The JJ family recently took a trip to the fabled Maldives for a two-day vacation. Traveling out of Colombo to Male, we had to take a seaplane from Male to reach our hotel that was about 100 km away on the South Ari Atoll. The experience was, needless to say, very exciting. But it got me thinking of all the ways we have traveled to reach different destinations. They’re not always unique modes of transportation, but each had its own charm and now, a ton of memories attached to it.
So, without further ado, here are some of our travel modes.
Over the years, we have traveled several miles on aeroplanes but our most cherished memory is flying the Qantas A380 from Los Angeles to Sydney in 2013. The flight was supposed to be from Dallas to Sydney but was rescheduled at the last-minute to the Los Angeles-Sydney route. Mr. JJ and Missy JJ were lucky enough to bag flights in Business Class. Sonny JJ and I were relegated to the Economy Class. Despite this, I found the seats to be bigger with greater room for my feet, something one desperately needs on a 15 hour flight. The service was excellent and the attendants did not seem hurried or harried. The journey on Business Class, for the lucky ones, was in the upper deck and very comfortable, to say the least.
Now, of course, Etihad has come out with the Apartment, the Residence and such. I cannot afford to travel in such luxury but it is, undoubtedly, fun to read about them.
As mentioned above, we traveled from Male airport in the Maldives to Rangali Island where Conrad is located by seaplane. The flight was booked through the hotel and staffed by Trans Maldivian Airways. Visitors were led to a luxurious lounge while awaiting transfer to the seaplane. The twin-otter seaplane was small, seating about 15 passengers. The cockpit was, understandably, tiny but exciting to observe with all the instruments, panels and dials all lit up!
The flight itself was only 30 mins but there were plenty of panoramic views to take in, the reefs below displayed in such awe inspiring beauty. The water changes color from a light turquoise blue to the darker shades as the reefs take over. I couldn’t stop clicking away! The excited gasps and the Oohs and Aahs of our co-travelers said it all!
The Eurostar journey from St. Pancras International in London to the Gare Du Nord in Paris via the Channel Tunnel was one of the most anticipated journeys for me. To design a tunnel, drilled under the sea, from two different cities, that could easily take people from one shore to another, takes huge imagination and effort. Not surprisingly, this tunnel is considered a modern engineering marvel. Immigration was accomplished before boarding at both ends. The journey lasted about 2.5 hours in relative comfort but what was disappointing to me was once we got underground, there really wasnt much “to see”. Despite the depth at which we were traveling, the cabins were well pressurised. Kudos to all those that worked on this project and made it a reality!
A second train journey that is remarkable was the 2015 trip we took on the Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train. We booked a roundtrip from Tokyo to Kyoto and it was the best use of our time and the Japanese Rail Pass. Sleek, swift and smooth, these trains are a beauty to behold. Even for a non aficionado like me, it was hard to ignore the aerodynamic lines of these wonders, the gust of wind that shakes you as these trains speed their way out of the station. The interiors were as clean as everything else in Japan. The seats were well constructed and allowed for adequate room to sit back and relax in. And more, importantly, they were always on time. Mr. JJ was like a kid in the candy store on this journey!
The third is the ride on the Vistadome in 2014, the train that runs between Urubamba station in the Sacred Valley, Peru and Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Macchu Picchu. With broad open windows, allowing of plenty of light in, the trains allow for magnificent view of the surrounding countryside en route to Aguas Calientes. On the return journey, the staff put on a fashion show. Missy JJ was invited to model some of their clothing and she had a fun time with her “10 minutes of fame”.
Getting around in most parts of the world is more fun on shared rides with the locals. That’s what we did in the Sacred Valley of Peru. We would formulate a plan for the day with our host and he would walk us over to the bus stop at the end of the street and hail down a bus for us! These “Collectivos” are a very efficient and economical way of traveling. People would stare at us a bit and then share a smile or look away. Travel in buses on most big cities doesnt offer the same charm as in smaller towns and villages. People, we have found, are kinder, more open and eager to help in these places.
The first time I boarded a massive ferry-boat was on a day trip from Vancouver, BC to the island of Victoria. Heading down to Tsawwassen to catch the ferry, it was all one big adventure. The staff handled the loading, the parking and the disembarking very smoothly and efficiently. There were different restaurants to try out on board and the massive size of the ferry did not affect my motion sickness. It took me a while to wrap my head around the enormity of it all.
The other ferry trip we took was last spring from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay on the express Buquebus ferry.The whole trip was only about an hour with immigration prior to departure. The ferries weren’t as large as the ones in Canada but were clean, comfortable and quick. If only booking those tickets had been as easy! It took us a while to figure out how to get our booking done as everything was laid out in Spanish. But we persevered and were able to enjoy the trip.
Renting a golf cart to sightsee in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay is the way to go. One can also rent bikes, scooters and buses are aplenty. But a golf cart gave us the freedom to move as and when we pleased, allowed us to travel longer distances without worrying about fatigue and was plain fun! As we headed off in our cart, we realised it made a lot of noise but that didn’t seem to bother anyone. It took Mr. JJ a few minutes to get used to the handling, but once he got the hang of it, we were on our way! I was in the passenger seat and the children sat in the back facing the road. They had a wild time waving and smiling at strangers on the road driving towards them.
Mr. JJ had remarked on some stray dogs that started barking madly whenever a car or golf cart engine was started. I guess the noise was upsetting to them. Well, we had escaped a couple of such dogs on the first part of our trip. But after exiting a church on our sightseeing list, we piled into the cart and started the engine. Without fail, one of the strays showed up, barking furiously at Mr. JJ. He started driving a little faster and the dog kept up, barking even more loudly. Believe me, we made a mad dash through the streets of Colonia trying to get rid of the dog. He eventually started to lag behind, barking at the kids. Boy, was I worried that their feet would be dog lunch that day! Interestingly, people on the sidewalks saw the humor in the situation and were looking at us and smiling. But my heart was palpitating! Mr. JJ skillfully maneuvered our little noisy cart through the twists and turns until the little fellow gave up and fell away. Ha Ha! It’s one incident we laugh over even to this day!! Golf carts have a whole new meaning for us.
Long, long ago, before we had children, Mr. JJ and I had traveled to Mackinac Island
for a weekend. The island eschews automobiles in favor of horse drawn buggies, bikes, scooters. So we rented a tandem bike and pedaled our way through some parts of the island before walking and taking a carriage ride. To this day, Mr. JJ insists that he did all the pedaling with little help from me…Strange, that’s now how I saw it!
Well, there you have it! Planes, trains, ferries and such. They take us where we need to go, they let us meet and experience new places and people. And they bring us back home.
So how do you travel? Share some of your favorite travel memories, whether by land, air, sea, or anything in between.