"And So It Begins"
I cant help but recall the famous LOTR dialogue as finally we begin our 21 days European Odyssey!
It all began early 2014 when my over adventurous cousin Rajshri Khurana (Raj for the rest of the trip) fleetingly mentioned at a typical chaotic Punjabi family gathering that she would be going alone on a backpacking trip to Europe once she gets relieved from her current job in the month of August.
I dont know whether Raj was serious or courteous or typically casual when she uttered the words which would turn her European trip completely over its head as she had imagined.
The utterance was " would Swati and you like to join in?"
Ok for starters Swati is my beautiful partner in life and partner in most of my travels. We run a small business in our home town of Pune and the monsoon months of July & August are our off season, so we jumped in without knowing any details of what Raj had in mind. So began our preparations for the trip.
In the mean time Raj's friend Siddhi Shah (Sid for the rest of the journey) confirmed her presence for the trip as also my other cousin Varun Chawla (Bhaiyya for the rest of the trip) who is lately conspicuous by his absence at most family functions and when my second cousin Rishbha Sachdev (Rishu for the rest of the trip) who resides in Germany decided to join us in Europe we knew it was gonna be one hell of a vacation!
Punjabis and Bollywood share a special bond and living true to its spirit we decided to make this trip into a backpacking trip - the current fad for bollywood which meant lower expenses and that suited all of us just fine and so it was decided mutually to have a budget trip. Which meant spending hours online to chalk out the iternary accomodating everybodys likes and more importantly dislikes over Pizza and beer. After booking for hostels/apartments/camping grounds & trains/flights/cars we finally applied for the Schengen Visa which surprisingly proved to be a very convienient and easy.
Now all set technically, the ladies got down to the most important part of the pre trip - SHOPPING! Carrying all those shopping bags gave me a taste of things to come! Conveniently for the ladies the pre trip shopping didnt have the same spirit of budget trip as was envisioned by all of us.
As I write this blog it is the penultimate day before we begin our journey tomorrow early morning from Pune. Keeping fingers crossed, for my biggest worry, that I havent forgotten any important dcuments!
Tomorrow the first day of the journey should see us going from Pune to Delhi and onwards to Milan - Fashion Capital of the World!