2022: year in review, the places I visited & the experienced I earned

2022 was brilliant in terms of teaching me new things. Like I said on my Instagram feed a few weeks back, I am thankful for all what this year gave, taught and took from me. But then, is that all?

How could it be? It’s just rude to sum up 365 days of 2022 in less than 365 words. This is the first post of 2023 and I am not going to be stingy with words. So, if you are ready, I would like to take you on a little tour with me as I think about my 2022

1. The Great Start with a walk through the lanes of Udaipur, Rajasthan: January 2022

We were in Udaipur on 31st Dec. 2021 and spent the day making memories in the Udaipur palace. As it started to get darker, the city lit up with hundreds of bulbs and thousands of happy faces of people. At night, and we went out for a tour – dinner at Natraj Dining Hall (devour their veg thali if you can), went for a walk nearby Pitchola lake & Fateh Sagar lake and then settled in the cute cafes nearby Udaipur Palace. It was just beautiful to look at the younger generation dressed up/ decked up and partying with their friends. I was dressed up in jackets and winter wear from head to toe and looked quite close to a panda. In that moment, I knew that I am going to spend this year travelling in all interesting ways.

The veg thali at Natraj, Udaipur
Through the lanes of Udaipur early this year
The glitz
And yours truly, trying to find protection from cold

2. A beautiful, curated experience of Kaziranga, Manas and Brahmaputra in Assam: February 2022

Assam was special for me with its familiar geography, love for tea and national parks. Not only it was a new state that took my tally up but also gave me a new outlook about national parks- spotting rhinoceroses, early morning elephant safaris, exploring other wildlife of Kaziranga & saving myself from the herds of elephants (tuskers, to be precise). It was adventurous right from the start more so because our guide introduced me to Mayaong and its widely practiced Black Magic.

Magic, I witnessed. When I woke up before sunrise to explore Kaziranga on the back of a super healthy elephant who chased rhinoceroses deep in the forest but got distracted in between by a green tree (Breakfast, you see).

The other unforgettable memory is from the time when I viewed sunset from the Brahmaputra river right at the border, in Manas National Park. The flowing river and the multi-coloured sky were all I needed to be happy.

Pobitra wildlife sanctuary, Assam
Before the safari begins
The superstar of Assam
Early morning safaris in Manas National Park

3. First Europe Travel: Barcelona, Spain

Before you wonder, I wasn’t mesmerised. No, I wasn’t feeling as if I have landed in a dream city either. It was a week-long trip to the beautiful, artistic and carefree city of Barcelona, Spain. And I loved the place not because of Geography’ or the continent it belonged to. I loved it because of the warm strangers, chic fashion sense of people around, amazing (really amazing) food, the ingrained culture of enjoying evenings and life in general, and their language (both Spanish and Catalan).

Oh! And I forgot to mention the artwork/ masterpieces of Antoni Goudi, the brilliant architecture of the city, the famous Basilica of Sagrada Familia that took longer to complete than pyramids of Egypt, FC Barcelona (not a football fan but still can’t skip mentioning it) and much more that’s hard to mention here for the lack of space and a brain filled with so much information that search queries often take time to return results.

Thinking of your next travel destination? Think Spain.

Park Guell
Barcelona! ❤️❤️
La Sagrada Familia!
Sunsets
Yours truly
Food 🥰
Barcelona 🥰

4. Goa, once again (lost the count really)

You know what?! Goa has never disappointed me. Goa has always been welcoming. Be it Winters, Monsoons or Summers (yeah, no kidding). Goa was like Goa even when we travelled there in April this year.

To be honest, we spent the first morning wondering what we were doing there when the mercury was so unforgiving. But then, the three of us (my brother, my sister and me) had booked the trip almost overnight and had no rights to complain. So, we quickly made our peace with it and explored a different side of Goa along with the beaches of course. The Latin quarters, the ferry ride to the bird sanctuary, the churches, the museums, beaches, dinners at the Taj, and so many expensive cab rides later, we congratulated ourselves on an excellent and relaxing trip to the favourite place of Mumbaikars.

Panaji
Young
Younger
The youngest
The real Goa
The postcard Goa
Postcards from Goa
More postcards 🤭
😂

5. A dose of architecture and an overwhelming sense of pride in Aurangabad

Keeping up with our shitty trip-planning streak, the three of us landed in Aurangabad pretty soon. But Aurangabad blew my mind. Bibi ka Maqbara aside, one couldn’t help but be awestruck at Ellora caves especially the Kailasha temple that’s been made entirely from a single rock. Anything that I write in its appreciation would be too little to even begin with.

Now you know why I don’t lose my shit when I travel across continents?! Because the art is nothing new that I haven’t seen in my country (I have probably seen better here). Pls don’t misconstrue this statement as my dislike for travel across countries/ continents.

While India is Incredible, there’s no competition going on here. And each country, on the face of this planet, truly has something unique to offer if only you have the senses to experience.

Back to Kailasa Temple, did you know that it’s been declared a World UNESCO Heritage site?! Do plan a visit to Ajanta and Ellora caves, if you haven’t and experience the India that lives inside the textbooks or within the living rooms of travel enthusiasts, history buffs and knowledge seekers.

Kailasha Temple
Kailasha at Ellora Caves
Ellora caves
Ellora caves
Ajanta caves
Ajanta caves
Ajanta
Ajanta 🙂
Bibi ka Maqbara

6. A relaxing weekend in Ranthambore

This was my fourth or fifth trip to Ranthambore (but first in monsoons). The sighting usually becomes rare during this time but some of the zones turn so pretty that it’s a sight to behold. The lush-green grass, herds of hundreds of deer in one place, many Kingfisher seen easily near the ponds and an occasional monkey-call that can send you looking for a tiger for hours or the rest of your safari.

When it comes to Tiger sightings, Ranthambore is the most preferred destination. Because of the highest density of Tigers, it’s supremely easy to spot a royal beast here every now and then. At the same time, Ranthambore National Park is also probably the only Tiger Reserve in India that also attracts the worst of human beings. I have been to more than 20 Tiger Reserves in India and must have done over 100 safaris till date but I have never seen downright impolite and excessively privileged people in any other safari than Ranthambore’s.

If you are reading this and know someone who qualifies this description, please explain them that Tigers, wildlife, birds or national parks do not belong to a person. So stop acting like you own the place or the safari and start respecting your fellow riders.

We really need to start teaching ‘Respect’ as a subject in schools.

By the way, if you are like the ‘occasional me’ who gets so stressed by office work or life that she needs an urgent escape and a change of scene, plan for a staycation in Taj, Ranthambore. The property is beautiful and the food is delicious. Their in-house spa is managed by trained professionals and can really make you forget the pain of aching muscles, a betrayed heart and an overworked mind.

Taj, Ranthambore
Ranthambore National Park
Early morning safari
Ranthambore Fort

7. The Great Temple Tour with Gupta’s to the South of India

I try to take my parents out for a trip atleast twice a year. In 2021, I could do four trips with parents even though I was out sick for a month because of Covid and suffered from long covid impact for months thereafter. But in 2022, I could manage only one trip. The good part was that we all (parents, me and my siblings) travelled together for a week and spent some quality family time together including a two day stay in Madurai that I cherish a lot till date.

This trip began with Cochin, with stop overs at Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram and Madurai. We enjoyed our time everywhere, fought some in between, clicked good pictures, made memories, ate delicious food and spent a lot of time inside the cab. Hahaha! I need to begin devoting some time to planning for my trips this year.

Kovalam 🙂
Me at Kovalam
Kerala rice and accompaniments
Dhanushkodi
Parents 🥰
Pamban
Pamban, again
Mallipoo, Madurai
Murugan Idli

8. A monsoon affair in Meghalaya amidst the clouds and rains

This is my most favourite trip of the year. Other than taking my tally up by +1, I experienced the Northeast in a way that made me find hidden strength and determination inside me. How? You may wonder. I will tell.

But first, let’s talk about Meghalaya. True to its name, the state is full of clouds, fog, waterfall, rains and cold if you travel at the right time. The two days we spent at Cherrapunji were full of rains and rains (and why won’t those be given that Cherrapunji is one of the top places that receive the maximum rainfall).

I was really scared to do the trek till double decker bridge especially because I knew it would mean climbing 3500+ stairs. We had decided to do it within a day, and I wasn’t in my ‘fitness’ phase. I hadn’t exercised in months and was still playing ‘hide and seek’ with my energy that most of my friends associate me with. That said, I found some hidden power inside me and trekked to double decker and back within the same day, with some help of course (help being a walking stick, comfortable shoes, exercise wear, and no luggage). I am quite proud of myself. The next day, I woke up with beautiful feet (because of the free fish spa you get in the waterfall at double decker bridge) and a relaxed me.

This episode taught me what Zen Philosophy says – we all have immense power and intellect inside us. We can discover it only when we stop associating with labels and believe in our capabilities.

Too much of Gyaan? Forgive me. I am in my ‘Master Oogway’ mode. Haven’t watched Kung-fu Panda yet? Then, please stop reading this and watch the movie first.

Meghalaya is a beautiful state that should be on the itinerary of every traveller.

Falls 🙂
Single decker bridge, Meghalaya
Double decker bridge

9. Another European city: Berlin

This was another week-long travel to another country. And I was looking forward to it. Because who isn’t looking forward to visiting Berlin? Need I say, I was mesmerised?! Oh, didn’t I say that I don’t get mesmerised when I visit outside India? Well, I did. And I am guilty.

I am guilty of falling for Berlin. Falling for Berlin’s graffiti and history, for its indifferent yet strangely intriguing vibe, for its culture and past, for how strong and liberal the city is, and for the fact that Berlin stands undivided today even after what it’s undergone.

I have one complaint though. The city is incredible but the natives, not so much. A Berliner who was born and raised in Berlin is somewhat rude (in fact, quite rude given that I am an Indian and I can stomach rude). And I sensed some ‘divide’ (I don’t want to use the ‘R’ word; let’s stick with ‘divide’) between Berliners (born and raised in Berlin) and non-Europeans. In a week, I found myself in the middle of two incidents that led me to this conclusion. So, beware!

I have been told that Germany is not like this elsewhere. While ‘Berlin’ can be rude, Munich, Frankfurt and Nuremburg can be warmer. So, no sweeping judgements here!

Travel to Berlin, nonetheless. It will take your breath away.

BrandenBurg Gate
Topography of Terror
Berlin loves you. Like really?
Somewhere in the Berlin city

10. A surprise visit to Rishikesh, Uchimath and Chopta to end 2022 in style

November is my favourite month of the year. And this year, November proved to be extra special. But December turned out to be extra shocking. I realised that what can come to you easily can also go away at any moment. Life and everything in it is temporary. Some of you know what I mean. 🙂

To take my mind off and recharge my batteries, we visited Uttarakhand the last few days. The temperature was low (quite cold for my liking), but the Sun shone intermittently. When it did, I made the best use of it and absorbed as much sunlight as it was possible in my system (enough to last me for a year, I think ;)). I know, there’s no such thing as enough sunlight, but this trip was therapeutic and somehow motivating enough for me to believe that 2023 is going to be kick-ass.

Tilwara!
Tilwara, Uttarakhand.
Nearby Chopta

By the way, one of my resolutions for 2022 was to blog every single week. And I am proud to say that I completed it 100%. Thank you for reading, commenting and keeping me in high spirits!

To 2023!

Cheers!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. arv! says:

    Quite some “travel full” year! Good to see you travel in all directions- west, east, and south! Were your Europe trip work-oriented? Wondering if the cities you chose were because you wanted to visit these or an impromptu choice!

    Like

    1. Just Yamini says:

      Yes Arv, Europe travel was work-related but I got enough time to explore the cities on my own. But I do like to travel across the length and breadth of the country. Thanks for reading and encouraging me. You are amazing ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. arv! says:

        I’m glad your work provided you this opportunity, Yamini. Your love for travel is evident from your blog. 🙂
        Have a great 2023 full of travel.

        Like

      2. Just Yamini says:

        Thanks Arv! Wishing you the same. Hope 2023 be prosperous, fulfilling and more meaningful for you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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