“Any thoughts on what you’re planning to do for your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary? It’s kind of a big deal.”
“How about we take them on a trip somewhere they’ve never been?”
Finding a new place in India where your Indian in-laws haven’t been can be kind of a challenge. Even more so when they’ve spent the better part of their retirement making a point to visit new corners of the country.
There was one area that had been on their list for a while (and ours too, frankly) that we just had to make happen: green and lush Kerala.
Where the boys get blessed by an elephant and the blond curly-haired dude gets volunteered to participate in a traditional warrior exhibition.
When I was little, I remember going out of my way to walk past travel agencies. I used to love looking at the promotional travel posters plastered around their entrances. They always featured the most clichéd image of each country: The Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, and the Pyramids were sure bets.
I also remember the pearly white, whimsical profile of the Taj Mahal. I’d try to imagine the kind of exotic place that would build such a structure and in such a shape.
Little did I know at the time that I’d end up marrying someone from that part of the world, spending time in her home state and even revisiting some of her fondest childhood memories by participating in the local kite festival.
Well, we couldn’t bring our boys to India for the first time and not do the travel-poster tour. Between the food, the turbaned staff, and its famous monuments, the Golden Triangle most likely represents your stereotypical images of India.
Despite my decidedly German last name, this is the extent of the language I know. Fortunately for me, there are many other languages being spoke in Berlin these days and everyone seems to be kept on the same page with English.
My wife: “We need to have the boys miss a week of school right after winter break.”
Me: “Even after the two week vacation? Why?”
Every January 14, my wife’s former home state of Gujarat, India hosts one of the largest kite festivals in the world. She, her brother, and cousins have fond memories participating while growing up. I had heard bits and pieces about what it was like and had to see for myself. Not to mention it would probably be a blast for our boys as well.
Uttarayan (pronounced “oot-tran” to my untrained ear) is part Thanksgiving, part 4th of July, part board-game night and 100% good old-fashioned fun.
On our way to India to see family over the winter break we made a decision to spend a layover in Istanbul, Turkey.
My wife and I have had this as a destination for a while so it was exciting to finally make it happen. For me, Istanbul always represented a mysterious and exotic destination. The city literally straddles Europe and Asia.
If you’re following on Facebook, you know that this has been a winter for us to remember. From November through January, in addition to Paris we’ve made visits to Lisbon, Istanbul, and a month-long jaunt through India.
Over a long weekend in December we were able to score cheap flights to The City of Lights. We had planned it a while back and only reconsidered for about two seconds after hearing about the terrorist attacks a few weeks earlier.
But in the end, logic and reason prevailed since living in fear is no way to go through life.
“Is there anywhere else you’d like to see?” My mom asked over a Facetime session a while back. “We’re thinking of visiting again and thought we could meet you somewhere to extend our trip a bit.”
“Lisbon.”, I said without hesitation.
Since my wife had already been and the kids were in the thick of school, I opted to meet my parents solo in what I later learned is the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe. Yes, it apparently pre-dates Rome by centuries.
If the photos this time around are a little lacking, it’s because I took mostly video clips. Feel free to check out the video summary of our visit at the end of the post.
A few posts back I mentioned we were filmed for a U.S. based television show late last year. Turns out it was for the popular HGTV program called House Hunters International. Our first airtime is Tuesday, May 12 at 10:30pm/9:30pm Central. All of our upcoming show times can also be found here. (Edit: final product below):