eurostar to arrive at St Pancras International. It was my first ever train journey abroad and I only read about the scenic beauty of this journey in most of my books. It took about 2 hours 45 minutes (quite short though!) during which we kept looking out of the window to see the vast green fields and lush green forests. Eating food on the train (they served hot croissant buns, salad, chips and tea and vanilla ice-cream for desert), reading a book and doodling and just talking to my parents we didn’t know how time flew. When we finally reached Paris my parents were in for a shock!! Why?? Because we arrived into Paris with 7 pieces of heavy luggage and there were no baggage trolleys or porters around in the train station. My dad and mum pulled the luggage all the way to the hotel as my dad kept saying the Hotel is very close to the station. It took us a good 25min walk to the hotel and my mom was surely not in a good mood after all. Now Paris was way different than London.
London was more modern rather; the whole city of Paris was like the French era. All the buildings looked like they were from the classic French era and it was like a city ruled by the kings of the old French era. We walked through a classic French restaurant in which a couple was shooting for a movie. Our hotel was called The Shangri-La Paris. After checking in the hotel, it was noon. We freshened up a bit and relaxed in our room until dinner. The next morning we started our day with a heavy breakfast and I have to say, the hot chocolate there was ooh la la! Mom said hot chocolate was first originated in Paris only, no wonder it was so good! I started to fall in love with Paris. Everything about it from the food, to the architecture to the way people spoke French. I decided I would come back to Paris and study and live a student life here. We went to the famous Eifel tower took some touristy pictures, walked the entire Champs-Elysees and then my mom wanted some shopping therapy. So our next stop was the Galeries Lafayette. I was in complete awe when I entered this mall. It’s architecture was beautiful and perfect. The next day we visited the famous Paris Louvre museum where we saw the famous painting of Mona Lisa. It was as beautiful as I had imagined. My younger sister was amazed at seeing so many nude sculptures in the museum and kept saying ‘disgusting’!! How did their mommy allow them’? I tried explaining to her that it was an expression of the artist which she didn’t seem to understand. We ate a whole lot of flavoured macaroons, baguettes and yummy crepes which made me think why they weren’t available in New Delhi. It was time now for our next stop and my parents began packing our luggage when my dad got an amazing idea. What was that? He decided to send home some pieces of our luggage via courier to India which would save him from severe backache (that’s what he said). Seemed liked his plan worked!! We were now standing at the airport check in counter with only 3 pieces of baggage and waiting to see Zurich now and a little prayer in my heart saying ‘ I will be back to Paris sooon’.
The flight was about 1 hour 30 minutes (not at all long!). I slept through the whole journey. We landed at Zurich airport and took a cab to our hotel St Gothard on the world famous street of Bahnhofstrasse. I have to admit, I felt Zurich was way prettier than London and Paris in its own way and the air was so pure. From the time we arrived in Zurich my dad was a different person. He kept going down memory lane as he had studied in Zurich and kept telling us why Switzerland was his favourite country. Not only the houses (which looked like doll houses!) and streets made it look pretty, but it was the environment around it. There were ice capped mountains far away, dense forests on hill tops, vast meadows filled with various beautiful flowers and lovely orchards with different fruits especially juicy strawberries and apples. We saw many farms to while driving to the city from the borders. After checking in our hotel it was 7 a.m so we went to the hotel’s Coffee shop to have breakfast. What I loved so much about Zürich were the little trams which ran throughout the city. We hopped into one of them which stopped in front of our hotel. We went to the Zurich zoo which was soo amazingly clean and full of animals I hadn’t seen before. I kept thinking why weren’t our zoo’s back home so clean? While we were walking around in the zoo a peacock jumped in front of my sister and she started chasing the poor bird all around. It was a hilarious sight!! We spent nearly the whole day at the zoo and eating loads of sprungli chocolates and yummy fondue.
The next day my mom and I slipped out of the Hotel early to get my sisters birthday gifts. Mom and me went shopping on Bahnhofftrasse Street and bought a whole lot of cute stuff at Claire’s and the famous Swatch store. As I was feeling very hungry mom took me to a pizza place called ‘Sam’s Pizzaland’ which was just around the corner. I kept bugging her why we couldn’t stop at a pizza hut or a dominos. But when had a go at Sam’s pizza I was in food coma. The pizza was deliciousssss and the cheese was melting in my mouth. After that meal, rest of my lunches and dinners were not complete without Sam’s pizza. Zurich was known to be famous for its watches, cheese and its chocolates and now I knew why. The next few days, we went shopping and sightseeing in various places. Some of the places were Lakeside Promenade, Chinese garden, Rietberg Museum and also The Neiderdorf, an old part of Zurich, all of which were equally amazing in their own ways. But now it was time to go back home, so we packed our luggage and drove back to the Zurich airport. As we got onto the flight, I said my last farewells to Zurich and to the other places we visited too. I was so excited on going back home, but was sad too for leaving all those amazing places which now gave me memories which I could never forget. People often say ‘ First Impressions are Lasting impressions’ and now I truely believe that. The return flight was for 8 hours 30 minutes which felt like a year when we reached New Delhi. On the flight, I entertained myself by watching so many movies and kids shows and yapping away with my little sister of all the things we did on our holiday that we didn’t realize how time flew.