BootsnAll Travel Network

Paris in the Spring

February 1st, 2009
From France

April 23-27, 2007 

We had planned our itinerary specifically to ensure that we arrived in Paris in April so we could experience the quintessential “Paris in the spring” and we were not disappointed. The day we arrived, temperatures skyrocketed to a balmy 25 degrees Celsius and stayed that way until we left Paris; to us, after India’s smothering heat, Paris’ “heat wave” felt like a breath of fresh air. Spring had arrived in full force and the lush greenery and blooming gardens of Paris created a sensory overload that made my heart ache. In contrast to India’s dusty brown landscapes, the sky seemed bluer, the air fresher and the streets were definitely cleaner. Read the rest of this entry »

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Europe on a Shoestring

January 24th, 2009
From France

April 22, 2007

After an eight hour overnight flight from Delhi, we arrived Zurich stiff, sore and tired but in relatively good spirits, all things considered.  We had woken early enough to stare in awe at the Alps as we descended into Switzerland – almost, but not quite, as impressive as the Himalayas.  As we hurried through the terminal to catch our connecting flight to Paris, I marveled at its cleanliness and, for the first time in three months, felt woefully underdressed among the chic travelers rushing by us.  I stared incredulously at the price tags on the merchandise in the duty-free shops (really though, who would ever pay 150 Euros for a tie?) and was already starting to miss India where you could eat for an entire day for the price of a coffee in Europe.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Out of India

November 11th, 2008

April 18,2007

So… picking up where we left off, we spent our last night in Delhi before flying on to Paris (talk about culture shock!).  Since our flight was at 2am, we decided to check out of our hotel in the morning and spend the day sightseeing before heading to the airport.  Our driver, Sanjay, took us to see some of  Delhi’s popular tourist spots like the impressive Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque (circa 1656) and the Ghandi Memorial. 

However, after 10 days of sightseeing we were a little sick of forts and temples, so we decided to pass on the Red Fort and the rest of the sights and go to the zoo (kid’s choice). Read the rest of this entry »

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Yet another update…

July 19th, 2008

So it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m sure all nine of my loyal fans have given up and found another blog to follow.   We’ve spent the past year getting settled into our new home in Quebec and I’ve been working hard to get my pharmacist’s license here.  Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a saga (I’ve been relying on the lessons I learned at the Indian Embassy in Katmandu – namely that patience is a virtue) and between taking a mind-numbingly boring online university course and travelling to work in another province, I haven’t had any time to continue blogging.  However, now that my course is finished and I’m in the home stretch (only 11 weeks of internship to go), I finally have the time and energy to pick up where I left off.  Stay tuned for the saga to continue in the coming days…


Pushkar – The Holy City

November 2nd, 2007

April 20-21, 2007

After our early getaway from Jodhpur, we made good time to Pushkar which is well-known for its famous camel fair. Each October, the town is inundated with thousands of buyers and sellers of over 50,000 camels causing this quiet town of 15,000 to explode with excitement and activity. It has also become a bit of a tourist attraction and we had mixed feelings about having missed it. In the end, though, like most other places we had been, we were glad to be able to see the quieter side of Pushkar on our own terms without having to deal with throngs of people – especially tourists (as opposed to seasoned “travelers” like us). After we settled into our charming hotel on the outskirts of town, Claude decided he needed to stretch his legs and decided to climb up to Gayatri’s temple which sat atop a nearby cliff overlooking Pushkar. The kids had no interest in hiking in the intense heat so I stayed behind with them and we did lessons until they were climbing the walls. Finally, we decided to take a break and go explore the marketplace. This was one of the first times I had ventured forth into an Indian market with the kids without Claude by my side and the dynamic was very interesting. Without Claude’s intimidating male presence, everyone seemed to feel at ease approaching us and calling out as we passed. Children scampered along behind us and shyly asked for candy while women and teenage girls and boys called “Hi, Mommy!” and “Hi, Boy!” and “Hi, Girl!” as we passed. They seemed to be enthralled by the sight a single Western woman traveling alone with two children. Their gentle smiling faces lit up when we responded and called “Hello!” and “Namaste” back to them and some actually followed us for a while, asking questions in broken English as we wandered through the colourful marketplace admiring the beautiful fabrics, spices and exotic smelling food for sale. The kids were delighted by the many monkeys that scurried along the rooftops and hung around the market hoping for a handout from a sympathetic food vendor.

As we finally made our way back to our hotel, all of our new friends waved and called out to us from their doorways as we passed, making us feel like visiting dignitaries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jodhpur – The Blue City

October 24th, 2007

April 19-20,2007

The next town on our itinerary was Jodhpur, the Blue City, where all the buildings are painted blue, apparently because the colour blue absorbs very little of the sun’s heat and this keeps the houses cool (you’ve got to wonder why only Jodhpur seems to be in on this secret). On the way to Jodhpur, we had a near miss with a crazy cyclist who attempted to cross traffic in front of us while we were doing about 80 km/h. Sanjay demonstrated his proficiency as a driver by managing to swerve around the wobbling bike while simultaneously avoiding a head-on collision with an oncoming truck. I will never forget the wide-eyed terror in the eyes of the cyclist as he passed within inches of my window. As soon as he regained control, Sanjay slammed on the brakes and looked over at Claude. “May I teach him a lesson, sir?” he asked.

“By all means,” replied Claude and Sanjay rolled up his sleeves and jumped out of the car to confront the cyclist whose life he had just saved. The cyclist, however, seeing the fury in Sanjay’s eyes, wisely gave him a wide berth and quickly pedaled away without an apology. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jaisalmer – The Golden City

October 23rd, 2007

April 16-19

We returned to our hotel in Bikaner dusty and happy after our wonderful visit with Hansu and her family. Despite the lack of air-conditioning, we hadn’t been bothered by the 45+ temperatures and the kids had been remarkably well-behaved. As a reward, we decided to take them to the Russian Circus which was performing in Bikaner that evening. I feared for the safety of the performers when I saw the state of the tent (more holes than canvas) and the frayed ropes used to support the safety nets.

There were only four performers who looked even remotely Russian while the rest looked like recruits from local high schools who half-heartedly went through the motions of performing with bored expressions on their faces. It felt like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. The Russian acrobats, who looked like ex-gymnasts, did their best to carry the show, but the end result was a tragic comedy and we bailed at the first intermission. Cirque du Soleil has nothing to fear from the IndoRussian Circus. Read the rest of this entry »

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To act or not to act, that is the question…

October 18th, 2007

I received the link to this video the other day and it really hit home for me. What do you think?

To act or not to act

Pretty convincing, huh?

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October 10th, 2007

Just in case anyone is wondering what has happened to us, we are still alive and well. Unfortunately, I fell seriously behind on blogging once when we were travelling around Europe and Africa and never managed to catch up. The good news is that I kept a written journal and will be converting it to blog material very soon. Some of the most exciting times on our trip happened in Europe and Africa so there is much more exciting stuff to come. If you want a sneak preview, just go to our web album and check out our photos. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hansu’s Visit

August 18th, 2007

April 15

After leaving Jaipur, we headed to Bikaner where, after a quick side-trip to visit the rat temple (ick!),

we checked into the Hotel Harasar Haveli and enjoyed a lovely sunset meal at their rooftop restaurant while watching the locals fly hundreds of kites from their roofs.

We had finally reached another milestone on our trip and were about to accomplish another of the goals we had set for ourselves at the beginning of our trip – we were going to meet our foster child, twelve year old Hansu, and her family in a tiny desert village 75km from Bikaner. Before our trip, I had contacted Plan Canada (formerly Foster Parents Plan) to set up the visit and we had gotten police checks and signed the necessary paperwork before leaving Canada. In actual fact, when you sponsor a child through Plan Canada, you are essentially contributing to an entire community by supporting programs which help to make the community more self-sustainable. You are assigned a child to help to put a face to the project and give you a personal connection. Regardless, we had watched Hansu grow up in pictures for the past four years while Alexa and Simon had grown up hearing stories about Hansu (especially when they wouldn’t eat their vegetables) and we were all excited to meet her. Read the rest of this entry »

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