My most intimate travel tales

You can set up a small picnic in the garden of your hotel in Provincetown, Cape Cod(Shutterstock)

She’s called Ms Google. But the actor agrees it’s the unplanned moments that are the most memorable of them all

What is travel? To me it is a series of images in my head strung together by gossamer threads of memories…

The sound of a string quartet at Covent Garden, the fragrance of lavender flowers in Tuscany, the taste of Brie, a baguette and blueberries for breakfast in Cape Cod…

It’s sound, it’s smell, it’s taste, it’s like a 4D movie, which I can start whenever I want. I just shut my eyes and almost teleport to that moment in my life.

The author with her husband, actor Rohit Roy (left) and daughter on a week-long trip to Tuscany (Mansi Joshi)

I wish I could travel all the time like full time travel bloggers and vloggers. I love acting and my job lets me travel a fair amount, but to be paid to travel, aah, now that would be the good life.

We are a family of foodies and every memorable meal is treasured and reminisced about long after it’s been digested

I plan my travels meticulously. I like to research well; I like to plan each day so I can maximise my trip. My friends call me Ms Google and are always calling me for travel advice, while the husband makes poor jokes about how he doesn’t need Google since his wife knows everything.

But despite my itineraries, the most fun has happened during unplanned moments, unanticipated stops and happy surprises.

June 2015,New York, USA

We were supposed to go to the USA for a family wedding in Cleveland. Our anniversary was a couple of days before the event so we decided to celebrate it in New York. I had planned the night. Dinner at Beauty & Essex in the Lower East side. You enter what is ostensibly a pawnshop, which opens up into this ‘cool’ restaurant and lounge.

We arrived in NY that afternoon. Checked into our hotel, unpacked and decided to take a tiny nap before we got ready for our dinner reservation at 7.30pm. We woke up from that little nap at midnight. So obviously the fancy, romantic dinner was out. We looked out of our room and spotted a delicatessen across the street. So we got into our jeans and T-shirts and had the yummiest meal of all time! It cost us a fraction of what the meal at Beauty & Essex would have been; I have no pretty photos of that night, but I can still taste that deli sandwich and salad.

That’s because food memories are some of my best memories! We are a family of foodies and every memorable meal is treasured and reminisced about long after it’s been digested. Or, to put it more delicately, partaken.

Which brings me to another anniversary in another country at another time…

June 2010, Tuscany, Italy

We were on a week-long trip to Tuscany, living in a beautiful old farmhouse that had been converted into a homestay. There were a number of individual cottages where 2/4/6 people could stay. We had a lovely two-bedroom cottage for our daughter and ourselves. Malcolm, our host, was an art historian who guided us to some of the best places to eat in Tuscany. So, thanks to him we ate at small family run restaurants located in little by-lanes, away from the touristy, overcrowded town centres.

Yet the best meal I had on that trip was around a long communal table set up outside Malcolm’s house. You could choose to make your own meal, or ask Malcolm to cook you a meal in advance.

Acting lets me travel a fair amount, but to be paid to travel, aah, now that would be the good life

One evening we got chatting with some of the guests and since everyone was staying in that night, we decided to do a little potluck. Malcolm offered to make us pasta and salad; another couple was getting wine, and someone else dessert. I offered to make an Indian chicken curry!

It was a little difficult finding Indian spices in a tiny village in the middle of Tuscany. Yet I managed, and as the sun set over the rolling hills, we gathered around that long table set up under a grape arbor. Good food, good red Chianti and the bonhomie of strangers made it a night I’ll always remember.

June 2000, Provincetown, Cape Cod, USA

Another anniversary weekend and our friends had decided to take us to Cape Cod since we’d never been there before. She was a planner just like me, but the delicious breakfast we had that morning was totally unplanned, and only because we woke up late!

It was a small boutique hotel and they only served coffee and doughnuts in the morning. So Margi and her husband Mark drove off to a little bakery in town. They rustled up a picnic basket and as we broke the fresh hot baguette with our fingers, digging right into the Brie while eating the sweetest blueberries in the garden of that beautiful hotel in Provincetown, I couldn’t help but think that this had to be the Best Breakfast Ever!

Browse through the flea market in East Village, Manhattan (Shutterstock)

Something I read a long time ago has stayed with me: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Delicious Ambiguity, Gilda Radner, actress and comedian (1946-1989)

(Author bio: A popular face on TV, the author is an actress and wife of actor Rohit Roy. She’s also a blogger and foodie who loves travelling)

From HT Brunch, December 16, 2018