Monday, December 5, 2016

Setting the ramp on fire in Paris!

During my college days, fashion shows used to take place during 'OASIS' cultural festival at 2am. We used to stand till the wee hours and get tired just to get a glance of the show. So, ‘Attending a fashion show’ was never in my wish list. But, I got a chance to reserve a seat for a fashion show that is free of cost with limited seats of 30. I reached the venue in Paris, 30 minutes before the show began. I glanced at a brochure and came to know that the show is conducted to promote the most luxurious brands in the world as shown below:

Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone, Diane Von Furstenberg, Burberry, COS, Zadig & Voltaire, Red Valentino, Armani, See By Chloe, Claudie Pierlot, Etienne Deroeux, Nina Ricci, IRO, Louis Vuitton, Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo, Delpozo, Manoush, Tara Jarmon, Mary Katrantzou, Isabel Marant Etoile

    A momentary thought popped up in my mind “how about sitting at the end of the ramp where models stay for a while and turn”. Immediately, I rushed towards the entrance only to be stopped by a well-polished gentleman clad in a designer suit. He said “Wait! You have to reserve a seat to attend this show”. I replied “I already reserved one”. To command more respect from him I said “I am a software engineer from India”. Immediately he pointed his index finger towards the exit and uttered with a sharp voice “Go and sit there. I will call you when the show begins.” His gestures made me feel really bad. While coming back, I could only hold my head down but the not the ideas in my brain.

    To look funky, I wrapped a posh scarf around my neck. I went up to him again and said “I have an appointment with your Manager”. He raised his eyebrows out of surprise and said “Excuse me!” Out of nowhere, a middle-aged French lady appeared in front of us and interrupted our conversation. The gentleman pointed his index finger at me and asked that lady, “He says that he has an appointment with you. Is it correct?” I never expected my ploy to backfire in a span of few seconds. I was dumbstruck and gazed at her, waiting for her response. She replied “No. I don’t have any appointments now”. Before the gentleman kicked me out, I raised my hand and my voice saying “Wait! I can explain”. French people seem to be good listeners. She asked me to come forward and introduce myself.

    I introduced myself as, “I am an ‘international travel writer’ from India. I am travelling throughout Europe and writing an article to describe each country based on a unique aspect. I choose your fashion show to write an article and describe about France.” I showed my blog in my mobile. My blog has some good posts on various experiences across each country in Europe and this made my task easier. She replied “I am sorry. You must reserve a seat beforehand for this show.” I said “I have already reserved a seat for this show. But, I want to sit at the end of the ramp where models stop by and turn so that I can have a good experience and bring out a better article.” She said “I am sorry! Those are VIP seats and reserved only for VIPs.” However, I insisted, in an authoritative tone, that I get the VIP seat to produce a better article. She asked me to wait for a couple of minutes so that she can check with the Director of the show. She came back and said “You are lucky! For today’s show, we don’t have any VIPs. So, you are our VIP.” She escorted me to the VIP seat and asked me to stay comfortable. My feeling at that moment was beyond comfortable. With an air of proudness and excitement around me, I had no words to describe that feeling. I was unable to digest that I could get a VIP seat with a convincing conversation in less than 5 minutes. I thought “No! This is not enough! I want something more!” But, beyond this privilege, I can only think of a walk on the ramp show with international models. As soon as the thought came up in my mind, I stood up and rushed my feet towards that Manager who escorted me.

    I gathered all my courage to ask, “I want to walk on the ramp with those models.” It really took me nearly four times to utter these words as I am unable to digest myself walking on the ramp with those international models. Her first reaction was “Whatttttt?” as if she got a 1000W electric shock. She asked me “Are you a model?” My response was “No”. She asked again, “Have you done this before?” Again, my response was the same, “No”. She shook her head in disapproval and requested me to go and take my seat. Her reaction only made my intent stronger.

    My eyes turned towards that hollow chamber where the Director sits and waited for her to come outside. After five minutes, the Director came out and I ran towards her and introduced myself as an ‘International travel writer’. I came across this fancy profession (International travel writer) just a week ago, but I never expected that it would elevate my image gigantically. She approved my credentials upon showing my blog to her. She said “Yes. I heard about you. Please go and take the VIP seat and enjoy the show. You are our only VIP today.” I replied “Thank you. But, I want to walk on the ramp with those models.” Her response was also similar “Whatttt! Are you a model?” This time, I handled the conversation smoothly and confidently. I said “No. I am not a model. But, if I walk on the ramp with those models, I will get the real feel and can bring out a really good article.” She explained that models are already trained for this 30 minute show and she cannot disturb the sequence by introducing me. I requested her to think again so that it would help me get a really good article, to describe about France through this fashion show. As the nation’s pride is at stake, she took a deep thought and asked me to wait for a couple of minutes. She came back saying, “Good news! I spoke to the models and they agreed to walk with you on the ramp towards the end of the show.” My excitement knew no bounds after hearing this. While coming back to my VIP seat, my slow motion Rajinikanth walk gathered the attention of many eyeballs of the audience.

    When I started thinking of my walk with the models, my imagination went blank because I don’t know how to walk on a ramp as I have never done it before. Again, I rushed to the Director and expressed my concern. She obliged and assured me to be comfortable and arranged a mock ramp walk with a model. She suggested that my posture is stiff and asked me to stay relaxed. After a second mock walk, she approved my posture. I went back to my seat with some confidence. Audience kept watching my anxiousness during my round trips to the hollow chamber. I rushed to the Director again and asked her “Do you think that I can do this?” She said “You look cool and confident. That’s what a model needs. We believe that you can do it.” My energy levels went manifold. I felt that I was blessed with the strength of 1000 elephants. While I adorned the VIP seat, models started to walk on the ramp and exhibited the apparel of the famous designer brands. When models stop by and exhibit apparel, it appeared as if they are walking the ramp to impress me. I did not realize that the audience is noticing this.

    And the big moment has come! The Director signaled me to join the models. A model came forward and held my hand aptly so that I can express myself during the walk. As soon as I started walking, the audience gave a loud applause and it lasted throughout my walk. I thought that the loud applause from the audience was to the fashion show organizers, for allowing a normal person like me to walk with the international models. I was grateful for the audience for their kind gesture. Once again, I recollected the names of those most luxurious international brands, which I am promoting in this show. Tears almost rolled behind my eyeballs and my cheeks bulged with pride and happiness. Those 30 seconds are the most memorable moments of all my Europe trips.

    After completing the ramp walk, I moved towards the VIP seat to collect my knapsack. To my consternation, I was thwarted by the audience. Everyone started applauding me, “We liked your designs”, “We like the color combinations that you used”, “We liked your contemporary taste”, “All your designs are amazing”. It took me a while to understand that the audience had mistaken my identity for that of a fashion designer, because of my chequered blazer and scarf. Now, I understood that the audience applauded my walk thinking that I am a fashion designer.

     Looking at my uneasiness and confused state, one among the audience asked me, “Are you a fashion designer?” As I was not prepared for such an unexpected question, I unintentionally responded “Yes… Kind of...” Everyone started murmuring “Kind of..” Now, I got into the skin of the fashion designer and responded loudly “Excuse me! I have to catch a flight now as I have to organize another fashion show in Germany. Whoever has taken my pictures or videos, please take my mail id and send it across to Thank you everyone.” In no time, I collected my knapsack and left that room. The gentleman, who stopped me before the event, opened the door for me with his mouth wide open. I held all my excitement and bewildered laughs till I came out of that venue and vented out everything at once like a crazy soul. The audience might have gone back to their home and would have told their friends that they met a busy fashion designer. After a week, I even received the video of my ramp walk.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Night camp in a Jordan desert

Have you ever been to night camping? Think again! How about in a desert? Sounds exciting and adventurous, right! Even I was quite excited with this idea during my Jordan trip. Being a solo traveler, the only option that I am left with is to book a package tour but that idea didn’t quite excite me. Therefore, I looked for friends in Jordan to plan an impromptu night camping.

    I was fortunate to meet a couple of adventurous guys who came from Dubai. All three of us met for the first time in our lives and we don’t know each other. But, they also liked the idea of night camping in a desert. In no time, we contacted a few camps in Wadirum and finalized one to arrange a private tour for only three of us. We reached Wadirum with starving tummies around 9 pm. A land cruiser arranged by the private tour took us into the desert. Even though the driver assured that it was a desert, all we could see is a couple of cruising car lights immersed in darkness. Another couple of lights followed our car and we started looking at each other with growing suspicion. Our driver cleared the air explaining that the other couple of lights following our car belong to a French lady who is supposed to arrange campfire and dinner for us.

    On reaching the destination, we were thoroughly disappointed as the surroundings were loomed by darkness. Our driver lit a few candles and set up campfire inside a half broken cave. The French lady told us that she would prepare a delicious chicken biryani. Our reaction was “NO! Do you know how a chicken biryani tastes?” She smiled and asked us to trust her. Meanwhile, we rested on the mattresses in the cave and gazed at the clear sky full of stars. We identified the constellations and started to count the stars. It was fun and the last time I remember such an experience was during my childhood. We are becoming so busy in our lives that we are unable to enjoy such experiences. It was very cold in the desert at night and the campfire between our mattresses was a wonderful idea. The warmth from rubbing our hands and exposing our body to the fire was really comforting. We picked the drinks of our choice and started to introduce ourselves. We spoke, argued and debated on a wide variety of topics in a short time. After an hour, the French lady served us the most delicious chicken biryani I ever ate outside India. We thanked her and asked her what a French lady is doing in Jordan deserts in her mid-forties. She said that she is exploring life by travelling to various places and taking up different jobs in each country. She has been working as a volunteer in Jordan to organize private desert tours for tourists.

    After dinner, we resumed our conversation for another hour or so. It felt like a dream. Night camping in a desert, camp fire in a cave, dinner with candle lights, a few melodies, drinks of our choice, frank opinions on the most idiotic topics on earth, non-sense arguments with new friends, clear skies and millions of stars falling on us. Since then, whenever I hear about night camping, this experience comes quickly passing a tickling sensation to my memory.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Barcelona! You stole my heart... and my wallet too!

As the saying goes “Barcelona is a bachelor’s heaven”, I am very much excited on this 5-day trip with many suggestions from friends who already visited this place. On the first day of my trip, I walked through the beautiful neighborhoods of Barcelona and also visited Barceloneta beach. A serene walk through the beautiful palm trees beside the sea is worth an experience.

        An old man in his fifties came up to me with a visiting card and inquired for an address. I had a good laugh in my heart as this is my first day in Barcelona and someone chose me to guide him. Even though my hands are full with a back sack and a bag, I showed him the way with google maps in my mobile. I expected him to show gratitude in his eyes but he showed all his 32 teeth with a big smile. He asked me whether I am interested in salsa dance at that pub for which he inquired the address. In this process, he lifted his legs and rubbed some dirt on my trousers. Witnessing his spurious behavior, I denied his request and moved towards Barceloneta beach. I walked alone in the beach and enjoyed the sound of waves in the middle of bustling city. After an hour, I was shell-shocked to sense my empty pockets. After checking my back sack thoroughly, I confirmed that I lost my beautiful ‘Hi-Design’ wallet. My wallet contains my EU residence permit, health insurance, driving license, debit and credit cards from Germany and India, and some cash. While I bent to clean my trousers, that old man stole my wallet. Huh! He chose me to cheat and not to guide him. My first reaction was that I looked at the sky and closed my eyes tightly with a big laugh.

        For the first time in my life, I was stranded in the streets of an unknown city in a foreign land with no money in hand. Only one question ran through my mind repeatedly. “What are my strengths that can get me out of this situation?” At once, I briskly walked for four kilometers to reach ‘St Christopher Inn’ hostel. I looked for a German in the hostel who can speak to customer care officials to block my cards. The hostel management reacted quickly and identified two beautiful German girls who were playing ‘Blind Date’ in the hostel. I greeted them in German language and explained my situation to them in English. After knowing my situation, they walked out of that game and extended their help unconditionally. Those German girls spoke to ‘Deutsche Bank’ customer care officials and ensured that my cards are blocked and also requested to issue new cards. Simultaneously, I got an internet connection and blocked my debit and credit cards from Indian banks. Later, I asked the German girls to lend me some money and I immediately returned the money through my 'Deutsche Bank' online account. In just an hour, I got the situation under control because of the helping nature of those German girls. I also realized that my strengths are to keep my head cool under pressure and focus on tasks at hand. This experience pushed me to react confidently to unexpected critical situations.

        The next day, I gave a police complaint and filed an FIR to get a new EU residence permit. I was surprised by the long queue of people who came to file FIR as they lost their belongings. When I explained the whole incident to my friends after this trip, they started saying “Oh! This is the first tip that we should have given. Beware of wallet snatchers in Barcelona!”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Death-defying experience in Trolltunga Hike

When I saw this Trolltunga picture sometime back, I thought that this is definitely not my cup of tea because of its dangerous position to pose for a picture. While planning my Norway trip, I read a few articles about Trolltunga hike that explained how amateurs attempted this hike and struggled. Having completed a 40 kilometer hike in India (Kudremukh), I convinced myself out of pride that, this hike is for experts like me and included it in my itinerary.

        In Odda town, I met three more guys in Trolltunga hotel and made friends. One of them got a car that helped us reach the base of Trolltunga hike the next day. The hiking sticks at the base camp lured me to change my plan from ‘Classic’ to ‘22 kilometer Winter’ hike. Little did I know that I’m prepared only to pose for the pictures but not for the hike! Ten of us started with a steep one kilometer hike through dense vegetation and moved to a mushy terrain scattered with ice and melted water. With a couple of breaks, we moved towards mountains completely covered with thick ice. Under this thick ice, one can hear the noise of melted water flowing. Out of fear, I took steps slowly and was left behind by the group. Despite being cautious, one wrong step broke the ice under my foot and I slipped into the water under the ice. Fortunately, I got hold of a rock nearby and saved myself despite losing my goggles.

        Our guide approached me and suggested that I turn back as it is going to get more dangerous ahead and the group has to wait for me at every break. It kicked my ego like hell. I thought “Whom are you speaking to? I completed a 40 kilometer hike and this is a mere 22 km hike”. I gathered all my energy and started leading the group literally by running in the ice. When I ran towards an area where ice was clean, I was quickly warned by my guide. He shouted that I’m running on a frozen pond and stand a chance of drowning in the ice. Later, I took as many as 20 wrong steps and fell in the ice every time and got up. My guide noticed my struggle, appreciated my efforts and suggested me to follow him. Actually, he threatened me to follow him but I interpreted it as a suggestion to make myself comfortable.

        Suddenly it started raining cats and dogs and the temperature dropped further. I would say that ‘real feel’ is ‘freezing cold’. My idiotic casual shoes added more misery and I literally experienced walking on the ice with bare foot. On my way, I met a few hikers who were unable to tolerate the cold weather and cried that they may die there. I gave some energy bars and motivated them to return. The scariest part of the hike was to walk through a narrow path in the middle of a slanted ice mountain. We held our breath with the help of hiking sticks during this phase.

        You might think that we forget all the pain after seeing the most beautiful views from Trolltunga. No, not at all! After removing the jacket and gloves, I gathered all my courage to stand on Trolltunga and posed for pictures. When I came back to wear jacket, I am unable to even hold it as my hands were frozen. Other hikers rushed towards me and helped me wear gloves and jacket. Looking at my shoes and superman T-shirt, our guide shouted in surprise “How did you manage to come so far with these shoes? You must be a Superman!” At that moment, I wanted to give him a slap and all the bad words in this world for not warning me at the start of the hike. But, I could only show him my teeth acknowledging him for calling me a Superman! In no time, I started running back in the ice to generate some heat in my feet to survive in that cold weather. Then, I realized that the amateurs they are referring to in the articles mentioned in my first paragraph was about people like me! Damn!

1) You need a guide till the end of May as paths are not clear. From mid of June, you don't need a guide.
2) Take thermals and rain coat based on weather prediction. Wear hiking shoes and take enough food.
3) Reserve hotels/hostels early as there is limited accommodation in Odda.

You can find my travel experience through some adventurous pictures with description in the link below:

Monday, July 4, 2016

The city that inspired me to travel...

Have you ever been inspired by a place?
If you get an opportunity to travel to one place, what is the place that you would choose?
Before coming to Europe, my answer to this question was ‘Rome’. In 2005, I read a novel named ‘Angels and Demons’ by Dan Brown. His description of Rome and Vatican excited me so much that I frequently dreamt of roaming in the roads of Rome and churches of Vatican. Finally, the day has come to live my unfulfilled travel dream through my third trip to Rome. I have spent many days reading about the history, economy and culture of Italy and Rome.

    After landing in ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ airport, I took a metro to the Roma Termini (Central) and dumped my backpack in a hostel. In no time, my eyes, feet and heart started searching for an engineering marvel called ‘Colosseum’. When I lifted my head up to see the Colosseum, all I can remember is, a wave of energy that passed from my brain to my body. If the concept of reincarnation exists, I might be a Roman solider or someone who died in the arena fighting with a lion or a gargantuan foreign creature. Ah! How many human generations has it seen since B.C ? How many exotic wild animals visited this place? How many warriors and animals died in this arena fighting for their life? Sometimes, I feel that history is not just about kingdoms and wars, but about the feelings of human beings across various cultures. I missed a trip to dungeons and it calls for another trip to Rome J

    On the second day, I went to Vatican on foot amidst stunning statues and churches with exceptional architecture. A view of St. Peter’s Basilica thwarted my walk and I found myself to be in the middle of St Peter’s square. The great ‘Michelangelo’ was one of the painters of this masterpiece, St Peter’s Basilica from the 16th century! The top of St Peter’s Basilica’s takes you to one of the most stunning views in the world. For the first time in my life, I admired art after visiting Vatican Museums. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of frescoes especially ‘The Last Judgement’ and ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo.

    On the third day, I visited all the Museums in Rome and Vatican to ensure that I get the feel of the churches described in ‘Angels and Demons’ novel. Each church is decorated in a unique fashion and has a history of its own. I made sure that I read the history of each church in Wikipedia upon visiting it. Ensure that you satiate your taste buds with Italian food such as Pizza, pasta and lasagna. Of course, your trip will not be complete without a scoop of Italian gelato. My best moment of the trip was to watch a few Europeans dressed in saris and dhotis dancing to the tunes of Hindi songs at Spanish square. Rome is a visual feast to anyone and will really enjoy more if one reads the history before a visit.

Major tourist attractions in Rome are:

Trevi Fountain
St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's square
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel
Roman forum
Piazza Navona
Spanish steps

TIP: Free entry to all the attractions in Rome and Pompei on every first Sunday of the month. Buy a 3-day or 4-day ROMA pass to save money.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I am a software engineer and I love to be one!

I am a software engineer. Most of the Indians whom I met feel ashamed or guilty to introduce themselves as a software engineer. They say that they are good at some other skill but they ended up being a software engineer. I was one among them till I started loving my profession. Even if I wanted to switch careers, no other career has excited me as much because of the following aspects in a software career.

Work environment: It always throws new challenges to test our intelligence with complex real life scenarios and new technologies.
Work-life balance: With 2 or 3 day weekends and regular holidays, it ensures that we maintain work-life balance.
Annual Compensation: It offers one of the best packages at entry level and also substantial annual hikes compared to that of other professions.
Hone Skills: Apart from technical skills, it we have to improve our communication skills and learn foreign languages to deal with fellow teammates and clients.
Flexibility: It offers us the flexibility to work from anywhere in this world (even from a loo).
Respect: People in most of the countries (except India) regard software professionals with high respect as they revolutionize the way people live.

      I personally enjoyed success in many challenging projects, had a balanced life with the best annual packages, improved my communication skills to a great extent and learnt foreign languages (Japanese and German), worked with a great flexibility and started receiving immense respect for my work. My work includes understanding the processes and creating software to increase productivity to:
Build a particle accelerator, manage the data in cars, trains and airplanes, visualize consumer life style products, package FMCG goods, deal with vacuum cleaners and XBOX.

      After coming to Germany, I started treating work as another hobby. I work for 4-days a week and plan the remaining three days to pursue my hobbies and interests. 

My first cultural shock in Prague trip…

Many of my female European colleagues used to bug me to describe my cultural shock on my first abroad trip to Germany. I know what they wanted to hear from me and I used to say I never experienced cultural shock. To embarrass me further, they ask me how I felt about the display of affection in public places. I said that ‘it is common these days in every part of the world’ to which their eyebrows went up in surprise. Little did I know that I’m getting ready for my first cultural shock in my second trip to Prague.

      Within 10 days of my solo trip to Vienna, another long weekend opened the doors to Prague with a sunny weather forecast. From this trip onwards, I started following the weather forecast closely while planning my trips. I reserved a wonderful hostel for 10 euros per night and travelled through blablacar that got me another good deal. It took me around 4 hours to reach Prague from Munich. Next morning, I took local currency (Czech crown) from ATM and visited the nearby tourist information center. A girl from US approached me and asked me to join 'Free Walking Tour'. The word "free" motivated me enough to join her who introduced me to a group. That tour introduced us to all the major tourist attractions in Prague with a commentary about the history, kingdoms, world war, civil war, political situation, economy and culture. It was a wonderful tour and at the end of it we need to pay for the guide’s service if we consider the tour worth paying. Later, I tasted Czech cuisine (a few rolls) and visited John Lennon wall. In the evening I met a few more enthusiastic blokes who said that Prague has a great night life. I joined them and hopped to different clubs and pubs, which have free entry, listening to the music and dancing with them. It was quite an experience and fun as I never hopped around the pubs before.

      While I was coming back to hostel in the mid-night, a guy stopped me and invited me to a club that has an entry fee of 20 euros. I laughed at him and said that he got the wrong person as I won’t spend even a penny on these clubs/pubs. He was persistent and wanted me to have a look for a couple of minutes and then decide. He escorted me for a quick visit to a club for free and I thought that it is just like any other pub/club. But, it felt like another dark world. There were many big halls inside the club. Each hall has a podium and many tables and decorated with a different theme. The employees of that club are busy entertaining the guests on the podium and also on the tables. The guy who escorted me walked very quickly and I had to capture everything at a quick glance. While following him, there was a time when I wanted to have a second glance and turned my head back sharply to almost 180 degrees keeping my mouth and eyes wide open. After a quick visit to the club, we came outside and that guy noticed my shell-shocked expressions. He smiled and said that it is time to pay 20 euros and enjoy the ambience. Then I had to change my facial expressions to suit disappointment and said that it is below par and not up to my standards. He argued for a long time that it is the best club in Prague and finally gave up after realizing that I’m not ready to spend even a penny.

      Unable to come out of that shock, I trudged in that lane and was interrupted by another guy. He escorted me to the club in front of him saying that it is free of cost and I need to pay only for the drinks. As I’m a teetotaler, I had a smile inside my heart and followed him. He asked me to sit at a table with 5 chairs. There are already 4 guests busy watching the entertainment around. Two of the guests seem to be a newly married couple from an Asian country and the other two are American girls visiting Europe. I had mixed emotions flowing through my body. I am embarrassed to turn my head to get a glimpse of the entertainment around, uncomfortable sitting with the girls on that table at such a place and excited to pinch myself and realize which part of the world am I in. To get rid of nervousness, I initiated a quick talk with two girls sitting beside me. After a couple of minutes, I could not sit there for any longer and walked quickly towards my hostel.

      This was my first cultural shock for many reasons. Firstly, I always thought that pubs and clubs are only to drink and dance. Secondly, I always used to think that only men go to such places.

Charles Bridge
Old town square
Prague Castle
Museums inside castle
Astronomical clock
Dancing House
Powder Tower
Petrin Lookout tower
David Cerny Babies
John Lennon wall

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Travel... as long as you can.. as far as you can..

Who knows! I may forget the names of the places that I have travelled to. So, I listed down those 18 countries and 122 places (excluding India).

Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Nuremburg, Koln, Dusseldorf, Wolfsburg, Frankfurt, Ober Ramstadt, Magdeburg, Braunschweig, Soltau, Ingolstadt, Dachau, Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Castle, Oberammergau, Wustermark, Metzingen, Wernigerode, Gifforn, Forchheim, Schwerin, Hanau, Herzogenaurach

Zurich, Interlaken, Jungfrau, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Gornergrat, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Lucerne, Mount Rigi, Weggis, St. Gallen, Appanzel, Gais

Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Siena, Pisa, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre)

Vatican city

Vienna, Innsbruck, Swarovski kristallwelten

Czech Republic:

Athens, Fira, Akrotiri, Pirgos (Santorini island)

Istanbul, Cappadocia, Goreme, Avanos, Kayamakli, Derinkuyu, Zelvis

Amman, Jerash, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Shoubak, Petra/Wadi Musi, Wadi Rum, Aqaba

Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans,  Madurodam, Rotterdam, Keukenhof, Noordwijkerhaut, Steenwijk, Giethoorn

Brussels, Bruges, Antwerpen


Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Bunol, Seville, Ronda, Cordoba, Malaga

Lisbon, Sintra

UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland):
London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Stonehenge, Bath, Warwick, Malmesbury, Oxford, Birmingham, Gloucester, Bourton-on-the-water (Cotswold), Blenheim Palace, Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede, Dark Hedges

Bergen, Flam, Otternes, Voss, Odda, Skjeggedal, Trolltunga



In India:
Here is the list of places that I visited in India before coming to Germany.

North India:
Delhi, Jaipur, Pilani, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Manikaran, Srinagar, Kargil, Leh, Ladhak region, Pangyong lake, Nubra Valley, Amritsar, Wagah border, Patna, Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Saranath, Pune, Shiridi, Shani singanpur, Mumbai, Goa, Sasaram, Barun, Dehri-on-sone

South India:
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chennai, Kancheepuram, Kanipakam, Bangalore, Mysore, Dandeli, Gokarna, Belur, Halebedu, Sravan Belgola, Udipi, Murudeshwar, Shimoga, Salem, Yercaud, Jog falls, Shivanasamudra falls, Mekedaatu falls, Kudremukh trek, Savandurga trek, Anthargange trek, Ramnagara, Nandi hills, Talakadu

There are many other places that I have been to but unable to recollect now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Solo Backpacking Experience to Vienna

I never understood how someone can get motivated enough to travel alone, till I set out on my first trip in Germany. My idea of travel was to go out with a group of 6-8 friends and have fun with them. An unexpected solo trip to Vienna not only changed my view of travel but also redefined the way I think, plan and perceive things around me.

        It's a 4-day weekend and my lazy bones already ate up half a day, in contemplating how to enjoy. An impulsive force stimulated me to search for the locations nearby Munich. My crazy decibels said "Come on! Come on Jet! Go! Go!". In less than a minute, I finalized Vienna as I liked its pronunciation . I inquired a friend about the transport and came to know that blablacar is a good option. Through blablacar, I contacted a person who said that he will be at my hotel in 10 minutes. I stuffed my backpack with a few clothes, whatever my hand can catch, and rushed downstairs. I got into the car with 3 more guys from different countries. Here comes my biggest puzzle. Where do I stay in Vienna? What places should I visit in Vienna?

          A quick chat in the car and a google search provided some pointers. I booked a hostel through my mobile and contacted 'Tourist Information Center' as soon as I landed in Vienna. I was surprised to see the whole Vienna assembling to attend Philharmonic music performance. I quickly joined those souls and got drenched in music. For the rest of my trip, I was mesmerized by the architecture of the buildings, the sculptures and statues in the middle of the roads, and the historic places, cafes and bakeries that Mozart and Hitler preferred to spend their time at.  In hostels, I met different blokes from various countries, roamed around with them, attended operas, tasted local cuisines and danced with the crowd in Vienna's summer festival.

         My solo trip to Vienna turned out to be the most exciting trip. In a solo trip, you can decide on where to go and how much time to spend without looking for others' consent. You spend more time to understand the history and culture of the place which can alter your views  and this is the main purpose of travel. I have learnt a lot in this trip in terms of the challenges it has thrown, the decisions I made and the experiences I relished. In short, it just showed me who I am without much introspection. I sincerely recommend that you take a solo trip to get close to your soul. Trust me! You will love it.

Friday, March 4, 2016

How to travel affordably in Europe ?

I have travelled across many countries in Europe over the last one year. Euro trip is a dream for many. It is very beautiful, yet expensive. I found a way out to travel affordably in Europe. I hope that my post would help fellow travellers/explorers who are looking forward to travel in Europe, affordably.

Finalize Destination:
When? : April - October for Euro trip. October-March for Aurora Borealis.
Weather: Check weather forecast. Make sure it is not rainy.
Festivals: European cities are full of life during festivals. A trip during unique festivals is fun and adventurous (La Tomatino, Oktoberfest, Battles of the Oranges, Haro Wine festival, Bullrun, Bullfight).

Best Travel fare:
Plan: Plan 2-3 months in advance to get the best fare
Public Holidays: Tickets cost a fortune during public holidays
Best fare: If dates are finalized, search in and skyscanner.
                 If dates are not finalized check the fares in Ryanair, blablacar,
Airport-City: Avoid odd hours to get better transport from airport-city and vice versa.
Commute: Each city has a different travel plan. Try to take a 3 or 4 day pass that covers tourist attractions and travel within the city.

Reserve Accommodation:
Free: Stay with friends/relatives, Couchsurfing
Paid: Hostel Bookers, Airbnb,
Where?: Center of the city - Nightlife is awesome in the center of the city and usally many tourist attractions are in the middle of the city

Before you travel, read about the country, its culture, history of the place, tourist attractions, currency and visa process.

I have many more suggestions to make your vacation, a wonderful outing. Shoot a mail to for any tips/queries related to travel within Europe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Funny (German) Experience

My first abroad trip has set a big platform for unlimited funny experiences. My friend Ramana, alias annayya, received me in Hamburg and taught me basic etiquette of Germany. I stood in awe of him after knowing the way he mastered German language by reading complex topics and novels over the last five years. When Ramana took me out, he read all the hoardings in German language loudly to ensure that I notice his proficiency.

    After two days, I had to travel from Hamburg to Wolfsburg. Everything is written in German and most of the people speak only German language. So, here comes my biggest challenge as I need to travel by three different trains. Very worried about my situation, Ramana accompanied me to the railway station (Bahnhof). A scrolling at the platform (Gleis) and an announcement in German language greeted us to which he paid utmost attention. He looked at me with a big smile and asked me whether I understood the announcement. With impending gratitude in my eyes, I responded that I must have got panicked and had to run after people without him. With immense pride in his eyes, Ramana said that the train was delayed by 10 minutes. The last time I saw such pride in his eyes was during his engagement.

    Even after waiting for 20 more minutes, the train has not arrived. Ramana tracked the train's location and spoke to the railway authorities fluently in German language. He came back with his hands on his head and requested me whether I can stay back in Hamburg for that night. My curious and shocked eyes stared at him to know the reason. It seems that the announcement and scrolling were provided to inform that the train will come to 10th platform. Ramana assumed/understood that the train is delayed by 10 minutes. He said that if a person like me with 5 years of experience in German language faces this kind of situation, then what is the plight of people like you? In no time, I thanked him for his concern and got into the next available train.