Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter AKA my due date

By the time I finish typing this blog, Easter will have come and gone.  We had a wonderful day (and even weekend) celebrating with family and friends, without the interruption of having a baby today :).  Here are a few family photos we took to document the 40-week (full-term) milestone:





"Baby"



We'll keep you posted! Baby number two's arrival is TBD.

Sincerely,
An anxious Momma who's ready to not be pregnant.
(but who also fears the reality of having a newborn with sleepless nights while parenting a two-year old).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

India Part II

Part 2 of our India adventures!

Here is a brief recap from India Part 1:  We had some crazy logistical issues getting to India, but then once we made it, we loved Goa (the beach!) and the wedding was amazing.  You may remember that there was a cab strike the day we were supposed to leave Goa and a wonderful local man ended up giving us a ride to the airport so we could catch our flight to New Delhi (where we would then travel to Agra to see the Taj Mahal).
This flight leaving Goa was delayed, but we were happy to arrive in New Delhi with barely enough time to take a tuk tuk taxi to the train station so we could catch our train to Agra.  Our train was scheduled to arrive around midnight, but after some delays, we finally reached our hotel around 2:30am.  
example of a Tuk Tuk Taxi
Catching a nap on our late night train to Agra.  Dominic and I got to share a top bunk!


We had heard that the best time to see the Taj Mahal was at sunrise and sunset.  So, despite feeling exhausted and getting to our hotel in the middle of the night, we woke up very early so we could catch the sunrise within the gates of the Taj.  We were a little disappointed to find that it was an overcast morning, but were still smitten with our initial views of this world famous symbol of love (An emperor built in in memory of his wife).


Our plan was to watch the sunrise and then head back to the hotel and nap/get cleaned up and then head back to tour the buildings.  However, we learned our tickets were valid for a 1-time entry only.  Finally we spoke with someone that allowed us to leave so we could check out of our hotel and then return to walk through the Taj Mahal.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day:





Dominic was psyched on his special slippers to enter the Taj Mahal!





You'll remember that Dominic was practically a celebrity in Mumbai.  Well, the photo bombing resumed in Agra.  Mostly it was adults that wanted their photos taken with Dominic, but occasionally a parent simply wanted their child to have their photo taken with him, which was actually kind of sweet.


Michael and I absolutely loved getting to see the Taj Mahal.  It was even more beautiful in person and exceeded our expectations.

However the day quickly turned south when we realized that Michael's return ticket to the USA had never been reinstated and he didn't have a flight booked home and might end up stranded in India resulting in Dominic and I having to fly home by ourselves (and him not being able to return to work on time, etc. etc).  You may need to reread the beginning of my last blog, but basically Michael's ticket was mysteriously canceled on our way TO India and we missed our flight leaving the USA because of it.  However, after HOURS in the airport working with different staff (in a delay that had a negative domino effect for days on the rest of our trip), we were reassured that his original ticket had been reissued and he was all set to go for the remainder of our trip.

Needless to say we were extremely frustrated to learn that his ticket was again mysterious deleted.  We tried to contact US airways, and without any success enlisted the help of a family member in Utah to hound US Airways to get the ticket reinstated (hoping that none of the flights were sold out at this point).

Feeling a little helpless, we decided to go for a walk to watch the sunset over the Taj Mahal.  


The views were amazing!  I'd recommend this hike to anyone planning to visit Agra.

Walking to an overlook of the Taj Mahal - Dominic was very excited.




We stumbled upon this old school slide that went ridiculously fast--Dominic loved it.  I was glad that Michael had taken him :)




We had to catch a train that night down to Udaipur, and by the time we left our hotel, we still hadn't heard of any resolution with Michael's flights.  That made for a much more stressful night.
Waiting in the train station for our train: tired and frustrated with US Airways (of course the train was delayed)


The train station was packed with people waiting for different trains

Stumbled upon this little wrapper while waiting for our train.  I love the honest packaging: Sugar Boiled Confectionery.  Maybe if all candies were labeled as such in the U.S. I would think twice about consuming said candies.--doesn't sound very healthy or appealing.

Michael trying to nap on the top bunk on our way to Jaipur.  Dominic and I shared a top bunk across from him.


Again, we arrived later than our scheduled arrival time (we arrived sometime in the middle of the night) and were so relieved to check into our hotel and crash.

We slept in and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast buffet and were comforted to finally hear back that after many conversations with different individuals and additional run-around, Michael's airline ticket problem had been resolved (Thanks Deb for all your hard work!)  We were so relieved that he would be able to return with Dominic and I.

Dominic enjoying the view from our hotel room while he drinks his morning beverage of choice (mango juice)

We headed into the old city of Jaipur, nicknamed the "pink city".  The tuk tuk ride was crazy as cars, taxis, buses, bicycles and other tuk tuks jammed the roads.  Car lanes don't really mean anything in India.  There are usually much more vehicles spread across a road then there are lanes.  And all the drivers just honk and merge and cut each other off in hopes of advancing through the chaos.




Dominic was so exhausted from the back to back traveling the last few days that he managed to sleep through the chaotic and noisy ride.

Here is a small sample of what it's like to ride in a tuk tuk in a busy overpopulated city in India:

Notice incessant honking.  I thought Michael's hand was going to get smashed holding his phone out trying to take the video--

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151909390720194


Jaipur is nicknamed the "pink city" because a lot of it was painted pink in the 1870's when the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria were coming to visit.  Since pink denotes the color of hospitality, the leader of the city had it all painted pink to welcome the guests.  




Where the royal family lives in Jaipur

Walking around the "pink city" near the royal palace


Walking the streets of Jaipur - the pink city


The Pink City after a rain storm

The city of Jaipur was big, crowded and dirtier than I expected.  The street venders were the most aggressive and obnoxious we had encountered (although they were pretty intense around the Taj Mahal as well) and Dominic and I were both a little overwhelmed.  We didn't mind leaving the town that night on our next train. 

Settling in for our long overnight train ride to Udaipur.

We arrived in Udaipur around 6:30 am and were grateful to experience the still-sleeping streets.  We sat and enjoyed this view from our hotel while eating breakfast.


The hotel manager was very friendly and very sweet towards Dominic.  They were instant friends.

While in Udaipur, Michael visited some local tailors and had a couple of custom suits made.  
Dominic enjoyed relaxing at the tailor's shop while Michael was being fitted for a suit.

We set out on foot to explore Udaipur, which I instantly liked better than Jaipur.  Udaipur is said to be the Venice of Asia because of it's beautiful ambiance and romantic setting on a beautiful lake.  Here are a few of my favorite photos of the streets of Udaipur:





"Nobody's home"


Cows were everywhere.  Like stray dogs in Central America, they wander the streets freely.

It happened to be a holiday one of the (two) days we there so it was fun to walk around and see all the decor lining the streets and to see the locals celebrating.  We were welcomed into this circle of women singing in the street.

The city palace of Udaipur


The city palace of Udaipur

We took a boat ride around the lake and enjoyed all the beautiful architecture of the city.

Dominic's language really started to develop throughout the course of the trip.  He learned to say "boat" when we went dolphin watching in Goa and really fell in love with boats.


Enjoying the sunset on our boat ride around the lake


I'm not sure what possessed him to stick his hand into the crocodiles mouth... haha.


But then he showed that crocodile who was boss and wrestled it.
...quite the little thrill seeker

The next day was our last day in Udaipur (and last full day in India).  We had seen a couple of camels from a distance in Agra (the morning we went to watch the sunrise at the Taj Mahal) so we had hoped to see more camels.



I don't think Michael or I realized just how tall camels are!  It was a little scary getting on and off the camel.  The camel had to kneel down on it's knees in order for us to climb on.  And then it was a crazy violent rocking, shifting motion for him to stand up.
I felt like I was going to fall off the entire ride.  
Here is a short clip of our camel ride:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151909407880194

Dominic wasn't so sure about this yawn...




These kids followed us for a long time while we were looking for somewhere to eat lunch.  Finally we stopped and they swarmed Dominic.  I think he liked his new friends


Listening to a musician on the bridge

We were supposed to fly from Udaipur back to Mumbai where we would begin the journey home.  However, we learned there had been a misunderstanding when our tickets were booked and we ended up having to buy all new tickets from Udaipur to Mumbai.  Yikes.  We were tired of all the travel logistics going awry, I was ready to go home.

Fortunately, once we boarded the plane in Udaipur, everything went pretty smoothly.  We flew from Udaipur to Mumbai.  Then to Germany.  Then to Philadelphia.  And finally to Utah.  

We arrived after sunset so I was disappointed to not see the welcoming of the majestic Rocky Mountains, but we were glad to be home.  

We had an eventful and emotional trip.  Goa was beautiful and the wedding was phenomenal - truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we were so grateful to be a part of it.  Congratulations our dear friends, Prashant and Priyanka.  We also loved seeing the Taj Mahal and are excited to get a photo blown up for our Seven World Wonders Hall of Fame (in addition to our Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza and Colosseum photos).  The food was also amazing and will be greatly missed.

We were grateful to have the opportunity to visit India, but were grateful to return home healthy, safe, sound and as a family!  Now we are just laying low preparing for the newest addition to join our family (around April 20 aka Easter).  

Hope you enjoyed seeing India through our eyes!

We will be celebrating Michael's birthday this Friday so be sure to send him a birthday message of love!