Where next? What can I expect there? How to get there?
These were three questions I found myself asking strangers and new friends often, in the month I spent travelling solo in Europe recently. I only had my return flight ticket sorted in advance – Mumbai (India) to Geneva (Switzerland) and back – and gave Europe a chance to surprise me. It led me to gorgeous Swiss villages, lively towns in France and a bustling city in Spain, and Lichtenstein and Monaco.
I met several interesting people along the way, a lot many locals helped me, I assisted some travellers with directions myself, and a few asked me out for drinks! I stayed in a fancy hotel, couchsurfed, shared dorms with 30 other travellers and was offered a bed by friends of friends. I had an extremely unplanned trip, with the liberty of spending as much time as I wished in whichever place that caught my fancy.
I practiced broken French, have brought back some Catalan words and discovered that there actually are places where people absolutely do not speak English. I ticked off many items from my bucket list, which include wearing a bikini to a beach and setting off on an unplanned trip. I would consult the map, the hotel receptionist, my Couchsurfing host and people on the street, and come up with a place to go to, for the next day. I spent 3 days in Nice because I loved the French Riviera, a whole week in Barcelona and yet couldn’t get enough of the city, and merely half a day in Lichtenstein, because well, there’s not much to do.
I ate the best croissants in France, drank pitchers of spicy Sangria in Spain and sampled some of the best cheese in Switzerland. I saw impeccably dressed grannies smoking away in French cafes, snazzy cars in Monaco, sunsets in Switzerland that made me appreciate clouds and some insanely cute boys in Spain. I caught my train to France in the nick of time, almost missed all my luggage in Barcelona merely a day before my flight back to India and kind of ran out of money toward the end of the trip!
But I did have an exceptionally excellent time and would urge everyone to visit these parts of Europe and let them dazzle you. I am in the process of pitching stories about my travels to editors of various magazines and I’ll have some stories surfacing here, on the blog, too. Between that, we should have a complete picture of my experiences and the culture of the countries I visited.
Also, due are many thanks to my Schengen visa (I didn’t know Lichtenstein existed until Swiss locals told me about it), EuroLines buses and the French train system. I don’t know what I would’ve done if they weren’t in place.