There are habits you grow up with, and things you take for granted — ideas you never think to challenge. Living in a tropical country means that you expect mangoes in the summer, coconut water any time you want, and balmy, yet pleasant, weather. And when it’s a tropical country like India? Ah, that’s an experience all its own. Still, you think to yourself — how different can one city really be from another? That’s where the beauty of travel comes in. It makes you rethink your notions of normal and shows you how unique the cities in various countries are.
First International Flight
Our family Euro-trip was the first time any of us had been out of the country. Everything — and I mean everything — was a new experience. From checking in to the airport many hours in advance to longer flights than any of us were truly prepared for, we soaked it all in. For starters, there was alcohol and entertainment to be had during the flight, moving walkways at the airport — oh my God, I don’t need to walk?? — and then finally landing on foreign soil. It was around 6 p.m. when we got to Zurich, and the first part of our tour had us exploring the city.
Before I knew it, we were checking into our quaint little room around dinnertime — which is when I realised it was almost night, and the sun was still out! For people who’ve travelled a lot, or even paid attention during movies, having the sun out so late during the summer is the norm. But for me, I could not — for the life of me — wrap my head around the fact that we were eating dinner when it looked like tea time! Little did I know that this would be the first of many things I didn’t even realise I didn’t know.
First Experience With Snow
While still in Switzerland, we went up to the snow-capped Mount Titlis. It was my first ride in a cable car, and I had multiple minor panic attacks every time it swung from side to side. But once we got up there, the anxiety melted when I saw the snow. I’d never seen it before, and I always imaged it was soft and fluffy. Turns out, it’s like walking around in a massive pile of shaved ice — like the kind used in our roadside golas. Of course, my brother and I made snow angels, threw snowballs at each other, and pretended to lick chunks of snow too. Oh, and I now finally understand why skiers wear such dark sunglasses. Snow is BRIGHT. While it’s something I can now check off my bucket list — freeze myself while pretending to enjoy it — it was quite different from what I imagined.
First Time Eating Fresh Berries
Another experience that stood out to me was eating the local fruit. Of course, it isn’t impossible to eat blueberries and cherries in India, but they’re not indigenous. In Europe, there were bowls of these berries everywhere! There’s nothing quite like experiencing local produce when you travel. It might seem like a simple thing at the time, but imagine being able to say, “Oh, I tried fresh blackberries when I was in Europe.”
And then, when all was said and done, and our trip was nearing its end, we wandered around the airport waiting for our last flight. Strolling through the many stores, we looked for bags of chocolate to take home as gifts — and that’s when we noticed it. India may be a developing country, but that means the prices are developing too. At the end of our trip, we tallied the expenses against the lovely trinkets we’d brought back and wished we’d brought more. But as I walked to the nearest store in my shorts — thank God for tropical weather — and bought myself a large bag of very cheap chips, I was incredibly glad to be home.