21 weeks to go….
It has been a really exciting week full of contrasts. Seven days ago, after finishing packing and printing out the Indian visas which came last minute, I sat in our living room wearing woollen socks, overlooking the contour of the Tschinggelhörner – a distinctive mountain chain in the Swiss Alps – writing our weekly update. As I am typing these words my eyes catch a glimpse of Mumbai’s skyline, a lot of Diwali lights are still blinking, the fan breezes hot air into my face.
It is hard to grasp how many good things we got to experience in seven days!
Last Friday, we started off in our beloved Mini Countryman called Sindbad and drove towards Austria. Along the way, we met up with my family before continuing the journey towards Tyrol. In Innsbruck, we visited the Alpenzoo, which offers its visitors a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding mountains. It is home to over 2000 animals (150 species) which are or have been typical for the Alps.
After a long drive, we all enjoyed the stroll around the zoo. When dusk was falling over Innsbruck, it got really chilly and we headed to our hotel.
The Christmas Market in Innsbruck opened its gates on that exact night, the temperatures dropped compared to the really mild weather we had and a pinch of Christmas Spirit was in the air. We enjoyed a traditional Austrian dinner to end travel day 1.
In the morning, we headed towards Italy where my sister chose a beautiful spa hotel to celebrate her birthday. In case you are looking for a special treat, we can really recommend the “My Arbor” hotel. For sure one of the best places we have stayed at recently. It has an elegant touch whilst not being too posh and it connects you with nature. Just see for yourself.
On Sunday morning – after a relaxing walk overseeing the Dolomites – it was time to say goodbye to my family. All headed off in different directions, we made our way towards Milan airport.
Even though we travelled on a Sunday, traffic was quite heavy around Milan and we ended up with not too much time to spare. We parked Sindbad, packed away our winter gear and ran freezing towards the terminal.
When we finally reached our check in counter we realised we left the precious visa printouts in the car. I had them electronically which they did not except so Renz had to rush back to the car. Now it got really tight. To cut the long story short, we arrived at the gate when they were boarding the flight. Perfetto! We always try to board last. We never got the concept of priority boarding for families with kids, the last thing I want to do is sit an extra 30 minutes before take-off – but that is probably just us.
The night flight to Muscat with Oman Air took a good six hours. It was semi-pleasant. The kids got super excited with the screens in front of them. Besides being tired, they hardly slept. And our girl peed on me twice. Something she hardly ever does. The first time I was pretty relaxed – we had a set of extra clothes with us. Changing on the not so spacious plane toilet proofed to be an athletic challenge but it worked out. Until we both got wet again … the overall mood counting in the lack of sleep was not that great.
We had to think of a you-tube family we follow called The Bucketlistfamily. In one of their latest videos they had a similar encounter. In that very moment, you feel like quitting this whole travel the world thingy, shortly afterwards we all laugh about it.
Fast forward to Oman and country number 4: the airport was fantastic. We took the wise decision beforehand not to head into town on the way to India (we might take a chance on the way back). You have to get a visa for Oman (possible on arrival at least for Swiss citizen) so we stayed at the transfer hotel within the secured area of the airport.
It was a life saver. We all crashed and slept for a solid six hours. We had a fantastic meal which was included in the package and browsed through the airport before tackling the last leg of the journey. Mumbai, here we come! The kids fell asleep before take-off, we had such a relaxing flight. We touched down in India in the middle of the night but it still took us over two hours to clear immigration, claim our bags and head out of the airport where they scan again all your luggage.
Renz and I instantly remembered that it always takes us a couple of days until we adjust to the “Indian way”. It is chaotic, loud, smelly but yet it has a special charm. At first, when queuing at the airport holding my daughter on my arms, I caught myself getting irritated by people pushing their luggage trolleys into my legs or cutting the line. I had to remind myself to just go with the flow.
We have been in Mumbai for three days now, we celebrated the birthday of Renz’ sister and met up with some neighbours, friends and extended family. We have been taking it very easy, allowing some time to rest and play.
So far, the kids seem to enjoy the bustle of Mumbai. They are good teachers when it comes to live in the moment. They embrace the new whole-heartedly. I keep wondering what is going on in their little brains. They do not ask many questions, I thought they would question more, but they mainly observe. They are very curious, enjoying the rickshaw rides and taxis with the open windows. They chase cats and pigeons, wave at all the kids they meet. They are perfect conversation starters wherever we are. More from our Mumbai adventures next week!
Happy travels everyone!
The Raasta Family
Current project: Exploring Mumbai
Overall mood: Hot
Current location: Mumbai, India
Countdown: 148 days
Updated “needs to go”-list