Finally, the Europe vacation
I know, it is a couple of months too late…but what the heck?
Our first destination was Paris. The first 2 hours after landing happened to be not-so-romantic when we decided we will take the public transport from airport to our hotel. The transport was awesome, unfortunately our luggage was not. We have to walk 2 blocks from the station to the hotel and the handle of our suitcase just came off!! Not a very pleasant experience, but that was quickly quelled by the sight of this – yup we stayed right next to the Eiffel tower and if you strained your neck hard enough, you could actually see it from our window!
Paris went off on schedule after that, it is a charming place. The culture is so vibrant, and the city is so modern yet so seeped in history. Absolutely loved it , except for one snobbish restaurant that refused to serve us just desserts (the creme burlee..if you must ask) and wanted us to eat a three course meal or get out!
Then, we took the DDLJ wala Eurail to Zurich. I was so excited because..you know..it is DDLJ for gods sake! The land of romance for all desis. Just that, well..err..there were just too many of us. So many that, guess what is there at the highest point of Europe, Jungfrau?? An Indian restaurant! And it charges 26 Euros for its silly buffet…and we ate it! Horrible is not the word to describe the bastardized Indian food. But anyways, the rest turned out as picture perfect as we hoped it to be. Chocolate milkshakes, rolling grass fields, snow…everything.
One thing though is, don’t drive in Switzerland. I don’t know how Raj Malhotra managed it, but they have these roundabouts (Glorified “circles” like in India). But each of them has about 6 roads coming into it. So when your GPS tells you to take the left one, you are left a little disoriented.
Destination 3: Venice. One of the most expensive places you can visit. Our hotel cost us so much and when we went there it turned out to be a shack. Not only that, the hotel manager took one look at our Indian passports and decided that we MUST be poor. So he declared that he knew we must be earning a pittance and advised us on which expensive restaurants to skip, etc. He even warned me not to pressurize my husband to buy me stuff! I wanted to say something, but kept quite thinking atleast our luggage will be safe because no one wants to rob poor Indians. Other than that, Venice was sticky and hot in the mornings, and I cursed myself for wearing a skirt instead of shorts (I don’t have to go into the dynamics of sweat here do I?). But it was enchanting by evening.
Destination 4: Florence. Absolutely useless. The Uffizi gallery cannot hold a candle to the Louvre of Paris. And I had already seen Louvre. Stared at “David” butt and giggled. And by now, we were pretty bored of churches, and there was nothing else to do. Except. There are these people who sell fake Prada and Gucchi and such on the streets. Ofcourse it is illegal to buy such stuff in Italy. But they were so pretty and I am pretty sure my conscience won’t allow me to buy the real ones, so I made K stand and watch for police while I haggled over my fake Hermes. And bargaining is so ridiculous here…they start with 80 euros, you say 15 and finally for 25 you have yourself a bona fide Italian fake! K made me swear I will never put him on cop watch again. Ever. And oh…we visited Pisa too..nothing spectacular. Just a small cute building that leans…not dangerously or anything, just like it is tilting its head or something.
Destianation 5: Rome. The eternal city. By now we had discovered that if you have to eat good fresh food in Italy, look out for Chinese restaurants. The Italian ones near all the tourist places are overrated, expensive and serve frozen food anyways. The Chinese places had hot veggie fried rice and chowmein with some hot sauce by the side – heaven I tell you. Oh yeah, one more thing, in Italy you have to buy water in restaurants – and it is so expensive that it can double your bill in no time! We were at the Sistine Chapel and the whole thing is painted, every inch of it. So it was kinda hard to locate this famous painting, but I did and with my new 10x optical zoom beauty, I managed this
One thing about Rome that left me a little sad was that you could literally see the inquest on all the historical buildings in the city. The Panthenon, initially a tribute to mathematics and science is now a church and all the marble appliqué sits uneasily on the walls, most definitely out of place. But these buildings still stand, and that is a consolation.
Destination 6: Athens. Honestly, I was expecting a small town with donkeys. Was I suprised! The recent Olympics have changed the face of Athens. With one of the cleanest subways in Europe and convenient shuttles to the airport. We had to take a taxi from the city center to our hotel, and we definitely got hustled by the cab driver. Who, after getting his ridiculous fare treated our already beaten luggage pretty bad. After a day of sight seeing in the city, we went on a 1-day cruise to some of the islands – Hydros, Protos and one more I can’t remember. And then, we committed the highest sin as per Greek constitution by asking a restaurant for some falafel. We were quickly given a crash course on Mediterranean cuisine and now we know that falafel is Egyptian food, not Greek.
After sauntering through Europe, we finally landed in Namma Bengalooru. Straight from airport to Vidyarthi Bhavan at 6:30 in the morning. The place was empty, coffee fresh, and the dosas…crispy, fluffy rounds of heaven. Did the usual rounds of shopping. And then we went off to Mysore for two days with parents and in-law. Did boating in the theppa, ate watermelon on the streets and got a really really sore throat. KRS was unusually sparse and Mysore Palace was…well Mysore Palace. Things were going really well till my dad decided that we young people should walk up the Chamundi hills and chucked me, K and my sis off the car.
No Mysore trip is complete for me without a visit to Devraj market. The market is crowded, smelly but charming. Selling everything from vegetables to flowers to brightly colored powders. I had a mini following from the vendors while I was taking photos of all the jasmine, bangles, etc. Despite wearing a kurti and having a smear of vermillion on my forehead from the temple visit, they wanted to know a) If I was Indian and b) Why the hell would I want photos of ginger and chillies? Despite such deep doubts, they still happily posed for my camera!
Entry filed under: Random Banter.