After months of what seemed like the biggest planning project I had ever taken on in my life, August finally happened, and with it our much anticipated Europe trip. Well our two-countries-in-Europe trip, but neither of us had been that direction before, so we were super excited.
Firstly, if you know nothing about Europe, it takes a LOT of time to get your itinerary and bookings right. Specially if you’re not doing the usual Thomas Cook type tours with the typical cities and touristy places to see. We did do those as well, because as Indians apparently a vacation isn’t really justified till you’ve taken a pic in front of a monument, but managed to throw in a lot of unconventional stuff, which we obviously ended up loving way more!
I don’t intend to bore anyone with the details, but if I think back about the trip now, some points do pop up in my head:
- The best of the airlines can have the worst of service when you’re in a foreign country. One of our suitcases was misplaced en-route to Rome, and we went through all sorts of translation and unhelpful hell to manage to get it back before we moved onto the next city. I think both A and I almost cried with joy at the first view of our boring grey Samsonite. Never underestimate the happiness of seeing your own shampoo!
- Rome is amazingly grand with its history. The Colosseum itself is enough to make you go Whoaaa when you first enter it. That said, it’s so much like India in terms of the people (both the warm and the crook types), the disregard for how difficult it is to get from one place to the next, and somewhere the resistance to a foreign language, it was uncannily comfortable.
- I finally wore a bikini and swam in the clear blue sea, spending a day at the beach doing absolutely nothing at all. And that, I think, is my most cherished memory from this trip. Not the bikini bit, but just the fact that it’s okay to just stare at the sea and do nothing else. Not have places to be at, photos to take.
- I think India is more prone to body shaming than a lot of the western world. Sure, there’s New York and California (and I’m sure a lot of other places which I have never been to) where everyone’s expected to look like a model or feel horrible about themselves… But it was so refreshing to see people of all ages and body shapes roaming around Europe wearing whatever they wanted, and no one cared! It was liberating, and inspiring, to say the least.
- Switzerland is beyond beautiful. But more than that, it’s also full of extremely happy and helpful people. And they seem to have thought of every trouble a human being might face reaching their tourist sites, and have come up with a solution to that. Their trains, buses, as well as their highest peaks are disabled friendly. I can’t even think of getting onto a local train with a leg injury in Mumbai!
- Indians are everywhere. And more often than not, their touristy behaviour is rude and embarrassing.
- We met more than our share of extremely helpful people, especially in Switzerland. People who randomly stopped on the road simply because we were looking lost and gave us directions without being asked. People who spent half an hour helping us plan our day. And I will never ever get used to people stopping their cars in peak traffic hours just to let you cross the road. And in which other country could you forget your jacket in a train, have an attendant call up every station that train must’ve stopped at until it was identified, and have a ticket collector load it onto the next train back towards you?
The trip was amazing. Travel may be the in-thing and privilege of the newly stuck up bourgeoisie, but there is a reason travel is beautiful. It makes you realize how tiny your world really is. And makes you never want to go back.
Oh wait. That kind of means travel sucks.
Because I absolutely hate my life now.
Oh, and I somehow managed to catch chicken pox at the end of the trip, which I only realized two days later in Mumbai.
I’m that case study of the 29 year old who catches European chicken pox. I can almost hear the evil laugh of all the chicken ghosts haunting me.
Yup, now I sound more like me.