This is me openly reminiscing about some of my favorite travel moments with my family.
Calabar to Oron, Akwa Ibom: Almost every year on the 25th of December, a day that we celebrated for obvious reasons (Christmas) and because it marked 2 birthdays in the family, we would leave Calabar for Oron by car or my personal favorite – speedboat. I like being in or around water which is no surprise since I descend (at least partly, on my dad’s side) from riverine people. I enjoyed the bouncy feeling as the boat sped through the water and the exciting departure from everyday life that cruising in a boat to a destination represented. Though it wasn’t always possible, I always wanted us to travel by speedboat.
Oron is close enough to Calabar (2 hr drive, under an hour by boat) that the trip would often last a day, no sleepovers, which is what we (my siblings, cousins, and myself) often wanted.
My grandparent’s house was huge, or it seemed so to us, and we loved to play hide and seek in the many rooms. Sometimes we would sing or dance for my (now late) grandpa and the rest of the adults and bask in their polite smiles and applause. Maybe they were impressed, I don’t know for sure, but I cherished those moments. When my grandpa couldn’t travel as often to meet us in Oron, we stopped going. The details of some of the trips are blurry now, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget how excited they made me feel.
Lagos – Dubai – New York: This was one of my favorite trips with my family. Not only was it mine and my siblings first time in NYC, but we also vacationed with my Dad – a rare occurrence since he moved back to Nigeria full time.
The entire family was together for 11 days in a contemporary-style, two-story apartment in NYC’s East Village. I couldn’t stand the dirty streets or crowds of people, but my siblings and I were thrilled to see places we had only seen or heard about on Disney Channel, and try foods from places whose names were emblazoned on shirts from our childhood (Hey Katz Delicatessen!). We walked through Times Square, snapped cheesy photos at Madame Tussauds, looked out at NYC from the 80-something floor of the Empire State Building, and took an expensive taxi ride to the other side of the city to watch Ringling Bros. in the circus. $8 lemonades were drunk from cups my Dad made us promise to keep because who pays $8 for lemons, water, and sugar? Sipping on our drinks, we watched daring circus acts that made me tap my sibling’s shoulders excitedly and struggle to keep my mouth closed. “How is that possible?!” I thought with each act. As trapeze artists flew to shocking heights in the air, I prayed that they had rehearsed well enough not to fall.
At Coney Island, we bought hot dogs at the famous Nathan’s and ate with family friends at the pier. If there ever were a perfect summer, this was it.
Dubai: Chronologically, Dubai came first on this vacation. It meant we had to sit on a plane for 13 hrs to NYC but the stopover was worth it. It was our second family trip to Dubai, and this time my cousin and grandma were in attendance. It had been a while since we traveled with grandma so I was excited to have her on-board.
Our best moments were spent together, at the rented apartment, laughing, burning pancakes before getting them right (under my grandma’s tutelage), cat-walking to the Nintendo Wii’s instrumentals, staying up well into the night, and feigning jet lag.
At souks and roadside markets, we counted out dirhams to pay for anything that caught our eye – checkered scarves, beaded sarongs, our names in sand-filled bottles. My mom and grandma purchased gold instead – earrings and necklaces they would pass down to us later.
Over 10 days, we moved often, from souk to souk, from city buildings to dessert tents, from bicker to banter, experiencing as much of Dubai’s food, music and scenic views as we had time for.
We still talk about this time fondly, everyone remembers the details a little different, but we always agree on one thing, we’d do it all over again.
Miami to Orlando: By this annual summer trip to Miami, I had already started college so I was happy to see my siblings who I hadn’t seen since January. Seeing them was enough, but my Dad made things better by buying tickets to Universal Studios and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
We piled into a car big enough to fit six of us and drove 3.5hrs to Orlando. Our first stop was Island of Adventures – a park within Universal Studios containing all the terrifying + thrilling rides my parents had been on years before. I remember asking my dad if we were going to go to Disney World as well, to which he responded “we’ll see”, a nice way to let me know that wasn’t happening.For a family of 6, either Disney or Universal tickets can cost over $600. “We’ll see” was nice, he should have said, “No, ma’am”.
Veteran visitors, my parents guided us towards the best rides but stayed safely on the ground. One the one ride my dad decided to join in on – a Harry Potter-themed one- his eyes were closed for most of it.
We rode roller coasters until we were happily exhausted, and ended the day eating overpriced turkey legs.
The next morning, we visited the Kennedy Space Center. My dad concluded at the end of the day that my siblings and I found the tour of KSC boring. On the contrary, we were engrossed.
Nothing is boring about how we fly spaceships past the earth’s atmosphere + KSC is an actual launch point. There was something about being on the grounds where rockets launched into space that felt surreal. The highlight of our trip and the most uncomfortable part was the launch simulation. We sat in chairs that tilted at an uncomfortable angle and shook vigorously to mimic what astronauts have to endure during spaceship take-off. Between that and all we learned earlier in the day, I couldn’t help but appreciate & be terrified of the job astronauts do.
The next morning, we drove back to Miami with hard copies of photos in our bags and intangible memories in our heads.If you had to choose one place to visit with your family, where would it be?
thank you for reading!.
The pictures in this post are from a Spring Break trip w/ my siblings to NYC in 2016.
Shot & edited on iPhone.
Same Footprints, Different Sands