Tag Archives: Goodbye

Tchau Ciudad Marvelosa – Goodbye Rio

We’re closing out our two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, a city that was added to our around the world journey on a whim and as the last stop before we return to NYC. We didn’t know much about Rio other than it had exotic beaches, caiparinhas and great music. What we learnt is that Rio is undervalued.

Apparently we aren’t the only ones enamored by Ciudad Marvelosa (Marvelous City). In July 2012, UNESCO added “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes Between the Mountains and the Sea” on its list of World Heritage Sites. That’s essentially the entire city. We don’t blame UNESCO. It’s hard to pick just one aspect of Rio to call marvelous.

One of the most striking this to us was Rio’s landscape. Standing atop Corcovado, where Christo Redentor looms tall, the city is a dramatic mix of lush hills piercing blue oceans and white sands rubbing metropolitan shores.

Brazil opened up a new culinary frontier for us. We never considered Brazilian food as world-class but we now associate Rio with fresh seafood and sushi, perfectly succulent meats and ripe fruits of every variety. While we knew of Samba and Capoeira, we had to come here to appreciate what a central part music and art play in the lives of the everyday Rio. We witnessed several impromptu Samba parties and Capoeira practices from our apartment on Largos dos Neves in Santa Teresa. The neighborhood, young and old, comes out until the wee hours to hang out, relax and enjoy the warm Brazilian air. This video, taken outside our house last Friday evening at about 10 PM shows a group dancing Jonga, people working on their laptops, kids playing around (ok, those are our kids), as well as pop-up caiparinha and grill stalls.

The atmosphere in Rio is the most relaxed of any large city we have visited thus far. Cariocas (people from Rio) take their meals seriously. Even coffee is enjoyed over a good dose of gossip. Importantly, Cariocas are proud of their heritage and city. It is a rare Carioca that speaks English and they make no apologies for it. Every Carioca is excited to show off their city to the world at the upcoming World Cup and 2016 Olympics. We’re not the first visitors to Rio and between the fame of its UNESCO recognition, the World Cup and the Olympics, the city will see a deluge of tourists over the next few years. Ordinarily, a tourist influx raises concerns that a city will lose its charms. However, with its gorgeous landscape and proud Cariocas we’re pretty sure that Cuidad Marvelosa will hold steadfast to its identity.

Rio – we surprised you by adding you to our around the world journey. Thanks for surprising us back.


Filed under Brazil

Cape Town Carves a Place in Our Hearts

Our departure from Cape Town to Rio  is symbolic because Cape Town is our last real “base”. We consider a base to be anywhere we spent at least a month. Our bases (Chiang Mai, Kerala, Goa, Istanbul, Vouliagmeni, and Cape Town) allowed us to set a slow pace of discovery and time to integrate to local life. We designed our trip to have several bases, a luxury we had given the extended time of our journey. In each of our bases we adopted coffee shops, found babysitters, filled SIM cards, frequented grocers and playgrounds, and got to know our neighborhoods. Our mindset was different than during our quicker stops, which we approached more like vacations. When we only had a week or two in a place we tried harder to see the sights. In our bases, however, we lived regular lives and never felt rushed to work through a list of must do’s.  Rio will be the last stop of our journey. We will be there for only two weeks, so it will be more like a vacation as opposed to a base. From there we will head back home, where, due to our routine lives and limited time-off, we’ll be taking only vacations.

As we packed yesterday, we sifted through a house that fast become our home for shoes under couches and clothes in closet corners. There was a tug at our hearts as we packed. Was it because South Africa is the penultimate country of our around the world journey and we know the end is near? Was it because we are leaving a few relationships that we started without the chance to see them grow? Perhaps because Amma just left for India and we’re going our own way to Brazil? Or is it due to the many things that make Cape Town unique among anywhere else we have been?

At the beginning of our journey we were surprised how quickly our family adjusted to each new place. Our short term rentals became home within a few days and we made neighborhood friends quickly. The routine of packing, flying and settling in to a new country now seems so natural. Cape Town has been the longest stop of our journey and given how quickly we settled down, it’s all the harder to leave. During our last few hours of Cape Town sunshine, we took one final walk around the familiar streets that guided us out for adventure and pointed us back home.


Filed under Africa, South Africa, Travel With Kids

Our Last Day in Cape Town

Today was our last full day in Cape Town. We started saying our goodbyes in various ways. The kids have formed bonds in their school and had to say goodbye to their friends. We had a little cookie party for them but Ava and Kayan left insisting that they would see their friends again. We are finding that the world is a small place, so perhaps they will.

The day was even more meaningful for the kids as they made their own lunches for the first time. We had our final lunch at the place where we had our first Cape Town meal seven weeks ago. The restaurants offers kids cooking projects and Ava and Kayan made pizza. They could have chosen cookies, but this would have been a caused a severe sugar high after their school cookie party. The pizza was not only edible, it was actually really good. Now we’ll have to figure out how to get Ava and Kayan more productive in the kitchen while we sit back and wait for our meals.

We tried to absorb Cape Town as much as we could today. We walked the kids back from school in the sunshine with Table Mountain as our backdrop. In true Cape Town fashion the weather changed and enjoyed our last rainy evening by the fireplace, which Sandeep has become a pro at lighting. Sandeep’s mom has been with us the past few weeks. She’s been almost a constant travel companion on our journey, seeing us in Thailand, Malaysia, India and South Africa. Scrabble has become somewhat of a ritual when we are together, so we played a final game over another bottle of South African wine and sweet chili biltong.

Even though our activities were triggered by this being our final day, in many ways our last day in Cape Town was like any other. We enjoyed the city, we spent time with family and new friends, and we had new experiences. It’s the best way we know how to say goodbye.

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Filed under Africa, Food, South Africa

Leaving Our Beach Dreams in Vouliagmeni

We love our beach vacations. When Kayan was only eight weeks old, we packed him up and took the family to the Dominican Republic for a long weekend. Every time we see open water, we dream about living a beach life. We long to wake up to blue waters, eat fresh seafood and live in flip flops. The reality is that, before this journey, we were never able to do this for more than a week at a time. Our month in Vouliagmeni, Greece has been our chance to live our beach life fantasy. When we leave on Friday there will be many things to miss.

We’ll miss the changing colors of the ocean, where we spent hours picking up shells and tormenting starfish.

We’ll miss the brilliant sunsets off our terrace.

We’ll even miss the perfectly manicured streets lined with orange, fig and olive trees.

Our month in Vouliagmeni has been the slowest part of our journey. We have had minimal external stimulus here, which took some adjusting after the excitement of Istanbul. Vouliagmeni programmed us to a leisurely pace of life that we will not experience for a very long time.


Filed under Greece

Gule Gule Istanbul

Our hearts were heavy when we left Istanbul this morning. We lingered for a few extra minutes on our apartment balcony, filling our eyes with the Bosphorus waters.

The taxi to the airport took us through areas that have become so familiar. As we rounded the Golden Horn, we cranked our heads to get one last look at the mosque-dotted silhouette of the Old City. We spent our last night eating all the things we knew we would miss – kebabs, Turkish delight, mezes. At the airport we even squeezed in a final Turkish breakfast.

I asked the family what they would miss the most about Istanbul. Ava replied, “The park next to The Bosphorus. The water is so pretty you can’t even tell. And the lumps of delight. And the clouds and the sky because it is so bluey.” We enjoyed lumps of delight almost every day and in every flavor available.

Even I may miss the park on The Bosphorus. There’s no where else where I can watch the kids swing in one continent while overlooking another.

As usual, Kayan echoed Ava’s response, but with a few twists, “Turkish delight. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Miss the tram. Play doh. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Flower tulips.” For the past few weeks Kayan thinks long and hard before saying anything, as if each word is precious and he only has one shot at the conversation.

Sandeep was a little more profound in his reply, “I’ll miss all the things I didn’t do enough of, like eating kebabs, spending time at the coffee shops, watching local theatre. I was never was able to find a pop Turkish concert, so I guess I missed that.”

As for me, I will miss the way Istanbul embraced our family. The kids were welcome wherever we went and we always had a helping hand, be it in restaurants, trams or out on the street. We also met many interesting Istanbullus who went out of their way to show us their city and involve us in their social lives. The city as a whole made us feel so at home that leaving almost came as a surprise.

A benefit of extended travel is that it gives us the time to truly love a city and its people. The downside is it leaves us much more vulnerable to heartbreak. Until we come back again, Gule gule (goodbye) Istanbul.


Filed under Turkey